As the summer season continues, the blueberries are nearly picked out, elderberry is nearly ripe, and the blackberries are turning.
I have a small blackberry patch. Even though there are blackberry patches all over the farm, I like this one best because my modern-day blackberry patch happens to be thornless and so much easier to pick from.
I remember as a kid—as an adult too—picking berries only to have to request help to get unstuck by the blackberry thorns. Do you remember reaching for those big black, plump berries way back in there, inching your way in, and then it happens? You are caught. In your hair. On your shirt. And any which way you turn, you are stuck, and it hurts. “Debbie! Come help me!” I’d call out.
It was a good thing we had assembled our berry picking pales beforehand that were strapped on our belts, so we had both hands free for picking—or unsticking little sister.
I remember her showing me how we make our pales. She being almost four years older, knew everything. I suppose mom or dad had shown her, and now she was showing me.
Mom saved those one-pound metal coffee cans for such. And from daddy’s tool shed, Debbie fetched a hammer and a nail and pierced two nail holes, one on each side. Then, usually, you would find a piece of wire like electric fence wire, but if that wasn’t available, we used baling twine. Sometimes we used the baling twine as the belt, too, but it was itchy.
Before heading out, we were always told not to eat the berries, but what kid can stand that? You have to eat some. So, this morning, as I checked over my berry patch, I plucked a few berries from the cane, and they were sour. “Wet weather makes for sour berries,” I was told. And whoever heard of so much rain in July that you can hardly get the hay baled up or keep the grass mowed.
So, here’s the big question, as I think about all those nickel-size blackberries hanging from the vines I will soon be picking—what to make with them? Will it be a Grunt, a Buckle, a Cobbler, or A Slump?
Recently I questioned in my story, wondering “why it was called a buckle,” referring to my Blueberry Buckle recipe. Then, a reader and a fan sent me a lovely letter. She included a photocopy from Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac, differentiating the four funny names that homemakers with a little of this and a pinch of that created a delicious dessert we all have come to love. And here’s the difference:
A Buckle-refers to a cake with fruit baked into it with a crumble topping.
A Cobbler- the most common dish where the fruit bubbles beneath a biscuit dough.
A Grunt or Slump- seem to be the same and refers to what we modern girls call dumplings dropped into a boiling fruit mixture.
So, I think I’ll start with a grunt/slump or, as a modern-day version, blackberry dumplings—I love anything dumplings. I have a recipe on my blog for quick and easy blackberry dumplings. It’s done on the stovetop, and you use a can of biscuits. Get the sugar and berry mixture hot, pinch the biscuits off in several pieces, and drop—well, here, let me fetch the recipe found on sherryphillipsmitchell.com if you want to see the pictures.
Sherry’s Easy Blackberry Dumpling Recipe
3 Cups Blackberries
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1 can Biscuits
Place all—except the biscuits— in a large 10-inch skillet; smash the blackberries moderately and bring to a rolling boil.
Now here’s the easy part! (Remember I like easy) use canned biscuits.
5 large biscuits from a can cut into quarters.
(I used Grands Buttermilk Biscuits because I had them in the frig but any canned biscuit will do)
Drop quartered biscuits on top of the boiling mixture, cover for 3 minutes, then turn dumplings over—Cook additional 3 minutes or so.
Should the syrup not be sweet enough, sprinkle with sugar. Nothing worse than a tart blackberry dumpling.
Serve with whipped topping or pour real cream over hot mixture or do like us kids back in the day, when Dad had Half and Half in the fridge for his coffee, we used it. Scrumptious. OMG. It tastes awesome even without the cream, but you know I am going to uses some. You will too. Quick and Easy? You bet ya. This took less than 15 minutes to prepare.
Thanks, Mary Bachman, for the lovely fan letter and for helping us learn about the different dessert names and what they mean.