Berried Treasure

Don’t you love a treasure hunt? I think that’s why I love picking berries so much. Poking around under leaves in search of the next stash of sweetness. I grew up picking blackberries by the side of the road with my mother in Georgia, on those hot, hot summer days. Despite my overall lack of tolerance for heat and humidity, any sunburn or scratches from the briars seemed well were worth it with each berry bite.

In Seattle, blackberry picking is even simpler… find your favorite stash of blackberry plants, and show up every two days or so for the entire month of August, and you’ll have easy pickings, with hardly a scratch. And, you don’t have to look far. In fact, it’s harder to find a spot without them. Any patch of ground left bare and ignored for a few months is likely to find a few popping up. As with most people when they first come to the this corner of the Northwest, you can’t imagine signs that offer services to rid yards and alleyways of the fruity bushes. But it doesn’t take long to understand that blackberries are a colossal weed threatening at any moment to rise up and take over the whole city. Not that being over run with berries seems like that bad of a way to go to me.

I had been eyeing my particular favorite patch most of the summer… waiting for the day when enough of the green and red to turn a deep, juicy black. I love this particular spot, near the Montlake playfield, because it tends to ripen a bit later and more slowly than many of the south facing plants.

Unfortunately, my picking morning happened less than a week before I had to pack up my kitchen, meaning not much time to play with my first harvest… and many weeks of the prime picking that I had to miss. I still managed to freeze up a few quarts, and make a lovely batch of blackberry corn muffins.

Nothing fancy with this recipe… it’s just the one on the side of the Albers white corn meal box, with the berries thrown in and cooked in silicone muffin cups. I like to add the berries to the dry ingredients and stir to coat each one. This seems to help keep them a bit more separate in the batter as the muffins cook. I also topped each one with a blackberry pressed lightly into the middle of the cup.

My new kitchen is now only hours away! We either get the keys tonight or tomorrow… now, I just have to figure out what I christen it with!

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  • http://chewonthatblog.com Hillary

    I wonder why I’ve never seen blackberry before but these look amazing! Since I love blueberry so much, I’m sure I’ll love these just the same. Thanks!

  • http://www.mostlyeating.com Sophie

    The muffins look very tasty but I’m mainly stopping by to say enjoy the new house! Looking forward to seeing it as backdrop sometime soon :-)

  • http://marriedwithdinner.com Anita

    I miss wild blackberries so much. They taste so different than the kind you get at the market, even the farmers market.

    Do you like your silicone muffin cups? They seemed like such a lovely idea, so I bought a set. Unfortunately, I found the cleaning of them so frickin’ tedious that I actually threw them away.

  • http://nookandpantry.blogspot.com/ Amy

    I have blackberries growing in my backyard, I can hardly keep up with the bush. It’s such a shame seeing the blackberries shrivel up because I didn’t pick them fast enough. Blackberries everywhere is one reason I love Seattle.

  • http://caseyellis.blogspot.com Casey

    We have a wealth of blackberry bushes growing along the back of our property so this is a welcome post. Love the idea of tossing the berries with the dry ingredients.

  • http://chewonthatblog.com Jim

    Wow, those berries look so much better than any I’ve seen in the store. And what lovely muffins!

    Glad to see you’re almost back up and running. :)

  • http://winterskieskitchenaglow.blogspot.com/ Shaun

    My partner and I just came back from a weekend in Oregon. We couldn’t get over the abundance of blackberries; consequently, we couldn’t stop picking and eating them wherever we went. Muffins are a great way to use the bounty of Summer berries as their flavors never seem to get lost in these fluffy bites. Beautiful photos of the berries.

  • http://aapplemint.blogspot.com/ Kate

    saw these on flickr first and fell in love with them . Love the wire rack and of course the cupcakes. There nothing like hand picked fruit.I have one of these shrubs at home too but its not growing to well. Just yesterday i put some manure, hoping it’ll help.

  • http://pinchmysalt.com Nicole

    I saw these on flickr yesterday and I was hoping I would get to read more about them here! Beautiful photos and great idea using berries in the corn muffins!

  • http://thehungerseattle.blogspot.com Stephen

    Are you my doppleganger? I was raised in GA and now live in Seattle. Ha! I live in the city and unfortunately the blackberry patches by my apartment are always being urinated on by homeless people. I think I’ll stick to getting them at the farmers market.

  • http://www.eatmedelicious.com Ashley

    Mmm I love blackberries. I like how you pressed one in to the top of each muffin! I’ve wondered about those single silicone baking cups. I just tried out a silicone 6 cup muffin tray and I find that the muffins stick. Might be because it’s a cheaper brand though.

  • http://loveprettyfood.com foodiebootys

    Berries have been so abundant all summer in our great city of angels -LA. Its seems like they are growing more bitter every week as the season transistions. We love your muffins and seatle lighting — congrats on the new house~cheers

  • Dad

    Lara,
    “Berried treasure?” Love the pun. Wish I could do as well.
    Dad

  • http://shecraves.typepad.com vanessa

    Such patience. And indeed a good reward. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone make muffins. I want to do so now as well. My mother always made the blueberry muffins from the mix with the canned little blueberries that later reminded me of caviar. I know better now of Duncan Hines, but still, it was bliss :)

  • http://www.steamykitchen.com/blog Steamy Kitchen

    I love picking berries, but the joy is in picking-eating-picking-eating…and I never seem to have any left for making anything!

  • http://web.mac.com/tannajones Tanna

    Blackberry picking while waiting for the new house/kitchen! That’s the ticket. Cool.

  • http://chocolat-vanille.blogspot.com Inne

    Great-looking muffins Lara. And I love the wire cake stand. Am looking forward to seeing what you’ll be cooking in your new kitchen.

  • http://www.oneleggedchef.blogspot.com Monique

    Beautiful muffins! I’ve been curious about baking with silicon products. Are they just as good as their metal counterparts? I need to invest in a couple of bread pans and have been debating if I should go for the silicone. Thanks for the beautiful blog!

  • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

    Thanks all for the wonderful comments!

    For answers to some of your questions:

    I like the silicon cups, although not substantially better than old school metal. I like the crust slightly better with metal, but the silcone are easy to use and clean.

    To clean them, I flip them inside out and put them in the top rack of the dishwasher, usually with a long utensil layed across them to keep them in place. You still have to do a bit of scrubbing at times.

    I couldn’t resist the wire cake stand… which I surprisingly found recently at Crate & Barrel, despite the fact that it looks old.

  • http://yumyumbites.blogspot.com Christy

    Me too…I LOVE BERRIES tooo….especially Strawberries and blueberries!!!:D