sunday’s song – Happy Mother’s Day!


In early April, we spotted the familiar white blossom amid the briars that bordered the barbed wire fence. Blackberry season would soon be here. Enthusiastic pickers take note of the location of such things. A few weeks later, that blossom has become a blackened berry ready for the taking. And so we gather the bounty from nature’s first offering. It’s spring at Rock Lake Ranch, and anticipation is in the air. We ready the fields and meticulously tend the tender vines in the garden, but blackberries arrive without the maintenance, without the fuss. In fact, the whole season could slip by unnoticed, had we not cherished memories of blackberry cobblers of years’ past to stir us to action.

So many things on a farm require intense work, and even then, there is no guarantee of fruit for the labor. Our fruit orchard is in full bloom and seems hardier for the wear, despite the very harsh winter we sustained. “For that which does not kill us,” as the old saying goes, “only makes us stronger.” It seems nature knows this secret better than any of us. The garden is an ongoing metaphor of life.

However, berries are the surprise, the honey, the extra bonus, from the earth which supplies our needs, blessing our lives with the fullness therein. And so, today, we make a blackberry cobbler to celebrate the abundance. This recipe comes from a tradition in my own mother’s kitchen, in honor of her today. I have such fond memories of life long ago, watching my mother strain the berries through a cup towel to extract all the sweet juice without the seeds. After a day where we all picked berries in the hot sun, our Sunday supper would be this blackberry cobbler with a big scoop of Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream. Pure deliciousness! Happy Mother’s Day!

Blackberry Cobbler

 1  cup  flour
 1/8  teaspoon salt
 1/2  cup  shortening
 3   tablespoons ice water
 6   cups  blackberries — divided
 1   cup   sugar
 2   tablespoons cornstarch
 6   tablespoons  butter
1 egg white — beaten

Combine first 3 ingredients with a fork or a pastry blender to make pastry. Add ice water. Form dough. Wrap in wax paper and chill for 8 hours.
When ready to make the cobbler, roll out pastry and cut the dough into strips. Place  half the strips on a cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for ten minutes, or until crisp.

Cover blackberries with water, barely covering. Cook over medium heat until berries are tender. Mash berries through sieve. Add sugar, cornstarch, butter. Bring to a boil. Stir and remove from heat.

Grease an 8 1/2  x  9 1/2 inch baking dish. Place half of the blackberry mixture in dish; top with cooked pastry strips. Add remaining blackberry mixture and place uncooked pastry over the top. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until brown. Serve warm as is or splash with blackberry brandy and top with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.


fall into flavor finale

fall_into_flavor4Thanksgiving week is right around the corner, and we are wrapping up “Fall into Flavor” at Linda’s 2nd Cup of Coffee. Thanks, Linda for hosting some awesome recipes and good cooks’ secrets. I have quite the repertoire from which to choose for some seriously warm-the-bones comfort fall foods. Be sure to check out Linda’s coffee mug chocolate cake this week and other scrumptious sounding recipes as we conclude “Fall into Flavor.”

Of all my recipes that I have shared, I think this dessert is my favorite. It calls for the simplest ingredients and is truly quite easy to make. Nothing beats the creamy texture of a good creme brulee, and this recipe delivers.

Hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving, giving our Lord the credit for the many blessings in this life. I count you among my many blessings. Thanks for sharing your recipes, for reading annie’s eyes, and for your thoughtful comments. Happy Thanksgiving.

Creme Brulebrule-prepe

1 quart heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 vanilla beans
Light brown sugar (granulated)

Heat heavy cream with vanilla beans to 180 degrees in a double boiler. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar and a pinch of salt; pour the hot cream over them, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until well blended.  Pour the custard into 9-10 custard ramekins, placing each in a bain-marie (water bath-I use a 13×9 pan with ½- ¾ inch of warm water) and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until the custard is completely set but not over cooked. Do not let the water in the pan boil. Remove from the oven; cool. 

Before serving, sprinkle the tops evenly with fine light brown granulated sugar. Put under the broiler until the sugar is melted and bubbly, watching carefully to see it does not scorch and burn. Remove, cool, and serve in the ramekin on a small plate with fresh berries and mint garnish. (Some refrigerate creme brulee, but the flavor is best if it is served at room temperature or slightly warm.)


fall into flavor – corn and potato chowder

Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee brings us some bloggy deliciousness with Fall into Flavor each Monday. Check out her recipe meme today for the bloggers’ best recipes. I thought I’d tell you about our Halloween night, and the dinner we shared with friends.

Friday evening, we had our 2nd Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest with our daughter, Lindsay, and her boyfriend, Andrew, and his family. This year, Andrew’s parents, Judy and Charlie, hosted it at their house, so we took turns answering the door to trick-or-treaters and had a great dinner, then the fierce competition began. We brought the corn and potato chowder and jalapeno cornbread and Judy made a delicious spinach salad and sweet potato cake. Here are my recipes and a few pictures of the carving competition.

Just so you’ll know, Lindsay and Andrew won Grand Prize with their entry of Scary Cat, but Judy came in a close second with the “Sick” award with her pumpkin “losing” it. Mike and I did a political theme, “Sarah Punkin.” And Charlie stuck with the geometric traditional category. This has turned out to be quite a fun yearly event! Enjoy these dishes the next cool night, but be warned. There is a little spicy kick in both.

Corn and Potato Chowder

¼ cup butter
3 Tablespoons flour
3 potatoes, cooked on high 3 min. ea. in microwave
1 qt. whipping cream
2 cups frozen corn
2 cans chopped green chiles
4 large roasted red peppers in oil, drained, seeded, and chopped
1 Tablespoon + (to taste) Tony Chashere’s© Creole seasoning

Garnish with:
Crumbled bacon
Chopped chives
grated cheddar cheese                                                                              

Brown flour in butter until golden in a large stock pot. Slowly whisk in 4 cups vegetable broth. Peel and chop partially cooked potatoes, and add to broth. Continue cooking over medium low heat. Add remaining ingredients, adding cream last. Continue cooking over medium low heat for 45-50 minutes, until soup is bubbly and potatoes are tender. Serve in bowls and garnish with cheese, bacon and chives.

Jalapeño Cornbread

2 boxes Jiffy© cornbread
2 eggs
½ 14 oz. can cream-style corn
¾ cup milk
1 cup grated cheese
½ cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup pickled jalapeños, sliced
1 small jar pimiento, finely chopped

Mix cornbread mix, eggs, cream-style corn, and milk. Add grated cheese, onion, jalapenos, and pimiento. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 rectangular baking pan. Bake at 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from center.

fall into flavor – chicken lasagna

Linda at Second Cup of Coffee is hosting a recipe carnival these next few weeks before, dare I say it, Christmas. With weather here (Texas) in the bone-chilling sixties, a girl still can imagine what might sound good to the rest of the country on a nippy fall night. This is one recipe I have made for years. I have also used green olives instead of the black, but that might be a little on the wild side for some of you! If you like olives, you will love the flavors of green olives and cream cheese. Otherwise, just use the black ones and don’t stress. This is serious comfort food. Thanks, Linda for another fun week of good food and friends!

9 lasagna noodles (I use about 12)
1 can (4-ounce) sliced ripe olives
1 cup Low-fat cottage cheese
1 (6-ounce) cream cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 cans (10 3/4-ounce) reduced-fat cream of chicken soup
3 cups Chopped cooked chicken
2/3 cup milk
2 cups fine, dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 c shredded Parmesan

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain, and set aside. Combine cottage cheese and cream cheese, stirring well; add soup and next 6 ingredients. Spread 1/2 cup of cheese mixture in bottom of a 13- x 9- x 2-inch baking pan. Layer one-third of the noodles, chicken, and cheese mixture in pan; repeat layers twice. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, mixed with melted butter and Parmesan cheese; cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes; uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Yield: 6 servings.

fall into flavor – chicken and dumplings

I have another “I want it to be fall” recipe for you this week.  It’s still in the 80s here in Texas, so we pretend a lot. I turn the a/c down and put on my sweatshirt. I light the fake fire in the fireplace, and I make careful note that it won’t be long until we change our clocks back and get an extra hour of sleep. Fall is here and Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee is hosting the second week of Fall into Flavor. So, if you want some great ideas for make-you-happy food, check out her site today. Or try this, a family favorite, on a cool day soon.

Chicken and Dumplings

1 (2 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 cans chicken stock
salt, pepper to tast
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Ice water

Place the chicken, celery, onion, bay leaf, chicken stock and seasoning in a large pot. Add three quarts of water and in water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer the chicken until it is tender about 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and, when it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and separate the meat from the bones.

For dumplings: Mix the flour with the salt.Work in a small amount of ice water over the flour. Using your fingers, and moving from the center to the sides of the bowl, gradually incorporate about 3/4 cup of ice water. Knead the dough and form it into ball.

Dust a clean surface with flour. Roll out the dough. Let the dough rest for several minutes.

Add the cream of chicken soup to the pot with the chicken and simmer gently over medium-low heat.

Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Add to bubbling chicken stock mixture. Do not stir the chicken once the dumplings have been added. Gently move the pot in a circular motion so the dumplings become submerged and cook evenly. Cook until the dumplings float and are no longer doughy, 3 to 4 minutes. Note to Linda J: Watch pot carefully, as it burns easily.