Monday, September 17, 2007

The Last of the Blackberries

There's really no James Fenimore Cooper homage in here, although it should be said that Daniel Day Lewis (does he just not own hairbrushes or what?), who I normally do not dig at all, and the guy who played Uncas (Eric Schweig, according to made for great man-candy running around not wearing much in the movie version of Last of The Mohicans. Moving along.
Some serious autumnal grey arrived for the weekend. I’m hoping that there will be a few more loooong sunny breaks between now and November, when the dark gloom settles in to stay and I attach the espresso I.V. to my arm in an effort to convince myself that although it has not gotten fully light out, it is, indeed, “daytime.” But this past weekend, although the blanket of gloom hadn't arrived, it was clear that autumn had.

Some of the feel of autumn was due to the headline activity of the weekend: kids’ soccer. I feel as if I’m being disloyal to my sparky team even thinking this, but 5-year-old soccer is hysterical. Someone will go the wrong way (and maybe even score). Someone will cry. Someone will start to get serious about the game, and then forget, and pretend to be a horse. Or a butterfly. And another child will then chase them. Someone will simply run around the field cheering randomly. There will be shoving. There will be more interest by some children in whose turn it is to do the throw-in than in the throw-in and the game itself. I’m supposed to be their coach and I spend more time than I should, uh, coughing. With my face turned away from the kids. Because, erm, I don’t want to get germs all over them?

We also, with the arrival of fall, get to bunker down at home a little for quiet family dinners. Well, as quiet as it’s going to get with a couple of people who are regularly reminded to say-it-don't-shout-it (and about like that, too). Saturday afternoon, Curly and I went blackberry picking for what were clearly the last berries of the season. A dedicated picker could probably go to a few patches and still find a pail’s worth, but… blackberries are pretty well finished. Curly and I managed to get enough for Sunday night’s dessert by going to three patches (she knew in advance that the berries were to be used for ice cream, which meant there was no way in hell we were giving up). Then we went home and got to work on Saturday’s dessert, which was an apple galette. Our main course was a roast chicken with lemons (it’s a staple for us once the weather has cooled down enough to use the oven without making the whole house miserably hot), pan fried potatoes, and an arugula fennel salad (the kids ate their token leaf and slice, found something polite-ish to say, and went back to the meat and potatoes). The galette was comically simple, sliced apples tossed with some of June Taylor’s absurdly good apricot jam, brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with a little vanilla sugar. All on some pie pastry. We gilded the lily and served it with a dollop of whipped cream. Tasteful understatement is not really a big thing in my house.
And the blackberries were used yesterday to make blackberry swirl ice cream, thanks to David Lebovitz and The Perfect Scoop. It was obscenely good. It was the best possible use for the last blackberries of the summer, all creamy and sweet and puckery tart. I would challenge someone else to find a better use for the last blackberries of the season, but it would be rather unsporting, since it was plenty hard last weekend for Curly and I to pick enough for the recipe.

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