Leave a comment

The Labor Day weekend is fast approaching. I am sharing a recipe that I have shared with some of y’all in the past but let’s do
it again. I have never tasted a better cobbler than this blackberry cobbler recipe. I will bet that raspberries, ollalieberries or others may work just as well. For those of us in the hot, humid, nasty, ugly and miserable weather down here in Houston, blackberry season was gone 2 ½  months ago. I will have to buy some frozen berries, yes I know it is almost sacrilegious to buy store bought berries but these are desperate times!

This recipe came out of the Houston Chronicle a couple of years ago. Large skillet means 12” and pretty deep….cast iron! Mine
is a pretty Loge red enamel model. Enjoy!


I added an extra cup of blackberries to this recipe from Virginia Willis’ Bon Appétit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories From Three
Generations of Southern Cooking
(Ten Speed Press, $32.50).

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 5(6) cups blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more if desired for berries
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter in a large iron skillet; place skillet in oven to melt butter.

Put blackberries in a large bowl. If they are frozen, let them soften a few minutes. Crush lightly with a potato
masher. Sweeten with extra sugar if you like.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup sugar in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine milk and vanilla.
Gradually pour wet ingredients into dry while whisking.

Remove skillet from oven. Add melted butter to batter. Stir to combine. Pour batter into hot skillet. With a
spatula, scrape the berries into the center. Bake cobbler till it is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the cake (not the berries) emerges clean, about 1 hour.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream (Bluebell is the best) — and prepare for a walk down memory lane.

6 to 8 servings.

Please excuse the formatting….. can’t figure it out!

An August Update

Leave a comment

Compare the garden beds from the “Too Much Sweat” post to now. A lot is going on. On the right hand side I am about 3 weeks into the solarizing effort to eradicate the Bermuda grass….. I hope! The left side is beginning to show signs of life. I have a nice Serrano Pepper Plant with lots of blossoms. A squash plant is emerging, the pole beans are beginning to climb and I have
three fall tomato plants struggling against the heat. In the background my asparagus ferns are cranking a ton of energy back into the roots for storage. I am so looking forward to the bounty of spears for next year;

“From these “ferns”, the mature plant manufactures food and stores it in “storage roots.” This reserve supplies the energy necessary to produce spears the following year.”

Click on the photos to see them in larger size.

I am mulching like crazy. I have been using the grassclippings and a big pile of leaves left over from the fall collection to conserve moisture. We are on mandatory water restriction here in Kingwood now. We are over 20” of rain behind for the year.

I am still sweating though. Between the beds I am poring 2’X2’ squares of rock looking concrete. The mold handles about all of an 80# sack of cement. I am adding a buff color for grins and have to say that it should look nice when done. The pouring and finishing of the squares sucks the water out of the body! I sweat through one T-shirt per square.

I am always amazed at how the beans always twist the same direction when they climb. Yesterday I swear that the two climbing now grew 6 inches overnight. My guess is that I will pick beans before the end of September. That will be the second crop for the year. I love fresh green beans. We sure could use some help for rain……please, dance, chant or pray for rain……even nice thoughts will be appreciated!



Too Much Sweat – Will it be Worth it?


I lost count of the T-shirt changes to get my garden make into some sort of change, but, it is well above 25. I went a little beyond but it will be worth it down the road. I pulled out the old 2X4’s used for the raised beds and went with 5/4X6 corral board to give me a little extra depth.

Rented a roto-tiller to speed the process up and sweated like a big dog. I worked some aged compost in both beds while I was at it. The right hand bed was the worst of the worst of the 4 for Bermuda grass invasion. I pulled out a huge pile of Bermuda grass and roots. Unbelievable how the roots run. Next week I will tightly cover this bed with clear plastic and “solarize” the weeds – i.e., kill them without toxins….. I like a chemical free garden for my veggies.

I have planted two tomato plants visible in the far left bed. They have been in for 4 days and seem to be handling the heat pretty well. I will add some fall potatoes in the day or so to this same bed. I have wanted to experiment with trying to grow some fall potatoes. I have about a pound of fingerling potatoes, cut and scabbed – ready to go in the ground. All of the commercial sellers look to be sold out so I am using store bought….. Not the best choice but it is just a $3.00 experiment.

I you look to the far back right in the photo you can see the dense growth of asparagus ferns. It appears that I should have a great harvest next year. I added a handful of 2 year old crowns the the existing bed in an effort to create a long term asparagus bed. If managed well this bed should produce for 20 years or more.

I also planted two mounds of zucchini squash. I have never had any luck but heard that if started in the heat of summer I may avoid the dreaded squash beetles. The other tip I heard was to plant hundreds with the likelihood the beetles will get some but not all of the vines. Well, my beautiful and loving wife has not approved the land purchase so I will be forced into plan C, D of F as I try my squash growing skills. The poles you see on the left will support my Kentucky Wonder pole beans. I love fresh green beans and they seem to produce well here in the Hoston area.



Work, Sweat and Very Little Play

1 Comment

The Big Freeze

I have been making progress removing the summer jungle growth from the garden. My eggplant plants (is that redundant?) looked healthy but the blossoms were not setting so out they came. The bed they were in was in pretty good shape and not overrun with Bermuda grass. I spent the morning getting it “really” weed free and water saturated, preparing the bed to receive two new tomato transplants. I selected a grape tomato and a beef master to place in the ground after sundown tonight. This bed has never had tomatoes so I am hoping that they take off. To help them along I put about two cups of worm poop at the bottom of each hole prior to dropping the plants in.

Worm poop! During my month in California the worms were left unattended in the garage. I had placed the top bin on the nearly finished bottom bin just before I left. They had no food, no visitors and no monitoring…… I expected the worst! I was pleasantly surprised when I began the poop harvest yesterday. Both bins looked rich with dark black worm poop, odor free and no apparent food scraps available for the little guys. From what I had read, the environment could become toxic – killing the little guys. They were absolutely thriving! As I dug into the bins there were still remnants of newspaper and cardboard…they still had some food! I wound up with about 15 lbs. of the richest looking fertilizer that the little guys have ever produced for me. Oh yes, odor free means that  it has no offensive odor…. really it just smells like damp, rich soil. The Meyer lemon barrel with surrounding strawberries enjoyed a worm poop banquet tonight as well as the pepper plant in the other barrel.

My last task this evening was removing this year’s dead blackberry vines. This year’s growth is starting to kick in nicely. I am being a little more diligent in pinching off the terminal growth as the new shoots hit 3+ feet or so. This forces lots of lateral growth in hopes of an abundant 2012 berry season. I hope to make my wonderful blackberry jam before the December 2012 Apocalypse! The photo on the lead-in is from the February freezing rain followed by an extended few days of bitter cold ( at least bitter for Houston). I am convinced that the lingering freeze hurt my harvest. For whatever reason only the terminal buds produced. Go figure.

Tomorrow or Thursday is tilling day. I will take my most Bermuda grass laden bed off line for 6 weeks. I will attempt to solarize it under a clear plastic sheet to kill the roots, rhizomes and other bad weed seeds. Three t-shirts today and it looks even uglier over the next three days. Yes, I hear all y’all, drink lots of water. I will!



%d bloggers like this: