The most selfish Christmas presents I ever made? Vouchers for a cupcake decorating class for the sisters-in-law. Of course, I had to get one for myself, too. After all, it was about spending time together. Decorating culinary delights and stuffing our faces was just the icing on the cake.
You can tell when it is cake sale day at school -- there is a rugby scrum of mums fighting around a table of homemade goodies. There are some darned good bakers at our school, and every mum has their speciality.
I’ve just found mine: THE BEST EVER apple and carrot muffins. My five-year-old, who scrunches up her nose at anything that originated in a garden, LOVES these muffins. In her words: they are “the best ever!"
They are economical too, Scottish grandma is visiting and after downing a plateful of muffins, she pointed out all the money I saved by not offering her a box of Waitrose cupcakes.
I love this time of year. All across England, hedgerows are full of blackberries just waiting to be picked. It brings back childhood memories, sometimes bitterwseet. Though I looked forward each year to plucking the juicy berries off their prickly nests and eating them by the handfull, their arrival signaled that summer was soon coming to an end.
But what an end! As a family, we love going blackberry picking and we will often come home with bucket loads. We make jam and pies and crumbles, and I always pop a few in the freezer to bring out in the depths of winter to remind us of warmer times.
So if you are at a loss for what to do with your pickings, here's a list of 10 things to do with blackberries, recipes included below.
Bake a blackberry and apple pie
Make blackberry and apple jam
Try blackberry cranachan (had to add this Scottish recipe)
Bake a blackberry and apple crumble
Put in a summer Pavlova
Create a blackberry fool
Make a blackberry smoothie
Put a few blackberries in lemonade
Freeze a few for later. Do not wash. Lay evenly on a baking tray and put in the freezer. Put them in a zip lock bag the next day and then use as needed.
Eat them plain or sprinkled with a little icing sugar. They're yummy!