Tag Archive | raspberries

Berries

I’m grateful for berries. These bright berries on the blueleaf honeysuckle, Lonicera korolkowii provide food for birds from now throughout winter, ripe or dried in situ. This gorgeous bush is native to ‘The Mountains of Central Asia,’ which I just learned is a very specific geographical ecosystem, also home to half the world’s wild snow leopards. The Mountains of Central Asia is a biodiversity hotspot consisting of two major mountain ranges which extend among six countries, including Afghanistan. I’m grateful that this plant thrives in our climate and is a beneficial habitat shrub and not an invasive species.

Little purple berries on New Mexico Foresteria also feed birds, in particular the Townsend’s solitaire which I have seen yearly in this shrub. Not technically berries, but I’m not being technical. They look like berries, they feed like berries–but they taste pretty awful to me. Anyway, the flowers are full of tiny native bees in spring, and abundant berries in late summer also provide bounty for wildlife. I’m grateful to have this buffet in my landscape.

Some limbs on some of the junipers are laden with ripe juniper berries. Again, pseudo-berries, but berries is what we call them. Most of my dogs have nibbled them off the ground when they’re plentiful, with gusto; they were a food fad a few years ago; they feed wildlife; they are purported to have health benefits and healing properties; and they flavor gin. I’m grateful for juniper berries in the yarden.

I’m grateful for raspberries! I’m grateful that I savored and saved last summer’s gift of a gallon raspberries, and still have some left this summer, since the crop was paltry in this drought. Nurturing a new cluster of water kefir grains, I splurged and put a few frozen raspberries in to flavor yesterday’s decanted batch. Tomorrow, I’ll be grateful for a healthy, fermented raspberry soda. Actual berries or illusory facsimiles, I’m grateful for berries: fruits of the labors of bees and bushes.

Grandma Gilda

I don’t know who she is, but I’m sure grateful that her recipe for sponge cake came to my attention. Kim made a cookbook of her great-grandmother’s recipes many years ago, called Rosalie’s Kitchen. When she texted a picture of this amazing cake a few weeks back, I knew I had to try it, and was grateful she’d given me a copy of the cookbook. (I’ll be taking a crack at Rosalie’s biscotti pretty soon.) I was excited to try a genuine Genoese Sponge for the first time, grateful the Great British Baking Show had given me courage and incentive to try it, and grateful I had enough good Bad Dog eggs, milk, whipping cream, and everything else I needed to make it.

After beating seven eggs for more than ten minutes, until they had tripled in volume and turned light and frothy, I gradually added sugar.
Two more eggs went into the Italian cream which required several cooking steps including direct heat and double boiler.
I didn’t have Hershey’s syrup, so made a quick ganache with a good dark Equal Exchange chocolate bar and some heated whipping cream.
Chop the chocolate, pour the hot cream over it (1:1 up to 1:1.5 ratio), let it sit three minutes, then stir til it’s all melted and mixed. Chill for a couple of hours, then whip til frosting consistency. Grateful for the honeybee bowl Cousin Melinda gave me years ago, perfect for the task.
I cut the two cakes in half with a bread knife to make four layers.
The first layer is frosted with raspberry whipped cream. Grandma Gilda’s recipe calls for strawberries, but I’m grateful I had some of Paula’s raspberries from last summer in the freezer, so I thawed about a cup of them to mix into the whipped cream.
The second layer is frosted with the whipped chocolate ganache, and the third is covered with Italian cream.
On goes the top…
…and the whole thing gets frosted with whipped cream. Then cut and shared with the first person down the driveway.
And then a slice savored, bite by bite, after dinner. One of the most fun cakes I’ve ever made. I’m grateful for everything that went into this cake, from Kim sharing her ancestral recipe, to all the fine ingredients, to having the time, patience, inspiration, desire, and skill to concoct it. I’m grateful for the propane and the oven, the bowls and the mixer, the spatulas, spoons and knives, pots and pans and cooling racks, a kitchen counter long enough to lay it all out on, and friends to share it with.