So the dogs and I sneak out while the others are still dozing, sometimes while there is a veil of sea mist wafting over the hill behind us to take the edge off the warmth of the rising sun. It's delicious to feel a shiver of cool air and I don't bother taking a jacket. We walk around our ring road for dog walk exercise and then stop at the veggie garden to fill an ice-cream container of youngberries.
At least I do that, while George flattens the carrots by rolling on them or digging for moles, or tries to roust out a hare or two to play chase. The older dogs find a shady spot to loll in, occasionally give up on me, as I switch from youngberries to strawberries, and wander back home. Then I grab a bunny bouquet of rocket, nasturtiums, milk thistles, cabbage leaves and spinach, along with the George-flattened carrot tops and walk home laden with good things, to swirl through the kitchen door virtuously, as the sleepy family is dipping into breakfast.
Strawberries are made into jam and youngberries are frozen to make berry muffins and summer pudding for the rest of the year. In fact we’re only just reaching the end of last year’s berry supply, so I’ve been generously baking muffins on every social occasion.
And I’ve found an absolutely irresistible new baking way with youngberries. It started off as Nigella’s Blondie recipe. Hers had chocolate chips in, which I haven’t tried despite my chocoholic tendencies; but I can tell you, that with youngberries instead of chocolate these are truly sublime and horribly moreish. They would work with any berries, but the sharp/sweet jamminess of the cooked youngberries is hard to beat.
Youngberry Blondies Recipe
(adapted from Nigella's Blondies recipe)
200g / 7oz porridge oats
100g / 3.5 oz plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
150g / 5oz soft butter
100g / 3.5 oz muscovado sugar (I mix treacle sugar and brown sugar)
1 x 385g / 13oz tin condensed milk
1 cup frozen youngberries
Baking tray or pyrex dish 30x20x5cm (12x8 inches)approx, lined and greased
Mix together the oats, flour and bicarb.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in condensed milk.
Add the oats mixture.
Beat in the egg.
Carefully mix in the frozen berries. If they are already de-frosting they will make gory splashes of red in the mixture, so it’s easier to do this straight from frozen. Or else you can use fresh berries.
Dollop the mixture into the tray and level it out roughly.
Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is a deep gold, but the middle is still slightly wobbly. It will firm up as it cools. You want it to be moist and almost gooey inside and deliciously crusty on the outside.
Once cool, cut into squares and devour without restraint.
These are perfect for the festive season, whether you are celebrating in winter or summer, the only trouble being that there are hardly ever any left for the next day!
|Youngberries are like blackberries but with a livelier flavour|
If you prefer chocolate chips to berries, here is Nigella's recipe on Gorgeous Gourmet's blog.