This recipe for a blackberry cobbler is long overdue. Apologies for keeping it a secret. We were back East for a few days to celebrate Lenny’s mother’s 70th birthday. We spent a couple of days in Boston, and then a few hot and humid days on the Cape. It was nice to see everyone, but we are excited to be back home to enjoy the last lazy days of summer.
This recipe resurfaced after a recent trip to Downieville, California. We have a friend who has a cabin up there, and it is a great place to escape. Think mountains, trees, wild streams, and limited connectivity. Gorgeous old bridges weaving back and forth across streams, and friendly folks greeting you with a smile and hello. A few weeks ago, Scott mentioned blackberry season is in full swing, so we packed our bags and headed up with him and Frida (his adorable puppy) for some R&R as well as berry picking.
Lazy days in Downieville are spent being just that, lazy, at least for me. While Lenny and Scott are hitting the mountain bike trails, I am wandering the streets and taking in a bit of California history. I am always amazed by what I find that is new and exciting during each trip up there. This past trip, I discovered an old cemetery that has people from as early as the 1800’s living there. I found some of the old graves sad as they were marked with an Unknown; how depressing to pass as an unknown. I am sure their stories were as rich as those with a name. I, also, found it interesting that a child that passed in the late 1800s at only 14 days old, still is thought of to this day with flowers placed on their grave. The small amount of time spent there that brisk morning, left me pondering about how short life is, and how we should grab every moment.
I not only spent my days wandering the cemetery of Downieville but I also, spent time exploring the small town. While Downieville is small, there are still some good options for eating as well as a wine store that is stocked with interesting wine from around the world. Everything is easy to find as all locations are located on the main street or just a jaunt down a side road. I had lunch at a small Mexican place, called Cocina Del Oro. The carnitas was very good, and the beer was cold, perfection on a hot summer day. For dinner, we hit the Grubstake Salon, where we are talking about pure comfort food. Lenny had a chicken sandwich that was out of this world, and Scott had a meaty burger with bacon, which looked just as good. When I find myself in a sleepy small town I always go for the chicken fried steak, and they did not disappoint. As well the beers were icy cold, and the service was pleasant and fun. An evening out in Downieville is not complete without a nightcap at the St. Charles Place, which is pretty much an institution. Reasonably priced drinks and entertainment galore and not only provided by the locals.
Back to the berries. Wild blackberries are pretty much growing all over the area, alongside roads, down by the streams, and just about any open space, you can find. We filled up a couple of containers, 8 cups of berries to be exact, before heading home. Each berry that did not make it into the bowl landed into our eager mouths. Jammy, sweet and perfect. I had hoped to gather more berries, but it seems others, both wild and human, have also been enjoying them. Syrups and jams will have to wait until next summer.
Instead, I made this humble blackberry cobbler. The berries were sweet and needed not more than a small amount of sugar and a little lemon zest which really made them sparkle. Definitely, take advantage of the last lazy days of summer and bake yourself a cobbler. Don’t worry if you do not have access to wild blackberry picking. I have made this cobbler many times using berries from the farmer’s market or the supermarket; it comes out equally as delicious. Now go bake yourself a cobbler. You can thank me after the last bite.
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4 cups of fresh blackberries
zest from one small lemon
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup ap flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325.
Lightly butter a glass baking dish.
Toss together the blackberries, lemon zest and 1/2 cups of sugar.
Pour into the baking dish. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl cream the butter and 1/2 cup of sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla, and mix for 30 seconds.
Add the flour, cornmeal, and buttermilk. Mix well.
Drop by spoonfuls over the blackberries.
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until golden and bubbly.