Picking blackberries was always worth the effort when Mama promised a pot of her blackberry dumplings. It was the bait that got us running out of the door with bucket in hand. Walking along the canal levees hunting for the red and black berry-thickets was a game in itself. The best ones were always climbing the fences that outlined the rice fields. All was well until the berries got a little harder to reach and the sun a little hotter to stand. Then there was always the chance of walking up on a snake or a bug that would sting. The worst was taking a fall into those brambles. Ouch! We always came away with at least a few scratches. Such fond childhood memories!
As soon as we returned home we would give our harvest a dip in cool water then drain them. It was nothing to bring home a couple of gallons at a time. While Mama cooked the berries we’d spoon some sugar over a bowl of fresh ones to sample. The cooked pot of tender pillows of dough in the sweetened berry juice was so good. We always ate them straight from the hot pot and I can’t remember ever having any leftovers.
Preparing the Blackberry Dumplings
During a recent visit my Mama paid us in Arkansas we made a pot of that blackberry stew.
While she was preparing some crabmeat au gratin (something I must share later) she walked me through an old recipe of blackberry dumplings. It is found in a favored, worn out St. Peter’s Catholic School cookbook. You know the kind where everyone gathers their best recipes as a fund-raiser for their children’s school? Those dumplings turned out to be a nostalgic dessert enjoyed at the supper table that night.
Later, I started experimenting with that recipe. There was nothing wrong with that original one, but I wanted to lighten up the sweetness and add something to the dough.
Starting with frozen berries I cooked them in water, sugar and some lemon juice to brighten them up.
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