Celebrating the seasonal shift.
(I wrote this pre-COVID and then with everything that happened i never got around to posting it. I’ve decided to leave it as written, as sometimes it’s nice to have distractions- also, I already wrote it once so… Enjoy this blissful little time capsule of a less worrisome period!)
We flipped the calendar to March (not really guys, it’s all in our phones now- I get that) and all of a sudden, there was a chill apparent in the air. That lingering warmth disappeared, and the washing on the line outside refused to dry. We’ve slipped into Autumn.
The days are noticeably shorter and it is certainly harder to emerge from the soft comfort of the woollen quilt in the morning. Soothing grey skies above, and murmurs of ‘when is too early to light the wood heater’ from within the house. (I think today might be the day, by the way). I love autumn- there is that feeling of preparing, of getting ready for the long winter ahead, of stocking the cupboards, chopping firewood and gathering dry sticks before everything becomes damp and useless. Mostly this is in my head- winter where I live is eight weeks of REAL cold at most and we are five minutes from the nearest shop. But sometimes the seasons evoke a certain Enid Blyton nostalgia, and I am happy to embrace that as the leaves start to change and the warmth ebbs away.
Before summer ended though, we spent a sunny day clambering up and down hills, pulling ourselves carefully away from those pesky thorns, as we filled our baskets (in my case, an esky) with the plumpest late summer blackberries. They were early, I think. A memory floating up from childhood suggests they only used to appear around my birthday, in mid March, but these berries were calling out to be picked, gorged on and then the extras stashed away for the berry-less months to come. A little preview of Autumnal bounty, on a hot summer’s day.
And now, as more berries ripen and we gear up for another afternoon of ‘who can pick the most blackberries’ while our two year old tries to eat her weight in them, the other autumn fruit is starting to appear. Apple tree limbs are heavy and the quinces are growing bigger by the day. I keep an eye on them so I can beat the birds. My mother in law makes quince paste while I am too impatient, and satisfy myself with blushing pink poached fruit. The pears are as sweet as they’ll be all year and I feel like eating mushrooms again. We are only one week in, but it well and truly feels like autumn has arrived.
To celebrate this seasonal shift- always such a magical time of year- here is the recipe for an incredibly easy and seriously delicious blackberry, grape and nutty cinnamon crumble.
I hope you have your foraging baskets ready, and your firewood neatly stacked! Happy squirreling, my friends.
Blackberry and Grape Crumble
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1 cup sliced red grapes (seedless is best)
1 apple or firm pear, thinly sliced
40g panela/brown sugar/castor sugar
100g SR flour
50g cup oats
pinch of cinnamon
80g cold butter, cubed
Preheat the oven to 180c. Combine the berries, sliced grapes and sliced apple/pear in a bowl and toss with castor sugar. Tumble into a small, shallow oven proof dish or bowl (it only needs to be high enough for the fruit and an even 1-2cm layer of crumble).
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and toss together with your hands, then rub the butter in until the mixture looks like sandy breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the fruit, pop in the oven until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.
Serve hot, with cream or ice cream or both.
NOTES FOR CRUMBLE MAKING – Use whatever fruit you have/like best. I like to use a mix of firmer fruit (think apples, firm pears, lightly poached quinces) and softer fruit that will cook down and create juicy sauce- like berries, chopped rhubarb, currants). I usually add chopped nuts and cinnamon or nutmeg or both to my crumble, but you absolutely don’t have to. And I never actually measure the ingredients (I had to remake this blackberry crumble so I could record the actual amounts), I just use whatever fruit I have, put some flour and oats in a bowl, add a little sugar and add butter a few tablespoons at a time until the crumble is sandy and buttery (not dry, but not too oily). It’s a forgiving dessert! Not only in itself, but also because it will happily sit alongside ice-cream, cream, custard or yoghurt and be equally delicious.