Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August in Bucks County: Blackberries and Peaches

Today has been beautiful here in Bucks County, PA.  Sunny, breezy, and not too hot!  The boys and I just got back from red raspberry picking at Wildemoore Farm...  yes, more berry picking!  Hurry over to Wildemoore's in the next two weeks if you want to pick red raspberries.  They are open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9am - 1pm and the berries are delicious.  But that's actually not what I was planning on writing about today.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Penn Vermont Farm  in Bedminster to pick Blackberries and I wanted to write about that.  They are located at Bedminster (Rt. 113) and Rolling Hills Roads.  As you can see from the sign, they have a farm stand with sweet corn, tomatoes, honey, peaches, flowers, and various other things.  They also have pick your own strawberries in the spring, and black raspberries, and blackberries in the summer.  I missed the black raspberries (darn!) but I was able to pick some gorgeous, huge black berries!  If you are in the area, definitely check out this farm.  It's a pretty drive to get there, and the farm is huge.
 The blackberry patch (above).  The bushes are thorn-free, and the grass is mowed in between, so it is easy picking.

My 4 quarts of blackberries.  I think it took me a little under 45 minutes to pick them.  I did not have the boys with me that day, so it definitely went faster!

I also purchased a peck of delicious peaches.  They are not pick your own, but I passed the trees on the way to the black berry patch so I snapped a picture.

After my morning of picking fruit and visiting the farm, I had 4 quarts of blackberries and a entire peck of peaches to use up!  I remembered a Cooking Light recipe that I had been meaning to try (Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops and Peaches), so I stopped by Blooming Glen Pork to pick up the pork chops.  I still have bourbon left over from The Secret Chef that I have been trying to use up (we're not big drinkers, obviously), and I had honey from the Penn-Vermont farm stand, so I was ready to get started.  I made the recipe as written, with only minor changes, from June 2004 issue of Cooking Light magazine.  It was a fun way to use up some of the peaches in a savory dish.  The green beans were from a farm stand on E. Creamery Road in Perkasie (Hilltown Township), so this was a very locally sourced meal!

Bourbon-Glazed Pork Chops and Peaches

1/3 cup bourbon
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 (4 ounce) boneless, center-cut loin pork chops
2 peaches, halved and pitted
cooking spray

1.  Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl or large glass measuring cup.  Pour approximately 1/3 - 1/2 the marinade into a separate bowl and add the pork (toss to coat).  Add peaches to remaining marinade (toss to coat). Allow to marinate for a few minutes.

2.  Heat non-stick grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Remove pork and peaches from the marinade (reserve marinade from peaches).  Place pork and peaches on the grill pan; cook approx. 4 minutes on each side, or until pork is done.  Note:  I could not fit all of the chops and peaches together on my grill pan, so I cooked the peaches first, set them a side, then cooked the pork.

3.  While pork cooks, place marinade from the peaches in a small sauce pan.  Simmer over medium heat while you are cooking the other ingredients.  Spoon over the pork and peaches before serving.

I still had all of those blackberries to use, so I decided to try Martha Stewart's Strawberry Cake, only substituting blackberries for strawberries.  It was soooo yummy!  Next time, I would increase the sugar on the top of the blackberries to 3 tablespoons (to compensate for the tartness of the blackberries), so I am making that change here.  It is such an easy cake to make, I will be trying it will lots of different kinds of fruit.

Easy Blackberry Cake
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk (I used whole)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups blackberries

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter 10 in spring form pan.
2.  mix dry ingredients together in medium bowl.
3. Put butter and 1 cup sugar in bowl of mixer.  Mix on medium-high until pale and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.  lower speed to medium low and add egg, milk, and vanilla and mix until combined.
4.  Reduce speed to low.  Gradually add in dry ingredients.
5.  Transfer batter to prepared pan.  Arrange berries on top of batter as close together as possible, in a single layer (or as close to single layer as you can).  Sprinkle remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the berries.
6.  Bake cake 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 325.  Continue baking until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, approximately 1 hour.  Let cool in pan on wire rack.  Cut into wedges.  Serve with whipped cream.  Store at room temperature, loosely covered, for up to two days.  I am pretty sure you could also wrap this tightly and freeze it.  We gobbled ours up, so I was not able to try it! 

I also was excited to try a Honeyed Peach Blackberry Crisp recipe, because it called for EIGHT cups of peeled, chopped peaches, PLUS three cups of blackberries...  in other words, the perfect recipe for my situation!  Unfortunately, I didn't realize until after I had already started it, that I was not going to have enough flour.  I tried improvising a topping made out of pancake mix.  It was ok, but not blog worthy!  The filling was a pretty good combo though, so maybe next time I have a ton of peaches and blackberries to use up I will give it another try and post it here.