Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Love Among the Blackberries by Milou Koenings

In my new release, I Love You Three, the characters spend a day harvesting blackberries from an old lady’s backyard — and then half the town spends the weekend using them before they spoil. There among the blackberry bushes, my heroine, Julie, falls ever more in love with the hero, and as they unload their harvest, she tells him the first lie...

blackberry bush
Lorna Mitchell, cc-by-nd-2.0.
For me, blackberries immediately conjure up the memory of my grandmother’s marathon jelly-making days. She grew a variety of berries in her backyard and we always knew she kept a sharp eye on us kids from the kitchen window whenever we were out there playing. The minute she couldn’t see us anymore, she’d come looking, certain we were crouching behind a berry bush of some kind, eating her harvest. (She was usually right!)

But the payoff came when all those berries were harvested — one kind at a time — and she’d make jam. She had a stainless-steel pot taller than a coffee urn, with a tap at the bottom. I’ve never seen another one like it. The closest I’ve found are pots used to brew homemade beer. (And since my grandmother also produced many bottles of cassis liquor, it’s quite possible this was a hootch-making contraption and not a jam pot at all!)

We used to love lining up the jars of different colored jelly on the shelves. The jewel tones — ruby red currants, dark amethyst blackberries, deep blue cassis and blueberries, and fresh green of gooseberries ­— gleamed in the half-light of the basement.

Still, there’s only so much jelly or jam, or even pies and muffins, you can make when you’re faced with as many blackberries as my characters in I Love You Three.  So, I took a little journey on Pinterest, just to see what else people are doing with their fresh blackberries.  And wow!
Here’s a sampling of the mouthwatering recipes I found, and which of the characters in I Love You Three would be most likely to make it:

Blackberry Crostada, from halfbakedharvest.com
This seems like something Annie's mom would make. We first meet her in I Love You Three, but she saves the day in a later Green Pines romance.

Blackberry Cheesecake, from Bromabakery.com
This is totally something Marcia would make. She teaches the hero, Mac, to dance, and brings him dinner, sometimes, too.

Blackberry Popsicles and Blackberry Lemonade

Of course, the heroine, Julie, is going to be serving these at her mother's birthday party, during which she also surreptitiously tries to steer Mac toward some help for the problem he's grappling with...

Blackberry Popsicles from Tutti-dolci.com

Blackberry Lemonade from Like Mother Like Daughter

Blackberry Party Cake

This cake has got to be the piece the resistance at Julie and Mac’s engagement party, since it’s summer. (It won’t work as their wedding cake only because they get married right after Thanksgiving, at the beginning of my holiday novella, The Kampala Peppermint Twist.)

Blackberry Cake from Natascha's Kitchen

blackberry cake

Now tell me you don’t want to fill your yard with blackberries? Well, maybe not. But when you find a basket or two of them at the store, at least you'll know the problem won’t be what to do with them, but which recipe to pick!

One last one that I have to include only because no recipe list would be complete without chocolate:

Blackberry Mille-Feuille from Gourmande in the Kitchen

chocolate mille-feuille

I hope you enjoyed this tour of some of awesome culinary blogs.  You can find more recipes that my Green Pines characters might be whipping up on my Green Pines Recipes Pinterest board.

Milou Koenings is a USA Today bestselling author. She writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with a happy ending bring more joy into the world and so make it a better place.

Her Green Pines sweet romances, Reclaiming Home and Sweet Blizzard are available on AmazonAmazon.uk, iBooks, Nook, Kobo and all your favorite e-book retailers.  

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  1. Oh my goodness, all these recipes sound delicious. I'll have to try them. Around our area of Texas we have Dewberries. They are very similar to Blackberries. Thanks for sharing and congrats on the new release.

  2. I'll take the blackberry recipe that includes chocolate! Thanks for sharing all these yummy recipes!

    1. Let me know if you try it. My kids are insisting on the popsicles first - but it's still too cold for me to do that!

  3. Those recipes look amazing!! I absolutely love blackberries. I live in Texas now where I've even tried to grow them only to have them die. But I used to live in Oregon where they grew like weeds. We had a huge blackberry bush we couldn't even keep trimmed in our backyard at one house. Yum! You could find places out in the woods or off the road and just load up on baskets of blackberries. The same with blueberries and raspberries. I miss that!

    1. I miss having that too. Now we've got lemons, pears, and passion fruit, so I can't complain too much, but no berries.

  4. These look delicious, Milou! I can't wait for summer to eat berries and try these recipes. :) Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sounds like a fun story! I've lived in two houses where we had blackberries in the back yard. They were wild, and I did nothing to cultivate them, but they grew like crazy. I made pies and cobblers, nothing as fancy as the treats you've talked about.

    1. To be honest, pies, plain and simple, are usually my favorite!

  6. For many years, blackberry briars were plentiful and I picked all that I could. Jam, Jelly and Preserves were made but I always froze some so that I could make cobblers even in winter. I usually use the simple recipe of 1 cup flour, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of milk. Mix these together and pour in a pan that has 1 stick of melted butter or margarine. Cover the flour mixture with sweetened berries and bake for about 40-50 min. in a 350 degree oven. The flour mixture will raise to cover the berries and this is delicious hot out of the oven with ice cream on top. I often reduce the melted butter to 3/4 cup and it doesn't affect the yumminess!