Monday, February 28, 2011

Forever young

Chester the Molester. What an inappropriate nickname....well, maybe not so much. My lovely friend and former co-worker came by it quite honestly....she was forever getting called on the carpet and half-heartedly scolded for her latest scandalous behavior - she is just one of those people who only half-grew up, retaining the semi-crazy and completely childlike joy of being a kid to the delight and bewilderment of everyone around her.

Her laugh is addictive, and I was hooked the moment I met her - it was a fix I was forever in search of, would do nearly anything to get, even at my own expense...and that happened a lot. She is a touchy-feely person, and by that I mean she would grab you in the most inappropriate places just to hear you squeal....not terribly politically correct in this day and age, but wildly entertaining - the better she knew you, the more likely you would be the target because she had no fear of official retribution. She earned her nickname with the signature move, "The Chester Chop", in which she would sidle up behind an unsuspecting victim while they were otherwise occupied in a standing position, then reach down and place her palm between your knees, thumb pointed up, then sharply raise her hand in an upward "chop"....squealing was requisite and quite involuntary.

Inappropriate emails were also a staple - most of them sent to personal addresses, most likely after being warned by an administrator firmly biting down on his/her tongue to keep from laughing out loud at the futility of the order to "never do that again". I wonder at the childhood she lived....I can't imagine she was the only one in the family with her sense of humor and lack of fear in using it - not sure how parents could have ever disciplined such a child and kept a straight face. I never saw her in a bad mood, and even when sick or in pain, she would find a way to laugh or make you laugh. I have a large print of her that she gave me that will eventually be framed and grace the wall in my spare bedroom, a great big sunny smile, gloves, boots, hat and an artfully draped scarf, and which I'm sure my grandchildren will ask "Gramma, why does that lady on the snowmobile have no clothes on?". I will just chuckle, and tell them "That's just Chester...isn't she silly?"

Chester moved on, but I still hear from her via email almost every single day, and altho some of the emails she forwards are repeats, (she must get SO many from everywhere because almost all are new and always funny or amazing) she is the ultimate email supplier. She shared a recipe with me a few years back, and it's uber old country - it is dutch I believe, and I think the translation is "butter cake" is a buttery moist shortbread that is SO rich I think butter would drip out of it if you squeezed it....and that you have to cut in VERY small pieces if you don't want to get sick on it. It's a wonderful recipe, simple, delicious, and a great one to ship because it's so dense....and I think it was a family heriloom, so I was honored to accept it, and got her permission to share it with you. Enjoy it as I do, in very small portions, and with eyes in the back of your head....she may be sneaking up on your right now, and you don't want to choke if you get "chopped"!

Boterkoek (pronounced "Boater-kook")

1 C. sugar
2 C. flour
1 dash salt

Mix with a wire whip; add:

1 C. very soft butter (NOT MARGARINE...CHOP!)
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all together until it forms a ball. Pat ball into a round cake pan, ungreased. Using the back of a spoon and a little milk, smooth out the top. Add your favorite nuts, pressing almonds, pecan or walnut halves, hazelnuts in the top....I use almonds. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cool completely, remove from pan and cut in very thin wedges, or into small squares - you can think about how you're going to cut it when you put the nuts on top, and place them accordingly.

So simple, SO rich, and so delicious....the browning process gives the butter amazing flavor and your entire house will smell like a European bakery. I miss Chester being around....even tho I hear from her almost every day. I still expect to see her rounding the corner, hapless stranger in tow, introducing them to everyone in the building....and not necessarily a co-worker, just someone random she picked up in the hall. Crazy? Yup. Belongs in a nut house? Mmmmmaybe, but if you put her there, I want to go too. Love ya, Ches....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weenies & Gravy

As hinted at, I am coughing up the sausage gravy recipe to go with biscuits from the last post - not because you deserve it, but because I cannot help myself....I live for the power and the glory I get from sharing my innermost secret recipes. And because a biscuit without gravy is like a day without sunshine, i.e. pretty much any day in Oregon between September 12th and April 23rd. Also, it's Valentines Day, and nothing says "I love you and every single one of your chins" like gravy.

I thought my mom made good gravy - she would bring drippings to a boil, add water if it wasn't enough for the 7 of us (it never was), then mixed together cornstarch and cold water and poured it in, whisking until it became a clear-ish brown stuff (beef) or yellow stuff (chicken) that filled up the hole we had all made in our scoop of instant mashed potatoes. When she went all Health Nazi, she made her own, using brown potatoes and leaving on the vitamin-filled peel - nothing more disgusting than sucking dirty potato peels out of your teeth after dinner, nor more satisfying than spitting them on the back of your brother's crew cut when he was sitting in front of you watching TV. We liked it, didn't know any better, and some of us were adept at making a scoop of mashed potatoes accept an entire cup of gravy by making the bottom and walls so thin the potato dam threatened to buckle and flood your hamburger "steak" or fried chicken and green beans from the can with it's gelatinous oozing-ness.

When we were very small, we lived in St. Johns, and lived in a neighborhood teeming with other rug-rats, carpet-crawlers and curtain-climbers. Once one of my parents (I forget which one) overheard a nearby Mom calling her kids to dinner, and one of them responded with "What are we having?"....the Mom hollered "Weenies and gravy!", which made them forever and with hilarity wonder how you could get gravy out of a hot was Dad's favorite guess when Mom said dinner was ready.

Handsome Stranger grew up on a farm, and if a farm wife doesn't know how to make gravy, she is labeled "progressive" and can only thread needles for the real women at the sewing bee. So he was learned early on how to whip up what can only be described as something very naughty, and that would just make all you women even more jealous that he only has eyes for me....suffice to say, I always have a smile on my face well into the next day when he makes gravy for dinner. My Mom took to saving the drippings until we arrived on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and he would make it for her...his sister did the same thing. And it was a far, far better thing that putting a scoop of gravy on your plate, and pouring the mashed potatoes in the hole you made in me, that HAS happened.

Gravy is usually deemed a "You can" or "You can't" kind of undertaking - if you don't understand the science of it, most won't even try - that is why they make jars and packets for poor unfortunate souls without mad gravy skilz. And oh what an insipid and uninspired covering for overcooked pasta, instant mashed potatoes, or burnt toast cubes THAT produces! So start small...sausage gravy is hard to screw up, but I've said that before about lots of things, and there are always droves of people at the ready to prove me wrong...but really, it's not that difficult, so quit whining and get out your frying pan!

Handsome Stranger's Sausage Gravy

Bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4" strips (1/4 lb, or even just bacon grease will help)
Sausage - maybe 1 lb? You can use any mix of the following:
Bulk breakfast (like Jimmy Dean or whatever your meat dept. has)
Brats of any kind, remove casing
Kielbasa (it's harder to smash up)
Brown & Serves (I like mixing these in with others)
Italian or spicy - personal taste
1/3 C. flour
2 C. milk
Half & half or cream or evaporated milk if you like it richer
Salt and FRESH GROUND PEPPER to taste ( I like a little season salt too)

In your large skillet, heat bacon and saute until it starts to get brown around the edges and leaches out a fair amount of bacon fat. Add your sausage, and pulverize it with a potato masher or fork (that will make your hand hurt) so it's broken up quite small. The kielbasa is harder to smash up...if you dice it first it helps, and the brown & serves (maple are our fave) can be microwaved in the box for a minute, then sliced up and THEN smashed. Cook until any sausage that was raw is no longer pink, then sprinkle flour over all and continue to stir and scrape the bottom until flour is absorbed and starts to brown. Add some pepper, a pinch or so of salt, then start adding the milk, whisking as it heats and starts to boil. Add more milk, or the half & half, cream or evaporated milk, alternating with more regular milk depending on how rich and creamy you like it. Boil and whisk, and when it gets really thick, turn heat down and keep stirring and adding milk until it's like pancake batter, then salt and PEPPER to taste. It will thicken as it cools, and sometime seems to never stop taking milk...just season accordingly.

We have two schools of thought in our kitchen - he likes it THICK and FULL of meat, and VERY peppery, I prefer it a little thinner, with less meat and edible. So it's usually thick and full of meat and pepper. You can double the flour, add a lot more dairy, and you will need to bump up the salt and pepper, but go with what you like - if your sausage ends up being too weenie and you end up with bland gravy, that's what you get in restaurants....if you want more flavor, you can punch it up with ham base if you ever got it like I told you...and a pinch of MSG (oh geez, get over yourself - it's in EVERYTHING) will boost the flavor too.

Serve hot over biscuits, eggs, omelets, toast, pancakes, waffles, Krispy Kremes, green beans, jello, ice get the drift, it's good on anything. Except weenies.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

All Y'all Can Just Kiss My Biscuits...

Man cannot live by bread alone....he also needs butter, fillings and things to dip it in. Such a versatile food with so many amazing side uses - sandwiches, toast, pudding, stuffing, croutons, crostini, panko, pizza, strata, as a bowl for soup, a frame for eggs, french toast, bread salad, bread sticks....OK, I give. I know there are more, but it's after 8 pm and I'm kind of old so I have to save up the rest of my memory to finish this post.

A couple years ago, Son #1 came home for Christmas, and decided to spend the night Christmas Eve to make sure his brother did not scab any of the pistachios out of his stocking. He is (off and on) a restaurant cook, and is quite good - I think he could win one of those chef competitions where they're looking for the next greatest thing, except they might have a problem because he's really messy about it. At least in MY kitchen. Anyway, as per usual, we ran ourselves ragged going to Mass and getting everything ready for the next day, and I realized I had forgotten to make the biscuits for the next morning. "No problem", says he, you just go off to la-la land and I'll make them for you. I was so exhausted I said OK and headed off, not even caring if there would be flour on the tops of the cabinets and shortening on the windows over the least I didn't have to make 'em.

We awoke the next morning to the aroma of baked bread - but as our bedroom is far away from the kitchen, the closer we got to the source, the more we realized that the smell wasn't quite right. There on a plate in the center of the island was a neatly arranged plate of an entire batch of biscuits....a lovely shade that can only be described by my favorite Crayola, Burnt Sienna. Son #2 filled us in....apparently after we went to bed there was "celebrating" going on, and some impressive quantities of hooch had been imbibed. Biscuits were mixed, rolled, cut and placed lovingly on a cookie sheet and put in the oven, at which point the baker decided to lie on the kitchen floor where it was cool and get comfortable enough to fall sound asleep. Many hours later he awoke to find his biscuits resembling mahogany hockey pucks....he then went back to bed in a more appropriate location. Needless to say I made a new batch for breakfast, then wiped down the windows and the tops of the cabinets.

So if you haven't figured it out yet, biscuits are always a favorite around here, mostly because they usually come with sausage gravy. Yes, that orgasmically good and fat-laden staple that probably caused the South to lose the War....who the HELL can get anything done after eating all those carbs?? (You do realize this is hysterical fiction, right? And that everything I know about the Civil War I learned from watching Gone With the Wind?) Lawdy. And biscuits are good for other things too, like to put on top of chicken and vegetables with a nice thick gravy for chicken pot pie, with a little mustard and butter, or sausage/egg/cheese for a sandwich, to wrap around breakfast sausages for pigs in blankets (one of my grandson's favorites), and using a little extra liquid, to drop on top of really thick stews to steam for dumplings. Not to mention just with butter, or the jam of your choice. Ooooooh-EEE, them's bitchin' vittles!!

This is another one of those things you should really try to make without Bisquick - I know it's convenient, but so is potted meat and I bet you don't want to eat that, do you? REALLY??? It's like ABC food...."Already Been Chewed"....please say you've never opened a can of that except to feed your dog because you're out of Alpo. Like Karl says, "ain't nuthin' but lips and peckers", and after he took care of Dwight Yokam, I tend to believe the man was a genius. So no Bisquick, in a long drawn out and disgusting way that I hope cures you of that nasty habit.

Buttermilk Biscuits

1-3/4 C. flour
1/3 C. shortening
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 C.+ buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients together, cut in shortening until all the pieces are smaller than peas. Make a well in the center and pour 3/4 C. buttermilk in, starting from the outside, stir in flour and mix just until most of the flour has been absorbed. If there is too much still dry, push aside the clump and add a little more to the dry area and stir in. It should be mostly a lump, but not too wet...if you used too much buttermilk, sprinkle a little flour over the top before you dump it out.

On a clean counter top, spread out a nice long piece of wax paper...don't be stingy, it's cheap and will save you from having to scrub the counter top. Dump the dough on the center of the paper, sprinkle with a little more flour if needed, then with floured hands, knead 4 or 5 times only - that means you lightly press it flat, fold it, then turn, flatten and fold again....4 or 5 folds should be fine. LIGHTLY form into a ball, then press or pat flat and you can either continue to pat or press it out by hand, or roll out with a rolling pin. You can use a can of food to if you don't have a pin...or a bottle out of the collection from that party you had and have been taking just a couple out a week so your recycler doesn't think you're a freakin' binge drinker or that you have a still in the basement. You want to roll/pat it out until it's about 3/4" thick I think...I don't know, I just eyeball it.

Cut with a biscuit cutter (round) or use a glass, dipping in flour to keep it from sticking. And you're supposed to push straight down and not twist, because it keeps the edges from sealing and your biscuit won't rise up as high...whatever. Just remember that the key is to HANDLE AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE! The more you mess with it and warm it up, the more likely it will be tough and not tender. Put em on a cookie sheet, slightly apart so they can brown all over or almost touching if you want them to be soft on the sides. I don't put anything on top, but I hear that KFC brushes them with water or butter or some such nonsense...they don't need it.

Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes - if you aren't sure they're done, pick a big one from the middle and pull slightly apart in the middle...It kind of looks stringy if it's not entirely cooked. Use a fork if you're a baby...I have burnt my hands so many times they are like catcher's mitts....and I pretty much don't even need hot pads anymore. Take em off the pan pronto, and put in a basket or bowl lined with a CLEAN towel....and please don't use a bath towel that says "His" on it, or one of cousin Ernie's old flannel diapers...bad form unless you really DO live in the South. Keep them covered with the corners of the towel and they will steam and stay nice and warm...but they're always gone before they get cold, so no worries.

What's that? You want the gravy recipe? Well, maybe I should start a Blog-A-Thon and see how much you REALLY want it first....muuwhaaaahaaahaaa!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scratch vs Bisquick: The Box is Goin' DOWN...

I just realized that I never shared my recipe for buttermilk pancakes like I said I thoughtless of me! I'm really hungry right now, and thinking about a steaming hot, light as a feather, slightly crispy and brown around the edges flapjack with a big pat of butter melting all over it makes me HOT. No one, and I mean NO ONE can beat this recipe....I defy any and all of you to try. They are hands down the best of the best, and ridiculously easy - anyone who thinks they are saving time by making them from a mix is sadly and tastelessly mistaken.

Growing up in a large family, pancakes were cheap to make - and I believe my mother used Bisquick to do so. BUT then they discovered sourdough starter, and made those now and then - nothing lighter than a sourdough pancake, and with that special tang...woof. Sometimes Mom would make animal pancakes, or maybe your initials etc....shapey cakes always tasted better. And toppings were always butter, maple syrup, cinnamon sugar, and on occasion a delicious berry coulis with powdered sugar sprinkled on top - coulis is just a fancy word for mashed up berries cooked with a little sugar until thickened. And we never ran could eat as many as you wanted, which didn't happen often in a family of 7. But sourdough is a pain in the arse....I needed easier.

When our kids were pretty young, we had a salesman come to the door to try and sell us encyclopedias...yes, I am THAT old. We listened to his schpiel, took the free "A" volume and the 3 free gift certificates, and told him we couldn't afford to buy any. Which he should have figured out before he rang the doorbell of a 2 bedroom duplex in an older part of town with a 68 El Camino and a Chevy Nova with the headliner partially blocking the back window and the stuffing boiling out of the top of the rear seat back. Duh. I don't recall what the other "prizes" were, but the one that we still have today was a set of 2 Doubleday Encyclopedic Cookbooks. They had EVERYTHING in them, and have been great references over the never know when you're going to have to kill a lobster or make a creme bouche, but it was in there if you ever did. And that, my friends, was where this recipe was born. I do not change it one iota, and that is saying a LOT....I cannot help myself and will dink with pretty much any recipe I get, but this has always been utter perfection - how I would LOVE to make them right now!!

And breakfast for dinner is always popular with feels deliciously naughty to eat something at the wrong time, doesn't it? Add some sausage or bacon, some eggs over easy/medium and your preferred topping, and you will sleep well tonight my is quite a carb load if you go whole hog on these babies, but soooooo worth it!

Best. Buttermilk. Pancakes. EVER.

1 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. sugar
1 egg
1 C. buttermilk (shake gently...)
2 T. oil

Heat griddle to about 300, stir dry ingredients together with a whisk and create a well in the center. In a separate bowl whisk egg, buttermilk and oil, pour into well and whisk just until blended...pancake batter should be lumpy! If you beat it until it's smooth, they will be tough and not as light and fluffy. It should spread into a circle when you pour it on the griddle...if it mounds up and requires you to spread it a little, add more buttermilk because they will take too long to cook the centers, making the outside dark. Put a small amount of butter on the griddle and spread it all over with a spatula, pour or ladle about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter for each pancake. Let cook until bubbles that form on top just start to break, carefully flip and let cook a couple minutes - they are done when you lightly press the center and it springs back. If it leaves a dent, let it cook another minute or's still raw in the middle. You only need to butter the griddle the first time....but mine is non-stick so whatever you do for yours. If you use a frying pan, turn the burner midway, but you may have to turn it down...experiment based on the color when you flip em. And only turn them ONCE...have patience, they will cook through.

Also, if you don't have buttermilk handy, you can make your own....put 1 T. white vinegar or lemon juice in a one cup measuring cup, then fill with regular milk and let stand 5 minutes. That's IT!! And it's been a while because I use bmilk for lots of stuff, but I didn't used to - scouts honor. My fave as a kid was butter with lots of cinnamon sugar, then rolled up into a tube and eaten with my hands. Unless there was berry coulis....I am still a berry freak. But now? I would trade my little brother for one of these babies hot off the grill, and loaded with just butter...but I would probably also trade him for a handful of magic beans, so not sure if that adds to their image.'s the new dinner.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The smart-aleck doesn't fall far from the tree...

My Dad died 6 days ago, and the funeral is over, the flowers have been distributed between the church and cemetery, and family is gravitating back to their "normal" lives that aren't quite normal anymore. Because there is another hole in the fabric of my family...when my nephew passed away a few years ago (has it really been that long?), I identified that hole at a family function. Something was out of place, I had a weird feeling we shouldn't start, that we had forgotten something...then it suddenly and painfully occurred to me that it was George, or rather the lack of George - an absence so strong it created a vacuum that pulled tears right out of my heart. We're going to feel it with Dad too - he was the spark in the room, the joke, the smile and the twinkle with a mission to make you smile.

I think he delighted in having 6 kids, because there was always a willing target for teasing and story telling. My younger sister had a birthmark on her stomach, and he told her many times that she got it because Mom spilled coffee on her when she was a baby. He had a scar on the corner of his eye, and when I would ask how he got it, he would tell me that when he was in the Army, he was driving a jeep and a Jap sniper jumped on him from a tree and cut him with a knife. He was a Marine reservist and never served active duty, but I didn't know that. He taught us Polish jokes and "Pull my finger", and when we were being obnoxious would tell us he was going to find a board with a nail in it to spank us with.

He was, in fact, so fun at times it would get him in trouble with "The Boss" - mom didn't put up with our shenanigans as much, she was busy with the important business of forming us into responsible adults and devout Catholics by way of torture (housecleaning), penance (The Rosary..."On your KNEES, maggot!"), and clean living (whole wheat bread - YUCK).

One time we were getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner at Mom's (most of us were adults at that time), and mom was ordering Dad around like a 4 star General. She repeated a command, expressing her annoyance that she had to tell him again, and Dad said "I don't know why this is such a big deal, it's not like the Pope is coming for dinner"....and just as when we were small, we cleared the room in a nano-second, cowering in the basement while listening to her hand him his cajones upstairs and waiting for the "All Clear".

Another was when my sister and I were pre-teens, and we lived in a cool old house in Portland with a covered concrete slab porch. We had one ancient pair of roller skates, the kind you wear over your shoes, so we shared....we each wore one and would skate in circles on one foot around and around on the porch. Mom came out and told us to get ready for bed, but she went back in and Dad told us we could skate a little longer - my sister took a corner too fast and put her hand out to steady herself, and it went right through one of the front windows. Mom heard the crash and came out yelling "This wouldn't have happened if you had gone to bed like I TOLD you!!", and Dad had to admit he had usurped her authority....I bet it was a painful ride to the hospital for more than ONE of them.

Dad had a wicked sense of humor, and utilized it right to the end. A few years ago he had a stroke, and ended up getting a stent to open his artery. He was under observation at OHSU, and was in ICU so only 2 of us at a time could visit him. My older sis and I went in while Mom took a break, and we noticed right away Dad was acting weird. He kept lifting the edge of the blankets and petting something underneath - we finally asked him and he said he had a fuzzy caterpillar in there. We exchanged a WTF glance, and sis went out to tell the nurse. He came in and said "So Dave, your daughters tell me you have a fuzzy caterpillar under the covers?", to which he replied, completely deadpan "I've never seen these two before in my life". Even tho the pain meds they gave him were making him hallucinate (he also told his team of brain doctors that OHSU used to be a big yellow Mexican grocery store), he knew that we ratted him out and paid us back in full.

So if you've been paying attention, you will know that my dad's favorite food was blackberry pie - with vanilla ice cream of course. I made 3 of them on Sunday and broke them out as a kind of "toast" to Dad's memory at the after-funeral get-together; there wasn't enough, as usual. I'm going to give you the crust ingredients because it's a 2 crust pie, but you should go back to the original crust post if you need help with technique. Mom and I have made a LOT of these over the years, and I think it's all of our favorite too...and nothing quite screams my Dad like homemade blackberry pie.

Dad's Blackberry Pie

2 Cups flour, use scoop to dump in measuring cup, DO NOT shake or pack
1 tsp. table salt (don't use kosher, it's too big)
5.5 oz. butter flavor Crisco (that is 2/3 C. if you don't have scale)
5-6 T. ice water

Mix flour and salt with pastry blender, cut in shortening, then stir in water with a fork until dry is just incorporated. Carefully and lightly press together and cut in half with sharp knife, roll out 1/2 and place in pan, cutting excess off to the edge of pie plate.

4-5 C. frozen (or fresh) blackberries
3/4 C. sugar (if berries are very tart, use 1 C.)
1 tsp. lemon juice (trust me, it needs this)
1/4 C. flour (add 1 more T. flour if frozen berries)
1-2 T. butter

Put berries in large bowl, add sugar, flour and lemon juice and stir gently until combined. If berries are frozen, stir and let stand 15 minutes, then stir again, continuing until they've thawed just enough to incorporate dry ingredients. But no longer...if it turns juicy, your pie is gonna make a BIG mess in the oven. Scrape every last bit of blackberry goodness into your pie shell, then cut 5 or 6 pieces of butter and scatter over the top. Wet the edge of the bottom crust, roll out the top and place over the filling, pressing edges lightly to seal. Cut to 1" past edge, then fold excess under and crimp by pressing index finger and thumb of one hand together, and put on edge of crust, nails pointing out, then use your other index finger to push the dough between them up and to a rounded point. Then you move your thumb and index finger one depression over and do the next one and so on. Someday I will take a picture of that - my SIL says it's hard, but she's kinda whiny. Cut slits in the top at least 1/2" long so they don't seal shut...exploding berry pie mess is not pretty even if it does smell good until it catches fire on the oven floor.

I like to brush the top with water, then sprinkle sparkly sugar all over it...makes it look like fairy food. Bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes, checking around 40 to make sure it's not too brown. If you have a ways to go and don't want it to get darker, just pop a square of foil over it. And if you are worried about messes, put a cookie sheet underneath...caramelized berry pie brittle sounds better than it actually is when you scrape it out of your dirty oven. Let cool almost completely if you can, and don't worry if it leaks or looks and I will be the only ones who give a shit.

A couple caveats: if you know you are using Himalayan blackberries, you will need to use less sugar. They are too sweet in my opinion, and just not as good as the ones that are growing over the derelict cars and 400 55 gallon drums full of who-knows-what in your neighbors "Eden-like" property next door. And you really shouldn't use them because they are an invasive plant, or at the very least be chopping down the vines and burning the roots once you've whored out their berries for your pie. And for Lord's sake, DO NOT put cinnamon in it. My Mom swears she always did, but as she taught me how to make them and I don't ever recall that, I choose to think she is just messing with me. ps, I am not a cinnamon hater, it just doesn't belong in oatmeal cookies or blackberry pie.

And if Heaven is everything you love, then I know Dad is sitting on a cloud (because that's what you do in Heaven), eating a whole berry pie with a giant scoop of vanilla bean....and he doesn't have to share with ANYone.