We just got back from a vacation to Oregon. Wow. It was perfect and I’m telling you – those Oregonians love their trees. It’s something to behold. The mountains are blanketed with a deep, sumptuous, thick, green velvet. Dense, dark, evocative, beautiful, trees. Wide, wild, tree-lined rivers, jumping fish, big birds, mountains, and blackberries, blackberries, blackberries, everywhere…. I’m in love with Oregon, in summer.
Our trip started out with a few days on the Rogue River with friends. The whole experience there is perfect. The home we stayed at is gorgeous – a log mansion you could call it. Our hosts were warm, welcoming and generous in so many ways. There is so much room in their home, bedrooms galore, a kitchen big enough for everyone to be in comfortably at the same time, even those not cooking, scores of other rooms including a living area on the front of the house with big leather chairs in the corners which are the much coveted morning reading/coffee drinking spots (Suzanne’s chair is in the left corner as you come down the stairs – and Alan’s chair is in the right corner across the room). Then there’s the deck on the front of the house and the grounds… .
The grounds are beautiful. A one-minute walk to the River. A one-minute walk to the huge VEGETABLE GARDEN
And the deluxe, luxury, bear and fox proof chicken coop (“Barry’s girls”).
Blackberry bushes abound – everywhere. Discretely placed seating areas in various spots on the property and an apple-pressing platform, a tree-swing in Susy’s garden, and a pair of perfectly placed hammocks. Last year was my first year there and I waited all year to go again – honestly, I thought about it a lot. It was worth the wait and I now find myself waiting again. . ..
And fun… it was so much fun. We kayaked and floated down the River endlessly, leisurely, languorously, admiring eagles and osprey and the occasional jumping fish, dragonflies, butterflies, deer. Our wonderful hosts set up Olympic games for us (badminton, Frisbee, horseshoes, like that) with medals for the winners. Alan won the gold. He is so nice, he let me wear his medal. Suzanne took the Bronze and Mary the Silver. The rest of us lost. Whatever. I’m not competitive, right?
We took turns cooking – everyone did their part – making delicious food or strong drinks or being funny. Suzanne made her trademark exceptional Tequila Lime Chicken (the subject of a previous posting). We made blackberry items with blackberries from the bushes just above the River. So sweet. Free berries – an abundance of them – what could be better. We made lots of things with blackberries including jam (which I burned), cake, galette, bowls of berries. Yum. Mary made an amazing Blackberry Buttermilk Cake, well worth repeating. Here it is.
Blackberry Buttermilk Cake (from Food and Wine via Mary Baskauskas)
Preheat over to 400 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment. Or use a rectangular pan.
1 Cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2/3 Cup, plus
1 ½ Tbsp sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp Vanilla extract
¼ Cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 ¼ Cups blackberries plus more for serving
Slightly sweetened whipped cream for serving
In a small bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl using mixer beat the butter with the 2/3 cup of sugar at medium high speed until fluffy. Beat for 3 minutes.
Beat in the egg and vanilla.
At low speed beat in the buttermilk and dry ingredients in 3 alternating batches ending with the dry ingredients. Do not overbeat. Gently fold the batter just until blended then scrape into the pans and smooth the top.
Scatter the 1 ¼ Cups of blackberries over the batter lightly pressing them into the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 1 ½ Tbsp of sugar over the cake.
Bake for about 30 minutes until a cake tester (toothpick) inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer the cake to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn out the cake and remove the parchment paper. Turn the cake right side up and let cool completely. Serve with whipped cream and more blackberries.