I love raspberries and I love July.
Every morning we have fresh raspberries for breakfast. They are yummy in homemade parfaits with yogurt and granola. We have a few bushes in our back yard and it brings a lot of pleasure to pick them fresh and eat them every day. The bushes were actually a gift - cuttings past on to me a few years ago, and the gift keeps giving - it is wonderful.
Thinking about raspberries also bring a lot of memories. My earliest memories are picking them with my maternal Grandma Siemens, first on Jackson Street in Abbotsford where they had their old farm house with a huge garden and several raspberry rows. Later, Grandma taught me to pick in Agassiz, where as a young child I had my first job, and she made sure I picked those bushes clean!
As a teen, we went back to Abbotsford each summer and picked raspberries for 4-5 weeks. I have good memories of staying in raspberry pickers houses with my sister Val, cooking our own meals, and working in the fields from early morning to late afternoon. It was a great competition who could pick the most. I can still smell the musty fields, feel the hot summer sun, the scratches of those raspberry leaves and the aroma of fresh and sometimes fermenting fruit.
Every year we would happily cash in our savings in August and go on the great back-to-school spree, using our wonderful new pile of cash.
Years later, I was dredging up these memories and decided to take my three kids back to the raspberry patch. We got hired on at a farm in Abbotsford and I was so excited. I was so surprised when they were not as enchanted as I seemed to have remembered I was! Too hot, days too long, too sticky, and a few other complaints were heard - and groans from the children when I told them how wonderful my memories were! I don't know now if they have changed their mind about that summer experience; perhaps time changes our perceptions of the past?
When my kids were young and I had a little newspaper column, I ran a contest one summer for recipes for garden produce, and received this raspberry pie recipe which won the prize for that week. We have used it in our family every since. I'll print it here, with my modifications - isn't that what cooking is all about?
1 9" baked pie shell (I use a graham crust usually)
5 cups fresh raspberries
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp. corn starch
1/8 tsp. salt
Place 4 cups of berries in pie shell. Crush 1 cup of berries in a saucepan - add water - simmer 3-4 minutes - strain berries - retain liquid and add water if needed to make up 1 cup of water. (I actually skip this step now, and just buy raspberry juice - works too, and a lot less work!)
Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt, add to juice - boil 3 minutes stirring constantly until thick and clear. Let cool a little, then spoon over berries. Refrigerate - enjoy with whipping cream if desired.