Freshly picked raspberries

Freshly picked raspberries

“As some beautiful or palatable fruit is perhaps the noblest gift of nature to man, so is a fruit which a man has in some measure identified himself by cultivating or collecting it one of the most suitable presents to a friend.”
— Henry David Thoreau, from Journals, November 23, 1860

Our friends Diane and Dennis opened their berry crop to me this week.  A lovely day trip to the Skagit Valley, a cool morning, comfortable picking while standing because the raspberry bushes were so tall, and the hugest raspberries I’d ever seen.  They were Tulameen raspberries, plump, firm and sweet.  And organic, too.  The less firm ones made way directly to my mouth — no sense wasting the ones I couldn’t keep.  What a generous gift this was, to share the bounty of their harvest with my friend Carol and me.

Once home, I flash froze my berries.  A way to prolong the summery season into fall and winter.  Lucky me.









Ripening raspberries

Ripening raspberries

“Some of the raspberries are ripe, the most innocent and simple of fruit, the purest and most ethereal.”
— Henry David Thoreau, from The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, Vol. 6, Summer (July 2, 1851)

Raspberries with blue sky

Raspberries with blue sky





Enough freshly picked raspberries and blackberries for muffins

We will have a good crop of blackberries this year. A few are already ripening.

It has been a while since I’ve posted a recipe.  This week the first Himalayan blackberries are ripe on the wild bushes that are taking over our yard.  I can pick a handful or two every day as they slowly ripen.  In looking for a use for this newest taste of the summer season, I came across the following recipe in The Food 52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs.  This is a blueberry muffin recipe, but I substituted a mix of raspberries and blackberries.  I like the recipe because it is not overloaded with sugar and butter, but the coconut adds moisture and a great taste.

Muffin batter in muffin tins

Mom’s Blueberry-Coconut Muffins
from The Food 52 Cookbook

2 c plus 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour (I used half whole wheat and half white flour)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c flaked coconut, toasted
1 egg, beaten
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 c whole milk
1-1/2 c fresh blueberries (I substituted a mix of fresh raspberries and blackberries)

Heat the over to 400 degrees F.  Prepare 12 cup muffin tins.

Sift together 2 c flour, the baking powder, sugar and salt.  Stir in the toasted coconut.

Combine egg, melted butter, and milk.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix lightly until combined.

Toss the berries with the remaining 1 Tbsp flour.  Fold into the batter.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.   Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and finish cooling on a rack.

Empty muffin tins

The end result, still warm and ready to eat

May your summer be filled with red letter days!

Lucifer crocosmia

Two pots of strikingly red geraniums brighten this yard.

Hummingbird feeder, no hummers

Ethereal poppy

Boat rentals at Green Lake

Ubiquitous red stop signs

Rainier cherries, Pike Place Market

Raspberries, Pike Place Market

Fire engine red

Red chairs in the pavilion at Olympic Sculpture Park, with “Encounters with Water” wall art

The Seattle signature (muted) wardrobe brightened by a red beach bucket






“Some of the raspberries are ripe, the most innocent and simple of fruits, the purest and most ethereal.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Journal, July 2, 1851

Raspberries ripening on the bush

Fresh raspberries

Freshly picked raspberries

Raspberries!  One of the tastes of summer.

To Be Always June

June 30, 2012


Fresh garden peas

Vine-ripening strawberries

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.”
— Lucy Maud Montgomery

What would it be like indeed — a life of strawberries and raspberries, fresh garden peas, roses, long days.  I guess I’d still choose a world with four seasons.  Perpetual summer would be just too much of a good thing.

How about you?

“Her own way was to make art out of the very things that absorbed her attention in her own life.”
— William Deresiewicz, A Jane Austen Education:  How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things that Matter

I am loving this book, A Jane Austen Education

I am fewer than 50 pages into William Deresiewicz’s book, A Jane Austen Education:  How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things that Really Matter, and I am already ready to recommend this book!  I love what he says about the lessons in Emma acknowledging that it is the accumulation of “minute particulars” that comprise a life:

“To pay attention to ‘minute particulars’ is to notice your life as it passes.  But it is also, I realized, something more.  By talking over their little daily affairs — and not just talking them over, but talking them over and over, again and again . . . — the characters in Emma were doing nothing less than attaching themselves to life.  They were weaving the web of community, one strand of conversation at a time.  They were creating the world, in the process of talking about it.”

Here are a few of the “minute particulars” of my day so far:

The last of this season's raspberries, fresh picked

Tomatoes ripening on the kitchen windowsill

Coffee shop patron enjoying a warm autumn day at an outdoor table


Red Berries

June 28, 2010

Red raspberries, some ripe for the picking

Succulent red strawberry

“Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.”
     — Wendell Berry (whose name is very apt for this quote!) 

I wanted to serve fresh strawberries for dessert accompanied by some kind of lemon cake.  So I looked through my stash of yet-to-be-tried recipes and found this one from Cupcakes:  Luscious Bakeshop Favorites from Your Home Kitchen by Shelly Kaldunski: 

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes 

1 c all-purpose flour
1-1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1/4 c sour cream 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. (I used cupcake liners instead.) 

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, 2 – 3 minutes.  Add the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon extract, and beat until combined.  Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.  Add the sour cream and beat until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 – 20 minutes.  Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. 

If desired, spoon a lemon glaze over the cupcakes.  The glazed cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days; bring to room temperature before serving.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcake


Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes ready for glaze

Seasonal Berries

June 20, 2010

Raspberry Strawberry Coconut Cake

Who can resist eating seasonally when it’s berry time! 

I recently came across a cake recipe that used strawberries and raspberries.  But what appealed to me was that this was a coconut cake.  When I saw this magic combination of ingredients, I resolved to try the recipe.  It was as good as it sounded.  I think it would also make a delicious and fancy coffee cake for breakfast.

You can find the recipe at, but I’ll reproduce it for you here as well:

Raspberry Strawberry Coconut Cake
1/2 cup butter, soft
1 1/4 cup sugar (I used 1 cup)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup strawberries, quartered
1 cup raspberries (use frozen or fresh – but put in freezer for 10 minutes before mixing in, so they retain their shape).
Icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 inch cake pan.
Beat the butter & sugar until creamy. Then beat in the eggs & milk.
Mix the dry ingredients, and gently mix into the wet.
Very gently fold in the strawberries and frozen raspberries.
Spoon batter into cake pan and bake for 1 -1.5 hours, until an inserted cake tester/toothpick comes out clean.

Ingredients for the cake

Chilled, rimed raspberries

Raspberry Strawberry Coconut Cake lightly dusted with powdered sugar

Berries and Cupcakes

July 6, 2009

Fresh raspberries with cupcake and ice cream

Fresh raspberries with cupcake and ice cream

This is berry season.  It’s a good idea to have some fresh ideas for serving up these berries.  This year I’ve been enjoying Vanilla Cupcakes made from a recipe in The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf.  They are simply delicious with fresh raspberries and ice cream.  Here is the recipe:

Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes 12 (I made 8 instead, and they weren’t too big.)

1 c all-purpose flour
a scant 3/4 c sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c whole milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
Frosting of your choice

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.  Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

Whisk the egg, vanilla, and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).  Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the batter is smooth.  Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter into the paper cupcake cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and the cake bounces back when touched.  A skewer inserted in the center shsould come out clean.  Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the frosting on top and decorate with nonpareils, if desired.