Nature's Little Gift
Summer is the season when I try to accomplish a great deal, all the while balancing my three children. My kids are 5, 11 & 13, so naturally they want to go three different directions leaving my life in constant mama go-mode. This past week I needed to chill more, so I decided we would go biking, walking and pick blackberries in our neighborhood. When things got loud or we all needed fresh air or change of direction, I pushed the kids out the door to do one of these activities. By the end of the week we had given blackberries to all of our neighbors and put a good supply in our freezer. Blackberries are nature's little gift.
Our neighborhood is heavily wooded and on the edge of the road native blackberry bushes grow wild. The bushes are full, bursting in every direction with berries (can I say we have an abundant amount of free blackberries that are relatively easy to access). The blackberries are ready for picking - juicy and sweet. However, the bushes are a bit thorny and tricky to navigate sometimes. Blackberries are kind of like my kids, yummy deliciousness with some prickles.
In celebration of blackberries and my need for a little mama time, which is a yummy dinner and a glass of wine - I developed a new recipe. Blackberry Balsamic Reduction is the perfect topping for an organic beef burger with fresh crumbled goat cheese on top and of course a side of fries. This balsamic is an easy seasonal recipe that embraces the sweet and savory side of summer.
When things in my life get a little bit too busy for me, I try to go to my happy place where I can use my creative outlets - my kitchen. I encourage you to do the same. When you feel you're in a buzzing bees nest and you can handle it no more, go wherever or do whatever brings you joy. Give yourself time to use your imagination and relax. When I take this time away, I usually come back to my nest with a better perspective and attitude. It is stepping forward in refreshment, a deep breath that changes the whole atmosphere in my home.
I sent my children out to pick a bowl of berries. After I cleaned the berries, I pressed them through my sifter (it is a little messy which makes it fun). Of course if you have a sieve, use that. I used what I had. Either will do when you want to remove the seeds.
Gather up your supplies: pressed blackberries, balsamic vinegar, honey, black pepper and thyme.
Measure out all the ingredients. Place the sage on top of mixture. Gorgeous!
Put your mixture on the stove top and bring to a bubble. Then reduce to a simmer until it gets thick. Watch it - don't let it burn. The color will be deep and rich looking. When the reduction covers the back of a spoon, you know it is just right!
Blackberry Balsamic Reduction
Makes approximately 1 cup
Use as a topping
2/3 cup of fine balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup of seedless blackberry purée
3 heaping TBS of honey
1 hearty spring of hearty thyme
First, take a large bowl full of blackberries and press them through a sieve. This will create a blackberry purée, which I also call fresh pressed blackberries.
Add 1/3 cup of seedless blackberry purée, 2/3 cup of decent balsamic vinegar and 3 heaping TBS of honey to a small cooking pot and mix.
Top with several cracks of pepper and a hearty sprig of thyme. Turn on your stove surface fan, the scent of the balsamic has a tendency to be very strong while reducing. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a bubble.
Turn down to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, the reduction should thicken - but don't let it burn. The thickness should be comparable to molasses and will coat the back of a spoon.
Use creatively - Jen made this Goat Cheese Blackberry Basil Pizza and topped it with the balsamic. This is what it looked like before she popped it in the oven. Can you say Bold and Beautiful!
Jen and her sister-in-law enjoyed the pizza together - Mama time. They drizzled a little more balsamic on individual slices and it hit the spot.
If you are feeling like you want to use blackberries in a different way try these protein packed Banana Blackberry Paleo Muffins. Like me, Jen picked lots of blackberries. She prepared this recipe for her kiddos. Give it a try! I tried them and really enjoyed the flavors: cocnut, banana and blackberry.
If the Blackberry Balsamic is too adventurous, keep it on the short list. Maybe for now, make a blackberry crumble and serve ala mode! You cannot fail. Just get out and ENJOY picking blackberries!