It's Freeberry season in the PNW and we have the perfect recipe… 

Sometime around 1885, Luther Burbank gave the Pacific Northwest the dubious gift of the Himilayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus). We only use the word "dubious" to keep those screaming about invasive species at bay since, locally, these juicy, delectable, dark-skinned wonders are considered a noxious weed and an invasive species. We can't really speak too much about this invasive species thing right now because our mouths are full of handfuls of berries… we'll get back to you later…

Every summer starting around the end of July and running through August, the great tangled clumps of prickly vines start to hang heavy with their ripened fat berries. Soon, the roadsides are dotted with folks holding shopping bags and plastic buckets full of purple/black globes and we are right there with 'em.
We eat plenty of the Freeberries fresh over vanilla ice cream, mixed with yogurt and granola, in pancakes and muffins and… what's that?


Yes. Freeberries.

What y'all call the Himilayan Blackberry, we affectionately call the Freeberry. Why? Well… because they're free!
Yeah, yeah… some would argue that the price one pays in tiny scratches from the thorny canes of the Freeberry is price enough to kill the "Free" part of the moniker. To that we say wear a long sleeve shirt and jeans and pop two or three in your mouth from time to time… you'll forget all about those thorns when the sweet juices run down your tongue and you start dreaming about a bowl of vanilla ice cream covered in delicious Freeberries.

Hang on a sec… be right back…

Okay… back now.

Pay no attention to those purple stains on my fingers. Nothing to see here.

Every season we put up a few jars of jelly, a few quarts of whole berries, and a few jars of syrup. This way, in the dreary days of winter, we have a reminder of summer every time we dip into a jar of Freeberry Jelly or take a warm bite of Jason's Freeberry Crumble with cold, sweet vanilla ice cream on top.

Oh my gosh… it's a good thing one of those crumbles is downstairs in the kitchen right now or this post just wouldn't happen.

Speaking of crumble… here's our recipe for Freeberry Crumble. Jason first made this 20 years ago when his parents were coming out to visit us for the first time. They were driving in that evening and we wanted to make dinner for them so we trekked down the street from our apartment in downtown Seattle and picked Freeberries right smack dab in the urban jungle. It was yummy then and it is just as yummy 20 years later.


Freeberry Crumble
1 qt. Fresh Picked Berries (frozen or canned will work just fine too)

3/4-Cup Sugar

2 Tbsp. Cornstarch

1/4-Cup Water

Zest and Juice of half a Lime (optional… but you really should)

3/4-Cup Quick Oats

1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour

1/2-Cup Brown Sugar

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 Cup Softened Butter    

Wash fresh blackberries and place in large bowl. Add the Lime Juice and Zest.

In a separate bowl combine Water & Cornstarch, Pour mixture over the berries.

NOTE: If the berries you are using are particularly juicy, you can add another ½ Tbsp of Cornstarch. If they are, however, on the dry side, add ½ Tbsp less.

Sprinkle Granulated Sugar over Berry and Cornstarch mixture; Mix gently and let stand for several minutes while making the crumble.    

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl; mix well.

Cut in butter until crumbly. (You may use more or less butter.)

Pour blackberries into buttered baking dish. Sprinkle Crumble mixture evenly over the top.

Here's what ours looks like before going into the oven.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until the crumble is browned, the filling is bubbly and the house smells so good you want to sing the “Berry Crumble Song” from the old country… What? Your grandma didn't sing that? Just me?

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

That's it for this edition of Cookin' With The Shibaguyz! Come back soon for more recipes, general food "stuff", gardening chat, and just about anything else we can think of to get into.

talk to you soon…
the Shibaguyz

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Is it a breakfast item?  A dessert?  Maybe a post lunch snack? Banana bread by it’s very nature defies classification.  

However you classify it,  Banana Bread is one of the easiest, if not the easiest, quick bread to throw together.  It's hard to make a mistake with this very forgiving bread, and if an error is made it usually still makes a tasty finished product. 

Banana Bread costs only pennies a slice to make at home compared to 3.50 for a slab of sahara dry “bread like product” sold at corner coffee shops and 24 hour marts across the globe.  Take some time this week to make one yourself and get the foundation to move on to bigger things like Lemon Poppy Seed or Cranberry Orange.

What Ya Need:
3/4 Cup Softened Butter
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Medium Very Ripe Bananas
1 3/4 Cup Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Salt.
1 Cup Crushed Walnuts
1 Cup Chocolate Chips

What Ya Do:
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees
Using a stand mixer or hand mixer cream butter and sugar until light. 
Add Vanilla and Eggs one at a time and beat to fully incorporate
Add bananas and mix on high for 1-2 minutes until mixture is mostly smooth.  There will be some banana lumps, that’s fine.
In a separate bowl sift together Flour, Baking Powder, Soda, Nutmeg and Salt
With mixer off, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the banana mixture. 
Mix on low until just incorporated.  Repeat until all flour is mixed in and moist.  Do not over beat.  You want this to be a very loose batter.  The more you run the mixer the tougher the bread will be.
If using, now is the time to mix your walnuts (or chocolate chips) in by hand with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon
Pour into a greased loaf pan
Bake for 45 min to 55 minutes.  Bread will be done when the house smells like banana heaven and a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean (or with a few crumbs on it). 

All attempts should be made to allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slathering with butter and eating.  The longest we were able to wait was about 4 minutes.

It's the most wonderful time of the year… no… not THAT time of the year. It's pepper harvest time! WOOHOO!! Granted, you'll find us getting just as excited over tomato harvest, corn harvest, Brussels sprouts… you get the picture.

Right now though, as we stroll through the markets, we're seeing the welcome sight of peppers in all shapes and sizes starting to come on. Shades of reds and greens, yellows and oranges… it's definitely time to start taking advantage of this variety and availability of fresh peppers.

One of our favorite uses for this peppery bounty is our pepper sauce. (Wait… what? Oh… that's another post… sorry 'bout that…)

One of our favorite uses for this peppery bounty is our pepper jelly. (That's the right one for this week? Okay… good…) Along with our peach salsa and garlic plum sauce, this is one of our most requested recipes so we thought we'd just put it out there for y'all. Make it hot or make it sweet… just make a batch right now and enjoy it all winter.