Saturday, August 1, 2009
Raspberries and blackberries! Jamberries and blueberries! I found new patches for the first time since my childhood. Oh glory be. Leo and Jonas happily joined forces with Mandy and Dany to pick berries with me. I was able to teach them to distinguish between the ripe red raspberries and the unripe red blackberries. Under the pale yellow-green leaves, through the pricker-covered stems growing high enough to catch hair, shirts and more, we delved, sticking our arms under, around, and over to pick those elusive berries. The woods so violently cleared and logged a few years’ back have given us an unexpected gift. Till the leaf coverage extends overhead over, we’ll have berry patches to fill our pails, top our cheesecakes, and dribble through our muffins.
So many hours of my childhood were spent picking berries up here. First we went to the raspberry bushes along the orchard that we all assumed belong to Mrs. Brayton. Then those stopped giving much. My brother then found an amazing patch of blackberries down from the apple orchard. But later, the ferns took over, and the blackberries simply were overcome. The huckleberries were a regular joy of August, but there too, there are more houses on the ancient Indian trail, and the ferns are taking over. This summer, cold as it is, doesn’t bode well for a huckleberry harvest. I can taste their seedy tart goodness by memory. I remember the huckleberry wine my brother and I made unintentionally, and the many, many tarts we baked and topped with vanilla ice cream. Would my kids like them? So persnickety. Jonas has already told me he’s not a fan of cheesecake. What a strange child! Or rather, a child raised in France. Neither cheesecake nor chilli con carne are familiar flavors to him. He’s my little French boy, and yes, he likes raisin bran, cheerios, pop tarts, white cheddar cheese popcorn and mac-n-cheese... but, other special flavors of my American life, my childhood, are anathema to him. Ah well. The cheesecake was good.
I baked it simply, after pouring a cup of sugar over the berries so they’d make their own syrup, no cooking necessary for them.
3-8oz packages cream cheese
4 super fresh farm eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup vanilla yogurt
After mixing the ingredients together in the mix-master, I poured it into a greased pan in which I’d sprinkled a bit of rapadura sugar.
I baked the cake in a 300F oven, gently till it set, but still jiggled a bit in the middle—about an hour. I baked it in such a low heat as I couldn’t put such a large cake into a water bath, and didn’t want the custard to curdle.
The cake did come out pretty eggy, and might have been improved with lemon rind and/or juice, but I was bowing to the tastes of my little boys – at least Leo found it good. And certainly, everyone else at the table loved it.