Wild Targets #1

Its the middle of summer – well, so the calendar tells us – and we are off to the forests to collect blackberries, and boy is it a great season for blackberries! The high rainfall this year has resulted in large berries with no discernable drop off in flavour.

Blackbush

With friends M & R in tow we headed out to our favourite spot and it appears that we were the first people to pick through the area. Any of the forestry roads along the Cotter Road is a good place to look for blackberry bushes.

Blackpick

Here is our haul for the afternoon (about 2 hours of picking) – 7 kilos of fruit!

Blackharv2

Don’t worry there are plenty of berries left and the season should run for at least another month.

Of course having picked your fruit you have to store it, or eat it. If you aren’t planning to use it straight away I would suggest that you freeze the fruit. The easiest way to do this is to spread the berries out on a tray covered with baking paper.

Blacktray

Once frozen they can be transferred into a bag for longer term storage.

Blackbag

While reorganising the freezer we found the remains of last year’s berries, so we celebrated by making smoothies.

Blacksmooth

To make your own smoothy mix for two blend 150 gms of blackberries, 300mls of plain yoghurt and 200mls of milk and two dessert spoons of sugar. If you want to make more just double the quantities. Enjoy!

 

Managing your zeppelins

We’ve all been there. One minute you are admiring the flowers on your zucchini plant, perhaps thinking of a cheeky little Italian-style dish of stuffed zucchini flowers. You turn your back for 5 minutes only to discover that a green facsimile of the Hindenberg has moored itself to your zucchini plant.

This is the summer zucchini challenge. I have armed myself with two fail-safe recipes, one savoury and one sweet, that help to manage the zeppelin avalanche.

Firstly Zucchini fritters with dill, these are guaranteed to appeal even to non-vegetable eaters, (such as some of my family). Its probably because they are fried, but in the bigger scheme of things I don’t think its a problem. The recipe can be found here on that wonderful resource the SBS Food website. For those of you more accustomed to a veggie diet a handful of these can make quite a tasty meal in themselves. You can make a dressing by mixing yoghurt with some dill.

Zuccfrit

My other recipe also came from SBS Food as Simon Logue’s Zucchini Cake, but I can no longer find the original recipe on the site. As I’ve taken some liberties with the original I’ll give you my version and a variation.

Zucc_cake

Ingredients are:

Cake Mix
3 cups of grated zucchini (a starter zeppelin of about 25cms should be enough)
3 eggs
2 cups of brown sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil
3 cups of self-raising flour
3 tablespoons of cocoa (powdered drinking chocolate)
3 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of salt

Lemon Icing (this is really worth doing)
zest and juice of one lemon, you can cheat and just use a tablespoon of lemon juice if you don’t have a lemon
1 cup of icing sugar
2 tablespoons of butter

Preheat the oven to 180° and prepare your cake tin. This is a big mix – I used a 24 cm square tin, greased and lined with baking paper.

Grate your zucchini. Feel free to leave the skin on. DO NOT squeeze the juices out of the zucchini you need the moisture.

Blend the sugar, eggs and oil. Add the flour, cocoa, salt and cinnamon (sift the flour if you must but I didn’t do this and the cake still came out well). The mix will be quite stiff at this stage.

Fold in the grated zucchini. The mix will now loosen up.

Pour into your prepared cake tin and cook for one hour or until a skewer comes out nice and clean. Cool.

At this stage you may want to cut it in half and freeze part of it for later.

Once cooled you make the icing by beating the butter with the icing sugar and adding the juice and zest. Ice the cake and take a big slice and enjoy!

Variation
I’ve also tried this recipe with grated carrot and pumpkin or a mix of these veggies with zucchini. If you are using pumpkin you do need to peel the skin off. For both carrot and pumpkin I’d grate it a bit finer than I do the zucchini, otherwise they can be a bit too obvious in your cake.

Use same amout or carrot or pumpkin in the recipe above and substitute 1 tablespoon of ginger and 1 teaspoon of powdered allspice for the cinnamon. All other ingredients and methods remain the same.