Monday I was at low ebb. I had spent the weekend working in Atlanta and running about the city trying to cram in every park, attraction, and rooftop bar. Returning to the grind, I was feeling a bit deflated, and needed a break from everything.
After work I let the dog out into the backyard. I took perch on my favorite seat, a deep hammock swing that wraps around you like a hug and nestles you on three sides. I swung for a bit, thinking about nothing, when my eyes wandered to our garden.
S. had mentioned the onions needed regular weeding, so I eased off my chair to pull some weeds. Did you know the actual definition of a weed is something that is not wanted? While weeding, I noticed our snarled, tangled raspberry bushes down by the fence line. Earlier in the season, I had pulled a few berries off and we had put them out in the kitchen in a little bowl. We’d pop one in our mouths while passing through, but it was a meager gathering and I hadn’t given the bushes another thought until now.
I grabbed a colander for collecting the fruit, and donned a gardening glove and long-sleeved shirt, to protect myself from the thorns. It was bit cloudy and slightly breezy which made for perfect picking weather.
Boy, did I get in there. I picked and picked and found that each time I had finished with one cluster, there was always more waiting for me. I gently pulled the berries from the branches, they were red, ripe, juicy, and fragrant. Soon the colander began to pile high with my little harvest. My hands were stained red, I was scratched, and my back a bit achy from bending and twisting unnaturally.
It felt so soothing, though. A simple task. Find berry, pull from stem, drop in colander. Repeat. Isn’t this my most basic task as a human? Gathering food for my family. Except now we go about it in the most complicated way: work all day to earn money to buy food (mostly packaged) at a warehouse.
But how gratifying was this bramble of raspberries? A bush that we planted summers ago, was now supplying us food, its little fruit for nourishment. Grown from the sun and the soil and the rain, I was now presented with the sweetest of forage. I felt my harried thoughts vaporize, my shoulders slacken. I hummed to myself and felt there wasn’t anything more pressing to be doing.
Dusk creeped in. Ranger had settled into the bed of onions, and watched on as I reached, pulled, picked, dropped. Each berry, a little prize. He pushed his snout into the colander, snuffling up the tart perfume.
Finally, I was ready to take my brimming colander inside, but what to do with my giant stash of goodies? My first thought was fruit smoothies, but Steve talked me into making a picturesque coffeecake he found via the internet.
He showed me the recipe and I was a goner, it looked like a dream: soft, crumbly, vibrant with raspberries. The perfect companion to a bitter cup of coffee on a Sunday morning.
Follow the link here:
The list of ingredients was long, but I was pleased to see we already had everything except the package of cream cheese and sour cream! This meant the dessert would be low cost to make!
We endeavored to make it the following night. Raspberries from the garden spoil much quicker than their grocery store counterparts, and time was ticking!
The recipe is three parts, but each part ended up being wonderfully simple. Steve read the directions, while I did the manual labor. This saved me from having to read the recipe several time while I measured and mixed ingredients.
The three parts are the cake batter, raspberry cream cheese topping, and the crumbles on top. Mixing the components took me right back to my mother’s kitchen: crowding around the counter top, flour dusting our clothes, and the whir of the beaters.
This is a recipe truly from scratch, no mix involved.
I was reminded of three things about cooking from scratch
- It’s more delicious, and I mean MORE. Like, noticeable difference, worth commenting on, more.
- Just as easy. Since you already have all your baking gear out, adding in a few extra ingredients is seriously simple.
- Feel like a domestic goddess. Just saying the words “from scratch” makes me feel incredibly accomplished and capable in the kitchen.
The cake batter was thick, creamy, and fragrant with vanilla. We licked the beaters and scraped the bowl clean!
We were able to reign in our lusty bowl licking to compose the ingredients as instructed and pop the whole thing into the oven. Forty-five minutes and 350 degrees later, we had ourselves a cake from absolute scratch.
We had a nibble, then placed it in the fridge since we tend to like our desserts cool. We’ve been grazing on it ever since, pulling it from the fridge for a bite after dinner, or packing it for breakfast at work. The raspberry filling is decadent and was the best way to use our fruit from the garden.
The simple act of harvesting food from our garden and using it to bake from scratch took me from my low place. Working in nature, providing food for our family, it all gave me such a deep, calm feeling of goodness.
Sure, Atlanta was great, but slowing down and living simply has always been what makes me happiest.