26 July 2008
One berry, two berry, pick me a gooseberry!
We’ve been living in this house for 11 years. The first fall we were here, my dad went into the backyard to “prune back” the trees so it would be easier to mow. He got a little overzealous and decimated a large stand of lilacs, a few of which have managed to recover a teeny bit. He also seriously pruned back a very old grape vine. (The earliest owner of the house was a Greek family, who used grape leaves for cooking [not wine].)
So this past week I found gooseberries in my backyard. I’d seen the plant before, it has intricately shaped leaves that I found attractive, so I left the mystery plant alone. Now I have to wonder: was this another plant my dad cut back, that is just now recovering? (it’s near, but not directly in the location that got savagely lovingly pruned) Or was it a volunteer? (Not likely, given the reaction most people have when I mention gooseberries – what I mean is, it doesn’t seem to be common in this area.)
The past couple of years I’ve made it a habit to buy gooseberries from our favorite apple and cider vendor – they have rhubarb and iris in the spring and early summer, then some of these “exotic” berries, then they disappear for a few weeks until the peaches come in, then they overflow with apples through the end of the season. So anyway, I buy the gooseberries, trying to broaden my berry experience – but I am never quite sure what to do with them. Spurred into action by the new-found bounty in the backyard, and a comment from my friend Kim, I decided to make a pie (using my berries to supplement those from the Farmer’s Market). For some reason, this sour cream gooseberry pie (at allrecipes.com) appealed to me more than gooseberries alone, so I made it. I used a flaky buttery pastry recipe from The Heritage of Southern Cooking for the crusts. I increased the berries to 2 cups (as most commenters recommended), but I only had an 8″ pie pan so I had to scoop out some of the ‘sauce.’ I was worried it would overflow anyway, so was pleasantly surprised when it did not.
End result: delicious! This may become a summer tradition at our house. It’s good warm, good with ala mode, and even good for breakfast. (Home-made poptart, that’s how I justify pie for breakfast!)