by George G. Morgan
We all have special memories from different times in our lives. My childhood is filled with memories of spending time at the home of my Aunt Mary Allen Morgan and my Grandmother Morgan. I spent weekdays in the summertime with these ladies while my parents worked. I learned a great deal about life, family history and traditions, and love during those summers.
October is Family History Month, and once again we have the opportunity to celebrate family and traditions. I’m sure that some of the special memories in your life are stories that you can share with relatives of all generations. Family History Month provides the opportunity to do just that. Make the time and create an opportunity to get together with family members and share some of these wonderful stories.
I like to share one of my favorite memories with you. After all, you as my readers have become family to me too. One of my most favorite memories involves blackberry cobbler.
My aunt and grandmother both had a sweet tooth. They loved having dessert at lunch and supper, and a mid-afternoon snack of cookies and freshly squeezed lemonade was a daily tradition. The desserts they had seldom were store-bought; they were, rather, usually homemade delicacies. There were pies, cakes, cookies, candied citrus rind, ambrosia, and anything that involved fruit and sugar.
My favorite of all the desserts made by my aunt was blackberry cobbler. As a child, I was usually sent out with a bucket to pick blackberries. If you’ve ever done this yourself, you know that blackberry vines have thorns. You have to be careful when you’re picking the berries so that you don’t get too badly scratched. One of the main joys of the task was tasting the berries as I was picking them. I always wore old clothes because, as you probably know, tasting these succulent berries can be a messy job.
When I got back to the house, I was charged with carefully washing the berries in a wire colander and removing any leftover leaves or pieces of vines. You had to be gentle with the berries because you didn’t want to crush them. My aunt then took the cleaned berries and placed them in a saucepan with water and began to simmer them. She didn’t cook them long but, during the process, she added sugar and a little bit of both vanilla and almond extract. At the same time, she began making the dough for the crust of the cobbler. She mixed flour and baking powder with water and began kneading and rolling the dough. She then cut the dough into long strips and laid them out on waxed paper on the top of the stove. When the berries had simmered just enough to produce a wonderful, sticky concoction, she poured the mixture into a Pyrex baking dish. She then began the process of weaving the strips of dough into a lattice on top of the berry mixture. It was fascinating to me to watch her fingers move so deftly as she created what would be a lattice crust. She then added a special type of sugar to the top of the woven dough and this sugar would ultimately crystallize.
By this time it was about eleven o’clock in the morning. My aunt placed the glass baking dish in the oven at just the right temperature to bake for about thirty minutes. Throughout the time she had been preparing the blackberry cobbler, pots of fresh vegetables had been cooking on the stove. My aunt and grandmother always had an all-vegetable lunch, followed by the inevitable desert. As my aunt checked the vegetables, the smell of the magnificent cobbler wafted from the oven.
Finally, into another saucepan on top of the stove, my aunt mixed water and white granulated sugar over a very low heat in order to make thick sugar syrup. (Obviously, the cobbler was not going to be sweet enough unless drizzled with this syrup.) My aunt stirred this syrup continuously over the low heat until it was just the right consistency. She then turned off the heat, covered the saucepan, and set it aside. She served vegetables onto plates for the three of us and carried them into the dining room. She then returned to the kitchen, turned off the oven, removed the cobbler, and set it on top of the stove. It looked like heaven to me!
Somehow I managed to make it through the vegetables at lunch. My mind was on the cobbler in the kitchen. At last, I was able to help clear the dishes from the table while my aunt scooped large servings of her homemade blackberry cobbler into bowls. She gently poured a bit of sugar syrup over the top of each serving, and then we carried the desserts back to the dining room. Never was there a dessert made that equaled that homemade blackberry cobbler!
Unfortunately, my aunt always made blackberry cobbler from memory, and she never wrote the recipe down. When she died in 1969, I searched through her collection of recipes but I never found her recipe for blackberry cobbler. I’ve tried to duplicate the recipe, and I’ve tasted those of other cooks. However, never have I found a blackberry cobbler to equal that made by my Aunt Mary Allen Morgan. And while her unique recipe may have been lost, the memory will live in my mind and my heart forever.
Don’t Lose Your Family Memories!
The family traditions in your own family should be preserved forever. If there’s a special story, memory, recipe, or something else that needs to be recorded, please invest the time to do it now. If you do nothing else to commemorate Family History Month this year, write down one or more of these family traditions so they may be preserved for posterity. Your family will be forever grateful.
Visit George’s website for information about his company, speaking engagements, and presentation topics. You can also listen to George and Drew Smith’s “Genealogy Guys” podcast.
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