Foraging in South-East London, now who would have thought it!
Blackberry season is surely upon us, but not if the dreaded rain has anything to do with it. So, given the current state of affairs with British ‘summertide’ weather, Miss Windsor scuttled around the provincial areas of South-East London in a fraught attempt to relive a joyous, yet nostalgic, childhood past-time of ‘blackberry picking’ in Somerset, England.
Surprisingly, whilst I traversed deep within the wilderness of South-East London suburbia, I happened to unearth a ‘gem’ of a spot! However, one is sworn to secrecy and under no circumstances will Miss Windsor disclose the whereabouts of her very own snippet of a thriving foragers paradise.
Suffice to say, I erupted with much ‘joie de vivre’! (translation: exuberant enjoyment of life!) whilst my bare feet became acquainted with nature; as I trundled through the thick sward of the soft bladed grass, accompanied by the odd grey squirrel that scurried across the unbeaten path!
I then gazed over yonder and spied a plethora of mature trees that towered high above London’s most famous skyline, festooned with an abundance of ripened fruits such as apples, plums and pears.
Then to my utter surprise, I discovered a hedgerow entangled with brambles and various other shrubs, that were ‘dripping’ with a profusion of blackberries, rose hips, and bluish-black coloured sloes.
In an instant, I compared such a captivating sight to the million-dollar cascade of diamonds that once adorned Elizabeth Taylor’s most delicate ‘cou’ – Ooh la la! Darlings, now who said ‘diamonds are a girl’s best friend?’, when one could settle for a string of sloes!
Then for a moment or so, I felt completely immersed within the blooming surroundings of the English countryside - Oh, what a wonderful feeling, as I roll back in time to those sunny and care-free memories of yesteryear!
In fact, during those magical childhood days, every year I looked forward to blackberry picking with my darling mother. So, together armed with Tupperware vessels we scoured the bountiful West-Country hedgerows in search of a bumper crop of purply plump blackberries.
But the question is, 'Who would discover the ultimate whopper blackberry first?' - of course, it was always Mother! Until one-day my stumpy little ‘arms’ and ‘mitts’ grew long enough to reach past the awkward barbed-wire fence and prickly brambles – then, only was I able to pick the ‘creme of the crop’!
As a matter of tradition, Mother used the blackberries we foraged together to bake a Blackberry & Apple Crumble. The stodgy, melt-in-the-mouth crumble topping accompanied by the sweet, yet tart stewed fruits transpired to be the ultimate summers pudding – By Jove, Miss Windsor is salivating at the sheer thought of it!
This year, now all on my lonesome – Aaaah! I decided to follow suit and baked a Blackberry & Apple Crumble using my South-East London blackberries. However, my recipe is completely gluten-free, vegan, and with no 'white sugar' in sight – Now, isn’t that spiffing!
Darlings, I recommend serving this truly scrumptious dessert with a generous dousing of custard.
Of course, one traditionally serves crumble with Bird's Custard, which was first created in 1837 by a ‘chemist’ – Mr Alfred Bird of Birmingham, England, and has been a British pantry favourite ever since.
Also, did you know that Mr Bird’s recipe for custard is dairy-free, (egg-free) and completely vegan? In fact, he originally invented it for his wife who was extremely allergic to eggs - Oh, dearie me!
So, if you fancy a jolly good go at re-creating my recipe, then please do click on the link below:
Blackberry Apple Crumble Gluten Free
Miss Windsor declares that all her foraging activities were ‘above board’ and ‘legal’ – Well, certainly on this occasion! No trespassing committed, and the harvested fruit was purely for her own delectation.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MISS WINDSOR