Monday 26 September 2011

Setting forth on wings of faith . . .

If the migrant bird could see the way it had to fly . . .

It might not risk the long hard flight, across the unmapped sky,
But God gives it sufficient strength to launch out into space
Setting forth on wings of faith, for some far distant place.
~Patience Strong

That's kind of like life isn't it? If we knew what tomorrow would bring, would we move forward without hesitation? It would not be very hard if we knew that tomorrow would be filled with happy and pleasant things . . . but what about the tomorrow's that would be filled with the not so happy things . . . the sorrow, or pain . . . the loss or injury . . . ill health . . .

I'm not so sure that I would march forward in faith, did I know the outcome. That's not faith anyways is it? Faith is trusting an unknown future to a known God, and moving forward irregardless of what tomorrow may or may not bring.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
~Hebrews 11:1

It is jumping in at the deep end . . . and trusting in a God that will be there to help to keep us afloat. It's trusting in the strength of our God and Saviour to help get us through anything that life may and probably will throw our way.

Just my thoughts this morning.

Todd is still not very well. If you could spare a few happy thoughts for him, I would most appreciate them. It's just a nasty infection that is keeping him down and out of sorts, nothing serious so far as we know. Hoping that he will feel much better today.

For the past few weeks the hedgerows have been just bursting with beautiful blackberries, their heavily laden branches bowed beneath the weight of these lovely, shiny black fruits. It's been a race between the birds and us to see who can gather the most.

I like to freeze them. I place them on parchment paper lined, rimmed baking trays in single layers and then pop them into my freezer. Once they are frozen solid, I then pour them into zip lock bags. That way they are loose frozen and in the long winter months ahead I can take out just as many or as few as I need to use, at any one given time. I do the same with all my berries that I freeze.

In Canada, when my family was growing up, I used to put up pints of blackberry jelly for the winter every late summer. At one time we lived in a rented farmhouse, which lay on the banks of the Georgian Bay, and the hillside down towards the water was stogged full of wild black berries. Every year, I regularly donned a long sleeved shirt and faced the brambles in my quest for the lovely black beauties. Afterwards, back home, I would make jar after jar of Blackberry jelly, to be enjoyed in the coming winter on thick slices of freshly toasted homemade bread or spread in between the soft sweet layers of a freshly baked Victorian sponge. It also made the loveliest of jam tarts. What didn't make it into the jelly pot made it into my freezer, to be enjoyed at a later date, baked up into delicious dessert bakes, muffins, cobblers and pies.

I have't made much in the way of jams and jellies since I moved over here. Todd and I are just two people, and it takes us ever so long to eat them up. So long, that I fear they will spoil long before we can get them used. Instead, I gather them up, leaving some for the birds, and what I am not able to use right away fresh, gets frozen for use in the cooler months ahead. They are lovely in crumbles and pies. A little taste of summer to light up a dreary winter's day ...

*Blackberry Pie with Streusal Topping*
Makes one 9 inch pie
Printable Recipe

You can use store-bought blackberries for this delicious pie if you wish, but I prefer to use the wild ones picked from the bramble hedges. They seem to have so much more flavour, and I suppose the effort one has to make in order to acquire them makes them taste all the better . . .

prepared pie crust to line the bottom of a nine inch pie dish
(ready made or make your own)
1/2 cup of caster sugar
2 1/2 TBS of cornflour
pinch of salt
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
the juice of 1 lemon
1 pound of fresh blackberries
Streusal Topping:
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of plainflour
1 TBS water
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup of butter softened

Preheat the oven to 205*C/425*F.
Make the streusal topping by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl until crumbly. Set aside.

Roll out the flakey pastry to about 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter. Carefully transfer it to your pie tin. Trim the edges to about a 1/2 inch over hang. Fold this under until even with the rim of the pie dish all around and then flute the edge decoratively.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornflour, salt, lemon juice and lemon zest. (I only use unwaxed lemons. Who wants to eat wax. If you don't have unwaxed lemons wash them really well in soapy water to remove the wax coating. I have a microplane that I used for zesting. It does a lovely job!) Put the blackberries in a bowl and pour this mixture over them, tossing them gently to coat. Try not to crush the berries too much. Let them sit for about fifteen minutes and then, giving them a final gentle toss, pour the whole mixture into the prepared and waiting crust. Sprinkle the top evenly with the streusal mixture. You will most likely have too much, but that's ok. Just freeze what you don't use in a zip lock bag to bring out and use another time. It goes great on muffins, coffee cakes and other things.

Place on a cookie sheet that you have lined with aluminum foil and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 45 minutes until the filling is all bubbly and the streusal all crunchily golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack before serving. We like to have it warm with big scoops of cold vanilla ice cream.

For my first Meat free Monday post over in The English Kitchen there is a delicious casserole today, Washday Macaroni and Cheese!

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