Currants, and rolling thunder

I harvested the currants this week,  just like if I knew what to do with them. We have a red currant bush and a black currant bush and this is the first year there were many to pick.

red currants

It is very slow picking, and I ended up with about a cup of each color.

red and black currants

The red ones are the more tart. In the great tradition of death-defying culinary experiments I threw them into yet another batch of scones.

red currant scones

I will characterize these experimental scones as beyond awesome. (Recipe is at the end of this exciting post.)

With rampant confidence I then put the black currants in a recipe of banana-nut bread. They taste like tiny blackberries in there, and make the bread polka-dotted which is pretty and very fun but I forgot to take pictures and then we ate it all, sorry.

At this time I must confess to Currant Bush Neglect. Sometimes, in past summers, I have accidentally spilled water on them when I was really watering the tomatoes, but other than that they have been foraging, if plants forage. I suppose the roots can forage. Anyway they got nothing from me except curiosity as to why Mr O bought those bushes anyway.  But now? Why now I love them, deeply. Never again will they be passed by like strangers on the street. They are accepted. And they better produce.

**************

This morning there was thunder rolling to the south. It made Max go completely nuts, barking and running around in the yard, ready to grab the pant leg of Zeus or whoever was causing all that noise.

Max and the thunder

I like the clouds moving in, and the timpani in the sky too. You can’t buy tickets to entertainment like this.

The Iphone rumor was that we might get some rain, though the temperatures are to continue near 100 F for the next few days which is a serious heat overage in my opinion. But here in Western Oregon it always cools at night, dropping 40 degrees or so this week, and in the early morning I open all the windows and doors in the old house and go outside and water the plantings until the well has a fit and cuts off the flow for a while.

When the outside world starts to simmer I close up the house, which includes drawing together the exterior wood blinds upstairs to keep out the heat. It darkens the bedrooms with cool green shade which makes the summer ceiling-corner cobwebs less noticeable.

shuttered room

I could hear rain coming when I went outside to water plants in mid-morning. There is a huge, metal-roofed barn across the field to the south, and the approaching rain made such a pounding roar on it, I feared it might be some kind of impossible summer hailstorm coming, or maybe the end of the world.  I mentioned this to Max. “We’re all gonna die,” I said.

Then we went inside and stood by the open back door to watch.

giant summer rain
The noisy shower arrived with the biggest raindrops I’ve ever seen. Maybe two teaspoons of water to a drop or something like that. We were amazed, but not dead after all.  So Max calmed down and took a nap. He even slept through the rest of the thunder.


 

Here are the scone ingredients for Strawberry Scones  as found on a blog wonderfully called  Confessions of a Tart. The quotes from there are in italics. I added some not italicized things–– the mixing instructions are my version.

FRESH FRUIT SCONES

1 cup strawberries (or other fruit)

3 tablespoons sugar (granulated)  
(I used a little extra  sugar with the tart currants.)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk
(I use coconut milk)

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl, mix it with a whisk then cut the butter into it. Then stir in the fruit, chopped first if needed. Last is the vanilla and the cream.  Stir again to make a soft dough.

Pat this out in a (3/4″ thick) round on a floured board,  then cut the circle into 6 or 8 triangles and bake on an ungreased sheet at 400 F for about 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle the scones with sugar (for sparkle) and bake another 15 minutes or so until lightly brown and springy to touch. Don’t overbake!

(If a miracle occurs and you have some left you can freeze these and reheat for 10 minutes or so at 350 F.)

 

 

 

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About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in cooking, my 19th century house, weather and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Currants, and rolling thunder

  1. Your currents are so shiny and pretty and the scones made me want to hop on the freeway to parts south. We had thunder here too and I sat on the porch swing and wondered if I had been beamed to the East Coast. Since I’ve been in the garden nonstop, it was refreshing to have the rain. I have a lousy relationship with hoses .. While I was traveling, my Paddy (really Patrick, but we think St. Patrick was an Italian…), froze 6 quarts of blueberries. The cold winter we had really made some things grow like crazy!

    • linniew says:

      Hey Susie! I must make scones for you one day. Part of our Oregon fling maybe? Regarding hoses, do you find that they hate you and kink up over any excuse at all? Or is it just ME they hate? Doing kind of a survey here. Starting with you. I love the rain I’m afraid but maybe that’s genetic since I come from a long line of moldy Oregonians. Do you think the cold inspired the currants as well as blueberries? I’m just getting to know currants and at this point I would believe they are governed by the constellations or stock market or most anything…

      • Hoses hate me, I swear to whomever. They kink and bunch and generally drive me to drink. I’m convinced hoses are evil sent here by some planet where everybody is lithe and skinny. About the berries, I’ve heard from enough gardeners now that many of their plants are more productive this year. Makes you wonder, huh? Of course we can blame the stock market for anything too….for good and ill.

        • linniew says:

          Well the roses were spectacular this spring too. And I talked to a strawberry farmer and she said that roses and strawberries are related. So maybe strawberries and blueberries are first cousins once removed too, or in-laws or something.

  2. Those scones look yummy 🙂 We have red currant and blackcurrant bushes and last year we made gallons of wine. This year I went to pick the currants and they’d all gone !! Oh well, at least the birds got a feed. Must have a bash at the scones though.

    • linniew says:

      I know you make all kinds of wine and I am just so envious. Honestly last year I went online and found this simple grape wine process that was supposed to be the way old farmer guy Italians have made wine forever, just fresh pressed grape juice in a bottle in the basement. I waited weeks and weeks and it bubbled up as predicted and eventually evolved into the worst thing I have ever tasted. I took one swallow and felt sick immediately. So I will be commbing your blog for recipes now…

      • We make red wine from grape juice ( just the cheap stuff from a supermarket). It takes about 3 weeks and is ok for a quick wine. Let me know if you want more detail. 🙂

        • linniew says:

          When I made the horrid wine I think I ended up with a couple bottles of it from our own grapes.

          And I believe I have the mental and emotional wherewithal to try this again. With your help. First I shall comb your blog posts. Seems to me you have special equipment of some sort kind of like what people use making beer. (I would also love to make beer.) But I will certainly bother you with questions if I have them– it’s very comforting to have a coach.

  3. So glad to hear you and Max are not dead! It seems those torrential storms we have in this age are truly a caution. I never remember rain storms as being life and death events in my youth as they are now.

    That scone recipe! Almost word for word and ingredient for ingredient my mother’s shortcake recipe, which I had always believed to be a closely held family secret! I first attempted to add fruit to it during strawberry season, here this year, a failure. I see you decreased the cream to 2/3 with your addition of fruit. On my next attempt I was going to go with 1/2 cup! Saved me the trouble of another possibly failed attempt.

    I am a little concerned about the addition of one ingredient to the closely held secret recipe, that of vanilla. Knowing the alcohol content of vanilla and your “tendencies” in this area, I fear you may slip off the twelve-step plan which caused your sailing of the high seas, drinking of rum, and long absence from your garden and blog. Should I be concerned, posting pictures of you in various ports worldwide?

    As to hoses, I fear they are like garden Medusas. DON”T LOOK AT ‘EM!!! You’ll turn to stone!!!

    • linniew says:

      Sorry your mom’s secret shortcake recipe was apparently leaked to the press Rachelle. Still, it is for the larger good of humanity especially at my house at breakfast-time. Regarding vanilla yes I add that to many things, sweet things only though. (I add garlic or wine to the other things.) But do not blame innocent vanilla for the sailing & rum incidents of last winter because it was all Kininvie’s fault, as you know.

  4. fay mckenzie says:

    Hey Linne! ‘Rampant enthusiasm’ has to be a life statement! You certainly know how to live lady! The local castles currants (all colours) are about to be ripe. I feel a midnight raid going on. If I get caught – you’re alright for the bail money, right? I’ll print your recipe and take it with me. Not of course that you’re an accomplice……….that recipe just looks so good. Max as always very sensible! Nice to be (finally) catching up!

    • fay mckenzie says:

      ‘Rampant confidence’ erm perhaps I should stop reading so quickly!

    • linniew says:

      I have a jar with nickels and quarters and pennies and I’ve earmarked it now for your bail money, but please take care stealing the currants because there’s only probably enough cash to get you out of jail for a few hours. Maybe you’d best cut the whole bush and run–– currants are slow to pick and might be hopeless in the dark. Oh and take the terriers with you to keep watch at the corner of the building… [So nice to have you back here Fay!]

      • fay mckenzie says:

        I’m finding them wee balaclavas as we speak and swag bags, although it sounds like I’d be better to just raid Mr K’s garden! Nice to be back too, I’m sure jail won’t be long for a few currants. Stealing bushes whilst practical from a cropping point of view, probably a bit less favoured and more time in the clink. The castle gardener called this morning, we’re meeting to see if I can ‘interfere’ um, I mean ‘lend a hand’ in his garden. Really does this poor chap know what he’s letting himself in for. And tell MR K, in the Kingdom we’re having proper thundery massive rain weather between the gorgeous sunshine. 🙂

        • linniew says:

          Oh, Cairns gone bad! Well be careful Fay or anyway make sure the police let you have your computer with you in jail. Seems to me Kininvie’s garden is less of a risk…

          I’m hoping it all went well with that castle gardener– sounds like huge fun and I expect they need your help. And maybe you will end up with some perfectly legal currants after all.

  5. Susan says:

    I had enough blackcurrants to make three and a bit jars of jam. The first time I’ve made jam in twenty years, the second time ever. I had a longing for jam chock full of fruit unlike the store bought stuff. Slathering it on a scone would be bliss. Blistering hot here and no rain in sight.

    • linniew says:

      I can’t begin to express how I feel about commercial jam. Really it should have it’s own name it is so massively different from real jam– more like colored sugar really. Congratulations on cooking up those currants, you will not regret it! Any idea how to call the weather repair service? The guy who works on my dishwasher is good but I don’t suppose he does weather.

  6. kininvie says:

    Hi Linnie,

    I have masses of currants, both red and black. Unfortunately I don’t like them much, and since they are a bore to pick – as you found out – the birds are apt to get most of them. But I do like blackcurrant fool – just whipped cream & sugar with pureed blackcurrants stirred in. Much less trouble than scones, and a beautiful colour.

    After they’ve finished fruiting, prune out some of the oldest branches to encourage new growth.

    We’ve had a good week of sunshine in Scotland, but no dramatic thunderstorms. We don’t do that kind of weather…

    • linniew says:

      Dear Kininvie
      I just knew you were harboring a mass of currants. Can’t you get some of your staff to deliver some up to Cook? She would doubtless know how to create something wonderful with them. Not that I mind the sound of blackcurrant fool. (You weren’t referring to me right?) Anything with whipped cream gets my attention. And many thanks for the pruning tip, I will tend to that right away. L

  7. Chloris says:

    Currants are great for summer puddings and ice cream. I read your post yesterday and thought I would try making your scones and tell you what I thought of them. They sound delicious.I went to pick my red and black currants and they had all gone, every last one eaten by blackbirds. I know you have exotic birds there; I don’ t suppose you have fruit -guzzling blackbirds. You have superior sorts of birds like cardinals and humming birds.
    You tell the dog you are going to die in a thunder storm? It sounds like role reversal. My dog always tells me. Fireworks are even worse than thunderstorms; weapons off mass destruction in his eyes. It’ s a good thing he doesn’t t live with you. You’ d be terrifying each other. Mind you it does sound as if it was pretty scary.

    • linniew says:

      Oh-oh. Bad birds. I keep hearing these tales of currants and birds. We do have a lot of birds around here. The cardinals I think are on our other coast but you know I love the hummers and songbirds. There are certainly blackbirds too, and they all eat ALL of the cherries off about six large trees. One year there was an epic cherry crop so we got a few, but that’s rare. Anyway I guess they are so full of cherries that they don’t even bother with the currants, perhaps as a point of bird pride.

      Max took the thunder rather well, especially for such a small dog. He seemed confident that he could dispose of it if he could just see it. I don’t think my words scared him –– he ignores what I say.

  8. Well, this was VERY encouraging! I’ve been wondering whether I want to plant currants, and based on this, I’ll put some in next spring. I have a north wall where I think they’re be very happy.

    • linniew says:

      Yes we must make these efforts, for scones anyway. I say go for it. And apparently you can make everything from wine to jam so maybe plant several 🙂

  9. Those scones do look delicious. I grow wild currant, but the berries ripen slowly over a long season so you can’t pick them all at once. I leave them for the birds. Love the picture of the big raindrop splatters on the front walk.

    • linniew says:

      Wild currants are great too. We have rosy-flowered ones that bloom early. The hummmingbirds love the flowers. I’ve never noticed the fruit so I guess some other bird gets those too. I wish the rain would come back. We had heat and wind yesterday and I could hear the outside world beginning to crisp.

  10. Hi Linnie,your currants do look good but your recipe is wasted in this household, Myra doesn’t bake and I am not about to start, I mean for gods sake she has me washing dishes these days. So glad Max and yourself didn’t die, but blimey those were seriously big raindrops, one drop would have soaked my hair. Oh, we also had a really good thunderstorm a couple of days ago, didn’t get many of those in the colder climate of Aberdeen.

    • linniew says:

      I’m glad you get those entertaining storms in your new place — they kind of keep things in perspective I think. And now I have this great image of you washing dishes Alistair! But really cleaning up is the hardest part of baking so you might as well have the scones maybe…

  11. Ever tried red current jelly! I’m supposed to be making it this summer- again. I love the result, though the work….. Nice post, thank you.

    • linniew says:

      My mom made currant jelly when I was a child. I remember her straining the juice through cheesecloth. It was a huge amount of work but tasted great and maybe one day I’ll try it, when my currant bushes get a little more productive.

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