in the garden with cake and the first lady of tennessee; blackberry cornbread buckle

so many things say summer, but few do it as well as freshly picked blackberries.  in the south, blackberries aren’t hard to find.  they grow wild in urban areas as well as rural.  luckily for me, i work in a demonstration garden that has several large bushes.  on one warm sunday morning, i picked 6 pounds of them.

and just as you would expect, there is no shortage of recipes to use blackberries in.  my first task was to cook up a batch of jam.  it was easy to do and it only required two ingredients; blackberries and sugar.  i kept a few back to use in cakes and the like and i am glad i did.  on a recent morning, i had the opportunity to show off the demonstration garden to the first lady of tennessee.

mrs. haslam is busy with the installation of an heirloom vegetable, herb and cutting garden at the executive residence in nashville.  she came out to the demo garden to learn about alternative methods of planting and to see the many plants suitable for our area.  in this photo, i am explaining the keyhole garden, our latest experiment in the garden.

we toured the herb garden which was constructed completely out of found objects and the beds were filled using a lasagna gardening technique.

our herb garden has many culinary, medicinal and pot pourri herbs as well as a few edible flowers and some herbal tea plants.

the garden is a labor of love (or insanity-you choose) for me.  it is where i go every sunday morning.  the chance to share it with others is an honor.

my two favorite gardeners were with me, shirley (not in the photo) and ty ann.  without either of them and their hard work, the garden would not be nearly as beautiful as it is.  and where ty ann goes, so goes bella, the garden mascot!

and any morning spent in the garden means cake.  in honor of the first lady’s visit, i baked up a blackberry cornbread buckle with some of the berries i had picked.  to see the full recipe, visit

ain’t that just peachy? ttb 7/16

i have spent my week looking at a large basket of peaches and many little baskets of blueberries. the peaches are starting to ripen-perfectly. slightly firm but bite into one and the juices run. they are also full of flavor and hard to resist even if they are a bit on the fuzzy side. earlier in the week i made a peach brown betty with biscuits but today, i made one of my favorite recipes from the book, blueberry peach cornbread buckle. the cake goes together like so:

peeled and diced peaches
toss them with blueberries, lemon zest and sugar-let them macerate
mix up some cornbread, slightly sweet, and pour it into the pan
spread the macerated fruit and juices evenly over the top then sprinkle the crumb topping over the fruit. into the oven she goes
fully baked and out of the pan-waiting to be cut into squares
some of the fruit sinks, some stays at the top-it buckles, get it?
cake for breakfast-what more could you possibly need?