Blackberries ripen on the vine in this northern Edgar County garden. Blackberries and peaches are popular choices in making cobblers. (Gary Henry/The Prairie Press)

It’s time for fruit cobblers

I was driving into Paris from a trip to Hume and lunch at The Twisted Piston (that’s for another column) when I passed Donnie Farris set up on the old Orndorff and Wright lot on state Route 1 with a pickup truck filled with fresh peaches for sale.

I lived in the South long enough to know when peaches make their appearance in the hot, humid days of late July and early August, you can expect the smell of peach cobblers filling the air in local neighborhoods.

I can make a pretty mean peach cobbler if I do say so myself, but what I really miss in the late summer are my mom’s blackberry cobblers, filled with the sweet berries she picked herself in the brambles and weeds of the old Cairo Division tracks in the west end of town, just north of the Maple Avenue crossing.

My dad was a railroader and switched the area. He kept a watchful eye on the berries — most of which were in a little ditch or valley just west of the tracks. Dad drove the Chevy stationwagon down the tracks and Mom — dressed in long pants and a long shirt — picked her way down to the berries. She filled buckets with the berries she later converted into blackberry jelly and cobblers. There’s nothing like tasting the sunshine of summer when the temperature is below zero but you’re spreading blackberry jelly on your toast in January.

Mom made blackberry cobbler because my Dad not only loved them — and the four kids did, too — but because my Dad’s sister, Aunt Doris Roberts Carotenuto loved them. It might be 95 degrees outside but Mom would bake Aunt Doris a blackberry cobbler. Aunt Doris and her husband, Uncle Sam and daughter, Linda, visited each summer in Paris and the cobbler was Mom’s way of saying hello.

Cobbler refers to a variety of dishes —  particularly in the United Kingdom and United States — consisting of a fruit or savoury filling poured into a large baking dish and covered with a batter, biscuit or dumpling (in England) before being baked. Some cobbler recipes, especially in the American South, resemble a thick-crusted, deep-dish pie with both a top and bottom crust.

In the Deep South, cobblers most commonly come in single fruit varieties and are named as such, such as blackberry, blueberry and peach cobbler. The Deep South tradition also gives the option of topping the fruit cobbler with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.

I’m including some of my favorite cobbler recipes for you to enjoy. One of my favorites is from Paula Deen. The peach cobbler is easy to make and is the same recipe served in The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah. It’s also easy enough for a young cook to tackle the recipe.

Enjoy the recipes I’m sharing this week with you. I’d love to hear what you think of them. Send me pictures of your cobblers at my email address below. They might be featured on our C’est La Vie page.

The Prairie Press

101 Central Avenue Paris, IL 61944