I’ve been watching the blackberries ripen along the dog path to the beach, waiting for that moment when they are perfect, and before the birds have eaten most of them. They hang in great clusters over the wire-link fence, easily within reach. They are dusty from the activity below of dogs running, romping, catching balls, and all the other social antics of dogs out for a good time at the park. We go to the park every day, rain or shine, or snow or sleet because that’s what has to happen if you live with a border collie.
Getting in the dog park
Yesterday was especially busy at the dog beach, with a whole pack of basset hounds, other kinds of baying hounds, and an especially vocal Australian shepherd.
Trace goes after the ball
An eager young German shepherd was determined to play tug of war with his rope with any of the other dogs—any dog. He really wanted to play. Trace, of course, can only focus on his ball, even if one of the many labs gets to it first. Trace will shadow the thief until his ball is finally released—then snap, he’s got it in his mouth and brings it back for another toss.
Trace gets the dust washed off
But Joe and I had enough of this. We left the dog park and went to the other side of the fence to the people park. Trace has to be on his leash but it was our turn to enjoy the beautiful afternoon in the park. Joe ran on ahead with Trace and ducked in toward the water. I followed, but lost track of where they’d gone. Just as well, because I found myself in the most incredible maze of blackberry vines I’ve ever seen. The path between was barely wide enough for me to go through and on either side, the blackberries beckoned in ripe and shiny blackness of perfection. I had a plastic bag (normally used for something else when you’re with a dog!), and began picking until Joe called me on my cell, wondering where in the world I’d gone off to.
Beautiful blackberries getting washed
Dinner was going to be a simple affair for just the two of us. We would have leftover chicken, beans from the garden, leftover rice, a garden salad, and, of course, a blackberry dessert. The whole thing turned out much better than I had expected—which is usually true of simple things.
I had a chicken breast, just big enough to slice and share between two people. The beans were certainly plentiful and there were even a few snap peas I could add. There was just enough wild rice medley left over to heat through and top with a little grated asiago cheese. The salad was a no brainer, or course, and I would slice one of the beautiful California red plums to top it, plus half an avocado that had to be used up. I even had about a tablespoon of roasted tomato garlic pesto that was simply taking up room in the fridge. And, of course, I had the blackberries.
Chicken Breast in Roasted Tomato Pesto Cream
1 cooked chicken breast, skin removed
1 tablespoon roasted garlic tomato pesto
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons cream
1 cup green beans
½ cup pea pods
In 10” skillet, heat and stir together the wine and the tomato pesto. Add chicken breast, which has been sliced on the diagonal and place to one side. Add beans and peas, arranged on other side of pan. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Add cream and cover again and simmer 2 more minutes.
Rice in small pot, dinner of chicken in pesto cream sauce
Arrange on two plates, pouring cream sauce over all and serve with rice medley topped with a small grating of asiago cheese.
Garden Salad with Red Plums and Avocado
2 cups salad greens
1 ripe red plum
3 tablespoons Kitchen Essentials Light Balsamic Vinaigrette
Sea salt and red pepper flakes to taste
Arrange greens on two plates. Slice plum and divide between two plates. Top with avocado slices. Drizzle vinaigrette over salads and sprinkle with sea salt and red pepper flakes.
Blackberries in Cream with Mint
2 cups blackberries
¼ cup cream
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 sprigs fresh mint
Divide blackberries between 2 dessert coupes
Sprinkle with sugar and pour cream over berries. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
This simple meal took about ten minutes to prepare and five minutes to cook. Best of all, the cost was negligible if it could even be calculated. Granted, this was only for two people, but this is a dinner that could just as easily be expanded to serve a larger family, simply by increasing the quantities. With so much coming from the bounty of the garden and a walk in the park, the only expense is in the leftover chicken and rice—and a few tablespoons of cream!