I spent 1990-1995 living on a relatively high security naval base in British Columbia. As a shy girl with an overactive imagination, living in the relative isolation of that place was the best time of my life, despite the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War followed by a subsequent vicious and terrifying CUPE strike. I went back to the base in February of 2002, and it just wasn’t the same. For one thing, there were actual guards at the front gate now, with really big guns. As an adult I was subject to quite a bit more scrutiny than I had been as a child. But it was fantastic to visit the place where I used to have so much fun.
My front yard was twenty metres from the ocean and a rocky beach. Helicopters would land in the field behind my house. The admiral would let me pick roses from his garden. Destroyers, frigates, and minesweepers would signal me in pseudo-morse code when I waved (well they would if my dad or someone I knew was on them). Frogmen would magically appear next to me on the beach, having emerged from the ocean. Things got exciting when nuclear submarines came to visit. There were enormous cliffs to climb and fantastic old ruins to hide in. And there were wild apple trees, cherry trees, and a blackberry bush the length of a football field.
It wasn’t uncommon to pass by this particular bush on any given day in the summer and find it full of not only bees and wasps but engineers, sailors, police officers, and anyone else who happened to be passing by and wanted a snack.
We ate a lot of blackberries in those summers.
My mother would stew the blackberries with a bit of water or juice, a spoonful or two of sugar, and a little dab of corn starch to thicken it. We would eat this stuff on ice cream, cake, pie, pancakes, waffles … you name it. It’s a multi-purpose sauce and can turn any dessert into an elegant treat in a flash.
Blackberries are obviously my favourite ingredient, but you can use any other kind of berry you want. Living in Newfoundland I have discovered that partridge berries make a nice tart sauce. Raspberries, blueberries, and halved strawberries work well. Frozen berries work very well in this, as you don’t have to work on breaking them down as they cook. I will try to quantify the amounts for you here. If you’re cooking for a dinner party, make the full recipe below, but you can halve (or double) this recipe easily.
Take 2 cups fresh or frozen berries and bung them in a small pot. I used blueberries this time. Add in 1/2 cup of water or juice (I like to use cranberry juice to boost the flavour) and 1/4 cup of sugar. You’ll need a little extra liquid if you are using fresh berries.
Heat on medium, stirring often, until all the berries are defrosted and broken up.
Suspend one tablespoon corn starch in three tablespoons water or juice and pop that in as well.
Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
Remove from the heat and drizzle over the food of your choice.
I recommend Pound Cake.