One unforeseen benefit of being too busy for yard maintenance this summer is the explosion of blackberries around the house. Normally, I spend a pretty good amount of time trying to beat back the jungle that’s intent on engulfing our property. It’s just part of living in a small clearing in the woods, I suppose. But this year, with the farm, book work and salmon all taking up time, something had to give. And the creeping barbwire known as Himalaya blackberry is taking over.

Nice thing is, we haven’t had to drive to any of our usual picking spots to stock up. Skyla and Weston just walk out the back door and start snacking. Sure, these Himalayas aren’t as good as the rarer cutleaf blackberry, which has a more complex flavor and stands up better to freezing and baking, but we aren’t complaining. Proximity counts.

One of our recent favorite desserts is fresh blackberry malteds. We put vanilla ice cream in a blender with milk, malt powder (increasingly hard to find, but it’s made by Carnation and still available in some grocery stores) and a couple cups of berries. Give it a whirl and it turns into a treat we can’t get enough of. (Note: if the seeds bother you, just blend and strain the berries first, but the kids say they like the “crunchies” so we just leave ’em in.) Eventually, I’m going to have to whack the vines back into submission, but now I have an excuse to put it off even longer.