On Painting with Light, Independent Ewes + Rustic Brambleberry Galette

As I type this I’m into my second slice of Brambleberry Galette, and I don’t feel the slightest bit bad about it. This happens every summer, during those sweet two or three weeks where it seems everything is ripe at once — at least if, like me, by “everything” you mean “all the berries.” It’ll be ten months before they come ripe again so it only seems appropriate to eat them in every imaginable way while we can.

I know there are plenty of folks who will disagree with me–pop over to Pinterest and you’ll find no shortage of recipes that call for coating berries in sugar or drowning them in “whipped cream” or burying them deep within muffins and breads–but I don’t like to do too much to fresh berries. There are lots of foods that ask to be fiddled with, but you’d be hard pressed to convince me that berries are among them. Berries are too delicate for fiddling. It’s almost as if Mother Nature sent them with instructions: be careful, and I’m heeding those instructions especially close this year.

Which brings me to my current indulgence. If you want a great baked berry dessert that leaves the berries in all their natural glory, go with a Galette. Make it “rustic”–that is, don’t worry about the shape or the edges of the dough–and it’s probably among the quickest and easiest out there. Just top a fresh pie crust with a quart of mixed bramble berries–I used Raspberries and Blackcaps (wild black raspberries the kids picked along the edges of the woods)– drizzle with a generous tablespoon of local honey, fold up the edges of the crust and bake until golden. Because bramble berries are the most delicate and least watery they’ll bake down and make a nice, gooey filling that holds together when you slice the Galette without any additives. The kids were even able to pick their pieces up and ate them like a slice of pizza.

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Recently, my oldest has expressed an interest in photography. So we’ve been heading out during the golden hours, when the light is long in the sky, to shoot together. Sometimes we just walk around our property, others we drive around a few country blocks in search of something that catches her eye. She fancies wildlife and has requested a good, long lens to get in close to them. For now, she’s been making do with sheep who crowd in close.

It has been interesting for me; watching her learn. I didn’t have a mentor when I started; it was all trial and error. Photography wasn’t as expensive then as it had been, but it was still a lot more expensive than it is now. I think, more than anything, I just got lucky. I still shoot mostly with my eyes rather than my brain, so while we’ve spent some time going over things like composition and exposure mostly I’ve taught her the two things that have worked for me:

1) The camera has only a manual mode; none of the others exist so you can’t be tempted to use them. (Which means you’re forced to learn how the camera functions.)

2) Shoot what you find beautiful; just think of the light like a paintbrush.

I don’t know yet if she has, “the eye,” but I do know we’re enjoying the process of finding out.

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I don’t know what type of sheep Louisa is, but from the front she looks like an old Amish man, which made it all the funnier when my Mother last visited and ooh’d and aah’d over her. “Oh my! That one is just the prettiest!”

When I inquired about her breed at the farm where we bought her the old man shrugged his shoulders, “Maybe a bit o’ Cheviot in ‘er,” he said, and then he added, “I wasn’t sad to see that one go. She’s an old snake from way back.” Which made me laugh, because this is about as close as I get to Louisa, and this picture was taken with a 50mm lens (which makes it look closer than it is.) Her ewe lamb is only slightly more friendly.

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