My mom, Tilla Fields, was an amazing cook. In her early years, she served as camp cook on cattle branding outings in the northerly Great Basin Desert. Yep, with a horse-driven chuck wagon and dutch ovens dug into the ground and everything. With her skills, she could have become a professional chef, but was too modest to go for such a career. So her family reaped the benefits.
My family didn’t typically buy fruit. We’d either grow it on our own bushes and trees, or trade with others, or best of all, we’d go wildcrafting. For weekend fun, my folks would bundle us all up in the truck with a picnic lunch, and we’d go out scouting how ripe the fruit on untended bushes in the region was getting. Wild cherries and plums are mostly pit, which means more work for less fruit, and blackberries have thorns and spiders to avoid while picking, but their strong tart flavors are unparalleled. We’d come home happy with full buckets and bellies, and the anticipation of both delicious treats now and jars full of goodness for the coming winter.
Here is one of my favorite recipes passed down from my mom. She nearly always cooked from memory alone, but she wrote this one down upon my request. The beauty of it is its simplicity: it’s one of the few things she made that even I, her not very domestic daughter, can replicate. Enjoy!
Tilla Fields’ Magic Fruit Cobbler
- 2-½ cup of berries, cherries, or peaches
- 1-½ cups flour
- 1+1 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg (optional)
- ½ cube butter or margarine
- 1+ tsp cinnamon
Melt butter in a 9×15 pan.
Mix dry ingredients: flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, & salt. In a separate smaller bowl, mix wet ingredients: beat egg, add milk, oil, & vanilla. Then mix all together.
Pour onto butter in pan. Don’t stir.
Add the berries on top of the batter.
Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar #2 over the fruit. (Daughter Tina’s note: add 1 cup sugar if the fruit is particularly tart or you like your desserts sweet; less if you don’t. But do add some, as it gives the cobbler top a delicious crunchy texture.)
Bake 30-40 minutes at 370 (high altitude).
Serve with cream, if you like. Or ice cream. Or on its own.