Rumble and Ramble in Blackberry Bramble

It’s easy as pie – really. But that doesn’t explain the numerous little pink scratches criss-crossing my arms which simultaneously eroded the popular productivity principles that I’ve spent a career mastering.

Sally's Blackberry Pie

Oh sure, we had a goal and since Sally had been baking before we arrived, we could also visualize the goal but I think that’s where it ended. We weren’t well organized. Despite the buckets that we carried with us, we had no productivity metrics except the occasional shout of delight, “oh mom, every here! They’re everywhere.”

The plan had no gant chart. We simply walked to the top of the hill, spotted the berries and began picking. There was nothing efficient about the process. Pick here. Then pick over there. Quality control? That happened when one of those berries hung so heavily from the vine that it looked like it might melt in our hands before it made it to the bucket. It never did make it.

At some point, we realized that we could use an implement so after borrowing clippers from the neighbors, we familiarized ourselves with the use in order to avoid any OSHA recordable. We passed them up and down the line in a haphazard fashion that would saw the edge off any time and motion study. An unexpected garter snake sent two of us out of our Tevas.

And so, in our post-picking debrief Β glory complete with purple fingers, we reviewed our outcomes; a sunny blue day, family time, full tummies and berries to build pies and tarts and smoothies and a completely new definition of KPIs.

Where else might we benefit by throwing out what we’ve learned about efficiency in order to obtain a glorious breakthrough outcome?

Blackberries from Harstine edited by CRH

Berry Pie
Adapted from Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook
Serves 6
  • 1 9 inch pie crust (optional)
  • 6 – 8 cups of fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350. In order to prebake the crust, place a piece of waxed paper on the unbaked crust and add 2 cups of dried beans spread evenly. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and wax paper and bake for 10 more minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. (I have also used a pre-made graham cracker crust with great results)

Place 2 cups of the berries in a Vitamix or food processor. Add 1/3 cup of sugar and blend. Taste and add more sugar if desired.

Put the remaining cups of berries in the cooled pie shell and spread them evenly.

Put cornstarch into a saucepan and whisk in the pureed berries with sugar. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and stir constantly for 5 minutes or until slightly thick. Remove from the heat and pour over the berries in the crust. Allow to return to room temperature before serving. Enjoy while abandoning all learned productivity measures.

Leave a comment


  1. I just loved this . . .and the thought of no productivity measures having to be in place. πŸ™‚ The tip about the beans on the pie crust during pre-baking . . ah ha! I needed that! Thanks for it all , Tammy!

  2. oh, lucky you to go berry picking πŸ™‚

  3. I am positively drooling over this πŸ™‚

  4. cost, schedule and a delicious performance!

  5. This looks so delicious and the recipe is so easy! Worth a try. I hope the scratches are not too deep but you know what? I think this is what makes the pie even more special!

  6. Sally Mom

     /  September 8, 2011

    Lovely memories, to last forever. And wild berries so healthy for you. Next time, more implements!
    Thank you Tammy

  7. Ah, and here it is! The berry post you promised. πŸ™‚

    Love the way you told this…brought back many memories (but, you forgot to mention the bees? Did your bushes have no bees? They would scare me more than the snakes, back then).

    The simplicity of it all is idyllic. Pick your own food and delight in the experience…bring the bounty back home and savor the rewards.

    Wonderful! πŸ™‚

  8. DELICIOUS in every way, Tammy!! My mouth is watering. Your descriptions take me straight to Finland in summer, where we picked wild berries almost everywhere we went, including late in the evening since there were only about 2 hours of dusky darkness each night πŸ™‚

  9. I’m relieved to find your post was not about smartphones.

  10. Better a garter snake than a rattlesnake!

    Christine (Random Thoughts From Midlife) watched animal control bag a rattlesnake at the beach . . . and videoed it for us.

    The pie looks FAB!

  11. I think the pies taste better when the fruit is harvested in a relaxed, even haphazard, joyful fashion πŸ˜€

  12. Yummers, Tammy – my blackberries are nicely frozen waiting for winter whining! The get-up I wear to wade into the mass of tangled skin snaggers would not be part of anyone’s how-to book. Even my farmer friend had a double take! But it works and the berries practically fell into my container.

    Tammy…did you scare that poor little garter snake?

  13. Looks yummy πŸ˜‰

    Great post!

  14. “Quickberry! Quackberry! Pick me a blackberry!” Wow, you just brought back so many memories: reading that book to my toddlers, picking blackberries with them in Washington State & England, making pot after pot of jam. Thanks, Tammy. Save me a piece of pie!

  15. “billions of berries for blackberry jamble!” oh Jamberry, one of our favorite books to read to Freja!

  16. Lisa H

     /  September 10, 2011

    Oh! The blackberries at Sally’s! Wonderful memories for us.
    Our favorite picking day was with Uncle Eric backing up the “Happy Truck” (a huge old pickup truck) right into the blackberry bushes so we could pick the berries we couldn’t reach from the ground. Literally, bucketfuls of the ripest berries that popped in our mouths.
    Keeping your berry pie as simple as possible is what makes it so delicious!

    • I think you’re right about the simplicity. And sadly, I think happy truck ended it’s days on this trip.

  17. If I get blackberries at the farm today I’m going to make this- sounds delicious!

  18. Oh my. This pie is perfection and hand picked blackberries?!!! What a wonderful day and yes, sometimes efficiency is not the answer. πŸ™‚

  19. Love it! Isn’t life grand???

  20. I am so hungry right now, for this pie, my grandma’s pie, the pie that I know is a few blocks away at the local diner for $2.99/slice. I have a love/hate feeling about this post right now…as tummy growls for pie.

  21. As a business executive, I love the irony here in the contrast between metrics and just plain glorious fun and bounty. The pie looks so delish – and that’s a clear, measurable result!

  22. Oh my gosh – Gantt charts, KPIs, productivity metrics… project management comes to the blackberry patch! πŸ™‚

    I like your remark about throwing out existing definitions of efficiency. Maybe you’re a fan of the New Economics Foundation and New Economics Institute too?

    This reminds me of Bobby Kennedy’s often quoted 1968 speech in which he remarks that GNP is not the best way to measure the success of a nation – and yet it and GDP have been the prevailing measures for decades:

    “Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product … if we should judge America by that – counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

    “Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

    Here’s an example of time banking, a new economic model:
    – right here in AZ:
    – other states –

    Another way to keep things local would be something akin to the Totnes Pound:

    • Bobby Kennedy was such a stud. I hadn’t seen that before and it’s so impressive. I get the transition network newsletter each month and have a few good ideas from there.

  23. Love the recipe, and the looks of that pie. I remember hiking long, red dirt roads as a child, picking wild black berries along beside them, and out of the ditches. I would hustle them back to grannies house as fast as I could, knowing that she would have a hot “BlackBerry” Cobbler sitting on the table by supper time.
    God Bless You

  24. Hi Tammy. Thanks for stopping by my blog:) that pie looks soooo yummy! i don’t have any blackberries growing around here so i bought some from the shop (a couple weeks ago)… they were so good though that i ate the whole bunch before they turned into a pie, but that was my plan anyway πŸ™‚

  25. I really love blackberry and wish I could so blackberry picking like that someday πŸ™‚ The pie looks so delightful, too πŸ™‚

  26. Tammy, I don’t know what KPIs are, but I know I’d be happy to cast them aside for the joy of berry picking any day,regardless of scratches, snakes, and the like!

  27. Mmmm, this looks so wonderful! I love blackberries, but I haven’t gathered any this year yet.

  28. This made me think back to my college days when I spent a semester in Ireland. One Saturday my host family took me blackberry picking in the Wicklow Mountains and I couldn’t believe the bounty! Then we had the most amazing tarts after. I have had a warm spot in my heart for blackberries ever since!

  29. That pie certainly looks delicious! Well worth a few (or even a lot of) scratches – and I’d say that even if the scratches were on my arms. πŸ˜‰

  30. Love blackberries and of course the pie. Reminds me of when we visited my sister in law in Bellingham, WA and she had so many blackberries she did not know what to do. My husband wanted to show me he knew his way around a pie and made one without sugar as he said the berries tasted so sweet. The result nearly gave me lockjaw. There was simply not enough vanilla ice cream for that one.

  31. Wow, my mouth was watered when seeing Your photo. I am a real pie lover and blackberries they are delicious. My wife is doing pies mainly from blueberry, lingonberry, black currant and red currant.

    Great post and just my taste.

  32. Those blackberries look awesome and to think they are so expensive here!!

  33. Tammy, do you have a pie crust recipe? ‘Coz i dont know where I will get ready pie crust

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