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Travel theme: flavour

I came in from outside tonight with my fingers all coated in saskatoon and raspberry juice, and read Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney’s post about harvesting berries – I took it as a sign. So, here I am contributing my handful of harvest ideas and memories to her theme for this week.

I live in the Okanagan, western Canada’s fruit basket. We have an edible fence in our front yard, with tayberries, golden and red raspberries, white currants, and two kinds of gooseberries. We also have a cherry tree that is over 60 years old, the only one left from the original orchard that surrounded our farmhouse. Late June our harvest begins with the currants and saskatoons, then it’s non-stop eating till the first frost.

 

As I stood out there tonight, picking and eating (you know, “one for the bowl, one for me”), I thought of how fortunate we are. To live in a place where all summer long I can eat my fill with the dogs nuzzling at my feet – it made me think of the phrase “an embarrassment of riches”.

When I was a kid growing up in Calgary, berries were much more of a luxury. My parents tried to grow raspberries, but we only ever managed a few handfuls for a harvest. My mom would buy them occasionally but they were doled out like gold coins. Perhaps that is part of why they taste so good now.

My favourite way to eat berries is by the handful right off the bush, but if I’m cooking them I want to make sure I can still taste the full impact of their flavour.

  • Our golden raspberriesberry financiers are more delicate in taste than red ones, but in Raspberry Financiers they shine. These are delicious for brunch or afternoon tea, and they make a delectable hostess gift.
  • Gooseberries have great taste but they are tough to deal with. The prickly bushes put up a good fight for their bounty, and their stems and tails are rather gnarly to eat. I like to make syrup by simply boiling the fruit with a bit of sugar and then I strain it for syrup – yummy on pancakes, ice cream, or even in salad dressing.
  • Currants are good for syrup too, and you can take things a step further and make mostarda. This Italian condiment is a great savoury match for roasted meats and cheeses. You can use this recipe for cherry mostarda for currants too.

As a foodie, I am all about the flavours of life. It amazes me that Mother Nature can offer us so many variations on a theme. I mean really, your imagination has to be good to develop the sweetness and range of colour in blueberries and golden raspberries and then head all the way through the spectrum to the different but equally delicious tangy gooseberries and currants.

I’m not sure what flavour the fuzzy saskatoons have – that was more about texture, not one I wanted to sample …


I have been fortunate to have flavour memories from other parts of the world, but I’ll save that for another post. Today I’m just going to stay grateful for the bountiful flavours of home.

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I’m Giving You a Raspberry!

I wanted to create a post that would showcase something elegant for a summer garden party. I was thinking of keeping up to Martha Stewart and all her beautiful flower arrangements amidst pastel-coloured cocktails, or perhaps Alice Waters-style with sprigs of just-snipped herbs on every plate. Well, I never got the time to put an idea together. Instead, here are my impromptu notes…

At Rabbit Hollow we have what we call an edible fence. Our property line is covered on one side of the yard with all kinds of fruit trees and berry bushes. The most prolific of these are the golden raspberry canes that are now in their fourth year here. They are wonderful fruits, a bit less tangy than red raspberries and certainly more exotic to look at. The ones we have are everbearing, so from June through November we get to nibble on these little delights every morning if we want. I usually sneak a few after I walk the dogs and water the garden in the morning. There is something wonderfully rebellious about stuffing mouthfuls of raspberries into your mouth even before you’ve put your business clothes on 🙂

The catch is, the little bit of nibbling is not keeping up with production anymore. As a result, I have started to look for recipes that highlight their delicate flavour, and Raspberry Financiers are just about perfect. They are a lovely afternoon tea treat, but I have found that they make a decadent Sunday breakfast. You can be lazy and add them to pancakes, but this recipe is sure to impress everyone at the table.

So, this post is a reminder for you to combine the irreverent and the elegant occasionally, just for fun. Be serious about having fun. Life is short and it is meant to be enjoyed and shared. Have an extra mouthful of berries and let yourself smile.

Bon Appetit!

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