blackĀ raspberries

June 28, 2010

Black raspberries remind me the most of my childhood. We would go out into the woods and fields and pick as many as we could. We would bring the berries home and my mom would help us make jam, pies, and crumbles. It would always be a few precious jars. Black raspberries are sometimes all over the place, but more often few and far between. And it is way too easy to eat the berries while you are out foraging…

My friend Bob took me to some really good spots in a field next to his house a few days ago and we picked and picked and picked. He has a good system for picking berries. Belt an empty milk jug with the top cut off around your waist, and have both hands free to pick, balance, and navigate through the undergrowth.

After picking the berries, I took them home and was way too busy for a few days to do anything other than eat a few here and there. This morning I got them out, sat on the porch, and sorted out the sticks and leaves.

Then I sugared the berries, and added a little lemon juice to make a batch of jam.

Black raspberries are incredibly dark, sweet and full of seeds, which I love. I made a simple jam, and bottled it to save mostly for my brother, who lives in the city.


May 19, 2010

I was sitting on my porch this afternoon, enjoying the sunshine, when I heard a very loud collective buzz, or hum. I looked to where the sound was coming from, and up in the trees I saw a swarm of insects. I wasn’t sure what they could be, and I called my insect expert friend Moni, and she had the answer right away..bees! In the spring, new groups of bees venture out of the hive searching for new territory. They are accompanied by a new queen bee, and they travel in a football or basketball (or larger) sized swarm. They travel until they find a suitable home (or until someone bee-naps them and takes them to a hive).

Moni suggested that I call some people south of town that come and collect swarms of honey bees for raising honey, and I gave them a call. By the time I had made the two calls, the bees already settled in a tree by my house. I almost couldn’t find them anymore. The cloud and loud hum were gone, and all that remained was a gentle buzz, until I reached the actual tree. When I got right up close, the bees appeared to be busy inspecting several holes in the tree. They were moving quickly inside and out, with a little cloud of bees constantly hovering around the opening.

On the ground, several ants were carrying dead bees around, and other bees, possibly very tired, were crawling across leaves. And the whole place started smelling like honey! Heavy, sweet and delicious. Please stay bees!

Bees are fascinating stuff! I am going to check in the morning to see if they are still there. My sister suggested that we watch them over the summer, fall, and then in the spring wait to see if a new swarm heads out in search of a new home. It would be great if we could set some up for honey production! (That is Heli’s department.) For now, I am hoping to keep these bees, and have them stick around to pollinate our fruit trees and pumpkin patch (all located right near by)! I just checked this morning, and the bees were still there. Yes! According to my sister, there are groups of searcher bees, and they find the new home as the bees are swarming. Once they land, that is it.

We didn’t find too many morels this year. They were either hiding, not there, or one of the two. But some of the ones that we did find made their way into the skillet. With a lot of butter.

It is always fun to watch as they brown, delicately crispy.

And they shrink! A lot.

We ate them with sourdough toast (bread batch number two, much lighter and fluffier) and butter.

The finished product, on the new table.

a very simple soup

May 1, 2010

This soup was inspired partly by the very seasonal delicious veggies available, and also by a soup that I had in Japan a few years ago while visiting my brother, who was living there at the time. The noodles and broth were served at a temple that traditionally made the dish every spring when a specific green was available. I think that the noodles were actually made out of the plant, and I really can’t remember what it was. The soup that I made was mostly inspired by the idea of the Japanese soup.

I gathered a bag of nettles, and picked a batch of asparagus from the patch. Remembering the Japanese noodle soup, and wanting to make something simple and nutritious, I steamed the nettles, and set the broth and greens aside. Meanwhile, I boiled some buckwheat soba noodles, and on the other burner, I sauteed the sliced asparagus.

For the simple soup, I cooked the nettle broth down a little, finely chopped the nettle greens, and arranged the soba noodles in a bowl. I set the greens on top, and then poured the boiling hot broth over the whole thing. I seasoned the soup with a little soy sauce, and that was it. Very very simple, but delicious.

They are out there. The morels, fungi, jack-in-the-pulpets, and other things. The nettles are up to my waist, and the peepers are hopping around everywhere.

So why can’t I find them? Skye and I tromped through the woods, searching this morning, and found two little morels. Argh.

They are sitting in my fridge, soaking in salt water, to be fried in butter later, and eaten on toast, or some such thing.

Why can’t we find the patches, and bring in a load like usual? I am beginning to wonder if I have lost my morel vision. Or maybe they are taking their time, waiting until the perfectly prescribed moment to pop up. Regardless of whether or not I am around.

I guess that I just have to keep at it.