Foraging for Newfoundland berries and Mixed Wild Berry Jam

I‘m in that post-vacation slump, an in-between state of leisure and productivity where I stall at work because there is too much to do and not enough time.

Eventually I’ll get the laundry put away, the fridge restocked and the emails answered, but today I spooned wild Newfoundland berry jam onto vanilla ice cream, ate it up and joined the kids for a water fight. It takes a day or two to ease into gear and until then, I’m going to fondly reflect back on our time in Canada’s most eastern province.

This is the story of a hike that turned into a berry foraging adventure and the rental kitchen project that happened as a result.

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Make-Ahead Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Maple-Stewed Berries

This past week offered the opportunity to actually get outside and tromp around the homestead a bit. Hello Spring!

Among my discoveries, I noticed that the snow melted from the raised beds and small scarlet nubs of rhubarb are pushing through the mulch. The oregano patch is starting to show some green underneath the tangle of brambles and the raspberry canes are finally free of ice. Life is returning.

We’ve ordered our pullet hens from the farm and next weekend we’ll make repairs on the coop. Small brown eggs are synonymous with spring around here and in a few weeks production will start.

Say, if you haven’t toured our homestead yet, why not take a peek? And of course, find the expanded version, with recipes, stories and urban homesteading tips in my recent cookbook.

I’m holding out for local berries and our homegrown raspberries and (so far) have not been tempted by the imports from Mexico. Thankfully I still have a stash of Quebec strawberries and blueberries in the freezer from last summer. Gently stewed with some of this-season’s maple syrup, they make a delicious topping for nutty oatmeal.

Speaking of oatmeal, my favourite variety just became a lot more easily available, thanks to a new do-ahead method that I have been playing with for weeks.
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Eat Seasonal: Triple Berry Scones

It is a known fact that things don’t always go according to plan, and that includes gardening, weather and the seasons.

By now, early August, we should be hauling in tomatoes and cucumbers by the pounds, but the lack of heat has slowed everything down. My garden feels about a month behind; it’s looking ‘filled in’ but not quite ‘exploded’.

That’s all okay; I’m in no rush for those Romas or striped zucchini, because local berries are still front and centre. U-picks up and down the lanes are broadcasting blueberries and raspberries for the harvesting, and Quebec strawberries abound in the markets. Seasonal eating for us right now means gorgeous, jewel-hued berries enjoyed every which way. From salads to focaccia, pancake syrups to pies — and these breakfast scones, enjoyed on a recent Sunday morning.

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Muscavado Blueberry Plum Sorbet

Mid-summer wild blueberries and sweet plums tend to show up around the same time at the farm stands here, conveniently marketing themselves to be paired together in the kitchen.

I’ve long been a fan of the blueberry-plum flavour combination because it is a perfect balance of tart and sweet. These fruits also cook up into preserves and desserts of the most gorgeous purple hue that are hard to resist.

I’ve made a very successful fruit butter and pancake syrup with the two, now I’m marrying the berries and stone fruit into a vibrant sorbet perfect for summertime.

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Spinach Crepes with Maple-Stewed Blueberries

The evening I prepped this recipe was just like any other. I puttered barefoot in the kitchen to the tunes of Buena Vista Social Club, music I am revisiting and finding as just moving as the first time I heard ‘Chan Chan‘.

I cracked eggs and beat them with flour, melted butter and sauteed spinach into a crepe batter that would chill while we slept, or supposedly slept. There was no way I could have known what the night held, although little Clara had been nursing a cough during the day and was reaching for me to cuddle more than usual.

The last of my prep finished, the table set for the morning, and the final email sent, I headed upstairs to wind down for the night. It was close to eleven, and it had been a long day. A long week. A leisurely Saturday morning breakfast and the whole weekend stretched out before us, full of projects and plans, among them an autumn hike in the fall foliage of the Laurentians.

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