Monday, June 21, 2010

What's that berry? I dunno, taste it!!

Well, folks, the weekend's over and it's back to the workaday world. We had a pretty chill weekend up here on the farm, aside from the fact that my phone was on the fritz yesterday. Yesterday marked our first trip down to the Chattanooga Market, a big farmer's market they hold every Sunday. It was, in all honesty, a little disappointing. There were only three vendors selling actual produce. Everyone else was art or soap or handmade clothes or other things that we didn't go to the farmer's market to see. But, B got some of the biggest blackberries I've ever encountered. Seriously, they're freakishly huge. Big as a golf ball. I'm partial to the tiny little blackberries I get off my wild vines. Blackberries are just tart enough that if you eat a HUGE one, it's a little overwhelming.

Mutant berries.

Here, with a teaspoon for scale. I never knew blackberries came that big!

The market wasn't a complete bust though. I finally found a butterfly bush! Mother in Law gave me one for housewarming when we bought our first home and I loved it. I've been looking for one ever since I moved to the little farm and have had no luck. Until yesterday!! It's pretty small, but it has the deepest purple blooms I've ever seen. I need to find a place to plant it today. Preferably, right next to the porch, in my direct line of sight, so I can laze about in my rocking chair and watch butterflies frolic and dance hither and yon.

The most exciting part of the weekend, though, was all about walking in the woods Saturday evening. With my basket. I have this basket, see. It's my picking-stuff basket. Every time I go anywhere on this farm where there might be things to be picked, I take my basket (it was a gift from Big Sister for Christmas this past year, and up to now, she has no idea how useful it's become). My basket, generally just makes short forays into the garden and has been known to hit the strawberry patch a time or two. Saturday was the first time my basket ventured into the woods. And it came back loaded with these little jewels:

And, no, they're not just random berries we found in the woods and decided to experiment with. I've had my eye on these guys for a while now. I first noticed them growing when the in laws came to visit and we drug them around the trail. I thought they looked a lot like the blueberries we have growing in the yard. So, I googled (of course). I learned, via the omniscient Google, that wild blueberries are native to this area. But then someone said they were huckleberries. So, I asked Google again. Turns out, huckleberries and wild blueberries are pretty much the same, aside from a difference in the seeds. Seeds, schmeeds. I care not about seeds! I care only that they are 100% edible and will not kill me if made into a tasty pie.

So, armed only with my basket and an insatiable greed, B and I set forth on our first foraging expedition. At first, it was slim pickin's. It seemed as though I had waited a bit too long and the industrious birds had gotten the best of my huckleberry/blueberry harvest. Or a bear. I was hoping it was birds. But, alas, we came upon the motherlode. We broke K's rule number two for walking in the woods. We left the trail (which has historically been rule number one, but was recently supplanted by "bring your basket" at the top o' the list). And my goodness, were we rewarded for our foolhardy behavior. Apparently birds don't leave the trail.

What you see in that colander was the sum total of about an hour and a half spent in the woods (with a few NORMAL sized blackberries that we found along the way), but I think it's enough for a pie.

So, between baking a huckleberry/blueberry pie, baking bread, making biscuits for supper tonight, and canning all these veggies from the garden, I have a full day of kitchenn duty ahead of me. I'll be attempting to put up some squash and making pickles for the first time as well. The cucumber spears have been soaking in brine for a while, and all that remains (I think) is to wash em, do some vinegar thing to them, add some spices, and can them. The squash should be a little more straight forward, as they will not be pickled (pickled squash? bleh. As if regular squash isn't bad enough!). I've canned a few times in the past, but this is my first go-round with large volumes. If, in a few weeks, you haven't heard from me, I'm probably dead of botulism.

I'll report back tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Are any of you canning anything yet? Got any pointers?

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