Wild Food: Bear For Dinner and Dessert.

Home is very open country, especially once the corn is down.

Home is very open country, especially once the corn is down.

After a trip back home to visit the family ended in 4 unsuccessful hunts (all thwarted by a small herd of black Angus) , I came back to a Monday off, except for class. I had a lot to do around the house, so I figured a set-it-and-forget-it meal was in order. I pulled out my first bear roast  and my cast iron dutch oven. Continue reading

Wild Dessert: Blackberry Crumb Bars

After putting together wine and brandy, I used what was left of my blackberries to make a pan of crumb bars. Like with most of my recipes, I adapt an existing recipe for grocery store, domesticated whatever it is. I used smittenkitchen’s recipe for blueberry crumb bars (though at some point I’d love to go wild blueberry picking), and just swapped the fruit.

So, like most of the best desserts, these things are full of buttery goodness. I followed the recipe exactly:

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

And then once assembled, into a 375F pre-heated oven.

Mixing the dry ingredients with the butter.

Mixing the dry ingredients with the butter.

The texture you're shooting for.

The texture you’re shooting for.

Bottom crust pressed into the pan

Bottom crust pressed into the pan

Filling mix- berries sugar, cornstarch.

Filling mix- berries sugar, cornstarch.

Filling.

Filling.

Crumbs on top.

Crumbs on top.

A nice golden brown about about 45 minutes in the oven.

A nice golden brown after about 45 minutes in the oven.

 

The end result.

The end result.

I’ve already eaten about half the pan. I’d also go a further step and say I like them a bit better the second day. I also went out yesterday evening, and gathered another 3 pounds of blackberries. If I can scrounge up another pound or two from somewhere else (I’ve gotten just about all there were ripe out at sunny slope), I might start a second gallon of wine.

It’s Berry Season Again

It definitely is! I was outside at work, and noticed ripe berries on one of the holes on the back nine of the course. So, on my afternoon off on Wednesday last week, I headed out to do the front fields before work. Luckily no mowers this year, and there was a bit of wind. I treated my clothes with permethrin, and sprayed my skin with 98% DEET, and was fairly skeeter-free.

SAMSUNG SAMSUNG

Nicely mown field

Nicely mown field

Bounty of berries

Bounty of berries

Much like last year, the front fields yielded about two pounds of berries. Nothing to sneeze at. But I also made it out Saturday afternoon. Saturday was a much muggier, hotter, more humid day. There was also no wind. The mosquitoes did not give two shakes that I was basically coated in poison. They were awful.

My dog came along. Here he is, chilling while I pick.

My dog came along. Here he is, chilling while I pick.

Ripe gooseberries. Not something you see very often.

Ripe gooseberries. Not something you see very often.

My pants after having my berry sack bump into them all afternoon.

My pants after having my berry sack bump into them all afternoon.

Dog in a tractor tire rut

Dog in a tractor tire rut

In a deep rut puddle

In a deep rut puddle

The back field yielded about 7 1/2 pounds of berries. So I have about ten pounds of them. And that was with maybe a quarter of the berries ripe. I could go back sometimes this week and get about as many berries, if I was willing to tolerate mosquitos some more.

Blackberry Wine: Straining

I had originally intended to get this done yesterday, but two weeks of poor sleep during that heat wave caught up to me. Anyhow. It’s been just under a week since I started that wine. It was pretty damn hot for most of the time, so I cut the ferment on the pulp short. I’ve been checking the smell, and it definitely smells winey. Before that it was yeasty, which was good cause I’d worried I’d killed my yeast with Campden tabs. When the temp dropped yesterday, the smell stopped being as strong.

When I got home from work this afternoon, I began to sanitize.

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I cleaned out another bucket, in much the same state as the first, and re-sanitized a ladle, a spoon, a gallon jug, and my hands, since they would be doing the pressing. The recipe I’m following has me adding more syrup at this stage, and I had it cooling in a salted ice water bath. With everything clean, I was ready to strain out the pulp.

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I ladled the mash into the muslin bag, and dumped the dregs in. I let it drip and drain under its own weight for a bit.

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Then I got in there and started squeezing and pressing by hand. My palms are still tinged slightly purple. Once I got as much juice out of the pulp as I could, I added the cooled syrup and sloshed the mix around a bit. Then I positioned the jug and funnel under the spigot on this new bucket.

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And I let ‘er go.

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It’s quite full, more so than I expected from the recipe’s photos. It calls for one more syrup addition, but I won’t have room for that, and more syrup wouldn’t give it enough volume to fill two gallon jugs. But, I fit the bottle with a rubber stopper meant for the airlock, and put a balloon over that.

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Now it will sit for ten days. If I didn’t murder the yeast, that balloon should slowly inflate with carbon dioxide as they consume the sugar and turn it into ethanol. It will be racked two more times to rid it of sediment. And sediment it will have- I know I squeezed plenty of seeds back into it. Since I can’t add more sugar syrup to it (unless racking it really reduces the volume), I’ll rack it once (after ten days) back into a clean jug, and then that third racking (once fermentation stops entirely, approximately a week or two later) will be the final one, and I’ll add the conditioning sugar to carbonate it before I cork it.