Family traditions

Summer, for me, is woven with family traditions – traditions that run deep.

I am fortunate to live in a place rich with berries just waiting to be harvested. As well as berries, some harvest mushrooms, hazelnuts, rose hips and even fire weed.

My childhood was filled with berry picking with my mom, grandmother and a few of my aunts. Our pantries and freezers were filled with the fruits of our labor…pun totally intended.

As an adult, I have continued the tradition and make preserves and freeze berries for baking for my own family, and I thoroughly enjoy learning more from the people in my life.

Just recently, I was introduced to a tasty and spectacularly beautiful mushroom called an Indigo Milk Cap.

I have been busy picking berries to freeze and have made jams and syrups to last until next summer. I anxiously wait for the chokecherries to be ready so I can make another batch or 5 of chokecherry syrup. Chokecherry syrup is not only delicious but, it holds sweet memories of breakfasts sitting beside my grandpa, with bread Granny had freshly made, toasted and smothered with peanut butter. We would poke holes in the toast and pour the syrup onto our toast, letting it seep through to saturate the toast from the bottom. My grandpa’s eyes would sparkle with mischief as he asked if I would like long or short syrup. Asking for long syrup always brought forth laughter that echoed through the home as he would jump on his chair or reach as high as he could to give me “long syrup”.

We would gather rose hips along our walks, snacking on them as we built wildflower bouquets for Mom and Grandma.

Picking berries with the adult women always made me feel part of something special and I will forever treasure those moments spent with my grandma picking berries, sometimes even hazelnuts.

Now, it is my turn, and I love creating tasty treats for my family and friends. I also find it a delicious excuse to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and chill out away from the chaos of the city.

Made with Love

In our home we prefer homemade. My husband and I love working in our kitchen together and/or with our children making breads and treats and pizzas, and experimenting with new flavors, of pancakes and breads especially. We do this as often as our schedules allow but aim for at least once a week.

Last week, when we had my husband’s kids for our week with them, we took to making our own baked doughnuts and topped them with a delicious cinnamon sugar.

They were an immediate hit and the pleas to make them more often resounded from 4 of 6 children. I’m going to safely presume the other 2 would wholeheartedly agree…once they taste them. 😉

In our home, cooking is an act of love; we pour our heart and love into our recipes as freely as we pour our garlic. Ha ha!This is a huge reason behind our love of canning and freezing foods fresh from our garden, a local community garden, local farmers and from the forest.

In fact, I’m so excited to be able to return to the forest for another harvest this coming season. This is a huge part of my childhood and my upbringing. As a family (three generations of family and now includes a fourth and, once old enough, fifth generation), we would gather and prepare. I recall many, many mosquito-ridden, picnic lunch packed, heat stroke suffering days of gathering berries of all sorts, rosehips and wild horseradish, and harvesting our gardens as a family.

My favorite memories are sitting on the cool cement stairs in front of my granny’s house, tipping and tailing beans, shelling peas and absorbing every word she spoke through her stories and wisdom.

My least favorite, but still as rewarding, butchering days. Necessary, appreciated once on my plate, but not my favorite. Why? After a season or so of caring for those chicks, piglets and calves I grew fond of them; I even broke the cardinal farm rule of never naming any animal other than the dogs, cats, horses and the milk cows, and would bestow names upon one or two or all…butchering days became difficult tasks when a named animal fell to slaughter but such is the hand dealt to a farm kid (especially a farm kid who blatantly disregarded the “no naming animals” rule).

Harvest is not for months yet so why am I thinking about it now?

Now is when we prepare. Plan the garden, prepare the seeds by starting them in the house, plot the garden lay-out….and wait to reap the tasty, tasty rewards.