Tag Archives: berries

Cranberries

Nearly home from Montana, we drove past this cranberry farm east of Vancouver, BC. Again, I only had seconds to snap a drive-by shot, but it made me look up cranberry harvesting when I got home.

I learned that cranberries can be harvested dry or wet. For the dry harvesting they go through the cranberry field with a machine much like a lawnmower except that it doesn’t cut the plants; it only scoops up the berries and bits of the plant. The berries are then sent through a machine that bounces them around and separates them from the other bits of debris through a grooved roller that rocks back and forth. Then comes the assembly line where workers pick out the bad berries from the conveyor belt.

On the tiny photo above, you can see that they have flooded the cranberry field. A taller machine, designed not to churn up the wet ground goes through and scoops up more berries to bring them to the surface.

Then the berries are “herded” together by floating dams just as if the berries were an oil spill.  Once the berries are enclosed, they are vacuumed up into a truck while the water is drained off  as the berries are loaded.

They still need to go through the assembly line for sorting, but machinery does all but this last step.

When you make a cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, you need to add about a cup of sugar for two cups of these very tart berries, but you can make your cranberry sauce more interesting by adding plums and apples if you have them handy.

Cranberries also make a wonderful addition to muffins. Throw in a cupful with the batter instead of using blueberries. Add some chopped nuts. The measuring doesn’t have to be an exact science. Experiment. They’re sure to be good.

 

Easy Healthy Granola

Porridge is good for you. I’m sorry. Too slimy for me. So I thought, why not eat it baked instead of boiled? Granola was the perfect solution. Trouble is, the store-bought granola is all so sweet, and who needs that when you’re already sweet enough, right?

Solution? Make my own granola. You can do it too. It’s EASY! Big flakes of rolled oats go into the bowl, about 8 cups makes it worthwhile. After that, you add whatever you happen to have on hand or like to eat, in the way of nuts and seeds.

I like to use pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, whatever kind of nuts I have on hand – today it’s almonds and hazelnuts. A cup of each is plenty. Chop the nuts. By the way, the reason you don’t see any sunflower seeds on the table is because the ones I tried to buy yesterday from the bulk bins in the store were rancid. I usually get the salted seeds for that reason but in this case, even the salt couldn’t save the natural oil in the seeds from going rancid. At home I always keep nuts and seeds in the freezer.

So we’re doing without sunflower seeds.

You can use whatever you want in the granola, but keep in mind that fruit and berries or raisins will not turn out well if you toast them. Better to add those later when you are making your breakfast.

Mix the chopped nuts and seeds with the rolled oats in a big bowl. Spread the mixture onto baking sheets, not too thick, but just so the sheets are covered.

Drizzle liquid honey over the granola mix. I had one hand on the wiggling camera and the other hand trying to drizzle the honey. The photo came out pretty bad. Still, I didn’t want you to miss out on that step, so here is the blurry reminder to sweeten the granola a little bit.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 6 to 8 minutes. The granola at the edges of the baking sheet will turn brown. Take it out of the oven before it burns (which can happen quickly).

Important tip***** When it’s done, scrape the granola off the sheet and into a bowl right away, or the melted, baked honey will glue the granola onto the sheet.

Now take out whatever fruit or berries you have on hand (or not), put some granola into a small bowl, add milk (some prefer yogurt), and top it with your berries.

Place the bowl on a lovely mat knitted for you by your friend and enjoy a healthy, tasty breakfast.

 

Is it Spring Yet?

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The sun was out today and it almost seemed as if spring might come someday. The yard was filled with birds I hadn’t seen for a long while. Where had they come from so suddenly? They weren’t here yesterday. It’s still cold up north. Could it be a mistake?

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And yet these robins were here in droves, pecking at any underground bugs that might be surfacing in the sun-warmed grass. Those that couldn’t find enough bugs flew to the holly trees for their berries. Can you find six robins in this photo? It’s only a small sample patch of the whole yard.

It was glorious to feel the “warmish” rays of the winter sun, and to hear the birds sing as if it really were spring. I only hope they aren’t in for an ugly surprise. It has happened before that these happy birds arrive too soon and are overtaken by a sudden dip in temperature and then a snowfall – deadly because it covers all the food sources. One year, the early robins lay dead on the roads, in people’s yards, and in the snowbanks. The cotoneaster shrubs, like the holly and mountain ash, were stripped of their icy red berries – all in vain. The birds needed more than frozen berries to keep them alive.

I hope that this time, the birds are right to arrive early and the weather is going to  warm up gradually. Robins are early nesters; as I remember it, I’ve seen freshly hatched robins’ eggs near the end of March.

Now I have a challenge for you. Can you identify three kinds of birds in the photo below? You may have to click on it and enlarge it a bit, but let’s see if you know your birds. They’re nothing exotic, even though today they seemed to be something very special. After all, it’s only early January.

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Leave a comment with your thoughts and guesses. I always like to hear from you. Also, please visit my webpage when you have a minute. http://anneli-purchase.com

I’m aware that many parts of Canada and the States are under a layer of snow as I write this. I don’t mean to rub your nose in our relatively good weather, but rather I want to show you that spring is just around the corner … just beyond that last snowbank.