Every community has something that gets folks excited. In Nelson its snow, and skiing. That’s all folks talk about come September. In Yellowknife, there is a different craze that comes upon the locals in the fall. Symptoms include the need to spend thousands of dollars chartering a plane to fly out on the land to pick wild cranberries. In also includes hoarding them after that – one friend just finished up her stash from 2003, but she is still picking like crazy! We were all set to plunk down hundreds of dollars for our own bucket of berries, but the expedition was called off due to a sick dog. (Thankfully, not our dog.) We will definitely try to do this next year. There are both high bush and low bush cranberries, although I think the low bush ones are not cranberries at all, but lingonberries. When I lived in northern BC one of my favorite fall things to do was harvest some high bush cranberries and make a sauce for Thanksgiving dinner. I love the tartness and flavor of the wild berries.
I’ve managed to find a few of both kinds of berries. I stumbled upon the high bush berries at the end of one of the canoe portages on our trip to Hidden Lake in early September: a bunch of jewels hanging off some bushes at the end of a small waterfall. Can’t believe everyone else went by without seeing them! (The photo above is from that trip – this lake was 4 portages away from the road – we saw no one else, of course.) The low bush ones were harvested when we were invited out on the lake for a day of berry picking at the end of September – really just an excuse to head out to an island, light a camp fire and have a picnic lunch. I braved the hordes of small bugs and picked a small bowl full. They added great color to my dessert that night – the Poached Pear Frangipane Tart from the Whitewater Cookbook (#2 – Whitewater Cooks at Home). If I even start up a food outlet, (very unlikely I know!) it will be a tart shop. I love tarts, sweet and savory, elegant or rustic. I may even start up a tart lovers fan club, who knows? Although with a name like that, we might run into problems. In any case, if you too like tarts, you should really try this recipe. The base is the tastiest I’ve come across. If you don’t know this cookbook, and you love good food, you need to try it out. Shelley, the author, is from Nelson, and her series of cookbooks now fuel all the potluck dinner parties in town. And for good reason. Amazing taste, healthy food and although the recipes look complex, they are generally pretty straightforward. My rule of thumb for cooking is why make something difficult when something simple can taste amazing? My favorite cookbooks all make me look good. Thank you Shelley!
Since that first one I’ve been a bit of a tart streak. I’ve made a plum tart, and a raspberry with fresh ground hazelnut frangipane tart. (Both the raspberries and the hazelnuts were from the Okanagan, a local foodies mecca. This week we ventured into the savory, and tried two – roasted onion with goat cheese, and roasted onion with brie. But really, I think its that great tart base that made them so delicious.
But I digress from the cranberries.
Amy is a local foodie in Yellowknife, which is not in itself an easy thing. My first clue to the fact that she was a gourmet cook was when I had some of her home made gelato. Now that in itself is impressive, but I was blown away when I found out that she and her husband also made, yes, that’s right, made the chocolate in it. Starting off by roasting the beans. Serious business, my friends. It was pretty incredible. But it was only one of four choices of homemade gelato. In any case, she’s just shared one of her favorite recipes for cranberries – the highbush Cranberry Cocktail. It sounds great and I can’t wait to try it. (I just need to get an ice cube tray first, and find room in our miniscule freezer, now bulging with fish) But now that its winter, I actually just need the tray – I can keep it outside.
Here it is in her own words: