Blackberry Slump

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Blackberry Time

Every year about this time, here in southern British Columbia, the push is on to pick blackberries. Blackberries are a perennial and a relative of the raspberry. This plant grows wild along side our roads and in sunnier parts along the edges of fields and forests. They also bramble meaning they have a long vine that travels up fences and over other vegetation with very sharp thorns.

Make sure you cover yourself well if going picking. I saw one woman with a neat idea for a hands free bucket for picking berries.  She had an old belt and had cut the top off a milk jug leaving the handle which she looped through the belt. This allows for hands free picking.

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Blackberry Slump

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

INGREDIENTS

Dumplings:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk

Berries:

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen (defrosted and drained) blackberries
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet your berries and how sweet you would like your slump to be)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Whipping cream or vanilla ice cream for topping

METHOD

1. Make the dumplings: In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour. Using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your clean hands, cut the butter into the flour until the flour resembles a coarse meal.

Add the milk all at once and stir until the flour is just moistened. Handling the dough as little as possible, form into a ball. Set aside.

2. Heat berries with sugar, cinnamon, lemon, water until boiling: In a 2-qt saucepan, add the berries, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water. Heat until boiling, stirring a few times so that the berries are well coated with the sauce.

3. Add chunks of dumpling dough: Once the berry mixture is boiling, tear off spoonful chunks from the dough ball and drop onto the fruit around the edges of the pot. You should have enough dough for 6 dumplings.

4. Cover and simmer: Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes, without peeking at the dumplings.

Place dumplings in serving bowls and top with berries. Serve with cream or ice cream. Serve hot or chilled.

** You can also interchange berries. Strawberries, blueberries.

Want to know more about blackberries?
The blackberry

Merge Point

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I’ve been driving Hwy 1 east and west between Abbotsford, Chilliwack and beyond on my way to see friends and for pleasure drive.  In the Summer time this highway is super busy.  The speed is posted at 100km but around the clover leafs, exits and entrances to the freeway it gets bogged down. Why?  People don’t know how to merge into traffic.  I have seen drivers pull out into traffic doing 60km. Talk about slam on the brake time.  It’s a miracle that person did not get hit.  If you are merging behind this slow driver you have to say a prayer for yourself too.

Hats off to all the big rig drivers who pull into the left lane when they see traffic merging if they can. Love the over head lighted signs that say, “Leave the cell phone alone. Focus on the road.”

It’s never a good idea to ride right beside a semi and trailer.  They can’t see you.  I saw one woman with a van full of kids riding right in the truck’s blind spot.  She did this for a long time and no one could pass her.  The Semi’s do the speed limit or just above and ride in the right lane.  I was  the one who scooted up to her rear and got her moving out from beside the semi.  Scary stuff.  I think she wanted the shade. Still if he wanted to move over she would have been in danger.

With this said summer is over and the highway only has the occasional traveler other than trucks and people going about their business.  Happy Trails to you.

Tractor unit hauling tractor units in Idaho

Tractor unit hauling tractor units in Idaho (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Tremulous

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West coast of British Columbia Canada is part of the ring of fire. A major earthquake can happen any time.  Are we ready. NOT!  This part of the world has a major plate and pressure release system for the earths crust.  We are fortunate that most of the quakes are out at sea under the water or near un populated areas. Yes we have Tsunami sirens that warns everyone to get to higher ground.  We have had inland quakes but in my life time there have only been a couple that have been notable.  We get tremors quite frequently and mostly go unnoticed by the population as we are use to them.

A 7.7 earthquake rocked Haida Gwaii in October 2012, the strongest recorded in Canada since an 8.1 shaker hit the same area in 1949, but no damage was reported.

Evacuation kit (grab-and-go kit)

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Every person in your family should have their own customized evacuation kit at home, in their car and at work. Keep the kits by the front door, in the trunk, where they will be easy to find if you need to evacuate quickly.

Check this site for further information on Earth Quake Preparedness

http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/make-an-emergency-kit.aspx

http://www.redcross.ca/what-we-do/emergencies-and-disasters-in-canada/for-home-and-family/get-a-kit

  • Think about being prepared
  • Make sure your family and friends know your plan
  • Contact your children’s school or daycare to find out their plans for evacuation
  • Gather items to grab in an emergency. Back pack is the best solution to store items.
  • If you are not prepared at least grab a blanket to stay warm.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Stay calm
  • Deal with it

Discuss your plans with your friends and family in case of a disaster.  The more you know about your friends and families plans the easier it will be to find them when disaster strikes.  Plan what you will do and where you will go.  Try and cover all possibilities and time frames.  Parents who work need to find out what plans their children’s school or daycare have in order to find their children. It will be back to nature until things calm down so learning how to camp and survive is not a bad idea.  Above all don’t panic and remain calm.  It happened and now deal with it.

Walk softly upon the earth. Go quietly into the night. Take care.

A River Runs Through It – The Mighty Fraser River.

A River Runs Through It – The Mighty Fraser River.

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The Fraser River, from the grounds of Westminster Abbey, above Hatzic in Mission, British Columbia, looking upstream

It’s spring run-off time here in British Columbia and the largest river is running at capacity.  Everyone is waiting with baited breath to see if it will jump the banks.  The Fraser has had some serious problems in the past and has caused damage to the communities it runs through.  Get the sand bags going.

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Sand Bags – Flooding in Fraser Valley – 1948 flooding

Most of the communities have taken precautions over the years by building dikes along the river bank since the terrible flood in 1948 when the river overflowed its banks and caused wide spread damage in every community along the river.

 The Fraser River drains a 85,ooo sq mile area in British Columbia. The source of the Fraser is Mount Robson in the Rocky Mountains.  The river is named after the explorer and fur trader Simon Fraser.  Travelling west, then south, the river travels past the communities it serves and gathers other rivers the further south it goes. To name a few:  Chilcotin River, Nechako River, Bridge River, Seton Rivers Thompson River and the Pitt River in Port Coquitlam/Maple Ridge. These are only a few of the creeks and rivers that gather in the Fraser River waters. The Fraser River travels through the cities and towns of  Williams Lake, Prince George, Lillooet, and Lytton down through the Fraser Canyon and then the Fraser Valley through Hope, Chilliwack, Mission, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Langley, Surrey, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and finally to Richmond and Vancouver where it flows into the Strait of Georgia between the mainland and Vancouver Island.

 This River has a rich history from Gold rush days, Native fisheries and transportation.  Floating log booms to the mills is a old tradition on the river. The Fraser widens and narrows and is wild in some places and can have rapids and is dangerous. There are brave people who traverse these rapids and make a living from the river. The Salmon reigns supreme during the big salmon spawning runs.  Fishing  is restricted to openings to keep salmon population high. Sport fishing for Sturgeon and Salmon along the river are popular past times. Fishing is mostly catch and release unless there is a fishery opening.

Baked Salmon

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Baked Salmon

Salmon Stuffing

1-2 lb      whole Salmon-cleaned, head and tail removed.
300 g       bread crumbs
1           bunch parsley finely chopped
2           lemons 1 for zest and 1 garnish
            salt & pepper to taste
1/4         butter or margarine
            Foil 
            water to moisten bread crumbs, 
            save bit of parsley for garnish

In a bowl place bread crumbs,  lemon zest, parsley, salt and pepper, and butter.  Mix by hand until well distributed through out the bread crumbs.  Depending on how moist the crumbs are add a tablespoon of water and mix again by hand and repeat until stuffing is moist and holds lightly together.  Stuff inside of salmon belly and wrap in foil.  You can skewer together or sew together salmon belly once stuffing is inserted.  Bake at 350 F for 45 min to 1 hr depending on size of salmon. This can be done in the middle of the oven or on the BBQ placing Salmon on top shelf of BBQ.  Salmon should be flaky and moist when done.  Place on platter and garnish with lemon slices and parsley. ~ENJOY!