The Cascadian Smash Cocktail

It didn’t take long for summer to pack it up. It went from T-Shirts to raincoats practically overnight, the temperature dipped into the long pants zone and no-one is still wearing flip flops in all this muck. *sigh*It’s time for me to stay inside and organize all the late summer fruit ‘n veg harvested from our garden and out in the wild.

The latest bit of foraging I did yielded three large mason jars full of Oregon Grape Syrup, which retains much of the wild berry’s natural sourness tempered with just a hint of cane sugar. It’s very similar in taste to a Blackberry-Balsamic Shrub which is a type of fruit and vinegar syrup or cordial used to give cocktails a sexy sweet ‘n sour kick. (more…)

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Cherry Blossoms!

Cherry Blossom 1

Cherry blossom petals
The wind carries them away
Taking me with them

Sean Condon, Vancouver, British Columbia (2014 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, Honourable Mention)

One of the more profound moments of my short time living in Vancouver occurred by accident on a frigid spring morning at the Burrard skytrain station. It was crazy early and I had my headphones on to blot out the world as much as possible. I exited the train amidst the rest of the rabble and had begun the long climb up the central staircase to the street when a teenage Japanese girl beside me squealed.

It wasn’t a terror squeal, or a “look, its Johnny Depp!” noise, but it was enough to make me look up just in time to see a massive cloud of cherry blossoms descend down the staircase towards us. All the sakura trees up top had dropped their collective payloads simultaneously to form a dense, beautiful and unnervingly slow-moving tsunami of pink petals.

Whoooosh! The station filled with flowers and everyone gasped. Children whooped and spun. Couples drew closer. Even the proto-hipster guy (who hadn’t looked up from his book, even while disembarking the train) acknowledged the moment with a “huh”. The spell lasted about four magical, luxurious minutes before reality resumed… And I’d realized that by tallying amongst the cherry blossoms I missed my bus and was going to be late for work. (more…)

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Wild Raspberries

Wild RaspberriesNestled in the pine beetle-infested cockles of south-central BC, along the Cariboo Highway waaaaaay past the mountains is a sleepy little valley with a really strange name:

108 Mile House (along with a handful of other stops along this route) were once inns for American prospectors back in the 1850s providing a chance to rest and avoid bear attacks between civilization and the big Barkerville mines up North. Nowadays it’s a quiet little spot with a museum, clean public restrooms, poorly marked mountain biking trails, pissed-off looking cows and acres of wild raspberry bushes.

I’d never seen raspberries in the ‘ol wide open before! There my wife and I were, only a quarter mile from the highway, turning the map ‘round and ‘round in the dwindling light wondering if the local farmers would ever find our bodies when Crystal, surveying the endless meadow says, “Well, at least we won’t starve…” The bushes we’d been riding by for the last couple ‘o hours were all exploding with tiny red miracles of flavour. (more…)

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