Friday, September 4, 2015

Foraging and Preserving: Friends and Food

Remember this post? About how making transitions in a new town was proving to be harder than I'd imagined? Well, residency continues to give our family more challenges than medical school ever did. Squire is gone - A LOT! And even when he is home, he has notes galore. (Are there ANY easy rotations? Still waiting for one to make its appearance. . . any day now . . .) However, there IS a bright shining ray of sunshine poking out from the clouds of transition I found here in Pocatello. Her name is Katie.

Katie's husband David is also in the residency with Squire. We have A TON in common, but enough differences to make our friendship so enriching at the same time. She's one of those friends who I feel like I've always known, yet, I can talk to for hours without getting bored with the conversation. This week, we spent the past three days (and half of each night) canning 300lbs. of fruit together. After finishing up 56 quarts of applesauce last night, Katie and I started making plans to get together the very next day. So I think it's safe to say we're bosom friends. I'm so happy to have her in my life!

On Monday, since we had to wait for some of the boxes of fruit to ripen, we decided to go on an expedition with our families (minus Squire who was on an away rotation. Boo!) to Wildcraft some berries to can in the "down time." (We're hopeless optimists, ok?) It was pretty awesome. We found Choke cherries, Elderberries, and a handful of rose hips.

Here is Atley diligently cutting some Elderberries:

 And David sharing his bounty with the whole mountainside:

And me, giving a PSA to not touch this plant which happens to be Stinging Nettle, which I now know from hard-won experience. It grows taller than you think it would, and right next to trees with Elderberries, apparently. Getting a little burning/itchy rash on my hand was honestly kind of fun, considering we were Wildcrafting and all. Can't separate the joy from the sorrow in life. Now that my rash is healed, I feel all kinds of wise.

See our haul? The Elderberries were so bounteous!

My kids enjoyed eating Choke cherries. :)

And Owen loved the Elderberries! (FYI - Don't eat too many of those ones uncooked, unless you are constipated and wanting to resolve that.)

This picture really makes me laugh. Contrary to appearances, Lincoln was just displaying his Elderberry-cutting-scissors for the picture, all while Aubrey chopped out a little tuft of her own hair.

One for the memory books. Three tired kids and a mama, ready to head back to town.

And the Downey family. Such good people. Love them all!

Here are the Choke cherries we harvested, getting cooked down to be squeezed for juice:

To be canned into fantastic syrup! During our crazy week of canning, we used it to flavor snow cones and to make coconut milk/choke cherry popsicles. Both winners.

My pantry is looking more like the pantry of my dreams after this past week, minus the doors which I don't really mind not being there right about now. Isn't this a beautiful spread?

Apple butter, applesauce, peach jam, wild choke cherry syrup, pear quarters, peaches in vanilla syrup, several quart-sized bags filled with now frozen Elderberries - and next week? A few more jars of apple butter and pear/ginger preserves. Canning is so fulfilling. And doing it with a dear friend? Divine.

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