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The adventure with black raspberries yielded us not only a ton of yummy goodness to eat straight from the basket, but also some new summer treats to indulge in. There is a unique taste to black raspberries that I fell in love with yesterday, an earthy flavor that is distinct from any other berry out there. The boys were intent in turning the fruit into popsicles, I was excited for the first jam of the season (how is that possible?), and I was pretty sure that Landon wanted nothing more than his first ice cream cone.

The nice thing about picking a lot of berries? We all got exactly what we wanted.

The ice pops were the first recipe we came up with, and they were also the first gone from the fridge. Avocado, raw chocolate, yogurt and berries combined for a thick treat that was perfect as the warmest weather of the afternoon descended. I have to admit that I have not made a ton of popsicles this year, but I do enjoy the smiles that they bring my kiddos. A sprinkler and a good ice pop seem to make every hot day more bearable, and certainly encompass what I hope they remember from the lazy days of the season.

I have been using avocado more and more in recipes these days, thanks to Heather’s e-courses. I am finding that although the boys do not enjoy them straight up, avocados are the perfect sweet treat to thicken up many a recipe. I also love the fact that their taste is almost unrecognizable when mixed with other ingredients, making them a healthy and appealing alternative.

These are a very thick pop, and a perfect mid-day pick me up snack for child and adult alike. You can substitute almost any fruit in place of the black raspberries, and simply enjoy whatever is in season.

Black Raspberry, Raw Chocolate and Yogurt Popsicles

Print Recipe

1 cup plain coconut milk yogurt (almond, greek or plain yogurt can be used as well)
1 cup black raspberries
1 tbsp honey
1 avocado
2 tbsp. raw cocoa powder

Place all of your ingredients into a high powered blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds, leaving a 1/2″ of space to the rim. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When one goes berry picking, the first inclination is always to make jam. I love jam. I am one of those crazy people who would eat it by the spoonful if allowed. I am also, however, one who hates store bought jam of any kind. I mark my calendar for the few short weeks that certain berries and fruits are available here in the Rockies, and I savor the hours spent putting by rustic fruits for the coming cold months ahead. One of the best parts about making jam is finding unique flavors to spice things up a bit, and give a classic recipe a new twist.

This year it was basil. I am going to be dead honest here, Joel and I are the only ones to taste this recipe, so if you make it, please let me know what you think. The combination of raspberries, basil, and orange zest was light and perfect for a plain piece of toast or some gluten free flat bread with brie. A small amount of herbs in jam can go a long way, and can help to bring a savory aspect to the inherent sweetness of jams.

Black Raspberry and Basil Jam

Print Recipe

4 cups of black raspberries, rinsed and dried.
3/4 cups honey
Zest of one orange
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tsp pectin (optional)
3 tbsp. basil, chopped fine

Place your berries in a pot (preferably one that is non-reactive). Mash the berries gently with a potato masher, or the back of a spoon. I like a chunkier jam, but you can always mash them all the way down if you prefer).
Add the honey, orange zest, and orange juice and allow to come to boil over medium heat. Once the jam has cooked to a boil that can not be stirred down, you can add pectin if you choose. This was my first time using pectin for jam, and I liked the results. However, I rarely find it to be necessary, and it can easily be omitted. Cook for another 5 minutes, then turn heat off, and stir in the basil. Can according to your preferred method.

I am not a huge ice cream lover, I wasn’t growing up, and I have never acquired much of a taste for it. My boys, however, take right after their father, and they would sell me out for a good cup of peanut butter and chocolate swirl.

Of course, being both gluten and (mainly) dairy free doesn’t always lend itself to finding the best ice cream in the stores. A few years back I bought an ice cream maker for a cookbook I was working on, and in recent months I have brought it out with more frequency. I wasn’t sure where to start with alternatives to milk and cream, but I came across a recipe that I fell in love with for the boys that uses almost no sweetener (I omit it completely), and that has the addition of bananas to thicken it up. The only ingredient that I added was 1 cup of black raspberries, and Landon got the chance to taste test his very first ice cream cone. ┬áJacob and I stumbled upon GF sugar cones for the first time last week, and you would have thought that we had found the Ancient Mysteries. To say we were excited was a drastic understatement.

The berries have now been eaten, jammed, frozen, stirred, mashed and enjoyed. This is going to be a very good summer indeed.


I Just Can’t Stop

September 16, 2010

Obsession is my word for the day, and obsessive I have become. After staying out of my kitchen for close to three months, I seem determined to end this season with as many jars of veggies, soups, jams and butters as is possible to make. I am not sure if this is part of my second trimester nesting (with one pregnancy I planted an entire English garden, and another I knit 11 sweaters), or if I am just truly this crazy every harvest season.

It has become a yearly tradition to gather in mid-September with a group of friends to visit a local farm and pick veggies and fruits. The generosity of this family of farmers is incredible, for your entire picking experience and an abundance of fresh food is only $10. This was a special year as well because a friend’s husband watched our kiddos while she and I boarded the hay truck to begin a 4 hour process of picking (the kiddos had a blast playing with snakes, frogs, tractors, and corn mazes). We had needed some girlfriend time, and the hours in 96 degree heat digging in the earth for onions, tomatoes, carrots, etc. went by in a flash.

We left the farm with over 70 lbs each of vegetables, and again my husband’s eyes rolled back into his head when he asked me just what I planned to do with this much food. This year I had a plan, and one that I am sure to stick to. I want to freeze such things as the green beans, and make fresh poppers with my jalapenos, but for the most part, I want to make stocks and soups.

I love autumn and winter soups and stews, but I a not a fan of the price of boxed stock. I felt like having the opportunity to make fresh stock was worth every onion and carrot that I picked, and yesterday saw 13 hours of doing just that.

20 quarts of vegetable stock were made, 22 bags of green beans and 13 bags of carrots were frozen, and 6 different soups were made and frozen for the coming cool months ahead. Tuscan white bean and sage, tomato and carrot, savannah bisque, broccoli, chicken stew and corn chowder have all been put up, and I have a growing list of new soups to try in the coming weeks.

I am only half way through the bounty we picked, and I am trying to keep the momentum going. I have to say that I am glad that canning season only lasts a couple of weeks, and that we are coming up on the end. The only thing that I can think of that is left are apples, and those will be ready to begin next week. Perhaps then I can get back to sewing and knitting.

These first few weeks of school have been spent almost entirely out of doors, and I realize that so much of this summer was spent in a blur of nausea and morning sickness that I fear my boys may not remember it too fondly. I am trying to make up for that with as many late summer picnics, hikes, and star watching moments as I can manage. The weather has stayed very warm as we approach early autumn, and I secretly hope for a few more weeks of this perfection before the cool weather truly sets in.

Picnics with the Elk, fresh soups, a slow moving river and the slightest tinge of gold in the trees. Autumn is shaping up to be a very good season indeed.

Veggie Stock

1 onion cut into quarters
4 carrots peeled and cut into huge chunks
1 apple cored and cut into large chunks
2 celery stocks cut into large chunks
10 pepper corns
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic chopped

Put everything into pot and cover with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Strain and place in a clean jar to either use, freeze of process at 10 lbs pressure for 35 minutes in your pressure canner.