Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Anyone who has spent a day foraging deserves a martini, right? I promise you, there is nothing more perfect than a martini made from the fruits of the day's labors. Guess what flavor this is...
Not that I need a martini to reward me because foraging for food is one of my favorite activities. It’s a bit like a treasure hunt. You never know if you’re going to hit the payload or get skunked, but either way, it offers some relaxing time outdoors.
Sadly my beloved beach plums went the way of tomatoes this year. Some bushes were completely bare and even the plums we finally found tended to be a bit shriveled, or even worse cracked, rending them unusable. They were about half the size of the beach plums we gathered last year. I still found enough to make my beach plum brandy, but beach plum jelly takes about 10 cups of berries and these didn’t look juicy enough to even try.
In despair, I expanded my search to the neighboring town of Eastham and didn’t find a single berry there. As I wandered along the edge of a gorgeous marsh on Cape Cod Bay, I noticed an abundance of another fruit that I had never considered. Rose hips!
To be honest, rose hip jelly has never sounded all that appetizing to me, but I was determined to go home with SOMETHING. The question was, how many rose hips did I need? I whipped out my cell phone and called the Kitchen Genius and asked him to look up a recipe for me. He found one at Simply Recipes, the fabulous food blog of Elise Bauer, who was kind enough to offer me tips on how to take better photos when I was a blogging newbie.
Rose hip jelly reminds me of a tangy apple butter. Mine wasn’t entirely clear like most jellies but it is quite tasty and has more vitamin C than orange juice – all good.
But not my absolute favorite. That distinction is reserved for the wild Concord grapes we found that might replace beach plums as my favorite thing to gather. KG and I headed out one Saturday, lured by stories of lanes that smell like grape jelly and sure enough we found some.
The only problem was they were about 20 to 50 feet above our craning heads and tricky as all get out to actually pick because they have a tendency to grow on steep embankments. At one point KG was high up in a tree, shaking a vine that rained pungent grapes on my head and I fell in love with that man all over again. Who else would enjoy such an activity as much as I do?
I made grape jelly and grape cranberry marmalade, but my favorite grapey treat was grape crush martinis. Total YUM! And especially nice with oysters…more foraging to come…
Grape Crush Martinis
Take a quart canning jar and fill it about half way with Concord grapes. Muddle them to release their flavor, add 3 tablespoons of sugar and fill the jar with a good quality vodka. Put the jar in the fridge for at least two days. Pour the mixture through a tea strainer to remove the grapes. Fill a martini shaker with ice and strained grape vodka. Shake vigorously and enjoy.