Haven't written in a while, thought I'd post some updates.
I've been jamming my heart out. I've made red currant jelly, strawberry rhubarb jam, and fireweed jelly. I've made so much of it, my kids think that we are going to survive on nothing but jelly and jam all winter! They swear I make it every other day.
To my delighted surprise, I learned that rhubarb can not only be grown in Alaska, but it thrives here! My friend across the street had a backyard patch full of it, and offered it to me. I took armloads full, literally. I've got so much rhubarb that the whole entire bottom shelf of my fridge has been dedicated to rhubarb storage. Some of the stalks are 2 1/2 feet long and about 2 inches wide! No, I'm NOT exaggerating!
The berry picking has been tedious, especially for blueberries. I've made it up Arctic Valley several times, but it has taken hours and hours just to harvest 2 quarts of blueberries. I recently read that berries grow best on southwest facing slopes, so my new goal is to take my gps and find some southwest facing slopes before the weather turns cold. Though the blueberries may be sparse, the crowberries are plentiful. I changed my gathering goal from blueberries to crowberries last weekend and gathered 2 quarts of crowberries up Arctic Valley. I also found a great crowberry pie recipe, and have several crowberry jam and jelly recipes that I'll be using my stash of berries in. Won't my kids be delighted!
We hiked Winner Creek trail last weekend with the MEETinANCHORAGE group. A friend and I decided to hike the path from the hand tram over Glacier Creek (just past the Winner Creek Gorge Bridge) to Crow Creek Road. On our hike, we found bushes and bushes full of blue huckleberries. Blue huckleberries look and smell an awful lot like blueberries, but they don't taste as sweet. Caitlin collected enough to make a blueberry (huckleberry, in this case) buckle out of them! We also found patches of salmonberries and I introduced her to the delights of watermelon berries (her new favorite, she says).
Out of the blueberries I collected at Arctic Valley last Sunday, I made the family a wonderful Blueberry Cobbler. My daughter said it was wonderful, but not worth the 5 hours of work it took to get the berries. I have to agree. Five hours for only 2 quarts of berries was a lot of work! Last year, we got that many berries in less than an hour up Arctic Valley. And, the berries this year that we managed to find are an odd oval shape, not the traditional round, plump, juicy berries we've found in the past.
I'm not giving up though! I still have a few other spots I'm going to check out. Since Monday is a holiday, I am devoting my "Labor Day" to the "laboring" of picking berries. I've discovered that the Internet is a wonderful place to find recipes for all kinds of "berry good" recipes. Woman can not live on jamming alone!
Next weekend, Angie and I are going camping again. More about that in a later post. And, the weekend of the 15th, the family is off to Denali Park for the road lottery winning drive on the 16th! I'm so excited about that!
Live is wonderful! I've said it before, I'll say it again.... I LOVE Alaska!