STAYING THE COURSE…

Happy 2015!  This brand new year really snuck up on me, and I can’t believe we’re already three weeks into January.  Right after Christmas, James and I were lucky enough to get the chance to sneak away for a full 8 days to Arizona, where we enjoyed hiking amid the Saguaros, delicious Mexican food, the company of good friends, and constant sunlight.  Such a relief after weeks and weeks of that Pacific Northwest grey foggy drizzle we’re so famous for, and we thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.

Towards the end of the trip, on a particularly cozy evening filled with good wine, board games, and a homemade pasta dinner, I asked the inevitable question to our group of friends… “Any New Years resolutions?”  It’s exciting to start anew… to make those grand promises to yourself that you will strive to follow, and I always love hearing what others are planning on adding to their own lives.  But to my surprise, my favorite answer came from a dear friend, who simply stated, “To stay the course”.  This is a person who has had his share of trials and tribulations over the past few years, and only through hard work and a lot of sacrifice, has arrived at this place that he can truly call his happiest. What I loved that evening, is the recognition that in order to continue to feel fullfilled and content in life, there must be a certain amount of patience applied to your journey.  We can get caught up in overarching and broad goals, or the pressure to succeed very quickly, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that old saying, “slow and steady wins the race.”

Although I have a few resolutions marked firmly in place, and I can’t wait for all that 2015 brings, I plan on reminding myself of this friend’s outlook on life as often as possible.  Cheers to a new start, as well as satisfaction and confidence in the journey we are on!

Arizona Image

Following the winding and steep Apace Trail,   Monster Saguaros,   One of many sunlit desert hikes,   Palo Verde…the state tree of Arizona,   A very Southwest looking gingerbread house at the beautiful Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch,   Montezuma Castle National Monument….remains of the cliff dwelling Sinagua people,   and of course one more stunning cactus from Saguaro National Park.

HUCKLEBERRY PICKING IN THE NORTHWEST

For many years, my family and I take one weekend day in early Fall, and drive up to Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountain Range to pick wild huckleberries. It’s always a careful guessing game, as you don’t want to get there too early or late in the season and miss those elusive purple gems.  We decided this past Sunday was the perfect day for it, so we loaded up the car with a picnic lunch, the dog, and plenty of empty pails for our bounty.

Huckleberry Picking in the Cascade Mountains with James

There’s something so refreshing about escaping, even for a few hours, to such a lush mountain environment.  The city slowly fades away, and the only task at hand is the slow gathering of berries.  I often imagine the original people of this region, and how crucial nature was to their survival.

Berries and MountainsThe Latin name for this berry is Vaccinium Parvifolium, and it is common from Southeastern Alaska, all the way down the West Coast to Central California.  We’re lucky here in The Northwest to have such an abundance of the berry so close at hand.

Huckleberry Picking in the Cascade Mountains

The Native Americans of this region put the whole plant into rotation, with the berries being made into stews or sauces, the bark and leaves turned into a tea for cold remedies, and the branches woven into brooms.  In addition, the berries were sometimes used as fishing bate, because of the resemblance to salmon eggs.  What a range of innovation for one singular berry plant!

Huckleberries, Lunch, and Mountains

Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to this sort of gathering.  The berries are quite tiny, and it takes hours to fill up small pails. We use the berries throughout the winter, freezing small amounts into individual ziplock bags for easy access.

Huckleberries and Picking in the Mountains

One of our very favorite uses for the berries, is a sauce that can be poured over local salmon; a true Northwest meal.  It’s quite simple to make.  Simply add all ingredients to a sauce pan, bring to a boil over medium heat, then turn to low and simmer until the sauce has a slightly thick consistency.  Enjoy over fish, pork, or duck.

– 1 and a half cups of wild red huckleberries

– 1/4 cup of red wine

– 1/3 cup of sugar

– 1 tbsp of balsamic

– 1 tbsp of lemon juice

– a pinch of cinnamon

Enjoy!  Any favorite recipes for gathered fruit in your repertoire?  Share with us below, we’d love to hear about it!

Huckleberry Picking with Scout