Life’s like a …

The sunlight dappled through the raspberry patch and while it was a beautiful colour it added a level of complexity to berry picking. The evening tinged light made the ripe berries hard to distinguish.  

She thought maybe life’s like a raspberry patch and not a box of chocolates. Chocolates are so pedestrian;  mass produced and if you read the key there aren’t even any surprises. It’s all so uniform and easy and she thought that’s not like life at all. Life isn’t easy. Those chocolates are tasty but they lack the smell, feel and taste of victory.  Because each bowl of raspberries is a little victory on so many levels and that’s much more like real life is.


No there was much more to it than walking out and picking the big juicy berries on the top. She thought of all the background work that most people don’t ever consider as they eat that berry. How all that time and those little decisions ripple along and collide with the factors we can’t control. The best maintained berry patch can be levelled by a hail storm so intense that there is nothing left but beat up old canes. The new strapping plants growing so pristinely for next year are desecrated.  

That’s what life is like she thought. Hail could so be a metaphor for a crisis like a car accident that claims a young life and cripples someone in their grief. Raspberry blight was like that bloody cancer. The one that robs young, old and in betweens of the life they wanted to live. Instead it replaces it with something they never dreamt could happen to them. Cane rot requires the whole patch be burnt and relocated which she reflected, was what those who had lost their relationships or their jobs were often forced to do. 
Better to live through a drought, she thought, even though that had its downsides as well. Less berries with a lower quality and perhaps there was some lesson to be learnt there as well. That smaller bowl was worthy of the same respect as the big juicy bowl full of prime berries. That analogy seemed to elude her grasp and yet sat in front of her face but the metaphor wasn’t jumping up at her.  Ps late at night these two thoughts intruded: racism and or white privilege. 


Pulling her mind back to the picking of the berries she mulled over that the work of keeping raspberries. The mulching, weeding, cutting back of the floricane at the year end so that the primocane could flourish the following year and the disposal of the canes. Those maintenance items were like seeing brushing your teeth, eating properly, getting enough sleep and stretching. Those self care items that people neglect on themselves but will take care of for others or as it turns out for plants.  Perhaps the bees were sent along to help like friends do in real life. 

But if the care of them was like self care she rationalized then the use of the berries was like the sweet things in life. Preserving the berries for a cold winters day or eating them fresh with farm cream was hugs and laughter all around. And if life handed you little raspberries then make lemonade. Now that was an analogy she could get behind; that some times difficult situations force us to respond to find the best possible outcome. Yes life definitely was like that. 


Bernie 

Perhaps I’ve been spending too much time alone in the raspberry patch! 

Family “Secret”

I suspect it seems odd that I’d be willing to talk about a family secret. No one remembers where it originated from but everyone enjoys it so obviously it’s not a sinister thing like you were all thinking. 

My Nanna used to make something called raspberry vinegar and luckily passed the recipe to our mothers and they passed it on to us. I’m happy to say, that for my part, my kids love it and I’m sure they will continue to make it.


It’s certainly not mainstream because googling it brings up raspberry vinaigrette which I made last year and is a totally different story. This is a drink that is slightly sour and slightly sweet which doesn’t even make sense.

Neither does what the magazine Country Woman did to it. Several years ago my sister, who had a subscription, submitted the recipe. They changed it up so much that it was not even recognizable as the same drink. I wrote them a follow-up and let them know how disappointed we were in what they had done to such a fabulous drink. I don’t think they ever corrected it. I do understand what they were trying to do as it is a very time intensive process. It’s not labour intensive just timely.




Basically you take a pail of raspberries, add vinegar and water. Let set x 24 hours, hang to extract juice x 12 hours. Add sugar, boil and pour into hot jars. 

Then when you need some liquid sunshine from the garden add three parts water to one part concentrate. Enjoy! 

Bernie 

PS – so if you are lucky enough to have some raspberries and need specifics about quantities leave me a comment (which gives me your email) and I will probably share our family secret. 😉


PPS — if you ever find a jelly bag in a store please let me know who carries them. Illusively hard to find but so much easier than cheesecloth 

Again 

I over ate. Again. And then again. And then even again. Like for the last four nights. I’m feeling a lot like the Pillbury dough boy. Seriously. Not a comfy feeling. 

Last night at a work supper, where I over ate if such delicious food, we were talking about basic human needs and the priorities. 

  • Oxygen 
  • Water 
  • Food 
  • Shelter
  • Sleep 

Sleep is listed last here but a colleague was saying that we can go without food a lot longer than we can last without sleep. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture. Who ever tortured anyone with food. But whoever thinks about sleep as a basic need and focuses on it? 

I’ve spoken before about how our society is so over indulgent which is true on three items in the above list. 

  • Huge houses (like I should talk hey!) 
  • Monster meals (again I’m like who me??)
  • Water in every form but just from the tap (finally one I don’t overindulge in). But heck I guess an oxygen bar is an overindulgence there as well.

But sleep — Who thinks hm 9 hours would be good tonight and goes to bed and sleeps that long. I work on my sleep hygiene but still insomnia nights and bad nights from restlessness are not uncommon. I try to stick to a schedule but don’t. I sleep through my alarm on work days and wake up easily on days off. Truly i’m my own worst enemy. Too much screen time and not enough down time. Only I can change that. 


So good night. Sleep tight. 

Bernie 

PS — I may also have consumed my weight in fresh chocolate chip cookies in the last 3 days 😔

Piecaken 

I had a request from my son for a special birthday cake. I was so pumped it wasn’t an angel food cake (see previous posts about how much I dislike making, icing and eating this “cake”) that I instantly said yes to the challenge.

He wanted a piecaken. Never heard of it?  You know the turkey stuffed with the duck stuffed with the chicken. I think it was created by the same crazy person who invented turducken. It could also have been invented by someone who just couldn’t decide if pie or cake was their favourite for dessert. Obviously we live in a world of over indulgence.


So the flavours chosen were raspberry and chocolate. Works for me as I have lots of garden raspberries and make a killer chocolate cake. I did do a little bit of internet research about creating one of these. Retrospectively not enough! 

We made a small pie it had to fit into the 9″ springform with space along the sides. It cooked up well and the parchment paper meant it was going to slide into the cake easily.

Chocolate cake is like one on my signature dishes. So the next part of making the cake is easy. Until you get to the part where you marry them together. There are no photos of the actual process because all hands were kind of busy.


So that was the tough part right? Now to pop it in the oven, pull it out and ice it. Or so it seemed. But if you have ever cooked a cake you know it can be tricky to get it cooked perfectly. If you over bake it then it’s dry, too little and it will fall and be gooey. So I checked it several times in assorted places. All seemed to be cooked so I left it too cool in the oven. The hash tag on Instagram was #whatcouldgowrong. Ah yes well…



It was interesting to note that the middle and outside were cooked and the ring of the pastry was gooey. Hm. Not good. We cut the top off, patched the hole with cake from the top and put on the ganache toping. The theory we worked off of — we’ve all eaten raw cake batter off the spoon.


The verdict was that it tasted good but more work is required to get it perfected. I suspect strongly that my next dessert club offering will be a piecaken. More research is a prerequisite to the next attempt though. If you’ve successfully made a piecaken please share your tips with me. If you want to come for left overs of this one let me know!

Bernie