We’ve been picking blackberries lately on our evening walks. We can’t help it, really; the hedgerows and bushes along the trails are lined with patches of ripe blackberries on thorny shrubs. It’s like that Seamus Heaney poem, it started with the taste of one plump juicy berry plucked right off the vine. And then, we returned with our ice cream and yogurt pails and Ziploc bags and picked enough wild blackberries to fill a small barn.
Two summers ago, a friend gave me a giant tray of blackberries freshly picked from the woods behind her house; they were the most glorious shiny perfect globes of berries I’d ever seen, except they were sour and a little astringent. We used them in this blackberry mint crisp with oat cornmeal crumble as a sort of experiment, and a new end-of-summer dessert was born.
I’m having a summer! This is my new mantra and the only explanation for the lack of posts lately. Whenever I feel guilty for not blogging, I repeat this to myself.
Save for work and the occasional peek, I haven’t been spending a lot of time in front of the computer. I’m spending most of my time outdoors getting back to nature.
We’ve taken to having dinner on the beach, watching sunsets and exploring Stanley Park’s interior trails. When you’re winding through thick groves and secluded woodlands, it’s easy to forget you’re still in the middle of a bustling city. This got me thinking of cities and urban green spaces, and ultimately the London Sky Garden – an unusual and creative park – and an interesting push to bring nature back to the city.
I should probably admit right off the bat that I was a tad stumped on what to call this salad. It’s so much more than a summer rice and black bean salad. I mean, I’ve made iterations of rice and black beans ever since I started cooking for myself. It’s one of my favourite meals to prepare – it’s easy, delicious and comforting.
This one though, it’s a little special, and because it’s loaded with a few farm-fresh seasonal produce from the market, I felt that for the purposes of this post, this is certainly a summer salad. What it really is, is a veggie (and fruit) packed rice and bean salad layered with sweet and spicy hints of maple syrup and pepper.
If all goes as planned, this weekend I’ll be sitting on a blanket at a secluded beach indulging in a generous slice of caramel peach pie with scoops of soft melty ice cream.
Last fall I made a new friend at a Canadian-esque coffee shop in London. One of those enviable outgoing people with a lovable personality and charm to easily make friends with almost everyone. We ended up wandering the hip streets of Shoreditch together with our coffees in hand, chatting about everything from National Trust memberships to the Korean “7 Skin Method”. As an aside, now I pat my face every morning with an elixir made of naturally fermented organic floral extracts – I can’t tell if it’s working, but I love how it smells.
We talked about the summer that had just passed, how it was so-so and our desires for memorable summer adventures. So we made a pact. This summer, she, with her National Trust membership, will explore as many sights as possible, and I am going to do more getaways to the beautiful islands here in BC and Washington State.
If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw that I was in Copenhagen last week. It was a trip I hesitated taking for reasons that seem ridiculous now because it ended up being one of the best trips in recent times. I was gone for an amazing few short days, each filled with wonderful adventures and exploration. I can’t wait to share photos, recommendations and anecdotes from my visit.
In the meantime, let’s get into some good food, I was supposed to post this before my trip but didn’t, just like the last time I went away. This is a simple flavour-packed hearty melange of wheat berries, kale and butter beans sautéed together in a little bit of olive oil with kale and onions and spices.