Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall Foraging in Oregon

We are officially back in Oregon for the next few months, and so happy about it! Traveling was eye-opening, fun, and it was so great to see our friends, but there is nothing like your own bed, or your own couch.

I think the kitties missed us at least as much as we missed them!

Since we were in Asia for 3 weeks, it took us about 5 days to really get over our jet lag. But it was a great time to reconnect with our pets and get our fridge restocked, and we took some walks around our neighborhood. While we were gone, fall came to Central Oregon!

The fall colors at the Bend Fall Festival.

one of the many parks near our house.

driving around town - look at all that yellow!

While walking back from the Bend Fall Festival, I spotted a plum tree sitting on a vacant lot. After trying a few and determining that they were, in fact, plums, I went back the next morning and foraged a whole bag.

Then I proceeded to make wild plum jam! Here is the recipe I used, although, because I have no idea how much my plums weighed, I sort of winged it. I also used a little pear juice and only 4 cups of sugar, because 5 cups of sugar seemed a bit much.

All the plums, washed and ready to be pitted.

Threw them in a pot and added sugar...

They came out a beautiful red color.

The finished product! 24 jars - enough to give away.

It was really fun. So fun, in fact, I went ahead and tried to forage apples around the neighborhood (there are like 8 trees within a 2 block radius of our house). But it's the tail end of apple season, and almost all the apples have worm holes. So, I just bought some Honeycrisp apples on sale, and made applesauce.

It's easy, just put the apples in the pot, cores, skins and all, with spices.

I added a cinnamon stick, cloves, and a secret ingredient when I cooked them down. Mike said it's the best he's had (and he is picky!). No sugar needed, which I think is awesome. 

The food mill removes all the stems, skins and cores without wasting any apple.

Last time I made applesauce, with my friend Sheila, she had an automated food mill. This time, I had to use a manual food mill, and man, it gives you a workout!

The applesauce, ready to be canned!

The finished product!

So 5 pounds of apples only made three 12-ounce jars of applesauce (plus a little for eating immediately), sadly. Apples are cheap around here - I can get Gala apples for $0.68/pound, but I wanted to try these Honeycrisp apples, which are $0.89/pound. Not too bad, but I found an orchard which lets you pick them for FREE, which I will be doing next year; by that time I should be pretty good at canning applesauce.

In consolation I made us a Buttermilk Spice Cake. Nothing says fall like spiced-something.

The batter came out pretty thick since I don't have a Kitchenaid mixer.

I followed the recipe mostly (if you know me, I love to experiment), but with a little less sugar, and I made my own cinnamon/nutmeg glaze with a hefty amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, powdered sugar, and just a touch of milk. It came out really tasty and a great consistency. 

The cake was light, moist and fluffy - yum.

We are continuing our foraging this weekend on the Mushroom Foray we signed up for, about a month ago, with the North American Truffling Society. Here's to hoping we learn something useful!

our new truffle rake, brushes, and basket for collecting 'shrooms!