Well, for the first time in forever, I was able to get away to Prince Edward County with my Dad and sister for a weekend of a little R&R. Between the sun, the sand and the water, it was fantastic and I can't wait to do it again next year. Dad and I took a drive around the area, making fantastic use of a morning to afternoon and popping into local artisans and funky shops along the way.
Then, of course, there was the food that PEC is known for. First up on the "grand tour" was a farm I already knew and loved from their presence at the Brickworks Farmers' Market -Vicki's Veggies. There, I picked up a container of freshly-picked heirloom tomatoes that tasted like candied sunshine, while Dad grabbed a nifty looking weeding tool and some to-die-for hot sauce along with some green leafies. That hot sauce really was something - and as a self-proclaimed aficionado of the stuff I wouldn't have hesitated to buy one of each (and two of the "smokehouse" variety), had I the cash!
Next up came the Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co., where I picked up a half-wheel of a cave-aged, washed rind buffalo milk cheese for Mom. While I couldn't taste it (curse you dairy intolerance), Dad gave it his seal of approval and eventually, so did Mom.
We capped our tour off with a visit to Picton's Bean Counter Cafe for a fabulous cuppa (me) and a gelato (Dad). The atmosphere there is enough to make you want to spend a whole day there, and with their veritable library of books lying around for guests to read you very well could!
As fantastic as the side trips through the County were, I actually came home with the most precious cargo courtesy of the very same trailer park we were camping in. The edges of the park's common "open field" areas were lined with bush upon bush of raspberries, and while I was a little late in the season I still managed to take two hours Sunday morning and pick a sizeable bowl to enjoy as a mid morning snack. I knew what I couldn't eat right away wouldn't last long in the fridge, and I really wanted to savour the flavour as long as I could while keeping the integrity of the berries as much as possible. The lemon balm on my kitchen counter flicked the "aha" switch over to overdrive and in entered this concoction: the tiny berries floating in a lightly flavoured lemon balm syrup, processed quickly in a waterbath. I'd love to tell you both the 1/2 cup jars I made are sitting prettily on the shelf, but only one got that far... the other became a moreish topping for my oatmeal midweek. I suppose it would be ideal on ice cream, yoghurt or pound cake too, but that involves waiting for dessert!
Tiny Berries in Lemon Balm Syrup
Makes 1 cup (including syrup), 4 servings
1 cup water
1/4 cup lemon balm leaves and green stems, roughly chopped
1 cup wild raspberries (or regular raspberries) - red, black or a mix
1 cup sugar
- Bring water to a boil and pour over the lemon balm. Let steep 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, spoon berries into one or two canning jars, shaking them to sit closely together but not crushing them. Set aside.
- Strain the lemon balm water into a pot, discarding solids.
- Add the sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 2 minutes.
- Carefully ladle syrup over the berries, leaving 1/2" headspace.
- Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.
Total Fat: 0.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 0.0 mg
Total Carbs: 53.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 0.3 g