Blackberry Gin Collins

It is late June, and I really thought I would be harvesting more from my vegetable garden by now. So far, I’ve only gotten the occasional Early Girl tomato and a few peppers.

I’ve had dry weather and slug and snail issues; they ate most of my bean plants and cucurbits (cucumber and zucchini). I’ve started a some more from seed, but they won’t be ready to eat for awhile. And most of my tomato plants just haven’t really started producing fruit yet.

However, I have been able to forage some blackberries around the edges of my yard. Most of the fruits were eaten by animals (deer?) before I got to them. Then I discovered several taller blackberry bushes, probably 10 feet tall with clusters of berries hanging over my head.

I could have eaten them with something healthy, instead I decided to use them for a summery cocktail. I knew the slightly tart fruits would be a perfect combination with the botanical flavors of gin.
Blackberry Gin Collins Recipe 

Make a blackberry syrup by blending:

2 cups of freshly picked blackberries
4 mint leaves
1/2 cup lime juice
1 Tbl brown sugar or honey

Chill the syrup for at least four hours.

In a 12 oz glass mix:

2 oz gin or vodka
2 oz blackberry syrup
2 oz tonic water

Stir, fill with ice, and garnish with a sprig of mint leaves.

Happy Birthday Virgos!

Virgo, the Virgin, August23 – September 22 Virgo has a gentle, quiet soul and a quick analytical mind, which they use for problem solving and helping others, and they also excel at practical long term planning.

21 Color Hat

Just this last week it has finally gotten cold enough for hat weather! And I have a nice cheerful, colorful new hat. This hat came a a kit from Blue Sky Fibers that contains 21 mini skeins of yarn and instructions for a slouchy beanie. The yarn is very nice, pretty colors and not scratchy. I bought the kit this summer, and broke my hand about a week later, before I had a chance to begin knitting it. It was about a month before I was able to knit or crochet again. At first it was slow going, but I’m convinced that knitting helped me to rehabilitate my hand more quickly.

I love the inside too, so much that I considered wearing the hat inside out.

Ponkapoag Bog Trail

I am the type of person who, when I hear about a boardwalk trail through a swamp, cannot wait to go hike it. Provided that the weather is too cold for mosquitoes of course. And snakes. Since moving to the south I have come to appreciate the strange, primordial forests filled with amazing biodiversity and interesting plants. Recently, I came across a pin of the Ponkapoag Bog Trail in the Blue Hills Reservation, and pretty close to my parents house. Naturally, the vegetation was quite different from the dismal swamps I see in the South.

The trail begins following a narrow boardwalk through a corridor of trees. Mostly small trees and shrubs.

Then the trail opened into a beautiful meadow surrounded by small pine trees. The ground was not solid here, but actually quite soggy; as I discovered accidentally when I stepped off the boardwalk to let another hiker pass. The “grass” is mostly moss, with some pretty red and gold colors. The white fluffy things are the seed heads of cotton grass.

Finally, the view of Ponkapoag Pond at the end of the trail, a pretty scene framed by lush foliage, which had just started to turn.

This was a really interesting and pretty easy trail, about 2 miles roundtrip. It was narrow though, on busy weekends that might be a problem.

A Hike through Purgatory Chasm

I’m always amazed that for as long as I lived in the Boston area, there is still so much I haven’t seen. Of course this means when I go back there to visit family, there is always something new to do. On my recent trip I took several new to me hikes, including Purgatory Chasm. It was surprisingly crowded considering the cold weather and that there was a football game on. I didn’t mind seeing other people though, its nice to see families spending time together outdoors.

For so late in October, the foliage was still surprisingly green, but the woods were still beautiful. I especially enjoyed the rocky terrain, which is so different from the flat ground and sandy soil around my home in North Carolina.

Overall, the hike was pretty easy. The trail I took started along the top of the Chasm, tracking alongside it, with interesting views down to the floor of the gorge. Then there was the option for a short side hike to Little Purgatory, which follows a stream to a series of little waterfalls. Finally, hiking back out through the Chasm. This part was a little more challenging, with lots of big boulders to scrabble over, but fun.

The hike was beautiful, and although I got some good shots, I’m not thrilled with my photos. The mid afternoon light was uneven, and with dark rocks and bright sky.

I would love to come back to this spot in the winter. I think that with the leaves off the trees the landscape would look even more dramatic, I might even be lucky enough to get some ice or snow. With the late afternoon, just before sunset, light at my back I could get some beautiful shots looking up the Chasm.

Cranberry Blue Cheese Autumn Salad


3 cups of Arugula

3 oz. Chicken, Sliced

1/4 Braeburn Apple, Diced

1/4 cup Carrot, Shredded

1/4 cup Dried Cranberries

1 oz. Blue Cheese, Crumbles

1/4 cup Candied Pecans (optional)

2 Tbls. Balsamic Vinaigrette

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and toss until everything is lightly coated with the vinaigrette.

Blue cheese. Cranberries. Pecans. Yum! This salad is one of my favorite fall dishes. The tart flavors are a great contrast to the comfort foods I usually enjoy this time of year. I frequently eat it for lunch or dinner when Jon isn’t home (he doesn’t believe salad counts as a meal). Or sometimes I leave out the chicken and divide between several servings for side salad.