7.22.2014

Proofs Positive

I still have a stack of proofs to sell!  These are the proofs for the final prints I sell. They're 12 x 18" images on glossy paper with the same high quality inks as the finals (archival, lasting 98 years under glass). The color may be a little different than the final prints or there is a mysterious dollop of color that's not detracting, just taken out of the final image.  They're signed and dated, packaged just as the others are and mailed in a flat, sturdy chipboard mailer.
Because I believe everyone needs art all around, I've decided to sell these as "Pay what you can" up to $15.






If you're interested, send me a message or check out the listing in the shop!

7.18.2014

Respect your Elders



There is one blueberry bush in our yard (of about 10) that has berries on it. I suspect that's because it's tucked beside an elderberry and the birds have been so distracted with the elderberry they haven't noticed the blueberry. Whatever the reason, it will have a nice-sized harvest when/if they ever ripen.

Yesterday I went to check on it and saw the elderberries are ripe! I'd had it in my mind that they'd be ready sometime in August. I guess that needs a mental correction? Anyway, it seems early to me. I harvested about 3/4 of the clusters from the 2 largest bushes. There were enough clusters that were nearly bare to tell me there have been ripe berries for a few days at least. The remaining unpicked clusters are mostly green and will be harvested in a couple weeks, I suppose.

Earlier in the spring I saved a few flower heads for use as herbal tea. Now I have about 2 cups of fresh berries. I'll probably dry half and syrup (You can verb 'syrup' right? You can verb 'verb' right?) the other half. Elderberries have historically been used for prevention of winter ailments, they're packed with vitamins (A, B, and C) and immune boosting antioxidants.

Later today we're going blackberry picking! Any berries in your neck of the woods? What's lookin' good?


For those interested in growing elderberries, one of my bushes was started from a twig I simply stuck in the ground. I believe it is Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra). The other is one I purchased from Gardens of the Blue Ridge and is the North American native elderberry, Sambucus canadensis. If you're interested in purchasing one, I can't recommend them highly enough.

7.14.2014

Foraging with a Four Year Old: Autmnn-Olive



Yesterday I took M to a woodsy area where I'd seen an autumn-olive heavy with ripe berries. Autumn-olives are an invasive species, each fruit contains a giant seed ready to become a new plant. Taking the berries out of the wild seemed like my environmental duty for the native(-ish) environment. Plus I had fantasies of us picking them by bagful for sweet tart concoctions, like adding them to fruit leather and simple syrup.


A few minutes into our harvest and we were both dripping with sweat. The prospect of free fruit was not entertaining enough for the 4 year old, even though curious song birds were perched overhead and within arms reach to see what we were doing. We picked for less than half an hour and got about 1 cup of berries. The autumn olive fruit is mostly seed, so 1 cup wasn't going to get very far with homemade fruit roll ups.


I went straight for the simple syrup as a way to familiarize our family to something new. The fruit has a straightforward berry flavor with a bit of tang and a dry finish. That may sound a little too fancy schmancy, but if you try one, you'll understand.

Here's what I did:
Boil berries in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes, bruising them/smooshing them with the back of a spoon as they boil. After 10 minutes, add 1/2 cup more water and 1 cup sugar (adjust sugar to your taste: use 3/4 cup sugar to make the end product more tart, less sweet).
Allow to cool.
After the syrup cooled it was time for a taste test. Since M helped me pick the berries, she enjoyed the first sample: 3 ounces syrup, 4 ounces seltzer water, over ice. Add a splash of lemon juice and you'll have something amazingly tasty and somewhat nutritious despite the sugar. The autumn-olive may have up to 17 times more lycopene than the average ripe tomato! According to the Ann Arbor News, they also contain high levels of vitamins A, C and E, flavonoids and essential fatty acids.