Time to pay the berrypied piper

On Sunday, I was going to get the siding on the house after repairs made in the spring but it was pouring rain.  Really pourting.  I’d stopped by Ron and Jeanne’s on Friday waiting to hear if whale watching trips would happen or not (they did not due to weather), and Jeanne was making jam from last year’s berries.   So I decided to start tackling this year’s harvest.  I pulled out a crate of vacuum packed salmon berries from the freezer to start thawing, and brought down the jars, lids, rings, jar tongs and large canning pots from the garage to get things washed and ready for canning. The first batch was 30 cups of salmonberries and their juice.  I looked at my old notes and guesstimated it would take 10 boxes of no sugar pectin to set.  I read online a good article from a Home Economist or whatever they are called now, and she gave a simple explanation of putting in 1 tbs of lemonjuice per 2 cups of berries, boil that, then add sugar (she said 1 cup sugar to 2 cups berries, but I did less – I kept adding sugar until it tasted just about right, knowing I’d add more since the pectin was mixed with 1/4 cu sugar per box of pectin or 2.5 cups total), and then add the pectin and boil for 1 more minute and take it off the heat.  Then take a little of the jam and put it into a bowl while getting ready to jar the jam.  It should set, and if it doesn’t (mine did), add a little more pectin and lemon juice and boil again until it does. I made 2 big batches.  I tried to boil the berries for 15 minutes to try to soften the seeds a bit before the sugar was added. The second batch seemed thicker than the first, so my pectin may have been a bit over board but I had to use some old Pamona’s pectin when I realized I only had 8 boxes of Kraft pectin left.  I got 88 half pints out of it, and not sure I made a very big dent in the salmonberries but think I’ll make pies from the rest.  I made 2 blueberry pies from dough I’d frozen earlier in the week while making the jam, so got some stuff done in the kitchen. Sara came home from school and got a dinner of Stikine duck on while I went to get a flapper replacement to fix the toilet and packed several boxes of fish while I was out that way.  

Fall fish

Peter Baker and I took off fishing after work after he said he could go “anytime” so I said lets go tonite and he said okay.  We ran down to Pt. Hilda after getting a hot tip.  We passed Ron at Inner Point, where he’d lost 3 or 4 fish and didn’t land any.  We had immediate action….and lost the first 3 fish.  Then we had 2 double headers but only got one fish.  Then we got a second.  Both absolute hogs.  It was flat calm and we fished till after sun down.  Peter said he’d drive home and when he was running about wide open I said we didn’t need to burn all the $4/gallon gas we could getting home.  I cleaned the fish at the dock and Peter took them home.  He’s moving to Washington State and said what I’ve been telling him is the same thing his boss at work has-  tough sledding is ahead for state government.  Oil is a third it was a couple years ago and oil production continues to decline.  Seems every other house on N. Douglas has a for sale sign on it.  The state is going to start bleeding population – and quickly if the PFD goes away.  I’m not worried.  I moved here in 1983 and was here during the last crash in 1986 and never realized the economy was down.  Seems like there’s always a job around the next corner that you find when you are doing one of your two other jobs.   Lots of elbow room will be a good thing. –

Berry picking

Smilin’ John and I picked berries a few days before he left and got about 12 lbs of red huckleberries and 10 of blue berries.  I shipped him off with a box full of salmon, berries, halibut, rockfish and smoked salmon and my sister said they went to a picnic when she got home and got raves on the salmon.  I’m guessing John was the life of the party.  I went to the cabin on Friday to berry pick. I’m guessing I picked 30 to 40 lbs over the period.  It was blowing 30 all weekend and started to die down this afternoon as forecast.  My boat was tied out in the wind and when I got it to the beach I realized I would not be able to get it off myself, so I pushed it along side me along the spit in water up to my crotch until I could get it around the spit and into the lee and then I hopped on and was off.  A good work out.  I recently watched a show on a couple who walked from Seatte to Unimak and didn’t even take boots – they just got wet- and so I was thinking of that when I went over my new Xtra Tuffs.  Stephens Passage was pretty sloppy.  My boat does well in the trough so it was okay getting across in 3 to 4 footers.  When I got into Fritz Cove, it was blowing easterly straight on and only 1 footers but my boat is not good in straight-on waves and it was a filling-jarring ride into the dock.  My freezer is half full of berries and I haven’t got in any high bush cranberries yet, so I gotta get some more recipes.  I will make jam from the salmon berries and pies and some syrup from the blue berries is what I’ve come up with so far.

Berry Picking

John and I went to the cabin after I finished my whale watching trips on Friday evening.  We got to our boat line and pulley haul out at low tide so we could work on it.  We got it freed up a bit and tied the boat off.  We found lots of red huckleberry bushes so picked till it was about dark.  The next morning was a lower low tide and we removed some of the crust from the barnacle-crusted line, and we were able to free it up and move the anchor to a little deeper water.  We then set to pick red huckleberries.  We found a new trail down to our boat, and it had several berry bushes.  We picked our way back to the cabin and in the end picked about 12 lbs of berries.  I made pancakes with the huckleberries and then high bush cranberry syrup on top.  John then laid down on the couch and I could see he was off to nap time listening to the Mariners game.  I went back to picking, and picked blueberries for a couple hours and got about 10 lbs of berries.  We left in the afternoon, fished for a couple hours with no luck, then back to the house.  I ordered a pizza for John and he and I spent an hour or two picking leaves and cleaning the berries, put them in plastic jars, and into the freezer.  The next day, I shook the jars to free the berries from each other, and vac packed the berries into 5 cup portions.  I saved some berries out and John and I made a blueberry and a huckleberry pie for dinner after we fished the after noon for only 1 pink, which we released.   We made the pies and baked them and put them outside to cool. John wanted burgers for dinner, so I took out a package of deer burger and showed him how to thaw the meat block just enough to slice it into flat burgers.  We fried these for burgers, and John sauteed some onions for garnish.  After dinner, we  brought in the pies and put them in the freezer for 15 minutes to cool them further, then got them out to eat.  Sara had whipped some creme for John.  John was pretty happy with his pie.  A blow is on it’s way here so no fishing tomorrow and then John is headed back to Pittsburgh Wednesday morning. –

Halibut and whales

Ron and I have been friends for a long time, but never somehow have gone halibut fishing together.  I’m not big on halibut fishing but Ron needed to get in his winter supply and I was game as John would get to see something different.  Ron led us to his secret spot, and we were not disappointed.  6 halibut, 9 rockfish and 3 cod.  Ron got all the halibut and cod he needed and I like rockfish.  Had a humpack come right near the boat then it dove under us and came up on the other side.  Ron also showed me a trick for chumming.  He takes his fish scraps and freezes them with a rock in a tupperware container, which pops out after freezing into weighted chum cube.  When you are anchored up, he simply dropped the rock with fish frozen to it under the boat.  Simple and apparently effective. We thought we’d stop to try to jig up some herring for later bait use on the way home when I saw several whales blowing in the distance.  Looked like bubble netters to me.  When we got there, sure enough, they were netting and John got a great show and was pretty jazzed to see it. John remembered he liked the rockfish he had while in Craig last year, so we hope to make that tonight and have Ron over to dinner and to vac pack his fish.

Early morning hogs

I got up at 305 am and put the coffee perculator on I’d prepped the night before.  At 4, I woke up John and asked if he wanted to go see if the weather was fishable and he said “sure”.  I poured the coffee and John was ready to go in 5 minutes.  The boat was already hooked up to the truck and parked right at the road so we might not wake Sara when the diesel started.   When we got to the ramp it was flat calm and a little foggy.  We were fishing by 5 am and John was a little groggy.  The first fish woke him up.  A real nice large chrome coho.  Not long later, another one of the same vintage.  John was awake now.  We were fishing where I’d caught the mess of fish with the Sierra Leoneons last week.  After a few more trips around our marks, we continued south and I had the coffee can and taking a leak when “whamo” another strike.  I corked off what I was doing and grabbed the rod and handed it to John and cranked up the down rigger.  John played the fish up to the boat and we missed netting it several times.  Then the fish started to shake it’s head back and forth and I thought we might lose him.  One more try and she was in the net.  A 15+ lb coho – maybe the biggest of the year. We fished till 730 and headed back to the dock.  I dressed the fish on board, and put ice on them when I got home so John could go back to bed and me to work.  He will fillet the fish when he gets up.  I checked on our fish drying in the smoker and it looked great. –