Monday, October 25, 2010

Adams River Sockeye Run

Over the past few weeks, news of the Adams River Sockeye run has been coming at us via TV, radio and through rave reviews from excited friends who have visited the river. Apparently this year is a "dominant" year, and 35 million fish are expect to make the run. So we took a Sunday drive up to the Shuswap to see this spectacular sight.

The Adams River sockeye run is known around the world as a "miracle of nature". Since the Discovery channel, National Geographic and huge buses full of Taiwanse tourists were there, I tend to believe that. 

Imagine you're a sockeye salmon. After 4 years of hanging out on the west coast, you feel the urge to leave the wide open saltiness of the Pacific Ocean to swim up the (freshwater) Fraser River along with 35 million of your brothers and sisters. Unlike many of your brethren, you carefully avoid the nets and hooks of the overjoyed local fishermen.

From here you battle your way upstream though fierce rapids and waterfalls to the Thompson River where you body starts to turn a bright scarlet red! Your head turns green and your whole body starts changing shape! You don't want to eat and people no longer want to eat you!

Once you enter the Shuswap Lake System you head for the Adams River, where you were hatched four years earlier. You have come here to reproduce and die. You have a one-in-five chance of succeeding, but you'll die regardless. Your dead body will rot alongside the other spawning sockeye which will create a stench that will attract bears, birds and other predators.

You  were born an orphan, and you'll die childless.

A few months later, your babies will be born, and they'll feast on their ancestors decaying bodies and in a year, once they're strong enough, they'll make the epic journey, covering over 400km, (250 miles) to the Pacific ocean. Such is the life of an Adams River Sockeye Salmon! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pumpkin Processing - Doing It From Scratch!

I've been eyeing my neighbour's mini-pumpkin patch behind her house and it's five perfect flame coloured pumpkins. I'm really too old to raid a pumpkin patch (aren't I?), so I was happy when she offered one up on the condition I not just make a jack-o-lantern out of it. 
I love anything pumpkin, missed it terribly in Istanbul, and am now staying in Naramata, which has the fine distiction of being one of only two Cittaslow communities in Canada!
So let the processing begin!

Love that colour! Ok ,first I scrubbed this baby. 
Notice this isn't a sugar or pie pumpkin, just your average pumpkin pumpkin.

I should say that Turkey does have pumpkins, and last year at this time I watched the little old ladies of Cappadoccia split open pumpkin after pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and throw the rest away! 

Don't believe me?)

Here's a load of scooped gourds headed for the compost! 
(This pic was taken on the street in Goreme.)

I digress! Back to the job at hand. With great effort this thing got split in half. I did it using a rolling pin, a dishtowel and a big knife I wasn't in love with. BANG! BANG! BANG! 

(I also waited till mom wasn't home, for some reason, loud banging in the kitchen distresses her.)

Face down on foil. My mom has a convection oven. (Love the convection oven!) 
Hot air cooks food 25% faster at a lower temp!

Forty-five minutes later...


I let it cool a bit and peeled the skin off leaving just the pulp behind. The pulp got pureed through a blender and produced about 8 cups of pumpkin puree. 

Obviously, this isn't hard, just messy and time consuming. I can see the attraction to canned pumpkin, but this is Cittaslow designated Naramata! No shortcuts here!

Walnut pumpkin muffins. 

The walnuts came from our friend Ricky's huge walnut trees. Keeping with the slow food movement, we collect bags of them every fall, dry them and use a hammer to crack'em. Our fingers get red and tender quickly, so it's best done slowly over a few weeks.

And two thanksgiving pies!

These pies were good, despite not being made from proper pie pumpkins. Would I do this again instead of canned? Actually, yes. 

But not this year. The next pumpkin I process is going to have a candle inside!