Blackberry Buttermilk Breakfast Muffins

by Carlye Cunniff
( August 26th, 2015 )

Blackberry buttermilk muffins

If you live in the PNW, you know that the end of August normally marks prime blackberry picking time. I went out the other evening, basket in hand, only to find that most of my usual blackberry picking spots were devoid of the juicy plump berries of my dreams.  I can only assume that the season happened early this year – the unusual heat causing early blackberry prime.

Fresh blackberries

Though my picking exploits were less fruitful than I may have imagined, I did manage to snag a few good berries from my yard and roadside. The catch? There were not enough berries to make a pie, or a cobbler, or a crumble. There were, however, enough of the little devils to make blackberry buttermilk breakfast muffins. Maybe not as exciting as a blackberry cobbler, but potentially more practical. These fluffy muffins are perfect for busy summer mornings – they are especially tasty with a smear of butter.

If you’re interested in foraging for your own berries – be mindful. Picking berries in city parks is technically a no-no. Read up on those rules on this great post from Wild Harvests. If you end up finding something other than blackberries – have at it. These muffins are great with other fruit, different citrus, chocolate chips or nuts. Buttermilk generally makes for a rich and fluffy muffin, so feel free to experiment.

Blackberry buttermilk breakfast muffins

Ingredients

2 Cups flour

1/4 Cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 Cup melted butter

1 egg

1 Cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 Tablespoons honey

zest of 1/2 a lemon

zest of 1/2 of an orange

3 Tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

1 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 Cup fresh blackberries

Blackberry buttermilk breakfast muffins

Directions

Preheat oven to 375

Butter a muffin tin, or line with muffin cups

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a separate, large bowl, whisk together melted butter, egg, buttermilk, vanilla, honey, zests, orange and lemon juices.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix until combined. The batter will be slightly lumpy, that’s fine!

Bake for about 17 minutes, spread on some butter and enjoy!

Blackberry buttermilk breakfast muffins

 

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Best Cider in the Northwest – Wanderfood Wednesday

by Carlye Cunniff
( August 18th, 2015 )

Best Cider in the Northwest

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably noticed that the cider-theme is becoming pervasive in the life of Wanderfood. There are several reasons for this, but, most importantly, I’m in Washington, and Northwest Cider is on fire right now. Washington Cider Week is coming up, as is (the first ever!) BC Cider Week. Part of me feels responsible for sharing my new-found cider knowledge with the masses – before the season ends. The other part of me wants to keep it all a secret so the delicious cider stays abundant, but I’m feeling generous.

In case you haven’t jumped on the cider bandwagon yet, or, if you’re just looking to taste something different this fall, here are my picks for best cider in the Northwest. Enjoy!

Locust Cider

Dark Sweet Cherry – Locust Cider. This pink cider is delightful! There is no other word to describe it. Not too sweet, not to tart, it’s just right. I’d say it’s a perfect alternative to pink lemonade on a warm summer afternoon.

Pirate’s Plank – Alpenfire Cider. This is a must-dry for dry cider lovers. It actually feels like it’s drying your mouth out. Like you mouth has become the Sahara, ready to expel sand at the next breath. The wonderful thing about this cider is that dry feeling lasts mere seconds, then it’s back to flavor. This desert-like mouth feel is refreshing, plus, Alpenfire Cider is organic.

Dragon's Head Cider

Wild Fermented Cider – Dragon’s Head Cider.  The most exciting part about the Wild Fermented Cider is that crafting is always a gamble. Instead of selecting a particular yeast strain for this cider, the makers allow the apples to ferment with whatever comes in on them. That means the cider is slightly different every time. It has to be created in ultra-small batches in case something goes wrong. Something went very, very right with the bottles available now.

Rumrunner (aka Prohibition) – Sea Cider. I am a lover of strong, barley-wine style beers, and the Rumrunner from Sea Cider in British Columbia hits the spot. The stuff is aged in rum-soaked bourbon barrels for gosh sakes. In the states you’ll find it under the name Prohibition, US law doesn’t allow use of the word rum in cider titles.

Perry – Snowdrift Cider. Perry is a delightful cider that is made from pears rather than apples. A true perry will not just be pear flavored, it has to be crafted with pears instead of apples. The Perry from Snowdrift Cider is amazing – the pears give it really smoky flavor, without the addition of any special flavors. This cider has a lot of depth.

Montana Ciderworks

North Fork Traditional – Montana Ciderworks. This cider is a must-try for lovers of farmhouse style beers. I’m affectionately calling it the ‘barnyard cider,’ it’s tastes like all the good parts of a farm, rolled up into one. It’s complex in flavor, but still easy to drink.

Dark and Dry – Spire Mountain Cider.  If you’ve never had Spire Cider from Olympia, WA, you should. It’s a tried and true cider classic. It’s sweet and full bodied, but doesn’t leave your mouth with syrupy sweetness. The folks at Spire Mountain also know what’s what when it comes to cider – Spire is the oldest continuously operated cider in the states.

Kingston Black Barrel Aged – Whitewood Cider Company. If you are looking for complex cider with huge flavors, Kingston Black  is the cider for you. It’s a limited release, so I suggest looking for the stuff now. Heather Ringwood, one of the cider makers at Whitewood, describes the stuff as “breakfast in a cup, you get your waffle, maple syrup, whipped cream, with fresh squeezed orange juice, and a side of bacon. Maybe even some strawberries on top of the bacon.” After tasting the cider, I can confirm the taste sensation Ringwood describes, yum!

Thank you to The Northwest Cider Association for providing these tasty treats for me to sample at Summer Cider Day. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Cider Breakfast in the Orchard – Summer Cider Day

by Carlye Cunniff
( August 14th, 2015 )

Cider Breakfast in the Orchard

The outskirts of Port Townsend, Washington are not necessarily top of mind when considering traditional European cider-country breakfasts, or traditional cider at all for that matter. Top of mind or not, the folks at Alpenfire Cider, out of Port Townsend, invited cider makers, cider enthusiasts and the cider- curious to their orchard this August, in celebration of summer cider day.

The setting was quintessential – a sprawling orchard, vibrant vegetable garden and inviting grounds drew breakfast-goers into the spirit of the cidery. Accented by a perfectly warm summer morning, breakfast guests settled in slowly, joining the communal picnic after enjoying a stroll in the sunny orchard. Alpenfire’s owners provided a Ploughman’s Style breakfast, similar to what one might find in traditional cider country. The food was plentiful, homegrown, and a perfect compliment to the seemingly infinite selection of pomosas (orange juice and cider). Featured menu items included hearty bread, soft cheeses, cured meats and pickled eggs. Freshly baked biscuits topped with gravy or jam, fresh fruits, grilled tomatoes, and, of course, cider baked beans completed the spread. As you might imagine, breakfast in a sunny apple orchard, accompanied by craft-cider and fresh pressed orange juice is a perfect Sunday-morning experience in itself. Even with all the glorious sensory experiences (aka eating and drinking) the real gem of Alpenfire’s Cider Breakfast in the Orchard was the abundant sense of inclusion and encouragement within the Northwest cider-making community.

The Northwest is quickly becoming a hub of traditional cider-making – there are 30 cideries in Washington State alone. As a cider-drinking newbie, I was keen to take in the cider-scene, seeing what I could glean from a few hours with the makers of the fermented goodness. Learn I did, but not in the ‘I-am-the-cider-master’ way I half expected. I was fortunate enough to listen in on  genuine conversations about cider-making secrets, tips, trials and tribulations. People were genuinely excited about the collective effort to produce traditional cider and change the game in North American cider making.

Aside from the warm-fuzzy feeling collective effort and community sparks, the northwest is in an exciting position to work cider-making magic. The craft craze is clearly a rising tide that will lift all cider making boats. I, like many craft beer fans, considered cider a sickly-sweet beer alternative – reserved for rare occasions when I wanted dessert (or a headache) instead of a drink. Clearly, I was wrong. I shudder when I think about how much great cider my ignorance cost me. The challenge (or opportunity) for northwest cider makers is combating that beer-loving ignorance with cidercation (cider + education), cider events, and, of course, fabulous cider. Opinions about ciders place in society have to change in order to keep the cider-culture alive and well, and the effort to inform will be a collective one.

The cider breakfast provided an opportunity for us cider-curious novices to mingle with greats of northwest cider making lore. I met folks who had been crafting the stuff for years, enjoying huge success as makers. Those cider-makers of legend broke their fast and offered wisdom to cider makers just starting out on their journey, making cider happen in their tiny, city apartments.  Kids played in the orchard, pickled eggs were appraised, and genuine connection seemed to be made over glasses of cider.

Northwest Cider Association

Interested in trying some of the northwest finest cider? The Northwest Cider Association is a good place to start – cider-themed events are happening all the time. Washington Cider Week kicks off on September 10th – I’d hazard a guess that one of the many fine cider-makers would gladly chat with you about their craft. If you’re looking to recreate the picturesque-orchard scene, don’t miss next years Summer Cider Day (er, weekend) in Port Townsend.

Thank you to The Northwest Cider Association and Alpenfire Cider for providing these tasty treats for me to sample. All opinions expressed are my own.

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