Press-Republican

Outdoors

August 11, 2013

Enjoying nature's food you can't buy in store

One of the things I enjoy immensely about my outdoor passions is the culinary benefits.

I was recently reminded of this when I took my annual hike up Buck Mountain, which sits on the east shore of Lake George, specifically to pick wild blueberries.

Such outings have become a midsummer ritual for many Adirondackers as wild, low-bush blueberries can be found on open peaks throughout the region. This year’s hot and wet conditions mixed with ample sunshine has meant a good berry crop, and possibly an earlier one.

Still, my recent hike produced a good yield of blueberries, as usual. Although I did have to work for them a bit.

Some folks may chuckle and ask why I go through all the effort to gather wild blueberries when farm stands and grocery stores are well stocked. I have a number or reasons.

For one, deer season is coming soon and putting five or six climbing miles on my legs now is solid preparation for the fall hunt. And Buck Mountain is just a fantastic hike: perhaps one of the best in all the Adirondacks.

I love the berries, too. The size of a green pea, they’re easy to work with and don’t splatter the way the bigger blueberries that we grow on bushes near our home do. And they’re full of sweetness. Whip up some pancakes with wild blueberries and home-made maple syrup from my spring harvest and you’ll quickly see that all the effort, including the free exercise, is worth it.

That takes care of breakfast, now lets look at dinner.

My wife and I love cooking and preserving meat by smoking it. This is especially the case with game meat including venison, wild turkey and fish. Our smoker is a very simple charcoal smoker, which is basically a charcoal grill with a fire box on the side. Cooking with it is as easy as keeping a fire going in the firebox, which is like a miniature wood stove.

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