Berry Compote

IMG_8309After getting all the remaining Transparent apples converted into pies, I started picking some of the abundant blackberries. Lainie, our 4-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog, grazes the lower 3 feet of the bushes, carefully pulling off the ones about to drop. She holds her lips back just a bit, and delicately holds the berry in her front teeth before pulling it off, by instinct or just clever? Anyhow, she makes for good company. I’m sure she doesn’t get as many thorns poking her shins and forearms like I do. Within several minutes of enjoying a late summer breeze while picking, I had enough to make the berry compote for an upcoming dessert, where they’ll be served with Glazed Polenta & Almond Cake.

This compote is best made with fresh berries, but no one will turn their noses up at it if you serve it mid-winter made from berries frozen the summer before.   Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, & Logan berries all work well in the recipe, whether they’re used solely or mixed with some of the other berries. Continue reading

Glazed Harissa Spiced Pork Ribs with Roasted Oranges

IMG_7642Our community is often on the look out for great fund-raising ideas for our little island for different social assistance programs, the school, and maintaining & improving our community hall. The essentials are that it be interesting enough to attract at least 30% of our population, be something that we can pull off with the expertise we have at hand, and an event that makes the most money possible given the first two requirements.

One year we decided to do a walk-a-thon to raise funds. We don’t have a circuitous route on Thetis, so we had boats move us from one road end point to another. Already we had a built in infrastructure consideration that made the walk more interesting! The walk was planned for a Saturday morning, so some of us realized that most people would already be here the night before, so why not feed them?

I led the group, and we served big servings of lasagne and Caesar salad. This was the event that I created my Roasted Vegetable Lasagne for. We sold 80 tickets for $15 within the first three days, and as there were only 350 residents on the island that was pretty good!

Then my head started tumbling over ideas… If we already had a captive audience, how about doing some sort of auction?

Our house is full of art. We have many pieces waiting to get hung if another piece gets moved. What if others are in the same boat? What if some of that art isn’t ever going to get hung? What if we had an auction where folks could put the art up for auction whether it’s a print or an original; acquired or created by themselves? What about artisans? Before I knew it, the idea had created itself!

By the time of the event, we had a beautiful quilt, original sketches, acrylics, funny little thrift shop finds, and some amazing current and antique prints offered for sale.

I can’t remember how much money we made that night, but I do remember the quilt being sold for $1,500. Many people took home new art, as well as selling one of their own pieces.

The weekend was a huge success, and although we didn’t offer the art auction again the next year, the walk-a-thon continued on for several years raising money for our little one room schoolhouse.

A decade or so later, in 2011, the community dusted off the idea of an art auction. Instead of being a last minute idea, we would take the time to figure out logistics, and try to make it a “huge” event. This year will be our 4th in a row, and each year has done substantially better than the past.

The main draw, besides an awesome evening out, is the dinner. We have decided to go with a Moroccan inspired meal this year, so from an appetizer tent to the main meal served on linen clad tables on the tennis court, every item draws from the southern shores of the Mediterranean.

I spent most of a day figuring out this recipe for this year’s event. Braising the ribs in harissa spiced orange juice, and incorporating roasted oranges to the final glaze, which elevated a basic rib recipe into something exotic. The ribs can be glazed either on the barbeque (as we’ll be doing for the event) or simply glazed in the oven, as I’ve done with them here. Continue reading