Growing up in a big city, I did not have very many opportunities to harvest my own food. Notable exceptions were apple and pumpkin “you-picks” that made for fun Fall outings. Needless to say, I was more than a little bit excited when I moved to Newfoundland and discovered that much of the island becomes a berry “you-pick” in the summertime, except that here you don’t pay a fee, and hiking and searching are part of the adventure. Everybody seems to have their favourite spot they’ve been going to for years, and some have been kind enough to lead me to theirs. I was thrilled to fill buckets with blueberries, and to snack on Saskatoon Berries while hiking around Cuckold’s Cove (I was even more thrilled to find out that Saskatoon Berries are commonly known as chuckley pears here).
What surprised me the most was discovering a patch of cranberries while hiking along the East Coast Trail. Everything I knew about cranberries, I had learnt from Ocean Spray commercials, so I was under the impression that they grew in bogs. As it turns out, they do quite well on the edges of cliffs near the ocean. These beautiful, sturdy berries are ripening now, and should stay in season right through Christmas. They pack a powerpunch of antioxidants and are well-known for maintaining urinary tract health. Add in the fact that they take on the appearance of gems when cooked, there’s no reason not to bake with them!
So go for a hike, find a good picking spot along the coast and bring home some fresh cranberries. You may be chilly afterward, so I recommend cooking up a quick batch of these pumpkin-cranberry scones, putting on a pot of tea, and snuggling in for the evening. Enjoy!
Fresh Cranberry and Pumpkin Scones
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbps. baking powder
Generous ¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup fresh cranberries*, quartered
1/3 cup mild-tasting vegetable oil
½ cup pureed pumpkin (fresh or canned, but not pumpkin-pie filling)
¾ cup almond milk
2 tsp of apple cider vinegar
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
Large grain sugar (optional)
Lightly grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 400° F
Add the vinegar to the almond milk to sour it
Thoroughly combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl
Add the pumpkin, almond milk and oil and mix until combined – do not overwork the dough
Gently fold in the cranberries, until just combined
Drop the batter by large spoonfuls (+/- ¼ cup) onto the greased baking sheet, and press down the top to flatten slightly
If desired, sprinkle the tops with large-grain sugar
Bake for 12 minutes, then check. Scones are done when lightly browned; the bottom should be firm and the scones should sound hollow when the bottom is tapped
*If the tartness of cranberries turns you off you may, of course, switch in dried & sweetened ones.