Growing up, I dabbled north of the border. I primarily visited Vancouver for whirlwind weekends filled with basketball games and nights on the town. Those trips were the essence of freedom. They were a sliver of adulthood granted to me by my brother. They tasted like seared ahi tuna and steamed pork buns. They smelled like Cuban cigars and bubbled like ice cold Kokane.
Vancouver will always hold a special place in my heart. But, eventually another slice of this Province also earned my love – Vancouver Island.
Laced with colorful, and often quirky, communities, it is home to some of Canada’s more fertile farmland and beautiful coastlines. At its southern most tip, Victoria often steals the spotlight. This quaint Capital is packed with history and exquisite elegance.
Beyond pedestrian-friendly Victoria, the island is studded with charm. From fishing villages to art communities, it offers a plethora of things to do, see, and eat.
Nanaimo, the island’s second largest city, is located along the eastern coastline. A gateway city, it provides access to Central Vancouver Island. While it’s beautiful to be sure, Nanaimo shines brightest along its fringes. Take for example the Yellow Point Trail – a collection of art studios, pubs, and farms.
The roads create a twisting montage of fields as they roll over hills and through valleys. It’s not uncommon to share the roadway with a cow that’s gotten loose or a local peddling to the store.
The trail primarily follows Yellow Pt. Road, which is exactly where you want to be to find Yellow Point Cranberries. This family owned and operated cranberry farm was founded by Grant Keefer and his wife in 2001.
Their 43-acre plot began as overgrown farmland. But Keefer is a third generation farmer – his grandfather first purchased farmland in 1945 in Richmond, BC – and he could see the potential of their Yellow Point location.
Today, the Keefer’s are grower-owners with an active and fully functional cranberry farm. They also run a small shop filled with cranberry goodies. (Yep. It’s as good as it sounds.)
While visiting a few years back, I was treated to a package of Cranberry Ginger Scone mix. It took far longer than it should have to actually make those bad boys. They were out of this world. Studded with cranberries and candied ginger, they were sweet flavor bombs.
I know most of you won’t be able to make it to Nanaimo or Yellow Point Trail, but you’re in luck. Molly Wizenberg, author of Orangette and pretty much my all-time favorite writer, has a killer scone recipe that easily adopts a handful of cranberries.
Cranberry Ginger Scones
Adopted from Molly Wizenberg’s Scottish Scones with Lemon and Ginger
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
6 TBS cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
6 TBS sugar
Zest from 1 orange
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup half-and-half, plus more for glazing
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 425.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. Using your hands, rub butter into flower mixture until it resembles a coarse meal.
Add 3 TBS sugar, orange zest, crystallized ginger and cranberries. Stir gently to combine.
Pour half-and-half into a small bowl. Add egg. Beat with a work until well combined.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir gently until just combined. Dump shaggy dough onto a lightly floured surface. Kneed gently until it just comes together. Pat dough into a circle roughly an inch thick. Cut circle into 8 wedges.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Arrange wedges so they are evenly distributed. Brush each wedge with half-and-half. Sprinkle remaining 3 TBS sugar evenly over wedges. Bake until golden brown (10 – 14 minutes).
Serve warm or at room temperature.