Picking Huckleberries With Lu To Create Delicious Smoked Salmon Nugget Goat Cheese Tartlets
Lu came in to apply for a job sometime in the early Fall of 2003. I’d seen her around town, but didn’t know her at all. Right from that first meeting I just knew she was exactly what we needed for our growing company. Lu was kind and exuded happiness. One could also see there was a maturity and no nonsense attitude that comes with experience in this industry as well as an understanding of how things in our small town work. Bruce and I also knew enough to know that we too needed someone in our corner that could call a spade, a spade and help to keep us in check.
We hired Lu to work in our retail store front, but she didn’t hesitate to work where ever she was needed. Lu jumped in with both feet whether it was cutting & packing fish, to helping with admin, Lu worked in every aspect of the business.
Juggling three young children while building a business is not easy. Lu was so much more than our employee, she was our friend. Lu was and has always been like a Mother to me and like a Grandmother to our kids. Our kids were busy growing up. They participated in many sports and activities at school. When things would come up in the middle of a busy work day, and we found it difficult to break away I could always count on Lu to drop off skates for sharpening, or a forgotten lunch to school. As the company continued to grow Lu took on more of a Human Resources role.
By this time she was already affectionately known as “Mama Lu” around Hardy Buoys. Lu always knew what an employee needed. She made everyone feel special. Lu’s door was always open, and she was always available to listen and help however she could. It didn’t take long for others in town to start calling her Mama Lu as well.
After a few years Lu made her first attempt at retirement
with Hardy Buoys. It didn’t last long.
In 2008 Hardy Buoys embarked on a large expansion. We knew we needed Lu involved. Not only for her knowledge of our business operations and suppliers, but Bruce and I knew how much we’d need her as a person to be by our side during such a huge endeavor.
Lu of course agreed to come out of retirement and help us see things through. In Lu’s typical style she often showed up with a pot of chili or soup for the many trades people on site. By the end of 2008 our company had gone from a work force of approx. 12 to 50. Lu remained until the Spring of 2012 when she decided it was time to give retirement another try. Although it was sad to see her leave employment, we’d become family and Lu would always be part of our lives. Lu continued to attend our kids sports events, high school graduations, and we even went on a holiday to Vegas together. I’ve always thought of myself as an avid shopper, but that trip I found it difficult to keep up to Lu! Lu gave “shop til you drop” a whole new meaning.
Over the years it wasn’t just Hardy Buoys that grew.
Being entrepreneurs we began to add other business ventures to our line up. In 2016 we purchased a Commercial Mall property with a high vacancy rate and set about to fill it. In 2018 we opened a coffee kiosk in our Commercial Mall. With everything else going on I needed a self sufficient employee to work the kiosk. I asked Lu if she’d be willing to come out of retirement for a year or so, part time, to help me get it off the ground. Of course Lu said yes! Lu has always been our number one supporter and cheer leader.
Lu retired for what was truly the final time in the Spring of 2019. Lu was then and has never stopped being our rock! We’ll still call on her to fill in at the Kiosk when someone calls in sick or to help during some busy Market Days in the Mall. Lu likes to joke with people about how we keep pulling her out of retirement, but she knows how much we appreciate her and everyone always loves to have her around.
For more than two years now I wake up every morning to a text from Lu. A simple “have a nice day sweetheart” always starts my day with a smile. Lu often checks in during the day to let me know what she’s been up to, or to see if I have time for tea. Lu is my favorite person. She’s the first one I think of when I need sound advice, and someone I can always count on to help me out, which brings me to the a wonderful afternoon recently spent picking huckleberries with Lu.
Buoys had been invited to participate in a Vancouver Island Cook Book.
Not being a chef I leaned on my good friend Kellie Dukes, from Dukes Dining to create a couple of recipes for me using our smoked salmon. One ingredient Kellie needed was fresh picked huckleberries, which I volunteered to gather. Not having ever picked them before, or knowing where to go….I called Lu, who was more than happy to accompany me and knew just where to go!
I’m often thankful Lu decided to come and apply for a job
all those years ago.
I honestly don’t know what my life would be like without her in it.
The recipe Kellie created is visually appealing for all
entertaining needs and tastes amazing. The Cook Book will be available
for sale in our store in November, 2021.
But in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at the recipe we picked the huckleberries for.
Give it a try!
Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish
Smoked Salmon Nugget Goat Cheese Tartlets
Yield: 12 Tartlets
- 2 – 15” x 10” x 1/8” Puff Pastry Sheets – or roll out frozen puff pastry to these dimensions
- 1 ½ cups Huckleberries plus 36 more for garnish*
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ½ tsp fresh lime juice
- 300g Soft Unripened Goat Cheese
- 1 Green Onion – sliced thinly on a diagonal
- ¼ cup Plain Greek Yogurt
- 12 Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Smoked Salmon Nuggets
- 1. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 6 equal squares of 5” x5”.
- 2. Place each square in alternate muffin tin cups in two muffin tin trays. Alternate the squares so that no two puff pastry squares are next to each other. When placing them in the muffin cups leave the corners outside. Do not tuck them in.
- 3. Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
- 4. When you remove the puff shells from the oven they will have puffed “closed”. Press the centers down with a melon baller or the back of a spoon to make a “hole” for the filling without actually putting a hole in the pastry.
- 5. Remove the shells from the muffin tins and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
- 6. While the puff pastry tart shells are baking, put the huckleberries, sugar and water in a small pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Lower heat and using the back of a wooden spoon break up the huckleberries. Continue to cook and stir occasionally so that the mixture does not burn until it has become fairly thick. Approximately 20 to30 minutes. Add the lime juice just before removing the sauce from the heat.
- 7. Remove huckleberry sauce from heat and strain over a bowl through a fine mesh strainer. If you do not have a fine mesh strainer, line the strainer with a paper towel or coffee filter, then pour in the huckleberry sauce and strain. Leave sitting over a bowl while you continue on with the rest of the recipe preparation.
- 8. Cream together the goat cheese, Greek yogurt and green onion (reserving 12 slices of the green part of the onion for garnish) until smooth.
- 9. To assemble the tartlets:
- a.Spoon 2 tbsp of the goat cheese mixture into the center of the puff pastry tartlet shell
- b.Top with 1 Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Smoked Salmon Nugget on an angle and press slightly into the goat cheese to hold it in place
- c.Place 3 whole huckleberries together by one corner of the salmon nugget
- d.On the side of the huckleberries, place a slice of the green onion so it looks “holy-like”
- e.Drizzle ½ tsp of huckleberry sauce over the top and serve
I love the colour and flavour of huckleberries but any berry will work in this recipe. So, if you are unable to get your hands-on huckleberries, you may use blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or cranberries. When using these larger berries just use 1 as garnish instead of three.