Aniin miinik ish tiktik? Berry Time!LINDA LEGARDE GROVER: This is the time of year that berries begin to ripen, and we appreciate the Creator’s gift of these pretty and delicious little treats.
This is the time of year that berries begin to ripen, and we appreciate the Creator’s gift of these pretty and delicious little treats. I love the color and taste of berries; with each one that I eat, no matter what kind, I think, “This is my very favorite.”
Later in the summer when the strawberries ripen I will remember how they looked and tasted and smelled when we kids picked them in the field back of our house, years ago. They were warm from the sun, and so small and sweet and fragrant.
When raspberries ripen I will remember when we picked them from the bushes in our grandfather’s yard after supper, before the sun went down behind the house across the street. Those raspberries looked like dark-red rubies, smelled just a little like roses, and were the temperature of a warm summer evening.
Although summer is the season for fresh berries we Anishinaabeg have enjoyed them year-round for many, many generations. The Ancestors of long ago preserved them for the rest of the year by drying them for storage.
Our grandparents dried berries, too, and had technology to also freeze them. These days we can freeze, dry or can berries, and unlike generations before us we have the convenience of buying fresh berries year-round at the grocery store, which means that even though they do cost more after summertime we can enjoy berries long beyond our short northern ripening season.
A couple of weeks ago
I made muffins with fresh blueberries, and the taste of berries and baking reminded me of the blueberry dumplings I haven’t made for awhile. My own kids used to really like this, and I am going to share the recipe with you.
This recipe can be adjusted for the amount you want to make; for example, more or less blueberry sauce, more or fewer dumplings; however, the dumpling ingredients need to stay in proportion (for example, if you want double the dumplings, you will need to double all the sauce ingredients).
(make these first and let the dough set while you make the blueberry sauce):
1½ cups of flour
3 tsps. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1½ cup milk (you might need to add a little more milk)
Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Gently add the milk, mixing to make a dough that is nice and soft (don’t over-mix because that makes the dough tough). Let this sit while you make the sauce.
1½ to 2 cups blueberries, maybe a little sugar if you like sweetening
Clean and rinse the blueberries, heat them in a saucepan until almost a boil (you might need to add a little water). Turn the heat down to simmer; watch and stir occasionally. Keep this on the stove burner.
Spoon the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the blueberry sauce and then cover. Let this cook about 10 minutes, covered.
Lift the cover and check the dumplings to see if they are cooked in the middle (I poke them with a steak knife). When the dumplings are done, remove the saucepan from the heat, take off the cover and let it cool about 15 minutes.
This is ready to serve, and good as it is, or with a little ice cream on top. If you like your dumplings to have some sparkle and sweet flavor, you can sprinkle some sugar on top just before you cover the saucepan, or a mix of cinnamon and sugar.
When berry season has passed, you can use canned or frozen blueberries (thaw them first), or even canned blueberry pie filling, though with the pie filling you will have to check more often to make sure the bottom doesn’t scorch.
Mino-pagwad, if I don’t say so myself!
This column originally was published in the Bois Forte News, a publication of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. Monthly columnist Linda LeGarde Grover is a professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth, an award-winning writer and a member of the Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.