Native Cooking Column by Dale Carson

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I hope some of the vegetables you planted in May are ready to be harvested and eaten. Of course, because of our geography, things planted in California will be very different from things ready in Maine. One of those things is blueberries.

Wild blueberries are a treasure. My mother and her friend delighted in going to their secret patches and picking for a couple of hours. Then coming home, where the washing, picking over and baking would begin. I often went with them as a "helper," but probably ate more than half of what I picked there on the spot. There seems to be a bit of controversy over the difference between "blueberry" and "huckleberry" names. I've asked many people and they say they are blueberries in the eastern part of the country and huckleberries in the middle and western states - same species, subtle differences, delicious taste. This first recipe is so very good, and easy.

Wild Blueberry Ice Cream

2 cups fresh picked and washed wild blueberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup undiluted evaporated milk

1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Crush the berries and combine with sugar. Cook for five minutes, then strain through a fine sieve. Add salt, let cool than strain again when cold and add the evaporated milk and fold in whipped cream. Freeze in a metal refrigerator tray. Stir when mixture is frozen to mush; then freeze for at least three hours. It only takes two minutes to devour.

Attitaash (Wild Blueberry) Jam

1 quart fresh picked blueberries

1/2 cup water

4 cups sugar

1 lemon with peel intact, seeded and sliced paper thin

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a two quart, non-reactive pan, cook berries in water over medium heat until the berries are tender, about five minutes. Reduce heat and add the remaining ingredients. Simmer, stirring frequently to prevent burning, about 15 minutes, or until jam is thick. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Spoon into sterilized jars and seal with 1/4 inch of paraffin. Store some, serve some.

Attitaash Fritters

1 cup of fresh picked blueberries

1 cup flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 tablespoon water

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Sift and mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Separate eggs. Beat yolks with water and stir this into the flour mixture until smooth. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into batter, add blueberries gently. Drop by spoonfuls into VERY hot oil and fry until golden, about four minutes. Drain on paper towels. Good with a little confectioner's sugar sprinkled on.

You know how certain foods just like each other's company, rice and beans, peanut butter and chocolate, steak and potatoes? Blueberries, attitaash, wild blueberries or huckleberries, no matter what you call them, like the company of almonds. This recipe calls for the liqueur amaretto. It is an essential part of the recipe, so if you cannot have any alcohol, do not try to substitute by using more extract. That just gives it a cloying taste, I tried it.

Almond Biscuits

1 cup of sliced almonds, toasted

1-1/2 cups flour

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch salt

1-1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons amaretto

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the almonds. Use a pastry cutter to work in the butter until it feels like coarse meal. Add egg yolk, amaretto and extract. Now work it all with your hands until this dough comes together like as a ball. Now, lightly flour your work surface. Taking egg-sized pieces of dough, push and roll it out into a long thin shape. Do this until you have several pieces. Pile them on one another and wrap in plastic or waxed paper.

Chill for at least two hours or overnight. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/4-inch. Chill for 30 minutes or until firm. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough and cut out circles with a cookie cutter, then pull a little to elongate each into an oval shape. Bake on cookie sheets for 20 to 25 minutes. If the biscotti is not golden brown, put it back in the oven for another 15 - 20 minutes. Cool thoroughly.

Serve alone or with Blueberry ice cream.

Notes and Tips

*A nice thing about all berries is that they freeze beautifully. If you plan to make jam, save up a few bags in the freezer until you have enough to make it worthwhile.

*When you're making pancakes, put your batter into the hot skillet and sprinkle the berries on top. If you try to fold them into the batter, they "bleed" too much.

*Remember that blueberries, as well as other berries, stain. Line your picking basket with leaves.

*Since you never know when you'll be driving along and find a nice, new berry-pickin' place, keep a package of food-wrap size plastic bags in the car. They come in handy for all kinds of treasures you might find while out on the road (mushrooms, herbs, seashells, "special" rocks ...).

*From e-files:

Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.

Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things. Huh?