New Year’s resolutions, a tradition that dates back to Babylonian time when humans made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts, has evolved into an occasion for folks to improve their life, change an undesired trait, or accomplish a personal goal. The start of a new year provides us with a clean slate; uncharted territory, and boundless opportunities.
For those of us in the foodie world, a new year also brings emerging patterns and trends in food consumption, cooking and eating. With endless food combination possibilities in the world, I’m always intrigued by the pundit’s predictions. Take for example, the prediction that 2019 is the year for Indigenous food and cuisine.
By no means youthful or new to our palates, the Indigenous food culture has been with Mother earth for centuries. Beautiful and resilient, Indigenous ingredients survived manifest destiny and travelled around the world, influencing countless cuisines. Tomatoes, beans, squash, corn, wild blueberries, maple, acorn, chilies, agave and cranberries are more than just elements in a dish. They each have sacred ceremonies, carry ancestral memories, and tell stories through colorful flavors.
In Maine, the hardy, lowbush, wild blueberry thrives in our thin glacial soils and harsh northern clime, the very same environment where they have grown for over 10,000 years. A true superfood, wild blueberries are packed with antioxidants that relieve of our bodies from the ravages of free radicals. These tiny, intensely flavored berries may also be one of the best foods to protect our brains as we age.
Our family enjoys Maine wild blueberries quite regularly, consuming about 100 pounds a year. Smoothies, muffins, salads, and sauces are some of the many delicious ways to savor what the Native Americans called “star” berries because the blossom end of each wild blueberry forms a five-pointed star. Used to flavor soups and stews, pounded into dried meat cakes, and the base of a honeyed pudding, the wild blueberry is a vital and important component of Indigenous cuisine.
To beat the winter blues, there is an artistic challenge every January on Deer Isle to create something new daily, whether it be a work of art, sculpture, part of a painting, or a new recipe.
My new year’s resolution this year is quite simple: Go Wild! I resolve to discover, test, develop and taste at least 31 wild blueberry recipes. Join my adventures at (www.cherylwixsonskitchen.com or The Ellsworth American website). Together, we can all appreciate the joys and health benefits of Indigenous cuisine.
WILD BLUEBERRY DIPPING SAUCE (Small Batch)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 1 pounds Maine wild blueberries
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar*
- 1 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard flour
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a heavy pot, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until transparent.
- Add the blueberries to the onion mixture, cover, and cook until the blueberries soften, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and mash the blueberries.
- Add the apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, ground mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and unsweetened applesauce. Cook for five more minutes.
- Puree the mixture with an immersion blender or pour the mixture into a blender and puree in batches.
- Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper. Store in the refrigerator.
WILD BLUEBERRY DRESSING
- ¼ cup vegetable or light olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- ½ cup Wild Blueberry Dipping Sauce
- 2 tablespoons Maine maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- Measure all ingredients in blender.
- Puree until smooth and emulsified.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.