Besides farmer’s tans and mosquito bites, a mouthful of the season’s first berry flesh has to be one of the most trustworthy sensory indications that summer has finally settled in around these parts.
Some of my fondest associations with summer are related to particular places where my friends and I picked and devoured roadside fruit (wild blueberries on Mt. Washington, blackberries on Dyke Road, huckleberries in Lynn Canyon Park…). Among many exquisite Swedish words, smultronstället describes the idea of a berry patch and an underrated place with personal emotional significance.
Beyond sheer sentimentality, I think it’s critical for people to have a degree of comforting emotional attachment to specific natural areas in order to foster a sense of ecological stewardship. In an Enviro Studies class at UVic a few years ago, I remember my professor Dr. Nancy Turner describing how devastated she felt when, upon bringing a group of her grad students to a native berry patch that she had visited for years, she found that the patch had recently been cleared for development. While scrounging up the ingredients for a certain lovely person’s milestone brunch, I was reminded of how happy I am for the intact salmonberry and huckleberry bushes that drip along the bike path I take to work.
Cinematic inspiration: Wild Strawberries (yes, I realize how horribly pretentious it sounds to name-drop Bergman in a recipe post. Trust me, though, his films are worth watching).
Smultronstället berry compote
- 2.5 cups of mixed berries, plus a handful of extra berries. (I used raspberries and quartered strawberries from Maan Farms at the UBC Farm Market, along with huckleberries and salmonberries).
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2-3 Tbsp arrowroot powder
Gently heat 2.5 cups of berries and lemon juice in a small saucepan on medium-high heat. When the berries begin to bubble, reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes. Stir in the arrowroot powder thoroughly to avoid lumps. Allow the mixture to simmer for 1-2 more minutes, and then add the extra berries for a little textural contrast. Don’t worry, the sourness of the compote is totally offset by the maple syrup (please see below).
Adapted from this recipe. Serves four folks.
- 1 1/2 cups organic almond milk
- Juice of 2 large, organic lemons
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups whole wheat (I used some soft white spring wheat leftover from our 2010 subscription to the Urban Grains CSA.)
- 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 Tbsp poppyseeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 fair trade banana
In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients except for the banana. Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Gently mix together wet with dry.
In a heated, greased waffle iron, scoop about 1/3 cup of batter and cook for 5 minutes. Serve with maple syrup, a dollop of warm berry compote, and garnish with extra sliced fruit and icing sugar tapped through fine colander à la Martha Stewart.