Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Senses of Summer

Chanterelles are my favorite wild mushroom, and raspberries my favorite wild fruit, and in both cases it’s the aroma as much as the taste that I’m drawn to. In the case of the wild raspberries we find at Bide-A-Wee, I’m fortunate to find pleasure in a bowl full of splendid smells, because it’s right difficult to gather any quantity of berries. While we have raspberry canes in abundance, those canes don’t tend to bear a lot of fruit. We don’t have this problem--well, not a problem, exactly, more just a situation--with black raspberries or blackberries, but our red raspberries rarely seem to be well pollinated. Many blossoms simply don’t turn to fruit at all, while others form only partial berries. Here I must note that I was about to refer to the many individual sub-berries that make up a single raspberry as “dem little doots,” but mindful that my friend Teresa Marrone might be reading this, and with her splendid tome Abundantly Wild close at hand, I can report dat dem little doots is properly referred to as globular drupes. Which actually doesn’t sound all that different, when you look at it.

Anyway: When picking raspberries from our Bide-A-Wee patches, one is rarely dropping full berries into the bowl, but rather is usually gathering dem little doots--er, dem glopular droops, I mean, oh, skip it…. Even so, even with the doot-drupe situation of unfulfilled berries, I can collect a small fragrant bowl in just a short while; not enough for jams or such, but plenty enough to appreciate that wonderful smell, and to cook down a bit to mix with some of my friend Mala’s rockin’ homemade whole grain mustard as a glaze for grilled chicken, a condiment to enliven a sausage--mixed grill for another Bide-A-Wee bachelor dinner. Mary’s been subsisting on Maid-Rites this past weekend at a family reunion in, well, where would you expect to find a Maid-Rite, a.k.a., "loose meat sandwich" (Look out! Meat on the loose!)?

Has to be the great state of Iowa.

Oh, and the other thing I like about raspberries: It’s the red.

Raspberry Mustard

1 cup raspberries
1 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp grain mustard
Pinch salt
Espelette or cayenne to taste, optional

Wine or raspberry vinegar to thin the glaze, if needed

Combine the raspberries with about one tablespoon of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring for two or three minutes, just until the berries become soft. Press the berries through a strainer, scraping the bottom of the strainer to get the thicker pulp. Return the juice to the saucepan with the honey, bring to a boil, and reduce by half. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and let cool. Add the mustard and a good pinch of salt, and the chili if desired.

For a glaze for grilled meat or fowl, thin with a little vinegar (or wine, or beer) if it seems too thick. Brush on at the very end of grilling and watch carefully to prevent burning.

Text and photos copyright 2010 by Brett Laidlaw


Sylvie in Rappahannock said...

I'll confess to having a difficult time wrapping my mind around doing other things with raspberries than desserts - or eating them straight...

Trout Caviar said...

Sylvie, I guess it's a case of "chacun(e) à son gout," but I really like fruit--esp. wild fruit--in savory preparations. But, I won't deny the pleasure of eating those fragrant berries straight out of hand. I had one bowl I was going to "do something with," which somehow disappeared before I could do it.

We're not that big of dessert people here, I must admit. Your ice cream adventures of late have inspired me though, so maybe with the next batch of berries.... I think the blackcaps will be ripe when we get out to Bide-A-Wee this week. We may go looking for a hand-crank machine, some rock salt, and a big bag of ice! I do know where to get great, full-cream raw milk.

Cheers~ Brett

Fred said...

Those beans, carrots and raspberries look so good. You make me hungry at the most unusual times.


Rob said...

There is only one thing better than wild raspberries, wild blueberries. Both are near readiness to be picked. The only trouble is birds and bears. They usually pick the patch clean before we can venture north.

I've never had raspberry mustard and I must say it sounds appealing on grilled pork, just like a raspberry vinaigrette on a salad.

I just made a raspberry sorbet, only wish it were from those flavor potent wild ones. A bit off topic, but the flavor sensation of 1-1/2 pound of blackberries and 1/2 cup Sangiovese made into a sorbet is outstanding.

Teresa Marrone said...

Hey Brett--

Just got back from a week down Indiana way, taking photos, and saw your post. Yah, those "little gloobers" are individual drupes, just like a bunch of tiny cherries or plums packed together into one magnificent bundle (with edible stones, of course). Odd that your raspberries don't produce much; on our land in Silver Bay, we haul them in by the bucketful. Anyways, your chowder sounds fabulous, and I will try some next time I am in the vicinity of a North Shore fish market. (We recommend Dockside Fish Market in Grand Marais, by the way... fabulous.)


Trout Caviar said...

Fred: I trace my enthusiasm for grilling carrots back to your inspired example!

Rob: I remember picking blueberries on the rocky outcroppings near our family's cabin in Manitoba, many, many years ago now. I agree that nothing beats them; the big fat watery farmed kind don't even come close, for me. I don't bother with 'em.

Ms. Marrone, thanks for checking in. Sounds like you're having another busy summer, chasing wild fruits across the Midwest. I don't know what it is with the raspberries. The ones growing in shade seem to produce better. Re Dockside in Grand Marias, agreed, they have great stuff--herring roe, an unheralded local delicacy. But, we still mourn the loss of Mel's in Knife River....

Thanks for writing, all~ Brett