Wild Blueberry Platz

July7

Happy Sunday morning readers.  We were in the city this summer weekend which as you know is very unusual for us.  Yesterday was a perfect summer day-a time for baking and writing and visiting into the wee hours with family and good friends that I don’t see often enough over the summer.  The weekend in town, afforded me the opportunity to write most of this special blog post.  I am honoured to be a part of the Canadian Food Experience Project  which began June 7 2013.  As we (participants) share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity. There were 58 participants in the first round up!  This month’s challenge was to write about a regional Canadian food and I choose wild blueberries for a number of reasons: their exemplary nutritional value, their low cost and their distinct connection to the places they grow here in Manitoba and on the Canadian prairies. 

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The beach areas on the east and west side of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba were populated by various ethnic groups that are like the patchwork swatches that make up the provincial quilt.  The French holidayed at Paige Albert, Jewish persons at Winnipeg Beach, the Anglo-Saxons at Victoria Beach, Icelanders at Gimli and the Germans at Lester Beach.  Our family are not German but we have been welcomed into and have been part of the lake crowd at Lester Beach since the mid-seventies when my brother Tom and his wife bought a little two bedroom cottage.  Fast forward almost forty years and there are now approximately 38 of us who take turns staying at various wooden beach houses within a one block radius.  There are some streets where you can hear German spoken amongst the seniors who still enjoy the forest and the sandy beach.  As you walk along the lanes the cottage families are identified by signs such as the one at the end of our road “The Regiers and the birds live here”.

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Friends of ours who have a cabin close by but who we also know from the city, renewed their wedding vows one summer on the beach and then hosted a huge party in the yard.  At supper time an old metal drum that had been split and made into a barbeque was fired up and there were hamburger patties and various sausages grilled up.  A number of salad and accompaniments were contributed by various guests, as well as a bevy of desserts.  There was one dessert that came in various fruit variations: peach, apple, rhubarb and blueberry.  It was called “platz” and it was the most divine dessert that I had ever tasted.

I am not a sweet lover but prefer desserts like this one that are doughy, and buttery with natural sweetness from the fruit and just a hint of sugar to crunch up the crumb topping.  “Platz” is German for coffee cake and many Mennonite homes have one available in case family, friends or neighbours drop in for coffee and a visit.  From my first taste, I was hooked and now make platz on a regular basis.  I love to bake one up in the summer when fresh fruit is at its peak.  The simple ingredients are always at hand and frozen fruit produces an equally fine result.  I originally found the recipe in a book entitled “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” but have modified it over the years to use half brown sugar and even sugar substitutes.

Wild blueberries are plentiful throughout Manitoba and especially in the lake district.  I love to blueberry picking.  Actually, I have to be honest…I love the results of blueberry picking but not the act of picking itself.  Wood ticks are an issue as well as bears, not to mention poison ivy, the risk of getting lost in the bush and coping with the backache, heat, thirst and mosquitoes.  What I am trying to say is, picking is no fun at all but the results make the difficult task more than worth it.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Wild Blueberry Platz
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Mennonite
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 c of sugar (or substitute brown, Splenda or Monkfruit Sugar for ½ the white sugar)
  • ¾ c of room temperature butter
  • Scoop out 1¼ c of the above and set it aside for the topping (once it has been blended with a pastry blender).
  • To the balance of the mixture that is left, add:
  • 2 t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 beaten egg
  • ¾ c milk soured with 1 T vinegar
Instructions
  1. Mix baking powder and soda into dry ingredients.
  2. Add beaten egg and soured milk.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Spread into a greased 9 x 13 pan.
  5. Sprinkle with 2 c of blueberries.
  6. Drop crumb mixture over blueberries.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 375 oven.

The time for wild blueberry picking is not yet upon us, as it was a very late spring on the prairies.  But I have noticed an abundance of plants and flowers as I have meandered in the forest, so this summer’s crop is sure to be abundant.  In the mean time, because we so love the nutritious fruit, I always have a pint on hand.  But because I live in a busy house, my plans sometimes are foiled by a hungry family member looking for something to have with their morning granola.  In that case, I go to plan B because I always have frozen berries as well.  When all is said and done, the taste is very close.

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Kath’s hint:  I made a double batch this morning and then split it between three smaller sized pans.  With one I varied the fruit to mango and banana and then added coconut to the crumb mix.  This will go with us to a tropical pool party this evening.  One of the berry cakes will accompany us to a back yard graduate lunch this afternoon.  The third is to just have on hand.  It stays fresh on the counter for a day, can go into the fridge for a couple of days or go immediately into the freezer for future entertaining.

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Kath’s quote: “I remember his burlesque pretense that morning of an inextinguishable grief when I wonder that I had never eaten blueberry cake before, and how he kept returning to the pathos of the fact that there should be a region of the earth where blueberry cake was unknown.”-William Dean Howells (1894)

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Love-that is all.

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4 Comments to

“Wild Blueberry Platz”

  1. Avatar July 12th, 2013 at 1:59 pm Lyndsay Wells Says:

    I love being part of The Canadian Food Experience Project and I loved this blog as Lake Winnipeg is very close to my heart. I grew up in Manitoba and now live on Vancouver Island, but my entry this month also focused on Lake Winnipeg and my memories of “going to the lake” – everything was better there! I have saved your recipe as I adore anything with blueberries!

    All the best,
    Lyndsay ~ The Kitchen Witch


  2. Avatar July 16th, 2013 at 12:46 pm The Canadian Food Experience Project: Round Up Two Says:

    […] at Food Musings from Winnipeg, Manitoba, has a beach house at Lester Beach, Manitoba. She writes, “The wild […]


  3. Avatar July 16th, 2013 at 7:28 pm Kathryne Says:

    Thanks for dropping in Lyndsay. All the best over the summer months.


  4. Avatar July 19th, 2013 at 10:56 am A Canadian Foodie Says:

    Very interesting, isn’t it, how immigrants logically cluster in areas and influence the food scene. I love berry picking as I am a greedy primordial woman focused on getting great food for free – bears, bees and all.
    :)
    Valerie
    (Never picked blueberries, however…)


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