Maine Author Teaches Benefits of Wild Blueberries
There’s something about being a Maine wild blueberry farmer that makes you want to spread the word about the unique fruit to which you have devoted your life. That’s just the way it is with Gail J. VanWart.
Her most recent book gets the word out in the form of a children’s book. It’s called Ellery Didn’t Know That, a charming story about a bear’s adventures searching for wild blueberries. The tale tells of Ellery Bear, an adventurous, amiable creature who pays a visit to a Maine family and in doing so, sends the very worthy message to young readers that Maine lowbush wild blueberries are a natural, native fruit rich in attributes.
VanWart lives in Dedham, Maine on Peaked Mountain Farm, where she maintains the native Wild Blueberry fields as a proud fourth generation steward. The author and publisher named her main character “Ellery” for her grandfather who lived and cared for the Dedham Farm before her. The book sends a perfectly delicious and healthy message with a delightfully furry messenger to help send it.
VanWart’s previous book, Life Raked In is a collection of poems, recipes and thoughts on life inspired by the Wild Blueberry fields on the family farm. She is a self-proclaimed huge wild blueberry fan, dedicated to spreading the word about wild and the wild lifestyle. (You can buy the book and see her appearance on Good Day Maine).
Gail VanWart’s Mid-Winter Treat: Wild Blueberry Gingerbread
VanWart was kind enough to share a favorite recipe with Wild About Health from Life Raked In. Her Wild Blueberry Gingerbread is an ideal mid-winter treat that uses frozen wild blueberries to achieve gingerbread nirvana. Enjoy!
Gail’s Wild Blueberry Gingerbread
2 cups flour
½ cup shortening
½ t. salt
1 cup sugar
½ t. ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1 t baking soda
3 T. molasses
1 cup sour milk*
1 cup Wild Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
3 T. sugar
to sprinkle on top before baking
to sprinkle on top after baking
½ cup fresh Wild Blueberries
for garnish, if available
Cream shortening and add salt and sugar gradually. Add unbeaten egg and beat until light and fluffy. In separate bowl, mix flour, ginger, and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix baking soda with sour milk, stir until soda is dissolved. Then add dry ingredients and sour milk mixture alternately to the creamed mixture. Add the molasses and fold in the cup of Wild Blueberries. Turn into a greased and floured pan (either a 9” x 9” square or 10” round pan works well). Sprinkle top with 3 tablespoons sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. When done, turn onto rack to cool. When cool, place on a plate and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and garnish with fresh blueberries.
*If you don’t have sour milk on hand, add 2 tablespoons vinegar to one cup of whole milk.