Sunday morning.....it has been a lazy one for me so far. In this heat it seems only natural to move slowly in tune with nature and have a leisurely breakfast. Only on Sundays do I have time to truly enjoy the morning, kick back and move to my own drummer. Today I felt like some experimentation, so, turned to a recent episode on Food Network.
When watching a grilling segment on Bobby Flay's show the other day his guest The Rugged Dude made a grilled bannock that reminded me of having bannock cooked by the First Nations people during the salmon run on the Fraser River years ago. It reminded me of "the camping days" and L'il Burnt Toast twisting it on a stick and cooking it over an open fire her sunny little face slathered in butter. It reminded me of a First Nations restaurant on the Westside that serves up bannock as a breakfast treat, warm with a number of toppings. It also reminded me that I need to make my own bannock at home as I have planned to do for sometime. If you live in Canada, especially, northern Canada, there’s a good chance that you’ve at least heard of bannock. And, there’s an even better chance that you’ve eaten it.
Bannock is a simple bread, generally leavened with baking powder rather than yeast. It can be baked, fried in a pan, deep-fried or baked on a stick over an open fire. It is one of those simple dishes that transcends cultures and has become ingrained in Canadian folklore. This common bond of food between people is a good place to start to learn about each other’s culture. Bannock is a favourite food of First Nations people and all Canadians.
I have always believed that bannock is a traditional First Nations food that was adapted by European fur traders. In fact, it's the other way around. In many parts of North America, Native people had no access to flour prior to the arrival of European traders, although some flour substitutes existed, like wild turnips or corn which were dried and ground to a powder.
Bannock actually has its culinary roots in Scotland. The Scots originated this simple bread made with oats, and some fancier variations. Do a search on traditional Scottish cuisine and you'll find bannock mentioned frequently. You'll probably find information on Selkirk Bannock, old and famous enough to have its own name. It was a fancy bannock served only on holidays.
Because bannock could be quickly prepared from readily available ingredients, and because these ingredients lasted a long time without spoiling, bannock became a staple of the European fur traders and subsequently, the native people also. Of course, canoeists and other wilderness travellers have also adopted bannock as a staple of back country travel.
You can make it fancier by cutting it into rounds as you would biscuits. Why not dip it into a sugar/cinnamon mixture or spread it with Nutella. You can add blueberries, cranberries, walnuts, raisins, bits of pre-cooked, crispy bacon… whatever you like. It’s all so good! I just can’t help putting butter on my bannock.
No matter what this Sunday holds for you ENJOY!!!!!
1 cup white flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/3 cup or more cold water
1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Mix dry ingredients thoroughly then rub in butter until well incorporated. Add blueberries and stir. Add enough water to make a thick dough. Form into 1-inch thick cakes and place in the bottom of a greased cast iron frying pan. Cook on low heat until done on both sides, or prop the pan in the coals of the campfire. For a variety add dry fruits, raisins, blueberries, etc. As I mentioned above, you can also bake it or grill it over gas heat, wood or charcoal. It’s fun, especially for kids on a camping trip, to wrap it around a stick and cook it over an open fire. Just keep it back a bit from the direct heat and keep an eye on it, as it’ll burn quickly if it’s too hot.
(For native style use half white flour and half corn flour).
To avoid the mess when clean up is a problem, measure out individual portions into a Ziploc and knead until done.
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