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  • Miranda Kohout

Hideout Hollow Trail and Blueberry Compote

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

Due to a driving app snafu, I ended up on some familiar trails I hadn't intended to visit this week. I was out in the Buffalo River Valley, so it's hard to go wrong regarding hiking choices (road choices are another matter), and it was a beautiful day, so making the best of the situation was not a stretch.

Sunlit pools full of tadpoles

I had the Hideout Hollow trail all to myself, and, while the big-draw waterfall was no more than a trickle, there's still a lot to enjoy on this wonderful little trail. The area has a neat history: it was named Hideout Hollow because it sheltered some WWI draft dodgers, known as the Slacker Gang, for several months. In exploring the waterfall area, you can definitely picture a group of young men seeking refuge here. There are also some stunning views from the bluffs, and I found a nice spot to stop for a snack, and to soak up some sunshine.

In scrambling around the "volunteer trails" that follow the bluff line, I found lots of Deer Berries.

Deer Berry: Vaccinium stamineum

While they're a dead ringer for blueberries, they're listed by foraging sites as "unpalatable." Though the quality of the berries will vary greatly from shrub to shrub, I've squished quite a few in my hands, and I can tell you they certainly don't smell good enough to eat. Best to leave them for the deer. Much better to stop by a local blueberry patch and pick up a pint (or two, or six). And then make this flavorful, versatile blueberry compote.

Simple Blueberry Compote

Blueberries are a great fruit for making compotes and jam because they have a naturally high pectin content, making additional thickeners unnecessary. While using cornstarch, arrowroot, or commercial pectin is not difficult, recipes with one less step are very appealing, especially in the summer. This compote is spectacular on pancakes, and you will definitely want to swirl some into yogurt. It's also a great match for some shortcake biscuits, paired with softly whipped cream. Feel free to add a few rosemary or thyme sprigs to the pot. I leave the sprigs whole so I can easily remove them later.

Recipes like this are the poster-child for cooking by weight, particularly in grams. It's beautiful, right? 10% sugar, 1% lemon juice... And accurately adjusting the recipe for the amount of blueberries you've got on hand is so easy.

Blueberries 1000g (about 2 pounds, plus one cup) Sugar 100g (1/2 Cup) Lemon Juice* 10g (2 tsp) Blueberries 300g (about 3 cups)

Combine the larger quantity of blueberries, the sugar, and the lemon juice in a small pot, and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat until the blueberries have just begun to break down. They'll have released a good amount of juice and the mixture will be soupy. Remove from the heat, and stir in the smaller quantity of berries. Allow to cool.

* Please use fresh lemon juice or a life-saver product called TrueLemon (crystallized lemon juice). If all you've got is lemon juice from a bottle, use another citrus fruit or skip it.

Extra-large butter pat added for.. aethsetic purposes.