The one and only time I rafted down the American River was truly memorable.
It wasn’t just the camaraderie of friends laughing and paddling together in three rafts down the relatively calm part of the river.
It was also the wild blackberry bushes our guide had us maneuver our way to near the shore as we waited for the other rafts to catch up to us.
Truth be told, we were all secretly wishing those other folks would just take their sweet time, because we were as content as can be, reaching over the side of our raft to pluck berries that we devoured voraciously.
Nowadays, I get my blackberries from the farmers market or grocery store. Maybe it’s not as adventurous. But it is convenient, especially as blackberries are abundant even through early fall.
In fact, I eagerly picked some up recently specifically to highlight in “Blackberry & White Chocolate Muffins.”
Activist, historian and food writer Toni Tipton-Martin’s book, of which I received a review copy, contains more than 100 recipes. But it is so much more than a cookbook. It is a resounding testament to the ingenuity, fortitude, passion and perseverance of African-American cooks throughout the ages.
When you think of African-American cuisine, you might automatically think soul food. But Tipton-Martin shows the real breadth of the cuisine. With hundreds of historical cookbooks she’s collected over the years, she combed through recipes to get at the heart of how black cooks have richly shaped our culinary landscape through the ages.
The result are recipes that are both modern and timeless, such as “Curried Meat Pies,” “Jamaican Jerk Ribs,” “Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken Wings,” “Baked Ham Glazed with Champagne,” and “Caramel Cake.”
What’s more, with many of the recipes, she also includes the actual historical recipe that inspired it with its succinct measurements and directions. By doing so, she connects the past to the present, making you really feel as if you are carrying on a cultural and culinary tradition whenever you take the time and effort to make one of these recipes.