Monday, November 10, 2008


"Before white settlement and land cessions transformed Indian life, entire communities would move to the lakeshore in time for the fall wild rice harvest. Working in family groups, a man poled two women out to the family's section of the lake in a canoe, where the women, armed with two sticks, would bend the rice stalks over the canoe and knock off kernels until the canoe was full. On shore, the rice was sun-dried or parched over low fires and then pounded and winnowed. Today, double-ended rowboats are often used in place of canoes and instead of the traditional pairing of a man and two women, pairs of men or women now harvest rice as a team. "

~ November sky and countryside
"Wild Rice is actually a grain, very similar to barley. The cooked product produces a rich, nutty and earthy taste. The perfect base for this satisfying soup."
A November treat from a favorite cookbook,
THE NORTHWOODS TABLE (Minocqua, Wisconsin)
1/4 pound sweet (unsalted) butter
1 diced onion
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups cooked wild rice*
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
2 cups heavy cream
  • In 4-quart stockpot, melt butter and saute onion until translucent. Add flour to make a light brown roux. Slowly add chicken stock and blend thoroughly. Add cooked wild rice, sherry and heavy cream.
  • Simmer 15 minutes or until heated through. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. (6-8 servings)
Note: For added interest, add any of the following: 1/2 cup chopped ham, 1 cup sliced wild mushrooms or 1/2 cup grated carrots.
* WILD RICE: 1 cup uncooked wild rice yields 4 cups cooked. In a fine strainer, rinse rice under cold water. Place rice in heavy saucepan and add 4 cups of water for each cup of rice. Heat to boiling, cover and simmer over low heat for 40-50 minutes, until grains begin to split or rice is tender.
"Manomin" or wild rice is an essential part of Ojibway culture, and as described above, figures prominently in Ojibway Oral History. The harvesting of wild rice has always been an important part of life for Ojibway people. In addition to the contribution of food, "Manomin" has played a key role in the social life of Ojibway people; as harvest time provided an opportunity to visit with nearby relatives and friends in neighboring bands. Wild rice has always been regarded by the Ojibway as the sacred gift of their chosen ground. Any effort today to over-harvest or commercialize wild rice by Non-Indians has met with failure. Wild rice has always been generous to those who gather and use her in a respectful way. Today, many Ojibway families still harvest "Manomin" just as our ancestors did; one person steers the canoe and another sweeps the rice into the canoe and beats it with a stick, knocking the husks to the floor of the canoe.


TYRA Hallsénius Lindhe said...

It's almost like risotto, yummie. I have tried wild rice just once before but it did not look like barley, I wonder what that was then? Beautiful photos, wonderful colours Joey.

Anonymous said...

Simply beautiful Joey.

Katarina said...

Joey, that's interesting information. It's incredible how people in the old days had to work hard in order to obtain their food. We often whine and complain and take things for granted - at least I do sometimes. I must stop that immediately!

Roses and Lilacs said...

What an interesting subject. I enjoy learning about American Indian culture. And another wonderful recipe. I'm still planning to do the blooming onion tonite or Wed.

Jane O' said...

I recently wrote about wild rice also. This is a new soup to me. Thanks so much for the recipe and the history lesson.

Pat said...

Pretty neat.
You made a rice recipe interesting.

marmee said...

this history on harvesting rice is so intriguing. i wonder if you could see it going on now. thank you for sharing from your heart and culture, the recipe sounds wonderful.

joey said...

Thank you, dear Tyra ~ Wild rice is a taste treat for the palate, not only year round but especially this time of year, celebrating Thanksgiving and meeting of the great indigenous peoples of the Americas that inhabited this beautiful land, part of my heritage.

Hello, dear Karen, and thank you.

Thank you, Katarina. There is much to learn about food and historic people who bring this wonderful staple to the table.

Hi Marnie ~ thank you for your kind comment and do hope you enjoy the taste treat.

Jane Marie ~ this soup is a bit rich but delicious in small portions. I crave wild rice not only in cold summer salads but especially this time of year. It's bold nutty flavor compliments foods of the season.

Thanks Patsi ~ always fun to learn ...each bite then carries a special meaning.

Marmee ~ how I wish I could see wild rice harvested! Also, a day spent in cranberry bogs, another seasonal treat I can never get enough of!

Anonymous said...

Brown and Blue together are my two favorite color combos for my home. Your picture is so interesting. I cook very often with wild rice. I like the texture and the fiber;) Thank you for the recipe.

beckie said...

Joey, I knew a litlle of the history of wild rice, but have learned more here. One of the reasons we look forward to cool weather is soup. Hearty, filling, fattening soups! One of our favorite is wild rice with shrimp and mushrooms. I basically fix it like you adding sauteed mushrooms, shrimp and onions at the very end. Great fall pictures!

Anonymous said...

Hi Joey, this is a fascinating story and makes the simple food of rice soup have the greater importance it deserves. I have only had wild rice mixed in with regular rice, will have to try it straight up! Putting sherry and cream in anything is a taste treat. :-)

joey said...

Hi Anna ~ I love wild rice and use it often also; a dream would be to watch it harvested. These shots were taken last Fri near Wisconsin Dells on our way home.

Sounds delicious, Beckie, I often use mushrooms. Thanks for sharing ... must give it a try.

Thank you, Frances. Do hope you give wild rice a try. It takes longer to cook like many brown rices but I think you'll enjoy the rich nutty and earthy flavor, especially this time of year. It's wonderful with the addition of fruits & nuts.

Marysol said...

Love wild rice, but haven't had it in years.
Joey, your recipe sounds so simple and so good! Oh, I can almost hear my hips protesting already, but I know how to shut'em up, I'm going to make a huge batch of this soup. Thanks my friend!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great recipe. Wild Rice is delicious.

From research I've done with Ojibwe harvesters at the Bad River Reservation (on Highway 2 10 miles east of Ashland or about 20 miles west of Hurley, WI)you really need to deal with tribal harvesters to get the best rice (you can buy it at the convenience store at the Bad River Casino). Be careful about those places that want to sell you 4 pounds for $10-12 --that's usually the black variety, commercially grown in MN they tell me -- the best is the beige-brown colored wild rice from the sacred ricing beds near the Bad River area.

A couple years ago I found a delicious variation on your recipe offered by the chef at the Bell Street Tavern on Madeline Island. Instead of the optional ham you mentioned, he used locally smoked whitefish -- and it was fantastic. The texture and flavors were so good on a cool Superior day!

Again - thanks -

Gary -

joey said...

Keep on movin' fast after sipping, Marysol ... that way the calories can't catch up with you :)

Welcome Gary and thank you for the informative comment. I had no clue regarding the different colors of wild rice! Though only able to spend 1 night passing through your beautiful state, a few summers ago we visited my cousin on Lake la Coterie and attended the festive Ojibwe Pow Wow, a dream come true! We are both so fortunate to be nestled near our precious Great Lakes.