Montana is known for being God’s Country, and if you have ever had the opportunity to hike in the beautiful mountains of Montana you understand why. I have been awaiting the opportunity to take a good hike in the mountains this summer. I have taken a few short hikes close to town which have been wonderful. Our church had a hiking group this summer that met on Thursdays to explore different trails in the Mission and Swan Valley. Each week, I anticipated the upcoming hike, but unfortunately my work schedule and family events did not afford me the chance to join them.
Last week I realized summer was close to an end with school starting on the 31st and cooler weather on the horizon. I really want to create some fun gluten free huckleberry recipes. As my second cookbook nears the finish line, I realized that I cannot be from Montana and publish my another cookbook without huckleberry recipes. That would be disgraceful!
Huckleberries are like gold in Montana. Huckleberry lovers will go to great lengths to keep their picking spots secret. I am a city girl living in Montana, so I would never venture in the mountains by myself. A friend of mine confided her secret spot to me, but said it was quite the drive and quite the hike. She and her husband were kind enough to invite my daughter and I as well as another friend of mine and her daughter to go with them.
Many of the hiking spots around here are on tribal land so we had to stop at Wal-Mart to get a tribal permit. At that time, my daughter realized her tennis shoes she hadn’t worn all summer were too tight so she went and picked out an inexpensive pair of white shoes. My friends showed up to pick us up and saw that I was wearing my favorite light blue jeans and new sweatshirt and my daughter in her new white shoes and new sweatshirt. They couldn’t help but laugh at us city girls. They warned us we may come home stained with purple huckleberry juice, but it was too late to change so we took our chances.
I cannot share our spot with you as they made me promise to keep it a secret. However, I will tell you it was in the beautiful mission mountains of Montana. We drove straight up a not so safe windy road with a huge cliff drop off on the side for over an hour. When the beat up truck couldn’t go any further we parked. Both sets of friends are experienced hikers and came equipped with their bear spray and safety gear. It was definitely reassuring being with experienced hikers especially since we were smack dab in the middle of bear country.
After a 2 hour trek straight up the mountain we came to the ginormous huckleberry patch. We were in heaven. Not only were we out in the wide open spaces of nature with an amazing view of the lake and nearby mountainsides we were knee deep in big ripe hucks. We didn’t stumble upon any bears but we did cross over bear poop. It was hot pink and filled with huckleberries. Luckily it was a day or two old.
It 4 ½ hours to get a gallon of hucks. Now I know why they are so expensive and realize they are worth every penny. We truly enjoyed every minute of the experience including the conversation with friends, enjoying nature, eating the hucks and the evidence on our hands proved it. After we each gathered a gallon of these precious berries, we continued up to the top of the mountain. My daughter and I can literally say we had a mountaintop experience. Both Gracie and I agreed this had to be the best day of our entire summer.
The next morning we enjoyed a delicious batch of huckleberry pancakes. I washed the rest of the huckleberries and froze them in portioned amounts to experiment with. Tonight I was hungry for something tasty. In the amount of time it took my girls to prepare a mixed berry with huckleberry smoothie, I was able to throw together a quick batch of Huckleberry Scones. Mama’s new scone mix made this easy to prepare and oh so delicious. I will continue over the next two weeks to create some fun recipes, but you will have to wait to the new cookbook comes out to enjoy those.
Thanks Shea and Robyn for blessing Gracie and I with such a fabulous day! We hope to join you again next year.
Easy and Delicious Huckleberry Scones
1 3/4 cup Mama’s Scone Mix
3/4 cup cream
3/4 cup frozen huckleberries
1 Tbsp. of sugar
In a mixing bowl add scone mix. With mixer running on low speed, pour in cream. Fold in huckleberries. With lightly floured hands remove dough and press into an 8 inch circle about 3/4 inch thick, leaving slightly thicker in the center. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Score the dough into six wedges.
Bake at 400 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Serve warm.