This past November, Roxanne Kent joined the Prairie Research Kitchen team as the Indigenous Research Assistant, where she uses her acquired culinary skills to support product development projects. Roxanne graduated Culinary Arts in February 2021 with honours and won various awards, including one for a recipe she developed for Manitoba Pork Producers. She is currently working on an individual research project highlighting indigenous and local ingredients.
“I was asked to create a recipe for something to share with guests at the Prairie Research Kitchen. I knew I could come up with pretty much anything, so it was hard to narrow it down. I finally decided on creating a blueberry sauce,” said Roxanne.
Initially, she was thinking about potentially creating crackers or chips as whatever she made had to be shelf stable. Roxanne decided to build off the mustard she had previously created, to develop a rich, flavourful blueberry sauce.
While developing the recipe, Roxanne wanted something that would pair well with gamey meats such as bison, duck, and venison, or could be used to top toast and pancakes. The recipe features wild blueberries, a blend of birch and maple syrup for sweetness, and an infusion of sweetgrass.
“Sweetgrass is used as traditional medicine but has also been used as tea or in a marinade. I worked with Research Chef, Kyle Andreasen, to get his perspective on how to incorporate this ingredient. We first toasted the sweetgrass, then steeped it in vinegar.”
After developing and finalizing the recipe, it came time to give the blueberry sauce a name. The name is connected to Roxanne’s lineage – she is Ojibway from the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in northwestern, Ontario. In Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) the name of Roxanne’s blueberry sauce, Wenoodizii Magan Miinan Apagajiganan, means: ”The rich flavour of blueberry that you can put on top of something.”
This name was selected by Corey Ralph Whitford, instructor, Indigenous Language, School of Indigenous Education at RRC.
Roxanne prepared an initial sampling of her sauce with meatballs for Corey. After finalizing the recipe, she served the sauce with a duck dish to help him experience the flavour.
“Jamie Chahine, Indigenous Research Liaison at the Research Kitchen, brought me tobacco and asked if I would help select the name for Roxanne’s blueberry sauce. Experiencing the flavour helped inform how it would be best described in the Anishinaabemowin language,” said Corey. “Forty-five years of language and memories of dipping bannock in jam and sauce with my grandmother came together in naming this sauce.”
Food is often part of a larger experience, helping connect people and foster community.
Connecting with community is especially important to Roxanne. In addition to a Culinary Arts diploma, she obtained a social work degree in 2015. One of her long-term goals is to work with low-income families and teach them how to cook nutritious meals. She enjoys the challenges of creating and developing new recipes, and finds it rewarding to be able to apply what she has learned in her craft.
Learn more about Roxanne’s craft, her blueberry sauce, and other projects she’s worked on with the Prairie Research Kitchen during the Indigenous Food Business Stories webinar on May 12.
Wenoodizii Magan Miinan Apagajiganan Food Pairings
Roxanne’s wild blueberry sauce makes for a versatile topping with many savoury and sweet applications. She recommends pairing with gamey meats such as bison, duck, and venison, or pork chops. For sweet pairings, she suggests topping bannock or ice cream.
Wild blueberries, sugars (cane sugar, Canadian birch syrup, maple syrup, maltodextrin), vinegar, pectin, sweetgrass, salt, sage.
Per 2 tablespoons (24 g)
|Calories 35||% Daily Value*|
|Fat 0 g|
Saturated 0 g
|Carbohydrate 8 g|
Fibre 1 g
Sugar 6 g
|Protein 0 g|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|Sodium 20 mg||1%|
|Potassium 20 mg||1%|
|Calcium 10 mg||1%|
|Iron 0.1 mg||1%|