Monday, December 26, 2011


I'm stuffed. There was barely enough room in my belly for ham and cornbread stuffing omelette this morning.
Barely...heehee. I know, it sounds strange but it was soooo good. Especially with a good zapping of srirachi.  This is now known in our house as my "Birthday Omelette" because TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!
I am 38 freaking years old!!!!

I'm recovering from 48 hours of gluttony.  My 38 year old belly is stuffed beyond capacity. There's a lot packed in there....
filled beyond capacity

We started off with a Feastmas Eve feed at our friend Moe's. We had a casual get-together to share the loche/burbot that our friend Juan caught earlier this week.  It's the camo fish below.
loche and coney
Loche is a easy fish to clean and process. The skin peels right off and the meat pulls right off the spine. The skin is smooth with tiny scales. It almost feels like an eel. There aren't any finicky bones to deal with, making it a ease to fillet. You can cook it up whole if you feel like it but most folks around here cut the meat into chunks and boil it up.  I prefer to pan-fry it with a bit of butter and oil and serve with a squeeze of lemon.

There are three rules to a proper pan fry.
Firstly, don't crowd the pan. Or else you'd end up sweating the fish and sweaty fish is about as appetizing as Santa's sweaty jockstrap.
Secondly, don't mess with the fish once you put it in the pan. Give it a good minutes. You'll see the flesh start turning opaque around the edge. You only want to turn the pieces over once.
Thirdly, don't overcook the fish.

I basically spent much of the evening frying up pan after pan of loche for everybody. As soon as I filled up the plate, it was gone.
Thank goodness my dear, dashingly handsome, darling husband took pity on me and fed me as I cooked round after round.

 It's really mild, firm flesh. Many compare it to lobster. It's so good that even my freshwater fish hating darling husband liked it.
The fish also has one of the best livers I have every had. It's sweet and rich and everything good that a liver ought to be. I keep planning to save some to make a pate with local cranberries but it's so much easier to just roast it up.  I threw in the liver with the egg sac (another bit of yummy heaven) into the over for 30 minutes at 350F.

This the egg sacs (top) and loche liver (bottom) in the raw form:

All roasted up (liver on the left, eggs on the right):

Yum nom nom nom. Life is good. I know the idea of eating fish liver and egg sacs is kinda weird to most people. That's ok. That just means more for me!

The following evening we hosted a huge Christmas refugee dinner. Pretty much it was all our friends that stuck around Inuvik for the holidays and didn't have family to share dinner with. I woke up at 8am and started cooking (and nibbling) by 8:20am and kept going all day. I managed to squeeze in a much needed walk with the girls to work through my day-long nibblefest.

I made roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cornbread & apple stuffing, buckets of gravy and cranberry sauce made with local cranberries. Friends brought over bumble berry pie and sugar pie (otherwise known as my Kryptonite), homemade maple syrup fudge, baked sweet potatoes and ham. I also made traditional Danish dishes including rice pudding to start off the evening, braised red cabbage and Kevin even whipped up a dish of candied potatoes. I told if he wanted them, he'd have to make them. Not that I don't like them. I just hate peeling those tiny potatoes. I'm so lazy :P

Just looking at all that food is making my belly ache. And it doesn't even include the all the chocolates and desserts that I ate. Ahhh! Sugar pie is my nemesis! But it's so yummy.

Here are some happy Feastmas puppy photos:

Happy Yummy Holidays everybody!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Snotty Fish and Green Grouse

I'm finally taking some time off. Yippeee!!!!!
The girls and I spent last Sunday with our friends Moe and Bailey on Airport Lake.
As mentioned before, the sun has said good-bye for the year. However a few fingers of sunlight made it above the horizon. This is about as bright as it gets around here this time of year:
Airport Lake
It's was lovely and relatively quiet.  There hasn't been much snow yet, making for easy walking across the lake to pick up another canine friend, Allie.
After a good hike around, we retired to Moe's cozy cabin to put our feet up by the fire and enjoy a nip of scotch (or two).
Cozy fire and drinky-drinks :)

Allie and Moe

Loulou, Bailey, Lyra demonstrate the dog nap techniques

Loulou and Lyra
While we were all enjoying the cozy cabin, our friends Juan, Jake and Bill were out ice fishing for the day.
I had foolishly said that I would cook up the fish if they actually caught any. Jake had his line in for seconds when he caught his first bite!  Well, they caught a good number of inconnu (or coney as folks call it up here) and even a couple of much coveted losh (burbot).

The next night, I made good on my word and cooked up a coney (Stenodus leucichthys) over at Moe's.

Losh and Coney
The fish were still frozen when I got to them because somebody left them outside until that afternoon.  I won't name names but somebody owes me a big one.

I had the unenviable task of thawing cleaning, degutting and prepping this monster.
If you haven't ever had the pleasure of cleaning a coney, it's one slimey beast. No amount of rinsing seems to be able to deslime it. Just roll up your sleeves and plan to take a good, long shower afterwards. I had to give it a warm water bath to thaw it a bit and the sink was soon filled with fish slime water. EWWWWWWWW! It's like a someone wrung out a whole kindergarten class of snot-nose kids into the sink.

Normally, I like to keep the head and tails on my fish but this was so big that I wouldn't have been able to fit it in Moe's oven if I didn't decapitate it.
After degutting and cleaning, I stuffed it with one thinly sliced onion, lemon, a bunch of parsley and liberally seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Stuffed coney

Proud fisherman

Coney with Chimichurri

I roasted it at 425F for and 60 minutes wrapped in foil. I estimated 10 minutes of cooking for each inch plus another 20 minutes for the fact it was still kinda frozen. I wasn't worried about it drying out. Coney is a fairly oily fish and by roasting it wrapped in foil there's little danger of it drying out.
The flesh is nice and firm for a freshwater fish. It is one of the more mild-flavoured fish around here.

Coney/Inconnu have been a staple of the local aboriginal populations here traditionally.  It's not only a main food source for the people but also their dog teams. Much of this fish is enjoyed dried or smoked, even today.  The oiliness makes it good candidate for these preservation techniques. If you are going to roast it indoors, be prepared to live in a house that smells like neglected aquarium. You've been warned.
We had a bunch of friends over to enjoy the fish. Even with a table full of eaters, we only managed to finish half the coney. That was a big fish!

I served the fish with a homemade chimichurri (unrecipe below). This is my go-to sauce for the week. It's a Argentinian sauce that is used mainly for bbq meats. However, I use it for everything. It's great as a marinade and dressing. A dollop on roasted veggies is yummy. I even like it in scrambled eggs. This has caused my Latino friends to give me funny looks but I heck, I don't give them crap for putting soy sauce on a perfectly good bowl of steamed rice so they can keep their funny looks to themselves!

There are variations all over South America and each region will boast that their is the best. It's culinary chauvanism at it's best. I enjoy it all!

A few days later, I served it with some local grouse. Even wonder whatever happened to these poor buggers from my '6 grouse, 5 shots' entry?
I marinaded some of the grouse breasts in a couple spoonfuls of chimchurri sauce for a few days and then seared them up.

I served them with a healthy dollop of chimichurri sauce. The fresh garlicy sauce complimented the earthy grouse meat very well. I served it with a side of brussel sprouts, sugar snap peas cooked up with bacon. Yum nom nom nom.

Today, I've gotta brine the turkey for X'mas and get some of the baking out of the way. Oh yeah and wrap the gifts and clean the house.

Aren't I supposed to be taking time off??!?!

Chimichurri Sauce Unrecipe

It's basically a herb, oil and acid sauce, much like a pesto (don't tell the Latinos I called it a pesto.)

Choose a couple bunches of fresh herbs (you can use parsley on its own):

Choose your acid:
sherry vinegar
red wine vinegar
white wine vinegar
lime juice
lemon juice
You can use one or combinations of the above to make about 1/2 cup in total.

Rest of the ingredients:
5-8 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup of olive oil

Other additions (optional)
dried oregano
ground cumin
hot pepper flakes
hot sauce
diced onion
tomatoes and peppers (will give you a red version)

Toss everything into container and blend with a hand blender.
You can also do this in a food processor.
You don't want it to be completely pureed. Just blended and chunky.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Some folks like theirs more acidic, other more garlicy. It's your chimichurri sauce, you can add sugar plum fairies for all I care.

I let mine sit for a few days in the fridge for the flavours to meld. Serve with whatever the hell you want.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

who turned off the lights?

We are well into our season of dark. The sun said 'see ya later, alligator' a week ago.
It's not so bad. We get a couple of hours of dusk in the afternoon when the edges of the sun's light manages to escape above the horizon.

So far no signs of oozing into a puddle of depression or turning into  an epic emotional volcano (well, no more than usual). I am feeling a tad rundown and frayed around the edges but that has to do more with the fact that I've been working the last 5 weeks without a day off than solar abandonment issues.

I think the reason I've be able to keep the hairy SADD monster at bay is because I spend 2 hours every night walking and playing with the pups under the sodium glow of moonlight and surrounded by the stark beauty of an arctic winterland. The fresh air, though cold is crisp and pure. As my friend Moe says, the air is so clean you want to eat it.

Oh yeah, and spiced Frangelico toddies (recipe below) help too :P

Of course, it helps to have a pair of baboons to snoogle with all night.

My dear, dashingly handsome, darling husband has been putting together videoettes of this past year's escapades to keep me smiling. It's awesome! It's like having my own personal video production team.!

Here's a videoette of what I was up to last spring:

Spiced Frangelico Toddy
serves one slightly hypothermic dog walker

1 generous ounce  of Frangelico
1 cup of boiling water
squeeze of lemon
sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

1) Toss ingredients into your favorite mug.
2) Gather your puppies around you.
3) Snuggle under the arm your dear, dashingly handsome, darling husband.
4) Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hump Day Curry

It's was another crazy week up here.

I've been running meetings all week with spillover onto Sunday and Monday.Blah!  By Wednesday I was already losing steam. A week stuck in meetings means a week of work and emails piling up only desk. Double Blah!

On top of that I'm supposed to make a dessert buffet for 60 for our office X'mas party this Saturday. No, of course I hadn't started baking anything. Heck, by the time I get home, walk the pups, make dinner and clean up, it's 9pm by the time I get a chance to put my tired feet up and I don't feel like pulling a Martha Stewart outta my butt!

I'd figured I'd at least cut out having to cook for the rest of the week and make big pot of curry. Not just any curry, Ptarmigan Curry.

A recipe? As far as I'm concerned, the best curry is basically a stir-fry with curry powder instead of soy sauce. And no, I don't have a recipe for stir-fry. The best stir-fry, like the best curry, is a quick, ruthless discussion between you and your fridge.

  "Psst, what you got on your shelves, Mr. Fridge."
"A bunch of spinach handful of baby carrots, half an onion, half decapitated crown of broccoli and 2 sad mushrooms."
"I'll take everything but the mushrooms."
"That'll make them even sadder."
"Too bad. No room for sad veggies."

I'll admit that the of the veggies used in tonight's curry came off the veggie tray from my meeting today. A handful of carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and celery. What do you want from me? I hate watching food, especially perfectly fine veggies go to waste.
When broccoli is $6 a bunch and potato is going for $20 a bag of potatoes, I'm shameless.
And anyways, it also already cut up and ready to go.

I also had a bunch of kale and cilantro in the fridge. I added a can of chickpeas foraged from the backwoods of my pantry.

  I seasoned the ptarmigan breasts with salt, pepper and curry powder and seared them for 2 minutes on each side over med-high heat. I cut them into bite-sized pieces and added them to the curry. You want the breasts on the bloody side of rare because it'll cook a bit more when you add it to the curry.
Here's the end result:

Throughout the week, I'll just keep tweaking it to make variations. One night I'll 'souped' it up with some coconut milk. Another night, I'll added a more tomatoes. It's great with a range of starches from quinoa to rice noodles to being stuffed into a wrap for lunch.

Hurray for Hump Day Ptarmigan Curry!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Knitting a fish pond

I just finished my latest addition to my sweater wardrobe:

It’s based on a traditional Chinese fish pond and was inspired by a trip I took with my family to China.

There’s more info and details on my Ravelry Project Page.

It's blowing big out there. Most of this region is under a blizzard warning for the weekend.Thank goodness I have a stash of sweaters to keep me warm ;)

Have a great week!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Merry Craftmas

Last weekend, we had our annual Great Northern Arts Festival X'mas Craft Fair. I've been recovering from it ever since.
It's a huge event in this town and much of Inuvik files through the fair at some point during this weekend.
You can find everything from mammoth ivory carvings to sealskin mutluks to harpoons. There's also a smattering of commerical vendors like Avon and Pampered Chef. Amongst all the wares are also tables stacked to the ceiling with baking. I have begun the X'mas poundage gain thanks to a cinnamon bun (or 2) and an eskimo donut (or three) a day.

For many of the local artisans, it's their one chance to make some real money to see them through the holidays.  That said, they're not getting rich off of sealskin moccasins.  The amount of time and effort put into each of these items is astronomical. Cost of materials is constantly going up. Seal pelts are now going for over $200 a pelt. Moosehide is going for $1000 to $1500. Duffle (the woolen material used to line mutluks) is around $50 a metre.   For many in the communities, it's how they get by and manage to put food on the table, roof over their family's heads and pay the bills. Often, it's their sole source of income.

It kills me to watch potential buyers, usually ex-pats and visitors, haggling to knock $25 bucks off a pair of moccasins. So buddy wants a piece of the north but isn't willing to pay for what it's really worth. The $25 that a potential buyer is trying to knock off the price is a  bulk of the profit for that artisan. Any yet they wouldn't think of walking into department store and say, "Nice pair of jeans. I don't want to pay $100 for it. I'll give you $75."

grrrrr...Walmart...RANT RANT RANT...slave labour...RANT RANT... First World sense of entitlement....RANT RANT RANT...handmade does not mean cheap....RANT RANT RANT...devaluation of traditional arts...RANT RANT RANT...PHTTTTTTBBBBB

The term craft in this case does not refer to a decorative doodad that is slapped together with a glue gun by your 6 year olds at summer camp. These craftswomen and craftsmen are skilled professionals that spend a lifetime mastering their vocation. Those that do it well produce items that are not only beautiful but also functional, even life-saving. There's no room for sloppy workmanship when you're making mutluks that face arctic conditions and prolonged use. Mediocre work leads to frostbite in this case.

sample of furry fabulousness

Some of the talented mavens
 I tip my mukrat hat to these folks who keep the traditional crafts alive and are always happy to share, even with ex-pat brats like me.
I had a table to sell my handspun and hand-dyed yarns. My house has been a a cross between a kaleidoscope and a bowl of spaghetti these past few months.
'drying rack'


yarnity yarn yarn yarn

my yarnalicous table
It was a non-stop weekend from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. I even made the local paper!

I live in a town where Red Heart is the status quo. Most folks around here have never heard of Malabrigio or Noro. One of my main goals for having a table is simply to offer a yarn to fiber-crafters that doesn`t squeak or feel like it`s made from recycled grocery bags. There were enough knitters and crocheters who appreciated a one-of-a-kind skein of yarn that I did brisk business through the weekend and made enough to significantly offset the costs of one of these bad boys:
Hubba hubba..drool...
This was my other main goal. I`ve been needing a new stove for awhile. The one I have now is over 20 years old and is hobbling on it`s last legs. What`s even more awesome was that I found it on sale. It`s making it`s way up here as I type!

Up here, we`re down to our last few days before we say good-bye to the sun. Bring on the Vitamin D.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Carcass Soup

(Warning: This post contains harvesting images that may be disturbing to some. If you are squeamish and don’t like seeing fluffy animals  all covered in blood as a result of a well placed headshot, you’d better move onto this entry where there are some photos of some very cute puppies.  But heck if you’re going to eat meat, you might as well face it sooner or later that a living creature had to die because you wanted to have a hamburger. At least the creatures in these photos had a life frolicking about the land, free from factory farms and didn’t have a clue what corn-based food pellets tastes like. Anyways, 'salad' is just a nice way of saying ‘vegetable massacre’.)

There are still plenty of  critters are still out there, however the odd storm event mades it tricky to catch anything but frostbite.  Kevin caught some really swell photos along with dinner.

wolf paws compared to husband`s gorilla paw
There were a number of wolves and other big fluffies other there this week. Kevin even saw woodland caribou and a moose cow with two newbies.

I don’t know who’s going to break it to the children of Inuvik but next year’s Easter Egg Hunt may have to be cancelled due to the lack of Easter Egg delivery bunnies thanks to dear, dashingly handsome, darling husband. Apparently he has a vendetta against the bunny tribe.

Most of these went to his grandmother who is actively encouraging this vendetta. 

It was a crazy whirlwind long weekend for me (as if there is such a thing as a calm, quiet long weekend around here :P )

I made ‘Carcass Soup’ to sustain us through this chilly weekend. (Recipe below.) Carcass Soup is my response to folks that tell me that the only parts worth eating on a upland bird is the breast meat and that there`s not enough meat on the rest of the bird to be worth the effort.
Seven Hells! If you`re gonna snuff out a creature`s light with you`re own two hands, you do it the courtesy of using as much of the creature as possible. I have an army of elders to back me up on this one.
I will admit, it`s a pain to be dealing with the tiny slivers of tendons that are found in the drumstick but there are ways around it .Carcass Soup is one easy way of seperating the meat from the bones for small birds.  The basic premise is to simmer it until the meat falls off the bones.  The tendons just slip right out.
Check out this video showing a slick trick for removing tendons from game birds.

A good chunk of this weekend was spent getting ready for the Great Northern Arts Festival Christmas Craft Fair (November 25-27th at MSRC). Yes, it`s that time already. I`ve rented a table to sell my handspun and hand-dyed yarns. My house looks like a muppet slaughterhouse with a gzillion skeins of newly dyed yarn hanging all over the place to dry.

The rest of my weekend was spent playing outside. Whee! My friends and I, with a pack of dogs in tow, went for a ski along the East Channel just outside of town.  There was just enough snow on the river to make for good skiing. There weren`t many skidoo trails and so there was a quite a bit of trailbreaking involved. The fun ended when I broke a ski in an attempt to  gain higher ground which sucks musk ox balls.  I hobbled back with my transverse fractured ski and a long face. However, it`s next to impossible to be too sad for long when you have these two running around you:

Afterwards, my friends and I had a big doggie biscuit baking afternoon. We had volunteered to bake dog cookies for the SPCA`s craft fair table. We made liver biscotti, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal and molasses treats and cheesy biscuits. Conservatively, I think we made over 1000 cookies.

The doggie biscuit baking crew

This week started off with a sharp cold slap to the face.  It was around -30C this morning when I trudged off to work. I walked home for lunch and arrived looking like this from my 15 minute walk from the office:
armed with beaver mitts

Frost tipped eyelashes! No winter outfit is complete without this icy bling.
Have a great week!

Carcass Soup

3-4 ptarmigan or grouse skinned carcasses (basically everything but the breasts)
water, stock, wine
couple bunchs of spinach, kale or chard (shredded) or 1 box of frozen spinach (thawed)
1 can of white kidney beans or whatever bean you feel like

  • Dump the birds into a crockpot. Top with water or stock or wine or any combination of the three.
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until the meat begins to fall off the bone.
  • Remove the bird from the broth and set aside to cool.
  • Dump in the other ingredients.
  • Shred the meat off the bones. Careful to slip all the tendons out of the drumstick meat. You should get about 2 cups or more of meat.
  • Return meat to the soup. Let simmer for another 20 minutes.
  • Serve.
This is a basic broth. You can add all the culinary bells and whistles. I added some red chili flakes and a couple shots of soy sauce. I wanted to taste the bird and the greens.  The beans provided some earthiness to the soup. Simple and tasty!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

You are getting sleepy.....

The time got bumped back an hour and everybody around here is feeling sluggish. It's partly due to the fact that the sun isn't popping up until nearly 11am and then says goodnight at 4:30 pm.  All day long we're doing this:

Even darling, dashingly handsome, dear husband is getting in on it:

Until we can't fight it anymore and we're:


Cat naps are nice but puppy naps are awesome.

Are you yawning yet???

Happy napping.