Monday, October 31, 2011


The stark beauty of the arctic always catches me off guard in the most delightful ways.

The girls are enjoying the snow as much as I am.

I was down in Fort McPherson these last few days for meetings. When I headed down on Thursday afternoon the river at the ferry crossing was still moving pretty well with but a few thin plates of ice floating with the current.

On the way back Saturday afternoon, this is what met us at the ferry crossing:
The river had a pretty solid sheet of ice from shore to shore. Luckily the ferry was still running to keep a path open through the ice for the last bunch of trucks to come through.  The ice was a pretty thick and the ferry path was icing over as quickly as it was opened.
broken ice of ferry path

Frosty ferry
We got over just in time. According to the Department of Transportation, they closed the ferry yesterday(Sunday) for the season. I have a video of us crossing the river it on my Flickr account. This is probably the closest I'll get to being on an icebreaker LOL!

Have a great week everybody!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Drunken Pickled Bunnies

It’s definitely hunker-down-and-grab-a-bowl-of-soup weather out there. The temperatures have been puttering around -10C with an absurd humidity of up to 90% which doesn’t make for much fun. It’s dumping another pile of snow outside. My skis are ready to go.

We spent last weekend helping my dear, dashingly handsome, darling husband celebrate his big 4-0. Most of the weekend was spent hunting (surprise!) Along with getting some small game, we saw this handsome fella:

Hawk Owl
We have a friend who is Kevin’s b-day twin and so we had a duo-b-day potluck dinner. Here’s some pics of the spread:

Roasted Grouse with crispy skin

Seared Grouse Breasts
Pumpkin Birthday Pie
Drunken Pickled Bunny Soup

That's a picture of Loulou and Lyra giving me their best sad puppy dog eyes because I segregated them from the kitchen and they had to watch us eat from the other side of the doggy gate.  There was grouse and rabbit and pumpkin pies all over the place and I was being realistic about the obedience levels of my pups in the face of such temptation.

Don’t feel so sad for them. They got some grouse for their dinner.
We also found out that Lyra really like pumpkin pie :P

Here’s the recipe for the German Rabbit stew (Hasenpfeffer), now known in this house as Drunken, Pickled Bunnies.

Basic Drunken Pickled Bunnies

1-2 rabbits disjointed into 4-6 pieces each

1 cup of dry red wine

1 cup of cider or red wine vinegar (yes a whole cup)

1 tablespoon of pickling spices

1 Bay Leaf

½ onion chopped fine

1) Brine the rabbit overnight.
2) Mix the rabbit in big ziplock bag with the rest of the ingredients. Seal bag, mush the ingredients all around so they are well mixed. Place bag in a glass or ceramic bowl.

3) Throw the bowl into the back of the fridge for a few days (I had in for 4 days). Occasionally, turn the bag over, mush about the ingredients to ensure the rabbit is evening marinated.

 4) Throw it all into a crockpot and let it cook on low for 8 hours.
5) Meat should be falling off the bone. Remove meat from liquid and let cool for a bit.  Then shred the meat off the bone and return to the cooking liquid.

That’s the basics of Drunken Pickled Bunny stew.

Yes, you can dredge the rabbit in flour and brown it and get jiggy with some caramelization before throwing it into the crockpot. I was too lazy. I don’t think it lacked too much without the browning.

There’s a bunch of different Hasenpfeffer recipes online that call for a bunch of other ingredients like brandy, bacon, currant jelly and fresh herbs. You can go as fancy as you want. I don’t know if I could even find currant jelly around here. I could probably find kumquat jelly but probably not currant jelly. It's one of those strange  food supplies issues about Inuvik. I found salted duck eggs but I couldn't find turnips last week.  
I did add some shredded cabbage and caramelized onions (leftover from a previous meal) into the cooking liquid while I was waiting for the meat to get cool enough to pull off the bone. I finished it with a large handful of finely chopped parsley.

It has a different flavour than your usual rabbit stew. When I was brining the rabbits, one was definitely goaty. It smelled like it had just finished off a marathon when it ran straight into Kevin's .177. 

The marinade certainly performed it's culinary alchemy on the gamey meat. It wasn’t as acidic as I thought it would be with all that vinegar. The meat was very rich and had that thick, succulent mouth-feel of a confit. (yum...drool..confit).The cabbage helped lighten and stretch the meat. The parsley was a great bright, fresh addition. Never underestimate the power of parsley!

There’re so many possibilities with this dish. I ended up using up the last bowlful of it in a spicy noodle soup for dinner last night. I could also see the meat doing well in pulled meat sandwich or in a fajita or topping a nice mushroom risotto.  If I wasn’t goddamn lazy I’d even consider making rabbit ravioli. 

Happy eating!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Birthday my LOVE!

Happy Birthday to my darling, dashingly handsomest, dear husband! It is my love's 40th birthday.


Just because I'm a super awesome, wonderful, bestest wife in the whole freaking galaxy, I let him open his present early last night. He justified it by saying that it was already Oct 21st in Japan so he should be allowed to open his present. I know that if I didn't let him open his gift early, there will be payback when it's my birthday :P

Here he is checking out his gift, a Gamo DynaMax Repeater (aka Bunny Slayer)

Loulou helped with the unwrapping,

We enjoyed a hearty Birthday eve meal of  Hasenpfeffer (German Rabbit Stew). It was amazingly yummy and a nice change from the usual stews.  I'll try to put up a recipe sometime this weekend between hunting and b-day revelry. OK, realistically, I'll probably not get around to it until next week. Late next week.

In celebration of Kevin's birthday, I give you the ultimate gift of puppy noses:

Have a great weekend everybody!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Family birdbrains

We spend much of this past Thanksgiving weekend roaming the land and hunting.  We didn’t have any luck with caribou or moose.  They figured it was a long weekend so they slept in.
There was a smattering of little critters out there. We managed to get something for the stew pot.

This one brought the whole family together.

My darling , dashingly handsome, dear husband shot at the ptarmigan.

The shot only clipped its wing and  when he went to retreive it, the bird hopped into the thick bushes and poof disappeared into a cloud of magical snow. 

My husband and I beat the bushes and traced and re-traced the blood trail to no avail. 

So we called out the experts:
Lyra and Loulou in their natural state
Who shamed us completely and found the downed bird in no time flat. Which is nice but really not that impressive because , well, they are the most houndy- hounds ever. What was really impressive was when Lyra, who had recovered the still flapping bird, was asked to 'drop it’, the little bugger actually dropped the freaking bird at my feet and sat back, waiting for further instructions.  Now THAT is impressive considering that she is known to de-squeak and de-gut her toys in a whirlwind of puppy-manic delight. (All those 'tuff' dog toys...yeah, not so much in the hands & jaws of Lyra-girl, the Shredder.)
Here are the girls ‘inspecting’ the booty:

We got it home quick enough that it was easy to dry pluck.

I brined the bird overnight and threw it into a lemon-garlic marinade but didn’t get around to cooking it for a few days. Actually 5 days. It was a crazy week of board meetings, volunteering and all-round non-stop insanity. By the time I got home, it would be nearly 9 pm and I barely had enough energy tin me to nuke a dinner of leftovers let alone deal with preparing and cooking a bird, much less with having to clean up the mess afterwards. Anyways, we had a crap load of leftover turkey to get through.

Finally came a night when I didn’t have plans after work beyond training and and walking the girls. I got into the kitchen at the civilized time of 7:30pm. I had ptarmigan plans brewing in my head for days. 

 Since it was plucked so nicely, the skin was begging to be roasted up nice and crispy. However, if you overcook the breast meat, it not only is dry but livery and not in a good pâté  sort of way.  So I’ve developed a bifurcated cooking method that incorporates roasting and a quick sear and broil to finish off the bird.

I served the ptarmigan in a red wine cranberry sauce made with local cranberries.  Here’s the recipe:

Roasted-Broiled Ptarmigan

1-2 ptarmigan (brined at overnight, then marinated in lemon and garlic overnight or for a few days if you have a crazy stupid schedule like mine)

1 cup red wine (on top of the one you're already drinking while you prepare this dish)

Handful of minced red onion

Cupful of cranberries

Olive oil

 Sherry or balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

     1)      Prep: Preheat the oven to 425F. I have realized that my oven is a bit cranky when  it gets about 350F. So  I have it at 375F to 450F depending on the alignment of the stars.

2)      Separate the breast from the rest of the bird. Then cut the meat off the bone. Throw the bones into your handy dandy freezer cache of soup bones. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto the breasts.  Set them aside for now.

3)      Roast: Flatten the rest of the ptarmigan (back, legs and wings) so it looks like roadkill. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place it on a pan skin side up. Throw into the oven for 15 minutes.

4)      Sear: Heat a couple glugs of olive oil over medium high heat in a pan. Sear the breasts (skin side up) for 5 minutes. There should be a nice brown crust. Remove the meat from pan and set aside on a plate.
5)      Red wine-cranberry sauce:  In the same pan, add another glug of oil and toss in minced red onion. Sauté the onion until you get it nice and caramelized.

6)      Deglazed the pan with red wine.  Reduce heat to a low simmer.

7)      Simmer away the red wine until it is reduced by half. The wine should be thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.

8)      Toss in cranberries.

9)      Add a splash of either sherry or balsamic vinegar.

10)   Season to taste and set aside for plating.

     11)   Broil: When the bird is done roasting, turn on the broiler.

12)   Place breasts (skin side up) in the pan with the rest of the bird.

13)   Place pan a few inches from broiler and broil for 5 minutes.  

14)   Let meat rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

15)   Serve: Slice breast meat into slices.  The breast meat should be medium rare (Still pink on the inside) Chop the bird lengthwise along the spine.

Plate however you want.  I lay down the sauce first instead of spooning the sauce onto the bird because I like my skin to remain crispy.

drool all over the keyboard goodness
Darling, dashingly handsome, dear husband gave this meal two enthusiastic thumbs up. The skin was nice and crispy. The breast meat was juicy and reminiscent of a medium rare steak with enough gaminess to remind you that this chunk of protein is not a product of the corn industrial complex.   The sauce provided just enough tartness to compliment the wild meat. It would go well with other upland birds. 
You could do the sauce with store bought cranberries but those are basically crimson coloured packing material compared to wild lowbush cranberries.  The sauce would be good with blueberries or blackberries. Kevin suggested that a kick of orange zest would be nice but I didn’t want to have to deal with cleaning another kitchen utensil. 

Don’t think the girls were left out. They got ptarmigan guts in their puppy stew.

In all this kitchen tomfoolery, the handle for the oven door broke off. The darn thing is on its last legs. The oven came with the house when we bought it. It might be time for a new one. Where did I put that Sears catalogue??

Friday, October 14, 2011

a little bit of competition

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we piled into the Delica and roamed the Dempster looking for things to fill up the stew pot. We manage to throw a few things in the Rubbermaid Bounty Bins but pickings were slim.

This is one of the reasons why:

Do you see it?
Our competition...

A much more competent predator that us lot. LOL!

What do you think girls?

I don't know. Does it know how to play stick?

Meh, it's just some stupid cat.

Back soon with the rest of our Thanksgiving update.