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!