Monday, October 8, 2012

Thanksgivin', Arctic style

OK. I've been a crappy blogger.
It's been absurdly busy. According to my day planner, I had only 2 days off in September. It feels like it. I need to get a new dayplanner. Preferably one with more days off...

I just got out of a non-stop week and a half of meetings in Whitehorse.
My darling, dashingly handsome husband and mutts drove down to Whitehorse and met me there for the last few days. We then piled into the van and drove up the Dempster for Thanksgiving weekend road trip. It's the closest we're gonna have to a family vacation for a while.

Before leaving the big city of Whitehorse, I batted my eyelashes and casted some wifely witchery towards darling husband and got him to pick me up a  new Remington compact 870 20 gauge shotgun. Some girls ask for shoes. I am apparently not of that species.

Here's a linky to a youtube vid of the how we fill the Thanksgiving table up here. ( I can't seem to embed the YouTube vid onto my blog. I've already spent half and hour waiting for it to upload).

I'm waiting for them to be cleaned and then I'll butcher and marinate them.

BTW, please go over to the Aviva Community Fund and register to vote for Arctic Paws. It's a local group that I'm part of that's trying to raise money to get a mobile vet clinic for the Beaufort Delta. You can vote everyday!

Happy Thanksgiving ( I hope to have photos of the ptarmigan up soon.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Muskox meets UluGirl

Somebody dropped off a hind quarter of a muskox a few weeks ago. Yep, we are very, lucky monkeys.
Over the weekend, I figured I’d butcher it up before it got too warm and I got too lazy.  
I pulled out my patent-pending fancy-schmancy cardboard butchering platform and my handy-dandy butchering ulu and went at it. Quite frankly, it was just an excuse to ulu something. Yes, that was me sending 'ulu' through the Verbification Transmogrifier.

The goal was to end up with proper cuts of beast and not just a pile of stew and ground meat fodder. The ulu was perfect for separating the muscles. The curved blade made processing the carcass so much easier than a regular knife.  I love my ulus. I will use any excuse to wield them. 

My new motto is 'Have ulu, will travel.' In fact, I have a quiver of ulus. Yep, I am UluGirl, mild-mannered dog walker by day, ferocious beast filleting crime fighter at night. I am a walking graphic novel in so many ways.....sheesh.

So here's the chunk of muskox that we got:

And the ulu that I used for this job.

Getting down with the muskox:


 What I ended up within less than an hour of uluing...

The sirloin tip got cut into steaks and a small roast. The inside and outside round were kept whole so I could either use them for steak or roasts.

Then I tackled the lower leg and separated the shank muscles for stew meat or ground. All the trimmings went into a general ‘stew meat’ pile.

Everything got vacuum packed and tossed into the freezer for this summer’s BBQ and crockpot season. 

Normally, I would roast up the leg bones for marrow (because it's all about the marrow) but I was rendered helpless against the formidable forces of Lyra, the mind controlling muttwitch of Tuma Drive.

I had no choice but to hand over the tasty osteological remains to the girls.
LouLou goes for the pelvic bone

Lyra dragging the tibia away


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dog Mail

The mail is here! The mail is here!

Our lovely friend Nancy down at the BeezKneez in Whitehorse posted us a letter via the Percy de Wolfe Memorial Mail Race.  The race follows a historical mail route from Dawson City, Yukon to Eagle, Alaska and return. That's a 338 km ( 210 mile) route done in a 24 hour period. One of their fundraising efforts is selling letters that will carried by the dogs on the route. Once it reaches Eagle, the letter is then mailed to you with postmarks from both Canada and US. How cool is that?!?! 


Not only that, but our other fabulous friend Gaetan, won the Percy Junior Race (160km) which is AMAZINGBALLS considering that he has only been racing for 4 years.

Here's Gaetan, myself, Nancy and Kevin. The photo that was taken this past March, almost 4 years to the day that we met.

The race also as a skijoring event that runs 160km. Which brings me to this new favorite way to try to break my neck LOL!

That's me with Lyra on the right and her buddy Biscuit on the left pulling my bacon lovin' ass down along the river.
Lyra LOVES to pull. She always gives me a big wide crap-eating grin at the end of the run.

Loulou is a bit disconcerted about this whole pulling business. It's new and it's against the rules. Poor thing has been so well trained to not pull on leash that the idea of pulling has her twisted in this internal struggle of training versus nature.
Poor Lou. All confused!
Have a fabulous week!
I'm going skijoring!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Be still my yummy heart...

I'm at the final leg of wrestling with this silly plague. Last night, I was in need of something to boost my system and get healthy once and for all. You can keep your echinacea, your tinny flavoured zinc tablets, your chalky Vitamin C lozenges and your wimpy herbal teas.

Well, not the whole heart. But a good chunk of it :)

I am currently having a love affair with reindeer meat.

I have a couple of reindeer hearts hoared in my frozen meat stash. At $5 a heart, they are the cheapest cut of meat up here. And it's from a local free range herd. Win-Win!

Technically, the heart is not an organ meat. It's a muscle, a beautiful, finely grained, lean muscle.
I trimmed all the excess fat and gristly parts and gave it to the pups'.
gristly top of the heart

The rest I sliced into 1/2 - 1/3 inch slices.

I was tempted to marinade or do a spice crust or make a wine reduction but I opted for a simple dusting of salt and pepper and seared the pieces.
I wanted taste the flavour of the heart without adulteration. 

The slabs of heart were seared (in bacon fat, of course) for about 2 minutes on each side over medium high heat. I wanted it medium rare. For such a lean cut of meat, you don't want cooked anymore or else risk a dinner of shoe soles. You want to still see the muscle fibres slightly quivering with echoes of their former lub dub lub dub

Here's Lyra about to chow down on some raw reindeer heart and kibble (yep, spoiled stinking rotten):

Here's my plate of reindeer heart with roasted cauliflower and shichimi yams:
Yeah, that's all for me. I'm a growing girl :P
The reindeer heart was done just right with mild gamey flavour. The finely-grained meat was tender enough to cut easily with a butter knife. I did add a dollop of horseradish and whole grain mustard as condiments to my plate. Nice and simple.

That said, I could see this meat doing really well in a garlic and fresh herb marinade and grilled on the bbq. Another future experiment would be reindeer heart satay. The walls of the hearts could easily be seperated with sliced into thin strips for that.

I'm also wondering if I could utlitize the chambers of the heart for stuffing other yumminess into it and baking or braising it. Oh, the possibilities!

For dessert, sickly sweet photos of dear, dashingly handsome, darling husband snuggling with Loulou:

Have a yummy week!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What Aragorn's Great-Grandmama wore to chop wood

I actually have a few more spare moments to post some knit-geekery babbling.
I had knitted a sweater for dear, dashingly handsome, darling husband a few years ago inspired by Tolkien. The sweater was dubbed 'Aragorn'. Since then I have been wanting to do a Tolkien sweater for myself. This led me to creating 'LĂșthien' named after Aragorn's ancestor and the protagonist of my favorite Tolkien story from the Silmarillion.

I spun the wool from a blend of merino, BFL and Shetland wool from Vancouver Island. I finished this sweater over a month ago but haven't had time to actually take photos, let alone do a blog post. In addition to my crazy schedule, I wanted to photograph it in natural light since it looked like crap with the flash. Until these last few weeks, natural light was a bit hard to come by since by the time I got home from work, got done with the dogs, made dinner, cleaned the house and set the world back on its axis, it was pitch dark.  Now it's SPRING! There's light everywhere. Everywhere you look. Here comes the light! It's here!

And there!

Even over there!
So now with the proper light, I did my photoshoot:
Da Front

Da Sleeve (which almost killed me)

Here's the Ravelry posting that provides the the blah blah blahstory and more photos for this Tolkien-inspired sweater for those that care about such things.

For those that don't care about sweaters or knitting or Tolkien, here's a photo of cute solar-powered puppies:

 For those that don't care about cute solar-powered puppies, I don't know why you're reading this blog :P


Reindeer + Bacon Fat = Belly Love

I know. I've been a bad blogger.
This last while has been absolute mayhem at work thanks to the annual sheepbang that is 'End of Fiscal Year'.
I've also been hit with the joyful craziness of family weddings and the not not so joyful plague.

Prior to all this craziness, I made a batch of Reindeer Carnitas that I've been planning to share with everybody.
Traditionally, carnitas is made with fatty cuts of pork slow cooked for hours until it's bathing in its own lardy goodness. It continues to cook in this pool of splendid fat slowly until it's browned and absurdly yummy.

It is quite simply, genius.

I had purchased a couple of boxes of reindeer meat from a local herder. I got everything from hearts to ground reindeer to a bunch of roasts.
I threw a couple of the frozen roast in the crockpot with a liberal grinding of sea salt. Set it to low and walked away. I let it cook overnight.
Yes, I did NOT add any liquid. I am a reckless crockpotter. It's how we roll up here :P
Reindeer is a pretty lean meat and the roasts did not render out enough fats for browning. Especially since I scooped the marrow out of the bones and ate it straight on its own. I am a greedy pig I know. I did let the puppies lick the grease off my lips.

So I added my fave fat: BACON FAT.

This is my perpetual pot of bacon fat. It kinda looks like ice cream

  I have this super awesome killer crockpot that has a stovetop safe insert. I broke up the meat into smaller chunks and plopped the lard into the crockpot then finished it all over low heat on the stove.  I let it cook until all the liquid was gone and the meat got all brown and crusty on the outside. One pot cooking at it's best!

Served on a bed of shredded lettuce, with a dollop of salsa verde and homemade guacamole.
Yes, it was stupidly good. The meat was crispy and caramelized on the outside and tender on the inside. The flavour of the reindeer was deep and rich without being too gamey and the bacon fat provided a nice boost of unami. 
Probably one of my favorite ways to cook beast.

For dessert, crazy sweet photos of cute puppy-monkeys:

Have a great spring!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Eat Year!

Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Happy Dragon Year!
Like any good Chinese gal, I spent the weekend eating, cooking, eating, cooking and eating some more and ending the weekend with more eating. It was hard work but somebody's got to do it :P

The cooking part was a bit easier, if not more enjoyable now that I have my new double oven stove!
Sexy Beast
I used the money I made from selling handmade yarn at Craft Fair to pay for this baby. The months of working through my weekends to dye up endless batches of yarn and the weeks walking around with purple and green hands was totally worth it now that I have this lean, mean cooking machine in my kitchen.
I LOVE this range. I especially love the double oven feature. I've been on a roasted veggie binge these last few weeks. It took me only an hour or so to cook up what would normally take a good part of the afternoon. Now I have roasted veggies for the week. Wheee!
I've been doing a big cook-up every Sunday so I have a stash of veggies and flesh to feed off of for the week. Usually by the time I get done walking the girls, make dinner, eat and clean up it's usually time for bed. At least this way, I don't have to make, just assemble dinner and there's minimal clean-up.
It's a good thing I have this double bellied beast since Bill the Fruit Guy finally showed up in town this past week with the year's first shipments of fresh produce. I went apeshit buying vegetables. I almost cried when I saw these beauties:
Which got turned into a huge pan of yumminess:
It's been ages since I've had eggplant. Usually by the time it shows up in the grocery shelves  here it looks like an old hag all covered with wrinkles and liver spots.

In celebration of Chinese Dragon New Year, I wanted to whip up some lettuce wraps. I didn't have any dragon meat but I did have a couple of pounds of ground muskox.

Which quickly got turned into this:
What recipe? You don't need no stinking recipe for lettuce wraps. I browned up the musk ox, dumped in some tamari and 5 spice, tossed in some leftover spinach, piled a mess of it onto a lettuce leaf and called it a day. Actually I had three piles of it. It was that good. Especially with my lover, Sriracha. You can keep your puny, weak-knee sappy hoisin sauce, my muskox needs some of the red rooster.

If Sriracha is my lover, this is my crack LOL!:
Cupboard Crack

For the sake of science, I've been experimenting with different applications for almond butter. I think I've found my favorite...on coconut-bacon pancakes 
Almond Butter Delivery System
sopping up the eggy sunshine

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Another day in paradise

We're just finishing up a good old fashion blizzard!
The winds have been blowing steady at around 40-50km with gusts near 100km. All night the house shook and groaned and I prayed that the roof wouldn't blow away.
Apparently, somebody should have been doing the same for the Inuvik Airport. It's roof looks like somebody has taken a huge can opener to it.

The whole town, actually the whole Mackenzie Delta and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, was shut down yesterday. Many towns are still shut down.
We stayed home and had a fabulous blizzard day complete with coconut pancakes and lots of hot cocoa!

Later on in the afternoon, we had a nice family walk around the neighbourhood because that's what you do when the blizzard comes into town:
I walked to work this morning and it was still pretty blustery. If I don't make it home on time I'm probably stuck in a snow drift or something.

Stay warm!

ETA- It's Friday now and it's still blowing 40km with gusts of 60km. Now I know how everybody up here looks so young. They get their wrinkles snowblasted off them every winter .
To everybody down in Vancouver/Van Island area: Quit your freaking whining.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Muskox on a buzz

The sun came back this weekend for like 7 minutes before plopping back below the horizon. It's been snowing and cloudy for the last few days. I'll just take Environment Canada's word that the sun is somewhere behind those clouds.

The town celebrated the Sunrise Festival on Saturday with a pancake breakfast, games and a huge fireworks show. It was -30C that night and so we enjoyed the fireworks from the comfort of our kitchen. The girls were all excited because they thought all the booming was gunfire and they were eager to retrieve the fallen game. So cute.

We celebrated with nice chunk of muskox tenderloin. Yum nom nom nom

It gave me an excuse to use my NEW Crockpot:
Hubba hubba. Hey you sexy thing, where have you been all my life?

It was a Christmas present from myself. It has a metal non-stick insert that allows you to sear and saute on the stove top which means less dishes for me to clean! WooHoo!
I have been pining all year for this but it was just a touch too $$ for me to justify buying since I already had a perfectly good crockpot. Then it went on sale!

Muskox is a pretty mild meat in relation to other game meats but it is a tad gamey.  I figured instead of doing the usual drunken beast treatment, I would experiment with a spice rub.  I opened up the my spice drawer and basically pulled out stuff randomly and dumping whatever felt right into a bowl. I wanted something earthy and just a touch spicy.
I used coffee grounds as a base for the spice rub. I know, it sounds strange but it's sooooo good.

Here's my unrecipe for a Coffee Spice Rub:

2-3 scoops of finely ground coffee
good dose of sea salt
good dose of black pepper

If you want it spicy add:
chili powder (regular or chipolte or ancho)
smidge of cayenne powder
ground ginger

If you want earthy add:
ground cumin
ground corriander
ground mustard

If you want sweet add:
cocoa powder
dried orange peel

ground allspice

Other stuff you can add:
garlic powder
dried herbs
onion powder

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of what you can dump into your spice rub.  Of course, you could just buy a ready made spice rub but you miss out on the fun of playing mad alchemist dumping random spices into your cauldron of rubbing goodness. 

Mix your spice rub thoroughly and give your chunk a meat a good, dirty massage with it.

After I finished giving the muskox roast a good shiatsu rub down, I melted a dollop of coconut oil in the pan/insert over medium high heat and seared each side for about 3 minutes until I got a nice brown crust. I threw in a chopped onion. I also did the same treatment to a sirloin roast and cooked them both up at the same time since there's so much freaking room in my new crockpot!

I cooked it for 8 hours on low. We had it with oven baked sweet potato fries and spaghetti squash and chimichurri sauce. YUM!

Have a great week!