Two amazing things happened last night. Three. The first is this broccoli. Quality groceries are hard to come by up here and this combo of (mc-cain) orange juice and eighty year-old pepper from a long-left transient roommate is something I normally avoid like the plague. But, even with my arctic variations it was really delicious. You should try it. I had mine with butter chicken from a spice mix which I won’t share because its silly to call processed paste and canned tomatoes fine home cooking. But, I am definitely giving the fancy dining label to the broccoli. With orange juice. From a can. Its the north: what can I say?
The second is that I got to try to drill the sea-ice eight feet deep with a giant power augre to set a new hole for the fishing derby. I didn’t catch a fish. I could barely hold the giant drill. I didn’t wear my thick mittens so had to leave early before I got frostbite or the winning arctic char. But, on my walk home from my ice-fishing fail I ended up talking to a dozen happy people hanging out around their weekend fishing camps. Everyone stopped me to chat about bait choices (bacon, pepperoni, and klick were favourites); the size of their cousin’s trout down the ice road; or if we knew anyone in common at the birth center. One random lady offered me a piece of bannock; her teenage daughters and I laughed at their measly catch. Her toddlers were running around in the most adorable snow suits and some other kid was asleep in the back of the kammatik. On Friday night I had a fantastic feast of muqtaa (beluga) and caribou followed by a silly night at the legion with new friends who were easy to pin down and uncomplicated to find. Why is it that this doesn’t happen down South? Such generalized familiarity and friendlieness. No one wants anything from you: up here the next person in line at the coffee shop (ahem, tim’s at the northern store) is never going to be a millionare who wants to pitch you his newest app. Up here you are not going to get rich, or a better job, or chance exquisite conversation with beautiful people in a bar. It might feel a little redneck, unhip, or politically incorrect. Yet, there is something nice about living with people simply being people wanting to chat about their fish, their cousins and their day.
The third thing is this poem. This magic moment actually happened a week ago when I spotted it on my work bulletin board, but I copied it out last night and think it says what I am trying to say better than I can express with thousands of finely typed words. Even though the produce is terrible quality and reeks of pesticides from surviving its long journey in the truck from California to Winnipeg – by train to Thompson, Manitoba- and cargo-plane to me on the Hudson’s Bay; I feel lucky to eat it. Feel wealthy for the chance for a simple meal and the luxury of something green amongst all the fish (and snow). Happy Monday. Have a poem -and some broccoli- on me.
Wealthy (Bruce Dethlefsen)
after my reading
a very serious sixth grade girl
asked me if I was wealthy
well I said I have twenty-two
dollars in my wallet right now
my purple truck has two hundred
and thirty-five thousand miles on it
I’m wearing clean and mended clothes
I’ll sleep in a warm bed tonight
I’ve got my health my hands my eyes
My family and friends who love me
and I can come here to sennett middle school
to read poetry to you guys for free
so yes I’m very wealthy
(Recipe after the jump…)
Pan Fried Orange-Pepper Broccoli
1 Head Broccoli, cut into florets
3 cloves of garlic
Teaspoon coconut oil
1/3 cup orange juice (with pulp), fresh or frozen
Big handful fresh pepper
Pinch of sea-salt
- Cut the broccoli into florets, and dice or smash the garlic into fine pieces.
2. Put a thick bottomed frying pan on the stove and turn it to medium-high.
3. Melt the coconut oil until its bubbly, and quickly fry the garlic.
4. Add the broccoli; stir fry for a minute or so until it starts to turn bright green.
5. Add the orange juice and turn the heat up to high.
6. Sauté on high heat for a minute or two until it smells sweet and fragrant and the juice is mostly evaporated; don’t let it burn!
7. Coat in the salt and pepper, serve warm.
(Sorry there is no photo! My connection to internet for downloading is off-line; I’ll get something up this week).