Category Archives: recipe

on january bread (roasted chicken sandwich with lemony mayo)

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This January there has been not enough shredding and just enough bread. The snowpack is terrible and low but at least my kitchen is cozy-full. This makes my heart happy. While January is typically the month to espouse low-carb resolutions, green eating, and clean food, this year something deep inside me loves and wants only the pleasure of a perfect sandwich when i sneak home for lunch, a pile of bread pudding on a quiet day off, and afternoon snacks of homemade cheese jauntily set beside garlicky olives, summer-canned chutney, and a piece of crunchy toast. I feel an interesting sense of guilt towards these beautiful, homemade, albeit carb-laden choices- shouldn’t I be encouraging juice cleanses? avocado smears? smoothie overdrive? I love vegetables and exercise and want to be the kind of women who cultivates a living whole food diet and manages to eat cold healthy things in winter; but right now it is january and as usual I am drowning in stews. Braises. Pot-pies. I am snacking on yummy whole-spelt berry muffins between clinic appointments. Ensconced in faron’s lovely sourdough. The raw food from my garden consists of slug-eaten baby turnips. The kale looks sad. The seasonal choices are yams and cauliflower.  I am tired of all of these things and don’t want to keep buying lettuce driven all the way from california. While calls for dietary change ring left -right -and centre, choosing warm carbs feels right in this season of slowing down, letting the quiet in, for fuelling ski-days, and soothing my poor ears from the horror that is myself learning the beginner violin.

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It does make me wonder: when did healthy eating become about rules instead of instinct ? Why did bread become so loaded? When did the internet fill with encouragement to find yourself through sparsity and elimination in the darkest, loneliest month of the year? When did weight loss become about food guilt instead of fostering love of movement and spirit in our bodies? Why do we put such pressure on ourselves to make anew when its cold outside and we just want to knit? Why not set goals in July when the sun is high and one can’t help feel enough with the chance to run in the woods and float in rivers all of the time? Goals formed in those kind of moments might make more sense: july hopes are for barbecues and hiking trips not clean-photo-shoot living and the pursuit of unrealistic perfect health.

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This year I am hoping to finally shed the mantra of “good enough is not good enough,” set in my overachieving little grade six heart by a well meaning childhood teacher. I was a seriously nerdy kid who loved to do things extra-well. I remember when the cut out letters of that mantra appeared on our class room board and how I was like, yep, got that. For sure. I can over-achieve not letting anything be good enough! I will win at math, studying, and life!

Ive carried that elementary school motivation around so hard now for decades that good enough really doesn’t feel good enough. Great advice for spelling review and dutifully finishing my medical charting: but crappy words for diets and life. In this vein Ive spent the last three weeks quietly miserable trying to meet my annual goals of winter austerity, chilly drinks, and the challenge to chipperly “build myself my best life.” The thing is, building my “best life” just makes me feel gross.

Why? Because the good enough best life is already here. I already built it by waking up in the morning and by being alive. The best life lives in little things- goose down duvets, braised tacos, slow cooker oatmeal mornings chatting with faron about what happened in dream world last night, and coffee in front of the wood stove. Its in the magic of night-mountain bike riding and winter-camping in the van. It’s in this most-perfect roasted chicken sandwich. Maybe instead of yet another 30-day challenge, I just need to bring on the bread.

Ps: What do you think? Are january cleanses helpful? A useful re-boot? A guilt-laden exercise? Necessary evils?

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hello chilly mornings (plum clafoutis)

flowers

The leaves are off the silver birch and I am now in my third decade. It’s the first week of October and both of these things surprise me, even though seasons and birthdays are two rare things one can predict. I’m dreaming of third decade goals including goats, pizza ovens, and the world’s largest sunflower patch. That said, I am pleased that my nature continues to be steady: my heart is still mostly called to biking mountain passes and months spent in tents. We celebrated my birthday in the best way I could imagine- a cabin full of friends, a sky full of stars, and litres on litres of wine bag. I don’t know if it was that (or the glow stick filled piñata), but the world feels open and shimmery right now; nesting and adventure-schemes are merging into what will soon be the winter cocoon.

Basically, its my favourite time of year. Welcome October where quiet is encouraged and new ideas burst from the gift of long runs in the chilly woods and a little bit of slow! Welcome crisp leaves, cozy fires, soup, and saturdays with the pottery wheel! Welcome apples and pears! Although, I am only tentatively welcoming their friends- the bears. The other night we were out trail running in the rain and bumped into this moonlit glowing apple tree along the edge of a field. The fruit was glistening and faron and I were blissfully chomping on a tiny orb when we heard the distinct harrumph of large mammal from the bush to the left. We backed away a little, but then saw a group of horses in the distance so brushed it off. Called by the fruit, I swung my arm up towards the tree to grab another apple and my headlamp hit straight into the eyes of a bear. Baby bear. In the tree. Mama cub? Probably in the bushes. Magical, but oh nelly. Fall, in all its messy glory, is here.

making it.

kludahk

fall gardenbirthday!

Why I am telling you this? While, apples and winter are about to take-over our world, there is a realm of other cozy deserts still to explore. Don’t give up on the stone-fruit yet! December isn’t here for months. I am making it my mission to savour fall and avoid winter bum out through denial of the darkening days.

Weeks ago I picked our plum trees bare in a flurry of over-tired energy; I was proud of myself for getting ‘er done but then quite sad that plum time was over just as it started. I might have exhibited a little prudence and picked bits off the trees at a time. Oh well. I thought I would have to wait another 11 months for more plums but then yesterday noticed a branch with some over-ripe leftovers peering over the neighbours yard. I almost died climbing up our moulding collapsing fence but I was desperate enough for this one last kick at the summer fruit can that I lunged repeatedly at the high branches across the air-space. I managed ten plums and only one leg scratch as collateral damage. The fence wanted mending anyway. And, ten plums is all one needs at a time. Really, any plums are enough for this cake (which also has the generosity to double as “healthy” breakfast the next day). And, if you must, softly cooked apples would work too. Hurrah for seasons and new beginnings. Clafouti anyone?

(Also, need to note; how ridiculous is this? http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/canada-sets-lowest-standard-at-world-conference-on-indigenous-peoples-1.2779590)

plum clafouti and kitty

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summer; slipped. (have yourself a raddler)

raddler

love

There have been moments where this summer felt sponsored by the heart of a teenage romance novel: river swims; ocean-side trail runs; friend reunions on the porch; mountain peaks nabbed during precious gasps of time off-call. Its been uncharacteristically warm and dry. The hills are so parched that occasionally the salt leaches from the coastal air and my nose fills with whiffs of ponderosa from my desert upbringing. The crunchy forest scent of old wood and dry needles sends me straight towards interior lakes, the whip of an early-morning fishing lure, and my papa cooking trout over a coleman stove. Last week I found myself running down a local hill as fast as I could so I could suck the smell of pine and dust of childhood memory deep inside my panting lungs. Beautiful, pure, summer.

We used the bbq so much that it took weeks to realize the new ceramic stove really sucks for anything except coffee making. And like any good narrative brought to you by heat, solo midwifery, a tender heart, and a pause to five years of constant (allbeit stimulating) moving of cities, there have been pangs of longing for alternate life choices that keep one on the road and ridiculous but unsurprising jealousy towards normal people that don’t have pagers that go off at 3:42am and could irrationally but metaphorically be everything you can’t.

berries! kate cuuuutttee cowichan life

mountain time

Now it is September and baby eggplants exist in the world. Baby! Eggplants! I can’t think of a better reason to settle a bit than growing a delicious purple orb. Mind you, this success story is due solely to the nice cowichan weather and the fact our place came with a set of bugs that prefer to decimate cabbage over aubergines, but its nice when things work out in your favour. The new house is slowly unravelling its boxes: the cat knows now to come home at night and nuzzles hard until you feed him, there is pleasure at new routine, pottery classes, and the familiarity of my feet on known trail. I’ve caught 12 babies since moving here and have not slept through clinic once. Win. This evening I walked in the door and poured myself a mix of beer and grapefruit juice that I will drink with bare feet on the wooden patio. Then, I will attempt to put up the peaches that I have procrastinated from tidy preserves into mushy must-now-become-jam. Messy life. Found home.

Have yourself a raddler; it will be delicious. 

Raddler

1 can pale ale

1 can san pelligrino grapefruit

Mix the above together. Yumm.

back (summer kebabs/roasted carrots)

Oh hello.

I was there:

ice crunch time nunavut late evening

And now I am here:

maple bay boats! yaylivinginglenora  tofino west coast picnic time is the best time summertime!

In between there and now was a wedding, a somewhat crazy (and totally worth it) flight home from Nunavut via San Francisco, a giant move and house-paint, and then a mad dash to run a mountain race. and sneak in a summer garden before the work-baby storm rallies its inevitable head. Its been a crazy month! Adding to the insanity is learning that kebabs are not prounced “ke-bobs” but “ke-babs.” Is this true people? Its breaking my heart.

Its a bit strange to have peas sprouting in July, but the off kilter time warp of out-of-season vegetable gardening matches how ridiculous it is to go from the arctic to a bustling new start in the unending green of the Cowichan Valley. Except, this migration south is a good thing. This beginning comes with mature apple trees, plums, a cow-share, a badminton court, and a fresh outlook on love. So, I am trying not to complain that my head felt a little spin-full for a few weeks there and I was tempted to crawl my way back to the tundra where it was peaceful and quiet and I wasn’t a little scared to be embarking as a solo midwife. I also had a minor incident in Tofino where a surfboard and I lost connection and the board hurtled towards my tender head. Fat lip parties are terrible for eating! Hence, I disappeared from here for awhile. But then I remembered that while the south doesn’t have caribou or siksik marmots; it does have this: the power of the sea to woo one’s heart home.

definition of happiness

(At least for now. Too bad you can’t cure itchy travel lusty feet with calcium magnesium supplements like you can jumpy-itchy-legs!)

To compensate for silence, here are some delicious summer kebabs AND the most amazing carrots you have ever had. Its a two-in-one! Deal! I am not beyond bribery to keep you entertained.

The kebabs are an easy summer stable, but adding smoked tofu and fresh herbs keeps them vegetarian, light, and perfect for long summer evenings where wine is passed many times across the backyard picnic table. The carrots will blow your mind. Za’atar, sea-salt, and a dash of pomegranate molasses make them heady and bright all at once, and roasting them in foil on the bbq provides the perfect connection between sweet and crunchy. Enjoy! Go seek summer! Get off that internet and find yourself a lake. At least that’s my plan to (finally) grant myself some peace.

Thanks for sticking around.

(recipe after the jump)

kabobs roasted carrots with za'atar and pomegranate molasses

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not an arctic poem (best broccoli)

out there

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

wealthy indeed.

(Recipe after the jump…)

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pakallak thyme (easy roast beef)!

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Some things in life are given. Like, there are few places on earth where Tom Petty covers don’t make the beer dance bounce and you can never get enough Patsy Cline impersonators at a talent show. Adding accordion, kamik boots, and french style jigging is the best way to win at competitive square dancing. Jerry cans, plane tickets, and gun cases never fail to please as raffle prizes. Other things are harder to figure out, like Inuktitut words beyond pop, chips, smokes, sex, and the phrases I now know in five obscure languages due to my apparent propensity for birth travel: “push my god, push.” Today I accidentally called someone’s lady parts a “bearded seal;” I think I might be getting beyond my capacity for syllabic accuracy and new linguistic accumulation. Oh well.

Other things would take a lifetime. A month-in means basic cultural understanding; more time on the ground means witnessing and holding more complex stories. More love and happiness here equals some difficult evenings in my head where I ponder solutions and problems and ways to feel better about being a person dipping in and out of this beautiful place; being yet another transient GN (Government of Nunavut) employee overwhelmed at the state of some folks’ mental health and the fact that thirteen people can be squished into a one bedroom apartment, all of whom are on a 10 year waiting list for some solo housing for them and their man. neat

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What drove the love last week was Pakallak Thyme. The annual spring festival marked the period of massive melt and the town turning into a giant brown waterfall. Apparently permafrost equals giant puddles everywhere. It also marked the warmest spring anyone can remember- and the subsequent re-scheduling of the fishing derby- but that is for another post. Highlights included a community feast where I sampled caribou, seal, musk-oxen, and beluga; nightly dance competitions; the above-mentioned talent show; children staying up every night until 2am; dog sled racing; craft sales; a mini-mushers carnival; concerts featuring local bands; and some sweet fireworks on the lake accompanied by beers and a pre-dinner of the best roast beef I have had in awhile. I spent every evening at the community center. Elementary school gyms and their transcendent florescent lighting really are the epicenter of small towns. To celebrate Pakallaking my office hosted a brunch potluck and a newspaper hat making contest. I lost the hat competition despite my arctic animal sea creature origami additions, but the winner had 18th century wig-like curls cascading down the back of their hat. She nailed it. Basically, it was one of the best weeks I can remember.

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river air (french toast)

dogs

yessss

yay! ice.

This weekend the outside world warmed up. On Sunday the air tasted like a glacier-fed mountain stream and I made french toast. Both were significantly delicious, but the late night walk home to an almost full moon where I was literally huffing in and out because the cold air was so damn delicious was more of a highlight than the lazy morning where I didn’t get paged until noon and was able to cook. Not to diminish satisfaction from things covered in syrup and a package of $14 bacon, but the experience of trying to eat oxygen was better. (But, in case you want to run your own comparison project, the recipe is below).

hunting time

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Like most things up here, the transition from dry to moist-.cold to warm, came without warning and didn’t make much sense. Now its snowing again and the roads have re-frozen where they were mushy brown potholes of doom for the past few days. Im curious to leave work to see if the bmx bikes that came out in full force over the weekend will be replaced with sleds and GT racers. Children travel in packs around town, unaccompanied by adults, and “go play out” is a clear refrain when anyone is in the way, asking for snacks, or is bothering their mom. Most have home-made snowsuits, and some have matching died fur for trim. Seemingly popular among the elementary crowd are hand-made super-hero snow-outfits. So far Ive seen batman, spiderman, and superman all done up with fric-frac, bias tape, hand embroidered chest decorations, and big matching fur hoods. The middle schoolers all have their names and sport numbers embroidered on their backs; an ingenious solution to identifying girls during that period where they all dress alike in desperation to look like individuals. On Easter Sunday a group of older men were hanging out in front of the northern store, somehow managing to avoid the catupulting melting ice. All of them were wearing sailor hats (sailor hats!) and emphatically wishing all the ladies happy holidays. I am not sure why they were there, or if that happens every year, but what great inspiration to buy the world’s most expensive ham.

Ive definitely had moments of feeling like a total fool but am overall in the swing of life in a new place. Ive found the gym, yoga, zumba, and a birthday party with eight kinds of hot cheese dip. I have vegetables in the fridge. I can get dressed to go out the door in five instead of twenty minutes. Ive stopped getting lost (the grid system helps) and I actually managed to find someone’s house for a home visit from directions akin to “the red place next to where bob amuaka lived five years ago with the green honda atv and down the road from the hockey park.” When I got inside I had to pace my visit out over an hour and a half because everyone was engrossed in radio bingo. 13 people, all ages, all dabbing like mad to the radio announcer. I asked my clinical questions during the pauses, and had to bite my tongue not to beg a card so I could try to keep up and play. I really should have known to come at a different time but you live and learn. In other words, work is going surprisingly well.

ice road

rankin inlet

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