Eating In the Dark of Winter

life in a village, northern exposures

Most of the deciduous leaves have fallen & winter is just weeks away

So, what exactly do we eat up here in the dark of winter? Humm, nothing strange or exotic. We don’t have a huge freezer, either, just the standard one built into our refrigerator. We would like to have a stand-alone, and if our landlord builds us the promised Arctic entryway, we could put one there. We  make sure to keep what we have stocked with frozen broccoli and spinach and stir fry. For a week after visiting Fairbanks we gobble up lots of fresh salad. Fresh beets keep well in the fridge and we like them roasted with a little olive oil and salt, sort of. We eat lots of salmon and chicken and some pork and lamb. Believe it or not, lamb is cheaper here than in Dallas! Pan searing lamb does a bang up job of smelling up our cabin, so we have to air it out afterward. Soon it will be too cold to open a window, and that will be the end of lamb for the season. Chili and spaghetti used to be two of our biggest staples, but they aren’t on Lindsay’s list of permissables right now. We have rediscovered chicken and rice; now that’s good stuff! We have to supplement our diet with vitamin D during the dark months. No sun, no V-D, and the dark is on its way.

Our breakfasts are very traditional, except fresh fruit is very difficult to come by. We eat lots of malto-meal and oatmeal. Lindsay has special concoctions she drinks and I like English muffins or toast when time is short. We occasionally have bacon and eggs for dinner because mornings are too busy for breaking out the fry pan.

I still enjoy baking cookies and brownies, but Lindsay is on a very strict diet so I have cut way back on those things. It wouldn’t be right to have that stuff around when she can’t share it. Lindsay can eat fruit crisps, though, and they are great made with dried or canned fruit. It is difficult to find good dried fruit because almost all of it is sulfonated or something to preserve it. Most makers add too much sulfur giving their product an unpleasant aftertaste. I have found one good (and expensive) supplier and plan to get more of their berries.

We have gotten to try some occasional wild meat and that is always fun. Caribou and moose dry meat, caribou hash and marrow, and freshly caught salmon from the Yukon. We had a wonderful meal of wild spinach that I picked myself, but that has all died away now. We have homemade rose hips jam in the fridge and a small stockpile of rose hips and high bush cranberries in our freezer.

The high bush cranberry is a hardy bush whose fruit develops in clusters of maybe 6 small, round red berries. They are very easy to pick and very sour to the taste, but we are told they make wonderful sauces and juices. One vendor at the farmer’s market in Fairbanks makes smoothies with them. The bark of the high bush cranberry has been used to treat stomach cramps and asthma and is sometimes referred to as crampbark because of its antispasmodic properties.

We drink lots of water. You know how I’ve always drunk too little water? Well, I drink lots more now because the air is desert-dry and I am always dehydrated. We enjoy hot tea and our new favorite is green tea with peach. Wow! In the evenings I still enjoy my hot chocolate; nothing will ever come between me and my cacao. I make mine with one part Hershey’s cocoa, two parts sugar, 5 parts powdered milk, and a hint of vanilla. That is put-me-to-sleep good.

Our favorite snack is popcorn, lots and lots of it, and although we haven’t made any sorbet yet, we have a new ice cream maker, so it is only a matter of time.

This is what we eat.


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