Garage Moose & Walleye

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I haven’t spent a lot of time in the kitchen this past week, so I took a little trip down my photo’s and came across this.  One of our favorite memories of spending time in Moosonee is the impromptu meals that just require a cook stove, a flat surface, propane and a beer or two.

This garage cookout was during a trip Mrs. Canuck came to visit her brother Tony and he was more than happy to slice up some moose meat and take out a bag of walleye.  Fresh wild ingredients treated with nothing more than a little oil, salt, pepper and onions in the moose make for a tasty meal that leaves you wanting more.

The moose is slow cooked and the walleye pan fried crispy.  Behind the scene,  you don’t see the turkey fryer going for the 10+ lbs of potatoes that were double fried to crispy deliciousness and in this house, doused with malt vinegar while I run to escape the pungent smell.

Is there a meal family cooks for you that you ask for?

 

Tasting Love – Cherry Compote & Ice Cream

 

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Cherry Compote & Ice Cream

 

One of the things I believe is, you can taste the love people put into their food.  If you don’t believe it, have Mom cook you a meal and if Mom isn’t around, find someone who is passionate about food and watch them cook and then taste their food.  Now find someone who hates being in the kitchen or looks at cooking as a chore and let me know which meal you prefer.  I am sure there is a portion of it is knowledge and time in the kitchen, but an ingredient you can’t buy is love or passion.

Prime example.  Take sliced beef, toss it in a pot with mushrooms and onions and soya sauce and make a pot of rice.  Sure sounds like a boring weeknight meal that anyone can put together.  Now, toss your Mom into the mix and you have this delicious dinner that is hearty and warming, seasoned perfectly, extra tender beef and even the Minute Rice is divine.  I’ve tried and for some reason, this can not be reproduced in my kitchen with my hands.  We have the same pots, buy the beef at the same place, use the same soy sauce and even the same blue box of Minute Rice.  The only factor is, Mom.

See where I’m going here?

Today is Valentine’s day and posted above is one of the treats I made for Granny Canuck and Mrs. Canuck around the campfire one summer, long before I started this blog.  After a long day in the sun and wanting some ice cream, the desire came just as the sun was setting at the taste of BBQ steak was starting to leave our taste buds.  We needed something sweet and needed it quick.

I ran into the camper eager to find something that involved ice cream and came across the in-season cherries we bought fresh the day before at the local market.  Looked on the counter and saw a bag of granola and within seconds I had it.  Sweet, cold, hot, creamy, crunchy all in one and knew it was going to be a hit.

Here is a quick rundown of what I did and to be honest what I would do again if I were to make it, as I didn’t write it down and going by my very limited memory.

Stuff You Need

  • cherries, a good bag full
  • 1-2oz orange liqueur, optional orange juice
  • sugar to taste, optional stevia sweetener.
  • good premium ice cream
  • granola, we get unsweetened stuff usually from the local bulk store or Kashi.

Stuff You Do

  1. Pit cherries and place in a pot with sugar and liqueuer or orange juice and place over medium heat or in our case, warm coals on an open fire.  If you are using stevia or artificial sweetener, leave it out until step 2.
  2. Cook cherries until they break down until it’s thick and syrupy.  If you are using stevia or artificial sweetener, you can add it now.
  3. Let mixture cool a little as not to instantly melt the ice cream.
  4. Assembly, ice cream, cherry compote, granola and garnish with a fresh cherry.
  5. Last but not least, enjoy!

 

A special tribute to my Valentines of a picture I did many years ago on our anniversary and today and each and every day it remains true.

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Kettle Smoked Trout

 

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Summer can come anytime!  Simple yet tasty, kettle smoked trout.

 

With a snow advisory of 15-20 cm of the white fluffy stuff, all I can do is pull a Clark Griswold and stare out the window and dream of warmer days filled with green grass, campfires and of course real kettle BBQ.

I don’t have as much as a recipe today but inspiration.  That inspiration starts with a simple idea, fish.  When discussing dinners and menu planning around the house we often pick a protein and build around that.

This dinner, in particular, was based on what was on sale for fresh fish at the grocery store after picking that as our protein.  Being at camp, it was an easy decision to roll out the Weber Kettle charcoal BBQ.  My wife gave me the BBQ about 5 years ago for our wedding anniversary.  I used it once or twice and put it in the shed.   It is now a daily staple at camp and I don’t think we used 1 tank of propane on the gas BBQ this summer.  Rather, we used over 6 20lb bags of charcoal and enjoyed the whole process.

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Getting the kettle BBQ ready.  The charcoal chimney; a DEFINITE recommend!

 

Setup is pretty easy with a bed of coals on one side of the grill, some soaked smoker chips, a layer or parchment paper so the fish doesn’t stick, fresh trout, salt and pepper and a little bit of patience.  Once the chips started to smoke, the lid goes on and check it every 10-15 minutes.  Typically I add a few more smoker chips 15 minutes in and depending on size and thickness of the filets you should be enjoying in 30 minutes.

Just in case you’re stuck in 10 feet of snow like me, here is a visual reminder that greener days are just around the corner.

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Mrs. Canuck and Granny Canuck enjoying the sunset from our seasonal campsite.

 

What is your favorite camping meal?

Happy Birthday Morris, whoever you are!

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Happy 86th Birthday Morris, whoever you are.

Last night we drove from Timmins to Barrie for a little getaway with Granny Canuck and Mrs. Canuck to stop at Casino Rama in Orillia and take in some good restaurant eats and a little minor shopping.    A mandatory Barrie food stop for the traveling crew is “The Mandarin”.

Yes, it’s a Chinese buffet filled with fried food, sugary sauces and overeating indulgence like you’ve never seen before and we enjoy every calorie.  While we were having dinner, the usual banter of staff danced about to sing happy birthday to an elderly couple sitting close to our table.  We clapped with our sticky fingers and sang with the rest, only to find out the gentleman’s name was Morris, having dinner with his lovely wife and turning 86.   Once the excitement died down, I looked at my Mom and instantly knew what she was thinking.

Over the course of many years, we have all taken turns to pay it forward to unsuspecting dining couples, drive-thru customers, and coffee-goers.  One of my fondest memory is an elderly couple in their turquoise 1960’s Thunderbird behind us in the Dairy Queen drive-thru on a Sunday afternoon.  We paid for their ice cream and drove away.  A quick look in the mirror we could see the sheer surprise and delight on their faces as they were told their ice cream was on the silver vehicle driving north.

Tonight, we asked our server to make sure we picked up the tab for their dinner.   Normally we get to sneak out and leave them wondering; but in this case, the server who wasn’t too sure of our intentions pointed directly at us when they asked who paid the bill.  We all turned 50 shades of red and tried to sneak out; but before we could Mrs. Morris came to our table with tears of joy in her eyes and hugged my Mom.  On our way out, we shook the hand of our new friend and made our way to the hotel.

This isn’t a challenge to anyone to pay it forward, I’m not posting for a pat on the back, I’m posting because as I posted before, it’s the little things in life.  My Dad would sometimes do this, as cheap as he was.  Tonight we did it for Morris and Mrs. Morris to make his day a little extra special and a story he will remember long into his 90th birthday.

We did it in part for ourselves, the little thing that reminds us of Dad.  He would be even happier knowing it was two seniors.  After all, they get a 20% discount.

Blogging on the rails.

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My rotation is done in Moosonee and I’m sitting here on the Ontario Northland Train writing this blog post and will post it once I have the internet once again a little further south.

The train has been a vital part of Moosonee since 1932.  The construction was started in 1921 and construction was completed on July 15, 1932. Since it’s opening it has carried many a local passenger, tourists, groceries, cars and even homes.

Up until 2012, the ONR was subsidized by the provincial government where there was the discussion of privatizing the ONR.  While I prefer to keep my blog politics free,  an agreement was made after the ONR provided a report to the government to restructure and sell of ONTERA their telecommunication’s division.

I remember as a young boy traveling the train just before Christmas to visit my Nanny in Moosonee.  Three families would all cram into her 2.5 bedroom base house, the presents almost flowing into the kitchen and wake up to the smell of bacon, coffee, and cigarettes.  I can vaguely remember the Commodore 64 computer the family got that sparked my love for all things electronic.  After Christmas was done, we’d repack all our gifts in boxes, load them on the train, unload in Cochrane and drive back to Timmins.

Now, twenty plus years later, I continue this routine working in Moosonee.  In this case, we bring our clothes, foods that are difficult or expensive to get up there, like rye flour for pumpernickel bread.

If you would like to read a little more about the history of the Ontario Northland Railway, please have a look at the ONR Wiki.  If you have any specific questions, please let me know and I will try my best to answer or find someone that might have the answer.

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** Historical information provided from Wikipedia.

It’s the little things.

fullsizeoutput_249For those of you that don’t know me and are just tuning in, my Dad passed away almost two years after a very short battle with cancer.   Today; where we are staying in Moosonee, the washer decided to stop draining.  Normally this would be an ‘oh shit’ moment for most.

Today; sitting on the floor, his tools in my hand, his sense of getting it done, I could hear him behind me saying “not like that, use your brain dumbass…” all while cursing under my breath “why am I doing this and you standing there?”   I realized something, sitting in floor soaked in water, putting the washing machine back together, it was the little things that I will never forget and the little things that bring back memories.

Over the years I rolled my eyes more than once, cursed under my breath more than a million times and complained to my wife that my Dad needed a hand, even sometimes made the odd excuse to get out of it.  Things like how to change a ballast on a fluorescent light, the time I had to troubleshoot my fridge and order a damper door between the freezer and fridge and replacing the calipers and rotors on our 1999 Ford Explorer the first vehicle he helped us purchase.

It’s been almost two years and not often a week goes by without an “Okay JACK!” or even a “Jesus Christ!!!”  If you’re reading this, remember to take the time to soak in the little things.  Because; eventually, they might be all you have.

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Got Sticky Buns?

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One of the things I remember as a treat growing up was the days Mom decided to make fresh bread. When she was making fresh bread, we always knew at the end there was going to be a tray or two of sticky buns!  Going through my Facebook photos this came up as a memory 6 years ago today.

I can’t give you the recipe for these buns because even if I did they would never turn out like my Moms.  If you are looking to try your own she just uses a basic bread recipe, some butter, brown sugar and cherries on the bottom.

She’s tried to teach me, she’s lead me the whole way, but they are never the same. My wife has recently started baking them again and for the sake of spending a few nights on the couch, I will say they are tied.  Either way; they are gone in minutes out of the oven!

The picture was taken with my Canon 7D and 24-70 2.8 L lens and is a reminder of how most people that love to cook have that creative photography side as well.  I have since sold the 7D and most of the lenses.  I switched out to a Sony A6000 when I was traveling because it was a lighter setup with similar quality.  Unfortunately, it has been on the shelf for a while gathering dust.  However; this is a reminder for me to charge the batteries and dust off the lens and snap away.

Do you have a go-to cinnamon sticky bun recipe?  Let me know!

No English Muffins, no problem!

A trip today to the grocery store here in Moosonee to get some English muffins for our breakfast tomorrow morning, resulted in a major disappointment with the shelf bare.

Staying true to living in the north fashion, the next best thing is to make your own!

A few Google and Pinterest searches later, we found “…been making this for 29 years” recipe and with that; how could we go wrong?

English Muffins: LindaPinda – AllRecepies

The Stuff You Need

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/4 cup melted shortening**
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

** I used lard here as I didn’t have shortening; it worked fine as far as I can tell.

The Stuff You Do

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1/4 of the sugar in warm water and it should get frothy in about 10 minutes and if not, time to get some new yeast!  I add 1/4 of the sugar here because it helps the yeast.
  2.  Heat the milk on medium until bubbles just form, no boiling here.  This is called scalding the milk.  Once it’s off the heat, toss in the 3/4 of the sugar.
  3. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, add yeast goo, warm milk, melted fat, and 3 cups of flour.  Start slow and then turn that mixer up and let it run till it’s smooth, mine was about 5 minutes.
  4. Change out to a dough hook and start adding the rest of the flour.  I was using regular all-purpose flour, so it took about 2 extra cups and the dough was still soft.
  5. Place in a warm area, let rise 30-40 minutes until doubled.
  6. Punch down, roll out 1/2 thick and use a biscuit cutter, glass or something round.
  7. The original recipe says to place on parchment with cornmeal but mine wouldn’t stick so I used a little water on buns and rolled them in cornmeal, worked for me.
  8. Let rise about 20-30 minutes.
  9. Heat a griddle or frying pan in my case, grease with shortening or lard and cook away.  I had my setting on low/medium heat to turned them frequently as not to brown too much.
  10. Set aside to cool and then enjoy!

The Money Shot

Final Thoughts

These are not traditional English muffins that you think of when you get them at the store, but more like a bun texture.  They turned out chewy and a little dense like a biscuit as most reviews suggested on Allrecepies.

I won’t be saving this recipe as my real English muffin search continues…

When Life Won’t Give You Lemons

Make cinnamon swirl loaf!

One of the challenges of working and living in Moosonee is the reduced access to fresh fruit and vegetables, like lemons. There is only a single grocery store in Moosonee and if they don’t have lemons, you have to look for alternatives and forgo that craving for a lemon loaf.

The Cinnamon Loaf – Love Foodies Recipe

The Stuff You Need

  • 2 cups All Purpose / Plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cups regular sugar
  • 1 tsp baking power
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk**
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
** To make homemade buttermilk: take 1 cup or milk and add 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar.

The Sweet, Sweet Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tsp milk

The Stuff You Need To Do

1. Crank that oven to 350 °F  and slick up a 9-in loaf pan.

2. Toss the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, buttermilk, egg, vanilla and oil in a bowl and stir just until moistened.

3. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and remaining sugar.

4. Pour half of the batter into your greased pan; sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar. Dump the rest of the batter and then the rest of the cinnamon-sugar.

5. Now grab a knife and swirl that loaf up!

6. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry and not a sticky-gooey mess. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing to wire rack and let cool, try not resist the urge to dig into it now and burn your fingers and tongue in the process.

7. For the glaze, combine icing sugar and enough milk to reach desired consistency, thin or thick, whatever your inner baker desires.

Now break out the milk, tea, coffee whatever your drinking these days.  Heck, it’s winter have it with a Baliey’s and hot chocolate!

The Money Shot

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Have a SWIRL at the recipe yourself and let me know how it turns out!

It takes 8-12 Hard Inches

Now that I have your attention, I’m talking about ice thickness before a light pickup can travel on it.

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A big part of living and working in the James Bay area of Moosonee, Moose Factory, Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Attawapiskat is the dependency on the winter roads.  The winter roads are vital links to get materials like lumber, fuel and other items that require a community to operate.

Having worked for James Bay General as the only I.T. person for 3 remote communities, the winter road was vital to part of my work.  I would leave Moosonee early in the morning with a coffee, sandwich, few snacks, winter gear, and a lighter, just in case.


I would prefer to drive as I was no longer tied to an airline schedule and could travel between Fort Albany and Attawapiskat as required.

The road between Moosonee and Moose Factory opens a whole new community to access from both sides. Moose Factory does not have a LCBO and Moosonee does not have GG’s a local general store that has just about anything you need.

This is a shot of the glare ice on the Moose River that will accommodate snow machines, vehicles, buses, transport trucks and fuel trucks.


April lends way to break up where the massive force of the Moose River tears the thick ice to shreds, but that’s another story for spring.