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Friday, March 22, 2013

Ptarmigan Stew recipe.....

Yes it is that time of the year!

The ptarmigan have blanketed our area heralding the coming of spring.  Much more reliable than any ground hog.  They usually show up right before the willow start to bud.

Since I have moved here I have been experimenting and learning about ptarmigan and their many little quirks.  I have also been trying new recipes.  The first batch of ptarmigan this year went to making a ptarmigan stew, something a little different.  I like this much better than roasted ptarmigan or fried ptarmigan.

Be aware that I don't really measure things so you will have to use a bit of common kitchen sense and adjust to your own tastes and requirements.


3-4 ptarmigan cleaned and cut into bit sized pieces
half an onion
a few strips of really good bacon
a couple of garlic cloves (or about a tablespoon of powdered)
a couple pieces of celery (or a teaspoon of celery seed)
a tomato (or a can of tomatoes)
three or four good sized potatoes
a cup or so of rice
Tablespoon dried rosemary herb finely crushed
teaspoon cinnamon
one bay leaf (remove before eating)
teaspoon dried dill
teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, but we like it hot!)
A coupled of cubes of chicken bouillon or replace some water with liquid chicken stock

1. Prep ptarmigan and add to a big pot.  I personally like to use cubed breast, the legs, and the heart meat only.   which is not traditional Native way but I get lazy. :/  Add water (or chicken stock) to half way up the pot. add salt, bouillon and pepper to taste. turn heat up to med-high.
2. Add finely chopped bacon to a frying pan and fry.
3. chop rest of veggies to bites sized chunks while bacon is frying and add to pot.
4. when bacon is just about done (I like it browned and crispy) add onion and garlic and cook til clear.  make sure the bacon mix is cool BEFORE adding to pot, since hot oil and water will bubble and splash something fierce. Add to pot. (ptarmigan is very lean so I use the bacon for a fat source, you can of course omit it)
5. Add rest of the ingredients minus the rice.  Once it is boiling....add rice.  cook till rice is done.

Notes: I like using a mix of wild rice sometimes but you will have to adjust cooking plans to allow for the wild rice to cook without making everything else mushy.  Mushrooms also go very well with this recipe.  I have learned that the ptarmigan will taste like what they eat, so I only get them right before the willow really starts budding, when they are eating last years berries and labrador tea.  Once the willow start to bud vigorously the birds will taste more like the astringent willow brushes. 

Serve with bread and butter or pilot bread!

The legs and breast meat and hearts (under the breasts) ready to be chopped up and thrown in the pot.  Ptarmigan is a very flavorful dark game bird meat. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tree line

We went on a breif trip down to the tree line to pick up a little bit of wood and to visit with friends and family that were camping there.  The weather was crisp and a bit chilly.  We took only one snowmachine because the village gas station had run out of gas before the weekend, so we had to be extra frugal.  Our gas bill is a huge part of our house budget, as it costs us about $9.60 a gallon.  It is flown in to the villageo n a huge pot bellied plane, and it is incredibly disturbing to watch it land! are some photos from our trip.

The bull moose antlers on top of the cabin are accompanied by a fresh wolverine skull. 

A typical set up for heating water for coffee and tea and for warming lunch meat.  I love the smell of a willow fire

The evergreen trees shed the snow for spring.

Camp robber birds are a permanent part of every camp in the trees.

They perch on nearby trees and wait till we drop a morsel or two.  I have even had one land on my head.  They do not eat gummy bears.  Which has me suspicious of said gummy bears.

On the way back we ran into a red fox.  I always found it odd how nature made these animals such a bright hue, making it almost impossible to be camouflaged in the arctic.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

poem....'The Road.'

Promised to share my writings!  Here is a quick poem....

I wish my Reflection was different.
But I do not create the Waste that portrays me
In its tarnished silver surface

What is it that is seen?
Suicide braided into my hair
Scholastic failure upon my skin
My clothes tattered and soaked in Alcohol and bruises

I wish my Song was different.
But I do not own the Stolen breath that defines me
In the joy of the rumor monger

What is it that is heard?
Sloth tinged laughter
An unwanted language exhaled
My words colored red and painted with vexation

I wish my Story was different.
But I do not write the Benevolent tombs that cement me
In their dusty, dusty Pages

What is it that is written?
Alien Paragraphs across my soul
‘The End’ found at My beginning
My dreams found to be too brown, and not brown enough

I wish I was different.
But I do not create the road that will Save me
concrete embedded with tundra loam

One never builds the Reflection, the Song and the Story

So what thunderous magic builds the Road?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spring time photos....

Now that the sun has come back to the mountains I am actually starting to feel some cabin fever.  It's almost like I can sense the suns rays themselves on the roof of our house.  When I do walk outside I have to take a moment to shade my eyes as they adjust to the intensity of the light reflecting a million times over on the icy snow crystals, which act as tiny tiny prisms.  The sunlight in the arctic even smells different then anywhere else I have lived.  It smells like crunchy lettuce and sharp warming dog fur and wet rust.  The sunlight can actually blind you in the spring it's so intense, and any skin exposed is almost instantly tanned.

But it is good to emerge from my grumpy hibernation.  In the next or two we will start going on trips to go ice fishing and to the trees to look for caribou and cottonwood buds.  Hopefully we will also be getting ptarmigans to use for art and for a tasty treat.
I find it hilarious and frustrating that I am already getting seed catalogs in the mail....
....Because this is what my garden looks like right now.  Those are rabbit, fox, weasel, raven, and dog tracks....And i think they might be invisible animals because I have yet o actually catch these animals back there. 

The sunlight.....burning the frost from cold willow branches

The snow is made up of an uncountable amount of tiny glass prisms.

A quick self portrait. 

Even my jewelry is inspired by what i I scrimshawed the sunlight behind a willow branch, on baleen.