Mother Nature must specifically know when to cover her land with comfort, because the entire flight between Nome and Anchorage was a sunny beautiful time. But only because we were above the downy cloud cover that loomed below. That downy blanket of cover looked beautiful from above, but 600 miles of clouds means 600 miles of dreary winter-is-upon-us weather underneath said clouds. Such is life though, when you live in Alaska.
Winter really is upon us. No matter how hard I will myself it not to be, it just is.
No matter how hard I dream of fall colors, and spring sunshine and summer softball, I still wake up and its twenty degrees out, snowing and dark. Its harder and harder to wake up each morning, because its darker and darker, colder and colder.
It makes you ask yourself if you're ready for winter. Did we insulate the floor enough so we don't spend $3,000 a month on stove oil? Did we winterize the windows? Did we store all the summer gear and summer stuff, oil and lube them and put them away? Did I cover the meat hanging rack with plywood? Did we put the hose away? Do we have enough food in the freezers?
It DOES help to have a husband who hunts and likes to do Manly-outdoorsy stuff. He insulated Koy's room, and screws the plywood on, and fills our freezer with whatever he can.
More importantly then actual hunting, is catching and PUTTING away that meat. I love hunting. I hate the work after. Its like painting your best masterpiece, only to find every color has dripped onto your new hardwood floor and there are water spots everywhere. You have to clean it up!
Also as important is a space to actually put your meat away in. Sure, we live in a perpetual freezer named Kotzebue where simply putting it outside would suffice (and we DO in the dead winter), but when the temps hover at twenty during the night and thirty-thirty five during the day, you need a place to put them. It helps to have FOUR freezers at our house.
Can I just say...a Moose is a HUGE animal! I've seen them in the wild, and running across the road in Anchorage, and on the ground. But until now, I only ever saw the "finished product" in our freezers at my mom and dad's house. I used to be the bag lady. I'd hold the bag open for my mom to put the ground meat in and I'd suck out the air and close it!
Our moose is taking up THREE shelves in our energy efficient freezer right now, with an array of lean meaty choices.
Backstrap the size of my THIGH, roasts that hung bug-free for five days with an unbelievable crust that slowly tenderized it from the inside out. "Scrap" that was ground into two pound packages and vacuum sealed, to steaks cut from frozen roasts that are so tender now, they can be cut with a fork. And cubes, and strips packaged to choose between shish kabobs or meat and gravy or bourguignon or whatever it was that your friends aunt made that one time that was just so good.
Caribou and musk ox is treated the same way and suffers from lack of space thanks to that Fred the Moose (or Bullwinkle!). But the important thing is that they are THERE. Ready to thaw and eat.
Berries of different colors fight for lower drawer space in twenty four gallon ziplock freezer bags. Blueberries for dessert or muffins or pancakes, salmon berries for delight, cranberries for qayusaaq or cookies, and blackberries for akutaq patiently wait to be picked up and thrown into the pot/pan/batter/bowl.
Rendered seal oil in one and three gallon buckets filled with a decadent soft semi-sweet chewy black meat that warms you from the inside out sit on the shelf above the berries. If any frozen pizza or chicken nuggets or bread is so lucky to grace themselves, you might find them buried beneath a whole ptarmigan or duck from our summer duck experiment and Koy's many spring hunting trips. Among this mess are gallons and gallons of milk that sit paitently for thier turn to be thawed and shaken and drank with cereal or berries or cookies.
Halibut, Copper River Red, Kenai Red, King, Chum, Shiifish, and Trout make their home on the top shelf of the right freezer and await being canned or baked or broiled or fried for dinner.
I don't know how to (nor do I really care to) prepare certain foods because my brain and heart are filled with recipes made for a meat-and-potatoes sort of family. Once I tried to make vegetarian lasagna with the new fresh veggies we get from Full Circle Farms and NO one ate it.
I asked a vegetarian once why they chose to live that lifestyle, she said, "There are too many horemones and preservatives rattled int he beef, pork and chicken industry." Industry? Who eats beef and pork and chicken?! (except chicken nuggets! hahaha)
I am not above it all, and I like me a good salad, but all my meat is completely 100% organic and free range. It sees what we put in it before touching the plastic food saver bags, or the saran wrap and freezer paper, or the ziplock freezer bag and being thawed for dinner. No preservatives, hormones, or dye. No fat if I don't want to add it, and if I do want to add fat to my ground meat, I simply use the fat that was on the animal in the first place. Just fresh, lean meat.
Our dinners include the following 90% of the time; meat/fish, onion, garlic and olive oil. To that the possibilities are endless.
I always hear people say, "I made moose lasagna," or, "we had caribou spaghetti for dinner." Huh? I don't use beef for anything (at all, my kids think it tastes a little like rotten caribou!) so when I say we had lasagna, or spaghetti or chili, it was made with moose, caribou, sheep, or musk ox. Its just that way. We use fish for taco's and we do eat a LOT OF FISH, and one of the new family favorites is the ginger-soy salmon. Yummy with some Chummy in my Tummy!
The way I know how to make Eskimo Ice Cream and sew mukluks and get to Sisualik is the same way I cook. From the heart.
From our freezer to yours...have a GREAT winter!
Today happens to be my husband and I's wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary Deanie...I love you. And even more so, because of the post I just wrote!