Wild Harvest

Mushrooms From the Open Fields

As a youngster back in the 1950s, one of our responsibilities was to go out in the open fields and pick fresh mushrooms – and to know the good from the bad. There are hundreds of different kinds of mushrooms and some types contain the lethal toxins amanitin and phalloidin. These two toxins can be …

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A Passion for Preserving

If you love the gentle pop-pop-popping of a jar lid, you might just be a home canner. For Michelle Christensen-Toews, it’s one of the many satisfying things about preserving food. “You only hear it as you’re clearing up. You’re washing the dishes and you start to hear the popping and you know that things are …

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Haska-What Now?

Raspberries, blueberries, crowberries and cranberries: being on Yukon time means planning your weekends around where to pick once the – dare I say it? – latter part of summer rolls around and hints at fall. There is one berry fairly new to the Yukon scene that is well over and done with by the time …

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Northern Food Fusion

I am a lover of adventure and fine tastes – a forager of the wild world. The life I live is close with nature and so is my diet. I am a Gwich’in Inuvialuit Caucasian woman living in the far north, and a student of natural medicine. My elders taught me about the healing gifts …

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Do the Berry

Cranberries are just one of many berries that you can add to regular recipes for some extra health benefits. But since we are in the midst of cranberry season, why not take advantage of these home grown berries to boost your overall health. At the shops in town and at the Fireweed Community Market at …

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Moose Heart Tacos

The hidden trophy of any successful hunt – that should be hauled out of the woods and cherished like a beautiful hide or perfectly curled horns – is the heart. The heart is by far the most delicious cut of any sort of wild game I’ve had the pleasure of eating. And if you’re a …

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Fireweed Jelly

Fireweed Jelly Yield: approximately 15 x 125 ml jars Ingredients: 8 cups fireweed blossoms (no stems or leaves) ¼ cup lemon juice 4 ½ cups water 2 packages powdered pectin 5 cups sugar Method: Collect the fireweed blossoms. Avoid the green stems and leaves. I harvest the blooming stalks while my patient wife picks and …

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Homemade Food for the Trail

Finally, it’s here! The season I’ve been waiting for, the season when each day invites a further excursion to extend the trail beyond yesterday’s stopping point. It’s ski season. I got out for my first ski this year on a visit down to Mount Lorne before Christmas, and the next shortly afterwards on my new …

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Coho

September is harvest time. Berries are juicy and ripe for picking; root crops need to be dug and stored. The shortening days are a clear indicator that it is nearly time to put the garden to bed. September also marks the return of the coho and provides anglers not only the thrill of the catch, …

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Berry Picking

For me, the summer of 2016 has been the best berry year ever. My berry season starts with wild strawberries and they were bigger than ever this year. Wild raspberries are almost always abundant. Our famous Yukon cranberries are looking extremely promising this year. The wild season ends with rosehips. I like to compare Mother …

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On Simple Pleasures

There is a microwave placed awkwardly in front of the little, old fashioned split-glass window. The curtains are open and on the other side of the window freight ships move across the bay slowly, deliberately, as if the water was thick as muskeg and they had to work much harder than they expected to get …

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Mushrooms in the Yukon

Mushroom season starts in spring. On a hike at the end of May, I came upon some black morels. In the Yukon, morels usually only grow where there has been a recent fire, although I’ve found them growing other places. With the warm weather and rain this year, I have been picking mushrooms in earnest …

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Not for Novices: Beyond Beginner Picking

After you’ve picked your first few batches of mushrooms, and haven’t landed in the hospital, you’ll find the mushroom conversation branches into themes of field testing, drying, and alternate uses, such as medicines, dyes and crafts. The best mushrooming advice I ever got was from experienced mushroom picker Esa Ekdahl. She told me to start …

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Raspberry Jam

I recently discovered a great trick for keeping strawberries fresher for longer: wash them in a one part vinegar to 10-parts water solution, then leave them out to dry before storing them in the fridge. There’s no vinegar aftertaste, and your strawberries will last way longer! I figured this trick would work equally well on …

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Eat Your Art Out

‘Tis the season where giant vegetables are being harvested from gardens and potentially prize-winning jams are being churned out for display in the hopes of gaining a ribbon. This was the case at Dawson City’s horticultural exhibition as part of Discovery Days last week, but you won’t find large or entertaining vegetables adorning the tables …

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That Wasn’t the Plan

I always forget the way this works, how fast things change here. In the hot, hot days of summer, I think it will last forever and then suddenly, one rainy July day, there it is. The chill, maybe a wool sweater, the thought of lighting a fire crosses your mind, and you notice the first …

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Continuing the Legacy of Alex VanBibber

The late Alex VanBibber had a favourite refrain: “An outdoor life is a healthy life.” This is according to his friend, Harvey Jessop. Jessop wrote some remarks about VanBibber’s life for the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, pertaining to a new scholarship it is offering in VanBibber’s legacy. The Alex VanBibber Sharing the Land …

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Know Thy Microclimate

I’ve put a lot of miles under me this spring between Victoria, B.C. and the Klondike Valley, and had thought I would be riding the green wave north. It is true that there were more leaves out on the Gulf Islands than there were when I arrived at home in Mount Lorne, but in between, …

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Sprucey French 75

The spruce tip harvest was early this year; green buds started appearing at the ends of spruce branches around mid-May in Whitehorse and continued being harvestable well into the first week of June – on higher ground at least. Best-laid plans notwithstanding, I never did make it out for a concentrated session of picking, but …

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Switching Up the Drinks Menu

In the world of beverages, everything old is new again. The cocktail revival of recent years has been matched by a revival of interest in old-fashioned, non-alcoholic refreshers. On food blogs, in restaurants and in modern cookbooks you’ll find recipes for herb or fruit-infused waters, fruit and vinegar combinations like shrub or schwitzel, fermented drinks …

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Death by Camas

Yes, a new form of torture has been developed, involving an unrelenting repetition of a single passage from the Myth of Sisyphus – what? C-A-M-A-S? So, not Albert? Oh…sorry about that. Let’s begin again. I love the flowers of death-camas. I love their Dr. Seussian protuberances, like false noses in bizarre and marvelous shapes. This …

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The Magic of Mushrooms

Jean Francois is a chef. I met him at a B.C. heli-ski lodge on Highway 5 — The Yellowhead — in the early 2000s. He cooked pastries and cakes and cookies and yelled at the breakfast servers at six in the morning. I was a person cleaning rooms, chopping wood, listlessly dusting big stone walls, …

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Apocalypse When?

Call me a skeptic, a cynic, I don’t care. Heck, go the distance and call me a heretic, if you wish. Truth is, I don’t believe in the Zombie Apocalypse. Or the Four Horsemen variety, for that matter. It’s not that I harbour illusions about mankind’s lease on this planet having no expiry date, or …

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Happy Birthday Eeyore

In chapter six of A.A. Milne’s classic, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore has a birthday. Miserable to begin with, and sure to become so again soon after, we leave Eeyore at the end of the tale at perhaps the happiest we’ve ever see him — because of a useful pot, and something to put in it. …

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Nuts to you

The rain was turning to slush against the windows of the plane as we scooted down the tarmac a few weeks ago, on its way to becoming the first snow of the season in Whitehorse. I was headed south and in good company —it seems that seasonality is a trait shared by many Yukoners, feathered …

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Feasting on the Forest

Miche Genest is up early, squeezing wild-rose-petal-infused egg whites into small twists on parchment-paper-lined baking pans. She’s making meringues in preparation for the launch of her second cookbook, The Boreal Feast: a culinary journey through the North.  The meringues are dainty, pink floral-shaped cookies; she says you can smell the rose petals more than you …

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The Return of Salad Season

I was shopping at my local free store the other day when I stopped in the middle of a wave to a fellow browser. He peered at me, and I at him, for a good minute before I said tentatively, “Dom?” His grin affirmed my suspicions and as we caught up we shared a chuckle …

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Lichen, anyone?

I delight in winter travel, especially once the snow pack has settled. It’s early this year, and I’m already able to break away from the packed trails and wander the woods to my hearts content. Whether on skis on snowshoes, I inevitably follow the tracks of some other creature, and, given my proclivities, I look …

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Canning Wild Meat

Before electricity, drying and canning were the only ways to preserve meat, but I’ll bet it didn’t take long to get tired of eating dried meat.? With freezers in every home, canning meat has become very uncommon – which is a shame because it is easy, tasty, and it really tenderizes tough meat. It’s also …

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To Frost or Not To Frost

With the beauty of the fall colours comes an increase in the ever-present danger of frost. For some, this is evidence of a balance between good and bad, for others it is proof that we can have our cake and eat it too. Ice on the puddles is an indication that a transformation is taking …

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A Taste of Our Northern Woodlands

Morel mushrooms are an exquisite treat found in the ashy remains of the forest fire floor. Because these mushrooms only germinate when exposed to extremely high heat, morels are available the year after a forest fire has raged through the woods. While destruction does take place, much growth occurs afterwards. Harvesting the woods in early …

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Plank It Up

Sockeye is in season and if you haven’t yet discovered the ease and piquant flavour of cooking fish on a cedar plank, now is the time. Planks infuse a wonderful woodsy taste to fish as well as minimizing the mess in cleaning up. Following are two recipes, a really easy one and a more challenging …

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Time for Bison

If your family or circle of friends didn’t harvest any bison this fall, don’t despair as bison is now  available in local grocery stores. As steaks, ground mince or roasts, bison is a high source of protein, iron and B vitamins. Russian influences, during early Alaskan days, is evident in some Klondike recipes such as …

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Cooking on the Wild Side of Summer

Wild raspberries are yours for the picking in a ditch or river bank near you. Take advantage of our warm summer weather and gather plump, succulent red raspberries or peach-coloured salmonberries for jam, juice, pie or these delicious squares. Similar to a date square in texture but amped up in flavour, these will be quickly …

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With Sage Advice

Along with the crocuses, up come new buds on ‘artemisia frigida’, better known as wild sage. Aromatic, especially when crushed, sage is a silver-grey-green member of the mint family. Gather these lacy leaves from local hilltops and make this warm and very fragrant Sage Focaccia Bread. It is great for camping, picnics and backpacking as …

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Sourdough-Dipped Chicken-Fried Caribou Steaks with Cream Gravy

Chicken-fried caribou steaks might just be the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time. I’ve played around with a lot of different recipes and styles over the years, and have always been happy with the results. But on one fine winter day, I topped them all. I was subconsciously staring at my ever-so-hungry-jar of …

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Canning Fish and Wild Game

A very traditional—often thought of as old-fashioned—way of preserving fish and wild game is canning using the pressure of steam. Unless you have a friend to lend you a pressure canner, the start-up cost can be between $100 and $200 to purchase the necessary equipment and accessories. In olden times, cans were used even at …

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Meat Care Basics

  When you have 300-500 lbs of moose or bison in your freezer, you really need to have everyone in the family just love the first plateful that you serve them. If you prepare properly as set out below, you increase the chances of that first meal being so delicious that it causes them to …

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Mush Rush 101

The mossy floor of old growth forest is soft and damp. I breathe the air; warm and thick. My exhalation of carbon dioxide draws mosquitoes to descend on me like a plague, biting through my jeans to my flesh. “There!” my striped-touque, flannel-plaid-clad guide, Jeffery Mickelson, says from behind me. I retrace my steps and …

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