7.29.2012

One Tribe

It is July 29th, 45 degrees F and 30 knot winds. Full moon on August 1st. The most visible faces of nature are the most meaningful: wind, earth, water, fire, sunshine, starlight and so forth. In knowing the local nature and people I know myself. The wilderness surrounding is a mirror of myself and the state of the local environment and relationships within it reflect the global picture.

What's this story about?

We are One Tribe on Earth working towards unity and peace everlasting.

Yet another beautiful sunrise to the East of 6 Mile Lake.


It's been busy over the last six weeks. Many clients, long hours in the kitchen starring at the same walls and little darkness to sleep by. Safe to say that the peak of the fishing season is over and nighttime is growing as there's 3 minutes less of sunshine each day. The sockeyes are beginning to turn and the Nondalton fish camp, where the villagers harvest their catch for winter stock, is going be closed in a few days.



There's been one long, spread out week of warm sunny days since I've arrived on June 10th. It's been an uncommon chilly and cloudy summer. A frost last week wiped out the start of the salmon berries, but the blueberries are doing just fine and while cruising to the post office on the 4 wheeler I saw high bush cranberries ready to be picked. 

 

I feel that Jessica is feeling a bit more grounded comfortable with the remote Alaska lodge scene. She's making a dream catcher right now with birch twig and twine while sitting next to the fire. I am so thankful that she could come to Alaska to experience a lifestyle that's proved to be a never-ending learning and strengthening life experience. She's been a great help in the kitchen and garden, and more importantly, a great smile to live and work with. Here she is sipping away at her morning raspberry leaf tea while watching the float planes takeoff.


Behind the lodge are miles of ruggid trails leading to secret blueberry patches and flowering fields of giant cow parsnip.  


Every time I go for a run through the woods I find something new left behind from a creature. I think this is an owl pellet considering it's a mess of mice bones. 


Along with the owls, we've been seeing and hearing bats, ravens, seagulls, loons and bald eagles. When the birds of prey come, the fish are near the surface. At night, there's a porcupine that likes to eat the side of the cabins. I woke up one time at 3 AM with the porcupine gnawing on the wood right next to our bed and I ran outside with a stick in my long johns and chased it off. The next night I heard something, again, and figured it was the porcupine having fun eating the building and I was too tired to chase it. It wasn't the porcupine, it was a big bear getting into our trash. The following morning we spent an hour cleaning up a trail of trash that was dragged through the woods. He seemed to really like the fish batter.

Jessy's salmon skin art. 
 

Butter in a cast iron art.


A painting made of cabbage and berry reductions.







Pretty awesome eh? 




Good times and good smiles. Jessica getting the dining table ready for breakfast.


A new way to broil salmon with blueberries.



A Cody Pizza Classic. BBQed maple glazed salmon pizza. 


My first attempt with a gluten free pizza was a hit. The crust was made with brown rice flour, quinoa, corn meal and fresh garlic and basil. I may mixed a bit of goat cheese in there too. 


More salmon. 


Slow cooked rack of lamb wrapped in apple and bacon.


French onion soup.


This is a special smoked salmon wrap. To the right is the vegetarian option made with fresh salmon.


If you ever need help with cooking salmon, you know who to call.


Prettied up pumpkin pie. 


Chocolate and peanut butter fudge cake made with real fudge and a tweaked up brownie recipe. 



Yeehaw. I found a blow torch.


Don't you know it... more salmon. I have enough Omegas in my bloodstream to last till next summer.


A pineapple weed and wild blueberry sour dour dough bread that I made for the Nondalton Culture Camp potluck.






The 7 Ravens.


We were invited by the Nondalton village to partake in their summer culture camp. The culture camp is a three-day event that teaches the children about their language, environment and traditions. I brought with me a boatload of leftover desserts and fresh breads to share with the community.


This year the culture camp is being held at the fish camp, where the villagers catch sockeye and whitefish for subsistence.


Cruising to camp. 


Here's an overview of the events.



We pretty much just hung out, talked about fish and learned from the elders their passed on traditions. Although I've never seen these people in my life there were many faces I knew or remembered from some distant lifetime. It's weird, like we had all been together before.


There were many old and young faces about. Some that could barely stand and others that could barely walk.



Bow and arrow construction workshop. For huntin wabbits and eatin squirrels.



An Eskimo Olympics event demonstration.




The craft table.


The native tongue.


Jessica making a little canoe out of bark.


^ good way to practice fish net knots.


I offered my elbow grease to the women of the kitchen. When I took a taste of the traditional foods, like stewed caribou and smoked beaver, I felt kinda bad for bringing in a bunch of sweets that aren't a part of their culture, but an elder lady told me that since they came with love they are now a traditional food for the feastivities. An hour after she told me that I was asked to mix a bowl full of crisco, vegetable oil, sugar, blueberries and halibut, which is their version of eskimo ice cream/akutaq, and I didn't feel so anti-traditional then.



Fish n' berry ice cream making time. This lady called her mother on a cell to ask for the grease and berry ratio for the mix and her mother said that she normally uses moose tallow instead of Crisco. The recipe I saw was: 3 cups Crisco whipped by hand, 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil, 4 cups boiled halibut, 1/2 cup white sugar and about 6 cups of blueberries.


Washing the blueberries.


First you add the crisco, then the sugar...


then you mix it. I asked the attentative youngens what other types of fish and berries they could use. They told me that instead of halibut you can use whitefish, grayling, catfish and/or trout. Instead of blueberries you can use cranberries, blackberries, salmonberries and/or raisins. I suggested using cream cheese instead of the sweetened Crisco and salmon instead of halibut, then one of the kids goes, "that would be a salmon spread!"


Guide Drew ran next store to watch the roasted porcupine get butchered.


Stewed smoked beaver.


Salmon on the drying rack.


This is what it becomes.


Everyone lazing in the sun awaiting dinner.


Jessica keeping an eye on the coffee.







One of the ladies showed us how to make sundried salmon. First, make the brine with a bunch of salt and lake water and stir it good. 



Next, fillet the salmon down the spine leaving a nice inch or two of flesh attached to the skin. The tail keeps attached to both fillets so that it can be hung over branch for drying.



A couple days in the sun and that's all. Mind you, in the summer, we have 17 hours of daylight and little humidity so the drying happens much quicker up here than it would in the Lower 48.



The drumming for the dinner ceremonial dance begins. Chief Harry leads the dance.


The Nondalton tribe is a blend of tribes from around Alaska. There's a variety of clans involved... wolf, eagle, raven, bear. etc. This was a song about the trickster Raven spirit from a Raven clan member whose name is Raven.


Song and dance done. Time for dinner. As is common among Northern Native Americans... the elders eat first. What's for dinner? Stewed smoked beaver, porcupine, caribou stew, smoked salmon soup, fire roasted potato, Eskimo ice cream and... from the Wild Chef Cafe.. buckeye fudge, chocolate fudge cake, chocolate chip tollhouse cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, sunflower seed brittle, pumpkin pie and nutty energy bars with maca ;) 


What is that?


Oh, that's the porcupine that was caught last night. And yes, I ate one of it's feet.


More than a 100 people came to the camp from the villages of Nondalton and Illiamna... and by the end of the day everyone was laughing with their tummies full. This was the best day of summer so far. This may be the only time these folks get a taste of my homecookin' and I am sure it left an imprint on their taste buds. It doesn't matter if you're black or white, big or small, we all need food from heart and from the wild. Potlucks are a good way to bring the community spirit together.

Back to Valhalla to snuggle up next to a fire.


Thank you Nondalton for invited us to the culture camp and letting us try smoked beaver and porcupine feet! It was delish!!!