Cooking in the Wilderness – Kristin’s Column

Cooking in the Wilderness – Kristin’s Column

I know this is usually Julius’ slot for rambling on about life in the bush, adventures in the wilderness and anything else that takes his fancy, but for once I’m stealing his thunder for an important announcement: I’d like to talk about cooking and tell you about the arrival of the Grizzly Bear Ranch Cookbook.

This book came about mainly thanks to long winters in Alaska. Julius and I have spent the last two winters in Anchorage and with very short days and too much free time on my hands, I decided to start this little project.

There were a few selfish reasons behind it as well. I love to eat and I thought this book would make a nice souvenir for guests and friends who have stayed with us and asked me to share a recipe or two. So, here they are with my apologies to those who never received that email with a recipe for lasagna or cranberry-orange bread.

There have also been a few other inspirations. As mentioned I love to eat and I also love to cook. I don’t consider myself a chef by any means – I don’t have any professional training – but over the years cooking has offered me so much joy that if I’m passionate (in an Estonian, understated way) about anything, then it’s good food.

Sometimes it has come with the price of making Julius not too happy. He has sometimes tried to have a conversation with me while I’m enjoying something delicious on my plate and after few minutes of no luck, the dialogue has turned into a monologue and then there’s a long, awkward silence until my plate is clean. Sorry, Julius.

In my early childhood my granny Sammi was the only person who actually had the patience to have me hanging around the kitchen, covered in eggs and flour. By the age of eight I could bake bread by myself and quite soon managed to bake twist buns and cinnamon rolls. It certainly was a messy affair and I still remember that cleaning the kitchen took me longer than the whole baking process.

Fortunately, that never deterred me from starting all over again the next day and being able actually to cook something from scratch gave me the courage to see the potential of delicious dishes behind very basic ingredients.

People who have been to our house know that we have quite a few cookbooks. These books come to my rescue when I’m running out ideas. Though I don’t follow most recipes step-by-step, they are a major source of inspiration to me. Mark Bittman, Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Mario Batali, Paula Deen and Alton Brown are just a few favourite authors among many and based on these names you can see that I do watch quite a bit of Food Network Television.

The best baking cookbook I’ve ever used is called King Arthur’s Flour Baking Book – it has a very scientific approach to baking. Books on every possible way of cooking by the Culinary Institute of America have also been a great help in improving my knife skills and cooking vocabulary.

Two years of living in British Columbia have made me appreciate the quality and importance of locally sourced and produced food. Almost all the produce we serve is of British Columbian origin and usually organic. That applies to wine and beer as well.

Great ingredients can be easily turned into great meals and this book is about basic, good home cooking without any fancy twists. All the ingredients should be available in your local food store and should not break the bank either.