Andrew and I spent Christmas and New Year’s in a rustic cabin in the Quetico, an Ontario provincial park that sits just above Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. Combined, the two parks have thousands of kilometers of wilderness lakes that people canoe, mostly in the summer.
Our goals for the trip were to find solitude, relax, write music and exercise. We were happy about our accomplishments; both of us finished guitar compositions for the next year. The only challenge was the exercising part. The high on most days was -12°F and one morning it was very close to the meeting of Farenheit and Celsius at -36°F. (They mean the same thing at -40!) Many clear thinking friends and family members contacted us to make sure we were still alive. I supposed both Andrew and I underestimated the danger of that kind of cold. Luckily, we didn’t do anything totally life threatening like locking the key accidentally inside our cabin. The only fatality was Andew’s iPhone 4 (yeah, still worked!) that slipped out of his pocket somewhere in the bush (about an hour’s ski away). Yeah, that’s gone forever.
Our cabin was “rustic” in the sense that it didn’t have plumbing or standardized heating, it was very comfortable though with a high efficiency wood stove and electricity. Our two recipes here were made within the limitations of having to use bottled water for cooking and cleanup as well as the use of an electric induction stove, our first time using one. We featured local ingredients we hauled up to Canada from our farmers market along with a few “Northern” area treats.
Christmas Eve Cavatappi with Venison and Brussel Sprouts
1 small red cippolini onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 pound venison loin, cut into small rounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon mustard
1/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons tonic water, (Fever Tree or comparable quality)
1/2 pound pasta
1 dozen medium size brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Fill a large pot of water and set to boil.
Heat the olive oil in a cast iron or heavy bottom pan and fry the venison rounds 2 min each side with plenty of salt and pepper. Remove, let cool on a plate, meanwhile add the brussel sprouts and onion to the hot pan. Stir to coat in the oil then let fry on medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes until browned.
Add the pasta to the water and boil until al dente.
Chop the venison into 1/4 inch pieces before adding back to the browned brussel sprouts. Add the tonic water, stir and let evaporate. Then, add the mustard and cream. Turn the heat to low and add the cooked pasta. Cook 1 -2 minutes all together before serving.
New Years Eve Brunch with Kale Yogurt Salad, Orzo, and Wood Stove Fritatta
4 lacinato kale leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Slice the kale, put into a serving bowl and toss with the salt. Set aside.
Orzo with Olive Oil
1/2 cup orzo
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Bring two cups water to boil. (We used an induction stove with only a small amount of water and made this more in a risotto style.)
Add the orzo and boil at a low simmer until the water is mostly evaporated and the orzo is al dente. Remove from the heat and stir in the olive oil.
Romanesco Fritatta with Cave Aged Cheddar
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, diced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small romanesco, florets cut into small 1/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons half and half or cream
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup “Fini” extra sharp cheddar, sliced or grated (this was a local cheese we found that is aged in sandstone caves in Faribault, MN)
This was made entirely on the wood stove top.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a cast iron pan. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté 1 -2 min. Add the romanesco and cook 5 – 10 min until browned.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with a fork then add the cream, flour and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Whisk another minute.
Add the final tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, swirl it to cover the vegetables, then slowly pour the egg mixture so that it evenly covers everything.
Let cook until egg is set, then add the cheese on top. Remove from heat and cover with a pan lid or towel for 10 min.
Toss the yogurt with the kale and serve together with the orzo and cheesy fritatta.