by Nicole Spinks, Churchill Wild Lodge Manager
Dymond typically hosts polar bear safaris in October and November, but this year its doors have opened early for a bit of a makeover. Our crew is off to grind, sand, and re-stain the lodge and cabins. COVID may have changed what our 2020 season looks like, but it can’t stop us from improving for the future.
It’s been a long, hot, buggy week, but things are coming together beautifully. Anyone who has worked in the construction business knows that things never go according to plan. The weather doesn’t cooperate, tools malfunction, and deliveries get delayed. There are many things that can affect the productivity of a site. Up here, we don’t let these issues stand in the way of completing a job.
On rainy days, we head inside for a different set of projects. During the season, storage rooms and closets are neglected in favour of more important jobs, so we organize, sort, and clean when weather forces us to change course. Wood gets hauled, chopped, and stacked; a new generator gets installed; there is always something happening to keep us busy and we don’t let a little rain stand in the way of progress.
When it comes to tools and machinery, there’s no time for breakdowns or malfunctions. That’s one of the first places where innovation comes in handy. Ben Lawrence (Seal River Heritage Lodge Manager) is running his own MacGyver-style northern repair shop to keep the sanders and grinders up and running. I won’t share his secrets, but if it can’t be fixed by Ben, it probably can’t be fixed at all.
Ingenuity is also important in the kitchen. The team works up a huge appetite every day and deserves delicious, healthy homecooked meals. Prairie Wild Organics has supplied us with some amazing in-season vegetables for our time at Dymond Lake including lettuce, radishes, celery, cabbage, and broccoli. Fresh, crisp and delicious!
I have been thoroughly enjoying my cooking role and have taken this time to try out some famous Blueberries & Polar Bears recipes, as well as some of my own inspirations. Vegetables, starch, meat, repeat. Every day is a chance to produce something new and tasty for this crew.
Here are a few great ways to stay inspired while cooking:
Flavour your starches! Rice is a great side dish but can sometimes be a bit dull. To jazz it up, add some herbs and spices to the water while it cooks. Chili flakes, bay leaves, turmeric, ginger, or even a little chicken or beef bouillon.
Mashed, oven roasted, par boiled then fried, all potatoes are delicious (and a personal favourite!). Next time you make oven roasted potatoes try tossing them with paprika, parsley, DLS (Dymond Lake Seasoning), Parmesan cheese, or chili for an extra kick.
Vegetables are a chance to eat the rainbow. Whether roasted, steamed, or stir fried, the best way to keep a creative edge with vegetables is to change up the herbs, spices, and seasonings you cook them in, as well as change up the groupings of vegetables paired together.
Steamed carrots with a honey dill glaze, roasted root vegetables, roasted broccoli and cabbage with garlic. Fresh herbs such as cilantro, chives, basil, and parsley add beautiful earthy flavours to any vegetable medley.
Of course, there are always leftovers — the perfect love/ hate relationship. A time for old things to become new again. That’s my take on it anyway. Rice, vegetables, and protein can become fried rice. Breakfast items such as bacon, scrambled eggs, baked beans, hash browns and sausage can become a breakfast burrito or sandwich, sort of a fun take on the BLT that we’ve dubbed an E-BLT. Roast chicken leftovers can be boiled down and made into soups, stews, or cobbler. Delicious!
Without grocery stores around the corner and resupply flights happening only once every couple of weeks, it becomes very important to elongate the life of fresh produce. Water is your best friend when it comes to preserving your vegetables. Peeled carrots and potatoes, and celery that has been topped and tailed can all be put in water and kept in the fridge. The veggies will absorb some of the water and help them crisp back up. Fun fact: the tops of celery are great in stir fries, salads, or salad dressing, so don’t throw them away.
If you’ve any got other produce-saving tips or innovative leftover ideas to help us survive up here, please leave us a comment!