Congratulations to Betty Ann Luraschi of New York and Laura Plett of Manitoba, the Grand Prize winners in the 1st Annual Blueberries & Polar Bears Culinary Contest, sponsored by Churchill Wild!
Betty Ann created Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken from the Blueberries & Polar Bears cookbook for a dinner party in New York, and Laura created Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce from the Black Currants & Caribou cookbook for breakfast in Manitoba.
Laura and Betty Ann will both receive four large autographed cookbooks from our Blueberries & Polar Bears cookbook series including Blueberries & Polar Bears, Cranberries & Canada Geese, Black Currants & Caribou and Icebergs & Belugas, as well as five small cookbooks from our Wild & Wonderful cookbook series including Wild & Wonderful Blueberries, Wild & Wonderful Cranberries, Wild & Wonderful Goose & Game, Wild & Wonderful Fish and Wild & Wonderful Rice. In addition, Betty Ann and Laura will each receive a 12 oz. container of Dymond Lake Seasoning.
Laura’s mother owned the Blackcurrants & Caribou cookbook, and Laura saw the contest on the Churchill Wild Facebook Page. Betty Ann received the Blueberries & Polar Bears cookbook for Christmas and shortly afterwards saw the announcement for the contest in the Churchill Wild Newsletter.
“We went to Dymond Lake last November,” said Betty Ann. “I had no knowledge of the cookbooks before then. The cookbook was a gift for me for Christmas. So I only really had it for January. And it was on the day that I had to figure out a menu for a dinner party that I opened up my email and found out that that there was a contest for February. So I knew exactly where I was going to get my recipe from!
“Our guests loved it. And we also had it again the next day. And this past Sunday we cooked it again. The only change was that I did it with mashed potatoes instead of the other potatoes. And they absolutely loved it. The recipe turned out exactly the way it did the first time.”
Betty Ann and her husband were at Dymond Lake Ecolodge for the Great Ice Bear Adventure in November 2016. It was their first ever wildlife trip, and they had the great pleasure of meeting our semi-resident polar bear Scarbrow.
“Scarbrow had just recently been released from polar bear jail,” said Betty Ann. “He was spotted a couple days before up at Seal River Heritage Lodge. We had him for the whole day, and the next day he was in Hudson Bay heading towards Churchill. We travel, but as far as a wildlife adventure type trip or a remote location, or even a safari, this was definitely our first. It was beyond awesome.”
The couple especially enjoyed the food at Dymond Lake Ecolodge, much of which is based on the Blueberries & Polar Bears cookbooks, and culinary experiences are among their main reasons for traveling.
“When we go to Disney World, part of the reason for going is the food experience,” said Betty Ann. “So many restaurants that you can get such a diverse meal at. The food at Dymond Lake was amazing!
“What was really nice about Dymond Lake, and I’m assuming your other lodges as well, is that I have food allergies, and I had barely walked through the door there and the chef greeted me and wanted a rundown on my food preferences. I had said ahead of time what my allergies were and she went over the list. She wanted to make sure she knew all of them. And then she said ‘Everything that goes on the table you will be able to eat.’ That was just wonderful. It was it was so enjoyable knowing that I could eat anything that was there.”
Betty’s Ann’s response to winning?
“Oh my gosh. You have no idea how delighted I am. It is greatly appreciated!”
Laura Plett has been an outdoorsy-style cook for most of her life. Her and her husband Ryan manage a fishing lodge in the Northwest Territories. When they’re not guiding up north, she loves to cook, and by the sounds of it, she is very good at it!
“I started cooking at Kississing Lodge for a couple of seasons and my Mom had the Black Currants and Caribou cookbook,” said Laura. “It was the only cookbook she had that I ever had any interest in. I just loved the pictures.
“The meals in it went over really well at the lodge. We used some of them and made a few changes to others. They’re easy, quick and they’re good, high-end recipes, which is exactly what the guests were looking for.”
Laura was actually learning on the job and cooking for up to 35 guests at the time. Her and her husband also run another lodge in Saskatchewan, so the set of Blueberries & Polar Bears cookbooks Laura just won is likely going to get quite a workout.
“We’re calving now and there isn’t a lot of free time,” said Laura. “So now I just cook for my husband and I. We’re heading up in early June to manage the fishing lodge in the Northwest Territories. I’m so excited.
“I’ve always loved the coookbooks. Making the recipes was really fun. And I just got a new camera so I wanted to play with it and see how the photos turned out.”
There’s no doubt Laura’s new cookbooks will be going up north with her, or at the very least, some of the recipes in them.
The creation, testing, tasting and enjoying of the recipes in the Blueberries & Polar Bears cookbooks has resulted in so many wonderful times spent with family, good friends and guests at our lodges over the years, especially for cookbook authors Helen Webber and Marie Woolsey.
Their wish is that these books will do the same for you, Laura and Betty Ann.
“People who love to eat are always the best people.” ~ Julia Child