Monday, November 30, 2009

American Thanksgiving in the Arctic

Ullukkut (Good Day/Afternoon)!  Since cooking (uusimajut means cooked food)has been a large part of my life since moving to the north I have decided to dedicate this entry to some of my culinary experiences so far.  D. and I (as most of you will already know) are big fans of food but we are trying to eat healthier while living here.  Nonetheless, because of the lack of other things to do or places to go and eat as well as the much larger amount of exercise we do here, a lot of our free time is spent cooking our dinners, making bread and other such activities.  D. bought a pretty sweet bread-maker before moving up here and we use it ALL THE TIME.  (In fact, I am writing to the cadence of its kneading function right now.)  I just have to say I love this machine.  It is so easy to make delicious, homemade bread and sans preservatives it has to be better for us than store-bought.  The other night, D. and I were craving pizza but the frozen ones at the stores are like $16-20.  We discovered that the bread-maker would make pizza dough in less than an hour.  So, while we went to the store to buy the goods for our Thanksgiving dinner for Sunday (more on that later), the bread machine whipped up some tasty pizza dough and all we had to do was put the toppings on and bake it.  IT WAS DELICIOUS, better than most pizza places in my opinion!  So, even though we can't order pizza here, at least now we know that we can make our own very easily.

Another interesting cooking situation came up when we decided to make tacos for dinner one night.  My Great Grandma Clay's taco recipe is something I have been sharing all over since leaving home.  Tacos are one of my favorite things to make and, in most cases, SUPER simple.  However, D. and I ran into a snag when the store did not have any soft-shelled tortillas.  My friend Kristin taught me how to make home made tortillas before I left Colorado so I knew that we could make them here at home with just some flour, shortening and water.  So, we bought the stuff for the meat part and decided to make our own tortillas. This turned out to be quite the task because we don't have a rolling pin.  Had we realized that, I'm sure I could have picked one up at one of the stores but I just totally spaced out on it.  And here, our improvisation skills came in handy.  I rolled out 8 tortillas with....(drum-roll please).... A FULL CAN OF PEPSI!  That's right folks, and it's no easy task.  Rolling tortillas WITH a rolling pin is a fairly physical job and without one...well let's just say I was tired by the time dinner was done.  They did, however, turn out really well (with the exception of one which badly burned one of our pans).  And, like the bread, being home-made they taste much better and I think that working hard for your meal makes it taste all that much better.  So, anyways, a shout-out to Kristin (or Kristinkins as I like to call her) for sharing her magnificent tortilla making abilities with me.

And, my friends, this brings us to the magnificent feast which D. and I made yesterday for some of his work friends.  Since he just made rice on Canadian Thanksgiving and I missed out on American Thanksgiving we thought it would be a nice way for me to meet some of his co-workers and their families to host an American Thanksgiving meal.  We made: turkey, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, cranberries, and of course, pumpkin pie.  Everything turned out really well and tasted great; the turkey literally fell off the bone.  We didn't even have to carve it at all, just pull the parts off. (The trick to getting your turkey to do this is to soak it in salt water for at least 12-14 hours before you cook it). We're going to be eating leftovers for weeks I'm sure.  We plan on making some turkey soup in the near future.  It was really nice to meet D.'s friends and we had a really nice evening.  It was also my first time hostessing a real, grownup dinner party so I felt pretty fancy.  Despite the mismatched dishes and lack of enough silverware I thought we put out a pretty nice spread.  We had wanted to take some pictures but totally forgot and I doubt that anyone would want to see pics of the ravaged turkey carcass (and if you are a sick sick person). 

And, on that note, I need to go check that the bread is rising properly and finish up last night's dishes.  D. wanted me to mention the Inuktitut word for domestic partner/common law spouse is "aippaq" because in my last entry I mentioned how much I HATE the term partner.  So, from now on, we are going to refer to each other as aippaq. I think all of you who hate that term should just adopt this Inuktitut word.

Love to you all.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tunngasugit! (Welcome!)

Tunngasugit! Or, welcome in Inuktitut.  I have been advised by many of my friends to start a blog of my experiences while living here in the Canadian north.  Most of you reading this will know why I am currently residing in Cape Dorset, Nunavut; but just in case you don't I have moved up here to live with my partner. (even though I HATE that term, it is the most appropriate).  I feel like the first few entries may be a bit awkward because I am not used to writing like this but hopefully, I will get the hang of it.

I have now been in Cape Dorset for a week and I am now just starting to really settle in.  Right now I am unemployed but I am hoping to remedy that situation.  We live in a nice little two bedroom place at the top of a treacherous hill which I have dubbed "The Hill of Doom". Cape Dorset is basically just a group of hills and in Inuktitut the name for Cape Dorset is Kinngait which is the word for "mountains". Since all the grocery stores are at the bottom of the hill, running errands is quite the task.  I'm sure that as I get accustomed to it, the hill will seem less daunting and although I know I need and usually enjoy the exercise (more-so after it is done).  I have actually just returned from a trip to the Northern Store and I am attempting to get some housework done before I settle down for the evening.  I have a feeling that living at the top of the hill will be excellent for my cardiovascular health and eventually (and hopefully) some significant weight loss.

My first impressions of Nunavut are mostly positive ones.  Although I definitely feel as though I am in a completely alien place (both in terrain and culture), the people seem to be very friendly.  One odd thing that I have encountered is that young children (I would say around 10 years old) here often ask for cigarettes.  Of course, in the south, smoking is a taboo habit anyways but that does not seem to be so much the case here.  And I do not wish to judge this culture because that is not my place.  It was just a shock to me when it happened; I have been informed that this was not an isolated incident but something that happens quite often.  Make of it what you will. 

While I am here, it is my goal to learn as much of the language as I can.  I think that if you are going to live in a place where you are the linguistic minority, you should at least put as much effort as possible into learning the language of where you live.  Thus, I will probably be practicing my Inuktitut on you all, but I will try to define everything I use.  I think it will help me learn.  For now, I am getting a lot of reading done (in particular because we don't have a TV) and trying to be a good domestic partner.  

And thus concludes the first entry.  I have no idea if anyone will actually read this but I am keeping it largely for my own sake.  If you do read it, please feel free to ask questions. 

Tavvauvusi (Goodbye All),

This is a picture I took the other day.  I will try to include pictures in my posts when I have them.