Screw avocado toast. Life’s short. Go for the steak.
This summer has been nothing short of insane. Between my dad having a spinal cord stroke, a minor condo fire days later, and hitting a bear with the brand new boat, it’s been a summer to remember. Let’s start with the bear.
To set the scene a little, I’ll give a bit of background. From May to early October I live in my family’s cabin on a very small island. For the most part, I live alone with my two dogs and cat, and my family joins me for the weekends. On the other end of the island is my great-uncle and great-aunt, who are crucial to getting me out the various sticky messes I tend to get myself into. The island is small– small enough that you can see water from any point on the island, and the total size is roughly 3/4 of an acre.
This particular weekend my brother and his girlfriend, Jade, took our family’s brand new boat down the lake to one of the fishing lodge’s restaurants for dinner. My mom gave strict instructions to have her boat back by dark. Now, my brother knows the lake well. And he often does the trip from town to the island on the darkest of nights without a problem. But my mom had a point. You could know every inch of that lake, but something can still go wrong. Another boat’s lights may not be working, there may be a log floating just ahead, or…
At this point my mom was just pissed off. Back at the camp (we call cabins “camp”), she and I were watching the sun sink. Was I surprised they weren’t back by dark? Hell no. So we waited. And then I got the phone call– and since I knew there was no reception at the restaurant, it could only mean one thing. They hit something.
Scott: Hey… where’s mom?
Alyssa: She’s right here, why? What happened?
Scott: We’re out front, we hit a bear.
Honestly, at this point I thought he was just bullshitting, because if he came up with some ridiculous story it would be less of a crime than hitting a reef.
Alyssa: What do you mean you hit a bear? Where are you?
Scott: I’m in front of the dock, I’m pulling up. I hit a BEAR with the boat, it was swimming. It’s on the island. Get the dogs inside.
Alyssa: What? Ok, just a sec.
At this point I could see the boat pulling up to the dock, and my attention was on Storm, our Siberian husky who was outside, and muffling my mother who was now in a further stage of panic. I grabbed a flashlight, opened the backdoor, and saw Storm bolt into the bushes that separate our camp from my uncle’s. Then I saw Storm on the deck. Well, if Storm’s here… I quickly shooed him in the house and met Scott and Jade at the door. Yes, I suppose there was a bear on the island.
Scott grabbed the flashlight and made his way down to my uncle’s to deal with our bruised yet uninvited guest, Jade visible shaken. We got a bit more of the story. She thought initially they had hit a person. They were rounding my uncle’s end of the island when Scott saw something in the water and instinctively pulled back on the throttle, thinking it was a deer. The animal hit the starboard (driver’s) side of the boat. After a brief WTF period by all parties, the animal scrambled up on shore, and at that point, it was judged to be a bear.
She thought they had hit a person.
It was then determined that no one knew whether the animal was hurt. Upon this realization, my mom went into another tailspin. Is the bear injured? If it is, we’re going to have to call the MNR. The MNR will call the police. The police are going to come out here and they’ll have to put it down. They’re going to start asking questions. What about the boat? Is the boat ok? Had you guys been back by dark this wouldn’t have happened!
Then the gun shot. I jumped. My mom jumped. Jade jumped. The dogs jumped. The cat didn’t budge– she’s deaf. We all looked at each other, equally bewildered and horrified. They shot the bear. Now what. Jade bee-lined it for the door, clearly deducing that the biggest threat on the island was now my very angry mother. At that moment I finally clued in and yelled at her to get back in the house– they may have simply shot at the bear.
Soon after Scott returned and filled us in. They had, in fact, shot at the bear in an attempt to scare him off the island and back to where he came from. It didn’t work. He got pissed off. (And rightly so.) So up a tree he went, but not before snarling and taking a few swipes at Scott for pummeling him with a boat. And there the bear stayed for the night. He had decamped by morning, before we could get a witness statement for the insurance claim. (Jokes. Both the bear and the boat were just fine.)
And so, the moral of the story, is we really underestimate the shit that can happen. Screw avocados. Go for the steak.
There’s no good way to reheat leftover steak. So just don’t. My favourite way for leftovers is quick and easy, and apparently, also on trend. I like a thick-cut Canadian or Winnipeg rye for the toast, and the trick is to rub it hot out of the toaster with the cut-side of a clove of garlic. It’s a stupidly simple way to impart that garlic flavour. Then slather with butter, top with some greens– I used local mixed microgreens from Fifth Avenue Farms but arugula would be brilliant or anything tender would work– and then add your steak. My steak of choice is a bleu beef tenderloin (French for as rare as rare can get), because I’m cool and that’s how steak should be eaten, but you do you. Finish with a sprinkling of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, a bit of sliced red onion, and snack on.
Screw avocado toast.
There’s no good way to reheat leftover steak. So just don’t. My favourite way for leftovers is quick and easy, and apparently, also on trend.
Once bread is toasted, rub the toast with the cut-side of one of the halves of garlic, and butter the toast.
What’s your favourite “oh shit” moment out in the wild? Lemme know!
"When a mysterious illness sidelined my original plans in life, I packed up and moved home to Kenora, Ontario, Canada. With little money, the inability to work, and a whole lot to figure out, I moved into my family’s cabin on Lake of the Woods. So these are the moments, the recipes, the occasional heartache, and the adventures of a life starting over on the little island between Fox and Hare." Between Fox and Hare is the on-going saga of a 20-something Canadian whose heart is anchored in Lake of the Woods. With her love of all things wild, Alyssa chronicles her journey learning and developing her skills in hunting, fishing, foraging, and outdoor cooking. Providing culinary tips and recipes, a peek into the Northern lifestyle, and the insight of a life lived with a chronic illness, Alyssa tells her story of putting back the pieces against the backdrop of the beautiful Boreal forest. Alyssa can be found during the open-water season on the unnamed island between Fox and Hare with her two dogs, Storm and Lily. She spends the frozen months in the little city of Kenora, mostly in the kitchen, and enjoys winter hiking and ice-fishing excursions when the temperature hasn’t dropped below -30°C.