Since this is the first weekend of Fall and we’ve had our first snowfall, I guess it’s safe to say that Summer is over. Fine. Whatever. I’m always the last to admit it– the final one desperately holding on to the last remnants of summer. But with snow on September 22nd, even I will freely admit that the jig is up.
Literally. The temperature dropped below that of the lake, resulting in one very steamy scene. The lake was completely covered in fog. And combined with the smell of the wood smoke from the nearby cabins, there was this eery illusion that the islands were almost on fire. It was hauntingly beautiful. It would have been terribly romantic, except I’ve literally been alone out here for an entire week by myself. I haven’t seen another person in 7 days. In fact, I don’t even have a boat here at the moment. I’m just stranded alone on a smoking island.
Then last night it began to snow. Fortunately not out here, but it did in town. And it really started to sink in that I’m going to have to leave soon. Although I would live here year round if I could, realistically it’s not possible. During the winter the island is accessible by ice road– the ice freezes strong enough for vehicles to travel over. And actually, it’s quite impressive the network of ice roads that are created and maintained each winter on this lake. We can even travel to the US. But the trouble is the in-between seasons– the ice freeze up and thaw.
If someone were to live out here year-round (which some do), there’s two options for dealing with those in-between seasons. The first is hunkering down and staying put. It involves a lot of planning– you need to store enough food and supplies for the entire span between when the lake is no longer accessible by boat and when the ice is thick enough for travel by vehicle. Depending on the temperature and where you are on the lake, this could take anywhere from 4-8 weeks. It’s also risky because if a medical crisis were to happen, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for medical help to reach you.
The second option is to travel over the newly forming ice with an air boat. It skims over the water and ice, and allows you travel back and forth to town regardless of the ice conditions. Very cool, but also a very cold (and somewhat risky) way to travel. I actually have two uncles who have lived year-round in places up here that were not accessible by road, and each used one of the two methods. One uncle stayed put, occasionally hunting for food. The other had two children and used an air boat to take them into town to go to school.
There are a number of other Kenora residents who live year round on an island and use another method altogether. They live on Coney Island, a large island nestled right in the bay of downtown Kenora and they travel back and forth via boat and ice road. But, because of the close proximity to mainland, the City of Kenora assembles a small foot bridge linking the island and mainland once the ice begins to form. The residents then use this footbridge to go back and forth (including hauling all groceries by hand!) during the in-between seasons.
While I would like to try the freeze up one year, for now, particularly with my health, it’s far more realistic to move to town until the ice opens up in the Spring. So for the next couple weeks I’m going to be in shut down mode. But this weekend, with all the fog and cozy Fall vibes, I’m finding myself lazing around drinking bone broth and nibbling on Maple Whisky Roasted Almonds. Maybe Fall isn’t so bad.
These Maple Whisky Roasted Almonds are sweet and salty and the perfect addition to Netflix season. Though they go down just fine as a snack, you could also toss them in a salad or top a bowl of creamy squash soup for a crunchy garnish. The flavours are also completely flexible. These are sweet and salty with some warming Fall spices– but stir in just a bit of fresh rosemary and it suddenly turns savoury. Want a bit of heat? Try adding some cayenne. Think this is waste of good whisky? Knock ‘er back and do it sans whisky. It’s good both ways. Honestly, you really can’t go wrong with maple syrup covered anything.
So let’s pile on the sweaters, queue up the Netflix and grab our snacks. If Fall (or did we jump right to Winter?) is here, we might as well do it right. Stay cozy, my friends.
These sweet, salty, and warmly spiced roasted almonds are sweetened with maple syrup and flavoured with whisky. Easily transformed into savoury, they make an equally delicious snack or garnish for soups and salads.
Pre-heat oven to 325°F, with rack in middle of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put almonds in large mixing bowl and set aside. Add rosemary to almonds, if desired.
Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add maple syrup and whisky and stir to combine. Increase heat to medium-high and let the sauce reduce, cooking off the alcohol, roughly about 7-10 minutes, just don't let it burn. Once the taste of the alcohol has cooked off (you'll need to taste it), add spices and 1/4 tsp salt and whisk to combine. Allow to sit on the heat for about 30 seconds to warm the spices (you'll smell them!), and then remove.
Pour the syrup over the almonds and stir to coat. Pour onto the parchment covered baking sheet, spread evenly, and place in oven. Roast until the nuts have begun to brown but not burn, roughly about 15 to 20 minutes. The time will really depend on the heat of your oven and they should be watched closely, starting at about 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven when roasted. Using a spatula, stir the nuts to redistribute some of the settled syrup and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp of salt. Let cool. They should harden.
"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.