The _Northern Cookbook_ edited by Eleanor A. Ellis and delightfully illustrated by James Simpkins was first published in 1967 by the Canadian Federal Governments Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. It was reprinted several times (my copy is from 1973) but is now , according to Information Canada, out of print.
From the preface by Ms. Ellis:
"The purpose of this book is to record facts about some of the wild game,
game birds, fish, fruit and vegetables available in Canada's north (which
includes not only the Arctic and sub-Arctic, but the northern lake and
forest regions of all the provinces), and to suggest methods by which these
foods may be prepared and served. To include recipes for all of the
indigenous foods would be a mammoth task, but I have tried to include enough
to be representative of a cross section of this vast land. Some basic
information on nutrition and family meal planning has been included for the
benefit of young homemakers, and I have drawn on the experience of those who
pioneered the north for a section which offers advice to wilderness wives."
From the preface to Chapter XI, _Pointers from Pioneers_
"....I would like to make it very clear that the north is not just a land of
ice and snow, populated by hunters and trappers and husky dogs, with
primitive plumbing and none of the niceties of civilization. Many
northerners live in modern homes with picture windows, wall-to-wall
broadloom, and daily mail service. There are beautiful schools, hospitals,
churches and museums, large supermarkets, and more skidoos than dog teams.
There are prospectors and miners, lumbermen and oilmen, teachers and
preachers, boat builders and stone carvers, stenographers and storekeepers,
doctors and nurses and newspaper editors. Many of these people would be at
home in the salons of New York or Paris or Rome, but most of them are living
in the north because they like it. The north is experiencing a period of
rapid development and booming economy, and the smokestacks of industry are
etching new silhouettes on the skyline.
"But the north covers an area of a million and a half square miles, and, in
spite of the expansion of the airlines and the telecommunication systems,
there are still some settlements that have very little traffic. In these
smaller places, travel is difficult for many months of the year, being
subject to the whims and vagaries of the weather. Their residents quite
often are forced to rely on their own ingenuity for entertainment, and,
sometimes, their very existence.
"A few old time recipes have also been included in this chapter, not as
items of curiosity or amusement but because the directions for preparing
food are so delightfully direct. They have an honesty and forthrightness
about them that is a true reflection of the people who originated them"
The following excerpts are from, "Pointers from Pioneers", (chapter XI):
Use aluminum foil as a blind to foil the midnight sun if you can't sleep in
sunshine. Fasten it to the window frame with strips of adhesive tape.
If a small amount of board, some clear plastic and a little mud (from under
the moss) are available, one need not be without fresh lettuce, radishes,
onions and turnip greens from July 15 to September 15. Cabbage, carrots and
potatoes will also grow well.
If you are lost on a sunny day, put a short stick upright in the ground.
Every few minutes as the sun travels across the sky, mark the end of the
shadow cast by the stick. The shortest shadow will indicate north. If the
day is cloudy, you may tell direction from the thickness of the bark on the
willow. On the south side the bark is thick and smooth; on the north side it
is thin with spiny projections. You may also check direction by the depth of
moss on a knoll; it is thickest on the north side.
Add a spoon of salt to your last rinse water and your laundry won't freeze
to the clothesline.
If you don't have a bent straw for a sick-in-bed patient to use, the spout
of a teapot substitutes nicely.
Run rows in your garden East and West if possible.
The flavour of safe but unpalatable water my be improved by adding charcoal
from a campfire and allowing to stand overnight.
SERVING FROZEN FISH
Cut frozen fish up with a saw or an axe. Peel the skin off and cut up with a
knife. This is good to eat with salt and blubber.
FROZEN FISH EGGS
Take fish eggs out and freeze them. They are good to eat like this.
STEAMED MUSKRAT LEGS
Cut off the muskrat's legs and dip in a bowl of flour with salt, pepper and
other strong seasoning. Mix with a small amount of water. Put grease into a
large frying pan and put in the muskrat legs which have been dipped in the
flour mixture. Cover tightly and cook for a long time as they take long to
become tender. The strong seasoning takes away the actual taste of the
muskrat and turns into gravy as it steams.
Clean the rats well. Put in a roaster and put bread stuffing on top of it.
Roast in an oven until the muskrats are soft.
Cut off the tails and dip them into very hot water. Pull off the fur. One
can either cook them on top of the stove, turning them after a few minutes,
or boil them. This is the same method as for beaver tails. Both are very
sticky to eat.
Make a fire outside and put porcupine in the fire to burn off the quills.
Wash and clean well. Cut up and boil until done.
Clean, skin, wash. Bake in oven with salt and pepper. Tastes like rabbit (no
smell). Skunk fat very good for whooping cough.
INDIAN DRIED MEAT
Cut up fresh meat in thin slices. Dry above stove in tent. Keep turning once
a day. Do not have the fire too hot or the meat to close too stove. When it
is dried well, one may eat pounded bone grease with it.
POUNDED DRY MEAT
Pound up dry meat for meat balls. One may pound all day to get it soft. Add
bone grease and sugar, and mix up. Roll into meat balls with hands. Keep in
a cool place to keep from drying out. One may take this out camping.
GRIZZLY BEAR STEAKS
Cut up meat as for frying and fry in deep grease in frying pan.
FRIED MEAT WITH LEFT-OVER PORRIDGE
Fry the meat and when done add left-over porridge. Cook a little longer.
BOILED REINDEER HEAD
Skin and wash the head well. Then chop it in quarters, splitting it between
the eyes with an axe. Cover with cold water and boil until soft. One can
also roast in an open pan in an oven very slowly.
Pound dried moose or deer meat on a piece of clean canvas or stone, to fine
crumbs. Pour hot melted moose fat over in pan. Let freeze. Serve cold. Very
OVEN ROASTED LYNX
Wash and clean the hind legs of the lynx and roast it in a roaster with lard
and a little water.
Cut up the lynx and boil it until it is soft and well cooked.
This is good to eat with muktuk.
BOILED REINDEER TONGUES
Put tongues in boiling water and boil until thoroughly cooked. Potatoes and
vegetables are good with this.
BOILED SMOKED BEAVER
Smoke the beaver for a day or so. Then cut up the meat and boil it with
salted water until it is done.
BOILED REINDEER OR CARIBOU HOOFS
Put the hoofs with skin still on them in a large pot. Cover with hot water
and boil for a couple of hours. The skin peels off easily then. The muscles
are soft and very good to eat. The toe nails also have some soft sweet meat
BOILED BONE GREASE
Boil all the legs and whatever bones are left after all the meat has been
cut off. Boil them all in a big pot for two hours. Then let the grease get
cold in the pot. It is easy to pick the grease off. Put the grease in a pot
and keep to eat with dry meat or add to pounded dry meat.
Cut black whale meat into thin strips, about 8 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches
long by 1/2 inch thick. Hang the strips over poles to dry in the sun, or
cure the strips over a driftwood fire in a log smoke house. When the meat is
ready it is hard and brittle. Break it off in small pieces and chew well.
You must have strong teeth.
ROASTED WHALE MEAT
Cut up the meat and some fat of a freshly cut whale. Add onions, salt and
pepper. Roast in an oven for a long period of time.
MUKTUK (meat inside skin and fat of whale)
After taken from whale leave 2 days hanging up to dry. Cut into pieces 6" X
6". Have water ready to boil. Cook until tender with fork. Keep in oil in a
45 gal. drum after cooked, in a cool place, in order to have muktuk all
CABBAGE IN BLUBBER FAT
Cut up cabbage and put with blubber fat in a pot. Cook. This is good to eat
with meat or fish.
First we pick the salmonberries in dippers or pots. After the pot or dipper
is full, put them into amouk (Eskimo bag for carrying berries made of seal
skin). When the amouk is full of salmonberries, take home and put in a big
pan ready for putting in a seal poke. When the poke is full, tie the poke
with string. Save for winter in any cold place.
ESKIMO ICE CREAM
Grind up cooked meat. Melt tallow and while still warm mix well by hand.
Keep adding meat until not able to stir anymore. This is good to eat with
meat and bread.
ESKIMO ICE CREAM Whip a can of Crisco until it is light and fluffy.
Flavor it with seal oil and wild blueberries.
Sent by: Ann Brown, Belen, NM, USA, who writes, "My husband and I started the
first high school in an Alaskan Eskimo village in the late 1980s. The kids
made Eskimo ice cream for us and this is the three-ingredient recipe. We
were told to keep it refrigerated, which was no problem, there was an inch
of ice on the INSIDE of the windows."
Cook 1 fish by cutting it up into boiling water with salt added. After fish
is cooked, take all the bones from it and the skin. Mix this with
blueberries. Stir, and it is ready to eat.
POUNDED DRY FISH PUDDING
Pound up 5 to 6 dry fish and throw away the skin. Add sugar to taste, a
small amount of grease, and cranberries.
BEAR FAT PASTRY
1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1/3 cup bear fat (from a little black
bear that was eating berries). Makes rich white pastry.
Make in the fall when the acorns are ripe. Grind the acorns between rocks.
Fan the acorns with a fanning basket. The fine parts will stick to the
basket. Put the fine meal into a wooden bin. Pour warm water over it three
or four times to take out the bitter taste. Put acorn meal and water in a
cooking basket (made with roots). Drop in a very hot rock. Keep turning the
rock with a wooden spoon. Sometimes one rock will cook the soup.
Collected by Bert Christensen