Jennifer Cockrall-King | Jennifer Cockrall-King
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I can’t seem to navigate from point A to point B. Is it all in my head? Neuroscience weighs in. As the stands of trembling aspen burst into green leafy life behind the cottage, I head off on my daily walk. Walking in the woods is good for my mind, body, and soul. It’s meditation in motion, and I prefer to go alone, with nothing but the crunch or squish underfoot breaking the silence. Before I go, however, I stuff a granola bar in my pocket and shout my best guess at a return time into the cabin. Because, although I’ve been exploring the trails at the lake for four decades, I don’t take for granted that I will find my way back. It’s not merely that I have a poor sense of direction; I am completely without an inner compass or mental GPS. Every- where I go, I rely on having memorized the route, or I’m staring constantly at my smartphone. And when markers along the way change, or when memory or battery life fails, I’m lost. But I’ve recently learned that this might not be my fault, but rather how my brain functions. Or, as Giuseppe Iaria, a University of Calgary cognitive...

Every year our whole family looks forward to summer at the lake. But, this year, there’s one crucial difference This spring, it will not be business as usual at the lake. My father, the man who built the cabin, took care of the landscaping, maintained and gassed up the boat, and stacked the firewood, succumbed to a merciless, unblinking cancer. His diagnosis to end-of-life was a matter of seven weeks. Our family closed ranks and held tight as we reeled in the wake of Dad’s death in December. Yet, in the space of a week, we managed to hold a funeral attended by hundreds, and I delivered the eulogy despite a quaking voice and buckling knees. On behalf of the family, I talked about the dad we loved so much. Most of the stories revolved around the sanctuary he’d created for our family at the lake. Afterwards, my mom, my brothers, and I thought about retreating to the place that had always been our refuge. The problem was that that refuge was loaded with memories of him. Already it felt like we’d been hit by an eighteen-wheeler of grief and emotion. Would going to the lake be too much to bear? The cabin is only...

Forget fancy private school. Long, lazy days at the lake may be the best education your kids get all year. “We dissected Chris!” my seven-year-old niece, Jocelyn, squealed over the phone, leaning heavily on the second word. She was calling from my parents’ cabin on Lac Ste. Anne, Alta. And while Jocelyn is known for her piercing voice, she was talking more loudly than normal thanks to the cacophony of frogs in the background. Last spring, the sloughs that flank the cottage were full to the brim. The amphibious burps and grunts echoing off them were remarkable. The sounds transported me back to my youth, when my brothers and I spent countless hours catching frogs and filling up plastic pails with as many intriguing creatures as they could hold. I’m not sure what we had planned for these new “pets”—and why we thought we needed hundreds—but my parents were grateful that it occupied us on rainy days when cabin fever would have otherwise set in. Well, that weekend last spring, my nieces Jocelyn, Sydney, and Mallory, and Mallory’s friend Carly were sleeping over at the cabin with Grandma and Grandpa. Despite the cold and the drizzle, they’d spent the previous day outside, shin-deep...

[caption id="attachment_16210" align="aligncenter" width="484"] Aboriginal chef Shane Chartrand. Photograph: Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance[/caption] From the Aboriginal chef reinventing the restaurant industry’s idea of dinner to the baker changing the pastry business one pastel-coloured macaron at a time, Edmonton has hit its culinary stride. Jennifer Cockrall-King talks to the city’s top chefs to find out why us – and why now From Eighteen Bridges, Fall 2017 “What does it mean to be an Aboriginal executive chef in Edmonton, in charge of my own kitchen and staff?” Shane Chartrand only somewhat rhetorically asked me as we sat down to a table set with white linen, gleaming cutlery, and china for what is unfortunately a unique experience in Canada: a fine dining Indigenous restaurant. “What does it mean to have four different nations working for me, looking for guidance on how to express their ambitions, their dreams, and their identities through food?” These questions have been weighing on chef Chartrand’s mind for quite some time. Chartrand is 42 years old. His hair is shaved on the sides and he has a wide strip of thick black hair on top, which he wears slicked back. He’s usually upbeat but rarely smiles. His look is one of intensity. Chartrand has come...

On October 30, 2017, Food Artisans of the Okanagan won best Culinary Narrative at the Taste Canada Food Media Awards. The announcement was made in Toronto, and unfortunately I was not able to receive the award in person. But let me assure you, it's a large, heavy, doorstop of a glass trophy. I'm very grateful to my excellent publisher, Taryn Boyd of TouchWood Editions, and her entire team. This is great news for the book and for all of the food artisans who make the Okanagan and Similkameen Valley such a delicious destination.  ...

Editorial Note from Winter 2017, Cottage Life West It’s that time of the year again…when a woman’s thoughts turn to her woodpile. Or, at least, this woman’s thoughts do. Have I collected enough throughout the year to last me until spring? Did I split enough “small stuff” to coax a roaring fire until the hardwood logs catch, making coals to keep me warm until morning? And have I given it enough time to season, so that it’s dry when I haul armloads inside to burn? I obsess over firewood. It’s a habit  that I picked up eons ago at the family cabin. I love the scavenging expeditions when a tree falls. I get a ridiculous amount of satisfaction swinging an axe, splitting logs, and stacking wood like I’m prepping for the apocalypse. And then, of course, the payoff: that soft light and cozy heat saturating the room. (Ready to fire up your inner lumberjack? Turn to this issue’s Workshop section, starting on p. 29, for tips on cutting and season-ing your wood—and a handful of other projects to keep you warm and busy.)

From Issue #10, Eighteen Bridges, Spring 2017 Thousands of seeds are locked in a frozen mountain in Norway to protect our global food supply. Should we be worried? Our writer bundles up to visit the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.   Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Photograph: Crop Trust As my flight last spring neared its final destination of the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen—which is dogsledding distance from the North Pole—I was reminded of a BBC article I’d read listing the Svalbard Global Seed Vault as one of the world’s most secretive places, along with the Vatican Secret Archives and Area 51. The BBC stated the Seed Vault was impossible to get into. Period. Yet there I was, about to land at Longyearbyen airport, having been assured that if I made my way to the arctic archipelago of Svalbard in early March, I would be among a chosen few to gaze upon the frozen repository of the most important specimens of crop seed collections from around the planet. They were locked away in a mountainside on an island that is 60 percent glaciers and 100 percent in the middle of nowhere. Somehow, I had won the lottery, and had been received an invitation to tour the seeds...