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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...

Westerlies Cottage Life West, Spring 2017 Many years ago, my parents and their longtime cottaging friends came up with a way to get competitive about the arrival of spring. Each side—they literally live across the water from one another—casts a few bets on the date that the lake ice will “go out.” We’re not talking break up in the bays. There has to be open water in the middle of Lac Ste. Anne. (It’s usually a couple of weeks after the geese return and just seem to stand around on the every-darkening ice. Maybe they have their own bets going too.) The side that comes closest to the actual date wins “a really good bottle of wine.” The neighbourly custom is to share the winning bottle(s). In other words, everyone wins. So begins the rituals of spring at our family’s cottage. Friendly betting pools. Monitoring the ice breakup. Planning the garden. Washing down outdoor furniture. Cleaning and organizing the garage. Repairing pier sections. And devising new ways to keep the geese and ducks from turning those pier sections into a slippery mess. Every year, of course, unexpected projects pop up. For instance, the lack of snow in Central Alberta this past winter meant the cold...

The Best Tips for Stocking Your Woodpile   Norwegian tree feller Lars Mytting gives us the lowdown on wood. By Jennifer Cockrall-King | enRoute magazine Dec 2016 You don’t need heavy liquor all the time. Sometimes beer is fine,” author Lars Mytting jokes as we enter his woodshed in the little town of Elverum, surrounded by birch-studded forest in the interior of Norway. Showing me the variety in his wood collection, he makes an analogy to a well-stocked bar or a wine cellar. He likes to pair different woods that have different combustion characteristics: Some give off fast heat and bright light, others burn slowly and create hot, glowing embers, so he doesn’t have to keep stoking the two wood stoves in his house. A novelist, Mytting became an international celebrity when he wrote a slender meditation called Hel Ved (Solid Wood) on a very Norwegian obsession. Now in translation in 16 languages, Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way has sold more than 500,000 copies since its release. He tells me he was baffled by the book’s success, but these days he’s not surprised that a parka-clad pilgrim would drive one and a half hours from Oslo for a chat. The man,...

Three-ring Meal By JENNIFER COCKRALL-KING I sat frozen, wanting to reach for my wine. My extremities had long ago been numbed by the cold but the syrah was icing over. With two layers of thermal underwear, a parka, and wearing my puffiest down-filled winter mittens, every manoeuver required precision. I reached out, formed my hand into a claw, advanced it to-ward the glass. It was like dining using the Canadarm. I slowly brought it back towards me towards my lips, tipped it up, and took a generous glug. Mission accomplished. There we were, a collection of extreme diners, doing our best to manipulate knives and forks in sub- zero weather. It was January and we were in a farmer’s field, hours away from any city, near the aptly named town of Viking, Alberta. (Those who weren’t dressed in Everest-mountaineer outfits were swaddled in animal pelts.) Here, Blair Lebsack of Edmonton’s RGE RD restaurant had built a walled enclosure with giant hay bales and was serving a six-course meal of hay-smoked pork hocks, beet “caviar” and local whisky hot toddies. We dined away under a Ted Harrison sky while coyotes yipped in the distance. Dining outdoors in January on the Canadian prairies might be carrying...

The world’s finest avant-garde chefs descend on Alberta And find an underrated food wonderland   Jennifer Cockrall-King Cook It Raw Alberta chefs share an afternoon picnic lunch of roast duck and charcuterie with founder and director, Alessandro Porcelli at Upper Kananaskis Lake. Chefs L to R: Magnus Ek (Oaxen Krog & Slip, Stockholm), Cam Dobranski (Brasserie Kensington, Calgary), Duncan Ly (Calgary), (kneeling) Darren MacLean (Shokunin, Calgary. SAIT culinary instructor Scott Pohorelic and me in the middle background. Photo by Mark Mahaney (for Maclean's magazine). Published on Maclean's online October 30, 2015; in November 7, 2015 print issue. On a cloudless October afternoon, Albert Adrià—chef sibling of Ferran Adrià, and his partner in the game-changing elBulli (closed now, but, for over a decade the world’s most famously inventive restaurant)—was in Calgary creating ethereal perfection on a waffle iron that looked straight out of a Holiday Inn Express. One by one, he handed off waffles to Calgary chefs John Michael MacNeil and Scott Pohorelic, who smeared them with thick, snow-white yogourt, purple saskatoon-berry purée and crumbled almond spongecake. They scooped smoked ice milk drizzled with birch syrup into cups as giddy guests waited. #TeamSaskatoon, as they became known on Twitter, weren’t just making waffles; they were making the...

Why We Love Edmonton’s Duchess Bake Shop   Duchess Bake Shop has launched a cookbook that lets the rest of the country in on Edmonton’s secret—that it’s home to one of Canada’s best pastry and bake shops.   By jennifer cockrall-king. photos by carey shaw. March 31, 2015 New York has Dominique Ansel and City Bakery. Paris has Ladurée, Pierre Hermé and Gérard Mulot. Edmonton has Duchess Bake Shop. And quit your snickering. The Duchess, as locals call it, is home to exquisite handmade pastries, including a few signature house items. And, like its contemporaries in New York and Paris, there’s a guaranteed lineup every day at opening. On any given Saturday, over 300 Edmontonians will file through in the first hour alone. It’s a well-choreographed routine now between devotees and the young, stylish and efficient staff. Customers point through the glass display counters at multi-hued macarons, brioches, croissants, pains au chocolat, éclairs, galettes, madeleines, lemon cream tarts, quiches and housemade marshmallows. Of course, there’s also the dark ganache-draped Duke cake, and the pistachio-green domed cake—the bake shop’s namesake, the Duchess. Selections are made and paid for; pastries pies and cookies are eaten on the spot or carted out in elegant white pastry boxes adorned with “Duchess” in...