A Feast of Memories

You've probably seen David Draper's name around the site and in the magazine lately, but we'd like to introduce him as the new blogger for Wild Chef. David is an outdoorsman and writer from western Nebraska who lives to hunt, fish and eat, not always in that order. - The Eds.

In a few of his many iterations, my grandpa Shorty Richards owned a potato chip factory, a bakery and a liquor store, where he kept miniature Tootsie Rolls behind the counter just for me. His wife Alice Dale baked wedding cakes for most of the newlyweds around these parts. On the Draper side are dirt farmers, teasing winter wheat and millet from the dry plains. We're also hunters. Twenty years later, I can still conjure the taste of the egg sandwiches grandpa Arnold made for us in the goose blind, along with grandma Dorothy's lemon meringue pie.

These food memories, and many others I've gathered along my trails - the sodden potlucks with friends or solitary campfires where a small strip of meat roasts, are the ingredients of my life as a hunter and eater. I love the bites that bring back the sweat of climbing the dark timber mountainside, the golden stillness of an aspen grove, trout crashing hoppers on a lazy stream or the pre-dawn shiver waiting for geese to arrive. It is those little moments I hope to share with you here, along with a few recipes and pictures that I hope will spark your own food memories, like this one from my recent Quebec caribou hunt.

Yvon, a squat, shy Canadian with full hair and lips, rarely came out of the kitchen. Every night, she greeted us quietly with a hearty meal made with the meat we had brought in the day before - just the way a real hunting camp should operate. On the third day of the hunt, our meal started with chowder where chunks of fresh arctic char swam among potatoes and carrots. Like the best soups - simple, yet soul satisfying. After eating, I surprised Yvon, who clearly wasn't comfortable with hunters in her kitchen. When I politely asked for the chowder recipe, she warmed, smiling broadly. After rustling through a pile of things, she passed me a worn, spiral-bound cookbook titled "From Along The Coast" opened to a stained page. As I scribbled down the recipe, Yvon went back to her dishes. When I make this chowder, I'll always remember the quiet, humble cook of caribou camp named Yvon. _- David Draper
_**
Fish Chowder**
2 tbsp. chopped salt pork
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups diced potatoes
½ cup sliced carrots
1 tsp. salt
Dash pepper
1 lb. fish fillets
2 c. boiling water
2 c. milk

Fry salt pork. Drain.
Add onion, fry until light brown.
Place pork/onion mix in saucepan.
Add vegetables, salt, pepper and water. Simmer until tender.
Cut fish in serving size pieces. Add to pot.
Boil 10 minutes. Add milk and simmer.

Serves 4-6

"From Along The Coast - Homestyle Cooking" Coasters Association Inc.