This pot contains two Cornish game hens, two small sweet potatoes, two carrots and one large onion, plus seasonings and molasses. Let me tell you the story of how it came to be. It is a snippet into the logistics and problem solving involved in crafting meals and bringing food to rural Alaska.
It all started with the aforementioned 86 pound tote of food that I paid Alaska Airlines $100 to accept as my fourth piece of luggage on my flight from Anchorage to Nome last Monday. Reed and I drove up to Anchorage on Sunday afternoon, stopping by Fred Meyer on our way to the night's hotel stay. Sometimes I buy my food right before my flight, so that I can avoid the need for keeping my food cool in a hotel room. This time, I opted to buy the plentitude the night before. I gauged the outdoor temperature, 50 and overcast, and decided that my produce would be comfortable in the car overnight. But my meats ... the cured ones would weather just fine, but the overall fleet of foods would best be served by some frozen items during the 6+ hours between when we would leave the hotel in the morning, until I would be placing them in a fridge in Nome. I hate to waste poundage and space on ice, so I scanned the store for items that would maximize the space within the envelope-sized freezer of the hotel's mini-fridge. Cornish hens popped out at me. They are fun, somewhat exotic, tight packages that would freeze well and solid overnight. They would be the cold carriers to protect the rest of my meats. I added a few individually packaged pork chops to my cart for the same purpose.
Now I'm living in a house with two other women, and one normal sized fridge with top-side freezer. It is blueberry season and I have spent some portion of the past 10 days harvesting them from the tundra. I spent my lunch break today behind the hospital picking into a gallon sized baggie and had to tear myself away from it to get back to work on time. These tundra blueberries are jewels of nutrients and flavor, and the window of opportunity for harvesting them will soon be over. Of course it was inevitable that I would run out of freezer space. So last night, when I struggled yet again to reorganize the cluttered, dangerous chaos of toe-crushing frozen foods, there was just no way that those hens were going back in. There were just too many slippery torpedoes in there. Out they came, and onto a plate in the fridge they went to defrost.
Tonight, I readied them in a pot, surrounded them with veggies, seasonings and closed the oven for well over an hour, while I listened to Swinging Doors and took a luxurious epsom salt bath. Out of the bath, I added the blueberries, put on a lid and closed the single pot meal back in the 350 oven. Ten minutes, and one blueberry margarita later, it was complete. Logistical challenge met, advance me to the next level!