Read How to Cook a Moose Online

Authors: Kate Christensen

How to Cook a Moose

BOOK: How to Cook a Moose

How to Cook A Moose

Islandport Press

PO Box 10

Yarmouth, ME 04096

[email protected]

Copyright © 2015 by Kate Christensen

All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-939017-74-1

Library of Congress Catalog Number: 2014959692

Dean L. Lunt: Publisher

Jacket Design by Karen Hoots/Hoots Design

Interior Design by: Michelle Lunt, Islandport Press

Front jacket photo by sergio_kumer at iStock. by Getty Images

Back jacket photo by saquizeta at iStock. by Getty Images

Author photo courtesy of Kevin Bennett / Islandport Press

Printed in the USA.

For Brendan, who brought me here

Other books by Kate Christensen


Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of my Appetites


The Great Man

The Astral

The Epicure's Lament

In the Drink

Jeremy Thrane



Editor's Note

Introduction: Cooking and Eating at the End of the World

Chapter One: Landing in New England

Pasta with Pea Sauce

Chicken à la Ding

Chapter Two: My First Moose and the Yankee Palazzo

Buckwheat Blini with Crème Fraîche and Salmon Roe

Wicked-Good Lamb Burgers

Chapter Three: A Tale of Two Kitchens

Harissa Haddock

Soup Kitchen Stir-Fry

Chapter Four: A Land of All Seasons

Popcorn Cockles and Asparagus with Fenugreek Sauce and Mango Salsa

Spite & Malice Pizza

Chapter Five: Mock Turtle Soup and Terroir

Mock Turtle Soup

Erin French's Fried Oysters with Beetroot Slaw and Horseradish Aioli

Chapter Six: Literary Lobster and Clam Condoms

Newcomer's Clam Chowder

Lobster Thermidor

Chapter Seven: Maple, Mutton, and Moose Muffles

Maple Oatmeal

Moose Bourguignon

Jellied Moose Nose

Chapter Eight: The Essential Blueberry and the Wild Mushroom

Blueberries with Lemon Curd à la Millicent

Black Trumpet Mushrooms with Chicken Thighs and Mustard Sauce

Chapter Nine: The Great Disappearing Codfish and the Perfect Oyster

New England Fish Soup

Classic New England Oyster Dressing or Stuffing

Chapter Ten: Holy Donuts, Wholesome Potatoes, and Bean Holes

Potato Salad

Arizona Native's Yankee Farm Stand Chili

Brown Bread

Chapter Eleven: Rock Farmers and Stone Soup

Barbara Damrosch's Chicken Stew with Horseradish Cream

KJ Grow's Pork Breakfast Sausage Patties

Black Kettle Farm Vegetable Stew

Chapter Twelve: Into the Future

Newfoundland Hunter's Moose Jerky

Ladleah Dunn's Moose Meatballs avec Black Trumpets

Midcoast Tamale Pie

Bibliography and Further Reading


About the Author

Editor's Note

My grandparents kept a farm along the York River in Maine for over sixty-five years. They raised four children, a bunch of sheep, some chickens, pigs, cows, and, every now and then, a horse.

A horse killed my grandfather in the field off the front porch when it bucked him off a hay rake. He hit his head on a stone and the rake ran over him. If you've ever seen a hay rake (it looks like a curved steel comb with tightly spaced, sharpened teeth), you will know that getting run over by one is not something one survives. My aunt, who was twelve at the time, found my grandfather's body around suppertime, when the sun glints gold off the river and the air gets very still. My grandmother watched her from the porch. The horse had run off into the woods.

Fifty years later, when my grandmother died (at ninety-four), we celebrated her life at a big family dinner spread out on that very same porch. Four generations of my family came together at the farm to share potato salad, cuts of beef from our own cows that had been stored in the deep freeze, corn, beans, and a blueberry pie made from blueberries that grew out back. That was three years ago, and today my generation owns the farmhouse and much of the land that surrounds it. Our dream for the farm is similar to the one shared by so many who live in these parts, or who want to live here: to protect and serve a way of life that speaks to the core of what it means to live in a
meaningful way. A life that feels more in balance with natural rhythms and essential work. A life that adds more than it takes.

But it ain't easy.

Like my grandfather, the people in these parts who make a life from nature's bounty—an environment that is more often than not stingy, bitterly cold, and stubborn—bleed for it, maybe not with actual blood, but certainly with sweat and tears and a lot of dirt. It's true: Real, authentic joy abounds, the kind that can't be bought or facsimiled via technology, but it comes with a constant side order of hardship and labor. People do it because generations before them have shown it to be the healthiest way to live, and because it is necessary for their community to survive. In these perilous days, going backwards to move forward is starting to feel a lot like the answer.

A narrative like this was going through my mind almost constantly about two years ago. Michael Pollan had told us all to eat more like our great-grandmothers; I wanted to find a way to save the planet by
more like them, too. I sweated over who in the future would know how to hunt and fish and sew and forge tools and churn butter. I briefly explored turning the farm into a center for the pre-industrial arts. I kept thinking about a book I had read many years before that transformed my ideas about survival and grace in times of real deprivation. It was M. F. K. Fisher's
How to Cook a Wolf
. I wanted to find a new voice to write a similar book that would help to address our current dilemmas—one that didn't just bemoan our fate, but actually presented some useful advice on what to do, how to keep your sense of humor, and, importantly, what to eat.

That summer, I went with a writer friend to our local bookstore in Portland to hear an author read. I had a notion of this particular novelist's work because she had written six critically acclaimed novels, and now a memoir—an ambitious act for a woman, who at my first sighting I thought could not be older than thirty-two.

It turned out she'd lived a bit longer and a lot harder than I first thought; she'd taught herself how to write, cook, travel, live, speak French, and love with such unabashed, openhearted ardor that I recognized her in a way that I can only describe as familial. I sat there listening and all I could feel was,
Ah, there she is
. As she read, revealing a book so full of delight and wisdom (and
), I began to vibrate with excitement. I knew with certainty that I had finally found the voice I'd been looking for. My only question was whether or not I could convince her to write the book I had in mind.

I don't remember what I said to Kate Christensen that first memorable evening, because I think it spilled out in one long rush of praise, description, and demands. She was off to teach at the Iowa Writers' Workshop the next day, so she scribbled her e-mail address under her signature and said
underneath it, with a seriousness that made me think I wasn't crazy. Like maybe she wasn't just handling an overexcited fan, but that she had actually heard what I was asking, and was interested.

In fact, it turns out she was more than interested.

Kate had recently moved to Maine from New Hampshire (via Brooklyn, as you will find out), and had begun her own love affair with our history, its people, its funky wildness, and its food. She was also as twisted-up as I was about the state of the planet, and had already proposed a similar book to her other big-city publisher. When I mentioned
How to Cook a Wolf
, she almost jumped in the air. It was, honestly, the only
moment I've had in my life outside of college, and I will say, gauging her reaction, one of hers, too.

Kate took about a nanosecond to decide that, like the slow-food movement and the buy-local movement, writing a book for a local small publisher was a fitting way to put her money where her mouth—and heart—is. And her other publisher had enough respect for Kate's integrity to agree. Our Kate is no phony. In this book, she
pays tribute to a band of people and a way of life that she and her partner, Brendan, embody every day. Her joy has been tempered by her own fair share of hardship, and she has earned her right to be, as Wendell Berry says, “of this place.”

There's a sense of relief one gets when one reads a book that just makes some damn sense, just as there is a welcome feeling when one finally finds those people who got lost through the ages amid the shuffle of mortal coils. Kate and her work occupy both those places for me, and it is my hope (and hers) that this book will resonate for you, whether you live in New England or elsewhere. We hope you will find comfort in its pages, and be inspired to find the people in your own corner of the world with whom you can share great friendship, spirited conversation, and a simple, sustaining meal. With those ingredients, Kate and I believe we'll muckle through, whatever comes down the way.

Genevieve Morgan

Senior Editor, Islandport Press 2015

I would really rather feel bad in Maine than feel good anywhere else.

E. B. White


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