Friday, December 28, 2007

Winter at Gunflint Lodge

Hello Everyone,

I returned on Wednesday evening after a long day of travel from CT to Gunflint Lodge. Between the drive to the airport, the flights, and the drive home from MPLS I was traveling for 16 hours. It was a long day.

The drive from Duluth to Grand Marais is always my least favorite part of the drive (but only in the winter months). I don't like this part of the drive because there are so many deer that can jump out at you at any time so you always have to be scanning the ditches and road for deer. Fortunately I did not see any deer. The drive from Grand Marais to Gunflint is always one of my favorite parts even though by the time I get to town I am exhausted. I like this part of the drive because you always have a good chance of seeing a moose and my return trip did not let me down. Like mom said in earlier blogs the moose normally hang out between South Brule and the North Brule, but I didn't see any moose on that part of the drive. Fortunately I kept my eyes open for moose because around Iron Lake I saw two cow moose separated by about 5 miles. Both of them were kind enough to be walking off the road by the time I saw them so I didn't have to be worried about hitting them. Both of the moose looked healthy and full so hopefully they are pregnant with baby moose.

Today two of our employees went out on the ice to test it and returned with the following report about the thickness of the ice. Directly in front of the dock cribbing the ice is about 14 inches thick. This was one of the first areas on our 1/2 of the lake to freeze. About 100 yards out the ice was between 10 and 12 inches thick. Then they ventured out to the ice that had recently frozen and found that the ice was quickly thinning. The last spot they measured before retreating to shore was 5 inches thick. The rate at which it was thinning was fast enough to scare them from venturing further out onto the lake. We all agreed that with how quickly it was thinning it definitely is not safe yet. So if you are coming to Gunflint Lodge the ice along the shoreline is safe, but please do not venture out onto the lake yet because it is not safe.

A couple of posts ago mom told the story of how a couple of natives checked the ice for safety. One story I have been told is that if the animals are not seen walking on the ice, then it probably isn't safe yet. We have not seen any large animals like deer roaming around on the ice yet. At least the animal theory is consistent with our sample holes we drilled.

The ski trails are mostly all open and groomed. Shari Baker at the Gunflint Pines e-mailed out this report about the snow conditions up here: Total snowfall this season is 34" with 5" in the past week. The snow depth off of the ski trails is at 18". We have between a 5 and 8 inch base of snow on the trails. All of the open trails were groomed on the 27th or the 28th so the tracks should be in great condition as I type this post.

Whenever I return from vacation I like to walk around the property just to see how things I get to spend some outside time with our dog Tucker. After watching Tucker have to jump to get through the snow I decided that the current snow on the ground is probably deeper than at any time last winter. It was good to see all of the snow on the ground and in the trees.

One last note is that we do have some availability in early January if you are looking for an early winter vacation. Give us a call if you are interested as this is normally a time when we are sold out, but for some reason we have a few empty cabins.



Kathy said...

Isn't all this snow grand in the north woods? I am visiting my parents in northern MN and am afraid I have found myself in a bit of a pickle and hope you can help. My sister's birthday is tomorrow and I brought all of the ingredients to make her your chicken breast stuffed w/ wild rice/mushrooms. The recipe was printed in a recent Midwest Living magazine, and the problem is I forgot the magazine at home! I would love to make this special north woods recipe for my family. Would you be able to post the recipe on this site? I'm hoping you can help and I thank you very much for your time!
Thank you and "happy trails!"

Eva & Lee Kerfoot said...

Dear Kathy,

Thanks for the recipe request. The Chicken with Mushroom and Wild Rice Stuffing is one of my favorite recipies from The Gunflint Lodge Cookbook (page 80).

2 1/2 T. butter
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 c. finely chopped onions
1/2 c finely chopped celery
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. fresh white bread crumbs, as needed for consistency
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 c. cooked wild rice (about 1/2-3/4 c. uncooked)

In a large skillet melt butter.
Add garlic, onions, and celery.
Cook until onions are tender. Add mushrooms. Cook until most of hte liquid has cooked away. Add cream & bring to a boil. Reduce for 2-3 minutes. Stir in enough bread crumbs to give stuffing a firm consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cooked wild rice. Refrigerate until cold before using.

Prepare the chicken breasts for stuffing by placing one breast skin side down on cutting board. With small sharp knife, start at the center of the breast. Hold the knife at a 45-degree angle and cut a pocket by slicing the meat towards the outside edge. Turn the breast and do the same thing to the other half. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Stuff chicken with cold stuffing. mold the stuffing into an oblong shape. Press and mold the stuffing into the pocket. Use your hands to mold the chicken breast around the stuffing. Don't worry if the stuffing isn't totally enclosed by the chicken. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Cut six 6x8 inch pieces of aluminum foil. Spray one of them with nonstick cooking pray. Place one of the stuffed chicken breasts in the center of the foil. Fold the sides over two to three times to forl a foil boat with 1/2 inche sides that fit snugly around teh stuffed breast. Repeat with remining stuffed breasts.

preheat oven to 375. bake for 20-30 minutes until tops of breasts are golden broudn and chicken is cooked through. Let rest 5 minutes, then remove roasted breasts from foil and serve.

Have a great meal...this one is making my mouth water just thinking about it.


Kathy said...

Oh, Eva! Thank you so much for taking the time to send me the chicken recipe! It's such a busy time of year for you, I am sure! The huge snowflakes are floating down, and we are heading out for a day of skating and cross-country skiing. Then I'll head home to the kitchen to begin preparing the birthday meal. I'll be adding a winter grapefruit and fennel salad with homemade poppy seed dressing and some grainy bread to the meal. We'll round it out with some homemade ice cream!
Thank you again for sending the recipe. I am adding your cookbook to my birthday wish list!
Happy New Year!