There are three main methods to gathering things one needs up here – things for the house, things for winter, things to eat.
The first, and most obvious, is buying online. It’s huge up here, everyone uses online shopping for most everything. I was initially totally excited about this – finally, access to Ebay, Etsy, Amazon.com, American Apparel! But staring at the screen for hours doing my ‘shopping’ has developed this huge mental block towards the whole concept! Online shopping is hard enough as it is – not being able to try things on or see them in person. Throw in the loop the fact that no clothing brands mean anything to us! Which brands are crappy? Which are money-wasters? What’s the Kathmandu alternative? And the fact that many, many online companies do not recognise that Northwest Territories is part of Canada. “I’m sorry your location requires international shipping.” On top of that, clothes are sized about 10 numbers smaller here (slight exaggeration). I had never seen a size 4 before, nor an XXXS. It’s back to square one when it comes to sizing – very glad I stuffed a measuring tape into my suitcase last minute before the move.
The second way to collect things (perhaps not the food… nor clothing) is from the dump. Nicknamed ‘the mall’, the community dump is a 25 minute cycle from town. It has sectioned off areas for not-totally-destroyed goods such as appliances, tires, bicycles, metals, woodens… and a free-for-all rubbish pit for everything else. Despite swarming with ravens (and black bears) it is a rather popular spot for locals to pick up household goods such as fencing, snowboards (as we chanced upon) and old window panes.
The third method, and by far my favourite, is from yard sales. There is a relatively high turnover here in Norman Wells, with people moving up to work, importing loads of things, deciding to get out as fast as possible and selling off all their household stuff.
We have really had to practice patience over the last 4 months, resisting the urge to buy the sorts of things we had in NZ (thanks to being hugely blessed with wonderful wedding presents) and just waiting for opportunities. It meant living a month with just one knife-and-fork knife, using a brownie pan to bake bread, and reading aeroplane magazines (snore) until we could get our hands on some second hand novels.
With patience comes treasures. I am very much a fan of my new (to me) bundt tin!
And so we made cake. The best part? Sharing it with friends – friends who are nothing but positive and uplifting about life in the North – over a pot of tea.
I’m posting this recipe exactly as Heidi of 101 Cookbooks does, because it is flawless – even her instructions for chopping the chocolate. This cake does not need a rich icing – chocolate would overpower, a white icing would be too sweet and buttercream would ruin such a light cake. Heidi finds the perfect balance with this dark brown sugar, lemon glaze which, as she points out, firms up well enough to stow a wrapped piece in your handbag without making a mess. And I tell you, I am definitely one to stow cake in my handbag.
Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread
Recipe from 101 Cookbooks
The recipe instructs you to coarsely chop the chocolate. My advice? Leave a good amount of sizable chunks of chocolate. They become big, melty, chocolate goldmines in the cake. I used a more intricate shaped pan (when compared to a standard loaf tin), and both buttered and floured it to help deter sticking.
1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125g all-purpose flour
1 cup / 5 oz / 140g whole wheat flour
3/4 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup / 4 oz / 115 g coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup / 80 ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups / 12 oz / 340 g mashed, VERY ripe bananas (~3 bananas)
1/4 cup / 60 ml plain, whole milk yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the glaze:
1/2 cup / 3 oz / 85 g sifted dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55g confectioners’ sugar
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350° F, and place a rack in the center. Grease a 9- by 5- inch (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan, or equivalent.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate pieces and combine well.
In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, eggs, mashed banana, yogurt, zest, and vanilla. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes. You want to get that beautiful color on the cake, but at the same time you don’t want to bake all the moisture out of it. So the minute you’re in that zone, pull it. Erring on the side of under-baking versus over.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out of the pan to cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. In a bowl, whisk together the sugars and the lemon juice until smooth. When the cake is completely cool, drizzle the glaze on top of the cake, spreading with a spatula to cover.