My son took one look at them when I got home and said “I want those.” They hang in his room now.
Two weeks ago, a group of 14 scouts and 8 adults from our boy scout troop, including my husband and son, headed up to Northern Tier in Atikokan, Ontario for a week-long canoe trip. Northern Tier is the BSA’s oldest national High Adventure program, organizing scouting canoe trips in the backwoods of Northwest Ontario since 1923. According to the Northern Tier website, North America’s canoe country is a series of navigable lakes and rivers spanning thousands of square miles, and is one of the last great wildernesses on the continent. The boreal forest of waterfalls, bogs, granite crags, and waist-deep mud is still as much of a wilderness as it was for the fur traders who explored the area in the 1600s. Participants paddle the same waters and portage over the same rocky trails as the French-Canadian voyageurs did 200 years ago.
So, after months of planning, in the spirit of the French-Canadian voyageurs–if those voyageurs had made a dozen trips to REI–our scouts headed out for their high adventure. Part of the “lure” of the trip was the prospect of fishing in the pristine waters. The men spent a considerable amount of time assembling fishing kits with the proper lures to catch walleye and other fish. Images of cooking freshly-caught fish over an open fire danced in their heads, and I packed several spice blends for them to use on their catch ‘o the day.
In the days leading up to the trip my son was complaining bitterly about having to go. He is much more of an “indoor dog.” But I prayed that once he got there he’d get with the program, and come back with a lifetime of stories and memories. I loved this excerpt from the Northern Tier Participant Handbook, and hoped that he’d come back with his own “Up North”:
“Up North is a certain way the wind feels on your face and the way an old wool shirt feels on your back. It’s the peace that comes over you when you sit down to read one of your old trip journals, or the anticipation that bubbles inside when you start sorting through your tackle box in the spring. It’s a raindrop clinging to a pine needle and the dancing light of a campfire on the faces of friends. It’s bunchberries in June, blueberries in July and wild rice in September. Each of us has an Up North. It’s a time and place far from the here and now. It’s a map on the wall, a dream in the making, a tugging at one’s soul. For those who feel the tug, who make the dream happen, who put the map in the packsack and go, the world is never quite the same again.”
I brought them to the airport to begin their adventure, and counted the minutes until I’d pick them up 10 days later. Not hearing from them for a week while they were “off the grid” was torture. I am happy to report that when I picked them up at the airport, they were all grinning like monkeys, and my son told me that about 3 days into it, he realized he was having a blast. Hearing the stories and seeing the photos, I do believe they both came back with their own “Up North.”
They didn’t catch any fish worth eating, which was a little disappointing to some of them, so no fish recipe today. Instead, inspired by the fishing lures and the “lure” of the wilderness, I’m sharing the recipe for granola bars that I baked the night before they left so that they’d have something from me to enjoy at some point on their journey. My husband carefully vacuum-sealed them, and I am told they were very much appreciated on the trip.
|UP NORTH GRANOLA BARS|| |
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup Rice Krispies
- 1 cup slivered blanched almonds
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup assorted dried fruit of choice (blueberries, cherries, apricots, raisins, etc.)
- ¾ cup salted mixed nuts, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup almond butter (can substitute peanut or cashew butter)
- ½ cup golden syrup (can substitute honey or brown rice syrup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9" x 13" baking pan liberally with cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together oats, Rice Krispies, almonds, coconut, dried fruits, and nuts.
- Place butter, brown sugar, almond butter, and golden syrup in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until heated through and thoroughly combined, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, mixing thoroughly.
- Pour the butter mixture over the oat mixture, tossing until well combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Place a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap over the mixture, and press the granola firmly into the pan, discarding paper when done. Bake approximately 25 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely before cutting into bars.
Mixing up all that goodness
Pressed in the pan and into the oven
Baked until fragrant and golden
What’s your “Up North?”