What a difference six months makes. The last time I visited Winnipesaukee 70 degrees seemed cool. This time, 18 felt warm.
roughly the same vantage point…August/ March
Still, there’s something cozy about a lake house in the middle of winter. A roaring fire, accompanied by a bourbon cocktail. Homemade chili on the stove. Cuddling with friends on couches under a mountain of blankets. The exceptional air that a moment takes when someone pulls out a guitar and starts strumming. We lost an hour that night, so that we could “spring forward.” The next morning, I woke up to this.
Skiing was in the plan, but mediocre conditions and expensive lift tickets made us think again. So we headed to Alton Bay to watch the planes come into the only ice runway in the lower 48.
I haven’t spent much time on ice, and if I’m honest, the whole thing freaks me out a bit. Growing up, I regularly heard stories about people falling through the ice on the river that ran through my town. Sometimes they made it, often they didn’t. It was drilled into me from a very young age that ice was something best avoided. So I couldn’t help but think the guys on snow mobiles I saw out in the middle of the lake Saturday fell somewhere between crazy, brave, and stupid. It took a deep breath before I went out onto the ice at Alton Bay, despite watching trucks drive onto it. And then, as I stood there, a plane landed on the ice in front of me.
We ate lunch overlooking the frozen airport and then headed back onto the lake to tour the ice fishing village that pops up there each winter. If you know me, you know that I love fishing. Ice fishing, however, is something I have never, ever had a desire to do. First, the idea of sitting out on the ice, freezing, and waiting for a bite seems miserable. Second, I think fresh water fish mostly tastes terrible, and if I’m not going to eat it, I have no desire to catch it. But the guys on Alton Bay may have swayed me a bit.
Anyone can put out an ice house, so long as you write your phone number on the outside, so folks can call you if it has trouble. The houses range in size and style. Some have propane heaters. Some have beds. Some are built on skis, some have wheels.
It took about six minutes of walking around before B and I were handed Bud Lights by some guys and invited into their ice house. We talked about fishing, and hunting, but mostly fishing. They swore they’d caught fish the day before, but had nothing that day (of course!).
But there was a nice sense of community out there. All these guys (and a few girls) are out there every weekend. They keep one another company, help each other out, and keep each other entertained. One guy was towing his kids in a sled behind his snowmobile, another was on a four-wheeler pulling his friend on a snowboard. He offered to tow me on my skis, but alas, I’d left my boots at the house.
That sense of community is ultimately what led me to conclude that maybe ice fishing isn’t so bad. This winter has been a doozie, but getting outside with friends for a good time seems like the best strategy for not letting the dreary days and frigid temperatures get to you. It’s why I’ve skied so much this winter, and have continued to show up for November Project at least once a week.
Of course, when the weather is like this, my body craves the comforts of long cooked stews and warm breads. Poutin seems an appropriate apres ski snack, and of course one needs a beer to go with it. After a weekend of this, my body needs a reset on Mondays, something that’s substantial, but also good for me. This kale salad is a bit of both.
I discovered it a couple of weeks ago at the Whole Foods salad bar when I was in search of a snack. I liked it so much that I snapped a photo of the ingredients and vowed to make it at home. The kale provides fiber and vitamins to nurture your body, but the dressing is flavorful enough that it still feels like a hearty dish, especially for a salad. Nuts, avocados, or pepitas would bump this up a notch, but it’s pretty darn good like this.
Kale salad with garlicky dressing
serves 4-6 as a side
1 bunch kale, cut into chiffonade and massaged
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tb garlic powder
2 Tb soy sauce (tamari or liquid amines can be substituted)
2 Tb lemon juice
2 Tb apple cider vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
Put kale into a large salad bowl and set aside. Combine tahini, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, soy sauce, lemon juice, and vinegar in a blender and whirl until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of water. If consistency is pourable, you’re good. If it’s still too thick add more water. You want something that’s pourable so it coats the kale, but isn’t too soupy. Adjust flavors to taste (you may like more lemon or garlic). When you reach desired consistency, pour 1/2 cup over the kale salad and toss well. Add dressing until the salad is dressed to your liking. You will likely have leftover dressing, which is fine as I’m sure you’ll want to eat this salad again. Store leftover dressing in a mason jar and refrigerate.
Kale is hearty enough that any salad leftovers can be kept and eaten the following day. It will start to get soggy after two days.