1 ¼ tbsp. sea salt, kosher salt or 1 tbsp. table salt
1 ½ tbsp. yeast, instant or regular
6 cups flour – unbleached or all purpose – I often substitute 1 cup of some type of whole grain flour for a total of 6 cups
1/2 cup cornmeal
Mix the water, salt and yeast, stirring to dissolve in a 16-cup container preferably with a lid. I use a gallon ice cream pail.
Add the six cups of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is moistened. It should look like shaggy dough when you’re done. It will not be a smooth like regular bread dough and it will be quite sticky.
Cover dough lid (don’t put it on tightly) or plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for two hours. Refrigerate until ready to bake.
Cut off about a third of the dough and shape into a ball on a well floured counter. Place on a baking sheet that has been well sprinkled with cornmeal. The whole sheet doesn’t have to be covered with cornmeal, just an area a little larger than the dough ball. Be sure the top is well covered with flour.
Let rise for 40 to 50 minutes on the counter. Slice the top two or three times.
Begin preheating the oven to 450 degrees F about 20 minutes before it is time to bake the bread. Place a broiler pan on the floor of a gas oven, or on the bottom rack of an electric oven.
When the oven is hot, place the bread on the rack above the pan and then immediately throw a cup of hot water into the pan. Close the oven quickly. Bake for 20 minutes and then reduce the oven to 400 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.
Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.
Notes: This bread dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It just gets to be more of a sourdough as it ages. There is no need to wash the container between batches. This recipe can also be doubled if you have a big enough container. A little wetter dough will give a different but still delicious result, as will slightly heavier dough.
The weekend of November 6-8, 2009 was an exciting time to be in Churchill, Manitoba. Not only was polar bear season in full swing, the Olympic Torch also made its way into this tiny arctic seaport community of less than 1000 round residents.
The weekend celebrations began with a town social (a Manitoba tradition to party and raise money for events and charities). There was an excellent turn out of local townspeople, tour operators and especially tourists, who were flocking to the Polar Bear Capital of the World to try and catch a glimpse of these ice giants.
Saturday was a typical day in Churchill during bear season. The streets were filled with tourists and buses were zooming back and forth with people going to see the polar bears on one of the massive buggies that operate just east of the town.
At the Webber house, Helen and I were busy in the kitchen preparing a meal fit for a king. We had been asked by Lynda Gunter of Frontiers North if we could host a dinner for a group of people who were here to see polar bears and take part in the Olympic Torch Run.
Cranberries & Canada Geese Cookbook
Our guests showed up that evening after a very eventful day on the Tundra Buggy. Among them were Steve Allen, the Chairman of the Board for the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), and his wife Marjie; Charles McKee, Vice President International for the CTC; Sandra Teakle, the CTC representative from France; and Donna Campbell, the CTC representative from Australia. Our guests were also staying at the Webber house for the weekend!
Dinner went off beautifully and our 15 guests also included Lynda and Merv Gunter from Frontiers North, their son John and his wife Lisa Joy. The only interruption of the evening was the postponement of dessert so we could all go out and enjoy the fireworks display that was put on that night.
After watching the Olympic ceremonies we took a group of seven from the CTC and crowded into the Turbo Beaver for the 25-minute flight north along the coast of the Hudson Bay to Seal River Heritage Lodge. We thought we were just going for quick lunch, but upon arrival there was a sleeping polar bear only 100 yards away from the airplane.
The big white bear awoke from his sleep and proceeded to check out the new arrivals! He was within 20-yards of us before he decided we were not a threat, and he sauntered off to his napping spot again. We made the 10-minute trek to the Lodge through six inches of glistening white snow, all the while keeping an eye on our new white friend, who had moved to the runway to pushover one of our marking signs.
After a quick lunch of Hamburger Soup and Chocolate Banana Crater Cake, our hosts Mike and Jeanne Reimer, gave us a bit of an orientation, including a history of the area. We took a quick tour of the Lodge, and got the call that the plane was in the air already on its way to pick us up. That was quick! Ten minutes later we looked out the window and saw nothing. We were fogged in and it wouldn’t lift until sundown, which made it too late for the plane to take off from Churchill. We were at the Lodge for the night.
Black Currants & Caribou Cookbook
But there was more than enough room, and the staff appeared to enjoy accommodating an extra seven people for the night. In fact, our extra guests were treated no differently than any other. They enjoyed appetizers and cocktails, as well as the slide shows we present in the evenings about polar bears and the local wild life in and around our Lodge and the Churchill area. Everyone had a bed to sleep in, their bellies were full, and we even found extra toothbrushes and contact solution!
We awoke to a stunning sunrise over the ice forming on Hudson Bay. And just when the sun had fully risen, a large male bear walked up the road and right to the front door of the Lodge. He must have smelled breakfast! And all of our guests had a chance to get up close and personal with the bear while staying in the warmth and comfort of the Lodge. We made it out of the Lodge that morning and everyone made it home safe and sound.