AutoPilot Pancakes and The World’s Most Ridiculous Double Broiler; Updates and Recipes From A Treeplanting Kitchen In The Woods

Usually our mornings start around 4:30 am, but due to circumstances beyond my control, those have been shifted to 3:30am for the remainder of the season. This is too early. 

I have no natural proclivity for mornings. At 3:30am, my mind is only functioning at around 40%. I’m groggy, I’m longing for a few more hours of sleep, and it is pitch black outside. The idea of creating a meal in this semi-comatose state is fairly absurd. The only way to get through these arduous mornings is to let my brain turn off and my body switch to autopilot. It’s almost like I’m outside of my body, seeing myself mix up batter and flip pancakes, stir up some porridge and assemble the tray of blueberry muffins. This is sort of how the summer has been for me as a whole. My body getting the daily tasks done, my mind elsewhere. 

I have mixed feelings about this approach. I generally believe in living in the moment, enjoying the present, which in large part is my Meisner theatre school training shining through, and to a lesser extent my current yogic worldview. The thing is, this job is not easy, nor is it always pleasant. There are mistakes or complaints or burnt cinnamon buns, and letting yourself care too much is a surefire way to go insane. During the day we listen to a lot of music, CBC, various podcasts, and I can mull over whatever I’m currently writing. I drink a lot of water, coffee, and more than my fair share of Bolthouse smoothies and Vanilla Chai, and daydream about city life. 

Thanks to this blasé/carefree attitude, time has flown by. I still care very much about my work, and I pour myself into special treats and nights for the planters. But overall this summer has seemed very dream like, and I don’t mind that one bit.

Things That Are Not Going Well

  • Planters are getting cranky. This has happened every summer I’ve been out- usually around the 60 day mark. They are tired, and filthy and ready to go home. This makes for a lot of attitude. 
  • The company we order food from has delivered us expired and mouldy food, two weeks in a row. We received an eighty dollar case of orange juice that was over two months past the expiry date. We called, thought it was all sorted out until the next week the same exact thing happened. Chris had to talk to someone to finally get a full refund. This is frustrating as cranky planters get angry with no orange juice, or poor quality produce, or the wrong meat being sent regardless of the fact that we had no control over it.

Things That Are Going Well

  • Next week is Christmas In July, which I have been looking forward to all summer. It’s a ton of work, but the pay off is incredible.

Tip of the day- Improvising a Double Broiler or Steamer

No recipe this week, but rather some practical advice on kitchen equipment. I’m am a huge advocate of getting the best quality equipment available to you, especially for knives, pans and anything else you will be keeping for years. But sometimes budget is an issue, or you temporarily don’t have access to a stocked cupboard, like at a cottage, on vacation or say in the middle of the woods in rural Alberta. 

I’m sure I’ve stated this before, but I am a major fan of chocolate.  This week I went to make a chocolate topping for some brownies, and was faced with a dilemma, as I have no access to a double broiler here in my outdoor kitchen. Chocolate is extremely delicate, and cooking large amounts of it on direct heat is not advised. So I finally figured that a stainless steel bowl placed onto of a steel pot full of boiling water would have to work- and it did. Of course you have to be very careful, and use oven mitts when handling your makeshift equipment, but it did the job quite nicely, and the brownies turned out really well. This also works as a steamer substitute, with a metal colander and a pot of boiling water. Steaming is a much healthier way to cook vegetables, helping to retain more of the nutrients and flavour than boiling or baking. 

Let me know if you’ve ever MacGyvered your own makeshift kitchen equipment, and whether or not it was a success. 

Yours Ever,
Kristy in the Kitchen (In The Forest)

Kristy has spent the fast few months chronicling her summer as a Treeplanting cook for SDTC, and posting pictures of salad on instagram, anonymously. She also acts, writes, sings, and has various other special skills according to her resume. You can follow her on twitter @kristylapointe, and enjoy the blog she co-writes at

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