Stovetop, a photo by Lee Petersen on Flickr.

This is the stovetop inside the home of Fannie Quigley in Kantishna, Alaska, a town encompassed by Denali National Park. A good glimpse into her life can be found in her Blueberry Pie recipe:

“First, in early August pick five gallons of blueberries as they ripen on the hillside in back of your mining claim. 

Before the creeks run dry in the summer, pan some gold out of your claim.

Then, in early fall shoot a good fat bear. Skin the bear, and butcher it. Haul it, one quarter at a time, in your backpack to your cabin.

When the first snows come to the hills, hitch up the dogs and mush fifteen miles down the valley for firewood. Haul ten or fifteen cords to keep the woodstove going in the cabin for the winter.

Using a large iron kettle and the wood you’ve hauled, render the bear fat into lard.

Hitch up the dogs again and mush 125 miles to Nenana. Trade some of your gold dust for 100 pounds of flour and 50 pounds of sugar. Load it onto your sled and mush home. Be sure to avoid the overflow on the Toklat River so the flour doesn’t get wet.

Use the bear fat lard and the flour to bake a dozen flaky pie crusts in the oven of your wood cookstove. Keep the stove stoked with good dry wood to maintain a high temperature.

Mix the blueberries with some sugar, and add enough flour to bind up the juices. Put the filling into the crusts and bake. Don’t let the fire in the stove get too hot, or the pies will burn.

Cool the pies, then store them frozen in the permafrost mining tunnel behind the cabin.

When company comes, go out and get a pie out of the tunnel. It will taste as good as fresh and astonish your guests.”

-From Searching for Fannie Quigley: A Wilderness Life in the Shadow of Mount McKinley

I went back to post this after reading an article in the newsminer about an Alaskan woman who punched a bear in the face when it tried to take her dog. Alaskan women are tough.

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