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Simply Fuelled in The Wild

Lyrics composed to an unknown tune in the style of Floyd Cramer by John Henderson on the 27th January, 2009
after reading 'One Man's Wilderness' - the true story of Richard Proenneke's life in the remote Twin Lakes area of Alaska.

Beasts out in the wild, feed simply,
Eating much the same every day;
I learned a lot from this,
And reckoned I, would follow in their way.
Never have I, felt better
Than from oatmeal well-steeped and baked
With all that can be mixed in to sweeten it,
My thirst with cold water slaked.

Pots full of beans, spuds, meat and fish,
Fresh greens now and then,
With sourdough fermented to make lots cakes,
And biscuits fit to fuel men.
Right well-fed am I, and cosy
In my cabin out by the lake,
Safe from heavy snows, as long winter drifts
Till all with Spring's return again soon wake.


Richard Proenneke, an emigre from Iowa to Alaska, kept a journal during the time he was fulfilling his dream of living in an altogether undeveloped part of Alaska from 1968.

Here is an early extract from his journal ....

"What a man never has, he never misses. I learned something from game animals. Their food is pretty much the same from day to day. I don't vary my fare too much either and Iíve never felt better in my life. I don't confuse my digestive system, I just season simple food with hunger. Food is fuel, and the best fuel I have found is oatmeal and all the stuff you can mix with it, like raisins and honey and brown sugar; meat and gravy and sourdough biscuits to sop up the juices with; a kettle of beans you can dip into every day; rice spuds with fish, and some fresh greens now and then.

Sourdough Hotcakes and Sourdough Biscuits

I got ready for morning. I uncovered the jar of sourdough starter; dumped two-thirds of it into a bowl, put three heaping teaspoons of flour back into the starter jar added some lukewarm water; stirred and capped it. If I did this every time, the starter would go on forever. To the starter in the bowl I added five tablespoons of flour, three table-spoons of sugar, and a half cup of dry milk, mixing it all together with a wooden spoon. I dribbled in lukewarm water until the batter was thin. Then I covered the bowl with a pan. The mixture would work itself into a hotcake batter by morning.


Thick bacon sliced from the slab sizzled in the black skillet. I poured off some of the fat and put it aside to cool. Time now to put the finishing touches to the sourdough batter. As I uncovered it I could smell the fermentation. I gave it a good stirring, then sprinkled half a teaspoonful of baking soda on top, scattered a pinch of salt, and dripped in a tablespoon of bacon fat. When these additions were gently folded into the batter, it seemed to come alive. I let it stand for a few minutes while bacon strips were laid on a piece of paper towel and excess fat was drained from the pan. Then I dropped one wooden spoonful of batter hissing on to the skillet. When bubbles appear all over, it's time to flip.

....Brown, thin, and lightónothing quite like a stack of sourdough hotcakes cooked over a wood fire in the early morning. I smeared each layer with butter and honey and topped the heap with lean bacon slices. While I ate I peered out the window at a good-looking caribou bedded down on the upper benches. Now that's a breakfast with atmosphere! Before doing the dishes, I readied the makings of the sourdough biscuits. These would be a must for each day's supper.  The recipe is much the same as for hotcakes, but thicker; a dough that is baked."

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