In last month’s Hunters Library selection we featured an excerpt from R.M. Patterson’s enthralling account of his adventures on the Nahanni River and it’s surrounding territory. If you did not get a chance to read the excerpt it is a true must read. The excerpt was taken from, The Dangerous River, a required addition to any outdoor adventure historical collection. Click here to read the excerpt.
Patterson was a prolific writer and adventurer with many books to his credit recounting his incredible adventures in the North Country of BC, Alberta and the Territories. Unbelievably however, one of his most famous contributions to the history of the Far North was a concoction dubbed “Patterson’s Porridge” by the Northwest Mounted Police (now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or RCMP to our Canadian readers).
This was a man that braved some of the least traveled, most remote corners and waterways of our great Country, enduring winters and harsh conditions at a time when food was simple and the gear of the wilderness adventurer even more so. Needless to say, his life depended on adequate fuel to not only survive but thrive in some of the harshest conditions one can imagine. His physical feats, although “normal” for the time, re-define one’s concept of “extreme” endurance, strength and mental fortitude. And he kept it up well into his sixties!
One of Patterson’s Fellow Adventurers – Photo Credit Touchwood Editions
As we settle into the off-season, many of us turn to our skis, snowshoes and snowboards instead of our packs and rifles or bows when heading into the mountains. And although we may not be logging the same miles we were during hunting season, the colder temperatures of the winter months still demand strict attention be paid to our caloric consumption. And although there are all sorts of bars, gels and other modern (aka convenient) products available to us, you just can’t beat a good old fashioned, fire stoking real meal.
Legend has it that as he passed through one of the trading posts of the NWT, Patterson shared his porridge recipe with a handful of RCMP officer’s in gratitude for their hospitality. Shortly thereafter the police indent (tab) for raisins and cheese rose considerably. Apparently word had spread far and wide among these early lawmen braving Canada’s North!
If this recipe became a staple of their diets, then it’s a hell of a contender for a go-to pre-activity winter meal in our books as well. We can assure you this porridge will stick to your ribs like nothing else. Enjoy!
Patterson’s Porridge Recipe:
- Grill two to three slices of bacon and eat them (in his time, always combined with tea)
- In the pan the bacon was cooked (in Patterson’s words “you have no plate with you anyway”) add a fifty-fifty mixture of cracked wheat and large, unbroken rolled oats, a handful of raisins and as much butter as you can spare (the more the better in his opinion)
- Cook the porridge mixture, raisins and butter and serve in the pan, red hot
- Once cooked, lay on top of the porridge a large pat of butter (yes again) and a slice of cheese – and don’t skimp on the cheese (his words)
- Sprinkle the whole as liberally as circumstances permit with brown sugar
Patterson himself summarizes this recipe better than we can:
“And when you have that concoction under your belt, you’ve got something. Cold days become soft and balmy and mountain slopes as little hills. With the exception of good pemmican, that brew is the handiest, quickest form of dynamite that I know of when it comes to propelling a man over the trail. It can be quickly made, it gives instant warmth and energy, and it can be eaten even when one is exhausted.”