As physical distancing simmers on, many residents in Inuvik are spicing up their baking skills in the kitchen and catering up the dishes they always wanted to create.

Taking a sourdough starter kit idea first cooked up mid-March by caremongerer Raelene Chursinoff, the idea has boiled over into a full-blown cooking and culinary group.

“I have sourdough starter that I use for making bread, it is just flour and water that has fermented over time. My starter comes from my mom, who got it from a friend. The original starter is over 25 years old,” she said. “I add flour and water to it every time I use it, and it just keeps growing. So to give it out, I put portions of it into containers. I then posted my recipe and a few videos of how I make my bread.”

Chursinoff was already baking and selling bread in town over the last year, but after the Chief Public Health officer started piling on restrictions on how people could meet, she didn’t feel comfortable keeping her business going.

Instead, she decided to pass her secrets on to her many regular customers and began posting “How-to” videos online.

Her first starter pack was gobbled up almost immediately and since then she’s blended the recipe as interest has needed. In total, she estimates she’s put given away at least 40 containers of the mixture and refilled several more.

Raelene Chursinoff outside her home with a cooler full of Sourdough starter kits she made for her former customers in Inuvik. Self-isolation has fired up Inuvik’s culinary arts scene as residents cook away the Covid-19 blues.
(Courtesy of Raelene Chursinoff)

“I had people dropping off old yogurt containers because I didn’t have enough,” she said. “I would just put the containers in a cooler with a hot water bottle to keep them from freezing out by the road and people could just pick them up when it worked for them. If someone picked up and noticed there was only one left they would message me so I knew to put more out.”

Baking is about community for Chursinoff, who said her favourite part was just getting to know the people she cooks for and how much they enjoy it, noting she was enjoying the safe-distanced conversations she was having with residents when they came to pick up a batch of the sourdough mix.

Seeing people make their own bread with her recipes is also rewarding, she said.

To get started, having a scale is helpful but measurements can be converted to cups if needed. To mix the dough, you will need a large bowl, some flour, water, salt and a small amount of yeast, a pan and an oven.

“Having a dutch oven works best for baking, but I have also shown in my videos how to use a regular bread pan and I have some people baking in cake pans too, basically anything that can go in the oven will work,” she said. “Just don’t be afraid to try it if you haven’t done it before! I have quite a few people message me with their results after watching my videos who haven’t made bread before and there have been lots of great results.”

Eric Bowling

Breaking News Reporter and Digital Editor for NNSL, Eric operates out of Inuvik in the Beaufort Delta. He's four years into his Northern adventure and is eager to learn more about life in the Arctic Circle....

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