1590 Delkatla
Masset, Haida Gwaii

(formerly Queen Charlotte Islands)
BC Canada V0T 1M0


July 27, 2013 at now

Culinary tales from poet Susan Musgrave >> Click

Culinary tales
from poet Susan Musgrave

  May 31, 2013
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Photo: Robert Fraumeni
Susan Musgrave strides into the ocean to catch crab for dinner.

Acclaimed poet Susan Musgrave has two new titles to add to her CV: B&B proprietor and cookbook author. In 2010 she took over the infamous Copper Beech Guest House in Haida Gwaii’s Masset. The guest house has a rich culinary history and Musgrave is keeping the tradition alive. Her “love story with recipes,” A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World, was published by Whitecap Books in November 2015.

To whet your appetite, Musgrave has generously shared the following excerpts.    

For more on Musgrave and the Copper Beech Guest House see “Island character” in the Summer 2013 issue of British Columbia Magazine.

Pickled Sea Asparagus

"I am giving out tastes from my wee jar, to the chosen few I think worthy and as we stand by the fridge with our chopsticks and the jar, it's like a religious experience."
—Ilona Beiks, treasured guest, and recipient of jarred Pickled Sea Asparagus, Copper Beech House2013


2 quarts sea asparagus
3 cups apple cider vinegar
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
Garlic cloves, peeled and sliced long ways (one clove for each jar)
Bay Leaves (one for each jar)
Black Peppercorns
1 red pepper cut into heart-shaped pieces (or use dried red chili peppers)
1 tbsp mixed pickling spice (or use whole coriander seeds, whole yellow     mustard seeds)
Sprinkling of dill seed


Trim sea asparagus into 3-4″ lengths, then soak in cold water for about 1 hour to remove some of the salty taste. 

In the bottom of each sterilized 1/2 pint jar place a bay leaf, a few peppercorns, the pickling spice (or the coriander and mustard seeds) and a tiny sprinkle of dill seed. Add 1 red pepper heart or 1 dried chili to each jar. 

Drain sea asparagus and pack tightly into jars. Then manouever the red pepper hearts or chili peppers and garlic slices into the jars alongside the glass, so they show.

Bring vinegar, sugar and 1 cup water to boil and simmer 15 minutes. Pour hot solution over sea asparagus, leaving 1/2” headroom.

Seal jars and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes. Makes 8 1/2 pint jars.

Next: Haida Gwaii Three Berry Pie

Haida Gwaii Three Berry Pie
"When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmmmmmm, boy.”
— Jack Handy

1 1/4 cups Graham Wafer crumbs
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup melted butter

Combine Graham Wafer crumbs with slivered almonds and melted butter. I don’t add sugar, as most recipes suggest you do. I do add 1/2 tsp cinnamon, but only if I’m in the mood.

Pat into pie plate and set in freezer to chill until ready for use.

Preheat over to 400F


2 cups huckleberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup sugar
2-3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp cinnamon (optional) (I think I leave it out)

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
pinch salt


1) Mix the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and cinnamon and toss the berries in this mixture until they are evenly coated.  Let this sit for 15 minutes or more. The sugar will coax the juice from the berries and create liquid which will dissolve the cornstarch.

2) Whilst the juice is being coaxed from the berries, beat together the heavy cream, sugar, eggs and pinch of salt.

3) Mix these wet ingredients into the berries.

4) Pour into chilled crumb-crust, dot with butter.


1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour


1) Combine butter, sugar and flour and sprinkle over the top of the filling.

Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.
Turn oven down to 350F and bake until topping is nicely browned, another 35-40 minutes.

Next: Masset Inlet Hand-Peeled Shrimp

Masset Inlet Hand-Peeled Shrimp

Back in the day when they had exotic dancers at the bar of the Singing Surf Motel in Masset, Paul Bower, a North Beach beachcomber and general man-about-the-beach, is said to have offered one of the strippers 50 lbs of shrimp to spend the night with him. She turned him down; he drove home and ate the shrimp himself.

Shrimp, when hand-peeled, have the brightest pink colour and firmest, sweet-tasting meat. Paul isn’t around to give us directions, so I have had to exercise poetic license.


To shell shrimp, you need just your hands.

You grab the fleshy part at the front and peel it off.