A sunset at Standing Rock, winter 2016. Rudi Bega of Mount Shasta California / Contributed

A “wild” adventure | Gamble Gazette

A “wild” adventure | Gamble Gazette

Kim Campbell set out for Standing Rock in November for the Dakota Access Pipeline protest, after feeling compelled to help.

She just may have come back to North Kitsap with more than she thought was possible from the experience.

“We have to empower ourselves before any healing is possible,” she said. “I just wanted to be there and help in any way that was needed at the time.”

She ended up at the camp’s central kitchen with her father, who is from South Dakota. And one day, the “keys” to the kitchen were handed over to them when the person in charge of the kitchen had to leave the camp because of a personal emergency.

“I guess they saw that we knew how to run a kitchen, could cook for vegetarians and vegans, and we were off and running,” Campbell said.

The central kitchen was responsible for providing three meals a day, for 300-500 people per meal. They focused on preparing food that was quick, easy and warm. Some of the common foods were soups, stews and frybread.

There were tents stocked with produce, one stocked with canned goods and a refrigerated truck for meats and produce.

“I was there the week that U.S. veterans came to the protest. One of the veterans showed up in a truck with thousands of pounds of winter squash and sweet potatoes. A lot of people didn’t know what to do with the some of the squash that was donated, but we were able to incorporate it into the kitchen so it could be used.”

One of the most popular dishes Campbell served: ginger squash soup.

There were many challenges cooking in the camp other than in climate weather, Campbell said. Some were scarcity in supplies like water, propane, wood and sharp knives.

“I’m glad I brought a couple of my own knives since all knives in the kitchen were dulled.”

I asked Campbell what she thought was the most unique ingredient used during her time in the central kitchen.

“We got into the refrigerated truck and found a lot of meat that needed to be butchered before it was used. I had to ask a few people if they knew how to butcher this meat.”

The meat turned out to be four whole alpacas which took four people a total of 10 hours to break down for cooking preparations. They mostly used a 15-foot smoker to cook the alpaca and served dishes like “alpaca and eggs” for breakfast. They were also able to make a lot of stewed soups and tenderloins.

Campbell, who is Mdewakanton Dakota on her father’s side, met cousins for the first time in the kitchen and was able to teach them, as well as many others, the basics of cooking and how to best use ingredients.

“Not everyone in the kitchen knew their way around. There were lawyers, architects and doctors helping out.”

Teaching and sharing her love of cooking may be one of the biggest rewards Campbell brought back through her experience. But she also came back with a new-found confidence as a chef with new ways to approach food.

Perhaps her most compelling and rewarding experience was finding hope in the next generation of Americans, and the sense of community, dedication and focus they brought to the camps. After all, they were all there by choice.

The Port Gamble General Store & Café is launching a new menu this year that is sure to excite. They’ve also announced winter hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Cafe hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Visit www.portgamble.com to see the wonderful food options available for your next visit.

Port Gamble Theater presents “Oh, Coward!” Feb. 10-26: Weaving together songs and literary delights, “Oh, Coward!” celebrates one of the theater’s greatest entertainers, Noel Coward. His effervescent music and charming quips combine for an unforgettable evening of the most memorable tunes of the 20th century.

Get your tickets at www.portgambletheater.com> And don’t miss Dinner Theater Saturdays.

New business opening in Port Gamble: February welcomes Dr. Andrew Swanson and the Gaitlink Chiropractic Center to House 8 (located at 32279 N. Rainier Ave in Port Gamble). Dr. Swanson has been providing chiropractic services for more than 25 years. Schedule an appointment, by calling 360-297-4544 or visit www.gaitlink.com.

Check out the ghostly side of Port Gamble in February and March: Take a guided tour of Port Gamble highlighting the town’s history of the paranormal, including tours of the more active buildings in town. Or, spend three hours in the Walker-Ames House investigating the paranormal.

Port Gamble Ghost Walk Tours will take place on Feb. 4 and March 3. Cost is $25 per person; guests must be 16 or older.

The Port Gamble Special Investigation (Walker-Ames House) will take place on Feb. 18 and March 18. Cost is $35 per person; participants must be 16 or older.

Be sure to bring a flashlight and dress for the weather. Cameras and other equipment for ghost hunting are encouraged. Get your tickets at www.portgambleparanormal.com or buy them in person at Mrs. Muir’s House on Rainier Avenue.

Contact columnist Pete Orbea at porbea@orminc.com.