The Immortal Chaga Toddy

Warm Your Bones

6 minutes

The holiday season is marked by a select few marine-life living people, as a warm meal next to...or on...a cold body of water.

Josh McFadden is one of those people. And he’s concocted a stellar duo of a drink and a chowder sure to bring some inner-heat (and stomach happiness) to even the chilliest of seasonless adventurers or outdoor diners.

These are his recipes, and his words.

Josh McFadden cooking on ice

I spend a lot of time every winter sitting on frozen lakes, trying to convince fish to take the bait. It doesn't always go as planned, which is totally fine by me.

After a summer full of forest and foraging activities, hitting hard-water (aka hanging out on the ice) is a great time to start using up some of the foraged goods from the forest to eat, share, and most importantly to warm up with when the chill sets in.

The Immortal Chaga Toddy

One of my favourite foraged treats is the Chaga mushroom; a powerful medicinal fungus that grows on trees and can be used to make a delicious tea. The Immortal Chaga Toddy leverages some of the best things Canada has to offer: chaga, whiskey and maple syrup, warming the soul and offering an epic boost to your system (please enjoy responsibly and legally).


1-1/2 cups hot Chaga tea (or a strong dark tea)

1-1/2 oz Canadian whiskey

1 oz of organic Canadian maple syrup

2 teaspoons of lemon juice

2 lemon slices

1 cinnamon stick


Combine all the ingredients in a mug big enough to wrap your hands around. May as well warm your mitts at the same time, right?

pouring chowder into tin cup outside on ice

Frozen Angler’s Chowder

The Frozen Anglers Chowder champions all the things that stick to your ribs on a cold winter’s day. Smokey bacon, potatoes, and cream come together in a bowl like a block heater; you can feel the warmth pushing out from your core and into your chilled extremities with every bite.

Chowder has been one of my all-time favourite things to consume on a cold day for many many years and this is my version of a fish chowder with a great citrus flavour punch.


1/2 pound of bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 russet potatoes, small cubed

4 cups seafood stock or vegetable stock

4 cups 18% cream

1 cup of sweet corn

3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

1/4 cup mushroom powder

3 Tablespoons of ground sumac

3 bay leaves

Salt + Pepper to taste

2 cups of cubed, fresh caught fish, clams or scallops 


  • Situate yourself either on or adjacent to cold water (very important step. No cold water? Your household kitchen is a reasonable option)
  • Make sure you’ve got a strong burner and a hefty pot
  • Add bacon with burner at medium heat; cook until it starts to crisp
  • Add onions and celery to the pan and cook until translucent
  • Toss in the potatoes and mix around for just a couple of minutes; you’re looking to have them make friends with the bacon, celery and onion but not looking to cook them through
  • Pour in the stock and use a utensil to scrape any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan
  • Add in the cream
  • As things start to warm up, add the garlic, bay leaves and stir in the mushroom powder
  • Add the sumac (if you have it; this will add an amazing citrus flavour)
  • Add salt + pepper. Taste, and add more of both/either to your preference
  • Drop in the sweet corn and stir; the kernels don’t need much time to cook
  • Finally, add the fish and slowly stir into the chowder. Once the initial stir is done and all of the fish is covered, let it simmer away for a couple of minutes without touching it; you don’t want to over stir the chowder and break apart all of those lovely fish chunks.
  • As soon as you can gently dig up a piece of fish to test that it’s cooked through, you’re done!
  • Ladle into a decorated tin mug, top with chopped scallions and dill, add a few drops of lemon juice of your favourite hot sauce
  • Now, warm those bones and enjoy the sunset


TIP: Can’t find mushroom powder? Buy a bag of dry Shiitake mushrooms from the international aisle at the grocery store or from an Asian grocer. Toss them all in a blender and let them go until pulverized into a fine powder.

Add the powder to your favourite savoury dishes. You’ll never eat a steak without mushroom powder again.

bottles of drink and a mixed hot toddy set out in photo on forzen lake

For more foraging and fishing adventures follow Josh McFadden
Words and Photos - Josh McFadden  
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