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May 20, 2008

What's That Movement I See Out of the Corner of my Eye?

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It's a black bear just outside my backdoor! Okay, I live in Alaska, and I expect to see wildlife(it was a moose in my backyard night before last). But I'm sorry, I just don't like seeing a bear taking his sweet time wondering around my yard. And he wasn't small-he just looks it in the photo because it was taken from a 2nd story looking down at him. He walked around my house, twice! If I had been outside, I would have begun to think he was stalking me (yes, black bears will do that on occasion-stalk you, kill you, and eat you). After we stared at each other for a few seconds(me from the 2nd floor, through a window), he casually began to make his way up the driveway. Then, 2 dogs from across the street got wind of him and began barking. He began to run, then the 2 dogs(golden retriever and rottweiler) began to chase him. I don't think they got too close to him, but ran around in circles close enough to where he continued running.

There was an article in today's newspaper about a couple in Anchorage who came home last night to a black bear in their kitchen. It had pulled his refrigerator out, figured out how to open the freezer and helped himself to a frozen chicken, and was slinging cabinet drawers across the kitchen. It began to get aggressive towards them, so they got a gun and shot and killed it. The bears are hungry right now. Very soon they will begin to have some food to eat-moose calves. Yes, those newborn calves are a favorite of bears. Isn't nature just lovely sometimes? At least soon after that, the salmon will begin to run and there will be fish for them to eat. Another day living in Alaska...

May 30, 2008

A Patriotic Eagle

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I took this photo last winter in Homer, Alaska. I forgot I had taken it, and just came across it. Even though Memorial Day has passed, I think it is a very fitting image for the day.

July 2, 2008

SUMMER IS FINALLY HERE (AT LEAST FOR ONE DAY!)

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Today, Anchorage finally hit 70 degrees for the first time this summer. It has been a cold, rainy spring/summer, and I think every weekend has been rainy. Yesterday was sunny, and I worked all day. Today was forcasted for another sunny day, so I took a vacation day and spent all day outside-pulling weeds from the flower beds, reading cookbooks, and just soaking up some Vitamin D. A nice way to spend the day. Tomorrow it is supposed to get cloudy again, and then begin raining tomorrow night, and rain all through the weekend, with the high tomorrow 60. If we don't get a little more sunshine and warmth this summer, this winter is going to be very hard to deal with. On the brightside of things, my first rose bloomed today. Flowers are way behind, and I didn't even put in a vegetable garden this year, but I have one rose in bloom, and several more a day or two away. I guess if we look hard enough, we can always find some silver lining. Also, if it's cold this weekend, I plan to do a lot of baking. Make a few of the Sunday Slow Bakers things in advance while I have some extra time.

July 4, 2008

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY

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Hope everyone is having a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July. I thought I'd post some photos I took of eagles. These were taken in early March in Homer, Alaska. I am lucky that I get to travel there for my job. It's one of my favorite small Alaska towns. You can see eagles all year round, but in the winter they are especially plentiful. One of my co-workers counted over 300 on one of her visits there.

July 6, 2008

PART OF A GOOD DAY'S CATCH

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While I stayed home over the 4th and did a lot of baking, my husband went out fishing with a buddy for a long weekend. They went out of Whittier, in Prince William Sound. It was a quite successful trip. His share was 1 1/2 Ling Cods (they couldn't keep 4 total, their limit, because their cooler was full!), 4 Halibut, 3 Red Salmon (Sockeye), and about 7 gallons of shrimp! So, remember, I said that was his share, so they came back with double that amount. He got to spend the day vacuum-packing it all. Not fun, but nice to have in your freezer. We had shrimp for dinner last night, and salmon tonight. It's funny that it's only July and our freezer is almost full....

August 18, 2008

A Weekend in Prince William Sound

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CINDY EMPTYING SHRIMP POTS

This weekend, my husband and I went out on our boat. We went out of Whittier, which is in Prince William Sound. It's almost always rainy and windy there. Although we did have rain part of the time, we also had a little clear weather. It was windy Friday night when we were going out, but for the first time ever I've been out there, on Saturday and Sunday it wasn't windy. Which made for an almost flat ocean. Which was a very good thing, considering we had engine problems, had to shut our engine off while going through a narrow opening into the cove where we were going to anchor for the evening. Of course, since I'm not the biggest water-lover, when the engine alarm began screeching, and upon lifting the engine cover and seeing lots of what I thought was smoke (I later learned it was steam from a radiator that was boiling over), I quickly got the fire extinguisher out, put together the paddles for the kayaks in case we had to abandon ship, and generally was scared to death. But luckily we had a backup kicker motor with us, and were able to motor to where we were going for the evening, and anchor up. We thought we would have to radio the coast guard and have them call in a tow boat for us, but luckily sometime that night or the next morning (I now don't even remember when it was) my husband discovered what the problem was, and was able to repair it (or at least we were hoping it was repaired!) But since we were safely anchored for the evening, even though we had worries about the cost of a tow boat, we decided to go ahead and have a nice dinner of the shrimp we had just pulled, along with a nice glass of wine. And also some salmon we caught. A nice high protein dinner.

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HUSBAND GETTING READY TO HAVE A SHRIMP DINNER

Shrimping is not easy. The pots are heavy, and they kill your back as you're moving them around. In Alaska, you are allowed to put out 5 shrimp pots, which we do on 2 lines (about 800 feet of line each). So we put 3 pots on one line, and 2 pots on the other. On a good weekend, we'll pull the pots 3 times. We'll put them out Friday night, pull Saturday morning and put them right back out, pull Saturday night and put them back out, then pull a last time Sunday morning. We've been known to get 15 gallons of shrimp from 3 pulls. We weren't as succesful this weekend, but we still had plenty for dinner on the boat Saturday night, a nice shrimp pasta dinner Sunday night, some to give my husband's boss, and still more to freeze.

Another part of the shrimping that's not so fun is when you have to pull their heads off. That will make you want to become a vegetarian. Here's a photo of me pulling their heads off-notice the thick gloves I wear so I don't feel their "twitching" as much.

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On the way home, we stopped to take a photo of a glacier at Portage lake. This is accessible by car, and is just about an hour south of Anchorage. Notice the blue glow of the glaciers-this is because they absorb all of the light spectrum except for the blue (because of denseness of the ice).

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Once home, I began thinking about what to cook for dinner. It needed to include shrimp, and I was craving pasta. I found a package of black squid ink pasta that I brought home from Italy.

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I sauteed chopped onion and garlic in some butter and olive oil. I then added the shrimp, salt, pepper, and hot pepper flakes. A few splashes of white wine.

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Then mixed that with the cooked pasta. A very tasty dinner.

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After dinner, the sun came out for a short period of time, and I was able to do one of my favorite activities-sit outside in the sun, in my PJs, reading Bon Appetit, with a glass of wine!

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September 25, 2008

WHAT'S THAT IN MY DRIVEWAY? MOOSE!

Last weekend some friends came over for dinner. They were asking how often we see wildlife where we live. We said it really depends on the year, but we know there are a lot around, because they leave us little "gifts" behind. I then happened to look out onto our driveway and this is what I saw:


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I'm not usually lucky enough to have a camera close by, but this year I got pictures of both bear and moose in the yard.


October 11, 2008

PHOTO HUNTER - LAZY

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Another Saturday, and time for another picture for Photo Hunter. This week's theme is lazy. I have plenty of photos of me being lazy, but I decided on a photo of a bear instead. Looks like he's really enjoying laying on the log. And in case you don't recognize him, he's the same bear that was in my scary photo a few weeks ago.

November 20, 2008

YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH

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I haven't been cooking much lately (at least not anything I would want to show a photo of), so I decided to show a photo of a fish my husband caught this summer. The fish is a Yellow Eye Rockfish, also called a Pacific Red Snapper. This is a very tender and mild-tasting white-fleshed fish. I often use it in fish stews I make.

I'm soon to start on a new Sunday Series - Sunday Slow Soupers. I'm going to have to skip the first week though. The recipe is a Porcini Mushroom-Chestnut Soup, and I can't seem to find any chestnuts here and I don't want to pay a fortune to have some shipped to Alaska.

My life is about to get very busy, as Saturday I am getting a new puppy - a West Highland Terrier. But I am going to try to be more consistent in my posting - my goal is 2 recipes a week - one for soup and one random item. Along with PhotoHunter on Saturdays, I am going to try to aim for at least 3 posts per week. And then there will still be the monthly Daring Bakers.

Off to continue "puppy-proofing" the house...

November 22, 2008

PhotoHunt - "Reflection"

This week's PhotoHunt theme is "reflection". I couldn't decide which photo to post, so I decided to show four.

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This first photo was taken at the beginning of September on a drive from Anchorage to Homer. A beautiful fall day with a reflection of trees on a lake.

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This second photo is the reflection of a sunrise while we were on our boat in Prince William Sound.

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This third photo was a beautiful day in Prince William Sound, taken while we were anchored in a cove with several other boats.


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This last photo is the reflection on the shiny black surface of two gondolas in Venice.

January 21, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE WEATHER GETS WARM AFTER A VERY COLD SPELL-GRILL OF COURSE

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Anchorage has had a very brutal cold spell. It was -16F for about 2 weeks at my house, and even colder in other areas. But then last week, things changed. We got what they call the "pineapple express"-warm weather and lots of wind. We had record highs, and for 3 days school was even cancelled, which never happens here. Last Wednesday when things warmed up, the streets, parking lots, driveways, etc. turned into ice skating rinks. And then the rain began-pouring rain! Saturday the wind stopped for the day, and we decided to pull out the grill. I rarely eat beef, but what better way to take advantage of the grill than a nice New York strip. I just rubbed it with olive oil, and sprinkled liberally with course salt and coursely ground pepper. Served with roasted fingerling potatoes, and sauteed mushrooms and onions, it was great. And of course we had to have a fabulous cabernet from Hawkes winery to go along. This was enough to remind me that spring will be here in a few months....

Note: I forgot to publish this, and since then the warm spell has left us. Not as cold as it was though-it's now in the high teens, low 20's. But the sun has been out the last few days, so it's been a nice change from the gray cloudy skies we've been seeing.

February 5, 2009

DREAMING OF SUMMER

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I'm ready for summer. It's been a long winter here in Alaska, and unfortunately, we still have several more months to go before even Spring is here. I love to garden, and some of my favorite flowers are roses, peonies, and lilies.

We cannot grow hybrid tea roses where I live, and David Austin's are nearly impossible also. Rugosas do very well here. Although they don't make the best cut roses, they have tons of blooms and have a wonderful fragrance.

This is a photo is from my garden, of a Rugosa named "Hansa". I have to keep looking at photos like this to remind myself that warmth and green will be here soon (okay, not that soon-4 months until we can plant, maybe 5 until I'll see some blooms).

February 13, 2009

WHY WE EAT A LOT OF FISH

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I can't remember if I've ever shown this photo before, but I got tired of going through the entries on my blog looking for it. This photo was taken a couple of years ago, showing our nice catch of salmon. The salmon are Coho (silver) Salmon, and there are 3 rockfish shown also.

We try to eat all of the fish we catch. We vacuum pack it, then freeze it, and it stays good all year. It's a good thing that summer season is short around here.

March 5, 2009

MENDENHALL GLACIER - JUNEAU, ALASKA

I finished my blogging everyday in February, and then what happens? I haven't seemed to have the energy or desire to find things to write about. I will get better, I promise.

On Wednesday, I had to go to Juneau for work. It's about 1 1/2 hour flight from Anchorage. Wednesday was a beautiful sunny day in Juneau. The temperature was about 29 degrees F, but because of the sun, it felt much warmer. Mid-morning I took a quick drive to Mendenhall Glacier, which is right in town. The first photo here is harder to see the glacier in. It's the horizontal area above the trees.It had fresh snow on it, so the blue didn't show as much as it usually does.

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This second photo is a closer picture of the glacier. I wish I had more time than just the few minutes I had (and it also would have helped if I didn't have on a suit with dress shoes!). It's sights like this that really make you appreciate living in Alaska.

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June 19, 2009

THIS IS WHAT YOU SEE WHEN YOU LIVE IN ALASKA

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I live in Alaska, and I know that there are a lot of bears around where I live. It is exciting to see them, but it also makes you a little uneasy when one is hanging around your neighborhood. Yesterday a grizzly appeared in our driveway. That's him (or her) in the photos above. He's a small and skinny grizzly. Probably his mother just kicked him out. They stay with the mom anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 years. So who knows, he's probably somewhere between 1-3 years old. The problem with him is he doesn't seem to be scared of people. I stood on the deck and yelled at him and banged on the railing, and he just looked at me. Eventually, he wandered up the driveway, and slowly walked up the street, stopping to eat grass along the way. Another neighbor had him come closer instead of running away when she yelled at him. Dogs finally got a whiff of him and ran him off. 3 or 4 hours later, I went to take my dog out on a leash, and he popped up in the grass maybe 20 or 30 feet at the most from me. Even with a bum foot, I can run. You're not supposed to run from them, but it's hard not to act upon that instinct. Especially when you're close to the garage and door inside. Then just a few minutes ago, I hear a few dogs barking and I look out the window, and here he comes again. Sniffed around the boat, and again slowly meanered up the driveway until again, some dogs chased him away.

Someone asked me how many people a year are killed by bears in Alaska. I did a google search, and from the information I found it looks like an average of 1 per year. And an average of 6 per year are injured. I guess we can't expect those encounters not to happen when we build in areas of bear habitat, but I can assure you that my neck hurts from how much I have to turn it to keep watch around me this time of year!

August 5, 2009

IT'S DIPNETTING TIME IN ALASKA!

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Once a year, if you happen to be driving down Alaska highways towards the Kenai Peninsula, you will see these strange-looking long handles and huge nets perched onto the top of cars and trailers, or hanging out of the back of trucks. This means it's time for Alaska residents to go dip-netting. This adventure is only open to Alaskan residents, and tons of people participate and make a family outing of it. It's a great opportunity for Alaskan residents to fill their freezers with salmon to sustain them for the upcoming winter. Normal limits for salmon are usually 3-6 fish, depending on where you're fishing. But the limit for dip-netting is 25 salmon per head of household and an additional 10 fish per family member. That's a lot of salmon!

Continue reading "IT'S DIPNETTING TIME IN ALASKA!" »

August 7, 2009

RAZOR CLAMS

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Have you ever wanted to go clamming? Last weekend my husband and I went for the first time since we've lived in Alaska. It's a lot of hard work, but it was fun. Fun as long as you don't get too many, because boy, are they a pain to clean.

The razor clams we can get here are really large. We were on a beach at Ninilchik, which is on the Kenai Peninsula, a couple of hours south of Anchorage. You can use a clam shovel or a clam gun(a big tube you push down into the sand, cover a hole in the gun to create a suction, and lift back up to remove the sand). You walk on the beach during low tide, and look for little "dimples" where the clams have been. You then either dig with the shovel or use the gun. The problem is that these clams are fast. If you're using the shovel, you can then be down on your knees, and literally up to your elbows digging down for them. We had one shovel and one gun. The gun hurt my back and took a lot of strength, so my husband used that. The shovel was too difficult to use, so my job became to spot the dimple, then call to my husband who then used the gun. Made my work a lot easier.

Continue reading "RAZOR CLAMS" »

August 13, 2009

HIKING TWO MILES FROM OUR HOUSE

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Sunday and Monday my husband, myself, and Bella (our Westie) decided to go hiking at the Eagle River Nature Center. It's only 2 miles from our house and is a beautiful place to hike. Thought I'd share some of the photos I took with you. I'll post a few more next week.

September 17, 2009

A WONDERFUL FALL HIKE

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I took this picture yesterday about 7pm as my husband and I were hiking at the Eagle River Nature Center. The leaves are showing their full fall colors, and it was a beautiful evening.

I will be back to posting more food photos soon. It's been busy, and I haven't been too adventurous with my cooking lately. Saturday I'll have a picture for PhotoHunt, and Sunday I'll have our Sunday Small Plates, so be sure and join me again.

March 8, 2010

FROM THE AIR ABOVE JUNEAU, ALASKA

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I am so delinquent in posting on my blog. I haven't been cooking too many exciting things lately, and when I have, I've forgotten to take photos. I guess I've gotten out of the habit.

A couple of weeks ago I was fogged in in Juneau, Alaska. My flight was supposed to leave at 7am, and I finally got out of there a little after 3pm. It was very strange-when the fog lifted, it was absolutely clear and one of the most beautiful flights I've had over the area. I didn't have my camera with me, so these were taken from my I-phone, which doesn't take the best quality pictures. The first photo shows some of the water surrounding Juneau. The second and third photos show the massive glaciers around the area. These pictures don't do justice to the beauty I saw that day, but I hope you can get at least a glimpse into what a beautiful area this is.

April 15, 2010

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking-Baked Stuffed Mushroom Caps

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It's time for my third recipe in our challenge as we cook our way through Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking". And I'm enjoying every minute of it. I've made 2 cold appetizers so far, and now it's time for me to move on to hot appetizers. My appetizer for the day is Baked Stuffed Mushroom Caps. This recipe was different than any others I've made before-you know, bread crumbs, onions, spices, maybe sausage? In this recipe, you do have the bread crumbs and chopped mushroom stems, but there's lots of additional interesting ingredients. One such ingredient is dried porcini mushrooms. So can you imagine the taste of a baked mushroom which contains of stuffing of porcini mushrooms, pancetta, anchovy fillets, basil, garlic and marjoram? Very flavorful!

I do have one thing I would do different in this recipe if I were to make them again. The recipe calls for a fair amount of pancetta. I love the flavor of pancetta. If you don't know what pancetta is, Marcella gives a wonderful description in her book. Basically, it is the Italian version of bacon. I bought some while in Little Italy in San Diego, and was really looking forward to using it. It was the kind known as pancetta stesa, which is a cured, flat version still attached to it's rind. Anyway, the piece of pancetta I had was almost all fat. There was very little meat on it. In the recipe, you finely dice it and add it to the other raw ingredients, which are then stuffed in the mushroom and baked. Unfortunately, my pieces of pancetta didn't break down well during the cooking, and I was left with a lot of small pieces of flavorful fat in my mushrooms. While the flavor was good, the mouthfeel wasn't. So next time, if my pancetta contains a large amount of fat, I would pre-cook that pancetta to render out some of the fat first.

May 31, 2010

Memorial Weekend 2010

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For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you probably know that my husband and I have a small (24') boat that we take mainly out of Whittier in Prince William Sound. I enjoy being on the boat in good weather, but rarely does the weather seem to be good when I'm out there. This weekend was an exception to that. We took off work on Friday, and took Bella to board at It's a Dog's Life (doggie daycare), and towed the boat down to Whittier (about 1 1/2 hours from our house). It was a beautiful sunny day, with no wind. If you've ever been to Whittier, you know how unusual the no wind part is. We spent Friday through Sunday afternoon out on the water. And the weather was perfect the entire time. Some sun, some clouds to give you a break from the hot sun, and no wind.

Continue reading "Memorial Weekend 2010" »

March 6, 2011

Iditarod 2011

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Yesterday was the ceremonial start of the Iditarod in downtown Anchorage, where 62 teams are vying to win. If you're not familiar with the Iditarod, it's the great sled dog race that goes from Anchorage to Nome on the Western Bering Sea coast. Each musher has a team of 12 to 16 dogs, and they're on the trail from 10 to 17 days. The race is around 1100 miles.

The Iditarod Trail began as a mail and supply route from Seward and Knik to interior mining camps. The mail and supplies went in, and gold was brought out. It was all done by dog sled. In 1925 part of the Iditarod Trail became part of the highway for the Diphtheria-stricken Nome. Serum needed to be brought in, and dog mushers and their dogs did the job of bringing it in.

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was first run to Nome in 1973. There had been two previous short races on part of the trail, one in 1967 and one in 1969. If you want to read about the history of the Iditarod, or follow the current race, the web site is here.

Continue reading "Iditarod 2011" »

July 22, 2012

Peonies from my Garden

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Gardening in Alaska is challenging, but one of the flowers that grows well here is peonies. I'm lucky because they are one of my favorite flowers. Here's a bouquet I cut from my garden today.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Baked Alaska in the Alaska category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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