Firewood is no joke in Alaska (photo RML).
Let the harvests begin. It is almost blinding in the brilliance of its greenness, is it not? Your mouth should be watering right now. If you are not craving the crunch and burst of fresh spring chard picked from the garden then you are, perhaps, better off not knowing that there is so much more than your pale, fluorescent-lit, produce-aisle existence would suggest. Go back to your frozen spanikopita, my friend, and be content in your ignorance.
Not quite time to get the subsistence net out, but getting closer. Who is this first fish? Is she more ambitious, more driven than the other fish? Is she lonely up there in the lake, or happy to have all that water to herself?
Gingery-Rhubarb Jam - This recipe is not very sweet and has quite a bit of zing to it. The perfect foil for peanut or almond butter in a sandwich. This is for those who like a jam that can talk back, instead of the same old syrupy yes-jams that you buy at the grocery store. It doesn’t hold this beautiful iridescence, though, the rhubarb will fade more to green as it cools. Oh, people tell me, why don’t you just add food coloring? Because I don’t, that’s why. I just don’t.
Yesterday morning I happened to be up at 4:00AM when a 5.8 earthquake hit. It felt as though bulldozer were trying to shove the house. Everything shook and rumbled and the floor shimmied under my feet as if I were riding on the subway. I held on to the wall and listened to a few small things fall down and tip over around the house.
We have quite a few earthquakes in Alaska but this was a big one even for us, and I felt scared. Not because the earth opened up and swallowed me; it didn’t. Not because my house collapsed on top of me; it didn’t. What was scary was the sudden and visceral understanding that it could.
Drying Spruce Tip Salt - My kitchen smells like Christmas. Fresh salmon on the grill after a day on the water? This is definitely the only/best condiment to use. Maybe as a rub for venison roast or moose steaks… Where I really want to try it, though, is sprinkled on top of a really good chocolate chip cookie.
To make this, you pick your spruce tips (right after the papery scales come off but before they fluff out.) Wash them well, pick out any stray scales or moss or whatever and then let them dry a few days, well spread out. Put equal parts spruce tips and salt (by volume not weight) in a food processor and pulse until the texture is even. Spread the salt-spruce mix out to dry in a well-ventilated space. You could use a cookie tray, but I am using baskets for better air circulation. (Oddly, these ones come from the Amazon in a good illustration of how one’s life can take unexpected turns.) I cut cheesecloth to cover the salt (top and bottom) to make sure it stays clean during the week or so it takes to dry. The bright green will fade to darker green and I stir it at least once a day until it is all the same color. (I will probably be selling this at the Farmer’s Market, too.)
P.S. If things are underlined in the blog, it means that I linked something for you to click on, like my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe above (although I just use broken up bars of Ghirardelli or baking chocolate, not the fancy chocolate discs…)
Spoonshine - Yes, dandelions are invasive weeds, but when you steep the petals with shredded apple, it makes a delicious jelly that tastes like honey and sunshine. My daughter named it “Spoonshine”. It is impossible to be anything but cheerful when you are working with these weeds, hands and face dusted a happy yellow. Bella likes dandelion flowers, too, she wanders nearby as I pick, biting off the flower heads and gulping them down. Plenty for everyone.
Spruce Tip Jelly - And, no, it doesn’t taste like trees, it tastes like apricots and snow. If you don’t believe me, you’ll have to try it for yourself. I will be selling it at the first Farmers Market next weekend.
Elderflower Cordial - I gathered elderflowers layered them with sugar and lemon in the steam juicer and made an elderflower cordial. You have to gather the blossoms early in the morning on a dry day and only the ones that smell fragrant and not musky. The blossoms are beautiful, white and foamy, lightly dusted with pollen. They smell like the elderberries, only fresher and greener with overtones of melon and citrus.
If you feel like making some sophisticated summer cocktails, you can use Elderflower Cordial to make the Hummingbird (2 ounces Champagne, two ounces club soda or seltzer, 1.5 ounces Elderflower Cordial); or an Old Fashioned Summer (one finger of gin, a splash of elderflower cordial, ice and fresh apple juice). I just drink it by the teaspoon over ice and seltzer.
I will have a few jars of this to sell at the Farmers Market in June . If it is a warm day, I might sell it by the glass (over seltzer and ice, no gin, sorry.)
The most beautiful ballerina in the world. ( I know that there are many most beautiful ballerinas in the world, you might have your own to enjoy.) This particular ballerina makes every minute of my life sparkle, and so it was very apropos that her costume covered the back seat of the truck with glitter. We seem have a lot of glitter and dog hair in our lives these days.