A lifestyle blog about life and living in Southeast, Alaska.
October 10, 2016
All I can say about this Alaska fall is...WOW! It has not rained in over two weeks and the colors of the fall leaves are still a stunning orange, yellow, and red. Although I think yesterday was our first frost...it's easy to be ignorant of what the winter entails (Charlie asked if there was snow on my car this morning, it was just a beautiful crusty frost). Getting your house ready for our long winter usually means, cutting wood, cleaning your chimney, clearing the kids toys out of the snow plows path, putting snow tires on your car, and pulling winter clothes (coats and hats) out of the closet that have been in storage over our beautiful summer.
The past few weeks have been busy and eventful. My dad came to visit us for a couple weeks from Washington. He likes to come up and go sea duck hunting. It was so nice to have him here as his infectious smile and laugh make our kids to the same. I love to cook for my dad too. He is the sole reason I have a sweet tooth, as we would rather eat less dinner and save more room for dessert. So among a fresh apple crisp, chocolate cake, and chocolate chip cookies, we also ate some of the moose that my husband got last month. Getting creative in the kitchen is something that I enjoy doing, especially in the fall now that most of the restaurants in Haines have closed for winter. Before I moved to Haines, I really didn't know how to cook (and my husband reminds me of this often). But over the past 8 years, I learned that I needed to get creative with my dishes in order to keep it interesting and fun.
This last weekend, I was able to be a part of a cooking competition in Haines. It was the Haines version of the Food Network Show, Chopped. I have never watched the show before, because usually only Sesame Street or Paw Patrol is playing on our television. So in the Haines Chopped contest each team received a coho salmon,and were be given mystery ingredients to use in your dish. You had 15 minutes to decide what to make and plan your recipe and 45 minutes to cook. My teammates consisted of my sister-in-law Tiffany and my friend Tracey who is a local baker/novelty cake decorator (Find her on Facebook under Tracey Cakes). The mystery ingredients included: pringles, grapefruit, dark chocolate, arugula, and local blueberries. All the ingredients had to be infused throughout our dish. Earlier in the day we decided that we wanted to make salmon sliders and adjust the fixings and mixing according to our mystery ingredients. So we made salmon patties with the crushed pringles, and topped that with a arugula and carrot slaw that had the blueberries mixed in. We then topped that with a grapefruit infused aioli and served it open faced on Hawaiian sweet roll buns we toasted on the BBQ. We then drizzled a little melted butter and chocolate on top of that, just to make it extra sweet! Our side was a bed of arugula with a pringles crusted potato mash. Let's just say it was good. We took second place and the winner of the contest was a bacon/salmon pizza that won over the judges with a side of chocolate cinnamon rolls.
The moral of the story behind the Chopped contest was "Why are Alaskan Salmon important to you?" Before the competition the event planners brought over a microphone to each table to describe that very question. It was such a loaded question and I didn't quite know how to answer it without spending 5 minutes going into how we wouldn't be in Haines if it weren't for our salmon that my husband catches every summer. Or how if we didn't have salmon here, what would this community look like? Would it even be here at all? How my husband's Tlingit ancestors relied on the fish for thousands of years. I just simply said it was important for our family. But we all know, it's so much more than important it is a necessity for our Haines community to thrive.
The competition also went hand in hand with a fundraiser for our friend Song Nash, who was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer. Song is one of my husbands best friends and has three beautiful young children and a lovely wife, Amy. The are living in Seattle but Song works at the Haines Packing Co. during the summer and is one of the co-owners. So there were auction items, fresh fish, and our cooking competition to entertain the guests that were their to partake in helping the Nash family. But it's events like these that I look around and see everyone bidding in the auctions, enjoying each others company, and pulling together to make sure that Song and his family have the best shot at getting him healthy. I know that if something ever happened to a friend, neighbor, family member the community is their to take care of us and in turn we all do our part to take care of the community.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!