Tag Archives: Alaska King Salmon

Cabbage Pride

I enjoy gardening, don’t you?  I started gardening when I was in grade school.  In fact, when I was 12 years old, I grew a BIG cabbage.  The BIG cabbage was my pride and joy.

Of course, I grew this cabbage in Alaska–you know, the place where everything is BIG.  In fact, my cabbage weighed 40 lbs.

After growing this pride and joy, I hadn’t thought about it much.  Mostly, I’ve lived my life knowing that I am a successful cabbage gardener.  I haven’t won any awards or even shared this tidbit of information with many of my friends.

Perhaps I’ve just lived my life feeling really proud about my gardening ability, particularly when it comes to growing cabbage.  Well, I must admit that I’ve probably been a bit arrogant about the whole ordeal.

However, last September my pride was shattered.  I was crushed.  I felt about the same as when my mother exceeded my BIG fish catch record.  In 1984, my little petite mum (she’s 4′ 11″ tall) caught a 70 lb. King Salmon in Deep Creek, Alaska.  After that occasion, life was simply not the same.

My life was shattered...

My cabbage pride (vs. my fishing pride) was shattered at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, Alaska.  I remember the day well.

“R” and I had decided to take my mom out to lunch, then spend the afternoon walking and wandering the Fairgrounds.  It was a crisp and cool Fall day.  We entertained ourselves silly…

Alaskan Wildlife

Coffee Guys

I wish we hadn’t done it.  But, we did.  We walked and wandered into the farm animal and garden complex…

It was OK at first.  We viewed and talked about all the nice vegetables grown by local gardeners.  We even saw some large vegetables.

Rhubarb

"R"'s thumb and large zucchini

But there it was.  I remember gasping for air.  I had even wondered if I was dis-com-bob-u-lated (is that a word?  well, you know what I mean).  I closed my eyes and reopened them and saw cabbages everywhere…

Cabbage in a canoe...

"Count Veggula" cabbage...

But, there was no mistaking the BIG cabbage.  It was “The Beast” of all cabbages.  And it was, indeed, there in front of me.

"The Beast"

“The Beast” weighed 127 pounds.  Can you believe it my Cafe’ friends?  I was in awe, as you can imagine.

The Anchorage Daily News reported about “The Beast”…that “Leafy Wonder”.  But, I was unable to read all the details.  My cabbage pride had been wounded.

Time heals these wounds, however.  So, now several months later I’m upbeat again.  Why not?  You only live once!  Why not make cabbage and meatball soup to soothe one’s wounded cabbage pride and move on in life.  Shall we, my Susitna Cafe’ friends?

Cabbage and Meatball Soup (serves 6-8)

Ingredients

Ingredients

¼ cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

2-3 small celery hearts with leaves, chopped (or, 1 celery stalk will do)

2 carrots, sliced

.25 lb Serrano ham, chopped

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 small head of cabbage, shredded and chopped

7-8 cups of water

2 heaping Tablespoons of Better than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base (or 3 cubes of Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon)

1 can cannellini beans, drained (or ½ cup dried beans soaked in 4 cups of water overnight)

Parmesan rind (or about 1/3 cup of grated parmesan)

10 meatballs (your favorite recipe or frozen will do—I often use Ikea frozen meatballs (thawed) because they are good quality, and have no preservatives)

Make Your Soup Base

Heat olive oil in large dutch oven or soup pot under medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté.  When the garlic begins to turn brown,  add the chopped onions.  Sauté and stir til transparent.  Now add your chopped celery with leaves, sliced carrots and chopped Serrano ham.  Cook for about 10 minutes.  Next, add the chopped plum tomatoes and cabbage.  Stir and sauté for another 10 minutes, and enjoy the beautiful color of this cabbage soup base.

Oooh...so nice!

Let’s Make Soup

Your soup base is prepared, so now let’s add 7 cups of water, the bouillon, cannellini beans, and the parmesan rind.  Simmer the soup for approximately 30 minutes.  If you used dried soaked beans, you may need to simmer the soup longer in order to soften the beans.  Taste, and use your own discretion.

Add your meatballs and lots of fresh ground pepper.  You may add an additional cup of water if the soup becomes too thick (note, this is a substantial soup so it will be thick).  Cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Add salt, as needed.

Garnish with shredded parmesan.  Serve with crusty sourdough bread, a hunk of your favorite cheese, and a tossed salad.

Dinner is ready!

Ode to the Cabbage

Oh, great cabbage…

Where art thou?

Not one of 5, 10, or 20 pounds…

No imposter will do!

Oh, what temerity!

Roll along now ye little ones…

We seek cabbage from the Land of the Midnight Sun!

by “R”

Traveler’s Notes:  the Alaska State Fair will be held this year from Aug. 26-Sept. 6, 2010.  Be sure to visit the BIG vegetables!

Cook’s Notes:  this recipe makes alot of soup–freeze some!  It freezes well.

13 Comments

Filed under February 2010

I’m So Excited!

I’m so excited! This is my first post.  All I can say is…uh…salmon! Salmon…molded into a delectable cream cheese and herb mixture and rolled in pecans…oh my…yes, salmon.

But, perhaps I should back-up before we dive into this together my Cafe’ friends.  Shouldn’t I say more about salmon?  Those ambitious and shiny wonders that spawn every year in Alaskan waters give us so many healthful benefits–how about all that healthy protein and omega 3?  How about the bragging rights when you catch one?  Oh joy!  I’m so grateful.

Every summer while Ron (“R”) and I visit my mother in Alaska, we do what every person in the Land of the Midnight Sun does.  We FISH.

Since the FISH in Alaska are big, we catch BIG FISH.  Oh…I should inform you that everything in Alaska tends to be BIG.  Yes, BIGGER than Texas. ..

In fact, there is a big brag sign to prove it.  The sign located upon entry to the Great State of Alaska from the Alaska “Alcan” Highway (via the Lower 48 states) is there to inform you that you are about to experience BIG everything.  BIG land, BIG waters,  BIG moose, BIG fish, BIG people with BIG feet and coat sizes, etc.  You get the picture.

Well…so, we fish.  Usually we catch BIG (and oh so beautiful) salmon and halibut.  Sometimes, we catch some rockfish or flounder too.  Here’s a brag picture for you:

BIG Salmon

This BIG King Salmon was caught while enjoying a cup of Joe in Homer, Alaska.  Well…OK, my nose seems to be getting larger as I’m writing this.  Sort of like Pinnochio, you know?  I guess this pic is just a bit of Alaskan humor.

The truth is that my mother (the petite woman on the left) and “R” are actually proudly displaying what we had hoped to catch on this nice day in Homer, Alaska after we had finished our Joe.

Truth be known, that we did not catch the BIG one in Sept. 2009 in Homer on that particular day.  However, upon getting back to Anchorage, our home, with little to show of our BIG fisherman skills, our friends came to the rescue.  Alaskans are like that.  They gave us lots of Kenai River Red and Silver Salmon to bring home to Texas.  So we, once again, came home with a cooler full of fish to grill, smoke, and bake into some kind of wonderful delight.

Hmm…How about a few Smoked Salmon Logs?  Good stuff on crackers or perhaps a bagel.  Let me get a cup of Joe and then we’ll get started here.

Ingredients

This is what you’ll need to make two (2) logs:

(2) 8 oz. pkgs. of cream cheese at room temp.  (you may use lite or neufchatel)

(3) Tablespoons of Alouette cheese (garlic and herbs or vegetable)

(1) 5 1/4 oz. can of smoked salmon (Red or King is best, but any will do)

1/4 – 1/3 cup of salmon jerky, chopped (not a requirement, but this adds a wonderful intense flavor)

1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped

(2) Tablespoons garlic or regular chives, chopped

(1) Tablespoon fresh or dried dill

1/3 cup italian parsley, finely chopped

And for later (after the logs have been mixed and rolled), you will need the following ingredients:

1/2 cup italian parsley, finely chopped

3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped (chopped pistachios are a good choice too)

Now that we have the ingredients ready, you can mix the cheese, salmon, onion and herbs together using a mixer or your hand until thoroughly mixed.  It will look something like this:

Mixed Ingredients

How about spreading this on a bagel :o)

Next, on a clean surface, mix your additional chopped parsley and chopped toasted pecans together.  This will constitute your herb-nut mixture.

Toasted Texas Choctaw Pecans

Now spread-out the herb-nut mixture into a rectangle.  Let’s make the logs next:

Spoon-out 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture and begin forming a 3″x6″ log by rolling the mixture back and forth between your hands.  The cream cheese mixture will be sticky.  Once the log is formed, place it atop your herb-nut mixture as shown below:

Logroll

More tasty bits...

Now begin rolling the cream cheese log back and forth until it is completely covered by the herb-nut mixture.  You may wish to roll the log back and forth until it is longer and thinner, perhaps about 2″x7″.

Roll Log til Covered

Oh my, the anticipation...

Next, you may begin spooning-out the remaining cream cheese mixture and form your 2nd log following the steps above. Or, you may wish to save the rest as a bagel spread–how about a little Sunday brunch?

Oh my…looks like someone may have taken a bite while I wasn’t looking…

Finished Log

Smoked salmon spread on a rice cracker anyone?

Traveler’s Notes:  Take note my Cafe’ friends, you too can take your own photo with the Big Salmon in Homer, Alaska.  Hint:  the Big Salmon is not real…it’s actually sculpted and painted by an Alaskan with a good sense of humor.  You can visit it at the Homer Spit while you enjoy your cup of Joe.

6 Comments

Filed under January 2010