Tag Archives: alaska

Farmer’s Market – Homer, Alaska

Sure do love farmer’s markets, don’t you?  Well, when Susitna Cafe’ is on the road, we seem to find a farmer’s market  just about everywhere we travel.  Today we’re visiting one in Homer, Alaska USA.

Say hello everyone to Twitter Creek Gardens!  Tweet-tweet!

Look at all the beautiful and natural colors here today…sigh

Oh my, look at the produce!  Aren’t the colors and textures wonderful?  Big sigh

There is sooo much of nature’s wonderful bounty at farmer’s markets…it all just inspires me to make a simple and tasty salad with lots of color, texture and fresh farmer’s market taste.  Won’t you join me?

Susitna Cafe’ Golden Beet  and Tomato Salad

Serves 2 as a vegetarian meal or 4 as a side salad/vegetable dish

Salad Ingredients

1 cup organic baby spinach leaves

1 pound organic golden beets, peeled, boiled and sliced

2 or so assorted tomatoes, sliced (I use a variety of farmer’s market tomatoes including striped zebra tomatoes and chocolate cherry tomatoes)

2 ounces chevre cheese, sliced (I use chevre with  tomato and basil, although plain or herbed chevre is fine too)

1/2 cup whole pecans, toasted (I use Whichita Pecans which have a bold pecan flavour due to their extra oils)

Dressing

2 Tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon organic lemon juice, fresh squeezed

lemon peel, grated (peel from approximately 1/4 to 1/2 an organic lemon)

2 1/2 Tablespoons organic olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I use Grey Poupon Deli Mustard)

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine all of your dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl.  Whisk together and chill while you assemble the salad ingredients.

Begin assembling the salad first by placing a layer of baby spinach leaves atop a large platter.  Next, add a layer of sliced golden beets on top of the spinach leaves.  Next, add approximately 1/2 of your chevre slices atop the beet slices.  Now add a colorful array of tomatoes.  Add the remaining 1/2 of your chevre slices atop the tomatoes and smile a big smile!  Sprinkle some salt and fresh ground pepper on the tomatoes.  Note that the addition of a little salt on the tomatoes will bring out their wonderful flavour.

Next, spoon about 1/2 of your dressing atop the salad reserving the rest for serving on the side.  Chill.  Just prior to serving, sprinkle the top of of the salad with some tasty toasted pecans.  So fresh, so colorful, so delicious!

Traveler’s Note:  See http://www.homerfarmersmarket.org/ for more information on this delightful farmer’s market held throughout the summer in the “Land of the Midnight Sun”.

Cook’s Notes:  Striped Zebra tomatoes are more acidic than most tomatoes, and they add a lemony flavour to your salad…whereas Chocolate Cherry tomatoes are a rich and flavorful addition.  Red beets may be substituted in this recipe, however note that they will impart a stronger beet flavour.  How about being a little creative?  Just substitute the chevre with blue cheese or fresh shaved aged parmigiano reggiano…yummm!

2 Comments

Filed under July 2010

Mush On!

Hi!  Welcome to the Cafe’!  Today we’re talking about our heroes.  You know, the people that have influenced us in some special way.  Do you have a hero?

Well, my hero is Susan Butcher.  She’s the four time winner of the Iditarod Dog Sled race.  She’s up there on my heroes list with Sgt. Preston of the Yukon and his dog King.

Susan was an amazing athlete.  In fact, she is the person who influenced the Alaskan slogan, “Alaska…Where Men are Men and Women Win the Iditarod”.  Funny, huh?  Alaskans have such a funny sense of humor!

Oh, by the way, just in case you didn’t know, the Iditarod is a grueling dog sled race that starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome, Alaska, a total of over 1150 miles traveled in 10 to 17 days.  The trail was originally used, beginning in the 1920’s, when settlers traveled the thoroughfare following a goldstrike.  Later, the trail was used for transporting food and mail from location to location.  In the winter, travel was typically via dog sled.

Speaking of the Iditarod…what day is it?  Oh my!  The Iditarod Race begins tomorrow, March 6 at 10 am (Alaska time), in downtown Anchorage.  Oh Joy!  We’re just in time to watch the race start-up here at the Cafe”.  Just click here:

Anchorage Webcam

Don’t you just love those enthusiastic and happy sled dogs?  Here’s a thought…how about if we make some healthy doggy treats?  After all, our pups are about to run the “The Last Great Race on Earth” (or at least dream about it like my own dog does during his many naps…).

Well then…let’s Mush On!


Susitna Cafe’ “Mush On!” Doggy Treats

Ingredients*

4 cups whole wheat flour (plus extra for your work surface)

1/8 cup canola oil

1 cup baked sweet potato, mashed

2 ounces honey

1 cup water (approximate)

*organic ingredients are preferred

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Combine all ingredients, except the water, into a large mixing bowl.  Add water, a little at a time, while mixing ingredients with your hand or a pastry cutter.  Continue to add water and mix until mixture holds together and can be formed into a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface or pastry board.  Roll out dough with a rolling pin until approximately 1/4 inch thick.

Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter.  Dog bone and heart shapes are always fun for your canine friend (and, on the most part, for you!).

Place onto a cookie sheet and bake until light golden brown (approximately 15 minutes).

Cook’s Notes:  Thanks to “R” for sharing his favorite dog treat recipe with us.  He’s a real doggy chef and musher for sure.

Traveler’s Notes:  Don’t forget to attend the March start-up of the “Last Great Race on Earth” in downtown Anchorage every year.

6 Comments

Filed under March 2010

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