Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Introducing Puck

.....whilst teaching myself (through trial and error) how to blog.

p.s. Hopefully I've just uploaded a picture of Puck. And with the assumption that I've managed to do so successfully, I feel like I now need to explain that having a picture of my dog taken with Santa Claus was an impromptu opportunity, not a planned-out and scheduled whim. Although he is lap-sized, and even though he is seen here on Santa's lap, I'd like to assure all dear readers that (a) he is quite a solid, rugged, yeomanly Alaskan dog, and (b) no - I am not one of "those" kinds of dog owners. I just happened to be passing by a place that was taking pictures of dogs with Santa at a time when I was getting a lot of requests for pictures of Puck and Alaska but didn't own a camera. (For what it's worth, Puck was quite irate that he had to be dragged away from the huskies and newfies to sit on this stranger's lap while a woman stood in front of him clicking away at a camera and squeeking random dog toys to get him to look away from the dogs standing in line.)

Now that's Puck's yeomanly status, and my rational dog ownership, have been established and defended, I have to say that I'm looking forward to adding pictures. I think this is going to be fun!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Impromptu Dog Parks

Around midnight, Puck woke me up with an urgent whine. I tried to ignore him. He licked my face. But I rolled over. He hopped out of the bed, sat on the floor and stared at me. I knew he was staring, but I kept my eyes squeezed closed so as to avoid encouraging his determination to wake me up. He just kept staring for awhile. Every now and then he'd give a little whimpering wine of frustration at my refusal to get up. After several minutes, he finally barked. Just once or twice. Just enough to make sure that I was aware that he was serious about getting up.

So I got up, put on a sweatshirt, and kind of stumbled my way up the stairs.

He dashed out the door the second I had turned the doorknob to the front door.

It took me awhile to dash out after him. I think I was still half asleep and I had to find a pair of sandals. But once I did, I realized the reason for the urgency. The neighbors were out. Their frisbees were whirling back and forth. The dogs were in control of the street. And there was no surprise that Puck was part of their antics.

It was a Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Around midnight. And Puck was frolicking about in the sun with a gaggle of big, big dogs chasing frisbees and getting his encouragement and praise from neighbors who knew exactly who he was.

I'm pretty sure he doesn't get the game of frisbee, having only been "socialized" to catch balls and twigs, but there certainly is a sense of elated contentment standing under the Midnight Sun chatting with the neighbors about their summer solstice hikes and parties and watching one's little dog sporting about as athletically and eagerly as the neighborhood's big Alaskan dogs.

We'll be working on the frisbee catching though.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Grilled Buffalo Steaks, Moose Ragu, Pork Bierocks, and Beef Hash

In thinking back to my meals over this weekend, I realize that I don't really eat vegetables any more. Or fruit. I like vegetables and fruit. But somehow I just don't seem to eat them anymore.

I eat a lot of meat.

In thinking back a little further, I realize that one of my first observations about the very first Alaskan I ever met, my dear college roommate, was that she never ate fruits or vegetables.

And while I'm happy to adopt any and all characteristically Alaskan habits, I recognize that I need to resume eating fruits and vegetables.

So I intentionally went home for lunch, walked Puck around the block, made myself an arucula salad using the arucula I bought this weekend at the Anchorage Farmer's Market (lemon and olive oil dressing), and ate it outside at the picnique table while I read an essay by John Haines and Puck lolled on his back in a sun patch and chewed twigs.

It's the summer solstice and the 10 month landmark of dating J. - and it's sunny and blue-skied, and I ate a salad, and I feel motivated by anticipation of future developments that do incline me towards cartwheels of glee, and Puck is adored by the neighbors for his faithful retrieval of golf balls and badminton birdies, and my neighbor's dad told me I should be very proud for raising such a fine dog.

Oh, que vita dolce!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Landmarks and Notes

My car dealer just called me to wish me a happy one year anniversary with Sassy Su - my cherry red subaru with a moonroof.

Three days ago, Puck celebrated his first Alaskaversary.

Two weeks ago, I celebrated mine.

As for the notes, J. took back to Kodiak: a bag of Kodiak Carbonnade, a bag of pluot graham scones, a bag of oatmeal scones, a tray of macarroni and cheese with Idaho semillon and onion, a couple fiddlehead and crab quiches (in individual-portion sizes), and a hefty slab of strudel (peach and blackberry, with a lacing of Oregon homemade wildberry freezer jam to supplement the inevitable lack of branch-ripened sweetness in the peaches that are selected with the purpose of surviving the shipment to Alaska).

In one week, we will have dated for 10 months, but I've known that I wanted to date him since the day after my first Alaskaversary.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Discovering the Tenderloin

I spent the weekend in Iowa.

I'm not quite sure where to start describing my weekend spent in Iowa....meeting J's family and friends? being greeted in Elkhart with a jumbo-sized bag of popcorn and an endless lawn sparkling with countless fireflies (that everyone else called "lightening bugs")? the farmhouse at the end of a dirt road, surrounded by lush oak trees and growing corn fields? the cake, and strawberries, and Blue Bunny vanilla ice-cream and coffee that greeted me at this farmhouse at the end of a dirt road, surrounded by lush oak trees and growing corn fields? skeet-shooting over bean fields? biking To Ware and Back? the pork ribs and rhubarb pie (J's grandma's recipe made by J's dad) that I feasted on the night before I biked To Ware and Back?

But this is/was intended to be a food blog, so I'll focus on merely describing my discovery of the Iowa "Tenderloin."


A slice of boneless pork loin - pounded, breaded, fried and served in the middle of a bun.

J's mom, having correctly observed her son's nostalgia for the tenderloin and her son's girlfriend's newly blossomed addiction to them, asked if there was any place in Alaska to get them. J. shook his head, winked at me, and announced we'd just have to learn how to make them from scratch ourselves.

I've already printed off 4 or so recipes to start from.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Seymour Lake "Pandowdy, of sorts"

"Shoo fly pie and apple pandowdy. Makes your eyes light up, your tummy say 'howdy.'" --Hit song from 1946

J. and I cooked together this weekend.

Our feat was a pandowdy.

Given that J. was in town, and given that we were cooking together and given that we had a whole weekend of eating our meals simultaneously, forgive me if I'm inclined to say that "[o]ur FETE was a pandowdy."

In any event, I would be more accurate to call it a "pandowdy, of sorts." And I should probably be quite clear about this: there was no apple in this pandowdy - I just can't do apple desserts until autumn/fall when the orchards are crowned with "U-Pick" signs.

Rather, J and I made a blueberry peach pandowdy.

Actually, in all honesty, it was a blueberry peach pie, baked in a ceramic pie plate, with the bottom crust rolled over like a country gallette and a top crust fashioned out of various shapes of moose and whales placed to frolic in the middle. The blueberries and peaches boiled over the moose and whale shapes. As a result, it came out looking like a pandowdy, which are made by breaking up and submerging parts of the top crust with a fork halfway through the baking of a pie.

Hence the pandowdy name.

We took it to my firm's summer picnique at a co-worker's cabin, and made a day of feasting, laughing, boating, and gatherin' 'round the firepit on Seymour Lake.

Hence, the Seymour Lake Pandowdy.

*recipe: The filling can be made with the usual hodgepodge determined solely by availability - a bag of peaches (which J. peeled and sliced), a handful of frozen Northwestern blueberries (very important to support the sustainable farmers and recognizable farms), a handful of sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a dash of cardamom, sprinkle of salt, grated peel of half a lemon, juice of half a lemon, a couple finger-pushes of cornstarch and a safety dash of flour. The crust was made with 2 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of chilled butter, salt and 6 tbsp of water. It was mixed with a pastry cutter and chilled for an hour. Then it was rolled out rough and choppy. I am a country girl at heart - I like my pies to show that the ingredients were gingerly selected, but the pie itself was assembled with bravado - not shy devotion. I divvied up the crust so that most of it was allotted to the bottom crust, which I rolled out especially wide so that I could fold the edge over the filing. I cut out the whale and moose shapes with some Alaskan cookie cutters I've been so eager to use. I put a few chunks of butter over the filling before topping it with the moose and whale crusts. Then I baked it at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, turned the heat down to 350 degrees, and baked it until the filling was bubbly and hot. We let it cool in the back seat of the car on the 2 hour drive to Seymour Lake (of course, that would have been merely a 1 hour and fifteen minute drive, if anyone else but me was driving).