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Sunday, December 30, 2012

12 Favorites for 2012

I have compiled a list of 12 favorite recipes from 2012, six of yours and six of mine. Your favorites were calculated by the top page views for recipes posted this year. All I have to say is that you all like cupcakes, and butter cookies!  My favorites were calculated by the number of times I made the recipe after I posted it. Many of the recipes I post here are made a dozen times or more before I actually photograph them and post them here, if I continue to make them after they have been posted on the blog, you know they are a winner.
Thanks for sticking with me in 2012. It was a long, hard year. Sometimes I wasn't sure I would be able to stick with this site, but I'm sure glad I did. Despite my lack of posting, 2012 was the most visited year I have had yet on this site. This month was off the charts. Thanks for all your kind words and encouragement on this crazy journey. Happy New Year!

Your Favorites

My Favorites

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Roasted Green Beans

Roasted green beans, really? I want to thunk myself in the forehead. Why had I never thought of this before? Please tell me I'm not the only one. We practically live on roasted root vegetables in the fall when Farmer's Market is overflowing with them. I've even roasted radishes for goodness sake! 
Ever since Megan posted about roasted green beans over on her blog, I haven't been able to get enough of them. Part of the problem is that I have never really been all that crazy about green beans. I don't dislike them, but I just don't find them all that exciting. That is until I discovered roasting them. I have made roasted green beans at least a dozen times in the last month, and never the same way twice. The recipe below is just to get you started. There is quite a bit of flexibility with how you serve them. They are quite nice served simply with a big meal, but you can also dress them up as well. Today, I ate them with dried cranberries and toasted almonds, drizzled with a little balsamic vinaigrette, and sprinkled with alder smoked sea salt. I have also dusted them with onion powder, or spicy seasoning salt. They were also great roasted with thinly sliced shallots. I have some plans for a batch with red peppers and diced potatoes. If you have never thought much of green beans before, these could really change your mind. Also, the oven temperature is pretty forgiving too. I have roasted them in temperatures as low at 350 for an hour, or as high as 450 for 20 minutes, depending on what else is cooking in the oven. Just keep an eye on them, you want them to be brown and crispy, but not burned. Also, initially it is going to look like you have way too many beans. Keep in mind that they really shrivel up when you roast them and it won't seem like nearly as many when you are done. Have you ever roasted green beans? Was it a success? Any great add-ins I should know about?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

It's not true. Santa actually stops in Fairbanks last. According to the official NORAD Santa Tracker, which I have been following for years, Santa's final stop is Fairbanks, Alaska. I'm always amazed that Santa still has room for cookies when he gets to our place. Just to make it easier on him I'll pack a few cookies in a bag this year, that way he can save them for later.
I have been looking at Alice Medrich's Chocolate Espresso Cookie recipe for the last couple of months. I was sure that Santa would love them, but I was also in the mood for some Chocolate Peppermint Bark.  Why not save myself some work and combine them? The results were just what I was hoping for, I hope Santa likes them too! Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Panettone Muffins

Do you know we don't even have our tree up yet? Yes, it is true. It has always been this way with David and I. Our very first Christmas together we got the most gorgeous tree because we bought it at the last minute. We were living in Port Townsend, Washington then. Now, we just go and cut one down on our property. We still don't get one put up until the weekend before Christmas. Now we get some spindly little spruce tree, half the time a pair of loppers is all you need to cut it down. We still make a big production of the whole thing. David gets out the saw and we look around the yard as though we are choosing from the finest Balsam Firs and then he drags it down the hill as thought it is some bulky tree. The truth is I don't think we have had a tree that I couldn't pick up with two fingers. Usually one of the dogs thinks it makes a fine stick and runs around the yard with it. Yet somehow, just like the Charlie Brown tree it looks pretty good once you get the lights and ornaments on it. So that's what we will be doing this weekend. 
What we eat on Christmas day is another story. Menus are discussed weeks in advance and planned out to the final detail, including breakfast. I like to make something fairly easy on Christmas morning so I can sit around and sip my coffee and open all my BIG, EXPENSIVE presents from Santa. I know he will be bringing lots of them and I have to plan enough time to open them all. Right Santa? Ok, maybe not. I still like to relax and drink my coffee anyway. These Panettone muffins are great for that. If you soak the fruit the night before they come together pretty easily in the morning. So you can have plenty of time to open all your Christmas presents.
These muffins are meant to mimic the Italian Sweet Bread with the exception that they are much softer and cake like in texture. I love the slightly floral scent of the Fiori di Sicilia. If you aren't able to find it, or don't want to order online I would recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and a couple drops of almond extract instead. If you don't have the white sparkling sugar feel free to replace it with Sugar in the Raw found in the baking aisle at the grocery store. Use whatever dried fruits you have on hand, I liked using ones with a variety of color so the muffins look pretty when you tear them open. They go great with a cup of coffee while sitting next to the wood stove on Christmas morning. Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fruitcake Bars (Luscious Cherry Brandy Bars)

You all thought I was kidding when I said I would be posting fruitcake this week, didn't you? I personally think that fruitcake gets a really bad rap. Brandy soaked dried fruit with toasted pecans in a spice cake, what's so bad about that? Now, I'm not saying that there aren't a lot of really bad fruitcakes out there. There's a whole competition  for people trying to get rid of their fruitcakes. So, why even call these fruitcake bars? They have a lot of dried cherries and brandy in them. Maybe I should have just called them Luscious Cherry Brandy bars. That sounds much better doesn't it?
How will fruitcake ever get over its bad name if we don't give it a little more credit? So, you are going to have to trust me here. These bars are packed with brandy soaked cherries and toasted pecans, how bad can that be? I'm telling you they are quite lovely and because they are packed with fruit and nuts, you can cut them into little bars and call them "energy bars", or eat them for breakfast if you want to. I certainly won't tell anyone! I should warn you that you might get a bit of a workout making these bars. Since they are mostly fruit and nuts you are going to have to use a little muscle to stir the batter. Again, I promise they are totally worth it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Eggnog Ice Cream

I once read that Alaskans eat more ice cream per capita than any other state. I'm not really sure why that is. Maybe we need to build up our winter layers to keep warm and ice cream is the best way to do that. I really liked ice cream before I ever moved to Alaska, so maybe Alaska just attracts ice cream lovers. Possibly it is always so cold here that it reminds us of ice cream. Today was the first time since I have lived in Fairbanks that school has been closed due to snowfall. What did I spend the day doing? Shoveling! Well, besides shoveling I made ice cream.
Eggnog ice cream is an interesting concept because eggnog essentially is already ice cream batter. It contains eggs and cream which are the two main components of ice cream. So really you could use just about any eggnog recipe and toss it in your ice cream maker and have eggnog ice cream. I adapted this recipe from The Perfect Scoop because it was the booziest eggnog ice cream I could find. This one will be pretty soft directly from the ice cream maker because the booze doesn't allow it to set up as firmly, but after a few hours in the freezer it will certainly not be hard, but it will hold its shape a lot better.
I wanted to let you know that this is the last eggnog recipe I'll be posting this holiday season. It has been quite a noggy week here and there's only so much eggnog even I can take in one week.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Boozy Eggnog Loaf Cake

We finally had some decent snow last night and today. They are calling for quite a bit again tomorrow. I love this time of year when you are so happy to see the snow that you don't mind going out to shovel it. I like that it gives me something to do while the dogs are busy playing in the yard. It is so fun to watch them run and tumble in the fresh snow. They all come in with their frosty white faces waiting for their treats.
Speaking of treats, I had not planned to hit the eggnog so hard this week, but you know I'm unemployed so why not spend my days drinking baking. I've decided to make it official and just call this eggnog week, I have one more recipe to share with you later this week and then I promise I'll move on to fruitcake or something!
There are a few food bloggers that I have been following for a really long time, whether they post once a week or once a month it doesn't matter. I keep them in my blogroll because I know that everything they post is going to be delicious. One look at this eggnog loaf cake and I knew it was going to be perfect, well perfect after I made a few small changes! Instead of commercial eggnog I used actual whipped cream with booze and fresh nutmeg. I wanted this loaf to be as light and soft as possible. I actually thought about using cake flour, but then changed my mind at the last minute. I'm glad I did as this loaf turned out just as I had hoped. The icing adds one last boozy kick. If you wanted to make this exceptionally boozy you could poke a few small holes in the top of the loaf (a chopstick works well for this) and then pour an extra tablespoon (or two) of rum, brandy, and/or bourbon over the top. Give it a little time to soak in before you add the icing and serve. You could make it without any booze at all if that is your preference, but of coarse it would then just be an Eggnog Loaf Cake.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Eggnog Butter Cookies

A simple butter cookie...there are so many options, you can start with a plain cookie and add anything from lemon to chocolate and that's just the base. You can then adorn the cookie with a simple sprinkling of powdered sugar, or you could add a frosting, or a glaze. Then you can slice and bake them, or you can roll the dough out and use cookie cutters. You could literally fill a whole cookie tray with different types of butter cookies and no one would know that they are all basically the same simple cookie recipe. I made these ones from Alice Medrich's cookbook last week. Yesterday I noticed that White on Rice Couple had a very similar recipe with an eggnog icing. If I am being totally honest I actually like butter cookies with no icing or powdered sugar, but I'm pretty sure I am in the minority on that one. If you want to make these more kid friendly you can leave out the booze, or as the nice lady at Fred Meyer mentioned, they do have rum and brandy extract in the baking section. I don't think she liked the idea of me buying booze I wasn't going to be straight up drinking! Another Fairbanks lesson learned...keep your baking habits to yourself!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Roasted Pine Nut Butter

Earlier this week I joked that I have been busier than ever since I lost my job, I imagine this must be what retirement feels like. I'm very thankful that I have a little cushion and some time to recover before I take another job, at the same time I don't want to lose that feeling of a regular schedule. Essentially, I don't want to have become lazy when it is time to go back to work. I also feel like this is my little window of opportunity to really see what I can do with this site. So between being here, a few little writing assignments, small projects, and a bit of volunteering I have created myself a schedule to hold myself accountable. It took me a while to get to that point and let go of everything that happened at my job, but once I did an amazing thing happened...I started sleeping! Well, I thought I was sleeping before, in fact I thought I was sleeping a lot. It turns out that laying in bed for 8 hours does not count as sleeping. So, with all my new found time and energy I am excited to be back here and working toward something new and exciting. I'm thankful that many of you are still here on this journey with me even if I have been a bit sporadic in my posting over the last year or so. I'm going to try and be better about that.
So that brings me to Pine Nut Butter. I really questioned whether I should make this, and even after I made it I questioned whether I should post it. The price of pine nuts is ridiculous at almost $30 a pound. This isn't something you are going to eat every day, and you certainly won't be spreading a thick layer on toast like you would peanut butter. One small taste and I think you will see that it is indeed worth it. I couldn't believe that flavor. I do caution you to be careful when roasting your pine nuts and watch them carefully. I can't imagine the frustration of burning something so expensive. This butter is incredibly rich and flavorful, a very little goes a long way. I have some plans for the batch I made including a sauce similar to peanut sauce for pasta. It would also be great as the base layer on crostini, maybe adorned with a little basil and tomato. For now I have been eating a little on the end of a tasting spoon every so often and that seems to be a good way to go too!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to Make a Simple Pot of Beans


It sometimes amazes me how hard it can be to keep a New Year's resolution. I know it is not even Christmas yet and I am talking about resolutions. The thing is I try to keep my resolutions light and fun, no weight loss goals here. Shouldn't resolutions be something that encourages you to do more of the things you love? So, I made two simple resolutions in 2012. The first was to spend more time exploring places in Alaska other than Fairbanks. The whole reason I moved here is that I was hoping to see more of Alaska. I did pretty well on that resolution. I made it to Homer for the Shorebird Festival in the spring. During that trip I was able to take a boat out to Tutka Bay. There were three trips to Denali National Park, although I really only got into the actual park once. Finally, I was able to go to McCarthy, Alaska. I drove the entire way, so I was able to see a whole lot of new Alaska ground. I'm not sure I would recommend driving an almost new car on that road however.
The second resolution was a seemingly simple one. Eat more beans. Now, I'm not talking baked beans in a can here. There is a whole world of dried heirloom beans out there and I wanted to try them all, or at least a good number of them. This was the second year I made this resolution and failed miserably.
I've been spending a whole lot of time alone lately and feeling pretty introspective since losing my job with the shut down of the organization. I think a lot about what I could have done better, or differently. I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a small pang of regret. I gave up an entire year of my life and I can't help but wonder if I had put that much time and effort into this space, well I wonder where I would be now. I can't really do too much about that, but 2012 is not over yet and I can still try and eat more beans. So, this is my second batch in two weeks, not to mention I already have plans for the two remaining bags of beans in my cupboard.  That's pretty good right?
The temperatures have been hovering around -40 degrees here for a few days now. Nothing is more comforting than something warm simmering away on the stove when the weather turns bitter cold. I always hesitate to post these extremely simple recipes, but I always find they are the most viewed. I hope I might convert a few canned bean people out there, and who knows maybe you will decide to eat more beans in 2013. I'm moving on to a new resolution...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quince, Raspberry, and Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I'm not a marmalade on toast kind of girl. Now, marmalade on cheese is a whole other story! Especially quince marmalade. I only just discovered the joy of quince when I was able to get a few and make membrillo last year. They are nearly impossible to find in Fairbanks, but I was able to order a few in my produce box. The problem is that they work out to $2.50 a piece. So, a large batch of quince jam isn't really something I can afford.
That is why I was thrilled to find this recipe for Quince and Raspberry Marmalade in Elizabeth Field's new book. I have to admit that I originally bought the book because I thought the photography was gorgeous. Once I started really looking at it I realized it was more than just an eye catching cover. There is some really great information including little tidbits about the history of marmalade, and a whole section in the back with recipes for using marmalade. Recipes are perfect for someone who likes other vehicles for marmalade besides toast.
I made some subtle changes to the original recipe, mostly bumping up the lemon juice and adding a little meyer lemon zest as well. I was afraid the original might be too sweet without it. If for no other reason, I think you should make this marmalade for the smell alone.  I didn't process one of my jars, primarily because I had plans to stick my spoon in it as soon as it had cooled enough that I wouldn't scorch my tongue. Every time I walk past that jar I have to open the lid and smell it. It is not only marmalade, but aromatherapy too.
This one set up a little hard for me, but I am candy thermometer challenged. Can anyone recommend a good one? I have now purchase three duds in a row.  It made me think that this would be great poured into molds and kept in the fridge for holiday cheese platters. Just pop the whole thing out on a plate and use a butter knife to cut off slices like membrillo. However you serve it I hope you enjoy, even if it is on toast!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Meyer Lemon and Bay Posset

Oh, what a week it has been! I try and keep things light and easy here, but last week my job ended. It had been a long hard struggle trying to keep everything afloat, and in the end I was exhausted. I didn't want to see the organization go away, but I was completely burned out after only one year. Although I am so very sad to see an organization that was a vital part of the Fairbanks community go away, personally I really needed a break. We were given a few days notice to wrap up our projects and leave, in the end it all happened so suddenly. It was in the middle of all this craziness that a box of Meyer lemons arrived from Karen of the Lemon Ladies Orchard. I have been ordering lemons from Karen for as long as I have had this blog. The first thing I make every season is a batch of lemon bars, usually followed by Meyer lemon butter cookies. This year I was in the mood for something a little more comforting when my lemons arrived. I'm a big fan of creamy desserts. Puddings, custards, creme brulee, and panna cotta are all favorites. At the very end of the lemon season last year I discovered this recipe for posset. I was thrilled because so many of the recipes I make with Meyer Lemon call for far more zest than juice. Not only was it a good use of my lemon resources, but it was super easy. In fact, it was too easy. I looked at the recipe several times before I actually made it because I didn't think there was any way it would actually set up, but it does. It turns into the most lovely, light, lemony cream. It reminds me a little of panna cotta, but lighter in texture. Last year I tinkered with the recipe trying to add a little depth to the flavor, but everything I tried messed with the magical setting properties and I always ended up with a runny posset. Also, in my experiments last year I discovered that neither orange or lime juice sets up as well as the lemon either. This year Karen sent a bunch of fresh bay leaves from the huge tree in her front yard. I love the smell of fresh bay, but I find too much can be overpowering as a flavor. I dropped one small bay leaf into this batch of posset and it gave just a little something extra. It reminded me of that day I visited Karen in California, the smell of lemon and bay leaves surrounded her home. Like they always say, what grows together goes together and in this case it couldn't be a better combination.
Thanks to everyone who has wished me well on my transition. I know that there will be new and exciting things just around the corner. Until then you will find me in my kitchen with Meyer lemons, not a bad place to be.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anadama Bread


Last weekend I opened up one of the cupboard doors in the kitchen to have a whole pile of things come tumbling out onto the floor. It was one of those drop everything (literally) moments where I decided that it needed to be cleaned out right then and there. It didn't take long for me to discover I had three containers of dry mustard buried in there. If I can't see that they are in there, I just go out and buy another one. Then there were three bags of heirloom beans and it didn't take long to figure out that there were baked beans on the horizon. A simple pot of beans to use up some pantry staples sounded like a good plan. Something easy for dinner. Soon, those hopes of a simple meal disappeared. You see, David grew up in Maine where baked beans are not taken lightly. Apparently I was treading on hundreds of years of tradition with a simple batch of baked beans. Names of foods I had never heard of were flying across our kitchen, something about red hot dogs and what I thought was Damn Banana Bread. "Damn what", I asked?  Now I am going to have to spend the day kneading and baking bread? Turns out that Anadama Bread is probably the original no knead bread. You mix it all together, put it in the bread pans and let it rise for 3-4 hours. It takes a long time, but all it does is sit there. The active time is probably 10 minutes or less. So, I breathed a sigh of relief. Turns out it is possible to have a simple pot of beans and some homemade bread without a whole lot of work.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pear and Ginger Scones

Take the leap. Live more simply so you can work less. Pursue your passion. Do what comes naturally. These are all things that have been running through my head lately. I read Ginny Wood's book this summer, what an amazing life that woman has lead. I was already a little familiar with her story from having worked in Kantishna, but I had no idea the depth of it all. What really struck a chord was were she talked about living her life more simply so she could work less and do more of what she loved. Despite that sentiment, the woman worked really hard, yet she never made it sound like work at all. I think that is what happens when you are doing the things you love, things look effortless.
My life has been terribly hectic lately, but I knew I wanted to capture a little of that magic that comes with doing something you love. This scone recipe seemed like the perfect way to ease myself back into this space. I was right, they came together beautifully and the flavor combination is one of the best yet. I love the beautiful color of the pears in the low Alaska light. I could see making these again for the holiday season with pears and dried cranberries. Sounds like the perfect thing for Thanksgiving breakfast. The great thing about scones is that you can make them in advance, freeze them, and then just put them in the oven straight from the freezer when you need them. I'm actually convinced that they bake up just a little bit nicer after they have been frozen. Just place the unbaked scones on a baking sheet in the freezer for a few hours, once they are frozen transfer to a freezer bag. You can then make one or two at a time, or the whole batch when you need them for a special event. They might take a few minutes longer to bake, but you will have very little to clean up afterward.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprout Gratin

When I am left to fend for myself, dinner never really resembles dinner. I might have a baked chicken breast for dinner, or maybe roasted garlic mashed potatoes, or maybe a some simple roasted vegetables. The thing I never have is all three in one meal. I just don't have the motivation to cook an elaborate meal for myself. There is one exception to that rule. There is nothing that will make me clean my house top to bottom and make myself a three course Sunday dinner except a looming deadline at work. You see I was supposed to be writing a presentation and instead I took the dogs for a walk (twice), did several loads of laundry, cleaned, vacuumed, re-organized my bookshelves, and dusted. In addition I made myself a complete dinner that included this wonderful Brussels Sprout dish. I made it a couple times last year, but never got around to sharing it. This time of year when the Brussels Sprouts are fresh and sold on the stalk at the Farmer's Market I love enjoying them in a more simple fashion such as these Pan-Browned Brussels Sprouts. Since I was procrastinating I decided to go all out. This isn't exactly a light dish, but I bet you could get even the most determined Brussels Sprout hater to eat these ones.
So, what's your favorite way to procrastinate a looming deadline? The even bigger question, are you a Brussels Sprout lover or hater? Do you have a favorite way to serve them?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Real Ranch Dressing with Fresh Herbs

Like all good Midwesterners I have consumed my fair share of ranch dressing in my life. I always make fun of David putting Tapatio on everything I cook, but honestly the ranch dressing thing is so much worse. Don't get me wrong it's not like you move to Alaska and suddenly you don't like ranch dressing anymore. The thing is that there just isn't a giant bowl of the stuff served at every meal. We eat a lot of salad at home, but it is so much easier just to whip up a quick vinaigrette. Every once in a while, just like I get those cravings for the stuffing that comes in the red box, I also like a little ranch dressing. Now that it is no longer one of my daily food groups the commercial dressing tastes terribly salty to me. Even the powder that you mix yourself (yes I used to call that homemade dressing) is too much at half strength. Real homemade Ranch Dressing with fresh herbs has been on my cooking bucket list for a while. I have been collecting different recipes and techniques hoping to find something flavorful, but not at all salty.
The final result wasn't nearly as difficult to make as I thought it would be using scissors to snip the herbs and an immersion blender to mix everything up. Although I was skeptical about the cayenne pepper, in the end it is essential to give the dressing that nice ranch-like bite. Dare I say it tastes even better than the powdered stuff in the packet? They may revoke my Midwest passport!
Feel free to adjust this recipe to your taste. I added a little more dill and lemon juice than most recipes called for to give it that nice ranch tang.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wild Blueberry Margarita on the Rocks

Every summer I seem to have one cocktail that I lean towards. Last summer it was many variations of the mojito. This summer it has been margarita time. This isn't anything unusual, I have been a lifelong (adult life anyway) margarita fan. The salt is key. I'm also a big fan of salt. Next to my stove I have three jars of various sea salt. A few weeks ago Laurie Constantino tweeted about Alaska Pure Sea Salt. I promptly checked out the Alaska Pure Sea Salt web page. As soon as I saw wild blueberry salt I knew I had to have some. Some people might wonder what to do with blueberry salt, but not me. I knew immediately that it would be reserved for margaritas. Then it was just a matter of waiting for the blueberries to ripen.
In the meantime I had been enjoying the margarita recipe that was posted on White on Rice Couple's blog earlier this year. Instead of Triple Sec, Cointreu, or Grand Marnier it uses orange bitters. I have always found the balance to be a a bit off in the traditional version on the rocks. This Margarita is very smooth.
When it finally came time to make blueberry margaritas I originally thought the only way to go would be a blended version with blueberry puree. I knew it would look pretty, but I wasn't sold on it as my blueberry drink of choice. Then in a simple aha moment I thought why not adjust my new favorite recipe to include blueberry simple syrup? It was perfect the first time around. I'll warn you that the orange bitters are not cheap ($9 a bottle in Fairbanks at Gavora's), but they are a whole lot cheaper than a bottle of Triple Sec. One small bottle of bitters has lasted through a Cinco de Mayo party and a whole summer of Margarita drinking.
Also, if you don't have a cocktail shaker you can use a Mason jar. I have been doing this for years, but I recently supported a Kickstarter campaign to turn my canning jar into a fancy cocktail shaker. The campaign has been very successful and you still have a few days if you want to get your very own Mason Jar Cocktail Shaker.
I just picked up some lavender from the Farmer's Market today. I'm thinking about whipping up a batch of blueberry lavender simple syrup for the next round. Cheers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Berry Simple Syrups

It's been a pretty cold and gloomy summer in Fairbanks until recently. It's only when the weather gets really warm and the mosquitos start to die down that I enjoy sitting out on my deck with a cocktail. Last summer I went through several batches of rhubarb simple syrup and the drink of choice was the rhubarb mojito. With only about a cup or so of berries and a vacation just around the corner, I decided to make a couple quick batches of berry simple syrup for future cocktails. You can swap out your berry simple syrups for any regular simple syrup in a cocktail recipe. Just imagine the next time a friend comes over you can offer them their favorite cocktail in blueberry, cloudberry, or rhubarb! You can also add an ounce or so of simple syrup to plain soda water for a delicious wild berry soda. Pretty much any kind of berries will work in this recipe. I'm looking forward to trying a raspberry version soon. If you only have a small bit of several different berries you could also try a mixed berry version that I bet would be quite delicious. Later this week I will also share my favorite blueberry margarita recipe of this summer.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rosemary Roasted Beet Salad with Bacon

Where does the summer go? I have noticed it is already getting darker at night. Last weekend I crawled into bed around 11:00 p.m. and wanted to read for a bit,  and I had to turn the light on. These photos were taken between 9-10 p.m., a totally normal time for us to eat this time of year. In December there is good chance I would be sound asleep by 10:00, certainly not just sitting down to dinner.
Despite the fact that I haven't posted much this summer, I still think about this space a lot. I'm always book marking recipes and trying to figure out what direction I can take this site, and mostly I'm trying to figure out a better way to fit it into my busy schedule. I really miss being here.
For example, I have been working on this post since July 22nd. David and I took a drive to 229 Parks, a restaurant just south of Denali National Park to celebrate my birthday. We had a great meal. It took me forever to decide what to order off the menu though. They had a lot of small plates that sounded delicious along with some great dinner entrees, I wanted one of everything...plus dessert! It was my birthday after all.
The one thing on the menu that I knew I HAD to have was the beet salad: Salad Greens tossed in a Cider Thyme Vinaigrette and topped with Rosemary Roasted Beets, Honey Crisp Apples, Candied Nuts, Bacon, and Chèvre.
Then after one or two bites of the salad, I knew I would have to try an re-create it at home. I love the puzzle of deconstructing a dish and trying to figure out what is in it, then putting it back together in my own kitchen. This one took four tries. The dressing was the challenging part, but I finally got it right.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4th of July Scones

I didn't intend to make 4th of July scones. In Fairbanks, the 4th of July is pretty much a non-event. The primary reason is that it never gets dark, so fireworks are out of the question. I really do miss celebrating the day. Growing up in the Mid-west, the 4th of July was always a big celebration. My grandparents lived in a small town directly across the street from the community park. Every 4th of July there was a parade and a huge celebration in the park. Friends and family would stop by all day on their way to or from the park. The kids would run back and forth from the park all day long. There were games including coin tosses, and watermelon eating competitions. Even though it didn't get dark until nearly 11:00 in Northern Michigan, there were still fireworks every year.
Some of the smaller towns surrounding Fairbanks do have parades and community picnics, but we have never attended. I would like to check out the Ester parade sometime. Maybe this year. For the most part I see the 4th of July just slipping by again this year. Especially with it falling mid-week. Having a day off mid-week feels like more of a nuisance than a break. These red, white, and blue scones made from some berries I had leftover from a variety of other projects might be as close as we come to celebrating. 


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