Set the Net

Recipes and snapshots of life in Bristol Bay, AK

Pumpkin, Apple, Carrot MuffinsMuffins can be such a deceiving bakery staple. While touted as a breakfast option often they seem to be just a cupcake without the frosting; a cruel joke if considered a cupcake, a sugar overload if considered a breakfast. Often there is so much sweetness packed into each neatly wrapped treat that they can hardly be considered wholesome even when packed with nuts, grains, or what have you.

Pumpkin, Apple, Carrot MuffinsWhen I want a muffin I tend to want a moist lofty one that is really a muffin, not overly sweet, with some nutritional value, especially when paired with a scramble egg or two, something I can feel good about eating, certainly in the wee morning hours. (Yes, I know I am the queen of run on sentences – please tell me you come here for the stories and food and not my grammar.)  

There are so many varieties of the ideal, Fire Island Bakery in Anchorage has this amazing blueberry wholegrain muffin worth it’s weight. If you are ever in Anchorage in search of a good muffin – that’d be my first choice. In rural Alaska where baked good choices are slim or in your own kitchen this time of year, may I suggest giving this recipe a chance. The holidays scream for baked goodies with what can only be termed as the spices of the season cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. and this meets that requirement as well as being pretty darn good for you too boot. 1 cup of sugar to 3 dozen muffins but still sweet enough to satisfy, packed with pumpkin, carrots, apple, pecans, and whole grains my husband touts they meet the “hippy-granola” criteria a breakfast muffin requires in my mind and I’ll just leave this picture here proving their taste award….

Pumpkin, Apple, Carrot MuffinsPumpkin, Carrot, & Apple Holiday Spiced Breakfast Muffins (makes 3 dozen)

You’ll need:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 apple, shredded (skin optional, I always leave it on – thats where the bulk of the nutrients are)
  • 2 carrots, shredded (also peel if it’s you’re prerogative, but I never do!)
  • 2 cups cooked pumpkin, pureed smooth
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut 
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

dry ingredients 

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose white flour
  • 2 cups seven grain bread flour (this type of flour adds a crunch and an all grain quality to your muffins, an alternative here would be whole wheat)
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

To make:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin tins with paper liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat eggs with both sugars on medium low speed until smooth. Briefly blend in shredded apples & carrots, pumpkin, vanilla extract and canola oil until homogenous.

In a medium bowl shift together the dry ingredients then add into bowl of stand mixer. Blend batter until all dry ingredients are well incorporated and no dry pockets remain, be sure to scrape the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula to ensure even mixing.

Fill muffin cups equally, filling each liner approximately 3/4 full. Bake a dozen at a time for 17-19 minutes until muffin tops have rose, set and a baking wire inserted comes out clean. Immediately remove muffins from muffin tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Allowing muffins to cool before serving will ensure the muffin comes away clean from paper wrapper but seriously what’s a little stuck muffin when you can have one butter meltingly warm.

This recipe idea stemmed from the Stony Ridge Restaurant Cookbook’s Power Muffins recipe – a muffin more like a cupcake but a great jumping off point to brainstorm. This recipe is so diverse from the original I can hardly term it adapted but wanted to cite my beginnings none the less – enjoy! 

Soft Pumpkin CookiesIf pumpkin is out I don’t want to be in. I’m sorry, (read: not sorry) but there is something just so splendid about picking out pumpkins at the farmer’s market and having them grace the table until the time is right to bake them into a spiced, sweet or savory quintessential harvest time meal or treat. Cookies, cake, chili, soup, pie, pasta, lattes, my pumpkin love knows no bounds and if it’s cliché well… so what?

Soft Pumpkin CookiesGetting these cookies to you has been no easy feat. Now I know the soft pumpkin cookie has been done but I don’t even care. Just make these cookies and tell me to my face you don’t love them… I dare you. Not only did I recipe test several spice combinations and baking times but I had such a debacle with ingredients that I just can’t even… The end result however is a cookie that is basically a cupcake top – fluffy, cake like, and lathered in frosting. Remember that Seinfeld episode in which Elaine embarks on the business of selling just the tops of muffins but is faced with the heap of muffin bottoms aka “stumps” not even homeless want to eat? Everyone knows how delicious the top of a muffin, or cupcake for that matter, is but I mean seriously who wants just the stump of anything? This cookie is the muffin top if you will, minus the headache of pawning off the “stumps”. What more could you possibly want from a cake like cookie? Continue reading

Bristol Bay Gal
Commercial fishing feeds our family, gives us pride in our work, enables us to raise our children with a strong work ethic, and helps us lead a lifestyle we love.Chilling CohoSalmon and halibut fishing here in Bristol Bay is how Bronson and I’s love story began and with the turn of every season I grow more thankful for the love and life we have that is fueled, in part, by salmon. This summer the Nushagak District of Bristol Bay, where we mainly fish, had a record year with over 19 million sockeye returning to this district alone. Bay wide the return was well over 50 million sockeye. Nets broke from enormous catches, boats swamped, prices were good, and the air felt electric from June through August.fullsizeoutput_1086

 

Bronwyn at 5 this summer spent her first week alone with Papa and our crewman Graham on the deck of F/V Sea Breeze commercial fishing for Coho (silver) salmon. Late season after the insane sockeye runs we turn to fall fishing targeting silvers and pinks, wrapping up our season with family fishing. Ethan spent his 5th summer on deck for part of the season and for the second year in a row we took his good friend Kiley out to get her taste of commercial fishing.

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The joy that comes from bringing salmon over the reel is indescribable, the work is back-breaking at times and joyful at once. I wish I had more photos to share at this moment but rural Alaska internet is impeding me this afternoon… So get to know your fishermen, share the joy of seafood, eat local, and celebrate the first annual Commercial Fishing Day!

Salmon Slide Picker

Thanks Governor Walker for recognizing the captains, crew, processors, shore support services, fisheries managers, and scientists that make up an integral part of not only Alaska’s economy but it’s identity!

ALASKA SEAFOOD MONTH – COMMERCIAL FISHING DAY

WHEREAS, Alaska is blessed with an abundance of natural resources from which our economy benefits significantly; and

WHEREAS, Alaska’s fisheries a\re an integral sector of Alaska’s economy and have always been an invaluable part of the Alaskan way of life; and

WHEREAS, Alaska’s commercial fisheries employed an average of 56,800 workers in 2015-2016, the most of any private industry; and

WHEREAS, Alaska’s commercial fisheries contribute an average of $5.2 billion in economic output to the state’s economy annually; and

WHEREAS, Alaska’s commercial fisheries yielded a harvest of 5.6 billion pounds of seafood in 2016, more than all other Unites States combined; and

WHEREAS, Alaska exports more than one million metric tons of seafood each year, bringing over $3 billion of new money into the U.S. economy, and is the state’s top foreign export; and

WHEREAS, Alaska’s world class commercial fisheries have produced over 169 billion pounds since statehood in 1959, and an estimated $170 billion in cumulative first wholesale value; and

WHEREAS, the economic and cultural value of Alaska’s fisheries cannot be overstated.

NOW THEREFORE, I, Bill Walker, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF ALASKA, do hereby proclaim October 2017 as: Alaska Seafood Month

And October 25th as: Commercial Fishing Day in Alaska, and encourage all Alaskans to take this opportunity to celebrate the incredible value of our fisheries, and the impact they have on the Alaskan way of life.

Throwback to 2016 Mama & G

Smoked Sockeye Salmon Queso en SalsaFor some reason I always crave soft pretzels when Fall comes around. I don’t know if it’s the pining for Oktoberfest or what but a soft pretzel and some kind of cheesy dip make my day when the cool weather starts blowing in.

October just crept up on me this year, finding myself with my subsistence set net lines still in the water and a yard full of net bags to put away. The recent nights of frost and a dusting of snow got me in gear over the last weekend with a few days off. Happily I can now report my lines are out and I only have one net bag left to haul into the locker. Continue reading

Pistachio Honey Encrusted Bristol Bay Sockeye was for dinner here at Set the Net. To make I chopped pistachios and seasoned the nuts with a blend of spices I make containing a little celery salt, mustard seed, smoked paprika, cayenne, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and juniper. I then brush each fillet portion with honey and sprinkle the nut mixture on top, patting down to create a good stick. The portions are seared briefly in a bit of sesame oil nut side down first until golden brown over medium heat. Flip to the skin side down and cook until just done through – remember fish continues to cook a bit after being removed from heat so don’t overcook. A little trick I use at times is to turn off the heat and finish my fish by covering with a tight lid and allowing the steam to poach it to perfection. 

Tomorrow the EPA will be in Dillingham to hear public comment on their proposal to withdraw its July 2014 Clean Water Act Proposed Determination that would, if finalized, impose restrictions on the discharge of dredged or fill material associated with the potential “Pebble Mine” in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed. The Pebble Mine threatens Bristol Bay waterways, salmon, & the livelihood of our family and countless others who make our lives here in Bristol Bay. The Bristol Bay wild salmon populations are unrivaled globally, a sustainable resource in an increasingly unsustainable world. The Elders of our region have spoken, the tribes, the fishermen, the people, time and time again and we will continue to speak against this proposed mine and what threats it possesses. I urge everyone to come tomorrow to the meeting from 1-4pm at the DLG Adventist Gym and show the EPA WE support the Clean Water Act and we continue to oppose the Pebble Mine in any scale! If you cannot be present please visit United Tribes of Bristol Bay’s website and comment online. Call your Senators, stand together to say Clean Water First Pebble Never. 

Dark Chocolate CupcakesCupcakes make me happy. Simple as that. Cupcakes make me happy.

Dark Chocolate CupcakesFall themed cupcakes make me even happier and when they are dark chocolate with creamy vanilla buttermilk frosting I am about as happy as I can get. These beauties were for a custom order in which I was asked for chocolate cupcakes of a fall theme and the rest was left to my own devices – I have to say those are the best types of orders!

Dark Chocolate CupcakesWhen final creativity is left in my hands I love making goodies for special events or parties. I am often asked why I don’t make more baked goods for order since in our rural Alaska community there is always demand for cakes or sweets for board meetings, birthdays, or weddings. The truth of the matter is I don’t like being told what the final product should look like. I think this concept rings true for many artists where creating is easier when un-dictated. Cake making to me is art and in rural Alaska edible art is something I can get behind!

Dark Chocolate CupcakesIn fact Julia O’Malley wrote an article in the New York Times (!!!) this week that highlights the importance cake plays in rural Alaska, and every sentence rang true. Even though I bake from scratch I can completely relate to mixing up mixes and recipes to fit what is on the shelf! Equally true is that every rural community has a cake lady or two (sometimes it’s even me!). Dillingham, despite being the hub of Southwest Alaska in Bristol Bay, doesn’t have a bakery instead our typical go to cake lady is Emily Hulett of Dilly SweetsContinue reading

Tomato TartEvery season I think firmly this is my favorite time of year… only to move to the next and have the same realization that in each season I can find joy. I love everything about the color changes Fall brings upon us. The crisp bite in the air, the frost dusting the foliage on the tundra, and the sweaters in my drawer just begging to be worn. Inevitably the season leading to me seek out every last Farmer’s Market score to be had and each item left to be foraged on the tundra I can squeeze in.

Tomato TartFall also signals the close of many businesses across the Bristol Bay region, in Aleknagik, the Romo family runs the sweetest shop aptly called the Woodriver Market filled by seasonal produce they have either grown or imported. They are located just off the water where Aleknagik Lake pours out into the Wood River that eventually feeds into the Nushagak Bay.

Cherry TomatoesThe Woodriver Market sells organic produce, raw cheeses, dry goods, smoothies, espressos, handmade soaps, locally tied flies, and the list only goes on. This summer and fall seasonal store with its wide wooden plank flooring and rustic feel has me leaving inspired to create something each time I visit. Shelves lined with colorful cherry tomatoes, papery covered onions and garlic, bottles of Kombucha, and raw sharp cheddar cheeses all go toward filling my basket on the last trip.

Tomato TartAs I drove home I thought of how roasted tomatoes may be my favorite way to eat the fruit then paired with cheese, herbs, and balsamic vinegar they are a solid hit. Thinking if I baked all that in a flaky, buttery, pastry crust and swoon… we would arrive at the perfect Fall platter, and I was right!  Continue reading