Set the Net

Recipes and snapshots of life in Bristol Bay, AK

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

 

 

fullsizeoutput_18d.jpegBasically the only vegetable I can grow without a hitch is a radish. Radishes are one of springs first offerings and they keep producing in rotating crops through out the growing season. My little daughters love plucking them from the garden rows, washing them in the sink quickly, only to eat their tangy flesh with exclamations regarding their differing levels of “spicy-ness”.

 

 

fullsizeoutput_184.jpegThey are a gardener’s ace. Late to plant you say? Plant a radish. Have kids who can’t keep their hands out of the beds long enough for things to germinate? Plant a radish. Birds eating your seeds? Plant a radish. You cannot go wrong. Plus they grow so darn quick, 28 days from seed to table, there isn’t a reason not to plant a radish. I basically couldn’t resist and ordered three varieties from Foundroot this spring just to have an array of colors!

fullsizeoutput_18a.jpegEarly in the season they are delicious sliced paper thin and layered onto toast with creamy smashed avocado, fresh cracked pepper and flaky sea salt. Mid summer they shine pickled gracing appetizer platters and sandwiches aplenty. No reason there not to plant a radish. Unless of course you don’t like radishes, and in that case I say roast them…

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Dutch Babies were a whole new concept to me not all that long ago. I have for years been a waffle fiend, loving my time spent in Iceland a few years back where waffles graced every afternoon coffee scape.

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Fresh cream abounded, the berries on the side were fresh picked, and my coffees came in small espresso cups to be drank quickly and hot. We spent several weeks afternoon-ing in seaside towns and that feeling has hung with me of the best afternoons, with the perfect menus, with the perfect views. But… back to Dutch Babies…. these beauts aren’t exactly a pancake and certainly not a waffle but right up there in their register they reside.

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They are deceivingly decadent only taking a few moments to whip up and cook, you can feed a crew of hungry fisherman in a flash. Add a dollop of fresh whipped cream livened up with lemon zest and maybe a bit of blueberry juice and tad-da magic is made. Now hold that thought while adding in fresh farmer’s market zucchini with a scoop of just picked wild blueberries and you have on your hands a literal taste of the early Fall season…fullsizeoutput_163 Continue reading

 

 

 

Sockeye Salmon in Bengali Mustard Sauce

The leaves are beginning to turn here in Bristol Bay. The tundra shifting from greens and tiny vibrant blooms to deep rich maroons and yellows, signaling Fall is arriving. Fish and berries fill our freezer and moose hunting season began on the 20th, with several of our friends posting early successes on social media.

School starts for the Dillingham City School District on the 30th to allow for subsistence activities to be engaged in prior to the academic year resuming. And to my great joy Bronson finally docked the boat after a long season hauling in salmon on the F/V Sea Breeze.

Sockeye & Dahlias

Along with harvesting and farmer’s market hoarding Fall signals a bit of cleanup mode for me. The other day, while sorting through boxes in our storage, I came upon a giant tote filled with cooking magazines! I eagerly began to flip pages remembering trends from seasons past – cake pops in full craze (not my thing), heirloom tomatoes on every page (certainly my thing), & grilled everything to name a few. I also found loads of reasons why I had kept the publications in the first place.  Continue reading