Set the Net

Recipes and snapshots of life in Bristol Bay, AK

fullsizeoutput_2486.jpegNearly everyone I know has a banana bread recipe they like to bake. I am no different, though the banana bread I prefer is one a bit more hearty than it’s cake like compadres. This loaf isn’t cloyingly sweet, instead it is rich with a dark molasses tang and has almost crisp oats dotting the loaf throughout. Taught to me years ago by a dear curly headed friend who ran like the wind and baked liked a queen of the kitchen, this recipe is one of my favorites to make with Bronwyn. (who is now almost 5!) She can mash the bananas, crack the eggs, and aid in measuring. It is made in one bowl, which I always appreciate as a baker whose home is not equipped with a dishwasher. So if you have ripe bananas on your counter in need of a purpose – look no further for this loaf will not disappoint!

fullsizeoutput_2482.jpegMolasses Oat Banana Bread 
         recipe yields one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf

You’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup dark molasses
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

To make:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, with rack placed mid oven. Grease & lightly flour an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment* cream together the softened butter, sugar, and molasses until uniform in color and without lumps. Beat in the two eggs, once fully blended stir in the mashed bananas, yogurt, and maple syrup mixing smooth. Finally add in the dry ingredients including the flours, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and oats. Mix well until the batter is fully combined, scraping the sides once or twice with a rubber spatula if needed. Pour batter into the prepared pan and place in oven to bake for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely if you can wait that long before slicing! Serve topped with a dab of butter, and a hot cup of coffee in hand.

*If you do not have a stand mixer as I didn’t for years… do as I did, and mix this loaf in a medium bowl with a large wooden spoon!

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img_8000I will take any excuse for cake making I can. I love planning flavors, scheming stylings, the stress involved in stacking layers, & of course eating it… everything about it to me is fun.

img_8015So when I was asked to make a girlfriend’s baby shower cake with “make it something chocolate-y” as the only stipulation, I wholeheartedly agreed.

img_7768I knew the frosting I would use, a delicious buttercream my friend Beth taught me. She learned the recipe from her grandmother, who despite having passed away years before, people still say was the best baker they ever knew.  As for the cake recipe, I have a go to for this sort of thing, but needed something to bump it up a notch. Something extra…

img_7906Then I saw the expecting gal at a party, a plate of chocolate chip cookies in hand, stating she couldn’t eat enough of them lately …and I knew what she needed. The cookie dough filling recipe adaptation and the sweet styling inspiration came from this post on Style Sweet CA. And so it was that a…

img_7925Chocolate cake piled high with cookies, wrapped in the rosy & sweet pink frosting, combined with a love of polka dots, made this cake the perfect thing to celebrate the coming of a new baby girl to the world.

img_7942And in the end I was pretty please with this whimsical yummy creation, so I had to share it with you! Continue reading

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img_8752Brunch is a completely under appreciated meal time, and so for this New Year I’m bringing it back. The hobbits had it just about right with Elevenses. Breakfast has already been had, perhaps twice if you live in Middle Earth or you have toddlers afoot, with any luck you are still enjoying some hot coffee and not quite ready for lunch. Likely it is a weekend or holiday so there is no reason not to visit with friends, share a good meal, and perhaps kick the day off enjoying a bubbly mimosa. A new twist on that old favorite we came upon this holiday season was to mix champagne with Martinelli’s Sparking Apple Cider topped with a cinnamon stick garnish for a Sparkling Cider Smash.

fullsizeoutput_2376In fact brunch is the new dinner party once you have kids, at least I feel it should be. Being invited to dinner or hosting dinner is always fun but by the end of the evening my children are melting down and often it takes a day or two to recover our schedules but with brunch – naptime ticks along on time, the morning stretches blissfully on, and routines remain intact.

fullsizeoutput_236fIf the thought of cooking a meal for guests before you’ve had all day to prep leaves you wanting to crawl back under the covers, fear not this brunch menu allows for the prep to mainly occur the day before if desired. And this is Set the Net where salmon and baking are found in bountiful quantities, thus I digress into what I feel is an epic brunch menu for a chilly winter day… Salmon Hash Eggs Benedict on fresh baked English Muffins + a warm winter Spinach Salad.

fullsizeoutput_2370To begin, this Homemade English Muffin recipe is likely one of the most satisfying and surprisingly easy yeast doughs I baked in 2016. They are kneaded wholly in the bowl of your stand mixer, require a bit of easy hands on time, fluff magically when browned on a dry cast iron pan, finish in the oven, and result in perfectly airy pockets of bread that pool delectably with buttery hollandaise in Benedict’s.

img_2595Salmon Hash is as it sounds… a hash is traditionally a meat diced small often mixed with root vegetables though not in this case, and cooked quickly for morning service. I see Salmon Cake Eggs Benedict frequently on menus and while delicious, cakes often require a crumb or panko binder and I wanted that full on unadulterated salmon flavor in this Benedict and of course cakes require forming… an extra step for this meal I decided to skip.

fullsizeoutput_2379Poached eggs I feel are often a nemesis for the home cook, whites becoming rubbery, yolks bursting, a tricky dance to be sure, and so the eggs are completely reworked for this brunch Benedict. Instead I opt for soft boiled eggs easily and quickly cooking as many eggs as I need to serve my guests. I love soft boiled eggs, the white is perfectly done, while the yolks are creamy and glorious – all accomplished without any of the additional flavors that frying can create and bonus no broke yolk mishaps. Also peeling these eggs is an easy task to engage the eager helper in, while you are making the buttery Hollandaise Sauce that will tie this whole dish together.

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It’s the holiday season as everyone is keenly aware. I successfully finished nursing school last week and with my free time I now know, I have since thrown myself head first into holiday projects, trying to get the most out of everyday. Today in particular is the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year daylight wise and the best time in my opinion to embrace the dark and cold of winter. It’s a time to cosy up by a crackling fire, a good book or knitting in hand, light some candles, drink some hot cider perhaps with a little extra cheer poured in, and enjoy the quiet that the dark enfolds you in. So many people have a hard time with the darkness but if you can give yourself some healthy doses of what in my mind is the season’s best medicines – outdoor adventures and of course cake – I think you’ll feel a bit better!

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Now not just any cake will do, the kind of cake I’m talking about is a maple glaze drenched gingerbread bundt cake that takes the spices winter is warmed by – ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, & nutmeg – and wraps them into a moist, not for the faint of heart, gingerbread delight. Best served with a hot cup of coffee in hand, maybe brewed with a few dashes of cardamom in the beans, and a wisp of cream stirred in. And this recipe is so easily pulled together it is a perfect one to include little helping hands in the making of.

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For get togethers that call for cake, such as that office holiday party you have coming up, family dinners, ladies nights… I have dreams of quiet childfree breakfasts…. whatever… I like to create table-scapes to dress up my cakes and thats where the outdoor adventuring comes in.

Pull on your xtra-tuffs and tromp out for a few fresh cut spruce bows to tuck in under the edges of the cake and to line your holiday table with, maybe a few pine cones, stalks of dried cow parsnip flowers. Just because there isn’t green abounding doesn’t mean there isn’t beauty in the earth lying dormant. Watch for something to catch your eye and bring a little back home with you. Something else I like to do is sprinkle low bush cranberries from the falls harvest that have been rolled in sugar onto the platter to add a pop of color.

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Coconut oil and beeswax lotion bars

Holiday gifting is officially in crunch mode with Christmas, Slavi, & Hanukkah all just around the corner. If you haven’t found the perfect gift to wrap up for your loved ones, best friend, secret Santa, or that upcoming Eskimo Bingo game … don’t fret I have a holiday roundup of my favorite local Bristol Bay small business goods to get you inspired! Continue reading

Lately I’ve been feeling a little off kilter. The snow has begun falling blanketing the earth in its stillness and while all I want to do is embark on my skis, hang twinkling lights, and bake holiday goodies, the final throes of nursing school still beckon. We will graduate in December and prepare for our boards just after. It feels a little surreal to finally be here! So despite the holiday season being upon us, with Thanksgiving just past and the hustle of the upcoming month’s festivities looming, I am trying to stay focused for just a few more weeks.

However, I can’t study all the time and my mind has been wandering when I’m studying and even when I’m not… proof is I have had a few debacles over the last month in the kitchen and otherwise. I lost my only set of car keys which have yet to turn up, I burnt two loaves of bread (something I never do), made too sweet salmon curry, awful pumpkin waffle batter, a pie crust that I lost count of flour in and couldn’t salvage… All of these events + more than I can relate, had me despairing that come Thanksgiving morning nothing was going to turn out, that Life in general would overwhelm me… I tend to be a bit maniac about things you see. So maybe you can feel my relief that lo and behold Thankgiving came and went with mostly success.

Now after the big day, I was left with a pie crust still in the fridge, one large sweet potato in the bin, a smidge of goat cheese remaining from the cheese platter, and an urge to create. I love galettes they can be sweet or savory, basically anything in a buttery, flaky crust is a cause to cosy up. So today with a blizzard swirling outside, one strand of white lights hung, and another quiz down I decided to slow down and roll out some dough… my happy, calm place. And then share it with you…
Sweet Potato Chèvre Galette 

You’ll need: 

  • One all butter pie crust
  • One large sweet potato
  • 4-5 tablespoons Chèvre
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Province (a blend of thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley, oregano, tarragon, marjoram, & lavender) 
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Olive oil, for brushing

To make: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel and slice the sweet potato into discs or half circles no thicker than 1/8 inch. On a sheet of parchment paper roll out the pie crust to roughly 12 inches round. Arrange the sliced potato across the dough, slices slightly overlapping. Leaving an inch or so of an edge all the way around to fold up once the filling is assembled. Brush the potato slices with olive oil and crumble the chèvre a top, sprinkle with the Herbs de Province and a hearty pinch of sea salt. Fold up the edge and brush it also with olive oil. Slide the galette with the parchment paper onto a cookie sheet or baking stone. Bake for 30 minutes, give or take, until golden brown.

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The slow and misty mornings this time of year seem to stretch half the day with the sun not cresting the horizon until nearly 9am, and it’s only going to get darker as we creep through the season. Spruce grouse are most visible at dawn and dusk and the belated changing of the light offers them security to come down from the trees to peck in the underbrush later & later in the day. Making them the perfect wild game for ambling walks with our children.

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These birds are relatively small and do not spook very easily allowing one time to get very close to observe them. We have had in our neighborhood lately a very demonstrative male strutting about flaring his plumage and showing off to the gaggle of females that linger around him. Bronwyn enjoys watching the birds dance around each other, pecking at gravel and jostling for the best position.

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One of our favorite ways to enjoy spruce grouse is to go out in the early morning to hunt in order to breast them, dredge the meat, thinly sliced through a salt and pepper spiced flour blend, and fry with over-easy eggs. In order to sop it all up with buttery toast at breakfast.

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When hunting is good and we get 4 or 5 from a few different flocks in a morning, we like instead to save them and to cook them up for dinner in this rich, meaty Spruce Grouse & Stout Pie.

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When Bronson and I first started dating I had a few outdoors woman tricks up my sleeve that were new to him, including one my Dad had taught my brother, Ian and I, as kids growing up in the Valley. He didn’t believe me the first time I told him I could clean a grouse in less than a minute and if I remember correctly I won a beer for this little skill!

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Over the years I have taught this trick countless times and thought I’d share it here. Be sure to tuck it in your cap, for who knows when you may have the opportunity to win the stout needed for making this pie on a fortunate bet.

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