Set the Net

Recipes and snapshots of life in Bristol Bay, AK


It has taken me a few years to get on the Bacon Jam bandwagon. I just wasn’t seeing the value in the extra glazing and cooking when bacon is in and of itself pretty darn great already, but boy am I sorry.

A week ago I was in Anchorage taking my NCLEX, the licensure test to become a Registered Nurse, and I had the most amazing salad – grilled romaine lettuce, bleu cheese crumbles, creamy bleu dressing, all topped with bacon jam. I was in town only 3 days and ate that salad two out of three dinners.


I came home a bonafide RN! Then immediately had to recreate this jam and that salad… a post I am scheming to write as soon as perfected. I reviewed countless Bacon Jam recipes, finding an onslaught of options – slow cooker, dutch oven, skillet recipes; bourbon, rum or whiskey, onion or shallots, vinegars of all varieties. So I decided to cull the flavors I fancy and create a jam of my own making. The result was a maple and whiskey glazed savory salty jam that basically is good on everything… we have had it gloriously lighting up sharp cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches, warmed on charcuterie platters, topping thick cheeseburgers dripping with Asiago, on a spoon straight from the jar…  Continue reading


Want a sweet treat this Valentine’s Day? Enter to win a gift wrapped box of Set the Net’s very own handcrafted Nushagak Black Crack Toasted Coconut Coffee Toffee & a packet of hand picked dried wild Alaska Shooting Star seed pods!

To enter: Follow the Set the Net blog if you haven’t already, then comment below your favorite sweet treat! Contest closes February 13th. 

Winner will be announced on Valentine’s Day ~ winner will be selected at random!

*UPDATE* Sonja is the winner of the Valentine’s Day Giveaway thank you everyone for participation in this contest and for following Set the Net! 


To be eligible to win you must live in the United States, due to shipping. 


Last summer I made an epic trade. For every pound of Bristol Bay salmon I shipped to a girlfriend up in Talkeetna, Alaska she in return sent me a can of Denali Brewing Company beer…Single Engine Red, Twister Creek IPA, Mother Ale, and my favorite the Chuli Stout. Since receiving this stash of brews, I have been carefully parceling out my bounty in between homebrew of our own, making my supply last well into midwinter. Silly this abstaining may seem to those in easy access of options, but in Bush Alaska you savor the simple pleasures. And I have wholly enjoyed cracking into one every now and then, occasionally whipping up a dish to compliment their flavors. Lately my mind has been on comfort food that is quick to come together but satisfyingly rich, recipes bent on using up root crop storage and warming us up after a ski. This stew which’s base is a Chuli Stout, fits the bill for a weeknight dinner that tastes like it has simmered all day.

Chuli Stout Stew served over Peppered & Cheesy Mashed Potatoes (1 hour meal, serves 4)

You’ll need:

For the Stew

  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 lbs sirloin tip roast, cubed bite sized
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 – 12 ounce can Chuli Stout beer
  • 2 bay leaves
  • leaves from 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 large Alaska Grown carrots, diced
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Dijon mustard, for serving

For the Mash

  • 5-6 Alaska Grown yellow potatoes, washed, quartered (1-1 1/2 lbs)
  • several Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4- 1/3 cup milk or half & half
  • 1/2 cup shredded Beecher’s Flagship Cheese or another tangy cheese of your choosing
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste

To make:

Pat dry the cubed roast and lightly salt and pepper to taste. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, work in small batches, using a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, cook the cubed roast until browned on all sides. Remove each batch to a bowl to rest. Once all batches of meat have browned, add a bit more olive oil to the pan, reduce heat to medium, toss in the onion and cook until translucent. Return the roast meat to the pan along with it’s juices, the beer, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil scraping the bottom to take up any caramelized bits, cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Add in the carrots and garlic, recover, and cook for another 30 minutes until the stew thickens a bit, the carrots soften, and the meat is tender. Add in sea salt and pepper to taste before serving.

During the last 30 minutes the stew is cooking, in a large pot, boil salted water to cover the potatoes, cook until tender and easily broken with a fork – approximately 15 minutes. Strain and place in the bowl of your stand mixer with a paddle attachment (my preferred mashing method). Blend on medium with the butter, milk, and cheese until potatoes are smoothed to your suiting, I have given approximate amounts for the milk and butter as I find people tend to like their mash a certain way and consistency. I like mine a slight bit lumpy for a rustic texture. Once mashed pepper to taste.

Serve your stew ladled generously over a bowl of the mashed potatoes, topped with a scoop of Dijon mustard. Add a chilled stout on the side and you have a perfect midwinter meal!

~This is not a sponsored post, I just love Alaskan Made & Grown ingredients and enjoy sharing applications for them with you! This recipe is adapted from “Dinner a Love Story” by Jenny Rosenstrach – Belgian Beef Stew recipe. 

img_9110It is frigidly cold outside currently in Bristol Bay with the temperature dipping below -15 degrees Fahrenheit as I write this, my breath freezing in the air as I went to retrieve fish from our outside freezer earlier. Many mornings the branches of the trees in our yard have been heavy with hoar frost as the sun peaks through, glistening throughout the day as the gradually later sunsets January has brought for us fade to brilliant orange across the skyline. It has been bluebird skies out for what feels like weeks with the sun glinting off the ice yet imparting no warm to the ground below, despite this cold – my plate is filled with fresh locally grown greens. An anomaly in a town where come winter we have previously relied solely upon air cargo flights to stock our local groceries produce sections, but one trip to Belleque Family Farm has my fridge full of chard, butterhead lettuce, basil, dill, and spinach.

fullsizeoutput_2464The Belleque family of Dillingham has embarked on a hydroponic growing endeavor this past year that has the three grocery stores of Dillingham, one in King Salmon, and one in Togiak stocked with fresh greens as they are available, they are even making deliveries to the Dillingham City School District for a weekly school lunch salad.

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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!

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… Continue reading

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. Continue reading