Set the Net

Recipes and snapshots of life in Bristol Bay, AK

 

 

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

First King 2017.jpgThe 2017 Bristol Bay sockeye season was one for the books! With the fourth largest harvest on record and a return that blew the ADF&G’s preseason forecast out of the water, salmon more than ever is our livelihood. I feel I have spoken at length regarding why salmon is so important, but I find I can never say enough. It brings our community together and kindles relationships each season, all while nourishing our bodies in a broad assortment of ways.
Stringing the cork lineAugust 10th is Alaska Wild Salmon Day, an official state holiday thanks, in part, to Bristol Bay’s own Rep. Bryce Edgemon. I can think of no better way to celebrate than to share with you some photos my dear friend Will took this spring around the Dillingham boatyard as well as a few favorite Bristol Bay links encompassing what salmon is to me… Continue reading

King Salmon Steaks The mighty Chinook Salmon or King Salmon is the largest of the five species of salmon in Alaska. Every year their arrival is much anticipated throughout the state, global markets, and in local nets here in Bristol Bay. It’s fat rich meat & delicate texture is prized for smoking, grilling, cutting into traditional strips, baking or boiling the heads, jarring, filleting, freezing, & steaking the meat. It’s rich roe is some of my favorite for making Ikura or salmon caviar.

Wild Alaska King SalmonProcessing one of these monster fish by filleting can be daunting, and while practice certainly makes a better fisherman of us all, one way to create a stunning product that requires less finesses is to steak out the fish. The benefits are not only in presentation but steaking lends itself when cooking the meat – via grill, oven, stovetop or otherwise – to a more easily achieved evenly done result. There is also very little waste when the salmon is processed in this manner.  Continue reading

IMG_1161Rhubarb and busy hands are in abundance around here come June every year. With our subsistence net in the water and a good haul of fish under our belts we have been nonstop smoking, canning, and freezing a bounty of salmon.

King Salmon of 2017The F/V Sea Breeze launched back on the 20th of June and the guys have been fishing every tide since. The catches have been incredible and I have loved following along through KDLG’s Bristol Bay Fisheries Report. It is always bittersweet this time of year, bustling and buzzing with excitement, hanging nets, making bread and other goodies to send out on the water, listening to the guys crank away on the engines, and scrub the decks only to be left onshore when the season actually kicks off. Someone has to stay behind to parent our kiddos while Bronson captains the boat… I miss it but know I’ll be back out there one day with our passel of kid deckhands and be hauling in the catch once again. Continue reading

Spruce Tip Shortbread TartCommunity can be defined with infinite variables. The town one lives in, the circle of people one’s philosophies adhere too, the family and friends that make up ones web of contacts. Community can just be a sense of belonging and one can be part of many communities at once. Living in Dillingham, the hub of Bristol Bay Alaska, makes me think about my personal communities often. Especially this season when our town has said goodbye recently to so many teachers, healthcare workers, & others leaving for jobs elsewhere, different horizons and the seasonal influx of fishermen is upon us. Even if I don’t see everyone who I value often or even know you that well, just having positive, kind, and friendly people in this region’s web makes us all stronger and creates an atmosphere of health for our children.

Spruce Tip Shortbread

I experience so much joy when my friends from the fishing fleet arrive in the Bay. A culture of sharing, storytelling, knowledge spreading sets in anew and I feel a sense of pride in my communities. We all contribute to the world around us and our actions send out ripples of feelings. So while I may not see your kindness directly or even hear of it maybe you inspired someone else to be kind or lifted someone up who was down, and those ripples will continue and together we make our communities webs strong. In small towns it is easy to identify positive contributors in our webs and when someone leaves, a gap opens, but the beautiful thing about living in a cyclical society is often someone new comes who fills that gap or contributes in a wholly new way that reinforces us all.

Spruce Tips

I suppose I could continue to muse more but really I just wanted to share that I have been thinking about this a lot lately, community, what we all can do to improve it, oh and shortbread… Spruce Tip Shortbread that is! Recently, a crew of folks came to Dillingham as part of a photography endeavor and I was lucky enough to show them the subsistence beach I fish on, share some fresh caught King salmon, and bake for them one of these…

Spruce Tip Shortbread Tart

I love the crumbly, buttery texture of a good shortbread, and with the bright fresh flavor of spruce tips you have a palette of possibilities. I like to top my shortbread with whatever jam I have in the pantry or make a fresh compote, such as a rhubarb or strawberry – both produce options that are in season currently. Making a compote is as easy as cooking down the fruit over medium heat, stirring often, with sugar to taste, until it thickens. Pictured is one of fresh rhubarb and raspberries from last summer’s harvest.  Continue reading