"A mind once stretched by a new idea can never regain its original dimensions." ~Oliver Wendall Holmes

Current Weather Info

Current Sun and Moon Info

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sourdough creations

It's been nearly two years now since I've bought a loaf of bread from the store. In addition to baking bread, I have now branched out to other things as well. It took a couple of tries, but I've gotten bagel making down now too. I made cheese onion bagels last month that were amazing. It took a couple tries to get bagels that were really good. The recipe I was following did not call for a rising period after rolling them out, but after the first batch turned out super dense, I decided that they have to rise for awhile and my next batch turned out wonderful.
I also finally put to use the dog bone shaped cookie cutter that my friend, Crystal, gave me about 10 years ago (literally). I made peanut butter bones and beef cheddar bones also from sourdough. I made a HUGE patch and ended up giving most of them away to my dog loving friends.
I have also spent some time perfecting my cinnamon roll skills. These are sooooooo easy and taste soooooo good. I baked up a whole bunch and shared them with the staff at school. I have been working to create a frosting recipe that tastes great too. In the past, every time I've made homemade frosting, it always kind of ends up tasting like liquid powered sugar, but NOT ANY MORE. My friend Erin gave me homemade vanilla extract for my birthday and WOW...it is good. I've been using that to work on make really good frosting and I think I'm almost there.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Skinning Wabbits

This year, for the first time, I got to try my hand at skinning and cooking a rabbit. Well, technically it's an Arctic Hare, not a rabbit. Chris has a snare line that he usually sets out at the beginning of the season. I've gone with him a few times to check the snare line and he always gets a couple. He let me help with skinning them and then I got to keep the meat. The plate below shows how much meat comes off of one Arctic Hare.
I seasoned it up real good with various herbs, then baked it in the oven. Apparently it was really good because Avery ate it all and I didnt even get to try it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Bethel Cohort

I have this really amazing group of friends here in Bethel. The four of us all started teaching here during the same year. Hard to believe we're all still here 5 years later and that we all just signed a contract for one more year as well. I think the fact that we've had a tight little group of friends throughout these years here is one of the reasons why we're all still here.

Bethel (and Alaska in general) is a pretty difficult place to live. There are many hardships to endure including the cold, the long hours of darkness in the winter, the extreme weather, living within a new culture, high cost of living, some subpar housing/utility standards, and a loss of basic life amenities that you grow use to when living in the lower 48. But more bothersome than all of those things is the remoteness of life in bush Alaska...the disconnect...from friends and family, from quality grocery and other resources, from sources of entertainment and a social scene.

Life in Bethel, however, is also wonderful. There are many great qualities to life in bush Alaska including the long hours of daylight in the summer, hundreds of miles of open uninhabited land, wild fish/game to eat, beautiful colors of the changing tundra in the spring/fall, the pay scale, ability to travel, the interconnectedness of the community, living within one of the strongest native cultures in the world, and the resourcefulness that a person develops when living here. But more important than any of those things are the friends that take this journey with you....the friends...that lift you up when things are tough, that celebrate your successes, that make you laugh, that let you cry, that experience new adventures with you, that motivate you to workout and become a better person, who remind you to write on your blog:), that stand with you and shake their heads and say, "Only in Alaska...".

Most of the people that I've seen come here and dislike it have been people who did not take opportunities to establish a solid foundation of friends. Thankfully, I've found an amazing group of people here in Bethel that I love and care for....my Bethel family. Some of them have been here from the beginning, we came together in the same year and (I have a feeling) many of us will leave together in the same year. It's nice to have a group of people who have been there with you through it all, but some of them came to Bethel in the years after that and still became part of our solid group of friends. I know for a fact that there is NO WAY I would have lasted this long in Bethel without an amazing group of people by my side. One of the BEST things about living in Bethel is that it forces you to slow down and focus on the things that are REALLY important...people!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Number 26: Get a professional facial

While I was in Anchorage over spring break, I finally decided to cross this off of my LONGoverdue list. I've been giving myself facials at home for quite sometime, but I wanted to see if my idea of a facial was the same as a real facial. Turns out...
IT IS!!! Wash, exfoliate, wash again, hydrate, mask, rinse, wash again, hydrate again. The only thing that was different was that there was a massage included in there somewhere that obviously I wouldnt be able to do on my own. She massaged my arms and hands while my mask was setting then massaged my face and scalp while hydrating, but pretty much everything else was the same as what I do at home.
I LOVED my facial, but it's good to know that I can do at home what I payed $100 for in a salon.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Number 25: Try a new fruit and a new vegetable

Chayote Squash

Alternate names: Cho-cho, christophene, mango squash, mirliton, pear squash, vegetable pear, choko, pepinella, pepinello, xuxu, xoxo
Characteristics: Pronounced "chai-YO-teh," this lime-green gourd vegetable looks like a tight fist and is about as big as an apple. Although the flavor is nondescript (a cross between a potato and a cucumber), its taste is quite versatile. Look for chayotes that are firm and without wrinkles or blemishes. Treat the vegetable like a squash: Eat it raw in salads or cook it however you'd like. In southern Louisiana, chayotes are called mirlitons and are usually served stuffed with a seasoned beef mixture.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com:80/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/visualguidelatinamericanproduce#ixzz1nYx7ERmM

The pomelo (Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis) is a crisp citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia. It is usually pale green to yellow when ripe, with sweet white (or, more rarely, pink or red) flesh and very thick albedo (rind pith). It is the largest citrus fruit, 15–25 centimetres (5.9–9.8 in) in diameter,[1] and usually weighing 1–2 kilograms (2.2–4.4 lb). (from wikipedia)

The pomelo tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit (which is itself a hybrid of the pomelo and the orange), though the typical pomelo is much larger in size than the grapefruit. It has very little, or none, of the common grapefruit's bitterness, but the enveloping membranous material around the segments is bitter, considered inedible, and thus usually is discarded. The peel is sometimes used to make marmalade, or is candied and sometimes dipped in chocolate. The peel of the pomelo The Chandler is a California variety of pomelo, with a smoother skin than many other varieties. An individual Chandler fruit can reach the weight of one kilogram. Pomelos are usually grafted onto other citrus rootstocks, but can be grown from seed, provided the seeds are not allowed to dry out before planting. The seedlings take approximately 8 years to start blooming and yielding fruit.

The tangelo is a hybrid between the pomelo and the tangerine. It has a thicker skin than a tangerine and is less sweet. (from Wikipedia) Interesting, eh?

I really enjoyed both of these new things. I wish I lived in a place where I could get fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis. I might try to just eat as much as possible from as many local farmers markets as possible in all the places that I might find myself this summer. So, if I'm headed your way this summer, plan on consuming as many fresh fruits and veggies as possible :)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Roller Derby

A few brave ladies here in Bethel have decided to start up a Women's Flat Track Roller Derby league. We have been having practices now for a couple months. It started out as some women skating around on school skates and looking pretty shaky. Most of us are geared up now in full safety gear and new skates. I was amazed at the last practice at how far we've come. Everyone is looking very confident on their skates now and have a pretty intimidating appearance with all their gear on.

I have my old skates and new gear. My skates are 20 years old. They were the first thing that I ever bought with my own money with my first job when I was 12. It's great to have my skates on my feet again. They are a little tight fitting, but they'll work ok for now. I'm hoping to buy some new skates while I'm in the lower 48 this summer. I love skating. I feel a little freer on my skates. I feel a little more like myself on my skates. And now we get to combine that with knocking people over, falling down, and developing an alter ego? Yes, please!!! I chose 'Nuclear Weapon' for my roller derby name and my number will be U235.

Anybody want to go see a roller derby bout with my while I'm in the lower 48 this summer?