Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring ski

Heading up the Tsaina River
Last Sunday was the first day of spring. To cap off our weekend of x-country skiing, we made our way up the Tsaina River, about 15 miles away. It was a stunning day, one that required multiple applications of spf-50 sunblock. 

We dawdled our way up the river, stopping for lunch. For all the sun that day, we didn't see a single person until we were almost back at the car. About 6 miles back, we decided to explore up a smaller canyon that branched off the main river. 

Tory takes the lead toward the unknown.

We started going uphill pretty quickly. It wasn't so steep that we had trouble going up on our x-country skis, but we gained a couple hundred feet of elevation over a half mile or so.

Making our way up.
Let me take a moment to say- frozen creeks are special to those with an adventurous soul. For 10 months of the year, these creeks are impassible. Most of the year, the only way to see the country around them is to climb above them on the ridge tops. From the bottom of a canyon, you really get a good perspective of how big everything truly is. 

What ho! An ice cave!
As we rounded the last corner of the canyon, we emerged into a hug bowl, with 360 degrees of mountains around us. At the head of the creek was an ice cave at the toe of a glacier.

We went inside (carefully) and were in awe of the amazing ice patterns around us. Tory took a few minutes to scramble around the cave. The ceiling was probably 40 feet high, and the walls went back 100 feet or so. 

We didn't stay long in the cave- they look sturdy, but you never know- and zipped down the canyon back out into the sun. We made our way back to the car and home, hungry and happy.

A view back toward the road, Thompson Pass, and many, many ski runs.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Frittata madness

Apparently, I've totally forgotten how to cook for one. Tory was gone for almost a month, and I ate a lot of quesadillas. With barbecue sauce. Don't judge. 
When I finally broke down and, you know, cooked something, I settled on frittatas. They're great for breakfast, lunch and dinner! 

I know there are a lot of frittata recipes out there, but I really like this one- it's a two pot recipe, and the potatoes get nice and crispy because they're layered on a hot cast iron before going into the oven. I'm pro-crunch, and am quite certain I am not the only one.

Layered Fritata

1 onion, sliced into half moons
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
2 handfuls of spinach (I used baby, but regular is fine)
3 medium red potatoes, sliced fairly thin
1/2 c. pepper jack, shredded
1/4 c. parmesan, shredded
4 eggs (even though there were 3 in the picture, I needed another)
1/2 c. milk
1 cast iron skillet

Preheat oven to 375F. In cast iron skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat, and caramelize onions- about 15 minutes. Don't forget to stir! Take off the heat once they're nice and brown, nudge them over to one side and start (carefully- it's hot) layering the potatoes in a circle. Once you've finished one side, nudge the onions on the potatoes you just put down and layer potatoes on the the other side. You should used about half the potatoes. 

Sprinkle half the (total) cheese on the potatoes, add one handful of spinach. Another layer of potatoes (this should used the rest) and spinach. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the spinach. Return the pan to medium heat.

In a bowl, beat the eggs with the milk. Add in 1 tsp salt, and fresh pepper to taste. Pour egg and milk mixture over the veggies. You may have to press the spinach down a bit to make sure it's immersed. Leave on heat a couple minutes, to give the bottom time to set.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and the middle doesn't wiggle. Serve with a salad and a glass of red wine. Unless you're having it for breakfast- then coffee will do.

Monday, March 21, 2011

About that snow...

The title of this blog has the word "snowy" in it because Valdez is known for having pretty epic winters, and 7-8 feet of snow isn't unheard of in this neck of the woods. In a week. 

But despite promises of having to ski to the cabin most days, or actually digging out of the cabin once and awhile, it hadn't snowed in a month until Wednesday night when we got a couple of inches. And the wind. THE WIND. Perhaps you heard of the 130mph gusts through these parts three weeks ago. It was hellish, and nuked all the mountains. There is hardly any snow at all up high, and you can actually see some patches of ground around the cabin.

But, this past weekend the wind finally abated, and by midday the sun softens the snowpack a little, and the cross-country skiing has been superb. Tory and I have been out every day for the last three days, and have taken advantage of the still-frozen creeks to explore some the of drainages around the snowy cabin.

Friday we skied up Brown's Creek, a 10 mile round trip, and unfortunately the camera wasn't working. But yesterday we had a sweet little ski up Wortmann's Creek, right behind our cabin. It's a lovely ski, mostly flat, and it takes up through a canyon to Wortmann's Glacier.

The waterfall was in the sun, but not us. 

We skied up the creek, weaving our way over snow bridges. Because there hasn't been so much snow this year, we won't have long until the snow melts and we won't be able to take advantage of the easy traveling conditions. For now, seize the day!

Wolverine tracks!

We saw plenty of signs of life. Just like us, the animals are taking advantage of the easy terrain, and we saw tracks from wolverine, wolf, ptarmigan, fox and porcupine. 

The view beyond

After the 10-miler the day before, I was ready to head home. It was inspiring to see the mountains beyond. With a little more snow, they even look skiable!

Headed home!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sometimes absence means presence

A sunny ski up the Lowe.

It's been awhile, I know. Things have been busy here at the snowy cabin. The main item on the agenda right now is employment and everything that comes along with it- including an adjustment period after a glorious four month break. After a hectic few months, things are slowing down, and I'm settling in, and life is pretty great. I've been out and about, doing some fun things, but have only had time to, you know, do them. Not necessarily blog about them. 

Finally, I have a moment to catch up, catch my breath and write. I'm going to try and post more often, so stay tunes!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Changing times

I love this time of year. The days are markedly longer, and with a gain of 5 minutes of daylight every day, that's basically over an hour of extra daylight every 12 days. It's a magical time, when Alaskans emerge from hibernation; stretching their legs, blinking their sun-deprived eyes, and getting outside. With a significant storm behind us, each morning there are calls from friends who want ski partners.

Unfortunately- and fortunately- I can't say yes as often as before. I've started a new job, which requires, you know, actual work. So, if it hasn't become apparent yet, the days of every day posts are behind me for now. I'm still cooking- though Tory has taken over during the week while I get settled into my new routine- still knitting, and still learning about cabin life. I hope to continue blogging and taking pictures and making jokes about the outhouse. It'll just take some getting used to as I adjust back into the world of work.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Home again and hungry

My sweetheart is an excellent cook. He is also a little more experimental than I am. I stick to fairly concrete flavor palates, whereas he'll mix and play around. Sesame oil and oregano? But of course! Tomatoes and ginger? Why not! Sometimes, this leads to... some less than successful dishes. But over the years, the experimentation has lead to some winners.

Salmon salad quesadillas is one of his keeper recipes. A big hit after a day of skiing or hiking or... 36 straight hours of travel. As soon as I walked in the door yesterday, I asked him to make them for dinner. They're fabulous year round, but are especially good in the winter when you're trying to get through a freezer full of frozen fish. The secret (and slightly odd) ingredient is caraway seeds, which add a nutty fragrance.
Salmon Salad Quesadillas

For the salmon salad:

1 salmon fillet (about a pound)
3 spears of dill pickle
1/2 a small onion, finely diced
1 stem of celery, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. plain yogurt
1 tsp. caraway seeds  
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tbs. lemon juice (if needed)

To complete the quesadillas
Tortillas (we like the raw flour tortillas you can buy at Costco!)
Grated cheddar cheese
Bacon! (cooked)
Red cabbage, or another crunchy green. 
Salsa/hot sauce

Preheat oven to 375F. Thaw salmon, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook in foil for 10-15 minutes until well cooked. We cook it quite a bit longer than we would if we were eating it in fillet form. You don't want to over cook it, but if you do it's okay- that's what mayonnaise is for.  Now's a good time to fry the bacon, too. Cool fillet in the fridge, or outside if it's cold.

While the fillet is cooling, chop pickle, onion and garlic. Chop together, as finely as possible so that the flavors can meld together. Flake fillet into a bowl. I usually flake it with my hands first as I drop the fish into the bowl, and then with a fork to get it really fine. This also helps weed out any pin bones that may have been in the fillet. Add chopped pickle, onion, and garlic, celery, mayo and yogurt, caraway seeds and black pepper. I stop here and taste. Sometimes, it needs a little lemon juice to brighten it up. 

Heat up a pan on med-high heat, cook or heat tortilla and add grated cheese. Fold in half to melt cheese. Once the cheese has melted and the tortilla has toasted a bit, take off heat, open the tortilla and add salmon salad, cabbage, bacon and salsa. Fold up, and enjoy!

PS- leftovers are great for open-faced salmon salad melts, or... Salmon cakes!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snowy in Switzerland

Not to prolong my absence further, but I'm on a last minute getaway to Geneva... Without a camera, natch. I'll try to bring back some recipes to try at home, though. Tartiflette, perhaps? Rosti? What a great place to be hungry!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Long winter's nap

Taking a break from blogging this week as the computer is going with Tory to Anchorage. Happy New Year to all!
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