A few weekends ago, my girlfriend and I went to flip for Reds with friends along the banks of the Kenai River. It was a rainy, grey evening, and along the edge of the water everywhere I could spot wild raspberries peeking through the bushes.
If you’ve been firing up your grill this summer, it’s likely you may have some leftover grilled proteins on hand like salmon, steak, or chicken. One of my favorite ways to use up leftover grilled meats is to make a big, beautiful green salad the next day.
It was a warm summer morning. Two of the kids were outside picking wildflowers with one of our California visitors. I was in the kitchen slicing ripe nectarines while the stand mixer worked creaming together butter and sugar, transforming them into what would soon be cake batter.
A good friend visiting from San Diego admitted to never having enjoyed salmon and was hoping this trip to Alaska could turn the tide. She went on to say that the only way she had enjoyed cooked fish in the past was a traditional Baja-style fish taco – a San Diego staple.
Once the pan of shrimp was cooked and photographed, I called for my oldest son – the teenaged shrimp-lover of the household – and told him there may be something he might be interested in on the dining room table. He came downstairs, took one look, and perched himself beside the hot skillet, devouring every single last piece of plump, glistening shrimp.
Iced tea represents golden summers, lingering long over conversations on the porch in the shade, barbecues and cook-outs and running through the sprinklers. As the temperature warms up, the condensation forms on the outside of the cold iced tea glass and begins to drip, sliding down, and pooling around, tempting you to bring it to your brow in an effort to cool off.
Summertime in Alaska always includes many varieties of fresh, ripe local berries. Whether you’re choosing your berries at a farmer’s market or going berry picking in the wilderness, summer berries are always a family favorite. They are also a favorite in my kitchen because they are so versatile in recipes.
I remember when jalapeño poppers rose to fame in the 1990’s. I fondly recall being sixteen and going out to eat with my high school sweetheart at a favorite local Mexican food restaurant in our small town and always ordering the jalapeño poppers – fiery hot peppers filled with cooling cream cheese, battered and deep fried until the jalapeños were tender and the cream cheese was oozing. I don’t specifically remember anything else on the menu because the poppers were just about the only thing I ever ordered.
During breakup season, we Alaskans break up with a lot of things. We break up with slushy roads and icy conditions. Good riddance. We break up with prolonged darkness and nights so black the constellations glow and the northern lights dance. We break up with the daily ordeal of making sure our children have every single last piece of snow gear packed in their backpacks. Can somebody please tell me where all the gloves go? We break up with our snow shovels, snowblowers, snow machines and studded snow tires. We break up with auto starting our vehicles and scraping our windshields. And inevitably each spring, we break up with last year’s salmon we have sitting in our freezers.
When the 7.1 earthquake rocked the southcentral part of our state early this week, Alaskans picked up their phones and laptops, taking to social media in droves. Everyone from the Kenai Peninsula to Anchorage and beyond seemed to be up at 2 a.m. checking on one another, sharing stories and videos, and reading the breaking news. Text messages chimed. Phones rang. Within moments of the event, the earthquake became the common thread that stitched together a people who live miles and oceans and mountains apart in this vast state we call home. The solidarity was visible and immediate. Shared experiences unify people, rewriting our collective narrative.