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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nuts about Nuts (Addicted to Pecans)

I decided to rename and freshen up my blog.  I am currently in Georgia (one extreme to the next, weather wise).  Being here in Georgia is like having summer all over again!  I've been staying with my sister.  They have a beautiful place on 25 acres of an old pecan plantation.

The pecans call me - "pick me up, don't let me just lay here".  It has almost become an obsession.  I can't go out into the yard without picking them up.  My sister seems to have no such compulsion, but my brother-in-law understands. He has the "fever" too.
So far, I have probably picked about 10lbs.  It doesn't seem like much when I type that out, but I feel like I have hit gold!  My sister says, "Well what are you going to do with them?'  Seriously.  Bake and cook!  Again the optimist, my sister, says, "You know they will all have to be shelled?"  Umm, yes, I may be from Alaska, but I do understand that.  So I have shelled some - evidently there nutmeats are not quite as big in some of these as I anticipated and some are not any good.  But, out of 1 gallon ziplock bag, I did get enough to chop for some cookies and this 2 cups toasted and chopped for brittle.
I still have another gallon bucket to shell. There is a commercial sheller nearby to which I may avail myself to in the future.

I have not even begun to pickup on the back acreage.  The dogs and I go out and traipse around the property as I go on my hunt.  My brother-in-law told me about a gizmo my sister had given him.  It is basically a waist-high metal pole with a spring-like attachment on the bottom.  It makes picking up the pecans a back saver.  Of course, I had to look in the shed for it as I thought maybe my sister had hid it on purpose.  I would not be thwarted!  It works amazingly well!

I will post more pictures of my pecan creations as I go, but I can hear those nutty voices calling and I must go get more!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Bear Facts

The bear hunting commenced just after moose.  The guys came from all over - Czech Republic, South Africa, Texas, California.  I'm sure there were a few from some places I forgot to mention, but there was quite a contingent.  Bear worked similar to moose.  The guide goes and sets up spike camp, the hunter flies in to the lodge, checks his gear, sights his gun and off he goes to meet up with the guide.  The days are mostly sitting and glassing for bear.  Some days there are quite a few bears, but if they are small or a sow, or have cubs, these are left best alone.  Guides for this hunt are tough.  Depending on where they are located, the wind can be strong and never ending, rain, rain and more rain.  Pete (guide) had the distinct pleasure of he and his hunter returning to camp only to find that a bear had helped ventilate their tent for them.

 Because the hunters don't come back to the lodge every day, it is pretty rough camping.  We will send out perishables (meat, cookies, eggs,  milk, etc..) as needed.  I've heard that the guides can cook a pretty mean meal out there.  The Guides are good managers of people.  They do their best to keep a hunter hunting and not quit and keep spirits upbeat.  When the guides and hunter do come back to the lodge , it is always best to spend some time up wind.  They are also hungry! I keep soup on hand, items for sandwiches and always try to have a desert - brownies, cookies, etc... for them to enjoy.  The first group only got 2 bear, and a wolf.  The second group all 4 got bears.

This bear was 10ft.  The skull and the hide have to be packed out with the bear.  

Notice the 2nd tooth on the right is bad. 

Jason (Guide) on the left and Tom (Hunter) on the right

Then on the last day, the other hunters got their bears.
8 and 9 foot bear
Jan and Mike with their bears

Guides - Sterling and Jeff

Mike (Guide) and Jan (hunter)
Sterling fleshing one of the hides

Miles working on the skull

Pete fleshing the hide

 The hides are then salted and made ready to be transported to expediter.  After the tanning process is complete, then the hides are sent to the hunters.  Some are made into mounts, while others use theirs as a rug or hung on a wall. 

And with that the season was finished.  I got home on October 23.  It was quite a bittersweet time, sad to leave the lodge, but happy to be going home. 

I was going to end my blog with this entry, but I have had a great time doing this.  I am going to continue writing this, so I hope you will continue to follow.  I am off to Georgia (the state) next.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

September - move over fishing, here comes moose hunting

September equals transition time.  The last of the fishermen, and a great bunch of guys, finished up that part of the season.  Moose hunting arrived with a bang (bad pun I know).  There were two moose hunters this year and both were able to get moose.  This was my first experience with the hunting season and it was totally different than fishing.  Our nice structured fishing season stopped and the unpredictability of the hunting schedule took over. 

Typical fishing schedule - breakfast, lunch, dinner - a Sunday thru Saturday routine.  Hunting has no rhyme or reason.  The hunter comes to camp, repacks their bag, sights in the rifle and is flown out to their spike camp.  The guide is already there waiting.  The hunter is not able to hunt on the same day that they fly into their spike camp.  Food has been packed for the camps and perishables go out (eggs, milk, etc...).

The key to hunting season is flexibility.  The amount of people at the lodge changes as the hunters come in and out, and guides rotate through.  There can be 5 people at breakfast, 2 at lunch, and 10 at dinner or the reverse. 

So back to the moose hunters, Dan and Mike.  Dan from Wyoming was one of the first hunters to arrive.  He was at the lodge for a day before going out to camp as Tracy, the pilot, was his guide.  Dan was out one night and got a big 70+ moose!
Our second moose hunter, Mike along with his wife, Candy, took a little longer but were also successful.  Candy came back to the lodge after a couple nights at spike camp.  It was nice for me having her company.  Mike was successful also.

Each hunter took home the antlers, some meat and the cape.  The villagers of Egegik and Ugashik received meat also.

We also ground approximately 75lbs of moose for burger.  This is used for lodge meals for the next year.  Moose Meatloaf is delicious.  For those of you that have ground venison, this recipe works just as well.

2lbs ground moose
1lb ground unseasoned pork
1 envelope of dried onion soup (Like Lipton)
1 sm can V8
1 Cup Oatmeal
2 eggs
Finely chopped onion
Finely chopped green pepper
Minced Garlic
Season with salt and pepper
Barbeque sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray's)

Mix all ingredients except the BBQ sauce. Place meat mixture in loaf pan(s). Make a cut down center and then place a thin layer of the BBQ sauce on top.  Bake at 350 degrees until done - depending on pan depth, and oven, approximately 45 - 50 min. 


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ain't no sunshine

The word of the day -Windy!  It is gusting between 39-45 mph according to our little weather station.  The lake is full of white caps.  Good thing I have a little meat on my bones otherwise I would have been blown over!  Those of you that read this know that I am at a remote lodge in Alaska.  

So as I was doing my breakfast dishes and musing, I realized how much I can do without.  For example, no tv. I have certain shows that I love to watch - Copper, Law and Order, Longmire, Grimm - you get the idea.  Out here, we don't have enough bandwidth to download movies, books, or tv shows.  So while I wonder what's new on the shows I like, the shows don't wonder what's new with me.  Electricity - we have a generator and there is only electric when its running.  The generator is turned on at 6am and usually off by 9am.  Turn it on again between 4-5pm and then off at 10pm.  I have a headlamp that I use when it gets dark so I can read or see where I'm going (I'm clumsy enough). Imagine what a normal day at home is like and then realize how much dependence there is on electricity or how irritating it is when the power goes out for a short time.   Without electricity there are no lights, no way to use appliances, no water (well pump).  Water - no flushing toilets, showers, washing clothes or dishes, getting a drink.  The phone is an old analog one. There is a battery inverter hooked up so that we can play the radio and a router.  The radio is sirius xm because there is a clear signal.  It's kinda like "Little House on the Prairie".  Luckily, the stove is gas (propane), so I can prepare food for supper and bake.  When I sometimes go to make something and realize I can't use the mixer, I either wait for the generator or revert back to a pre-appliance time - like in my grandma's day.  The refridgerators are turned up to their coldest so that when the electric is off, the food in them and the freezers stays cold and/or frozen.  Last but not least - heat.  There is no furnace.  The heat source for the main lodge is a stove that runs on oil and the oven when its being used.  The heat from the oven radiates through the kitchen and front room.  The cabins each have a Toyo stove (heater) which run when the generator is on.  

Tonight's supper is salmon patties, hushpuppies, oriental salad, german chocolate cake and potatoes.  Until next time - keep the light shining bright!


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Wow, It is already week 10!

It is hard to believe but tomorrow starts week 10 of the fishing season!  The Lodge has had interesting guests over the last weeks.  There have been guests that have been coming here for 20 years, newcomers, and couples.  Everyone has had some great fishing experiences.  

I've got to go out to three different fishing spot on three different saturdays.  Saturday is usually the "camp morale day".  I've been able to catch Dollie Varden, Silver Salmon (Coho - see profile pic), and even a King Salmon (let that one go in a hurry as was not in season and luckily didn't have it out of the water).   I've seen quite a few bears, but not too close! 

Cooking has definitely gotten easier as I have been able to get into a cooking routine.  I have "perfect" fish nights now, as well as "perfect" prime rib.  Fresh fruits and vegetables as is  dairy are more or less a luxury item out here.  Everything has to be flown in from Anchorage to  King Salmon and then flown to the lodge or picked up at the store in Naknek, and flown back to the lodge (sense a theme?).  Things that can spoil fast are tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, cauliflower and broccoli.  We have a root cellar that is about 15ft deep.  The temp is a constant and works like a refridgerator. 
See the wood boards on the sides? That's how you climb down and then to bring up stuff there is a tub that works like a well bucket.  Thank God, I am still nimble!

I'm going to share an appitizer that is a Lodge favorite.  It is the Blue Mountain Lodge Salmon Ball.

1 lg can salmon (pink) We use cooked salmon that is leftover from fish night.  At home I sometimes use smoked salmon.

8 oz of cream cheese
2 Tbsp chopped onion
1 Tbsp liquid smoke (unless you are using smoked salmon) We use Wright's Hickory Liquid Smoke
1 tsp horseradish
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Dash of Tabasco

Beat all ingredients except the salmon until very smooth.  Add salmon.  Beat again until mixed very well.  Should be salmon (haha) in color and like a spread.  Put in bowl that has been lined with plastic wrap or cheese ball mold and chill. 

At home, I will sometimes add fresh hot peppers, chopped walnuts. 

Let me know how your's turns out! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Week One - Done

Week one is over!  It has been wonderful.  An example of a typical day:  I get up at about 5/530 am to start breakfast which is at 7.  I have to use my headlamp because the generator does not come back on until 6am.  That means that anything electric does not work - lights, appliances, water, etc..  The stove and oven are run by propane so I can at least get started.  Breakfast always has available - cereal, oatmeal cups, sometimes fruit.  I prepare the eggs/bacon/pancakes and breakfast meats.  Lunch is easy - the clients make their sandwiches from stuff we supply and I have to make sure that there is a different homemade cookie every day.  Dinner includes an appetizer such as bacon wrapped ptarmagin, or salmon spread, or brie.  There is something different every evening and the only thing repeated during the week is salmon for dinner. 
This is red salmon with fresh chopped herbs (and yes I brought herb plants out so I could have fresh), lemon and butter.  It was grilled and ready in 8 minutes!  Sides included seamed fresh green beans tossed with olive oil and toasted almonds, corn, and wild rice.

Desserts - Cheescake with Berries - baked from scratch, dump cake, applesauce cake, pound cake with spiced rhubarb sauce, Chocolate brownie/cake, apple slab pie.

Kitchen disasters (at least in my mind) - Slightly overcooked fish and dinner late on BBQ night (nuff said on that Thank you). Potatoes for potato salad came out crumbly so had to make twice baked mashed potatoes.

Weather is foggy, overcast and misting rain.  The fog gets so thick that can't see the lake that's a short distance from the lodge.    

Ending week one on an up beat, all the clients loved the food and told me that I was a great cook.  A couple even wanted to know how I learned to cook so well!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 2 and some pictures

Blue Mountain for which the lodge is named.

My view out the window.   Day 2 is done.  I've been putting away the dry goods and arranging the pantry.  The weather has been wonderful here.  Tomorrow I start the baking.

This is Tuffy.
My kitchen.
My ride.
 This is the lodge.
 This is my dog Maya.
 This is one of the views.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

On the edge

Tomorrow I head out for the Blue Mountain Lodge. (  I take a commercial flight to King Salmon and then on to the Lodge in one of their planes.  I'm still finishing up packing (where the heck did I put my lists?) as no one can pack like a procrastinator.  What am I taking - clothes (thank goodness - so not doing the impression of the naked chef), rain boots, rain/wind jacket, long underwear, books, kindle, laptop, knitting and sketching stuff.  Maya, the wonder dog, flew out today along with the fresh herb plants and sourdough starter.  I will post as able since only have electricity when generator is up and running.  Wish me luck!!!