Monday, August 29, 2011

Cajun Halibut


I never really know what to do with fish. The problem is that I really like fish, so I enjoy eating it broiled, or grilled. I like it plain and unadorned. A simple squeeze of lemon sometimes, but thick mayonnaise based things like tarter sauce are strictly prohibited. I often make fun of the food I grew up with in the midwest, the bland flavor. I joke with my mother that ketchup is too spicy for her. When it comes to fish I am still that girl who grew up on Lake Superior. With the exception of Walleye, which was always served breaded, all other fish was simply baked or grilled in the summer. That's the way it should be. Because of this I have always had a hard time with fish as an ingredient, such as fish soup or chowder. It took me a really long time to get used to the idea of fish tacos. Now that we live in Alaska and have a freezer full of fish thanks to David's friends Sarah who gave us a freezer full of salmon last year and Lorna who recently gave us a generous supply of halibut, I feel like I can finally branch out a bit and try fish dressed up a little bit and maybe even add a little spice. This Cajun Halibut is not too spicy, if you like it really hot I recommend a heavy hand with the cayenne.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sugared Raspberries

Despite how things may appear, I actually don't do a lot of canning. That's not to say that I don't put away a lot of our summer bounty. It is mostly berries that I put up, and I freeze them. I use them in baked goods all winter long. There is nothing better than blueberry muffins in January. A sweet taste of summer. That is why I enjoy freezing my berries, they retain that taste of summer flavor you just don't get from jams, syrups, or liquors. I like those things too, but there is nothing better than the bright flavor of summer berries.
That is precisely why I like the sugar method of preserving raspberries. Although it uses a lot of sugar, the berries are not cooked. Using this method they retain their bright summer flavor. You can use these preserved berries as an ice cream topping, a cake or pie filling, or spoon a little over your oatmeal. I have to confess once December rolls around you will most likely catch me with the fridge door open, my spoon in the jar trying to capture just a little bit (or bite) of summer.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Beet Hummus

Some people complain about too many zucchini this time of year. Well, we have those too. The one thing I am really trying to figure out what I am going to do with is all the beets we have right now. Yes, I'm sure there will be borscht before all is said and done. Before I tackle that challenge I decided to make this beet hummus that I have had bookmarked since last year. I have never gone out of my way for beets, but it seems like I have been having so many wonderfully prepared versions lately, I just find myself craving them. The color is really hard to resist too.
I find that beets pair amazingly well will orange. I have had a few beet salads that included that flavor combination. So, I decided to try it out with this beet hummus and again the combination was a winner. Use this just as you would regular hummus, either as a dip or a sandwich spread. You could also make some pretty fancy looking appetizers placing a dollop of the beet hummus on sliced cucumbers or crackers and then adding a bit of grated carrot on top. The color combination is quite striking. So, if you too have a few extra beets in your garden this year I recommend giving beet hummus a try. I still have plenty more. If you have any winning beet recipes, I would love to hear about them.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Carrot and Blueberry Salad

It is getting close to that time of year again.  The time of year when people stand in line at the opening of the farmers' market, waiting. Waiting for what you ask? Carrots, yes really carrots. Fairbanks is home to the best carrots I have every tasted. Not only are they sweet, but they are plentiful too. I started collecting carrot recipes early last spring for this years harvest.
So, at one point I found myself googling carrots and blueberries and doing a recipe search to see what I might come up with. At the top of the search was this simple carrot and blueberry salad. It reminds me of a salad that was popular in the 1980's that was made with raisins, it seemed like it made an appearance at every potluck. This is a fresher, updated version of that salad.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Food and Light 2011

I have written the first sentence of this post at least 20 times in the last four days. There is so much to say about the Food and Light Workshop. Yes, I learned practical skills that I will take home and hopefully improve the photos for this blog. Those skills were the whole point of attending the workshop. Yet, somehow when I look back on those two days last week, it is not the skills I remember. Yes, I do remember them too (I don't want my instructors to panic).
What I really learned from this workshop is why I blog. I have always known that my favorite part of the process in creating a blog post is the photography. I love setting up the scene on my kitchen table and trying to find the light. The big thing I learned recently and it was reinforced is that back lighting and side lighting are beautiful for food photography. Somewhere a long time ago I had learned that back lighting was a bad thing and so I had always avoided it until recently. I was able to rent a Canon 60D camera from Pro-Photo Rental in Boulder. The workshop provided great instruction on how to use it, not to mention tons of props and fun food items to photograph donated from Robin Chocolates, Whole Foods Market Boulder, and Helliemae's Salt Caramels. I loved that I was there just to work on my photography. I wasn't thinking about what I was going to write about or how the recipe would turn out. It was just me and the camera, and for the first time in a long time I lost myself in that creative Zen I used to find when I was a painting. Hours felt like minutes and I tuned everything else out. It felt wonderful to be unleashed with great tools and instruction.
The second thing I realized is that the reason I blog is for the community. The food blogging community is a group of people that overall is so kind and sharing. People are willing to help each other out. There is nothing better than sitting down with a group of food bloggers and discussing all the geeky food related things we all love to talk about. Topics at lunch and dinner raged the gamut of favorite food bloggers to social media, and personal stories about children and dogs. We all had so many connections, so many stories to share. Learning how so many people from all corners of the globe were able to come together in this one place is probably the most fascinating part of the experience. I was nearly teary eyed (ok, I was teary eyed) when Diane shared the story of her journey to food photography. There is nothing I find more exciting than being around people who have a true passion for what they do.
In addition to the Food Blogger community, this space has also connected me to my local Fairbanks and Alaska community. I have "met" so many of you because of this blog. It would have taken me years, or maybe even longer to find the connections I have with so many of you. It is one of the things I realized in the last week. Although I am still humbled and a bit embarrassed when recognized at the Farmers Market or worst of all with my hair tied up and wearing a frumpy sweatshirt in Fred Meyer. I'm thrilled when you do approach and introduce yourselves and ask me what I am making with the stuff in my shopping cart. I'd just appreciate you not tell anyone else about my weakness for Lay's potato chips, thanks.
In the end I learned a lot about photography, but even more about myself. I can't thank the wonderful instructors enough for such a well planned and informative workshop. If you ever get an opportunity to take a workshop with any one of them, I highly recommend it. You can find them here:
Jen Yu- Use Real Butter
Matt Wright- Wright Food
Todd Porter and Diane Cu- White on Rice Couple
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