Saturday, March 29, 2008


In my grocery box this week was a nice bunch of kale. Seeing as how we don't have a dining table (and we don't know anybody!) we haven't been having many dinner parties that require plate garnishes. I began hunting for recipes on what do with this this stiff, hearty green. This is one recipe that I found that turned out pretty tasty. I think I cut my carrots too thin or didn't chop the kale small enough because the carrots were a bit over cooked (I like them still crunchy) and the kale was a little tough. But a keeper recipe, nonetheless.

Balsamic-Glazed Carrots and Kale
6 medium-sized carrots, cut into thin diagonal slices
1 bunch kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped
2 T olive oil
2 T Balsamic vinegar
2 t tamari or other soy sauce
1/2 t sugar or natural sweetner
1/8 t cayenne

Place carrots and kale in boiling salted water and cook until vegetables soften slightly and kale turns bright green, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Heat oil in skillet over med heat, add carrots, kale and other ingredients. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Serve Hot. Serves 4

From Vegan Planet, by Robin Robertson

I still have some green stuff left over - so Kalling all Kale recipes if you have one!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Every Girls needs a Pair of Red Shoes

Don't you think? Did you have a pair of red shoes? Were they your favorite?

My earliest memories of red shoes were my red Keds - with the rounded white toes. It took me forever to get the hang of using the ties to get them tight on my feet so I could run around and climb up stuff. This was long before velcro, you know.

Then there was my glamour phase of dancing and beauty... and the Future Queen pageant (age 7) - I had the red outfit but I'm pretty sure I had silver slippers on my peds.

In about 7th or 8th grade in anticipation of the centennial, I talked my mom into getting me a pair of red, white, and blue Adidas. They were way cool! My feet were pretty small and I probably had to get them too big but just had to have them no matter what.

When I was in high school all of the rival schools had red as a major color so I wouldn't have been caught dead in red shoes, red shoelaces, red socks, etc. It was purple all the way!

When I went off to College I might have purchased some clothing that I would never have thought to buy under the supervision of the home front. I had a pair of bright red high heels with a cord sole that laced up. They went very well with my red strapless sundress. But they were so much higher than anything I was used to wearing I wasn't very graceful - I probably should have gone back to the silver slippers I had when I was 7.

These were created for Holly and Wayne's new baby girl - hopefully they are the first of many red shoes.

Cocoa Cake

I pulled this recipe out of Cooking Light several years ago and finally tried it out this weekend. I think the key to this cake is sifting the cocoa so that it isn't clumpy which requires you to mix it more than necessary resulting in a rubbery cake. But squoosh a bit of whipped topping on and you hardly notice it! This is a low-calorie, very low fat cake (if you don't use too much topping : ) ! ) I think it would also be good if you split a piece of cake and added a layer of ice cream in between - like a ice cream sandwich. I might also be tempted to add some spices like cloves and/or cinnamon - or serve it with a cinnamon sauce. So many options!

Cocoa Cake
1 1/4 c sugar
2/3 c boiling water
2 egg whites, lightly beaten (I used 1 egg's worth egg beaters)
1 (4 oz) jar prune baby food
1 3/4 c sifted cake flour (I used regular flour)
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt (I left out)

1 T powdered sugar (0ptional for topping)

Combine sugar and boiling water in small boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Let cool. Add egg whites and baby food to cooled mixture. Stir until blended.

Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl and stir well. Add wet mixture and stir just until dry ingredients moistened.

Pour batter into 9x9 square baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Let cool completely in pan. Sift powdered sugar over top of cake.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Misc websites

Here are some interesting links that I found recently. Some of them I found and some of them came from my network of friends and colleagues.

Funny what you come across on the web when you're searching for one thing and something comes up that you don't expect. One such thing is a recipe for gluten-free sourdough starter from someone who used to live in Fairbanks while I was looking up someone else who used to work at CDE. I thought this past co-worker was organizing an online grocery store but it turns out she just stopped taking orders last week. Oh well. Anyway the sourdough starter sounds interesting and might be an good alternative for my family.

So you have that new ipod - what else can you do with it besides just listen to your favorite tunes? Check out some of these ideas - who knew it could be so handy! Thanks to Carol for adding it to her bookmark list. The list includes study guides and tutorials like SAT-prep, auditory and video notes and reviews, links to audio books, some applications that help use your ipod along with some support software.

I'm happy to say that our family now includes several MAC OSX users and here's a site (again thanks to Carol) that lists some free software to download. This list is pretty extensive and its amazing how much you can find for free.

One of my favorite utilities that I've added to my mac recently is MagiCal. I don't have a large desk calendar (or a large desk for that matter!) anymore and I didn't want to put any nails or thumbtacks in the wall. I found it hard to keep track of dates. This little utility is just what I needed. It sits to the right in my menu bar and I've chosen to have it replace the default system clock and calendar. What I really like is that you can click on it and pull the calendar away from the menu bar allowing you to freely move from month to month.

And here's an inexpensive product that might suit your needs - do you have one of the magnetic power connectors that occasionally slips out (maybe without you being aware) and you find yourself with limited battery power? This tool looks pretty useful - MagStay Pro.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Artigras - Where's the Conga Line

This weekend just happened to be a spring arts festival that coincided with our trip over to see the Olson's in Sitka. Events for Artigras included gallery openings, musical events, a parade, activities for kids and one event that I was really looking forward to - the Alaska's longest Conga line. I took my dress rain boots so that I'd look good for the picture that Tim was going to take of me in the line. I was all ready and just needed to confirm the time and place which was widely advertised in the paper. But when I got there…

I must have missed it - Tim's Mom said there was a picture in the paper on Monday that showed a line of about 60 people. Guess that's why they called it the 1st annual - I'm just going to have to go back next year!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

restaurant review #13

Channel Club in Sitka

If you had been to the old Channel Club in Sitka you might have remembered a dark, smoky place that had a decent salad bar and very popular for the carnivores for the best steaks in town. Then at some point they closed down, demolished the building and rebuilt. They reopened a couple weeks ago and have a lovely building with open beams and windows all along the waterfront.

We had an early dinner (5:30) on Saturday night anticipating getting done before sunset (around 7). The menu was pretty much limited to steaks (various cuts) and some alaskan fish entrees. They have a very nice salad bar although when we went up to get our salads there wasn't any salad greens and had to stand around for several minutes before getting someone's attention to brings more. They did have some delicious chunky blue cheese dressing. They had various veggies for the salad, potato salad, a nice fruit salad, mixed grilled marinated vegetables and two different soups: salmon chowder and fresh tomato basil soup with big chunks of fresh tomatoes in it. Unfortunately, none of us tried the soup but it looked delicious.

We didn't place our order until after going through the salad bar (mistake #1) and when we finally got that done we were almost done with the salads. Tim and Lois ordered the prime rib (mistake #2), BG ordered the 1/2 roasted chicken (mistake #3) and I ordered the seered Halibut (mistake #4). The side dishes, carmalized onion mashed potatoes, rice pilaf (with pine nuts and craisins), and steamed asparagas were very tasty.

Mistake #1 - we should have ordered before going to the salad bar because it took forever to get our entrees.

Mistake #2 - once you've gone to the Turtle Club and had the prime rib you just can't be satisfied anywhere else and Tim has tried many, many times, in many, many states. Besides the flavor there were issues with the meat not being cooked long enough so both had to be sent back.

Mistake #3 - when you order a 1/2 roasted chicken you should be prepared to get messy, preferably with a roll of paper towels and butcher paper as a table cloth. Its hard to eat the pieces without using your hands to pull pieces and parts out. BG said that the breast was dry.

Mistake #4 - the halibut was moist and flaky and looked beautiful but had very little flavor. I thought it was supposed to be a lime buerre blanc but I think they forgot the lime.

They were very busy - the place was packed and sitting was at a premium. We didn't get out of there until way past sunset and we did enjoy the views from the waterfront window. Would I go back? Yes - I think they'll get things worked out in a few weeks. I would probably wait on going back to dinner but would go for lunch if I had a chance.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Simple Salad Dressing

I got this from my Mom several years ago and it quickly became a family favorite. It seemed just the right dressing for some of the fresh greens we got in our weekly grocery box.

1/2 c oil
1/4 c sugar (or less)
3 T cider vinegar
1 T fresh parsley
1/2 t salt (I leave out)
1/4 t pepper
1 t minced garlic

This dressing is also good with other fresh herbs like tarragon or basil. I haven't tried it but I think that instead of the sugar (or maybe with reduced sugar) the juice of an orange or tangerine would be interesting but you might need to change the vinegar to red wine or white. I'll have to try it and let you know.

Pain Relief

I've been having wrist problems again since January and have been avoiding going to the doctor for medical help for several reasons. I think I know what the issues are so I'm trying to help myself before going in. I know they will want me to get some physical therapy and I'm just dragging my feet.

I've adjusted my work space. Since I pretty much sit at my desk for 10 hours a day I realized I'm putting pressure on my wrist so I've made some adjustments. Unfortunately my "ball" chair is really too low for my desk so I limited my use of it to - well - almost never. Part of the issue might also be working on a laptop all the time since the monitor and the keyboard are all connected its hard to have both of them at the right height at the same time. I usually use a mouse instead of the trackpad so at least I can make sure that the mouse is at the right level. Plus I have a second monitor hooked up so I have that set up directly above my laptop screen which is close to my eye height. But now that I have so much plugged in and wires going every which way my mobile laptop has become more stationary. Gosh what a whiner.

Besides adjusting my work station I've also started wearing my brace more often during the day and sometimes when I'm preparing meals (using a knife when chopping or slicing can be painful) and forget about using a whisk - its all electric for me. I probably shouldn't use the hand can opener either - and definitely shouldn't be doing the dishes or sweeping the floor or dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, doing the laundry, washing the windows, but I digress – back to the brace. I read somewhere that I should be wearing the brace at night to make sure my wrist is in the neutral position.

I've been forcing myself to wear an ice pack at least once a day - normally in the evening. I probably should be doing it more often but I don't.

I've also added some stretching exercises that I try to do everyday but don't.

And finally, my niece told me about Topricin - a mixture natural medicines. I can't say enough about this cream - its almost a miracle. The first day I used it I was amazed at how much better I felt. I applied it 4x the day I got it and within about 6 hours of the first application the constant pain had gone away. I'm sure some of it had to do with the massage that I used when applying the creme to make sure all was absorbed, but I'm also convinced its the cream itself.

I've been using if faithfully for almost a week now and have seen dramatic difference. I do know that its a combination of measures I've taken to improve my situation and its not all about this miracle cream - but I'm convinced that its helped a lot. I also wish I had another body part that ached so I can try it out! I'll keep you posted!

Full Circle Grocery List for this week

So I got the grocery list for this week from Full Circle Farms - see what the list looks like and if I made any substitutions by clicking here to see a short desktop video I made using JING.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Perfect Slice

Did you think that the Pampered Chef apple wedger was only good for apples? I just used mine to cut my perfectly ripe d'anjou pear into slices and it worked great!

And the slices were gone by the time I got the picture loaded, edited, uploaded and this post published.

You're It!

I've been identified by Iconolith to participant in a challenge and since I have a stack of books right by me I thought I'd play along.

Referred to as a meme this is like a 21st century version of a chain letter except we're not exchanging $$ or recipes or even good wishes for luck but rather we're giving our community a chance for a glimpse of what inspires, interests, or edifies.

The Rules:
  1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the next three sentences (sentences 6-9).
  5. Tag five people who blog posts you read on a regular basis.
So here's mine:

K1, p2 tog, ssk, Sl 4 sts to cn and hold to back, k4, k4 from cn - just kidding!

  • On September 17 they resigned themselves to wintering on the open pack ice, and must have known that this meant probably death. They built a kind of igloo on a big ice floe and with a net tried to catch plankton to eat. Two days later they caught several seals, enough to give them hope of surviving into February, and began to drift past White Island, which seemed to comprise a huge glacier and some cliffs.
Those I've tagged:
Ginny: we share the love for knitting, laughing, and a red-haired male
Naomi: a little pressure might inspire you to get a post on your blog! xxxooo
Sage: always thought-provoking and filled with intrigue
Shauna: your strength and positive attitude is an inspiration
J. : you don't have a blog but you need one so you'll just have to leave your excerpt here as a comment...or it could be the first post or your new blog!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Full Circle Farms

Roxi introduced me to Full Circle Farms and we received our first box today. This farm in Washington makes weekly deliveries to southeast and central Alaska. A selection of organic veggies and fruits is delivered either weekly or biweekly at pickup spots around the community. You have a choice of small, medium or large boxes. Its was almost like Christmas and ever since I placed my first order last week I've been filled with anticipation. The pickup spot is just a couple blocks from the house so that makes it real handy. Each week they make a deliver and stack up the boxes. You just go in and take your new box and leave your the box from the previous delivery to recycle for your next order.

I went ahead and signed up for a small box to be delivered weekly. You can change your mind at almost any time and so far they seem really responsive to requests.

Our pick-up day in Juneau is Tuesdays from 3-7. The previous thursday at noon the "list" becomes available and you can make substitutions if you don't like what they are sending. This week I made a couple subs based on what I already had in larder.

So I opened the box and this is what I saw...(well, I do wear reading glasses, but my sight wasn't as blurry as this...sorry)

Lots of fruit this time: grapefruit, tangerines, mango, pears, baby bok choy, green leaf lettuce, cucumber, italian parsley, carrots, broccoli, yams, and sunchokes (cross between a rutabaga, potato, sunflower seed, and water chestnut)

We had the lettuce and parsley in a tossed salad and had carrots, broccoli and cucumber chips on the side for dinner today - YUM.

Tomorrow I think we'll have a curry with the yam and bok choy.

I'm pretty sure that the price for this service will be equivalent or even a little cheaper to buying organic foods locally - maybe a little bit more expensive if I chose non-organic and probably a lot more expensive than I would normally purchase on a weekly basis because I don't buy these items because of the price. I guess especially with the fruit - I buy citrus based on the price/pound and usually end up with navel oranges.

So what a treat! We'll see how it goes in the next couple weeks when every week is like Christmas!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Auke Nu Trail to John Muir Cabin (almost)

We had a great walk today - we thought we were going to get rained on but it didn't happen and we had mostly sunny, blue skies for our entire walk. In fact we just wore sweathshirts and jeans. Last summer we walked on part of this trail until it veered off and took us to Spaulding Meadows through a couple of beautiful meadows and then into some really muddy, slippery gunk.

Today we took the other trail, the Auke Nu Trail (look for Auke Nu Trail ) which goes up to a forest service cabin through more meadows and I think eventually connects to the Spaulding Meadow trail if you have a map along with you.

The beginning of the trail was snow and ice-free!

Then we got into a bunch of ice but then when we got a little higher we had mostly snow that had been pretty well packed down. The weather has been such that the snow is starting to get pretty rotten though so in those areas that weren't already walked/skiied/snowshoed and packed down, these spots were pretty soft and you found yourself sinking up to your kneecaps. Luckily we made it up and back with our yak traks still on our boots.

Don't let anyone tell you differently - this trail went straight up and didn't stop. It was a 1552 elevation gain over a 3-mile area and it felt like it. You also forget that most of the trail is probably made up of boardwalk so if you get off the boards a little bit then you sink right down and will probably end up with a wet foot! Alas, we didn't make it to the cabin. We didn't take a map and forgot to look at one before we went out. We got to the point where we were crossing a meadow and every step we took we were sinking down and it quickly became not much fun as we eyed just how long the meadow was. I think we were probably pretty close though because there were a lot of old ski tracks around and we'd been walking forever.

The way down was pretty fast but we had to be careful because the trail was really punchy and with the added weight you have treading downhill we made a lot of holes. There were a couple of beautiful creek crossings with nice bridges going across them. Looked like nice places for a picnic.

We also saw a Hairy Woodpecker chipping away at one of the hemlock pines. It won't be long before we begin seeing a lot more birds as they mirgrate back for the summer.

House Guests

We haven't had many house guests lately except for these guys - and they stuck around all winter!