Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas in Sitka

At the last minute we decided to take the ferry over to Sitka for Christmas. The ride over is only 4-hours long on the fast ferry and the trip over is a really enjoyable ride. The schedule works out pretty good for us - over on Thursday morning and back on Sunday night. Sitka is such a pretty place and it is always nice to visit. The Ferry service had the lounge area decorated with holiday lights and a tree. Since we have been traveling so much and just getting moved into our new house, we didn't get a tree up this year. So it was nice to see one.

It was pretty gray going over and back and with the limited daylight we had about 1-2 hours each way that was in the dark. But besides a bit of gray and a few drizzles, the sea was calm and very little wind made for a smooth ride.

Going through the narrows I always look for deer that might come to the beach in search of seaweed or other sea vegetables. But they must hear the vessel coming because I never see any.

Sitka has 4 small boat harbors that you can walk around and we spent time on each visit looking at boats. There are many people who live on their boats and they often decorate with holiday lights. We've picked out a few boats that we really like and sometimes they are even for sale but unfortunately, the price tag doesn't make it feasible. This time we noticed that there were a lot more boats with "For Sale" signs in the windows. We even found one that we might call on.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

End of the Year Indian

Since dining in Denver, in October, India cuisine has been on my mind and finally found some take to make a few dishes this week. We made Rogan Josh, spicy lamb from northern India and Aloo Gobi, a delicious cauliflower dish with tomatoes and potatoes.

Rogan Josh
8 garlic cloves, crushed
2 1/4 in piece of ginger, grated
2 t ground cumin
1 t chili powder
2 t paprika
2 t ground coriander
2 lb boneless leg or shoulder of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
5 T oil (or ghee)
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cardamon pods
4 cloves
2 Indian bay leaves
3 in piece of cinnamon stick
3/4 c thick plain yogurt
4 strands saffron, mixed with 2 T milk
1/4 t garam masala

Mix garlic, ginger, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and coriander in a large bowl. Add meat and stir thoroughly to coat meat cubes. Marinate in fridge 2 hours.

Heat oil in heavy-based saucepan over low heat, add onions and cook until lightly browned. Remove from pan.

Add cardamon pods, cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick to pan and fry for 1 minute. Increase heat to high, add meat and onion, then mix well and fry for 2 minutes. Stir well, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and fry for another 3 minutes or until the meat is quite dry. Add 1/2 cup water, cover and cook 5-7 minutes until water has evaporated and the oil separates and floats on the surface (I didn't see last part happen). Fry meat for another 1-2 minutes then add 1 cup water. Cover and cook for 40-50 minutes, gently simmering until the meat is tender. I took the cover off for the last 5 minutes or so to help thicken the sauce.

Stir in yogurt, add saffron and milk and blend. Season with salt. Remove from heat and sprinkle with garam masala.

Now the Aloo Gobi was really very good and we will definitely make this again. I think it would be good with eggplant too.

3 T oil
1/2 t black mustard seeds (we used crushed brown–that is all we had)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
7 oz potatoes, cut into cubes
1/4 t ground turmeric
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1 1/2 t garam masala
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
3/4 in piece of ginger
1 t sugar

Heat oil in deep, heavy-based flying pan over low heat. Add mustard seeds, cover and wait for the seeds to pop. Add onion and potato and fry until browned.

Add turmeric, cumin, coriander, and garam masala to the pan and fry for a couple of seconds. Add the tomato and stir until the spices are well mixed. Add cauliflower florets and stir until well blended. Stir in ginger, sugar and 1/2 c water, increase heat to medium and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season with salt.

Don't be fooled by the picture - I didn't make any naan! Instead I though it would be easier to make a buttermilk biscuit with chopped up green onions mixed in. I made some with minced garlic and some that were plain. Next time I'll flatten them down a bit more. They rose higher than I expected.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Felted Slippers

On our recent trip down to Colorado to visit our good friends, the Holmbergs, Tim I decided to celebrate Christmas early and give them their gifts, especially since there was some finishing touches that had to be made.

They all received much too large slippers that needed to be felted to the right size.

Crazy Holmbergs before the felting:

Ok - I have to admit that I got one of the sizes wrong. I thought Logan was a size 16 but his shoe size is only a 13. So his slippers were a little big and had a long way to go to shrink to size.

We thought maybe he should just wear it as a hat…

It took a lot of hot water and many hours swishing around to get the fibers to mess together and shrink, but we finally had success!

Before: After:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Archived list of birds from the deck (old)

Since we've moved into a new house, which also has a deck we thought that we should start over with our observation list. Here are the birds we saw from 2007 to Oct 2009 from the deck of our house:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Drive-by Olive Garden

On a recent trip from Las Vegas to Glenwood Springs we made plans to stop over in St George Utah to have dinner at Olive Garden. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed and we got into St George too late for dinner, too late for dessert, too late for a drink.

It was after midnight but Utah closes up pretty early!

On the way back to Las Vegas we did drive the highway in the daylight and saw what we missed along the way.

At certain times throughout the route you get into some really beautiful red rocky areas which I think are more beautiful than looking at the Grand Canyon. I have only been on the rim of the Grand Canyon so I may be mistaken, but there are so many dramatic viewpoints along I70 that if I hadn't taken the route more than a couple of times, I would want to continuously want to stop. I've made note of several spots where I'd like to stop and explore when we aren't in a hurry to get to our destination.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Moving Hat 2

I'm catching up with some posts and some pictures since we've been moving the last couple of weeks and thought that some family members would appreciate this one of "the moving hat." We're sending it along to the next person who is moving...I wonder who will get it!

And here is a picture of my office - what a mess – but at least I kind of know where everything is and can get through a day without too much disruption. I don't have to stand on my toes to see out the window but I do look out over the street and Mt Jumbo.

And who said that cardboard box furniture can't be "classied up" with a handknit doily!

I've also posted some pictures on flickr - the before pictures. We don't have an after yet…that will come in the next year! The house is still a mess but we are getting there and starting to find places for everything.

Here are some view pictures, also on flickr.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Food, glorious food!

One of our last big meals at our old house was prepared by our friend Bob, who is an exceptional cook and wine conesoiur. We had some nice halibut in the freezer and he made us an incredible dinner using the halibut as the main showpiece. Here you see sauted leek straws and grated horseradish and thyme encrusted halibut with a clive oil drizzled over top - incredible!

For the chive oil take a bunch of fresh chives and 1/2 cup of nice olive oil (or until they are covered) and put them in a blender of food processor and puree until smooth. You can strain it through cheese cloth or a small strainer if you want to.

And we had enough of the halibut to make sandwiches the next day and they were equally as delicious as leftovers!

Christen and I were talking about kiwiberries when we were in Denver together. One of us most have seen a recipe somewhere or saw in on a menu. Every since our discussion about them, they have been on my mind. And boy, was I surprised, when a 1/2 pint of them showed up in my food box last week. They are really delicious - just like a mini-kiwi with an edible skin much like a guava. They seem to be really ripe so I had to eat them quickly before the spoiled. Plus I popped a few in the freezer to try out later, much as I've done before with grapes. A juicy little popcicle to roll around in your mouth!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mt Roberts Trail

Before moving, before all the travels, Tim and I had a fantastic hike up the Mt Roberts Trail without the benefit of the summer-time tram to get us to the top.

We started out on Basin Road and slowly climbed through the woods.

The trail was a little muddy but not as bad as it could have been. We went on this hike before we had any big rain deluges so common in September and October.

Just after where the trail meets up with the Star Hill neighborhood trailhead there is a nice little lookout with a bench and a covered sitting area. This looks out over the "flats" and the federal building.

And the view from the tramway area looking up and down the gastineau channel can be breathtaking!

On the way back we thought we'd sit a spell!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Go Avs!

Ashley scored some amazing tickets for the Colorado Avalanche-Detroit Red Wings hockey game while we were in Denver. The Pepsi Co. Stadium was just a short walk away from our hotel and we grabbed some dinner along they way. It was a great game - the Avs won 3-1. But the company was even better - Tim and Heidi won!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sitka Weekend

We had a great, but fast, visit to Sitka this last weekend. We took the ferry over and it was an enjoyable 4-hour cruise both ways. The schedule changed a little from normal due to a wrestling, volleyball, and swimming tournament/meet in Sitka. When we heard that there might be a bunch of HS kids on board we were prepared for a lot of energy. I have to say there were a bunch of really nice, well behaved kids on board. Most of them were doing their homework or sitting and listening to music. We happened to be sitting by one of the wrestling teams. Their coach had brought the scales aboard and they all had to weigh in. I felt pretty guilty and didn't really enjoy having my snack while watching some of the boys put on all of their sweats, overshirts, down coats, hats, etc. and do jumping jacks, sit-ups, etc. for hours while I sat on my butt eating and knitting. Tim kept making slurping noises in hopes that it would help them to loose weight by drooling.

Sitka is such a beautiful place and just about every time we got there we have nice weather. This weekend was no exception. The wind came up and blew for a bit and we had a rain storm just as we headed out the door for a walk, but neither one lasted very long and we enjoyed walking from the folk's house to all the harbors looking at boats, watching the birds, and enjoying being outside.

I have an admission to make. I started this post in April after I went to Sitka to meet up with Tim after a work meeting. I had the opportunity to walk around Sitka by myself, looking and going where I wanted to. It was a glorious day and I had fun exploring.

Here are some pictures from that visit:

Cresent Harbor with the Lighthouse in the background:

Russian History is much more prominent in Sitka than in other places in Alaska. I haven't been to Kodiak since high school but I image that Kodiak has a similar atmosphere.

Here is a replica of a Russian Block House used when the Russian-American Company was doing business.

And the lighthouse - I'm not sure if you can still rent this out for sleep-overs or not. I've had friends in the past who have done that and have had fun. We often thought about doing for Thanksgiving or a long weekend but haven't acted on it.

And looking back towards St Michael's from the bridge:

And the commercial harbor from the bridge:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The sun is getting lower in the sky - only the tops of the mountains are seeing much sunshine.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

change in season

Shooting star from early summer…

Snow creeping down Mt Roberts last week…

Rising moon down the Gastineau Channel by Sandy Beach…

I can tell that winter is coming because the mallards are spending more time in front of the house. At the height of summer they disappear and then this time of year they start to gather again and hang out day and night.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Crow Hill - Gastiineau Meadows Trail

This trail follows part of the Treadwell Ditch that runs from Eagle Crest to Treadwell. Most of the ditch is covered with rotting wood slats but some of that has rotten away leaving a trough of water. If it was cleaned up it might make for quite a "tube-ride" but it doesn't really get warm enough for that here.

We walked this trail soon after helping Trail Mix out on a trail out at Pearl Harbor so we were enture to the process. There is a bridge that they built using local trees.

The planking was a little uneven but it was rough-up so it shouldn't been too slick after it wears down and gets water logged.

Looks like they were skinning this tree to use as a bridge over a deep and wet gully. It was a very large tree. Notice anything in this picture that is missing?

There is no bark on the ground. We looked all over and could find where they had pull the strips bark from the tree. We didn't see any evidence of a campfire if they burned them. I can't image that they would haul them out and it didn't look like they had raked the ground up. Its a mystery!

Once you get up high you run into alpine meandows and lots of little ponds. Doesn't this look like a great spot to see a Moose? I always look but never see one.

And at the end (at least for us) Upper Lawson Creek:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Did you hear that?

This was one big tree. You wonder what could be so forceful to take something like this down!

Monday, October 12, 2009

More Beach finds

It was a beautiful night for a beach walk although we had huge gusts of winds today (up to 25) according to this graph but I'm sure that down here on the water it was much higher.

I made sure I didn't have and blowing sand in my eyes when I saw this in the distance…

Yep - a pineapple? Do you think it floated all the way from the tropics?