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We had friends in town from Japan (!!) and despite all of us having already eaten dinner when we finally got a chance to kick back and chat, I felt I needed to make something to nibble on. Lately I’ve been a little homesick for that amazing New England foliage, which of course means an intense craving for all things pumpkin and cider related, so pumpkin donuts and hard cider won. I poked through Pinterest and the interwebs in general, and came across this recipe which I used as a base.

  • Place 2TB butter and 1/3 cup milk into a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds until warmed through and butter starts to melt. Whisk for about 45 seconds.
  • Sprinkle 1 TB yeast over the warm milk. Sprinkle 2 TB sugar over the yeast. Make sure they both sink – proof until foamy.
  • Add 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 TB pumpkin pie spice,¬† 1/2 tsp salt,¬†& 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Add the yeasty liquid, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, and 1 egg into the dry ingredients and mix with the bread hook attachment.
  • Rise until doubled on a heating pad, about 1 hour.
  • Once risen, punch down the dough and roll out to about 1 inch on a well floured surface.
  • Use 2 random pieces of glassware (or a donut cutter if you’re cool) to cut out donuts. *Cover loosely with a cloth and let rise while heating the oil for frying. (* I was so excited I cut this step short – it’s rather important)
  • Fry 1-2 minutes per side in hot oil and set on a paper towel to collect excess grease.
  • We dusted them with powdered sugar and happily shoved them in our faces. So. Good.

We only had a few leftover from a batch of about a dozen donuts (as well as the holes) and found they were just as good zapped in the microwave with some cinnamon sugar and vanilla ice cream. Sometimes life is hard indeed.


You can of course bake these guys instead of frying them (for the health conscious out there) but I am not in possession of a donut pan, and honestly feel if you’re going to make a donut, do it the right way. But it’s totally up to you.

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This has been a bumper year for crops in Alaska and the beets we are seeing at the farmers market are large enough to justifiably write songs about. The beets coming out of our garden are much, much…much, smaller, but I’m still excited that I was able to grow them from seed. Last night I decided to throw a few of the little guys into a batch of stuffed mushrooms and they were pretty amazing.

  • Rinse, de-stem and lightly spray mushrooms with olive oil
  • Chop mushroom stems, 1/4 cup onion, half a fresh de-seeded jalapeno and 1/2 TB shallots and throw into a pan with 1/2 TB butter
  • Chop 2-3 teeny tiny beets and add to the pan, as well as 2 inches smoked reindeer sausage
  • Add salt, pepper, garlic salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • Saute until most of the moisture has left the pan
  • Grate Parmesan cheese over empty mushroom caps, spoon mixture from pan into caps
  • Grate more parm because it’s good
  • Bake at 375* for 20 minutes, serve and enjoy!

The beets made for some super color and the sausage added some great texture and taste!


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I have walked by the stand selling quail eggs at the local farmers market for the last 3 years. I don’t know why it took me so long to give them a shot, but this last Saturday was the magic day. I purchased a dozen for $4 and the kiddo manning the booth was very helpful! Had he not given me a few pointers, I guarantee I would have ruined more than one of these teeny tiny speckled shells.

quail egg

First of all the membranes on the inside of the shell are so thick you couldn’t possibly crack them like a regular chicken egg lest you destroy everything inside. Tap lightly on a counter and then insert a knife end into your depression, cutting the membrane and shell around half the egg. You can then split the shell with your finger and pour your egg into a little dish.

quail egg II

These eggs also cook in the blink of an eye, so dropping them directly into a hot pan should you plan on cooking more than one won’t work. I cracked 3 into a small glass dish and was able to pour them individually into my buttered frying pan to cook. Lightly salt and pepper, and flip after about a minute. Only 20-30 more seconds or so and you’re done!

I fried 3 eggs each for the husband and I and placed them on toast with browned reindeer sausage, thin cut onion and topped with garden grown chives. It was pretty amazing overall and I think I’m officially a quail egg fan.

Quail egg III

What makes them so different? These little guys pack a rich punch. They seem so full of flavor (more so than your standard chicken egg) and let’s face it, they’re pretty friggin’ cute. It’s no surprise that royalty through the ages have coveted quail eggs as favorite foods. I’m excited to try them poached or boiled and plan to try some on a salad or two for garnish!

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We love cheese. We love bread. We love onions, too. So of course french onion soup is the perfect dinner in our house (Yes, dinner. None of this pre-dinner appetizer stuff). The only thing that has held us back from fully realizing our french onion dreams have been the perfect crock to broil the end product in. However, after a trip to our local summer hippie festival, we laid our hands on 2 matching, handmade, ceramic crocks. Let the festivitating begin!

  • Boil 1 beef bone, 4 chopped celery stalks, 3 chopped carrots, 1 chopped onion and 1 bay leaf for 15 minutes, then simmer for 2 hours with 12 cups of water (it will reduce & evaporate). Set aside.
  • Peel and slice width-wise 4 large sweet onions, & 2 garlic cloves, add to empty stock pot with 1 stick butter and saute until soft, approximately 15 minutes.
  • Pour strained beef broth mixture into the pot with the onions and add 3-4 bouillon cubes (it depends how beefy/salty you like it), simmer for 10 minutes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pour broth and onions into crock, top with sliced and toasted french bread and 2 slices of the cheese of your choice (I like provolone or mozz).
  • Broil on low until brown and bubbly. Eat. Love. Awesome.



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I love grilling season because that means I get to make my no fail, no fuss, life changing salmon. It’s super easy and guaranteed to impress anyone you serve.

  • Quickly spray your salmon filet lightly with olive oil (we have a Misto and it rocks)
  • Sprinkle with a dash of salt, pepper, garlic salt, & cayenne
  • Drizzle a few lines of honey across the filet and give 2 quick squirts of lemon juice to the top
  • Place the filet skin side down on your grill grate (a nice medium heat) and cook for 13-15 minutes depending on the size of your filet. Don’t flip it!
  • Using a spatula simply pull the fish from the skin and serve. You can just peel the skin from the grate when it cools – no more skinning!

Since salmon is best served a little on the medium side this finishes your piece with just the right amount of moisture and is packed full of flavor despite the short ingredient list. I doubt you’ll have any leftovers to deal with.

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I know, I know. Everyone has a different favorite barbeque technique to the point where fights ensue, but this is my favorite and what I grew up with. The sauce we use is popularly known as Chiavettas in the Western New York area, and many people I know buy it by the gallon and import it to wherever they have relocated to (I get it – we ship hot dogs 4000 miles. Sahlen’s are so worth it). It’s not the typical red BBQ sauce we tend to stereotypically associate with grilled meat, but it’s still damn tasty.

  • 1 cup white vinger
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2¬† 1/2 TB poultry seasoning
  • 1 TB salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 egg

I prefer to cook with chicken quarters (the skin absorbs the marinade at just the right rate that both the skin and chicken are amazing. Note: I don’t eat cooked chicken skin unless it’s with this sauce.) but you are more than welcome to cook breasts or other random parts as well. Marinate your chicken for at least 2 hours before cooking, or even overnight in the fridge.

Tip: blend the marinade in a blender or some such to keep it from separating later.

Grill for the same amount of time you would with regular chicken bits (about 30 minutes for 2 quarters) but beware that charcoal or gas grills may cause falre-ups so have a spray bottle handy. Enjoy!


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When life gets a little tough, a friend of mine and I joke around about moving to a commune on our own to be hippies and live on the land like crazy independent Amazon women. We have most of the necessary skill sets covered (booze making, cooking, clothing design, bread and butter production and a newly drafted ninja has the security aspect of the program under control – as soon as we have cheese making under our belts we can pack our bags) to make it a totally viable option in our overstressed entrepreneurial¬† brains (no, it’s not really going to happen…I know…). Should our super fabulous commune never come to fruition and I am forced to move to a straight up hippie ranch I have come to realize that I make some damn tasty lentils.

Lentils have gained the reputation for being the peace loving legume, but they are truly more than just that – they are simple and delicious. We make them every other week or so and it seems I’m making larger and larger batches to ensure that we have some leftovers for a lunch or two – they are so good we can’t stop eating them. The recipe below is for a ‘medium’ 6 helping batch.

  • Add 2 cups of lentils (you choose the color – we use the yellow/brown guys) and 5 cups of water or chicken broth to a large pot and bring to a boil with 2 bouillon cubes and a bay leaf
  • Add 1/2 cup chopped onion and 2 chopped medium carrots to the pot and simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally (you may need to add more water)
  • The lentils will start to sort of break down (we like them mushy – I pretend I’m Oliver Twist), and at this point add another 1/4-1/2 cup of chopped onions and another 2 chopped medium carrots (contrasting texture! It makes mouths happy). Slowly simmer for another 8 minutes or so

At this point you can add whatever you else you like or have on hand. We have been known to chop up the lone leftover pork chop no one wants and throw that in. Leftover Christmas ham makes for super awesome lentils, and of course, a little cooked bacon makes everything better. Last night we chopped up the last reindeer sausage link that has been haunting the freezer and added a little bacon. Of course if you are one of those veggie only people, you can skip this step and add whatever else you choose.

  • After your additions have had a few minutes to meet and mingle with their lentil neighbors, salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add a little garlic powder or salt as well as cayenne pepper

It’s just good stuff. And talk about cheap! You’re looking at perhaps a $3 meal here and it’s delicious. Maybe if you get good enough at making them, you too can join a hippie commune!


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As I may have mentioned once or twice (or a million times) we eat a lot of tiny tacos in our house and tiny tacos require lots of fresh cilantro (also known as coriander) to ensure maximum awesomeness. However, it can be hard to keep fresh cilantro on hand unless you’re growing it in your garden for immediate harvest. And considering spring is never actually going to arrive in Alaska (much less summer) store bought for the moment is the way it needs to be. But how to keep it from curling up in the fridge you ask? Easy:

  • Fill small cup halfway with water
  • Place cilantro in cup
  • Cover loosely with an open plastic bag
  • Place in fridge
  • Done

This method will keep your cilantro fresh for 2-3 weeks (sometimes longer). Change the water when you think of it and use as much as you need at a time. Enjoy!


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I was told recently that I’m very thrifty and resourceful when it comes to food in the house. Why, thank you! I’m not sure if I’m actually thrifty or it’s that I just hate wasting food or throwing live things away. For instance, I really don’t like spider plants but can’t bear to toss the little spikey babies, thus I have loads of spider plants (Would anyone like one? Please?). The same goes for the ends of green onions and lettuce too. A little water in a dish (changed daily to avoid funk) and the end of your cut romaine/iceburg/butter lettuce will quickly begin to sprout new edible greens. Not only is this a great way to stretch your food budget but also cheers your kitchen too!



I am also in the process of sprouting an avocado (just for giggles), and we have some onion sprouts to throw in our salads this week. Onion sprouts are deliciously oniony without the large chunky crunch of real onions, though take 2-3 weeks of care before being edible.

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I was on my own for dinner last night and decided to grab some salmon from the freezer. The husband likes his fish to still taste like fish, and I like to add a little more zip to it…and what I came up with was *amazing.*

  • Rinse and dry your salmon filet and remove the bones (I use needle nose pliers)
  • Place the dry filet skin side down on foil (dry skin means it will stick to the foil when it’s time to serve, meaning you don’t have to mess around with the skin)
  • Add some salt, garlic salt, and a liberal dash of pepper, squeeze a little bit of lemon over the filet and then finish with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of honey
  • Bake uncovered in a preheated 375* oven for 15 minutes (it will be perfectly cooked – you want salmon to be just ‘underdone’)

It honestly was so good I ate the whole thing (to be fair it was only half a filet) but that is pretty unheard of for me. The mix of the pepper and the honey made for a combination I just couldn’t get enough of (kinda like salty and sweet – chocolate covered pretzels? Forget about it.)


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