Friday, March 28, 2014

Installment Number Three

I hope you're not sick of reading about crab recipes yet.  Because this is the third installment of the "How to Eat an Absurd Amount of Crab in About Six Months" recipe collection.  The sheer variety in how many ways you can prepare crab is pretty remarkable.  It's kind of like chicken.  You can do so many different things with it and there's lots of variety between each meal.

Basically, every weekend has become crab recipe weekend.  I snoop around online for unique ways to prepare it until I find a recipe that piques my interest. - And then it becomes the next weekend crab adventure.  We've experimented with a whole range of different recipes over the last few months.  This time, (which was probably sometime in February) we tried Crab Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.  It was quite the tasty departure.

The left is the crab mixture before it's all blended together, and the
right is everything mixed and ready to go into some Portobellos

It's a Paula Deen recipe, you can get it HERE if you're interested.  We followed it exactly, except for two little differences in the bread crumb topping.  We added a touch of Old Bay to it, and used a little bit of butter instead of non-stick spray to get the crunchy, brown end result.

We managed to finish off the first 10 lb box of crab we got, and now we're working on the Snow Crab and second 10 lb box of King Crab.  For this mushroom dish, we used the Snow Crab.  Add a salad, and it was an easy little meal to pull together.  Easy when you have a stock pile of crab to pull from, anyway.  (But you could definitely make this and substitute the crab with vegetables, too)  I think our next crab undertaking will be crab risotto.  Why not, right?  Here's our final plated Crab Stuffed Portobello:

It's a short and sweet post this week!  Further installments in the Crab Challenge 2014 will be incoming.  Hope you're up for it!

Ta-ta for now.

Friday, March 21, 2014

First Friday Art "Walk"

Some of my favorites from the Altered Books Art Show.  The
dress was life-sized and unbelievable.  Made completely of paper!
It wasn't really an Art Walk.  It was more of an Art Drive.  Doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it?  I suppose we could have walked it, but the locations of  the participating galleries and businesses weren't exactly close together.

They probably spanned about 2-3 miles if we walked the whole route through town.  Which is absolutely do-able, but pair that with 35 degrees out, and it's a different story!  Yes, we've acclimated to the temperatures, but - thanks.  Probably more realistic in the summer.

So we drove to a few of the venues that were involved, but the one I really wanted to see was the Altered Books Art Show.  I love that type of stuff.  Creativity and books = YES.  These are some of the unique altered books

I liked this one the best!

that were on display. I thought about submitting something, but I learned about it a little too late.  I think I'll mess around with creating something for next year's show. 

Book lamp, anyone?
We also checked out one of the coffee houses that had a photography exhibit featuring the work of one of our next door neighbors.  I don't know her very well, but her work is brilliant.

On a side note, Kodiak sure does love its coffee.  There are at least 5 or 6 coffee joints around town, and they're all pretty decent.  Now 5 or 6 may not seem like much, but we're talking about an "in-town" area of only about 3 miles.  Plus, there really isn't a whole lot of variety in shopping or restaurants here.  So, 5 or 6 decent coffee joints is a lot.  And not just decent by Kodiak standards. - Real decent.  I'll get into that a little more later.

So, the exhibit at the coffee shop had a collection of photos of the spectacular natural landscapes of Kodiak, along with some other metal and photo artists that were on display:

These are our neighbor's photos

Metal pieces on display at Harborside

We finished our evening at Noodles, which is Kodiak's excuse for Thai food.  Can't tell ya how much I miss good restaurants.  They're very few and far between on Kodiak.  I guess they know they don't have to be very competitive.  But really?  If someone came in and actually made an effort to be excellent, they would make a killing.

Hubby before a meal that can only be described as Eh
There are a handful of decent spots, but not many.  There just aren't a lot of places with simple, good food to eat.  We're not talking fancy here, just well prepared, high quality food.  I can count on one hand the places where I'm a repeat customer. 

There are a few small pockets of excellence, but the majority of restaurants here are downright meager.  It's not even in the same realm as the top-notch restaurant variety we had in Key West. - But I already know that these are two islands that can't even begin to be compared.

The hubby and I have talked about how successful a simple soup vendor would be here.  Even just as a food truck.  Make a few top-notch soup varieties and rotate the recipes throughout the week.  It'd be golden.  I already picked a name.  Ready?  Soup...There It Is.  It's completely nerdy, but Saturday Night Live and early 90's hip hop fans will get it.  Everyone else will just think, hmmmm. What can I say?  I'm a sucker for dumb puns.

Of course, we're in no way looking to get into owning a business here.  It's entertaining to have those fictional conversations that aren't real goals, but are still solid ideas.  And it's always kind of fun to come up with pretend business names.  Wait, you don't do that too?  ;)  There's always the possibility we might dip our toes into being entrepreneurs at some point, but that time isn't now. 

How's that for a "restaurants on Kodiak suck" tangent?  So, the First Friday Art Walk was a fun evening with mediocre at best Thai food as the closer.  Even though it was an art drive.

Ta-ta for now.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Kodiak Island Brewing Company...Hell Yeah!

We've actually been to the brewery a bunch of times since we've been here, but for some reason it didn't occur to me to blog about it until now.  Which is funny, because it's such a great place.  And as many of you know, I do love beer.  Better late than never, I guess. 

This is their seasonal Belgian Wit, it's one of my favorites.

Owner "Jerry!"
One of the owners looks like a skinny Jerry Garcia. - It's like a hippie nirvana in this joint & I love it.  They have a nice variety of beers, but they're definitely not mellow.  You won't find a Bud or Coors Light equivalent here.  I like their Belgian Wit and hubby is a fan of their Wingnut Brown Ale. It's a fun atmosphere to hang out in and attracts the locals from the younger set right on up to the oldsters, and everything in between.  (I guess we're the in between.)  I love bars/breweries that have the ability to lure in a huge cross-section of generations.  Makes it much more interesting and there's always someone engaging to chat with.

I found myself talking with a guy who's the biggest Kodiak fan ever, who comes up once a year or so for work.  His name was Mike and he works on tugboats.  So naturally, he was deemed Tugboat Mike.  Not to his face, of course.

Film crew and hippie
Feeding Alaska pilot guy
It's funny, while we were there, there was a National Geographic film crew filming a pilot for yet another new Alaskan reality show.  Seems like along with all things hillbilly, all things Alaskan is the newest trend in TV shows.  I asked one of the guys in the crew about it, and he said it was called Feeding Alaska, and that it would be about an Alaskan man and his family, going out into the bush to hunt and gather. We'll see whether the pilot actually makes it into a show.

I guess this was a little in town departure for them.  Not much hunting and foraging to do at the old brewery.  Foraging for beer?  Ha.  Again, hippie-tastic.  This guy in the blue hat with the crazy beard was the main guy from the pilot.  I'll have to check out the first episode because I was totally in the background shot for about 10 minutes.  Kind of funny that I might get some screen time.  You'd think if anyone would be on a reality show, it would be the hubby on Coast Guard Alaska!

Another cool thing about the atmosphere is that they have rotating local artist displays, and the space is filled with vintage fishing gear and Kodiak-related historical pieces. So it's a brewery, but has all kinds of neat fishing and Kodiak-centric things to check out while you're there.

This Christmas, the hubby surprised me with a beautiful photo print by a local artist of one of the first canneries on Kodiak in Moser Bay.  I love the print, the colors are fantastic.  The reason why I'm bringing it up is because the exact same print is a full sized mural on one of the walls in the brewery.  Another reason I love this place!  This is it:

I just LOVE the colors

These are some of the permanent art and rotating exhibits displayed throughout the brewery:

For those adventurous folks that come up to pay us a visit while we're here, you can count on a visit or two to the Kodiak Island Brewing Company.  (I'm talking to you, Christine and Mick!)  It's another Kodiak favorite of mine that will have to be shared with anyone who braves the looong and expensive flights to get here.  Oh, and here's another reason to love the brewery. - It's dog friendly.  So if we feel like it, Pugbulls can come along.  These two wudgers were patiently waiting for their person when we were heading out:

I guess I should make it a goal to taste all the beers they have to offer.  I've made my way through trying at least 4 or 5 of them so far.  New challenge!

Ta-ta for now.

Love the combo of corrugated aluminum walls, growlers & wooden kegs

Saturday, March 8, 2014

My Favorite Place in Kodiak

Full speed ahead for the Pugbull
We've hiked in this area a bunch of times, and it's most definitely my favorite place in Kodiak.  That would be Fort Abercrombie.  I've blogged about it before, but it's so diverse and beautiful, why not share a little more about it?  Plus - truth be told, I was kind of flailing around for something to write about this week.

I was planning to write about the St. Patrick's Day wreath I was working on, but I wasn't happy with how it came out once I finished.  It's cute - and I hung it on the door - but I didn't think it was blog worthy.  Why share something when the end result turns out just eh?  It's like, "Hey check out this mediocre project I did!"  So instead, another hike is what you get this week!  Hope you're not tired of hiking posts yet.  We're getting to the point where I should rename the blog Adventures in Hiking and Crab Eating.

One of the reasons why I love Fort Abercrombie (besides how beautiful it is) is because I can always count on seeing all kinds of bird species whenever we go exploring.  During this visit, I saw a ton of different species of Ducks, - too many to even begin to identify - Cormorants, Bald Eagles, Black-capped Chickadees, and so many others.  (birding nerd alert!)

So far every time we've hiked here, we've found new trails to check out.  I'm sure eventually we'll hit all the trails the park has to offer, but we haven't gotten to that point yet.  Some of the trails are in the forest, with enormous Sitka Spruce trees towering above you, and others wind around along the cliff side. The view is always spectacular, but a little less so on those oh so common overcast days. - Which not surprisingly, this one happened to be.

I've been thinking about upgrading to a camera with stronger zoom capabilities, because I'm constantly trying to get shots of birds that are just too far away for me to capture.  Can you even see him here?:

Can you see him?

He swooped down and landed on the cliff, and had a few of his buddies in the trees and on some of the other rock outcroppings.  What I've noticed is that once an Eagle lands somewhere, he usually hangs out for a while.  They're not the kind of birds that flit all over and move from here to there like so many other types of birds.  So if you catch one landing, you have a pretty good opportunity to get a picture since he probably won't be going anywhere for a while.  I'm sure it takes a lot of energy to haul 15 lbs of Bald Eagle grandeur into the air! 

That Puggy Boy cracks me up. - He's like a damn Admiral with his posture!  I bet if he could salute, he would.

We hiked along the boulders on the shore line until we got to a dead end, where as you can see in the picture above we climbed up the rocky side of the cliff.  I thought it looked too steep when I first saw it, but it wasn't bad at all.  Adventure dog hopped right on up as usual.  I managed to not sprain an ankle.  I love hiking, but I'm also perpetually clumsy - so I find myself being overly cautious most of the time.  If anyone in this little trio is going to have an accident, it'll be me!

View of beautiful, but overcast Monashka Bay off of Fort Abercrombie

Sometimes when I look out at the horizon and contemplate how truly vast it is, it's almost impossible not to think about how really far away we are.  Time to cue the Carole King again.  ♪ ♫ "We're so faaaaar awaaay..."  ♫ ♪  But hey, if we weren't remote like this, the birding wouldn't be anywhere near as diverse as it is on this enormous, bear-filled island in the middle of the northern Pacific.  It's still a little surreal that this is where I call home these days.

Ta ta for now.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Daddy Rapp's Crab Cakes...Alaska Style

Snow Crab ready to be steamed up, and one of my new
favorite Alaskan beers, Alaskan Amber
I warned you to be prepared for more posts about crab recipes, didn't I?  Consider this one the second of a series.  We'll call it the "How to Eat an Absurd Amount of Crab in About Six Months" recipe collection.  (if you're wondering why we have a ridiculous amount of crab, catch up on the rundown HERE)

I was chatting with a local fish guy, and he recommended we eat our stash of crab sooner rather than later.  Even though it's frozen, ideally you want to eat it before the 6 month mark so it still has that freshly caught quality.  I'll take that challenge.  By the time we polish it off, it'll be salmon season.  Works for me. 

So, we've continued to whittle away at our preposterous stock pile with all sorts of meals featuring crab as the main attraction.  I say "we", but this last one was all the hubby's doing. His dad's crab cake recipe is a throwback meal from his childhood that he's always raved about.

Unadulterated cab meat in
the top pic, & the crab cake
mixture in the bottom pic
There have been countless times when we've gone out to eat and he's ordered crab cakes, only to be disappointed.  And the disappointment was almost always followed by, "They weren't Daddy Rapp crab cakes, that's for sure."

So of course, I had to get more info on where this recipe he's always loved originated.  Turns out, when he lived on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with his family, they became acquainted with a woman named Mrs. Kitching, who was a native of Smith Island on the Eastern Shore.  She actually has a cook book published.  Apparently she had the goods on how to make legit crab cakes, so hubby's dad made some tweaks to the recipe and made it his own.  And a family tradition was born. 

He's right - sheer force of will!
The hubby likes to joke that crab cakes are held together by sheer force of will.  It seems that way when I'm watching him cook them up!

We ended up going with classic homemade mac and cheese along with the crab cakes.  Turned out pretty damn good.  Crab cakes and mac and cheese are kind of like bacon and eggs or chocolate and peanut butter.  Just made to go together.  And now I have Peter Brady in my head saying, "Pork Chaaawps and applesauce!"  There I go dating myself, again.  Anyway, there's something about the combination of crispy crab cakes and creamy mac and cheese - it's the perfect pairing.

While the hubby was mixing together the ingredients, he commented on how the smell of the Worcestershire and Old Bay takes him back.  Isn't it funny how powerfully linked our sense of smell is to memory?  One little hint of a distinct scent, and it can immediately trigger nostalgia.

I feel the same way about my mom's clam sauce recipe.  Whenever I make it and smell that familiar combination of briny clams, garlic, & tomato, I'm immediately taken back to bursting into the house after school on those dark NY winter days.  Once I got a whiff of that sauce simmering, I couldn't wait to pile my plate with spaghetti and clam sauce and dig in.  It's such a strong association.

That and lilacs.  We had a huge lilac bush in the backyard that was so full & fragrant in the springtime.  My mom would cut fresh stalks from the bush and arrange them in a vase on the kitchen table all the time.  The scent of lilacs equals 12 Abbey Street for me.

Here's our final plated crab cakes and mac and cheese.  Not too shabby:

I think the Snow Crab worked well as a substitute for the traditional blue crab that would normally be used.  I'm predicting this is only the first foray into Daddy Rapp's crab cakes, Alaska style!  Sounds like a plan to me.

Ta-ta for now.

Macaroni and Cheese time.  By the way, I highly recommend marrying a cook!