Monthly Archives: June 2013

Fun, fishing and food!

all my fun little smelts

What a fan-frickin’-tastic weekend! Started out with the Alaska Women’s Run, a 5K fun run/walk. Three-fold treats: 1) a pretty blue tee shirt with forget me nots on it; 2) Harpo was tired afterwards; and 3) I found out about smelt fishing!
We walked by the river on the fun run/walk and there were a few people fishing with small dipnets, so I stopped-hey, what was the hurry? I was walking!-and asked what they were fishing for. Smelt! the first fish of the summer. Well, I had to try it and I knew there was a net at the house, left behind by a previous tenant. For a reason, I later discovered.

my biggest one, about 10 inches long
We finished the walk and I put a tired Harpo into her kennel, tied the net and a bucket to my bike (wish I had a picture of that-musta looked pretty funny!), and was off to the river. I soon learned why the net got left behind-it was way too short. I need an extension for it. But luckily for me, the folks I set up next to were done fishing and let me borrow their net. So after about 5 minutes of swinging the net along the bottom (or close to it anyway) of the river, I caught 20 smelt! I whisked them home, cleaned them, and packed most of them up to freeze. I cooked 4; just pan-fried in a little butter, and kinda mushed them up for a dip recipe I found in one of my Alaska cookbooks.

all clean and ready to cook or put in the freezer
By this time it was just about 6 p.m. and I was slated for dinner at a friend’s, so I finished packing up the fish, whipped on over to the grocery store for some cream cheese, brie and crackers, dumped all that on the counter and whizzed through a shower. Made it just in time for the steaks to come off the barby. Lovely dinner of corn, salad, the steaks, and a nice Cabernet, with a movie afterwards.

Sunday I spent the morning baking, and I finished up the smelt dip I’d started the night before. I’ll bring the dip and some crackers into school tomorrow. It’s not very exciting; there’s no strong flavor to the smelt so I think it’ll go over well.

Harpo is very food-motivated. This means I do a lot of her training and positive reinforcement with dog treats. Dog treats are expensive in Bethel-and in Fairbanks. Vaccuuming requires LOTS of dog treats, because we all thought it was soooo funny to tease Harpo with the vaccuum cleaner when she was a puppy and now she’s a rabid vaccuum cleaner killer. I use treats to moderate this behaviour (and eventually end it-I hope). The last time I vaccuumed it took an entire bag of dog treats to clean the rug. And it’s not a very big rug.

ready-to-bake dog treats
So, long story short, what with the price of dog treats and the volume that I need, I was kinda motivated to start baking my own. I’d cooked a sweet potato a couple days before in anticipation of this baking project, and it was all mashed up and ready to go. I followed a recipe I found on Pinterest, with some pretty major modifications-white flour instead of whole wheat, sweet potato instead of canned pumpkin-and mixed up a double batch. No cookie sheets anymore, so I baked them in the little toaster oven. Took me gawd-knows how many hours! to end up with two baggies of cookies for Harpo. She loves them!

smelt and cream cheese dip, puppy treats and homemade bread! Yum!!
I also baked two loaves of bread. I’ve been baking my own bread since I got to Bethel. I like to bake and I was thinking bread might be kinda pricey in B-town. So I packed up a 25 pound bag of flour and added that to a load of freight I shipped to Bethel in April. I still haven’t checked on the price of bread, mostly because I’ve been enjoying my own so much that I didn’t really care whether it was expensive or not. I’ve been pretty good about using it for sandwiches and toast, rather than just eating a hunk of it covered in butter, jam or peanut butter. I’ve been making Irish soda bread, but finally decided I was burning out on it and went back to making yeast bread. Soda bread is quicker, but denser; the yeast bread takes longer but it’s a lighter, fluffier bread. Both taste yummy!

So all-in-all, it was a pretty darned productive weekend! Lots of fun, tired puppy, good food!

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It’s Breakup, it’s spring!

The ice broke on Tuesday, May 28, late in the afternoon/early evening. Everyone was watching anxiously, either worried about flooding or couldn’t wait to get on the river or go fishing. I looked at the river on Wednesday before work, and breakup was pretty anticlimatic-I couldn’t even tell! The only sign I saw was that the tripod had moved. I didn’t find out til I got to work that the river broke up the night before.
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The 29th was the breakup party. About a third of the town was there, listening to a pretty good country/rock band, standing in line for almost an hour waiting for hotdogs and a soda, chatting with their neighbor. I didn’t have the patience to stand in line, so I just took pictures, enjoyed the smells, and kept Harpo from jumping on all the little kids that wanted to pet her.
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I kept an eye on the river the next night too, like everyone else. There was still a lot of ice, kind of stuck in front of town, that caused a little bit of flooding. The road to the small boat harbor was closed and the road to Hangar Lake was still closed a couple days later. The boat launch was full of ice; now it’s full of water so everyone’s launching boats down by Brown’s Slough.

It sounds pretty calm now, but while it was happening, waiting for breakup and then waiting for the ice to move out was pretty exciting. I was riding my bike down to Front Street twice a day and then walking Harpo down there after work, just to see what was going on. It’s a relief to finally have it over! Now I can focus on taking pictures of all the flowers that are starting to come out!

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