Three Things I Learned in Alaska

A Handy Tip: One of the many treats on a recent Alaska trip was a visit with my young friend and her mother. When I arrived at their house on Saturday afternoon, I found pizza makings arranged on the kitchen counter. Three circles of dough sat on parchment paper, and little bowls held tomato sauce, artichokes, cheese, chopped red onions, tomatoes, olives, roasted garlic, and leftover cooked broccoli and beets. A pizza stone heated in the oven.

We put our own made-to-order pizza together, and transferred each to the pizza stone – along with the (here’s the tip) parchment paper. Set the timer and pull the parchment paper out after about two minutes (a 500° oven might ignite parchment paper). This handy hint eliminates cornmeal and the tricky shift from peel to stone.

A Small Miracle: I stayed with our son and his wife and their four lively non-human companions – two orange cats and two beloved dogs. The critters claim a tall kitty condo, multiple sleeping spots (mostly sunny) throughout the house, and a variety of dog beds. Each is important in its time.

So when the zipper on a comfy contraption of foam and fleece (placed in front of a low-down window for maximum neighborhood surveillance) refused to zip after a wash, we struggled with it, managing to get the two rows of teeth lined up and into the fastener – but the teeth wouldn’t unite as a zipper must do.

The sweet dog liked the bed anyway – but I woke early the next morning and began to wonder what makes a zipper zip. A few minutes with e-How and now I know that pressure on the teeth from the fastener (the part below the toggle pull) does the trick. As instructed, I squeezed the in-place fastener just a little on each side with pliers – and voila! Zipness.

A Helpful Hint: In these three days I saw old friends, enjoyed my old garden with its new owners, drove down memory lane along Turnagain Arm to Girdwood, and ate a lot of good, home-cooked food.

We got meal mileage from the big pot of black beans our son prepared before I arrived, but for Sunday evening, Bittman’s “French-Style Lentil Soup with Sorrel or Spinach” was on the menu.

A simple recipe: put lentils, a bay leaf, pinches of dried thyme or several sprigs of fresh, one each chopped carrot and celery, and six cups of stock in a soup pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Bring to a boil, then cook till the lentils are tender.)

At the same time, sauté a chopped onion in olive oil, and when cooked, add a bunch of washed and chopped spinach plus a teaspoon of sugar. Add to the soup, along with a squeeze of lemon.

What’s new in that recipe? I learned from the young people to use the bean cooking water as part of the stock. Why have I never known that? It makes the soup full-bodied and uses up the nutritious bean liquid. Perfect!

3 thoughts on “Three Things I Learned in Alaska

  1. Beautiful painting. I had my first soup-making experience yesterday here in the Tri-Cities! 🙂 I also used the bean-water, although I wasn’t quite sure why 😀 But…now I know.

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