Monday, June 29, 2009

Bye Bye Bubbles

For a while there, we used to invite folks over once a month on a Sunday for Champagne and cookies, and then we'd all make a contribution to a local non-profit organization - an opportunity to learn about the good things going on in town, enjoy each other's company, and have a lovely Sunday afternoon. We called this Bubbles for Bucks.

Haven't been able to do that of late, unfortunately. And worse news, we discovered that one of the couples who regularly participated is moving, after 31 years in Alaska, to Seattle to be around grandchildren, on Tuesday. We thought this called for one last bottle, essential for every major life change.

We invited other Bubblers, just back from Greece and England.

John grilled flank steak marinated in Trader Joe aioli, red wine, scape pesto (our new favorite condiment) and some other stuff. He whipped up a big bowl of buttery mashed potatoes, went whole hog and made both green beans with walnuts, dried tomatoes, and shallots, and steamed asparagus. There was a big tossed green salad with the garlic olive oil and fig vinegar, and homemade applesauce. Ren baked Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. There was J Champagne, a wonderful Ridge, and Zenato Valpolicello. There were dog farts. There was more wine in there someplace. There were stories and laughter about mishaps and trips, iPhone applications, bears, college, streaking and being on the Johnny Carson Show back in the day, dog farts, and we mostly kept the conversation above ground, at least mostly. The dog did fart a lot, and was, as you see, inconveniently located right within sniffing distance under the table.

Well, who doesn't enjoy a good fart joke? And a foot warmer under the table?

All good memories, and all good fun, nice to be able to send off our friends, even though it is just, as they say, to a suburb of Juneau, Seattle, well fed with wine, food, fun and laughter.
Happy trails. Until we meet again.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Too Much Crab? Iron Chef....Crab Cakes!!

Before we went on our current crabbing craze, we had to empty out the freezer of the last few vacuum packs of Dungies. Greg and I wanted to make crab cakes, and we have pretty strong opinions on cooking, so we decided to duke it out, and make competing recipes the same night, ala 'Iron Chef.' I used the New Alaska Cookbook recipe as a guide, and made a roasted red pepper sauce, and served mine over a bed of baby spinach, drizzling the sauce on top with my secret weapon squirty bottle, very fancy! Greg enlisted our 11-year-old, who googled up a great aioli recipe, supplemented by roasted jalapenos, and also put roasted corn in his crab cake recipe.

We invited the next door neighbors to judge, plus, they had fresh caught king salmon as a backup. They did the kitchen stadium countdown and commentary...fueled by our current favorite Oregon Pinot Noir - Benton Lane - and the winner was...everyone!
While my crabcakes looked prettier and were perfectly cooked, they were a bit bland. Greg and Duncan grilled asparagus spears tossed with olive oil and balsamic, and Duncan artfully plated crossed spears, topped by a crabcake, drizzled with the jalapeno aioli to look like a pirate skull and cross bones. They were fiery, but arrrgh, good!
The king was simply grilled, sigh, what more could you ask for from the Gastineau Grocery?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

We've got crab legs....

So I'm sitting in my office yesterday struggling with a NEA grant due today, and some sort of fairy person with a garbage bag full of Dungeness crab flitted in and said, "Here, we're crabbed out" and left me holding the bag.


We had already plans for the Symphony conductor and wife and child to come to dinner, as well as my cousin the AK Airlines pilot who happened to be in town overnight, and John was planning to grill some chickens using something we call the Dominican Republic marinade with a lot of rum and lime juice involved, topped with tomatillo sauce.

Sounds like crab cocktails to me.

The initial plan was for me to come home midafternoon, do a much needed housecleaning, make a rhubarb pie and launch the grant.

The reality was that at about 5 pm, completely glazed ("Are you OK? You look terrible.") I ran home in time to make a rhubarb crisp and start picking crab. Luckily James was also there pitched right in. We picked until dinner time, made some garlic butter, and sat down to a table filled with family, friends, chicken, snap peas, crimini mushrooms, rice, tossed salad, watermelon, beer, wine, water, and more. I think there was a Rosemary Wells book involved, and there was a point where the dog wouldn't sit down and be quiet. Finished with rhubarb crisp and vanilla ice cream. It was a swell evening.

And there was crab left!
A little bag of pick-it-yourself to James this morning, and then this evening:

Romaine Salad with the garlic lemon dressing from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, with add-ons on the side: sliced Dominican Republic chicken breast for Ren the Anti-Crab, a pile of crab for the rest of us, blanched snap peas, fresh carrots, tomatoes, the never-ending plate of watermelon, and a vat of Dry Creek Fume.

Can you believe I had to tell John to try and look happy?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Perfect Day

One of the rare gem-like days in Juneau - clear, sunny, and a day off.

We have Servas guests from the DC area so a drive to the Mendenhall Glacier, or what is left of it, and a walk out to the waterfall, followed by lunch at Eagle Beach. Then a stroll around the Jensen-Olson Arboretum, and then the Shrine of St. Therese.

Back home to bake the first rhubarb pie of the season. A short session of deck sitting, and then John grilled some flank steak, roasted some potatoes, steamed asparagus, and our good friends Mary Claire, sans Pete, and Dick and Candy in the little red surrey with the top down, arrived (thank you Mary Claire for the wonderful guacamole and chips!). The conversation got a little raucous, enough for John to forget the salad and the fruit, although reminded....

There was wine involved: Zenato Valpolicello, Salice Salentino, Kris, Los Cardos Malbec.....