Thursday, March 1, 2012

A book I must get

I found a library book the other day entitled "Cooking Alaskan". It's old, and as a library book it's obviously been well loved. But I flipped through it and pretty much my first thought was, "Holy cow, this is a goldmine! Where can I get a copy?" And then I realized that, duh, I was holding a library book. So I checked it out. However, depending on how well we like the recipes, one day I might actually want my own copy. We'll see.
This book is the only one I can think of (there are probably a few more, but I've never encountered them) in which you'll find recipes for things like fried walrus liver, or how to render seal oil. It also has a handy guide to substitutions:
"Bear, whale and beaver may be prepared by any pork recipe. Moose, buffalo, or walrus may be prepared by following directions for beef. Rabbit, squirrel and muskrat (after soaking) may be cooked like chicken. Caribou, deer and reindeer may be done according to lamb or mutton recipes."
It has all sorts of recipes for plants you might not otherwise think are edible: willow buds, woolly lousewort (sounds appealing, right?), spruce. Not to mention recipes for basically any animal in the state, including porcupine, beaver, muskrat, ptarmigan, rabbit, moose, caribou, bear, walrus, salmon, trout, halibut.... In the back is a handy guide for gardeners about which plants grow best, how to store them (mostly root cellaring for things that grow well around here), and which edible wild plants can be successfully cultivated in your yard or garden, such as wild cranberries. Then it has even more recipes on how to cook all of this.
This is like the Bible of Alaskan local cooking. Why have I never found this before?! While some of it might seem like a joke to some ("Cooking squirrel or muskrat, are they crazy?"), and while I definitely won't be trying some of the more off-the-wall recipes (we don't have bear, seal, and walrus meat, and I don't think we care to), it is still a fantastic resource. One of the first pages I flipped to has "Slow-Cooker Meatballs" made with moose. It sounds yummy. We'll have to give this one a try soon!
The clam and salmon recipes will also come in very handy. No, I won't make "Tomato Clam Aspic". But I am willing to give "Clam Suey" a try! Or "Sourdough Clam Fritters".
The one recipe I have already tried was "salmon cakes". Basically just crab cakes, only with salmon instead. Tuesday night's supper was baked salmon (sprinkled with lemon pepper) and mashed potatoes. (I used mashed sweet and regular potatoes.) So last night, I mixed the leftovers together, added an egg, some chopped chives from my plant, and some bread crumbs. Then I fried them in a little bit of oil. We had asparagus (from HG Market) as a side, and Shane made some tartar sauce to go with the cakes (mayo, ground mustard, dill, relish, and lemon juice). We both declared them amazing, and worth repeating.
After dinner, Shane picked up the dog and said, "I'm very sorry, little one, but you won't be getting any more salmon leftovers. You'll have to be content with the skins." I think she knew the whole time I was making them, because she kept staring at me like, "Mom, what are you doing? Those are my leftovers!"
Speaking of which, here's a picture of her waiting for salmon on Tuesday night:

She its up as straight as possible, like a little kid trying to show off how good she's being, and tries to mesmerize us into giving fish to her. How can you resist those sad eyes?
Anyway, I can't wait to dig into this book and mine it for all the recipes we'll truly enjoy.

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