Sunday, March 22, 2009

Creative Cooking: Just Another Sunday Dinner

It's been a while since I've shared our culinary adventures with the VFN readership. I don't really have anything exotic or exciting to share, but this is a pretty typical Sunday dinner for us.


It started with some cauliflower. I know, I know, cauliflower is one of those unglamorous vegetables with a fairly high yuck-factor, but I've been in love with roasted vegetable recipes ever since I found an earth-shattering broccoli recipe. (I'll take pictures and share it next time I make it. It will make your heart flutter.) Roasted broccoli with garlic was so good that when I came across a recipe for roasted cauliflower, and the store had fresh cauliflower THE EXACT SAME WEEK, I knew I was destined to make it.


I poured some olive oil over the cauliflower.

Note to readers: Steve and I have gone through over two liters of olive oil this school year. Is this unhealthy?


I added whole garlic cloves. (They're kind of hard to see, but they're there, I promise.)


As far as Steve is concerned, this is the secret ingredient: bacon. (Or, more accurately, bacon bits. You know, the real kind. The hefty chunks of bacon in a ziploc bag you buy at warehouse stores.)


Sprinkle it all with kosher salt, throw it in the oven, and out comes...


this. And, yup, it tastes as good as it looks (unless you think it looks nasty, in which case it tastes much better than it looks). Steve and I polished off an entire bunch of cauliflower. By ourselves.


But, the cauliflower was only a supporting character to the porkchops. I have a really good recipe for pork chops with a creamed herb sauce, but I wanted to try something sans sauce. One of my favorite food blogs posted a simple pork chop recipe, I got right on it (this was kind of a week of food blog providence).

I started the pork chops with rosemary...


brown sugar...


cumin and pepper.


Then mixed it all up on a paper plate because I was too lazy to wash a real dish.


I coated the pork chop with the mixture and threw it in a hot frying pan with some olive oil (see, I use it in everything).


A few minutes on each side, and it was done. I was kind of embarrassed by the blackened parts, but they tasted really good, so now I display this picture with pride.


Tossed a quick salad with dried cranberries, pistachios, and blue cheese. Mmmmm, mmmmmm, mmmmm.

I love Sundays...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fun Fact: Christmas Races

I know it's been about three months since Christmas. But, all of the recent snow makes it seem like we're still in the middle of winter, so I only feel moderately embarrassed about writing a post about a Shishmaref Christmas tradition...


The week in between Christmas and New Year's is full of Christmas games. One of the games is foot races. This is me and one of my students before the races.


Everybody races against people in their age group. My age group consisted of women ages 25-29. The race marshall is writing down our names on the official clipboard.


Getting ready to start. You will notice I had my game face on. I take these things very seriously.


Our race was about 100 meters long. It consisted of running down "main street" and around a man that was our place marker. You will notice that we all began the race in a pretty close pack.


During the home stretch I pulled away from the pack.


Toward the end of the race, I was clearly in the lead. I was also clearly wearing snow pants that were too short for me.

(Note to readers: I don't typically wear pink Nikes with my winter apparel. Big boots are just hard to run in. Thank you.)


The award ceremony for my race was later that night. There was a big board with the rankings for all of the day's races. For your viewing convenience I circled my race results with my red spray paint tool in Photoshop.


They call of the racers up individually, and their honeys pin a ribbon on them. Steve pinned my ribbon on. There's no picture of that because he was also acting as my personal photographer and couldn't fill both responsibilities simultaneously.

(Note to readers: the top I'm wearing is a traditional eskimo shirt called a kuspuk. Many people in Shishmaref wear them on special occasions. Racing awards are definitely considered a special occasion.)


The IRA (tribal council) gave each racer a check. First place got $30, second place $25, and third place $20. I am examining my sa-weet $30 check. Hey Shishmaref IRA! Thanks for the moolah! I used mine to go on a shopping spree!


This is where things get really fun. After the checks are presented, a member of the IRA council gives each racer a bag pull of presents and leads the crowd in a hip-hip-hooray for all of the racers. That promotes all kind of warm fuzzies. Then, community members come up and put presents in your bag!!!!


I was totally jazzed to check out the presents in my bag, but I had the decency to wait until after the award ceremony. This is me with my bag of presents from the IRA.


The bag was tied securely with a knot. Hey IRA, thanks keeping my presents safely sealed in the bag!


These are pretty typical items in the IRA gift bag. Both are very nice to have. I am often too cheap to buy paper towels on my own.

(Note to readers: I always buy toilet paper. No matter what the cost.)


This year's IRA bag also sported instant oatmeal. Sweet!


IRA gift bags always contain at least one item of clothing. I'm not sure where the clothing comes from, but this year I totally scored vintage Guess jeans.


These are the original authentic stovepipe-leg light-colored straight from the eighties Guess jeans. I'm thinking of selling them on E-bay for $300.

(Note to readers: I would love to rock these jeans with a side ponytail and a hot pink sweater with beads on it, but they're size negative fourteen and a half. I won't be wearing them any time soon, barring any unfortunate incidents with accidental liposuction or parasites.)


There was also the obligatory bag of ribbon candy and nuts. I chipped a tooth trying to crack open racing nuts one year. (Hey Dad! I know using my teeth for things is bad! I'm sorry!)


Once the IRA bag was emptied I moved on to the other goodies people had put in my bag. One of my students made these ornaments out of seal skin.


Some of my presents had my name on them. That made me happy. It was like they were meant for me and not just randomly placed in my bag (not that I mind random presents...).


This is me opening a pair of fuzzy pink socks. You can tell by how wide my mouth is open that I was pretty excited about them.


The pink socks were a gift from one of my students. She said she bought them for me, "So you don't have to wear those stained ones any more." That's a direct quote. Nice to know people are watching out for me.


This is the gift Steve put in my bag. It was a book. He had given me on Christmas Day. That I had already unwrapped. It turns out, Steve forgot to save one of my presents to use as a racing gift. That's a huge relationship no-no in Shishmaref. Luckily, our marriage is strong enough to handle such incidents.


To spare all of my gentle readers from endless pictures of all of my gifts (and believe me, I have one of every single thing I was given), I decided to group the gifts into general categories for group shots. This is the "Edible Category."


"Personal Hygiene Category."


"Useful Kitchen Supplies Category."

I'd love to be able to post pictures of Steve's racing adventure, but he DIDN'T RACE. Not even the IRA check and bag of presents was enough to entice him.

New Pictures 105.jpg

He might have had a good reason. This is a picture of Steve after his race during Christmas Week 2005. A person should only have to go through that once in their life.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Field Trip: A Blizzard


This was the view out of my side kitchen window yesterday morning, afternoon, and evening.


I could just barely make out the school snow machine and other assorted items that usually occupy the space near our house...


This was the view from my front kitchen window.


I actually braved the storm enough to stick my camera out the front door.

Middle of October

I realized that the above picture was kind of useless to my gentle readers that don't know what the view from my front door usually looks like. So, this is the normal view (except that sometimes the water is more frozen).

October Storm

And this is what the view looks like during a storm that's not a blizzard.


But yesterday was a blizzard. I did not feel like walking out into this, so I spent the day doing the following things:

-curling up on my couch
-wearing my jammy pants and fuzzy socks
-spending quality time on my laptop

(It has recently come to my attention that my behavior during a blizzard is mostly the same as my behavior NOT during a blizzard...)


I couldn't avoid the snow any longer this morning.


I had to go to work.


So, I put on my biggest boots and crawled through the massive drifts...

(Note to readers: My husband, who usually exercises outstanding judgment, didn't bring his boots home over the weekend, so he had to make his way through this snow in loafers. I mustered enough sympathy to only laugh semi-loudly as he soaked said loafers, along with his socks, slacks, and the bottom portion of his coat.)


to my classroom.


The snow made this cool pattern. I'm sure you could tell something about the wind speeds by looking at the pattern of the snow plastered to the side of my portable. I just don't know what that is.


The rest of the village was similarly covered.


Drifts were piled up against houses...


the health clinic...


storage units...


and over vehicles. Luckily, this truck hasn't gone anywhere for a while anyway.


This is our buddy George.


George is digging up his snow machine. Good luck George!

I'd like to say that this will be our last storm for a while, but I just can't muster the optimism.