For just over a year, I was in the Masters of Arts in Teaching program in secondary education. The experience was incredible. I loved student teaching at Floyd Dryden with my awesome host teacher, and peer learning community. It may sound cheesy, but I’ve missed my students this summer, and I know that they’ll all go on to do some great things with their lives.
The MAT program is only a year long, and so the course work is intense. The summer session has classes that span about three weeks long. One of my favorite people to work with in the MAT program has been my friend, Rebecca. I made a lot of friends in the program who are going all around the world, and state to teach. I’ll miss them all – especially old Jim-Bob, Chris, Nick, Mara, and Abe. I’ll be thinking good thoughts for Summer and Jennie as they go on into the next two quarters of the program, and finish up their student teaching.
A difficult thing for me during my Master’s program was not having enough time to prepare good food, and not getting enough sleep. I worked part-time during the program, an average of three evenings a week at two different local restaurants. It was difficult, but the reward of not having a student loan payment makes me feel like it was worth it. My friend Rebecca and I bonded the last couple of weeks of class. During our break we’d work on course work, and share our lunches. Often we had strangely constructed salads, made from random scraps we grabbed from our kitchens in the morning mad dash to school.
Last week we got together a couple of times to work on our Teacher Work Samples and portfolios, and ate decent food. Rebecca has a pretty good line of fresh local fish, and this fresh rockfish was fabulous.
We prepared the rockfish by baking it in an iron skillet with a simple rub of pesto, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Fresh fish doesn’t need much to be delicious, but it’s easily dried out if you bake it without a source of moisture. This iron skillet recipe could accommodate many kinds of fish.
Rebecca and I talked about how rockfish is often called a poor man’s version of halibut. We decided that this particular rockfish was actually just as flavorful, if not better than halibut that we’d both had this summer. Rockfish can be rad!
- Three to four filets of fresh rockfish (or whatever fish you have available)
- Two tablespoons of olive oil
- Fresh ground pepper & sea salt to lightly coat the filets
- One to two tablespoons of pesto (freshly made, or store bought: Costco brand is good & affordable) to coat each filet
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
- Coat the pan in one to two tablespoons of olive oil
- Grind fresh pepper & sprinkle sea salt liberally on each side of your filets
- Rub a tablespoon or two of pesto into each side of your filets
- Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes (check on your filets at 20 minutes, or so to see if the fish is flaking – a good indication that it’s done)
We made an awesome fresh green salad with pine nuts and feta cheese to accompany our pesto rockfish filets. I’d suggest serving this fish with a Pinot Grigio, or an Alaskan Pale Ale.
Katie White is a coleslaw genius, and this is her recipe. Coleslaw is something that I normally think of as being kind of creamy, rasin-laden, delicious, and a little heavy. This is a new approach to coleslaw, and it makes a perfect side dish to any roasted hunk of meat or vegetarian concoction.
This coleslaw made February in Juneau feel a little more like July. The fresh crunch of the cabbage, sweetness of the nectarine, snap of the finely chopped red onion, cilantro-ness of the cilantro, and acidity of apple cider vinegar will have you eating seconds.
- 1 big old head of green cabbage, chopped up all coleslaw style
- 1 or two red or orange peppers, finely cut lengthwise
- 1 head of cilantro, washed, and finely chopped
- 1 or 2 nectarines, cut in half, pitted, and cut crosswise
- 3 Tbsp. good-quality olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
My friends are food geniuses. Lucky for me, they love cooking and invite me over for dinner. Sarah and Mike recently bought a house in the flats, and are making it gorgeous/livable. The inaugural RitterBrown Town dinner last weekend had a delicious menu, ending with this knock your socks and shoes off home made ice cream. I asked Sarah to send me the recipe to share with all you folks that love to make your own home made ice cream. Thank you, Sarah!
If you don’t have an ice cream machine, worry not. Check out David Lebovitz’s machineless ice cream how-to. I’m sure you can adapt this delicious recipe for all kinds of ice cream making methods.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup of Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
- liberal pinch of salt
- about 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
Equipment: an ice cream maker
Bring cream, milk, and 1/2 cup brown sugar to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring.
Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking. Return to saucepan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 175°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not boil).
Immediately strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Stir in Frangelico and nuts and chill custard at least 6 hours.
Freeze in ice cream maker, then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, about 2 hours.
•Custard can be chilled up to 24 hours.
•Ice cream keeps 1 week.
Last weekend Matty and I were invited to the best dinner party, ever. It was celebrating the birthday of one of our favorite people in town, Katie White. Unfortunately, I got sick late in the afternoon, and was unable to attend the dinner party. I hear it was a beautiful dinner with fantastic people, and of course ridiculous food. Someone told me a rumor about lobster macaroni and cheese, can you believe that? Matt made this dip for the party and has been happily eating it all week.
This past fall, Matt went out fishing off the beaches here in Juneau. He caught a good number of cohos that we smoked up for all kinds of deliciousness. This winter we invested in a little smoker, which I’m sure we will put to all kinds of amazing uses when we start hunting and gathering again this coming summer/fall.
Oh, Feedbag: I almost forgot to tell you I got a food dehydrator for Christmas! Does anyone out there with a food dehydrator have any awesome ideas for me? I’m excited to buy a flat of mangoes at Costco and get started with a dried fruit project.
This is Matt’s own recipe with our wild caught salmon, it’s already a classic in our house.
- 12 ounces of crumbled & deboned wild Alaskan smoked salmon
- 8 ounces of cream cheese, pre-softened to room temperature
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup of feta cheese (Mt. Vikos is my favorite)
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup of fresh dill
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 bulb of roasted garlic
- salt & pepper to taste
To roast garlic:
- Pre-heat oven 325 degrees
- Cut off the top 1/3 of the bulb, exposing the cloves, and drizzle in olive oil
- wrap bulb in tin foil and roast for one hour
To assemble dip:
- prepare all ingredients and process in a food processor
Serving suggestion: This is perfect as a dip for crackers, or as a spread for a sandwich or a bagel.
I’m not the biggest pancake fan in the world, but I woke up with a craving for banana walnut pancakes. I suppose I was thinking of the pancakes at the Cup & Sauce in Portland, Oregon – even though they’re made with real flour. It’s been ages since I had a flap jack. Even more challenging than the gluten free aspect of these tasty rounds, is the fact that I made them dairy free. I used organic low-fat coconut milk instead of milk or water.
Fear not Dear Feedbag Reader, these aren’t tasteless hippie frisbees. These delicate perfect rounds are loaded with tiny banana and walnut bits in almost every bite. They’re made perfect with a little smart balance spread and a smatter of maple syrup.
This recipe makes enough pancake batter to feed your friends. If you’re not feeding a crowd, get an empty yogurt container to put the extra in the fridge. I’m even thinking about using the left over batter for muffins.
- 2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
Wet Ingredients & Extras:
- 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
- 1 banana, diced
- 1/2 cup of apple sauce
- 2 cups of organic low-fat coconut milk (or 1 cup regular milk, one cup water)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or raw agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 or 2 dashes of cinnamon
Combine the dry ingredients first – mixing well before integrating the wet ingredients, bananas, and nuts.
I used a non-stick pan and I’d recommend it. A nicely greased up iron skillet would work just fine too. Get your pan greased up, heated up on medium heat, and ready for a ladle full of this delicious batter. When little bubbles start forming on top of your pancake, it’s probably time to flip that bad boy over. I’d say I found a 1.5 – 2 minute interval for each side made the perfect pancake.
These gluten free flap jacks are better when they’re hot off the press.
Serving Suggestion: Top with a little smart balance spread and some warm maple syrup for a delicious breakfast treat.
One of the best reasons for me to travel is to pick up ideas for recipes by sampling Northwest restaurants, and this is a fine example. It calls for a butternut sauce instead of a red sauce and pecans in place of sausage. Here it is, with a nod to the Skylark menu for a starting place.
On a quiet brick-paved alley in the Fairhaven section of Bellingham sits Skylark’s Hidden Café. We were drawn into the alley by the aroma of fresh-baked focaccia and sat down at the outside tables on a rare sunny day. I really just wanted the focaccia but couldn’t resist trying the lasagna, and when we returned to Juneau found that I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
Coincidentally, our newest addition to the family is a determined but flexible vegetarian. She doesn’t mind cheese, eggs, or fish, so she isn’t vegan, just sensible. So when her family from Spokane flew up to meet the Juneau crew, I wanted to prepare a welcoming feast that anyone could eat. Since the Skylark lasagna is a veggie dish, it fit the bill but needed some tinkering, something that delights me.
Whole grain brown rice lasagna noodles (one package) or actually any lasagna noodles
1 pound of mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
1 pound of ricotta
1 yellow onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 smallish butternut squash or 4 or 5 sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons of flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of pecans
basil and sage for seasoning (chopped fresh leaves if possible)
salt and pepper
You’ll want the squash or sweet potato to be a pulp, so the squash cut in half lengthwise with the seeds removed goes into a glass cake pan with about a half-inch of water. Bake for 40 minutes, or if it’s small enough, microwave it till it’s soft– same with sweet potatoes. Either way, peel off the skin and what’s left should be beaten like pumpkin whipped up for pie. Let it ride on the side while the sauce gets fried.
Chop onion into ¼ inch pieces.
Heat olive oil on medium temperature in a large skillet (mine is a ninety-year-old cast iron 12-incher.) Add the onion and let it sweat.
While that’s going on, chop garlic.
Time out for garlic reminder: A simple way to manage garlic is to smash the cloves with the side of your knife—just lay the side of the blade on the clove and smash down on it with your fist—the husks will fall away. Sometimes the clove will shoot across the kitchen, so watch it—you could shoot your eye out with that thing. OR just chop the cloves, and the husks will separate anyway. Tip #2: sprinkle the chopped cloves with a teaspoon of salt and use your knife to grind the salt into the garlic until it becomes pulp. This makes it easy to add salt and garlic to your sauce without big bits.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program—When the onion in the olive oil is softened but not burned, add the salted garlic and let it “swap around,” as Huck Finn says. It’s a good time to add some pepper, too. Mix in the squash/sweet potato pulp. If it’s too thick, add some water; think red sauce consistency. That’s your sauce, and you may need to experiment a bit to get about 3 or 4 cups of sauce. Don’t worry if it’s thin because the dry noodles will soak it up.
As usual with lasagna, mix the eggs with ricotta, basil and sage, but this time add pecans and a little more salt.
Splash a little olive oil in the bottom of your cake or lasagna pan and spread a thin layer of the sauce, then nestle a layer of dry noodles in it. Add a layer of the egg/ricotta/pecans, a layer of cheese, and cover it with 1/3 of the sauce. Add a second layer of noodles, the rest of the egg/ricotta/pecans, and cheese; cover the whole thing with the rest of the sauce. Because we’re using dry noodles, it’s important that the noodles are covered with liquid sauce. This may take some experimenting; I have even added a bit of veggie broth around the edges. Cover the baking pan with foil and bake it for about an hour at 350 degrees. Bake uncovered for the last 10 minutes; don’t be surprised if this dish is flatter than usual.
If dry noodles make you nervous, boil and drain them according to package directions first. You won’t need quite so much liquid sauce.
This is terrific using chicken breast instead of pecans, and adding chicken broth in the sauce.
Going to school full time and working at a school makes meal planning difficult. Commuting to and from school for graduate school and student teaching makes meal planning essential. I always make my lunch in the morning or the night before. I don’t have time to leave school for a quick fix meal on the go during lunch time, so packing good food is important. I’ve noticed that on days that I go running, that my energy is pretty low after a full day of student teaching.
Have you guys seen the price of wheat free products? They’re ridiculous! Seriously, I can’t rationalize (or afford) paying seven dollars for a box of lame bars or cereal. I’m stubborn and I love whole foods. Which means that my life is a little more difficult, but often a lot more delicious.
I think these little granola bars are the perfect after school snack for days when I’m training for my first 10K run. I’m happy to report that this last week I was doing four mile runs!
My inspiration for these bars came from a recipe via All Recipes that I modified to suit my tastes and wheat free ways.
Don’t forget to cut these bad boys after letting them sit for a couple of minutes! If you don’t cut them into long rectangles, they’ll turn into one giant rad granola bar of goodness.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup of maple syrup
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1/2 cup of apple sauce
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of allspice
- 1 teaspoon of nutmet
- 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose GF flour
- 3/4 cup raisins (optional)
- 1/4 cup of dried apricots, diced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup of shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup of pecans, chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan (I used olive oil to grease my pan).
- In a large bowl, mix together the oats, spices, gluten free flour, raisins, apricots, pecans, walnuts and salt.
- Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients: pour in the maple syrup, apple sauce, beaten egg, oil and vanilla.
- Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges.
- Cool for 2 – 4 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm.
- Don’t let these bad boys cool to much before cutting.
Variations on a theme & serving suggestions: These granola bars are versatile, allowing for different ingredients. Imagine if you will peanut butter & chocolate chip granola bars, dried cherry & almond granola bars, or banana & walnut granola bars. All totally possible by tweaking a few things with this recipe.
These bars are so decadent you could serve them as a desert with a little scoop of sorbet or ice cream. Instant win!