Roasted Radishes, Tok Harvest

We had so many radishes this summer that I’ve been searching for ways to prepare them. Tonight, I decided to roast them along with some beets, a little onion, tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and then right before taking them out of the oven, some soy sauce and roasted sesame seeds. Inspired by this recipe.

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The nice thing about mixing the radishes with the beets is that the beets add sweetness while the radishes add savory spice.

We also harvested some sugar snow peas, lambsquarter, zucchini, spinach and swiss chard.

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For dinner, we sauteed them together with onion, butter, fresh oregano and thyme and a dash of soy sauce. Delish!

How have you been preparing your home-grown produce?

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Cooking and Baking in Tok

I’d love to lay claim to these two culinary creations, however, the first is my husband’s dish and the second was made by my awesome girlfriend while I was on the phone.

Introducing…Caribou Stroganoff! Caribou cooked over the fire pit, frozen, thawed, and sliced in a creamy sauce. The side dish? Lambsquarter steamed.

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And a Rhubarb Crisp ala mode, rhubarb from our backyard garden. Crisp made with gluten-free flour blend that’s on sale at the Tok General Store.

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I’m getting braver about baking and think I can muster up some rhubarb dishes and even some radish ones.

What have you been baking lately?

Fruit and Veggies Truck in Tok Thursday

IMG_0432This Thursday, the big orange truck will be parked next to The Husky Lounge again with more fresh fruit and vegetables so get there early! They might set up Wednesday afternoon depending on how they’re feeling so keep an eye out. If you don’t see them, don’t despair! They will definitely be there Thursday of this week.

Where else are you getting your farm fresh fruits and veggies?

And does anyone have some good recipes for radishes? They are piling up in our fridge!

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Radishes Thrive in Tok!

IMG_0370I don’t know how they’ve done it, but my poorly planted radishes have really come through in our vegetable garden this summer. By poorly planted, I mean that I didn’t know how to put the practically-microscopic seeds into the ground and ended up clumping them together.

Despite their crowded digs, they are thriving and pushing out of the ground when plump and ready. I’ve already threatened to plant nothing but radishes next year although the snap peas are looking like they’ll produce a nice bounty in a few weeks, too.

The rest of what I’ve planted was choked mercilessly by the chickweed invasion although in the process of weeding one patch, I did identify the carrots straining to poke through and spent several hours yanking chickweed to let them breathe. So far, they are still growing.

But I can’t find any thyme, basil, sage, lavender, chives, onions, chard, or spinach as I continue to pull carpets of chickweed from the beds. I keep hoping to see some of their leaves poking through in a valient attempt at life.

What can I do next year to keep the evil chickweed at bay? Or should I just go with it and learn how to harvest chickweed?

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Got Rhubarb?

IMG_0354We interrupt this program for an advertisement for…free rhubarb!

We have been blessed with an abundant patch of rhubarb that is thriving despite the chickweed invasion in our vegetable garden. And I haven’t harvested any of it.

So rather than waste this amazing produce, I’d like to give it away to anyone in the area in need of some rhubarb.

Would you like some? Or do you know someone who would?

If so, please email me via this blog with your contact information so we can arrange having you stop by and taking whatever you can use. And maybe I might get the courage up to use some myself. Someone has already provided me with several tasty recipes. Maybe having someone passionate about rhubarb stop by is just what I need to get motivated!

We now resume our regularly scheduled program.

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Acoustic Accents – Folk Music Show Coming from Tok

If you dig deep enough, you will find amazing little nuggets of culture and talent in our own backyard here in Tok, Alaska. Here’s a little email inteview I conducted with Bud Johnson of Acoustic Accents folk music radio show.

What is Acoustic Accents?

IMG_0952ACOUSTIC ACCENTS is a syndicated program taped at Spin Monkey Productions in Tok, Alaska and broadcast weekly in Alaska on KNBA-FM Anchorage, KBRW FM Barrow, KYUK Bethel, KUAC-FM Fairbanks, KIYU Galena, Nome Public Radio, KTNA-FM Talkeetna, and KCHU Valdez. The show is also transmitted via translators and repeater stations across Interior Alaska. Available live on the web at kuac.org, knba.org, and ktna.org.

On with the interview…

Me: When/where did you start Acoustic Accents?

Bud: Acoustic Accents was started in 1993 in Galena, AK at the small but vital community radio station KIYU.

Me: What inspired you to start it?

Bud: I started a contemporary jazz program called “Jazz etc” around 1991 that ran on KIYU Sunday nights and lasted 3 hours. Spending 3 to 4 hours at the station each week gave me lots of time to explore the station library and it wasn’t long before I discovered this group of contemporary folk musicians that really blew me a way. Most were on the now defunct Windham Hill label and many were on Rounder Records. I started to play a few tracks from these artists on my jazz show but they really didn’t work in that format so I decided to cut the jazz show down to 2 hours and lead in with 1 hour acoustic oriented show that featured folk, bluegrass, and other roots music. I called it Acoustic Accents and when I moved to Tok in 1998 I put Jazz Etc to rest for good and focused all my energy on the new show.

Me: What equipment did you use when you first started the show and what is different today?

Bud: I did my show live in the studio until 1998 when KUAC in Fairbanks became the first station to air a prerecorded version of my show. At that time I had set up a studio at my house that was very much like the one at the radio station with a mike, mixing board, and CD players. I recorded my show “live” to DAT tape and send the tape to KUAC. Every few months they’d send a box of old shows back so I could reuse the DAT cassettes which were pretty expensive. Today I still use the mike and mixing board but everything is recorded separately on the computer and then “assembled” using a software program called Sound Forge. I burn the show to CD’s which are mailed twice a month to the various stations that carry the show.

IMG_0949Me: What have been some of the most memorable moments running your show?

Bud: After I moved back to the road system in 1998 I started to record interview segments and performances at my studio in Tok and while traveling to festivals and conferences. To date, I have recorded about 60 interviews and along the way met some amazing people. Some of the more memorable include an interview I did with Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer in 2001, a little more than a year before Dave died from a massive heart attack (Dave was one month older than me). I also interviewed a brilliant Canadian artist named Colin Linden right after he had worked with the Coen brothers on “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and had a cameo role in their movie “Intolerable Cruelty”. Now he had some good stories! There have been many, many more great moments but suffice to say it has been a great pleasure to get to know personally so many of the artists that I admire and feature on the show.

Me: What are some of the challenges running the show?

Bud: Time, time, time!! It’s a labor of love and a major time commitment. I presently have seven stations that carry the show and it airs almost everyday of the week. To insure that shows arrive in time to air (via the postal service), I have to stay 2 – 4 weeks ahead in my programming. It can be a real juggling act with family commitments and responsibilities at work. Trying to fit in a vacation means I may be programming Christmas holiday music in October!

Me: Where can people hear your show?

Bud: My show can be heard across much of the state on nine stations and 11 translator stations and is also available via the web from four stations that stream. You can find a listing of times and stations on my web site at acousticaccents.net/index_files/onyourradiodial.htm

Me: If someone wants to hear your show at their local station, how do they get it to happen?

Bud: Contact the program director or station manager at their station and say “WE WANT ACOUSTIC ACCENTS!!”. Then give them my email address (budATacousticacents.net) or send them to my web site.

Me: What do you hope people get out of your show?

Bud: I hope people get the same sense of discovery and excitement that I get when I hear a new artist for the first time that really moves me. The ultimate compliment is when someone hears an artist for the first time on my show and then buys their recordings or attends one of their concerts. Then I feel I have provided a great service to both the artist and the listener.

Who else would you like to hear from  in Tok? I’ll try to get an interview!

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Wildflowers in Tok

I’ve been taking photos of wildflowers as we’ve walked or biked around Tok. Lucky for me, I also have a husband who can name wildflowers in his sleep – it’s like having a walking, talking flora encyclopedia with me at all times.

Here are just a few flowers we’ve seen:

IMG_0103Wild Rose

IMG_0104Lupine

IMG_0131White Milk Vetch

IMG_0134Jacob’s Ladder with an ALASKA dandelion

IMG_0148Jacob’s Ladder

IMG_0140Wild Pea

IMG_0149Bluebells

Have any photos of Alaska wildflowers that you’ve taken? Share links to them here!

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Needing a Babysitter in Tok

stock-bucketsandWell, all good things must come to an end, or so they say (whoever they are). Our wonderful full-time babysitter is moving so we have to find a new sitter by mid-June. So I’m putting the word out here (already discussed with said wonderful sitter) to see if anyone has any ideas.

My preference is in-home sitter in our home. This is the arrangement we had early on with our daughter before she was in full-time daycare in Anchorage. My work hours are 8am to 4pm so those hours are ideal but anything in between is also workable.

Second choice is in someone else’s home but they must have excellent references. We’ve had a few misses in that department so would be very careful about that.

Basic duties/responsibilities for caring for our almost 3-year old girl:

– attention, care and play (she loves books, jigsaw puzzles, coloring and painting, music and dancing, building castles with block, playing with dolls, playing make believe, and anything outdoors, especially if it involves dirt. Please no texting while watching her. Please do not ignore her – she thrives on interaction.

– some educational play (she knows her alphabet and numbers, colors and shapes, and is receptive to learning words and other things). Please no television but very limited viewing of “educational” videos okay (we can supply if needed).

– mealtime and naptime (If here, we’ve got plenty to prepare and if at someone else’s home, we can pack a lunch for her and she naps at least an hour in the afternoons. Our preference is very limited sugar.)

– potty training (we’re trying to be consistent with her but she needs very rigid structure to stay on track).

She’s a fun and funny kid and should be pretty easy to watch. She plays pretty well with others but may need a time out now and then.

We’re just looking for someone who will treat her like one of their own which means someone who has good values and a kind heart.

We pay the going rate but if someone is willing to sit in our home, we’ll pay extra. We’re amenable to someone with a child bringing them here to care for both children (but in that case, we wouldn’t pay extra).

Thanks for passing the word along.

P.S. Our babysitter said her home is for sale. Gorgeous home. Click to see photos/description here.

4-Wheeling in Tok

ATVing, 4-Wheeling, whatever you call it, we did it the other evening for our “Date Night.” Here are some photos from the evening.

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And yes, the hubby brought his gun. Just in case we encountered a bear.

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I also learned that people who “bait” bears, need to put up a notice to designate a bear baiting area to warn others.

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Fun and learning in the great outdoors!

How Does Your Garden Grow…in Tok?

IMG_0893I used to have a brown thumb. I’m not really sure if my thumb was actually a brown one or if my brain just wasn’t tuned into plants, and therefore I forgot about them, and therefore they died. As I child, I had a vegetable garden and loved plucking fresh veggies from the vine. But looking back now, I realize that in the same way parents end up taking care of a child’s first pet, my folks took care of that garden to make those vegetables happen.

Fast forward to today. I have a beautiful yard here in Tok, and the woman who lived here before me had the greenest thumb. There is evidence of extraordinary plant-life and edible things all over now that the snow has melted. And I’m intimidated. No, I’m afraid. Very afraid. Because I just don’t think I can live up to any of it.

I got a call the other day from a lovely woman who asked about the greenhouse in my backyard.

“Yes, I have one. Did you need to use it? You’re welcome to it!” I offered, feeling very neighborly.

Awkward pause.

IMG_0894“Well, I was going to see if you’d like some tomato plants. I’ve started some, and you could put them in your greenhouse…”

I was at a loss. Me, tomato plants, greenhouse? I couldn’t make a connection. Yes, I saw that cute little greenhouse in the back yard but hadn’t even thought of using it. In fact, when my husband started cleaning it out, pulling last year’s dead things out of it, I asked him why he was doing it.

“So you can use it,” he replied, all proud in that “I’m checking things off my To-Do list” sort of way.

“But why? I don’t…want to use it,” I confessed. Using it meant doing stuff with plants that I just don’t know how to do and am not sure I have time to do or the memory to remember to do. Or the energy.

“What? I cleared out this whole garden for you! I thought you wanted a vegetable garden!” He was visibly dismayed.

“Honey, I think I want the IDEA of a vegetable garden. I want the fruits of the labor of a garden without the labor,” I explained, just figuring out the truth myself at that very moment. I explained how the fantasy of a vegetable garden has been with me since childhood but that my parents probably did all the hard work.

“I thought you wanted it,” he said, now thoroughly confused.

“Well, I did plant seeds!” I reassured him. “Although I can’t remember what I planted or where.”

And that was the truth. I spent several hours carefully digging holes and putting seeds into the ground then meant to write down what I was planting and where but after a few hours, I had completely forgotten. So now I have a Mystery Garden.

I’m also noticing that my garden beds are covered with a green something – probably a weed, maybe chickweed – that will most likely choke any of the great things I’ve planted putting all that effort (and it was effort as I strained, panted, sweated, and cursed) planting seeds. I’m completely paralyzed since I don’t know what it is or what to do about it.

Yes, I know, probably just pull it out. But look at the picture!! It is like a blanket already! Then again, I do love pulling weeds. I could pull weeds for hours. I find weed pulling to be a very zen activity, and my brain is in constant and desperate need of zen.So maybe I really do have it in me to do this gardening stuff.

P.S. We have those tomato plants plus a pepper plant I purchased from Patsy’s on Borealis. Hubby is “hardening up” the plants (a new term I learned last night while reading The Edible Garden), and they should be in the greenhouse in a few weeks).

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Anyone know what that green stuff is and how best (without bad chemicals) to rid my garden of it? And if it is edible, how best to harvest and prepare it?

Tyson Johnson, Snowmachine Racer!

Tyson Johnson/IronDog champion

Tyson Johnson/IronDog champion

Tyson Johnson recently placed 2nd in the IronDog race. Yes, Tyson has a Tok connection – his brother and sister-in-law live here! Congrats to Tyson and his racing partner Tyler Aklestad for their impressive finish.

WHO: Tyson Johnson, 29
IRONDOG PARTNER: Tyler Aklestad, 23
LOCATION: Tyson – Eagle River;  Tyler – Wasilla

Q: What kind of equipment do you ride for the race?

We ride Ski Doo mxzx machines with the new for this year 600 E-Tec motor.

Q: How long have you been doing this race and why do you do it?

I have done this race 11 times and started in 1997 when I was 17 years old. I started out just doing it for the experience and thought it would be fun but turned out it was something I was good at and (it) keeps me occupied all winter.

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Why Public Radio in Rural Alaska Should Not Play Classical Music

nprlogoI have a bone to pick with my “local” public radio station. KUAC is an NPR affiliate based in Fairbanks. I am new to the area so I don’t yet know the history of the station or much more than it is one of three stations I can get clearly here in Tok (one seems to toggle between being a rock station and a country station ?!? and the other is a religious station). I’ve learned that the only reason I can get KUAC/NPR here in Tok is because of the ongoing efforts of a tiny Tok-based nonprofit called Duct Tape Radio that funds/manages the repeater. (More on Duct Tape Radio in an upcoming post!)

So before I rant, I must say I am grateful for any bit of NPR that I can get out here. I crave my Fresh Air with Terry Gross, I long for my Neal Conan of Talk of the Nation, I can’t get enough of Humankind and The World from the BBC. These are my daily touchstones, the familiar voices and fascinating stories that fuel my mind, heart and soul. Being out here in such a rurual area of Alaska, my need for these programs has increased 100 fold.

But almost every time I turn on KUAC, they are playing classical music. And it really pisses me off.

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