When I was a little girl growing up in Wisconsin, our family enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with our grandparents. Both my grandmas were excellent cooks. Now I am a grandma and look forward to making yummy things and introducing family traditions to our little grandson, Kase.
I am delighted once again to share stories, family traditions and my favorite recipes with you. This time of the year I want to be in my kitchen more than ever making delicious recipes from the harvested bounty of our garden, seafood from the bay, moose from the hunt and our chickens’ eggs.
Every growing season the garden is a different story. We gardeners never know what is going to thrive or stall. This year I have Magic Fountain delphiniums that have doubled their projected size. Needless to say, they don’t fit where they are planted, much to my chagrin and the lilies that are being crowded. If I had any inkling this was going to happen I would have divided them this spring. But no. So there they loom, a formidable presence in what would otherwise be a serene setting.
The lunch rush is over, but there’s still a steady stream of customers through the door of Cosmic Kitchen on a recent Friday afternoon. Over the banter of diners and clatter in the kitchen and interruptions that include buying some fresh halibut, owners Sean Hogan and Michelle Wilson take a break to talk about their newest endeavor.
My thoughts are of appetizers as the new year celebration looms at the end of this week. Savory little bites stuffed with yummy goodness. Addictive, fun little pop-in-your mouth treats, bad for your waistline and appetite for dinner, they are just so perfect as appetizers.
The Other Fisherman loves Christmas. It’s his favorite time of year, right up there with moose hunting season and fishing for king salmon in the summer. His dad was Father Christmas, and the OF’s brother also lives for this time of year, after golf season.
Being the creative person I am, I enjoy trying new recipes and adding a fun variety of flavors to my menus. My cooking constantly evolves. I find inspiration from all over — the Internet, cooking magazines, a new cookbook, a trip somewhere, a new-to-me ingredient, or just making a wonderful, fresh, in-season ingredient taste the best it can.
This is exciting and fun and allows me to express my creativity and love of cooking through the food I make and serve. It’s something I can do every day of my life and is very much a part of who I am.
Happy Thanksgiving! It is a beautiful frosty morning atop the mountain and I have a million-dollar panoramic view of the bay from my kitchen to be thankful for, that’s for sure. It’s time to begin the annual holiday treat making extravaganza. We’ll make the traditional must-have cookies and candy, as well as hold auditions for a new goodie if something sounds intriguing.
Triple Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
I love this time of year, not only because it’s my favorite time to cook comforting soups, casseroles, roasts with gravy and mashed potatoes, apple pie and pumpkin desserts, but because I can share recipes and stories with you again. This year I will enjoy the holidays with my sister and her husband who recently moved to Homer.
To say “Christmas” is to unlock a treasure chest of favorite memories and a world of much loved tastes, smells, sounds and scenes.
What am I excited about cooking in my kitchen right now? Fresh-caught halibut and king salmon. That first-of-the-season fresh fish, grilled and basted lightly with sweet herb butter or deep-fried golden brown and served with a creamy dill pickle tartar sauce. King salmon carpaccio; paper-thin pieces of fresh king that are drizzled with citrus juice and zest, good olive oil and fresh dill and marinated a few hours then served as an appetizer with pan-toasted thin slices of sourdough bread.
Even though we’ve officially welcomed in the New Year, it’s likely holiday celebrations will continue this weekend. What would those parties be without appetizers and snacks to share? Like New Year’s Eve without the sparkly ball dropping in Times Square, winter without snow, champagne without a flute.
Here are a few quickly prepared savory treats I selected from my overflowing recipe vault that you might want to try as we continue to celebrate the arrival of 2014.
It’s merry holiday baking time. My family is lovers of cookies; lots and lots of cookies.
We like to have the traditional cookies that have become family favorites over the years, but I am always on the look-out for a new yummy goodie. I hope you get to spend a little time in your kitchen blending butter, sugar, flour and chocolate into tasty treats during this busy time of the year.
Happy baking and eating and sharing.
These turtle cookies have every indulgent flavor we like in our family: chocolate, peanut butter, caramel and toffee.
Many years ago when the Other Fisherman’s dad would drive back from visiting his brother in Florida he bought fruitcake in Georgia on his way home to Wisconsin. I first started making fruitcake for him when Uncle “Turkey” moved back to Wisconsin and Dad no longer made his annual fruitcake stop. Over the years family and friends have come to enjoy them. Dad is gone now, but I still bake them for a holiday treat for fortunate recipients. Plan on making them at least a month prior to Christmas so they can age and get a few applications of the liquor you select to use on them.
The leaves have fallen and there is snow on the mountains across the bay; that means I am happy to retreat to our warm kitchen in my comfy slippers and cook. I want to make comfort food, family favorites and hearty dishes. We had a bumper crop of potatoes and the Other Fisherman got a moose, so I have ingredients for anything hearty at hand.
Our summer has been wonderful, filled with sunshine and warm temperatures, beautiful flowers, visitors, fishing and a family wedding. On July 20, we were happy to welcome Alyssa Prince into our family as the wife of our son David Robl. She is bright, beautiful, thoughtful, fun and just a delightful young woman. I am tickled to have a daughter.
It is wonderful to be back in our home and Homer, surrounded by the life we’ve made here. I spent the winter in Juneau working for the Legislature. I missed the Other Fisherman, our black labs and all of you so much. In January I said so long to grilling on the party deck, skiing on the McNeil Canyon trail and cooking for dinner parties in my kitchen.