The Winterlake Lodge Cookbook
214 pages
English

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The Winterlake Lodge Cookbook

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214 pages
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Description

In this second edition of her acclaimed cookbook, Chef Kirsten Dixon has added new
recipes and revised some of her classics to reflect the changes in palate. She has also Ship Date : 09/15/2012
updated her commentary on the seasonal foods and events that have evolved over the
Pub Date : 10/15/2012
past few years. Nestled on a remote wilderness lake where the famous Iditarod Sled Dog
Trail passes nearby, the kitchen at The Winterlake Lodge provides elegant regional cuisine Price : $23.99 USD / $27.99 CAD
that continues to excite international clientele, as well as culinary fans around the world.
Co owner and Chef Kirsten Dixon has successfully built her reputation on the coupling of EAN: 978 0 88240 890 3
two themes: world class cuisine and America’s last wilderness frontier. Along with her Trim : 8.40 x 10.00
husband Carl, the couple welcomes visitors who arrive by small bush plane, dog team, or
snowmobile at their remote lodge in the roadless wilderness to enjoy her stylish fare and Format : Trade Paper
log cabin hospitality. Lavishly illustrated with professional photos that include some of her 224
100 sumptuously plated recipes, the majestic roaming wildlife out the door, and some of Pages :
the most impressive landscapes under the midnight sun, this cookbook is a cooking Carton Qty:
lesson, a memoir, and an invitation into this adventurous lifestyle.

Sujets

Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 15 octobre 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780882409801
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 3 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0060€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

the
W INTERLAKE L ODGE
C OOKBOOK
Culinary Adventures in the Alaskan Wilderness
WITH KIRSTEN DIXON
FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY BY TYRONE POTGIETER
FOOD STYLING BY MANDY DIXON

S ECOND E DITION
Text 2012 by Kirsten Dixon Photography by Tyrone Potgieter except for the following: front cover, pages 10 (top and middle left), 12, 14 (left and right), and 173 by Jeff Schultz; pages 25 and 26 by Amy Shapira; and pages 28, 184, and 185 by Nate Mikle.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is the registered trademark of The Iditarod Trail Committee.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the publisher.
First edition 2003
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Dixon, Kirsten.
The Winterlake Lodge cookbook : culinary adventures in the Alaskan wilderness / with Kirsten Dixon.
p. cm.
ISBN 978-0-88240-889-7 (hardbound) ISBN 978-0-88240-890-3 (softbound) ISBN 978-0-88240-980-1 (e-book)
I. Cookery, American. 2. Cookery-Alaska.
3. Winterlake Lodge. I. Title.
TX7I5.D5898 2003 641.5973-dc21
2003005417
Cartographer: Gray Mouse Graphics Designer: Sini Salminen
Alaska Northwest Books
An imprint of

P.O. Box 56118 Portland, OR 97238-6118 (503)254-5591
www.graphicartsbooks.com
Printed in China
To my father, James Ove Schmidt, who has taught me the value of hard work and commitment to family.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
In the first edition of this cookbook, our daughters, Carly and Amanda, were living in California attending school. I wrote, When they moved away, I realized how much I missed them. I want to thank my daughters for the many ways they contribute to and enhance our family We hope their travels bring them back to Alaska and to Winterlake. It s been ten years since I wrote those words and my daughters have indeed returned to Alaska.
After years of travel and fly-fishing around the world, Carly is now married and has a son of her own, Rohnen Zane Potgieter. Carly s South African husband, Tyrone, works at Winterlake Lodge as a guide manager. Ty s interest in photography has inspired me and he has taken most of the images in this new edition.
Mandy, a trained pastry chef, works closely with me on a wide variety of culinary projects. She helps to train new chefs in the kitchens of our lodges and she acts as a resource for our culinary team. She travels often with me when we teach cooking classes. And, Mandy s longtime boyfriend, Neil Lippincott, has worked for us as our Anchorage-based expeditor for the past six years since my father, Jim, retired from that very same position.
An old-fashioned family-based small business is what we have and we couldn t be happier about that.
My husband, Carl, is still the greatest inspiration for me personally and for our entire family. His love of the natural world and his desire to share the beauty of the backcountry of Alaska has led us all to Winterlake Lodge and to our remarkable lifestyle. I am incredibly thankful for Carl s creative vision to guide us down a path less traveled.
Contents
Map
Winterlake Lodge-Population 2
We Live at Mile 198 Along the Trail
A Place Called Winterlake
My Kitchen
Our Cuisine
About This Book
SUMMER
Summer Begins
My Summer Kitchen
Our Life with Bears
A One-Mile Walk
Blueberry Sour Cream Pound Cake
Buttermilk Banana Muffins
Fresh Raspberry Scones
Zucchini Bread
Miniature Frittatas
Homemade Ketchup
Alaska Summer Sausage
Sour Cream Cranberry Chocolate Cookies
Rose Petal Butter Cookies
Cherry Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Wild Blueberry and Raspberry Bars
Berry Lemonade
Alaska Berry Pie
Alaska Salmon Burgers
Alaska Salmon Curry
Dungeness Crab Chowder
Goug res
Blue Cheese and Pecan Crackers
Alaska Shrimp Cakes
Dipping Sauce for Alaska Shrimp Cakes
Crabmeat Egg Roll Appetizers
Spanish Shrimp Toast
Fried Oysters Two Ways
Apple Cherry Chutney
Apple Cider Barbecue Sauce
Wildflower Pasta
FALL
The Harvest Kitchen
Cooking Classes
The Colors of Fall
Farewells
Fall Breakfast Sausage
Fireweed Honey Oat Bread
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
Danish Cardamom Cookies
Chocolate Cranberry Pound Cake
Blueberry Bars
Homemade Blueberry Jam
Winterlake Lodge Granola
Gingerbread with Ginger Cream
Root Cellar Chicken Stew
French Lentil Soup with Sausage
Halibut Soup with Garlic
Autumn Minestrone
Baked Halibut with Tomatoes and Onions
Lemon Cheese
Homemade Puff Pastry
Goat Cheese and Herb Mushroom Tart
Blue Cheese Mushroom Tart
Smoked Salmon Cardamom Spread
Green Tomato Salsa
Cranberry Chutney
Beets with Black Currants
Tenderloin Beef Stroganoff
Sourdough Bread Pudding with Yukon Jack Sauce
Baked Alaska
Black Currant Liqueur
Hot Cranberry Cider
Homemade Raspberry Marshmallows
WINTER
My Winter Kitchen
A Cabin Along the Trail
Our Family of Sled Dogs
Skiing Through the Woods
Brown Sugar Oatmeal Muffins
Orange Chocolate Muffins
Sweet Potato Pecan Bread
Apple Sourdough Starter
Sourdough Apple Bread
Sourdough Apple Pancakes
Mixed Berry Syrup
Hot Chocolate
Chocolate Cherry Biscotti
Winterlake Trail Mix
No Knead Bread
One-Hour Chicken Stock
Roasted Chicken Pot Pie
Russian Salmon Pie
Winter Kimchi
Red Kuri Squash Gnocchi
Savory Mushroom Pudding
Smoked Salmon Chowder
Wintry Baked Beet and Red Onion Soup
Warm Mushroom and Spinach Salad
Winter Squash and Halibut Panade
Pan-Seared Duck with Blueberry Sauce
Winterlake Lodge Beef Stew
Apple Cider Cheesecake
SPRING
A Luncheon on Mount McKinley
Birds Overhead
Another Season
bleskiver
Rhubarb Raspberry Muffins
Banana Lemon Bread
Cranberry Ricotta Pancakes
Corned Beef Hash
Pan-Seared Halibut
Veggie Burgers
Pacific Paella
Halibut with Sake Kasu
Blueberry Macaroons
Cheddar Sesame Crackers
Lemon Chutney
Rhubarb Chutney
Herbed Yogurt Cheese
Roasted Jalape o Salsa
Sesame Ginger Dressing
Winterlake Lodge House Dressing
Homemade Mayonnaise
Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing
Ranch Dressing
Rhubarb Honey Cake
Cardamom Carrot Cake
Index
About the Author

WELCOME TO WINTERLAKE
WINTERLAKE LODGE - POPULATION 2
If you ever have a chance to travel to Alaska, we hope you ll visit Winterlake Lodge. From Lake Hood, the seaplane base in Anchorage near the Ted Stevens International Airport, take a floatplane northwest toward Mount McKinley and the Alaska Range. Once you ve traveled for about an hour and gone past the Shell Hills, you ll see a picturesque little mountain below. And just south of the mountain is a log house on the bank of a beautiful horseshoe-shaped lake. That s Winterlake Lodge, where we live.
After your floatplane lands on our lake, step onto the dock and walk up a winding path lined with Alaska roses. Ahead of you is the lodge: come on in. Go toward the back and enter the kitchen. That s where I ll be, and that s where much of the story of this book takes place.
Winterlake Lodge is a small, intimate Alaska backcountry lodge where my husband, Carl, and I have lived since 1994. In the summertime, visitors come to the lodge to go hiking or canoeing, to helicopter to a glacier, raft a wild river, or just to enjoy the soothing quiet of the wilderness. In the winter, guests enjoy dog-mushing adventures, snowshoeing, or cross-country ski trips with Carl. And often, people come for the food.
Called Finger Lake, our lake isn t an officially named lake. In Alaska, there are so many lakes- thousands of them-and many carry hapless names, having been christened by some long-ago trapper or gold seeker. Carl and I call our home Winterlake Lodge on Finger Lake in Alaska.
Our lodge is the fourth checkpoint along the Iditarod Trail, named a National Historic Trail in 1976. The 1,000-plus-mile trail is, for the most part, a visible trail only in the winter and is the route used for the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The race, starting the first weekend in March, follows the historic trail from Willow, Alaska, to Nome in commemoration of an event that took place in 1925. That winter, citizens banded together to quickly bring medicine to the remote village of Nome on the northwest coast of Alaska, which was under siege from a diphtheria epidemic. Teams of mushers and sled dogs relayed the medicine along the trail, each musher handing off the life-saving serum to a fresh team at roughly 30-mile intervals. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is a celebration of cooperation and teamwork, a remembrance of a past way of life, and an opportunity for dog mushers to test their skills and endurance.
WE LIVE AT MILE 198 ALONG THE TRAIL
This fact becomes particularly significant for Carl and me in the winter after a path through the snow is established and travelers begin to explore and make their way to Nome by snowmachine or dog team. The months of February and March are a rush of Iditarod race activities at the lodge-from housing volunteer trailbreakers to accommodating dog mushers in training to feeding enthusiastic adventurers from all over the world. We host several other ski and dog races throughout the season. Even though Carl and I live so far away from the world, it seems that the world comes to us, particularly in the winter. Fortunately for me, I love to cook for guests, and Carl loves to lead guests in outdoor adventures. We have discovered the perfect life for us.
When Carl was a boy, he lived in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. He was drawn to a life in the outdoors even then, despite his urban upbringing. Carl pedaled around the neighborhood on his bicycle to deliver newspapers, played baseball, and spent time in the woods. Some days he would ride down a long, rolling road to a rural farmhouse, tidy and cozy and situated next to a little pond. Carl dreamed that someday he would live in a house like that, a house in the country alongside a pond.
When I was young I loved cookbooks and cooking, organizing recipes on file cards, and planning dinner parties for friends. I spent many an evening going to the local library and checking out my limit of books.
One book that made a particular impression on me was The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth by Roy Andries de Groot. The book is a memoir of a trip that de Groot took to a valley in France, La Grand Chartreuse. The writing conjures a romantic sense of living close to nature and the wild. Evocative writing and chapters with titles such as A Journey to a High and Lovely Place transport us to a small French inn where two women introduce de Groot to remarkable mountain cuisine and unforgettable regional wines. I wanted to be just like those women who cooked at the Auberge. I wanted to take care of weary travelers as they stopped along their way to somewhere from somewhere else.

And now Carl has a house alongside a pond, and I spend my days cooking for travelers who find their way to our door.
A PLACE CALLED WINTERLAKE
In the fall of 1993, Carl and I were living at our sportfishing lodge on the Yentna River, with our two daughters, Carly and Amanda (Mandy). We had already been living the life of Alaskan lodge owners for ten years. One day, Carl was flying around the far western corner of our valley near the entrance to Rainy Pass. He landed on a beautiful, small lake and met a man who lived there. After talking for a while, Carl asked the man whether he might want to sell his property, and he did. We bought the land where Winterlake Lodge would be, as well as another small lodge near Lake Clark Pass we named Redoubt Bay Lodge. Despite the vast wilderness, in Alaska there isn t much privately held land available. Both Winterlake Lodge and Redoubt Bay Lodge were homesteaded prior to Alaska s statehood, so they are private pieces of property grandfathered in during the transition, and other than seaplane access in summer or the Iditarod Trail in winter, the land is completely surrounded by wilderness.
The first year we owned Winterlake, we only worked on the property. We flew in work crews to remove old fuel barrels and began adding a kitchen onto the small existing log building. I asked Carl to construct the largest kitchen he could, having learned that we quickly outgrow our initial vision of needed space.
My kitchen is an impressive 30-by-30-foot room with lots of windows and plenty of counter space for cooking. There s a large L-shaped worktable for me in the center, which is an ideal food-preparation surface and a place where guests gather on barstools while I m working.
We packed up the kids and moved into Winterlake Lodge full-time in the winter of 1995. Carly and Amanda were both in home school, and we spent our days doing school projects, cutting firewood, and cooking. One cold, snowy day in 1996, Joe Redington Sr., Alaska s famous dog musher and founder of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, stopped by. He was still traveling the trail with his dogs at seventy-nine years old and came across our frozen lake with a caravan of travelers and dog teams heading for Nome. While Redington s expedition was setting up camp on the lake, he came up to the lodge, had some coffee, and talked to our daughters about dog mushing. Later that year, Joe gave Carly and Amanda six sled dogs, and so began our adventures with dog mushing.
We settled into living at Winterlake in the winter and traveling among our lodges in the summer. We are still making improvements at Winterlake. We built a new cabin and employee housing, added a large recreation room on the main lodge, added a wellness room to the main lodge, improved the existing guest cabins, and began a garden plan. We learned how to live with sled dogs, contend with life in a snowbelt, and manage the logistics of a remote lodge on a lake that doesn t melt until the middle of June.

MY KITCHEN
When I look out my kitchen windows to the west, I can see part of the lake and the mountains that lead to Rainy Pass. When I look to the east, I see the tall spruce, birch, and willow trees that surround the lodge. I once read in an insurance flyer that homeowners should make an inventory of all the trees on their property and count them as an asset. If that s the case, we re rich beyond our wildest dreams! Sometimes when I look out the kitchen windows, I see bears looking back at me.

OUR CUISINE
The food I serve at Winterlake Lodge is country food designed to make our guests feel content in our wilderness setting. The simple, hearty fare goes with our lifestyle in backcountry Alaska. My cuisine reflects our geography and proximity to the Pacific Ocean, our latitudinal similarity with Scandinavia and Russia, and our heritage of Asian traditions. It also reveals my interest and training in French cuisine. The food we prepare is influenced by the seasons and the ebb and flow of abundance of certain foods.

It s quite different cooking in a wilderness lodge setting than at an urban restaurant. We prepare three meals a day for guests, along with mountains of cookies and other snacks. We fly all of our ingredients and other supplies to the lodge from Anchorage or beyond, so logistics can be a struggle at times. We don t have a continual power source because we operate a generator for electricity, so our refrigeration is limited. Our guests at Winterlake Lodge are from a vast variety of culinary and dining backgrounds. They come to the lodge primarily for the adventure of Alaska and for the outdoor experience.
I enjoy figuring out what foods might delight and intrigue our guests while they visit. I love the process of exploring cookbooks and planning menus almost as much as cooking. The kitchen staff meets every Sunday to plan the menu for the week. We take into consideration the guests expected, the weather, and what we can procure from Anchorage or what we have available in the garden. We create daily menus, print them on pretty paper with photo images of our sled dogs, and set the menus at the bar so guests can see what we re planning for meals. If anyone wants to make a special request, we accommodate it. Sometimes guests come into the kitchen and join us in meal preparation or we cook a favorite specialty of theirs.
If I were to ask a group of culinary students from Outside what they thought of Alaska cuisine, a few obvious choices might prevail: Pacific seafood, particularly salmon, wild berries, sourdough, and game meat. Those are included in our daily fare, yes, but the underpinnings of our regional cuisine are so much more complex. Alaska cuisine reflects the Alaskan independent nature, fortitude, resilience, and spirit of adventure, and an urge to make the best of what is at hand, despite the difficulties. Alaskans are risk-takers in their lifestyles as well as in their foodways.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
I ve assembled a seasonal culinary scrapbook from a collection of favorite lodge recipes. Accompanying each season of recipes, I ve written a collection of essays that chronicle our food and our lifestyle at Winterlake Lodge. And, as a collaborative effort, I wrote the text, Mandy prepared and tested dishes, and Ty took the photos for every recipe and food image included in this edition. We make quite the formidable culinary team. So, come along as we share with you a year in our lives at Winterlake Lodge.
SUMMER BEGINS
Late in the evening our caretaker calls us from Winterlake. The sun is still up and we re doing some early work in the garden behind our office in Anchorage. Everything around us, even the air, indicates summer is here.
Our caretaker has been at the lodge for nearly an entire year without leaving. He feeds our dogs and shovels the crushing amount of snow from the lodge and cabin roofs every few days. He also keeps an airstrip on the frozen lake packed down by snowmachine to allow safe landings. With the warming trend, the lake is melting and he thinks a floatplane can land safely. It s the end of May and the season s first guests will arrive at Winterlake in just a few days.
It s the call we ve been waiting for, and Carl swings into action. We assemble our Winterlake team-our chef, housekeeper, and guides. Our expeditor in Anchorage, Neil, begins to gather food supplies, and we reserve an aircraft to fly us out early in the morning. Summer has officially begun at Winterlake Lodge.
During that brief period between April and June, Winterlake Lodge is in breakup, the time each year when ice melts. The ice is too soft to land an airplane on skis but not broken up enough to land on floats. Each year, Carl and I must decide where we will live for the nearly two months of breakup. Usually, we choose to stay in Anchorage so we can hire summer staff and organize and gather supplies for the busy season.
At Winterlake, the summer light reflected from the lake covers the lodge in sparkles. Resident loons return each June, and now as we fly in, we see that they have already arrived. They greet us with trills and melodic hoots as our plane splashes down on the lake. Their calls are really a warning to stay clear of their nest site, but I like to think of their greeting as a familiar welcome. Once all our boxes and bags are unpacked and the lodge is in order, we sit on the deck and watch the loons dip and dive under the water and pop up again like fat, black corks in the sun s twinkling path.
The mountains surrounding the lodge seem to turn new and varied shades of green every day. A waterfall flows down Wolverine Mountain behind the lodge, and with the arcing summer, the frozen icefall turns to a trickle and then to a flowing torrent tumbling into nearby Red Lake. During our Winterlake summer, we can hear the constant muffled roar of water falling.
Behind the lodge, at Red Lake, a smaller and more private lake, huge trumpeter swans live all summer until it begins to get cold in the fall when they migrate south. If we walk along the Red Lake trail and sit quietly among the wildflowers, we can watch our swans glide gracefully along the lake.
Summers at Winterlake are intense. The long daylight hours require heavy workdays. It s the time for gardening and fishing, employees and guests returning, bears in the yard and birds in the trees. Arctic grayling in our lake rise to nab mosquitoes and other delectables caught in the surface tension of the water. Large sandhill cranes fly overhead like prehistoric birds, looking for the grassy fields beyond Rainy Pass. Beavers are busy damming up Red Lake, and river otters swim along the shore in the early mornings, patrolling. We re all here, all in our places- the cast of characters that inhabit the Winterlake summer.
Summer in Alaska means an abundance of fresh Alaska seafood, wild berries, greens, and vegetables from the market and garden, and plenty of people to feed. It s a time to hike to Wolverine Ridge and canoe on the lake. Its a time to listen to the hundreds of birds singing around the lodge, living in the trees, and serenading us awake each morning. There are fat red-breasted pine grosbeaks perching in high branches, tiny flitting swallows that fill the canopies of the birches and spruce trees, and big gray jays looking for discarded nuggets of dog food. We are blessed with this living chorus of birds all summer. It is especially a time to take close notice of the light in the sky early in the morning and late at night-how beautiful the colors are, and how white the clouds seem, as they float over the lake that reflects them back again, in mirror image.

We stand at the dock and say farewell to our caretaker. He does another kind of work in the summer. There s much to do here before our first guests arrive. We anticipate them. Our first guests are as much a measure of summer as the returning birds are. We inventory our supplies, make out our menus, and chill the wine. We select the music, fluff the beds, and place small bouquets of delicate early season woodland violets on the tables. The summer stretches out before us like a delicious meal just beginning, and we ll savor every moment of it.
MY SUMMER KITCHEN
The first thing we do at the beginning of a new season at Winterlake Lodge is clean the kitchen. Everything comes off the shelves and the kitchen is scrubbed in a bubbly froth of bleach and soap. I always associate that invigorating fresh smell of cleaning with early summer-blossoming birch and willow trees, sun streaming in the windows, and the anticipation of a summer garden.

Out of cupboards and onto the worktable for close scrutiny come the jars and bottles, bags and canisters-the behind-the-scenes players in our kitchen. Anything that has lost its freshness or that hasn t found a place of importance over the past year gets replaced with new ingredients. In many locations in Asia, devotees of the Buddha dress his statues in their local temples. The Buddha has summer clothes and winter clothes. I like to prepare my kitchen in the same manner-new ingredients for each new season.
A wire shelf next to the Winterlake kitchen worktable holds bottles of oils and vinegars and a basket of treasures and delights bound for the summer salad bowl-dried dark cherries, black walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and golden raisins are some of this year s favorites. The salad basket succumbs to fad and fashion through the seasons and the years, and on forays through gourmet markets, I look for new contributions.
Our classic kitchen oil combination for salads is a mixture of grapeseed oil and walnut oil. We prefer grapeseed oil because it is light enough to allow other flavors to shine. We use it to barely coat the tender lettuce leaves we prefer. Next into the salad bowl goes a small toss of walnut oil, which adds a nutty, rich undertone to the salad. For salad vinegar, we use a sharp white or apple cider vinegar, at least 5 or 6 percent acidity. We purchase kitchen vinegar in glass jars. Vinegars that find their way to us in plastic containers are used for cleaning windows, brightening our copper pots, or for dabbing onto the freshly laundered white napkins we have at hand to wipe plate edges clean of smudges of sauce or mislaid fingerprints.
Our kitchen offers a variety of fruit vinegars- the kind that have figs or berries added to them. A splash of fruit vinegar is often the perfect finishing touch to a summer salad creation. We have as much aged balsamic vinegar on our shelves as we can afford. I imagine that there are kitchens in Italy filled with big jugs of balsamic vinegar where it can be used with wild abandon. Perhaps the chefs there dream of kitchens filled with salmon and halibut and crab.
We are less committed to herb vinegars. Even good-quality homemade herb vinegars can taste strange to me after a short time. I prefer to use herbs fresh alongside a clean, white vinegar for a purer taste.
Early on in my career, I thought we might find an olive oil that would become signature to our kitchen. No such luck. My exploration and discovery of new and interesting oils, particularly olive oil, will take more than my lifetime. We have favorites, for sure, like the buttery Moroccan oil I am currently enamored with. We always have on hand light, fruity California or French olive oils for everyday cooking and then a few extra-virgin specialty olive oils for particular uses. We use large quantities of canola and grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil has a high heat tolerance and is nearly tasteless, so it is versatile. Asian cuisine is frequently highlighted on our menus, so we always stock little bottles of rich, toasted sesame oil. A little butter and some sesame oil tossed into the saut pan can transform the simplest dish into sublime fare.
Years ago, I took a back-kitchen tour of Alain Ducasse s restaurant Le Louis XV, Monaco. Near many of the spotless stainless steel workstations sat huge burlap sacks of sel gris, the wet mineral gray salt found in nearly every working kitchen in France. Chefs just dipped into the sacks as needed. That tour, in some ways, began my expanded interest in specialty salt. Sel gris is used as a cooking salt and also as a finishing salt. It is dense, so it doesn t absorb moisture from food it touches (like blood from meat). I have always dreamed of having a big burlap sack of Sel gris but I am content with the smaller jars I can afford to purchase. I savor the rocky chunks of the fancier fleur de Sel from France, which is harvested in much same way as Sel gris, only refined more. We use kosher salt for everyday cooking, and fleur de Sel on salads, delicate herbs, and vegetables. And we prefer Sel gris for salting foods after they have been cooked. We always take care to dash bits of salt onto a tomato in a salad or over a tender piece of fish as the finishing touch.
I fill our pepper mills with a mixture of black peppercorns, white peppercorns, and allspice berries, something that I learned from famed French chef Madeleine Kamman in her 1984 book, In Madeleine s Kitchen. I don t use white pepper often because I find the taste a bit hot and dusty. In my cooking, I like the look of freshly cracked pepper on meats, greens, or vegetables, and I think pepper can add a little textural contrast.
Next on the shelf are big wicker baskets that we stock with a bounty of vegetables and fruits. For cooking, we favor Braeburn and Granny Smith apples, which travel best to us in backcountry Alaska and don t turn mealy. (By the way, a Braeburn and Granny Smith combination makes a delicious apple pie.) Navel oranges, Roma tomatoes, and romaine lettuce are also good travelers and durable early summer choices. We fill the rest of the baskets with other seasonal staples of our kitchen, such as summer squash of all kinds, other tomatoes of all types, melons, rhubarb, mushrooms, and loads of cherries.
On the pantry shelf, we always have rice-Thai jasmine, Indian basmati, and Japanese-style short-grain rice are permanent staples on both staff and guest menus. If we can t find our favorite carnaroli rice, we substitute medium-grained California rice for risotto dishes. We use medium-grained brown rice mixed with chicken stock in a favorite risotto dish at Winterlake Lodge. We add in just-picked broccoli and other summer vegetables, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and smoked halibut-our secret ingredient.
Near the stove is a big rack with pots and pans. I use copper pans and big stainless steel pots. Necessities include good knives, whisks, peelers, stacks of clean kitchen towels that we use for everything from potholders to strainers, and sturdy wooden spoons. Otherwise, we keep the clutter in the kitchen to a minimum.
In the summer we have an abundance of commercially caught wild Alaska salmon available for our menus. Even though our valley is famous for its salmon, we purchase our salmon from a professional fishmonger in Anchorage because it is illegal for lodges to serve sport-caught fish. All five species of salmon are available to us, but we typically serve red salmon, silver salmon, and king salmon, in that order of preference. We don t serve rainbow trout at Winterlake, because Carl is a strong believer in a catch-and-release policy for wild rainbow trout in Alaska and I don t care for the quality or flavor of farmed rainbow trout. Since we encourage our guests to not harm rainbows, we think we shouldn t serve them on a plate!
King crab is a big summer favorite for many Alaskans. Of all the varieties of crab, I prefer king crab because the flesh is distributed in big meaty pieces, and the shells are easy to crack and handle. It also makes a particularly nice, clear crab stock. I buy frozen king crab in 10-pound cases and I often ask our fishmonger to split the legs in half to ease the kitchen work. I ve never bought a live king crab because they are usually processed at sea. King crab is really an Alaskan fast food. For an elegant, quick meal, you simply have to defrost a leg of king crab and serve it up with melted butter and lemon. For Winterlake barbecues, crab is served along with reindeer steaks, salmon, and other grilled fare. My favorite way to serve king crab is on a large platter, family style. We give each of our guests a big white bowl of garlicky pasta studded with peas, grilled onion, herbs, and fresh tomatoes. They can select crab legs from the platter. A glass of Sancerre, a hot buttery chunk of French bread, and dinner is served.

How to fillet a fish
These days when you buy salmon in the market, it usually is available in fillet form. Look for moist, fresh flesh that isn t dried out, discolored, or weeping. If you have a whole fish and need to fillet it yourself, start at the head rather than at the tail. I like to put a green flat nylon scrub sponge between the fish and the cutting board to anchor the fish so it won t slip around. Then I stand in relation to the fish so I can move a knife toward me. For big salmon, I use a long meat-slicing knife with small hollowed grooves along the blade. I cut around the gills until the knife hits the backbone. Then, holding the knife flat against the backbone, I cut toward the tail using the backbone as a guide. One quick slice and the fillet is freed from the bone. Flip the fish over and repeat.

Hot smoked (Kippered) Versus Cold-smoked (Lox) Salmon
Hot-smoked, or kippered, salmon is cured in brine and then heated in the process of smoking to a temperature of about 130 F. Hot-smoked salmon is tender and flaky, and has a mild taste. It is perfect for adding to pasta, soups, and other cooked dishes. Cold-smoked salmon, called lox when herbs are added, is cold-smoked and essentially raw, with the fish never exceeding 90 F in the smoking process. It is served sliced thinly for appetizers and with bagels and cream cheese.
To make hot-smoked salmon, take a salmon fillet with the skin intact on one side. Score the skin with diagonal slashes (but don t cut through the skin). Cover the fillet completely in a 1:1 mixture of salt and brown sugar for 12 to 24 hours. Remove the fish, rinse and dry. Brush a syrupy mixture of 1 part brown sugar and 1 part rum over the fillet several times, letting the glaze dry slightly before applying the next coat. The fillet is now ready to go into the smoker.
To make cold-smoked salmon, follow the instructions for hot-smoked salmon for preparing the fillet and covering the salmon in the dry salt and sugar mixture for 12 to 24 hours. Rinse the fillet well. Place about 5 pounds of salt into a 5-pound rectangular food storage container. Add enough water to dissolve the salt. Place the fillet into the brine and let it sit for about 12 hours. Remove the fillet from the brine and rinse repeatedly in cold water. Pat the fillet dry. Glaze the fillet with a syrupy mixture of rum and brown sugar as with the hot-smoked salmon above. The fillet is now ready to go into the cold smoker.
Edible flowers from the Winterlake garden
Anise hyssop
Bee balm
Borage
Calendula
Daylily
Dianthus
Elderberry
Johnny jump-up
Lavender
Lilac
Marigold
Marigold
Mint
Nasturtium
Pansy
Rugosa rose
Sage
Scarlet runner bean
Sweet woodruff
Thyme
Tulips
Violets

Carl s favorite crab is Dungeness. From May through September we can buy live Dungeness crab. Other times of the year, we buy it precooked and frozen. Carl thinks Dungeness is much more flavorful and worth the extra effort to crack and eat. When you come to Winterlake, you ll have to decide for yourself whether you prefer king crab or Dungeness crab.
To grill large quantities of food, Carl made barbecues from two old 55-gallon drums cut in half lengthwise. We can shut the lids and smoke foods with alder wood we gather from the back meadow. We had sturdy racks made by a welding company in Anchorage for each barrel to serve as the grilling surface. And we placed the barrels snugly onto a rock-and-gravel pad.
A Winterlake tradition, we toss herbs from the garden into the barbecue fire. Sometimes I put Pyrex plates with delicate vegetables onto the barbecue to cold-smoke them a bit in the smoldering herbs. Lovage is a favorite herb added to the barbecue; it s a big green leafy plant with a stout stem that survives even our worst winters, and it tastes and smells something like celery.
On barbecue days, we play bluegrass music outside while the vegetables, meats, and fish are cooking. This is an often-repeated scene throughout the summer: Bill Monroe is crooning, our black Labrador, Willow, is begging guests to throw the Frisbee, the two black barrels of the barbecue are smoking away with mouthwatering aromas, the sky is a vivid blue, and the lake is sparkling.
In the summer, hiking to the 3,900-foot summit of Wolverine Mountain behind the lodge is a popular activity. The trip takes a few hours, but hikers are rewarded with a spectacular view of the valley and Mount McKinley. We have a small box on the summit that houses a notebook where guests can leave a comment. We make up backpacks of food for the hikers that include our houseblend trail mix. Preparing these hiking lunches gives us an opportunity to serve tasty deli foods-good mustards, crusty bread, sausages, cheeses, pickles. I reserve our fresh eggs from the chicken coop for our daily breakfast, the mayonnaise we make from scratch each day, and for picnic dishes.
Our glorious summer garden brings so much to our cooking and to our joy in cooking that our kitchen surely wouldn t be the same without the fresh herbs, edible flowers, and vegetables just pulled from the earth moments before our meal.
The cleared land at Winterlake Lodge rolls gently toward the lake and has been planted with grass. There we can play Frisbee with Willow or stretch out on the grass and spend the afternoon watching the clouds roll by. It was difficult to figure out where to plant a garden without disturbing the beauty of the natural landscape. To settle the matter, we built several raised beds in different spots around the lodge. Raised beds are an effective way to garden in Alaska and it s interesting to visit different beds and locations around the grounds.

An Order List of Seedling Flats for Winterlake Lodge
African blue basil
Anise hyssop
Bronze fennel
Calendulas
French sorrel
French tarragon
Italian parsley
Lavender
Lemon basil
Lemon verbena
Monarda
Golden oregano
Pansies (dark blue)
Sage - mixed pineapple, honeydew, purple, peach
Salad burnet
Scarlet runner beans
Snapdragons
Sweet William (red)
Thyme
Vietnamese coriander

My interest in gardening and living the country life started the first day we moved to the back-country in the fall of 1983. My mother had given me a big bag of tulip bulbs as a house-warming gift. I carefully planted the bulbs about 2 feet apart in a straight line along the garden path. And that is what I got in the springtime- a sparse collection of lonely little tulips lined up like startled soldiers against the fence. I looked upon my tulip bed design and knew I had a way to go in my creative gardening career.
Most of my experience growing edibles in Alaska has been with herbs, flowers, and unusual vegetables, plants that grow in northern climates or aren t readily available commercially. With early enthusiasm I used to plant fifteen zucchini plants and several rows of cabbage. But with multiple lodges, I now have to make some concessions to time management and grow only those plants that don t need constant attention. I am happy to focus my Winterlake gardening efforts on herbs and edibles, both planted and wild.
At Winterlake, we design our dishes with aesthetics in mind. We use large, oversized plates and fill them only about three-fourths full, which allows restful white space for the diner s eye. We are thoughtful about the designs and patterns of the plates themselves with regard to the food placed on them. We pay close attention to what is placed in the upper right-hand corner because that is where the eye is naturally drawn to first. We don t place foods onto the rims of plates as some chefs like to do. If we are using a sauce in a dish, it generally goes underneath the food, not on top of it. We tend to center our food in the middle of a plate. With the fruits of our garden we can make even the simplest dishes look beautiful and elegant.
OUR LIFE WITH BEARS
It was one of those late summer evenings when it just begins to get dark again in the North. The darkness had returned after weeks of our working long days with the late-night sun. The darkness draws us indoors and offers a cozy evening atmosphere in the lodge. Carl and I were sleeping under the white fluff of our light down quilt and surrounding mosquito netting. Our daughter Mandy was in the room next to us in our private living area on the second floor of the main lodge.
Our bedroom is above the kitchen, which feels cozy to me-as if we live in an old-fashioned family-run French caf or an early American colonial inn. Sometimes when it is late at night and we hear a knock on the back door, we go down with our propane lantern to greet our guests, as innkeepers have done for hundreds of years. This living arrangement has its advantages-we don t have very far to commute. But some nights can be late and noisy when there is a lively group in the lodge.

Both Carl and I are light sleepers because of years of being on the alert for unusual sounds, whether it is guests who need us, a generator sounding not-quite-right, or that familiar late-night sound of bears rustling around the back door. In the summer, everything has to be battened down before bedtime. We don t leave dog food, garbage, or anything else outside that might attract bears. We shut and latch all our windows and we remove our screens so bears won t shred them with their claws. We put the screens back up in the morning so mosquitoes don t get in the lodge.
One particular night, Carl and I had just drifted off to sleep when Mandy woke us up by quietly saying at our bedside, Uh, Dad. I think there is a bear downstairs.
Carl and I leaped up, both of us familiar with our fire drill for mysterious sounds. Carl grabbed the shotgun and flashlight. I grabbed the broom. I don t really know why a broom brings me such comfort when I am faced with animal encounters, but I have the sense that if I m ever in real danger, I can stick the bristles of the broom up the nose of a bear and scare him away. Lucky for me, I ve never had to actually test my theory.

The three of us crept down the stairs-Carl first, then me, then Mandy-and stood at the glass door that divides the lodge s main room from the kitchen. Our heavy flashlight beamed narrow swaths of light through the dark kitchen, but we couldn t see the bear.
Go on. Get out of here, Carl shouted, using a firm but intimate tone, as if the bear could understand him. I banged my broom against the door. Mandy squeaked a warning as she stood behind Carl. We weren t sure whether we would scare the bear away or if we would just entice him in our direction.
A big black bear ambled into the light, and seemed as startled by us as we were of him. He looked at us and then, incredibly, jumped on top of our refrigerator and sat perched there like a dark furry refrigerator troll. If I had been in command of my wits, I would have snapped a photo of that bear and sent it to the refrigerator manufacturer.
The next moment, the bear jumped onto the counter and out through the open window next to the stove-the one he must have come in. In an instant, our bear was gone into the night. Carl went out and started the generator so we could turn on the lights and assess the damage. The bear had taken the whole window out of its frame and the glass was lying outside unbroken on the grass. He must have caught his claws underneath the window frame and popped it out of the log wall in one swipe. Carl only had to put the window back in the frame and nail it shut, a five-minute job. Our bear havoc amounted to only a little bear scat on the floor, a half-eaten honeydew melon, and a big paw print in the butter dish. A quick mopping of the floor and we were back in our beds. The guests in camp that night slept through our big adventure.

The same bear began to make nightly visits, no doubt looking for more sweet melon and rich butter. And we became concerned because he could be a danger to our guests if there were a surprise encounter in the darkness.
I recall reading that the Siberian word for bear means owner of the earth. One evening, shortly after our kitchen break-in, I was sitting quietly in the main lodge looking out the window onto the lake. The evening was glorious with steely gray clouds in the sky and a mauve sunset just beginning to splash over the mountain. Swans were flying overhead, and the moment was utterly quiet and peaceful. As I looked over the grassy lawn down to the water, I saw our bear, sitting motionless beside the lake. He was gazing out over the lake, too, almost contemplatively. Who knows what he was thinking, but we had a shared moment in the still dusk. After that, he wandered into the woods not to be seen again. I wonder if that bear remembered fondly his midnight snack of butter and honeydew melon.
For almost twenty years, we owned a small bearviewing lodge just through the pass from Winterlake and at the entrance to Lake Clark. There, brown (grizzly) bears gather to fish for salmon in the Big River Lakes system. Redoubt Bay Lodge is perched on a knoll that looks over Beaver Lake and beyond to the waterfalls. There, every summer, a spectacular bear show unfolds with bears of all sizes, both black and grizzly, trundling along the narrow little bear trails worn into the hillside, down to the lakeshore to fish- mothers and cubs, bears with long noses, bears with blond coats, skinny bears and fat ones, brave bears, and some young bears who aren t very good fishers at all. People fly in to the lake and sit in boats in the lagoon to watch bears fish or nurse their cubs or play.

All summer long the bears people-watch, too, and they become used to the presence of humans. Employees and the guests at the lodge get to know the Big River bears intimately through observing their day-to-day behavior. Bears and employees live respectfully in a shared space. At Redoubt Bay Lodge, the lodge staff try to do their part to prevent bear encounters. They don t burn any garbage there, but instead fly it out to Anchorage for disposal. They don t do any barbecuing there, and they don t even have pets there that might attract curious bears. When bears come into the yard, they have the right-of-way.
A ONE-MILE WALK
I have always approached my love of living close to nature from an aesthetic perspective rather than an athletic one. I d thought of myself as someone who would rather smell the roses than conquer the mountain. But since my fortune has been cast in the wilds of Alaska, I have become an accidental, but enthusiastic, wilderness adventurer.
In the past thirty years of living an adventuresome life, I have been tossed from rafts into raging rivers, I ve hung on to my skis for dear life in snowstorms, and I ve shooed away bears from my kitchen with my trusty broom. I ve stayed strong during earthquakes, floods, and fires. Through it all, nothing has dampened my enthusiasm for our life in rural Alaska. For me, reward is found in moments-usually small, fleeting moments-when I observe such perfect beauty in the natural world that I m overwhelmed with wonder and gratitude. I feel as if these moments would never have been revealed to me if I didn t live where I do. Every Alaskan, I think, has this same notion of being in a special place-found in observing the northern lights, the starry skies of winter, moose browsing in deep snow, or eagles soaring overhead.
A compelling closeness with nature fills me during regular walks down a particular woodland trail from Winterlake Lodge, past the creek to the meadow, around Red Lake, and back again. This two-mile loop is so simple and so complex at the same time that it holds the promise of a lifetime of intrigue and awareness for me. I can walk down the trail every day and see something different. Wildflowers, mushrooms, butterflies, trees-these things all captivate me and give me something to study.
Our wilderness trail is a self-contained universe, existing independent of any and all modern-day concerns. The animals and trees and plants that inhabit the trail have their own daily dramas and triumphs, however. That s never more vivid than in the winter when life-and-death tales are conveyed in tiny tracks left on the snow s surface: tentative steps, a skitter and a dash, then the abrupt end to the tracks, and the faint outline of a brush of wingtips in the soft powdery, surface.

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