Tag Archives: sustainability

Seafood from the Back of a Truck

Under typical circumstances, offers of seafood from a lone vehicle in a gas station parking lot would have sent up an immediate red flag.  But the brightly hand-painted signs promising Kodiak scallops and Alaskan shrimp propped up next to a pickup truck last week were surprisingly reassuring, as was the salesman, who identified the origin and method of harvest for each of his goods.  I walked away with 2 1/2 pounds of shrimp and almost 2 pounds of scallops which were local, had lived well, and were free of chemicals, pesticides and shelf-life stabilizers.

When I got my little gems home, I looked up a few different recipes, but ultimately decided to freestyle dinner.  First, I had to do something with the shrimp.  Most of my shrimp cooking experience has included a frozen bag of EZ peelers, but these mamas needed a bit more work.  They had been de-headed and de-veined, but still retained copious numbers of legs and eggs.

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After some experimentation, I ended up snipping down the back of each carapace with some kitchen scissors.  The meat came out easily after that, even if it was a bit labor intensive to cut a slit in each individual shrimp.

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I diced up some bacon and cooked it about half way on the stove, then added some sliced zucchini and green onions.  I threw in the shrimp and seasoned it all with sea salt, pepper, thyme and garlic.

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For the scallops, I heated up an empty pan.  I coated the scallops with avocado oil, and sprinkled them with sea salt and pepper.  There were so many scallops, I had to sear them in three batches, about 45 seconds on each side.

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I ended up with more scallops than I’ve ever seen at once!  I’ve never liked ordering shellfish in restaurants, because the quantity is always disappointing.  There was no skimping on shrimp and scallops at our house that night.

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I made up a basic risotto for a carby treat, and served us up!  Si wasn’t convinced that this meal was anything special, but John was impressed.  Restaurant shellfish lacks both quantity AND quality, it turns out.  The scallops were tender and moist, and the shrimp tasted so fresh.  There are certainly some perks that come with living at the source.

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2014 Checklist and New Year’s Day in Photos

We may be living in the last frontier, but we are still far removed from frontier living.  In lieu of resolutions for the new year, I instead made a checklist of things I’d like to accomplish in 2014, all centered around sustainable, local living:

1. Grow a garden – Last spring, John did some strategic Craigslisting, and traded a jackhammer he no longer needed for piles of redwood 2×12’s, which we made into planter boxes.  We lined the bottoms with gopher wire, filled them with dirt, and fertilized with worm castings.  I collected packets of heirloom seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  Spring just finished melting off the last of winter and…we decided to move to Alaska, so we had to scrap the whole project.  I’m looking forward to sweet redemption this year.

2. Shoot something and eat it – I grew up around hunting, but still have managed to know almost nothing about it.  Tags? Licenses? Permits?  I don’t even know where to start.  I’ve fired a 9mm and a .45 in a shooting range, and an M-16 with blanks, but that was about 10 years ago.  Despite the obstacles of ignorance and inexperience, I’m sure it can be done.  I should probably start making some local friends.

Once I navigate the legalities and subtleties of the hunting part, I’ll be thrilled to get on to the eating part.  I picked up a copy of “Cooking Alaskan” at a thrift store, and have perused such timeless recipes such as “Baked Seal Hindquarter”, “Moose Tongue Stew”, and “Ptarmigan and Dumplings”.  The only question now is which magical meat will end up in my pan?

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3. Catch more fish – This at least I have a start on, having caught my first Sockeye salmon last July.  I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of Alaskan fishing with those outings, however.  There is still charter fishing, fly fishing, and ice fishing among other fishing venues that I continue to know next to nothing about.  Again, friends in the know would be quite a boon.

4. Can – This should easy if my garden is remotely successful.  Anything that can be done in the kitchen is well within my comfort zone.  I tried to make blackberry jam once, and it completely bombed, but I came up quite short of the recipe’s called for amount of blackberries.  I’ll call that one a fluke.

5. Make soap – I bought a book on soapmaking in high school, undoubtably linked to the timing of Fight Club coming out on VHS.  I’ve dragged the book with me everywhere.  It’s time to make that dream a reality.

6. Go berry picking – For this kind of expedition to be fruitful (terrible pun intended), I not only need to make friends, but make friends that really like me.  The locations of berry picking spots in Alaska aren’t something that can be Googled.  They seem to be filed less in the category of ‘public information” and more so in ‘highly classified’.

To add some check marks to my list, I’ll need to put in some concentrated effort on planning, learning, and networking. It’s a good thing I gave myself the whole year.  Meanwhile, here is a photo recap of our New Year’s Day.

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John and Silas enjoyed some more downhill action…

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while Skye and I explored 4 miles of trails.  Here is what we saw:Image

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