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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Deer Thai Curry

Curry and vegetables prior to adding the deer meat

Sometimes it seems that there are only so many recipes for deer meat.  This is not actually true but it sure seems that way when you're in a cooking rut.  Earlier this year I was doing lots of slow cooked, rare roasts, pot roasts, and stir fries.  Our family desperately needed some variety.  Enter Thai curry!

Thai curry is easy, different, and super tasty.  It's easy to cook because you can buy the curry paste at Safeway.  Basically all you need to buy is a can of coconut milk, some ginger root, and the paste (see bottom photo of the paste I bought in the Asian section of Safeway).  All the rest of the ingredients you can freelance depending on what you have in the fridge or outside in the garden.  I don't think you even absolutely have to have the ginger root either.

The directions for the curry are right on the container - basically 50 grams of curry paste (a little bit more than 3 tablespoons) with a can of coconut milk.  The directions call for cooking the meat in oil and then adding the paste and milk, and then the vegetables last.  But since it is wild game I do not like to over cook the meat.  So I cook it in peanut oil first and add just a little bit of curry paste (maybe a teaspoon full).  Then before the meat is cooked thru I remove it and set it aside in a bowl.

Now comes the part when you can freelance - what vegetables do you have on hand?  Last night I cooked up an onion in oil and grated some ginger in with it.  Then I added 2 red peppers, asparagus spears and string beans.  At this point I added the 3 tablespoons of green curry paste (I actually prefer the red curry and yellow is my least favorite) and stirred it into the vegetables.  Then I added the can of coconut milk and 1/2 the same can of water.  I used the coconut milk can to measure the water so as to get all the coconut flavor possible.  I then added kale from my garden and brought the whole pot to a low simmer (top photo).

Once the vegetables seemed done I re added the already cooked deer meat (second photo).  I used a deer backstrap from a sitka blacktail I shot last August.  There is no better deer meat than August sitka blacktail.  But shoulder, and hindquarter deer meat would work well too - I'd stay away from calf, shank, neck, and other cuts with lots of connective tissue.  Such cuts require longer cooking times and tend to be tough.  For this recipe tender cuts and quick cook times are best.  You want the meat still pink when you add it - preferably just before serving it.  At this time, I also added some basil leaves that I had growing on the windowsill.  While the recipe on the box did not call for basil it sure looks like basil that they got on the meal shown on the curry container (bottom photo).

I served my curry over bismati rice.  And wow is this good.  And very different from all the other ways I've been cooking deer meat.  Sometimes it is good to mix it up.  Patrick

Adding the pre-cooked deer meat to the vegetables and curry

Final touch - some fresh basil that I shredded with my hands on top just before serving over rice

The curry paste that I used - the red curry is also excellent.  I bet the brand does not matter all that much just so long as it is a paste

Garden REALLY growing

In the last 2 weeks the garden has really taken off.  Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post about how far along the garden was for the time of year (click here to see).  Looking back I am amazed at how quickly it continues to grow.  The top three pictures were taken exactly a week ago while the bottom 4 were taken today.  Look how quickly the peas are growing.  At this rate I might be eating carrots, peas and beats in July.  

Today I also checked in on the saplings I planted this spring (click here to see post).  For a long time nothing much happened and I was getting a little worried that I had planted them too early.  But lately they too have started to grow quickly.  The bottom photo is of the big leaf maple.  I think I know where it got its name.  Patrick

Peas, beats and carrots one week ago
Beats, lettuce and carrots one week ago

Potatoes a week ago

Potatoes today - with new lawn clipping mulch

Beat lettuce and carrots today

Peas, beats and carrots today

Parsley, kale and radishes today

Big leaf maple sapling

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The North Sister

The immediately local ski season ended just over a week ago. There is still plenty of snow in the backcountry, but it'll take more than a quick, 'after work hike' to get to it.  This matters because generally with the end of ski season I get out of shape.  Summer before hunting season is the nadir of my yearly fitness routine. Maybe I'll mow the lawn, take the dogs for a walk, go kayaking, weed the garden, but nothing truly cardiovascular.

But this year I am trying to stay on top of things by going for quick climbs up nearby mountains.  Today I climbed the North Sister.  I went up at a very rapid pace without stopping.  My intent was to break 30 minutes from the car to the tippy top, and I did it in just under 29 - whooo hooo.  Then I went down very slowly to help the knees and enjoyed the view and wild flowers.  Today it took me 45 minutes to climb down.

In years past, by the time I get back to climbing mountains after ski season I am super slow.  I can remember being happy with breaking 40 minutes on the climb I just did today.  So hopefully this summer I will not lose too much in the way of conditioning.  That said, in years past I am also usually still skiing at this time.  Let's see where I am at in late July!


If you look closely you can see my car at the pull out on the left (the black dot).

Kamchatka Rhodies - I never realized they are so hairy

Friday, June 27, 2014

A friend and co-worker

When I started my post as the base physical therapist, it was an added bonus that I already knew at least 1 person who walked my new unfamiliar hallways.  

My friend Brooks was sure to stop in and check to see how I was doing and educate me on how the inner workings of the coast guard.  Brooks is the dentist at the base clinic and we work in the same building, in different departments. He is also a friend to our family and someone who celebrates birthdays with us, hunts with Patrick and brings a fun spirit to our lives. 

Last winter, Brooks took the time to shuck crab with Stuey-shell and crab meat pieces, crab juices flying everywhere, but ear to ear smiles on Stuey's face.   On his travels to Japan this past winter, Brooks brought back Japanese "Peeps"  for the kids -the marshmallow chocolated covered dessert creations-each in their own Japanese Peeps designer boxes! 

Brooks reinforce the notion that things will be ok and that Nora and Stuey are ok kids. And remind me that they ARE kids. At times when I'm in the muck of parenting, theres nothing better than a friend giving some kind words of encouragement and anecdotes which leave me belly laughing. Anecdotes which include stories of his childhood with his brother, his parents and then other  stories of his travels around the world which always have fun endings. 

 In celebration of Brooks transferring to Juneau for his next assignment, the clinic shared an amazing potluck of mexican food and then the moistest carrot cake on earth. Happy Trails to a friend who really enjoys the trails (and waves) of Kodiak right along with us. Happy Trails to a friend who makes the most of where ever he lives.  I imagine he will embrace Juneau for all it has to offer, just as he has done in Kodiak. 

(That said, Brooks isn't leaving town for a month, so there will be more chances to toast to his new adventures! AND he'll be back to Kodiak  lots this fall and winter for more hunting adventures. )


Uncle Roger's 70th!

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of celebrating with my Uncle Roger for his 70th birthday. Uncle Roger is my late fathers brother and he was visiting from Florida (and most recently, Homer).  In the Herrnsteen family tradition, we enjoyed mint chocolate chip ice cream with the cake! Together we cooked a meal of lentil soup, pan fried cod, a big salad and chocolate cake. 

The only person missing was my dad-but I truly believe he was there in spirit with us, smiling at us from above. 


Thursday, June 26, 2014

St Mary's Art Festival

This post should almost be titled from the 'archives'.  It is definitely one that got away.  It is pictures of our kids in the St Mary's Art festival from way back in April.

As Nora just said after seeing the blog photos, 'you should say that was a long time ago.'

That's Nora hiding behind the  drum off on the right

Stuey and classmates singing 'Alouette' in French and pointing to various facial features - that's Stuey in the back right

The simplicity of a school performance with vocals and instrumentals-we like it!

Zoya and Patrick

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Tough Mane

Did you know that you can hold onto a horses mane without it hurting the horse? That even the strongest of tugs won't hurt them. 

Today I rode Smokey bareback and I gripped his thick mane firmly with my hands. Without the saddle to contend with, I could feel the every motion of his spine and hips so perfectly. In many regards riding bareback felt easier than riding with a saddle on. A bareback rider and their horse are essentilally one. 

When Becka suggested I do a posting trot when bareback,  I knew it wouldn't be pretty. There was a lot of thigh squeezing involved to support myself with the movement of the post. Keeping my heels down felt like a perpetual struggle to remember. But that hardest part was the "squeeze". Squeezing my thighs together, calfs together to increase the energy to bring him to a walk. 

The sun was blazing and I regretted wearing two layers of shirts, something which hardly ever happens in Kodiak. Every lesson is different and todays was out in the "ring" where Smokey and I ride around a smaller circle with Becka in the middle cueing and guiding. My challenge is to keep Smokey off the rails, as well as making him go through a puddle that he doesn't want to go through. All tests for me in my horsemanship. Can I make Smokey navigate the puddle he dislikes? I learned how. 

The past few months have been freeing. Freeing to try new things, explore the arts  with summer adult art camp and soon I'm going to do an online summer writing class. I've realized, if not now, then when? 

And some picutres from St. Mary's earlier in the school year. Erica V. and I made a class quilt with Nora's class. We helped all the kids sew quilt squares together then Erica and I assembled the quilt together and it was auctioned off at the school auction. 


Busy, Busy Weekend

It was a very busy weekend.  The kids and I went set netting out at Pasagshak where Stuey and Nora ferried people across the river in our inflatable kayaks.  Then on Sunday we biked out to the Military History Museum at Fort Abercromie.  And finally, best of all, the salmon berries got ripe enough to pick in substantial numbers.

The set netting out at Pasagshak was a bust in terms of fish for the family.  We did not catch any salmon - only a couple of dolly varden trout, and a mess of dungeness crab got tangled in the net.  Worst of all it started to rain and we almost got Mike's truck totally stuck pulling the boat out of the water.  It could have been - Pasagshak salmon: 1 truck; Pasagshak Set netters: nothing.  It's a very good thing it ended in a draw.

But the trip to Pasagshak was worth it because the kids got to see the whole set netting process and do some kayaking.  I am amazed at how quickly Stuey and Nora have learned to kayak.

We biked from our house to the Military History Museum at Fort Abercrombie State Park - a bike trip with a destination.  The kids loved to type on the typewriters.  This made me feel old because I actually used a manual typewriter in college to type papers.  I'd forgotten all about how they 'bing' and then you use the scroll bar to move the paper to the next line.  I was also a little surprised that Stuey and Nora did not know how to use a rotary phone - whoa!  Wasn't it just the other day that we got push button phones?

Finally Nora and Stuey tried on various military uniforms and posed for photos in the army jeep.  Nora's namesake drove an ambulance in WWI, but I am pretty sure we got Nora's uniform wrong.  Patrick

Sunday, June 22, 2014

It's June

It's June and our house has moved into summer mode.  The kids have summer camp at St Mary's every day from 9 to noon, and I'm no longer going skiing every day after work.  Dog walks at Abercrombie are now my daily exercise.  My archaeological surveys to Kodiak's remote places are done too.  It's summer, and time to kick back if you can.

I actually prefer winter with its less hectic schedule, but summer does have its warmth and green, green moments.  And pretty soon it'll be hunting season!

I had a funny moment while serving Stuey beef chow mein the other night. It was one of those lazy dinner nights and I had purchased canned beef chow mein (it came in 2 cans) - so perhaps it is understandable that he did not want to eat it.  He asked what it was, and I replied, 'it's beef chow mein'.  He replied,  'I don't want to eat something with a Spanish name'.  For some reason all I could think of was Warren Zevon and 'Werewolves of London' - "Gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein".   Patrick

Catching & Canning Reds

Last week one day after work I went out with Mike and Joe and set a net in front of the Buskin.  Right away we caught some salmon, but then lots of other people set their nets all around us (we got 'corked') and the fishing slowed.  We used the whaler to set the net and then waited and watched the net from Mike's boat with a cabin. Dawson joined us and we waited and waited.  But waiting on Mike's boat with good company was sort of like going to a cocktail party.  And we caught enough fish to justify the trip from a 'feeding the family' standpoint.  We ended up with 9 fish but 7 of them were caught in the fist 1/2 hour.

Back home we canned up the red salmon and the 6 fish we canned was almost the perfect amount.  I just about filled 2 canners with 1/2 pint jars.  Mike had lightly smoked 3 of the fish.  So one canner was lightly smoked while the other was plain.  We ended up with 40 jars or 20 pounds of finished product.

Our family LOVES canned salmon.  We used to freeze a lot of salmon but find we prefer canned salmon.  These days we either eat our salmon fresh or can it.

I think canned salmon gets a bit of a bad reputation because generally the stuff you buy or that many people make is terrible.  Who wants the skin and bones in with their salmon?  Yuck! it looks and tastes like catfood.  Or worse yet there are the people who can poor quality fish.  They figure the quality does not matter if it is getting canned and will can fish that has been in the freezer for 1/2 a year, or fish that was not properly bled out or iced.

Mike and I have done some experiments and have noticed that fish that has already been frozen cans up 'dry' while fish that was not bled or iced well tastes and smells 'fishy' in the can.  The skin and bones is a more controversial subject.  There are many locals who swear by the skin and bones - makes it taste better and far healthier they say.  Mike and I have done side-by-side comparisons of fish canned with skin and without and also with and without the bones.  The bones do not make any difference flavor wise - but do make a difference in texture.

But the big difference is between salmon canned with the skin on versus without.  The skin definitely imparts a strong fishy taste and smell.  However, we found that if you scaled and slimed the salmon first and then canned it that there was no bad smell or taste.  So if you want to leave the skin on - then scale and slime it first.

Mike and I generally can our fish without the skin or bones.  And our families LOVE it.

Also I am convinced that if commercial salmon was all canned without the skin and bones it would be far, far more popular than canned tuna fish.  But that is a story for another blog post.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Garden Doings

Peas, beats and carrots

We've been eating out of our garden for about 2 weeks now.  The radishes are almost done, we're swamped with salad greens, and just starting to eat kale.  That's about 2 weeks ahead of last year, and way ahead of where we were in 2011 (click here).  Last year our garden did not look about the same until two weeks later (click here).  I'd say we are 2 or 3 weeks ahead of normal - except for the potatoes which seem to keep to the exact same schedule every year.

This year I kept things simple with lots of carrots, lettuce, beats and peas in the raised beds.  I added cilantro in with the salad greens and that seems to have been a good idea.  The main garden and raised beds next door are full of potatoes while the planters around the house have kale.  I planted radishes beside the potatoes and kale knowing that they would be all gone by the end of June and that the other plants could fill in the vacated space.

Another new trick that I discovered this year was to let the beach peat for the potatoes sprout weeds.  The beach peat is full of lamb's quarter seeds, and are a 'weed' that I think tastes better than spinach!  In years past I pondered how I could get lambs quarter into my garden (click here), and now I finally figured it out.  Lambs quarter is just like spinach except it does not bolt or make your mouth feel raw with oxialic acid.

On another seasonal note - I noticed that the first salmonberries are almost ripe.  I can't remember ever eating salmonberries prior to July, and this year it looks like we'll beat the beginning of summer.  I found the almost ripe berries with the kids on Sunday.  Nora called dibs on the berry pictured.  Patrick

Beat, lettuce (with cilantro mixed in) and carrots

Potato beds with lambs quarter 'weeds' and radishes at one side

Salmonberry on Sunday

Same berry yesterday - it ought to be ready to eat by this afternoon.  Nora has called dibs on the first berry of the season.