July 09, 2011
It’s summer! And I am relishing the fact that I don’t have to come up with any breakfast, lunch or dinner meals for another two months. This is a supremely wonderful thing for a mom of two toddlers.
One of my favorite foods has to be a delicious sandwich spread from one of our returning dinner cooks, Kristen. Available on our guest lunchline, I use the romanesco instead of mayonnaise or mustard and make my sandwich per usual—home-roasted turkey, jack cheese, fresh lettuce or cucumber slices from our greenhouse, some home-roasted vegetables or a couple slices of fresh tomato. The result is a highly un-usual and very delicious sandwich. The romanesco adds a mysterious and flavorful richness that pairs well with any savory meat and/or cheese combination on a sandwich.
This recipe was quite popular with our guests last summer, a handful of whom requested that we email them the recipe. I am terribly ashamed that I am only now getting around to typing it up! Better late than never, right?
Puree in food processor:
1 cup toasted almonds
2/3 cup lightly oiled and toasted panko bread crumbs
1 clove garlic
1 guajio, chipotle, or other smoky-flavored pepper (roasted, soaked in hot water for a few minutes and seeded)
¼ teaspoon roasted jalapeno pepper (optional)
Add and puree again:
2-3 roasted red peppers
3-4 roasted cherry tomatoes
a few sprigs of picked thyme
lemon juice to taste
salt to taste
Keeps well refrigerated. Spread thinly (or not so thinly) on both sides of your sandwich. Yum!
And did I say greenhouse cucumbers? Yes, we have loads of them. A summer gazpacho primarily composed of cucumbers is already on the weekly dinner menu as a starter. Fresh pickles or shaved cucumber and fennel salad with creamy dill dressing anyone? Please email us your favorite cucumber recipes from your overflowing garden or greenhouse.
Happy summer and bon appétit!
January 07, 2011
Perhaps it’s just that people are reminded of food this holiday season, but my email in-box these days has a number of “Recipe Requests” lingering among the, frankly, not-so-urgent messages. While our current cookbook, A Cache of Recipes, has recipes for a good number of Camp Denali’s standbys and other recipes that will tempt you to tie on your apron and give them a try, it does not, regrettably, include any of our current entrees. Hence the myriad requests for recipes that we receive during the summer and on into the winter months.
Our kitchens turn out wholesome, flavorful, attractive meals to roughly 150 people 100 days out of the year in the middle of Denali National Park. Each day we produce sit-down breakfasts, three-course dinners, and a gourmet make-your-own lunch buffet for our guests. In a time-honored “do it yourself; make it yourself “ tradition, we produce food from scratch, whether it’s stocks, sauces, or vinaigrettes used in dinners, or granola and yogurt served at the morning cereal bar. In addition, each day our full time baker turns out croissants and breakfast breads, artisan dinner breads, multigrain sandwich bread, fresh cookies, and desserts.
Where our food comes from matters a great deal to us. While we cannot claim much “slow food” fame in the way of locally, sustainably grown and produced food, we are trying reduce the carbon footprint of our food supply here in the subarctic. As much as possible, we buy local, seasonal and organic. Sourcing food that meets these criteria is no small challenge and takes considerable planning, effort and philosophical commitment.
Closest to home in our own green house and gardens we grow salad greens, herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes, and edible flowers. This past year we were entirely self sufficient for lettuces and other salad greens all summer long. This made for succulent dinner salads and crisp buttercrunch or romaine leaves for lunchline sandwiches. We didn’t order a single head of lettuce from California! In addition to our garden plots, you may see staff harvesting by hand the local bounty of blueberries and lingonberries that grow on our property, which we serve fresh and preserve for sauces, syrups, and baked goods.
The concept of “locally grown” has a broader radius here in Alaska than in the Lower Forty-Eight. We’re proud of the fact that by early July, the majority of our vegetable produce comes from two organic farms (only) 100 miles north of us, Denali Organic Growers and Rosie Creek Farm. These vegetables are by far the freshest, most robust and nutritious we can supply. We also buy hams, sausages and smoked fishes produced in Alaska, and source wild Alaskan salmon, halibut and sablefish.
Here is a sample of one day’s menu from last summer:
Our Sit Down Breakfast…
Poached Eggs on a Bed of Rosie Creek Root Vegetable Hash with Fresh Fruit Side and Homemade Almond Bear Claws
Our Make-Your-Own Lunch Buffet…
Homemade Multi Grain Bread or Herb Wrap
Home-Roasted, Grass-Fed Roast Beef
Tillamook Extra-Sharp White Cheddar
Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
GORP (Good-Old-Raisins-and-Peanuts with M&Ms)
Fresh Gingersnap Cookies
And Our Three-Course Dinner…
Artisan Country Baguette
Puree of Alaskan Carrot Soup with Quenelle of Herbed Goat Cheese, Toasted Hazelnuts and Olive Oil Drizzle
Baked Fresh Alaska Halibut with Stewed Heirloom Washington State Farro Wheat, Rosie Creek Farm Baby Turnips, Baby Fennel, Radish and Pickled Shallot Slaw, and Lemon Caper Vinaigrette
Shortcakes with Home-Grown Rhubarb, Topped with Vanilla Cardamom Whipped Cream
Aaah, writing those scrumptious words makes me long for those three precious summer months at Camp Denali when I do not have to cook. Hats-off to all of our talented cooks and bakers! I’ll go fulfill those recipe requests while I’m still salivating. Looking forward to another summer of delicious meals…
March 31, 2009
Sunday afternoon is hockey time at Deneki Lakes. Nowadays, the luxuriously long daylight of post-spring equinox allows the games to begin more leisurely at 2 pm and continue as long as lungs and muscles will hold out. In the depth of mid-winter, we start promptly at noon, the sun barely crests over the mountains at 1 pm only to set 45 minutes later, and we’re wrapping it up as dusk sets in at 3 pm, or sooner because the temperature is dropping. These pond hockey games are not everyone’s idea of fun, but for those who turn out, it’s often the highlight of their week.
Depending on the temperature and snow conditions for our alternate form of preferred winter exercise, x-c skiing, the turn out makes these pick-up pond hockey games brutal and fun or just fun. It’s either a lung-aching 3 on 3 or a leisurely 5 on 5 with a few waiting out their turn on the “benches” (metal folding chairs or rickety wooden saw horses stuck in the snow bank), taking in the views and sipping at their thermos of tea (or adult beverage of choice). It becomes a gathering place, too, with neighbors stopping by to visit as they cruise past on an afternoon ski, skijor, or bike ride on the winter trails. Sometimes Martha T. and the kids even make hockey-puck brownies to share around at the end of the game.
This year the rink is in front of Speaks’ cabin, and he and neighbor, Land, are its most devoted caretakers. When the deep cold sets in, so do massive, ankle-wrenching cracks in the ice. So on Saturday you’ll often see the two of them on hands and knees towing 5-gallon water jugs with lids cracked just so to allow a steady trickle of water to seal up the small cracks and caulking the big ones with a slurry of slushy snow. That’s dedication to your sport if I ever saw it. Since nearly half of the usual hockey players also volunteer on the local fire department, at one point this winter they brought the pumper truck by and flooded the whole rink. Maybe next winter someone will engineer a makeshift Zamboni.
Pretty soon one of these Sundays will be the last hockey game until October (if we’re lucky) or November. After a few nights above freezing, the ice gets too soft and slushy. And once the snow and ice start to go, so do some of our hockey ambitions, frankly. With the spring thaw, out come the hiking boots, bicycles, canoes, kayaks, and binoculars, as we eagerly await the return of the first ducks on thawing ponds, juncos at our feeders and yellow-rumped warblers in the leafless willows. Spring and summer are too full to miss hockey too much, but when the pace slows again in late fall, we’ll once again bring our skates to town to be sharpened and decide which new piece of protective hockey gear to invest in this year…I think I’m due for elbow pads.
It is our pleasure to present Dispatches, a journal of the goings on at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge. Written by members of our staff, Dispatches is an opportunity to peek into the special sightings notebook, brush up on Denali National Park issues, read about our ongoing projects in sustainability, and maybe get a whiff of what’s cooking in the kitchens. Dispatches will carry on through the winter, when we hope to share stories of snowy ski adventures, deep cold, and the events of a small Alaskan community.