The Season for Soups

Posted By: Jenna     All Posts by Jenna  

January 10, 2014

It is winter!  January can feel like a long month in Interior Alaska. We can’t quite sense the lengthening days yet; that won’t happen until the very end of the month and early February. So,…it’s dark. It can be very cold, although so far this year the jet stream is positioned in our favor (we feel for you, Lower 48ers, really, we do). It’s just that time of year when it feels right to cozy up indoors around our hearths and eat warm, wholesome foods made from all of those Californian and Mexican vegetables shipped up to us in the hinterland. ‘Tis the season for soup!

This recipe is actually one of our summertime favorites, especially when we start receiving beautiful, tight heads of cauliflower from Rosie Creek Farm.

But, the soup serves up equally well this time of year with cauliflower from Mexico. The curry lends warmth, but isn’t overwhelming. It simply enhances the subtle, earthiness of the cauliflower. Cashews and coconut milk give it body and richness. This soup makes a wonderful starter or a simple meal that will warm you up on a cold January day while you wait for the polar vortex to abate! Enjoy.

 The recipe comes from health food guru, Dr. Andrew Weil.

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Soup:

  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt, to taste

Garnish:

  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  1. Put the cashews in a blender and blend until finely ground. Add 3/4 cup of water and blend for 2 minutes. Strain and set this mixture aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until golden. Add the cauliflower, coconut milk, cashew mixture, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Blend the soup with an immersion blender or standing blender until the desired consistency is reached. If using a standing blender, allow the mixture to cool for 20 minutes. Pour the soup into the blender. Hold the lid down firmly with a clean, folded towel over it. Start on low speed and blend until the soup is smooth.
  4. For the garnish, if desired, sauté the thinly sliced onion in the canola oil over low heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is golden brown, about 30 minutes. A couple pinches of sugar and a pinch of salt enhances the end result.

Garnish soup with caramelized onions and cilantro, if using, and serve.           

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Denali Transportation Nuances...the ones you know and the ones you don't

Posted By: Teresa     All Posts by Teresa  

December 17, 2013

“How will you be arriving to Denali?” For those of you who have made a reservation with us, you are familiar with this question, since it is one we pose to each and every guest. This question serves a vital purpose for our staff, more than simply satisfying our curiosity about the other parts of a traveler’s Alaskan adventure. Ours is a huge state, and transportation time and logistics play no small part in your arrival to Denali. “Will you be arriving from Fairbanks or Anchorage?” “Will you be taking a bus or train?” “Please be aware that if you are taking the train from Anchorage, you will have to arrive the night before and spend a night at the Park’s entrance as the train arrives daily at 4PM, but our buses depart at 1PM. However, if you are arriving from Fairbanks by train the same day it will not be a problem.” “Even though the train does not arrive in time coming from Anchorage, our buses will arrive back at the train depot on your departure day in time to catch the train back to Anchorage.” Are you confused yet? Thought so.

We do our very best to make sure our guests can let go of their logistical concerns of arriving too late or on the incorrect day. However, once you meet our buses at the Park entrance, the fun does not stop there. Over the next seven hours, we travel down the gravel, but spectacular, Denali Park Road. This bus ride is a highlight, and most will agree. You are traveling hour after hour past some of the highest peaks in the Alaska Range, Mt. McKinley included. There is also a good chance of spotting bears, moose, caribou, dall sheep and my favorite, Ptarmigan, mostly because of how people sometimes pronounce it (the Ptarmigan is Alaska’s state bird; the “P” is silent). And how can anyone forget the hairpin turns around Polychrome Pass?

So yes, transportation in Alaska is often something our visitors remember and recall with fond, and sometimes frightful, memories. I do not deny that getting to our lodges in the heart of Denali is a feat, but this is during the summer. Imagine Denali transportation logistics in the winter.

I arrived to my cabin in Denali in May of this year after a 3,100-mile drive from Minnesota. While I thought excitement would be my overwhelming emotion, exhaustion ended up winning out. To my dismay, the 1-mile long dirt road leading to my cabin was blocked by three feet of packed snow. The landlord was not kidding when he said the road was not plowed during the winter. Living on an expanse of tundra looking south at the Alaska Range makes for strong winds and massive snow drifts, and it has been years since the Denali borough found it even remotely worth the effort to keep this specific road open during the winter. Luckily there were 18 sled dogs and three sleds packed into the trailer. 10 hours later, everything had been hauled down the mile stretch to my new cabin in the woods. A couple weeks later the snow melted, and a pothole-ridden dirt road was finally usable.

Alas, it is now winter again and the drifts have returned. Each morning at 7:30AM sharp, I strap on my skis and glide along the trail to where my car is parked. A 15-minute workout in the morning is a lively way to start the day, even when it is 40 below. I sit in a friend’s cabin drinking coffee to let my car warm up, and then I am on my way to the office. While some may find this a bizarre way to live, last night I skied home by moonlight under shooting stars. I am not complaining.

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Denali

Posted By: John Cannon, 2013 Camp Denali Guest     All Posts by John Cannon, 2013 Camp Denali Guest  

November 21, 2013

In vast wilderness
you become


insignificant,


one tiny molecule
in an immense organism,


a snippet of DNA


absolutely irrelevant


to the throbbing pulse
of life and landscape
that totally surrounds you.


And then
you choose ―


to pull into your shell,
to set your edges,
to protect your fragile ego,


OR


you let yourself open ―
slowly ―
like a delicate flower,


you let your pores expand,
your muscles relax,
your mind slow down;


you breathe,
you rest,
you wait quietly.


And then ―


your boundaries
seem to fade away,


you can feel yourself
merging
with the timeless world around you,


and deep in your core,


your heart


begins to sing.

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Denali Dispatch

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.