Remember Qwon Chi Rolls? No self respecting Alaska girl would eat a roll make with “Crab with a K” which we all know is really Alaskan pollack re-textured to remotely resemble real crab. My friends, don’t eat that pretend stuff. Look for real crab. It’s out there.
When I was a little girl, my parents would go out, and sometimes they would come back, bring their friends, and my mother would make open faced crab sandwiches. To me, they are still special; I get hungry just thinking about them.
They are fun, and easy to make.
You get Crab – the real thing. I like claw meat, but any crab you prefer, as long as it is REAL crab, will do. You put crab meat in a bowl. You add just a little horseradish, just a little fresh ground pepper and a little fresh ground salt. You add some of the green from green onions, not a lot, just a little, and then you add just a little mayonnaise.
Toast English muffins, and spread crab generously on the muffins.
Top the crab with grated cheddar cheese, and broil in the oven until the cheese is melted.
Now, they are ready to eat!
I think I had better go eat dinner . . . . I’m HUNGRY!
Thank you, KitKat, for this very dark Alaska joke:
Tale form Alaska (where life is tough & humor is dark )
The day after his wife disappeared in a kayaking accident, an Anchorage man
answered his door to find two grim-faced Alaska State Troopers…”We’re
sorry Mr. Wilkens, but we have some information about your wife,” said one
trooper. “Tell me! Did you find her?” Wilkens shouted.
The troopers looked at each other. One said, “We have some bad news, some
good news, & some really great news. Which do you want to hear first?”
Fearing the worst, an ashen Mr. Wilkens said, “Give me the bad news first.”
The trooper said, “I’m sorry to tell you, sir, but this morning we found
your wife’s body in Kachemak Bay .”
“Oh no!” exclaimed Wilkens. Swallowing hard, he asked, “What’s the good
The trooper continued, “When we pulled her up, she had a dozen 25 pound
king crabs & 6 good-size Dungeness crabs clinging to her, & we feel you are
entitled to a share in the catch.”
Stunned, Mr. Wilkens demanded, “If that’s the good news, what’s the great news?” The trooper said, “We’re going to pull her up again tomorrow.”
My Mom sent an e-mail today about an old friend, she’s not doing well. She lived next door to us in Alaska, and would take care of me and my sister when Mom needed to leave us with someone. She was older, so we weren’t really friends then, but we became friends as adults, years later, when AdventureMan and I moved to the Tampa Bay area and my friend and her husband lived just blocks away.
I’ve been missing my old friend; twice when I moved, she was there, the big-sister-I-never-had, helping me to move in while AdventureMan was far away. The first time, she loaned us her truck for several weeks while we settled and searched for another car. When I moved back to Seattle, she cleared out my overgrown garden, and then unpacked all the china and crystal and washed it and put it away in the cabinet. She was so much fun.
Through the years, she loved life and lived it to it’s fullest. She loved her time living in Egypt, and in Ramallah, and she travelled and sailed just about everywhere in the world. She exercised and watched her weight. She passed all the best books along to me, and kept up with the news. She was fit and active, and engaged with the world around her.
Statistically, and in all probability, she would never have seemed a risk for Alzheimer’s. I’m still angry about it. This should never have happened to her. It isn’t fair. She should be laughing, enjoying her grandchildren, dancing, swimming, sailing, running, biking, cooking, entertaining – all the things she loved. She DESERVES better. And I guess I am angry because I am selfish, and I want her to be around for ME. And I know that all this is stupid and childish, I should just accept and be calm, but it’s just so unfair and it makes me so angry. She is still in this world, although we don’t know for how long, but then again, she isn’t, not really, she is not a part of this world any longer, she just exists. It’s not right and it’s not fair and Alzheimer’s is a robber and a thief.
Have I told you how cold it is in Pensacola?
People here are in fur coats, and gloves!
Today we drove up the Bayou and saw what we thought might be a run-over animal on the road, but it turned out to be one brown glove.
We were laughing at how easy it is to lose gloves – to end up with one of several different pairs. My Mom used to make us wear mittens that had a string attatching them; you ran it through the coat and out both arms so you wouldn’t be losing so many mittens. In Alaska, you really need those mittens.
I still have a pair of Nordic mittens my Mom knit me. No. No. They are not attached by strings; they are grown up mittens, LLLOOOOLLLL!
Mom and I are heading out to the coast tomorrow for some time at the beach. On the Washington/Oregon beaches, you never know what the weather is going to be. It doesn’t matter how old you get, you know how Mamma’s are? Like she keeps asking me if I have a sweatshirt? Do I have a raincoat? Have I packed my toothbrush? (no, I made that last one up! )
So today we were running errands, like go to the bank so we have enough cash, like pick up a few groceries, because the places we stay have a kitchen (more important, they have a view of the OCEAN!), pick up a junky beach-book or two, and some Sudoku, and then, let’s go have lunch!
Mom LOVES Alaska fried clams, and Ivar’s does them the BEST, so we drive north to Mukilteo, but it takes forever because they are doing some road repairs on the back roads we usually take, and our “short-cuts” take a lot of time.
“Promise to remind me to take photos this time.” I ask her, but she won’t promise.
A few bites in, I remember. I’m getting better.
Here are Mom’s Alaska Fried Clams:
Even thought lunch portions are smaller, it was still a lot of clam, and very very rich, breaded and then sauteed in butter. Mom says her green beans were also really good.
Here is my grilled Alaska salmon, on a bed of spinach and orzo salad vinaigrette:
I’m like Popeye, I love SPINACH! This whole meal was delicious, and, once again, we were happy to see the restaurant had a good clientele eating lunch. Even Seattle is begining to feel the economic crunch.
I have a dear friend who sends me the most amazing things. This started my day with a howl of laughter:
I am embarrassed to tell you – I remember rotary phones. I even remember party lines, where you had to wait for your neighbor to finish his call before you could make your own, and you never knew who might be listening to your conversation. I remember planes that had large, beautiful lady’s lounges, with a seating area for nursing mothers. I remember when living in Germany was a huge problem to many young people who ran up huge phone bills, calling their families when they were lonely – no internet, no VOIP. I remember transistor radios, and Walkmen! LLLOOOLLLL!
We were eating breakfast together, my Mom and I, when she dropped a bomb. I had no idea she could catch me by surprise that way. We’d been talking about fresh peaches, and preserves.
“When your Dad and I got married, we didn’t even have a refrigerator,” she said.
Not have a refrigerator? You can get married and not have a refrigerator?
“How did you get one?” I asked, still reeling from astonishment.
“Your Dad inherited $100 from some very distant relative,” she related, “he got like 1/32nd, which came to $100. We used it to buy a refrigerator.”
“What did you do before you had it?” I asked, still a little disoriented.
“Well, it was Alaska,” she said. “We had these sort of pantries that had shelves with little holes opening to the outside, covered with screen to keep out insects and mosquitos, but it would let in the cool air. It didn’t get that hot, even in the summer. In the winter, we had shelves on the outside porches, too.”
Holy smokes, I thought to myself. How would I function without a refrigerator? We would have to go back to shopping every day. If there weren’t refrigerators, maybe stores wouldn’t have frozen sections, too? Maybe we would have to be buying meat just as it was slaughtered, only vegetables that could travel from not too far without refrigeration, we would be using a lot more grains and things that didn’t need refrigeration to preserve them.
Maybe we would be drying more foods? We would probably, in Kuwait, be eating more dates and rice, eating more locally raised foods – what, sheep? camel meat? We would probably be eating a lot more fish. We would probably go back to canning foods while they were abundant – tomatoes, fruit jams, maybe we would even pickle some fish and/or shrimp for out-of-season eating. Our food might be saltier, as salt is also a preservative. Maybe we would eat more rice, more pomegranate . . . maybe occasionally a boat would come in from Ethiopia or Kenya bringing rare coffee beans, and only very special, very lucky people would have access to the little luxury we all take for granted.
Ooops. Well, I am getting carried away. I was so amazed to hear my mother had initially kept house without a refrigerator that I sort of spaced out.
She went on to tell me that as she was growing up, her family had an ice box, and they would put out a special piece of paper when they needed ice from the ice man, who would drive by every day to provide ice for the cool-boxes. The ice came in different sizes, depending on the size of the ice box.
(I found this picture and a fairly clear explanation of ice boxes on on Wikipedia.)
It gets better. As I was reading the Wikipedia information, I came across the Pot in Pot refrigerator , known in Arabic as a “zeer” for which Mohammed Bah Abba was awarded a Rolex Laureate (Rolex Awards for Enterprise) in 2000. You can read about Mohammed Bah Abba, the Nigerian teacher who developed this simple, but effective refrigeration technique, by clicking on the blue type above. You can read more about the Zeer pot, and see a photo of how they work, by clicking here: Science in Africa.
Yesterday I posted a photo of the skywalk, featured on Good Morning America’s 7 Wonders of the U.S. series and people wondered what the first two are.
The first wonder selected was the National Mall and National Park in Washington DC, a celebration of Democracy, “where American voices are heard.”
The second – and by far my favorite – was the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve, a brutal place where there are still huge herds of caribou, shaggy buffalo, polar bear . . . and where George Bush tells us we wouldn’t be paying so much for gas if we would only give him and the oil companies the go-ahead to go in and exploit the oil resources there. (See #1 George Bush – the American people raised their voices and said “NO!”)
The Grand Canyon was the third wonder announced.
There are still four more wonders to be announced. Good Morning America comes on America Plus Monday – Friday in the afternoon, maybe two or three in the afternoon, in case you want to catch the rest, or you can just click on the blue hypertext above where it says Good Morning America, and you will go to the ABC website for the Seven Wonders.
When I was a little girl growing up in Alaska, we had neighbors who lived just across the creek. Our neighbors had a daughter 6 years older than me; she was my first babysitter. Growing up, those six years made all the difference – we didn’t know one another as friends, the gap was too great. Our families were very close, however, and when my parents would go to parties at her parents house, they would take us and put us to bed in her bed.
I saw her now and then through the years, but our lives were in different places. When I was just getting married, she had big boys, by the time my son was a teenager, hers were getting married and going to college. We reconnected in Florida, of all places, where we both ended up at the same time due to our husband’s jobs.
Having our Alaska childhood in common, having grown up together and knowing each other’s family through all the years created a strong bond. We saw each other often; she was like a big sister to me.
She always had it all together. She had a group that bicycled together every morning, and then had outings later in the day. She was a fitness buff, and ran in the mornings before she bicycled. She kept herself thin, and she loved to cook, but she could eat what she wanted because she exercised it all off.
She was a reader, and would pass along the really good books to me. She and her husband were also news buffs, so when we would get together with our husbands, there was never a dull moment at the dinner table.
She and her husband were sent to Egypt, and to Rumallah, and to China, and they made the most of every minute. They loved traveling, they loved their sailing boat, they loved their family. They would come to visit us in our places of the world, and we would have great reunions. They were so alive.
She could be annoying. She would chide me about not exercising enough. She would comment on how much food people ate. She always knew the latest in medical research to back herself up. She kept her mind active, and she kept her weight down. She exercised, she travelled, she took care of her parents, she did good works for others. She did everything right.
A couple years ago, we joined her and her husband for dinner. She hadn’t combed her hair. She weighed about 20 lbs more, and didn’t seem to notice. She couldn’t remember the last book she had read, and she couldn’t remember her recent trip to Mexico, or an earlier one to Spain.
It’s been downhill since then. Her loving husband is strong and able to care for her, this once-beautiful, sprite-like, spirited woman. I think she still knew me, when I saw her last summer, but she can no longer really express what she is thinking. She is restless, up and down from the table, and not able to participate in the conversation.
I am haunted. I am so much like her; I tried to live up to all that she has taught me. A part of me wants to scream at God “This isn’t fair! She did everything right!”
Perhaps doing everything right gave her a few extra years, and I am just not seeing things from the right perspective. Meanwhile, I get no answers, and my heart breaks when I think of her.