Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Salmon Tacos!

There are a few restaurants in Anchorage that I'm downright in love with.  One of them is Bear Tooth, and they make the world's best tacos and burritos.  They have all kinds of other delicious things as well but I love the tacos the most.  The best part is, you can eat on the restaurant side, or be served in a dark theater while watching a movie on the big screen.  That's a quick way to win me over!  The minute I tried their salmon tacos, I was rarely able to order anything else. I just couldn't get enough.  Now that we're living a billion miles away I have been thinking about those darn tacos non stop and have been eager to try recreating them.  We have a lot of farmers market veggies that need to be used (cabbage, garlic, tomato, onion, jalepenos) so I thought last night would be the perfect time to try.  While they didn't taste exactly the same (do they have some sort of secret ingredient?) they were darn close and damn good, and I'll definitely be making them again!  For something like tacos I thought I'd give the general idea (not really a recipe) of what I made so that you can follow along if you want, but tweak things to fit your own preferences. If anyone out there ever wants more specific details though, I'd be happy to give them!  When I cook for our family, I always ask Eric to be very honest about what he likes and doesn't like, and I also add a few extra ingredients for him sometimes to fit his spicy-craving tastebuds. I just enjoy getting the honest feedback.  So I'll include the things he'd change just in case you'd like to try his way!
Here is how I prepared them:

You'll need:
-Crunchy taco shells (I've had some awesome fish tacos in soft flour tortillas too!) 
-Fresh salmon fillets ( I got two small ones, about 8 ounces total which was enough for 3 tacos (not a lot fits in a little shell!) each and salmon on the side for Henry.   
-Creme Fraiche (found near the sour cream)
-Cabbage (I used purple but green would be delicious too)
-Tomato (I had a handful of various cherry sized ones from the Farmer's Market)
-Sweet chili sauce 
-Jalepenos (optional) 

I started with sprinkling the salmon with salt and pepper, and baking on a sheet at 400 degrees for about 14 minutes or so (until it was opaque and flaked with a fork).  I threw the taco shells on the sheet for the last couple of minutes just to get them nice and hot.
Meanwhile, I shredded half of a tiny purple cabbage (you really don't need much since the shells are so small) and pushed it to the side.  I chopped and mixed together half of a small white onion, two cloves of garlic, a handful of small tomatoes, a handful of cilantro, and half of an avocado.  The original salmon tacos from the Bear Tooth don't have avocado but I think it makes any meal better.  I sprinkled it all with salt and pepper and tada!

When all that is done...
While the taco shells are still hot, put a smear of creme fraiche in the bottom ( a little bit is plenty.  Eric preferred it without any, as it has a little sweet flavor to it so leave that out if you don't like the mixture of sweet and savory!) I like the slightly sweet creaminess mixed with all of the other flavors. 
Then layer on a few chunks of salmon into the shell, squirt a little sweet chili sauce over the top, next comes a little of the cabbage and then the tomato salsa!  Squeeze some lime on top.
Eric put a crazy amount of chopped jalepeno on the top of his.

I served fresh Iowa corn on the cob alongside it, and a cold beer. Yum.  Oh, and the meal was toddler approved which is always a bonus!  Henry usually eats whatever we do, but he can't chew the cabbage and such, so he had the salmon, corn, and some avocado.  He ate about 1/3 of a whole taco too after insisting on it.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Happy Monday to you! I hope while reading that title you weren't imagining that I was about to say something inspirational to give you motivation or something... Because that whole motivation thing, yeah I don't currently have it.  I was all jazzed about getting things done when we first moved in but suddenly, I'm just plain tired.  I don't know if it's the heat, or all of the stress of change catching up with me, or perhaps the wild tiny person in the house or what has gotten into me.  None of them seem like excuse enough to not get things done though.  I really, really want to get some projects done around the house.  I want to spend nap time cleaning and unpacking and organizing, but it seems like the smallest tasks just wipe me out these past few days.  I'm sure I could go to bed earlier and solve much of the problem, but I can't seem to give up that evening wind down time.  I used to be able to power through the days with loads of energy regardless of the number of hours I spent sleeping the night before, but I think the reality is that I just can't do that anymore.  I hope in that typing out my short list of projects here, I'll feel obligated to do them.
On top of the list:
*Unpack/put away clothes. (yikes, people.  We have a million clothes and approximately 5 hangers and 0 drawers. I kid you not, so obviously some work has to be done there.)

*Find homes for all of the random odds and ends that got packed in various boxes. (Enter dread.  I hate dealing with small piles of random junk, but I also have a hard time parting with those little trinkets.)

*Meal plan.  We spent a trillion dollars at Costco today filling our cupboards, but I need to plan meals and fill in the holes with some other things from the store.  Also, we have two drawers packed with farmers market deliciousness, and I want to use it in something wonderful before it goes bad.

*Henry's high chair.  I bought a very old wooden high chair for H that I need to sand and paint.  It's one of the things I'm most excited for, but still can't get myself started.  What is wrong with me??

*A few other little things like order pictures and fill frames, find rugs, pillows and whatnot.

Let the fun begin.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

We Made It

Well, I'm back.  And I'm writing from our new house in Iowa rather than my usual writing spot in the old house in Alaska.  Strange.  I really didn't anticipate being away from here for as long as I was, but when the reality of an enormous cross country move came crashing down on me, well, things got a bit busy.  We are about three weeks out from the start of it now, and just starting to settle in.  Eric left a few days before us, and the following days in Alaska were an absolute blur.  Just Henry and me, racing around town with to-do lists pages long, trying to check each thing off  before take off time.  Somehow, most things were accomplished, with not a minute to spare.  I had to leave a few boxes in the hands of friends, and forgot only an item or two at the house.  Anyway, a few weeks and a zillion dollars later, here we are.
Our first stop after leaving Alaska was Olympia, Washington, where we got to be a part of my brother in law's lovely wedding.  Being in that area, Eric and I both had to stop ourselves from wishing we could just stop the trip there and live there for a few years.  It was a really neat area that felt good deep down for both of us.  That wandering spirit in us both is still adjusting, I suppose.  The wedding took place on someone's home property, surrounded by many gardens, an enormous coop of chickens, and all kinds of other fun things.  It was a really nice vacation, and it felt so good to be in the lower 48 and feel some true summer weather.  We continued on our way to Iowa, and since Eric would still be driving for a few more days I stayed with my sisters a couple of hours away for a few days.  It was so nice to spend time with them and see all the little cousins together.  The temperatures down here are HOT, but I couldn't help but be impressed with the fact that I handled it well.  I think I've been craving some summer so badly, that I wasn't about to complain, even if that meant 105 degrees for a few days. Despite all the fun, I was itching for a bed to call my own, to get Henry back to his routine and his own bed, and see some of our things again.  Lugging around multiple enormous duffle bags for days had gotten old.  As had the musical beds (5 in the course of a week!)
We got to the new house a week ago today, though it feels like only a few days.  I keep telling everyone "well we've only been here four days!" before they remind me that it's been a full week. I guess it has just been a lot to keep up with, and we are taking our sweet time settling in.  Not intentionally, really.  Coming with only the neccesseties, we essentially started from square one.  We needed to find furniture first off, but we are keeping the budget pretty tight since it cost us so much to get down here.  Luckily that meant taking a trip to Eric's family's farm and rummaging through all of the old pieces that belonged to his grandparents and family.  We found some really neat old things that we were able to move in.  I also did some Craigslist hunting and have a few re-purposing projects to do (should be interesting...) , along with buying some things new.  Point of the story- there's a lot of work to do!  This sort of things stresses me out, as it's always nice to feel settled and at home which makes it difficult when getting there is slow.  But I have to remind myself that though the process is a slow one, it's a chance to start fresh and that's very exciting.  I have many more thoughts on what's next from here (more house things, work/school etc.) and more from these past few weeks, but I don't want to start back with an enormous novel so I'll leave it at that for tonight.  I'm thankful we all made it here safe and sound, and from here on out my goad is to go with the flow and try not to freak out with all of the change, uncertainty, etc.  So far so good, as there is much to figure out but so far we are all dealing quite well.  Henry, especially.  He has amazed me with his flexibility through all of this change.  I think he's happier now that we're back to our routine (just in a very, very different place) but he managed so well the entire time.  We are grateful for that!
I'm stopping for real now.  Just a few pictures over the last few weeks:
Off they go, from Alaska to Iowa, with everything we own now.  Goodbye old belongings!
This is what I've carried with me for weeks. Ugh. 
Our first day in WA, enjoying sun with his Amma and Uncle J
This was a special night for us.  Staying up late to play in the fountain. 
These are the moments I've been waiting for.  All of those fun activities you can do when it's warm out!
Wedding day!  The bride (my new sister in law!)'s parents brought us these outfits from India.
A much needed sister date. Which luckily won't be so rare from now on. 

Yes, definitely IOWA! The corn box at the county fair was a hit tonight.