Writer of Soul-Searching Snark

Posts tagged ‘Kaktovik’

Sweet Taters

I love autumn.  Just love it.  The crisp morning air, the falling leaves (I’m waxing poetic here, so go with me, okay?  I’m aware that the leaves have been falling for months because of the drought,) harvest moons and hearty stews. I missed autumn when I lived in the Arctic. There were a couple of days when the tundra turned red, but it was quickly covered in snow.

It’s such a joy to work outside on a pretty fall day.  Today, we dug sweet taters.  Personally, I detest sweet potatoes. Can’t stand them. Can’t even eat the marshmallows off the top of the casserole. Bleck! Pops  knew I hated them and when I was a kid, he always made me plant them.  How cruel is that?  When  I lived in Kaktovik, I remember getting a box from Pops in the mail. Pops didn’t mail things.  That was always Ma’s department.  So, getting something from Pops was quite exciting

Life in a tiny Inupiaq village in the middle of the Arctic Ocean can be somewhat dreary to say the least. I lived for the mail. OMG. It soooo was freaking exciting to get a box. Since it was from Pops, I knew it was going to be good. I clutched the package to my chest and ran to to the truck. I couldn’t wait to open it.  It was like Christmas Eve.  Do you open the gifts that night or hold out the suspense until Christmas morning?

It didn’t take me long to tear past the brown paper wrapping and rip into the cardboard. Pops sent me something. Oh boy! Oh boy!

Imagine my surprise when I reached into the package and pulled out a giant sweet potato. Yep. That’s right, my father mailed a sweet potato to the Arctic. After phoning him and giving him a piece of my mind–while laughing, of course, I poked some toothpicks into it and grew the prettiest sweet potato vine in Kaktovik, Alaska.

So, as I savored the beautiful fall afternoon digging potatoes with Ma and my other brother Darryl, I smiled and thought of Pops.  I remember people telling me that he’d always be with me. It was little comfort to hear those words, but now I know what they meant and relish those tiny moments when Pops reminds me that he’ll always love me.


Ma and my other brother Darryl hard at work. Hey! Someone had to document the event. That’s work too!

Dig them taters, Bubba!

Yum Yum. Sweet tater pie, anyone?


Now, that’s a tater that would make one heck of a vine, don’t you think?





Risotto Recipe

Butter is the secret to happiness . . . and good risotto. If you haven’t noticed yet, you will soon enough. No recipe that graces my cookbook contains margarine. Butter. Its rich, creamy goodness brings happiness to all. Even your arteries. Ask them. Would they rather be free-flowing or would they rather be clogged with delicious, fat-laden butter. I mean really. Some things are worth dying for. Your family. Your Country. Buttered popcorn.

When I lived in Kaktovik, I befriended a teaching couple. Nice folks, but they were vegetarians. Being a vegetarian in a subsistence community above the Arctic Circle where nothing grows—definitely no vegetables—has to be a challenge. So, when they came to my house for dinner, I tried to make food they could eat. I later found out that they weren’t vegetarians they were vegans. What the hell did they eat? I hope I didn’t kill them off with the butter and cheese in my risotto. Oh yeah, and the chicken broth. Although, it couldn’t have been too bad because they always took second helpings.

Aerial View of Kaktovik

Downtown Kaktovik, Alaska

Friendly Neighbors

My Risotto was in the truck and this dude wasn't about to share

Silly man, give him the risotto. I'll make more

2 cups mushrooms
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup Asiago cheese
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons parsley
¼ cup butter

Sauté mushrooms, onions and garlic in the oil until soft. Remove from the pan and using the remaining oil, stir in the rice. Brown the rice—about 5 minutes. Slowly add 1 cup of broth. Stir until liquid is gone. Add 1 more cup of broth. Stir until liquid is gone. Add remaining cup of broth. Stir until the liquid is gone—around 20 minutes total for the entire process. Make sure the rice is soft—not crunchy. Remove rice from heat and stir in cheeses, parsley and butter. Top with mushrooms and onions.

This is wonderful served with steamed seafood and/or veggies.