We've never lived in Alaska.
Visited once on a cruise ship. Spectacular place; I highly recommend it.
But we've never lived there.
The closest we've come to living in that kind of environment is Minnesota. While the landscape doesn't compare, the weather can be uncomfortably similar.
Bitter sub-zero temperatures for weeks on end. Savage keening winds and snow; endless snow.
We loved it there.
We found intriguing ways to pass the time. There was a very small pond in our neighborhood. One January all the neighbors decided to have a "cookout" on the pond. Dads plowed so the kids could skate. Moms prepared salads and "hotdish" to share. We set up a few grills and had a party.
Of course that day the air temperature was -10F, (-23C). The grills were used as much for warming fingers as for cooking. The high point came when I went to get some accouterments for my grilled sausage. The sauerkraut and the fork in it were a frozen mass. The mustard was more icicle than steady stream. Even the beer had turned slushy.
Ah, good times.
It's getting colder here. So it's back to another soup. While living in Minnesota we started visiting Vietnamese and Hmong restaurants. CrabCake 1, at the ripe old age of 9, fell in love with Pho, a Vietnamese/Cambodian Beef Noodle Soup. Here's a recipe that comes close to getting the seasoning right, please enjoy and warm up to...
Pho Bo, Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
from Gourmet magazine and a few tweaks by Crabby
6 cups beef broth
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 slice of ginger (1 chunk)
2 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 pound boneless beef sirloin, trimmed of fat
8 ounces dried rice noodles
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce (available in the Asian section of most supermarkets)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
1 baby bok choy (or small napa cabbage), thinly sliced
1/4 cup minced scallions
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
1 small red or green Asian (Thai), chile, sliced very thin
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
Lime wedges for garnish
In a large pot, bring the broth, ginger, star anise and cinnamon stick to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When boiling, add the rice noodles and cook according to package directions. When finished, drain and set aside.
While the broth is simmering, cut the sirloin into thin slices, making sure to cut across the grain of the meat. Set aside.
After the broth has simmered, removed the star anise, ginger chunk and cinnamon stick.
Return the broth to a low boil and add the fish sauce, NOTE: If you cannot find fish sauce, substitute clam juice, which should be available in your supermarket.
Add the chopped bok choy and simmer for 1 minute.
Add the beef, bean sprouts, salt and pepper. Boil for 30 seconds.
Remove from heat.
Place noodles into serving bowls. Ladle soup over the noodles. Sprinkle scallions, cilantro, chilies and basil over the soup. Serve with a lime wedge garnish.
Pretty simple actually. What's nice about this soup is the variety of spicy flavors. It's a nice change of pace from standard beef noodle soup. One thing, the Thai chilies can be quite hot, so if you're sensitive to that, drop down to a jalapeno or Anaheim pepper.
OK crablings, The temperature is really going to drop this week, so I'm off to build a fire and wrap myself up in wool sweaters. Until next time, remember, you can do it, you can cook.