It's a bit early for Christmas stuff. Is it? Yes, it is.
But I can listen to "Silent Night, Holy Night" anytime, and it gives me goose bumps.
The simple melody is "pure genius". Written in 1918 by Franz Xaver Gruber, it's first and foremost purpose was to provide the Christmas music for a small church in Austria. 2 years earlier, Joseph Moor had created the lyrics, so he asked his friend Gruber for a guitar arrangement. The church organ had broken down, but the congregation didn't want to celebrate Christmas Eve Mass without their own music.
The story of "Silent Night" is amazing. By 1900, the song was performed on all continents. Today there are versions in 300 dialects and languages, recorded by over 300 artists. Bing, Tony, Perry, Mahalia, Andy, Britney, Christina, Mariah, Celine, Andrea...you name them.
Swing on over to my Squidoo lens about this marvelous tune, and listen to a few very, very beautiful versions of "Silent Night, Holy Night".
Bacon and chocolate is all over the place. Even Vosges has something along these lines.
I like that about America. In Germany, where I'm from, consumers are much narrower-minded.
Huh?!? Bacon and chocolate, turkey and cranberry sauce, peanut butter and jelly, ham and pineapple?
I'm sure, tastes have evolved a bit in the meanwhile - but I remember as if it had happened 30 years ago - 30 years ago we made fun of Americans and their strange flavor combinations. Sweet AND savory? Hello-oh!
I have a little specialty chocolate company. Today I met with the owner of a funky candy shop in the heart of Austin, Texas - Big Top Candy. We're going to create some crazy stuff - "the hottest chocolate in the world" is one of our planned items. We'll have to restrict the sales to 5 ounces per person/day. And we'll have to ID our customers. And they'll have to sign a release form. And we'll have a nurse standing by. And, yes, we count on a lot of brave frat boys trying to impress their dates.
Don't inhale in front of the counter display!
I'll keep you posted...
This was a spiffy little breast cancer awareness event: bras across the Ann Richards Bridge in Austin.
Sponsored by KASE 101, women (mostly) made a "chain" of bras along the sidewalk. One woman shared her story, everyone had free tea, and we went back home. Brief thing.
Still, I had a nice conversation with one husband of a cancer survivor. He was all excited about the complete restoration of his wife's breast. Made me happy!
Overcooked duck turns into "liver"! Nasty stuff. And it's a shame to waste the delicious meat of the bird.
All of my guests at the Alaskan Driftwood Lodge tell me all the time (I'm NOT exaggerating!):
"This is the BEST duck I've ever eaten in my whole life!" - a compliment from guys who go fishing and hunting all over the country and abroad. It means a lot!
I cut the duck breasts into 2-bite-size pieces and marinate them for about 30 - 60 minutes in a mixture of fresh garlic, shallots, rosemary, olive oil, and a coarse steak seasoning blend.
Then I heat a dry non-stick pan to the smoking point. I sear the meat for about a minute on one side, and another 45 seconds or so on the other side. That's it. Rare! The carry-over heat will finish the cooking to medium-rare on the way from the kitchen to the table. Serve immediately!
A fun way to present this dish is as "Duck Nachos". Layer tortilla chips with cheese and jalapenos, and place the duck pieces on top and around the sides of the serving platter.
I'll give step-by-step instructions together with lots of pictures and a video demonstration on my new page:
"Wild Duck Recipe". Bon appetite!
I've been missing something - on Squidoo...
We're such a friendly and supportive community of lensmasters, yet - there's no place to go when we need profound advice on love, relationship, or life-in-general issues. No Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura (thank God!), or whatever in that direction.
Just released and proudly announced: Ms. Keemie's Love Advice Column
Ask anything that depresses, concerns, bothers or messes with you - about yourself or others - and Ms. Keemie will literally save you from putting that little gun to your temple!
Whatever sinks your boat - Ms. Keemie has sunk lower. Believe me.
Ms. Keemie has been there, done that, and risen from the ashes. Now, for the first time, this unbelievably generous woman will share her wisdom with the world. For free, to boot.
Go, ask, and be happy again!
Ms. Keemie's Love Advice Column - You'll be glad you asked!
Here's a pictorial of a trip from Cordova, AK to the coastal area by the Tsiu river in SE Alaska.
Our Cessna 206 single-engine plane takes us across the Bering glacier, the Copper river delta, and down to the Driftwood Lodge, into a remote location close to the Gulf of Alaska coast.
I hope my pictures can convey some of the extraordinary beauty at the beach. (I almost said: "Beauty and the Beach" - but you would have killed me, right?)
Come along with me, if you would, and see an untouched piece of nature, so soothing to the soul.
Coastal Pictures of Alaska
Squidoo has taken over a good part of my life. At times, I even dream about making lenses...crazy, huh?
The question is: Is it really worth it?
My answer is a hearty "yes"!
I'm happy with my returns, so far.
So, I made a lens about this. Of course.
It is amazing how much I've learned over the past 8 months, or so: SEO, HTML, graphic design, creative writing, blogging - all things I didn't have a clue about at the beginning of my Squidoo adventures.
I join the ranks of many, many people who say, "I love Squidoo!"
To find out more about my "reason why", please visit my new page:
"Squidoo - A Good Investment?"
I do it in Alaska. Every day. Making sourdough bread, that is!
And it's easy!
Mix a little flour, water, active dry yeast and sugar together, let it sit and absorb the wild yeast in the air - and in 3 days you have a fine "mother". Use some every day, and feed her every day - that's all she needs to grow and get happily sour.
I use fairly large proportions of my sourdough starter with my breads - even sweet breads, at times. It makes everything moist and tasty, and the textures are marvelous.
There were season in the past, when we got an existing starter ("mother") at the beginning of the job, from a friendly B&B owner in Cordova. Those batches came from a starter that had been kept alive for many years - and it was very good. Our relationship with this owner has dried up, and so has our sourdough starter supply. But, no worry.
Now, I hop off the plane at the Driftwood Lodge (where I cook for salmon fishermen during silver season), and I get my "mother" going. The air in SE Alaska is filled with black flies...er..no, wild yeast, and my starter gets bubbling in no time flat (what a nasty pun, sorry!).
Look, I made a lens with lots of pictures and detailed descriptions of how to make sourdough bread. Come visit when you get a chance, o.k.?
...and other grisly grizzlies.
The big game hunting issues won't be resolved easily. Killing animals for sport and trophy is a completely natural thing in many peoples' minds. I understand that. We are raised with certain values and it's hard to change when you don't see any reason for doing so.
My upbringing did not include any hunting, so it would be easy for me to judge others on this subject. I won't do it, though. I just don't hunt myself - for balance. We'll all find out sooner or later what's the right thing to do. Who says I'm right?
I made a page with very graphic images from a recent bear hunt in Alaska, and I included a few links and clips about Sarah Palin's wisdom. Please visit and judge for yourself.
Bear hunting with Sarah PalinGrizzlyBay.org offers a wealth of more info on these issues.
I live in Austin, Texas. It takes a while to get up to Alaska from here. First to Denver, Minneapolis, or Chicago, depending which airline we use. Then to Anchorage, and with a small jet or twin prop back down to Cordova. Here, our boss picks me up in his Cessna 206 and we fly out to the Tsiu River.
One year, I hitched a ride in the jump seat of the DC-3 that flew supplies to the lodge. These Alaska "workhorses" seem to be indestructible.
The pilots told me that their plane has flown on D-Day across the Normandy, already. Can you imagine? Over 60 years ago!
During our 90-minute flight to the lodge, the pilot and co-pilot had a lively conversation about all the things NOT working on the plane. Eavesdropping from my shaky little folding seat right behind them, I started to get a bit nervous. I asked them if at least the landing gear would function properly. They laughed and offered me a cigar with the words: "This is a smoking plane, buddy!"
Look at some great pics at my "Alaska Lodge" lens.
My internet connection was way too slow for blogging. But I'm back with a lot of stories to tell.
While I was gone, the good folks at Squidoo HQ decided that I'd make a worthy Squid Angel, so they gave me a badge. I'm tickled pink, honored, humbled, excited.
And I made a new Squidoo lens about it: Squid Angel Blessings by Chef Keem
My annual cheffing gig at the Driftwood Lodge was a great success. We served fabulous food and the guests were very happy. Many of them go on fishing trips all over the country, several times a year. They always tell me that they are surprised at the quality of my food, and that they haven't eaten this good anywhere else before. That's nice to hear. It makes me proud!
Over the course of the next few months, I will post regularly about my adventures and recipes, with a load of great pictures.
To whet your appetite, I start with a few impressions of the Driftwood Lodge, our home for the silver salmon season at the Tsiu River in SE Alaska, next to the mouth of the Bering Glacier.