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  • Ingredients
  • Fresh (or frozen and thawed) salmon
  • Sesame seeds
  • Favorite seasoning salt
  • Oil

Slice the salmon into evenly sized strips, about 1″ wide. I used three strips per person. Sprinkle sesame seeds onto a plate. Let’s call the salmon skin the bottom. Press one side of the salmon into the sesame seeds on the plate so that the side is well-coated. Heavily salt the other side, the side that is facing up toward you. That’s it for prep.

Heat just a little oil in a skillet until very hot. Place the salmon in the skillet, sesame side down, and sear it for a couple minutes. Do not crowd the fish. When you see the salmon turning pink about half way through, turn the salmon over so that the salted side is on the skillet. Let it finish cooking, a couple more minutes. Remove from skillet and let stand for a couple minutes. Serve.

This tastes really good sauced with tahini sauce.

NOTES: This tastes AMAZING!!! No joke. My son in Juneau (pictured below) made these and used blueberry salt for the salted side. He said it was AMAZING! I used garlic salt the last time I made these. I cannot overstate how good these are. It’s as though I discovered the perfect way to make salmon. Oh, but credit must go to Jamie Oliver for introducing me. Thank you.

How I ended up with more salmon than I know what to do with, but I’m working on it . . .

Last summer I bought 30 salmon from my friend Sandy. She has a small processing operation in Naknek. She fileted the fish for me. In Alaska parlance, that means she gutted the salmon and split the fish in half, removing the backbone. My memory from working at the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game in King Salmon during summers 1975-1977 as a fish ticket editor and radio operator tells me the average size of a Bristol Bay sockeye salmon is 8 pounds. If you remove the guts and split it in half, that’s about 2.5-3 pounds of meat. I see salmon recipes online talking about filets and I just don’t know what that means. They clearly are using the word “filet” differently than I’m accustomed to. Oh, well. To me, a filet is half a fish. If it’s a Kasilof fish, it’s not very much. If it’s a Bristol Bay fish, it’s a lot.

Sandy asked me if I wanted the collars and bellies removed. I was trying to catch up on the lingo and told her I didn’t care, whatever was easiest. She left them. Thank goodness because that’s what I’m used to. I cut them off myself and boil them to make salmon broth for use in salmon chowder and other seafood chowders. Sandy asked if I wanted some bellies. She cuts them off for her customers outside Alaska. The filet makes a neater appearance that way. Sure, I took some bellies. I smoked and canned them, but they’re nearly all oil so it wasn’t very appetizing. I tossed some on the smoker, but still . . . too oily for me. I don’t think I will order them again. She also threw in some scrap meat. It’s the odds-and-ends, mostly from around the backbone. There were several pounds in my order for free. She’s trying to develop a market for it, so was seeking recipes. Now that’s been a wonderful boon. I really like that. It’s good for salmon burgers and chowder. I like it better than the bellies.

Well, that’s how I ended up with 60 salmon filets, plus more extra pieces. I created a checklist so I know how many to order next year. It’s December 20 and I’ve used 19 filets. How many will I have used by July 4, 2023? We’ll see. We’ll see.

Merry Christmas!


This quick and easy meal comes from Dash of Mandi. It is REALLY YUMMY! I keep tweaking the recipe based upon what I have on-hand. The part that takes the longest is cooking the rice. I used black “Forbidden” rice that I found in the back of the cupboard. I didn’t have any edamame (I barely know what that is) or garbanzos, so I did without this time.

  • Dressing Ingredients (all quantities are approximate–this is not fussy)
  • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp. sriracha
  • Bowl Ingredients (all quantities are approximate–this is not fussy)
  • 1 cup dry rice, any kind
  • 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sriracha
  • 1 lb. salmon, skinned, deboned, and cut into 1-1/2″ cubes
  • Salt, or seasoning salt
  • Olive oil
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sliced avocado
  • Edamame, or garbanzo beans
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp. of sesame seeds

Stir together the dressing ingredients and set aside.

Start cooking the rice by stirring together rice with 1-3/4 cup to 2 cups liquid in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat to low and cook for 25-30 minutes. Do not peek. Brown or black rice will take longer than white rice. You can use any kind of liquid you want. I used water this time, but have used broth previously.

Stir together sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, and sriracha. Set aside.

Sprinkle the salmon cubes with salt. About ten minutes before the rice is finished, heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Add salmon in a single layer. Gently turn salmon pieces to cook on all sides. Stir in sweet chili sauce mixture. Heat through.

Into each bowl, place a portion of rice, half the salmon including the sauce, and half the cucumber, avocado, and edamame. Sprinkle with dressing and then sprinkle with sliced green onion and sesame seeds. Serve.

YIELD: 2 bowls

  • Ingredients
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped (or dried parsley flakes)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups salmon stock, or water, or chicken broth
  • 2-3 potatoes, chopped (peel or don’t, however you like it)
  • 2 cups boneless, skinless salmon, cut into chunks
  • 1-1/2 cups milk or half-n-half

In a large pan, fry the bacon until nearly crispy. Stir in onion, celery, and carrots, Stir fry until onion is translucent. Stir in parsley. Sprinkle flour, salt, and pepper over the vegetables and bacon. Stir until the flour has absorbed the bacon fat. Add salmon stock. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until the vegetables are nearly cooked. Stir in the potatoes and continue to simmer, covered, until they are fork tender. Don’t overcook them. Stir in the salmon and stir gently. Gently stir in milk and continue stirring occasionally until the salmon is cooked through. Taste for salt. Serve warm with crusty bread.

NOTES: I don’t usually measure any of this. If you get to the part where you’re adding the milk and it just doesn’t seem thick enough, go ahead and whisk a couple tablespoons of flour into the milk before stirring it gently into the pan. Optional ingredients to stir in are corn or shredded cheddar cheese or fresh jalapenos. I don’t usually peel my potatoes, but a lot of people do. Today I used chunks of salmon filet and also some ragged pieces, boneless and skinless, scraped from beside the backbone. I’ll go out on a limb and say that you could probably skip the bacon and use olive oil if you wanted to make this vegetarian. It would be a much lighter dish. I suppose you could compensate by using smoked salmon for a portion of the fish called for in the recipe. Be careful at the end while stirring so as to maintain the salmon chunks as much as possible. You’ll have a rather unappetizing mess if you break down the salmon too much. Yes, experience is the best teacher.

I made my own salmon stock by simmering bones and fins in water for a few hours. Then I strained everything out, leaving the broth. I should have added salt, pepper, onion, celery, carrots with the salmon pieces to make the stock REALLY good, but I was out of time and in a hurry. Next time.

  • Ingredients
  • Top sirloin beef steaks
  • Kosher salt
  • Favorite rub

Sprinkle the steaks with kosher salt. Place under refrigeration for two hours or overnight. After refrigeration, do not rinse, just pat them dry. Bring a cast iron or other heavy skillet to a high heat. Rub the fat of the steak against the skillet until a little bit has rendered. Set the 1st steak onto the fat and sear on all sides. Set aside onto a plate. Sear the steaks one at a time so that they get a nice brown color on all sides.

Let the steaks cool a little bit and then coat all over with your favorite spice rub. Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F. Place the steaks on the grate inside the smoker. Let them smoke for about 45 minutes and check the temperature. When the thermometer reads 130 degrees F (should be another 15-30 minutes or more), remove from smoker. Cover loosely with foil and let stand for ten minutes or so. Slice and serve or serve whole steaks. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!

NOTES: I’m using a Traeger pellet smoker, so the temperature is pretty consistent. These steaks are typically lean and a large cut. Dare I say, a bit tough, but smoking like this really softens them up. They were so, so good. I used Tom Douglas’ Rub with Love Salmon Rub. It’s what happens when you have a pound of it and are trying to use it up. Good thing it tastes good on everything, not just salmon!

  • Ingredients
  • Chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
  • Olive oil
  • Favorite seasoning salt

Rub the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with your favorite seasoning salt. I used Tom Douglas’ Rub with Love Salmon Rub. Cover with cling wrap. Put the chicken under refrigeration for a couple hours. Remove from refrigerator and set aside at room temperature. Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F. Add the chicken to the smoker and let it smoke for about an hour and a half. Once the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, remove from smoker and cover loosely with foil. Let stand thirty minutes. Serve! Yum.

NOTES: I’m getting the hang of my Traeger pellet smoker. This was way easy and tasted great. I only make two chicken pieces, so if you have more pieces serving more than two people, it’s going to take longer than an hour and a half. Just sayin’.

  • Ingredients
  • 4-6 oz. bacon, diced
  • 1 lb. fresh sausage links
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 6 oz. mushrooms, quartered or halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. baby carrots
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup dark beer
  • 3 or 4 potatoes, halved or quartered
  • Parsley

In a Dutch oven, fry bacon until crisp. Remove from pan. Add sausage links to the pan and brown on all sides. Remove from pan. Add onion and mushrooms to the pan and stir-fry until onion is translucent and mushrooms are browned a little. Stir in garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Stir in the carrots and salt and pepper. Let it cook until the carrots are heated through. Stir in the beer. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer and add potatoes. Let it return to simmer. Stir in the bacon. Once it is has returned to a nice little simmer, nestle the sausages into the dish. Sprinkle with parsley. Bake, covered, at 300 degrees for 2 hours. Check that the carrots and potatoes are tender. Serve warm.

NOTES: Back when my husband was flying to the Aleutian Islands, we did a lot of food trades. It was hard for the residents there to get fresh produce, so we would make a run to Costco and send a cooler of vegis or grapefruit down the chain. Then we would get back halibut or cod on the return. It’s a deeply instilled tradition. Our friend Micheala lives in Anchorage and regularly blesses us with homemade sausages that her Polish-heritage family make every fall. They are delicious all by themselves, but I like to play around with them in recipes. I don’t normally write down what I’m doing, but this one took several tries to perfect. It is based upon a Dublin Coddle recipe that I tried and didn’t like. But the idea of it appealed to me, so I made changes and, voila, this is very flavorful. I like it. It’s gluten-free and dairy-free.

  • Ingredients
  • Cornish game hens, patted dry
  • Olive oil
  • Favorite seasoning or dry rub

Rub hens with olive oil. Sprinkle or rub with seasoning, inside and out. Let stand for one hour. Preheat the smoker to 275 degrees F. Place the hens into the smoker at 275 degrees F until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Remove from heat, cover loosely with foil, and let stand for about thirty minutes. It should take about three hours from sprinkling with seasoning until ready to serve. The smoking part itself takes approximately an hour and a half. These are totally moist and delicious.

Notes: I’m using a pellet smoker (Traeger). This is so simple to do. If the hens are chilled when you place into the smoker, it’s going to take longer. I did this with two hens. If there are more in the smoker, it’s going to take longer.

  • Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika, sweet or smoked
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup diced bacon (or pancetta)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme (or 1 tsp. fresh)
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. grainy mustard
  • 2-3 Tbsp. heavy cream

In a large bowl, stir together Dijon mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir the chicken thighs around in the bowl, so that they are fully covered with marinade. Set aside.

In a skillet, fry the bacon until it starts to brown. Remove it from the pan and set aside. Discard all except about a tablespoon of the bacon fat, or add olive oil if you used pancetta or a dry bacon. Add onion to the skillet and stir-fry until soft. Stir in the thyme and cook for another minute or so. Remove the onion/thyme mixture to the bowl with the bacon.

If the skillet requires more fat, add olive oil. Over medium-high heat, add half the chicken and brown it on both sides. Remove chicken from skillet to a plate and set aside. To the skillet, add more olive oil if necessary, and add the second batch of chicken to brown on both sides. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Add the wine to the hot skillet. Stir and scrape up as many brown bits as you can. Add the chicken, bacon, and onions to the skillet with the wine. Cover the skillet and cook for about fifteen minutes, turning the chicken every once in awhile. Check the chicken for doneness and cook until it’s cooked through.

Remove the chicken to a serving platter. Stir grainy mustard and cream into the sauce in the pan. Heat through. If it’s too thick, add a little warm water. Spoon the sauce over the chicken.

NOTES: I don’t know what it is about this recipe, probably the bacon, but it is super yummy! The recipe originates with Jennifer at Seasons and Supper. She recommends serving with potatoes or pasta. I usually serve this with Twice-baked Cauliflower and a salad. What you see pictured is the recipe using only 6 chicken thighs and, instead of plating it at the end, I put the thighs back into the sauce in my skillet and served it from there. I use Spanish smoked paprika and it’s sublime. I have marinaded the chicken for minutes and for longer than an hour. I’m not sure it makes a difference. There is a lot of fat rendered into the sauce from the chicken. This does not bother me, but it may you.

Several of my family members have been visiting my parents in Nevada. Thor decided it was a good idea to order a pelmeni mold and have it delivered here. It was a good idea. It didn’t arrive until after he had left, so I had carte blanche to give it a try. Pelmeni is a small Russian dumpling that my parents love to eat. They buy bags of the frozen dumplings whenever they can find them. Pelmeni are smaller than Polish pierogi, but the fillings and method are probably similar.

I didn’t really understand how to use the mold, and the packaging is in Cyrillic script (I only know English, so there’s that), so I went to YouTube and found JeffMara Cooking’s video to see how it’s done. The video is awesome and gave me the confidence to proceed. I didn’t use their recipes, just their video how-to guide. For the recipe, I turned to Julia Frey’s Vikalinka. It turned out that her dough to filling ratio was just right. I did my own thing as far as mixing dough and making filling. For this first foray into pelmeni making, I used a meat filling, but we have eaten potato and cheese-filled pelmeni before. Mushroom filling also sounds great. Next time!

  • Dough Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • Meat Filling Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1/2 large onion, grated or run through a food processor
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Remaining Ingredients
  • Generous amount of flour for rolling and keeping pelmeni separated
  • Large pot of salted water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
  • Butter and/or sour cream for topping

Other recipes call for making the dough in your food processor, but I don’t have one here, so . . . stir together flour and salt. Whisk the egg into the cup of water. Stir the water mixture into the flour mixture. Stir as best you can until it’s all incorporated. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough has elasticity. Use as little flour as possible for this stage. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Let stand thirty minutes.

In a large bowl mix together the filling ingredients. Place the filling in the refrigerator as you wait for the dough.

Set up a work station for forming the pelmeni. You’ll need a place to roll the dough (I have a large silicone baking mat), a place to load the mold with filling (we used a highly floured cutting board), a floured place to drop the pelmeni out of the mold (a parchment-paper-covered cookie sheet).

Divide the dough into four sections. Each section will be divided in two, one for the top and one for the bottom. If it’s easier for you to just divide it into eight sections from the start, go for it. Keep the dough you are not working on in the bowl under the damp tea-towel. The pelmeni mold I used is 10″ in diameter. On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to 10″ in diameter. Flour the mold as best you can. This will be easier the second batch. Place the 10″ dough circle on the pelmeni mold. With a teaspoon, or your fingers, set about a teaspoon of filling into each indentation. Make sure you have separation between the indents. Since there were two of us making these and we worked quicky, we did not keep the filling refrigerated between batches, but if I were doing it alone I would. As the filling warms it gets a little messy and more difficult to get into the mold without finagling.

Roll out another 10″ piece of dough and place over the top of the mold. Press the top down lightly with your hands. With the floured rolling pin, starting at the center, using a back and forth motion, roll across the top of the mold until you can see the mold itself sticking through. Remove the dough along the edges and set it aside in the dough bowl under the damp cloth. Turn the mold upside down over a highly floured surface. Some pelmeni may drop out, but you’ll have to poke some out with your finger. Take a care not to pierce the dumplings. This will be easier the second time because flour will adhere to the mold better. Place the dumplings onto a highly floured surface until you’re ready to cook or freeze them.

Repeat until all four batches are made. I then used the scraps to make two more batches. That was hard to do. In retrospect I should have added more water to soften the dough scraps and make it easier to roll them out. In any event, we ended up with about 200 pelmeni.

Add bay leaves and dill weed to a pot of salted water and bring it to a boil. We also had one spoonfull of filling left, so we rolled it into a ball and dropped it into the pot for extra flavor. Drop a single layer of pelmeni into the pot. Once it comes back to a boil, let them simmer for ten minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve hot, topped with butter and/or sour cream. Yummy!

It seems unlikely that you will use all these pelmeni at a single seating. Mom and Dad say that these do not freeze well after they are cooked and all the recipes I’ve seen call for them to be frozen prior to cooking. You can either set a layer of them into the freezer until frozen and then drop them into bags for long-term freezer storage, or you can roll the fresh pelmeni, a few at a time so they remain separated, in cling wrap and place into a bag and then freeze. To cook, we are going to put them directly into boiling water from frozen, wait for the water to come back to boil, and simmer for ten minutes. That’s the plan anyway.

This is simply delicious. It’s very easy to make.

  • Ingredients
  • 1/2 oz. dried mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs (with skin)
  • 8-12 oz. unsmoked kielbasa (about 2 links)
  • Salt (or seasoned salt) and pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large carrot, chopped into 2″ chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped into 2″ chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a small bowl, soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water, covered, for at least fifteen minutes. Remove and chop the mushrooms, then return to the liquid, or set them aside. Reserve the liquid.

In a Dutch oven, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cut the sausage links into very large pieces, 4 inches or so. Brown the chicken and the sausage in batches until well browned. Add more olive oil as necessary. Remove chicken and sausage to a plate. Into the Dutch oven add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until onion is translucent. Add garlic and sage. Let it cook another minute or so. Stir in the wine and bay leaves. Let it simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Stir in mushrooms with reserved liquid, tomato puree, beans, salt and pepper to taste. Nestle the chicken, skin side up, and sausage into the bean mixture. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for two hours.

Serves 4.

NOTES: Finding unsmoked kielbasa is a challenge. I think the dish will be great if you use a smoked sausage. I’m still using up a case of tomato puree that I bought awhile back. This is one of my favorite recipes for it. I made my own puree once by draining a 14 oz. can of tomatoes and pureeing the remaining tomatoes in a blender. Alternatively, you could try using about 4 Tbsp. tomato paste and a cup of chicken broth. I did not drain the fat from the pan before I added the vegetables, but you could do that if you had rendered what you considered too much fat from the chicken. I have used the automatic setting on my oven, so the dish was finished and sat with the heat turned off for 30-45 minutes. No problem. I was hoping it would be one of those leave-and-come-back-when-it’s-finished dishes and it was! The chicken just fell apart and was fork tender. No knives needed at the table. I suppose if you don’t have a Dutch oven you could use any type of appropriately sized baking dish, then just do everything in a skillet until you get to the baking part. I think 9 x 13″ might make too thin of a bean layer, so a dish with less square inches, but taller sides would be best. You never know until you try, though! Go forth and cook!

What kind?