Unfortunately, my posting is still quite a bit sporadic at this point. It’s always amazing how long it takes to get settled in a new place! We currently don’t have internet at home, and since much of the time spent online in coffee shops and libraries is spent looking for jobs, blog posts have been a bit neglected.
The original plan had been to go into Anchorage at the end of September and look for a place there, which we did. After spending a couple days looking at little apartments that would cost way more than we wanted to spend and would not be a pleasant place for my dog to live, Joe & I started to consider pretty seriously an offer from my uncle. As I mentioned in my last post, Uncle Glenn was around for a little while on my birthday, before he headed south (Antarctica!) for the winter. While we visited, he recommended that instead of going into Anchorage, we sublet the cabin he was renting in Fairbanks, for a much better price than we’d find anywhere else.
So, after much thought and discussion, we decided that Fairbanks made a lot more sense than Anchorage. One week in Anchorage proved to be quite enough, and we were both ready to leave at that point! (Although we were glad for all the time we were able to spend with friends there.) We drove back out to Kenny Lake, spent a couple days there, then drove up to Fairbanks, where we are now.
Fairbanks has been great so far! We’re in a little cabin in the woods, and since we’re just surrounded by a spruce and birch forest, it’s easy to forget that we’re in a city at all! We’re living in a simple cabin, with no running water, wood heat, solar power, and right outside are great trails and lots of room to explore. So far the temperatures have stayed pretty warm, hanging out around 20 or 30 degrees; snow finally covered everything a couple days ago, and so it’s nice and pretty out. We’re pretty happy!
This recipe is for another meal that I enjoyed about a month ago as an extension of my birthday. Mom wanted to make me a birthday dinner, but since she had just sprained her foot badly, that wasn’t an option. Instead, she bought a bag of wonderful wild Prince William Sound shrimp from some friends, and I got to cook them however I wanted. As I considered and browsed a few shrimp recipe options, it didn’t take long for shrimp etouffee to win out. We enjoyed a big garden salad (with the last of my Kennicott lettuce!) for dinner…. And that’s me with my lovely new apron, a birthday present from my darling little sis’ Amy.
For some reason I always thought shrimp etouffee was heavy on the dairy, but it turns out that it can be made dairy free super easily, by just using oil instead of butter for making the roux. So simple! The whole meal is pretty much a cinch to make, besides the time it takes to make your roux, of course. And really, I don’t have much else to say about this recipe besides the fact that it’s soooo delicious. I wish it wasn’t such a splurge to get good wild shrimp, or I’d be making this pretty often!
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup flour
1 light beer, plus enough water to make 3 cups stock
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 large orange bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp creole seasoning (I made up a batch of ‘Emeril’s Essence’, or ‘Bayou Blast’, which he has recipes for posted online!)
2 bay leaves
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 1/2 pounds shrimp
1 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
brown rice, for serving
Peel shrimp. Put the shells in a medium saucepan, and the shrimp in a bowl, they can just go in the fridge for now.
Add the beer and as much water as is needed for 3 cups of liquid to the shrimp shells. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. When done, strain out the shells and keep the liquid, this will be your shrimp stock.
Next make your roux. In a large pot, heat the oil. Whisk in the flour until well incorporated. Reduce the heat to medium and stir constantly until the roux is a dark golden brown color. Be patient!!! If black specks show up anytime, it’s burned and you need to start again. As soon as the roux is ready, add all your veggies – the onion, garlic, celery and pepper. Cook these until veggies are getting soft, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
While the veggies are cooking, add the salt and creole seasoning. Once vegetables are cooked, add the tomatoes. Then start adding the shrimp stock, 1/2 cup at a time to make sure that the sauce doesn’t get lumpy. Add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it’s too thick, add water; if too thin, cook down more. Once it’s ready, add the shrimp! As soon as shrimp is cooked, 5-7 minutes, it’s ready. Spoon the etoufee over brown rice.