Monday, June 25, 2007

Visitors and Granite Tors Trail

On Saturday evening, Martin's sister and her boyfriend arrived in Fairbanks. Martin decided to drag them out to Granite Tors the next day. As is appropriate for a Fairbanks visit, we managed to see several moose from the car. The hike itself was very nice, and especially the dogs enjoyed it very much. We split into two groups, Martin and myself, with Sonja, going a bit slower, and Regula and Thomas leading together with the dogs up ahead. Since we wanted to be back in town in time for dinner, and to go to the Farmer Jason outdoor concert in the evening, we only hiked two hours, before turning around and heading back.

In the evening, we enjoyed a barbeque on our deck. Sonja loved to water the tomato, basil and other herb plants, even though only half the water went into the planters, and the rest spilled over the porch. Clean porch.

Last picture: Sonja bundled up in a newborn fashion after her bath tonight, cradled by daddy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Martin's back

Martin got back a week ago, and it was really nice to get him back. It was around midnight, so Sonja was already asleep, but when I was taking her to our bed at 3 or 4 am, she saw him, and for a loooong time it was just papa this and papa that, and she curled up with him to sleep. I think he must have been in heaven to get such a wonderful reception from her.

Saturday we went swinging in the playground, Sonja just absolutely loves that, at least for ten minutes. After that, she goes around and picks up garbage from the gravel. :) At home, she also played in the sandbox, happily ignoring the mosquitoes that came out after the occasional rains.

On Sunday, we had Turner (with parents Matt and Kris), and Sam (with parents Chris and Jess) over for a barbeque, except that a thunderstorm swept through half an hour beforehand, so we ended up mainly inside. In addition to it being Father's day, Martin also made tiramisu for my birthday, and we opened up most of Sonja's presents for her birthday, which was while Martin was gone. She especially loves yet another baby that she got from her godfather.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Book possibilities

OK, may be I will try to keep track of some books that sound interesting to read.

Both the review in the economist and on the powells web site makes these
ones sound very good:
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
  • his other novel, The Kite Runner
More to be added as I come across them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What's cooking (for next year)

Since I will not want to lug the cookbooks over to Europe for next year, I better start making copies of recipes that I use.

The following two recipes I made today, both for the first time, but since rhubarb is one of the things that grows well here, I might as well copy it down so that I don't have to look around next time I will have rhubarb on hand. This rhubarb was given to me by a garden-neighbor, MK, who is heading out to Nome for the next eight weeks, yet planted a garden nevertheless.

Amish Rhubarb Pie
Recipe #40865
This rhubarb pie is simple, but good. I love the crumb topping on it. For a slight change, try Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie. The crumb topping may be replaced with a full or lattice crust.


1 9 inch pie shell (see Favorite Pie Crust recipe.)
4 cups rhubarb, sliced 1 inch thick
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 dash salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened

  1. Preheat oven to 425ยบ F.
  2. Combine the rhubarb, sugar, flour, lemon and salt.
  3. Turn into unbaked pie shell.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Combine topping ingredients; mix with hands until large crumbs form sprinkle crumbs on top.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes more or until crumbs are brown and pie is bubbly.
  7. Cool on rack.
  8. NOTE: Rhubarb is tart.
  9. Depending on your taste, you might want to add more sugar.
(My comments: that's a lot of crumb topping, could even go with half that amount.)

Fricassee of Chicken with White Wine, Capers, and Olives
(Adapted from Patricia Wells' The Provence Cookbook)

A deep 12-inch skillet with a lid.
1 fresh farm chicken (4 pounds), cut into 8 serving pieces, at room temperature.
Sea salt.
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
2 cups white wine
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 cup Picholine green olives, pitted (you can substitute pimiento-stuffed olives)
¼ cup capers in vinegar, drained

  1. Season the chicken pieces on all sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In the skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chicken pieces and brown about five minutes. Turn the pieces and brown them on the other side, 5 minutes more. When the chicken pieces have all been browned, transfer them to a platter.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the onions. Cook, covered over low heat until soft for 3 minutes. Add the wine, tomatoes, olives and capers. Cover and simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour. Season to taste.
  4. Serve with rice or pasta.
(My comments: They forgot to say to add the chicken back into the skillet in step 3.)

Sonja must have just rolled off the futon as I cut into the pie, because she came out of the room crying. Put her back in bed, within ten seconds she was asleep again. Yay! Pie ala mode, here I come.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dealing with nails

Here is a special one for Martin: when I wanted to cut Sonja's nails, she showed me how she prefers to deal with them herself. If Martin was flexible enough, I am sure he would deal with his toenails the same way. As it is, he only deals with his nails on his hands this way. I don't know whether Sonja saw him do it, or whether she figured out how to do it herself... :)

Sunday we went again to watch the caribou. Sonja had almost more fun picking up dandelions. Still, for a while, she watched as the mama and baby ate from the trough. Later, the baby mimicking everything the mom did (sounds familiar???), the baby started scratching when the mom started doing so too.

I was checking the bird book whether Martin (above) made it in before he was actually due in. Alas, it's not Martin, it is a tree swallow. Plenty of them by Creamer's field.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Fairbanks Summer Folk Fest

Following up from the previous post, Sonja's stomach flu indeed only lasted one day, and by Thursday, she was fine.

Today, we went to Lulu's bakery for breakfast, followed by a quick stop by the hutchison center after Sonja threw up the bread that she ate. While I cleaned up the car, she was busy picking dandelions, as well as the first open fireweed that I saw this summer, and some heart-shaped flowers from a bush. After that, we went to Farmer's market.

One person from North Pole was selling perennials there, and talking with her about our place (shady, not sunny), she recommended columbine, delphiniums, maltese cross, and jacob's ladder. I did get some maltese cross since we do have the first two types of flowers by the house already. She was also selling edelweiss, but since it likes sun, I didn't buy it, despite thinking it would be a good joke to get for Martin. We then stopped by the playground behind HotLicks to swing on the swings before coming home for a nap.

In the afternoon, we headed to the Fairbanks Summer Folk Fest. Weather for it was beautiful - hot and sunny. We saw both people that were not much of a surprise, as well as a few surprises - like Tina. Last thing I knew she was in France, it was rather funny to bump into her in AlaskaLand. Ahem, Pioneer Park these days. Apparently she and Alain are here for Sharon and Lars's wedding at the end of the month, and will also be floating down the Canning river with Anthony starting Monday (he gets in tonight). She also said the Bucky's will be in at the end of the month too, independently.

Overall, for some three hours, with Sonja, we were exploring the little creek that runs by the stage area, swinging on swings, watching the choo-choo train, talking with people. Towards the end of our stay there, Sonja had fun sitting on me, and pushing me backwards into the grass, as well as putting sunscreen on the baby.

And on the way out, she found a much better water to go into than the stream, which was a bit deep for her: a shallow puddle. Couldn't leave without walking through it at least ten times.

At home, we saw a small dragonfly that fell into one of the rainbuckets. After rescuing it, we had ample opportunity to watch it while it dried its wings.

With respect to the bugs: earlier this week it rained. A lot. It was great, I think at least now we won't burn, or at least burn badly, even if there are some thunderstorms. Not only did the forest fire danger decrease, but the multiday rain also seems to have decreased the number of wasps around. In fact, today, I think I saw more of the flies that look like wasps (yellow and black striped), than wasps themselves. By googling it, looks like it might by syrphid fly. I won't shed any tears if the wasps themselves disappear, unlike last year, I am really looking towards eating more dinners on the porch. With Sonja, we already periodically do eat out there, though today I forgot to do that since we got home a bit late.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Flowers, stomach bug, and river

One week after the strawberries, I noticed the rose bushes blooming at Alaskaland. Blue bells are also out, as well as columbines. Another week later, yesterday, I noticed that the irises by the airport are blooming too (those by our house are trying to recover from transplanting them last fall).

Sonja got a stomach bug last night, so we are spending today at home. She is actually sleeping for the most part - I wondered whether anything can quiet down a toddler, and it seems like a stomach bug can. According to the doc's office, it should only last a day or two.

Several days ago, the weather was super hot, and we had fun hanging out between the hot porch and the cool house. Below is a picture of Sonja getting tangled in the loose mosquito screen after she stepped back inside, with her puppy in hand.

This past Sunday, Ann and Will invited us over for dinner, plus a pre-dinner walk with the dogs to the river. Sonja loved it. At the river, she kept throwing rocks into the water. Then she figured out some of the dogs were chasing sticks, and she started grabbing the branches out of the mud and throwing them in. Some of the sticks were longer than she was. We'll have to repeat that experience again.

After we finished dinner, friends of Will and Ann stopped by, together with their daughter, and her son, who is about a year older than Sonja. His name is Olin. Olin and Sonja thoroughly enjoyed playing a duet on the piano. A sight not to be missed :).