The Spell of the Yukon

"No! There’s the land. (Have you seen it?) 

   It’s the cussedest land that I know, 

From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it

   To the deep, deathlike valleys below. 

Some say God was tired when He made it; 

   Some say it’s a fine land to shun; 

Maybe; but there’s some as would trade it

   For no land on earthand I’m one." - Robert W. Service

 

Wednesday Thoughts

The trip down South!

We drove, through the forest and plains of Alaska, through the old burns and the new Fireweed, until we crossed the border into Canada.

Unknown territory to me, completely new, and all of a sudden I wondered why everyone, yes everyone, has Alaska on their bucket list, when clearly Canada, and Yukon are something out of this world.  

Once you leave Fairbanks, the roads become less and less populated, until you enter the Yukon, and everyone are gone, empty, empty roads in the mountains with grizzlies and black bears roaming the landscape. You are on your own. 

Magnolia Bluff County Park

Adventure Tuesday again, brings us to:

Magnolia Bluff

As I have mentioned earlier there are two different types of parks, State Parks where you pay an entrance fee, and then the County Parks that are completely free!!

There aren't any real mountains in Wisconsin, but there are some cliffs, bluffs and hills. This hike is literally just up a hill/bluff where you can see some views, and then the trail continues into the forest.

But what a forest. It's a beautiful oak forest, mixed with other deciduous species.

As many other trails we have ventured out on, these trails are used both by hikers and and cross country skiers during the wintertime. Here, you can also run into a horse or two, as there is excellent horseback riding too, and who wouldn't want to ride along into a deep oak forest?

More trees, as we continued our walk, and more plants, fungi and insects! Here in Wisconsin there are lots of different types of vines, growing up the tree trunks, they are so pretty. You can see their attachment to the tree trunks, it's pretty fascinating.

Of course I couldn't help myself and took a lot of pictures of all the tiny little details I could see.

Eventually at the end of the trail we got into this interesting pine forest, which must have been planted, but we aren't sure. After that, we arrived at the same place where we started, at the bluff. One thing is for sure though, it was a very pretty walk through the forest!

Do you have a favorite forest to walk through? I am excited about the fall colors in all of these deciduous forests!

RECIPE: Gluten Free Blueberry Meringue Pie

I have not done a lot of gluten free baking, but I thought I should share some baked goods I made recently, gluten free. I have already posted the recipe for cinnamon buns HERE. My mom had been talking about a blueberry pie she had been making lately, and said it was really tasty. Now, unfortunately I don't have the same blueberries here as in Alaska. I know, bummer, like big BUMMER! I went to the store and bought blueberries (breaks my heart). I have to say though that I was positively surprised, they actually were pretty tasty, however, not even close to the wild ones, the arctic/boreal ones. For this recipe I just exchanged the regular flour with the Namaste Perfect Flour Blend and almond flour.

When I make a piecrust I usually take out the butter and let it sit for a little bit on the counter so it's easier to mix it with the flour. 

This recipe only has 7 ingredients, including two different types of flours, I know, AMAZING! 

Pie Crust

  • 150 g butter  
  • 2 ½ dl Namaste Perfect Flour Blend (more if the dough feels to loose)
  • 2 dl Almond Flour (more if the dough feels to loose)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 egg yolks (SAVE the whites for the meringue)

Meringue filling

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 dl sugar
  • 1 L blueberries

Set the oven temperature to 430-440 ℉ (220-225 ℃).

Mix the two different flour mixes and a pinch of salt. Add the butter in pieces and the egg yolks and either mix it by hand or with a food processor. Take the dough and press it out in a springform or pie pan. Try to make it equally thin all over and make sure you have about 3-5 cm of crust up the sides. 

Bake the pie crust in the oven (430-440 ℉ (220-225 ℃)) for about 10 minutes. While you are baking the pie crust, whisk the egg whites hard. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without loosing any of your egg whites. Add the sugar and whisk for a couple more minutes. Add the blueberries to the mix and transfer it into the piecrust. Bake for about 10-15 minutes until the meringue has gotten some color. Turn off the oven and let the pie sit in the oven for a few more minutes. 

Pretty easy eh, and the crust is completely gluten free!

RECIPE: Gluten Free Swedish Cinnamon Buns

Last christmas I made gluten free products for the first time in my life, and as an avid baker I have to say it was challenging. But, I am not the one who give up that easy. My mother in law is allergic to gluten, which is why I have started to experiment in the gluten free world. (If you want o make the cinnamon buns WITH gluten you can find the recipe HERE!)There are many Swedish treats that have been converted into gluten-free goodies, using specific Swedish brand gluten-free flour. There is a jungle out there with gluten free products, and it just keep growing. There are a certain must haves in the flour mix which I think most brand have for instance xhantan gum and some type of starch. Usually when you bake wheat products, the gluten is what is broken apart when adding yeast (along with other things, like starch), and therefore the typical dough with those visible threads that makes the dough so elastic wont form.

Personally I feel like it's a hit or miss when it comes to gluten free baking, and I have yet to absolutely succeed, if there really is a magnificent mix that will mimic the wheat flour and it's specific molecules and characteristics that creates the rising of the dough.

I have seen many Swedish recipes calling for specific brand names, that I can not find in the US, because they are Swedish, or from some other european country. We do have lots of flour mixes here in the states, but they don't always seem to have the same ingredients. In Sweden some gluten free mixes seem to be similar to what we have here, but many of the mixes do have a tiny bit of gluten in it, so in theory they are not gluten free. 

Either way, I went to the store (no actually W went to the store... :)) and bought the Namaste brand Perfect Flour Blend, and some almond flour. Namaste flour blend mainly consist of rice flour. Now, these flour mixes are so expensive, and if I knew how much of of each ingredient to use, I would probably make my own flour mix, but I didn't have time for that now. I found a cinnamon bun recipe HERE. They used THIS flour mix but you could also use THIS

This is the recipe:

  • 100 g butter
  • 5 dl milk (or water) I used milk
  • 50 g yeast, which is equal to 4 teaspoons of active dry yeast that you usually buy in the US
  • 1 dl sugar (I always use agave syrup when I make baked goods)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Cardamom, I use a lot!
  • 14 dl Lailas blå or 12 dl Lailas gul Mjölmix is what they called for but this is where I used the Namaste flour mix, and some almond flour. To be honest I can't remember exactly how much of each I used, but I think it was about 10 dl of the flour mix and 2 dl of the almond flour. I then added some more flour mix and almond flour until I was satisfied. 

Filling

  • 150 g butter (+- some) I usually take out the butter at the start, because the dough will be sticky and break easily if the butter for the filling is to hard. 
  • 1 dl sugar (less if you want less sweet, or more if you want sweeter of course)
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon (or more if you prefer)
  • 1-2 eggs to coat the buns before you add pearl sugar onto the buns
  • Put them in the oven at about 480 ℉, 8-10 minutes.

I always start by melting the butter and adding the milk. This solution should get to about 110 ℉ (according to my specific yeast) and once it hits that temperature I pour it into a bowl and add the yeast (I use the active dry yeast from the glas container). I usually let it sit together for a couple of minutes before I add the agave syrup, cardamom and salt. I mixed the Perfect flour blend with the almond flour in a separate bowl and then added it to the milk solution slowly while while stirring with a spatula. 

When you bake gluten free treats or bread the dough is nothing like a wheat dough, its a lot more loose, and I decided to add some more of the flour blend and almond flour until it felt good (don't ask me how I judged this but I just went with my gut). I left it to rise for about 30 minutes.

When the dough was done rising I took it out on the table and cut it in half. The looser dough also makes it trickier to roll out with the rolling pin but it works. I would recommend rolling out the dough on either parchment paper or on silicon mat, because it will save you a lot of headache later on when you are suppose to start rolling the bun. I love making twisted buns, but you can forget about that when you are making these buns. The rolling of the dough can be hard, because the dough is so sticky but with a gentle hand you can succeed.

After you roll out the dough in a nice thin rectangular shape it's time to add the filling. I use a spatula and add the butter over the whole rectangular dough. Then I sprinkle the sugar, and then the cinnamon. The very last step is to roll up the dough, from the long side. Be careful here too because he dough do break easily. After this step I cut about 3 cm thick pieces and put them on  a parchment paper on a baking sheet. Repeat with second half of the dough.

Unfortunately, or maybe I should say fortunately I forgot take pictures at each step, but here are a few of the ones a took. 

Anyway, they were delicious, and my mother in law agreed! So I would say that they were a success. They might not look much to the world, but they taste amazing!

Do you have any favorite gluten free recipe?

 

Fire pits, the worlds most underrated creation

I'm going to share another memory, this time from last year and Alaska. If you want to see the other posts in this theme, click here: Flashback Friday. 

Fall and Fire pits

Last year a dear friend of mine came to visit in Alaska, she's done research there before so she knew the place and wanted to come back. We met a few years back in Juneau and just clicked. She's one of the few real good friends I managed to acquire in this country. My dear cabin in the woods of course came with a fire pit. In the end we actually didn't use it that much, W and me, but when my friend came we used it several nights.

 A few years back I went down to Wasilla to visit a friend. We went to her husbands familys house and their awesome backyard. There is something about sitting around a fire and just be.

In August you can already tell that the winter is on it's way, leaves have already started turning colors, if they are even left on the trees at this point. 

I love fall in the boreal forest, and that is something I think I am really going to miss after moving here. We do have the North Woods up north, but that is a ways. I am however excited about discovering fall in Wisconsin. 

I just love all the fall colors, do you have a specific forest, park, area or so that you usually go to over and over again through the seasons? Do you guys also have a fire pit or something alike?

Indian Lake County Park

Adventure Tuesday again, and this time not a State Park, but a County Park.

Indian Lake County Park

A county park is a park set up by the state, compared to a state park that is under the sub-national level. Personally I am not completely clear what the exact difference is, however, just as any other park we have been to in Wisconsin Indian Lake was extremely beautiful. 

As many other parks here in Wisconsin they are even maintained during the wintertime and you can cross-country ski there. We will definetely come back here in the wintertime to ski, well, if we even get enough snow this winter..

A few minutes after we started we began to climb some stairs to get up a hill. Clearly this trail up the hill hadn't been used in a long time, and we discovered on the way down that there, of course, was a different route to use, a more used route. Either way, we got up the hill and arrived at an old chapel.

Along the trail there are a lot of benches where you can sit down and rest, if you need to. All these benches are donated by families and friends that are remembering a loved one. This Chapel we arrived at was built by european settlers in 1857. Can you believe that someone actually stole the original wooden altar in the 80s?

After the small detour to the chapel we continued our hike, in the 85-90℉ degree (30℃) weather, and yeah we didn't bring any mosquito spray. In Alaska if you forget your mosquito spray you are totally screwed, you are not getting out alive. Here however, well we got out alive. The trail was winding through deep deciduous forest and open grassland. 

As always I got to caught up into the details of all pretty wildflowers, and the insects. Hopefully you'll appreciate the pictures.

Eventually we took a wrong turn and got back to where we started a little too early. But since the mosquitos were eating us and the weather was hot and humid I was pretty happy about that. We also ran into the great black wasp, which isn't as dangerous as it looks with its 20-35mm long body, but yeah, size wise very very intimidating. That's when I decided that it definitely was time to leave. 

Have you ever seen any interesting insects? 

Olbrich Park

As I have mentioned earlier there are a lot of parks around this town. Sometimes in the mornings I go out for a run and usually run through this park called Olbrich Park. It's pretty large, right by the water and there are tons of wildflowers at the edge to the lake. 

The other evening I went there with this photography group, and it was perfect. I hadn't really been out there with my dslr camera and I managed to snap some pretty pictures.

The sunset created such a beautiful light, it was a perfect evening for photography!

Where do you usually go to take some photos?