Blog of the Week: Arctic Garden Studio: A Fairbanks Food, Art, and Garden Journey
Writer: Nicole Pearce
Where: Fairbanks, Alaska in a “quintessential Alaska Cabin, with one exception…running water and indoor plumbing.”
What: Arctic Garden Studio is Nicole’s canvas for portraying the beauty and challenges of living in Interior Alaska. Her recipes reflect her home and she prefers local and seasonal ingredients. Full of beautiful photos and sprinkled with stories of life in Alaska, Arctic Garden Studio will make you wish you lived there. Those of us who love to fill our freezers with hand-picked berries will surely want to bookmark and frequently visit Arctic Garden Studio.
Recipe Highlights and Favorite Quotes:
OreOwls: “These owls are the reason things have been so quiet around here lately. I have been doing a lot of thinking the last two weeks. That thinking has been mostly related to work and life here in Alaska. It was a year ago that I applied to be the Executive Director at the Alaska Bird Observatory. … Each year [the Alaska Bird Observatory has] a bird-themed cake auction for our annual meeting. Last year I made a hummingbird cake. I have had this owl cupcake recipe in the back of my mind for a while now and luckily stumbled across it again last week. The cupcakes were a hit, eight of them went for $60 at the auction. Of course the recipe actually makes twelve! You know, I had to keep a couple to make sure they were actually good. Which they were. I like how the oreos inside the cake get kind of soft and just blend in with the rest of the cupcake. They are a little challenging to eat with all the stuff on top, but the cuteness factor makes up for it.”
Pork (First Day of) Spring rolls: “I have a love/hate relationship with spring. I love all the things that spring is supposed to represent. You know things like warm weather, buds on the trees, tulips, daffodils, and fresh produce. Those kinds of things don’t come to Fairbanks until May, that is if we are lucky! Here we have had temperatures hovering around zero and snow that just won’t quit. We are blessed with more sunlight and lately some beautiful displays of northern lights at night. I have been grumbling for years that I have not seen northern lights in Alaska anywhere near to those I grew up with in Michigan. Two nights ago the Alaska sky finally showed me what she can do and produced an amazing and colorful display. Unfortunately, I was too in awe to get out the camera. By the time I had my fill and went inside to get the camera the show had concluded. It was more fun to watch anyway. On this first day of spring I will make my annual trek down the road to see if I can find the first pussy willow of the season. Seems that I can always find one every year. Although it will be months before we see fresh, local produce here in Fairbanks at least the stuff in the grocery store looks a little less wilted these days. Despite the cold weather I start craving fresh greens this time of year.”
Snow Cloud Cookies: “Fairbanks is not a place that gets a lot of snow. This surprises some people, snow and cold automatically go together in most of our brains. I know it did in mine until I moved here. The one thing that surprises me is how just a little bit of snow (3 inches) can stick around for months. … This winter has been one of our coldest yet. We have had little reprieve from 30 below and colder temperatures all winter. Which means we have had very little snow, that is until last week. The temperature slowly crept above zero. We started getting spring fever. Then it happened…winter arrived. The warm temperatures brought the snow. More snow than I have ever seen in Fairbanks. … Not only was there snow, but wind too. We are prepared for cold, we insulate our houses and the pipes that bring our water. But snow? Fairbanks didn’t know what to do with the stuff. Being used to driving in these conditions I actually went to work Monday morning to find there hadn’t been a plow on the road in the last 24 hours, nor had anyone else. It was actually kind of fun. That storm brought 18 inches or more of snow to some parts of Fairbanks, then on Friday we added 8 more. … I took the opportunity to make some snow cloud cookies. This weekend seemed like the perfect time.”
Tried and Tested: I had a difficult time choosing just one recipe from Nicole’s site to try. Like Nicole, I have lots of Alaskan berries in my freezer and I’m always looking for new recipes to try. Since this is Rhubarb season, I chose Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Scones.