This week I am in New York City participating in a tourism event where I am cooking Alaska seafood. It’s been a good trip so far, nice to be out of the bunny boots and facemask for a change. But, today the crew at Winterlake Lodge sent me an email and some photos to tell me about the incredible northern lights they have been seeing. There were no guests at the lodge Thursday night, a welcome break after two hectic weeks of races and visitors. The entire crew packed up and headed out in the dark to our famous “sled hill” to watch the show.
Nothing could make me feel more homesick than the idea of missing out on a lodge adventure. Today, I took a cab to the interesting abc kitchen restaurant, attached to the ABC Carpet & Home store (If you are interested in home décor, you should check this store out. It’s where I bought the colorful fruit chandelier hanging in my kitchen). The restaurant is eclectic and modern in the same moment, a little like Alaska-style. While I sat at my table waiting for the crispy shrimp and kasha salad I ordered for lunch, images from home pinged into my cellphone. The crew was bundled up in the same style of gear I was wearing just a few days ago and that distinctive green swirl of northern lights flashed across my phone screen. I wanted to lean over and show the smart couple sitting next to me images from home but I decided against it. How could I begin to describe the sensation of standing underneath a northern sky lit up in colored energy?
Our crew-only snowmachine outings are always adventurous — or, more often misadventurous if I am along. I am not the best snowmachine driver and I am a little afraid of the notorious sledding hill. I tend to be the one to crash or tip or mire into a deep tree well. I understand the concept that what is in motion stays in motion but laws of physics don’t help my throttle grip as I navigate a steep corner hanging on for dear life.
We usually bring along hot chocolate and other warming drinks when we head out on the trail, and Mandy usually packs some kind of light snack. She’s been making a well-received graham cracker (originally inspired by TV chef Alton Brown) this winter that goes perfectly with a thermos of hot chocolate. She makes similar crackers for some of her fancy plated desserts crumbled into ice creams.
I’m heading home in a couple of days — hopefully in time to still see a few northern lights in person.
- ½ cup cake flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes and chilled
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the mixture a few times. Add in the butter and pulse again until the mixture is combined. Add in the honey, milk and vanilla extract and process until the dough forms a ball, about a minute. Press the ball into a ½-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Unwrap the dough and place it onto a large piece of oven-proof parchment paper. Top the dough with a second piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough out until it is ⅛-inch thick. Slide the rolled dough (with paper) onto a baking sheet. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough into 2-inch square pieces. Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the dough. Leave the crackers on the pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 minutes or until the edges are a golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, place the baking sheet with the crackers onto a cooling rack, and allow to cool completely. Break the crackers into individuals and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.