Hello! I’m Ana, a mother and homemaker from Alaska.
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Impressing a Pretty Girl

July 10, 2013 |

So I may not have told you the entire truth .....

Yes, there's been a little more going on than hundreds of electrical outlets being installed.

The Ram's also been busy impressing a pretty girl.

---

DIY for us doesn't just mean do-it-yourself furniture or even DIY homes for our mothers.  To us, DIY is a way of life.  It's just part of living up here in Alaska where amenities are scarce and sometime there is no one else to do things but yourself.

And DIY includes most of the food we eat.

As a child, my brother would catch fish in this very river, the Copper River

And it was my sister's and my job to carry each fish up this cliff, one at a time.  I can still remember grabbing on to bushes, hoping it wouldn't give, trying not to kick rocks on my sister below, wishing the fish wasn't so slimy and heavy.

We've sparred our own children the danger of doing this and now fish from boats, with the little one's either staying home or in camp.

But sometimes when I cook salmon for dinner, and my daughter doesn't appreciate it, I worry that our children have lost the connection between harvesting our own food and being thankful for it. 

So this year, when we went on our annual salmon fishing trip, we left a day early, so my daughter could see first hand where and how dinner is caught.

So here she is, dressed in pink and ready to fish.

She's only six, so we choose a much safer spot to hike down to the river. 

For me, it was more of a slide than a hike ... but you know ... someone's gotta make everyone else look good.

And the Ram started sweeping with his dipnet. 

With only knee high water boots in the freezing cold glacier fed Copper River, the Ram couldn't get his net out far enough to catch a fish.

But who needs to feel their toes when there's a pretty girl to impress?

And was she every impressed!

Each fish is at least two full meals for our family.

And it's not just any food for us.  These wild caught Copper River Salmon are full of vitamins and minerals and healthy fats.  We may not see the sun for months, but these fish can provide us with all the Vitamin D we need throughout the winter.  It's amazing how no matter where you live, everything you need is right there.

As any guy will tell you, impressing a girl comes at a price.

Worth it though!

Back home, the real work begins.  We were blessed to take home are limit in fish, but it will take days to process the fish.

Every fish is carefully cleaned.  About a third are immediately put in the freezer without further processing.

Another third of the fish we brine in a brown sugar mixture for a day

And then smoked.  The smoked fish is packed in my daughter's lunch for school.

We had intended to build a smokehouse, but we found this smokehouse in a landfill, and after Grandpa Tim and the Ram fixed it up, it works to good to not use. 

Canning is the most work, but it's my favorite way to process salmon.  I love how we can with the bones and skin on, making sure we use up as much of the fish as possible, and getting the most nutrients.  Canning also lasts the longest, and requires no refrigeration or freezing.

Thank you for letting us share a little more of our DIY lifestyle with you. Just like making your own furniture can be so much more gratifying than buying, a DIY dinner is just that much sweeter.

Do you eat salmon? What's your favorite way to prepare?

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Pursuit of Handyness's picture

Wow

Ana, I really enjoyed your story. I Live in southeastern Michigan and we buy wild caught salmon from Whole Foods or Trader Joes market. If I could eat it every day I would. I've never had canned salmon, what does it taste like? Whatever Gracie doesn't want to eat, you can mail to me. :-)

I've never been to Alaska but a friend of mine just returned from a cruise and I had to pick my jaw up off the ground when I saw her photos. It looks so darn beautiful. My husband and I are now considering Alaska as one of our next vacation destinations. Whatever Gracie doesn't want to eat, you can mail to me.

posted by Pursuit of Handyness | on Wed, 2013-07-10 17:44
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brookifer86's picture

Gulf fishing

Being on the complete opposite shore from y'all, we don't eat much fresh salmon. I do buy the canned stuff occasionally to make salmon cakes, which are one of my favorites, and paleo to boot. (just saying that now has me craving them, thanks pregnancy!) We do, however, get a lot of flounder, and man, I love me some flounder. Usually my husband cleans it and filets it and we pop it in the freezer until we want to thaw it to stuff or fry. Our freezer is nearly cleaned out now, but luckily he's going to the coast again in just a few weeks! His dream is to go salmon fishing in Alaska, someday I may consent to join him there ;)

posted by brookifer86 | on Wed, 2013-07-10 19:06
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brookifer86's picture

Gulf fishing

Being on the complete opposite shore from y'all, we don't eat much fresh salmon. I do buy the canned stuff occasionally to make salmon cakes, which are one of my favorites, and paleo to boot. (just saying that now has me craving them, thanks pregnancy!) We do, however, get a lot of flounder, and man, I love me some flounder. Usually my husband cleans it and filets it and we pop it in the freezer until we want to thaw it to stuff or fry. Our freezer is nearly cleaned out now, but luckily he's going to the coast again in just a few weeks! His dream is to go salmon fishing in Alaska, someday I may consent to join him there ;)

posted by brookifer86 | on Wed, 2013-07-10 19:06

Good job!

Good job on dipping your limit on Copper reds! I heard the run was great, but the water was really high this year. We are praying for the reds to start on the Kenai soon so we can dip our limit and get them processed before leaving on vacation. My hubby is already giving me a bad time about taking our vacation in July. What kind of Alaskan takes a vacation right when the reds are running?! You can be sure that it is the last July vacay I will plan! I hope you enjoy your salmon this winter.

posted by Cathy B | on Wed, 2013-07-10 19:36
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dakotatransplant's picture

Grace is getting so big! Love

Grace is getting so big! Love the story. Pretty much love every story of yours, even if I don't get around to commenting. Thanks for posting! :)

posted by dakotatransplant | on Thu, 2013-07-11 09:23
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Pam the Goatherd's picture

My hubby used to fish for

My hubby used to fish for salmon here in MI but hasn't had the time to go for the past few years. Even when he had the time, the place he prefers to fish is catch-and-release only. The last time he went I told him he better bring home a salmon for me to put up! He did. But now it's all gone and he's too busy to fish. I refuse to buy fish at the grocery store because once you've had fresh-caught fish....well, you understand!

Thanks for sharing this story. I especially love the water pouring out of the boot! Looks like something I would do. A person's gotta do what a person's gotta do to feed the fam!!!

posted by Pam the Goatherd | on Thu, 2013-07-11 10:13
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Jasi's picture

yum

i love salmon. and i love your story. your family is so warm and down to earth.

my favorite way to cook it is to let it sit all day in the fridge with equal soy sauce, maple syrup and some ginger slices. get a good sear in a dry pan and then add the marinade for sauce, finish together. the flavors are strong so you don't need much liquid at all.

posted by Jasi | on Thu, 2013-07-11 10:32

I love salmon!

So amazing to see you and your family harvesting Copper River salmon. I hope to visit in person some day.
My husband and I enjoyed fresh Copper River salmon this week. At least once each salmon season I splurge and purchase fresh Copper River salmon. It is the best and $$$ here in Northern CA and soooo worth it.
My favorite way to prepare salmon lately is to season with ground cumin, salt, pepper and a light sprinkle of smoked paprika and red crushed peppers and gently (lower heat) pan fry in olive oil with the skin on. I also enjoy this the next day cold on salad if there are any leftovers.

Cathryn

posted by cathryn | on Thu, 2013-07-11 14:49
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tealbee's picture

Yay for salmon!

My hubby went to Chitina last week and got his limit! We do the same as you- filet and freeze some, smoke and can some and this year we canned some without brining or smoking or anything, we'll see this winter whether that was a good idea or not. One of our favorite ways to eat them I almost don't want to admit, but it's delicious! It involves soaking in soy sauce for 20 minutes or so, then seasoning with a magic salmon seasoning mix (I know, it's cheating) and then slathering on some mayo (I know, I know! It's terrible!) and smearing the mayo and seasoning together then grilling or baking. It is unbelievably good and has converted many people who don't think they like salmon! :)

posted by tealbee | on Fri, 2013-07-12 02:55
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JenWoodhouse.com's picture

DIY to the core!

Oh my goodness, that looks amazing! And you're so right, Ana... even if everything we think we need was taken from us (cell phones, the internet, modern-day conveniences, etc.), everything we could ever truly need is already provided for us.

As for my salmon preparation, I go the lazy girl route: a little salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon then throw it on the grill. So easy and so delicious.

Thanks for sharing! When can I come over for dinner? :)

posted by JenWoodhouse.com | on Fri, 2013-07-12 10:30
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Legossi's picture

Food Preservation

While we don't do salmon, we do do other food preservation DIY. We can't do salmon - we're in landlocked Tennessee, but we do hunt and preserve venison and we can that as well as the chickens we raise, so we DIY food every way we can. Also, our garden is giant (Which I guess you guys can't have a giant garden up in AK? ) so we never buy tomatoes or spaghetti sauce, etc, because we make our own. :)

posted by Legossi | on Sun, 2013-07-14 20:04
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Wow

We are major DIYers when it comes to food, too. We don't have the abundance of Salmon here in SC, but we can over 80 lbs of chicken at least once a year, make our own fruit jams to last the year from fruits that we pick ourselves, and have been canning our veggies. My cousin hunts a good bit and shares the meat with us, which is wonderful. One of my favorites to do is homemade spaghetti sauce. I leave out the meat and can our family recipe. I love reading your posts, and getting to know you better through your site. Thank you so much, Ana!

posted by SabySmooth1 | on Tue, 2013-07-23 20:44
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mrsdelo's picture

You make me miss Alaska!

We moved from Alaska before we could go dip netting :( I LOVED all the copper river reds I got to eat while I lived there and moose burgers. 49th State Brewery in Healy was our favorite place ever! Love your posts, you're amazing :)

Megan

posted by mrsdelo | on Sat, 2013-09-07 23:02

Salmon is our favorite!

My husband says I make blackened salmon better than any restaurant. It is so easy to make and tastes out-of-this-world delicious. I coat both sides with blackening spices. You can buy this premixed or create your own. Then I sear (this is what creates the blackened look) each side in a very hot skillet with a little olive oil. Each side cooks for about 1 min. Then the salmon goes in the oven at 350 for 3 to 6 minutes depending on how rare you like it. If you have a pan that can go from the stove top into the oven, this is ideal. We used to like it cooked longer, but like it more rare now. It just melts in your mouth and is so tender and not dried out. When my husband and I would eat this, we gave our kids fish sticks or plain salmon, but now they love it blackened, too. It is very expensive here, so I would love to be able to catch our own! I can't imagine how delicious it could be to catch it ourselves and cook it fresh. Maybe some day!

posted by amycarle | on Sat, 2013-10-05 17:01

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