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After the untimely death of his brother, Michael Saunders set out to do something different. He founded the Alaska Pro Wrestling league and found closure amongst the barrage of punches and body slams.
Video: Slavik Boyechko, Travis Gilmour, John Norris
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Music: Starship Amazing, Krackatoa
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Today we’re getting ready for Thanksgiving. Sarah Alvarez has been writing her food blog The Hungry Alaskan for about two years. And being a food writer, it’s no surprise she gets excited about Thanksgiving.
“I love Thanksgiving, it’s my favorite food holiday. It comes with memories, that’s my favorite part is just the memories you make sitting around the table or even all day cooking,” Alvarez says. And today, she is going to show me how cook one of her favorite holiday dishes. One that her family has been making for many years.
“So today we’re going to make lemon risotto with asparagus in it. On a normal day, it would be great as just a normal meal, but on Thanksgiving it would be a perfect side and a nice way to make your meal a little more sophisticated,” Alvarez says.
Risotto is an Italian rice dish that Alvarez says is kind of hard to describe.
“It sort of has the consistency of porridge, although porridge doesn’t conjure up images of good-tasting food. Maybe highly refined porridge,” Alvarez says with a laugh. And, to start this highly refined porridge we need to start with a simple base.
“For this risotto you can either use shallots or sweet onions. I think the onions are easier but shallots would be fine,” Alvarez says. Next, comes a cup of Arborio rice.
“And it just goes in with the onions until it glistens. And this is when you have to start paying attention, because it will burn quickly,” Alvarez says.
While risotto may seem like a simple dish, it does require constant attention; most of which is stirring. Once the rice is lightly toasted, Alvarez adds her secret ingredient, white wine.
“I have no idea why the wine is important, but I know it’s important. My mom always said it sealed in the flavors, I don’t know if that’s accurate,” Alvarez says.
Next comes the chicken broth. “A little chicken broth a time,” Alvarez says.
From here on out the process is pretty straight forward. Stir the chicken broth into the risotto until it reduces to a creamy consistency, then add more broth. Repeat five to eight times. Alvarez loves this kind of dish for Thanksgiving because she gets to cook, but still visit with people without running around the kitchen.
“It’s a very methodical process, and there’s not a lot of stress involved where as when you’re cooking things that your timing has to be perfect that can stress me out,” Alvarez says. And, standing over this fragrant pot is not a bad gig. “It smells a little bit like onions and butter and there’s a nice nutty fragrance to it. You can smell the richness. It’s much more complex and flavorful than a typical rice dish.”
After about 20 minutes, we add the asparagus which Alvarez sautéed, lemon zest, and about a quarter cup of lemon juice. It’s looking very creamy, and close to finished.
“The way I really know it’s done is by taste, for me that’s the only way to know. So let’s taste it…..that’s great….tada!” Alavarez says, with a satisfied look on her face. “It reminds me of good food, but mostly it reminds me of family. My mom taught me how to make risotto and it’s been part of our family since I was kid. It has really good memories, and I think that’s what’s most important about Thanksgiving: family, memories, and good food.”
But enough chat. Alvarez says it’s a sin to eat cold risotto. “It is a sin, because once it’s cold then the texture doesn’t ever come back to the same consistency,” Alvarez says.
Not shockingly, I think it’s delicious. But what about the chef? Is this a Thanksgiving worthy dish?
“What I love about this risotto is the subtle hint of lemon, it’s so fresh, but also the nuttiness of the risotto combines to make a rich bold flavor. And then I like the freshness of the asparagus with a little crunch. It’s just good eatin.”
For the full recipe, check out Sarah’s blog, The Hungry Alaskan.
Alaska fishermen want to broaden the experimental use of cameras and other monitoring devices in the federal government’s fishery observer program. Under the recently-revamped program, many more vessels, including smaller boats, can now be required to carry an observer at times. A new industry proposal is aimed at making electronic monitoring available as an alternative to carrying that extra person on the boat.
The federal government expanded its fishery observer program this past year. For the first time, that meant halibut boats and smaller vessels, 40 to 60 feet long, could be selected to carry an observer.
But according to Alaska Longline Fisherman’s Association Director Linda Behnken, that’s not feasible for many. “There’s a lot of the small boat fleet that simply cannot accommodate another person,” she said.
“They don’t have a bunk. They don’t have the safety equipment. They just don’t have space for that. So, we saw a number of people apply for a release to observer coverage on those grounds. Actually 65 percent of the boats selected in the first three quarters of the year, which is the data I’ve seen so far, those 65 percent of the boats that were selected applied for a release and were granted a release.”
Behnken credits Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner and North Pacific Fishery Management Council member Cora Campbell for helping to make sure that relief was available. Behnken thinks the releases were needed to lessen the burden of the expanded program.
However, she said it also meant that the National Marine Fisheries Service fell short of its goals for observer coverage. “So, to our mind, you’re not getting representative data if you’re not hitting those target coverage levels which can mean some problems with extrapolating that data to the remainder of the fleet,” she said.
Behnken said the situation shifted more of the observer burden to boats that were able to accommodate them. Also, she said some fishermen chose not to use their own small boats and instead opted to fish with other skippers who had bigger vessels. She said a few others chose to sell their fishing quotas because of the new regulations.
So, Behnken said ALFA is working with other fishing groups to pursue electronic monitoring or EM as an alternative to carrying observers on small boats. In October, they applied for a federal permit to broaden the experimental use of cameras and other electronic monitoring equipment.
“We all recognize there will continue to be a need for some,” she said.
“For observers on the water but that there are places, there are times, there is a significant portion of the fleet that is better served by having electronic monitoring to insure you get representative data and you get it in a cost effective way. So, we’re looking to integrate EM, to use it where you can get the data that managers need, and to use it in a way that’s less intrusive and less costly than deploying human observers.”
Federal fishery managers are taking a slower approach to the issue than the industry would like. NMFS has a small-scale EM pilot program that involved just a handful of participants this past year. ALFA wants to incorporate that into the broader, industry-backed project to test technology on more boats. 60 vessels would be the goal for the first year of a five-year effort.
NMFS has been considering the proposal according to Martin Loefflad who is director of the agency’s Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Division.
While he won’t comment on the industry application while it’s still under review. Loefflad said NMFS is also trying to advance electronic monitoring.
“What we’re trying to do is improve the quality of imagery we are getting from vessels” he said.
“There’s a lot of hype on this EM stuff going on worldwide right now and what we’ve seen is that a lot of work has been done all over the world that has been duplicating the same sorts of things. We want to get out of duplication and actually move this stuff forward. I personally think EM has massive potential and could revolutionize the way we sample, if we do it right.”
Observers record catch data and other information for use in fishery management and research. Loefflad said electronic monitoring will never do exactly what a person does.
“People can do a variety of things,”Loefflad said. “EM can do some things very, very well and we want to figure out what things it does well and then so we can use that potentially as a tool to supplement those areas where putting a person on a boat is not a feasible process.”
Together, NMFS and the industry may be able to make some progress on moving electronic monitoring forward, Loefflad said.
The agency has told the North Pacific Council that it will have the capacity to deploy EM equipment on 14 vessels in its pilot project next year. As an incentive for participation, NMFS proposed that volunteers would avoid the possibility of being selected to carry an observer. That would also be the case for the industry proposal.
National Marine Fisheries Service Staff will be in Petersburg to hold an informational meeting about the fishery observer program in general on Tuesday, December 3rd from 4 to 6 pm in the new Library’s large conference room.
Southwest Alaska has a special place in the state’s mining history with the gold rushes in the Iditarod and Aniak areas. It’s also where the future of gold is happening, at the nearby Donlin Creek project. The area now is getting a fresh look with the most recent survey technology.
The state has recently finished an extensive geological survey of historic mining areas near the Aniak, Innoko, and Iditarod mining districts. Steve Masterman is the division operations manager with division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys. He says one of the agency’s goals is to evaluate state lands for metal and mineral potential.
”As part of that mission, we go out and look at areas that are heavily mineralized, have lots of know or past mineral production or known mineral occurrences and we collect this kind of information to help people locate more mineral resources in those areas,” Masterman said.
This is an area with a strong history of gold production. Since 1880, Miners have produced more than 2.8 million ounces of gold, most of it placer gold. The state thinks there is more to be found in igneous rocks. Much of the area has not been thoroughly explored, although the well-researched Donlin deposit is in the area.
The aeromagnetic surveys are done with helicopter that flies lines about ¼ mile apart. They’re sending out signals that bounce back and measure the magnetic response of the rocks and their resistance to electricity.
“If a rock is very conductive, it can be conductive because it has a lot of clay, or carbon, or if it has a lot of metals. So you can trace different beds of rock or different rock formations,” Masterman said.
Masterman says a preliminary look at the maps show shows more faulting and folds of rock formations that can give a can better understanding of how the geology works.
“We can also see more intrusive and volcanic rocks, and it’s the intrusive and volcanic rocks associated with gold mineralization at Donlin Creek and Nixon Fork and other places in that part of the world, so that’s also good to see,” Masterman said.
The surveys cost about a million dollars.
Most Sealaska shareholders will get a $713 check or direct deposit in about two weeks.
This year’s winter distribution to stockholders totals $11.7 million. The Juneau-headquartered regional Native corporation has nearly 22,000 tribal members. Most live in Alaska or the Pacific Northwest.
Sealaska Board Chair Albert Kookesh says the twice-a-year distributions strengthen regional communities.
“Since inception, Sealaska has paid more than a half billion dollars total to shareholders and village corporations,” he says.
The majority of stockholders own 100 shares. Payments differ due to status.
Those also enrolled in an urban Native corporation, such as Juneau’s Goldbelt Inc., receive $713. So are those only enrolled in Sealaska.
Shareholders also enrolled in a village corporation, such as Prince of Wales Island’s Klawock Heenya, will get $71.
The difference is income from a pool of regional Native corporations’ natural-resource earnings.
Sealaska pays that directly to urban shareholders, as part of their dividends. But it pays the resource revenues to village corporations, which decide whether to pass them on to shareholders.
Descendents of original shareholders also only get $71 per 100 shares.
And elders in any category receive an extra $71.
Sealaska will mail or direct-deposit dividends beginning December 6th.
Some shareholders say the dividends are too small. They point to the fact that only about 10 percent of the payments come from Sealaska operations and investments.
“Let us not fight of the tiny piece of pie Sealaska chooses to distribute; let us work together to elect a board interested in growing the pie,” said critic Brad Fluetsch on a shareholders Facebook page.
Try your hand at the winning recipe from this year's Sustainable Seafood Cook-off.November 24, 2013