This spicy condiment has been prepared in the Maghreb region of Africa for much longer than the current political borders that define its homeland. Specifically, Tunisian cuisine highlights the use of harissa as an ingredient rather than a sauce to finish a dish. Traditional harissa varies from house to house as the recipe is passed down from parent to child, evolving with each generation’s preferences for flavors, but the main ingredients are roasted peppers and chilies of varying hotness, spices, and oil. 
While peppers are the main ingredient of this fiery paste, they are not native to North Africa. In fact, harissa is a nod to the cultural influences that passed through their ports. The peppers came from North America through Columbus’s exploration of the new world. The spices came from India as trade routes passed by their coast. The oil, traditionally olive, came from their own local harvest. 

10 jalapeños, roasted, peeled, and seeded
2 red peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded
1 tbsp whole cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp granulated garlic
3 Tbsp Paprika
3/4 cup Olive oil
3 tbsp Lemon juice
Salt, as needed

Roasting peppers

Toss all peppers with 1 tablespoon of oil, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Lay out on aluminum covered sheet pan. Put under broiler until just starting to burn. Flip peppers so they are roasted consistently on all sides. Remove from oven, wrap aluminum around the peppers so they will steam to soften (This is key for peeling skin off). Once soft, about 5 minutes of steaming, peel skin and discard. Slice peppers in half, remove ribs and seeds. 

Toasting spices

Toasting spices goes a long way to enhance flavors. The heat brings the oils to the surface, which adds nuttiness and complexity. In a frying pan, toss spices over high heat just until starting to smoke. Remove from heat. Keep tossing, as the pan is hot and could burn the spices. Once cool, grind in spice grinder. We have a dedicated coffee grinder we use only for spices. 

Making the harissa

Add all ingredients but oil to blender. Blend until paste consistency. Slowly drizzle in oil as blender is running. Store in pint jar for up to 3 weeks. We use it for many things: a condiment on burgers, salad dressing, heating up Mexican food, rounding out Indian food, mixed with ranch, mixed into couscous and quinoa, and the list could go on. 
If you make harissa, what spices do you use? I have found contradictory reports of black cumin being the only qualifier for “real” harissa, and other sources claim it has to have caraway. Experiment with each, and let us know what you think. 


Squash Purée 

Yellow squash is a beautiful summer vegetable that has diverse applications. From a light sauté to being incorporated into stir fry, it is a welcome addition to many meals. They are closely related to pumpkins, and often seen accompanying zucchini. 
This recipe further highlights the squash’s diversity. The puree can be used as a soup base, transforming it into corn chowder, or maintain its rustic flavor profile with simple additions like chicken stock. When served as a side, it becomes a handle for flavors found in other parts of the meal. If you plan to serve it with pork, add a pinch of oregano and sage. Squash puree is a great starting point for culinary creativity. 

2 yellow squash
Pinch salt 
Pinch pepper
1 clove or 1/4 tsp granulated garlic
2 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup Chicken stock
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan 

Remove and discard seedy part of squash. Cut flesh into rough chop. Melt butter in saucepan. Add salt, pepper, garlic, and squash. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Once cooked, puree with immersion blender (or otherwise, but this is our preferred method). Add chicken stock and vinegar, blend until smooth. Finish with Parmesan. 

Turnip Greens

When I think of greens, I am immediately transported to the south. Hot days, cypress trees towering over slow moving rivers, the smell of fried chicken and barbecue, and a little bit of banjo music come to mind. While a lot of southern food tends to be infamously unhealthy due to their involvement with a deep fryer, greens are full of good stuff, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals such as calcium and potassium. 

Not only are turnip greens nutritionally dynamite, they are easy to grow, and keep coming back. In fact, you could cut leaves off while waiting for the turnip root to be sizable enough to eat, and not harm the root growth. Leaves keep coming back throughout the growing season. Keep in mind that hotter weather will yield a stronger, more bitter flavor, and overnight temperatures into the 40s bring out a sweeter flavor. Turnip greens can be canned for enjoyment throughout the winter, but cook down significantly, so you will need a lot for a batch in the canner. 

Turnip greens are incredibly fibrous, so they have to be cooked a long time to be palatable. We opted to cook them in a pressure cooker, which worked incredibly well, and only took ten minutes after it came up to pressure. The popular “instant pot” would work the same, although I don’t have one, so I don’t have wisdom on how to set it up. 

Carolina cooked greens

1 lb turnip greens
1/2 onion, diced
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tsp granulated or 2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
6 pieces bacon, finely chopped

  • Wash leaves, then de-stem. Rough chop leaves. 
  • Sweat onions in butter. Add all ingredients except bacon to pressure cooker. 
  • Cook ten minutes once unit is up to pressure. 
  • Use quick release method once cooking is complete. 
  • While greens cook, fry bacon in pan. Spoon greens and onion into pan with bacon. 
  • Stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. 
  • Serve with your favorite southern meal. 

Can you can it?

As much as 90% of the food canned at home in Alaska is salmon. I totally made that number up, but it is an educated fabrication, given my years of observation on the subject. Canning has a fascinating history dating back to the early 1800s in France. In fact, they discovered the process before they even understood why it worked to preserve food. Universities and government agencies continue to study, research, and test the process for safety with various foods. Please be sure to use up to date information from reliable resources on proper methods, processing times, and altitude adjustments. Reliable resources included the National Center for Home Food Preservation, ball (as in ball canning jars), and county and university extension services. 
My mom has spent a lot of time and effort keeping herself up to date on current guidelines, and I am excited to have her input on the matter. She is available to answer any questions you have in this section, and I will share things I have learned from her about the process of home preservation. 
Let’s talk about a few things that are fresh in the garden right now.
Zucchini and yellow squash- These act similarly when it comes to preservation, so we can talk about them together here, even if you only want to work with one of them. During the canning process, the texture and density changes too much which prevents heat penetration to the core of the jar. It is not recommended to can either of these veggies. However, you can use them with a relish recipe. 
Radishes- Unlike most root vegetables, it is not recommended to can radishes like you would beets or carrots. Sometimes these recommendations are based more on quality than safety. This could be the explanation as to why you can can other root vegetables and not radishes. You can, however, use them with a pickling recipe. 
Rhubarb- It is technically a vegetable, and there are several options for canning. It is commonly used in conjunction with fruits in jam, as a sauce, and it can also be pickled. It seems like most recipes are calling for copious sugar, which isn’t surprising considering how tart it is. 
Greens- beet, chard, kale, mustard, spinach, etc. can all be canned mixed together or on their own. In some cases like beets, the greens are considered waste and aren’t used. Others come on and you end up with way more than you could eat. Preserving greens is a great way to extend the time you can enjoy the harvest. 

Teriyaki Stir Fry

This dish continues to help use that old salmon, is amazing with fresh salmon, and is good in the winter with whatever veggies you can get your hands on. While we usually do salmon, you can add your choice of meat, and we always serve it over rice.

Teriyaki sauce

1/2 cup soy

Tbsp sesame oil 

Tbsp rice wine vinegar

Tsp granulated garlic

Pinch pepper

Pinch red chili flakes

Tsp granulated ginger

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 tbsp honey 

1 tsp cornstarch mixed in 1/2 cup water
Bring all but cornstarch water mixture to a simmer. Add cornstarch water slowly, stirring. Once mixture is back up to a simmer, turn it off. It will thicken. 

Stir fry

1 Zucchini cut into 1/8 inch thick half moons

1/2 head Bok choi, coarsely shredded

1/2 yellow Onion, sliced 1/8 inch thick

2 tbsp canola

Bring pan to high heat, add oil. Once oil is hot, Sauté zucchini and onion for one minute, turn heat down to medium. Add bok choi. Sauté on medium for one minute, then turn heat off. Add 1/3 of sauce to veggies. Toss everything together in the pan. It will still be hot enough to get some simmer, which is exactly what you want. The rest of the sauce can be used on the salmon and rice as needed.  

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

Salmon is typically near the top of every Alaskan’s list of favorite things about living here. Fresh from the water, scooped out by dip or set net, subsisting on wild salmon has long been a part of the culture in our state. However, in preparation, we have to go through an activity that tops the least favorite things about living in Alaska: figuring out how the heck to get rid of all the previous year’s fish in the freezer. Some people can it for use as dog food, some smoke it, and others try to pawn it off on their neighbors that did a better job of eating salmon over the winter. 
We have a good bit to get creative with in preparation for the fresh fish coming in a few weeks, so we are focusing on some ways to freshen up old salmon using garden fresh veggies. Even if you did better than us and don’t have any salmon left, this dressing will be perfect with fresh salmon when they hit, and throughout the summer as different veggies come into season.

If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can use a teaspoon of dried herbs in place of a tablespoon of fresh. 
Yield: 2 cups

1/2 cup fresh parsley, stems removed

1 tbsp fresh cilantro

1 tbsp fresh thyme

1 tbsp fresh oregano

3 tbsp honey

Pinch salt

Pinch pepper

1/3 cup lemon juice or juice of 2 lemons

1 tbsp white wine vinegar 

1 tsp Dijon 

1 1/2 cup canola oil*
Combine all ingredients except oil and blend using immersion blender, food processor, or blender. Drizzle in oil slowly. It should take about 5 minutes to get all the oil in. 

*while I am usually a fan of allowing substitutions, there is one to avoid when it comes to blenders and oil: olive oil. If you want to learn about why (warning: chemistry lesson ahead) hop on over to cooks illustrated to read about their studies on the matter. 

Korean Pork Lettuce Wraps

You are going to want to grab this week’s pickled radishes to garnish this! The recipe has a few options to prepare the meat depending on how well your kitchen is equipped. We use the kitchen aide attachment to grind the meat, but you can use ground pork and it will still turn out great. 
I also want to discuss some slightly more specialized ingredients we used. They are widely available and easy to find at your local grocery store, but may not be something you always have on hand. Of all the ingredients, sesame oil adds the most distinctive Asian flavor. It can be substituted with canola oil. Rice wine vinegar fits the Asian profile the best, but if you have trouble finding it don’t be afraid to use white wine vinegar. Mirin is a rice wine used to help round out the acidity and add a bit of sweet. You find it on the grocery store shelf in the Asian section. If you don’t have it, omit it from the glaze. While it adds good flavor, it isn’t going to ruin your dish to leave it out. 

Serves 4 

Korean Pork marinade 

2 lbs pork sirloin ( or other lean cut) 

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

Honey ginger glaze

1/4 cup soy

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp mirin

1/2 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp ground ginger

3 tbsp honey

Meat seasonings

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dry cilantro

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar


2 cups bok choy, shredded

2 stalks green onion

1 tbsp canola oil

1 tsp sesame oil


8 Bibb or Romaine lettuce leaves

Pickled radishes

Toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Korean pork marinade (skip this step if you are using ground pork)

Cut pork into 1 inch cubes. Mix all liquids, add pork. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Grind the pork using the small die. 
Honey Ginger Glaze

Combine everything. Cook over medium heat until boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside.


Brown pork with seasonings (salt, ginger, cilantro). After cooked through, deglaze the pan with rice wine vinegar. Add 1/4 of the honey ginger glaze. Let cool for 5 minutes. 


In a separate pan, cook greens (except lettuce) in oil until wilted, about two minutes. 


On serving plates, lay out lettuce leaves. Layer meat and greens. Garnish with pickled radishes. Drizzle with glaze. Sprinkle sesame seeds. 

Pickled radishes

Traditionally, pickling is a process of fermentation. We will talk more in depth about this at a later date. Quick pickling is a process to impart these flavors in a short period of time for garnishes, sides, accompaniments, and snacking. Quick pickling can also be used to squeeze a few extra days out of those veggies that are starting to go bad. 
Whether you put your veggies straight from the plant to the brine, or are trying to salvage the red onions you never used, quick pickling adds depth, variety, and brightness to all kinds of cuisines. 
Our first veggie up for pickling is the mighty radish. The fresh radish is often found garnishing salads, used in slaws, and served on its own. It’s peppery, crisp, and pungent flavor can be used anywhere you want to utilize its earthy tones. 

When pickled, the radish maintains it’s crisp freshness while adding an acidic layer to help brighten its otherwise earthy profile. Pickling also gives opportunity to infuse other flavors, and it looks great, too. The root picks up some of the red from the skin, giving an almost florescent pink tint to the white flesh. 
Pickled radishes 

4 medium sized radishes halved and sliced razor thin (mandolin)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar 

1/4 cup water

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp honey
Bring liquids to a boil and pour over radishes in a small jar. Cool to room temperature. Use immediately after cool or store in refrigerator covered for up to two weeks. 

Pasta Amatriciana With Beet Greens


Ama- what? It’s a red sauce that’s slightly spicy. And it has bacon. I’m sure there is scientific research out there that says bacon makes everything better. This dish is no exception. The beet greens aren’t just a way to throw something fresh into a pasta dish, their flavor becomes a cornerstone of this fantastic dish.

When we made it, we used 4 cheese tortellini from Costco, but you can use whatever pasta you have on hand. Top suggestions are spaghetti or penne. If you want to get adventurous, look for bucatini.

Serves 6

5 slices of bacon (no flavored bacon, a little smoke is fine), sliced into 1/4 inch wide slivers
1 lb Your choice of pasta
Half a yellow onion, diced
2 cloves minced or 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dry oregano
Several pinches salt
Several pinches pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper
2 cans crushed tomato
1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Mushrooms (optional), quartered
2 tablespoons butter
12 oz beet greens chopped in 1 inch slices
Parmesan to finishIMG_0210

Sauté bacon on medium low heat. Once thoroughly cooked, remove and set aside.IMG_0209

Start water for pasta. Keep working on the sauce while preparing pasta according to directions.

Sweat (low heat sauté) onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, a pinch of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper 15 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add crushed tomatoes. Add balsamic vinegar. Simmer for 15 minutes uncovered.

IMG_0212In a separate pan, sauté mushrooms and beet greens in butter. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Greens will wilt down quite a bit. Once sauted, add into the red sauce. Keep on low heat until ready to serve. Add half of the bacon, the rest is saved for garnish.IMG_0213

Serve sauce over pasta, finish with the rest of the bacon and parmesan.