Thursday, June 26, 2008

July 15th is Fast Approaching

OK....I know that I'm not exactly "in" Alaska yet, but I thought I'd blog a little on trip preparations, the 31st Annual Summer Picnic, and the newest addition to the Thee household, Jones.

Trip Preparations...are almost complete. It looks like about two weeks to get from West Bloomfield to Anchorage on the way out. I'll be going through Eau Claire (and visiting my great friends, Dick and Diane Zahorik), North Dakota, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, across the Rockies into British Columbia and then the Yukon Territory, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, Whitehorse, Tok, and then Anchorage.
I'm having a trailer hitch installed on the Escape so that I can mount one of those rear cargo holders. That will give me a lot more room for packing.
I've been on several "test camps" at local parks to get the hang of the tent, sleeping bag, camp stove, grill, etc. So far so good, except for my "test camp" last weekend. The photo here illustrates the importance of ...a. flashlights and b. proper grill placement at night...another important lesson learned.
In anticipation of some "once in a lifetime" hiking opportunities in Denali National Park, the rest of Alaska, British Columbia and everywhere else, I've been hiking locally about five miles or so a day whenever I can. The last two weeks, I've been hiking with a full backpack to really get ready.

The 31st Annual Summer really getting close. The menu has been finalized and, as always, I added a few "specials" including another beef flight, a duck flight, and a few salads. Today, I placed most of my orders for meat, fish and charcuterie. I'm working hard to get some of the great salamis and other products from Salumi Artisan Meats out of Seattle. This operation is run by Mario Batali's (Food Network) father and the production is extremely take what they give you (if they have anything to give at all). I also had a nice conversation with the people at La Quercia in Iowa. They use heirloom pork breeds to make their own version of prosciutto. I had some of their La Quercia Rossa at Juicy Wine Company in Chicago a few weeks ago, and it was just melts in your mouth.
Some cooking has already been confit was made weeks ago, and is aging in the wine cellar...veal stock and chicken stock are also made and sitting in the freezer. Next weekend, Paul and I will be making the traditional empanadas as well as all of the tart crusts and other pastry doughs.

We have a new addition to the family here. On June 18th, I picked up Jones from Purrfurdots breeders in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. He's a real "pistol"...I had forgotten how much fun kittens are. He's young, but you can already see that he's got a lot of his great-uncle, Niles, in him. It's been a long time since I sat down to do my Picnic shopping list with a kitten walking over my work papers and keyboard. So far, Jones' assignment for Picnic preparation has been to put all of my work papers in random order...he's doing a great job at that. Next blog, I'll post a few photos.

More later...