Empanada-rama at Stephanie’s: I wish I could take a picture of this smell!

 

Empanada:

The name comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread … Empanadas have their origins in Galicia (Spain) and Portugal. They first appeared in Medieval Iberia during the time of the Moorish invasions. A cookbook published in Catalan in 1520 mentions empanadas filled with seafood among its recipes of Catalan, Italian, French, and Arabian food. It is believed that empanadas and the very similar calzones are both derived from the Arabic meat-filled pies, samosas. The dish was carried to Latin America and the Philippines by Spanish colonists, where they remain very popular to this day.

Majura Primary School in Watson, Australia +portions confirmed in NY Times article +The Spruce.com*

A dish truly borne of our collective human heritage!

Proxy guest post, because my friend Stephanie says she doesn’t like writing about herself. As one who loves all dough-wrapped dishes, she hosted the empanada-rama.

This recipe for dough won out:
Thanks, Laylita! How to Make Empanada Dough for Baking Continue Reading

Share

5 Things To Explore in Fairbanks
Alaskan Adventures Part 4

This last installment on Alaskan Adventures is packed with travel tips. Enjoy!

“To know the wilderness is to know a profound humility, to recognize one’s littleness, to sense dependence, and interdependence, indebtedness and responsibility.”

-Howard Zahniser, author of the Wilderness Act of 1964

Downtown Fairbanks was more cosmopolitan than I expected (ok ok, I did not expect tons of urban life). Upon reflection, it warms my heart to say that visiting a place viewed as remote in the lower 48 turned out to involve many warm encounters with quirky, friendly folks. Even in a place with so much amazing, non-human-related nature, the people were a big part of what made the experiences so memorable. Thus, the quote above. Perhaps it is partly the unforgiving environment that forged a culture of down-to-earth friendliness among those who live here.

We witnessed various shenanigans on a Sunday in Fairbanks, some you’ll have to ask me in person for a recounting. Beyond those:

We stopped in at Lavelle’s Taphouse for a good beer selection, and while there, saw a truck get stuck in the fluffy (tricky) snow out front. Continue reading

Share

Aurora Hunting & Chena Hot Springs in Alaska
Alaskan Adventures Part 3

My grandma used to tell me that the Northern Lights were the spirits of our ancestors celebrating as they look down on us from above. If you whistle, they will draw near and dance for you.

-Raymond Frank (per the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitor Center)

Given the snow storm the weekend we were there, our chances of catching the Northern Lights were low, but we persevered to make the most of things either way. At least the cloud cover meant warmer temperatures for the friends who’d agreed to join me and Kris on these adventures, so I didn’t feel like we’d conned these poor Florida-borns into going on a vacation in a freezer.

Exploring Alaska in Late February feels like a study in contrasts, cold environment vs. warm people and houses, rustic natural surroundings and military-grade survival boots. It seemed fitting to double down on this, like some kind of dare from Mother Nature. Continue Reading

Share

Dog Sledding: Just Short of Magic
Alaskan Adventures Part 2

This blog post is one of a multi-part series on Alaskan adventures near Fairbanks.

In 2010 the Alaskan Malamute was named the official state dog of Alaska.

Slate.com April 2012

One of many excellent recommendations per our VRBO hosts was to book with Just Short of Magic** for a sled dog ride (a.k.a. mushing), a little drive north of North Pole. After a late-night pickup of our friends J & G who courageously agreed to share in our Alaskan adventures, Jenni found us some excellent (late) breakfast at the Creperie in downtown Fairbanks. Then, off to dog sled ride via a thirty minute drive. As mentioned in the previous post, sled dogs have been a fundamental companion to Alaskan life for centuries, so I was really excited to partake in even a small, touristy way.

Clockwise from top: Just Short of Magic supply building, the view from the sled, the other sled J & G rode, and me with the winner of the Bundle Up Properly Contest, J.

Jenna called us as we were a little late showing up at a designated cushion time, to make sure we were safe, and tell us not to worry. So nice of her! Despite the unseasonably warm weather, the staff did some standard checks that we were layered up properly (maybe in case it suddenly turned into below zero weather rather than 30?) Of course, that turned it into a competition for me. Continue reading

Share

Pro-Tip Tuesday, Travel Edition:
the Power Outlets Hiding in Plain Sight

Travel Pro-Tip of the Day: my co-explorer and I often run into limited device-to-charging-cord ratios when we travel. Either one of us has packed a cord but the other overlooked it, or there appear to be too few compatible outlets wherever we’re staying. Besides using a plugged in laptop as a USB port for phone cables, we’ve learned some other solutions over time:

It’s a two-fer!

  1. You can often use the tv for usb cables to charge your devices. In the most recent case of Fairbanks, AK, our cabin had a tv with no live feed, but the USB input was still there for power.
  2. If you’re at a hotel or other large establishment and forgot a charging cord, check with the front desk for a compatible cable. Odds are, just as you forgot yours at home, others often forget theirs in their hotel room. Thanks, anonymous fellow travelers!

What wonders the Universe provides, humble and great.

Share

Snowshoeing & Other Winter Fun
in Denali National Park
Alaskan Adventures Part 1

As I mentioned in part 0 of Alaska adventures, I flew in to Fairbanks around midnight. I got to sleep in the delightfully welcoming cabin (this one booked via VRBO) by about 3am, and yeah, it was in a city called North Pole. (!)* I loved staying at this cabin, and found the hosts helpful and responsive. This post may have a lot of photos, but consider it obsessively curated for you to get the full experience.

Warm welcoming VRBO.com cabin by night, complete with an engine plug for the car!

On the Road:

After a healthy breakfast of DIY oatmeal and Starbucks fancy-coffee, K and I headed out for the 2.5+ hour drive south to Denali National Park. Maybe I’m just slow on the uptake, but I hadn’t put the two names together, Mt. McKinley and Denali, until I was packing for this trip and reading my copy of Fodor’s.

Fun fact: President Obama changed what was previously known as Mount McKinley back to Denali, an Athbascan name meaning “the High One”. At 20,310 feet, it is the highest point on the continent, and tallest mountain in the world.

Fodor’s Alaska p.328

On the way, we drove through lots of snow clouds kicked up by passing trucks that would obscure the entire roadway briefly, and whole clusters of buildings boarded up for the winter. This was definitely not high tourist season, and while it was an intermittent exercise in faith (faith that the road was relatively straight in a snow cloud), it was also a very scenic drive. The Athabascans named this northern forest “land of little sticks,” and I couldn’t help but agree as I gazed at the sweeping landscape, laced on road side with countless trees poking up toward the sky together.

To try: we stopped in at the Alaskan Coffee Bean in Healy for some caffeine.
Apparently, a sludge cup is brewed coffee + 2 shots espresso, popular with truckers. I was curious, but abstained since the midnight flight was already messing with my sleep. Let me know if you try it. The folks there were friendly, and plus, the place was open, hooray!

Alaska is often called the Last Frontier, but it’s also home to some of the oldest pieces of our collective human heritage. We crossed this very river mentioned on our drive out of the North Pole! Amazing.

The oldest human remains found in Alaska are 11,500 years old, the second-oldest Ice Age remains to be found in the world. Found in Central Alaska near the Tanana River, the remains of a three-year-old girl are thought to be those of an Athbascan ancestral relative.

Fodor’s Alaska p.20

At Denali National Park:
A video gift for you, hope it brings you some serenity and delight. Click subscribe at the end for more!

Continue reading

Share

What to Pack for an Alaskan Winter Adventure
Alaska – Part 0

Where one can let the spirit go with joyous abandon, to sense the freedome of the wilderness.
Olaus Murie

The first time I remember camping and absolutely loving it, I was twenty-one years old. My significant other and I had scored a great deal on tickets to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula from Minneapolis. As we landed and walked off the tarmac in Anchorage, I swore I could smell the ice and pristine air wafting in from the mountains of “the Last Frontier.” Continue Reading

Share

Pro-tip Tuesday: a Remedy for Sore Muscles Apres-Board/Ski

Food the Wong Way has involved a healthy dose of outdoor activity this winter, including a fair bit of snowboarding and snowshoeing, which historically has been hard on my knees and back. My friend Katherine recently talked me into going with my local German pub Prost on a ski bus, so despite appearing to have packed for the apocalypse, I tried to pack lighter. That’s when I came up with this light short-term remedy for sore knees. Continue reading

Share

MOHAI’s Edible City Exhibit – An Inclusive Exploration of Seattle’s Food Landscape

One overcast Friday, I ventured to the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) to check out their Edible City exhibit with my friend Sarah and her two kiddos. We wandered in from the parking lot feeling lucky to have found a spot (not free, max 4 hrs) to park and paid the $20 per adult. The kiddos got in free since they were under 14 years old.

Four visitors to the MOHAI, ranging from ages 2 to 34.

Continue Reading

Share

Pro-Tip Tuesday: Make Creme Fraiche on the Road!

Looking for a dessert you can bring on the road to impress your friends?

Here’s one I made in an AirBnB over a visit to my home state.

It takes very few ingredients, little predictability in equipment, and you can bring it with some fruit for a dinner party: Continue reading

Share