And why are they not frozen? Because their hearts are warmed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Welcome to our blog! We hope you enjoy our travels and dialogues as we journey to Anchorage Alaska for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

WOW!! What a ride!  This morning at 1:30 AM we were jolted from a sound sleep by an earthquake the like of which we have never before felt!  

We have experienced a couple of quakes in Washington - they were interesting but infrequent (as evidenced by the fact that we have lived in Washington for 44 years and have only felt a couple, in spite of the fact that we lived about 50 miles from Mt. St. Helen's while it was doing its best to move things around.)

Since coming to Alaska, we have felt several, but they were generally very mild, just enough to catch your attention and disrupt the conversation.  I think the biggest we have felt was 4-point-something and it was far enough away so as not to be alarming.

Last night we were alarmed!  It started rough enough to wake us but wasn't really bad.  However, it kept going and building in the process, and then really hit.  I don't know how long it lasted, but it was much longer than usual. (A few seconds feels like several minutes.)  The building we live in was really shaking and moving around.  I'm sure that being on the second floor doesn't help.  Fortunately for us, we only had a couple of pictures fall of the shelves, Linda's bottle of Arctic Sea sand fell off the bookcase and spilled, the bedroom doors all closed part way, the dresser drawers all slid open and several things fell inside closets and cabinets.  Because it was in the dark, with no reference point to fix on, and the fact that it went on so long, I was getting close to losing my dinner before it finally ended.

Afterward we jumped up, checked out the apartment and texted the sister missionaries below us to make sure that they were okay.  As we were checking out the apartment, a couple of minutes after the quake ended, we were greeted by this --

It must have really been swinging during the quake!

No, this is not bad housekeeping.  We were greeted with this when we turned the light on. 
During the quake one of the things that came to my mind was that big mirror on the dresser.  It wobbles pretty freely when you walk by.  I'm sure that it was really waving during the quake, but when we turned on the lights it was alright.  Sister Taylor had the presence of mind to worry about the two large pictures on the wall right over our heads, but they stayed in place. (Must have been the skill of the handyman who hung them in the first place!)

Although it was reported as a 6.4 right after the quake, they have finally settled on an official 7.1 this morning!  The epicenter was about 160 miles from Anchorage down the Cook Inlet.  It was right across the Inlet from Homer, which is on the Kenai Peninsula.  We have elders in Homer and several other spots on the peninsula.  We texted the ones in Homer this morning and they said that they were a little shaken, but alright.  All of the missionaries in the mission were contacted first thing and all reported that they are fine.  The mission sent out a group email this morning to all the parents letting them know that everyone made it through alright.

If you check this link - - you can see that we have a lot of earthquakes in Alaska.  Most of the ones that have happened in the last 16 hours or so have been aftershocks in the Cook Inlet region.  There was a 4.32 at about 3:30 AM, and a 4.7 at about 5:30 AM, both in the same area.  We would normally feel those, at least a little, but we apparently slept right through them.

But, enough of that.  

This last Wednesday, at 8:00 AM our time, the whole mission attended a world-wide missionary training broadcast at the local stake centers around the mission.  All the missionaries around the world, who could view it during waking hours, were in attendance.  Those on the other side of the earth saw it when they were up. A total of about 75,000!  The training by the brethren was awesome.

We continue to work hard and are busy all hours of the day, everything from late afternoon doctors appointments in Wasilla (getting home at 7 in the evening) to a Relief Society Breakfast for the Bush Branch tomorrow morning at 6:30.  Woohoo!  

We'll write more soon. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Hello, this is Sister Taylor (for a change).    Being the chief cook in this companionship, I have found that cooking in Alaska can be an interesting experience, not only because we are busy and I am not used to only cooking for two people, but because food can be very expensive here and if you don't shop early enough on Saturday, there isn't any fresh lettuce left in the stores.

This sign is a little deceptive.   It means $4.99 for the small bag, which is 5 lbs of potatoes.

The people in Alaska are EXTREMELY diverse.   Every nation in the world is represented here and the food reflects it.  You can find virtually any food or spice here in Alaska if you are willing to pay for it.
I'm not sure what kind of eggs these are, but thought they were pretty and I understand they are not just dyed eggs.

Of course some foods are free if you are willing to work hard enough for them.   These are blueberries and in the fall they grow wild on the hillsides.   The problem is the bushes are only about 12" tall and you have to crawl around on your knees to pick them.   That is a distinct disadvantage when you get surprised by a bear who is also berry picking.

We have had the adventure of eating some interesting foods since we got here, including reindeer sausage and hot dogs, halibut tacos, halibut pizza, Poor Man's Lobster (which is boiled halibut), taro, coconut shrimp and salmon cooked every way you can think of.   We haven't tried moose or bear yet, but we still have a few months to go, so we shall see.  We missed the "Wild Game Night" that one of the local wards has every year.  No, it's not Twister and Yahtzee, it's where they prepare and eat all manner of fish, bear, caribou, moose, mountain goat and sheep and a few other critters.

These are some recipes that I came across that I thought you might enjoy.    The next time you have an extra seal or caribou laying around that you don't know what to do with, try one of these!  They were all found in the Bering Sea Women’s Group Cookbook.  (P.O Box 1596, Nome, AK  99761-1596)

How to Make Seal Oil (Ukgruk)

In the spring or the fall, remove the fat from underneath the skin of a seal.  Cut the fat into long thin strips and place in a clean bucket.  The blubber has to be clean with no meat attached or blood on it.  Cover the bucket with a clean, thin cloth, and put in a cool, dark place, preferably in a porch or underneath the house.   Stir every day.  When the blubber turns into oil, ladle into clean jars and store in the freezer to enjoy all winter.

The blubber will turn into dungik.  Put in the jars of oil and enjoy eating this with meals.

Fish Head Soup

When cutting fish to dry (king salmon or silver salmon), split the head in half, remove the gills, and wash thoroughly.   Put 2 or 3 heads in a large pot and cover with water.   Boil 15 to 20 minutes.   Cook with potato and fish eggs.  Ladle into bowls and enjoy with seal oil, salt, and white onion.

How to Make Blackmeat (Paniktaq)

Blackmeat is meat that has been dried from ugruk, or bearded seal.  Blackmeat can also be made from other marine mammals.   Cut the meat into thin strips and hang out to dry.  When dry, put in jars or cans with oil you made from the seal.   You can also put the dried meat in Ziploc bags.   Store in the freezer.

Caribou Soup (Tuttuu)

2 lbs caribou, cut up                                                                    Dash of granulated garlic
1 envelope dry onion soup mix                                                  1 T. worchestershire sauce
4 carrots, sliced                                                                           Salt to taste
1 onion, diced                                                                             ¼ c rice
2 sticks celery, sliced                                                                  ¼ c. elbow macaroni
1 tsp. dried parsley                                                                      4 potatoes, cut up
½ tsp. Italian seasoning                                                               1 can stewed tomatoes

Put caribou meat in soup pot.  Add onion soup mix.  Cover with water and cook on high until it comes to a boil.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Add carrots, onion and celery.  Add seasonings.   Simmer for one hour.  Add rice, macaroni, and potatoes.   Simmer until potatoes are done.  Add stewed tomatoes until heated through.

How to Put Away Sura or Willow Leaves

When the ptarmigan willow begins growing leaves, pick the tender young leaves and gather into bags.  Take home and pour into a big container and clean the leaves.   Let sit overnight.  The next day, mix with seal oil and pack into jars.  Store in the freezer.  Eat with dried fish.

Halibut Pie

1 lb. cubed halibut                                                                           ½ c. Bisquick baking mix
1/3 c. chopped green onion                                                             1 c. milk
1 c. grated medium cheddar cheese                                                2 eggs
1 (8 oz) cubed cream cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Put a layer of tin foil in a 9” x 13” baking pan.  Place cubed halibut on foil and bake until flaky, approximately 20 – 25 minutes.   Drain liquid.   Move halibut to a greased 9” pie plate.   Layer cheese, cream cheese and onions over fish.  Mix last three ingredients and pour over fish and cheese layers.   Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until knife poked in center comes out clean.
(To double the recipe, use a large 11” x 13” pan.)

Tom Cod Livers with Blackberries (Ding-u-Lick)

Gather the livers from tom cods, wash them, and put in a sauce pan.   Cover with water and boil for 10 minutes.  Drain the water.   Mix until smooth consistency.   Add sugar to taste.   Add blackberries.
(Note:  Ling cod liver could be used, too.)

Salmonberry Pie

3 c. salmonberries                                                                           1 c. vanilla ice cream
½ c. sugar                                                                                        1 c. Cool Whip
1 (6 oz) pkg orange Jello                                                                 3 graham cracker crusts
1 ¾ c. hot water

Dissolve Jello in hot water.   In a separate bowl, blend salmonberries and sugar.   Add the Jello mixture to the berry mixture and stir together.   Add in ice cream and Cool Whip.   Pour into pie crusts.  Chill in refrigerator for half hour.   Store leftovers in the refrigerator.    Makes 3 pies.
(I wish I had this when we lived on Ragland Road and had Salmonberries all over the place!)

Wild Rhubarb (Kusiimaq)

Wild rhubarb grows inside the willows along the riverbank and along roads or wherever willows grow.  They are picked while young, before they get woody.  Peel the skin off the hard ones.   Chop, put in pot, cover with water and boil until soft.   Add sugar to taste and enjoy.

And the Piece de Resistance --

Old Fashioned Agutaq (Eskimo Ice Cream)

1 lb. caribou or moose fat                                                             1 gallon salmonberries
2 T. clear seal oil                                                                           3 c. blackberries
½ c. cold water                                                                              2 c. sugar or to taste

Chop or grate fat.   Put into a frying pan and melt over low heat until liquid.   While hot, strain through a strainer.   Put melted fat into a big bowl or electric mixer bowl.   Cool.   When cooled, whip the fat with seal oil and add water until light and fluffy.  The mixture should be like shortening or whipped cream.  Add sugar and blend.   Move to your biggest bowl.   Add salmonberries with all the juice.   Mix together until well blended.   Add blackberries.   Serve.   Store the rest in the refrigerator.


Of course, one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of food in Alaska is whale blubber.   The Natives call it "muktak" and thankfully we have not had the opportunity to try that either.  

This is a dumpster in Barrow and it kind of speaks for itself.

This is President Robinson and the two Elders from Barrow, Elder Perkins and Elder Fatani.   President is about to eat the Muktak these Elders were generous enough to bring him.   (One more reason, Doug doesn't want to ever be a Mission President.)    The white part is the blubber and the black part is whale skin. 
As Sister Robinson said, "You don't mean to make a face when you eat it, it just automatically happens."  

Bon appetit!