Friday, March 21, 2014


Anyone notice how I am sort of stuck on my kitchen torch lately? If you are a “way-back” reader than you already know this—for those of you who are more recent readers, I have a tendency to get in these little fits and pockets of repetition.
Right now – it’s all about s’mores recipes and firing up my kitchen torch, so be prepared for at least one more s’mores treat.


YIELD: Makes one 9x13 pan



  • 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons of butter


  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 bag (10 1/2 oz mini marshmallow)
  • 6 cups Cocoa Rice Krispie cereal
  • 5 oz. chocolate, melted


  • 5 large egg white
  • 11/2 cup sugar



Line pan with foil and lightly cover with bake spray.


  1. Place graham cracker crust and sugar in a bowl and toss to combine. Add in melted butter and mix to combine. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.


  1. Place butter and marshmallows in a pan over low heat to melt. Stir melted ingredients until combined. Cool slightly.
  2. Add in Cocoa Rice Krsipie and stir to combine.
  3. Spread melted chocolate over crust. Then quickly press finished mixture into pan. Set pan aside to cool and set.


  1. Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring mixture to 160 degrees F while whisking constantly.
  2. Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium high speed (speed 8 on a KitchenAid stand mixer)until mixture cools and doubles in volume and forms stiff peaks; about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Place assembled pan with topping under broiler for 1-2 minutes or until top starts to turn golden. Keep door open to check for doneness - the topping goes from golden to burnt very quickly. Alternately, use a kitchen torch to toast.
A few notes:
  • You can bypass the homemade marshmallow frosting topping and just place 2 cups of mini marshmallows on top and then place the pan under the broiler  for 1-2 minutes or until top starts to turn golden. Make sure to keep the door open to check for doneness - the topping goes from golden to burnt very quickly.
  • A chocolate layer on top of the graham cracker crust is needed for the rice krispie to stick to it, so don't skip that step.
  • These s'mores rice krispie treats are best eaten the same day.


   Keeping with Easter coming up this Sunday, I thought about the most elegant eggs people can make themselves.  Not many people can own or even get near Faberge eggs.  This are the next best, with their  intricate patterns on such a small canvas. I hope you enjoy this post.

by Jennifer Sartell

Once a month I head a women's group of Farm Girls. It's a group of brilliant women, kindred spirits and pioneering ladies who are trying to revisit the joys of living a simple life. We've canned together, made cheeses, knitted, spun, and wove baskets to name just a few activities.

Recently, I've met a like soul in Kathy McMinn, owner and operator of The Basket Sampler, where I get my weaving supplies. Kathy mentioned that among her many talents, she could teach our group how to create Ukrainian Eggs. I thought this would be a fantastic April theme with Easter coming.

The traditional Ukrainian Egg is actually called a Pysanka. It is a highly detailed way of decorating an egg using wax and dyes. This form of art dates back to ancient times, with each element of decoration having a symbolic meaning relating to earth and the sun. The egg itself, having been linked with birth, renewal of life, and of course spring time, has held meaning in both ancient beliefs and over history, and has translated into modern Christian traditions.

While our eggs are not traditional Pysanka, this wax relief method is a great way to create beautiful Easter decorations.

All of your supplies can be found at online specialty stores like www.learnpysanky.com/supplies.html.

You will need:
  • raw eggs
  • rubber bands
  • pencil
  • kistka (or wax applicator)
  • egg dyes
  • lit candle for heating the kistka and melting the wax
  • beeswax
  • egg blower
  • polyurethane spray
  • lots of paper towels
  • patience (wink)
  • steady hand (wink)

We started with a raw egg. You can use any color egg. White, brown or even green Araucana eggs would be beautiful. For an excellent read on dyeing home-grown brown eggs, check out A Very Colorful Celebration by Jennifer Burcke for additional dying tips.

We divided the egg into quadrants using rubber bands as guides. This helps to center the design. Then with light pencil lines we drew on our decorations. There are many sources online that give different patterns and ideas to get you started. I found the site LearnPysanky.com to be very helpful. Once you have your design drawn on, the wax process begins.

The kistka is a tiny metal cup fastened to a stick-like handle with a drawing tip underneath for the wax to run through. This is your "pen," which will trace your design on between dye steps.

The tricky thing about understanding the wax relief method is that anything you trace in wax will stay the color that's underneath. For example, if you start with a white egg, any wax that you apply to the white egg will stay white. Once you have all the parts you want white covered in wax, you can dip in the dye bath. Say your next color is yellow, you would dip the whole egg in yellow, dry and apply more wax. All of those wax applications will stay yellow, and so on. So it's a process of layering color and controlling where it stays with the wax application. Work from light to dark dyes.

We heated our kistka cup over the flame of our candles, scooped up a tiny amount of wax and allowed it to melt. And then we began tracing our design. You can practice drawing on a scrap of paper before you go to the egg. We would trace certain elements, then dip in the dyes. Then trace a bit more, and then back into the dyes, each time layering the next color.

When our design was complete, the traditional color to finish with is black. I love the way it looks. It makes all the other colors pop.

Once the egg is done being dyed, it's time to unveil the finished design by melting the layers of wax off and reveal all those beautiful colors. We held our eggs over a flame and wiped the dripping wax off.

Then we gave them a coat of polyurethane spray. (Work in a ventilated area.)

Now the scary part. Blowing the egg out.

Unfortunately, you have to blow the egg out after it's been dyed because the hole will fill with liquid and the hollow egg won't sink in the dye bath.

You run the risk of cracking your egg after all that work, but that's just the name of the game.

Kathy provided us with this great tool (above) that hand drilled a small hole in the shell and then we used this nifty suction blower (right) to get out the egg whites and yolk. We also squirted a bit of water inside, shook it around and emptied it again to clean it.

When we were all through we each had a beautiful egg that will last for years.


History of the Iditarod

    The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race first ran to Nome in 1973, after two short races on part of the Iditarod Trail in 1967 and 1969. The idea of having a race over the Iditarod Trail was conceived by the late Dorothy Page. In 1964, Page was chairwoman of the Wasilla-Knik Centennial and was working on projects to celebrate Alaska's Centennial Year n 1967.
    She was intrigued that dog teams could travel over land that was not accessible by autos. In the early 1920's, settlers had come to Alaska following a gold strike. They traveled by boat to the coastal towns of Seward and Knik and from there, by land into the gold fields. The trail they used is today known as The Iditarod Trail, one of the National Historic Trails as so designated b the U.S. Congress. In the winter, their only means of travel was by dog team.

    The Iditarod Trail soon became the major thoroughfare through Alaska. Mail was carried across this trail, people used the trail to get from place to place and supplies were transported via the Iditarod Trail. Priests, minister, and judges traveled between villages via dog teams.
    All too soon the gold mining began to slack off. People began to go back to where they had come from and suddenly there was less travel on the Iditarod Trail. The use of the airplane in the late 1920's signaled the beginning of the end of the dog team as a standard mode of transportation, and of course with the airplane carrying the mail, there was less need for land travel. The final blow to the use of the dog teams came with the appearance of snowmobiles in Alaska.

    By the mid 60's, most people in Alaska didn't even know there was an Iditarod Trail or that dog teams had played a very important part in Alaska's early settlement. Dorothy Page, a resident of Wasilla and self made historian, recognized the importance of an awareness of the use of sled dogs as working animals and of the Iditarod Trail and the important part it played in Alaska's history.
    She presented the possibility of a race over the Iditarod Trail to Joe Redington, Sr., a musher from the Knik area. Soon the Pages and the Redingtons began promoting the idea of the Iditarod Race to the extent that Joe and Vi Redington moved to the Knik area from their homestead at Flat Horn Lake and they have never moved back.

    The Aurora Dog Musher Club, along with men from the Adult Camp in Sutton helped clear years of over growth from the first 9 miles of the Iditarod Trail in time to put on the first short Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 1967. A $25,000 purse was offered in that race with Joe and Vi Redington donating one acre of their land at Flat Horn Lake adjacent to the Iditarod Trail to help raise the funds. ( the land was subdivided into one square foot lots and sold with a deed and special certificate of ownership, raising $10,000 toward the purse) Contestants from all over Alaska and even two contestants form Massachusetts entered that first Iditarod Race, but a newcomer, Issac Okleasik, from Teller, Alaska, won the race with his team of large working dogs. The short race of approximately 27 miles, was put on again in 1969.

Joe Redington Sr.

    The goal was to have the race go all the way to the ghost town of Iditarod in 1973. However in 1972, the U.S. Army reopened the trail as a winter exercise and in 1973, the decision was made to take the race the 1,000 plus miles to Nome. Redington and Page were instrumental in getting the first long Iditarod on its way to Nome in 1973, amidst comments that it couldn't be done. There were many who believed it was crazy to send a bunch of mushers out into the vast uninhabited Alaskan wilderness. But the race went on. 22 mushers finished that year and to date, there have been over 400 finishers. Mushers have come from Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Italy,Japan, Austria, Australia, Sweden and the Soviet Union as well as from about 20 different states in the United States.

    The late Dorothy Page, the "mother of the Iditarod" is quoted in the October 1979 issue of the Iditarod Runner on her intent for the Iditarod: "To keep the spirit of the Iditarod the same. I don't even want to see high pressure people getting in and changing the spirit of the race. We brought the sled dog back and increased the number of mushers. It is really an Alaskan event. I think the fact that it starts in Anchorage and then ends in Nome has opened up a whole new area for people in Alaska. I think they appreciate that it puts them in touch with the pioneer spirit".

Iditarod Today

    The race has started in downtown Anchorage since 1983. The teams leave the start line at the corner of 4th and D, at two minute intervals. Starting at 10 a.m. There are usually over 65 teams starting and some years even more.
    The mushers follow a multi use trail through Anchorage and out to Tudor Road. A telephone auction is held each year whereby fans can be a rider in a musher's sled from the start line for the first 8-9 miles. This auction opens on October 1st and closes at 5 p.m. Alaska Standard Time on January 31st. The money raised is used to offset expenses of the race and to provide each musher who finishes the race after the top 20 (who received cash prize winnings), with $1,049. This helps the mushers get their teams home. The mush along the Glenn Highway into the VFW Post 9785 in Eagle River. From there the dogs are loaded into dog trucks and taken home for the night. This is a ceremonial start and does not count in the overall time to Nome.

    On Sunday, March 8th, mushers will again line up at the old Wasilla Airport in Wasilla about 40 miles north of Anchorage. At 10 a.m. the first teams will depart on their way to Nome.
    From Wasilla, they travel to Knik Lake, the last checkpoint on the road system. Spectatros may drive the 17 miles from Anchorage to Eagle River and the approximately 30 miles from Eagle River to Wasilla. It's about 13 miles from Wasilla ti Knik. Once the mushers leave the Knik checkpoint, they are off the road system for the duration of the race.

      It is impossible to predict the exact day or time that the first musher will cross the finish line in Nome. However, it is expected to be between 9 and 12 days, making it on the second Tuesday or Wednesday. Doug Swingley, the 1995 Champion, completed the course in 9 days, 2 hours, 42 minutes and 19 seconds to become the first usher from outside Alaska to ever win the Iditarod.


   Fairbanks is home to the BP World Ice Art Championships, one of the largest ice sculpting competitions and exhibitions on earth. Held every year since 1988, the BP World Ice Art Championships has grown to a month-long event featuring more than 70 teams from around the world. 45,000 visitors come to the Ice Park to see these intricately carved masterpieces. The theme for the 23rd Annual BP World Ice Art Championships is “Dreams Come True” and promises to deliver over one- hundred, larger-than-life sized sculptures.
   This year, the event is moving to its new home at the George Horner Ice Art Park. The new Twenty-seven acre park is centrally located and contains a large on-site pond which will produce over four million pounds of "Arctic Diamond" ice—exceptionally clear, thick ice used by the sculptors. Near the pond there is a large designated Kid’s Park which features a whimsical set of slides and sculptures. In addition, there are ice mazes, a skating rink, an “ice stage” for various performances and a concession area. Ice carving competitions include the Single Block Classic, the Multi-Block Classic, the Amateur Open Exhibition for novices to try out their skills, and the Youth Classic for high school students.
   The 2012 BP World Ice Art Championships will be open daily 10am-10pm, February 28 through March 25, 2012.


   Founded in April 1990, the Ice Alaska organization is truly volunteer driven. It is powered by over 90 committees, a nine member board of directors, and over 450 volunteers. The 2011 event will host over 100 ice artists representing upwards of 40 countries. The result will be over 100 competition and exhibition pieces and the ever-expanding playful ice attractions in the Kids Park.
    Who volunteers? Individuals from the communities around interior Alaska, neighborhood businesses, and major corporations. Every year, as many as 25 volunteers travel up from the lower 48 states and have come from as far away as Australia. Volunteers provide the talent and energy to put on the largest sculpting competition in the world. The contribution of time and energy by volunteers is an integral part of Ice Alaska’s successful presentation of the BP World Ice Art Championships. The over 90 committees manage everything about the event from the ice harvest, communication, registration and feeding the visiting artists, to the financing, marketing and publicity for the event. Ice Alaska conducts year round fund­raising in support of the event.


   The BP World Ice Art Championships are an important celebration of spring in interior Alaska. Such gatherings, in March, date back to the thirties, when residents emerged from the long winter with an eye for having some fun. Current residents differ little from their winter weary predecessors, but with the advent of airline transportation – visitors from all over Alaska and the World can join thecelebration.


   Ice Alaska is in its 22nd year hosting one of the largest annual ice art competitions and exhibitions worldwide. The Fairbanks event, the BP World Ice Art Championships, has grown from a one-week, 8-team competition in 1990, to a month-long attraction involving over 70 teams from all over the world. The competitions, and the accompanying kids park, attract more than 100 ice artists and approximately 45,000 visitors from Alaska and all over the world. The efforts of more than 400 volunteers, and support from over 100 local businesses and community organizations have made all this possible.
   In 1995, the event moved to its current venue at Ice Park–a perfect size and location for the sculpting event and kids park. The park includes O’Grady Pond, where volunteers harvest the large blocks of exceptionally clear ice which the artists have nicknamed “The Arctic Diamond.” Ice Park also has enough large trees scattered throughout the acreage that it divides easily into multiple sections of beautifully shaded sculpting sites for everything from the huge Multi-Block sculptures to small slides suitable for 5-year-olds. The tall trees provide a lovely backdrop for the ice sculptures and the shade that is so vital to protecting the sculptures from the sun.

   The BP World Ice Art Championships provide an opportunity to appreciate breathtaking art and learn about many cultures, since typically one-third of the sculptors and many visitors are of international origin. Ice Alaska has developed programs for teaching ice sculpting in the local schools, and the interactive ice culptures in the kids park are often designed to provide an educational benefit. The Ice Park is a common destination for school field trips and art classes.
   The entire Fairbanks community benefits from the increase in winter economicactivity and tourism during the month of March. Ice Alaska alone spends about $600,000 locally, for equipment rental, fuel oil, gasoline,  food, lodging, printing booklets, chain saw servicing, and other commodities. Ice Alaska has also become an exporter of ice. Fairbanks has the cold temperatures which grow thick, natural ice and has invented impressive harvest techniques. Locally grown ice is exported annually to Anchorage and has been shipped to the Bahamas and as far as Israel. Involvement in Ice Alaska’s activities at the BP World Ice Art Championships as a sculptor, a volunteer, or as a visitor to the park and kids park, provides healthy, family-centered outdoor activity.

Harvesting The Ice

   When ice sculpting was revived in Fairbanks in 1988, organizers bought ice from Seattle and had it shipped to Fairbanks for an ice carving exhibition. In defense of those who purchased the ice from Seattle, the “ rest of the story” needs to be told.

   In 1988 professional ice sculptors from China and Chicago were brought to Fairbanks to display their craft. The organizers were trying to revive interest in ice sculpting and make it an annual event. Not knowing if the ice found in great abundance around Fairbanks was adequate for sculptors, and to make sure the invited sculptors had proper ice to carve, commercially prepared ice was purchased from Seattle. When the sculptors were shown samples of the local ice, they were impressed. From that early inauspicious beginning, we have gained a reputation for having the best ice in the world.


   For the year 2011 event, over 1,500 tons of ice will be used! The harvesting of these hundreds of tons of ice is a huge undertaking. It requires countless hours of volunteer time, the use of heavy equipment and constant thought about how it can be done better. In 1998, for the first time, ice was harvested from O’ Grady pond - right adjacent to where the event is held at ICE PARK. That in itself was a great improvement. No more long hauls with flatbed trucks!


   The ice harvesting experts of ICE ALASKA are continually refining their methods for cutting and lifting heavy blocks of ice. Many saws have been developed for harvesting and cutting the ice once it arrives at the park. The most efficient method of harvest utilizes chain saws. A few years ago, a sled developed by Tom Gullickson was added. Pictured above, it not only makesthe harvest more efficient but, also, less “ backbreaking.” So far, the 1998 ice, which measured a record 54” thick, holds the record for thickness. Cutting this ice required a 60-inch bar on the chainsaws!
   Another efficient modification for the harvest was also added several years ago. It involved the addition of the extendible boom forklift to the harvest process. (Pictured left) These large forklifts are able to remove the huge ice blocks, weighing from 3,000 - 7,500 lbs from the water, and later to transport blocks to the ICE PARK site area. Every year harvest techniques improve, allowing for the harvest of more ice to keep up with increased demands as the event grows. The one thing that never changes is it remains a lot of work. The dedication of the all volunteer harvest crew, their ingenuity, and just plain hard work for long hours at extreme cold temperatures is what makes it all happen.

About the Competition


   Teams are composed of one to two members. Each team is given one block of ice. Block dimensions are approximately 5ft x 8ft x 3ft (1.5m x 2.4m x 0.9m). Each block weighs about 7,800 lbs. Once the ice block is positioned to the sculptor’s satisfaction, the sculptors are on their own. No additional mechanical or power devices can be used to move and/or lift the ice. Artists can request the assistance of competing team members when more people power is required to move/lift the ice into position. Teams may work around the clock. Most work long hours in order to complete their sculpture on time.
   The competition starts at 9 AM on a Tuesday and ends 60 hours later on a Thursday at 9 PM. The finished pieces are then judged under white lights. After judging is completed, the finished sculpture will be illuminated with colored lights for the public to view. The awards are presented at 8 PM on Friday about 24 hours after the pieces are completed. The judges and lighting work fast to make this happen! The results are spectacular!



 Teams are composed of two to four sculptors. No more are allowed. Four-member teams are encouraged. Each team is given 10 blocks of ice. Each ice block measures approximately 4ft x 6ft x 3.3ft. (1.2m x 1.8m x 1.0m). Each team will be sculpting a minimum of 46,000 pounds of ice. Teams use hand and/or power tools to cut and shape the ice and may work around the clock if they choose.
   The sculptures created sometimes attain heights of more than 25 feet. Therefore, Ice Alaska provides heavy equipment and operators to lift and position the ice. The equipment operators, all volunteers, work with the sculptors to delicately move the ice into the artist’s desired location. Without the help of the operators, the final product would be impossible. The artists fully realize this, and give high praise to the operations crew. The final ice sculpture is teamwork at its best.

  The Multi-Block Classic begins at 9 AM on Sunday and ends at 9 PM on Friday or 132 hours later. The artists are then given an additional hour and a half to clean the sculpting site. The finished pieces are judged under white lights. After judging is completed, the finished sculpture will be illuminated with colored lights for the public to view. The awards are presented at 8 PM on Saturday night.


   With a grant from Fairbanks Youth Sports and money provided by Clarence Beers for the Ivalie Cox “Sculpting the Future Program,” Ice Alaska artists have developed an ice sculpting curriculum that can be taught in local schools.
   To encourage the students to continue to use their sculpting skills in competitions, the Frances and Clarence G Beers Youth Classic is held the week following the Multi-Block competition. The youth competition was held for the first time in 2006 with six, two person teams from four area high schools. We hope to grow to 10 teams drawn from throughout Alaska and the world. Juniot High Students were recently allowed to compete.
   To qualify for the competition team members must be students enrolled in Jr. High school up through High School age or equivalent curriculum. Teams are provided one ice block, 3’ x 5’x 4,’ The block weighs approximately 3,600 lbs. Once the ice block is placed, the sculpting team may not use motorized tools or equipment to move the block. Experienced artists are on hand to answer questions and offer technical assistance allowed within the competition guidelines.
   Awards are given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Award medals and gift certificates.


   The Amateur Open exhibition is an opportunity for artists to try out some ideas on a block of ice without the stress of competition. Contestants can register and sculpt on a flexible schedule. The exhibition tends to be more relaxed, because artists are working at their own pace with smaller pieces of ice, but official photographers make every effort to document the progress of each sculpture.
   Teams usually consist of one to two sculptors, but since it is an exhibition the only hard and fast rule is - safety first. Participants under 16 years of age must have parental permission and be accompanied by an adult while they are working. The Amateur Open starts on the day after the Single Classic and ends on the same day the Youth competition ends on a Friday in the middle of March.
   Twenty spaces are set aside for the Amateur Open Exhibition. The finished sculptures are illuminated with colored lights for the public to view. Amateur Open teams are recognized at the Youth Ice Art Championship Awards Ceremony on the Saturday night after the sculpting time ends.