Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Back to Alaska (sort of)

Back to ALASKA!!! (and part of the new house)

No, no... I'm not moving back to the "frozen north". The title of this pertains more to the fact that it's been YONKS since I've written anything about Alaska. Now, for some reason, every single person I've met down here in Oz is fascinated with Alaska --many of them think it's part of Canada (if only!!!!). There's also lots of online folk (I'm guessing big city types) that seem to love Alaska.

Whoops, it's now the next day... my how time flies. I'll bet none of you even noticed that 24 break in my typing, eh?

Alaska story: This was on one of my bicycle trips from Anchorage to Fairbanks (360 miles). I was with a good friend of mine, Rich, and we were doing the trip on our mountain bikes set up with road tires (I've ridden knobby tires all the way to Fairbanks, and let me tell ya, IT'S HARD!). It was a beautiful fall day, late August, sunny, warm (by Alaskan standards, bloody-well cold by Aussie standards) and we were having a grand time.

It was also still tourist season... campers and winnebagos abounded --the shoulder was wide and they were all cool while passing, no worries. As we rode up one hill, we both decided to take a short break. We leaned our bikes up against the guardrail and sat down on the six-foot wide shoulder. That's when we noticed the pavement was very very warm :) Since both of us were somewhat lazy, we decided to lay down and stretch out on the nice warm pavement next to the guardrail.

On retrospect, it was not a good idea...

Picture this: Two bikes leaned against a guardrail on a road in the middle of nowhere, and two guys stretched out on the roadside. Now, any Alaskan would drive right past; because they KNOW there are very few chances for Alaskans to work on their tans (we had taken our shirts off). However, after about the 10th kindly, elderly tourist stopping to ask if we were ok, we hopped back on the bikes and continued to Fairbanks.

Moral to this story: What Alaskans think of as normal, the rest of the world thinks is a little bit crazy.

Tidbit (or two) about the new house

Did I mention there is a pool??? Did I? Well, there is! This is an L-shaped pool that's 29 sq meters --that's 315 sq feet, larger than some apartments!!!! Wee-hoo, I'll be spending a LOT of time in it this summer.

Did I mention the FOUR patios and the walk-around second story deck???? Well, I have now! I'm a smug bastard, eh?

Did I mention the parquet flooring and the sunken lounge in the 3rd family room??? Oh.... I can hear the teeth gnashing from here! TTHHHHBBBTT

There's only 5 palm trees dotted around the grounds, and I don't have any grape vines so I'll have to find a neighbor with some vines so I can make my homemade dolmades this season... Gotta have some drawbacks, eh?

The tour! I'm not normally a fan of the beginning flat stages, but HOLY SHIT did anyone see the last 60 k's of stage 3? It was great to see the chase, and even better to see what Fabian was able to do at the end in yellow! Go find a highlight vid, you won't be disappointed.

Food Stuff:

Peanut butter cheesecake with hot chocolate sauce

What you need:

For the crust:
1/3 to 1/2 pound of crunchy chocolate chip cookies
2-3 tbsp melted butter --slightly cooled
1 tbsp milk

For the Filling:
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 pound softened cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar

For the chocolate sauce:
1/3 to 1/2 pound dark chocolate --chopped coarsely
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup cream

What you do:

In a food processor, process the cookies until the are a fine texture. Then add the butter and milk; process some more.

Press the crust mixture into a buttered pie or flan dish. Chuck it in the fridge for an hour to harden and set.

For the filling; add the peanut butter and cream to a small saucepan, then mix/whisk over low heat until it's combined. Let it cool. While that's cooling, mix the cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixers (you know, the kind with the beaters you licked as a kid?), until it's smooth. Then stir in the peanut butter mixture thoroughly.

Put the filling into the crust (duh), then chuck it all in the freezer overnight.

The next day...: Just before serving, make the hot chocolate sauce. Put the dark chocolate and butter and cream in a small saucepan and heat slowly while stirring (you don't need a double boiler for this).

Then (here's the easy part): slice the frozen cheesecake and top with the hot chocolate sauce.

In case you hadn't guessed, it's rather rich... I'd suggest very very small pieces...

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