We are well past 10 hours a day of sunlight.
We may even be past 11 hours!
J. is out with a friend, in the sunlight, looking for caribou. I believe they went out towards Kwethluk. I stayed home. I had lots of plans for the day - some reading (I'm currently reading A Team of Rivals), a little cleaning, a little blogging, maybe even some cooking! But the sun, and the balmy 35 degrees above, were all too tempting...
.... I ended up spending most of the day outside, playing with the dogs.
A neighbor and her puppy joined in the fun, and Puck found himself in a surfeit of ball-catching glee. She threw, and threw, and threw the ball for him. Sometimes she'd run around, holding the ball, giggling as Puck chased her. Then she'd throw the ball again. And again. And again.
It was, without a doubt, a slice of Puck's personal utopia.
There might have been one thing that Puck would have changed about the day. It turns out that the neighbor's puppy preferred chasing Puck, to chasing the ball. But Puck managed to tolerate the puppy's exuberant attention so long as the puppy's owner kept tossing the ball for Puck.
Clyde, who is sadly not allowed off-leash because he tends to take-off in search of discarded fish parts, alternated between watching Puck-chase-the-ball-while-the-puppy-chased-Puck and chewing on sticks. I'm sure he would have preferred running free and wolfing down the fish heads and fish skins that he always seems to find around the neighborhood, but I think he still managed to have quite a good time.
I'm fairly certain, in fact, it was a fine, fine day for everyone.
When the sun finally set, I came inside and started a cast-iron pot of Arroz con Pollo for J. to dig into when he returned. I will spare you my attempts to take a picture of this skillet of Arroz con Pollo, but not my opinion that it is quite tasty.
Arroz con Pollo
adapted from a recipe printed in The Cast-Iron Skillet Cookbook (oh, I do love this cookbook!) by Sharon Kramis, and her daughter Julie Kramis Hearne
2 tablespoons butter
1 large fryer chicken, cut-up (I used chicken pieces instead - boneless thighs and legs)
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 green peppers, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery, diced
1 cup white wine
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can whole tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp paprika
Pinch of saffron
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
Juice of 1 lemon (I keep forgetting this, so it probably optional)
Melt the butter, and cook the chicken until lightly browned on all sides. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and peppers. (I tend to add things as I finish chopping them up, and so this is also the order that I chop.) Cook this for about 10 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add the wine and deglaze. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, paprika, saffron, bay leaf, salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice. Add the chicken back to the pan, submerging it as much as possible. Bring to a simmer. The recipe calls for cooking it slowly over a low- to medium-heat fire, for approximately 45 minutes. (I plopped on the cast-iron lid and put it into the oven at 300 degrees, for the length of a dvd. The recipe also calls for occassionally turning gently and turning the pot to move the rice, but not stirring it. I sort of did that.) Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice and serve. (As I mentioned above, I completely forgot the lemon - a shame, as I had actually made a trip to the A.C. specifically to buy a lemon for this purpose. And, instead of serving it right away, I kept it in a very low oven until I went to bed. And then, just before going to bed, I placed it on the table, together with a plate, silverware and a note to J. to stick it in our extra fridge - i.e. our arctic entry - after he is finished eating.)
p.s. I'm serious about Clyde and his fish-finding prowess. The other day, that canine hooligan managed to dig a fish skin out of a snow bank. I don't know how he does it. One moment he was walking along beside me, the next moment he was halfway finished ploughing through a huge snow bank to unearth a hidden fish skin. But he does it, and so quickly, and smoothly, that I can only conclude that Clyde keeps a mental inventory of every discarded fish piece within a 500 foot radius and, at any given moment on any given walk, is ready to take advantage of any given distraction by the person holding the leash to dive in and eat it.