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Heidi Drygas

Heidi was born and raised in Fairbanks, and grew up in and around the waters of the Chena River. She graduated with a degree in History from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and received her law degree from Willamette University. A lawyer by day and self-taught home cook at night, she is passionate about cooking and creating tasty, uncomplicated food. She is also a firm believer in buying local produce and products whenever possible, and is an avid fisherwoman. She currently lives in Anchorage with her trusty terrier, Milo.

chenagirlcooks.blogspot.com

Old-Fashioned Navy Bean & Ham Soup

Old-Fashioned Navy Bean & Ham Soup

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Fall in Alaska is that glorious 3 days of the year where the leaves turn beautiful shades of yellow and orange, there’s a distinct smell of sour cranberries and wood smoke lingering in the air, and the Chugach mountains look like they’re on fire with all the brilliant red of the dwarf birch and blueberry bushes.

October 20, 2014
Forager’s Delight: Blueberry Cornmeal Skillet Cake

Forager’s Delight: Blueberry Cornmeal Skillet Cake

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I have a massive issue when it comes to foraging. Some would call it my gift. Others (like my berry-picking friends) would call it my curse. You see, deep in the incomprehensible double-helix thingy of my DNA structure, I have an unmistakable gene for hunting and gathering. I love it.

August 28, 2014

Herb-crusted Alaskan Salmon with Roasted Lemons

Heidi Drygas Herb Salmon8

Deciding what to make for Solstice dinner was easy.

During spring and early summer, us Alaskans engage in a traditional pastime known generally as “Cleaning Out the Freezer”.

See the recipe.

July 1, 2014

Wild Alaska Devil’s Club Buds

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We all have our quirks. Some wear an apron while they cook. Some still drink Shirley Temples when they’re 36.

One quirk I embrace: I’m a forager, and I embrace my inner hunter & gatherer.

See the recipe.

May 25, 2014

Lentils with Kale, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts

Heidi Drygas Lentils 1

I’ve been keeping my Alaskan Springtime blues at bay by cooking up a storm in my kitchen! Short ribs, pasta, spring salads, soups…anything to keep the dreary brown grass on my lawn out of sight and out of mind. Summer can’t come soon enough!

I devoured this lovely little lentil salad soon after I took these pictures.

See the recipe.

April 24, 2014

Chilaquiles: A Hearty Mexican Breakfast

heidi drygas chilaquiles 1

There is no limit to my love of the food and flavors of Mexico.

All the spicy, fragrant chiles, simmering sauces, creamy refried beans, fresh lime and cilantro…Mexican is my ultimate comfort food.

See the recipe.

March 26, 2014

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Parmesan & Walnuts

heidi drygas sprouts 1

My love for Brussels sprouts extends far and deep, years before they became a fad at hip eateries in Chicago and San Francisco. It all goes back to a time when the idea finding a fresh Brussels sprouts at the grocery store in Fairbanks was unthinkable, and so ours came to the dinner table via frozen baggies from the super market.

It all goes back to a time when Holly and I were obsessed with Barbies.

Read more.

February 11, 2014

Healthy New Year’s Pumpkin Spice Muffins

heidi drygas muffins 1

For Christmas this year, my adorable nieces in Fairbanks gave me the holiday death plague. Complete with hacking cough, sore throat, congestion…you get the idea. I feel like death warmed over.

In my delirious, sick-y state I decided I needed to bake something. I know, I know. I’m a terrible baker.

See the recipe.

January 8, 2014

Maple and Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Squash (And a Story About a Turkey)

Heidi Drygas Turkey 1

Ah, Thanksgiving. A time for friends and family to gather around the table in love and friendship, so that we may all sit down, say grace, and stuff our faces full of delicious foods drenched in butter and cream.

At this point, what I really should tell you about is this delectable little recipe I am sharing with you for your holiday table. But what I really want to tell you about is how I’m getting a turkey on a plane for Thanksgiving.

Read more.

November 27, 2013

Salty Sisters’ Roasted Alaska Spot Prawns with Fennel, Olives, and Oranges

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There comes a time in every woman’s life when her grit, determination, and willpower are put to the test. A time when resolve and fortitude are challenged in a epic battle of skill, creativity, and knowledge.

Of course, I’m talking about the Alaska Sustainable Seafood Cookoff! The Challenge: Four duos battle it out in one hour to produce the best seafood dish for 5 local foodie judges.

Click for the story and recipe.

November 13, 2013

Wild Alaska Salmon with Chimichurri & Roasted Root Vegetables

Heidi Drygas Salmon Chimichurri 1

I’m a bit salmon obsessed of late, and for good reason.  You see, after an extremely successful fishing trip in Valdez’s Prince William Sound, I’m a bit salmon-heavy at my house.  And frankly, that’s putting it lightly.

It comes down to this: if I don’t eat all this salmon, I can’t fit anything else in my freezer.

See the recipe.

September 16, 2013

Wild Alaska Salmon Quiche

Heidi Drygas Salmon Quiche 1

There comes a time in every woman’s life where they sort of just hit a wall. For me, it happened this week.

The wall came in the form of: several bills from house projects completed over the summer, an unexpected brake replacement on my Jeep, a hot water heater on the fritz, and just for good measure, a boiler that decided to take a little break.

Read more.

August 28, 2013

Perfect Skillet Chicken

heidi drygas skillet chicken

There is something in your kitchen that you’ve been neglecting. Perhaps you received it as a wedding present. Or its been passed down to you from your grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother. Or maybe you’ve been living without one all this time.

The cast iron skillet.

See the recipe.

June 25, 2013

Squash Mac & Cheese

Heidi Drygas Squash Mac 1

I love this dish. But I seriously fretted about what to call it.

Because it’s a lighter mac & cheese, but calling it “light mac & cheese” is such a culinary turnoff. Might as well tell folks to chew on some saw dust, eh?

See the recipe.

May 4, 2013

Roasted Vegetable & Kale Salad With Honey Vinaigrette

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Here’s what I think. When you make something this healthy that tastes this good, it is your responsibility as a human being to share it with the world.

And by world, I really mean with all my girlfriends. Because who needs a tofu popscicle or dairy-free/wheat-free/vegan/bilingual/yoga-enthusiast green smoothie when you can eat something that tastes DELICIOUS and probably cures cancer at the same time?!

See the recipe.

March 29, 2013

Charred Sugar-Crusted Wild Alaska Salmon

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I love ALL Alaskan seafood. Halibut, cod, scallops, spot prawns, king crab…the list goes on. It is THE BEST in the world.

But for my money, nothing compares to delicious, healthy, and sustainable wild Alaska salmon. Some of my favorite childhood memories involved a boat, a river, and a fishing pole with a fighting salmon at the other end of the line.

See the recipe.

March 1, 2013

Huevos Rancheros

Heidi Drygas Huevos Rancheros 1

In Alaska, the winter is cold and dark. It’s as certain as death and taxes. I decided that this year, I needed to ring in the New Year with a little sunshine. And maybe a pool, with one of those umbrella drinks.

I crashed my parents’ vacation.

See the recipe.

January 31, 2013

Soft Scrambled Eggs with Herbed Goat Cheese

When I first started my blog almost two years ago, I had a certain idea about what food I wanted to write about. I wanted to talk about the food I love to cook, and the food I love to eat.

But there are some things I LOVE to eat, but I just don’t think about as “recipes.”  

Read more.

January 2, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I can’t let another holiday season pass by without writing about my favorite vegetable dish in the whole world. Roasty, toasty Brussels sprouts. The most wonderful veggie preparation of them all.

If you’ve tried Brussels sprouts (named after the city that made them popular) and think you hate them, you don’t.

See the recipe.

December 21, 2012

Chili-Spiced Roasted Acorn Squash

I love fall. The crisp autumn air, the crush of fallen leaves underfoot, and the abundance of pumpkins and apples in the local grocery store.

In the midst of enjoying the bounty of rich and hearty dishes at this time of year, I’ve noticed a peculiar thing happening in my wardrobe. You see, it’s shrinking.

See the recipe.

November 9, 2012