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Citizen Voices

Alaska Guide to Boletus Mushrooms

Natasha Mushroom 1

I was raised an Anchorage forager. From fiddleheads to blueberries, some of my fondest childhood memories are of gathering food from local parks and forests and preparing our edible treasures to be enjoyed throughout the year.

One of my favorite foods to collect is boletus mushrooms — a.k.a. wild porcini. My mouth waters just at the thought of the dense, earthy fungi sizzling in a pan with butter and garlic.

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June 27, 2014

Working for the Gov.


In January of 1966, I returned to Anchorage after a semester of graduate school at Oklahoma State University.

According to OSU’s catalog, their department of Clothing, Textiles and Merchandising had courses in design, but when I arrived design had been eliminated.

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June 26, 2014

Sweet and Sustainable: Alaska Prawns and Shrimp


The windshield has a crack running through it, there’s a little rust and a dent or two on the body, and some of the paint is chipping off the hand-lettered sign affixed to the vehicle’s side, but we look for Patrick Johnson’s little black truck every summer when we’re cruising around Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.

If we don’t happen across his truck, we go find him at his Shrimp Guys Seafoods shop in Soldotna.

See the recipe.

June 19, 2014

New York in Late Spring, an Aesthetic Bonus

The High Line, Brooklyn.

It’s June and I’m studying for PhD art-philosophy orals coming up mid-July. I’ve told everyone in my life to scram/skedaddle until August.

I’m at my desk, five hours daily, yellow highlighter on textbooks, in front of my wide screen computer, pounding keys, and looking things up on Wikipedia.

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June 18, 2014

The Story of the Spenard Windmill


In the early 1980s, when money was no problem and anything was possible, I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse by none other than Mafia Mike, thus becoming the custodian of an important historical icon.

Had I known at the time what a maintenance nightmare it would become, I’m not sure I would have been willing to accept the responsibility, regardless of the possibilities—or consequences.

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May 28, 2014

Quick Craft: Coffee Filter Flower


I stayed home sick today and I hate wasting my time in bed, so I decided to mildly craft out.

I really love tissue paper flowers but I don’t like spending a ton of time cutting out paper.

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May 27, 2014

Wild Alaska Devil’s Club Buds

heidi drygas devils club 6

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

Frost protection in the garden


Spring has arrived early this year, and although most of us have experienced snowfall in May, we all seem to be having a difficult time refraining from planting the entire garden now!

Now is a great time to start your garden, with a few simple precautions.

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May 23, 2014
Dime Piece Mix #6: Spring Vibes

Dime Piece Mix #6: Spring Vibes

By now, you’re familiar with my Dime Piece mixes, right? Here’s the deal: Sometimes When I come up for an idea or a theme for a mix, I get so consumed thinking about all the songs I want to include that it never ends up being more than a concept.

In an effort to keep things simple, I decided to start a series of 10-song recordings.


May 22, 2014

Spring Absence and Renewal with Art

Gardner Museum Courtyard.

This spring husband Dave and I flew to Boston College for the christening of our newest grandchildren, Spencer and Finn.

Sinking in to our seats on the red eye to Seattle, we realized we’d forgotten all the wiring to the computer, phones and camera.

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May 19, 2014

Making of a Refuge: Kanatak Lagoon to McNeil

In the 1970s biologists did reconnaissance of offshore islands throughout Alaska’s coastal areas to determine abundance and distribution of marine mammals and birds to help select lands for new refuges, parks, and monuments that would be created under the 1980 Alaska Lands Act.

Their arduous trip used a 15-foot inflatable Zodiac with two 25 hp outboard motors.

May 1, 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

Reaching My Family After the 1964 Earthquake

Connie O Earthquake Grandma

It was very hard to stay calm and collected when I was calling home to Anchorage at 5:00 pm on Good Friday 1964, only to hear the chronic phone message, “Unable to complete your call due to transmission interruption in southeastern Alaska,” or something on that order.

I had never heard anything like that before, but then I didn’t make too many calls home from Oregon while I was in college.

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April 18, 2014

The Armory Show: Art Fair Meets Avant-garde

Running Shoes

After my romp through the 2014 Whitney Biennial this past March, I took a crosstown bus from Fifth Avenue to the Armory Show on display on the remodeled Hudson River Piers 92 & 94 .

With two hundred and five exhibitors, the Armory Show is the largest art fair in New York and really Disneyland for art lovers.

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April 11, 2014

Reflections from the Trapline

Erik Johnson Trapline 1

The woods after the first snowfall have a distinctive sound. The world becomes quieter, and any remaining sound is muffled, as though filtered through cotton.

It’s in this new silence that I find myself snowshoeing through the trees.

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April 8, 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

Knitting A Simple Striped Baby Blanket

natasha price blanket2

Knitting a blanket isn’t difficult. It’s pretty mindless. Monotonous. Endless. I much prefer knitting hats where there’s a definite start and end and it can be completed in an afternoon.

That being said, there is something special about giving someone a hand-knitted blanket.

See the pattern.

March 26, 2014

Geese in an organic Alaskan garden


The weather has been warm and beautiful, the days are getting noticeably longer, and the snow is slowly melting. These are all wonderful things, but this year the sure sign of spring at Woodside Gardens is goose eggs!

Gerdie has laid 3 eggs so far this season, and it has me excited for the year to come.

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March 25, 2014

Seafood Kebabs on Forbidden Rice

cutterlight salmon kebab

The early Persians were onto something.

Skewered meats, seafoods and vegetables deftly seasoned and grilled or broiled to perfection are easy to whip up and always a hit. The variations on these Alaskan seafood kebabs are endless.

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March 19, 2014

An Alaskan Goes to the 2014 Whitney Biennial

Dona Owen, "Okie Dokie", (2008)

About a year ago, I received an email that professor Michelle Grabner would be one of the three curators of the 2014 Whitney Biennial Show. I asked Grabner if I could shadow her on her year long adventure of artist selection.

The Whitney press office dismissed my project.

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March 18, 2014