Autumn is my favorite season. I love it because the slight oppression of the summer heat escapes the air and the mornings feel like mornings should: crisp, clean, awake. Our days in Fairbanks are becoming shorter and shorter by the day so for the first time since May, we’re seeing sunrises and sunsets, which makes the day look and feel completely different than it did a month ago. When I leave for work in the morning, the light yawns across the valley and breathes good morning. At sunset, it stretches one last time before its retreats in the west.
Since the days are getting shorter, Alaskans are hustling about getting ready for winter. Whether it’s hunting for moose or canning the summer’s catch, this time of year is usually one chocked full of work. Two of our friends recently moved into a cabin in Two Rivers, a dog mushing community just east of Fairbanks. Along with their little cabin, they inherited a handler cabin, a chicken coop, an outhouse, several acres, and 11 Alaskan huskies, who they will be running this winter. They also inherited Henrietta, Buffy, and Paulette because they needed some big, beautiful broads in their coop, broads who wouldn’t fare so well on a cross country road trip.
Last weekend, we went to their place to help them chop wood for the season ahead. I was stoked to get out in the woods to haul and chop fire wood. The longer I work in an office, the more I crave manual labor. I love the rhythm of mindless work. I’m sure after an hour of slinging an ax, I would have been singing a different tune so it’s probably best they rented a gas powered wood chopper.
A little help goes a long way. Our friends made a party out of it; in exchange for the help of 6 sets of hands and able bodies, they fed us chili, cornbread, and beer. I’ll take food and beer for a little labor any day!
Right as we were plating up, a magnitude 5.0 earthquake struck close to Fairbanks and the ground rattled enough that water sloshed out of rain catchments and wine out of (full) glasses. It was the strongest earthquake I’ve ever felt and it was memorable to say the least. Aftershocks woke us up from sleep days following. I’m hoping there won’t be many earthquakes in Maine.
Speaking of Maine, Chris and I are moving to Portland in a couple weeks, hence last week’s post. More on that later.
I packed all my cookbooks and I didn’t think it through all the way because the cookie base for this week’s recipe is in America’s cookbook which is bubble wrapped, taped, bubble wrapped again, taped again, in a box in another box at the bottom or top of a wall of stuff to move.
After the day of splitting wood, “surviving” the earthquake, and eating a hearty meal, we sat around a bonfire and enjoyed each other’s company. We ate Nutter Butter Banana pudding and I made salted graham crackers and of course, we had s’mores. These graham crackers are a little rich, as you’d expect with 1/2 cup butter and whole wheat flour. They are more like graham cookies. Despite their denseness, they make damn-near perfect vehicles for marshmallows and chocolate.
Eight adults, ranging in age from late 20s to late 60s, sat around a campfire with chocolate smeared on our fingers and melted marshmallows on our lips, and we enjoyed each others company and the the fatigue from doing a hard day’s work. That, my friends, is exactly where I love to be.
- 1½ cups graham flour
- ½ cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt, divided
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream or milk
- Sift together the graham flour, baking powder. and salt in a medium bowl. When sifting, there might be some whole grains/bits of wheat hulls left in the sifter. I dumped them in with the rest of the flour.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, cream butter until soft; beat in sugar, molasses, egg, vanilla, and cream.
- Slowly add graham flour-salt mixture to wet ingredients. Then, add the all purpose flour. Mix until dough forms and is just stiff enough to roll. If dough is too sticky, add more AP flour.
- Form dough into a ball and press lightly into a fat disk. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Once dough has chilled, place on lightly floured board and roll ⅛ in. thick. Cut with floured cutter as desired and place on ungreased baking sheet. **I rolled my dough into a rectangle and cut into squares using a pizza cutter to give it the iconic square shape.
- Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake for 8-10 minutes.