Reading the North

Kathleen Macknicki

Cold Storage, Alaska

John Straley (Soho Crime, $26.95)

The blurb: At the beginning of this story, newly reformed drug dealer Clive "The Milkman" McCahon is intent on two things: eating a salad and getting back to his Alaska hometown of Cold Storage after a seven-year prison stint for dealing coke.

He has a dream of opening a bar-slash-church with his stashed drug earnings and settling into the role of watch and ward over the town's devout drinkers and imbibing believers, which accounts for just about everyone.

But Clive doesn't realize the trouble following him home. His vengeful former business partner is hot on his heels and looking to "talk" through some pending financial matters. A stick-in-the-mud state trooper is determined to put him back behind bars, and to complicate everything further, Clive might be going a little insane -- lately, he's been hearing animals talk. And none of them have anything nice to say.

Excerpt: Clive froze. Along the boardwalk, footsteps padded toward them.

"What did you say?" Clive asked, surprised mostly by the dog's strange diction.

Then Little Brother said, "Look up."

And he did, straight into the high-caliber revolver at the end of Jake Shoemaker's outstretched arm.

"Hey, Clive," said Jake, businesslike. "I really need to talk to you about something."

Little Brother showed an alligator smile of teeth.

"You should have stolen a better dog." Jake pulled back the hammer on the big six-shooter. "He's sure enough ugly, but he isn't worth a damn for protection."

"What did you say?" Clive asked again.

Little Brother leaped for the arm holding the gun. Clive ducked and rolled off the stairway into a tangle of salmonberry bushes, rolled until he came up hard against a thorny stalk, and looked back to where the big dog was standing over the fallen Jake, shaking the man's arm back and forth as if it had come unhinged at all of its joints. Jake was crying out in a wordless howl, his head thumping on the decking, while the dog worked almost silently, breath heaving out of nose and jowls as he tore at the limp man's arm.

Modern Native Feasts: Healthy, Innovative, Sustainable Cuisine

Andrew George Jr. (Arsenal Pulp Press, $21.95)

The blurb: Native cuisine comes of age in this elegant, contemporary collection that reinterprets and updates traditional Native recipes with modern, healthy twists. Andrew George Jr. was head chef for aboriginal foods at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver; his imaginative menus reflect the diverse new culinary landscape while being mindful of an ages-old reverence for the land and sea, reflecting a growing interest in a cuisine that is rapidly moving into the mainstream. And as an aboriginal foods educator, Andrew also works actively at making Native foods healthier, more nutritious and more adventuresome.

Excerpt: This is one of my favorite dishes when halibut is in season. The halibut cheeks are delicate and flavorful; when seared with seaweed, they taste amazing.

Pan-Seared Halibut Cheeks With Seaweed

121/4 lbs fresh halibut cheeks

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground white pepper

2 tbsp finely chopped nori (seaweed)

4 tbsp canola oil

Butter Sauce

Makes 1 cup (250 ml)

1 tbsp minced shallots

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp white wine

8 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed

1 tbsp minced fresh chives

1 tbsp finely chopped nori (seaweed)

sea salt, to taste

ground white pepper, to taste

Rinse halibut cheeks and pat dry. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper and nori. Dredge halibut in flour mixture and shake off excess. In a large frying pan on medium, heat oil. Saute halibut cheeks 1-2 minutes per side.

For the sauce:

In a small saucepan on medium heat, bring shallots, lemon juice, and white wine to a simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Reduce heat to low. Whisk in butter cubes one at a time until sauce starts to emulsify (thicken). Add chives and nori. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over halibut cheeks before serving.

Compiled by Kathleen Macknicki, Anchorage Daily News

Compiled by Kathleen Macknicki
Anchorage Daily News