After days of preparation and anticipation, every year before the Iditarod starts, we have a little party of sorts for the checkers, the trailbreakers that might be passing through, for our guests and our staff. We all gather together after dinner and have an "ice-cream social" as it has come to be known. The kitchen crew makes an elaborate collection of desserts to inspire a little sweetness before the adrenaline-fueled day that will follow. This year, one dessert that has made the collection is a variety of flavored granita.

Granita is a popular crushed ice dessert found all over Italy -- and now it is a favorite along the Iditarod Trail. Just take a nature-inspired flavor (we are using blueberry, apple, orange, and lemon juice), add in enough sugar to preferred sweetness, and place the liquid into a container. We use a 13-inch by 9-inch shallow pan so there is plenty of surface area to freeze quickly. The pan goes into the freezer. Every 20 minutes or so, stir the mixture with a whisk at first and switch to a fork as the mixture becomes thicker and more frozen. How granular should the mixture be? It should match the snow outside your door.

Read more: Learn to make Chef Kirsten Dixon's Iditarod granitas