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Kim Sunée,Tara Young
When it comes to travel, I've always paid as much attention to the journey as to the food accompanying the destination. In my early 20s, I was fresh out of university in the south of France with no real goal other than to find a place to belong (and where the markets were as lush as those in Nice). Where else, I wondered, would a Korean adoptee from New Orleans go next but to Sweden? I had never been before and it was relatively easy, back in the early '90s, to obtain a work visa, so I headed north to the land of tall, lean blonds, exotic midnight sun and salmon and dilled potatoes at every table.RELATED VIDEO RECIPE: For dessert, Kim Sunée​'s rhubarb parfaitIt took me many years and countries to come back almost full circle, this time to Alaska, another land of wild upstream swimmers and even more midnight sun. What I love most about both Sweden and Alaska is the majestic beauty of the waters and surrounding land, everything Mother Nature decided to touch and bless with astounding grace. And I also appreciate how each culture anticipates warmer days, like sunflowers turning their full heads to the sun, open-faced, like the sandwiches in Swedish delis, with both joy and gratitude.Salmon runs, solstice parties, berry picking and days that have no end -- these are the moments of celebration this time of year. And as much as both Swedes and Alaskans might sometimes tire of their local fare, I am still in awe of the richness of the waters and the bounty of the local seafood, especially here in Alaska, including spot prawns, black cod, halibut and oysters, cold, briny and delicious. And I had never had such incredible salmon, wild and flavorful.My new cookbook, "A Mouthful of Stars" (Andrews McMeel) is an ode to the foods I've loved and tasted along my journey, including this recipe for pan-seared salmon, with the added color, texture and heat of chopped jalapeno and pistachio.Quick and easy pan-seared salmon with pistachio and herbsRecipe adapted from Kim Sunée's "A Mouthful of Stars," published by Andrews McMeel, May 2014Serves four1 cup combination chopped fresh herbs, such as fresh cilantro, mint and flat-leaf parsley3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, dividedzest and juice of 1 lemon or lime¾ cup thinly sliced spring onion or sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla (cut onion in half and then in ⅛-inch slices like half moons)1 small jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, thinly sliced1 tablespoon unsalted butter4 (6-ounce) filets fresh salmon, preferably skin-on and pin bones removedsea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste½ cup toasted, chopped pistachios (or walnuts)DirectionsCombine herbs, 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest and juice, onion and jalapeno together in a medium bowl; reserve.Pat salmon filets dry with a paper towel, score skin, using a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern; season both sides with salt and pepper. Melt butter and remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil together in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until butter is frothy. Place salmon skin-side down and cook, without moving, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat if it's too hot. Check the skin (the skin should be crispy), turn gently to other side and let cook another minute for medium-rare or until cooked to desired doneness.Top with herb mixture and chopped pistachios; serve with extra lemon wedges.Kim Sunée has been the food editor for Southern Living magazine and Cottage Living magazine and her writing has appeared in Food and Wine, The Oxford American and Asian American Poetry and Writing. She is currently based in Anchorage. Her latest cookbook is "A Mouthful of Stars." Learn more at videographer Tara Young at
Alaska Dispatch News
Chris Franzen calls himself a fly fishing junkie from the foothills of North Carolina, “pretty much a fish bum”. On his days off, Franzen climbs mountains looking for the perfect “blue line." Blue lining means to take an atlas and look for the blue lines and find one with a nice gradient, hiking in no matter how difficult, fishing that blue line and striking it off the list or revisiting it for another round of fly fishing.
Alaska Public Media

We are a Pop-Up Restaurant | INDIE ALASKA

Indie Alaska is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. The weekly series captures the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.Nathan Dolphin-Chavie left Anchorage to work in the Los Angeles fine dining scene, eventually becoming executive chef at a well regarded eatery. Looking for a new challenge, Dolphin-Chavie, along with LA-native Joshua Plesh, has returned to his hometown to bring a new culinary experience in the form of a temporary and intimate restaurant, Harvest Pop-Up.
Alaska Public Media

I am an Alaska Native Dancer | INDIE ALASKA

Indie Alaska is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. The weekly series captures the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.In this episode, master Alaska Native dancer Haliehana Stepetin, born in Akutan, Alaska, has made it her life's goal to promote and teach the many styles of dance found throughout the diverse Alaska Native cultures. Special thanks to the Alaska Native Heritage Center.
Tara Young
Volunteers have netted and tagged up to 20 king salmon released at the mouth of Anchorage's Ship Creek in anticipation of Friday's start of the Slam'n Salm'n Derby. One tagged fish will net the lucky angler $1,000, according to derby officials. The rest will be worth $100 each.The derby is a fundraiser for the Downtown Soup Kitchen, and although tickets are free, donations from anglers brought in more than $50,000 for the soup kitchen last year. And 2013 was not a good year for Ship Creek kings or the anglers who fish the urban waterway -- last year's winner weighed 29 pounds, the smallest in derby history.With more healthy smolt being produced by the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery, derby officials and fishermen hope this year will see more and bigger kings caught. Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists have called Ship Creek king salmon fishing the best it has been in years.The Downtown Soup Kitchen's Slam'n Salm'n Derby starts 6 a.m. Friday and ends at noon Sunday, June 22. The biggest fish will be worth a new 16-foot Cataraft and trailer.Watch this video on Vimeo or YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)
Tara Young

Siberian Yupik fashion designer Christina Alowa of Savoonga learned to sew skins from watching both of her grandmothers and her mother, Annie Alowa, while growing up on St. Lawrence Island in the middle of the Bering Sea."When my grandma taught me skin sewing, she cut out seal skin socks for one of my brothers, and she showed me how to do the running stitches. I tried that and she undid it. I tried again and she undid my stitches. The seventh time she took my stitches out I said, 'I'm done. I'm not going to do any more sewing.' But then she made me start with whip stitch and undid that again. She said 'Never use bad stitches. Try to make smaller stitches so the wind doesn't go through them.' I'm always thankful that she taught me the skin sewing, because that's my income," says Alowa.Six months of the year, Alowa and her siblings and parents would leave their village of Savoonga to set up camp for hunting and gathering. That's where her mother would gather animal skins for sewing."We lived subsistence. Subsistence means hunting for your skins and meat to eat," says Alowa.  Alowa uses beaver, seal, red and Arctic fox, land otter and cow hide for her creations."I can sew anything out of sealskin," Alowa said. She makes custom garments as well as beaver skin mittens, sealskin-covered boots and bearded seal plush toys. She's even made several sealskin power suits.Watch this video on Vimeo or YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)
Marc Lester

Alcohol & Me: Barry Hetlet

From the driver’s seat of his Anchorage Police cruiser, Officer Barry Hetlet passes many people out wandering the streets of Fairview and downtown Anchorage in the middle of the night. At all hours, people stand on the street corners of Ingra and linger downtown. During rare quiet moments, between the mayhem of 911 calls, he wonders how the people he sees landed in that place in life.“I’ve always been a real people-watcher, if you will,” Hetlet explained during a Saturday-to-Sunday shift in May. “For instance, there’s a guy standing right there on the corner and it’s 4:20 in the morning. It just makes me wonder, what’s his deal, you know? What kind of decisions did he make in life that kind of led him down this path? What kind of upbringing? What kind of unfortunate set of events that happened in his life to get him to where he is now?”From Hetlet’s perspective, not a lot of good things happen out on the streets of the district police call Area 11 at those hours. On one all-night ride-along in fall 2013 and another this spring, Hetlet and his colleagues rushed nonstop from problem to problem. Routine calls include checking on the welfare of people face-down drunk in the streets, intervening in home violence, stopping drivers they suspect are intoxicated and trying to keep a cork on potential trouble when bars close and patrons spill out into the street.Despite the unpredictable and varied nature of police work, Hetlet has noticed one constant on his nights and weekends shifts for more than six years: nearly all of his calls are alcohol related, he says. If there were no alcohol, people might find some other vice to indulge in. Then again, maybe Anchorage would need fewer police, he says.As it is now, on a typical weekend evening, a dozen or more calls often hold as police handle the most dangerous situations first. The aftermath of a bar fight might have to wait until a report of a gun violence is handled. A domestic violence response comes before a report of strangers sleeping in a residential yard.In this Alcohol & Me video, Hetlet describes life what the city looks like while most of Anchorage is sleeping. Photographs show he and his mid-shift patrol colleagues at work.“There’s a lot of people, they live in a bubble. They don’t really see all the stuff that goes on, and they don’t see what people do to each other,” he said. “It’s my job to help maintain that bubble. I’ll go out and deal with it so they don’t have to.”Hear many more voices in the Alcohol & Me video series.
Tara Young
The Ketchikan Visitors Bureau and filmmaker Deby Santos came together to create The Ketchikan Story Project, a series of short videos about the people and culture of the Southeast Alaska community of  Ketchikan. The stories range from mini-documentaries about the fishing community and Alaska Native history to profiles of bush pilots and artists. The intention was to give transient travelers a richer understanding of life in the region.With the film Ketchikan: Our Native Legacy, Santos wanted to shed light on the complex history of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian communities in Ketchikan.“I think even among the locals there is a misconception about the Native culture in town. It was an ever evolving story throughout the entire process, revealing complexities, passions, that at various times moved us to tears,” Santos said."Ketchikan: Our Native Legacy" received two Emmy awards in 2013 and the project received 7 Telly Awards. On Saturday, the latest segments of The Ketchikan Story Project won two regional Emmys, one for post-production on "The Bush Pilots," and a historical/cultural Emmy for "The Timber Years.""Ketchikan: The Bush Pilots" chronicles the history of aviation in Southeast Alaska, from the pioneer bush pilots integral to developing the area to today's bush pilots who keep commerce humming and communities connected. Through all the industry booms --mining, fishing, logging, tourism -- Ketchikan's bush pilots have been a lifeline, serving as scouts, air taxi drivers, medevacs and Pony Express all rolled into one. Without them, Ketchikan would remain even more distant from the rest of the world.“My first years in Alaska were spent flying a Twin Otter filled at times with tourists, fish boxes, mail, supplies and such,” said Santos. “I hold a healthy respect and admiration for the pilots who are faced with challenges unlike any other in the lower 48.  Needless to say, this was a very fun film to produce, coordinating with former colleagues, rescheduling for weather and the good nature of the cinematographer, Richard Cooper, to get in a harness and film from the back of a helicopter (old school/no drones) as we flew around old stomping grounds.”
Alaska Dispatch News
"The ecology of the Arctic is changing at a fast rate," says Katie Christie a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Those changes are already having a dramatic effect on the landscapes and herbivores.Because of the decrease in their alpine habitat, ptarmigan may serve as an ecosystem "indicator" species of how the future of the Arctic might look.
Sean Doogan,Tara Young
Five young wolf pups, abandoned by their pack during the massive Funny River fire, are fast becoming stars at their temporary home at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage.Four times a day, the pups are taken to a special enclosure built alongside the zoo's walking path for feedings. On Wednesday alone, more than 150 people crowded the area to see the pups eat, waddle around the enclosure and then take a nap.Few things grab people's attention more than baby animals, and the Funny River pups are no exception. Their story -- a rescue by the fire crew that discovered their den -- has spread across the world. The wolves will eventually be sent to the Minnesota Zoo near Minneapolis, but for now they're being cared for at the Alaska Zoo until they are large and strong enough to make the trip.Brad Mondeel brought his four young children to the zoo on Wednesday just to see the baby wolves. Mondeel said in addition to being cute and cuddly, he wanted the wolf pups to help teach his children a valuable lesson."I brought my kids so they can learn compassion and empathy," Mondeel said.A pair of tourists from Australia had their own reasons for visiting the zoo on Wednesday. Friends Anne Grub and Janet Moore had just spent several days in Denali National Park, looking unsuccessfully for elusive wildlife. Moore said the only picture she had gotten of a wild animal during her Alaska trip was a fuzzy shot of a squirrel. She wanted more."I had the television on while I was watching the news, and I saw the program about them, and we thought it would be fun to come have a look when we got to Anchorage," Moore said.The pups were recently given new names that will follow them to the Minnesota Zoo. The wildland firefighters who found the den in late May suggested naming the pups after the crew members' home villages: Gannett, Hooper, Huslia and Stebbins. The fifth pup will be called X-Ray -- the name of the fire crew that found them.Their four public feeding times -- 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. -- not only draw in zoo visitors, they attract the zoo's staff as well."This is kind of what you live for," Alaska Zoo Executive Director Pat Lampi said. "There's a lot of hard work at zoos, long hours and a lot of not-so-fun things, and this is what everyone enjoys: taking care of orphans, seeing them thrive and becoming great ambassadors for their species."Lampi said this is the first time in the 28 years he has worked at the Alaska Zoo that orphaned wolves have been brought in. The zoo's current wolf pack -- consisting of six brothers and sisters -- was removed from its den eight years ago as part of the state's predator control program.Lampi said the pups will likely stay at the Alaska Zoo for another month or so before heading south to their new home.Contact reporter Sean Doogan at Contact videographer Tara Young at
Tara Young,Alex DeMarban

It's tough to avoid comparisons to "Field of Dreams" -- the 1989 Kevin Costner movie about a man compelled to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his corn fields -- when you’re talking about Justin Green and his passion for rugby. Green, the owner of Alaska Demolition, has used his access to heavy equipment and discarded materials to carve a full-size rugby field in Potter Valley above Anchorage that’s attracting attention around the world. The invitation-only field can take a bit of work to find, but if you're hiking above the valley southeast of Anchorage proper, it's hard to miss. “I’m still waiting for the first plane to do an emergency landing here," joked Green, 42, looking out over the expanse, which is larger than an NFL field. By chance, a small Cessna soon buzzed overhead and dipped its wings in greeting as two teams played Thursday evening..  The privately owned field is part of Green’s effort to expand the sport in Alaska with help from other rugby lovers and friends. Crowned with views of the Chugach Mountains on one side and Cook Inlet on the other, the field inspires players to drop words like "amazing" and "spectacular" to describe it. It comes complete with a clubhouse that's tied to Green's home, with locker rooms, showers, a weight lifting area, even a full bar called the "rugby pub." Rugby Magazine recently featured Green's creation on its pages, and the International Rugby Board’s "Total Rugby" TV show weighed in on its Facebook page, asking whether the field is the most beautiful in the world. They're coming up this summer to film it, Green said.The Alaska Mountain Rugby Grounds, as the facility is called, took nearly a decade to create, including two years just getting the grass to grow. Friends like Bill Tucker, namesake of the annual Mother Tucker tournament because he helped launch rugby in Anchorage decades ago, thought Green was crazy. But the inaugural scrimmage was held last summer. "This is a world-class facility," said Cam Vivian, president of the Alaska Rugby Union. "Justin drew it up on a bar napkin eight years ago. I’d come up here and I couldn’t envision it. But here it is. And look at it. Wow! Wow!"The environs, stunning as they are, may be less important to longtime players than rugby's growth spurt in Anchorage. That includes what is apparently the first organized effort to introduce rugby to youth, courtesy of Green and friends such as organizer Craig Cornichuck. More than 50 kids younger than 16 are practicing twice weekly at Goldenview Elementary in South Anchorage, coaches said, playing touch and flag games and learning to tackle properly. "It's been years since we've seen growth like this," said Vivian. One advantage to the sport, especially for youth, is that it's relatively inexpensive. The only fee for the youth program is $5 to $20 for insurance through USA Rugby, depending on a kid's age. "Parents pay hundreds of dollars for other sports," Green said. "But you know what this costs? It’s five bucks and a set of cleats."Nardus Wessels, a young coach and former all-American with Arkansas State University, was at Green's field on Thursday, helping train new recruits in Rugby 101, a new program designed to create more competition in a growing adult social league. He discovered the field on the Alaska Mountain Rugby Grounds website.On his site, Green shares life lessons he learned from the sport as a kid attending a boarding school in England, and of his dream to put rugby on the map in Alaska, where he was born and raised. Wessels was so impressed he got in touch with Green. Now, he's come up voluntarily to help build the sport in Anchorage. He brought along a batch of teammates and fellow New Zealand natives. They're helping too, and they're all living at the clubhouse while they're in Alaska this summer.​Wessels said he was most impressed by Green's efforts to get kids involved in the sport.“This is a model of how America should be promoting it around the world,”  said Wessels, 25. “Other programs elsewhere in the U.S. have burned out because there’s no flow of new people."Wessels came north because he wanted to see a new place, and "this was the most interesting thing happening around the world,” he said.Rugby is like that, players said, with clubs making long-distance trips for exotic tournaments, and locals opening their homes. "I would say we’ve expanded the rugby world, opening up a market for different teams in a wilderness setting in Alaska," Green said, adding that he's talking with international clubs about coming north to compete.  Longtime players on Thursday said they'd like to see rugby in high schools, including for girls. Rugby is the fastest-growing team sport in the nation, they say, and colleges are increasingly offering athletic scholarships.  "If we could get this in the schools it would open up new opportunities for students," said Ted Snider, 50, shortly after he had helped the Bird Creek Barbarians sneak a win past the new team, still unnamed, that consisted in part of the players from New Zealand.After the game, David Bailer and two other young Army friends said they signed up for Rugby 101 because they were looking for a tough workout. Practice started a few weeks ago, and Thursday was the first game. After 80 minutes of almost nonstop play, they were satisfied."It's a blast," Bailer said.  It's good for older guys too, said David Hall, a longtime employee of the oil industry who signed up for Rugby 101 after enlisting his two kids in the youth league. "For organized sports for a guy my age, it’s usually softball and bowling. But this is pretty awesome and the doors are open for anyone."As for Green, the sport continues to change his life. Several years ago he tried to reach his old headmaster, who is from Wales and instilled a love of the game in him. But he was told that Ian Gollop had died. Turns out that wasn't true. Last week, Gollop, now 80, contacted Green out of the blue after reading about his field online. "He found my website and he couldn't believe it," Green said. "He emailed me two days ago and I thought it was a joke. But it's not. This all happened because of that man."Watch this video on Vimeo or YouTube, or watch more 49th Estate videos on Alaska Dispatch News. Contact reporter Alex DeMarban at alex(at) Contact videographer Tara Young at tara(at)
Alaska Public Media

We Are Glacier People | INDIE ALASKA

INDIE ALASKA is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. The weekly series captures the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.Alaska has thousands of glaciers, but Matanuska Glacier is probably the most user-friendly. At 27 miles long by 4 miles wide, it is the largest glacier accessible by car in the United States.