Teacher on the Trail: Food Blogger

Peace on Earth Pizza in Unalakleet (Photo Credit: Terrie Hanke)

One of the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons I shared with students before I left for Alaska focused on FLEXIBILITY.  Sometimes we have to be able to adapt to changes and open our mind to other possibilities. Unexpected changes happen, and it takes some practice to roll with the unknown.  I have been flexible about where (which checkpoint) and where (in the very crowded room) I am sleeping. I have been flexible about when I get on the plane, where that plane is going, and who I’m riding with (yesterday it was Monroe, a beautiful dog from Richie Diehl’s team). I also knew that I would need to be very flexible when it came to food. I expected this to be challenging, but it’s been a wonderful surprise to be offered an abundance of delicious meals. Oh, I’ve had to be flexible about what I eat – because I want to eat it ALL! Here is a sampling of my Iditarod Trail Food Blog….

Top of the Kuskokwim School in Nikolai – 9 Students and 2 Teachers. Photo Credit: Terrie Hanke

Nikolai: The school staff concocted delightful dishes for the volunteers. We chose from a selection of chicken n’ dumplings, moose chili, or mac n’ cheese with reindeer sausage! A difficult decision, but I went with the macaroni! The next morning I enjoyed a bacon breakfast burrito before leaving town.

Roadhouse in McGrath. Home of good eats! Photo Credit: J. Westrich

McGrath: Three square meals a day! The Roadhouse provided a bounty of food – pancakes and bacon at breakfast, soup and sandwiches at lunch, macaroni and ribs for dinner! Just when I thought I couldn’t fit another bite out came the carrot cake, and I somehow made room for dessert. 

Anvik: Finally, what I’d been waiting for – TRAIL FOOD! I munched some cheez-its and chex mix, but the Vets cooked up hotdogs and veggies for dinner. Fluffy pancakes for breakfast were followed by homemade chili that Caitlyn, the COMMS volunteer, froze and brought from home! This checkpoint was a wonder of culinary delights.

A box of “trail food” waiting to be enjoyed! Photo Credit: J. Westrich

Afternoon snack: Tang and a brownie (courtesy of Jennifer LaBar’s drop bag) Photo Credit: J. Westrich

Kaltag: Okay, now it gets real. Due to some logistic issues Kaltag had little in the way of supplies so this intrepid food blogger went shopping at the local grocery with the COMMS volunteers. Watching creative cooks develop meals with limited supplies and on a budget was impressive!  Bean soup with ham, breakfast casserole, and hamburger helper topped the menu. I finished up lunch with a walnut brownie courtesy of Jennifer LaBar’s drop bag.

The Greek pizza at Peace on Earth! Photo Credit: J. Westrich

Local delights in Unalakleet – sourdough pancakes, moose sausage, bacon & eggs, and herring on kelp! Photo Credit: J. Westrich

Unalakleet: The dining experience I’d been waiting for! Pizza at Peace on Earth was everything I hoped it would be. I split a Greek pie with Iditarod photographer Dave Poyzer, but before I leave town I know I’ll get to try just about every option on the menu. Breakfast at the checkpoint is an honored tradition – sourdough pancakes – paired with my first taste of moose sausage. Really stretching out of my comfort zone I sampled herring roe on kelp and caribou stir-fry! Later today I’ll enjoy a spaghetti dinner cooked up by the famous Unalakleet checkpoint “Queens of the Kitchen” Reb and Wanda!

I’m not sure what the rest of the Trail will bring in the way of culinary delights, but I’m open to possibilities, ready to pile on my plate, and dig in!