Though there is a nip in the air, the trees are donning shades of gold, and shelves of picnic supplies are being replaced by Thanksgiving necessities, it's not too late to do some outdoor cooking.

For example, we recently made the most of the giant outdoor tent that was still up at the store

and created a mini lunch-time slider grilling station to celebrate a coworkers birthday.

Sure the burgers were bite-size, but the flavors were spectacular!

We prepared herbed mayonnaise, spiced ketchup, sliced veggies, grilled onions, pickles, & gourmet cheese and then let the guests design their own flavor combinations.

The results were dazzling to look at, and delicious to bite, even if it was just once or twice!

AS for your own outdoor cooking adventures, here's our list of must-have tools for late season grilling:

The iGrill Wireless Thermometer: Don't let the weather stop you- this new smart thermometer uses an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch- just like everyone else- to keep you up to date on the progress of whatever you've got grilling- which kicks it up to 'Smarty Pants' Thermometer in our opinion. With the free app you can stay cozy and warm inside (up to 200 feet) and your device will alert you when your food has reached it's target temperature.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEFntbudC6k?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

The Emile Henry Grilling/Baking Stone: Turns your grill grate into a flat surface perfect for grilling vegetables or pizzas. Check out this amazing video to see just how versatile it really is...

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDwdQDfC4eA?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

The Nordic Ware Cheese Dome: Pair this with the Grilling Stone and expect more of your dairy products while not compromising the doneness of your food items.

Viking BBQ Sauce: Trust us- it has all the right stuff to amp up your grilled flavors. Great on just about anything... Ribs, pulled pork, BBQ pizza, roasted chicken, hamburgers, turkey burgers, veggie burgers, moose burgers- hey, it is Alaska hunting season after all.

And the best part about all these tools is that they can be used indoors as well, so there's no need to pack up and store them away for the winter- so get grillin' while the grillin's good!

Admission. When a friend of mine recently suggested that I could benefit from watching a documentary she had seen, the title made me wonder whether she was pulling my leg - or putting me down. It's called 'Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead'- and if you haven't seen it, you should (don't take it personal).  All programs, products and people aside, it will- at very least- open your eyes to the world of juicing...

Let's just say that the scene where the Micro-nutrients save the day by busting up the evil Toxins and shining up the Cells until they sparkled and smiled with little *blings* and tiny shouts of joy, was enough to propel me out of bed the following morning so that I too could be a juicer!

Now this isn't just any plop-from-the-concentrate-can kind of juice; no, Sir, we're talking straight from the veg-home-squeezed-nutrient-rich, frothingly fresh JUICE. (WHAAAAAAAAH)

But something that potent can't just be coaxed from a carrot with a reamer. It takes muscle to get to all that goodness. Enter the OMEGA VRT330!

A literal juicing powerhouse masticating machine that gobbles up your fresh produce and spits it out; pulp goes one way, juice, vitamins and micro-nutrients go the other.

Sure, I've had fresh juice before. My first juicer was actually a ten ton (not really, just very sturdy, with reason) - big mouthed - centrifugal juice extractor.

Basically it has a huge plate with sharp teeth which revs up with jet engine spinning speed and flings the chomped up fruit and veggies against a screen that forces the juices to shoot out down a tube to your glass- phew!

It works great for small batches, but once the cavity is full, you have to stop the machine, empty it out and carry on. Plus, a lot of juice is left in the shreds of the fruits and vegetables, and the softer the fruit, the more moosh and mess.

A masticating juicer, on the other hand, has an auger that presses the fruits and veggies against a fine screen, squeezing the maximum amount of juice from the food at a slow rate, allowing the good stuff to stay together in a thick yummy liquid.

You will notice the label on the first picture with two juice glasses, one frothy and thick, the other separated- that's the difference slow juicing makes.

While this looks like separation, it's actually the layers of flavors. This recipe combines fruit and vegetables, adding nutrients from the greens, and blending them with the sweetness of carrot and apple juice. Yum!

Now remember, I'm no expert. My experience is more like 'experimence' and as far as the nutritional value, well all I know is that it just feels good and somewhere deep inside I can hear my tiny cells cheering little hoooorahs. So here are some tips and random learned bits, just in case your just embarking on your own juice journey...

SUGGESTIONS:

Consider flavor combinations before you start- just randomly adding any and all produce from the fridge can be disastrous: onion-kale-tomato-beet-cabbage juice is not as savory and delicious as I had expected, but did add a nice flavor to a noodley soup dish....

Set up your juicing station before you start. Having a cutting board, knife, juice catcher, spill wiper and all the parts to your juicer ready to go will allow you to continuously feed the fruits in to the juicer with out stops and starts. Don't underestimate the Pusher, he's the MVP of this process and the only one- besides the food- that should be going down that feeder chute- so keep him on your side if you want to keep all your fingers.

Juice in order of hardness: soft foods first, with more dense or crisp to follow so that the the second can press the first through. Same goes for greens. Since they tend to be thin and light, they sometimes get caught up in the feeder chute and mouth of the juicer, so a good solid carrot or apple can help them down into the auger. Also, if you are doing a stringy fruit or vegetable (like celery, pineapple or ginger) save it for the second to last. The fibers tend to back up the ejector, so if you send it through with a nice dense item chasing it, you shouldn't get backed up.

Fruits with higher water content can be sent through more than once to maximize juice extraction. This would include things like melon, citrus, etc. Just catch the pulp as it comes out the ejector and drop it back in the top feeder. You can feel in the pulp when it gets to the 'dry', juice-less stage.

If you are adding citrus, remove the peel first. It will come out of the machine fine, but can add bitterness to the juice. Small wedges of lemon, lime or grapefruit can add just enough zing to any combination and ginger brings a good kick to just about everything!

Don't try juicing bananas... nor avocados. If you need the flavor or texture, juice the other items and blend them together in a blender. Or, if you have an immersion blender, use its beeker to catch your juice, then blend in soft items with the stick to avoid the extra heat a blender may create.

Ponder the usefulness of all that beautiful pulp. Depending on your flavor combo- you can save it to add texture to muffins, heartiness to soups or color to your compost pile!

1

Chef Amanda took her flavors on the road to make a live-in-person appearance at the Saturday Farmer's Market , serving up delicious bites made with 'just picked' ingredients from the surrounding vendors. This weekend you can see her for yourself at the 15th and Cordova market where she'll be sampling her tasty omelets, grilled pizzas (featuring Alaska Flour Company's barley), and irresistibly fresh salads. Or, if you can't make it out, try her recipes for yourself at home! Thanks Amanda!

Barley Pizza Dough

Adapted from the Viking Cooking School Pizza Workshop

1 (¼-ounce) envelope active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

¼ cup warm water 105 to 110 degrees

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

2 ¼  cups all purpose flour (plus extra, as needed)

¾  cup Alaska Flour Company barley flour

1 cup room temperature water

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling the dough

1.  To make the dough: stir together the yeast, sugar, and warm water.  Let stand until the mixture becomes creamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.

2.  Combine the salt with the flours in the work bowl of a food processor.  Pulse to evenly mix the dry ingredients.

3.  Combine the yeast mixture, room temperature water and olive oil in a measuring cup with a pouring spout.  With the food processor running, slowly add the liquid through the feed tube; continue to process until the dough forms a satiny ball that clears the sides of the work bowl, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes. (Note: If after 1 minute the dough is sticky and clings to the blade, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and process until the dough forms a ball.

4.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand with a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball.  Place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap or a slightly damp towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.  (Note: This recipe may also be made in an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.)

5.  Punch the dough down and transfer to a lightly floured board or silicone mat, then knead briefly by hand.  Divide the dough in to 2 equal portions for 12 to 16-inch pizzas or 4 equal portions for 8-inch pieces.  Shape each portion into a tight ball/  Brush each very lightly with oil, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight. (Important Note: Bring the dough to room temperature before shaping, topping, and baking the crust.)

6.  To grill pizza, allow gravity to stretch the dough into a round shape (hold in front of you and let it gently stretch, switching directions until done).  Coat both sides with olive oil and place on a hot grill.  After about 3 minutes, the dough will appear to be cooking and bubbly.  Flip it over and add toppings, taking care to not add too many.  All toppings need to be pre-cooked and grated.

Toppings included sautéed oyster and shitake mushrooms, caramelized onions and bacon, basil oil, and beet greens.

Asian Green Salad with Tofu and Sprouted Adzukis

Dressing:

1          Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2          limes, zested and juiced

1          Tablespoon rice vinegar

¼         teaspoon red pepper flakes

1          teaspoon birch syrup

Mix all together, taste, adjust seasoning as needed.

Tofu:

1 ½     teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1          12-ounce package Alaska Sprouts firm tofu

Heat a pan  up over medium-high heat.  Cut the tofu into ½-inch cubes and blot with paper towels.  When the pan is hot, add the oil and heat through quickly.  Add the tofu cubes and sauté, coating all sides with the oil and getting even browning.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Salad:

1          bunch green onions, sliced thinly on the bias

1          bunch radishes, thinly sliced

2          carrots, julienned

Mustard greens, washed and crisped and torn into bite-size pieces

1          container sprouted beans from Alaska Sprouts

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss. Serve on chilled plates and garnish with edible flowers.

Magpie Sue’s Potato Salad

This is very unconventionally prepared, so feel free to adjust the preparation to fit your lifestyle.

Vegetables

3          pounds Yukon Gold or similar potato, medium dice

1          bunch golden beets, medium dice

2          white onions, small dice

1          bunch Swiss chard, stripped from stalk and roughly chopped

Assorted other vegetables

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

In a Dutch oven or in foil packets on a grill, cook potatoes and beets with oil, salt, and pepper until tender.  Remove and spread out on a baking sheet to cool.  Wilt the Swiss chard in a pan over medium heat.

Spring Pesto

I use a Vitamix for this, but a blender or food processor will also work

Green parts of the onions

½ bunch fresh dill

½ bunch fresh cilantro

½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 small container of plain yogurt (Greek or otherwise) I use homemade

½ bunch of cress

3 cloves garlic, peeled, or garlic scapes

salt and pepper

Water as needed

Combine all in the smoothie setting of the Vitamix and add water if needed.

NOW, you are ready to toss the vegetables with the pesto dressing.  I enjoy serving this salad on a toasted baguette slice like a bruschetta topping.

Kyle D has been at it again. He's got the bug- the thrill of seeing your own recipe glistening behind glass- knowing that you've made something today to enjoy later. That someday in the not too distant future you will hear that pop and rushing hiss of a well sealed jar. Not at all like a leftover, rather a flavor captured in time. Not something reluctantly tolerated, even dreaded until it's gone, but looked forward to, put away for a special occasion.

This time it's pickles. And not just one flavor. You can't imagine the excitement a shipment of pickling spices from Fire and Flavor caused. We had the photos promptly the very next day.

Some SWEET.

Some DILL.

So we decided to make some for ourselves, but we wanted all the glory NOW, so fridge pickles were the logical choice.

Using a food processor, simply slice the cucumber, as well as any other pickle-ie add-ins you may wish. We chose onions and green bell peppers.

To boiling vinegar, add your desired spice blend. Sweet tends to have sugar and spices like turmeric, cloves and celery seed-

while dill typically includes garlic, peppercorns or red pepper flakes, salt and of course dill seed and sprigs of dill weed. Either benefit from a spoonful of mustard seed.

The best part about the prepackaged spice bundles is that there is no need for a recipe, no combo guess work. The package tells you everything you will need, and provides the dry ingredients all in one place. We mixed up a nice bread and butter blend.

Fill your jar about 3/4 with cucumber mix and pour hot liquid over. Just clamp down the lid, chill overnight, et voilá! you have pickles!

The food processor slice is thinner than your typical pickle, but makes for a nice spread once the pickles are ready to eat. These lovely delicate pickles are delicious by themselves on a cracker, but would be just as nice as a flavor companion to your favorite sandwich.

We've been cake pop central around here!

It started with the arrival of the new Nordic Ware Cake Pops pan sample. We have been wondering how it would compare to the traditional method, and were pleasantly surprised- especially by the color!

There are the obvious differences between the traditional and pan formed balls. The density and texture of the cake center is significantly different since there is no need to mix the cake with any binding frosting or cream cheese, it simply cooks the cake in single serve ball shaped portions- you just stick and dip. It does make just 12 at a time, however, so some of the time saved shaping the balls goes in to waiting for the next batch.

There is a delicate balance between just enough batter, and too much: overfilling leaves you with a Saturn looking ball and causes a lava flow out the top vent hole while underfilling leaves a flat side where the batter doesn't fill the sphere. A small portion scoop helps regulate the batter distribution.

Another tip is to use plenty of cooking spray. Don't forget to spray the top pan too! We used a brownie mix to make our pops, so they were nice and dense and had a good crust to grab on to the pop stick, but make sure to let them cool thoroughly before trying to dip. It is also helpful to dip the stick in some chocolate first, then press it into the ball and allow that to set before doing the full dunk. This makes the connecting point stronger. If the pop is loose you'll lose it in the chocolate, and if it's not cooled or under cooked the stick may poke through the top if you are drying them upright. Setting the pops on their head to dry works well to support a dense or large ball, but means you have to serve them stick side up because it creates a flat spot on the ball. One work around is to serve with no stick in a pretty candy or cupcake paper.

Styrofoam pieces work well to support pops while they dry- or if you happen to have a pan of rice crispy treats around- they work great as well! It's helpful to freeze hand rolled balls before dipping, but you have to work fast if you're adding decorations- like sprinkles, coconut, mini chips, etc.

For me, the decorating is the best part because it allows so many combos, like white chocolate with chocolate cake, milk chocolate with funfetti and sprinkles, white chocolate with dark drizzles, even a few with sugar and salt crystal sprinkles. Near the end when the stick to ball ratio was skewed we combined several balls into large discs and filled them with Nutella, pinched them back into a ball and dipped them in white chocolate and coconut! My favorite was chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, dark chocolate coating with a finishing salt sprinkle.

Less hand mess, fewer steps, universal size. Did have to wipe out pan after each batch, may have been brownie mix. Higher yeild, more flexibility in flavor, size and shape varies, texture more like a chocolate bon bon than cake.

Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Pan Pops:

+ Pan results in less hand mess, has fewer steps per batch and produces uniform size.

- Pan needs to be wiped after each batch (atleast with brownie batter), multiple batch waiting time, less dense ball may cause stick to poke through.

+ Traditional method has a higher yield, allows more flexibility in flavor, size, and shape varieties. The texture is more like a Bon Bon filling.

- Multiple steps (bake, mix, roll, freeze, dip, decorate), mess! lots of hands on, size and shape change a lot from pop to pop, density can create a problem with the ball staying on a stick- if you have lots of 'drop offs'- try a smaller sphere.

Our demo guru has been showing off her skill with bread dough. Over the course of several weeks we've seen her make:

An Artisan Loaf (on an Emile Henry Pizza Stone),

Dinner Hot Rolls (on a Chicago Metallic sheet pan, with a Silpat mat),

Pull-Apart Monkey Bread (in an Emile Henry loaf pan)

Brioche Fruit Cups with Almond Creme (in a Chicago Metallic mini muffin pan)

Braided Spinach & Cheese Bake (also on the pizza stone)

Brioche Loaf with Almond Paste Swirl (loaf pan),

Cinnamon Rolls (in a non-stick Chicago Metallic baking pan),

and- of course- PIZZA (on the pizza stone)!

And she did it all with the same basic recipe. All this is possible thanks to the folks of 'Bread in Five'. In there three books, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (2007), Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day (2009), and Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day (2011), Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe François  share recipes that allow you to use 'homemade stored dough, mixed and refrigerated for up to two weeks.'

We got particularly excited when we saw this video they produced- which features not only their bread, but watch for that very versatile pizza stone by Emile Henry!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYHQ4g9dBLU?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Don't they all look like they are having the best time making that pizza?! And we can all vouch for the taste and texture- no matter how you shape, flavor, or bake it!