I love this time of year for all its merriment and excitement but I also delight in the start of a new year. The time to reflect on the gifts of a year nearly passed, to attempt to decipher lessons learned and use those to anticipate what you’ll discover and dream for in the coming year. As I’ve gotten older I have been less quick to jump to the goal making in order to take adequate time to feel gratitude and pride for the year nearly passed.

This year, hands down, the thing that has given me more delight, pride and excitement has been our outdoor cooking and adventure project, Kitchen Unnecessary. We just celebrated our one year mark, launched our 4th and 5th episodes and was gifted the award for Best Food Video from Saveur Magazine. It’s been a great year.

This past September our team traveled to the remote town of Cordova, Alaska. I’ve yet to find the words adequate in their expression of what this trip has meant. I always hate that copout but I assure you I’m trying. Watch the series and I think you’ll understand why.

I also wanted to share more images from the trip. All of the photos were captured by my husband, Gabe. 


The first day we went fly fishing with Nelly and Michael Hand from Drifters Fish. My form was less than ideal and we ended up not even getting a nibble but lucky for us Nelly packed the cooler with fish they caught on their boat so we didn’t starve. Note to self: always bring back up fish if you want to be sure to eat lunch.

Also, notice how sunny it is in Alaska. We’re told it’s not always like that but I think they are lying. You guys, I’m barefoot on the beach in Alaska and loving every minute of it.


The second day we went into the woods with Raven Madison, our local expert and guide. We found Nagoonberries, low and high bush cranberries and a few late summer blueberries. We also scaled a mountain for Chicken of the Woods mushrooms and found ourselves in the middle of a moose hunt.

Because I just had to get close to the salmon we went on Nelly and Michael’s boat to see their catch. And then it was off to the feast.


Moose Meatballs with Low Bush Cranberry Sauce and Smoked Cabbage

Alder Smoked Cured Salmon Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Smoked Corn and Whipped Shallot Cream

BBQ Chicken of the Woods Mushroom Pizza

Grilled Salmon and Wild Mushrooms

Grilled Salmon with Preserved Lemon Herb Sauce

Wild Rice Pudding with Nagooneberry Sauce


For all the recipes head to

Wild Rice Pudding with Nagooneberry Sauce

I grew up never knowing what “rice pudding” was. In our family it was called “milk rice” and we served it for dinner. Now I know and still sometimes it’s dinner. Here it is the perfect end to our wild feast.

In this version we use wild rice in place of white rice and gently simmer the sweet creamy rice over a low flame and serve with a simple sauce of Nagooneberry. It’s warming, satisfying and so simple to make.

Substitute blackberries, marionberries, strawberries or raspberries for the Nagooneberries.


2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2  cups wild rice


½ cup brown sugar

3 cups milk

1 cup cream

1 vanilla bean, split

1 cinnamon stick

1 ½ cups Nagooneberries

¼ cup sugar


Set a small dutch oven or stock pot on a grill grate set over coals or low flame. Add butter to the pot and melt. Stir in the rice and sauté until completely coated in the butter and it smells lightly toasted. Add a hefty pinch of salt.

Carefully stir in the sugar, milk, cream, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer then cover. Gently simmer until the rice is tender and the pudding has thickened, about 1 hour.

In a small skillet add the Nagooneberries, sugar and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer over low flame and cook until the sugar dissolves and the sauce thickens just slightly, about 10 minutes.

Serve over the rice pudding.

Thanks for supporting our adventures this year. We can not wait to bring you more in 2019.


Special thanks to our partners who made the Alaska Series possible:


Barebones Living

Alaska Airlines


We are so honored to work with some of the best companies around. These adventures would not be possible without them. They are wonderful supporters of our crazy dreams and wild adventures.






6 Responses to “Kitchen Unnecessary: The Alaska Series”

  1. Andrea

    Hi, I would love your Alaska recipe for the Salmon with preserved lemon sauce. I went to the link you attached, but was unable to find the recipe. Please help!

    Thank you and have a lovely day!


  2. Sabrina

    wow, what a wonderful place, thank you for sharing all of this, congratulations on your Saveur award too, that’s really impressive

  3. Sara R Mcphee

    I want to print the recipes but I’m having a problem link the link above.

  4. Annette Barnes

    Wow… Unfortunately, I’ve never been to Alaska, but I always read posts about this wonderful place with great interest. Thank you for this post and for your recipe of wild rice pudding! I will definitely make it in the nearest future and will tell you about the results!

    Merry Christmas, Ashley! I wish you all the best!