Sunday, November 29, 2015

Walnut Tomato Pesto with Whole Wheat Spaghetti










Rachael Ray was right.  A nutty pesto fits well with the strong taste of the whole wheat pasta.  I saw her prepare a similar pesto made of pine nut and basil with of course her signature EVOO or extra virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese in her show Week in a Day.  I decided to prepare a plant based version using vegetables and nut  that I already have, namely, tomato, pepper and walnuts.  I skipped the EVOO of course in keeping with the plant based approach and the parmesan cheese.  To give that salty taste from the parmesan, I resorted to using miso paste.  Extra garlic and the green onion also helped to increase the taste volume of the pesto.  Overall, it is a refreshing flavorful pesto that pairs up with the whole wheat spaghetti.



Walnut Tomato Pesto with Whole Wheat Spaghetti

  • 1 package ( 14-16 oz) whole wheat spaghetti      
  • 1 large tomato
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 4 stalks green onions
  • 1 whole red or yellow peppers
  • 1 tbsp dry sweet basil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. 

Cut the vegetables into sizes suitable for your blender.   Place all the ingredients in the blender and pulse till the ingredients are thoroughly mixed but not too mushy.  I prefer mine to have some texture.  Pour the walnut tomato pesto over the cooked and drained spaghetti.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

One of the Things I Am Grateful For




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This poster looks selfish or full of oneself.  Aren't we supposed to give and not expect anything in return? That was what my attitude was when I started teaching kindergarten CCD (religion).  However, what happened one day in my CCD class was totally unexpected and made me so happy that I decided to make a poster to express my gratitude for being thanked for.

We were covering The Saints in our class and the only two students I have were asked to do the activity on Saint Francis of Assisi.  They were to write a poem or song to praise what God has created.  I suggested that they draw instead since they cannot write yet.  The first child in the class thanked God for Jesus and drew herself with Him.  I find this to be very deep since she could have picked something material.  

I unfortunately did not take a picture of what she drew.  I easily understood what she made since she was articulate and blurted out the description of the drawing.  She is definitely less shy than the other child in the class.   This other child was late in enrolling which explains partly her shyness at this point in the semester. For this activity, she drew three persons in that inimitable childlike way of drawing human figures (shown below).  I thought they were her family members.  




When they were going home I showed the drawing to her mom and told her that her child was grateful for her family.  I was pleasantly surprised the mom corrected my interpretation by saying that her child told her the figures in the drawing represent myself, the child herself and her classmate. I was so stunned and happy. I could not believe it. 


Even though I have some trepidation for putting together the poster shown above, I am sharing with you its message during this thanksgiving week, namely one of the things I am grateful for this year - the gift of being thanked for. Happy Thanksgiving.  Let us celebrate what the poster say.  







Sunday, November 22, 2015

Teriyaki Burger (Plant Based)






The more I eat store bought or restaurant version of vegetarian or vegan burgers, the more I feel I have to share this recipe of my Teriyaki Burger with you.  They suffer in comparison to this utterly flavorful Asian inspired burger.  It is plant based, thus was made with no oil, eggs, meat or dairy.  I would like to add there is no soy product or beans or peas used.  This recipe is highly nutritious with vegetables and whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat flour.

I got the idea for some of the ingredients from the label of store bought frozen teriyaki burgers I found at Giant Eagle which were good and convenient to have but expensive.  I paid more than 3 dollars for two of these burgers.  They were good enough and versatile enough for a sandwich or as a "meat" used in a meal.  I love eating half of a burger or a whole one with vegetables and rice for lunch or dinner and sometimes breakfast. I felt compelled to make my own version.  These burgers are pretty close if not better.  The teriyaki flavor satisfies your craving for something Japanese tasting. This is my gift to you this coming thanksgiving.  They could replace any turkey breast especially if shaped into mounds.

Teriyaki Burger (Plant Based)

6 servings (2 patties per serving)
  • 3 carrots peeled, cut finely
  • 2 celery stalks, cut finely
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  •  1/4 cup dry minced onion
  • 1 tbsp agave extract
  • 1 tbsp garlic chili paste 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl.  You can also placed them in a blender or food processor if you want them to be finer in texture.  I prefer mine to be course in texture.  Add to the mixture the rest of the ingredients and mix with a large spoon or your hand till thoroughly mixed.  Shape into 12 small patties.  Bake for 35 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve with rice and Catsup with a drop or so of sriracha.  You may eat a patty with piece of pineapple slice well drained on a bun or as your "meat" with vegetables and rice.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 107 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories
289
Calories from Fat
25
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
2.8g
4%
Trans Fat
0.0g
Cholesterol
0mg
0%
Sodium
611mg
25%
Potassium
335mg
10%
Total Carbohydrates
56.8g
19%
Dietary Fiber
4.0g
16%
Sugars
0.7g
Protein
9.0g
Vitamin A 2%Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 4%Iron 17%
Nutrition Grade B
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional Analysis

Good points

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Plant Based Whole Wheat Apple Muffins





I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, The Smitten Kitchen,  which in turn credits the King Arthur Flour for the original source.  I changed some of the ingredients in keeping with the plant based approach of eating. No eggs, dairy or oil was used.  I substituted apple sauce for the butter, banana for the egg and non dairy yogurt, milk and vinegar for the buttermilk found in the original recipe. I was very pleased with the delicious taste, moistness and soft texture of the resulting muffins even with these substitutions.






Do not be stingy with the brown sugar for the topping.  It does, as pointed out by Smitten Kitchen, give the muffins a crunchy texture and almost caramel like flavor.  The muffins are best eaten after they have sat for a couple hours for the flavor to set in.

Plant Based Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Makes 16 muffins.                                                                     

16 servings (1 muffin per serving)                

(Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen and King Arthur Flour)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup blueberry almond milk yogurt or plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup non dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vinegar 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 1/4 cup more dark brown sugar for topping
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

In a bowl mix the apple sauce, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, banana, yogurt, dairy milk and vinegar till thoroughly blended.   Add to this mixture the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix.   Add the apple and mix. 

Distribute the batter into the muffin pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  (I used an ice cream scoop).  Top the muffin with 1/4 cup more dark brown sugar.  Be generous.  

Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees and then lower the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 5 minutes more or when the tooth pick comes out clean.





Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 88 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories
136
Calories from Fat
4
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
0.4g
1%
Trans Fat
0.0g
Cholesterol
0mg
0%
Sodium
127mg
5%
Potassium
135mg
4%
Total Carbohydrates
32.0g
11%
Dietary Fiber
1.6g
6%
Sugars
17.7g
Protein
2.2g
Vitamin A 1%Vitamin C 5%
Calcium 5%Iron 5%
Nutrition Grade A
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional Analysis

Good points

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Banana Bread (Plant Based)






This plant based banana bread was described as the "world's best banana bread" by the author of the blog My Plant-Based Family.  The first time I baked this, it was so good that half of what I made was taken by my daughter back to her apartment.  She stays with us sometimes on weekends during which she "shops" in my pantry and fridge for food to take back to her place. One bite of it I presume she did while my husband and I were in church and she decided she was entitled to half of it. It is that good and moist.

The recipe I am giving you is a double batch version of the original. The one ingredient I changed in the original recipe was to substitute whole wheat flour and a scant amount of cornstarch for the whole wheat pastry flour which I did not have.  I found an online source which gave the substitute for cake flour which gives a lighter cake than all purpose flour by adding cornstarch to the latter. For every cup of cake flour asked in a recipe, you measure out one cup of all purpose flour, remove one tablespoon of it which you then replace with one tablespoon cornstarch.  I decided to do the same when I substituted whole wheat flour for whole wheat pastry flour.  I just removed one tablespoon from a cup of whole wheat flour and replace it with one tablespoon cornstarch.  I already did the math to how much whole wheat flour and cornstarch you need for the amount of whole wheat pastry flour asked for in this recipe.

The banana bread is spongy and rich in taste. The chocolate chips help mask the whole wheat taste of the batter and add sweetness and the irresistible spunk that only chocolate can add.  You may ask why a double batch. Well  it is so good you might as well make two of them. As in most plant based cakes and bread, I find it better to bake them in a Bundt pan for even cooking of the batter.  When using a loaf pan, you resort to longer baking time since the center is not yet baked resulting in the edges of the cake being over baked and dry.

Plant Based Banana Bread

(Adapted from My Plant-Based Family)
  • 2 cups unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 cup sugar or agave extract
  • 6 extra ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tbsp plant milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a bowl, add the applesauce, sugar, ripe bananas, milk and vanilla extract and thoroughly blend the ingredients with a wooden spoon.   To the mixture add the baking soda, salt, whole wheat flour and cornstarch and mix.  Add the chocolate chips.  

Place the batter in two Bundt pans (note 1) sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  

Notes:

1.  Bundt pan assures more even baking.  A loaf pan takes too long and could result in the edges of the bread being over baked.  

2.  You may add nuts if you like.  




Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Power of Self Talk

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 "Language can change the perspective a person has about many things. Turning something negative into a positive statement can do wonders to help people ‘see’ things differently".Lisa Martin, 


Our beliefs both positive and negative ones are shaped by our past experiences and what we hear from people around us starting from our childhood.  This collection of stimuli are piled in our mind which then processes them into what constitute our reaction to what we see, hear or feel.  The reaction could be fear, joy, laughter, or anger.  

Our minds usually talk in words that are not articulated aloud but they definitely are there shaping how we react to things. When I realized how important language was in changing how I view a situation, self talk or words I say to myself had been my weapon to counteract my fear and anger. When I backtrack and put the time to change the words I am saying to myself to something more positive I had often successfully change my irrational beliefs resulting in a more realistic view of seeing things and ultimately into more positive action.

I saw the power of self talk when I helped my granddaughter, Maddie, overcome her fear of the scarecrows in our yard.  She usually walks to our front door once I get her off her car seat in my car but one day she clung to me as I was putting her down beside the car.  She saw the two scarecrows in our yard and was terrified of them.  Once inside the house, I decided to apply the self talk approach on her and told her that: 1) the scarecrows were not real;   2) they would not harm her;  and  3) they were just like her dollies (in fact she started calling them dollies for awhile).  She adorably repeated these three affirmations to herself the whole day that was so heartwarming and cute.  It took the whole day for the statements to sink in but they did.  During the last trip to the car that day, I saw her triumphantly overcome her fear and walk out of the front door to the car while repeating to herself those three sentences. I was so, so proud of her.

Here are pictures of Maddie saying hello to the scarecrows days later.  






Next time I see dogs, which I have a fear of, in our neighborhood or elsewhere, I will try using self talk.  People had been always commenting to me that they will not bite or harm me but the thing is I just hear these assurances from them not from myself.  Perhaps I should do what Maddie did and repeatedly say them to myself.  We shall see.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana (Original and Plant Based Versions)

       


Plant based Zuppa Toscana

Original version of Zuppa Toscana
         


Now that I have embraced the plant based way of eating I still have a husband to feed who is a carnivore. Thanks to the convenience of having two slow cookers I can prepare two versions of the same dish to suit our different eating styles.  That was what I did when I had a craving for Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana, one of my favorite soups at this Italian restaurant.

The original version is hearty and full of flavor.  I particularly like the combination of the spiciness of the sausage as you savor the soup with the pillowy texture of the potato and the woodsy quality of the kale.  Amazing blend of texture and taste hits your tastebuds and warms your hearts as you eat this soup.

For the plant based version, I decided to substitute cannellini beans for the sausage and added fennel seeds and cayenne pepper to mimic the spiciness that you savor as you chew on the sausage in the original version.This approach worked for me and kept me from the temptation to dive into the carnivore version.  It is good enough to serve a carnivore like my husband at another time when he is not comparing it with the original in front of him.


Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana (Original Version)



  • 1 lb Italian hot sausage, casing removed if any and cut into small pieces
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups kale, stem removed and cut into one inch strips
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup cream or milk
Saute the sausage to render the fat in a pan or in the slow cooker bowl if it has a saute setting.  Discard the fat.  Place the rendered sausage and the other ingredients except the milk in the slow cooker.  Cook for 3 hours at high setting or 6 hours at low setting.  I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting. During the last five minutes of cooking add the milk and stir.



Slow Cooker Plant Based Zuppa Toscana


  • 1 (14 oz) can cannellini beans
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups kale, stem removed, chopped
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dry minced onions
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup non dairy milk
Combine all the ingredients except the mlk in the slow cooker.  Cook for 3 hours at high setting and 6 hours at low setting.  I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.  During the last five minutes of cooking add the milk and stir.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Eyes Are the Windows to Another Person's Soul


The eyes are the window of the soul is a popular English proverb.  It emphasizes more the individual's own soul rather than the other person's.  Two particular stories might help illustrate why I changed the focus of this saying in the poster above.

When there was no internet or social media to while my time in the seventies, I love reading the Reader's Digest almost from cover to cover.  Nowadays I barely read this iconic magazine or any magazines for that matter since I am preoccupied  with playing games and reading blogs and other websites in my Kindle.   One particular very short story from this magazine stands out in my memory.

The story was told by a man who used to be in an insane asylum.  One day an intruder came by and they bumped into each other.The intruder stopped and looked at his face and just surprisingly quickly fled the asylum. The guy in the asylum made a conjecture in his story that this intruder was shocked that he, the "crazy" person, was human after all when they came face to face.  

The second story I want to share is more poignant.  During a sharing session in a meeting I have attended one of the members in the group told the story of his conversion from his dope addiction.  It happened one night as he was totally out of it all in the sofa.  When he woke up, he saw his two sons' eyes staring forlornly at him as they stood in front of him.  Their sad eyes asked the question that changed his life:  "Are we not enough?".

Nothing can compare to seeing the soul of another person when one looks into his or her eyes.  One sees the humanity and the divinity of the person's being at the same time.  He or she ceases to become an object or an abstraction. Perhaps this can explain why in many movie battle scenes they show the soldier's reluctance to shoot as he point his gun to an enemy looking at him with his pleading eyes.  We have seen in most cases a change of mind but unfortunately not in every case and those eyes haunt him for the rest of his life.  This is one of the sad realities of war.

I take this opportunity to thank the veterans for their sacrifice for us all.




Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Jalapeno Quinoa Salad



The prepared Jalapeno Quinoa by itself is a perfect side dish.  The jalapeno, green onions and lime as well as the minced onions and garlic powder brighten the taste of quinoa.  This dish is made doubly delightful when eaten as a salad with your favorite vegetables and herbs and a good vinaigrette like the Simple Orange Vinaigrette from this blog.  With the high protein content in quinoa this is a complete meal by itself when served as a salad.   Treat yourself and have a piece or two of good whole wheat crusty bread with this delicious refreshing salad and maybe even a glass of apple cider or your favorite wine with it in front of a fireplace during one of the cold autumn evenings.

Jalapeno Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups prewashed quinoa                  
  • 2 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeno, chopped finely 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp dry minced onions
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 stalks green onions, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • Salad vegetables like red or yellow pepper, cucumber, tomato and basil leaves cut into bite sized pieces

Place all the ingredients except the salad vegetables in a rice cooker  and cook using the white rice setting. (If cooking in a pot, place all the ingredients except the salad vegetables in the pot and allow the liquid to boil and then simmer till the quinoa is done).  The rice can be eaten as a side dish at this point.  You can also cool it and serve it with vegetables of your choice and favorite dressing.  I served this with a Simple Orange Vinaigrette posted in this blog.





Simple Orange Vinaigrette






This plant based dressing is tangy and full of flavor despite having no oil or cream or nuts in it.  The incorporation of a bit of Dijon mustard complete the taste imparted by the orange juice and red wine vinegar. No fancy ingredients.  Everything straight from your fridge or cupboard.

Simple Orange Vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp each of salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder
Mix all the ingredients in a small jar and blend using a fork.  Replace the lid of the jar and shake the mixture till the contents are uniformly blended.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Wisdom from Lost Socks




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I think it was Meryl Streep who said that life is made up of metaphors. I find wisdom and comfort from familiar situations like finding my granddaughter's lost socks at the most unexpected places and at times when you least expect to find them.  Last night, Maddie was watching YouTube videos in our bed and we cozied up underneath the comforter. When she was ready to go downstairs to her Aunt B I saw she was missing one of her socks.  I was too tired to look for it. For one thing it was a formidable task since the bed was littered with books and magazines.  I just decided it would turn up. Someday.  Somewhere. Lo and behold the next morning as I jumped out of bed I saw the lost sock on the floor, right beside the bed.   It possibly got there as I tossed the comforter to one side.

For some reason, I decided to imprint this scene in my mind so that next time I feel sad or even afraid that something that I lost like the zest for what I thought was a passion for writing blog essays or the joy of traveling will never come back.  I think I was distracted by my developing plant based recipes, a new challenge for me, that I just did not have time to write reflective essays such as this.  It has been more than a month but I am happy to say that the yearning to express my thoughts are coming back.  As for taking the next trip, my body knows when the time is right. We do get tired. Having done two big trips this year zapped my energy,  As to when the wanderlust will come back I do not know but I have the metaphor of the lost sock to tide me over and look forward for that time.

As I was telling my husband about the lost sock beside my bed, he told me he found one of Maddie's tiny socks underneath the bed in the room downstairs and another one under the sofa the past few weeks.  What more evidence do I need to convince me that lost socks do turn up.

Hope you had a good weekend.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Vegan Ranch Dressing





I am now a believer in using tofu in recipes calling for cheese.  It gives this recipe the texture which I rate as just as important as taste especially when it comes to the well loved ranch dressing.  I adapted this from a recipe by Elie Krieger which uses nonfat plain yogurt.  I substituted tofu for the yogurt in this vegan version.This is so good I kept on licking the cover and the container of the blender before I did the photo shoot early in the morning.  I just grabbed my bag of baby carrots and ate them after I wiped the container with them.  This is a dead ringer for the original Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing.



Vegan Ranch Dressing


8 servings (around 2 tbsp per serving)

1/2 cup soft tofu
1/3 cup nondairy milk
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp vegan mayo
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp dry dill lemon or fresh dill

Place all the ingredients in a blender and mix till completely creamy.


Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 19 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories
12
Calories from Fat
6
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
0.6g
1%
Trans Fat
0.0g
Cholesterol
0mg
0%
Sodium
163mg
7%
Potassium
26mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates
0.7g
0%
Protein
1.1g
Vitamin A 0%Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 2%Iron 1%
Nutrition Grade A-
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional Analysis

Good points

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Majestic Alaska - Where One Can Touch the Cheeks of God




Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska.  


We took this 7 day Celebrity Alaskan cruise over the July 4th 2015 weekend.  I understand it has been 4 months since then.  I am really behind I would admit.  I am very glad I decided to publish this post with all the pictures for indeed Alaska with all its glorious sights is something to behold.  The brush with "the cheeks of God" and the "hide and seek with nature" still sent chills as I looked at the pictures and the memories they brought.  


Behind my husband Bob and me is the magnificent Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska.  This is the breathtaking view that created the beautiful quote "it is like touching the cheeks of God" when one sees it. 



Seattle 

First stop in our Alaskan cruise is the Seattle port where we took the Celebrity Cruise to Alaska.  Below are the pictures from our overnight stay at Seattle.

Seattle famous Space Needle landmark.  I took this picture from a Korean cafe located right across from this Seattle landmark.  




One of the highlights of our stay in Seattle was the Ducky Tour where we had a wonderful guide entertaining us as he showed us the sights in Seattle particularly the place where they dock houseboats  He also pointed to us some of the notable houses on the periphery of the water.  The sound of the whirling of the amphibian motor we rode as it went through the calm waters was very soothing and relaxing for me.  One of the houses we saw was the one used in the movie Sleepless in Seattle and a particular one that had three floors including an underground one.  The guide also showed us his humble one person houseboat.



















Upon the recommendation of several persons, we went to visit Pike's Place, the famous market featuring fish, fresh produce, flowers, unique eating places including the first Starbucks the picture of which is featured below.  We walked for around 30 minutes or so through hilly streets from our hotel to Pike's Place.  So when we went back to our hotel (by taxi this time) after visiting this famous market we called it a day and just collapsed in bed.





Ketchikan

After being at sea for a day, the cruise ship stopped at Ketchikan, one of my favorite places in this cruise.  It is a small but utterly charming town.  The parishioners at the Catholic Church at this town really touched our hearts. Every Sunday they voluntarily and generously pick up passengers in the cruise who want to go to Mass.  The pictures below capture our experience with them including the baptism of their newest member. We toured the land and the ocean via the ducky tour and listened to the very articulate guide with his creative puns and little stories about Ketchikan. We also ate king crabs at a restaurant with another bearded creature, the country singer.
















Juneau Tracy Arm Fjord

During dinner on the evening before the stop at Juneau, our waiter talked about sitting at the best spot in the boat during breakfast the next day to see a view of a beautiful something.  I did not know what he was talking about.  The next morning, as I was walking to breakfast, I heard the announcer reverently describing the awesome Tracy Arm Fjord that I was beholding as I traversed to the cafeteria.  While eating, I decided I had to wake up Bob, my husband lest he miss this magnificent gift from nature.
















We had an ocean view for a room and this is the scene that we saw from the window, people admiring the fjords.  We later joined the crowd to marvel the experience of "playing hide and seek with nature" as the announcer said.









Mendenhall glacier 

In the afternoon we took a tour of the Mendenhall glacier and the day ended with a salmon bake at a charming restaurant where we had the best sock eye salmon I ever had.  Sweet and succulent.  It was coated with their sweet caramel sauce.  Their blueberry cake was also unforgettable.













Yukon Tour

The next day we took the Tour of the Yukon and the Skagway train ride.  We were able to behold the vastness of Alaska as we listened to the tales of the search of gold during the Alaskan gold rush given by one of the best tour guides I ever had in my life.  We were captivated and enthralled by the details of the quest of golds including the excruciating conditions the people endured through the rough winter.  The Yukon tour ended with a bison chili lunch at a wonderful restaurant with a magnificent view and the famous Yukon hanging bridge.  Beautiful restful place.









































Skagway train tour

When we asked anybody we could ask as to what to do in our Alaskan tour, the number one answer was taking the. Skagway train tour.  With the help of a very young teen as the announcer we saw the manificent sights along the train tour.  The pictures which I took from inside the train speak for themselves why this is a must see tour.  Just awesome view of verdant greens amidst free flowing rock formations and some water interpersed with them.  Plus of course stories associated with bridges and structures.  



































The evening that day ended with a wonderful dinner and Karaoke session.













Victoria's Burchart Gardens

Last day was spent on the ship with a garden tour of  the Victoria's Burchart Gardens in the late afternoon. 












Seattle Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum.

We went back to Seattle the next morning and took a tour (finally) of the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum.