Sleeping in this morning was difficult—something about the combination of sunrise around 4:00 a.m., several days of departing at the crack of dawn, and heavy rain pelting the deck had us up long before we should have awoken.
Later in the morning, Ralph on Rubicon called on the VHF to let everyone know there was a brown bear on shore. The first brown bear of the trip! We enjoyed watching it forage under rocks for a while. It was a very nice welcome to Alaska.
Kevin put crab traps out and stopped by Bonito to see if John and/or LuAnne wanted a closer look at the bear, and John took him up on the offer.
We all gathered at about 11am (when there was a bit of a break in the precip) for a bit of dinghy exploring. There are some very fun rapids up Very Inlet! We were near low tide, so we figured we’d get to see some action as we approached the narrowest points, and we were right.
Here are a couple short videos of our dinghy excursion to the rapids:
We gathered on Bonito for happy hour/dinner: clam chowder, sautéed chard, veggies and dip, fresh bread, deviled eggs, and little Dove bars and cookies for dessert. We’re posting our favorite clam chowder recipe below. (And if you’re making this for vegetarians and non-vegetarians, just make it in two pots with the bacon and clams in one but not the other. Makes a nice veggie/potato chowder!)
Laura’s Clam Chowder
4 slices thick sliced smoked bacon, diced
¼ cup unsalted butter
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 large shallots, diced
1 cup (or more) celery, diced
1 cup (or more) carrot, diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh oregano
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken stock or clam juice
6 (6.5-ounce) cans chopped clams, juices reserved
2 small/medium potatoes (baby potatoes, fingerling, whatever you have works fine), diced (or leave out potatoes and add more veggies)
1 cup half and half (or milk…chowder will be slightly thinner)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. I leave the bacon in the pan, with some or all of the bacon grease, depending on how much it is. Ideally it’s less than 2 Tbsp.
Add butter to the stockpot and when melted, add garlic, shallot, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until shallots have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in thyme and oregano until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, vegetable or chicken stock or clam juice, additionally clam juice from canned clams, and cook while whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in potatoes now if using.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 12-15 minutes. (If not using potatoes, I still simmer for about 15 minutes.)
Stir in half and half or more milk and clams until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half or milk (or broth) as needed until desired consistency is reached.
Serving suggestion: Serve with fresh sourdough or french bread for dipping, a salad, and a crisp white wine.