Sitka Kitch to host Seasonal Cooking class series in Winter and Spring 2018

Learn a variety of cooking techniques during the new Seasonal Cooking class series, which will be hosted by the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen in Winter and Spring 2018.

All classes in this series take place at the Sitka Kitch (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church). Two of the classes already have taken place, as we delayed the announcement of the complete series while waiting for some dates to finalize.

Here is the list of classes (click on the class title for a direct link to the online registration page, link will open when registration page is available).

  • Cooking With Hank Moore 6-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 16, In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, make blackcod, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and brown rice.
  • Spice It Up With Lexie Smith 6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 12, Make a Valentine’s Day dinner of baked coho salmon with an apricot glaze, curried butternut squash, couscous, and a marinaded salad with arugula, baby tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers and watermelon, with pistachios, limes and Greek yogurt as a topping. Lexie is the NMS chef manager at the Island Skillet at SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital.
  • Pakistani Cooking With AFS Exchange Student Shanzila Ahmed 6-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 27, Learn how to make biryani (rice, chicken and a variety of spices).
  • National Nutrition Month Healthy Cooking Demonstration5:30-7 p.m., Tuesday, March 20, Prepare healthy, nutritious snacks with SEARHC health educator Heleena Van Veen, health educator Holly Marban, registered dietitian Jessica Holland and diabetes nurse Kelly Lakin. Students also will learn creative ways to use leftovers and how to store food so it doesn’t spoil. This is a free event.
  • Herring Appreciation With Renee Trafton (Beak Restaurant) 6-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 3 (alternate date is April 10 if herring running late), Celebrate the return of herring to Sitka by making herring egg salad and sushi.
  • Naturally Clean Home Products1-3 p.m., Saturday, April 7, Videoconference with Sarah Lewis of Juneau office of UAF Cooperative Extension Service. This class will teach you how to reduce your use of harsh, chemical cleaners but still be able to do deep cleaning. Students need to bring five 32-ounce spray bottles and a 20-ounce jar with lid (or six quart canning jars to store products to take home and then transfer to spray bottles). Class fee is $20, no supply fee.
  • Starting A Cottage Foods Business1-3 p.m., Saturday, April 14, Videoconference
    with Sarah Lewis of Juneau office of UAF Cooperative Extension Service. Learn about state laws regarding home food businesses, and get ideas for businesses you might take to the Sitka Farmers Market or local trade shows. Tours of the Sitka Kitch and rental information will be available. Class fee is $10, no supply fee.
  • Puerto Rican Cooking With Nina Vizcarrondo 6-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 2, Learn how to cook sofrito with recao, empanadas or pastelon, and arroz con gandules from Nina, a former U.S. Coast Guard chef and the current Sitka Farmers Market manager.

Class space is limited, so register early. Unless noted, all Seasonal Cooking classes cost $27.50 per person, plus a food/supply fee split between the registered students. The registration deadline for Shanzila’s class is 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, and other registration deadlines are two nights before the class so instructors have time to buy supplies.

Register online at https://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ (click on class title) and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal. To pre-pay by cash or check, contact Chandler, Claire, or Clarice at 747-7509 to arrange payment. For more information about the class series, contact Jasmine at 747-9440.

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White E awards Sitka Local Foods Network grant to match SNAP/WIC produce sales

Sitka White Elephant Shop (aka, the White E) volunteer Samantha Skultka, center, presents grant checks on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, to Sitka Historical Society executive director Hal Spackman, left, and Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham. (Photo by Susan Brown)

The Sitka White Elephant Shop (aka, the White E) awarded the Sitka Local Foods Network with a $1,000 grant during its 2018 grant cycle.

The grant will be used to provide matching funds for SNAP and WIC beneficiaries who purchase produce at the Sitka Farmers Market and other events where the SLFN sells produce, such as at the Running of the Boots or at our table on Chelan Produce weeks. The Sitka Local Foods Network began providing SNAP matching dollars for the first $20 of produce purchases at the markets a few years ago when there was a state grant, but last year those grant funds ran out and we used our general fund to match the produce purchases. We also started matching the $5 WIC farmers market produce coupons last year, using our general fund. We grow most of the produce at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and our satellite gardens around town. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm is part of the USDA’s The People’s Garden program.

“Our mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans, but buying local produce can be difficult for people on food assistance programs,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “Our matching funds help get more healthy local produce into the diets of lower-income residents of Sitka. A lot of people don’t realize how much income inequality there is in Sitka, and according to the Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report released in 2014, there were 1,410 people and 766 families receiving SNAP benefits in Sitka during 2013. That’s about one out of six Sitka residents who need extra access to this healthy local produce.”

The White E made several grants during the 2018 grant cycle, but a complete list wasn’t available. The Sitka Local Foods Network thanks the White E for its support.

Scenes from the second Seasonal Cooking class: Spice It Up With Lexie Smith at the Sitka Kitch

Students learned how to make a Valentine’s Day dinner during the Spice It Up With Lexie Smith class on Monday, Feb. 12, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen. This was the second class of the Seasonal Cooking class series at the Sitka Kitch.

Lexie Smith, the NMS chef manager at the Island Skillet at SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, taught students how to make baked coho salmon with an apricot glaze, curried butternut squash, couscous, a marinated salad with arugula, tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon and cucumbers, with yogurt and limes for a garnish.

The next class in the Seasonal Cooking series is Pakistani Cooking with AFS exchange student Shanzila Ahmed, from 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the Sitka Kitch. Shanzila will teach students how to make a very famous Pakistani dish called biryani, which features rice, chicken and a lot of different spices.

Shanzila and fellow AFS exchange students Ceren Gokpinar (Turkey), Haifa Alsafadi (Jordan), and Omar Ali (Egypt) to host a free “Meet and Greet a Muslim” event with the community from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, at the Sitka Kitch. They will share some desserts and drinks with the public from their countries. (NOTE: The time, date and venue for this event will change due to a scheduling conflict, so watch for updates.)

Other classes in the Seasonal Cooking class series will be announced soon, but topics include healthy cooking for National Nutrition Month, herring appreciation, and Puerto Rican food. There also will be videoconference classes on earth-friendly cleaning products and how to start a cottage foods business.

Class space is limited, so register early. Unless noted, the Seasonal Cooking classes cost $27.50 per person, plus a food/supply fee split between the registered students. The registration deadline for Shanzila’s class is 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24.

Register online at https://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ (click on class title) and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal. To pre-pay by cash or check, contact Chandler, Claire, or Clarice at 747-7509 to arrange payment. For more information about the class series, contact Jasmine at 747-9440.

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Sitka Kitch to offer Seasonal Cooking: Spice It Up With Lexie Smith class on Feb. 12

NMS Chef Manager Lexie Smith holds deer hind quarters before preparing them for Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital patients as part of the hospital’s new traditional food options

Lexie Smith, the NMS chef manager at the Island Skillet at SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, will teach the second class in the Sitka Kitch‘s new class series, Seasonal Cooking, from 6-8:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 12, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen. The class is called Spice It Up With Lexie Smith.

Lexie and her students will cook a Valentine’s Day dinner of baked salmon, curried butternut squash, cous cous, marinated tomatoes and cucumbers, with yogurt.

Other classes in the Seasonal Cooking class series will be announced soon, but topics include Pakistani cooking, healthy nutrition cooking, herring appreciation, canning beans and salsa, and Puerto Rican food. There also will be a class on earth-friendly cleaning products.

Class space is limited, so register early. This class costs $27.50 per person, plus a food/supply fee split between the registered students. The registration deadline is 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Register online at https://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ (click on class title) and pre-pay using credit/debit cards or PayPal. To pre-pay by cash or check, contact Chandler, Claire, or Clarice at 747-7509 to arrange payment. For more information about the class series, contact Jasmine at 747-9440.

Check out the February 2018 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the February 2018 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter has short articles about our new Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest, a request for volunteer gardening instructors this spring, a reminder about the Pick.Click.Give. donation program, information about our sponsorship program, and an invitation to join our board of directors. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the newsletter image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will protect your privacy by not sharing our email list with others. Don’t forget to like us on Facebooklike our new Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Sitka Local Foods Network launches Sitka food business innovation contest

A sampling of current food products grown, manufactured or processed in Sitka

Do you think you have a great idea for a food business or product from Sitka? The Sitka Local Foods Network is launching the inaugural Sitka food business innovation contest in an effort to spark local food entrepreneurs so we can make more local food available to residents and visitors.

This contest will provide two $1,500 kicker prizes — one for established food businesses and one for start-up businesses (no older than two years) — to help entrepreneurs launch or expand their food businesses. The contest is open to food businesses and individuals making and selling food products in Sitka, Alaska. All food business ideas must be geared toward getting more locally grown, harvested and/or produced food into the Sitka marketplace through sales in grocery stores, the Sitka Food Co-Op, the Sitka Farmers Market, restaurants, or individual marketing (such as a community supported agriculture/CSA or community supported fisheries/CSF program).

“The Sitka Local Foods Network’s mission is to get more locally harvested and produced food into the diets of Southeast Alaskans,” said Charles Bingham, Sitka Local Foods Network board president. “For the past decade we’ve offered a entrepreneurs a chance to sell their produce, bread and fish at the Sitka Farmers Market, grown produce to sell at the market through St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, and provided a garden education program to residents. We think this contest is the next step toward getting more local food into the Sitka marketplace.”

Participants in this contest are eligible and encouraged to enter other food business innovation contests, such as the Path To Prosperity or Symphony of Seafood contests. All participants retain the proprietary rights to their products and ideas. This contest is open to new and existing food businesses in Sitka. Student businesses (such as those fostered by Junior Achievement or similar programs) are welcome.

There is a small $25 entry fee for this contest. All participants (business and individual) must complete and submit our contest entry form by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 6, 2018 (by snail mail so it arrives before the deadline to Sitka Local Foods Network, Food Business Innovation Contest Entries, 408-D Marine Street, Sitka, Alaska, 99835, or by email with the Subject Line of “Food Business Innovation Contest Entries” to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com). Submitting a business plan (up to 20 pages) is recommended, but not required.

Our entry form will have room for you to describe your food business idea in a few paragraphs, but submitting a business plan will give you more room to outline your plans for funding and marketing the idea and will help your overall score. Judging will be based on how your food business idea provides new local food options in Sitka, how novel is your food business idea, how feasible is your food business (can it make a profit and be sustainable), and how professional is your presentation. At some time about the third week of April, the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a pitch presentation where judges will interview the contest entrants and try samples of the food products. Our judging panel will score your presentation and entry form based on how your idea has a measurable impact on providing local food in Sitka (25%), has the potential for commercialization (25%), provides new employment in Sitka (25%) and fills a need in the Sitka marketplace (25%).

If we find additional sponsors, we may add additional prizes and categories (such as fish or farm). Depending on the number of entries and interest of the participants, we may host a reception where contestants can demonstrate their products to Sitka residents. If the reception happens, there will be a chance for people to vote on their favorite products with the winner receiving the People’s Choice Award (this will be separate than the two main prizes selected by our judging panel). We are hoping to find a sponsor for the People’s Choice Award.

• Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest Entry Form 2018

Sitka Local Foods Network seeks volunteer instructors for spring garden education classes

Are you an experienced Sitka gardener who wants to share your knowledge with the community? The Sitka Local Foods Network is looking for a few volunteer instructors to teach garden education classes this spring.

Classes typically last about 1 1/2 to two hours, and they can cover a variety of Sitka garden topics. In past years we’ve had people teach classes such as Sitka Gardening 101, How to Extend Your Garden Season, How to Grow Potatoes, How to Grow Rhubarb, How to Grow Fruit Trees, How to Grow Garlic (this class was in the fall), How to Raise Chickens, How to Container Garden, How to Compost, and more. Last year we even had a class on Cottage Food Business Basics (with the help of the Juneau office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service) to help vendors prepare for the Sitka Farmers Markets.

Most of the classes tend to be low-key, and the class sizes have ranged from 2-35 depending on the topic. Some classes have been hands-on (with students planting starts in trays), while others have been lectures or group conversations. It depends on the instructor and class. A few classes have been taught at people’s home gardens, but we also have hosted others at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (Thursday nights work best for this venue). Most of our classes are offered for free, except for a couple that had a small supply fee. If you need help preparing a lesson plan, the UAF Cooperative Extension Service provides a variety of free and low-cost publications on Alaska gardening topics that can be downloaded from the Publications part of its website.

If you are available to teach a course or two, please contact Charles Bingham at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com so we can build a schedule.