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Archive for July, 2012

TABLE OF THE DAY: Sitka Local Foods Network intern Christine Devlin, far left, and Sitka Local Foods Network board member Cathy Lieser present the Table of the Day Award to Mama Lien Spring Rolls for the second Sitka Farmers Market of the season, on July 21, 2012, at ANB Hall. Representing Mama Lien Spring Rolls are, from second to left, Michael Ihde, Jessica Lew, Jack Lew and Taylor Ihde (in front). The Sitka Local Foods Network board selects a Table of the Day winner from the vendors at each Sitka Farmers Market of the season, and the winners receive prizes such as a fifth-anniversary market tote bag and check.

The next Sitka Farmers Market is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4, at ANB Hall. The Sitka Local Foods Network is seeking volunteers to help set up tables and tents before the market starts, and to tear down and pack up the market after it ends. We need volunteers for all of the remaining markets (Aug. 4, 18, Sept. 1 and 15). If you have a strong back and helping hands, please contact Johanna Willingham at 738-8336 for more details.

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(Lori Adams, who owns Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden and is a frequent vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market, will be writing a regular garden column in the Daily Sitka Sentinel this summer. The Sentinel is allowing us to reprint the columns on this site after they first appear in the newspaper. This column appeared on Page 3 of the Wednesday, July 25, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

IT’S TIME TO START PLANNING FOR GARLIC

Garlic is the most rewarding thing I’ve grown yet in my garden.  It is amazingly delicious, easy to plant and does so well here in Sitka.

Even though it’s too early to plant garlic right now, the stores are starting to sell it and the catalogs are arriving in the mail. It’s good to buy now because garlic is a hot seller and everyone is usually sold out by October when you need it. Do not buy garlic from the grocery store to plant even though it is cheaper. It won’t do as well as stock bought from a nursery. In fact, many farmers spray the garlic with something to keep it from sprouting during storage.

Our local garden stores sell garlic and Penny Brown at Garden Ventures has been keeping track of the local gardener’s favorite varieties so be sure to talk to her. All garlic varieties fall under two basic categories — hard neck and soft neck.

Soft neck plants have soft stalks at harvest time that can be braided together. The cloves run on the smaller, milder side but have a long shelf life. Most of the garlic you see on the grocery store shelves is soft neck.

Hard neck plants have very rigid stalks.  The cloves run on the larger, more flavorful side but do not have a long shelf life. Hard neck garlic plants send a flower stalk out of the top of the plant in July that needs to be cut off so that all of the energy goes into producing large cloves. This flower stalk is called a “scape” and it’s not only edible, it’s delicious. Just eat it raw or chop it up and throw it into your stir fry.

All of the information I’ve gathered says that hard neck garlic is the best choice for Sitka.

The best time to plant garlic is in the fall. Some stores sell it in time for a spring planting and it works, but your garlic won’t reach its full potential. Preparation for the garlic bed should take place this September.

Remove all the existing plants in the bed, and till or loosen up the soil with a trowel.  Amend with fertilizer (or seaweed and compost), lime (or seashell sand) and bonemeal (or starfish). Be sure the bed has good drainage — if the garlic sits in a puddle all winter it will rot. Planting should take place mid-October.  Separate all the cloves of your garlic, being sure NOT to remove the individual papery covering over each clove. If the covering is accidentally removed plant the clove anyways.

Plant each clove about 2 inches deep and about 9 inches apart and then mulch the entire bed with a thick layer of seaweed to protect it from the winter weather. Mark your bed clearly so you remember where they are planted next year.

Next spring, green blades will start to appear that look like saw grass. Each blade indicates one clove. Fertilize or mulch with seaweed or compost when all the garlic has emerged. Harvest the scapes in July while they are tender before the flower develops.

During July the blades will start to turn brown from the bottom up.  Although garlic is edible at any stage, usually by early August half of the blades have turned brown and it is time to harvest. If you harvest too early it won’t store well and if you harvest too late the cloves will separate from the stalk and the flavor diminishes slightly.  Use a trowel to harvest instead of pulling the stalk to ensure that the garlic stays intact.  For storage just wash off the dirt, cut off the stalk to about an inch and let the garlic dry completely using a fan.

Save your largest cloves to plant for next season, eat the rest of the large cloves and save any tiny or misshapen cloves to plant an inch or two apart in a separate bed to use in the spring as “garlic greens.”  Garlic greens look like green onions but taste like garlic.  If you save and replant your own stock each year the garlic plants will get more adapted to our climate and will get better and better.

Garlic is so delicious, you just HAVE to try it.

Brought to you by Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden

2103 Sawmill Creek Road

Open June-August / Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

747-6108 or 738-2241

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

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Shoppers at the second Sitka Farmers Market of the season on Saturday, July 21, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall were treated to a special preview of the musical comedy “Bye Bye Birdie,” which is being performed this weekend by students from the Sitka Fine Arts Camp.

The students, who only had 11 days to learn the play, performed three songs at the market. They will perform the full play three times this weekend, at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 27, at at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 28, at the Sitka Performing Arts Center (at Sitka High School). Tickets are $20. To learn more about the production, KCAW-Raven Radio recently had two stories about the show, one by camp counselor/photographer Berett Wilber and one by KCAW staff news reporter Ed Ronco. The show also was the interview subject of the Morning Edition interview Thursday morning, July 26, on KCAW.

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In an effort to support and promote the position of Alaska’s wild seafoods in the global marketplace, the Sitka Seafood Festival organizers and the Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau have partnered to help inspire the creation of a signature seafood dish for Sitka.

Both professional and amateur chefs are encouraged to enter this contest, which will have judging take place from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. The entry deadline is Wednesday, Aug. 1.

It is our sincere hope that this contest inspires locals to create an exciting seafood entrée that would become synonymous with Sitka. We also hope that the majority, if not all, local restaurants will offer their own version of the winning entry and eventually adopted by restaurants nationwide.

Guidelines:

  • Main Ingredient — Any locally available wild Alaskan seafood (eg, salmon, halibut, ling cod, black cod/sablefish, crab, shrimp, scallops, snapper/rockfish, etc.)
  • Quantity — Minimum of 12 servings of approximately 2 ounces each. The more the merrier!!
  • Categories — Versatile recipe/economical version, mid-priced version and, of course, gourmet.
  • Entries must be pre-made/ready-to-serve, no kitchen access will be available on-site.
  • Recipes for entries must be provided and will become public domain.
  • Deadline to enter is Wednesday, Aug. 1. There is no cost to enter
  • Set-up available at 11 a.m. and judging will begin at noon on Saturday, Aug. 11, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.
  • Judging — An anonymous panel of judges will determine the winner based on various criteria (taste, recipe flexibility, potential retail price, marketability, availability, etc.)

The winning entry will receive a cash prize, a certificate acknowledging their accomplishment, local promotion and, of course, bragging rights as Sitka’s signature dish. The winner will be announced during the Sitka Seafood Festival’s evening events at the Alaska Arts SE Campus at Sheldon Jackson.

Entry forms can picked up at Old Harbor Books or e-mailed to you. Contact Philip Rupell at 747-5940 or send e-mail to sitkaseafoodfestival@gmail.com.

• Contest information for Sitka Signature Seafood Dish competition 2012

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Suzan Brawnlyn, the Chef at the Market, holds a sample cup of honey miso-glazed black cod with broccoli and bok choy stir fry during a cooking demonstration on July 21, 2012, at the second Sitka Farmers Market of the season.

Suzan Brawnlyn, the Chef at the Market, holds a sample cup of honey miso-glazed black cod with broccoli and bok choy stir fry during a cooking demonstration on July 21, 2012, at the second Sitka Farmers Market of the season.

This year, the Sitka Local Foods Network is happy to feature local chef Suzan Brawnlyn as its “Chef at the Market.” Suzan received a grant to provide cooking demonstrations at at least four of our six markets this year. Suzan also has been making her recipes available so people can try them at home. Her recipes from the second market on July 21 are posted below. To get her first batch of recipes, click this link.

The next Sitka Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.).The Sitka Local Foods Network is seeking volunteers to help set up tables and tents before the market starts, and to tear down and pack up the market after it ends. We need volunteers for all of the remaining markets (Aug. 4, 18, Sept. 1 and 15). If you have a strong back and helping hands, please contact Johanna Willingham at 738-8336 for more details.

• Chef at the Market recipes from the second Sitka Farmers Market of the season, July 21, 2012

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(Lori Adams, who owns Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden and is a frequent vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market, will be writing a regular garden column in the Daily Sitka Sentinel this summer. The Sentinel is allowing us to reprint the columns on this site after they first appear in the newspaper. This column appeared on Page 4 of the Wednesday, July 18, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

EVERYTHING I’VE LEARNED ABOUT GROWING FENNEL

I have to admit that up until about two years ago I didn’t even know what fennel was.  Florence Welsh recommended that I grow it because it does so well here in Sitka and is truly delicious. I am so glad I gave it a try.

Fennel has a round, slightly oval-shaped bulb that grows above the ground and looks sort of like a fat, short celery, while the tops look a lot like dill. If you eat fennel raw it tastes strongly of anise (licorice), but when cooked the flavor changes to this amazing mellow flavor I can’t even describe.

In preparation for growing fennel I like to amend the bed with seaweed in the fall and again in the spring. If the spring seaweed has a sprinkling of herring roe on it, it’s fine because fennel is a fairly heavy feeder. I start my seeds indoors mid-March and transplant them outside mid-April.

When transplanting the floppy, fragile starts, be sure to make a dish-shaped depression in the soil and then dig a hole in the center of the depression. Bury the starts deep enough in the hole to ensure that they are firmly supported with dirt and plant them with about 10-12 inch spacing. After they recover from transplant shock and begin to grow they will straighten out and become more stout.

It is a really good idea to mulch around each start with seaweed to keep the weeds down, feed the starts and retain moisture.  Cover the starts with row cover and for best results use hoop supports that will hold the cover up 2-3 feet off the ground.  Fennel has beautiful bushy foliage that can get quite tall and if the cover is too low it will break the foliage and make the plants very unattractive.

Fennel is ready to eat anytime you want to, but it is best to wait until it has reached maturity for maximum size. You’ve probably noticed the fennel in the grocery store produce aisle … the large, round, plump bulbs are white and the stems of the foliage are stout. My fennel never looks like that. The bulbs are smaller, more flat — almost disc-shaped — and greener in color.  The foliage and stems are more dainty and tender.

Sometimes a few plants will “bolt” and just send up a series of branches getting really tall. They are edible, but don’t amount to much. Adequate spacing usually minimizes bolting.

Because fennel matures so early you can successfully raise two plantings. You probably can plan to be able to start your first harvest mid to late July. If you take a sharp knife and cut the bulb loose leaving the root in the ground it is possible that the root will sprout up baby fennel for a second harvest.

But it is a more sure thing to start some more fennel seeds indoors around June 1, pull mature plants out of the ground root and all, amend the empty spot with compost and transplant new starts in the same spot. If you don’t have room indoors for starting more seeds just pop a new seed into the empty spots as you harvest mature plants.

Brought to you by Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden

2103 Sawmill Creek Road

Open June-August / Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

747-6108 or 738-2241

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

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Mandolin player/guitarist/fiddler Ted Horner and pianist Julie Schmitt will provide musical entertainment during the second Sitka Farmers Market of the season, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 21, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.).

Ted and Julie also performed during the first Sitka Farmers Market of the season on July 7. The SitNiks will perform music from Russia and other countries during the third Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Aug. 4. The rest of the season’s musical lineup will be announced later.

Musicians interested in performing at future Sitka Farmers Markets can call market manager Johanna Willingham at 738-8836 or by e-mail at johanna.willingham@gmail.com.

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