Sitka Kitch to host class on how to fillet a salmon Aug. 4 for Sitka Seafood Festival

Sitkans love their seafood, and the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen is offering a great class in conjunction with the Sitka Seafood Festival.

From 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the Sitka Kitch (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church), local chef Renée Jakaitis Trafton of Beak Restaurant will teach students how to fillet a salmon. This includes lessons on how to remove the pinbones from the salmon and how to remove the skin.

The Sitka Seafood Festival is providing fish and jars for the classes, so there should be no food/supply fee. The class costs $30, which includes a new fillet knife for every student. There is no food/supply fee for the class

The registration deadline is 11:55 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4. Registration is capped at 10 students so sign up early to secure your space in this class. Register online here using a debit or credit card or PayPal account, or call Chandler or Clarice at Sitka Conservation Society (747-7509) to arrange the drop-off of a cash or check payment. For more information about the two classes, contact Jasmine Shaw at 747-9440 or email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

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Scenes from the Sitka Kitch ‘Baking With Betsy: Sweet Breads’ class on July 10

Students learned how to bake brioche, pulla (a Swedish cardamom braid) and cinnamon rolls during the Sweet Breads class, the first class in the Sitka Kitch’s three-course Baking With Betsy series, held July 10 at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The Sitka Kitch class series is being taught by professional baker and culinary skills instructor Betsy Peterson Sanchez of St. Charles, Ill.

In addition to the Sweet Breads class, the other two classes are :

Betsy comes from a long line of people who love to cook and that passion has been passed down to her. Although Betsy considered a career in music, she happily decided to go into what she loved the most, baking and cooking.

Betsy headed for New York and attended the Culinary Institute of America, receiving a degree in culinary arts.  Then it was off to Chicago to work as a pastry chef  in several different establishments.  Baking is Betsy’s first love, particularly yeast breads.

After a career as a pastry chef and raising her family, she went back to school. Betsy attended The French Pastry School in Chicago for a certificate in French Pastry as well as a continuing education course in Artisan Breads. Currently, Betsy teaches in a Culinary Program at a community college in Glen Ellyn, Ill. She is a member of The Baker’s Guild and a Chef Mentor for Fox Valley Food For Health, a non-profit providing healthy meals for families going through devastating illnesses.

Betsy is so excited to be spending part of the summer in Sitka, where she plans to spend as much time as possible with her daughter, Claire Sanchez, and enjoy the beauty of Alaska.

Classes in this series had a reduced food/supply fee thanks to a donation from Sea Mart Quality Foods.

A slideshow of scenes from the sweet breads class is posted below.

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Scenes from the Fermentation Workshop With Sandor Katz held July 9 at the Sitka Kitch

Students learned how to make sauerkraut using a variety of fresh vegetables during the Fermentation Workshop With Sandor Katz held Monday, July 9, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

Katz, author of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, is a nationally recognized food writer and fermentation guru. He has been traveling through Southeast Alaska (Sitka, Juneau, Haines, and Gustavus) to offer community education and workshops about the fermentation of vegetables. The trip was coordinated by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), which offered a reduced fee to the class (the workshop sold out within a couple of days of it being offered, even though the class size was nearly double the usual size of a Sitka Kitch class).

The workshop included:
  • a discussion of “what is fermentation?”
  • why fermentation is practiced worldwide
  • the many practical benefits of fermentation
  • functional concepts about fermentation
  • instruction on how to make sauerkraut with a variety of vegetables
  • information about what to do with sauerkraut at home and how long to store it
  • troubleshooting any problems with home fermentation

Students left with their own jar of kraut, plus a wealth of knowledge on safe home fermentation practices.

A slideshow of scenes from the Fermentation Workshop With Sandor Katz is posted below.

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Scenes from the Sitka Kitch ‘Baking With Betsy: Savory Breads’ class

Students learned how to bake pretzels, bagels and crackers during the Savory Breads class, the first class in the Sitka Kitch’s three-course Baking With Betsy series, held July 3 at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The Sitka Kitch class series is being taught by professional baker and culinary skills instructor Betsy Peterson Sanchez of St. Charles, Ill.

In addition to the Savory Breads class, the other two classes are :

Betsy comes from a long line of people who love to cook and that passion has been passed down to her. Although Betsy considered a career in music, she happily decided to go into what she loved the most, baking and cooking.

Betsy headed for New York and attended the Culinary Institute of America, receiving a degree in culinary arts.  Then it was off to Chicago to work as a pastry chef  in several different establishments.  Baking is Betsy’s first love, particularly yeast breads.

After a career as a pastry chef and raising her family, she went back to school. Betsy attended The French Pastry School in Chicago for a certificate in French Pastry as well as a continuing education course in Artisan Breads. Currently, Betsy teaches in a Culinary Program at a community college in Glen Ellyn, Ill. She is a member of The Baker’s Guild and a Chef Mentor for Fox Valley Food For Health, a non-profit providing healthy meals for families going through devastating illnesses.

Betsy is so excited to be spending part of the summer in Sitka, where she plans to spend as much time as possible with her daughter, Claire Sanchez, and enjoy the beauty of Alaska.

Classes in this series had a reduced food/supply fee thanks to a donation from Sea Mart Quality Foods.

A slideshow of scenes from the class is posted below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about the first Sitka Farmers Market taking place on Saturday, a a community discussion about our food with food policy expert Mark Winne, an invitation to join our board of directors, and an item about our sponsorship program.. 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 to host seven Sitka Farmers Markets in 2018 summer


The Sitka Local Foods Network is bringing the excitement back to the Sitka Farmers Market, which opens its 11th season of markets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 7, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street). We rebuilt some of the vitality of the market last year, and now we’re hoping to build on that momentum.

“We learned a lot over the past couple of years, and we hope we’ve been able to move on from our mistakes and make the markets better,” said Sitka Local Foods Network president Charles Bingham, who is assisting Sitka Farmers Market manager Nina Vizcarrondo for the second year. “We regained a lot of the vendors we lost in 2016, and that brought back a lot of the community-gathering-place feel to the market. We still want to see more local food producers at the market, but we know now we need to develop those outside the market, which is one reason we launched the Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest this spring. We want the market to be a great way to connect with neighbors and support local entrepreneurs.”

Other new innovations last year included a kids vendor program for youth ages 12 and younger, and new Alaska Grown food products for sale at the Sitka Local Foods Network’s farm stand. Both are continuing in 2018. In addition to freshly grown produce from the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, there will be Alaska Flour Company barley products from Delta Junction, Evie’s Brinery fermented foods from Anchorage, Barnacle Foods kelp salsa and kelp pickles from Juneau, and Chugach Chocolates from Girdwood. We also have fish vendors back this season. There still is a focus on local and Alaska food products, with the Alaska Grown products being a way to inspire Sitka food entrepreneurs to try making new food items locally. The more local products we have, the more the money circulates in Sitka’s economy.

“Come support your community at our farmers markets,” Vizcarrondo said. “By working toward Sitka’s food sovereignty, shopping local reduces our food miles. Food doesn’t get any fresher than this.”

The first Sitka Farmers Market of the season takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 7, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). The other markets this summer take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 21, Aug. 4, Aug. 11, Aug. 25, Sept. 1, and Sept. 15, at ANB Founders Hall.

The markets feature a variety of locally grown produce, seafood, cottage foods, a hot lunch, locally made arts and crafts, live music and fun. The Sitka Farmers Market was the first market in Southeast Alaska to accept Alaska Quest (SNAP) electronic benefits transfers (EBT) and WIC coupons. We have a matching program where SNAP and WIC clients can double up to $20 of their benefits in local produce. This year we received a grant from the Sitka White Elephant Shop (the White E) to help with the matching program.

“In recent years we’ve been proud to welcome Alaska Quest EBT and WIC shoppers at the market, and this year the White E is helping us match those produce benefits,” Bingham said. “It is so important to make sure local food is accessible to everyone.”

The April 2008 Sitka Health Summit planted the seeds for the Sitka Farmers Market, as Sitka residents chose starting a local foods market as one of their community wellness initiatives for the year. About the same time, St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church was looking for a way to put some recently cleared land behind the church’s See House into use for a community project. St. Peter’s offered to lease the land to the group that became the Sitka Local Foods Network for $1 a year, and in May 2008 a group of Sitka residents built raised garden beds and planted a variety of crops. Later that summer, there was enough produce grown at St. Peter’s to supply our first three Sitka Farmers Markets starting in August 2008.

There were five markets in 2009, followed by six markets each year from 2010-15 and now seven markets in 2016. Led by lead gardener Laura Schmidt, the production of local produce at St. Peter’s has grown each year, and there now are satellite gardens, such as one on land owned by Pat Arvin. Most of the food grown at St. Peter’s and the satellite gardens is sold at the Sitka Farmers Market, but there has been enough for the Sitka Local Foods Network to also have a table when Chelan Produce is in town and to sell to local school lunch programs and restaurants. The money raised helps support the Sitka Local Foods Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in its mission “to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans.”

To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Market and how you can become a vendor or volunteer, contact Nina Vizcarrondo at (907) 738-9301 or Charles Bingham at 623-7660, or email us sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. The Sitka Local Foods Network website, http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, has more info on the markets and links to vendor rules and registration forms.

The Sitka Local Foods Network receives sponsorship funding from the Alaska Comprehensive Cancer Partnership, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), the Sitka White Elephant Shop (the White E), Charles Bingham, the Sitka True Value, Harry Race Pharmacy, ALPS Federal Credit Union, Beth Short-Rhoads and Jeff Budd.

Food policy/food systems expert and author Mark Winne coming to Sitka to research new book

Nationally recognized food policy/food systems expert and author Mark Winne will be in Sitka from July 6-13 to do research on a new book, tentatively called “Food Town, USA,” where he examines the local food systems of eight to 10 small communities around the country.

“I’ll be visiting what may be America’s best little food town for research,” Mark wrote about Sitka on his website.

As part of his stay in Sitka, Mark will visit the Sitka Farmers Market, the Sitka Kitch, Sitka Food Co-Op, and a variety of local food businesses in town. He also will be part of a free community discussion about food from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, at the Sitka Public Library. This event is co-hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Food Co-Op and moderated by Doug Osborne.

Mark’s career in food policy and food systems spans 40 years. From 1979 to 2003, Mark was the executive director of the Hartford Food System, a Connecticut nonprofit food organization. He is the co-founder of the now-closed Community Food Security Coalition where he also worked as the food policy council program director from 2005-12. During his time with the Community Food Security Coalition, he did some work to help get the Alaska Food Policy Council up and running.

He was a Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Fellow, a Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Visiting Scholar, and a member of the U.S. Delegation to the 2000 Rome Conference on Food Security. As a writer on food issues, Mark’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Nation, Sierra, Orion, and Yes!, to name a few. He is the author of three books — Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of PlentyFood Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart Cookin’ Mamas; and Stand Together or Starve Alone: Unity and Chaos in the U.S. Food System, which was released at the end of 2017. All three books are published by Beacon Press.

Through his own firm, Mark Winne Associates, Mark speaks, trains, and writes on topics related to community food systems, food policy, and food security. He also serves as senior advisor to the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. He now lives in Santa Fe, N.M.

In an email he sent to various members of Sitka’s food community, Mark wrote:

“Food continues to become a larger but not fully acknowledged force in the lives of American communities. From health and nutrition, to food security, to economic development, to the simple need for a good quality of life, food can define a community’s identity as well as determine who benefits and who doesn’t. I am going to tell “stories” about eight to 10 small to mid-size cities and regions for whom a ‘food scene,’ a food consciousness, a sense of commitment to those who do not benefit from a growing prosperity, and an expanding number of local ‘food system’ stakeholders are on display if not actually working collaboratively. I want to know about the history of each community’s food evolution, what its key moments might have been, and who has played timely roles. The purpose of the story I’m telling about these places, which I am not claiming are exceptional, is to stress that food is a “bigger deal” than we think, and that if you take it seriously, food will not only lift up our quality of life, it will ensure that everyone can enjoy a better quality of life. I am selecting places that are not Berkeley, Boulder, or Brooklyn, but are understated and often overlooked.”

For more details about the community discussion about food on July 11, contact Charles Bingham at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com