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Salmonberries await picking near the entrance to Sitka National Historical Park

Salmonberries await picking near the entrance to Sitka National Historical Park

Flora of Southeastern Alaska, a biology class taught by University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus associate professor Kitty LaBounty, is back for its third year.

flora-course-update-smThe DNA of most traditional botany classes is to gather students around a table of samples and look at them in a face-to-face classroom setting. By offering Flora of Southeast Alaska as both a hybrid local and distance-delivery (eLearning) class, students from anywhere can get up to speed on how to identify the common native trees, shrubs and herbs of southeast and south central Alaska. Local students can participate in the lectures on campus, while students across Alaska can see the imagery online and hear the lectures either live or via digital recording.

Flora of Southeast Alaska is a one-credit, 11-week workshop. The focus will be on identification of common species and attaining an understanding of their place in the ecosystem of Southeast Alaska. Students will discover how these plants interact with other plants and animals, and how humans use these plants for food, fuel, medicine, or simply enjoyment.

In addition to illustrated weekly lectures, there will be written exercises and “check for understanding” activities. The class is available to any student without prerequisites. It does not count as credit toward a biology major at UAS.

Professor LaBounty brings her lifelong passion as a gardener and scientist to this topic, along with more than 25 years experience working on plant identification for state, federal and nonprofit agencies in Alaska.

The class will meet from 6-7 p.m. on Thursdays from Feb. 16 to May 4 — with time off for spring break. The cost is $187 for local students and $227 for eLearning (distance) students.

For more information, contact Kitty LaBounty at UAS Sitka Campus. 747-9432. To register, call 747-7700. or toll-free, 800-478-6653.

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Learn how to cook a variety of international dishes as the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen hosts its Cooking Around The World class series.

This series will feature different cooks teaching dishes from Morocco, Chile, Austria, Turkey and Thailand, with all five classes at the Sitka Kitch (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church). Each class costs $27.50, plus a food/supply fee split between the members of the class. Space is limited, so register early.

Registration for our two February classes is open now (click the links below to register). Registration for our three later classes won’t open until mid-February. The schedule is as follows:

  • Morocco 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Feb. 18, taught by Julien Naylor, MD. Dr. Naylor is an internal medicine specialist and trained chef who is still deciding which dishes to teach. She previously taught an ancient grains class last year at the Sitka Kitch. (NOTE: This class is full.)
  • Chile 6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 27, taught by Barbara Palacios. Barbara. who is Chilean, is a chef with the Westmark Sitka Hotel and the Dock Shack (Totem Square Inn). She will teach students how to cook a pastel de chocolo (a Chilean version of shepherd’s pie with corn and meat) with pebre (a Chilean pico de gallo). She taught an empanadas class last year that was very popular.
  • Thailand — 5:30-7 p.m., Tuesday, March 28, taught by Nancy Knapp. Nancy is a longtime health educator from Sitka who spent several years in Laos and Thailand. She still hasn’t announced which dishes she will teach for this class, but she taught a Thai cooking class last year that sold out quickly and had a long waiting list.
  • Austria6-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 12, taught by Suat Tuzlak. Suat is the former owner of the Alpine Bakery in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and co-author of “Little Cookbook For The Great Outdoors.” For this class he will teach students how to make a savory strudel with two fillings and a sweet strudel with apples that’s great with ice cream.
  • Turkey — 5-7:30 p.m., Monday, April 17, taught by Suat Tuzlak. For this class, Suat, who is Turkish, will teach students how to make a Turkish dinner that is vegan and gluten-free without using sophisticated ingredients. You will learn to make red lentil soup, green beans with olive oil, festive rice pilaf with currants and pine nuts, and a fusion dessert, chia-coconut pudding.

When registering, students should prepay for the class through the Sitka Kitch online registration site, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com, using PayPal or credit/debit card. If you need other payment arrangements, contact Chandler or Clarice of Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 to arrange a time when you can pay with cash or check. To qualify for a partial refund, please notify us at least three days in advance if you need to cancel. The registration deadline is three days before each class so our instructors have time to purchase materials. Please email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org with any questions.

Also, keep an eye out for another upcoming class series this winter/spring — Nourish: Using Food As Medicine For Optimum Health — which will be taught by Sitka nutritionist Holly Marban during National Nutrition Month in March.

Details are coming soon, but class topics include nutrition foundations, balancing blood sugar, everyday superfoods, foods to fight inflammation, and and detox. There will be five classes from 6-8 p.m. on Mondays, March 6, 13, 20, 27 and April 3. When we open registration, we will post the entire series first (students will receive $20 off if they register for the full series, $117.50 vs. $137.50, plus food/supply fees) and about a week or so before each individual class we will try to fill any empty spaces remaining.

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kitch_logo_mainStudents learned how to make homemade flour tortillas during the Cooking From Scratch homemade tortilla-making class held Jan. 21 at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The class was taught by Elvia Torres, who teaches reading and formerly taught home economics at Blatchley Middle School. She demonstrated her mother’s traditional tortilla recipe, and also showed students what good and bad tortillas look like.

The Sitka Kitch is finalizing the dates and times for two upcoming class series this spring. Cooking Around The World will feature five classes (two in February and three in April) where different cooks will teach students how to make dishes from Morocco, Chile, Austria (strudel), Turkey, and Thailand. The other series is tentatively called Food As Medicine, which will be taught by Sitka nutritionist Holly Marban over five or six Mondays in March (National Nutrition Month) and April. Watch the Sitka Kitch page on Facebook or our online registration page to see when these classes are scheduled.

A slideshow of scenes from the homemade tortilla-making class follows below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the January 2017 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short articles about our annual meeting and potluck dinner on Feb. 4, a request for new board members, an update on the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit on Feb. 24-26 in Haines, and info about some upcoming classes at the Sitka Kitch. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the registration form 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.

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Share lessons learned and techniques for overcoming challenges of commercially growing food in Southeast Alaska; learn specific skills, technology, and research that contribute to commercial farming success and efficiency; connect with new and experienced farmers to build an inspiring network.

Early bird registration is now open for the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit 2017, the second biennial summit designed to bring together experienced and aspiring commercial growers and support agencies. The summit will be held Friday through Sunday, Feb. 24-26, at the Chilkat Center in Haines. A discounted registration rate is available to attendees who register on or before Friday, Jan. 20. Travel and registration scholarships are available.

The conference will feature presentations from experienced commercial growers and support agencies, and topical discussions and panels to share resources and lessons learned. Speakers include Doug Collins, Extension Faculty and Soil Scientist with Washington State University’s Small Farms Program; Megan Talley, Farm Manager and Educator at Alaska Pacific University; and experienced farmers from Southeast Alaska; among others.

“This will be an opportunity for commercial growers of Southeast Alaska to learn from each other, find opportunities to collaborate, and build a network that can leverage everyone’s efforts,” said Lia Heifetz, Local Food Director for Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition. “Many resources will be shared over the course of the weekend – from financial planning for small farms to innovative solutions for soil building, policy implications for agriculture, and much more.”

Other topics to be addressed at the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit include:

  • On Farm Food Safety
  • Building your Farm Community
  • Planning for a CSA
  • The Future of Seed Saving in Alaska
  • High Tunnel Applications and Innovations
  • Electric and Walk-in Cold Storage for your Farm
  • Biomass Heated Greenhouses and Aquaponics
  • Per Foot Crop Values for Market Sales
  • Using Local Amendments to Improve Soil Quality
  • Fruit Trees and Grafting Techniques
  • Policy and Initiatives
  • Building a Future of Farming with Internships and Education
  • Business Planning and Farm Finances

For more information and to register for the conference, please visit this website, http://www.alaskawatershedcoalition.org/safs2017/, or contact Lia Heifetz at lia@growsoutheast.com.

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The Sitka Local Foods Network will host its annual meeting and potluck dinner from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine St., parking off of Spruce Street).

Participants are encouraged to bring a dish featuring local foods to share, and please bring your own utensils (note, this is a non-alcoholic event). This event is a good event to attend for people who want to learn more about the Sitka Local Foods Network and what we do around town.

Attendees will hear about project updates, plus the current board will vote on by-law changes. We will introduce our new board members for 2017, and we will confirm the election of our officers. We also have a couple of openings on our board, and people wanting to learn more about joining can click this link for info and applications.

Individuals interested in learning more about the Sitka Local Foods Network can email sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com to learn about our projects and volunteer opportunities.

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kitch_logo_mainLearn the basic fundamentals of how to make homemade tortillas from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church).

This class will be taught by Elvia Torres, a teacher at Blatchley Middle School who in May 2016 joined several others in Sitka to complete the Safe Home Food Preservation Certification course from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. Elvia will share her mother’s traditional recipe, and she will demonstrate what good and bad tortillas look like.

tortillasongriddleThe cost for this class is $15, plus a food/supply fee split between the members of the class. Space is limited at the Sitka Kitch, so register early. Students should prepay for the class through the Sitka Kitch online registration site, http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com, using PayPal. If you need other payment arrangements, contact Chandler or Clarice of Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 to pay with cash or check. To qualify for a refund, please notify us at least three days in advance if you need to cancel. The registration deadline is 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19. Please email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org with any questions.

Also, keep an eye out for the announcements of two upcoming class series this winter/spring — Cooking Around the World (featuring a variety of instructors demonstrating how to cook international dishes from February through April) and Food As Medicine (taught by dietician Holly Marbán during National Nutrition Month in March). Details are coming soon.