Tyonek-Community Garden and Traditional Foods

I recently got back from a cooking demonstration in Tyonek.  It is a short 25 minute flight at the base of Sleeping Lady mountain, but seems a world away.  The opportunity was to cook at  a culture camp and check out the community garden efforts that were started last year, and have evolved with hoop houses.  At a population of 200 there isn’t a store there so all food is either procured(hunted/fished/foraged) or flown in.

The community gardens were started as a way to face the food insecurity issues.  We also went on a walk and found beach peas(new to me), beach greens, fireweed, wild celery, stink weed and yarrow and was told berries were on the horizon.

Looking forward to going back out there and teaching the community how to cook with freshly grown veggies!

 

A storage shed at the "airport" caught my attention.

A storage shed at the “airport” caught my attention.

This is an sky view of the culture camp I attended.

This is an sky view of the culture camp I attended.

The "airport", and my ride back to town.

The “airport”, and my ride back to town.

The beds that started the community garden project last year, it yielded hundreds of pounds of food for the community.

The beds that started the community garden project last year, it yielded hundreds of pounds of food for the community.

Corn at he community garden...look hard for the kernel!

Corn at he community garden…look hard for the kernel!

 

With this hoop house the community is looking forwrd to itms like corn, squash, tomatoes and getting the food started earlier and producing later in the season.

With this hoop house the community is looking forwrd to itms like corn, squash, tomatoes and getting the food started earlier and producing later in the season.

 

The wild peas were in a tough shell

The wild peas were in a tough shell

Sweet and on the beach!  These were a treat!

Sweet and on the beach! These were a treat!

 

 

 

Kodiak Adventure

My daughter and I just got back from a daddy-daughter trip.  A little play, a little work and a whole lotta fun.  Sylvie is a flying enthusiast, which is how she kind of forgot Mom wasn’t around at first…

Kodiak-Foraging walkFirst, we went on a Foraging walk at Gibson Cove- Beautiful and very informative.

Kodiak-Star of Kodiak

A land locked Boat that was used as building infrastructure after the Tsunami from the 64 earthquake created mayhem, it has since been turned into a seafood processing facility.

 

Kodiak-Baranov MuseumThe Baranov Museum, a little history on Kodiak.

Kodiak-Crab Pots

On a walk in Kodiak, crab pots, how they get things done there.

Me and my daughter checking out the boats

Me and my daughter checking out the boats

Kodiak Dinner-Apps

We also had a fundraising party for the AK Marine Conservation Council.  Above are some appetizers: Beef Oscar with Kodiak Tanner Crab, Salmon Roe with goose tongue and dandelion, and Smoked Salmon Sushi with fireweed tendrils.

On the agenda this weekend was a traditional foods class where we made stir fried rice with cod and foraged items and a fresh roll with the more foraged items.  Senator Begich showed up- he heard there was Kodiak Tanner crab being offered!

Good times, good food, great community…can’t wait to get back!

 

 

The view from "my work" on Kodiak!

The view from “my work” on Kodiak!

 

Food Solutions in the Last Frontier

I saw this article yesterday in the Alaska Dispatch.

A farmer in Fairbanks, Matt Springer has been working with quinoa and getting yields.

The Mr Springer has been harvesting and experimenting with Lamb’s Quarters, a relative of quinoa.  At $3,000 a ton, and the popularity of the grain, that could really change the infrastructure of food in Alaska.  (wheat is currently at $300 a ton, to compare) Last year he harvested enough to feed himself and family.

It is encouraging to see that we are looking at similar types of grains that while not indigenous to Alaska, can prosper in our climate and add to our food security issues, and food culture.

With a little luck we will see it in our farmers markets soon!

This is a Fresh Alaska- Troll Caught King Salmon over a root vegetable-toasted quinoa hash, maybe soon, we can do this with local quinoa!

 

 

 

Muktuk Sushi

Beluga Whale with fresh Sea asparagus!

Beluga Whale with fresh Sea asparagus!

platter photo

This summer we catered the Healthy Summer Celebration Dinner for the Alaska Native Health Board.

One of the highlights was serving Indigenous foods to the attendees.

Below is the recipe, this was originally in First Alaskans Magazine, October 2012.

In the early days of Arctic exploration scientist were puzzled by the fact that the Inuit did not suffer from scurvy despite having no citrus fruits in their diet.  The disease that plagued sailors during the Age of Discovery through World War I can cause shortness of breath and bone pain. The skin becomes rough and is easily bruised and can lead to jaundice, fever, gum disease, convulsions and a long slow death.

Muktuk, as it turns out, is an excellent source of Vitamin C, containing as much of this crucial vitamin as you would get from eating an orange.  Whale blubber is also high in omega-3 fatty acids which prevent heart disease.

Found in brackish water along beaches, sea asparagus, also known as glasswort, pickleweed and sea beans is also chock full of health benefits. The leafy plant is also helpful at preventing scurvy, but has so many other properties it’s earned near “superfood” status. Although praised by English physician Nicholas Culpepper for its digestive properties in the 17th Century, the tiny green plant is more than an antiflatulent. It is also a great source of iodine, Vitamins A, C, B2, B15, and D, and a host of essential minerals that nourish the body’s organs, skin and cellular DNA and helpful in preventing strokes.

Traditional foods in Alaska, both sea asparagus and muktuk are considered delicacies around the world.

 

Chef Rob Kinneen’s Sushi Roll with Sea Asparagus and Muktuk

FOR THE RICE
-2 cups sushi (short grain) rice
-2 cups water

-2 T sugar
-2 T rice wine vinegar
-1T salt

PROCEDURE
1. Rinse the sushi rice three times, or until the water runs clear.
2.  In a pot, bring water to a boil. Add rice, stir, cover and let cook on low for 15 minutes.
3. Let rice sit for another 10 minutes with heat off.
4. In a glass bowl, spread rice out, and fold in with sugar, salt and vinegar, set aside.

FOR THE SUSHI
-Nori seaweed paper
-Cooked sushi rice.
-Carrot-cut julienne (matchstick size)
-Cucumbers-cut julienne (matchstick size)
-Sea asparagus -fresh or canned is OK
-Muktuk -sliced thin

PROCEDURE
1. Place nori shiny side down.
2. Place about 3/4 cup of cooked rice on the nori.
3. Spread out evenly over the nori, if more is needed, that is OK-Be sure to leave about 1/2 inch on each side to complete roll.
4. In the center of the roll, place carrot, sea asparaugs, cucumber or sprouts, and muktuk -1/2 to 3/4 oz. per ingredient is fine.
5. Roll rice, be sure to keep ingredients in the center, and apply pressure to the nori.
6. Cut the roll in 1/2, then each half into 4.  A roll should make 8 pieces.
Serve with wasabi, soy sauce ( to keep gluten free serve tamari ).

HELPFUL HINTS
When spreading rice on nori roll, keep a little bowl of water to dip fingers into so rice does not stick to your fingers.

Moose Meatballs(Gluten free) with Hoppin’John and hearty greens

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I catered for a client that requested we use some of her moose for an entree. She is also gluten intolerant. This was the end result!

We flavored the meatballs with some partially rendered bacon, herbs, garlic and to add some moisture, we incorporated milk soaked Rice Chex-Make sure if you use this as a gluten free option, that the box states “Gluten Free” it ensures that the cereal is produced on clean equipment.

It is the holiday season- if you need a caterer, drop a line!

Busy, busy…

It started about a month ago… I went dark because we were surprising my mother-in-law with an 80th birthday party in South Carolina. Prior to this we were busy with a few radio appearances and a cooking demonstration for Family day at the Museum(featuring local veggies).

Over the month I have been getting a chance to do some pretty cool stuff- Staged at HUSK, in Charleston, cooked from a farmers market in Bluffton, and finally got to shop at a Piggly Wiggly… OK, Piggly Wiggly more of a novelty…
Once back in AK we hit the ground running with an ANTHC Diabetes conference presentation on traditional foods and food culture, a few cater outs and a 500 person five course event for the First Alaskans Institute – Howard Rock and Ted Stevens Smokehouse Gala- I wrote and coordinated the menu it was super fantastic to use traditional foods(that could be sourced for a hotel) and traditional food cooking techniques to emphasize the importance of Alaska’s first people, traditions and heritage.
A few more catering gigs, working on some new years resolutions and i guest chef gig that will reach into the new year…Better get cracking!

Alaska Local Food Symposium

Last week I attended a local foods symposium. The objective was to create an overview of Alaska’s local food systems. An assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges that face us here in Alaska.

The day was spent listening to and working with stakeholders of Alaska’s food supply chain. My personal highlight was meeting Tim Meyers of Meyer’s Farm in Bethel. He is an organic farmer that lives in Bethel and is actually exporting veggies to Anchorage!
Another Pioneer Alaska Flour Company Bryce Wrigley was there he owns and operates Alaska’s only flouor mill.

In addition to attending, I also catered the event, I offered wraps with local tortillas, some offerings were roast AK veggies with toasted quinoa and goat cheese, smoked salmon with white beans and the turkey and ham offerings had harvest49 sauces whipped into them. These were served with local potato chips.

Very exciting to see movement to move forward with local foods in Alaska!

Cooking at the National Indian Health Board Awards Gala-Denver, CO

I have been in Denver, CO for a few days now. The NIHB conference is right downtown so I have gotten to get out and see a little here and there. This is my first time to the “Mile High City” this is in reference to the elevation of the city- While it has not bothered me, some of the other conference attendees have suffered from elevation sickness… I have noticed being slightly winded when working in the kitchen and the mighty fine selection of micro brews seems to hit me as well. Keeping hydrated has been a must.

A highlight was eating at RiojaRioja A super sexy Mediterranean inspired restaurant highlighting local Colorado ingredients. The restaurant is tucked away on Larimer Street next to cute boutiques and other local restaurants.
I sat at the food bar in the back of the restaurant, it was too high to watch much of the kitchen action, but I did watch the food as it was leaving the kitchen. I had the braised pork belly over a curried chick pea puree and a gnocchi dish-all pastas are hand made !

Tonight I am cooking the awards gala:
First Course- Corn soup with a “three sisters salsa”
Highlighting traditional foods of America’s First People. The three sisters is corn, squash and beans.
Together they offer nearly complete nutrition and depend on each other while growing- the corn provides structure for the beans to grow, and both provide shade for the squash.

Entree- Grilled Buffalo (provided by the Intertribal Buffalo Council) is skewered and served with a honey lavender drizzle. AK salmon is offered with a rose hip vinaigrette and a wild rice squash cake rounds out the plate.
The goal was to offer traditional foods from across The First Nations with contemporary recipes.
I am very proud of the offerings!

Dessert-Bites: Corn cake with caramel and maple cream, rosemary bannock with cran-apple chutney, pumpkin pie with goat cheese and cinnamon.

It has been a real pleasure working with the National Indian Health Board and presenting what I do to this impressive group of people!