Spring fever is running rampant.
The sun is shining, snow is melting and there is a double-dose of farmers market/gardening events this week at The Mall at Sears.
Wednesday's Center Market will take place as usual from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the mall. Saturday the vendors will be back, along with several others, for the 5th annual Spring Garden Show. The Garden Show is
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"We expect the mall to be filled to the max with tables of many nonprofits and garden clubs sharing info with customers enjoying the spring Garden Show," said Duane Clark, one of the Center Market's organizers and owner of Country Health Foods.
In addition to the Center Market vendors, Saturday's Garden Show vendors include those selling plants and flowers, including orchids, African violets, marigolds and bonsai; beekeeping; and gardening information.
Wednesday's market will feature Clark restocked with his
Alaska-raised beef cuts, including steaks, roasts and "ground burger without pink slime ... never had it, never will," he said. He also will have frozen Alaska seafood, locally raised chicken, goat cheese and spring flowers from Mile 5.2 Greenhouse in Eagle River, including hyacinth.
Other vendors at the market include the Rempel Family Farm with beets, parsnips and six varieties of potatoes; Sleeping Lady Alaskan Foods with a variety of options, including breads from the House of Bread; Northern Lights Mushrooms with "more varieties coming to maturity this week," said Clark; Alex Davis' A.D. Farm with pork cuts, pork sausage, ground pork and sliced liver, along with carrots, potatoes and parsnips; and the Persistent Farmer with dahlia tubers and Matanuska Creamery products, including butter, cheese and ice cream. Rob Wells said of his dahlias: "I didn't plant my main crop until April 18th last year, so there is still plenty of time to start yours."Holiday treats
Just in time for Easter and Passover, Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop is rolling out its specials
For many, Easter equals Peeps, the bright yellow chick-shaped marshmallows. Fire Island unveiled the peeps last year and they were a big hit ... maybe too big.
"We call them free-range Peeps because they're organic," said owner Janis Fleischman. "Last year, every Peep - made by piping freshly made marshmallow onto natural-dyed sugar and then finished with little chocolate eyes - sold out by Wednesday of Easter week.
"When people came in and heard we didn't have any more Peeps, they about came over the counter at us. I had no idea people felt so strongly about Peeps! We've been piping Peeps all week to have enough this year."
Another favorite at Fire Island is the handmade hot cross buns. Owner and head baker Jerry Lewanski said every element of the buns is made from scratch.
"Even the glaze on the buns is our own recipe made with organic honey from the Pacific Northwest, the zest of organic lemons and oranges, whole star anise and rose water," he said.
Other specials for this week include lemon mousse Charlotte covered with fresh berries, Easter cupcakes and tsoureki, a Greek brioche braided into a circle around a red, natural-dyed egg.
Passover specialties include a flourless chocolate cake, macaroons and a lemon-curd tart.
"We try to bake food that makes people remember their childhoods," Fleischman said.
From the sea
The spring weather is having a positive effect on the seafood world too. At least on those who sell seafood.
"It is nice to see the snow melting away with the sunshine outside," said Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods. "It makes me want to unearth my grill and get some of these wonderful fresh seafood selections we have on top of it."
This week, Southall highlights fresh troll-caught king salmon from Southeast. Head-on fish are $17.95 per pound and fillets are $22.95 per pound. "Mixed in with these red-meat beauties will be a few white kings, and as always it is best to call a check on the status first," he said.
Also hot on the docks is fresh halibut. Fresh headed and cleaned fish in the 10- to 20-pound range are $10.95 a pound, while fresh fillets are $18.95 a pound. Fresh halibut cheeks are $22.95 a pound. "Saute these lovely white medallions with some butter and garlic and serve over rice, and your pallet will be in heaven," Southall said.
Fresh cod fillets are $5.95 per pound, while 10th & M has live Manila clams for $6.95 per pound and live oysters for $12.95 per dozen.
Grilled halibut ith three-pepper relish
1 yellow bell pepper, quartered
1 red bell pepper, quartered
1 orange bell pepper, quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
uE034 2 tablespoons chopped capers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 6-ounce skinless halibut fillets
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
To prepare relish, coat bell pepper pieces with cooking spray. Place pepper pieces on grill rack; grill 3 minutes on each side or until lightly charred. Remove from grill; cool slightly. Coarsely chop bell pepper pieces. Combine chopped bell peppers, parsley and next 6 ingredients; set aside.
To prepare fish, brush 1 tablespoon oil evenly over fish. Sprinkle fish evenly with thyme, salt and pepper. Place fish on grill rack; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
Serve with relish.
Source: "The Cooking Light Gluten Free Cookbook: Simple Food Solutions for Everyday Meals" ($21.95, Oxmoor House)
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. If you have a suggestion for a future Market Fresh column, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.