A sunny Memorial Day weekend had anglers, campers, flower-planters and, especially, farmers excited.
"This amazing turn for the better with the weather is warming the soil and supercharging the planting season," says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market. "We are planting our field as fast as we can!
"It's time for gardeners to get planting as well! We still have a full selection of bedding plants and tomato plants we'll be bringing to market this week."
Says Alex Davis of A.D. Farm and the Center Market: "It may actually be time to farm again. Not that I ever quit. ... We will start planting this week, setting a new record for the latest date I have ever gotten into the ground with veggies. Be patient and ready to buy when it comes in because it will be a short season on non-storage crops."
Vendors lined up for the South Anchorage Farmers Market this week include:
• Gray Owl Farm: They will have plenty of plants for flower beds, containers or baskets, along with some already-built baskets and containers. Additionally, there will be starts or herbs, mints, hot peppers and aromatherapy plants.
• Arctic Choice: Fresh seafood will be available again for weekend grillers, including Copper River sockeye salmon, king salmon, halibut, cod, rockfish, sablefish, sidestripe shrimp, spot shrimp, scallops and oysters in the shell.
• Other vendors include: Glacier Valley Farm, the Blue Poppy, Sweet and Sassy Kettle corn, Alaska Sprouts, Mat-Valley Meats, Green Winter Farm, Earthworks Farm, Country Garden Farm and Southfork Jams and Jellies.
The Anchorage Farmers Market will have a variety of vendors lined up this week, including Bushes Bunches, Arctic Organics, Persistent Farmer, Seldovitch Farm, LivenGreen, Fee's Seafood, Turkey Red baked goods and ACAT compost tea.
Bean says that Arctic Organics will have fresh (greenhouse grown) arugula and basil, along with potatoes from last autumn. Other items of interest include vegetable and flower seedlings that are well-suited for Alaska, along with many tomato plants -- some from greenhouses and some cold-hardy types that can be grown outdoors. Hanging flower baskets will also be available.
The Spenard Farmers Market continues Saturday with another lineup of 40 vendors ready to offer a wide variety of items. Among the vendors scheduled for this week are:
• Adina's Acres: Will feature a wide variety of items that can be grown without a greenhouse, including tomato starts that have been outside for the past three weeks.
• Midnight Sun Farms: They will have hearty Boyne red raspberry starts Saturday.
• Chugach Farms: Will bring tender Chinese cabbage, a variety of boc choy that is the staple vegetable for making kimchi, (see recipe below) along with fragrant basil, rinsed greens and plenty of garden starts.
• Big Woof Dog Treats: Will have high-premium chicken jerky treats with all natural ingredients and no preservatives, using 100 percent chicken breast made in the United States with human-grade, American Humane Association certified chicken.
• Alaska Coffee Roastery: Will feature a light roast, whole bean or fresh ground, Bison Coffee brand, that is a gourmet blend of roasted exotic beans and roasted Delta, Alaska, barley.
Over at the indoor Center Market on Wednesday, Davis will be showing off his pork chops, steaks, Italian sausage, spicy sausage, breakfast sausage patties, sliced fresh side and slab side, along with seven varieties of potatoes from the 2012 season -- "they look and taste great," Davis says.
Other items to look for at the market include grass-fed Alaska beef, Alaska seafood, Alaska-grown sprouts, Alaska honey, and duck and quail eggs.
The market will stay indoors year-round, and Davis says that "come rain, shine or high winds don't panic when you only see the trucks in the parking lot, we are inside dry and open for business."
Spenard Market kimchi
1 pound of bok choy cabbage
1/4 cup kosher salt
About 6 cups cold water, more as needed
4 ounces daikon radish, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
2 medium scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (use all parts)
1/4 cup Korean red pepper powder
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup peeled and minced fresh ginger (from about a 2-ounce piece)
1 tablespoon minced garlic cloves (from 6 to 8 medium cloves)
11/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
w Chop the cabbage in bite-size pieces leaving smaller leaves whole. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and toss with your hands until the cabbage is coated. Add enough cold water to just cover (about 6 cups), making sure the cabbage is submerged (it's OK if a few leaves break the surface). Cover with plastic wrap or a baking sheet and let sit at room temperature at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
w Place a colander in the sink, drain the cabbage, and rinse with cold water. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid and transfer to a medium bowl; set aside.
w Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.
w Add the cabbage and toss with your hands until evenly combined and the cabbage is thoroughly coated with the mixture.
w Pack the mixture tightly into a clean 2-quart or 2-liter glass jar with a tight fitting lid and seal the jar.
w Let sit in a cool, dark place for 24 hours (the mixture may bubble). Open the jar to let the gases escape, then reseal and refrigerate at least 48 hours before eating (kimchi is best after fermenting about 1 week). Refrigerate for up to 1 month.
Source: Cindy Shake, Spenard Farmers Market community and media relations volunteer
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.
Wednesday: Center Market, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street
Saturday: Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 15th and Cordova in the Central Lutheran Church parking lot; Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets; South Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Subway/Cellular One Sports Center at the corner of Old Seward Highway and O'Malley Road; Spenard Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Spenard Road and 26th Avenue
Sunday: Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets