Sometimes a trip to the farmers market gives you exactly what you expect. And sometimes, you get a twist.
Take Joan Johnson's Southfork stand at the South Anchorage Farmers Market as an example.
Saturday, Johnson expects to have heirloom cherry tomatoes, which she has offered up at the market in previous years, much to the delight of those who love a good tomato. "Tomatoes are doing well this year because of the warm July weather," she says.
Customers might not expect to find Italian zucchini sitting next to the tomatoes on the Southfork table.
"Italian zucchinis are a thicker-skinned winter squash, gourd shaped, with an elongated neck," Johnson says. "They measure over 2 feet long and have a pale green flesh that turns slightly pinkish with age. The squash works really well in stir-fries because of its low moisture content; it can also be used to make a very nice pureed squash soup."
One stand, two treats and maybe something new to try.
Other vendors at Saturday's South Anchorage Farmers Market include: Rise & Shine Bakery with levain, spent grain and flax seed loaves of bread, along with kalamata olive and fruited almond hearth loaves; Dave's Greenhouse, down from Fairbanks with loads of tomatoes; Glacier Valley Farm; VanderWeele Farm; Earthworks Farm; Honey Bucket Ranch; Arctic Choice Seafood; and Alaska Sprouts, along with several others.
The market is also hosting the Northrim Bank Purple Plant contest. Market guests are invited to bring their best purple plant to the market for judging.
Spenard Farmers Market
It's Wild and Smoked in Alaska day at the market on Saturday. The Cooperative Extension Service will have information on Home Canning Smoked Fish and Home Smoking Fish for Canning with tips for preparing fish for smoking, smoking for canning and canning smoked fish. (And check out the brine recipe at the end of the column.)
Some vendor highlights include: Midnight Sun Farm will have lettuce, kale, (large leaf) Swiss chard, broccoli, turnips, sugar snap peas, snow peas and turnips; Fresh International Gardens should have chives, salad, Siberian kale and beets; Chugach Farm will bring broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, beets, rainbow carrots, fresh herbs, pesto, kombucha, leeks and a variety of vinegars; Black Bear Farms will bring kolarabi, zucchini, kale, onions and greens; Wildrose Alaska Natural Harvest will be bringing blueberry balsamic vinegar and rosemary mustard; Alaska Gourmet will offer fresh king crab; and Dinkel's Veggies will have green beans.
Anchorage Farmers Market
Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics says it's an interesting time in the fields: "It's definitely crossover time, when both early summer crops and late season crops overlap, making for a very full farmers market booth!"
New items to look for this week include cauliflower, chioggia and golden beets, beet greens and daikon radish. Other items include red beets, cabbage, snow apple turnips, zucchini, broccoli, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, sugarsnap peas, snow peas and young carrots, along with loads of greens and plenty of herbs.
Other vendors scheduled this week include Bushes Bunches, Persistent Farmer, Stockwell Farms, VanderWeele Farms, Seldovitch Farm, LivenGreen, Home Garden, Ba-Lescas Brothers, Turkey Red rustic breads and baked goods, ACAT compost tea and Magpie Sue.
The list of produce available in Midtown Anchorage at the Wednesday and Saturday indoor markets continues to grow.
Alex Davis of A.D. Farm says to look for several varieties of zucchini, three varieties of beets, three kinds of cauliflower, green beans, sugar snap peas, fava beans, kohlrabi, broccoli, lettuces, rhubarb and white carrots. He also will have fresh side pork slab and sliced, pork steaks, pork chops, breakfast sausage patties, Italian sausage, ground pork, spicy sausage and hocks. He also will have 5-pound packs of pork fat, perfect for moose and caribou hunters.
Northway Mall Farmers Market
Among the vendors this week is the Rempel Family Farm, which will have certified organic bunches of carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, several varieties of zucchini, arugula, green onions, chard, lettuce, salad mix, spinach, radishes, cress, kales, green cabbage, kohlrabi, daikon radish, turnips, new potatoes and a variety of other produce. (The Rempels will also be at the Saturday South Anchorage market.)
Brown sugar brine for smoked salmon
The basic recipe is 4 parts water to 1 part soy sauce with a 1/4 cup of canning salt for every cup of soy sauce. 1 cup of brine will be needed per pound of salmon. Add dark brown sugar, garlic, ginger and honey to taste. Dill, cayenne pepper, onion and other seasonings and spices can be added to create your signature brine. Pyrex clear glass bakeware works well for marinating your fillets.
8 pounds of salmon, skin on, rinsed, patted dry, cut into strips or small pieces
8 cups of water
2 cups of soy sauce
11/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sea, kosher, or canning salt
11/2 tablespoon minced, crushed garlic
1 tablespoon ginger
2 tablespoons Alaska honey
w Arrange the salmon fillets in glass baking dishes or non-reactive containers and mix ingredients in a large bowl. Pour brine mixture over salmon, making sure fish is covered. Cover containers and marinate for about 8 hours in the refrigerator.
w Remove fillets from brine, pat dry with paper towels and arrange on racks to dry in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours. Smoke salmon according your smoker's directions. Remember a slightly wet product is best suited for recipes and a drier product for snacking is usually preferred.
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 email@example.com.
TUESDAY: EAGLE RIVER FARMERS MARKET, 3-7 P.M., VFW POST PARKING LOT
WEDNESDAY: CENTER MARKET, 10 A.M. TO 6 P.M., THE MALL AT SEARS, BENSON BOULEVARD AND DENALI STREET; NORTHWAY MALL FARMERS MARKET, 9 A.M. TO 4 P.M., NORTHWAY MALL; SOUTH ANCHORAGE FARMERS MARKET, DIMOND CENTER, 10 A.M. TO 4 P.M.; WASILLA FARMERS MARKET, 11 A.M. TO 6 P.M., BEHIND THE WASILLA PUBLIC LIBRARY
THURSDAY: PETERS CREEK FARMERS MARKET & CRAFTS, 3-7 P.M., 21643 OLD GLENN HIGHWAY
FRIDAY: MAT VALLEY MEATS, 6175 EAST PALMER WASILLA HIGHWAY, 11 A.M. TO 6 P.M., PALMER FRIDAY FLING, 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M. AT THE PAVILION ACROSS FROM VISITOR'S CENTER
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; CENTER MARKET, THE MALL AT SEARS, 10 A.M. TO 7 P.M.; 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
Local farmers markets
By STEVE EDWARDS
Daily News correspondent