With a couple of hardy exceptions, noted below, the Anchorage-area farmers markets are closed for the season. Expect varieties of new potatoes, cole crops, carrots and other root vegetables to still be at peak freshness.
As if the end of summer growing isn't enough to make Alaska's foodies weep, word came last week that due to the government shutdown -- or perhaps we should say the selective suspension of certain federal services for reasons best explained by people smarter than me -- the Alaska king crab season might be in jeopardy.
The crab fishery was set to open on Tuesday with a total quota of 8.6 million pounds for Bristol Bay red king crab. But NOAA personnel who must issue the papers permitting captains go out and set pots were furloughed as "non-essential."
An agreement to refloat the agency (tentative at the time of this writing) theoretically means the fleet can head to the happy crabbing grounds, though there may be a lag between the official opening, the approval of required paperwork and the projected delivery dates some distributors are advertising. But king crab is worth the wait.
At press time the crab fleet -- most of it based in Washington or Oregon -- remained idled in Dutch Harbor and Alaskans who await this time of year with bowls of butter ready to melt will have to settle for surimi.
Some happier news for seafood fans came through last week. The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) announced that 20 companies had been added to the list of Alaska producers/processors that meet the requirements for something called Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Chain of Custody Certification. The certification "does not change the way the fisheries in Alaska themselves are managed," said the press release, "it just provides the independent assurance that our fisheries are being responsibly managed."
That is to say, the salmon, cod, crab or whatever on your plate today is not served at the expense of future fish populations -- and future meals. More than 65 companies with Alaska products are on the list, from industry giants like Trident and Peter Pan to homegrown companies like Copper River Seafood and Coastal Villages Seafood. Check out the list at certification.alaskaseafood.org/chain-suppliers.
Shifting from farmed produce to wild seafood to the one great Alaska food group you're not allowed to buy or sell -- wild meat -- many of us are making room in the larder for fresh game.
"It's the season of harvest," said Ken Marsh with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Anchorage. A lot of hunters were skunked when wet weather in the early part of the season proved more productive of colds than kills. But things have changed and Marsh said he was expecting an average year for freezer-fillers.
"It looks like we've met the quota for the Nelchina (caribou) herd already," he said. "On the Kenai they did better on moose this year; they had more opportunities with eased hunting restrictions."
Deer hunters didn't fare so well. The record snow two winters back was hard on deer, Marsh said. "Their numbers are quite low right now."
There are still black bear out, he added, and bird hunting is cresting. "This is probably the last week or two of decent waterfowl hunting," Marsh said. "If a person hit it just right (this week) you might catch one of those big bunches that go through en mass."
Most moose seasons are now closed, but special hunts continue. Last Wednesday people were lined up before the office opened to register for a drawing for a moose hunt on upper Ship Creek, Marsh said. "Some looked like they'd spent the night. I actually stepped over one sleeping bag just to get into work."
Needless to say, those permits are all gone and we wish success to all the lucky registrants -- especially those endowed with generosity.
Whether you're a hunter or the recipient of game, you may be looking for an appropriately Alaska sauce for that perfectly Alaska meat dish. Today we present a barbecue sauce by the late Peggy Goldizen, a Fairbanks baker who became something of a legend over the years. Among other things, she created the 12-foot "Statehood" cake sent to Congress to celebrate the admission of Alaska to the union.
"Peggy had the ability to taste food and tell you what ingredients were involved and the proportion of each," said Caroline Bolar, who passed the recipe below to us. The diminutive Irish redhead was insistent on sticking with brands she specified in her recipes, of which she created thousands that she shared with fellow Alaskans in newspaper columns and radio programs. She studied with master bakers in Europe and trained scores of Alaska cooks.
"She was a fun loving person who became serious when food was the topic," Bolar said.
Bolar noted that one of the benefits of this sauce is that it does not need to be refrigerated. "I can mix up an industrial sized amount and leave it in a jug under the sink and the last drop is as good as the first," she said.
Recipe: Peggy Goldizen's Bar-B-Que Sauce
î´ 2 bottles of Heinz Ketchup (11 ounces each)
î´ 1/2 small bottle of Lea & Perrins Worchestershire Sauce (21/2 ounces.)
î´ 1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoning Salt
î´ Salt and pepper
î´ 1 small can (11/2 ounces) mild chili powder
î´ 2/3 jar Gulden's Spicy Mustard
î´ 1 whole plastic container of lemon juice (21/2 ounces)
î´ 1 jar of horseradish (5 ounces)
î´ 21/2 cups white sugar
w Combine and warm ingredients, stirring to mix thoroughly, seal in jars or similar containers.
î´ 1 institutional size Heinz Ketchup (7 pound, 2 ounces)
î´ 71/2 ounces Lea & Perrins Worchestershire Sauce
î´ 5 teaspoons Lawry's Seasoning Salt
î´ Salt and pepper
î´ 71/2 ounces) mild chili powder
î´ 4 8-ounce jars (or 32 ounces) Gulden's Spicy Mustard
î´ 121/2 ounces lemon juice
î´ 5 5-ounce jars (or 25 ounces) horseradish
î´ 171/2 cups white sugar
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Regular Market Fresh reporter Steve Edwards will return next week. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By MIKE DUNHAM