This March 17, don't just wear green -- go green. Here are six easy ways to incorporate local and ecologically minded purchases into your holiday.
1. Grass-fed corned beef with Alaska-grown cabbage
You start salivating before the bowl hits the table. No one dish defines St. Patrick's Day quite like salty, melt-in-your-mouth corned beef and cabbage. Slow-cooked all day in a Crock-Pot, this holiday treat is impossible to refuse. What could make this dish even better? Use high quality grass-fed beef and Alaska-grown cabbage. If you are feeling adventurous, top it with a fresh, local, poached egg.
2. Alaska stout ice cream float
Sounds weird, I know. But this surprisingly delicious pairing of beer and ice cream will leave you longing for more. There are lots of good Alaska beer options for this drink, including Denali Brewing Company's dry Irish-style Chuli Stout, St. Elias Brewing Company's Mother's Milk Irish Stout and Alaskan Brewing Company's Oatmeal Stout. For extra points, use organic vanilla ice cream (I recommend Alden's Ice Cream found at New Sagaya for those in Anchorage), or make your own. I have never tried this with a dairy-free ice cream, so if you go that route, be sure to let me know how it tastes.
3. Strawberry rhubarb Irish crumble
For those that still have frozen rhubarb from last summer in the freezer, plan on making Alaska From Scratch's delectable strawberry rhubarb Irish crumble for dessert. We are gaining almost six minutes of sunlight a day now, bringing the thought of sweet garden strawberries and crisp, ruby-red rhubarb stalks to mind.
4. Go meatless -- Alaska-grown potato-leek soup
The greenhouse gas emissions from industrial beef production are staggering. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the world's man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Scientific American reported in 2009 that producing half a pound of corn-fed hamburger releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000 pound car nearly 10 miles.
A small action such as skipping meat one meal a week can make a huge difference. Go meatless on St. Patrick's Day! Instead, make a creamy Alaska-grown potato-leek soup. Make sure to have a loaf of crusty bread ready for dipping.
5. Moose or caribou shepherd's pie
An important part of food security for Alaskans is being able to hunt for our own meat. Eating local wild game is a healthy and (I think) far more delicious alternative to imported beef. The best part of making shepherd's pie -- one of my favorite celebratory winter dishes -- is the leftovers you have all week.
5. Alaska barley soda bread
Alaska Flour Company specializes in artisan stone-ground barley flour and barley cereal that they plant, grow and mill on their 1,700-acre farm in Delta Junction. Both products are available in Anchorage, Anchor Point, Copper Center, Delta Junction, Fairbanks, Glennallen, Juneau, Kenai, Palmer, Tok, and Wasilla. Put an Alaska twist on Irish soda bread by using barley flour for a lovely nutty flavor.
Shannon Kuhn lives in Anchorage and writes about food and culture. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food & Culture