In other parts of the country, mid-August is prime time for the dog days of summer: hot, sultry and generally unpleasant.
In Alaska, mid-August means we're turning an eye toward autumn. From the farmers' fields, look for some of the late-season crops; from the sea, there is a change in what is available at the markets. And Alaskans are even doing a little dog days celebrating (keep reading).
"August is the part of the season when the greens and heavier vegetables overlap," says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market. "Both are spectacular. We're in between the stresses of heat or frost, and everything that is well-established is thriving."
Stop by your local market and see what's out there this week as we head into our version of the dog days.
South Anchorage Farmers Market
There will be two highlights -- apart from the multiple vendors -- this week. The Northrim Bank purple plant contest is Saturday, with an opportunity for home gardeners to showcase their purple plants or flowers.
And Clayton Jones will be the Chef at the Market this week. Jones is the executive chef at Crossbar restaurant in Midtown.
"I will be focusing on vegetarian and gluten-friendly preparations of the edible bounty found at the market," Jones says. "My demonstration will include making vegetable stock on site to be turned into a soup that will be determined by the visitors at the market. I will also prepare salads and dressings derived from ingredients provided by the market. Recipes from this day's presentation that are designed with help from the public will be made available to everyone."
Saturday is the first of five consecutive weeks Jones is scheduled to attend the South Anchorage market.
"My goal with these demonstrations is provide easy and approachable techniques for market-goers to use at home," he says. "The easiest way for anyone to make better food is to get better food. Presenting the chef's craft with the farmers' art, I hope to give Anchorage some new ways to look at the foods we produce locally."
Northern Flowers will be making its market debut this week with dahlias, potted herbs, geraniums, begonias, violas, pansies, gazania, lobularia, pericallis and heirloom tomatoes. The Rempel Family Farm will have green beans, sugar snap peas, lettuces, turnips, a variety of kales, beets, Napa cabbage, green onions, radishes and a variety of other items.
Earthworks Farm will have specialty fresh-cut flowers, fresh greens, herbs and their lineup of Alaska beeswax and honey body care products. (They will also have the body care products at the Anchorage Market and Festival on Saturday and Sunday.)
Other vendors include VanderWeele Farm, Joan's Salmon Burgers, Mat Valley Meats, Country Garden Farm, Stockwell Family Farm, Zoi's Food 4 Life and Seldovitch Family Farm. And market organizer Arthur Keyes says to be sure and check out the Hungry Squirrel, "with his incredible cannoli."
Alex Davis of A.D. Farm will have a variety of vegetables, including beets, green beans, five varieties of cauliflower, fava beans and snow peas, barley products, and pork products, including sausage, chops, steaks and fat.
Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free will have a full menu including roasted beets and sweet potato soup, carrot ginger soup, red lentil dahl, red beans and wild brown rice with pico de gallo, chocolate chip cookies, fresh bread and a frozen dough ball.
Anchorage Farmers Market
New this week from Arctic Organics is fennel, red and savoy cabbage, red bell peppers, sweet pea flowers and large sunflowers. Other items to look for include cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli heads and shoots, daikon radish, kohlrabi, snow apple turnips, a variety of kales, turnip greens, rainbow chard, mustard greens, arugula, baby lettuce mix, herbs, fresh cut flowers and apple trees.
Other vendors include: Stockwell Farm, Persistent Farmer, VanderWeele Farms, Northern Flowers, Vang Family Home Garden, The Magpie farm to table fare and Turkey Red baked goods.
Northway Mall Market
Dinkel's Veggies will be one of the vendors at Wednesday's market. They will also be at the Wasilla Wednesday Market, the Spenard Farmers Market and the Anchorage Market and Festival, both Saturday and Sunday.
They will have tomatoes, green and yellow zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, sweet onion, green beans, lettuce, sugar snap peas, strawberries and raspberries.
Dog Days in Downtown
The Anchorage Downtown Partnership is sponsoring the Dog Days of Summer Block Party from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Peratrovich Park.
Drool Central will be one of several canine-related vendors at the party, including rescue organizations and demonstrations.
From the sea
Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods in Anchorage says the seafood is still coming in but if you want fresh shrimp, act quickly.
"This week marks the end of the fresh shrimp season in Prince William Sound," Southall says. "As long as the weather cooperates, we will have fresh spot and side-stripe shrimp. These lovely cold water delights are great paired with any of the other fresh seafood this week."
Fresh Southeast coho salmon are $8.95 per pound for fillets and $5.95 per pound for headed and cleaned fish.
"These nickel bright fish are caught with a hook and line and the meat color and flavor are amazing," Southall says.
Also look for fresh 10- to-20-pound halibut and live Alaska oysters and mussels.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at email@example.com.
Local farmers markets
Monday: Mat-Su Farm Market, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Palmer Depot
Tuesday: Eagle River Farmers Market, VFW, 3-7 p.m.
Wednesday: APU Farmers Market, 1:30-6:30 p.m., 4101 University Drive; Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Northway Mall Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Northway Mall; South Anchorage Wednesday Market, Dimond Center, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Wasilla Farmers Market, near Wasilla Wonderland Park, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Thursday: Peters Creek American Legion Post 33 Farmers Market, 3-7 p.m., 21643 Old Glenn Highway
Friday: Willow Farmers Market, 2-7 p.m., Mile 69 Parks Highway
Saturday: Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at 15th and Cordova in the Central Lutheran Church parking lot; Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets; Center Market, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Homer Famers Market, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Ocean Drive; South Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Subway/Cellular One Sports Center at the corner of Old Seward Highway and O'Malley Road; Saturday Eagle River Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Mike's Meats in Eagle River; Spenard Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Spenard Road and 26th Avenue
Sunday: Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets