With the holiday season coming up, we wanted to remind you of the local foods and recipes you can add into your holiday meals.
In households throughout Alaska there is a huge variation in what people eat for the holidays. Many of us eat salmon, moose, deer, shrimp, halibut, seal, duck, ptarmigan, caribou and muktuk, instead of turkey or alongside. My personal favorite is ptarmigan, duck or caribou for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In my family, for Thanksgiving in Wrangell about 10 years ago, we had a potluck dinner at my cousin’s. They were providing the turkey. We didn’t coordinate together beforehand. When we arrived at the house we found that my cousin’s husband had made a turducken — a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, which is then stuffed into a turkey. Other cousins brought halibut olympia, baked salmon, a giant pot of steamed shrimp, a huge pot of dungeness crab, and my niece made pink stuff. Pink stuff is a mix of cottage cheese, whip cream and a package of raspberry gelatin. Not a vegetable in sight. No cranberry sauce. No mashed potatoes. Just meat with a side of meat, and pink stuff. It was one of the best holiday dinners ever. Occasionally I meet people who think I am a vegetarian. I like to tell them that story.
Everyone’s got different family food traditions. Here in Alaska, we have numerous meat selections to substitute or accompany turkey for the holidays. But I want to share with you flavors that pair well with all those meats, carbs and salads. These are recipes we’ve shared with you this past year.
• 4 cups of salmonberries
• 1 cup of water
• Add sugar to taste if you want to drink fresh
Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan. Heat the berries and water on medium and immediately begin to simmer when you reach a low boil. Mash the berries to release more juice. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain out seeds. I use cheesecloth in a colander. You can now freeze or can the juice. You can also use the juice to make a jelly or syrups.
Salmonberry Simple Syrup
• 1 cup of salmonberry juice
• 1 cup of sugar
Bring salmonberry juice to a rolling boil. Add sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a rolling boil and turn down to simmer until desired thickness. 1-10 minutes. Pour into jars. Let cool on the counter and then refrigerate. Tip: a teaspoon of butter will help keep the foam to a minimum. The syrup goes great with cocktails, and pairs well with wild game.
Salmonberry Rich Syrup
• 1 cup of salmonberry juice
• 2 cups of sugar
• Bring salmonberry juice to a rolling boil. Add sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a rolling boil and turn down to simmer until desired thickness. 1-10 minutes. Pour into jars. Let cool on the counter and then refrigerate. Tip: a teaspoon of butter will help keep the foam to a minimum. A rich syrup has a longer shelf life than a simple syrup because it has more sugar. The syrup goes great with cocktails, and pairs well with wild game.
• ½ cup of salmonberries
• 2 tbsp cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
• 4 tsp raspberry vinegar
• 3 tsp salmonberry simple syrup
• ½ tsp sea salt
Mix the salmonberries and raspberry vinegar in a blender. Strain the seeds. Stir in simple syrup and sea salt. Slowly drizzle olive oil while whisking to make sure that it emulsifies. Pour into mason jar and store in fridge for up to two weeks.
Labrador Tea Jelly
• 3 cups of tea
• 4 1/2 cups of sugar
• Teaspoon of butter
• 1/4 cup of lemon juice
• One box of pectin
Follow the directions of any tea jelly and experiment with the texture you like. Add a little bit of vanilla to change up the recipe. You can also make the tea with rose hips to change up the flavor of the jelly.
Labrador Tea Mixed Berry Jam
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 cups of Labrador tea
• 8 cups mixed berries
• 2 tablespoons powdered pectin
In a large pot, combine sugar and tea up to a simmer and stir until sugar has dissolved.
Stir in the berries, let simmer until thickens. Typically takes 10 minutes.
Stir in pectin and bring to hard boil. Cook one minute or until liquid reaches 220 degrees.
Remove from heat. Can use water bath method.
Spruce Tip Vinegar
• 1 cup spruce tips
• 2 cups white vinegar (or apple cider)
• 1 jar
Make sure to remove the brown husks off the spruce tips.
Place them in the jar and pour the vinegar over.
Make sure to close the lid tight and shake.
Shake the jar once a day or every few days for 10 days – four weeks.
Pour the vinegar through a strainer into a bottle.
The tips should be completely strained out and discarded.
You will have more flavor the longer you let it soak.
Spruce Tip Salad Dressing
• Mix one part spruce tip vinegar to three parts extra virgin olive oil.
• Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Shake and enjoy
• Any size glass jar.
Fill halfway with spruce tips.
Fill jar with water.
Soak for two-12 hours, consume within 24 hours.
The longer you let it soak, the more flavor you will get.
Soak too long and the flavor will go bad.
• Dry spruce tips
Store in a glass jar in your cupboard.
Sprinkle in pasta dishes, soups, breads, muffins, salt, sugar and more.
• A small handful of chopped beach lovage spring greens from the beach.
• 10-20 chopped spruce tips from the forest depending on the flavor you would like. (Start with 10 and add more if you like.)
• A few fresh chives from the garden
• 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
• 2 tbsps minced or crushed garlic
• 1 1/2 tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1 1/2 tbsps lemon juice
• pinch of salt and pepper
Mix together all of the ingredients and enjoy.
High Bush Cranberry Ketchup
• 6 cups highbush cranberries
• 1 ½ teaspoons celery salt
• 1 ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon pepper
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 ½ teaspoon allspice
• ½ cup water
• 1 ½ cup onions, chopped fine
• 1 cup cider vinegar
• 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
Combine cranberries and water in large pot and cook until soft. Remove seeds using cheesecloth, sieve or food mill. Add vinegar, sugar, onions and spices. Boil until it thickens. Pour ketchup into jars right away. Can using water bath method. Use with poultry or meat.
There are all sorts of variations on these recipes that can be made by combing with other berries, other plants, other spices.
• Vivian Mork is Tlingit from Southeast Alaska. She is a raven from the T’akdeintaan clan. Vivian has a master’s degree in Cross Cultural Studies with an emphasis in Indigenous Knowledge Systems. Vivian has a small traditional foods and medicine business called Alaska’s Traditional Medicinals and you can find it at www.planetalaskastore.com. Vivian works as a guide in Sitka and is a columnist for Capital City Weekly. She also co-hosts Planet Alaska with her mother Vivian Faith Prescott. Vivian comes from a large multi-cultural family and is also Hawaiian, Chinese, Irish and Saami. She loves fusion food.