Thursday, July 18, 2019

ASRA summer camp focuses on Alaska foods

Call it a food finale or a dessert smackdown. High schoolers with the Alaska Summer Research Academy group on Alaska foods prepared desserts made solely with local ingredients and asked the archaeology group to choose its favorite.
Sable Scotten of Galena prepares to bake king salmon as Glenna Gannon looks

The taste test lineup was enticing: serviceberry/blueberry pie with a barley flour crust, sourdough barley rolls with a raspberry filling and raspberry/strawberry sorbet topped with edible wildflowers and blueberry gummies made from scratch. The gummy gelatin was rendered from caribou bones.

Heidi Rader, who coordinates the two-week UAF camp, told the high school judges to taste everything before filling out the judging forms. She also asked for comments as they sampled the fare, while seated at a picnic table on lower campus.

“The bread was good. It was just a tad bit dry,” one volunteered.
Zoe McIntyre poses with her serviceberry pie.

After tasting the sorbet, another student said, “I can’t be the mean judge on this.”

“The pie’s really good,” one judge said. “It’s a bit tangy I guess.”

It was a blind tasting. The tasters did not know who prepared what, and the chefs stood by and listened to the feedback.

Cooking desserts is just one of many activities for participants in the camp module called, “What’s for Dinner? Why We Eat What We Eat in Alaska and What it Means for Our Health.” Participants toured the Georgeson Botanical Garden, learned about the vegetable variety trials there, and about food policy, healthy diets and career opportunities in agriculture. They also foraged for wild foods.

“It’s all about food,” said Rader, a tribes Extension educator who ran the camp with help of graduate students Glenna Gannon and Sheri Coke, and UAF Professor Liz Hodges Snyder.

Shea Gunter works on raspberry
Students spent a fair amount of time in the commercial kitchen at the Extension state office building, preparing kale salad, sautéing and baking salmon, making cauliflower muffins and cake, and other Alaska foods. They also canned jam with serviceberries and raspberries. The camp was focused on cooking healthy and with vegetables.

Zoe McIntyre, the architect of the serviceberry pie, said she signed up for the camp because she was interested in Alaska foods. She particularly liked tasting her first serviceberries.

Shea Gunter, who will be a high school sophomore this fall in Tetlin, said, “I really liked the baking.”

The winning dessert was the raspberry/strawberry or “strawsberry” sorbet made by Sable Scotten of Galena. The science academy ends on Friday.

The camp emphasized healthy eating and vegetables.

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