In our own Backyard

Story last updated at 5:35 PM on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Market to table: healthy, economical, easy, delicious


Photo provided

Mindy Parks and Bette Seaman at Homer Farmers' Market.

When I walked into a class taught by Bette Seaman, dietician for South Peninsula Hospital, that offered tips for cooking with produce from Homer Farmers' Market, and I was greeted by the smell of soup and fresh bread, I was a smiling camper.

With a dozen other people, I settled in to enjoy a bowl of fantastic vegetable soup, thick slices of bread — both compliments of SPH dietary manager and chef Michael Callahan and his crew — and soak up Seaman's expertise and know-how.

Her reasons for eating locally grown produce included freshness, the nutritional value and the jobs created for local growers. Pointing to Alaska's 9.2 earthquake in 1964 that isolated many communities due to damaged roads, airports and train tracks, Seaman spoke of the importance of producing food close to home.

She also had compared Farmers' Market prices to those of local grocery outlets.

"It might not always be cheaper, but it's either cheaper or the same," said Seaman.

When it comes to serving vegetables to kids, grandkids for most of us in the class, Seaman urged a gentle approach.

"If a kid tries broccoli the first time and doesn't like it, let it be. Maybe next time," she said, offering suggestions to encourage healthy eating: family meals where everyone eats together and eats the same foods, and including children in the growing, buying and cooking processes.

Seaman suggested developing a repertoire of recipes and keeping the ingredients on hand.

One of her favorites was a make-ahead-and-put-in-the-freezer soup base that she freezes in muffin pans. When needed, she puts one of the frozen shapes into a crock pot, adds beans that have been soaked overnight, fills the crock pot with water and lets it cook.

Seaman offered tips for blanching vegetables and making pickles and relishes, and everyone was eager for copies of recipes Seaman provided, as well as the web addresses for more recipes.

The class was the last of a three-part "market-to-table" series funded by a grant from the Alaska Division of Agriculture. Twice in August, Seaman and Mindy Parks, owner of Alaska Ridgetop Inn and a gardener and cook who advocates for sustainable, homegrown foods, prepared a recipe at the Homer Farmers' Market using produce grown by and available from market vendors.

Through the hospital's involvement with MAPP — Mobilizing for Action Through Partnership and Planning — of the Southern Peninsula, formerly the Southern Kenai Peninsula Communities Project, there has been an area-wide emphasis this year on healthy eating. The series of classes was part of that emphasis.

One evening following the class, I prepared two re- cipes Seaman shared, compliments of Parks: roasted zucchini and kale chips.


The following recipes are provided by Mindy Parks of Ridgetop Inn.


Medium-size zucchini, halved and cut into 3-inch long spears

1 clove of garlic, minced (about one clove per 4 zucchini halves)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Balsamic vinegar

Preheat grill to medium heat or preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Combine garlic with oil in a small bowl. Arrange the zucchini skin-side down on a roasting pan when roasting or skin-side down on grill. Lightly brush the cut sides with the oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes or grill about 10 minutes, until the slices are tender and lightly browned. Transfer the zucchini to a serving plate. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve hot.


1 bunch kale

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper. With a knife or kitchen shears, remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite-size pieces. Wash and dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Bake until the edges brown, but are not burnt, usually 10-15 minutes. Enjoy.

Not only were they easy, but they also were delicious. (See recipes, this page.) For more recipes, visit:;;;

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McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at