Alaskan Hot Dogs and More September 8th, 2014
An Impromptu Rhyme About a Hot Dog Stand:
Racks and racks
Of scrumptious snacks
So if you have a snack attack
Visit Kurt’s shack
(It would be convenient if at this point, Kurt acquired a yak who was black, but alak! No yak.)
Alright, I know that is bad poetry, but good food sort of moves me to poetry. The problem is, my skill is not exactly equal to the task. Fortunately, Kurt is a MUCH better cook than I am a poet.This has got to be the most gourmet hot dog I have ever eaten. Firstly, my bun (fresh from North Star bakery, this is no ordinary bun here) was toasted on the griddle. Whilst the bun is toasting, the hot dog, (from Indian Valley Meats, in several varieties) cut lengthwise, is sizzling pleasantly, smelling quite heavenly. Finally, the whole thing is stacked into a sort of hot dog sandwich and crowned with fried onions and peppers. Top with condiments and drool. Now the fascinating thing here is that this whole operation is run by Kurt Statz, who is 16 years old. He started his hot dog stand back when he was 14, and has been doing so well that he now has an employee of his own. Kurt saw that the market for food stands was open and capitalized. Besides hot dogs, the stand also serves grilled cheese sandwiches and frybread. Kurt tries to get his ingredients as locally as possible for all of his food.
So look for the silver hot dog stand outside Nonessentials by the four-way-stop near the train depot. Kurt will fry you up something tasty!
Monday Farmer’s Market August 7th, 2014As I leave work on Monday, I usually find that I have a bread deficiency. Specifically, a homemade bread deficiency. So I stop at the train depot in Palmer, where I know that many talented homemade bread makers are congregated, sharing their culinary talent with us common mortals.
The vendors at the Farmer’s Market seem kind of like superheroes. Their superpowers are things like:
Making lip balm from plants;
Recycling wine corks into keychains;
Making homemade noodles (think tortellini);
Sewing anything from aprons to potholders;
Making nectar—with hibiscus (Because regular nectar isn’t hard enough?)
Painting greeting cards;
Keeping flowers alive; (if this doesn’t seem like a superpower to you, then you have never tried to do it)
Producing good looking (and tasting) vegetables;
Making root-beer-carmel-filled chocolates;
Cooking authentic Mexican food;
And of course, the list goes on. Everyone smiles and chats with you about their merchandise. Many of the vendors work their booth as a family, so often there are kids helping out, learning about entrepreneurship and customer service from their parents. Every week it seems like there are different things for sale—new vegetables that have come into season, new flavors of chocolate, or different varieties of bread.
11am-7pm every Monday at the Train Depot. Whether you are just visiting and would like a chance to see and sample what Palmer produces locally, or you are a regular customer who needs their weekly homemade bread fix, go visit! This unique gathering of friendly and gracious vendors is sure to have something delightful to brighten your day.
Slivertip Design August 4th, 2014When people come visit us in Palmer, they usually want some Alaska souvenirs to prove that they survived the visit. And often, as we visit all the stores looking for said souvenirs, we find that they all have more or less the same things for sale. But as I browsed through Silvertip Design, I realized they have a completely different selection.
In fact, all of Silvertip’s merchandise is exclusive—caps, shirts, jackets, hoodies, even onesies and bags. This is because Silvertip does custom embroidery and screen printing, which means that all the items in the store were designed and created by Silvertip.
“You can get all kinds of Alaskana items from Walmart, but our niche is locally produced items.” Owner Ron Richards said. Ron was born and raised in the valley, and started Silvertip in 1985. He values the Alaskan lifestyle, and tries to reflect that in his business. Besides selling his own designs in the shop, he also sells local artist’s work, including things like jewelry, woodworking, and quilts.
I was surprised to discover that a lot of Silvertip’s business doesn’t come from the gift shop. They design products to sell, locally and around the state. They embroider caps for local business, and shirts for organizations like the Palmer Little League or the Dance Studio. Ron says sometimes people come with a specific design already planned out, but other times, they just have a vague idea of what they need, and the designers at Silvertip help them create their pattern. (Fact: you don’t have to be a business to commission your own shirts or caps. Contact Silvertip if you have a need for custom embroidery or screen printing.)
If you are a fan of the AlaskaGrown clothing line, a visit to Silvertip is definitely in order. Silvertip has the largest selection of AlaskaGrown clothing in the state! (Never before had I seen a Cameo AlaskaGrown shirt.)
This is one shop you don’t want to miss! Visit the Website for hours and contact information.
Palmer Museum and Visitor Center July 8th, 2014
Palmer Museum and Visitor Center Contact Info:
723 S. Valley Way, Palmer, AK 99645
Summer Hours (May 1 – Sept. 30):
Sunday through Saturday, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Palmer Visitor Center: A smorgasbord of information.
There is literally a buffet of information at the Visitor Center. If you need to know which company to contact to book a fishing charter, find a good place to eat in Palmer, or even just wonder about the history of our good city, this is the place to go. But if you can’t actually visit the Center, you can still get the answers you are looking for. Museum Director Selena Ortega-Chiolero says the Visitor Center receives approximately 100 emails a week with questions about visiting the MatSu Valley. The staff at the Visitor Center personally respond to all of these emails, sending an information packet with specific information regarding the questions and general information about Palmer.
“It’s our job not just to promote our organization, but to promote Palmer.” Selena says. One of their goals is to share the history of Palmer in a visual way. Besides preserving the past, this also means recognizing that history is being created every day. As art is a reflection of our culture, the Museum supports local artists by displaying their work and purchasing one local art piece each year. You can also buy pieces from the gift shop.
Selena says the number one thing visitors ask to see is “the giant vegetables”. And thanks to the efforts of the Head Gardener (and Assistants), you need go no further than the Museum’s own backyard. This is a truly spectacular showcase garden, with a dizzying array of plants, vegetables, flowers, and bushes. (Everything is helpfully labeled for those of us who are not botanists.) All of the edibles in the garden are donated to the senior center.
Currently, the Museum is proud to display the Smithsonian Institute’s Museums on Main Street “Key Ingredients: America By Food” exhibit. There are only four Museums in the state that were selected to host these exhibits this year. This theme ties in with the Museum’s efforts to promote agriculture and local farmers. In fact, the Museum is hosting a Community Potluck on July 19th from 12-4pm at Spring Creek Farm. (That’s 6402 Lossing Road.) This event is free, and it is a great opportunity to learn about local farming.
For more information about the Visitor Center, visit their website.
NonEssentials July 3rd, 2014
NonEssentials Contact Info:
728 S Alaska St,
Mon – Sat: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
For Denise, this store is an effort of love. She strives for great products, good relationships with the community, and seeks a way to supplement her family. She has a resilient entrepreneurial spirit, which she is passing on to the next generation—part of owning the store is giving her kids an opportunity to be involved and learn about business.
So what sort of things qualify as “nonessential”? The store particularly focuses on specialty food. “Specialty” means food you can’t get at ordinary grocery stores. There are vats of specialty cooking oils, fancy baking mixes, assorted dried goods, a wide selection of chocolate, Alaskan condiments, exotic spices, even brightly colored dishes. But it doesn’t stop there. The store also sells local artists’ work, (more support of entrepreneurship!) and an assortment of little luxuries like lotions, candles, greeting cards, and scarves. (Major shopping hint: This is the perfect place to go if you need to buy someone a gift, and can’t think of anything to get them.)Things I did not strictly need, but wanted:
Garlic Zoom, the rolling garlic chopper
Sunny Seeds, chocolate covered sunflower seeds (turns out I actually did need these)
Black “Squid Ink” noodles
Denise said she wanted to create a market for things that add enjoyment to people’s lives. Mission successful. This store delights even a casual peruser. For more information, visit the Nonessentials Facebook page
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