Even the pickiest of eaters might be able to find a new favorite dish in "Plating up the Tongass," a new culinary project from the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition.
Referred to as a "community cookbook" by KWC, "Plating up the Tongass" will be a collection of recipes and anecdotes centering around ingredients that can be harvested from nature in the Ketchikan area.
All the recipes featured in the book will be submitted by Ketchikan locals. KWC is accepting submissions now through a time to be announced in September.
KWC Executive Director Romanda Simpson spoke with the Daily News about the project on Friday.
The concept was developed around a year and a half ago as an initiative of the "Building a Healthy Community" task force at KWC, Simpson explained
The focus of the task force is to lower the community's rates of obesity and tobacco use, while encouraging healthy habits such as nutrition and exercise.
Simpson recalled that the idea was suggested during a meeting of the task force.
"As we (the task force) were discussing about what we could do, somebody had mentioned that they had seen a community cookbook previously, and we all decided that's such an amazing way to really utilize the local knowledge and incorporate our local foods that you could harvest," Simpson said.
The concept that KWC created puts a heavy emphasis on making natural food available to youth.
One of the goals of "Plating up the Tongass" is to use it as a guide for after-school programs that are held in conjunction with Residential Youth Services.
"We wanted to create almost like a curriculum in a way, where the book would have stories and games and ways for the kids to connect to the food in their own life and experience," explained Simpson. "Like, when they go out to the park, they can see food (with the book)."
Contributors also may choose to share their personal connections to the recipes in the book.
"People can share a story or a memory or can describe one of their favorite ways to harvest the ingredient," Simpson said. "It really is about the kids being able to see food in our environment."
Anyone is welcome to submit a recipe until September. Simpson noted that the official deadline has yet to be announced, but will be sometime in mid- to late Sept.
Simpson said that the basic guideline for a submission is that a recipe must include at least one ingredient that can be harvested or obtained from natural areas of Ketchikan.
Simpson noted that on the KWC website, a list of possible ingredients has been compiled.
"Every(thing) from bull kelp to dandelion to venison to black cod to devil's club to spruce tips," is featured on the list, Simpson said. "We try to provide a lot of ideas that are more than just salmon and halibut, which typically people think of."
Some items featured on the online list — such as salmonberries and rhubarb — will be familiar ideas, but other items — like fish organs (or "offal") and sea urchin — might be new territory.
Recipes should also be submitted with photographs of the dish's preparation or the final product, according to the KWC website.
KWC is aiming to distribute the book later this fall, and Simpson conservatively estimated that the first round of printing might include anywhere between 250-500 copies.
Simpson said that ideally, the launch of the cookbook would be punctuated with a community potlach, but that no plans had been made yet due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Submission forms and the cookbook's complete guidelines may be found at www.kwc.org.
Completed forms may be submitted online or dropped off at KWC, the New York Cafe or the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce office.