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Updated: 1 hour 31 min ago

Do these tasks now to get your yard and garden ready for winter

Thu, 2021-10-14 05:51

A large flock of geese passes over Anchorage on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, while migrating south for the winter. The snow-capped Chugach Mountains are visible in the distance. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)

We have had frost and even our first snow. There is termination dust halfway down the mountains and it is distinctly jacket weather. Yet there are still blooms in our yard and, I suspect many others. It is something terrific to see flowers in outdoors this time of year.

We have sweet peas, petunias, calendula and a new one to me, Diascia — which I thought was nemesia all summer long. Admittedly, most of these flowers are in containers on porches and in window boxes, both of which are preferred, warm locations. Still, their names will be noted. These are plants — or better put, locations — which extend our season, and you should really consider planting there again for late fall effect next year.

And, we even have lots of beautiful dahlias blooming their heads off. Really! OK, these are indoors under our lighting system. I brought in several and they are continuing to produce.

Yes, lights need to go up. This is the first of what will be many instances of pestering so you will finally set up some lights under which to grow plants during our long indoor growing season. Grow lights in Alaska are not just for starting seeds. Imagine dahlias in mid-October!

OK, back outdoors there are some easy chores. First, stake pathways and driveways to guide snowplows and locate snow pile areas. This will protect lawns and garden beds. You really only need to provide guidance for the first few snowfalls. Chances are whatever you use will get run over or stepped on, so I suggest avoiding the expensive reflectors and such. Simple survey flags will do and can be unbent after damage. They come in fluorescent red, orange and green colors, so they can even be somewhat decorative in a garish way.

You should next mulch your garden beds if Mother Nature hasn’t done so already. Two or 3 inches of leaves should give adequate cover. Since you should pull it off in early spring to speed up soil warming, you can make it thicker just to be on the safe side. This layer prevents plants from starting too early and provides food for soil microbes that will feed your plants next season.

You can still plant garlic, trees and shrubs and spring flowering bulbs. The only difficulty will be finding them. The spring flowering bulbs should be on sale by now. Buy the biggest ones you can find.

Did you disconnect your hoses from outdoor faucets? Does your water need to be turned off from the inside? Busted pipes are no fun and can be hard to fix. Temperatures are still moving into the 40s during the days so you can drain your hoses, too, before rolling them up and putting them away.

Empty any container that will fill with water and freeze. We use a black, 55-gallon garbage pail in our greenhouse to hold water. One year I didn’t empty it, stupid me, and it split during one of the freeze and thaw sessions. Five-gallon buckets, watering cans and the like all react the same way.

I have already mentioned Plantskydd, which can be painted on tree bark to hopefully ward off moose. It is best to apply before freezing temperatures set in. There isn’t much else you can do to keep moose at bay. I have never found the Irish Spring soap trick to work, by the way.

Finally, while it is too early to put up bird feeders as the occasional hungry bear is still wandering around, it is not too early to get seed, as long as you keep it safely indoors. Frankly, sunflower seeds are what our birds go for and not much else. Clean last year’s feeders and buy new ones if you need to. You should put them out while it is easy to do so. Just don’t fill them until the bears hibernate, usually around Halloween.

Jeff’s Alaska garden calendar

Tools: Put yours away where you can find them in early spring. Stay organized. Oil wood handles and spray WD-40 or put oil on metal parts.

Tree lights: Make sure you put them up so you can take them down as the tree grows.

Indoor plants: Keep checking for bugs and slugs. As the heat goes on in our homes, plant insect populations increase.

Lights: Get yours going. Check bulbs and replace if necessary.

Amaryllises: Withhold water and let them go dormant in the dark for eight weeks.

Sunny vibes meet autumn comfort food in loco moco

Thu, 2021-10-14 05:47

Homemade loco moco (Photo by Kim Sunée)

Loco moco, as fun to say as it is to eat, is a simple, satisfying fall dish inspired by warmer climes. A popular option for the classic plate lunch — a quintessential Hawaiian meal — loco moco was reportedly created in 1949 in Hilo. Today, you’ll find this riff on what some call an “elevated Salisbury steak” on almost every traditional Hawaiian menu. (In Anchorage, try local versions at Hula Hands and L and L Hawaiian BBQ.)

This recipe is inspired by chef Brandon Heath of Kalei’s Lunchbox, a local favorite in Pukalani, Maui. The Lunchbox serves up some of the best plate lunches on the island, with the patties in gravy being a favorite. Variations include everything from added tofu and spam to kalua pork. The classic “plate lunch” version is topped with a golden fried egg, making it “loco moco.”

Hunting season offers moose and caribou, so if you have the option, switch out local game for some of the ground beef. If you want to skip the rice, serve the patty, egg, and gravy on a soft bun for a twist on a hamburger. Some versions enlist a cornstarch slurry, but Heath maintains that you really need the fat for a good roux.

“And a good beef stock is key to add to the roux,” Heath says, to make a good gravy. “If the gravy is good and the patties are good. And the seasoning … well,” he laughs. “It’s going to be good!”

Loco moco

Makes four servings

1 pound ground beef (80% lean, 20% fat)

2 cloves garlic finely minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as grapeseed, avocado, or canola oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup diced or thinly sliced yellow onion, preferably Maui or Vidalia

8 ounces cremini or shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 1/2 to 2 cups beef broth or chicken stock

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For serving: steamed white rice; 4 eggs, sunny side-up or over easy; chopped green onion

Combine in a medium bowl: ground beef, garlic, egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water, breadcrumbs, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper. Mix quickly with hands until just combined, being careful not to overmix or patties will be tough. Form into four (1/2-inch thick) patties. Place patties on a plate and cover with plastic wrap; chill in fridge 10-15 minutes.

Heat vegetable oil to coat bottom of a large (12-inch) skillet or griddle set over medium-heat. When oil is hot, add patties in a single layer, spacing them out evenly. Cover with a lid and cook three minutes. Remove lid and turn patties, cook another four minutes, uncovered, until edges are brown and crispy. Remove patties to a plate to rest.

Add butter to pan drippings; add onion and mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, five to seven minutes, until tender. Sprinkle flour over and stir, one minute; the lumps will smooth out once you add broth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of broth, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a low boil and let cook, stirring until smooth and lump-free. Taste and add more salt or pepper, as needed. Reduce heat to a simmer; add patties back to pan with gravy. Fry eggs. To serve, scoop rice onto four plates, top each scoop with a patty and a fried egg and drizzle with gravy. Garnish with green onion.

Bow-and-arrow killings in Norway appear to be terrorism, police say

Thu, 2021-10-14 05:21

An arrow left in a wall after an attack in Kongsberg, Norway, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. Several people have been killed and others injured by a man armed with a bow and arrow in a town west of the Norwegian capital, Oslo. (Hakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix via AP) (Håkon Mosvold Larsen/)

KONGSBERG, Norway — A Danish man suspected of killing five people with a bow and arrow and possibly other weapons while randomly shooting at strangers in a small Norwegian town appears to have committed an act of terrorism, authorities in Norway said Thursday.

The Wednesday night attack at a supermarket and other locations in downtown Kongsberg, a town of about 26,000 residents not far from Norway’s capital, left the country stunned as police released some details, including that officers made contact with the 37-year-old suspect but he initially escaped.

“From what we know now, it is reasonably clear that some, probably everyone, was killed after the police were in contact with the perpetrator,” regional police chief Ole B. Saeverud said Thursday. The victims were four women and one man between the ages of 50 and 70. Two other people were injured.

Mass killings are rare in low-crime Norway, and the attack immediately drew comparisons with the country’s worst peacetime slaughter a decade ago, when a right-wing domestic extremist killed 77 people with a bomb, a rifle and a pistol.

People have “experienced that their safe local environment suddenly became a dangerous place,” Norwegian King Harald V said Thursday. “It shakes us all when horrible things happen near us, when you least expect it, in the middle of everyday life on the open street.”

According to police, the suspect in Wednesday’s attack walked around downtown Kongsberg shooting arrows. Police were alerted to the attack around 6:15 p.m. and arrested the suspect about 30 minutes later. Regional prosecutor Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen, told The Associated Press that after the man’s arrest, he “clearly described what he had done. He admitted killing the five people.”

Norway’s domestic security agency, known by its acronym PST, cited various aspects of the attack to explain its belief that the suspect’s actions “currently appear to be an act of terrorism.”

“Attacks on random people in public places are a recurring modus operandi among extremist Islamists carrying out terror in the West,” the agency said. It said “the most probable scenario” for such an attack in Norway “is an attack carried out by one or a few perpetrators with simple weapon types, against targets with few or no security measures.”

“The investigation will clarify in more detail what the incidents were motivated by,” PST said in a statement.

The man arrested Wednesday had been on the security agency’s radar, but the agency did not say why. Police described him as a Muslim convert who was previously flagged as having been radicalized.

“There earlier had been worries of the man having been radicalized,” Saeverud, the police chief, said during a news conference. He didn’t elaborate on what he meant by calling the suspect radicalized and did not provide more information about why the suspect was previously flagged and what authorities did in response.

Svane Mathiassen, the prosecutor, said the bow and arrows were just part of the killer’s arsenal. Police have not said what other weapons were used in the attack. Weapons experts and other technical officers were being drafted in to help with the investigation.

Dozens of witnesses in Kongsberg saw the gruesome events. Erik Benum, who lives on the same road as the supermarket that was one of the crime scenes, told the AP that he saw the escaped shop workers sheltering in doorways.

“I saw them hiding in the corner. Then I went to see what was happening, and I saw the police moving in with a shield and rifles. It was a very strange sight,” Benum said.

The following morning, the whole town was eerily quiet, he said. “People are sad and shocked.”

Both the hospitalized victims are in intensive care. They include an off-duty police officer who was inside the store. Their conditions were not immediately known.

The suspect is being held on preliminary charges, which is a step short of formal charges. He will formally face a custody hearing Friday. Police believe he acted alone.

Norwegian media reported that the suspect previously had been convicted of burglary and possession of drugs, and last year a local court granted a restraining order ordering him to stay away from his parents for a six-month period after he threatened to kill one of them.

Svane Mathiassen, who is leading the investigation, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the suspect will be assessed by forensic psychiatric experts Thursday.

“This is not unusual in such serious cases,” she was quoted as saying.

The main church in Kongsberg, a small town of some 26,000 inhabitants, was open to anyone in need of support.

“I don’t think anyone expects to have these kinds of experiences. But nobody could imagine this could happen here in our little town,” parish priest Reidar Aasboe told the AP.

PST said Thursday that the terror threat level for Norway remains unchanged and was considered “moderate.”