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The SLOW Week Vol.4

April 26, 2017

S-Shop for starters/seedlings. Now is the time to be thinking about vegetables you’d like to plant in your garden. Farmers’ markets, nurseries and pop-up sales are good places to find heirloom tomatoes, peppers, herbs and plenty of other seasonal vegetables. This past weekend, I visited Cornerstone in Sonoma for the annual Tomatomania sale, a two-day sale of 300 heirloom and hybrid tomatoes. So when you go shopping for your garden, grab your favorites and add a new variety to the mix. I picked up a new one called Michael Pollan!

L-Learn I am loving the podcast The Feed by Rick Bayless and Steve Dolinsky. Great information, topics and information……and it’s free! 

O-Own a bag drying rackI try to limit the consumption of sealable plastic bags but in all honesty they are handy for a variety of reasons mainly marinating meat and vegetables. When I can, I wash and reuse only those that have been used for fruits and vegetables, those that are used for meat and fish I discard. Alternatively, you could use a tall drinking glass with wooden skewers.

W-Watch SustainableThis week I attended a viewing of the movie at a local bookstore. The movie reminded me of Food Inc, the movie I mentioned in last week’s post. The movie highlights farmers, the struggles they face making a living and the difference between small farmers and big-ag farming.

I haven’t been posting a weekly report as much of the same is still around. I do know, after speaking with a few farmers, is that early peach varieties will arrive within the month, cherries are just around the corner and mulberries will arrive soon!

Have a great week!

Home, Lifestyle

The SLOW Week vol.3

April 17, 2017

Hope you all had a lovely weekend. Did you visit a farmers’ market?  I had hoped to shop the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday, the opening day, sadly it didn’t happen. I was able to make a stop at my regular Thursday market. I did not post a Weekly Report as the fruit and vegetables selection was virtually unchanged.

Here is the third installment of The SLOW Week. 

S-Shop for organic strawberries. Why organic? Strawberries top the list of The Dirty Dozen, a list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest amount of pesticides. Strawberries tested by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014 and 2015 contained on average 7.7 different pesticides per sample, compared to 2.3 per sample for all other produce, according to a new EWG (Environmental Working Group) analysis. Plus, they are at their prime and so delicious!

L-Learn about safe seafood choices. The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers Seafood Watch guides for each state. There are three categories, “Best Choices”, “Good Alternatives” and “Avoid”. So whether you’re at your local fishmonger, favorite restaurant or traveling you can make an informed choice anywhere.

O-Own a subscription to  Edible magazine. With 90 editions there is surely one for your area. These magazines highlight local food, purveyors, chefs and stories, connecting people to their food communities.

W-Watch Food Inc. When the film was released in 2009 it shocked viewers. The film exposes the corporate control over food systems in America, inhumane treatment of animals and the use of pesticides to name just a few.

Wishing you a sweet week!

 

Home, Lifestyle

The SLOW Week 2

April 10, 2017

Hello Monday! Here is the second installment of The SLOW Week. If you missed last week’s explanation and information click here.

S-Shop reusable produce bags. Most everyone nowadays owns a few reusable shopping bags now it’s time to move beyond that. There are two types of bags, mesh and cloth, both are better options than one-time use plastic. I personally prefer cloth as they can be washed over and over again, I put them in a mesh lingerie bag and wash with my kitchen towels. If you are crafty you can make them!

last week I encouraged you to try a new vegetable. I did the same and cooked up rapini-it was delicious.  

LLearn how to handle a knife. As I mentioned in my post last week, a sharp knife is better than a dull one. It helps to know how to properly hold a knife so that you avoid cutting yourself.

O-Own-an instant-read thermometer. Grilling season is upon us and an instant-read thermometer is an inexpensive piece of equipment that is vital to have on hand. The benefits of an instant-read versus a leave- in thermometer are that you need only insert the tip rather than about an inch of a leave-in thermometer. An instant read typically calculates the temperature much faster and more accurately.

W-Watch-Michael Pollan is best known for his book The Omnivores Dilemma. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do so. His book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation has been turned into a Netflix series. He explores cooking by four elements; fire, water, air and earth. It’s a fascinating journey.

Have a great week!

Home, Lifestyle

Support a farmer this weekend!

April 7, 2017

The Weekly Report

The weather in Northern California has been glorious…until yesterday. I arrived at the market to a gloomy sky and by days end, the sky was filled with rain and wind. Although it’s been a wet winter and California certainly needs as much water as it can get, I’m about done with the rain.

Rains brings challenges for farmers. For strawberry farmers it’s mold. And at Iacopi Farms, the first english pea crop was ruined due to rain.

Weather challenges aside, there were plenty of options at the market this week.

FAVAS!!!!

Yep, the first fava beans arrived. Fava beans are a laborious vegetable that I happen to think are worth the effort. It’s a two step process to get to the actual eating: Removing the beans from the pod, and then boiling them to remove the “skin” from the bean. You’ve got to really love who you choose to cook fava beans for;)

But, I have a tip for you. You can grill the whole pod which will open up the pod and enable you to pop the bean from the pod making the process a whole lot quicker. This Whole Grilled Fava Bean recipe will have you bagging up these seasonal treats!

farmers' market

Fava Beans and English Peas

As mentioned earlier, English peas arrived at the market last week. A bit later than usually due to the first crop being wiped out by rain. The pods look a bit haggard but inside lay sweet green orbs. Peas are another vegetable that requires some work to reap rewards, but the taste is far superior to the frozen or canned variety. Removing the peas from the pods is a great job for little hands. Not only do kids learn how peas are grown, it’s an opportunity to have them sit in the kitchen and talk while they pluck the peas from their pods.

More Veggies

You may find sugar snap peas, ramps and morel mushrooms, I didn’t but this is the time of year when they’ll show up. However, plenty of artichokes, asparagus, beets, fennel, carrots, radishes, green garlic, spring onions, leeks, broccoli, and greens of all kinds were lined up in farmers stalls.

UPDATE: Today, Sunday, I found sugar snap peas. No ramps or morels.

Fruit

It’s pretty sparse out there still. I found only strawberries and citrus-and the strawberries I tasted were excellent! It’s about this time of year I’m thankful I froze berries last year. They are perfect for smoothies and hold up well in baked goods such as crisps.

UPDATE: Also at the market today were kiwi and rhubarb!

Flowers

Farmers’ markets offer more than delicious fruits and vegetables. Notably this time of year are flowers. Many are so seasonal that they are only at the market for two to three weeks. Ranunculus, tulips, dogwood, iris and lilac to name a few. I picked up a bunch of lilac and not only are they beautiful but their smell is outrageous!

Farmers' Market

Lilacs

Have a great weekend!

 

Home, Lifestyle

The SLOW Week

March 31, 2017

 

the S-L-O-W week

This is a new addition to Gather Weekly, called “SLOW Week:” ” S” for “Shop”, “L” for “Learn”, “O” for “Own” and “W” for “Watch”. In SLOW Week, I’ll share items on my radar that I’m excited about.

SHOP- Find a farmers’ market and pick a new vegetable you’ve never tried before. Don’t worry about how you’ll cook or use it, the “interwebs” is full of information:) Google it and you’ll find something that appeals to you, I guarantee it! Today I bought rapini , although I’ve eaten it in restaurants I’ve never cooked with it before. A quick on-line search has me thinking sautéed with garlic and red chili pepper flakes. I’ll report back.

LEARN- Listen to a podcast. I love Evan Kleiman from KCRW’S Good Food. Although, based in LA,  only a little of the content is specific to Southern California. She has interviews with chefs, farmers, authors and more. Additionally, there is a weekly market report on what is in season from LA’s farmers and chefs, and then offers seasonal tips and recipes.

OWN-Do you own a good knife? If you cook often you owe it to yourself to use a quality knife. It is by far the most important piece of equipment in your kitchen. A good knife will last a lifetime if cared for properly.  A sharp blade is less of a safety hazard, dull knives can slip which can lead to cutting your fingers rather than that carrot.

WATCH-When I want to be swept off to a far away place, I watch Chef’s Table on Netflix. But be warned, you’ll either be making plane reservations or grabbing a snack mid-way through an episode. My favorites are Dan Barber, Francis Mallman and Dominique Crenn.

Have a great week!