Sunday, September 25, 2005

The SF Vegetarian Festival and Potatoes

I've just returned from an entire long day at the San Francisco World Vegetarian Day celebration but on the San Francisco Vegetarian Society ( They are an incredibly organized and hard working group of volunteers. I can't thank them enough for letting me do a cooking demonstration. I had fun but had hoped that more people would be interested in my book The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment. I think that for the holidays I may have a sale and offer a 3-fer but I've yet to decide on a price. So, if you are considering a great gift item, think of me, The Veggie Queen, and my book. I would highly recommend attending the festival next year as there are lots of free samples, great speakers and quite an array of food and other stuff to buy if you are so inclined.

Now, for the potatoes... I had been thinking that perhaps Oh! Tommy Boy's potatoes was going to be absent from the farmer's market this year since I had not yet seen them. But wrong. And on Saturday they showed up with about 8 varieties of their 30 kinds of potatoes. I am a real potato nut and now I have an assortment of colors, shapes and textures of potatoes to play with. It's really exciting for me. If you've not had fresh-dug potatoes, I urge you to try them. Please, whatever you do, stay away from those 10 pound bags in the supermarket as it could ruin your impression of what potato is supposed to be like.

Time to go make some pink and purple garlic mashed potatoes. And maybe I'll make an eggplant and potato curry with some Black Molly potatoes that are deep, dark purple. So many choices to contemplate. Can my food life get much better than this? We shall see.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The people I know

Last week's local paper, The Press Democrat (owned by The New York Times), contained a section that looks like a magazine - it's called Savor. It is mostly advertising and a few stories. I knew the people written about in 2 of the stories. Scott and Erica Lindstrom-Dake are two of the nicest people that I know. They are the winemaker, co-owners, proprietors of Thumbprint Cellars Tasting Lounge in Healdsburg, CA . My book The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment is available there, and they are vegetarians which is even better. Did I mention that their hand-crafted wine is superb? If you're in Healdsburg be sure to stop by their lounge and taste some wine.

The other couple featured in Savor is Sue Ellery and Tom Hunter of Philo, CA (Mendocino County), proprietors of Stella Cadente Olive Oil . Their oil is pricey and even their extra-virgin oil is too good for everyday use except as a flavoring oil. The Meyer lemon oil and blood orange oil are quite tasty and a drizzle or two will perk up your dishes. I have a recipe for Red Rice (from Lotus Foods) Salad with Lemony Roasted Cauliflower in my book which is a great way to use their Meyer lemon oil. I bought 8 ounces of blood orange oil in bulk today and at $1 an ounce, I can guarantee that it will last a while.

I will not likely be making the recipe for Asian orange vinaigrette by John Ash that Sue handed me at the Healdsburg farmer's market this morning. It calls for 1/4 cup of the precious gold liquid which is far too much oil for me to include in a dressing, as I prefer low-fat dressing, and it's too expensive. I prefer to save my money for good chocolate, wine or for putting gas in my car so that I can drive to yet another farmer's market for choice edibles.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

It's Not JUST Tofu

Do things sometimes happen to you that seem somewhat unexplainable? Well, it happens to me. Take this morning for instance when I looked at my bill for the Small Planet tofu ( I had purcahsed the previous day and noticed that the price had gone up considerably. Now, this is not JUST tofu. This tofu, is in my opinion, the best regional tofu that you can buy. It is available in Northern California, the Northewest and just a bit beyond (so don't look for it in New York). I thought, I will still buy this tofu even if it is the most expensive on the market since I like tofu and eat it regularly. I deserve the best.

Then the phone rings and it's Tofu Phil calling from Small Planet. He tells me that he is starting an e-newsletter (which you can sign up for at his website listed above) and that the email that he had for me at least a couple of years ago doesn't work. He said that he didn't want to lose contact with me. Well, let's make this a two-way street since my son Shane (a vegetarian until he was 5 years old and a confirmed tofu eater) would not want to be without Small Planet Tofu. And neither would my husband Rick who has never been a vegerarian but has come to prefer my Baked Tofu (found in my book The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment) to any meat in his burritos.

Anyway, back to Phil. We had a long discussion about tofu, specifically his tofu, because so many people think that all tofu is the same. It is not. Phil's tofu has a different texture and taste than most commercial tofu, and I am referring to the plain, not flavored or baked tofu. If you can find it, buy it and you will hopefully see that all tofu is not the same. If you don't live in a Small Planet region seek out the best locally produced tofu to see if it is significantly different or better than other tofu.

I do have mass produced tofu that I can fall back on here such as Wildwood and Soy Deli but the difference is immense. But enough tofu talk for now.

I am still impressed that Tofu Phil called me and hopes that we can work together to provide education about the importance of buying organic and delicious products.

BTW, my e-newsletter sign up is available too on my website at I hope to have you on board.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Getting Confirmation

When you are as enthused about vegetables as I am, it's hard to know if you just think that something is great, or if it really is. Yesterday I was shopping at Trader Joe's and ran into Susan and Tony who have been growing vegetables for years. (I wish that I could remember the name of their farm.) Susan was a bit frazzled but Tony seemed ready to engage. "Are you still growing the trombocino squash?" I asked.
"Yes," replied Tony. "They are one of my two favorites."
"What's the other?" I questioned.
I had hoped that his answer would echo mine. "Costata Romanesca," was his answer. I went on to say that they were my favorites, too. We talked about the flavors and why these varieties, especially the trombocino which needs to be trellised, are not grown commercially. This is even more of a reason why growing your own food is important (but if you aren't a good gardener or just can't or won't grow food then support local growers, please).

A big issue here in Sonoma County is that of genetically engineered foods. A ban on growing GE crops will be on our ballot. I hope that enough people can be educated to support the ban. See for more information. Maybe this is something that you want to think about getting going wherever you live.

To switch subjects rather abruptly here, I just want to mention that I finally have a sign up box on my website for my e-newsletter which will start in October. I also have a name the newsletter contest since I have not yet had the one perfect name pop into my head. I'd love to hear your ideas. Stay tuned for more adventures with me, Jill, The Veggie Queen.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

We Can Count on Change

I have been known to say that one thing that we can count on is change. Whether we see it in the world around us or within us, or even choose to ignore it, change takes place.

This morning I discovered a Japanese cucumber that I had been hiding in the foilage and was way over the hill - yellowed with big seeds. It will change into compost. I rescued a large Middle Eastern cucumber from the same fate but in just another day or two, it would have joined its distant relative. (I say this with sadness at what has occurred along the Gulf Coast with Hurricane Katrina.) But one of the best parts of being human, is that we forget, and forge ahead. Perhaps my cucumber plants do the same although I see that with the changes in the September weather and sun, that the plants are waning. I still hope for a few more cukes. And I am still waiting for my tomatoes to ripen. (Thank goodness that I am not a farmer for many reasons but the waiting would be painful.)

This November we have a ballot measure to vote on here in Sonoma County called Measure M. It is a ban on GMOs, genetically modified organisms, for 10 years here. I do not want my food messed around with, especially with the possible resulting detrimental environmental and unknown health effects. If you have not yet had a chance to watch the DVD The Future of Food, I suggest that you do so. It will help open your eyes about this issue. The science can be scary and perhaps difficult to understand. Maybe that's why people don't realize why we must say NO - loud and clear. (I feel like I have studied enough science to realize the potential impact of GMOs running wild in field and stream (or ocean).)

Enjoy your long weekend, cook and eat well, as you are able. Remember that one ripe tomato (peach, avocado, or your choice) is better than a whole basket that's unripe and without flavor. Spend your dollars wisely, and be ready for change.