Saturday, January 28, 2006

Farmers and Fresh

A quick trip to the Eco Farm Conference at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California to speak about getting people to eat fresh was an experience unlike any other. I knew that when I arrived at lunch time and discovered that there was a table of extras that included seaweed, hemp and nutritional yeast. Add the breathtaking views of sand dunes and the Pacific and Wow was the word.

I have been to a lot of conferences but never have I had the food that I like to eat so readily available. There were also boxes of my favorite crackers from Dr. Kracker.

But there was so much more beyond the food, the big thing being the people who are responsible for growing, handling and selling the food, most of which is produce (although there were talks about dairy, meat and more). Their work is inspiring.

Do you realize that most farmers get up really early in the morning to get the produce ready and packed for farmer's markets or to sell to stores? At the conference were the men and women responsible for the food on your plates. They are vital and so is the food. I heard an inspiring story of a 1400-acre family farm in upstate New York's Finger Lakes region that transitioned from conventional to organic growing practices in the early 1990s and the farm is thriving. The couple who presented introduced their 17-year old son who is farming his own 200 acres this year. I can't even imagine what that would be like but I have complete respect for every farmer who nurtures the land and us. Think about a farmer next time you eat something delicious.

I think that I wowed my audience with raw Tokyo turnips and kohlrabi just by cutting them up. I hope that you do the same. My message -- educate people so they can taste fresh and delicious -- enjoying fresh veggies every day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

With More Than a Grain of Salt

I attended the Fancy Food Show just a couple of days ago. I went with 2 colleagues and I knew that I would have seen and tasted more had I gone alone. I saw enough to know that salt, chocolate and beverages are the latest, greatest items. Thank goodness that there were enough types of water to satiate my thirst after consuming as much salt as you might find in a Big Mac or some other really processed food.

I don't use much salt in cooking and have complaints from some friends about this but I often find prepared food in restaurants too salty for my taste. I use salt as a condiment which is the only way that some of the salts coming into the marketplace ought to be used. Just wait until you can purchase smoked salt (of various types), Pink Himalayan and Celtic salts from my website
The Veggie Queen.

I will also have a number of spices and herb blends available. I am making my list now so if there's something that you just love and don't want to be without please let me know. I will definitely have Spanish saffron, Smoked Spanish paprika and most probably Saigon cinnamon, as well as some special blends that I've concocted. It's a big herb and spice world out there so I hope to narrow it for you and carry what you need and want.

So, back to the salt. Some of the salts were really salty and some weren't. I prefer the less salty salts and many of them are just for topping your food. To me, there is nothing like a great piece of toasted bread (here I can get a wonderful whole grain sunflower loaf but those small rectangular German whole grain breads also fill the bill) with a bit of mashed avocado, spicy sprouts and some smoked or other salt on top. Now, that's what I call breakfast, snack or lunch.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Happy New Year, It's About Time

I've been on the run. I just helped cook for 200 at SOMA Mushroom Camp this past weekend. I heard Paul Stamets speak and I suggest that you all run out and buy his book Mycelium Running. You too can be part of the plan to save the planet.

Because I was busy in the kitchen I did not get out to do much mushroom hunting. (As a hunter friend of mine said, "It's OK for you to hunt but not me." Well, it turns out that I am just picking the fruiting body of the mushroom, the mycelium is still alive and happy.) But I did get to make an oyster mushroom bag and I look forward to a crop of mushrooms soon. (If you have my book read the story on Page 6 "Mushrooms in My Bath Tub. If you don't have the book, order one now The Veggie Queen Book.) Since I will be going out of town next week I might have to get my son Shane to take over mushroom maintenance. I know that he can do it.

Shane managed to get his photo on the front page of the local news section in our newspaper The Press Democrat this past Monday morning. I really could have used the PR but he is a bit cuter and definitely more cuddly.

Today I ate lunch "Fit for a Queen", containing some camp leftovers: Red and White Quinoa with Garlicky Kale and Balsamic Glazed Black Trumpet Mushrooms with some Sebastopol Seeded Sourdough toast on the side. Forget about avoiding carbs, just choose the ones that are better for you.

This coming weekend I will attend The Fancy Food Show. I will definitely report back on trends and any new great products. I will be searching for herbs, spices, blends and other goodies for my website The Veggie

Until the next time...Happy, Healthy and, most important of all, Delicious Eating.