Thursday, December 20, 2007

Blogs and More Blogs

Well my blog recently became part of The Foodie Blogroll, along with many other food blogs. You can check out the entire roll by looking at the link on the right hand side of this page.

I am not an expert blogger but I've been doing it a while. I just received this info today, and I want to check it out. If you've thought about blogging and don't know where or how to start, it might be for you.

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Holiday Appreciation and Lots of Breathing

This morning as I was heading to the farmer's market (I do realize that I might be teasing some of you who live where it's cold and snowy, and for that I apologize), I was thinking about how grateful I am that the farmers bother to get up in the middle of the night, or very early morning, to be there to sell vegetables to those of us who care. I appreciate what they do so much. But what I was truly thinking about was a comment that someone made to me last night at a holiday open house about how Larry from Triple T Ranch and Farm is a character.

And honestly, what that brought to mind is how the people that grow our produce all have personalities. They are real people, and they will engage with you at the market. You can find out about them, and how interesting they are.

Related specifically to Larry is that just this week someone told me that she doesn't buy from their farm because they are USDA certified organic and that they seem so commercial. Their farm is less than 40 acres, yet here in Sonoma County it is considered a "big" farm. I tried explaining that I've been to the farm and that they do what they are supposed to do. I guess that she prefers the smaller farmers, and the truth is that sometimes I do, too. But given the choice of the supermarket, Whole Foods or the farmer's market, you are going to get a better product at the farmer's market. And you may also get to speak to a character like Larry, or maybe Ed or Les or your local farmer. Give it a try when you can.

Now, for the breathing... I just gave a presentation on putting happy back in the holidays where a woman told me that she felt like an out of control train that might derail. If you feel that way, then I suggest that you do what I did with my group -- I led them through a breathing exercise. Deep breathing helps you relax. And that's what most people need at this time of year.

The most gratifying part of my talk was when someone came up to me at the end and told me that she'd put into practice the deep breathing that I suggested 2 months ago. I said that when you have to stop at a red light, take the time to breathe, rather than stew about having to stop and that you aren't getting where you need to go fast enough. She told me that stopping usually only delays you a minute or two, and how much better she feels after doing the breathing. I left with a big smile on my face, as I took an extra breath or two, as a reminder to myself. I suggest that you do the same, whenever you feel the need.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pressure Cooking in the Cold

I spent the morning on Saturday at the farmer's market demonstrating how to use the pressure cooker. I made an Indian-Spiced Root Vegetable Soup, using market-fresh ingredients that included onions, carrots, parsnips, sweet potato and sometimes rutabaga, that takes only 5 minutes at pressure. You can make the whole recipe in less than 30 minutes, from start to finish, from chopping to a very hot bowl of soup.

I heard all the horror stories, the accolades and the people who just don't know anything about a pressure cooker. One man told me about his 2 electric pressure cookers. I guess those in the know really know.

Completely unsolicited, a man came up and told me that he'd taken a class from me at a store named Food for Thought (which hasn't even been in existence for about 7 years since it was gobbled up by Whole Foods) and that he uses my recipes, especially the one for risotto, every week. I was glowing after that.

In fact, I was probably glowing (red, that is) the whole time because it was so darned cold (for California, that is) that day. Ed Miller, the fruit vendor, of Twin Peaks Ranch told me that the market was only half as busy as usual, likely because of the cold. People may have also been at the mall and the grocery store, judging from the packed parking lots that I saw on my way home.

I had a great time at the market, showing off 3 of my Fagor pressure cookers -- the newest one being a Futuro which should be released here in the US soon. It has a different kind of shape to it -- a bit pot-bellied, fatter at the bottom so it's cute. But they all work the same, and that is very good news for a cold day. Hot soup, come and get it.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Wild Fermentation and More

This has been my week of learning and meeting allies in the movement to help people eat better food. I met Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and Sandor Ellix Katz, fellow authors.

Miyoko and Colleen are fellow McDougall program teachers. Miyoko taught Japanese one day and holiday dishes the other. Miyoko's books are The New Now and Zen Epicure and Japanese Cooking--Contemporary and Traditional. Colleen just released her first book The Joy of Vegan Baking and has a great website: Compassionate Cooks on which she features her weekly free podcast on vegan issues.

It was great fun to watch both Miyoko and Colleen, as it gave me a new appreciation for what it takes to present to a group. Sharing food tips and samples invites people in but you also need to capture their attention.

The day following those 2 meetings, I was a participant in a fermentation class with Sandor Ellix Katz, the author of Wild Fermentations and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved. Sandor is a fascinating fellow, I don't think eccentric truly captures his spirit, and an article about him and the class will appear in the future on Jason Wyrick's website (Jason occasionally teaches the McDougall program.)

Katz embraces the Weston A. Price philosophy and is likely not a big McDougall fan but I do know that we can agree that eating fresh, local vegetables is good, especially if they are fermented. Everyone needs to embrace their own philosophy and eating style. If it works well for you, then do it. If what you are doing doesn't work, try other methods.

Learning how to ferment vegetables is quite easy. Check out for more information about it. If you've heard of probiotics and prebiotics, these are the original forms -- they occur naturally, no pills, capsules or liquids needed. Also, you don't really need special equipment such as fancy crocks. I do my fermentation in wide mouth quart or larger canning jars set in a bowl to catch the liquid. If you want to know more about this from me, please feel free to email me at

This is a very busy time of year but I hope that you will take the time to nourish yourself in a very caring and loving way with lots of fresh food. Busy often translates into not eating well and grabbing things on the go. Keeping healthier foods around helps with that issue.

I know that I tend to eat what I've got (since it's incredibly difficult to eat what you don't have) around. Lately, I've had lots of wonderful leftovers from classes -- things like Fruited Wild Rice, Indian-Spiced Root Vegetable Soup, Mediterranean Greens, Red Rice, Braised Tofu and Vegetables and more. Taking the time to cook for yourself, as if you are an invited guest, will actually turn you into one. This is my gift to you -- treat yourself like a queen (or king). It's what I do, and it works.