Sunday, April 27, 2008

Earth Day Week -- The Veggie Queen Speaks Out

OK, this may have been my busiest week of the year with 9 events within 1 week, with 4 cooking classes in less than 48 hours. But boy, was it fun. Although this has not been a great spring for vegetables, so far, I still had an abundance of beautiful produce to show off.

On Wednesday, the day after Earth Day, it was pouring here. Before that, it had been freezing and frosting every night so say goodbye to some strawberries and asparagus (but not all) for a while.

On hand were asparagus, fava beans, green garlic, Spring onions, baby beets, sugar snap peas, a variety of herbs, and many varieties of lettuce from La Bonne Terre Farm in Healdsburg. Marie and Bert Villamaire grow amazing lettuce. I had varieties at my disposal such as the incredibly deep red Merlot, Oak Leaf, Speckles (a red-tinged) butter lettuce (a cousin to Freckles, a spotted romaine-type), and a few others that I cannot recall. I also had wonderful arugula from Healdsburg and my very own dandelion greens.

Additionally, I got my hands on some special Nebrodini Bianco mushrooms from Gourmet Mushrooms here in Sebastopol, CA. They are their newest cultivated wild variety and I must say that they are pretty spectacular. Some of these dense and meaty white beauties weigh 3 ounces or more. They remind me of GM's Trumpet Royale but they are even better. So, it's been a big week of cooking, sampling and turning people on to new and delicious foods, and the pressure cooker.

I did a cooking demonstration at Medtronic, a local corporation, that employs a lot of engineers. The pressure cooker definitely got their attention. They kept wanting to look at the lid and see how it works. It's an amazing piece of cooking equipment. I'd like everyone to get one, just so you can see how it can change your life -- at least in the kitchen.

And then I went on to do 2 more cooking demonstrations for another 70+ people, one for the Sonoma County Culinary Guild and the other for The McDougall program. Some of the same dishes, some different.

And I ended the week signing my book in Calistoga in Napa Valley, to raise money for a music festival that happens each summer. The event I did is called Kitchens in the Vineyard. All I know is that I sold a number of books, and it was brutally hot. It took a few hours of drinking copious amounts of water to recover fully. Although the next day I was so tired, I was sure that I hadn't really recovered.

After eating lots of greens, including my own tender little dandelions from my wonderful dandelion garden, I felt renewed and ready to go on, with less pressure this week -- in many ways.

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