Weary of Festivus fudge, Christmas cookies and Hanukkah gelt?
Steer your creative instincts back to the savory side. Make a dinner dish so satisfying dessert just has to take a back seat. Think delicate, dainty, delicious. Think wild Alaskan halibut, a steal right now at $15.99 lb through January 3 at PCC.
In the foreground: My first go at Pla Sam Rod. A-mazing.
My first experience with this gorgeous fish was less than stellar. A friend undercooked it to the point where it could have masqueraded as sashimi -- in a bad way. Years later, I tried it again in a PCC Cooks Thai cooking class with Pranee Halvorsen. She whipped up a simple yet grand dish called Pla Sam Rod. Lightly sauteed halibut, ensconsed beneath a flavorful bed of bright, vibrant vegetables, I was smitten.
Pondering a Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve supper? Consider serving PCC Chef Lynne Vea's Roasted Garlic and Wild Halibut Chowder with Basil-Caper Coulis as a starter or main. For a seasonal showstopper, try Lynne's Rosemary and Hazelnut Roasted Wild Alaskan Halibut with Sauteed Chanterelles and Pears. Talk about a fragrant, flavorful way to showcase all the best ingredients of these dark months!
Find even more halibut inspiration in our PCC Recipe Database. And if you're a newcomer to cooking with seafood, don't miss PCC Cooks instructor Becky Selengut's cookbook "Good Fish," also available at your local PCC.
Why buy halibut at PCC? Our entire seafood selection is sustainably harvested per the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program. Read more about our committment.
Words fail me. No, wait, scratch that. Let's try again. It’s not that I lack the words or any number of topics at which to employ them. Unh – uh. Got those aplenty. Today, it’s a lack of good old gumption that’s got this cat’s figurative tongue. I’ve been sitting here for the last little bit, staring at a list of things about which I’ve been itching to spill some ink, but just can’t seem to muster the volition to tease the words into anything resembling a coherent sentence—to say nothing of a paragraph.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate (and share) other’s words. Yesterday evening, I was thumbing through the “Food” issue of Lapham’s Quarterly (imho one of the most splendidly intelligent periodicals in current circulation) and found the following gem, from Anthelme Brillat – Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste. With the exception of couple gender-based role assignments typical of its era (1825), it’s a timely and timeless set of observations on the civilized satisfaction of one of humankind’s essential needs. Problem solved. I’m going to have a beer (Bayern Pilsner, damned fine stuff) and make like Bartleby. Enjoy.
I: The universe is nothing without the things that live in it, and everything that lives, eats.
II: Animals feed themselves, men eat—but only wise men know the art of eating.
III. The destiny of nations depends on how they nourish themselves.
IV: Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you what you are.
V: The Creator, while forcing men to eat in order to live, tempts him to do so with appetite and then rewards him with pleasure.
VI: Good living is an act of intelligence, by which we choose things which have an agreeable taste rather than those which do not.
VII: The pleasures of the table are for every man of every land, and no matter of what place in history or society; they can be a part of all his other pleasures, and they last the longest to console him when he has outlived the rest.
VIII: The table is the only place where a man is never bored for the first hour.
IX: The discovery of a new dish does more for the human happiness than the discovery of a star.
X: Men who stuff themselves and grow tipsy know neither how to eat nor how to drink.
XI: The proper progression of courses in a dinner is from the most substantial to the lightest.
XII: The proper progression of wines or spirits is from the mildest to the headiest and most aromatic.
XIII: It is heresy to insist that we must not mix wines: a man’s palate can grow numb and react dully to even the best bottle after the third glass from it.
XIV: A dinner which ends without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.
XV: We can learn to be cooks, but we must be born knowing how to roast.
XVI: The most indispensable quality of a cook is promptness, nad it should be that of the diner as well.
XVII: A host who makes all his guests wait for one latecomer is careless of their well-being.
XVIII: He who plays host without giving his personal care to the repast is unworthy of having friends to invite to it.
XIX The mistress of the house should always makes sure that the coffee is good, nad the master that the wines are of the best.
XX: To invite people to dine with us is to make ourselves responsible for their well-being for as long as they are under our roofs.
It's one of my favorite times of year: citrus season! It's an effervescent dose of liquid sunshine and fragrant zest right when we need it most to battle against wintertime gloom and darkness. Time to get peeling.
Citrus best bets
- It's December, which means we're deep in the heart of Satsuma season! Pick up a box of these sweet, juicy organic gems as an easy hostess gift or potluck contribution. They also make delightful stocking stuffers and table centerpieces. Explore these fun recipes. Learn more about our grower, Johansen Ranch.
- Why buy organic citrus? Well, the higest concentrations of pesticides in conventinoal citrus are found in the peel. Anytime you plan to grate or zest or candy citrus peels for baking, sweets or cocktails, be sure to go organic for optimal quality and flavor.
- Did you know we sell preserved lemons in bulk in most of our Delis? Learn how to cook with them here (tip: put 'em to good use the next time you roast a chicken). And, learn how to preserve your own with fresh lemons here.
- Organic ruby red Rio Star grapefruit from Texas is arriving now, and it's sweet and juicy from our growers at South Tex Organics. Broil it, use it in French toast, juice it, make a mean salsa, add it to salads: find plenty of inspiration.
Thick-cut French Toast with Maple-Ginger Pink Grapefruit. Mmm...
Learn more about citrus
- Take a video tour of our citrus selection with P.J., our Redmond PCC produce manager.
- Check out our winter citrus primer.
- Get baking! Try Lemon Coconut Chews as a light treat after tea.
- Go savory. Citrus plays well with nearly any cuisine. Roast cauliflower with lemon tahini sauce or pull together Sizzling Szechuan Tangerine Chicken.
PCC Chef Lynne Vea's Sizzling Szechuan Tangerine Chicken. Just imagine how great it smells!
Tell us: How do you most like to enjoy citrus?
December is a baker's dream. The oven's heat is more than welcome. Recipes both treasured and new fly between friends and family. Traditions are born and continued. Homes and hearts fill with the scent of fresh-baked cookies, sugar and butter. So what are you waiting for?
Let's get started with recipes. Here are some quick links to frequent reqeusts in our recipe database:
Butter. Most bakers already have a favorite, but December's the perfect time of year to explore all your options. PCC's dairy cases are stocked with creamy, delicate butter ideal for baking from Denmark, single-origin butter from France, European-style goat's milk butter and everything in-between. Read more about all these creamy options and more in this Sound Consumer article.
Sugar. Intensify or lighten the sweetness of your baked goods with our range of sugars and alternative sweetners.
Eggs. Yes, you'll find locally raised organic chicken eggs. But have you discovered the loftiness duck eggs can lend your cakes and other baked goods? Learn more.
Flour. Why limit yourself to all-purpose white flour? PCC carries flour from just about every grain and seed imaginable, including brown rice, teff, buckwheat and quinoa. Browse our selection.
Now, get baking! And feel free to share photos of your handiwork with fellow PCC members and shoppers on our Facebook page!
Nothing dampens the cheeriness of the holidays quite like being down for the count with an awful cold or a bout of the flu. So play offense this December: follow these easy tips to keep your immune system strong.
Tip 1. Eat your organic greens. And keep eating them. Kale, chard, beet greens, collards and other vivid green leafy vegetables are packed with vital nutrients and antioxidants. Even better: they help the body rid itself of toxins, making it easier for the immune system to function at its peak. Click here to learn more about them and find plenty of vibrant recipes. If you prefer to drink your greens, click here to learn about powderered greens supplements you can easily add to your morning smoothie. And click here for our most popular video of 2011: how to make kale chips!
Tip 2. Take a probiotic supplement or eat probiotic-rich foods. Probiotics are good bacteria found in fermented/cultured foods that find a home in our digested system. According to PCC Nutrition Educator Nick Rose, these beneficial organisms assist with normal digestion and benefit our immune systems. Find them daily in foods like yogurt and kefir (all yogurt and kefir at PCC contains live active cultures), miso and tempeh, sauerkraut and kimchi, and kombucha, the popular fermented tea. If you prefer a supplement, find plenty of healthy options in PCC's health and body care department.
Tip 3. Wash those hands. It seems so obvious, but when you consider all the surfaces we touch throughout each day, keeping your hands clean is key, especially before you eat. Wash with hot water and soap long enough to sing yourself a round of "Happy Birthday." Or, try one of PCC's alcohol- and chemical-free hand sanitizers from CleanWell, powered by naturally antibacterial thyme-oil.
Here are even more wellness tips:
- Learn to maintain healthy sinuses
- Get a full list of immunity boosters
- Ways to beat cold and flu
- A helpful video review of some of our best-selling cold and flu fighting products
Good luck, and stay well!
New releases! Big scores!
Rant of the week...
New releases! Big scores!
No need to read any further; the subject line says it all. It could be any of dozens of press releases, newsletters and other assorted promo “stuff” that daily pack my inbox. The drill is familiar: read the subject line, delete, done. If I haven’t glazed over at the first exclamation point, the word “score” or “rating” will do the job, every time.
But today, maybe it’s my wine curmudgeonly crankiness baring its gleaming canines, maybe I should’ve had that one more cup, who knows, but I just tasted through the lineup being touted with the owner-winemaker a few weeks ago — and well, here’s my snort of derision, in a few hundred words, give or take.
They were all winemaker’s wines. As in made. Manipulated. Over-extracted. Over-oaked. Over-hyped. Overpriced. A nursery rhyme played through a phase-shifter, a digital delay and a stack of Marshalls. Loud, with a cool light show. There really isn’t much else to say. Now, I like the guy, don’t have an axe to grind. But bs is bs, no matter how many cases you sell out of, no matter how you pander to the paparazzi, no matter that you’re one of the hipster darlings of the Washington wine biz. The emperor gots no clothes, baby. That dude is nekkid.
Funny, as we were tasting the wines, the WineMaker really didn’t have much to utter, either. Just some tech stuff, brix levels at harvest (huge), cases produced (not many, “get you a small allocation, but don’t wait, these are hot, hot, hot…”), pH, alcohol (plenty o’), et cetera, etc., &c. And don’t forget last year’s scores! (This year Parker’s sure to rate ‘em even higher. )93 points WA, 95 points WS, 91 points Enthusiast, blah, blah blah…
So, tell me then, what’s 95 taste like? Huh? "In your own words, please describe…" Other than that it’s a bigger number than, say, 89, what do the digits say, daddio? Here’s a hint: It says that some guy who can’t be troubled to articulate what he tastes likes it a lot, gives it an “A,” that he was in a good mood, the producer schmoozed him, bought an ad in his magazine. Take your pick, but at the end of the day, it just says that Joe Blow likes it x much, it appeals to his very human, very fallible palate, for any of a bazillion, often quite subjective reasons. Does the fact that Joe Blow says it’s a 95 mean that you should like it? The difference between you and Jo Blow is that Joe knows that people are often supremely underconfident when it comes to wine, and they’re happy to pay for someone to show them the way, to tell them what they ought to taste, as it were. If Joe Blow were a book reviewer, or a music critic, how far would the numbers fly?
(Let me add that in my unapologetic, purely subjective assessment, 94 often has just about as much character as a number.)
The English language is going to hell in an on-line hand-basket, and right along with it people’s ability to think in anything deeper than marketing content or a sound byte. Our conversations already pack all the depth we can pack into a text message, while we construct our “lifestyles” with “products” purchased on the advice of a few lines of “content.”
So, why even bother with the fuzzy white bunny puff piece when a simple number will do? No need to waste actual words on what the over-priced glug in question actually tastes like. Just say that King Bob or Shankin’ Marvin said “93” and that’s good enough for the demographic who prefer chest-beating one-upmanship to character and conviviality. Prose is for bleeding hearts and novel-reading liberal arts types. Cut to the chase, damn the guesswork and the nuanced nonsense. Full speed ahead. Read the numbers, hire a consultant — let the data do the talking.
The data, man. No matter how objective the numbers are purported to be, scores are the product of fallible, self-interested humans, making a living telling us that they’ve managed to turn a subjective pleasure into an objective quantification — and that their subjective experience packs more value than yours. Uh-huh.You bet.
Fine, if that’s what you like. If you don’t’ have the time or the attention span to actually think, taste, savor — to take pleasure, well… I’m sure that this little screed will generate more than a little ire — and a few howls of righteous indignation. Whatever. Bring it on. But let me add (once again in my very subjective, humble estimation), that when it comes to wine, numbers generally aren’t for people who trust their own palates, their own judgement and who are happy to form their own opinions. Numbers don’t just let you keep up with the Joneses, they tell you what to think so you can be the Joneses.
Remember PT Barnum?
Drink well, enjoy, Life is short.
Make this the year you surprise your friends and family with homemade gifts, just as you've been meaning to do for years. While a tin of cookies is always welcome, we've got a variety of options to whet any appetite, including homemade mustard, from-scratch soup mix, spiced cocoa mix and herb roasted nuts.
Iole Aguero's Chocolate Almond Biscotti. Find the recipe here.
Find ideas and recipes for homemade gifts here. Or, pick up a free copy of December PCC Taste magazine on your next trip to PCC. And click here for a variety of our cookie recipes, including Whole Grain Cutter Cookies and Almond Oatmeal Thumbprint Cookies.
Have fun getting crafty!
December has arrived and with it, a slew of gatherings galore. How will you ever be ready? With help from PCC, of course!
Are you the type who likes to make everything from scratch? Check out our Holiday Recipes selection, with oodles of appetizers, desserts and other ideas. We've also got plenty of tips on building a great cheese platter and pitch-perfect wine pairings. Plan to bake up a storm? Consult our flour selection and don't miss our handy gluten-free baking tips.
For those less inclined to cook, entertain with ease with help from the PCC Deli and Bakery. Reserve one of our party platters, bountiful with local cheese, high-quality meats and vegetables. Order one of our custom cakes to delight your guests, or pick up your favorite fruit pie or our Secret Recipe Fudge. A box of fragrant organic Satsumas will always bring smiles.And for toasting, you can't beat our selection of nogs, from the rich, traditional stuff in glass bottles to delightful coconut nog.
The best gifts are those that keep on giving, which means you just can't go wrong with the gift of a PCC Cooks class. Get ready, because you can register for a whole new slate of classes beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30! Please note that our website updates that same morning; pick up a catalog now at any PCC location for an advance look at the offerings.
Send your favorite chef on a trip without ever leaving the Northwest with our selection of Global Gourmet classes, featuring cuisine from Thailand, Italy, India, Japan, France, Turkey, China and Spain. Learn tricks of the trade from local guest chefs: this session's lineup includes Maria Hines of Golden Beetle organic Mediterranean cuisine; Ashlyn Forshner of pork-happy Lecosho; and Lisa Nakamura of Allium (on Orcas Island). You'll also find classes for kids, gluten-free cooks, diabetics, vegans, meat lovers, wine fanatics, bakers, health-minded folks looking for a good detox, and everyone in-between.And if you haven't already attended, don't miss our free Walk, Talk and Taste store tours, a must for those looking to cook more meals from scratch, for the latest gluten-free products, or just those who'd like to familiarize themselves with all that PCC has to offer (and, sample plenty of foods in the process).
Don't forget: several of our fall session classes still have openings, including several focused on holiday baking . Click here to view the list.
Beaujolais. Nouveau. Let us fill our glasses and sing its praises. Really. No, not the Beaujolais - like product that the corporate wine factories foist on the world. Unh-uh, not that.
Think instead in terms of the sheer loveliness of real, honest Beaujolais, married with the heady, virtually carnal energy of harvest. Pour that in your glass. You’ll see. Yep, voilà.
Beaujolais. “… bright, perfectly ripe red fruit, walking a taut tightrope of exuberant freshness. Lush, generous, muscular berry flavors with a lazer, razor edge of tartness. Not voluptuous in its richness, not “big.” Supple, lean, muscular, flexible. A ballet dancer of a wine… Think of the joyful, bursting-with-sunshine, meaty, satisfying sweetness and texture of perfectly ripe cherries and raspberries, with a crystalline edge of tanginess and the firmness of cool granite.”
Harvest. How do you even come close to adequately describing the pure, heady, racy excitement of harvest? Take a year’s worth of energy, the alliance of earth and sun stored in juicy ripe berries, add the sweat of human brows, hope and desire – unleash it all in the intoxicating alchemy of fermentation, and well…yeah, carnal kind of sums it up.
If real Beaujolais is essentially exuberant beauty without pretention or veneer of sophistication, then real Beaujolais Nouveau is naked beauty, pure, unadorned loveliness with the racy energy of unbridled passion and the reckless abandon of the harvest.
(Surfing that riff all the way to the beach--if honest Beaujolais is the vinous equivalent of impassioned lovemaking, then the industrial-grade sham perpetrated by certain corporate types is essentially little more than wine pornography.)
Alors, I can’t describe it any better than that, there just aren’t adjectives enough. But you can pick up a bottle of Pierre Chermette “Primeur” or Domaine Dupeuble Nouveau at your friendly neighborhood PCC wine department. Then you’ll see.
Fill your glass. Give thanks.