Sure, you can get your hands on strawberries just about any time of year. But in this part of the world, they're at their absolute best when plucked ripe from local fields in June, their scent sugary and their texture perfectly pliant, each mouthful a burst of juicy flavor. Same goes for corn in late summer; so tender, you can eat it straight on the cob, no cooking required.
Want to eat like a local? Reference our handy chart so you'll know when each of your organic and local Northwest favorites is due in our produce department. It's a delicious way to support local growers and enjoy seasonal favorites at their peak.
Our Seward Park community mourns the passing of Robert Hansen, 58, a "Real Change" vendor who regularly sold the paper in downtown Seattle and outside our Seward Park PCC store. He's described as an advocate and a kind, jovial person, a man with infectious enthusiasm, who always had a kind word to say. Read more about Mr. Hansen here. Hear more about Mr. Hansen here, via KPLU. And here's another tribute to him via Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur. May he rest in peace.
Did you know children 12 and younger can pick out a free piece of fruit each time they visit PCC? It's part of Kid Picks, our taste-test program that since 2004 has identified hundreds of kid-tasted and approved items sold in our stores.
Parents look for the orange Kid Picks signs when shopping to find items given a thumbs-up by youngsters around the Puget Sound region. Actually, plenty of people beyond parents look for those signs, because anything marked with them is bound to be tasty. Kids, after all, have some of the most discerning taste buds around.
Through June 15, there's even more reason to seek out Kid Picks items on your next trip to PCC: PCC will donate five percent of Kid Picks product sales, up to a total of $10,000, to support the Seattle Children's Hospital outreach as part of the Families Helping Families partnership.
Stay in the know on the latest Kid Pick events, newly approved items and the whereabouts of the Kid Picks mobile on the program's new Facebook page, or follow the Kid Picks crew on Twitter. Next stop: Sunday, May 9 at the Kirkland Half Marathon, where the crew will hand out healthy samples for the younger crowd and fresh fruit to race participants. Visit kirklandhalfmarathon.com for more details.
Why attend a PCC member meeting? For starters, there's the delicious (and free!) dinner, designed with the varied dietary choices and restrictions of our members in mind:
Spinach salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas and Lemon Vinaigrette, Curred Butter Chicken, Thai Green Curry and Coconut Tempeh, Minted Quinoa, and Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Zest, YUM! Dessert was Creamy Rice Pudding with Pistachios and Carmelized Bananas.
You get to gather with scores of other members who love PCC, sustainable agriculture and great food.
Just look at all those nametags at check-in!
Each table has a captain who helps encourage thoughtful discussion.
Meet happy PCC employees from headquarters and our nine stores.
The evening is truly a team effort.
And, you get to hear from PCC's board and its chief executive, Tracy Wolpert, followed by a special presentation or special guest, such as Jon Bansen of Organic Valley and Michael Funk, chief executive of UNFI, the distributor that delivers our wonderful products each day.
This year, we enjoyed a mini-documentary that transported us behind the scenes and around the clock in all nine stores and our office to share "A Day in the Life of PCC." After digesting all it takes to keep our co-op humming, I continue to marvel about one amazing fact from that video: that avocados are the No. 2 seller in our produce department. Any guesses as to the top selling produce item? Hint: It's a fruit.
Hope you'll join us for our fall meeting, Oct. 26!
PCC headquarters is a hive of activity today as folks answer phones and hustle to prepare for tonight's meeting. It truly takes a village -- not to mention dozens of containers filled with items for displays, napkins, nametags and all else, each carefully numbered so it gets where should be by the 5:30 p.m. start time.
Dozens of these have lined the walls in recent days, filled with items we reuse at our twice-yearly gatherings.
Click here for directions to St. Demetrios Hall. Click here to learn more about our member meetings. I, for one, am excited to see the debut of "A Day in the Life of PCC," a documentary that's been in the works by our team here for the past few months as a fun way to tell the story about the people and practices that make PCC such a unique operation. Hope to see you tonight!
You know summer is on its way when the number of fun events and activities going on at PCC starts to really percolate. Co-op members, hope you RSVPed for our Annual Member Meeting on Tuesday, April 27. It's sure to be a fascinating evening, with good food and interesting speakers. And if we haven't said it lately, thank you so much for your support. Not a member? Learn more about membership.
Bird's eye view of 2009's member meeting.
LEARN TO MAKE SOAP with Ballard Organics, Washington state's first certified-organic soapmaker. Founder Ben Busby-Collins will show you the ropes for free, no experience necessary. Join the fun noon to 1 p.m. at PCC Issaquah and 3 to 4 p.m. at PCC Edmonds on Saturday, April 24 and noon to 1 p.m. Sunday April 25 at PCC Greenlake.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR for Healthy Food, Healthy Family, free nutrition classes for the whole family, taught by PCC Nutrition Education Leika Suzumura (watch her demonstrate delicious whole-grain recipes on live TV here. Classes begin in May and will take place at five of our stores.
HELP YOUR COMMUNITY at any of our foodbank packaging parties.
Have a wonderful weekend!
It's good to be back at PCC, especially when I find sweet delights like these in the kitchen:
Blissfully sweet organic strawberries.
But how invigorating it was to be far and then farther away for a couple of weeks of blissful vacation. My husband and I traveled to Nasvhille, Buenos Aires and a small historic town in Uruguay. Suffice it to say, much (and varied) eating commenced.
Easter spread at my husband's grandparents' home outside Nashville. Delectable (especially those turnip greens), but counting my lucky stars to be an omnivore in this moment.
Many farms nearby. This red barn looked gorgeous against the lush green backdrop.
We arrived in Buenos Aires exhausted after a 10-hour flight. What better way to wake up and enjoy a sunny morning than with aromatic, full-bodied espresso?
Breakfast of champions.
Now for an express culinary tour of some dining highlights. Buenos Aires is a city that adores its food -- its countless restaurants, cafes, street vendors are testament. And Argentina is a nation with many, many immigrants, which, as we've seen in our country, means diverse cooking methods, ingredients and fusion. Whenever I'm able to travel I feel blessed with the opportunity to see another country's soul through its food. I bet many of you do, too.
Wonderful patisseries like Las Violetas abound.
Imagine one of these melting in your mouth whilst sipping hot tea or caffe con leche.
Busy lunchtime crowd at Florida Garden cafe eats standing up at the counter, savoring flavorful coffee that's a blend of two kinds of beans.
Fresh-squeezed orange juice, right on the street.
A lovely greenmarket.
And now, it's time for lunch.
Empanadas are just about the most delicious thing ever and easy to eat out of hand (if I lived there, I'd take these on many a picnic. On this plate: Ham and cheese, beet and chard (my favorite), juicy steak with chimichurri and chicken with wonderful spices.
Fresh. Creamy. Just one example of the wonderful range of starters that came with every meal.
Steak and hard-cooked eggs are staples of many an Argentinian meal. This sandwich delivered burst upon burst of flavor, from thinly sliced tender steak, eggs, chimichurri sauce, fresh tomatoes, all assembled within warm pita.
Enjoying fresh, housemade pasta at a sidewalk cafe in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, a historic town and UNESCO heritage site.
Gelato is grand no matter what time of day.
We spied many bread deliverymen throughout the city, making their rounds of the restaurants and cafes.
Spotted this gluten-free hot dog ad on the side of a bus.
Now it's time for dinner. Though dinner often didn't even start until well after 9 p.m.!
Another pre-meal "snack" -- this at Cabana Las Lilas, considered one of the top parrillas (steakhouses) in Buenos Aires. On the plate: Roasted red peppers in olive oil, tender roast beef, grilled tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, sauteed eggplant with baby mushrooms and succulent roast chicken in the center, flanked with fresh crackers and breadsticks.
Steaks awaiting the grills at Las Lilas. This restaurant owns its own grass-fed cattle herd (which grazes on the pampas outside of the city) and controls every step, from birth to cooking. That's quality control at its finest, and you can taste the difference.
Two wood-fire baked pizzas, with wonderfully chewy crusts.
More fresh, housemade pasta.
And for desser (don't fret: Those prices are in Argentine pesos).
What are some of the most delicious memories from your trips, here and abroad?
Tom Monahan (food judge, aspiring foodie and substitute blogger)
I’m not a food judge; I just play one in local food competitions. Seriously, my qualifications as a food judge are limited to the meals I know how to prepare with my lovely wife, the food I eat at the many wonderful restaurants in and around Seattle and the knowledge I’ve obtained from PCC.
I realize that I’m more knowledgeable than many on the subjects of whole grains and seasonal produce, but to judge a food competition pitting Chef Jason Stratton from Spinasse against Chef Seth Caswell from emmer&rye, all of which to be hosted by Seattle icon Tom Douglas…really!?!?! That’s a life list item for many.
Of course, I jumped at the honor when it was bestowed upon me last week to judge this chef showdown at the Seattle Weekly’s Voracious Tasting & Food Awards on Wednesday, April 14. Over the weekend, my nerves continued to grow as the event neared. They weren’t squelched either when I entered the event venue, Seattle’s historic Paramount Theatre.
I check in for my judging duties backstage to be greeted by the chefs, Tom Douglas and my fellow judges, which included Seattle Weekly food critic, Jason Sheehan and the Weekly’s food writer, Julien Perry. That was the first of many “pinch me” moments.
Sensing the moment, Tom Douglas orders up some cocktails for the judges and chefs. You know, to ease our nerves before we’re greeted by a 1,000 fellow foodies sipping cocktails and noshing on delicious morsels from some of Seattle’s most prestigious and innovative restaurants and bars.
The competition is announced by a calm and cool Douglas and we hit the stage to assume our positions as judges. The moment is overwhelming, but my fears subside greatly due to a contingent of PCC staff cheering me on from the audience.
That’s me, second from the left, with the “deer in the headlights” smile on my face.
Douglas announces the secret ingredient for the competition…it’s LAMB! Specifically the wonderful Umpqua Valley Lamb carried in our stores. The chefs scramble for ingredients with their assistants and start preparations on their first set of dishes. The action is fast and furious and I get a sense of where this first dish is heading.
All the while, Douglas is chatting it up with the chefs and proceeds to the judges to get our thoughts on the showdown. Pinch me moment number two, Tom Douglas asking me about food. Never in my wildest dreams!
Back to the showdown, the first dishes are near completion and I can get a glance at what Chef Jason is working on. There were no hot burners, nothing being roasted in an oven…we’re going raw for this first dish. In fact, both chefs prepared raw lamb. I believe Chef Jason’s was carpaccio and Chef Seth’s was tartare. Raw lamb was a first for me, and I must say probably not the last. It’s really all about the preparation.
Chef Jason Stratton (on the left) competing in the chef showdown, with Tom Douglas watching his every move.
The competition continues and I’m starting to get used this judge gig. I have two tremendous chefs preparing outrageous dishes with beautiful ingredients (all provided by PCC), a culinary legend asking for my opinion on said dishes and servers asking me every couple of minutes if I need anything. Whose life did I steal!?!?
Ultimately, the four dishes prepared by each chef are delivered, tasted and judged. I sensed that the competition would be close, but not this close. The styles of each chef differed, providing for an easy contrast, but they each did such a great job with their presentation, creativity and taste.
Easing in to my role as judge, my thought provoking image is displayed on the big screen at the Paramount Theatre.
The votes were tallied and Douglas announced that Chef Seth Caswell won with 296 points to Chef Jason’s 289, out of a possible 400 points. 7 points separated these two chefs, but in all honesty nothing really separates them. They are each part of an amazing food movement happening locally, regionally and nationally. These chefs are celebrating food.
I know that this was likely a once in the lifetime experience and I didn’t take that for granted. I loved every minute of it! And if there’s a moral to my tale, it’s get out and eat!
To those of you who stuck with a New Year's resolution to exercise more, I salute you. As for me, I fell off the wagon for a time in February, feeling too tired and groggy to run or swim. "Dude, you should totally eat chia seeds," piped up my friend Katie, who's training for her second triathlon, fueled by an ever-improving diet.
Chia seeds? Yes. They're a nutty-tasting whole grain that resembles poppy seeds, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, and also feature calcium, magnesium and other vital nutrients. I tried them sprinkled atop yogurt for a week. I felt energized. When we ran Green Lake, I found I had the energy to want to go around again. A month later and I'm solidly back on the wagon. It's a good place to be.
Nope, that's not black pepper on my yogurt, but chia seeds.
Turns out, chia has been cultivated since ancient times in Central America and long revered as a high-energy food. They're mentioned as a superfood in "Born to Run", a popular book about the origins of running and superathletes. Celebrity doctors Weil and Oz both sing chia's praises.
While many friends credit chia seeds for an extra energy boost, I'm inclined to think the result is part seed, part the foods you eat in order to enjoy the seeds -- yogurt with fruit, fresh-fruit smoothies, salads, oatmeal, fiber-rich pumpkin muffins, etc. We each can use more whole grains, fiber and produce in our diet, especially those of us who need the stamina to keep running, dancing, chasing toddlers, lifting, rowing, gardening, climbing.
Find them in our bulk spice section. And tell us: What other foods leave you energized? I've become a huge fan of roasted sweet potatoes for many of the same benefits.
A beautiful day in the neighborhood, indeed. It's 68 degrees at Seatac Airport, the warmest March 24 on record since 1960. And, the final numbers are in from the Misters Rogers Neighborhood Sweater Drive. Are you ready?
Together, PCC shoppers and KCTS viewers donated more than 5,000 sweaters, coats and other cozy items in January and February. That translates into 125 large bags of adult clothing donated to Northwest Center, 26 large bags of children's clothing donated to Wellspring Family Services and three large bags of shoes donated to Virgina Mason's "Shoes for Haiti" Drive. Wow!
In case you've ever wondered what 5,000 items of clothing looks like. Imagine all that warmth!
On a sunny day like today, it's easy to take warmth for granted. Thank you for sharing yours!