Stir-fry blog

Who are we rooting for on "Top Chef Masters"? Why, Maria Hines, of course!

Not one, not two, but three fabulous local chefs will represent Seattle in the next round of Bravo's "Top Chef Masters": Thierry Rautureau of Rover's restaurant, Maria Hines of Tilth and Jerry Traunfeld of Poppy. And, apparently, Bravo's taste is as good as ours at PCC; this trio of chefs has taught for our PCC Cooks cooking school over the years as well.

While I'd be thrilled if any local chef won on a national stage, I have to say I hope it's James Beard Award winner Maria Hines, in part because her chosen charity for the $100,000 prize is the PCC Farmland Trust. She serves on the board of the independent, community supported, nonprofit land trust, which preserves organic farmland throughout the Northwest for future generations.

So far, the Trust has saved four farms totalling 549 acres; Orting Valley Farms in Pierce County is the latest. That $100,000 would be a huge step toward preserving even more farmland from development. That said, kudos to chefs Traunfeld and Rautureau, for pledging their potential wins to two other great organizations (as reported by Nancy Leson): the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission and Food Lifeline, respectively.

Catch all the action 11 p.m. Wednesday, April 7 on Bravo.

More about: agriculture, PCC Cooks, PCC Farmland Trust

A crash course in vegan Japanese cooking

I attended another great PCC Cooks class last night, Shojin Japanese Cuisine at PCC Greenlake. Think fragrant rice peppered with hunks of tasty burdock root (Gobo Takikomi Gohan), Deep-fried tofu cake and daikon stew (Hiryozu To Daikon No Nimono) and fresh, crisp daikon and carrot salad with sweet vinegar (Namasu). We learned to cook vegan dishes with four different sea vegetables and three different mushrooms, learned a better way to slice gobo, and, best of all, got to devour a soothing, rich, creamy vegetable one-pot dish simmered in soy milk broth (TonyuNabe). Umami? Ooh la la! 

Our instructor, Kanako Koizumi, taught us to coax delicious flavor from all these pure ingredients. Turns out, this is the prime time of year to cook with fresh daikon (a Japanese radish), which is at its best.  She brandished a beautiful organic specimen from our produce department and pointed to its root tip. That's the spicy part, best for grating into salads or as a garnish. She pointed to its top. That's the sweetest section, but also the toughest, best for soups, stews and other long-cooking recipes. Good to know! 

Kanako-san beamed as she introduced another treasure from our produce department that she says is tough to find fresh in these parts: maitake (sometimes labeled maetake) mushrooms, each one a symphony of savory ruffles. Maitake translates as "so good, they make you want to dance" she told us. My taste buds definitely did.

Do you have a favorite PCC Cooks instructor or class you'd like to recommend to others? So far, I've learned great Thai recipes from Pranee Halvorsen and crafted a trio of rich autumn soups with Olaiya Land. I can't wait until my knife skills class next week with Seppo Farrey.

 

More about: PCC Cooks, vegan

Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?

Nobody! At least, not if it's up to New Orleans Saints fans at PCC Redmond, who proudly wore their colors and sported fleur de lis in honor of Sunday's win over the Colts.

If you watched the big game -- whether for the football or for the commercials -- what did you cook? We enjoyed Smoky Beef and Bacon Chili at our place (featuring organic Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes, PCC organic beef, and Garrett County Farms bacon) soaked up with tasty cornbread I baked up with Bob's Red Mill cornmeal, farm-fresh eggs and whole-wheat pastry flour from our bulk department. Yum yum!

 

 

More about: bulk, Redmond

This week at PCC: Chocolate tastings, sweater drive, "Mission: Sustainable" premiere

Hello all! It's been crazy busy in PCC land as we wrap up work on a huge project. We're excited to unveil it this month, and I'm also excited to resume blogging on a more regular basis. There are so many stories to tell within this community, from within our stores to way out in the farm fields. There are recipes to try and cooking tips to be swapped. But for now, an update on some of our upcoming events.

Free chocolate tastings: Come taste a range of our extraordinary chocolate between 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5 at Edmonds PCC or Saturday, Feb. 6 at Greenlake PCC. Whether you prefer milk or dark, fruity or nutty, bitter or sweet, you'll discover new flavors.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Sweater drive: You've seen the barrels at your local PCC. If you haven't already donated new or gently used and clean sweaters, coats and cold-weather gear to help those in need, come help fill the barrel by Sunday, Feb. 7.

Donations will be disributed to Wellspring Family Services, serving Seattle and King County.

Care to Shop Food Drive: Volunteers from the Chicken Soup Brigade will be at all nine PCC store locations 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 to collect donations of nonperishable, shelf-stable foods. Please consider a donation while out doing your shopping! 

Mission: Sustainable: Join us for the free premiere of "Mission: Sustainable," a green makeover TV show based in Seattle, 7 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11 at Seattle Center Fisher Pavillion, 305 Harrison St. Watch the pilot, mix and mingle with cast (which includes PCC Cooks instructor Becky Selengut!) and crew, enjoy live music and visit booths of local, sustainable companies at the green carpet event of the season. Visit mission-sustainable.com for details and to RSVP.

 

 

PCC donates $25,000 toward earthquake relief in Haiti!

It's easy to feel helpless when bad things happen. Case in point: This week's devastating earthquake in Haiti. Thousands have been reported killed or gravely injured, and it's been an uphill battle getting aid, doctors, food and other assistance to horribly damaged communities.

The light in this dark time? Watching millions of dollars of donations trickle in from around the globe to organizations like the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and other worthy relief efforts from so many people like you. So imagine the pride that all of us at PCC feel today knowing our beloved co-op is donating $25,000 to the Red Cross' relief efforts in Haiti.

It's you, our loyal co-op members and shoppers, who enable us to give back in so many ways to our community. This time, those we collectively are helping may be thousands of miles away, but the need is profound, and we're thrilled to be able to step up and do our part.

This from our CEO, Tracy Wolpert: "The magnitude of food, healthcare and infrastructure support needed by victims of this disaster is overwhelming. We are pleased to contribute to the recovery efforts being coordinated by the American Red Cross." 

If you would like to give, you can reach the American Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767 or www.redcross.org.

 

More about: community

This week at PCC: New Year edition!

Happy new year! No doubt, you've drafted a few resolutions for 2010. For me, it's eating healthy, delicious, organic leafy greens daily. I made the same resolution in 2008 and felt energized and aglow throughout the year. I already feel a spring in my step from something I reintroduced to my diet back in early December: a daily delectably sweet (and heart healthy) Texas Rio grapefruit. Be still my heart! 

grapefruit

Thankfully, since I sit near our produce guru, Joe Hardiman, it's easy to keep tabs on all the great fruits and vegetables flowing into our stores. But I hope you know that all of us at PCC are ready to help you keep any healthful resolution, whether it's to eat your vegetables, sip more tea, get your regular dose of vitamin D, treat your skin to all-natural lotions or to cook more at home. Too swamped to cook? Our deli can help with resolutions, too, with a bounty of salads and entrees that feature whole grains, protein-rich beans and plenty of fresh vegetables. Or, make the simplest resolution of all: Drink more water

Here are some special events on the horizon: 

  • The Bloodmobile will be at our PCC office from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 4 and at each of our nine locations this month. Please consider giving the gift of life, and click here for your store's timeslot.

Good Food documentary poster

  • Join us for a free screening of "Good Food," a documentary about sustainable farming in the Pacific Northwest,  followed by a lively discussion about the documentary by PCC staff. Space is limited, so please arrive before the film is scheduled to begin. And yes, popcorn and beverages will be served! The dates are 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24 at Edmonds PCC and 4:30 p.m. Sunday Jan, 31 at Redmond PCC. Check out the preview!
sweaters
  • Celebrate the new year by cleaning out your closet and donating those extra sweaters to the KCTS9 Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Sweater Drive. All PCC locations will accept new or gently used, clean sweaters, coats and cold weather gear from January 11 to February 7. Wellspring Family Services will distribute them to those who need most them.  
  • Register now to head on out to Sequim, Wash. and walk the fields of Delta Farm, home to Nash's Organic Produce, Saturday, Jan. 16 on a farm tour. See first hand where those amazingly sweet carrots take root. Meet local farmers and feel great that you, via PCC Farmland Trust, helped to preserve organic farmland, forever.
  • If you haven't already signed up for a class or two (or five) with our award-winning PCC Cooks cooking school, what are you waiting for? 

We're in midwinter. That means we're only a few months away from tender spring asparagus, creamy peas, wild Alaskan halibut, fresh lamb, the first crop of organic strawberries up from California and so many annual traditions. Take the time now to savor the joys of winter, those savory stews and sweet baked treats and bubbling slow cooker goodness. And, again, happy 2010! 

More about: grapefruit, PCC Cooks, PCC Farmland Trust

Giving in the spirit of the season

Those who celebrate Christmas are all abustle this week, wrapping gifts, delivering homebaked treats, meeting, greeting, gathering. We've been following the same pattern here at PCC HQ, with potlucks, snacks and fun. And today, our amazing colleague Dana finished rounding up dozens of gifts from our staff to deliver to Peace for the Streets by Kids From the Streets (www.psks.org), an important local organization that helps Seattle-area homeless youth and young adults.

While some wishes were pure fun (including musical instruments and games), others were so practical (socks, jeans, long underwear) they made me really take stock and appreciate all that I have in my life.

What could you do to help a community organization this holiday , or even someone special in your life? 

Have you seen our new PCC totes?

They're made from recycled plastic bottles, so much better than letting them pile up in a landfill. And only 87 cents! Know a college student, an ailing friend or someone else who needs some love in your life? Bundle up a home-cooked meal, some fresh organic produce or other treats in one of these puppies so they have a bag to use for later when all the eating's done.

Our amazing art department created four new designs, including my favorite -- the happy produce people shown above.

Who's your favorite produce superstar? I'm partial to Mr. Melon. So jolly.

A showstopper cookie for your taste buds

It's a cookie-baking time of year, and PCC Cooks instructor and Chef Olaiya Land is so kind to share one of her favorites with us. You may have heard her reference Korova cookies in this recent podcast interview. So tasty are they, she says, that they've been dubbed World Peace Cookies "due to their supposed ability to bring the whole world together in peace and harmony through sheer deliciousness alone."

She recommends Scharffen Berger cocoa and Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet chocolate. And, she bakes the cookies at 350 and puts in two sheets at a time baked for 10-12 minutes. Try them with red wine, she says!

Find the full recipe here.

What do you do to make popular recipes your own? I add oatmeal to the traditional Tollhouse chocolate-chip cookie recipe to give my cookies a little something extra. Other bakers I know add chili powder to their brownies. What about you?

More about: baking, chocolate, cookies, desserts

This week at PCC: Redmond Lights, food bank packaging parties, wine and more!

Frosty nights have arrived and lights are aglow -- time to gather family and friends, appreciate that we have shelter from the storm and to reach out to those who don't. Address this trio this week with PCC.

JOIN US FOR REDMOND LIGHTS 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 at Redmond City Hall and Redmond Town Center. PCC helps sponsor this annual event, which includes a tree lighting, lit river walk and live music. We'll be offering samples of  fresh food and a special party mix, to boot. Visit redmondlights.com for details.

PET LIVE REINDEER, meet Santa and sit in his sleigh at the Issaquah Reindeer Festival, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 1-23 at Cougar Mountain Zoo, 19525 S.E. 54th St. in Issaquah. Discounted tickets are on sale at Issaquah PCC. Children under 2 are free. Visit cougarmountainzoo.org for details.

DONATE THE DIFFERENCE and help reduce hunger in our communities by contributing to the PCC Food Bank Program. PCC uses your donations (100 percent) to buy nutritious bulk foods at discounted prices, which are then packaged by PCC volunteers and given to local food banks. At the checkout stand say you'll "donate the difference" and your purchase will be rounded up to the nearest dollar, with the difference donated to the program.

AND ON THAT NOTE: If you live/work near Kirkland, stop by the Kirkland Food Bank (11011 120th Ave. N.E.) 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7 and volunteer to help package food for needy families. 

DISCOVER A NEW WINE or two or three at our wine tastings. Click here for a list of events through the end of the year!

REGISTER FOR WINTER PCC COOKS CLASSES in the new winter catalog. From kids classes to gluten-free cooking to knife skills to perfect meat and poultry, there's something for everyone.

Have a great week!

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