Happy Monday everyone! Gray days like this put me in a great mood to write, and also, to read. I found a comfy nook at home Sunday during that sudden rainstorm to finally nibble at "In Defense of Food," Michael Pollan's latest tome that ponders modern eating.
Have you read it? Poor thing had sat on my bedside table for months, sandwiched between "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and "Bento Box in the Heartland" for months. I've been excited to read it after Omnivore's Dilemma, which will be read en masse by incoming freshmen at Washington State University this fall. So many food books, so little time.
So I'm happy to introduce PCC Reads, what I hope can become a space for us to discuss the food/health/green/cooking/memoirs we're reading, and a space to recommend much-loved works to others. To kick this off, I'll be blogging about this latest Pollan book as I work my way through. Each month, I'll introduce another book suggested by someone in the PCC community (that could be you!). I hope you'll join in and share your valuable thoughts and life experience.
Initial thoughts on IDOF: What is food? Pollan urges us to lay off eating food with printed health claims, as that implies it likely came in a package and was processed to a certain extent. Is this too limited a view of what could constitute quality food? I sit here thinking of the soy products (with health claims) relished by my vegan sister-in-law, an incredibly conscientious eater. I'm sure he will explore these questions as I get deeper into this book. I do like his concept of considering the cooking of our grandparents when in doubt about how to eat in this time of abundance. I'm pretty familiar with all the foods from the Japanese side of my family; it's not as clear to me what my French-Canadian grandmother liked to cook. Will investigate!
There's no shortage of fun this summer, and thankfully we even have the sun on our side this year! Look for PCC at events throughout the region or join us at Edmonds or Redmond for weekend barbecues!
As we head deeper into summer the variety of locally grown produce keeps expanding. What a delight to see local Lapin cherries from River Valley Organics of Tonasket, Wash. filling the bins! Snag a bunch to enjoy at lunch for $3.99 lb (if you like organic cherries as much as me, you'll recognize this as a screaming deal). Our produce guru, Joe Hardiman, also recommends the sweet organic white corn from Double D Farms in Coalinga, Calif.
Did you know that PCC's produce department averages 95 percent organic? Joe says that asparagus comprises a substantial portion of that remaining 5 percent, and he keeps his eyes peeled for additional organic asparagus growers to meet springtime demand.
Also arriving by week's end:
- Organic Walla Walla sweet onions from across the Cascades
- Organic blackberries from Wilt Farms of Corvallis, Ore.
- Organic raspberries from J4 Ranch in Mount Vernon, Wash.
- Organic green beans from Inaba Farms in Wapato, Wash.
Our own Trudy Bialic is in the running for a post on the National Organic Standards Board, the team of farmers, retailers, processors, scientists, environmentalists and consumers that works with the Secretary of Agriculture to develop standards for organic food production.
How great would it be to have another Northwest voice on such an important board? (Jennifer Hall, former executive director of Chef's Collaborative, serves through 2011).
Trudy, editor of PCC's monthly paper, the Sound Consumer, would carry on PCC's long history of outreach. Beyond local efforts like our Kid Picks program, food bank donations and the PCC Farmland Trust, we also speak up when Congress and other governing bodies ponder major decisions that will affect our food supply. PCC nutrition educator (and all around fascinating person) Goldie Caughlan served on NOSB from 2001-2006. Trudy herself has submitted 90 position letters on organic rules, pesticides and fertilizer, genetic engineering, irradiation, food safety, sustainable seafood and food labeling since 2000.
Read more about the NOSB here. Read more about Trudy's unique qualifications and how you can help her campagin here. If you'd like to stay abreast of important issues that affect the quality and safety of your food and even participate in improving our national standards, sign up for our new PCC Advocates newsletter here. Go Trudy!
Hello everyone! I'm back in the office after three nonstop weeks of adventure. I'm looking forward to catching you up on what's new at the co-op (for starters, Puget Sound Blood Center just let us know our recent blood drives donated enough to save at least 300 lives! Thanks for your participation! But I digress :)
On June 20 I married Jerry, the love of my life. Two days later we flew to Kauai for our honeymoon. We recently rolled home to Seattle, stuffed from long, balmy days of macadamia-nut ice cream, shave ice, fresh mahi mahi, Maui onion rings and delectable island fruit like these:
When traveling I make it my personal mission to try a good variety of the local cuisine. Those of you who follow this blog on Twitter (@nwfoodette) saw many a meal we enjoyed at roadside huts and fancy restaurants alike. Here is one of my favorite spots (the Sueoka Snack Shop in Koloa, where there's always a huge line of locals and tourists alike):
Their shrimp tempura and macaroni salad were darn satisfying. Here's macadamia-nut encrusted mahi mahi from the Beach House on the south shore, where we went for our special dinner at the end of our trip:
One fun highlight was a visit to a local sunshine market -- what they call farmers markets on Kauai. I'd heard rumors that shopping at them is a contact sport and our trip to the Koloa Sunshine Market did not disappoint. The crowd waiting at opening probably numbered around 150. This man below waving the leaf explained the rules: Pregnant women in their second and third trimesters, the disabled and seniors 90 and older could all skip the line and beeline to their favorite stand; the rest of us had to duke it out when he blew a starting whistle:
I saw one little girl lose a flip flop in the mass of hungry humanity that stumbled toward stands of fresh guava, pineapple, flowers, lettuces and loads of other island produce:
I was just happy we made it out alive with my precious guava. I wish I could have bottled its fragrance:
If you're headed to Kauai I'd like to recommend Marjorie's Kauai Inn. It's set above a lush valley in Lawai on the south shore and offers fresh, delicious vegetarian breakfast daily. During our stay we enjoyed buckwheat waffles, cornmeal pancakes, steel-cut oatmeal, homemade quiche, organic eggs and a daily offering of Kauai's own Anahola Granola topped with fruit, much of which came from the innkeeper's own trees. The north shore also boasts an organic farm where you can stay the night and then wake up to pick your own pineapple. Not bad.
And of course, no trip to Hawai'i is complete without some of this:
First off, you must witness these gorgeous Rainier cherries just arriving to our produce department, looking oh-so-pretty in their shiny collander.
And this actually leads me to my next point. All those cherries, strawberries, black-rind watermelons, eggplants, sugar snap peas and other great tastes of summer you buy do more than keep this co-op running. Part of that money goes to support the very communities in which you live. It's something easy to forget when we're distracted, stuffing our faces with cherries ;)
To wit, here's a sampling of events PCC will sponsor this summer alone:
- Chicken Soup Brigade food drive
- Alaffia bike drive
- Pride Parade
- Fremont Solstice Parade
- West Seattle American Legion Grand Parade
- Redmond Derby Days
- A Taste of Edmonds
- Greenwood Seafair Parade
- Seafair Triathlon
Hope to see you there!
It's nearly summertime at PCC, and with the longer days come oodles of events. I hope these weekly guides help you keep up! As for me, I'm getting married next week and will be away from the blog for a bit to celebrate with friends and family. I look forward to keeping you up to date with PCC happenings when I return in early July!
KICK BACK at one of our PCC "Grillin' and Chillin'" community BBQs at PCC Edmonds and Redmonds on weekends this summer. This week, savor flame-grilled Vera Cruz chicken or vegetables, Fiesta Salad, fresh guacamole and Black Bean and Corn Salad, with $3 of each $7 meal going to support community groups (kids eat for only $3). The fun runs from 3-7 p.m. today at both locations, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Redmond and 3-7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday at Edmonds.
NOURISH HUNGRY NEIGHBORS at the Care to Shop Food Drive, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. June 13 at all nine PCC locations. Volunteers from the Chicken Soup Brigade will collect donations of nonperishable, shelf-stable food items. The brigade is part of Lifelong AIDS Alliance and helps improve the nutrition of people living with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses in Seattle and King County.
SIP FOR THE CURE at Alex's Lemonade Stand, June 13-14 at PCC Issaquah. Six local girls will sell organic lemonade to help fight childhood cancer. Proceeds support Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, which evolved from a young cancer patient's frontyard stand to nationwide movement. The foundation has raised $25 million to fund research and help improve the lives of kids in treatment. Santa Cruz Organics donated 20 cases of lemonade toward the event.
CELEBRATE the 10th anniversary of the PCC Farmland Trust June 27 with a trip to Walla Walla and Bennington Place Farm, home of Thundering Hooves pasture-finished meats. Enjoy a dinner crafted from local ingredients and dance to live music. Register and find details here.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR and celebrate Seafair for the 2009 PCC Natural Markets kids triathlon, 10:30 a.m. July 19 (after the adult race) at PCC Seward Park. Kids 6-12 can race in events suited to their ability level. Each participant gets a t-shirt, finishers' medal and a PCC gift card. The Kid Picks Mobile will be on hand with healthy snacks to sample beginning at 7 a.m. Visit www.seafair.com to register.
We all get stuck in ruts sometimes. The same 10 meals over and over for dinner. The same dinner-party dessert. The same potluck dish. And when that happens, it's time to shake things up a little. It's time for a cooking class!
Why should you take a class from PCC Cooks when there are oodles of cooking schools in the region? Because our classes are among the best in the nation. The International Association of Culinary Professionals presented PCC Cooks with the "Best Avocational Cooking School" award earlier this year (that's PCC Cooks Manager Marilyn McCormick (left) and PCC Cooks Writer Jackie DeCicco flanking Lynne Rossetto Kasper, cookbook author and host of NPR's "The Splendid Table" at the awards ceremony in Denver).
PCC has been around since 1953. PCC Cooks launched in 1983 with in-store cooking demonstrations. Since then it's ballooned to nearly 1,000 classes each year taught by 40 instructors and 200 assistants. PCC Cooks instructors hail from countries and cultures around the globe and nearly every dietary persuasion (or requierment). Thus, you can learn to cook raw foods Tex-Mex style, prepare cheese-filled pastries in the Sephardic tradition, properly toast Indian spices and bake gluten-free treats, among dozens of other skills. Kids can join in at special cooking classes tailored for their skills and tastes.
Here's a sampling of summer classes still open:
- Ottoman Palace Cuisine by Sureyya Gokeri: Cuisines from across the former Ottoman Empire, including Roasted Lamb on a bed of grilled poatoes and tomatoes and Stuffed Apricots with almonds and pistachios (June 14 at PCC Issaquah, June 27 at Redmond and June 28 at Edmonds).
- Wild and Wonderful by chef Adam Stevenson of Earth & Ocean: Quick suppers using local and sustainable ingredients, including Morel and English Pea Risotto and Wild Black Cod with Balsamic Brown Butter French Lentils (June 12 at Edmonds, July 7 at Issaquah).
- Fabulous Cocktail Party by caterer/chef Olaiya Land: Fun snacks for your next summer fete, including Green Apple and Manchego Mini Quesadillas with Homemade Tortillas, Sweet and Spicy Curried Walnuts and more (June 24 at Greenlake, June 30 at Issaquah).
- In Season by chef Lesa Sullivan: This course helps cooks maximize the flavor and nutrition of seasonal produce with Quickie Ratatouille, Herbed Foccacia Pizza Verdura and more (June 25 at Edmonds, July 8 at Issaquah
The more time I spend shopping various PCC locations, the more cute and useful items I notice tucked between the aisles (and the more cute and useful items end up tucked between all the food in my cart!). Take these little guys I recently found at PCC Fremont called Boo Boo Buddies: just the thing for sore knees after a workout or to soothe the bumps, bruises and bug bites of your little one.
Many stores, including PCC Issaquah, carry sturdy, vivacious cook and serveware from Le Creuset (these pitchers could work for iced tea, mimosas or a nice bunch of wildflowers atop your dining table):
The patterns, like our produce section, keep changing with the seasons. Each bottle is crafted from BPA-free food-grade stainless steel, coated in food-safe paint and a variety of eye-catching designs printed with lead-free ink. Now your reusable bottle can sport images from koi and gingko leaves to argyle and dragons. Just the thing to keep your thirst slaked this summer.
So much going on this week at PCC! Can't wait to relax at Edmonds this weekend over some delicious snacks from the grill.