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.
Beyond feeling absolutely amazing, this spate of hot, sunny weather we've enjoyed has accelerated the growing season, counteracting the gloomy, wet early spring. Thus, the first batch of Northwest cherries will be arriving at PCC mid-June (woo hoo!). Our produce guru Joe Hardiman predicts local strawberries will arrive at stores roughly the same week from Rent's Due Ranch, just in time to celebrate Summer Solstice.
Other produce news of note:
- We're in the last weeks of the local organic asparagus crop. Hardiman says. Since it's a sprout, it lingers only so long as it's spring somewhere in our hemisphere. Get thee to a PCC to make the most of the last few shipments
- Local and organic spinach, kale, parsley and cilantro are beginning to arrive at stores
- Back to those cherries: They're the big, dark red Chelan variety. Bing and Rainier will be in stores roughly the first week of July. What's your favorite cherry? I think nothing beats the beauty (and flavor) of fresh Rainiers, but I'm open to debate
- Washington apricots are expected right around June 20, along with leaf lettuce from Rent's Due Ranch in Stanwood and organic spinach from Dungeness Organics out in Sequim
Can't wait for July, August and September, when our stores will burst at the seams with local produce!
With 45,000 members and growing, plenty of Seattle-area folks have made PCC a healthy part of their lives. So it's been great fun connecting with fellow PCC fans via Facebook (www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/facebook). My colleague Ricardo keeps the page humming with news, events and discussions.
One popular discussion has centered around peoples' favorite products. It always gives me lots of ideas for future shopping trips. For me, I always pick up a take-and-bake pizza from the deli and some of this:
What are some of your must-gets at PCC? Here are what other fans recommend:
- Darryl: Nature's Crest Breakfast Blend by Fidalgo Bay Coffee (whole bean in the bulk section). And Bionaturae whole Italian tomatoes from Tuscany. Check Facebook for his cooking tips!
- Zain: The lemon cappelini in the deli and the First Nation Peppermint Honest Tea
- Lisa: Steph's Tofu in the deli and Bob's Red Mill High Gluten Flour
- Jennifer: Corn pudding from the deli
- Valentina: Cibo Naturals pesto in cilantro lime
- Alice: Organic dark chocolate chips in the bulk department
- Kelly: The vegan BLT in the deli and bulk spices
- Heather Ann: Juices at the Issaquah juice bar
- Michael: The deli's Perfect Protein Salad
- Heather: The deli's Methow Valley Salad
- Kelly: The tofu caper spread
- Marla: The vegan cashew spread
I hold in my hands a most delightful surprise. Wanna see?
It's the coupon book my colleagues in the graphics department (and many other departments) have been slaving over these past few weeks. It's quite pretty. But beyond its great aesthetics, it's abundant in deals for PCC members. To wit:
- Coupons for 10 percent off your entire produce purchase during the month of June (yes members, you can combine this with your regular 10-percent-off coupon or on the 15th and 16th of each month to combine for an extra 5 percent off)
- $2 off a variety of pre-seasoned meats and seafood ready to sizzle on the grill
- $1 off those great PCC deli take-and-bake pizzas
- Plus oodles of discounts on brands like Oogie's, Ryvita, Muir Glen, Santa Cruz Organic, Rising Moon Organics, Lakewood Organic, Wholesome Sweeteners, Kozy Shack, Theo Chocolate, So Delicious, Seventh Generation, BeeCeuticals, Avalon Organics and more!
I count more than 50 in this thing. Members also get coupon books in July and August to boot, along with the knowledge they're part owners of the cooperative. Not bad!
Can you believe we're on our third sunny weekend in a row? It's almost time for me to try out my new ice-cream maker or pry my family heirloom ice shaver from its perch in our pantry for some yummy shave ice. Methinks it's also a good to give this giant organic strawberry ice cream sandwich recipe a whirl! Then I leave the ice cream-making to Aldens.
Do share if you have favorite desserts that keep you cool!
This week at PCC
Celebrate the sun with live music, food and kids activities at the Edmonds Rotary Waterfront Festival (and visit the Kid Picks Mobile!). Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. May 30 and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. May 31 at Edmonds Marina (336 Admiral Way, Edmonds).
Nibble our new all-natural crab cakes May 30! Try them 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at PCC West Seattle, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. at PCC Fremont, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. at PCC Edmonds, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at PCC Issaquah and 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. at PCC Redmond.
Welcome the new PCC Board of Trustees: Stephen Tan, Stacey Donohue and Maggie Lucas. And, the new nominating committee: Diana Crane, Don Nordness, Mary Simon Janet Hietter and Rick Riehle. Thanks to all who ran!
Sip the first wave of cool, sleek, dry rosés at PCC Edmonds, Issaquah and Fremont 6:30-8 p.m. June 4. Cost is $5 per person at the door. RSVP at 206-547-1222 or e-mail email@example.com
Help the hungry at food-packaging work parties for PCC Redmond and Seward Park. Meet at 7 p.m. June 1 at Jewish Family Services' Morris Polack Food Bank (1601 16th Ave., Seattle) or at 7 p.m. June 2 at the Hopelink-Redmond Food Bank (16225 N.E. 87th St., Suite A-1, Redmond) to package bulk foods purchased with PCC Food Bank Program donations from PCC shoppers like you! Call Community Relations at 206-547-1222 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Work up an appetite for June 6, the kickoff of Grillin' & Chillin', our weekend summertime grilling events at PCC Edmonds and Redmond.
As children, most of us encounter at a least a few foods we just can't handle. Ask our Kid Picks crew and they'll tell you: asparagus has made few friends among local young 'uns. Despite successes with so much other produce during Kid Picks mobile taste tests, asparagus remained a pariah. Until now...
Thom (yes, he of the chili-cheese fries fame) has alerted me that not one but TWO salads in which asparagus plays a starring role have passed the Kid Picks taste test to become kid approved. One you can find in your PCC deli: Asparagus in Black Bean Sauce. As for the other, it's PCC Cooks chef Lynne Vea's Warm Salad of Roasted Asparagus with Hazelnuts and Balsamic Vinaigrette, fresh from our annual meeting. Sadly, asparagus itself still lingers as a wallflower among other beloved produce. Perhaps trying out these salads will make your little one a convert.
Remember that through June 15 proceeds from Kid Picks items go to support Children's Hospital via our Families Helping Families program. Here are several other recent additions to our database of 1,500-plus kid-friendly items at PCC:
- Annie's Naturals Lite Italian Dressing
- Bengal Bites Multivitamin
- Newman's Own Pretzel Rods
- Food For Life Brown Rice Tortillas
- Columbia Gorge Tangerine Juice
I can't stop eating these organic grapes that just came into our stores. I'm a picky grape person. They need to be sweet but not too much so. They need to have a pleasing pop between my teeth. They can't have a sour aftertaste. It's also great if they're not gigantic.
Here's what else is flowing in our stores, courtesy of PCC produce guru Joe Hardiman. Love this time of year! Though it'll be even better when our local orchards and berry patches start bearing fruit in the weeks to come.
- Organic blueberries from California (pancake time!)
- Organic red flame and green seedless grapes (the ideal roadtrip snack)
- Organic yellow peaches (try 'em on the grill topped with a bit of brown sugar)
- Organic nectarines (I've been eating these when I'm not eating grapes. Good and nectar-y, and from the farm of Dick Kauffman in Kingsburg, Calif.)
- Local organic red and green leaf lettuce from Rent's Due Ranch in Stanwood, Wash.
- Organic vine tomatoes from Vancouver, B.C.
- Organic red and Yukon gold potatoes
Hope y'all had a wonderful weekend soaking in the sun! As a native Washingtonian I know how precious (and rare) a sunny Memorial Day weekend is. Regardless, after two days of basking I headed into the office Monday to help with a very important task: counting ballots for the PCC Board election (hey, there was free food!).
(that's me on the right).
And the winners?
Your new PCC Board of Trustees: Stephen Tan, Stacey Donahue and Maggie Lucas
Your new nominating committee: Diana Crane, Janet Hietter, Don Nordness, Rick Riehle and Mary Simon.
Click here to read more about everyone. And congratulations!