Since winter, I've learned to a) cook a mean Pla Sam Rod b) make homemade tamales c) craft homemade ramen noodles from scratch d) wield a kitchen knife like a semi-pro e) cook up vegan Japanese delights and f) make a summery bread salad with Bing cherries. This is all thanks to PCC Cooks, our wonderful (and wonderfully affordable) cooking school.
Blogger and author Orangette (aka, Molly Wizenberg) teaches us to make French-style yogurt cake with lemon.
And the aforementioned bread salad with Bing cherries, chevre and arugula. YUM!
Carrots are tasty, no matter how you slice 'em (and I learned four methods at Knife Skills!).
Slicing homemade ramen before we stretch the noodles out. Chef Christina Chung will teach Chinese steaming techniques this time around.
Fresh ramen salad!
Monday is your chance to register for fall classes and expand your cooking repertoire. Will you learn to bake holiday biscotti for your family and friends? Cook up a comforting Thai dinner? Add more beans and grains to your diet? Learn to cook foods that encourage a healthy hormone balance? You'll find all these and more come Monday morning in our online catalog and in print at each of our nine neighborhood PCC locations.
This is the time to do something with that bike. You know, the one that sits unused in your garage or basement, gathering cobwebs. Your bike would be so much happier in Togo, Africa, where hundreds of other bikes donated over the years from generous PCC shoppers are helping disadvantaged rural Togolese children get to school (before bikes, many students faced up to a 10-mile walk to school each day. It's small wonder many are forced to drop out).
Girls received the majority of last year's donated bicycles. Photo courtesy Alaffia.
Bring your functioning, adult-sized used bicycle to the Alaffia Sustainable Skin Care Bicycle Donation Drive 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 24 at Kirkland PCC (10718 N.E. 68th) or 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 25 at Seward Park PCC (5041 Wilson Ave. S., Seattle). Your bike will help someone like 14-year-old Mawoumbe' Laba reach her classes. And that's a great feeling.
Since 2005, Alaffia has distributed more than 3,000 bicycles to Togolese students so they can continue their educations and break the cycle of poverty. Call 360-866-0080 or email email@example.com for more information.
Do you remember your New Year's Resolutions? The one I've managed to keep all the way into July is to try cooking with something new (to me) each week, both to challenge my mind and expand my repertoire (parsnips, celeriac/celery root, bison, fava beans, etc.). But with cooking, the more I learn, the more I realize there is to learn. So, in the name of learning, our crack web team is shooting a series of quick how-to videos: How to choose the perfect cantaloupe; how to preserve a ripe avocado; you get the picture. And last week, we headed to PCC Redmond to get the picture for you.
Thien and me, getting ready for our close-up.
We opted to launch with two front-of-mind questions this time of year: How best to select and slice summer melons and how to select and preserve fresh avocado. We're planning fall segments now, including how-to videos about winter squash and pumpkins. We'd love to hear about the produce that puzzles you! As for me, I can't wait to learn more about cooking with romanesco.
Once more, with feeling.
Did you know Thien from the Redmond deli used to be a hand model? No joke. Here, he poses before he artfully carves up that fine specimen.
And here's Ricardo, our social media guru, teaching us the Way of the Avocado.
Ricardo teaches us a handy trick with avocados and limes. You'll have to watch the video to learn his mother's secret!
Behind the camera with Ricardo as P.J., Redmond's produce coordinator, teaches us how to select the perfect melon.
We had many from which to choose!
Setting the scene. Can you believe the size of that light? No wonder everyone looks so nice and awake on TV.
Look how many bags it takes to haul all this stuff around. We definitely deserved a cookie.
I learned a lot about creating backdrops that day. Kevin, our cameraman extraordinaire, noted that most stylists iron everything that will be in a scene. I haven't ironed in ... four years! Guess it's time to bust that out.
Again, if there's a produce item you've picked up and put down again for lack of knowing what to do with it, let us know! We might feature it in an upcoming episode. Life is too short to miss out on all the great things in the produce department.
I still remember feeling like a genius the first time I deviated from the standard root-beer-and-vanilla-ice-cream float combo back in elementary school and paired rainbow sherbet with Orange Crush: YUM! Twenty years later, it's still fun to concoct new floats, especially with the wealth of high-quality, all-natural ice creams and carbonated beverages at our disposal. With PCC Chef Lynne Vea leading the way, I knew we couldn't go wrong. Check out this float demonstration we did yesterday (click the picture) on KING5's "New Day Northwest":
That voluptuous float above? A refreshing combo of Ciao Bella blood orange sorbet, Coconut Bliss "Naked Coconut" coconut milk ice cream,
fresh fruit and Reed's Double Ginger ginger brew. Fantastic!
Doing this segment brought to mind a wealth of other combo ideas (rhubarb Dry Soda and strawberry gelato, anyone?). What are some of your favorite float combos? I also learned just how you make real ice cream look good on live television: sccop in advance and re-freeze!
Sorbet and coconut milk ice cream, getting ready for the limelight.
Hope your July 4 was a blast. For us at PCC, it's another sign that we're in our high season of events and fun. Here's an update on all the new ways to join in! And don't forget to check our events page for all the great happenings, from wine tastings and summer parades to fund raisers and bike drives.
PCC Kid Picks is now on Facebook and Twitter! Now you'll always know where the Kid Picks Mobile will be next, along with updates on product tastings and fun photos from events, like the Pride Parade and Kirkland Half Marathon. One of my favorites: Watching the Kid Picks Mobile get a soapy bath:
It takes a lot of elbow grease.
Producer Profile Videos are back! Ricardo, our social media guru, and I are traveling around the region to share the stories of some of your favorite local PCC producers. We launched the series with with a trip to Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream in Maltby, Wash. Did you know their butterfat content is around 19 percent? To compare, most premium ice creams are around 14 percent. No wonder it's so decadent.
PCC Farmland Trust has a new website! And it's a beaut. Now it's even easier to see all the great work they've done preserving local organic farmland. Did you know that the purchase of certain PCC products (including Choice Organic Teas, Talking Rain sparkling water and the Farmland Trust Vegetable Platter from our Deli) sends even more money to their farmland fund? Check this page to see how you can help on your next shopping trip.
Have you listened to a PCC Podcast? We have a selection of audio stories from PCC Cooks instructors, the Cascade Harvest Coalition and more. Have a listen and learn more about topics such as eating organics on a budget, the history of food policy, and how some of our chefs first learned to cook.
We're so proud of local soapmaker Ballard Organics Soap Company. Chief executive Ben Busby-Collins is donating a thousand bottles of his certified-organic soap to the Gulf oil spill relief effort, where it will be used by environmental groups to clean oil-soaked seabirds.
"It's just astounding the volume of oil they're having to deal with in this disaster," Ben told told KOMO4 TV this week. And a tip of the hat to the neighborhood blog My Ballard, which reported it first.
We've known Ballard Organics soap was good stuff for quite some time. PCC was its first retail partner, and we sell its soap in each of our nine locations and even offer it in each store's restroom. It's free of animal products, synthetic fragrances, artificial preservatives and dyes -- meaning fewer chemicals against your skin each and every day.
I've long admired those who knead and cut and stretch their own noodles. It's downright mesmerizing to hear the dough thud and thwap against a floured counter, then watch it s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out between two confident, floury hands, like this amazing noodle man.
Handmade golden needle noodles, baby! We incorporated them into a most delicious vegetable stir-fry.
One fascinating thing about noodles is how few ingredients they require: Typically some type of flour, salt and a bit of water. How could something so tasty be so simple?
Mixing up dough for the ramen.
Jared stretching the ramen dough.
Cutting and twisting the ramen.
Those noodles eventually became this, a fresh, tasty salad with curry-sesame sauce!
We rolled each "needle" noodle from a pea-sized blob of dough between our palms.
The jade drop noodles -- tiny smidges of pasta flavored with spinach juice -- were fun to make. Just drop the batter through a strainer into boiling water.
Here's the tasty result, which, when added to our mushroom and tofu soup, gave it a gorgeous glow.
Even making the garnishes was fun. We used cutters (in the arsenal of any bento box maker) to shape the carrots just-so.
Some were shaped like cherry blossoms; I dubbed these marigolds.
Handmade noodles are time consuming, but totally worth it for their delightful flavor and unbeatable texture. Can't wait to see what future classes Chef Christina has up her sleeve!
The good folks at PCC Farmland Trust sure have had a busy spring. First, they unveiled a brand-spanking new website! Next, they added the 100-acre Orting Valley Farms in the southern end of the fertile Puyallup Valley to the list of local organic farmland they've helped preserve from development for furture generations. Wanna know how they make this happen? Your generous donations. And now they've cooked up another delicious way to help.
Celebrate one of the best times of the year in the Northwest -- the arrival of the Summer Solstice -- with a delicious, four-course prix fixe meal of locally derived foodstuffs 6 p.m. June 22 at Emmer & Rye restaurant atop Seattle's Queen Anne hill (that's chef Seth Caswell to the right). It's the latest Local Chefs for Local Farms dinner in a series that launched at Tilth earlier this year. Tickets are $125 per person (not including tax and tip) and all proceeds support PCC Farmland Trust's Future Farm Fund to purchase organic agricultural easements. Call 206-282-0680 for reservations.
Can't make the dinner? Here's another fun way to help: Sip some wine. Since 2007, Powers Winery of Kennewick, Wash., has donated $2 from each bottle of its Chardonnay and Cabernet sold at PCC to the Farmland Trust -- nearly $50,000 so far. In April alone you helped raise $1,570, proof that it's a good thing to drink great wine! Not sure what was going on in April, but Washington's organic farmland thanks you for slaking your thirst at PCC.