Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fireside Reading

I don't actually have a fireplace, but if I did, these would be the days I'd try to spend in front of it. We've already had more snow than we did all last winter, and today the rain is so cold all I want to drink is warm Ovaltine out of my biggest mug.

It's been awhile since I last posted, and the rain made me think of reading by a fire, which reminded me that I've yet to post a reading list of the best books (and movies) I've come across while working on this project.

-- Right now I'm reading Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. It's the true story of a Vancouver couple and the year they spent eating on the 100-mile diet. They're both journalists and the book is filled with a wealth of information, but I can hardly put it down because the story is so good, so honest, and so funny. And every chapter starts with a quote - each one of which is so well chosen, it carries the weight of 1000 words. One of my favorites is by Carl E. Sagan, "If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe." And a Vietnamese proverb they found reminds me that there is nothing revolutionary about knowing where your food comes from: "When eating fruit, remember who planted the tree; when drinking clear water, remember who dug the well."

-- Jerry Pipitone, a stone fruit grower just outside Wenatchee, was the first of the farmers I interviewed to tell me what a huge impact Rachel Carson's Silent Spring had on him. First published in 1962, the waiting list at the library was so long I eventually requested the large print edition to cut my wait time. Credited with launching the environmental movement, this book resonates now as much as it did 50 years ago.

-- A number of the farmers I interviewed star in a movie called Good Food. www.goodfoodthemovie.com. It's a documentary about family farms in the Pacific Northwest and how so many of them are raising crops and animals organically and sustainably, and what that means to us as a community. Inspiring AND entertaining.

-- Recipe For America by Jill Richardson is a fact-filled but still gripping argument for sustainable agriculture.

More later. I promise.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oh, Honey!

A quick drive up to Edmonds this morning to catch the Kingston ferry. A short but lovely crossing, and then a beautiful drive across the Hood Canal Bridge and along the top of the Olympic Peninsula to Port Angeles. There I met Roy Nettlebeck, the beekeeper behind Tahuya River Apiaries. He was remarkably generous with both his time and his knowledge, and I can't wait to sit down and write about this charming, happy, intelligent man. His concern for the health of our planet dictates the way he cares for his bees, and we get to eat the rewards! This is a photo of me, in a suit of armor (sort of). When I look at it, I can still hear the sound of the bees buzzing in numbers that would normally send me tearing off into the woods. Don't I look brave?

After the bee safari we chewed chunks of honeycomb dripping with pale, warm fireweed honey fresh from the hive. Not bad for a day's work.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Too Busy Writing to Write

It's always the same - do I work on the book, or work on the blog? Obviously, the book has been winning out lately. And the good news is that I am making amazing headway. I love how it's coming together, and can't wait for you (hello? are you out there?) to read it.

But today (huge surprise) I don't have a lot of time (actually, I'm going on a Kindergarten field trip), so my post is going to be a knock-your-socks-off list of the chefs who've contributed recipes since the last time I posted about chefs contributing recipes:

Jason Franey, Canlis
Tom Douglas, Dahlia Lounge, Palace Kitchen, Lola, Etta's, Serious Pie
Ethan Stowell, Union, Tavolata, How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies & Olives
Dana Cree, Poppy
Jerry Traunfeld, Poppy
Craig Hetherington, TASTE
Keith Luce, Herbfarm
Lisa Nakamura, Herbfarm
Adria Shimada, Parfait
Adam Stevenson, Earth & Ocean
Andrew Wilson, Portals at Suncadia
Daisley Gordon, Campagna
Jason Wilson, Crush
Dylan Giordan, Serafina
Jack Strong, Salish Lodge
Jason Stratton, Spinasse
Anson Klock, Picnic
Mark Fuller, Spring Hill

Amazing? Yes! And wait until you try the recipes. Some are quick and simple, others more complicated, all are delicious showcases for fantastic Washington products. More later. I promise.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Grateful for a lazy day

When I woke up yesterday morning it was so dark outside I checked the clock. It said 6:30, but I couldn’t believe it. I tried for a few seconds to remember if I might have accidentally changed the time the night before. My kids were all sleeping and besides my husband’s snoring, the whole house was quiet. Then I remembered that it’s just January in Seattle. Our days are incredibly short. And to add insult to injury, I could hear the rain pouring down outside.

But all we had on the agenda for the day was hanging out. I made pancakes. We stayed in pajamas until we’d run out of things to do and then we got dressed. The kids took out every toy and the house looked like a tornado had hit us. Eventually the rain slowed, but the sun never came out. We hardly noticed when nighttime came.

While I was feeling a little sorry for myself today about our wasted Sunday, I started thinking about the people I’ve been meeting and interviewing for the book. I’m sure that Kurt Timmermeister over on Vashon didn’t spend a lazy Sunday, and I’m sure his weather was the same. Dinah, Luna, Francesca and the rest of the cows had to be milked. Twice. They had to be fed. The cheese had to be checked and turned, and maybe he started another batch. It probably wasn’t raining in Twisp, but I bet it was freezing, and I know Stina Booth had to check the temperature on her cooler. Brent Olsen way over in Aladdin and the Huesbys near Walla Walla had cattle to feed.

There are jobs with weekends, jobs with vacations, jobs you can put off until tomorrow, all indoor jobs, and then there are the jobs that farmers do. My family spent a lazy day enjoying the pancakes I made with blueberries we bought at the market this summer and froze. We had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch made with gouda that someone was tending to over at Samish Bay. We snacked on prunes that Jerry Pipitone grew and dried in September and hazelnuts from Holmquist Orchards. We are so lucky, and I am so grateful.