Monday, October 26, 2009

holiday food preservation events

people are starting to call and ask about canning/food preservation classes and workshops for the holidays. below are some of the holiday events, i will post more as they come in. email me or call me if you want to RSVP or have questions.

***NOTE: The farm event date has been altered because of an emergency***
Nov 21st: 11-4PM- Morning Song Farm, Rainbow
Preserving the Season: Autumn
basic canning class, farm tour and locally sourced lunch
$ 90

Nov 21st: 10-1PM- The Road Less Traveled Store, Santa Ana
Savory Gifts
learn how to make 4 food gifts while learning basic food preservation
$ 45

Nov 22st: 11-2PM- Monkey Business Cafe, Fullerton
Savory Gifts
learn how to make 4 food gifts while learning basic food preservation
$ 45

Dec 3rd: 6:30-9:30PM- The Road Less Traveled Store, Santa Ana
Savory Gifts
learn how to make 4 food gifts while learning basic food preservation
$ 45

Dec 12th: 11-2PM- Monkey Business Cafe, Fullerton
Savory Gifts
learn how to make 4 food gifts while learning basic food preservation
$ 45

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunset Magazine mention

we are very lucky to be mentioned in this month's Sunset Magazine as an editor's pick...i have been reading the magazine since i was in high school (yes i was a nerd) and to even have a a few words is a dream (next in the dream would be ReadyMade).
(they gave us a sticker for our window to show it off)

if you haven't seen it yet, check out the latest issue, not just because we are in it, but they have some great recipes, seasonal projects and really great tips if you are planning to travel around the West.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

transformer clothes

now that i live in a 700 sqft apartment, i really need to be more selective about what clothes i more of those random shopping sprees at the discount rack at Anthropology or thrift stores...buying stuff because "it is only $1". my closet will simply not allow it anymore.
this is something that i have been thinking about as a retailer as well-supporting lines that not only are made with sustainable/upcycled fabrics, but can be worn several different ways, limiting the amount of clothing you have to buy in general.

some of the items i have found:

Lirola: from Israel, has a dress that has 7 different looks, that is 7 dresses for the price of we are getting somewhere!
(and this is without accessories)

Le Muse: loving this tiny line of knits that have a number of uses-off the shoulder, off both shoulders, blouse, dress or perfect for under $80 you can go wrong.

Natural High Lifestyle: i LOVE this Santa Monica-based company that sells simple, sustainable clothing geared to the yoga/surf/nature loving person. Their bamboo sarong is always a big seller in the store-not only because it is the softest thing on earth- but you can wear it as a dress (shown 2 different ways below), as a skirt, a chunky scarf, a head wrap...this is must have for sure! which reminds me that i need to order these...

De Gala and Conscious Clothing: both businesses make sustainable lines, but they also make tube dresses that can have multiple looks.
The first, from Conscious Clothing can be a dress or a skirt. paired with different tops, leggings and accessories and you have a lot of outfits.

The second one, from De Gala is a basic narrow tube dress. but it is a super-simple foundation for just about anything.
i will post more as i find them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

CSA cooking: herb polenta with grilled veggies & persimmon cookies

basket inventory: bok choy, chard, arugula, beets, guava, limes, persimmons chives, parsley, leeks, 2 kinds of lettuce
(Marge checking out the basket)
i slacked last week with a recipe, so i am doing 3 for this week (sad, i can't even be consistent for a few months!). Fortunately this was also the perfect opportunity to do a few things at once b/c we had our friends Monet and Andrew over for Top Chef (restaurant wars!) and dinner.

  • 4 1/2 c water or broth
  • 1-1 1/2 c coarse cornmeal/polenta
  • olive oil, a few tbs
  • various fresh herbs
  • tomato sauce and herbs/spices that you like with sauce AND/OR
  • pesto
  • zucchini and sliced leeks (put you can use other veggies if you want, this is what we had)
  • s&p
(mixing the veggies for baking)
first i prepped the leeks and zucchini, mixed them in a bowl with olive oil, spicy salt and a little pepper (you can use garlic if you want), put them on a baking sheet and put in a 350 oven for 20-30 min.
boil the water/broth. slowly whisk the polenta in. at this point, you need to be on it-it gets thick fast and you don't want it to burn or burn you right? you will also have to quickly switch mixing items-use a wooden spoon. once it thickens, add some olive oil and the fresh herbs. the entire cooking time should be between 15 and 20 min.
spread on a baking sheet (i used a large la chamba dish) and put in the fridge to cool.
(pay attention now)
once firm, cut into desired shape and grill them!
top with veggies, pesto and/or tom sauce-add cheese on top if you want.
(ready for grilling)
(all it needs is cheese and we are good to go!)

(this recipe is slightly altered from the one on
  • 2-3 soft persimmons, pureed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup cane or white sugar
  • 1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 1 cup raisins, nuts or both or other dried fruit
heat the oven to 350.
bowl #1: blend b.soda in persimmon puree. bowl #2: sift flour, spices and salt. bowl #3: cream butter with sugar and egg.
add bowl #1 to bowl #3-mix. slowly add bowl #2 to #3, add nuts/dried fruit.
spoon on a cookie sheet for 15 min.

these cookies are GOOD!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

TV for the small business

i can't tell you enough how happy i am now that we have cable TV. i went for several years with only rabbit ears and old DVDs, but when you are running a small business, the television is a great sign of relief and relaxation...
funny enough however i have been completely entranced by shows whose premise have to do with the thing that i am trying to get away from-work.
lately, there have been a number of shows helping out the everyday small business, most are a little dramatic (you need the drama to keep viewers i guess), but i think they give certain perspectives, problems, solutions and ideas.

Mary Queen of Shops: is show is the newest of the crop, i have only seen a few episodes (i think that is all there have been!), BBC markets Mary as a Gordon Ramsay of the fashion industry, but as you will see below, i think otherwise. This show should be the one that most engages me, as Mary deals with retail stores, however it is only clothes and i sell more than that. The show is great however for merchandising and retail marketing ideas.

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares: yes my favorite of the bunch-i don't know what it is about him, but i am into Ramsay. i think a big part of it has to do with his show where he visits struggling restaurants and sets out to inspire owners, staff and especially chefs. Ramsay also has clever marketing campaigns for some places and he has an eye for young people with talent.

Tabatha's Salon Takeover: Tabatha, a runner up on Shear Genius (think Top Chef for hair) will be on her 2nd season of this Bravo show that follower her 1 week hostage of a salon in dire straights. Tabatha is the closest thing to Ramsay as far as attitude, passion and energy...this woman is a drill sergeant! This show is pretty entertaining because the people usually in the salons seem to be the most dramatic and hilarious of the bunch (crying, yelling, and queens having a hard time getting off their throne). i can't wait until Nov 3rd when this show starts up again!

The Hotel Inspector: again another BBC import, this show follows Hotelier and Author Ruth Watson as she helps failing British bed and breakfasts . Not as "dramatic" as the other shows, Hotel Inspector has more of a proper English flavor and it moves at a slower pace as hotel makeovers take the course of months, not days. I still really enjoy this show however, even though i am not in the industry-i feel like i am learning something about my own business (and perhaps feeding my desire to one day own a small b&b).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

next time it this is not about snails

today i met our latest intern Corissa who is going to work on special projects at the store as well as being my main assistant with Patchwork. i am super excited to work with her, not only is she a ceramic artist, but she is already hip to some of the products we carry (Klean Kanteens, bamboo kitchen items, To-Go Ware lunch containers, blah, blah)-she knows it!

Linkone thing she showed me that i didn't know about was this new umbrella from Totes called the Eco'brella.

as far as umbrellas go, this one is pretty on it: 100% recycled PET canopy, 70% metal frame and a bamboo base...i can't think of anything more.

(Corissa modeling the Eco'brella)

(just in case you forget-70% recycled)
I really love this idea, i am just a little weary about buying them for a store where it rains every 6 months...but a few never hurt anyone.

Monday, October 19, 2009

enamel cast iron alternatives-Greenpots

i can fair very well in my shoebox kitchen with my small, budget friendly supplies and equipment...that is a the whole point of this blog-doing it small-scale, on the cheap and consciously.
but that doesn't mean a girl can't dream. in my dream kitchen, there a just a few things that i would LOVE to have (or have the room for): Vita-mix, food mill (soon!), a commercial oven, a huge antique prep counter and Le Creuset cookware.
Le Creuset, a french company has been making porcelain cast iron cookware since 1925, and if you are familiar with them, you are first familiar with their high price tag ($200 + for a dutch oven, for starters). but they are great for cooking and look absolutely beautiful. now don't get me wrong, i am still an advent follower of using La Chamba cookware, which i will talk about in detail in future CSA cooking, but one really can't beat the heavy bottom of these cast iron beauties for making candy and other treats, plus...well yes, they are gorgeous.
i was lucky enough to find one at the 127 yard sale, albeit a SMALL one but for only $5, it was the score of a lifetime, but recently a friend (who knows i have been oogling her Le Creuset wedding gift) sent me a link to a new company Greenpots, who are making affordable versions.
(7 1/2 qt. at $128)

(7 1/4 qt. at $310)

looks the same right. well they are except that one is 1/2 the price and not made in France. if you are not into brands i would consider getting one.
PS. my birthday is May 5th.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the rain and Ramsay has got me thinking- backyard snails

the image above is what i would like to be doing (and sometimes do) every weekday from 3-4PM: watching my new favorite show- Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. every so often, i can also watch Gordon's other show- The F-Word. now dont confuse both of these shows with his other popular show-that is more of a take on Top Chef (LOVE) with the literal berating of contestants.

but i digress, i am sure to talk of Ramsay and Kitchen Nightmares later, but what i wanted to talk about was a recent episode of The F-Word that i saw where Gordon talked about preparing and cooking garden snails.
that's right- Gordon, who loves snails, visited a British snail farm to learn about eating local snails that are usually shipped from France...when asking if it was the same to cook garden snails, he was told that it was the same thing. so what did he do?? he challenged his kids to pick snails from the garden and prepared them.

i guess once you find the snails, there is a series of steps that you need to take in order to extract the don't just pick them up and up them in a pan! i would post the video of Gordon, but i can't find it.
according to the blog eating garden snails, preparing snails for consumption involves the following:
  • washing them
  • place them in a container and making sure they cannot get out!-but make sure they can breathe.
  • let them sit in the container for a day or 2 (to wash out toxins)
  • wash snails and container
  • feed them human veggies for a day or 2 (Gordon says carrots-guess it helps you see when the poop is with carrots)
  • wash again and put in the fridge until they stop moving.
  • cook.
i am still trying to find the video clip of how to prepare the snails. this blog devoted to Ramsay recipes does a nice recap of the episode.
i think i am going to try this next time it rains...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

fixing and making a place to fix stuff

my friend Julie sent me this interesting article from the NY Times about a group of people creating "fix-it" events where you can bring items in to get worked on.
the result of an art project, this now once a week event devoted to fixing things is now The Fixers Collective, where people can mend, alter, repair or repurpose things that we would normally end up in our know what i am talking about. we all have at least 1 box of items that "we are going to fix/mend/repair", but we haven't had the time b/c we are so busy working and then when we get to the box of stuff, we don't know how to fix it and just save it for another day called never and we end up throwing it away or donating it.
i love this idea of teaching people to fix things, really empowering people to get things repaired themselves is the core of the DIY movement that has really been taking off since the whole economic turn-down.
i haven't really seen anything like this been held locally-there is The Machine Project, an awesome LA space that is devoted to alternative and unique learning/education, that might hold classes on fixing certain things, but nothing like the Fixers Collective.
i am thinking about doing something like this at the store...would anyone be interested in a program like this?

Friday, October 9, 2009

friday night: making vinegar

a few months ago, we had this wonderful workshop from friend and fellow MFP, Chef Ernest Miller on fermentation. we each received samples of kombucha, white and red wine vinegar mothers.
i rarely drink white wine, but i recently had a bottle that had been sitting around and i decided to start my vinegar operation.

i basically took our white wine vinegar mother, 2 c. white wine and 1 c. water and combined them all in a large glass jar (or you can use a ceramic crock).
next i covered the top with a few layers of cheese cloth and secured it with a rubber band.

then i placed it in a dark, dry place...i don't have many options until i finish our root cellar, so i decided to put it under the sink.

now i just have to wait 12 weeks and then we have some white wine be continued...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

CSA cooking: bean and kale soup and salad

basket inventory: parsley, basil, cilantro, spring onions, chard, 2 different kinds of lettuce, persimmons, zucchini, eggplant, arugula, limes, chives

this week was the first time i started to feel Summer leaving and Fall arriving. i started to wear leggings under my house dress and i don't leave the kitchen windows open the whole day like i used to.what a perfect way to celebrate the coming of cold weather by making a soup.

Bean and Kale soup:
  • 1-2 onions, chopped
  • 1 head onion, chopped
  • 4-8 cloves of garlic, depending on how much you like garlic
  • 4-5 cups of veg stock
  • 1-2 cans of white beans (you can make your own but do you really want to do that for 1-2 cups of beans?)-just make sure they are done before you add them in
  • 1 can 24 oz chopped tomatoes (but if you have whole canned tomatoes or even pureed if you want/have them), just remember that you will be eating them in soup so chop them if they are large pieces
  • 1 large head of kale chopped
  • salt/pepper, herbs
  • crusty bread and parm cheese (optional)

you can make your broth from scratch (or use an animal-based product), but if you don't have the time i must suggest that you invest in a jar of Better Than Bouillon, this is a tiny jar packed with pots of stock and takes about 2 seconds to make and takes up about 2 inches of your fridge.

pour a few tbsp of olive oil into a soup pot, add the onions and garlic (if you want it chunkier, add celery or carrots!). cook for a few minutes or until tender. add broth and canned tomatoes, parsley, beans and s & p. simmer for 10-20 min. taste and adjust seasoning. add kale last few minutes.
garnish with fresh parsley, bread chunks, more raw kale or cheese or just leave it how it is.

Simple Salad:

this is actually something i make all the time, tonight i wanted something cool with the hot soup and just used what we had from the basket.
  • various chopped or torn salad greens including kale, chard in = amounts or less than the salad greens
  • various fresh herbs- we used the rest of the parsley, chives, spring onions
  • dressing made from: lime juice from last week, balsamic vinegar (or any one that you like), s & p, mustard powder, garlic. shake in a jar and taste until you like it.
i must say of the 3 people eating, this was almost completely gone, the only thing left was 2 servings of soup which we will have for b-fast tomorrow-enjoy!
(the finished meal, right before Top Chef!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

farm & canning event: nov 1st

Morning Song Farm, our CSA farm and i have teamed up to do a series of seasonal events dedicated to farming, food and food preservation. Preserving the Season: Autumn, is our first event scheduled for November 1st from 11-4.
what is this event you ask??
spending the afternoon at Morning Song, a CCOF certified farm, participants will spend the day doing the following:
  • a tour of an organic farm, its growing practices and daily life
  • harvesting food from the farm
  • a canning course from the food harvested (by yours truly!) in the farm house
  • a 3-course local meal made from items on the farm and local goods from the Temecula area.
this is a unique event, unheard of in the region. if you are looking for a special day out or are an advocate of all things local, this event is geared to you!
email me or contact Morning Song Farm if you are interested/have questions.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hollywood Farmers Market, Booger and brunch with Felix

on Sunday, i had my first full day at the Master Food Preserver table at the Hollywood Farmers' Market. even though i am not used to waking up that early anymore (i am more of a late night computer/book person these days), going out to Hollywood (especially with ZERO traffic!) was a real treat that i am going to look forward to once a month.
at the market, i shared a table with LA Master Gardener Kevin, who was handing out free seeds and giving advice on what to grow this time of year. Kevin also gave the the ins & outs of everything about the market: local crazies, regular customers, celebrity shoppers and favorite vendors.

speaking of celebrity..right in the middle of our conversation i noticed a familiar face. through the crowds, i kept staring, trying to figure out how i knew this person, and then it hit me:
Booger (played brilliantly by Curtis Armstrong) from Revenge of the Nerds!!

(remember this scene!)i wasn't able to grab my camera in time, and unfortunately the next time he walked by, i was busy answering a question :(
this time i also didn't have the time to score the deal of the century, i had to rush back to finally attend my friend Felix's brunch-where i met one of my favorite people, Chef Mark Cleveland from the beloved Avanti Cafe. i was so excited, Mark and i have never had the chance to hang out in a non-work context-PARTY!
(pasta with baby lentils, lima beans and other goodness)

(beets with micro greens, and a quail egg-YUM)

(Mark taking pictures of his meal)

(Chef Felix relaxing after a terrific meal)
but probably the best thing of the day (besides the various goodies that Mark brought me and that i will be talking about later this week), was this one guest's awesome poncho that was a five-in-one accessory. she was more than proud to show of her goods.
(poncho then...)

(side deal...)
(chunky necklace...)

(shoulder shrug...)

(pulled up with a bunch in front)
i think i need one of these.