Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Have Penguin Will Travel

It took me a couple of months to find the perfect excuse to buy my very own Penguin. If you watch the video, you'll see why it was so difficult to resist. Basically, it turns tap water into soda water. Is it cost effective... hmm. That excuse probably doesn't work.

However, you will soon be hearing about some eat local challenges for October. The idea is to try to eat only foods produced within a certain radius of your home. Some people will try to eat only foods grown or raised within 100 miles of their home for the whole month. Others will identify a broader range or choose certain meals or days to focus locally. The idea is to become more aware of where our food comes from so we recognize the importance of supporting our local farms and farmers.

Tap water from my faucet made into a soda is genius! And I can make syrups from my garden to flavor it. The first was a rose petal syrup from the roses blooming in my front yard, then the chocolate mint growing prolifically in the side yard, and a batch of orange rosemary syrup from the rosemary in the backyard and oranges in the front. I did use non-local sugar in the syrup, but I'll work on a recipe to make it with locally-produced honey from San Marcos Farms.

Anne and John Wiley join me in a local soda tasting

Edible Santa Barbara

The Fall issue of Edible Santa Barbara will be out soon. Watch for it at the Farmer's Markets, Lazy Acres, C'est Cheese, and many other distribution points around town. If you didn't get a chance to read my article on Full of Life Flatbread, just click on that link. But be prepared to schedule a weekend trip to Los Alamos after reading. You'll probably see us there. It's a great quick get-away and the food is creative, locally-sourced, and quite delicious.

My article in the upcoming issue is on bees. Plus I test all the recipes for the magazine. Lucky me!

Krista (the editor) and I made all of Pascale's recipes for a Thanksgiving Dinner and staged a Thanksgiving Feast on a very hot day in August. I can assure you that all the food in the photos is real and smelled wonderful, making it very difficult to wait patiently through all those photos. But it was worth the wait. Ahh, that carrot puree.

Montecito Country Kitchen

Speaking of Pascale, the owner of Montecito Country Kitchen, I have been working my way through her salts, teas, and herb/spice combinations. I bought the whole collection of salts. Some are coarse, some fine. Some are smoked. There are pinks, greys, black, and white. They are primarily finishing salts to sprinkle lightly on the top of your salad, steak, or caramel dessert.

The teas and spice mixes are good pantry items. The teas are beautiful, smell good, and lovely to add to a cup of hot water when a friend stops by. The seasoning mixtures (like herbes de Provence) make great gifts... if you can give them up.

Pascale's Mediterranean cookbooks,
Spring and Summer, are gorgeous--filled with photos, many she has taken herself. Again, these are photos of real food, not lacquered or sprayed to look like well-prepared food. And the tastes are quite wonderful. Autumn will be released in October, just in time for holiday gifts.

Penryn Fruit Loop
Laurence Hauben is now offering fresh fruit for purchase and pickup. The fruit is from Penyrn Orchard, a 4-1/2 acre ranch in Placer County. Each week we have the opportunity to reserve a share of the fruit headed for the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. They grow many unusual varieties that are more delicate and less likely to survive large scale commercial transport. This week it's Crispin Apples and Asian pears, followed by a potluck dinner at Laurence's home.

To get your name on her email list, contact Laurence at sbslowfood@gmail.com. She is also the leader of our local Slow Food Convivium. A couple of months ago Laurence dug a pit in her backyard to cook a really large fish and sent out an invitation to join her in a spontaneous potluck gathering. We visited and ate together at long tables under the trees. Yes, you want to be on this list.

Taste of the Town
There are lots of food-focused happenings around town. I'll end with a link to Rosminah's photos of Sunday's Taste of the Town fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation. With my friends Maria and Joe, I ate my way around the event, twice. Rosminah was right, the rabbit pate from Square One was awesome!