A great treasure of food radio is Evan Kleinman’s program “Good Food” which airs weekly on KCRW out of Los Angeles. On it, she explores food consumption, sharing everything from the latest crop at the Santa Monica farmer’s market to the funkiest hole in the wall from the underground restaurant scene.
Evan often brings a foodie guest onto her show, further wetting our appetite as we hear about unique recipes from different cultures, important issues regarding food policy or the hottest new trend in eating. No topic is off the table. Before listening to “Good Food” I never knew there was such a thing as a beauty pageant for chickens nor did I know that butter carving was an art. I’m still digesting it all!
With summer weather in mind, Evan recently brought London based blogger Kate Perutz onto her show. Perutz pens the blog, “The Saturday Picnic Society,” where she writers about her outdoor adventures and the food she brings along. If you haven’t checked it out, you must. On “Good Food” Perutz pairs adventure choice (beach vs. mountains) with meal ideas (salad lettuce wraps vs. hearty soups). She says ditch the vintage picnic basket (Evan really had her heart set on using it too) and settle for the sporty (small) backpack.
Picnics should be filling, yet light weight especially if bringing them along with you. I was shocked to hear she’s moving away from the sandwich, which I exclusively associate with picnics. She shares tips on foraging while hiking, mainly ideas for what to bring back to the kitchen rather than snacking on your findings (my personal side note: be extra cautious when foraging and never eat something you can’t identity as non-poisonous).
Finally she shares her energy-filled recipe for trail mix which centers around her go-to marmalade granola (recipe here). She adds dark chocolate covered cranberries, crystallized ginger, yogurt covered raisins and assorted nuts. Food wise, I think we just reached the summit. Before you pack your picnic for the trails, tune in to the whole episode here.
Purple Orach from Wild Garden Seeds
If you are growing food and flowers, take a moment to consider your seeds- how were they developed? where do they come from? Are they treated, untreated? What is the different between OP, F1 and GMO, really? All plants go from seed, well- to seed. The selecting, saving, sharing and sowing of them is highly valuable work.
In the world of seeds, Frank Morton, and his Wild Garden project is nothing short of heroic. As their statement reads: All of our seed is Organically Grown at Gathering Together Farm along the winding Marys River on the edge of Philomath, Oregon. All of this seed is open pollinated, untreated, germ and vigor tested in living soil mix, and well cleaned. Most stock seed for our crop production have been reselected under stress and disease pressure in our breeding nurseries at GTF and Shoulder to Shoulder Farm, five miles upriver in the colder dry foothills of the Oregon Coast Range. Many of the of these varieties originated in our on farm breeding program for organic conditions and improved fresh market quality. These are denoted by our farm-original mark . Other varieties have come to us over twenty years as heirlooms or reliable commercial standards, now with generations of selection on the farm. Our ecological approach to plant breeding and crop protection generates superior strains and varieties for farmers who don’t use chemical crop protectants and fertilizers. The small-scale care and authentic fertility of our production fields yield fat seed with exceptional seedling vigor, a key trait for organic crop success.
When I first learned about Wild Garden, I was immediately turned on by their philosophy and approach.Perhaps more importantly, however, I quickly discovered that the seeds speak for themselves. Morton’s basic arugula is my gold standard. His Purple Osaka grows with muscular strength and the taste of wasabi. Wild Garden’s lettuce mix – the company’s original offering – stays speckled, vibrant and tender even in desert heat. And I suppose that is the point. The success I have experienced with their varieties, does indeed, inspire me to save the seed from that sweetest head of lettuce and the deepest hued Osaka leaf. Regardless, though, of whether or not you’re interested in saving seed, Wild Garden is a superior source for growing inspiration and high quality varietals.
To learn more – and purchase seed – visit Wild Garden Seed
Listen to Frank Morton describe the relationship between humanity, agriculture and seeds here
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” -Masanobu Fukuoka.
Masanobu Fukuoka was a Japanese farmer and philosopher who lived and worked on the island of Shikoku, until his death in 2008. Fukuoka is famous for developing an agricultural method known as “natural farming.” It is sometimes translated as “do-nothing farming.” Although, personally, I find that to be an unfortunate title for a what is truly a rigorous and sensitive approach to growing food.
Fukuoka’s theory is based on the integration of cultivation and nature. In his 1975 manifesto “One Straw Revolution,” Fukuoka proposes a way of a farming that eliminates tillage (human or machine), prepared soil amendments, as well as weeding or pruning of any kind. Using this approach, Fukuoka was able to produce fertile grain fields and citrus orchards, while still maintaining the natural and wild qualities of his surroundings. “Natural farming” essentially describes a classic permaculture design – a sustainable, productive system in which all parts can adapt and thrive harmoniously. Fukuoka, of course, had no knowledge of Permaculture or Bill Mollison when he began farming and writing.
While not every detail of his practice may apply to your own garden, Fukuoka’s style, tone and basic concerns are easy to embrace: “I just emptied my mind and tried to absorb what I could from nature.” His philosphy reminds us why we choose to grow food in the first place. Or, it will at least inspire you to pose that question to yourself next time you are seeding vegetables, picking fruit from a tree, or simply absorbing your natural world.
Learn more about Masanobu Fukuoka and “One Straw Revolution”
With Spring coming in, the garden has naturally been on my brain. So, for some unusual reason, has nudity. Trolling the internet for gardeners a la Adam and Eve, I had to laugh when a friend sent me these. Kind of a stretch on the old fig leaf look. Forget people being pantless in a garden! Here’s to people wearing plants!
On a recent Sunday, San Francisco showed signs of Spring. With temperatures in the high 70s, people flocked to the park wearing short sleeves and cut-offs, working on their sun tans, their hula-hoop skills, and tomorrow’s hangover. Meanwhile, I spent the late afternoon making blood orange marmalade at Gravel & Gold, a shop in the Mission District. Gravel & Gold offers items made with curiosity, beauty and utility in mind. They sell clothing, home wares, books, food and so much more. Every time I go there, I want to be making, cooking and camping all at the same time and all while looking stylish and feeling rustic.
Many of their “makers” are local artisans who are able to come to the shop and lead workshops. This is when Emmy and Jonah of Emmy’s Pickles and Jams enter the scene. Emmy’s is a food business located in Oakland, specializing in pickling and preserving organic produce. Emmy and Jonah led the workshop, teaching us to make a large batch of marmalade using the season’s crown jewel: blood orange. By the end, I wasn’t nearly finished so I followed up with Emmy’s Emmy Moore to learn more:
WQ: Wilder loves a good origin story. Can you tell us what inspired you to start you pickle and jam business?
EM: A few things in life clicked just right to inspire my partner and me to begin the business. We were working for an organic produce distributor based in SF, and in addition to learning a huge amount about the often invisible side of the food industry (transportation, storage, etc), we also were witnessing a lot of food waste. There is a certain amount of loss that occurs when fruits and vegetables are being moved from the farm to the grocery store or restaurant. We began bringing the food destined for the compost home to cook, and quickly began cooking more than we could eat, so began learning to preserve. And voila! We never stopped.
We soon started looking beyond the middleman, talking directly with farms, and learned that they too grow more than they can sell during the season. Pretty soon we had enough product to work with where we decided to try out selling some of our creations. The SF Underground Farmers Markets were happening at this time as well, so we had an outlet to take our first business baby steps.
WQ: When you began, I can imagine you experimented with many recipes with a lot of trial and error. When did you make that first perfect batch and how did you know it was the one?
EM: There was a huge amount of trial and error in the beginning. Honestly, there still is. We are constantly tweaking and trying out new things, so there is always some element of trial and error. I think the first thing I made that I thought really nailed it was the pickled Turmeric Cauliflower (it won a Good Food Award last year!). That recipe went through the most iterations, I think, but when we tried the final one it was clearly the best.
WQ: We’re very excited by companies that are eco-friendly. Can you share with us your values on re-purposing food and how you implement these values?
EM: Pickling and preserving have been implemented for centuries as a way to store food for winter months when nothing was coming out of the ground. Also as a way to make use of the bountiful harvests in late summer and fall. These legacies of preservation are central to our company’s values. We offer a useful outlet to farmers by purchasing large amounts of produce that often would otherwise become compost. By sourcing exclusively from local, organic farms, we offer the consumer a chance to enjoy locally grown produce year round. While current food systems allow us access to food from all over the world, we feel that it is important to provide a local alternative.
WQ: Time to pick favorites! What fruit and vegetable do you most enjoy working with and why?
EM: Favorites are so hard! Beets are definitely a front runner. They transform so much after every step (heating, pickling). I am always stunned that such vibrant color and sweet earthy flavor can come from underground. I think my favorite fruit to work with are apricots. They taste like sunshine to me. We work with Blenheim Apricots, which have a pretty quick season, and they always go away too fast. Stonefruit in general is pretty magical.
WQ: Speaking from experience, jamming and pickling can be intimidating. What would you tell a novice who might be ready to tackle this very handy culinary art in the kitchen?
EM: My advice to a someone new to jamming and pickling would be to begin at the farmers market. Find what’s in season. Use a simple recipe – add spices sparingly. And don’t stop after the first try. It takes some time to figure out how to make what you like.
WQ: Would you be willing to share a recipe with Wilder? Perhaps something seasonal?
EM: Rhubarb jam is one of my favorite preserves to eat. It is also super easy to make!
Rhubarb Jam from Emmy’s Pickles and Jams
Chop several stalks into one or two inch pieces. Put them in a stainless steel pot. Add a tiny bit of water to the pot – this is so the rhubarb won’t burn and stick to the bottom. You can add more if you like, but you’ll need to cook the jam for longer.
Squeeze a few lemons, about half a cup or so. Add the juice.
Keep the heat on med – low, and be sure to stir often.
Add about half the amount sugar as you have rhubarb.
The rhubarb will begin breaking down and releasing a lot of liquid.
Cook the mixture until you have a thick, jammy consistency. Add more sugar if you like. I prefer things less sweet, but rhubarb is pretty tart, so you might need a little more sweetness.
When you feel like its done, put it in a jar or bowl and into the fridge. Enjoy on yogurt or toast, or as a new sandwich spread.
Special thanks to Emmy, Jonah and the folks from Gravel & Gold for sharing your stories and keeping Wilder inspired in the kitchen!
I’m just getting over my hard crush on Lili Cuzor. Not only is she a little bit magic, but she’s also the flower whiz behind the Los Angeles based, Tiger-to-Lilies. I was super thrilled to hear that she has been tapped as The Standard Hotel LA’s artist in residence for April. The choice makes total sense considering that Lili is an artist whose chosen medium is flowers. For her month long residency, she’s created an installation that will transform a large junk of the lobby into a kokedama garden and has added details that with alter a guest’s experience for the better including changes to the cocktail menu to what’s waiting for you in your suite.
Lately, I’ve been daydreaming about what it would be like if I lived in LA rather than bitter, gray Brooklyn. In thes reveries, my husband is surfing, my dog is lying belly-up in the sun, and I’m running around with Lili and Claire. Jealous of all you Angelenos right now. Tell the ladies I said hi, okay?
On Jennifer Lee Segale’s Dirty Girl Gardening website she describes herself as a horticulturalist, which is not exactly accurate. Throw in blogger, botanical adventurer, ebook author, kickstart campaigner and founder of Garden Apothecary (a killer company crafting small batches of organic bath and beauty products) and you’re closer to the mark.
This November Jennifer returned from a visit to Belize where she gathered information on medicinal plants used in a small farming community. Plants studied included ginger, cacao, and the tattoo fern- used to sooth allergies and make silvery prints from the loose spores located on the underside of the plant’s leaves. Jennifer will be compiling all her stories, info and research into an ebook titled ‘Sacred Plants’. To get a taste of her previous work check out her Dirty Girl Gardening’s facebook site and download another of her ebooks ‘Botanically Belize’ for free.
Of Music & Mushrooms: Celebrating the Centennial Birthday of Pioneering Composer & Mycologist, John Cage
Today marks the would-be-100th-birthday of American composer, music theorist, writer, artist and mycologist John Cage. To honor one of the 20th century’s great cultural pioneers, we present a few of the wonderful photographs taken by William Gendey of Cage in his element, hunting for mushrooms on the forest floor.
New York area readers can attend a mycologically themed celebration of John Cage at Cooper Union University on Sept 8th, in conjunction with Roaming Urban Soundscapes and The New York Mycological Society.
Photos courtesy of Duke University’s digital collections.
Longwood Gardens was a partner in our Summer edition, so we had the chance to visit their current installation, Lights. The show is dazzling! We spoke with the garden’s director, Paul Redman, about the genesis of the program and the relationship that Longwood, as one of the leading voices in horticulture, has with the arts in general.
There’s a place where fiber-optic flowers and 200-year-old elms are living in harmony, at last. Nestled in Pennsylvania’s southeastern corner, the world-renowned Longwood Gardens is hosting Lights (through September 29th), a one-of-a-kind, site-specific installation by UK artist and light designer, Bruce Munro. Twenty-three of the conservatory’s 1,077 masterfully cultivated acres are devoted to Munro’s fields of twinkling orbs, acrylic stems, pastures of color-changing towers, iridescent raindrops fashioned from tiny bulbs, and greenhouse chandeliers of bundled glass balls.
The outdoor pieces are, for the most part, integrated into the natural landscape, peeking or sparkling through drifts of black walnut trees, English gardens, and grassy banks, provoking a sense of alien familiarity. For instance “Water lilies” is a series of large resplendent disks constructed from recycled CDs that share one of the garden’s lakes with the real variety, floating together in harmony. However, in other cases, a very different approach is take. For example, “Water Towers,” is made up of sixty-nine cylindrical towers placed throughout one of the central meadows each built from plastic water-filled bottles, fiber optics and a sound system that stimulates synchronized color change. It is in a piece like this where the suspension between nature and Munro’s artifice come together to create something entirely new.
Longwood sits upon land purchased by a Quaker family from William Penn has had several lives. In the past 250 years, it has been cultivated for farming, arboretums, nature preserves, and finally, to include a full-blown research institution and horticultural wonderland that draw thousands of visitors each year. Like many botanic centers, Longwood’s mission is to maintain the likes of rare clematis and fruit orchards, and engage in research toward preserving rare and endangered plants.
Unlike other garden’s, Longwood’s other big mission is to make the natural world comprehensible to the public. Redman, who became Longwood’s director after a long tenure at Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio, says, “I spend a lot of my time thinking about how to connect the people with the plants in the most meaningful way possible. You don’t want to dumb it down. And it’s not like a museum or a science center — you’re trying to interpret the story of a living, ever-changing ecosystem.” It was this principal that led him to working with Bruce Munro, after one of Redman’s colleagues came across an exhibit of his in the UK in 2008.
“At the time,” says Redman, “we were embarking on a quest to find something that could help our guests to see Longwood differently — hopefully to a create an entirely new view of the garden altogether.” Throughout the installation process, a nearly two-year collaborative effort between Munro, Redman and the rest of the gardens’ curatorial team, Redman recalls, “The site and spirit of the place informed every part of the installation. We just had to keep asking, ‘How can we get people to see Longwood in a way they’ve never seen it before?’” The team had the unique task of blending two forms, a historically architected garden with sculpture, into a comprehensible dynamic, that both revealed things about Longwood’s flora and the artist’s work in its own right.
Redman enjoys bringing fine arts into conversation at Longwood, though he doesn’t believe that his love for a particular landscape artist necessarily warrants seeking someone out. “My goal is to find artistic partners — it’s about finding artistic partners who understand the gardens specifically. I never, ever want to impose something upon them. When [landscape art] is not imposed, it becomes part of the landscape, it has a life.”
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