Friday, March 2, 2012

Food Bank Fresh #3

Because of a bout with flu, cooking has been on the back burner lately, and I kept my Food Bank foraging to a minimum this week.  However, I couldn't bear to see big bag of oyster mushrooms, deemed too dried out by a volunteer with more seniority and less fungi fanaticism, go to the pig bucket. So mushroom stock will be the base for the next Soup Night recipe. Oyster mushrooms are down the scale in the rich taste department, but I also scored a couple of aging portabellas and some other miscellany. 

Usually a mushroom donation includes some that are too far gone to distribute along with others that are still fresh and firm. We start a new container of the good ones and add to it as we sort until there's a meal's worth. You might get all standard grocery store shrooms; you might get a variety. I've even seen a few chanterelles head out to the distribution line and I hope they made someone's day.  Mushrooms are one exception to the "can't distribute if it's cut rule," but the presliced ones are generally too far gone anyway by the time they get to us. 

I also brought back a big, limp bunch of organic chard. I love chard and have picked away at my overwintered plants until there isn't much left. (They should make one more flurry of growth before they bolt.) Binda taught me to revive them by putting the whole bunch under water rather than just the stems in a glass. It works; I braised the chard and ate the entire bunch myself.  

Winter Gardening back in print, just in time for spring planting

Binda just gave me a cabbage as beautiful as this.

 My friend Binda Colebrook and I spent a couple of months this summer researching and editing the revisions to her classic book, Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest. In the 1970s when I returned to Western Washington following my collegiate sojourn in California, this is the book that taught me how to retool my gardening for Pacific Northwest realities. When I moved to Whatcom County in 1980, she was one of the first people I met. I edited the 2nd edition of Winter Gardening and it has been a treat to revisit our collaboration nearly 30 years later. Over that timespan seed companies have come and gone, genetically modified plants have become a battleground, and organic agriculture has gone mainstream, as have the kales and endives and leeks that were exotic to many readers when Binda first began to explain them.

This is the 5th edition of Winter Gardening. It covers--among other things--winter hardy varieties and their freeze-out temperatures, cold frames and other do-it-yourself weather protection, making the most of your specific site and soil, an invaluable introduction to integrated pest management, crop-rotation for smaller spaces, a well-annotated resource list for quality seed companies and organic farming activism, and poetry. One of Binda's gifts, honed through decades of work and thought, is to combine the specificity and the spirituality of life in the garden in a way that does justice to both.

Winter Gardening will be available in April. You can pre-order it now from the publisher, New Society, or through your favorite online bookseller. It's none too soon to start planning and planting for fresh produce next January.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Support Grow Northwest Magazine

This is a good magazine, run by good, competent people, in a tough market. They are expanding to monthly publication, which will give them a stronger voice. They have 8 more days to go with a Kickstarter funding drive. It's all or nothing--either they raise $10,000 (As of today they have $7665) or they get zip.

A couple of links for more information: