Michelle Palazzo, Sanctuary Forest Edible and Medicinal Plants

I love foraging the local area for plants that I can incorporate into my meals.  I especially enjoy sharing those meals with friends and telling the story about where the ingredients came from.  So, even though my summer was looking pretty hectic, when the chance to take an edible and medicinal plant walk in the Sanctuary Forest came up, I had to do it!

Michelle Palazzo is one of those people who is a born storyteller and presenter.  Using a combination of sweet insight and humor, she shares her natural world with those of us who are hungry for the information.  I was happy to see that while there were plenty of us older folk, there were also many younger hikers along.  They were were armed with notebooks and field guides and were making some serious plans to start foraging some of the items we were seeing.

Jessica Eden, Food for Thought Producer and Forest Elf

One of the things that really surprised me was finding out that redwood trees are edible.  Now, don’t plant on munching on the bark of an old growth — we sampled some of the new shoots of a tree that was accessible from the trail.  The taste was first lemony, then pine, with a finish that was pleasant but bitter.  I once tasted a spruce jelly and immediately thought how nice it would be to make some redwood jelly — of course spruce tips are a little easier to come by since there are some closer to the ground.

To listen to the interview with Michelle Palazzo, click here.  To get more information about the Sanctuary Forest, click here.

Laura Hughes, North Coast Growers Association — Farmers Markets

I’m not sure if everyone knows — but the North Coast Growers Association brings us many of our fabulous local farmers markets.  Because I live on Humboldt Hill, my regular grocery buying market is Hendersen Center; my social market is the huge Arcata Plaza Saturday Market; and my new “imagine if I lived in Italy” market is Willow Creek.  I have made so many friends at the markets over the years and have also bought the best produce imaginable. I’ve bought tomatoes for canning (seriously, $20 a lug? super-bargain!), tomatoes for eating (no, I cannot grow cherry tomatoes — stop teasing me!), and every other item of produce that I can’t grow in my garden.

Farmers give you the opportunity to grow the things you enjoy and are successful at.  I’m thrilled that I grow the most amazing garlic — and that I don’t have to grow carrots because they always get those little maggotty things in them.  When talking with Johnny Gary from Organic Matters recently — he gave me a real insight by saying that it is actually easier to farm than to garden!  What?!  He explained that with his dense planting of crops, if an insect eats the outside area of his crop he still has a lot that has survived, whereas a gardener’s “outside area” is pretty much the entire area of the crop. Wow…I never thought of it that way.

Anyway, back to NCGA.  I had a chance to interview the ever amazing Laura Hughes!  to listen to the interview, click here.  Go to the website to find your closest farmer’s market and shop there!

Cliff Clendenen, Clendenen’s Cider Works

One of my sweetest memories about Clendenen’s Cider Works is not one where I’m drinking the cider myself (although I do love ice cold cider on a hot day and vice versa as well).  My husband spent many years as a police officer in the Friendly City of Fortuna.  I guess when you are a police officer everything isn’t as friendly as it might seem…but that’s another story.

My husband has never been able to stand hot weather — and Fortuna can get toasty in the summer.  Imagine being really hot, carry about 20-30 lbs of extra equipment all of the time, and wearing a bullet proof vest (yes, back then it was optional equipment but I insisted…) — he would describe with great joy going to Clendenen’s Cider Works and buying an ice cold carton of apple cider and drinking it down in one go.  Cooling the body from the inside out — it doesn’t get any better than that!

So of course it was a pleasure to talk with Cliff Clendenen about the family business and learn a bit about his family roots.  His son Drew is following in dad’s footsteps so we should be able to gulp down the icy cider on hot days for many more years.  To listen to the interview with Cliff, click here.

Check out their website here!

Hydrofarm Humboldt County Office of Education, Karen Brooks

Imagine the chilly Humboldt coastal climate…not too hard to do — with the humidity on the coast the cool weather seems cooler and 60 degrees can seem uncomfortably hot.  Then imagine stepping from the chilly winter, spring, fall or summer day — into a sauna.  That is what it is like entering the greenhouse Hydrofarm  the Humboldt County Office of Education is operating on the Redwood Acres property.

But it isn’t that easy to just step into the Hydrofarm.  Because it is an enclosed system any introduced pathogen will run rampant.  First you must set aside any purses and jackets — then wash your hands when you enter.  Does it sound like a laboratory?  Then I’m describing it correctly.  In this lab students are learning to use soil-less blocks to grow vegetables for a small farmers market as well as local restaurants.

Listen to Part 1 of the 2-part interview with Karen Brooks here.

Listen to Part 2 of the 2-part interview with Karen Brooks here.

 

Miguel Uribe, Tierra Viviente, Uruapan, Mexico

Recently I started making my own tortillas.  I bought a super sweet tortilla press from a friend in Eureka, Teo,  — her father makes them in his wood shop and the tortilla press glows as it makes super delicious tortillas.  And here’s the thing that I find fascinating — buying pre-made tortillas is really inexpensive, but making your own tortillas?  Let’s try 3.5 cents each.

So when I interviewed Miguel Uribe about his farm, Tierra Viviente — I was intrigued by the story of this beautiful high altitude farm.  The altitude is high there and it takes 10 months to bring in a crop of sweet corn that is then turned into masa.  If you have grown corn closer to sea level, you know that corn doesn’t normally take that long to produce an edible crop.  But there, in the heights of the mountains, without all of the fertilizers that western farmers have become used to, in the cradle where corn was born, the crop takes 10 months.

With an entire year of labor placed into one crop the risk for the farmers and community is enormous.  Once harvested, the chance to sell their crop is dashed by the cheap corn that is already on the market.  Farmers are lucky to break even.

When I heard about Miguel’s crop I was salivating to get a chance to turn that corn into masa for my own new tortilla press.  Rather than paying the $2.60 for a 9 lb sack of masa — I would be willing to pay $20 or more.  Do you see it coming?  In trying to help the dilemma of this region, and a true desire to sample this ancient corn, I might actually price the local people out of their own staple food.

Certainly I don’t know the answer, but I’m sure it isn’t a simple answer either.  I do believe we need to think carefully about food systems, and how farmers all over the world including those in our own back yard can receive an equitable price that allows them to have the same standard of living that I do.

To listen to Part 1 of the 2 part interview with Miguel.  Listen to Part 2.

Also, you can check out a nice video about Miguel on this site

Recipe for Corn Tortillas as told by Teo and understood by Jennifer

Put 4 parts masa and 1 part white flour into a bowl.  (Jennifer adds salt, Teo doesn’t), Add lukewarm water to make the wet-ish dough come together (this part takes practice — too thick and the press won’t mash the tortilla enough).  Form balls and press in tortilla press that is lined with plastic wrap.  Heat a frypan without oil on the stove.  Ease the tortilla off the plastic wrap and tip your fry pan to make it easy to lay the tortilla in the pan without wrinkling it.  Cook until the tortilla is dry which means it slides easily in the pan without sticking.  Turn over the tortilla and cook until the underside gets “freckles” — brown dots.  Flip your tortilla one more time and it should puff immediately into a balloon.  Success!  Remove the tortilla and put on a plate while you cook the rest.  Teo sometimes slices open the balloon and carefully pours a raw egg into the opening.  She cooks the “egg sandwich” until the egg is cooked.

Kevin Patzkowsky, Heart’s Leap Winery

Many times when guests come in to the KHSU radio studio for an interview, they bring samples of their products.  It is always a treat to have such a bounty, but it was super bounteous when Kevin Patzkowsky came into the studio.  He was bearing 3 bottles of wine — and one of them had that look I savor.  It was so recently bottled that it didn’t even have a real label on it, but 2016 Dry Riesling was written on the bottle.

Kevin reminds me of one of the main things that I love about Humboldt County.  People here are multi-dimensional. I’ve often said that the most interesting people on the planet live in Humboldt.  Sometimes circumstances like a shaky economy will force people to take several jobs to make a living (not as romantic in real life as it may sound).  I think that just the fact that many people have several jobs creates a norm that says it’s ok to explore areas that are outside of our traditional jobs.

So…Kevin is a contractor!  And a wine-maker!  and he makes some darned fine wines — so be sure to check out his interview, and his Facebook site  to find out where you can get a hold of a delicious wine that was crafted by a true Humboldtian, with many talents!

 

Emblem Club, Suzie Owlsley and Jim Berry

The Emblem Club is a club within the Elks Club — it is dedicated to performing service work in the community and scholarships for youth.  Jim Berry is the president, and Suzie Owsley has been working on a new opportunity that the Emblem Club provides.  I know — you are waiting to see how food fits into this!  Well, the Emblem Club decided that they would use cooking classes as a means to fund raise.

Cooking classes can be a great way to introduce young people to the fun, art, science and magic of cooking.  I take for granted that I grew up around great cooks like my grandmother and mom, lots of aunts, but seriously — there were no men that cooked in my family.  The men in my family loved great food but with all the wonderful women cooks, I guess they figured why bother?  Many young people unfortunately are the product of several generations where cooking means a box of mac and cheese, or sliding some chicken nuggets on to a baking sheet and popping them in the oven.

It’s time to take back the kitchen!  To get more information about the Emblem Club and the cooking classes they offer you can check them out on Facebook.  To listen to the interview, click here!