Karen Solomon, Author

My good friend Michele turned me on to Karen Solomon by sharing her book Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves (the title has me salivating…how about you?).  I had been playing with fermenting foods for quite a while, doing the standard sauerkraut, vinegar, lemons — delving into miso and other koji ferments, but I had no idea how deep the dive could be!

Karen is from my old stomping grounds, the Bay Area, a place with a rich diverse culture and access to ingredients and expertise from around the world.  And, my favorite part is that it is obvious that she actually prepared everything that is in her cookbook (which she confirmed when I interviewed her).  You have probably picked up beautiful cookbooks before, and then looked at recipes and photos and seen that there are ingredients in the photo that doesn’t appear in the recipe — so frustrating!  Well, not a problem with Karen’s books.  In fact I felt like she was looking over my shoulder as I read — when I’d read something and say what?! — she would then explain that while right now you were saying what?!  the explanation is coming – and there it would be in the next sentence.

And there are more books -Yes, books plural!  Because while I was happy to find that the Asian Pickles book was her most recent endeavor, she also wrote Can it, Bottle it Smoke it — and her other book, Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it.  She makes fun things like sauces, dressings, dips, pasta, pickles, preserved meats and fish, jams, cheese, sweet treats and frozen popsicles, savory granola, nut milks — Cheese Weasels anyone?!

If you are into being a food geek, you can listen to Part 1 and Part 2 of this interview!

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Master Food Preservers 2017 Training Program

I think everyone knows that I have a soft spot for the Master Food Preserver Program — For me, it all started when I first learned about the program back in the early 1980’s.  I was going to college at Humboldt State University and down in Alameda, my mom enrolled in the program.  The next thing I knew she was shipping up pasta she had made and talking about pickles and jerky — when I was home the next summer she dehydrated onions in the basement…so yes, we all make mistakes!

I was downright jealous — I wanted to be a Master Food Preserver (MFP) with the University of California — but Humboldt didn’t have a program.  So I started talking to Food Guru Joyce Houston about what it might take to get a program off the ground here in Humboldt — and along with Deborah Giraud from the UC, Lauren Fawcett from the North Coast Co-op, and most importantly Lifetime Master Food Preserver Lee Ann Moore (then Duclo), we made it happen.  In 2012 we graduated the first class and it has been going ever since, with over 40 people to be volunteers sharing information on safe home food preservation.

But, to become an MFP — there is quite a bit of training involved.  Orientation is January 21, 10am-12pm at the UC Cooperative Extension Office. Classes are Saturdays and Mondays, February 4 – March 13. Saturdays 9am-4pm and Mondays 5:30pm-8:30pm. Class location: Bear River Community Kitchen in Loleta. Graduation will take place on March 13, 5:30pm-8:30pm at the UC Cooperative Extension Office in Eureka. For an application you can contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Office at 445-7351.

To hear more about being an MFP and the 2017 training, listen here to an interview with Joyce Houston and Christine Lewis.

Update from Wrangletown!  

The Feisty Dog cider is a finalist in the 2017 Good Food Awards competition. Congratulations Pat!

Dutch and Dewey Distillery, Jeff St. John

It seem that every time I turn around someone is telling me about a new distillery in Humboldt County — I will never run out of interview subjects, that is for certain!  If you are like me — you thought maybe this distillery was owned by someone name Dutch and someone else named Dewey — well, we would both be wrong.  It is owned by Jeff St. John (Dutch and Dewey were draft horses and are featured on the product labels…) — a very innovative business person who fits so well that he could have been born in Humboldt.  Listen to Part 1 of our interview here…and Part 2 here!

Dutch and Dewey website

Ilene Poindexter and Matt Marshall, Westhaven Blackberry Festival

While they call it the Westhaven Blackberry Festival — I’m all about the Huckleberry Pies — seriously — have you ever picked huckleberries?  To say tedious is an understatement — with the possible exception of thimbleberries, huckleberries are the most time consuming berry to pick in my humble opinion.  And these women — who get together every Tuesday at 2 starting in January to make pies all year long for the festival — make and sell huckleberry pies (and blackberry too).

I finally had the chance to eat a slice of the huckleberry pie and it was the best I’ve ever had.  It had perfect crust — and the berries are making my mouth water just writing this.  The festival has been going for over 50 years and is the last weekend in July — if you get a chance, go to the festival.  They even pre-sell pies so if you miss the festival — you can buy a pie to pop into the freezer.  It comes with instructions on how to bake it.

Listen here

Check out the Facebook Page for the Westhaven Blackberry Festival

Johnny Gary and Heather Plaza, Organic Matters Ranch

I love a farmstand, a place where the farm and the people come together.  Growing up my family always stopped at farmstands, usually they sold corn and we would buy enough to absolutely gorge on it — we would just eat corn for dinner and I thought I was a real rogue getting away with not eating from all the food groups for that one evening meal.

Organic Matters not only has a farmstand, but they accept EBT cards — so people receiving CalFresh benefits have the option of eating great fresh local produce and meat.  They can use their benefits to join the CSA — and receive a box of produce each week — or just use their benefits to shop on a weekly basis.  Being flexible like that isn’t always easier — but Johnny and Heather are dedicated to making it work for their customers.

Listen here

Find out more about Organic Matters Ranch

Juliette Bohn, Food Waste and Sustainability

I am always impressed by how people are able to take one persons waste and turn it into a resource.  Food waste, both pre and post-consumer is one of those things.  Spent grains in beer making can become food for cattle, the solids from tofu making can feed hogs.  Even things like the pruning from vineyards can feed browsing animals — it could be endless as long as there are people like the farmers and ranchers in Humboldt who are creative thinkers and some of the most resourceful people I’ve ever met.

Listen here to Juliette Bohn, consultant.

Tammy Erickson, Bien Padre

Mmmmmmm, crickets anyone?  One of the most surprising pieces of information that came from Tammy Erickson from Bien Padre is that our favorite local tortilla chip company also makes specialty chips…like cricket chips called Chirp Chips for a company down in the Bay Area.  My first introduction to “cricket meal” was in an article in a culinary magazine that talked about the great high protein content in cricket meal and how it was a food of the future, readily available quality insect cooked to a crackily crunch and then powdered so we don’t see any pesky antennae, legs or thorax…which is ok with me.

While my brain thinks it is a fine idea to eat up those crunchy critters, my stomach just doesn’t cooperate as well when facing the recognizable deep fried treat — so yes, please, turn my into meal first — and a chip?!  I’m all for it.  Whenever I watch those nature shows about locusts, I’m wondering why we haven’t invented a machine that would suck them up and  turn them into something edible…well…this might be it.

Of course in addition to these unique eats — there are still the same standby tortillas and chips that I have enjoyed since I was a lowly college student living on chips and salsa.  Just thinking about it makes me want to open the bag in my cupboard and get the salsa out of the fridge…how about you?!

Listen here

About Bien Padre

Chef April Goess from the CIA

June Walsh loves to tell people that her daughter works for the CIA — the look on their face is truly priceless.  It is even more priceless when they discover that the CIA June is referring to is the Culinary Institute of America, and April is a trained chef teaching on their campus in San Antonio Texas.

April grew up here in Humboldt County and spent quite a bit of her youth working in some of our local landmark restaurants like the Eureka Inn and the Benbow Inn.  A great beginning for someone destined to make a career working with food.  April made her way back to Humboldt for a visit in August 2016 and taught a couple of classes to help raise funds for the Humboldt Botanical Garden Foundation (a cause near and dear to June’s heart).Chef April 1 Chef April 2

Listen here

Find out more about the CIA in San Antonio Texas

Dave Feral, Feral Family Farm

If you have cruised the Arcata Farmers Market in the fall — you have probably seen Dave Feral from Feral Family Farm.  He is whipping up delicious fruit juice blends that are delicious and fresh — and are saving some of the “ugly fruit,” helping them to fulfill their destiny with humans in Humboldt.  So many decades of grocery stores training us to choose unblemished fruit and veg –no matter how undelicious they are — and we are the losers.  Some of the best tasting fruit has a little scab here, a little bruise there — and many of these are ending up in the fruit juice produced by the Feral Family.

Listen here!

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