Archive | Spring 2016

What’s in Season? Spring 2016

By Barbara Kobsar

Choosing produce harvested at its peak is your sure bet for flavor and freshness.


In early May, enthusiasts scramble for the first handfuls of sweet Burlat cherries, but aficionados are happiest when mid-season varieties like Bing, Brooks, Rainier, and Utah Giants hit the stands. The dark-red, heart-shaped Lambert cherries are a treat for all when they arrive at the end of the all-too-short cherry season.

Cherries come straight from field to farmstand, since they are a fruit that has to remain on the tree to ripen before harvest. Picked too soon, they will lack that unforgettable cherry flavor. Choose sweet cherries that are plump, shiny, dry, and quite firm with fresh green stems still attached.

The summer squash parade begins this month. During peak season, look for slender green and golden zucchini, scallop squash­ (like pattypan), crookneck, bitter melon, and opo. All are ready to slice, dice, and sauté or to serve raw as a snack or grate into salads.


Snap! The sound of a fresh bean when you break the end off. Green snap beans such as Kentucky Wonder and Blue Lake remain some of the most popular varieties, but wide-podded Romanos or Italians, yellow wax, purple beans, haricots verts, and Chinese long beans are gaining ground in local fields.… Read More

Continue Reading

CONTENTS Spring 2016

 Bees on an Alameda rooftop. Photo by Olivia Vigo

Bees on an Alameda rooftop. Photo by Olivia Vigo


Photo by Juliann Lam

Photo by Juliann Lam





Upcoming Events
Ongoing Events
Events at Ardenwood
At Camp in the Kitchen
Plant for Peace

Good Food Awards
Deer Butchery Class
Foliar feeding in your garden

From the Independent Study garden

At the Town Kitchen







Plus: Down on the Farm up in the Hills




edible EAST BAY Guide to Good Eats


Napa Cabbage Spring Rolls
Chef Mica Talmor-Gott’s Majadera with Lamb Kefta
Phil Gelb’s Socca with Hummus and Julienned Vegetables


Read More
Continue Reading

Editor’s Mixing Bowl

Joy Moore, cooking and gardening instructor for Berkeley Independent Study, checks the worm bin. Photo by Olivia Vigo

Joy Moore, cooking and gardening instructor for Berkeley Independent Study, checks the worm bin. Photo by Olivia Vigo

Looking around at our rain-drenched landscape, it strikes me that this transition time from winter to spring speaks eloquently about the cycles of life: Some plants are decomposing or resting as others are poised to leap forth with new vigor.

Joy Moore, cooking and gardening instructor at the Berkeley Independent Study (BIS), is touring me around the school’s garden. In this outdoor classroom, she has unfurled her passions into a second career after retiring in 2007 from Berkeley’s Department of Public Health and completing the UC Santa Cruz farm and garden apprenticeship in ecological horticulture. Young people at BIS are now thriving under her program.

“This is what it’s all about,” she says as we peer into the worm bin. I see the team of red wigglers crawling into and through an autumn pumpkin in about stage nine (of ten) in the decomposition process. Lifting the upper tier of the bin, Moore indicates a dark liquid the worms give off as they eat the decomposing vegetable matter. “Black gold,” she calls it, explaining how the inky juice will nourish the garden and help the plants grow in the same way that the good food her students cook from the plants nourishes their bodies and helps them grow up strong and healthy.… Read More

Continue Reading

Source Guide Spring 2016

Arts, Education, & Entertainment

CALIFORNIA’S ARTISAN CHEESE FESTIVAL  Friday–Sunday March 18–20 in Petaluma.

EAST BAY REGIONAL PARK DISTRICT  Parklands and trails ideal for healthful recreation and environmental education.

EAST BAY WALDORF SCHOOL  Where Children Thrive. Located 20 minutes from Berkeley at 3800 Clark Rd, El Sobrante.

HELEN KRAYENHOFF SHOP  Food-themed notecards. Find them on

HIVE-MIND  Gabrielle Myers’s riveting memoir about life on a Northern California farm told in poetry and prose. Available on

INSTITUTE OF URBAN HOMESTEADING  Offering the best in Bay Area sustainability education since 2008.

LAUREL BOOK STORE   Downtown Oakland indie bookseller. 1423 Broadway. 510.452.9232.

THE LOCAL FOODS WHEEL   Learn more about your foodshed.


MRS DALLOWAY’S  Full-service, indie neighborhood bookstore. Wide variety of garden books, cookbooks, and author events. 2904 College Ave, Berkeley. 510.704.8222.

MYRTLE’S LODGE   Gifts for the ice cream enthusiast, retro toys, Fentons logo apparel, and handcrafted toppings and candies. 4211 Piedmont Ave, Oakland. 510.655.2600.

Farmers’ Markets

CALIFORNIA FARMERS’ MARKETS ASSOCIATION   Year-round markets in Walnut Creek, San Leandro, and Moraga. 800.806.FARM.

CONTRA COSTA CERTIFIED FARMERS’ MARKETS   Supporting small family farms and serving Contra Costa communities since 1982.… Read More

Continue Reading

Down on the Farm up in the Hills

hoto courtesy of Sophie Hahn

Photo courtesy of Sophie Hahn

CSA projects can be found in all kinds of places,
even tiny city backyards.

Sophie Hahn dreamed of farming her yard to feed her family and neighbors. But growing produce to feed people on a regular basis is challenging, and she never felt capable of undertaking the project herself. But one day, out on a walk, she spotted a sign posted in her neighborhood: “Urban farmer seeking a well-situated, residential garden plot with good sunlight to farm in exchange for housing.”

The sign-poster turned out to be Willow Rosenthal, founder of City Slicker Farms and co-author of The Essential Urban Farmer. Hahn and Rosenthal discovered they shared a vision of feeding their families and neighbors by devoting just a tiny amount of urban land to food production. They could reduce food miles, employ a farmer, contribute to food security, and build community. “It’s a very small act,” admits Hahn, “but if it were multiplied, consider the possibilities and all the potential benefits that could accrue.”

When they discovered that Berkeley had regulations preventing residential sale or trade of fruits and vegetables, Hahn and Rosenthal went to work to change the law. Their “Berkeley Edible Gardens Initiative,” introduced by Berkeley City Councilman Jesse Arreguine, became law in August 2012.… Read More

Continue Reading


Ba-Bite brings Israeli flavors to Piedmont Avenue


Robert Gott and Mica Talmor-Gott found the name for their restaurant, Ba-Bite, in the Hebrew word Ba’bayit, which means “at home.” They’re serving food that Talmor would eat both at home in Oakland, as well as in Israel, her native country.

Robert Gott and Mica Talmor-Gott found the name for their restaurant, Ba-Bite, in the Hebrew word Ba’bayit, which means “at home.” They’re serving food that Talmor would eat both at home in Oakland, as well as in Israel, her native country.

Majadera. Also known as mujaddara, majadra, mejadra, moujadara, mudardara, and megadarra, this uncomplicated concoction of spiced lentils and rice, most often served with a generous swirl of tahini sauce and a topping of fried onions, is popular throughout the Arab world.

It also figures prominently on the menu at Ba-Bite, a popular new fast-casual eatery on Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue.

For Ba-Bite employee Manal Abushareefih, majadera conjures up cheerless memories from her home in Jordan:

“Friday is the day when we make a special meal. Thursday is the day to eat cheap food, to save for Friday, so people eat majadera. My sister always cried when my mother made majadera, and I was always sad.”

Not so for Ba-Bite chef/owner Mica Talmor-Gott, an Israeli whose ancestral roots are in Eastern Europe. For her, majadera was a favorite food the family ate only in restaurants. Now with her own restaurant, she offers no less than seven majadera variations to customers.… Read More

Continue Reading

Deer Butchery

At The Local Butcher Shop’s Deer Butchery Class


Photos by Kathryn Tomajan courtesy of The Local Butcher Shop

Indigenous mule deer run amok through the East Bay hills to the delight of children and urban nature lovers. But when the fauna non grata polish off the baby blueberry and kumquat trees just planted in the backyard, an omnivore in our gardening community can’t be faulted for pondering the virtue of a good venison steak. Of course, the charming ruminants enjoy protections here, and yet … the inner hunter stalks through our DNA, and hunger looms daily.

In the event that something bigger than a turkey lands on our kitchen counter, some of us just want to know what to do with it. Last summer, when we learned that The Local Butcher Shop (TLBS) in Berkeley was offering a deer butchery class, we sent our house nimrod Erik Ferry to sit in. “The majority of participants were urban and suburban vegetable gardeners with a general locavore sentiment,” he noted.

Wondering what prompted the shop to offer the class, we asked TLBS marketing maven Kathryn Tomajan, who says they had many phone calls and inquiries from the community. “In our first class we had many hunters, aspiring hunters, as well as a few chefs and ambitious home cooks.… Read More

Continue Reading

Food Shift Test Kitchen


Food Shift launches a test kitchen for a better food system


Dana Frasz plans to launch the Alameda Kitchen this spring.

Dana Frasz plans to launch the Alameda Kitchen this spring.

Food-waste activist Dana Frasz was blanching a massive vat of green beans when she first learned of Robert Egger, the man she would later describe as her “soul brother.” Egger is founder and president of DC Central Kitchen, an East Coast social enterprise that recycles food, distributes meals, fulfills catering contracts, and provides job training for unemployed adults.

“I was working at Ashoka [a network of social entrepreneurs who implement systems change on a global scale], and my team of 12 decided to do a volunteer day at DC Kitchen,” says Frasz, who was then in her third year as a project manager. “I was reading the articles on the walls and seeing pictures of Robert that I’ll never forget.” Egger’s combination of feeding hungry people, empowering vulnerable populations, and reducing food waste perfectly aligned with Frasz’s deepest passions.

Shortly after volunteering at DC Kitchen in June of 2010, Frasz told Egger of her plan to start her own project, and he agreed to support and advise her. Frasz went on to become the founder and director of the East Bay nonprofit Food Shift, which helps businesses and organizations reduce food waste.… Read More

Continue Reading

What’s in Season?

By Barbara Kobsar

Artwork by Patricia Robinson

Choosing produce harvested at its peak is your sure bet for flavor and freshness.


Citrus shines as winter wanes. Especially vibrant are the blood oranges, with their beautiful dark-red flesh and telltale splotches of red on the skin. Moro and Tarocco varieties are most common in our area and deliver a slight berry-like flavor. Chop them for salads or salsas, squeeze to add color to other juices, mix a few tablespoons into your favorite vinaigrette, or make a marvelous red marmalade!

For a citrus-like flavor in stews, stocks, and herbal teas, try lemongrass, one of approximately 60 herbaceous plants that impart a lemon-like taste and aroma to dishes. The lower four to six inches of this tufted grass, including its small cream-colored bulbous base, is the least fibrous and mildest tasting part.


It’s radish time! The red, round Cherry Belles are the most common of the brief spring-season varieties, but the white-tipped French Breakfast radishes are also very popular. Also look for the spicy Easter Egg hybrid, which is always bunched to show off its array of red, pink, violet, and white skins. The watermelon radish, with its unpretentious creamy white skin, sports a stunning and sturdy pink and magenta colored interior.… Read More

Continue Reading

Our Contributors Spring 2016

Originally from the cornfields of Nebraska, Amanda Kuehn Carroll has spent most of her life wandering and wondering, often getting lost in the process. Her work has appeared in Diablo, 7×7, Saint Mary’s, San Francisco, Napa Sonoma,SF Weekly, and online at Berkeleyside. You can find links to her work at and reach her at

Shanna Farrell is an oral historian with UC Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office, where she is currently the lead for their West Coast Cocktails: An Oral History project. In addition to cocktail and spirit history, she works on environmental history. You can find her on Twitter as @shanna_farrell.

Erik Ferry is a dedicated East Bay locavore, organic gardener, and environmental grantwriting consultant with a varied background in conservation biology, livestock husbandry, and sustainable urban development. Learn more at ErikFerryLinkedIn.

Photographer Carolyn Fong shoots extensively for regional and national publications and commercial clients. She loves showcasing the diverse people who influence our culture’s understanding of how and what we eat and drink. After 15 years in New York City, Carolyn recently returned to the East Bay with her family.

Katie Gatlin, a professional baker and passionate food blogger, sees an undeniable link between food and happiness.… Read More

Continue Reading