Archive | Summer 2014

Fibershed Recipes


Serves 8

1 to 1½ pounds fresh shell beans, shelled (about 1½ cups shelled)
3 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 leek, sliced and soaked in water until clean
1/3 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Bouquet garni with: 1 sprig thyme, 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig savory, 1 chile pod
Salt to taste
4 summer squash, sliced
2 cups of green beans, top and tail removed and cut into 1-inch lengths
4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

For the pistou
3 cloves garlic, peeled
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups basil leaves, chopped
½ cup grated parmesan cheese or ¼ cup gruyère and ¼ cup Parmesan
¼ cup olive oil

Place the shelled beans in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot with 3 quarts water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and cook until tender.

Drain the leek. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, add the onions and cook until tender (without coloring), about 15 minutes. Add the leek, 6 cloves garlic, bouquet garni, and salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Cover with water and bring to a boil.… Read More

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“Black Sheep”: Dry-point monoprint by Celia Wedding

“Black Sheep”: Dry-point monoprint by Celia Wedding


Fashion gets a slow-food-style makeover

By Jillian Laurel Steinberger

Where does our clothing come from and where does it end up? We’ve grown accustomed to asking such questions about our food and our water, but why not about our fabrics and dyes? What if we could get sweaters, jeans, and hats made from locally produced materials that are organic and nontoxic: healthy for workers to produce, healthy for us to wear, and healthy for the earth? And what if these clothes were … well … hot, chic, au courant?

The answer is in an emerging term: fibershed.

Like “foodshed” and “watershed,” this word gives us an awareness of context, of where we stand in the supply chain of our region’s precious resources. According to the nonprofit of the same name, a fibershed is “a geographical landscape that defines and gives boundaries to a natural textile resource base. Awareness of this bioregional designation engenders appreciation, connectivity, and sensitivity for the life-giving resources within our homelands.” The term gained proper-noun status around 2010 when West Marin fiber artist Rebecca Burgess launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $10,000 to put toward her concept of creating a “bioregional wardrobe” made completely from fibers and dyes sourced from within 150 miles of her home.… Read More

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What’s in Season?




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


Small grow pots of herbs and greens, such as those sold by Mariposa Microgreens, have become a popular item at farmers’ markets. If you have one, you’re happily snipping tender and tasty young leaves of basil, amaranth, chard, flax, kale, or nasturtium into salads, soups, eggs, sandwiches, and pastas. It’s also your last chance to find fava bean shoots, greens, and blossoms to use raw in sandwiches or salads or in a quick sauté. The fresh fava pods filled with nutritious beans are available through the summer.


It’s berry and stone-fruit picking time, so head out to the Brentwood U-Pick paradise. When blueberries arrive at our farmers’ markets fresh from the farm, the crowds always gather. The berries’ sturdy structure and distinctive flavor make them a favorite for eating fresh or using in salads and baked goods. Blueberries also take bragging rights among the fruits and vegetables for their spectacular antioxidant content. Summer squash are now arriving in an array of colors and shapes: All are exceptionally versatile in the recipe department.


Sweet corn has arrived and it’s best eaten immediately.… Read More

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Lead in your soil?



Over the years, we have heard many smart, inquisitive gardeners express concern, confusion, and fear about environmental contaminants in their soil. Lead is very often mentioned when talking about gardening. While urban residents may know they should be concerned, rarely do they have much information about the causes of this contamination, how lead poisoning occurs, or what can be done to make their yards and gardens safe.

Lead is one of the most pervasive environmental contaminants in soils that affects human health. In the United States, lead levels in urban residential neighborhoods are, more often than not, elevated and exceeding local, state, and federal safe levels. This is true today despite decades-old laws and programs for removing lead from a wide variety of products. Still lead persists in our environment, and people, especially children, continue to suffer the toxic effects of chronic exposure. The problem will remain for many years into the future, but there are steps you can take now to protect yourself and your family, garden safely, and make your soil healthy again.

In Bay Area yards and gardens, it is typical to find total lead levels in the 300 ppm (parts per million) to 600 ppm range (see “Safe Levels in Soil” on page 58).… Read More

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Sharing the Pie

Fusion Latina specializes in dishes from Mexico and Nicaragua, prepared at Richmond’s Artisan Kitchen.

Fusion Latina specializes in dishes from Mexico and Nicaragua, prepared at Richmond’s Artisan Kitchen. Left to right: Alejandra Escobedo,Pilar Ruiz, Julissa Gutierrez, Teresa Palafox, Lucrecia Martinez

Local caterers take the boss out of the kitchen


Whipping up 200 empanadas is all in a day’s work for the women of Fusion Latina. At Richmond’s Artisan Kitchen they’re a synchronized team, chopping zucchini and onions, rolling out dough for tortillas, and slicing poblano peppers. Although the kitchen work is typical for a catering company, what’s unusual about these five women is that no one is the boss: their business is a worker cooperative.

Co-ops like Fusion Latina (and others discussed in this article) are owned and democratically operated (one person, one vote) by their members. The partners share responsibilities, decision-making, and profits. “At first, we all worked for free,” says Alejandra Escobedo. “Now we can get paid, based on the number of hours we work.” Co-op members can receive different wages, as long as it’s agreed upon democratically.

No Boss

Mexican MushroomsFusion Latina offers this simple mushroom recipe, a delicious accompaniment to quesadillas, empanadas, or even spaghetti. You can find epazote leaves in any Mexican grocery store.2 tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ serrano chile, finely chopped (optional)
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
10 epazote leaves, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a skillet, then add and sauté the onion and garlic.

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The Seven Stars of Summer

local foods wheel



Jessica Prentice, Maggie Gosselin, and Sarah Klein created the Local Foods Wheel to help us all enjoy the freshest, tastiest, and most ecologically sound food choices month by month. Here are seven of Jessica’s seasonal favorites. You can learn more about the Local Foods Wheel and the group’s other ventures at


If I am pressed to declare a favorite vegetable, I choose the artichoke. When I left the East Coast over 20 years ago, I was ignorant both of how to eat an artichoke and why it was worth the bother. But a 15-year relationship with a native San Franciscan who loved artichokes turned me into a die-hard fan. She also taught me that if you eat a bite of artichoke followed by a sip of water, the water tastes sweet. My current partner taught me that artichokes are notoriously difficult to pair with wine. But I don’t care! My favorite way to eat an artichoke is the simplest: I artichokessteam it whole until tender and serve it with homemade mayonnaise or melted butter and lemon. Part of what I love is the “bother” itself: the process of pulling off each petal, dipping it in the mayonnaise, and scraping the small but delectable sliver of flavor off the leaf.… Read More

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Side Dish ……


A Food Tour Sampler


Above: Carlo Medina regals Savor Oakland tour guests with tantalizing tidbits at Jack London Square (Photo courtesy of Geneva Europa)

Above: Carlo Medina regales Savor Oakland tour guests with tantalizing tidbits at Jack London Square. (Photo courtesy of Geneva Europa)

Food tourism is one of the fastest growing travel trends today, and this is not least the case here in the Bay Area, where numerous companies have sprung up to fill the niche. Curious to see what the fuss was about, I signed up for some tours.

Slumming Around the Gourmet Ghetto

Edible Excursions founder Lisa Rogovin tastes the black bean polenta at Berkeley’s Juice Bar Collective. (Photo courtesy of Edible Excursions)

Edible Excursions founder Lisa Rogovin tastes the black bean polenta at Berkeley’s Juice Bar Collective. (Photo courtesy of Edible Excursions)

Edible Excursions began as an exclusive experience Lisa Rogovin cooked up for guests at San Francisco’s Four Seasons Hotel. Then after a life-altering, globetrotting vacation, she realized her food tours could attract a much wider audience. Now offering ten regular tours highlighting locations in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland, Lisa tells me the selection criteria for restaurants is “based on deliciousness” and that on all tours, the goal is to eat at as many stops as possible. With this in mind, I made a reservation for the Berkeley Gourmet Ghetto tour.

With its charming houses, small businesses, and multitude of independent eateries, the gourmet ghetto doesn’t appear much different from surrounding North Berkeley at first glance.… Read More

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Side Dish ….


Food collective brings healthy fare to
campus and community


The tables near the entrance of the store are a popular meeting spot for customers and volunteers to share meals, stories, and food-related knowledge. Above BSFC operations manager Gwen von Klan (left) confers with food events coordinator Grace Lihn. (Photo by Jonathan Reader)

The tables near the entrance of the store are a popular meeting spot for customers and volunteers to share meals, stories, and food-related knowledge. Above BSFC operations manager Gwen von Klan (left) confers with food events coordinator Grace Lihn. (Photo by Jonathan Reader)

When UC Berkeley proposed bringing a Panda Express onto campus in 2009, a group of students did what Berkeley students do best: They protested. The university rescinded the proposal, and instead of a fast-food chain, the campus community acquired a unique food enterprise devoted to good health: the Berkeley Student Food Collective.
By 2010, a group of highly motivated students had embarked on the challenging process of fundraising (applying for grants, hosting galas, requesting donations), finding a physical location for the store, creating a feasible business plan, achieving nonprofit status, researching inventory, and finding suitable equipment.

Now located directly across from campus and fondly referred to by its members and customers as the “BSFC,” the Collective is the only nonprofit, mission-driven grocery store in Berkeley. Collective members are primarily current students who identify with that Berkeley brand of revolutionary idealism, advocate for healthy, sustainable, and affordable food, and have an appreciation for practical hard work.… Read More

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Side Dish ..


Guisell Osorio  (Photo courtesy of La Cocina)

Guisell Osorio
(Photo courtesy of La Cocina)

The incubator kitchen in San Francisco’s Mission District known as La Cocina has garnered well deserved praise for kick starting the culinary careers of many low-income edible entrepreneurs, primarily women of color from immigrant communities. To date, the nonprofit program, which provides technical assistance, business support, and industry connections, has helped 38 edible entrepreneurs; 15 have graduated and opened their own food enterprises. The hosts behind the wildly successful summertime San Francisco Street Food Festival, La Cocina has served as a breeding ground for Love & Hummus dips, Larkspur Landing Mexican restaurant El Huarache Loco, and La Luna cupcakes.

Now comes word about three recent graduates—each with their own cultural culinary chops—currently opening food ventures in the East Bay.

Guisell Osorio, Sabores del Sur

Before Christmas 2003, Guisell Osorio was basically broke. So she decided to make cookies for family and friends as holiday gifts, staying up all night to bake alfajores, those soft, delicate, caramel-sweet treats from South America. Osorio immigrated to Walnut Creek from Santiago, Chile at the age of 17. She missed her favorite foods from her home country and so she cooked them herself.… Read More

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Side Dish





Amesiyas Amha Wube runs Abesha along with his mother, Tsehay Selasie.  (Photo by Neysa Budzinski)

Amesiyas Amha Wube runs Abesha along with his mother, Tsehay Selasie.
(Photo by Neysa Budzinski)

Shortly after returning from a visit to Ethiopia, fellow food writer Molly Watson walked into Abesha, a restaurant in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood, sniffed gleefully, ordered the vegetarian combo, and hungrily tucked in. “This tastes like the best food I had in Addis Ababa,” she concluded.

That’s the kind of praise that makes owner Amesiyas Amha Wube beam. Wube runs this four-year old restaurant specializing in Ethiopian cuisine. His 73-year-old mother, Tsehay Selasie, oversees the kitchen. “She makes food that comes from the heart. You can taste that in her recipes,” says Wube of his mother, who worked for years at another local Ethiopian restaurant. It’s a family affair—a sister is a waitress, a brother helps with the business side—as well as a popular spot with Ethiopian and Eritrean newcomers and long-time residents. Of the estimated 20,000 people in the Bay Area who hail from these East African countries many live in Oakland, which is dotted with Ethiopian restaurants.
Wube is no stranger to food: He worked at Whole Foods Market in Berkeley as a produce department supervisor for nine years.… Read More

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