Understanding the Oak to Wine Connection By Kirstin Jackson Oak’s role in winemaking can be difficult to grasp. In one tasting room, a winery employee pouring you a splash of $90 reserve red implies that aging a wine in anything less than new French oak barrels is an offense to the grape, centuries of viticulture,…

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Few of us are surprised these days to find a saucer of olive oil instead of butter beside the bread tray on our restaurant table, and we more or less expect the flavor of extra-virgin olive oil to emerge from a good vinaigrette. Some of us even pour good-quality olive oil into our sauté pans,…

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BY CHERYL ANGELINA KOEHLER As an avid hiker and unabashed forager, I can’t help but spot food while I’m following trails through our spectacular East Bay regional parks. Unfortunately, all the wild and feral edibles out there are forbidden fruit, due to the ban against removing anything from public lands, save the dirt and burrs…

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  story, recipes & photos by Kirstin Jackson Trying to decide which wine to pair with typical holiday fare sends some to bed dreaming of sugarplums and late-harvest chenin blanc. Others, scared off by visions of the sweet flavors of the season or gingery spice taunting their favorite cabernet sauvignon, head straight for the hard…

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the big brassica band BY BARBARA KOBSAR You can joke all you will about the lowly cabbage, but don’t be surprised when a few members of its family, the big brassica band, show up nicely dressed for your holiday feast. After the holidays, make way for them on your plate when you start that healthy…

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story and photos BY MATTHEW GREEN Armed with little more than some piping, a few fittings, and a bit of creative plumbing knowledge, Oakland resident Laura Allen built a home plumbing system that bucks the sewer by reusing the water from her sinks, showers, and clothes washer to bucket flush the toilets and irrigate the…

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By Derrick Schneider illustrations by zina deretsky Most home cooks would probably say they know how to use herbs. Chop basil and toss it with tomatoes. Mince rosemary and rub it on a leg of lamb. Gather thyme into a bundle to make a basting brush for roasted meats. But when I see the heaps…

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story and photos By Helen Krayenhoff If there’s a garden fairy at Children’s Fairyland in Oakland’s Lake Merritt Park, it has to be Robin North. The design, planting, and maintenance of the enchanted 10-acre plot, so beloved by East Bay children, is Robin’s domain. Among the things she tends is a vegetable patch that provides…

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Back from the brink in time for the holidays BY NICHOLAS TAYLOR We pile out of our car after the two-hour drive from Oakland to the Capay Valley and have not walked more than 10 steps before the welcome party, a gaggle of about 20 tom turkeys, waddles up to greet us. They stop as…

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