Category Archives: Profiles

Cooking with Confidence!

I recently did an on-line interview with Lisa King who has a blog called Cook with Confidence. It was great fun to do and if you’re at all unsure of yourself in the kitchen, I hope you’ll take a look.  The link to my piece is   https://cookwithconfidence.me/DeborahMadison, and Lisa’s site is cookwithconfidence.me.  It’s a worthwhile site and good work that she’s doing.

 

Cooking with Dante

 

I have a very loyal kitchen hound. His sensitive little ears perk up the minute I enter the kitchen to cook and within moments he is sitting at my feet, looking up inquisitively at my motions, listening to the sounds of chopping and slicing, rustling papers, the unwrapping things, all sounds that have to do with food and cooking. Food is very important for dogs, I have learned, even though my dog does not wolf things down. He is endlessly interested in something to eat, however.

Food is important yes, but he doesn’t go for just any old bite. He is quite selective. We’ve been going through this routine for nearly six years, and I know that he doesn’t like onions. Still he makes a lot of little squeaking noises until I offer him a piece. He sniffs carefully and ever so slowly until he’s finally satisfied he doesn’t want the bit of onion. He turns his head to the side, his elegant poodle nose rejecting what I knew he would reject. We go though this with every vegetable, including those that are cooking. I offer him the skillet to preview, knowing he wont’ be interested. But he thinks he might be.

There are some things he likes. They are beet skins. Sweet potatoes. Cooked carrots, and what I call broccoli bones, (the coarse lower ends of broccoli stems, which he’s carries away and works over just as if they were bones). He will accept a kale stem, but then he just walks around the island and drops it on the floor. When I finally emerge from the stove the floor can be littered with bits of stems and leaves. And when I sweep them up, he doesn’t linger at the dustbin wondering if there might be a treat. After all, that’s usually about the time he gets his own dinner, which he far prefers.

You might have met my pup on the page after 231 In My Kitchen. He shows up a few times. But my favorite picture is of him sitting on the kitchen steps looking very robust indeed. In case you’re wondering, his fur is not colored and he is a small Labradoodle – actually mostly poodle. He weighs only 32 pounds, but he’s pretty convinced he weights at least seventy. Must be all those brococli bones! Whatever it is, he’s a good kitchen friend.

 

 

Thanksgiving Without the Turkey (but with so much else!)

Platter of Fall Fruit (photo by Laurie Smith)

For years I’ve been asked by news folks of various stripes to comment about what vegetarians can eat at Thanksgiving, and for as many years I’ve replied, ”Everything but the turkey.” Even when turkey is on the table, there’s bound to be a host of other foods, mostly seasonal vegetable dishes, that are just right for the vegetarian and everyone else at the table, too. Traditionally those sides so numerous that plates are heaped with them while the turkey makes up but a small portion.

And if you’re planning to make a Thanksgiving meal without the bird, what then? Here are some of the thoughts on that.

The first is to skip the mock turkey, unless you just absolutely love it.

The second is to make something that’s special to you and those at your table, something that you don’t make often because it’s too expensive or too time consuming, or maybe too rich. Such as? A wild mushroom lasagna (or any kind of lasagna, especially when made with fresh pasta.) Homemade ravioli are always welcome. Or a winter vegetable stew that brings together black lentils, root vegetables, pureed potatoes and a red wine sauce. You know what you like.

While you might choose to make menu with that special dish as the star, another way is to honor the holiday is to go for the groaning board approach, a big table loved with seasonal dishes. Now is when we’re excited about winter squash and sweet potatoes, or the appearance of corn meal or dried beans at the farmers market, or you home grown cache of Jerusalem artichokes, so you might just decide to indulge and have some of everything.

You could have everyone sit down and start off with a bowl of warming soup, then invite people to get up and help themselves to the bounty. Or just keep passing all those platters with someone designated to set them somewhere when they’ve gone around once.

Whatever approach you take, do invite others to participate in making the meal. They may just want to bring a favorite dish of their own, or help out in your kitchen, or show up with an extra pie or a bottle of wine.

Here are a few dishes I’m likely to serve, all of them can be found in my cookbooks. VCFE can for the most part, be the old or The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I have to admit, it was hard to choose just these.

 

Possible Appteizers

White Bean, Sage, and Roasted Garlic Spread, VCFE

Savory Wild Rice Crepe-Cakes, Vegetable Literacy

Gourgere (Cheese Puffs), The Savory Way

 

Two Special Soups

Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Bisque with Sunflower Sprouts, Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

My Really Good Mushroom Soup, from the soup book, above

 

Three or Four Main Dish Possbilities

Braised Root Vegetables with Black Lentils and Red Wine Sauce, Local Flavors

Winter Squash Galette, VCFE – or another vegetable galette -there are more!

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage, VCFE or Mushroom Lasagna, VCFE

 

Some Possible Sides

Quince Compote or Spiced Quince and Cranberry Compote, The Savory Way

Asian Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Butter, Vegetable Literacy

An Over-the-Top Holiday Sweet Potato Gratin with Red Chile, The New VCFE

Warm Red Cabbage Salad with Pecans, VCFE and a different one in Vegetable Literacy

Wilted Greens with Crisped Bread Crumbs, VCFE

Celery Root and Potato Puree with Truffle Salt, VCFE

Provencal Winter Squash Gratin or Delicata Squash Rings, VCFE

Buttermilk Skillet Corn Bread with Heirloom Flint Cornmeal, Vegetable Literacy

 

Salad

Endive with Walnuts and Blue Cheese, VCFE

Shredded Radicchio with Walnut Vinaigrette, Vegetable Literacy

 

Dessert Possibilities

Steamed Persimmon Pudding, Local Flavors

Sweet Potato Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramel Pecans, Vegetable Literacy

Indian Pudding (if you have an oven free for a few hours), Seasonal Fruit Desserts

Tangelo-Tangerine Pudding, Seasonal Fruit Desserts (a very light dessert)

 

And you don’t need a recipe to build a platter of fall fruits, nuts, chocolates and the like for people to munch on long after the table is cleared.

Happy Thanksgiving To All

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Harvesting Larkspur Seeds in July

Larkspur seeds

Larkspurs are a great annual plant, one that that flowers and seeds abundantly. I love this plant because it’s generous and beautiful. Its little black seeds germinate with ease and produce tall stalks of delicate flowers in shades of blue, purple, pink and near white. Over the years I’ve selected seeds from those with the richest azure color, and now my larkspur are stunning in they blue and purple groups, which is how they tend to grow.

I started with larkspur nearly twenty years ago when we moved into a house whose yard was barren. It was one of those lots that had been scraped clean, save for the house. A friend gave me a handful of larkspur seeds and another handful of deep red giant amaranth. I tossed both into the dirt and lo and behold, they all —or so it seemed—germinated. The amaranth was a little creepy with it’s big, nodding blood red seed heads on six-foot tall stalks. My husband asked me not to plant them again and I didn’t. But come spring, thousands of them came up, carpeting the lot with a sea of scarlet leaves. They were gorgeous—and edible.

The larkspur was easier to handle. They were robust growers to be sure, but not overwhelming like the amaranth. Certainly not creepy. As the latter came out and more perennial plants came in, the blue blossoms of the larkspur seemed to harmonize with every color, especially the silvers and grey plants. Plus they could also end up in a vase and look sprightly for a nearly a week. I started saving the seeds, which is easy to do, and have ever since. I wanted those flowers again. And I’ve had them ever since—everywhere!

Today, in a different yard and a hotter summer, I noticed that the seed heads were starting to open a month early and that the flowers were so diminished in number that the hummingbirds had little interest in them. I also was ready to reveal some of the plants the larkspur were hiding —a handsome oregano plant, a culinary sage coming into a second bloom, the gorgeous Mojave sage, a stand of rue, clumps of ornament grasses that  had come back after the gopher snake moved in,  and above all,  a snaking trail of Blonde Ambition, a striking grama grass that didn’t need the punctuation of larkspur given that it’s own handsome seed heads were about to emerge.

I started clipping the seed heads that were open and bringing them into my office where I set them on a  metal table. With every bump from me, the dog, or a whoosh of wind, the black seeds came tumbling out of their elongated pods. There are so many. I’ve already given some away and there are thousands more seeds that will fall out while I’m at the Seed Savers Exchange Campout this next week. Unless I get busy.

I’m thinking the time has come to use a little more control, having stands of larkspur only here and there where they set off other plants or cluster together to make a purple-blue haze, rather than having them come up willy-nilly everywhere. So if time allows before I leave, I’ll be ruthless about pulling out the rest of the plants that remain, their seed heads still closed and ripening.

Koronecki: From Tree to Table

I grew up around olive trees and my brother, Mike, makes olive oil in California. As kids he once convinced me to eat a raw Mission olive, saying it was just like those in the can, only free. You only fall for that one once because there is nothing more unpleasant than olives right off the tree. Something has to be done with them. Like turning them into oil.

Olive trees are innumerable at the gorgeous Westin resort at Costa Navarino,Greece  (www.costanavarino.com) the lush green area of Messinia. About 7,000 of them were transplanted to the http://www.raybanoutletes.com/ resort when a reservoir was dug not far away. (All but 3 survived.) Many of them are fairly young while others are old and venerable.  The variety is Koronecki, a modest tree that produces very small olives that are harvested green and transformed into a lively, pungent oil. (The city of Kalamata is not far from the resort, so Kalamata olives grow in the area too, but those big meaty fruits are for eating, not pressing into oil.)

My brother grows some Koronecki olives and presses them as a single varietal. His trees are many but his crop is small. “You think you’re picking a lot, but they’re so small they’re never as many as you want,” he says, something that was corroborated during my recent visit to Costa Navarino.

Harvesters at Costa Navorino

October is when the harvest starts and I was fortunate to witness its beginning. Rather than picking the olives from the branches, as my brother does, the trees were first pruned of their large branches, then beaten to release the olives onto the nets on the ground.  It takes a strong motion of your Gafas Ray Ban outlet whole arm to separate the olives from their branches; they’re too green to come off voluntarily. Although it looks easy, it’s not, and I speak from experience for I gave it try.  Once the trees are well picked, the larger branches are tossed aside, smaller clumps of leaves deftly picked out by the workers, the olives are poured form their net into sacks, then off they go to the mill.

I got to tag along for the next part, their transformation into a golden green elixir. Time is of great importance when it comes to making oil. If the olives aren’t pressed within 24 hours (and preferably sooner), they begin to deteriorate and rancidity sets in, so there’s a definite sense of urgency. As soon as the olives were picked, packed and loaded into a pick-up, we drove through the hilly green countryside up to the mill where they were immediately unloaded, washed, cleansed of any remaining leaves, then crushed to a paste.

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In less than an hour, a river of green oil began to gush out of a pipe, an amazing sight to see if you’ve only dealt with drizzles from a bottle. Even better was having the chance to taste this just-pressed olive over bread that had been grilled over the coals. This is an experience I hope everyone can experience. It has nothing to do with this business of being served a dish of olive oil with your bread in a restaurant. This is oil in its most pristine form, and from this point on, some say, it’s all down hill. But fortunately it’s a gentle slope. You have about a year to enjoy the oil, plus it’s packed in a can, which makes it safe to carry home.

pipe

This beautiful oil is produced, cooked with, eaten and sold at the resort. Its green and grassy flavors play perfectly with the vegetables that are also grown there. Add to the oil and produce the Greek varietal wines that are offered and I found I was eating in a way where the taste of terroir is absolutely vibrant.  I have many Greek cookbooks I cook from, access to homegrown Koronecki olive oil and excellent wines, but they all add up differently somehow. This is one reason why it’s so valuable to travel and eat food and drink wine Ray Ban outlet from its place. But even with travel that authentic experience can be hard to find. Cost is more a determinant than locale, just as it is here, and not everything is as indigenous as we’d like to think. But at Costa Navarino there is an unusual commitment to local foods and traditional ones as well, not only their olive oil, but also their vinegar, sea salt, amazing spoon sweets, olive oil biscuits and other exceptional foods. Where else can you go to a resort that presses then uses its own oil, I don’t know, but it certainly makes for a more delicious and interesting world that such an effort has been made at Costa Navarino.

The Next Generation Cooks Dinner

Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Too much rain or not enough. Wars and famine.

It was time for some good news.

Last week my husband and I were invited to a dinner party. It was given by Kate, aged l7, who was leaving for college the next day, and she wanted to have a little going away party for herself. Of course we’d come. After all, we’ve known Kate since she was born and her two brothers since they were little kids.

Because it was her dad who actually invited us, we expected the big kind of rambling get together Kate’s parents often hold, where a lot of people who don’t know each other –and some who do – mingle and eat and talk. But no, this was Kate’s deal. Aside from her brothers, her boy friend, and brother’s girlfriend, the rest of us http://www.raybani.com/ were her parent’s friends. And it turned out that neither Kate’s mom or dad were there —a sick parent need attending and a truck had broken down—which gave us the giddy feeling that there weren’t any adults around despite our ages. When we offered to help, “No thanks! Got it!” was the reply. Kate had dinner under control. Here’s the menu that she cooked.

Margaritas from scratch, no margarita mix in site

Home made guacamole

Grilled asparaguswith a tomatilla salsa

Grilled steak

A big Caesar salad

Polenta with fried onions

A plum galette and lime mousse tarts for dessert

Nothing was from Trader Joes. Nothing was out of package. No parents were there to lend a hand. Kate and her boyfriend, with a brother occasionally pitching in, pulled off a delicious meal without a hitch. Us older types sat around the kitchen table with our margaritas and basked in the situation. We watched the kids cook, ate a wonderful dinner and it was a terrifically fun party with lots of conversation.

I had no idea Kate liked to cook or knew how. When I asked her brothers about this, they thought that kids in Santa Fe generally knew how to cook. They acted as if it weren’t a big deal, but just a natural consequence of growing up here, which I found surprising. Why would that be the case?

One reason brother Andrew sited was a program called Cooking for Kids that has, for over a decade, worked in the Santa Fe schools to give children hands on experiences of cooking food. (I actually taught the younger brother, Will, through this program when he was in the 3rd grade.)

Then both brothers said that when they finally realized how much it cost to to eat out all the time, they figured that they had to learn how to cook.

But they didn’t mention something that had been going on right under their noses, and it had to do with their parents. Their dad, a furniture designer who works from home, is a very good baker. There’s always fresh bread around or the smell of bread baking. When it’s pizza night at their house, it isn’t Ray Ban outlet delivered, but made at home. as are their other meals. Kate’s parents aren’t foodies, they don’t shop at the farmers market or get excited about smoked salt, but baking bread and cooking from scratch is just something they do.

Kate’s mom commutes to her job so her husband often cooks. But as a naturally social person, she often puts together parties. The parents have always made time for friends and included their kids and those of their friends in their large get-togethers over the years. They’ve also given parties in honor of their children–one graduating high school, another getting that masters degree, a third visiting home from college —and they do so with natural ease and graciousness.  So is it really surprising that Kate would be able to pull off a dinner for 14 with the grace and skill of a practiced hostess—and all this the night before heading east for college?  Not really.

Not to take one single thing away from this young woman whom we love and admire, perhaps it’s true, that what your parents do does make a difference and does count for something. In Kate’s case, a natural ease in the kitchen and equal ease with guests, plus a certain tolerance for chaos, are already Occhiali Da sole Ray Ban outlet fully functioning qualities in her young life, and these skills will only get better as she gets older.  Her familiarity with the kitchen also suggests that programs, like Cooking with Kids, which engage children in cooking and eating on many occasions as they go through school, also make a difference.

It’s been a week now, but I’m still basking in the deep joy of that evening as the guest of a 17-year old whose parents weren’t there, who proved herself a competent cook and a gracious host as well as the lovely person she is.  It definitely cancelled out the bad news. And I didn’t even think to take a picture!

An Urban Farm in Phoenix


I just came back from a Slow Food event in Phoenix, Arizona, a meeting in an orchard where we picked and ate juicy Desert Gold peaches planted a dozen years ago by urban farmer, Greg Peterson, who was there to walk and talk us through a number of different kinds of fruit trees—peach, orange, grapefuit, apricot.  We discussed growing fruit, Seasonal Fruit Desserts, and urban farming. We tasted Phoenix-grown apricots and blackberries and a divine peach cupcake prepared by a company called Urban Cookie.  “Urban” is the new black. The word crops up everywhere. It’s good.The Urban Farm

One doesn’t usually think of Phoenix in terms of urban agriculture, or any agriculture for that matter, (or wise water use or sustainability).  At best the remains of old Occhiali Ray Ban outlet citrus orchards are visible in backyard because years ago developers had the sense not to bulldoze all those handsome, fruit bearing trees. But there is also Greg Peterson who has The Urban Farm and The Urban Farm Press, which publishes small books on city gardening and chicken raising that you can read quickly while learning a lot. One is called My Ordinary Extraordinary Yard, which is the perfect description of this city farm.

Greg’s farm (imagine a small house on a third of an acre) is surrounded by the other ordinary looking houses. Except for its Urban Farm sign and a little windmill in front, you wouldn’t think Greg’s yard was anything special. Because citrus aren’t that uncommon in Arizona, that fact the he’s lined his front yard with a dense hedge of navel orange trees might not seem particularly unusual. “I planted them because those are the oranges I like to eat,” Greg explains.  But behind those orange trees there’s an apple tree that’s laden with fruit – a low chill variety called Anna—and as I look closer I spy a short, bushy loquat tree, more citrus trees, and a border hedge of more apple trees that runs along his neighbor’s fence, which they share. Greg points out a small persimmon tree and a mulberry.  Zucchini fill one corner of the front yard, and there’s a great patch of what was once lettuce and parsley that have gone to seed, which means he’ll have lettuce growing as soon as it cools down enough for seeds to sprout.

I didn’t expect the pool of green offered by small lawn in the back yard. Far less surprising was the flock of healthy looking chickens which Greg moves from time to time so that they can pick and scratch in areas of the garden that have finished fruiting. An enormous grape vine winds up the substantial branches of an old, dead grapefruit tree, eventually traveling far enough to cover the Western facing windows http://www.raybanoutletit.com/ where they provide the shade that keeps his house cool. There are more zucchinis, a cherry tree, the remains of another vegetable garden. (Phoenix gardening tends to end about the time gardens get going elsewhere – it’s just too hot.) At a glance, this looks like a most ordinary suburban yard, but there are some 80 fruit trees, systems for harvesting both rain water and grey water, an outdoor cooking area and sink made from reclaimed chunks of cement and discarded marble counters, and the chickens.  And it’s all lovely and livable.

Greg’s Urban Farm is nothing like the urban farm in the film, The Garden, where every inch is given over to plants, producing in the end not only food but a the looks of a real farm. Greg takes the opposite approach. Although he has built a system that is truly green, it remains a functional, rather normal looking suburban yard, a place where kids can play on a lawn, parents can cook outside on the patio. The differences are that Greg can eat from his garden most every day of the year, he keeps his house cool in the Phoenix summer without air conditioning, and he grows enough food to share with others.

Like most gardeners who have discovered a good thing, Greg does share. He shares information, he shares his experience, and he has offered all the neighbors on his street fruit trees to plant in their yards. 

“See that fig tree?” he points to one as we drive by a house. As we pass the next, he says,  “Check out that apricot tree with netting under it to catch the fruit.” As we drive down his street and he points out the many fruit trees he’s given to his fellow street dwellers so that they, too, can grow good food. 

It’s not fancy. The Urban Farm is a slow, low, practical process, and one reason you don’t really notice all the fruit trees is that Greg believes in keeping them small through Occhiali Da sole Ray Ban outlet pruning so that the harvest is easy to gather. It’s hard to get to fruit if you need a ladder, but if it’s where you can reach it, you’ll pick it. Growing food in the city is not without challenges, of course, but you do come away from The Urban Farm with the feeling, anyone can do this. If not all of it, at least some part of it. I’m already reassessing my back yard for possibilities.

To learn more about The Urban Farm, go to www.urbanfarm.org.

Driving Through the Desert and Finding Something to Eat

I love car trips on back roads but they’re usually a disaster when it comes to food. While we never succumb to fast food or chains, we often eat more enchiladas than we want to.

But our recent drive to, from and around Southern Arizona was different.  For one, we made motel dinners of sliced apples, crackers and goat Cheddar instead of filling up on mediocre food.  We paused for a 4-mile hike in a state park. When stuck in a town with nothing but a steakhouse we made a Ray Ban outlet satisfying albeit unglamorous dinner of a glass of wine and a baked potato. But best, and most unlikely, was a restaurant that our friend Gary Nabhan took us too in Sonita, Arizona, called Canela, which means cinnamon.

We had passed through Sonita earlier in our trip and noted Canela on the edge of the highway. Basically, Sonita is a crossroads. The grasslands that surround it are vast and empty even though Tucson is only about an hour away. The chef/owners of this Southwestern Bistro are a young couple, John Hall and Joy Vargo, who went to culinary school back east then ended in what could be considered an unlikely place for trained cooks to set up shop.  It turns out its rich in resources for the chef who’s looking for local foods that are part of the desert Southwest landscape.

Canela in small and charming, simple and without pretense, but comfortable.  Its shady courtyard must be the most pleasant place to sit when it’s warm out, but in March the evenings were chilly. At the top of the menu it was written, “In addition to herbs & vegetables from our neighbor’s and our own gardens, we proudly feature locally grown food from an ever growing list of farmers & ranchers.”  Nine ranches and farms are named.

While early spring might not be the richest time for local foods, our menu featured a soup made with the heirloom Magdalena Big Cheese squash. Radishes and chives cropped up on the http://www.raybanoutletit.com/ menu along with local turnips, sunchokes, grilled purple scallions, chiltepin peppers, and scarlet runner beans, the latter served with local Navajo-Churro lamb. The Arizona Tempranillo wine from the area was surprisingly fine. It really was.

No doubt the local aspect of Canela’s menu ebbs and flows with the season, but we got the feeling they were using whatever they could and to good effect. And all the dishes were interesting, vegetable rich, prepared with care, and good to eat. It was especially gratifying to enjoy good food cooked by a serious chef in a setting that was friendly and relaxed and where many of the customers knew the staff as well as the other diners. Clearly locals as well as people getting out of Tucson for an evening enjoy Canela.

Canela is the kind of restaurant I’ve long been hoping to see more of—and finally am. After all where were all these chefs going to end up after culinary school?  Is it written that good cooks can work only in urban areas? Here’s another good shred of evidence that this isn’t so.  Check out the web site. (www.canelabistro.com) You can learn more about Canela and other places to eat and stay that are not exactly on the beaten path and you won’t have to settle for a baked potato supper.  Still, you might Occhiali Da sole Ray Ban outlet want to pack something to eat in case the spot you’re hoping to visit is closed, or in case you drive right past it as you cruise on down the road.

Driving In the Desert and Finding Something (Good) to Eat

I love car trips on back roads but they’re usually a disaster when it comes to food. While we never succumb to fast food or chains, we often eat more enchiladas than we want to. But our recent drive to, from and around Southern Arizona was different.  For one, we made motel dinners of sliced apples, crackers and goat Cheddar instead of filling up on mediocre food.  We paused for a 4-mile hike in a state park. When stuck in a town with nothing but a steakhouse we made a satisfying albeit unglamorous dinner of a baked potato. But best, and most unlikely, was a restaurant that our friend Gary Nabhan took us too in Sonita, Arizona, called Canela, which means cinnamon.

 We had already passed through Sonita earlier in our trip and noted Canela on the edge of the highway. Basically, Sonita is a crossroads. The grasslands that surround it are big and http://www.raybanoutletes.com/ empty even though Tucson is only about an hour away. The chef/owners are a young couple, John Hall and Joy Vargo, who went to culinary school back east then ended up in what could be considered an unlikely place for trained cooks to set up shop.  It turns out its rich in resources for the chef who’s looking for local foods that are part of the desert Southwest landscape.

 Small and charming, Canela is also simple, unpretentious. It’s also  comfortable.  Its courtyard must be the most pleasant place to sit when it’s warm out, but in March the evenings are too chilly. At the top of the menu it was written, “In addition to herbs & vegetables from our neighbor’s and our own gardens, we proudly feature locally grown food from an ever growing list of farmers & ranchers.”  Nine ranches and farms are named.

While early spring might not be the richest time for local foods, our menu featured a soup made with the heirloom Magdalena Big Cheese squash. Radishes and chives cropped up on the menu along with local turnips, sunchokes, grilled purple scallions, chiltepin peppers, and scarlet runner beans, the latter served with local Navajo-Churro lamb. The Arizona Tempranillo wine from the area was surprisingly fine. It really was.  No doubt the local aspect of Canela’s menu ebbs and flows with the season, but we got the feeling they were using whatever they could find in the area and to good effect. All the dishes were interesting, vegetable rich, prepared with care, and good Ray Ban outlet to eat. What more could we want? It was especially gratifying to enjoy good food cooked by a serious chef in a setting that was so relaxed and where many of the customers knew the staff as well as the other diners. Clearly locals as well as people getting out of Tucson for an evening enjoy Canela.

Canela is the kind of restaurant I’ve long been hoping to see more of—and finally am. After all where were all these chefs going to end up after culinary school?  Is it written that good cooks can work only in urban areas? Here’s another good shred of evidence that this isn’t so.  Check out the web site. (www.canelabistro.com) You can learn more about Canela and other places to eat and stay that are not exactly on the beaten path and you won’t have to settle for a baked potato supper.  Still, you might ray ban baratas want to pack something to eat in case the spot you’re hoping to visit is closed, or in case you drive right past it as you cruise on down the road.

More Good Things About Ohio: A National Park with Farms

I don’t usually make this a habit, but I went back to Cleveland last week (Feb. 12), this time to give a talk in the Cuyahoga National Park. What seduced me into making a second winter trip was that this park has a farmers market, and that alone was pretty compelling. But it got better http://www.raybani.com/ when I found out that this urban park also has a number of farms in it, (twelve, to date, and plans to add more), and a national park that includes small farms is definitely something to take a look at, even in winter.

Of course, with everything covered in deep drifts of snow, there wasn’t much to see beyond fields lying fallow. But Beth Knorr, of the Countryside Conservancy, a non-profit that partners with the park to help with such things as negotiating farm leases, kindly drove me around the park and pointed out the old farmhouses, barns and outbuildings that are now being used by farmers. Beth explained that it probably worked out better for the park to have farmers use the land and take care of the properties, then have that be the responsibility of the park, and that is what has happened.

Given that the Cuyahoga National Park is pretty much an urban park, one that is close to Cleveland, maintaining a landscape that includes the human imprint expressed through small, sustainable farms (and the Erie Canal) says a lot about the importance of farming itself and their place in the Ray Ban outlet landscape. The farms are real. The farmers produce all kinds of food and sell it in a number of places, including the park’s farmers’ market.

Among the farming endeavors are Sarah’s Vineyard, which produces wine, Spring Hill Farm & Market featuring vegetables, flowers, eggs, and chickens, and Goatfeather’s Point Farm, a producer of livestock, including goats for ethnic markets and heritage turkeys. There is a u-pick berry farm, farms that feature herbs, lamb, different fruits, and more diversified farms that also feature vegetables. The farmhouses, which were already in the park, have been renovated for these young farmers and their families to use, (for which they pay rent), and there are still more farms available to be leased. All in all, I think this is a tremendously exciting approach to both urban parklands and farming, one that other places might consider.

In addition to seeing the park, I had another opportunity to experience some high quality, very good food, this time at a little restaurant in Hudson called Downtown 140. At the Inn at Brandywine Falls, where I stayed, the morning’s breakfast included omelets made from eggs from the owner’s chickens ray ban da sole outlet and homemade bread and jam. Beth gave me a parting gift of some exceptional good goat cheeses from Lake Erie Creamery, which I fiercely defended when going through security, as well as some crumbly, short heart-shaed lavender shortbread cookies from a Hudson bakery, perfect for Valentines Day.IMG_0522

What is it with Ohio? It seemed sort of stodgy and conservative when I was researching Local Flavors, but ten years later it looks like a down-to-earth food mecca.  I can’t wait to go back in August and see everything in the sunshine and shop at the farmers’ market in the park.