Monday, December 3, 2012

Hearth bread ... mmmm

Bread is the indulgence I savor instead of sweets. Shown here is basic hearth bread, from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible. Finished at last and ready for eating.

Originally posted to Facebook

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fresh Choice closes its doors

Fresh Choice restaurant exterior
BiteClubEats: Where'd Fresh Choice go?
Amazing: Fresh Choice closes its locations in Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park (and everywhere else) and the only "coverage" consists of Yelp reviews and a post at BiteClubEats. Jonathan and I confronted a closed, darkened restaurant at the Santa Rosa mall and this morning I did a search on Google attempting to obtain answers.

Like the author says at BiteClubEats: "What’s strange is that except for a few emails from concerned diners, no one seemed to notice and there’s precious little chatter on the web. Can a chain really disappear without anyone noticing? Hmmmm…..." This, for a restaurant that we ate at for years and that Jonathan even worked at when he was new to the area.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

‘Delicious’: most over-used adjective

“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.” ― Harper Lee
With its Facebook status update on June 7, I Love Libraries shared this great quote. When re-posting it, I commented that this quote would be ideal on the in-box for community news submissions.

Submitted press releases frequently contain unnecessary and subjective adjectives. The most notorious and overused is “delicious” when promoting a meal. Whatever the occasion, formal dinner or barbecue, the meal is nearly always “delicious.”

As if the person preparing the meal would ever strive for any other kind, right?

Unfortunately for the submitters, their notion of “delicious” is a matter of personal opinion and the media are in the business of reporting just-the-facts.

On one memorable occasion, every single item on a club’s bill of fare was absolutely revolting to me, a person with food sensitivities. Billed as “delicious,” the menu consisted of cold, clammy, chunky textures that I absolutely would not eat.

But my reactions to food textures  are equally subjective -- so while “delicious” was cut from the text, it was NOT replaced by the adjectives that, if asked, I would have supplied to the meal: “revolting,” “vile,” “inedible.”

If a person has difficulty separating fact from subjective opinion, he or she would do well to heed Atticus’s advice and delete the adjectives. It’s an effective place to start.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bulk rice is nice

Filling bag from bulk rice bin at Ray's Food Place in Clearlake
Filling bag from bulk rice bin at Ray’s Food Place in Clearlake
The two best decisions my family ever made were for me to commute by bus to work and for Jonathan and me to cease purchasing single-serving bottled water and refill from the tap (or water crock) instead.

This year, Jonathan and I decided to make a third change in our daily consumer habits. Instead of purchasing pre-packaged rice with seasoning, we decided to buy rice in bulk.

organic rice in bulk bins
Organic rice in bulk bins
Rice is a mainstay of my diet, up there with macaroni and cheese. I thought preparation from bulk was a skill that I could master.

At grocery stores, we discovered bins with wonderful organic varieties: wild-blend rice and short- and long-grain brown.

Burning eyes notwithstanding, I watched Jonathan prepare an onion. Removing the ends and slicing off a wedge appeared similar in practice to slicing a loaf of bread. Next step: dice and put into a pan to fry.

I was similarly able to grasp pulping a clove of garlic to free it from the skin and then dicing it, adding it to the nearly-finished garlic for later addition to the rice.

Boiling the rice in water with seasoning added to taste, utilized a school of cooking I have depended upon for years.

End result: I had a savory rice dish every bit as good as the pre-packaged rice we had previously bought in stores, but minus the additional packaging.

We do fill plastic bags from the bins, but I think a way around that may be having the deli measure the tare-weight of a container that we bring from home.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lake County Community Co-op to offer owner shares

Lake County Community Co-op booth at 2009 Earth Day celebration
Lake County Community Co-op booth at 2009 Earth Day celebration in Middletown

The Lake County Community Co-op will begin offering owner shares, “a distinctive feature of cooperative enterprises,” according to publicist JoAnn Saccato.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ashland co-op should emphasize auto alternatives

As related by Vickie Aldous on June 4 on the Medford Mail Tribune and Ashland Daily Tidings websites, the Ashland Food Co-op proposes that Ashland change a law limiting drive-through windows in its historic downtown:
“The co-op, which is in the historic downtown area, doesn’t want a drive-thru window for itself.
“But the busy grocery store — which often has a jam-packed parking lot — is interested in purchasing the property next door that houses Umpqua Bank. The co-op could then expand its parking area, according to city planning documents.
“A deal between the co-op and bank is unlikely unless Umpqua can get city approval for a drive-thru window within the historic downtown area.
“The co-op has proposed a change in the law to allow relocating the four grandfathered drive-thru windows in the historic downtown. To minimize visual impacts, the drive-thru facility would have to be located mainly underground or be screened from view from public streets.”
 As a member/owner of the Ashland Food Co-op, I would like to see the co-op put as much effort into promoting a ride share among its members and Rogue Valley Transportation District use as it does toward trying to secure the use of more parking spots.

Allowing Umpqua Bank to transfer the location of its drive-through window seems reasonable and fair, but is only a short-term fix.

As the co-op continues to grow in operation, it will continue to perpetuate an ever-increasing need for more parking space.

Just as it responded to the values of its membership when it ceased single-serving bottled water sales, I believe that the Ashland Food Co-op should lead the way toward reduced dependence upon cars.

Update: a version of this entry was posted June 7 as a letter to the editor by the Ashland Daily Tidings.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Invest co-op funding to assist community cats

In its May/June 2012 newsletter, the Ashland Food Co-op asks that members consider donating their patronage dividends to its Community Fund:
“Sponsored by the Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation, Coop Community Funds around the country serve as a way for co-op owners to make donations to an endowment that helps fund local non-profit organizations.”
As a member/owner of the Ashland Food Co-op, this is the use to which I want my investment put: to address cat welfare in Jackson County, Ore. According to the Animal Control Advisory Committee’s Cat Issue Task Force:

“Cat overpopulation and the lack of control of cats in Jackson County have resulted in a five-year average of 3,500 cats entering the Jackson County Shelter alone. Thousands of others were taken in by other local shelters, were casualties of the environment, or were left to roam free. The Shelter’s available resources to handle this number of cats, in addition to humane concerns for holding wild and unmanageable cats, required short holding periods. Recent public awareness of current practice has resulted in requests for changes.
“A Taskforce was formed by the Animal Control Advisory Committee in early January to develop recommendations for short-term and long-term solutions that address the problems of too many stray, feral, and abandoned cats in Jackson County, the inability of the existing animal shelters in Jackson County to handle all of those cats, and spay/neuter solutions.”

The task force includes representation by an agency that provides trap, neuter and return of feral cats: Spay Neuter Your Pet (SNYP), The task force also includes representation by animal adoption agencies.

Contributing toward the cost of spaying and neutering feral cats would, in my opinion, qualify under the categories of Environmental or Sustainability Education and Environmental Stewardship for the Ashland Food Co-Op Community Grants.

According to SNYP:

“A pair of breeding cats, which can have two or more litters per year, can exponentially produce 420,000 offspring over a seven-year period, and the overpopulation problem carries a hefty price tag. On average, it costs $100 for animal control to catch, house, feed and eventually euthanize one animal. With the large population of cats, this number quickly escalates.
“Trap-neuter-release programs are a promising alternative to solving the overpopulation problem.
“Studies have proven that trap-neuter-release is the single most successful method of stabilizing and maintaining healthy feral cat colonies with the least possible cost to local governments and residents, while providing the best life for the animals themselves.”

Read about cat overpopulation in Jackson County, Ore. at Task force recommendations dated May 14, 2012, can be read at