Category Archives: books

Thanks Marin!

Who would have guessed that my foul-mouthed, grungy memoir, Farm City, first published way back in 2009, would be chosen as One Book, One Marin for 2014? Not me. Not my mama. But somehow it has happened.

novellapluslibrarians

Here’s me and a bunch of librarians and a couple of booksellers at the launch event for OBOM, at Book Passage in Corte Madera last week. I didn’t know what a big deal it was until I got to the store, which was packed, and saw this massive wall of Farm City at the front of the store.

walloffarmcity
That’s Joe, a high school teacher who is starting an urban farm at Redwood High, just down the street from Book Passage. They already have a garden, but the school is going full-out with chickens and other projects. I can’t wait to see that grow.

The premise of One Book, One Marin is to have everyone in your community read a book together; but from that book comes an opportunity to branch out and learn more. In the case of Marin and Farm City (which I sometimes misspell Fart Cimy, the librarians and everyone else involved put together a great list of events and workshops: urban beekeeping, food and social justice, raising goats and rabbits with K. Ruby from the Institute of Urban Homesteading. Check out these free events–it’s an amazing list. I’m so proud to be a part of this.

My next Marin event will be at the Pt. Reyes Library, March 8 at 3pm…hope to see you there!

Pomegranate explosions

They started to explode on the shrub/tree I planted years ago. My first good crop of Wonderful Pomegranates. I had thought: they’ll never ripen here.
pomagranates
I thought they needed heat. Dry heat. Which we don’t have much of here in Oakland. But ripen they did.

We ate them raw. Frannie is allowed to eat them outside only because they are so messy and juicy. They are one of her favorite snacks, partially because of the work they involve, digging the seeds out, pulling off the pith and membranes; partially because (I think) of that incredible crunch, the explosion of fresh juice in the mouth.
franpom

Until now, there’s nothing left.
peels

Besides snacking on them, I sometimes threw them into salads, like massaged kale salad, to add a bright sweetness. Some people recommend cooking with poms, like Ken Albala. I had never heard of Ken before, but I found myself in Idaho of all places, at the Bookpeople in Moscow, Idaho, and the owner highly highly recommended his book, The Lost Art of Real Cooking, and its companion, The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home. The books are instruction manuals for how to make all sorts of crazy stuff like a koji rice mold and rag rugs; and stuff that you wished you made but haven’t yet like corn tortillas (nixtamalizing your own corn, of course), olla podrida (look it up!), and marmalade.

I’ve never met Ken or his co-author, Rosanna Nafziger, but they are totally my people! Ken lives in Stockton where he teaches food history at the University of the Pacific. I think he must have some pomegranates growing in his garden because in the Hearth and Home book, there’s a recipe for pomegranate molasses that sounds out of this world. Basically you just cook the pomegranate seeds with some sugar and vanilla for a million hours on low. The result is that gummy blood-like sludge that tastes like heaven.

Sadly, Frannie and I ate all the poms fresh. Next year I’m hoping the pomegranate tree will have biggered itself and I’ll have enough to try the recipe…But if you find yourself with an overabundance, give it a shot. Any other good pom recipes out there?

Talking

Hey, I’ll be at Laney Community College giving a talk on Monday, April 22. Noon-1:30 in the Forum (the lecture hall between the library and a building named “B”. Hope to see you there.

Also, thanks to everyone who has been coming to work day. It’s become a fun regular thing. However, next week, Thursday, April 25, work day is canceled. My sister is in town and we are going on a pilgrimage. More on that later.

East BayDar

Hi y’all! See you today in the garden, right? 3-5pm at 28th street and MLK in oakland. We will be moving soil, potting up tomatoes, and spreading mulch. I’ll have some nettle tea to drink.

Also, heads up that I’ll be performing at Michelle Tea’s East Bay version of her popular SF Radar Reading series. It’s on March 2, 8pm at La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley. If you’ve never been to a Michelle Tea event, know that they are very fun, the whole audience ends up being part of the show, and in general, everyone leaves with a smile on their face. I have no idea what I’ll read–maybe an excerpt from my new book? http://www.facebook.com/events/139190622913853/?ref=22

Announcing…The Essential Urban Farmer

Three years ago, bad-ass urban farmer Willow Rosenthal and I were complaining about email. It takes up so much of our time! Questions sent asking about how we plant, harvest, muck, milk, etc were delaying us from planting, harvesting, mucking, and milking. What to do? Write a book of course.

Here she blows, at over 500 pages, it took us the full three years to write the beast.

We are thrilled with the results, and we hope you will be too.

To promote the Essential Urban Farmers we will be at the following places, more to come, and details to be announced:

-February 29, 18 Reasons, San Francisco. Talk at the Women’s Building, exploring the possibilities of urban farming, followed by a dinner discussion at 18 Reasons, to buy tickets for the dinner, click here. The talk will be general admission.
-March 10, Biofuel Oasis, Berkeley
-March 15 or 29, Ecology Center, Berkeley
-April 21, Market Hall Oakland
-June 2, Sunset Garden Expo

See you there, I’ll be there with babe in arms!

Good read: An Everlasting Meal

I found myself tasting a pot of almost boiling water, then I waited a few moments and tasted the fully boiling water, as advised by chef and writer Tamar Adler ( who got the idea from Julia Child). The water did taste different. Try it.

Though I have always rolled my eyes at the term, I’m trying to be more mindful. Yep, I’m getting old and trying to get wise. But not by meditating on a mountain–I’m hoping to learn mindfulness while cooking, standing in front of the stove. I count myself lucky that I’m guided by the words of Tamar Adler, who has written a great book called An Everlasting Meal. Her message is how to make something last, how to carry meals over to the next meal, how to not waste when cooking. I love her writing style–careful, full, beautiful–which is so unlike my messy way. Take this passage about shopping: “And always (buy) a few bunches of dark, leafy greens. This will seem very pious. Once greens are cooked as they should be, though: hot and lustily, with garlic, in a good amount of olive oil, they lose their moral urgency, and become one of the most likable ingredients in your kitchen.”

Adler is a professional cook with so much to teach the home chef, reading the book is like having a cooking teacher whispering suggestions in your ear. Things like how to roast vegetables, poetic methods for thinking about how to cook beans (“As they cook, beans should look like they’re bathing”), and recipes for using olives, anchovies, and capers–her favorite ingredients, and it turns out mine too. She is a fellow scrounger, who uses every scrap of animal or vegetable to make stock. There’s even an appendix that details how to salvage botched ingredients. Mindfulness, I’m discovering through this terrific book, can be delicious.

I’m looking forward to using some of her recipes tomorrow when I cook for Thanksgiving. To everyone: enjoy the day, the food, the company, the bounty–happy Thanksgiving!