Category Archives: Going Green and Sustainable

Pedigreed Pasta

A simple pasta dish becomes extra special with Community Grains organic whole grain pastas.

A simple pasta dish becomes extra special with Community Grains organic whole grain pastas.


There are a lot of things to like about the new varieties of Community Grains pastas.

First, they’re all made from organic whole grain that’s grown and milled in Northern California.

Second, they boast transparency in the process — labeling each box with a code that you can plug into its Web site to find information about the farm that grew the particular wheat, the seed source, type of wheat, soil it was grown in, and not only when it was milled but by what type of mill.

Third, at a time when commodity wheat is grown for high yield and uniformity, the varieties of wheat that make up these pastas are grown for their distinctiveness and flavor. The pastas are made in small batches using Italian bronze dies, then slowly air-dried to enhance the wheat flavor.

And fourth, what flavor it is. While so many supermarket pastas just offer something to put sauce on, these artisan pastas can handle the simplest of toppings because they have enough flavor and character to stand out all on their own.

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Trumpeting the Virtues of Siren Fish Company

California King salmon delivered right to my door from Siren Fish Company that I cooked with mustard and brown sugar.

California King salmon delivered right to my door from Siren Fish Company that I cooked with mustard and brown sugar.


So many of us want to eat more fresh seafood.

But finding the freshest, local, sustainable seafood is can be a cumbersome task.

Siren Fish Company makes it easy to do so, though.

The community supported fishery works directly with California and Oregon fishermen so that their fresh catch arrives to you 24 to 48 hours out of the water each week.

Siren has pick-up locations throughout the Bay Area, often at retailers, where you just show up to take possession of your order on the day it is delivered. It also offers home delivery on pre-selected days of the week for an additional modest $3 charge.

You can choose to order a share for two or four (corresponding to how many people it will serve); as well as choose between ordering fillets, whole fish, or “variety” (which can include fillets or shellfish, whole little fish, crustaceans or even sea urchins).

Siren invited me to try a couple deliveries for free to test out their seafood by receiving a share for two (averaging about $23 each week).

Because there is no pick-up site in my area, I had to go with home delivery, which in my case, was scheduled for Wednesdays by 7 a.m.

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Picks For Your (Late) Summer Reading

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“32 Yolks” by Eric Ripert

With his ever calm, cool and collected demeanor, celebrated Chef Eric Ripert is the epitome of poise under pressure.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Ripert, chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin, the Michelin three-starred and New York Times four-starred gastronomic landmark in New York, has already written five cookbooks. But in his memoir, In “32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line” (Random House), of which I received a review copy, he bravely reveals his often painful path to becoming one of the greatest chefs in the world.

Born in Andorra, a small country in France just over the Spanish border, he grew up a sullen, angry child, following his parents’ divorce. While his stylish mother expressed her love for him through cooking, his step-father routinely expressed his disdain for him by berating him and slapping him around.

His first mentor was Chef Jacques, who let the unhappy young boy find solace in the kitchen by helping with tasks and by feeding him endless bowls of chocolate mousse. It wasn’t long before Ripert realized it was in the kitchen that he felt most at home.

At 17, he was working at La Tour d’Argent, where he quickly realized his culinary school degree made him no match for the skills needed at one of Paris’ most vaunted establishments. It grew even worse when he landed a job working under the great Joel Robuchon, where the entire kitchen crew quaked in fear of the legendary chef.

Thirty-two yolks refers to the number of yolks needed to make a perfect batch of hollandaise at La Tour d’Argent, a task Ripert failed epically on his first day there. But through the pages, you witness the fortitude and passion that made him what he is today.

The book ends before he gets to Le Bernardin. But for those interested in that part of his life, just pick up his other book, “On The Line” (Artisan), a masteful, detailed behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run a restaurant of that caliber.

“Waste Free Kitchen Handbook”

With food waste such a hot topic these days, Berkeley’s Dana Gunders, a staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, has written a handy-dandy book to teach easy ways to use up more of your provisions so less ends up in the trash.

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The Surprise of Roasted Citrus and Avocado Salad

A sublime salad that makes use of whole citrus (except for the seeds).

A sublime salad that makes use of whole citrus (except for the seeds).


Something miraculous happens when you roast thin slices of lemons and oranges at high heat.

They get all jammy, intensifying their sweetness and taming the overt bitterness of their rind.

I’ve added plenty of orange supremes — juicy segments devoid of their pith and membrane — to plenty of salads. But never had I added roasted slices to one before, where the flesh has largely disappeared in the cooking process, leaving behind mostly rind.

Even my husband, who normally blanches at anything remotely very bitter or sour, remarked how wonderfully refreshing this salad was.

A miracle, didn’t I tell you?

“Roasted Citrus and Avocado Salad” is from the new book, “Farmsteads of the California Coast” (Yellow Pear Press), of which I received a review copy. The book was written by Bay Area food writer Sarah Henry, with beautiful photography by Erin Scott of the YummySupper blog.


Whether you live in California or not, this book will make you appreciate the state’s farms even more. Twelve coastal farms are spotlighted with stories about the farmers, including what they grow, which farmers markets sell their wares, and whether there is a farmstand on site that you can visit. The farms span the gamut from Pie Ranch in Pescadero to the Apple Farm in Philo to Hog Island Oyster Company in Marshall.

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A Better, Safer Canned Tuna From A Sausalito Company

A canned tuna you can feel good about eating.

A canned tuna you can feel good about eating.


Our love affair with canned tuna has ebbed and flowed over the years.

Beset by worries about mercury levels and unintended bycatch deaths of dolphins, Americans have cut back on their consumption recently. Still, it’s a good bet that there’s still a tin or two in our cupboards on a fairly regular basis because it’s hard to beat the convenience and versatility of the product.

Sausalito’s Safe Catch Elite Tuna, though, makes it easier for us to enjoy canned tuna with fewer worries.

Every tuna (albacore and skipjack) used by the company is tested for mercury, ensuring a limit of 0.1 parts per million which it touts is 10 times stricter than the FDA action limit. The tuna are wild, sustainably-caught, and additive-free. The fish are packed in BPA-free cans without any added water, oil or preservatives. In fact, the ingredients label on the can is as short as can be — just tuna and salt. You don’t even need to drain the can when you open it because there’s very little liquid in it.

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