Kim Chi Culture

kim chi

Kim chi

I’ve been coming across articles everywhere lately that talk about the importance of healthy guts and healthy bodies and the value of fermented foods. Is of just me or is that the hot topic now in food world?

Wild Foods and Logging

Woods and water, food and sustenance for wild and urban

Woods and water, food and sustenance for wild and urban

Wild foods are getting more popular here in my neck of the woods (Vancouver USA, in south west Washington) and I read of growing trends and interest in wild foods around the world. The two food categories – plants and animals – are appearing more frequently in the market place and each are worthy of consideration for their value nutritionally and as another way to value forests besides board feet of harvest-able timber. When it comes to the growth of the wild meats market, a whole other post will follow.

Our Pacific Northwest forests and seasides and mountains provide a bounty of edible plants and fungi.

morels and fiddleheads

Wild foods

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, our area was home year round to the original population. While Europeans changed much of the landscape and the forestry business has cut down millions of trees, we still have an appreciable amount of relatively original natural forests and landscapes. From these natural areas, tens of millions of dollars of edible foods and non-timber forest products are being harvested each year. Nationwide, it’s an industry worth billions of dollars.

This commercial activity includes feeding a strong overseas demand for our local forest products, particularly mushrooms. It’s a very interesting topic and I invite you to explore more about the people who harvest the forest products, the potential for wrecking the native bounty, the potential for well managed non-timber commercial forest use (think foraging tours, hiking, harvesting seasonal foods and flowers).

I advocate a re-thinking of extracting commercial benefit from our forests by utilizing them without clear-cutting and heavy logging. I think it’s very likely we can provide greater wealth to a larger number of

Cear cut

Clear cut logging is damaging to soils, waters, and habitat.

people by shifting our approach and values. The long term benefits to future generations are worthy of discussion also. The impact on air, water, and soil management are well known and undervalued when it comes time to sell logging permits.

We can make a difference in our world and I hope you will join me in supporting sustainable, thoughtful use of our forests and natural areas and speak out against clear-cut logging when the opportunities arise.

Follows are some links to interesting articles. I’m sure you’ll find more.

The Future of the Global Food System
Ecosystems and Human Well Being: Current State and Trends
The Wild Hunt
Specialty Meats & Gourmet is a great example of sustainable husbandry of undomesticated foods.
Economic Value of Forest Ecosystems: A Review
Forests, Food and Livelihoods
Nontimber Forest Products Management on National Forests in the United States

It’s Safe To Shop At Your Neighbors Market

Here’s a good article to share with your friends that don’t already know about Neighbors Market. And if they’re in the Vancouver, WA area, let them know that Neighbors Market has already done the research. It’s safe to shop at your Neighbors Market.

I want that sink

sinkI really, really want a three compartment sink for my store.

I am trying to make it pencil-out for the sake of managing our money well. Getting the quotes from the plumbers has been nerve racking. It’s looking like it’ll cost upwards of $5000 to be able to wash dishes at the back part of my store. Seriously. Because I want to cut lettuce, I need a special produce sink. Because I want to slice cheese, I need a three compartment sink with a grease trap. Because the plumber before apparently didn’t hear my request to make the alteration with the three compartment sink in the future, the concrete floor needs to be dug up and a new pipe placed. And because the itty-bitty water heater that is in place is insufficient to fill three sinks, I need a new water heater. And the new water heater will require new wiring from the electrical panel. And permits for the plumbing and for the electric work.
If I only had the sinks, I could take the fresh, local produce from my store each day and use it to make healthy smoothies for quick lunches for my customers. I could quickly whip out several cheeses for sampling and comparison, paired maybe with a fresh baguette or one of the crackers we sell. I’d be able to build tasty vegetarian soups. We could have sandwiches made with local breads and fillings. Customers could grab quick lunch while we watch food documentaries in the backspace. We could have a full set of dishes for community meals ready each week. Having the sink would expand what we could do for food demonstrations and work shops. We could have a great time working together learning to prepare and share our local foods.
If I only had that sink.
I put up a donation jar, back when I thought it would take just $3000 to get the sink in. People have been generous and since they’ve put their money in the jar, I feel I must continue, since I wouldn’t know who to return the money to if I didn’t.
I am going to continue the fundraising effort, so when you can, please contribute. I’m not a non-profit business entity, so this won’t be tax deductible, but your gift will benefit the community nonetheless.

Pistachio Pesto from Copper Crown

You may know, I taste near ’bout everything we carry here. So, when I tell you we have a phenomenal new product, I am speaking from experience. At the tasting table today: Vegan Pesto and Brazilian Pesto from Copper Crown. We have five flavor combinations and they change according to what’s in season. The creator of these amazingly good pestos is a chef at Copper Crown Fine Foods & Catering.

pesto_coppercrownWhat’s wonderful about this product is that the chef has values in alignment with the values at Neighbors Market: supporting our local economy, clean food, all natural products. The pistachios are grown by Classic Foods out of California and the balance of the ingredients come from Oregon-Washington farmers. That pretty much satisfies the question about humane treatment of workers and animals by virtue of just knowing who the farmers are (Chef David sees most of them at weekly Farmers Markets) and definitely supports our local economy. Oh, and I don’t want to leave out what an extraordinary taste experience these pestos are.

Check out the farmers:
This video features Rick Steffin of Rick Steffin Farm.
Deep Roots Farm
The FaceBook page for Springwater Farm
Gee Creek Farm and Mill
Gathering Together Farm
You can find them all at the Portland Farmers Market and you’ll find these delicious pestos in our cooler and freezer. Don’t forget the Partners Crackers or fresh local breads to pair with the pesto.

George’s All Purpose Greens Recipe

George’s All Purpose Greens Recipe

Serves 4*

(I used tronchuda and enjoyed the sweetness of this dish)

To prepare: cut on the vertical two medium onions; mince 6 or more cloves of garlic;

chop  about ½-3/4 pound  of greens** after de-stemming. Chop stems separately. Option: matchstick at least one carrot. Option: cut fennel bulb on the vertical.


tronchuda_wineTo begin: Sauté onions in olive oil with as much garlic as you like. When translucent add one tablespoon of honey. Set Aside.  Option: Sauté carrots in grapeseed oil until crisp. Set aside on paper towel to drain. Sauté green’s stems and/or fennel bulb until soft. Set aside.


Heat ½ to 1 cup wine in a pan big enough to hold greens that has a lid. For wine we use George’s Homemade Wines, usually mead or ginger wine, but a sweeter white works—Gewurz, Riesling, etc. Add greens and cover until JUST wilted. Do not overcook!tronchuda_cooking


Stir in all other ingredients except carrots and put on a platter. Garnish top with crisped carrots. Option: Sprinkle with Island’s End Farm sweet onion chips. Option: Sprinkle with roasted nuts, your choice. We use hazelnuts or sliced almonds. Option: Dust with fresh grated parmesan.tronchuda_finish



*George never measures anything, so this is a guesstimate as to how many it will serve.


**Greens may be a mix of beet greens, spinach, chard, perpetual spinach, kale of any type, collards, turnip greens, bok choy, tatsoi, cabbage leaves or tronchuda in any combination to equal ½ to ¾ pound. To quote George: ‘whatever’s around!”

Thank you to the farmers at Island’s End Farm.

A small example of micro-economics

One World Merchants Logo

One World Merchanst

Just up the street, business neighbor One World Merchants, was vandalized. Broken plate-glass windows, smashed glass display cases and a foiled attempt of robbing silver jewelry. As a Main Street retail store in Vancouver, WA, I’m pretty sure there isn’t a lot of excess cash and the owners are directly affected.

The good news is that Vancouver, WA, at least on the west side, has a strong community identity. So, hours after being notified of the vandalism, local community members had established a date for a ‘cash-mob’ at the store, neighboring business owners had descended on the store to aid in the clean-up, the local police had started forensics while the owners drove to the store, and others had initiated other acts of thoughtfulness for the store-owners.

Pussy Willow buds

Pussy Willow buds

What’s this got to do with a lesson in micro-economics? I’m glad I asked. Small stores depend every day on every single purchase. Every cost figures in; not just our business bottom line, but our personal financials as well. For some of us, our employees, if we have any, are making more than we are. So, when you buy local, you are having a real and immediate impact on your neighbor’s wealth and you are affecting the overall wealth of your physical community as well.

So, every business (okay, so maybe I should say: every small business) in Vancouver, WA pays certain taxes such as the Business and Opportunity Tax (B&O), litter tax, Use Tax, and at the state or county level, the various license fees. There’s more for permits and whatnot, but you get the point. All these small amounts add up and pay for government and infrastructure for roads, utilities, and other services.

From there, working back down the money flow, some of the taxes we pay are based on gross sales – so the more we make the more we pay to our local government. Our local government, I will call your attention to, that is responsible for the management of the infrastructure that provides water and sewer services (give that some thought – it’s more than magic to get water to come from the tap when you want it). Electricity is paid partly by usage, as is gas, but the government oversight is all tax.

Getting to the micro-economic lesson: Yesterday Sam trimmed trees and collected the budding pussy-willow branches in small bundles (of newspaper – re-use in action) and brought them to my store. I’ll pay Sam for the pussy-willow bundles I sell. That affects my gross-sales, so I’ll pay some portion of that sales to taxes. I have helpers in the store that I pay – so some portion of the product Sam brought us will be paying that payroll. My employees live locally, so some portion of the pay from the the sale of Sam’s product will continue to live in the ripple effect of their spending and taxes. Some of the people who purchased pussy-willows today are going to give them as gifts to Liz & Dave at One World Merchants. That’s sweet. Sam is going to take some of the money from the sale of the pussy willows to shop at One World Merchant, which will enter our local economy again by feeding payrolls, taxes, and local store owners bottom line.

Meanwhile, some of that money I made from selling Sam’s pussy willows is going to go up the street with me and my employees when we shop at One World Merchant on the cash-mob day. The money they receive will be going to a local glass repair & replacement company, into the whole hopper of local and state taxes (B&O, payroll, etc.) and feed our community.

You can see, when anyone in this money-chain heads over to a big-box store, they take that money out of our little micro-climate. Away from community.

I recognize our modern lifestyles are possible because of global trade and some things are because of ‘big business’, but whenever you can, please, shop local first. Every single purchase you make from a local vendor matters to the store, to the local community, to your own comfort because of roads, schools, safety services, and so on.

You can help One World Merchants by joining the cash mobMarch 8, or any time, by shopping Main Street.

Deep Fried Dinner

One of the meals my husband likes to make is a deep-fried halibut. My brother is a pretty accomplished deep-fried cook too. Tonight we had mozzarella sticks for appetizers and halibut with fries for main dish. This is simple cooking and lots of flavor. Personally, I seldom deep fry; my husband and brother are a different story…

They make it seem simple so here’s how we did it:

My brother and husband started off with the breading and batter for the mozzarella. I got to work on the tartar sauce. While husband trimmed and sliced the halibut fillets into 1″ pieces, brother sliced the potatoes for the fries. I made more tartar sauce because husband declared I’d made only enough for one person on the first pass. We ended up eating standing up tonight – everyone grabbing a piece of whatever had just come from the fryer, so by the time dinner was done, so were we.

Here are the whats-and-how-tos:
Tartar Sauce – once you make your own, you will shun the stuff from the store:
dill pickle
onion (I prefer strong yellow)
garlic (powder or fresh)
lemon juice

Mince equal amounts of dill pickle and onion (okay, depending on your taste, maybe less onion). Start with about 1 pickle, and a couple slices of onion. And remember, mince. Add mayonnaise – roughly twice as much as what you have in pickle & onion. Mince about a half-clove of garlic (this is a taste measure). Stir that in, then add about 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice and a big pinch of paprika and a little pinch of sugar. Stir well, and taste. From here you should be able to tweak it to your liking.

The coating we used for the mozzarella we also used on the halibut – came out excellent but brother thought he might change it a little next time. Here’s what they did:
panko crumbs
bread crumbs (dried)
egg, beat

mozzarella sticks – approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide – my cheese was in small balls about 2 – 2 1/2 diameter.
halibut in about 1 inch cubes
potatoes sliced in about 1/4 in thick logs

Crumble the panko and bread crumbs so they are very fine and mixed thoroughly together. Put this in a shallow bowl. Then beat an egg in a different shallow bowl. Dip the item to be fried (start with the mozzarella then do the halibut) in the egg bath, then roll in the crumbs then back to the egg and again in the crumbs. Drop in hot oil (about 375 – 400 degrees) and cook until batter is golden brown. Your mozzarella sticks should be crispy outside and melted inside. Frying is not my forte, so I can only suppose that if the inside isn’t melted when the outside is browned, your oil is too hot. If the outside is not crispy, I would suppose your oil is not hot enough.
The halibut gets the same treatment as the cheese. I would give the oil time to get hot again before starting the halibut. The fish will cook quickly and is easily over-cooked, so do a couple test pieces before you commit 🙂
We didn’t do it tonight, but a great side would be cole-slaw.

We’re not that kind of store….

More than once I’ve had helpful and well meaning hints from other [more successful] store owners and managers that if I’d loosen up on my standards I’d be able to make more money in the store.

Dang! I do want the store to be more profitable, yes I do. I’d like to hire 5 more people to manage and operate the store (do the multiplier effect of five more locally employed people dedicated to supporting the local economy). However, if I did change my standards for the products on my shelves, then, well, you’d still have to research every product yourself to be confident you weren’t buying from Kraft, or Nestlè, or Cargill, or Amour or Coke, or Pepsi, or…any of those big mega-nationals. You’d have to read every label to be sure you weren’t picking up something with high fructose corn syrup, laboratory ingredients, or misery meat, or unnecessary fillers and artificial *stuff*.

We’re not that kind of store. We are the kind of store you can safely shop knowing that WE [I] researched every product online or in person to be assured that the company is independently owned and using all natural ingredients. If it’s meat or meat ingredients we have made every effort to be sure it’s from sources that maintain ethical treatment of animals.

Profits are important, and they don’t have to come at the expense of ethics. We [collectively] need to buy food that is sustainably and ethically produced. Deliberate selection of the foods on our table. Deliberate choices based in ethics, environment, sustainability. We’re that kind of store.

Success and cooperation

In human history, success goes to the best cooperators. That’s true in business too. Competition is good, cooperation is better. Stores like mine cooperate with local farms and food producers – in competition with the mega-nationals – to have a healthy local environment and thriving local economy.

That’s why you feel so good shopping here 🙂