Cooking, Modern Grange

Sharply Focused: Knife Skills

Culinary stores fairly glitter with their variety of cutting objects, some German, others Japanese, these Italian, those French — the spectrum running from hand-forged to hand-stamped to stainless steel to good for fish to great for bread to perfect for deboning to exhaustive etcetera.

The good news is that you really only need three kitchen knives. The confusing news is how to care for them. (more…)

Farming, Foodshed, Healdsburg, Modern Grange, Nonprofits

What is Found: Gleaning

Gleaning, the act of picking food after the official harvest, is an activity ancient enough to bear mention in the Old Testament. In France, it’s been on the law books since the 1500s as a legally mandated right of the poor to enter private property and take the food left behind. Of course, to glean also means to obtain, to derive, and to extract. An upcoming Grange event draws the many definitions of gleaning together in one night of celebrating this act as a means of both nourishment and art.


Modern Grange

‘West Coast Live’ at SHED!

You could even hear it from the lot across the street. There was an irresistible thump-thump-thump accompanying the joyous noise of people cheering and clapping. Sedge Thomson’s “West Coast Live” had set up its radio program in our upstairs Grange, the David Luning Band was killing it, and the audience was on fire. Absolutely: It was 10am on a Saturday morning.

Taping just days after six-plus inches of rain had deluged downtown Healdsburg, the technicians from “West Coast Live” had to scramble. The dedicated lines normally used to transmit this traveling show weren’t available, and the whole thing had to come over the radio via Skype, a clever hack set up just minutes before showtime. It worked beautifully.

That magic (sans Skype, we hope) is slated to happen again this Saturday, as Sedge, pianist Mike Greensill, and the dedicated staff from KRCB 91.1-FM return to our Grange for another live taping on Saturday, Dec. 20, at 10am sharp. If you haven’t treated yourself to watching the magic of radio being made — far cleaner than sausage, we hasten to assure — consider joining us this Saturday. If not, tune in to your own local NPR affiliate to listen live.

We’re particularly excited about this week’s line-up of guests. One of the great things about hosting “West Coast Live” is that its producers ask the hosts to help suggest guests. SHED co-founder Cindy Daniel tendered a list of some 30 of Sonoma County’s most celebrated agriculturalists, musicians, thinkers, artists, and craftspeople, and WCL staff made the selections.

Come in or tune in on Saturday, Dec. 20, for these terrific slate of guests. Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 at the door.

Dale Dougherty. The founder and executive chairman of Maker Media, Dale, a Sebastopol resident, is also the man who coined the term “Web 2.0” and co-founded O’Reilly Media, the influential publishing house. Since its inception in 2004, Maker Media has driven a DIY and DIT (Do It Together) movement that ranges from the pages of Make: Magazine (launched 2005), and Maker Faires held annually in the SF Bay Area and in New York (with hundreds of mini Maker Faires held the world over). Even President Obama hosted one at the White House this summer.

Charlie Musselwhite. Perennially award-winning and multiple Grammy-nominated harmonica player and bluesman who has performed with everyone from John Lee Hooker to Tom Waits to Eddie Vedder, Charlie stays close to Sonoma County, his home-away-from-Memphis. His newest release is Juke Joint Chapel.

Will Durst. Political satirist extraordinaire, Durst is a Bay Area resident who promises a taste of his annual Big Fat Year End Kiss Off Comedy Show, including the Top 10 Comedic News Stories of 2014. We’re pretty sure that Dick Cheney will loom large in Durst’s pantheon of shame.

The Easy Leaves. This home-grown acoustic Americana duo of Kevin Carducci and Sage Fifield has recently been embraced — think: massive bear hug — by the traditional Country/Western community, a boost that has recently found them opening for such big names as Dwight Yoakum and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Their newest release is American Times.

Artisan Producers, Chefs, Cooking, Modern Grange

Cooks with Books: Chef-Authors at SHED

Autumn is when the leaves certainly rustle in the book business! This year's crop of cookbooks by esteemed chefs may be the best harvest we've yet seen. We're fortunate to have a wonderful slate of new books by esteemed author-chefs filling our calendar for the coming months.

There are, of course, celebrity chefs. And then there are celebrity chefs — those whose renown has been earned at the stove, not on TV; whose cooking has actually changed American palates and habits; who have made a true and lasting impact on their communities.

So while the chefs we're looking forward to hosting this season may never have had to make a meal on a sound stage wearing a cojoined apron that helplessly ties them to another cook (as Top Chef memorably did to its contestants in 2010) or wrangle a Spam challenge (2013) — they have earned a celebrated spot in our food culture.

On Thursday, Oct. 16, join us for an aperitif and nibbles with Jean-Pierre and Denise Moullé, whose new title is French Roots: Two Cooks, Two Countries, and the Beautiful Food along the Way (Ten Speed Press; $35). Jean-Pierre cooked at Chez Panisse from 1975 until his retirement in 2012. Along the way, he and Denise — both French, they met on a Berkeley street corner and were soon married — divided their lives between Northern California (they still keep a house here in Healdsburg) and their native Bourdeaux. 

French Roots tells their story interwoven with recipes both simple and complex. Jean-Pierre can happily spend hours in the kitchen; Denise's style is more straightforward. Both rely on the simplicity of excellent ingredients.

They join us for a very traditional French moment, the aperitif, which Denise describes as that moment when we allow "the day to fall away" and prepare for the evening to come. We'll serve Sonoma Aperitif, locally made from area fruit, as well as traditional foods (gougeres, rilletes, salmon tartare, and more) made from the recipes collected in the French Roots cookbook, and raise a toast with Jean-Pierre's own Vin d'Orange Champagne. It promises to be a relaxed, sophisticated evening with plenty of good stories and fun!

Tickets are just $20 and will go fast. 5:30pm.

On Saturday, Oct. 25, we'll share news of what Petalumans have known about for years: Kathleen Weber's insanely delicious and thoroughly addictive breads and other baked goods. Her Della Fattoria bakery on the Boulevard simply boasts the best grilled cheese sandwich in the North Bay and her secrets are no longer closely kept. With her new title, Della Fattoria Bread: 63 Foolproof Recipes for Yeasted, Enriched & Naturally Leavened Breads (Artisan; $29.95), Kathleen takes bakers step-by-step from the most basic to more advanced breads, offering insight into her own experiences as well as hard-won advice gleaned from decades of coaxing yeast and flour and water to make miracles. Kathleen appears from Oct. 25 from 11:30am to 1:30pm to sign copies of her book and answer your questions. Free!

On Saturday, Nov. 1, we ramp it up considerably with an unusual night honoring James Beard Who's-Who inductee Charles Phan. His Slanted Door restuarant was also just awarded a James Beard Outstanding Restaurant laurel as well. This man is the real deal.

Charles travels north to SHED in support of his first cookbook, The Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food (Ten Speed Press; $40) and comes to us for something of a gala night.

We begin outside with specialty cocktails and appetizers known to Slanted Door fans, move upstairs to the Grange for a communal meal with more Slanted Door food — this time paired with wines — and then return downstairs to the coffee bar for a dessert buffet, after-dinner drinks, and hot beverages for those who'd like them. While we dine, Charles will be in conversation with our own Lora Zarubin about his career and cooking. This promises to be an intimate, fun, delicious evening with one of the country's most talented chefs. We're pretty wowed about it ourselves!

Tickets are $175, all-inclusive. We know it's pricey; we know it's worth it. We hope you'll join us. 6pm.

On Monday, Nov. 10, help us to welcome Gabrielle Hamilton, owner of New York City's acclaimed Prune restaurant and author of its new eponymous cookbook, for a sit-down luncheon and far-ranging conversation. 

One of only two chefs to have won James Beard Awards for both cooking and writing, Gabrielle's previous book was the much beloved Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef. The recipient of an MFA in creative writing from University of Michigan, Gabrielle is a home cook turned profession whose newest cookbook, Prune (Random House; $45) is a clever take on the back-of-the-house binders actually used in restaurant kitchens. 

As she does for her own chefs, Gabrielle lays out exact specifications for the dishes in Prune, including notice of when you've taken a prep too far, things to watch for, and other homilies that help to make the food you like in restaurants a reality at home.

We're hosting Gabrielle to a luncheon featuring her recipes and including a wine pairing. Ticket-holders also get a copy of the book for with admission. $95 per person; $145 for a couple, all-inclusive. Join us on Nov. 10 at 12:30pm!


Artisan Producers, Modern Grange

Biodynamic Education Series at SHED

The methods that came from the factory floor to the farm in the late 1800s coupled with technology developed to serve WWI had made a startling dent in the fields by 1924. That was the year that Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf school system, addressed a group of farmers in a town now found in Poland about methods and practices to redress what then was organic farming and was then beginning to fail.

Today, we call it Biodynamic farming and it is in huge increase around the globe. Grape growers have particularly embraced it as a way to combat the monoculture that large grape production can cause. Europeans have embraced it because Biodynamic farming practices serve the soil and every inhabitant upon that soil, from the insects to the bees to the plants to the people. And slowly, Americans are beginning to understand that foods and wines produced in the Biodynamic method are healthier not only for people, but for the very land itself.

Here in the U.S., Biodynamic farming and food production is overseen by Demeter USA, the national certification organization that precedes the USDA Organic Certified seal by some 17 years. We are proud to support Biodynamic education and to help spread the word about this rapidly increasing practice.

To that end, we host a series of educational workshops on Biodynamic farming and products the first Sunday of each month, Oct. 5, 2014, through March 1, 2015. Presentations are at 10am unless otherwise noted.

We hope that you'll join us for some or all of this series. Here's a sneak peek at what you can expect:

Oct. 5: Elizabeth Candelario, co-director, Demeter USA. Wonder what all the Biodynamic buzz is about? Our series kicks off with a discussion about the origins of organic and Biodynamic agriculture and an exploration of the trends in Biodynamic food and fiber.

Nov. 2: Cynthia Sandberg of Love Apple Farm. The practice of Biodynamic farming means adhering to organic, holistic, and cosmic tenets. Learn the differences between organic and Biodynamic growing and how to integrate its principles into your garden from Cynthia, who has partnered with renowned chef David Kinch and his Manresa restaurant in order to remain sustainable.

Dec. 7: Colum Riley of Malibu Compost. Explore how healthy soil functions and how composting and Biodynamic preparations can bring unhealthy soil back to life. Learn methods, materials, and uses for your own home garden or farm. 

Jan. 4: Michael Thiele of Gaia Bees. Biodynamic apiculture treats the honeybee nest as "One Bee-ing" in its formation and life gestures. This class will explore current issues to the health of bees, and asks what they and we need to survive together. Michael is truly a miracle man who understands what our bees need to survive. And if they don't survive — neither do we.

Feb. 1: Harald Hoven of the Rudolf Steiner College. Learn how to use the astronomical calendar to guide your decision making about planting, cultivating, and harvesting your crops. 

March 5: The wine industry was an early American adopter of Biodynamic farming. As a grand finale to our class series, and with a glass of wine in hand, we will hear from grape growers and winemakers who are pushing the envelope on ecological farming and product quality. Note: This is a 5pm event.