Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grow plants, cook plants

When I logged on to blogger last week, I noticed the upgrade included analytics showing this blog’s postings with the highest number of views . . . (drum roll) my GOMBS pasta had almost 3,500 views! This posting will be a real treat: feast for the eyes and mouth!

Planting The Free Farm seedlings at Golden Gate Park Senior Center
At a health fair two weeks ago, I bumped into Lisa, who is Program Coordinator at City College of SF’s Nutrition Assistant Program. She mentioned that one of her students, French pastry chef Vivian, was scheduled to deliver a ”Harvest” presentation at Golden Gate Park Senior Center (GGPSC) using seedlings that she picked up from Tree at The Free Farm. As a perpetual foodie student, I was Lisa’s student in both her noncredit and credit nutrition classes, so she wasn’t surprised when I asked if I could join her class that day. (Yes, Lisa’s really a fabulous teacher so check out her class offerings at Many of her GGPSC students have been repeating the free, noncredit class with Lisa since she started teaching there!)
Since Pia had so much to share about her trip to China, where I have such fond memories from my study abroad and subsequent visits, I invited Pia to join me at GGPSC class which includes tai chi/qi gong exercise squeezed between nutrition talk and cooking demo with tasting, plus lots of socializing :-). Here seated Pia listens attentively to student presenters Vivian and Yolanda. The Free Farm’s seedlings sit on the table next to a wild lettuce grown by GGPSC student Donna in the Richmond District.
Min spaces seedlings in GGPSC community garden plot. For foggy climate at GGPSC, Tree suggested growing Portuguese cabbage (aka beira; see and
Getting hands dirty!
Kathy, instructor Lisa and Pia look at bolted kale plant.
Vivian made Rice Pilaf (whole grain, rice, dried cherry) with Spring Greens (asparagus, shallots, ground ginger, lemon rinds, chopped fresh herbs, salt and pepper), while Yolanda prepared Avocado Salad based on Yum-o!

Cooking Hecka Local plants: TCM style
If you’ve been following this blog, you might recall my series of seasonal nutrition postings last year (summary links included at based on lectures by Briahn, another fabulous teacher at CCSF who teaches Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) ( Since I completed Briahn’s Everyday Healing Foods and Herbs class in the fall, I asked if I could return to assist her for the spring cooking workshop and use our Hecka Local produce harvested from The Free Farm as this would be an outreach + blog opportunity. Briahn agreed and came to visit The Free Farm.
Briahn and Tree try to answer what in the world is this plant?
Our Hecka Local greens harvest
TCM (as well as Ayurvedic) practitioners advise drinking warm or room temperature liquids 15-20 minutes before a meal, instead of during a meal (which dilutes gastric acids to digest foods). Cold drinks are contracting so they impede digestion, which requires heat to break down foods. Here we enjoy tea made with hawthorn (warm; disperse food accumulations, move blood) + sprouted rice (neutral, relieve mental depression) + sprouted barley (cool; drain damp, strengthen spleen, detox heat).
Chef Mary prepared raw Leafy Green Pickled Salad, which was combined with our Hecka Local greens. Chinese (as well as Indians) generally don’t eat raw vegetables unless pickled for easier digestibility. They prefer fresh (not frozen/canned), cooked vegetables for both digestibility and food safety concerns.
Here Mary rubs Celtic sea salt on greens. Use whole sea salt (appears slightly gray) instead of common highly refined white table salt that has been stripped of nearly all of its 60 trace minerals. Salt cravings usually decrease sharply once whole, unrefined salt is used for a few weeks as the body gets the nutrients it needs.

Leafy Green Pickled Salad made with thinly sliced greens (kale, collards, cabbage), carrots, Chinese celery, hijiki/arame, shiitake mushroom (stir-fry in oil, rice wine, sugar), almonds. Salad dressing: lemon juice, orange juice, rice vinegar, sugar, white pepper, soy sauce, sesame seed & olive oils, oregano, rosemary, sage.
Mary says don’t use recipes, but use fresh ingredients. Evaluate each ingredient for color, aroma and taste/flavor. CCSF registered dietitians Frances and May ( help Mary strip leaves from goji plants grown in Briahn’s Sonoma garden.
Millet congee with shanyao (Chinese yam), carrots and dates.  Good comfort food.
Left side:  Blanched asparagus, garlic leeks, goji leaves and Shanghai bok choy, drizzled with mushroom sauce and sesame oil.  Right side:  Leafy Green Pickled Salad (purple color from red cabbage).  Delicious!
Hecka Local luscious strawberries. Chinese generally eat plain fruit after meals; on special occasions, Chinese might serve fruit with almond jelly.
Honey tasting: Beekeeper Briahn’s Sonoma + The Free Farm’s Hecka Local SF

Public Service Announcement
Sat., May 12, 2012, 9 am-5 pm, Keep the Community in Community College
City College of San Francisco - Mission Campus, 1125 Valencia St, SF 94110 City College of San Francisco invites students, educators and workers from across California's 112 community colleges to a statewide conference/coalition-building event. Together, we will address the Student Success Act's dismantling of CCCs, the destructive waves of budget cuts and tuition increases, and what we can do - as the world's largest higher education body - to fight back. The conference will include: - An overview of the Student Success Act and its connection to privatization. - Discussion on the formation of a student union. - Action planning to determine how we can work together to keep the community in community colleges! To anyone interested in preserving the accessibility of California Community Colleges, please join us! Called for by the AS Council of CCSF Ocean Campus and Occupy CCSF. CCSF Mission Campus is accessible by 24th St Mission BART, MUNI 12, 14, 14L, 48, 49 and 67 lines

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