Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fall Fest: Bounty to Be Grateful For in the Form of Community

It's our final Fall Fest post and the topic is "Bounty to Be Grateful For." I could rattle off the names of all sorts of beautiful produce grown by our local farmers. Year-round, San Diego has such abundance it's almost embarrassing. Fortunately, the abundance is matched by a true community feeling that's been nurtured through our farmers markets, Slow Food Urban San Diego, our chefs, and a host of volunteers who take this abundance and turn it into nurturing, nutritious meals.

Last Sunday, for instance, my friend Julie Darling, who runs Just Call Us Volunteers -- along with her catering business and professional rental kitchen,  organized a group of people to make pecan pies for Mama's Kitchen. Mama's Kitchen provides meals to HIV/AIDS and the elderly who need assistance. Chefs Sara Polczynski of the Cohn Restaurant Group -- our fearless leader in this endeavor -- and Hanis Cavin of Kensington Grill with his girlfriend Sara Stroud showed up on a very rainy morning with a couple of other volunteers to make and box 100 pies.






And, that's just one morning. There's the crew of chefs and other volunteers who give their time on Mondays and Tuesdays at Olivewood Gardens in National City to teach low-income kids how to make fresh, nutritious dishes -- with a giggle or two included. Some of San Diego's best chefs, as well as artisan purveyors and food writers, are down there regularly to help (again, organized by Julie).



There are the farmers who donate their produce to fundraisers and to organizations like the San Diego Food Bank. There are the restaurants that  participated in my Food 4 Kids Backpack Program fundraiser this past summer. There's Specialty Produce, which seems to always say yes to anything asked of them. There are the chefs who have adopted local schools. The list goes on and on.

So, the bounty I'm grateful for is the community I'm so lucky to be a part of. Food is about more than the ingredients, the techniques, and the recipes. We sit down at a table and, hopefully, we talk, we listen, we embed ourselves into each other's lives. We eat dishes we or our loved ones have prepared and savor the flavors and textures -- and appreciate the labor that went in to nourishing our bodies. If we're feeding those we don't know or teaching those who don't know how to prepare meals for themselves, we're pushing hunger away and encouraging self-reliance and good health. The best food experiences are really about sharing and nurturing -- and that's what these very gifted people do. Collectively, they inspire me with their generosity and simply huge hearts. When I say thanks on Thursday, they'll be at the top of my list.

This Thanksgiving as with every Thanksgiving, we'll celebrate the bounty of the earth and the sweetness of life. Pie, one of those homey foods we associate with bounty and sweetness this time of year, often carries with it associations of family who may no longer be with us. This time of year, I remember my grandmother -- my Nana -- Tillie, who, among other things, taught me how to make apple and pumpkin pies. Pecan pie wasn't a part of her repertoire but it is part of Sara Polcyznski's. Here's her super easy and delicious recipe. This is only for one, but you can do the math to make 100. No sweat!

Pecan Pie

1 pie crust
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon milk
2 eggs
1 cup pecans

Par bake the pie crust in a 350-degree oven for about 13 minutes. Mix all the rest of the ingredients except the pecans together until smooth. Spread the pecans around the bottom of the par-baked pie crust, then pour in the mixture. Bake at 350 degrees until set and golden brown.

Both Summer Fest and Fall Fest have been wonderful experiences and I'm a little sad that the "Fest" is drawing to a close this year. Thank you, Deb Puchalla, for inviting me to participate, and Margaret Roach, thanks for being such a great host and organizer. I've loved the camaraderie of my fellow bloggers as well as the contributions in the form of comments from all of you. But, it's also time for me to get back to writing about markets along with this process of creating recipes. I hope you'll stick with me for that journey.

Now, let's see what my Fall Fest colleagues are grateful for:

Gilded Fork: Gratitude
Caroline at the Wright Recipes: Butternut Squash Biscuits
Paige at The Sister Project: A Thanksgiving Surprise
Alana from Eating From the Ground Up: Turkeys and Apples 
The Food Network: Thanksgiving Bounty We're Grateful For 
Todd and Diane at White on Rice Couple: The Hungry Travelers Video
Tara at Tea and Cookies: Stuffed Pumpkin


It's Your Last Chance to Join Fall Fest 2010!
This collaborative effort wouldn't have been any fun without you! It's our last time this year to collectively share the bounty. Have a recipe or tip that fits our final weekly theme? You can contribute in various ways, big or small.
  • Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. 
  • Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Fall Fest post on my blog any upcoming Wednesday, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.
The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and then we're all cooking with some great ideas. Or go big: Publish entire posts of your own if you wish, and grab the big Fall Fest 2010 pumpkin badge above (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites). We'll also be tweeting using #fallfood as our hashtag. Here's the schedule:
Sept. 1: Sweet and Spicy Peppers
Sept. 8: Garlic
Sept. 15: White (or colorful “white”…but not sweet) Potatoes
Sept. 22: Spinach
Sept. 29: Apples
Oct. 6: Fall Salads
Oct. 13: Pumpkin and Winter Squash
Oct. 20: Pears
Oct. 27: “Mad Stash” (as in what you’re freezing/canning/drying, etc.)
Nov. 3: Root veggies
Nov. 10: Brassicas: incl. Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage or other
Nov. 17: Sweet Potatoes (couldn't squeeze them in this week!)
Nov. 24: Bounty to Be Grateful For
Finally, I hope you and your family and friends have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


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