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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
Celebrating the Gardeners at Esalen Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   
Thursday, 16 August 2012 13:06

Amigo, Shirley and WendyThe article below was first posted on this site on May 5, 2010, after I attended an organic gardening workshop led by three people I call the rock stars of the gardening world: Amigo Bob Cantisano, Shirley Ward and Wendy Johnson (pictured, from left to right). I recently attended another workshop they led up at Esalen Institute, this one called "High Summer in the Full Moon Garden: Growing Food and Ourselves on the Esalen Land." As with the last one two years ago, it was surprising to me -- given the level of knowledge being imparted (one participant said she felt she'd wandered into a Harvard-level education) -- that there were just seven of us taking the workshop. On the other hand, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to spend such quality time with three such amazing people and feel that not only my gardening but my life is fuller as a result. Should they offer the workshop again (and I sincerely hope they do), I highly recommend it. In the meantime, here are some great starter tips for gardeners that I compiled after the last class.

A funny thought occurred to me midway through the organic gardening workshop I took last week up at Esalen: In recent years, we’ve turned a lot of chefs into celebrities or even, really, rock stars. And yet the gardeners and farmers – who are so important in providing the actual materials for that food – remain anonymous. I think that's too bad because, let's face it, I don’t care how good a chef you are, you can’t make a good caprese without a great tomato.

So, here’s to the rock-star gardeners, three of whom  -- Amigo Bob Cantisano, Shirley Ward and Wendy Johnson – led our workshop. All three are passionate and knowledgeable but also offer their own unique perspective when it comes to gardening, with Amigo providing the science, Wendy the art and Shirley the intuitive. The information they provided was amazing (if, at times, a little overwhelming) and could (and has) filled books. After awhile, though, some patterns emerged and I was able to coalesce at least some of the information into four categories that provide a good place for newbie gardeners to start (click "read more"):

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Sicilian-style Stuffed Zucchini Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   
Sunday, 22 July 2012 07:38

zzucchiniAs promised, for those of you who (like me) have an abundance of zucchini currently growing in your garden, here is a recipe for Sicilian-style stuffed zucchini, courtesy of my friend Tasha Zemke, who happens to live on an island off of Sicily. As you will see, the recipe is very Italian -- no amounts to the ingredients and a lot of smooshing and using your hands -- but that's what makes it fun, right? If it helps, throw in the occasional "abbondanza" while you work. Also, in her recipe, sardines or anchovies are suggested, but I'm guessing salted meats would also be good. Enjoy!

Cut a zucchini in half and hollow it out. Chop up the insides roughly and set them aside. Boil a pot full of salted water and stick in the halves and let them cook until you can prick them with a fork and they seem tender. Be careful, though, because if you overcook them, they'll fall apart and you want them to keep their shape.

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Farm to Table at Travaasa Austin Print E-mail
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Written by Linda Hayes   
Monday, 09 July 2012 10:24

jeans kitchen travaasaFloating in a private Watsu therapy pool. Testing your balance (and bravery) on a 35-foot-high challenge course. Connecting with your inner cowgirl during a nurturing equine experience, or on a bucking mechanical bull. Hitting your target in an archery class. There are endless ways to work up an appetite at Travaasa Austin, a serene, eco-friendly retreat and spa in the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve about a half-hour from downtown Austin.

Lucky thing there's Executive Chef Benjamin Baker (a.k.a. Chef Ben) to keep hunger at bay. In charge of Jean's Kitchen (above), Travaasa's casual restaurant and bar, he turns out appealing and satisfying dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner -- and there's always something available to snack on in-between meals as well.

In tune with the healthy dose of activities on tap (or dose of healthy activities, as it may), Chef Ben's fare is packed with fresh, organic and locally sourced ingredients. Key to this is his relationship with an Austin distributor, Farm To Table, that partners with farmers within a 200-mile radius to supply locally grown farm products to area restaurants, independent groceries and other folks.

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Agua de Frescos from Quito's Casa Gangotena Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   
Friday, 08 June 2012 09:00

Agua de Fresca ingredientsCombine amaranth flowers, verbena, esencia de rosas, mint, sweet basil, spearmint, pena pena, lemongrass, fragrant mauve, lemon balm and "a little magic" and what do you have? The answer is the Agua de Frescos, the refreshing drink used to welcome guests to the Casa Gangotena, a boutique hotel fashioned from a restored mansion overlooking the Plaza San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador.

For those of us who aren't able to get to Quito (at least anytime soon) but who might be growing -- or have access to -- the ingredients, Andres E. Davila, the executive chef of Casa Gangotena, was kind enough to share the recipe. Even better, Chef Davila says it's pretty easy to make: You just have to boil the water, then turn it off and put all the herbs in for about 10 minutes. Then take the herbs out. Once the Agua de Frescos is cold, add a little sugar and fresh lemon juice.

"That's it. No big secrets, just pure and refreshing Casa Gangotena-style Agua de Frescos," said Chef Davila. Enjoy!

 
Celebrating the Farm-to-Plate Movement at Cleveland's Greenhouse Tavern Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   
Saturday, 02 June 2012 13:41

Greenhouse Earth to Table dinnerAs Ohio's first certified green restaurant, Cleveland's Greenhouse Tavern is adding a new dimension to the city's increasingly sophisticated food scene. Owners Chef Jonathan Sawyer and Amelia Zatik-Sawyer have not only incorporated eco-friendly elements (including a rooftop herb garden, composting and using recycled products) into the restaurant and but have also partnered with a number of local farmers, including Thaxton's Organic Garlic in nearby Hudson. Their strongest ties are with The Chef's Garden in Milan, Ohio, and its charity, the Culinary Vegetable Institute, which brings chefs and farmers together to "share knowledge, experiment and discover techniques for growing and preparing the most flavorful varieties of vegetables in the world."

Chef Sawyer recently provided the meal for the institute's monthly Earth-to-Table dinners (above) and also launched a new spring menu at The Greenhouse Tavern, which includes ramp-wrapped local asparagus, Cleveland greenhouse arugula salad and three onion risotto. Also on the new menu is a goat-cheese morel raviolini that Chef Sawyer was kind enough to provide the recipe for. (Click "read more"). Enjoy!

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