A strange year indeed: pandemic, fires and floods, social unrest: 2020 has been anything but clear vision and smooth sailing. Somehow, most of us have found a path through all this. I for one have learned to breathe deeper and thankfully accept each day as it comes. I am grateful that my family remains well, and hope yours does, too.
The uptick in Do-It-Yourself kitchen work has brought both unexpected ups and downs. Shipment delays and customs challenges delayed our latest shipment, yet it finally has arrived. Overall, many new customers discovered us and report innovative new uses for the nut milk bags -- Anyone try the bags for washing their masks? Works great!
Our continuing adherence to the mantra, "Think Globally, Act Locally" encouraged us to look around our new place on the planet, eastern Washington, and we found a few new organizations we could help. The compassion and generous spirit from those who have risen to help in their communities and across the world inspires us deeply.
sign on a chalkboard at Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino
"If you want to know how it feels to be in hospitality during this coronavirus pandemic... Remember when the Titanic was sinking and the band kept playing? Well, we're the band. Remember to tip the band!"
When the pandemic struck, every one of us was faced with uncertainty: How long? How close? How dire? Of course restaurants were immediately affected, and remain in jeopardy. Locally, Walla Walla Curbside began almost immediately letting everyone know which local eating establishments were open for take-out. Another matched local restaurants who had extra food with volunteers who delivered it to our local first responders -- hospital staff, fire crews, police officers, and teachers.
We hope your community has stepped up similarly, and that you are supporting them.
Pandemic of Love
Earlier this year when the craziness started, Shelly Tygielski, like so many others across the globe, reached out to help in a grassroots way. The small network she began in her own community has grown to assist those across the globe, matching people who need help with those who can give help. Over 1,000 volunteers worldwide now amplify the love of this one woman, translating into millions of dollars in direct mutual aid for thousands of frightened and needy souls.
Our long time charities have experienced additional hardships this year and we are happy to give to each of them for much needed activities.
LifeLab, on the campus of UC Santa Cruz, was impacted by the Santa Cruz CZU fire. Due to the pandemic and smoke filled skies, they were unable to offer full programs for the children. Without their normal funding sources, they, like nonprofits everywhere, are struggling to stay alive, and we are glad to be able to add our small donation.
Ceres Community Project canceled its largest fund raising event of the year and has seen a ten-fold increase in clients needing to be fed. Despite new protocols and fewer hands to help, they continue to inspire us as they take care of those most vulnerable during these difficult times. Members of the Ceres office team recently sat down with some of the teens intimately involved with their meal program and shared the 2020 worries from their perspective.
The Plastic Exchange mission is:
To Empower Balinese people to prosper through a barter program that provides sustenance in exchange for collecting plastic waste.
$1 US = 1.3 kg rice = food for four people for one day = removes up to 3kg (7 pounds) of plastics from the Balinese environment.
Our friends in Bali have experienced tremendous hardship with their lifeblood of island tourism canceled for the entire year. The densely populated island, with such a large and vulnerable population, has always been dear to us and when our good friend I Made Janur Yasa started an incredibly creative and much needed program to help local families and the beautiful island environment at the same time, we were thrilled. The Bali Plastic Exchange (watch video -- it's in Bahasa but the visuals say it all), Janur's grassroots program, encourages villagers to collect plastic and exchange it for rice. In its first four days, the Plastic Exchange collected over a ton of plastic, and approximately 300 people got their daily rice bowl. In the first two months, over eight tons of plastic were collected, and hundreds of kilos of rice shared with families. This inspired Janur to extend the program to the whole of Bali. This miraculous act of kindness by one man created opportunities for his own village, and is growing weekly to serve Bali's entire population. We are proud to help fund the Bali Plastic Exchange's continued growth and success.
World Central Kitchen We first encountered Chef Andrés in 2018 during the Paradise fire event in California. My sister lives in the canyon there and volunteered with Chef Andrés and his team. His ongoing heroic acts of feeding every day people in extraordinary situations inspired us then and now. This amazingly humble, fiery, driven, chef has put his talents (and there are many) into action around the world. Chef Andrés in full chef's attire on the cover of Time magazine has brought him to the attention of many. As this is being written, Chef Andrés is planning to feed patient citizens waiting in lines to vote across the southeast.
We don't hear much from Ibu Robin at Bumi Sehat, and nothing from Widya Guna, but we're sure babies continue to be born and orphans cared for, and, like helping organizations all over the world, we imagine they're busy taking care of their immediate responsibilities and struggling to stay healthy, and so we are happy to send what help we can.
Our customers keep find innovative uses for our nut milk bags and templates (send us your idea for a free bag). Reports come to us that several commercial companies are using our bags and templates in production because they have found them to be more durable and useful than other products. One of our favorite new products comes from the Extraordinary Snack Company, founded by Erica Thorneburg in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her Sunion Crisps, little two inch rounds reminiscent of onion bread. Are SO SO good!
While on the subject of beans, my editor wants me to sing a verse or two about the wonder of modern heirloom and artisan beans.
Hidatsa Red, Arikara Yellow, Jacob's Cattle, Canario, Zuni Gold, Black Caviar Lentil, Cassoulet, Midnight Black, Green Flageolet (pictured), Ojo de la Cabra, Good Mother Stallard...
With all the stresses we are subjected to, simplicity is important right now, especially in the kitchen. One of my simplest go-to meals these days is a hearty whole food plant strong bowl of yumminess, GBGs. You'll find this new recipe on my website. These are often called Buddha Bowls and Nourish Bowls. Add an easy international flare by changing the sauce and the bowl components and you have something new every time. In the further interests of simplicity one step further, I often cook enough beans, rice, or potatoes to last for a few days; the sauces and dressings last well in the fridge, and a little forethought insures that you and your family will have simple, quick, flavorful nourishment on the table no matter what the stresses are.
When I lived in the Napa Valley, I wanted to join bean guru Steve Sando's Rancho Gordo Bean Club but now I see he's ramped up production enough to offer some special varieties online. Beans qualify, in my mail-order savvy opinion, as "high weight to value ratio" goods that justify buying online. (Other goods that qualify: collectible postage stamps and, Yes, More Than A Nutmilk Bags!) Lentils cook quickly and have a variety of favors and textures ...and come in wonderful varieties, not just the tired old things you see at the megamart. Then you can go farther afield and get beans and lentils from the good folks at Llano Seco and ChiliSmith Family Foods among many, many others. You won't be disappointed.
All year long, and especially as we enter the season of harvest and gratitude, I am immensely grateful for each and every one of you, my extended Rawsome family. Thank you to those new customers who found us while sheltering in place for months on end and of course enduring gratitude to those of you who have followed my kitchen odyssey for years. The healthy lives you live and share with your families are our reward and motivation, and we appreciate your continued support.
A time of Transition and Thanksgiving...
Spring is my favorite time of year...