Thursday, February 25, 2010

Going Native

Sustainable Gardening has caught my attention. The idea is that if you plant "native," your yard will require less water, less effort, less waste, be attractive and encourage wildlife to visit your yard. So, I'm on a mission to learn exactly what these natives are. Whew. My head hurts a little. Know your soil and plant for your soil. Read the label, if it says sun, plant in the sun. Duh. If that little one gallon plant says that it will be a 6' x 6' adult, believe it and give it room to grow. Plant an evergreen foundation for year round beauty. Have a plan.

On Saturday my neighbor and I went to the best all day symposium ever. It was sponsored by the CA Native Plant Society. Great speakers, right here in my town at the awesome Camarillo Ranch. All day, 8-5, meant this woman with food allergies had to do a little planning. I ate a big breakfast and packed a lunch.

After getting our name tags we headed over to the coffee table - low and behold, a pile of fresh strawberries, a basket of clementines and the usual pastries. Of course coffee and tea. I made myself a plate of strawberries and clementines and found a table. The pile of strawberries and clementines never dwindled all day. Donated by a local grower, they were superb.

After 3 great speakers it was time for lunch. I told my neighbor I would take a walk around the ranch and meet her back at the table in about 30 minutes. 200+ attendees were going to take awhile to get through the lunch line and I wanted to see the ranch, and I had packed a lunch.

Coming back from exploring the ranch, I noticed people sitting around with plates of green salad, what looked like a french fry but was clearly a yam, and beans. Could this be? I ran to the back of the line. By the time I got to the buffet table, the fried yams were gone, but the beans and salad and guacamole were plentiful. And on a separate table, under a big sign that read "For gluten free diets" were cookies. It was a 95% vegan meal, made with 95% local ingredients. Delicious, tasty, beautiful. The lunch was catered by Manzanita Chef Carrie Clough. She's an omnivore chef who can fill a vegan request. One of her credentials is that she worked with a hero of mine, Alice Waters. Carrie is a chef with a wonderful mission statement: "Food in our lives is like a character with many faces....." I went to the kitchen to thank her. It occurred to me that maybe she had taken a picture of the buffet table that I could add to this blog entry. Alas. No one had taken pictures of the lunch spread that she knew of. Sorry folks. You'll have to take my word for it. Vegan can be very attractive and tasty - oh yeah, you knew that already.

So for lunch at home today I tried to duplicate her lunch. Not as tasty. Pretty though. I shall continue to work on a bean dish as tasty as hers. When I sign off here, I'll shoot her an email and thank her again, maybe she'll share her recipe for 200+. Then I'll share with you.

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