To register for the class at South Seattle Community College, call 206-764-5339
Tuition: $45, plus $15 materials fee
Capellini with Strawberry Pesto and ProsciuttoServes 6
1 pound capellini or angel hair pasta
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (Grana Padano works well too)
2/3 cup whole toasted almonds
2 handfuls (about 1 cup) fresh basil leaves
10 small strawberries (or 5 large) [be sure to use fragrant and full-flavored strawberries: if they're a bit bland, I'm quite sure they'll get lost in the battle]
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Few pinches freshly ground pepper
6 ounces antibiotic-free prosciutto
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a large saucepan, fill with water and bring to a boil. Add the capellini and stir for one minute to prevent the pasta from sticking. Bring back to boil and let cook until tender or ‘al dente’. Meanwhile, combine the Parmesan, almonds, and basil in a mixer or blender, and process in short pulses until the mixture forms a paste. Add the strawberries and olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and mix until smooth. Set aside. Slice the prosciutto into thin strips. When the pasta is done, drain, but do not rinse with water. Toss pasta with the pesto, adding the 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil if needed to help distribute the pesto. Serve in a mound on each plate, placing pieces of the prosciutto atop each mound of pasta. Garnish with basil.
Life is like picking thimbleberries. Or maybe, my life has felt like a bowl of thimbleberries lately. Until about a month ago, I had no idea what thimbleberries were, and now I think I can find in them some sort of metaphor for what life feels like right now.
This spring, in the vast expanse (for urban living, we consider it vast) of our yard, out perched on the cliff-like edges of our little private hilltop, are seemingly hundreds of bushes that cling on for dear life. With leaves that look like maple, and berries that could pass for raspberries to some girl who doesn’t know the difference, they reach up and up the hillside, climbing and growing, toeing their way onto the lawn. Every few days I have to pull thimbleberry starts that spring up in random places, green, happy and defiant in the middle of patches of brown prickly grass. Plants thrive where they’re meant to, they grow best where they’re supposed to. The grass is obviously misplaced, but the thimbleberry, well, they know where they belong. Somehow I’ve managed this past month to plant a tiny patch of vegetables right next to those monster knots of thimbleberry. In the sandy soil, I put down a few heirloom tomato plants, a few basil and six dinosaur kale. I couldn’t tell right away if they too, were going to feel misplaced… because the sagebushes next door are smiling, the oregano is a wild little beast, but what seems to grow best in my sandy little patch are thimbleberries. I pull a few thimbleberry babies each day, reaching up from beneath the soil to take up residence in this benevolent place.
I go out to pick the thimbleberry’s little red dome-shaped fruit. Each one I pick yields easily to my fingers. They are perfectly round, and hollow inside, like thimbles. Their soft structure collapses as soon as you drop it into your picking bowl. So small, a half hour’s work is about two cups. Now I know how the saffron gatherers must feel. Slow progress, and your fingertips stain fuschia red. Leaning in to pick the biggest ones, they easily rub their redness into your shirt, your forearms, the color of fake Halloween blood. Coming back into the house after picking, Mark takes one look at me with wide eyes and begins laughing hysterically. “I know” I say with a sly smile, “I look as though I’ve come out of a thimbleberry horror movie.”
The berries were a mound of mush in my bowl, and I had absolutely no idea what to do with them, so I plopped them into the blender with some vanilla ice cream and milk, and made a thimbleberry shake. It was so sweet and a bit tart, with thousands of tiny seeds, crunching like poppy seeds, and the color was bright party pink (Mark said it looked like I was drinking Pepto-Bismol, but I ignored him.)
This past month, I have found myself fighting pretty hard. I’m the kind of person who, when faced with certain circumstances, either thinks her way out of them with creative problem-solving, or else fights her way out with sheer pavement-pounding hard work. So when I find myself these days with circumstances that require both creative problem-solving and sheer hard work, I put myself to the task – and it is all-consuming. For weeks I was running on overdrive, juggling assignments and job hunting and working and with help from some divine force, keeping us both well fed. I felt overwhelmed as I ended one part of my life as a dietetic intern and entered another as a job hunter. I worried, and fretted, and worried some more, because I think sometimes that worrying is what I do best. I began fighting against what was put on my plate, feeling pressure to find a job and pressure to find a job to hold me over until I find a real job. I wasn’t doing much berry picking, and downtime never felt like anything other than time when ‘I should be doing something productive.’ But now, after my fight has fought itself into exhaustion, and I’m finally beginning to accept what life is giving me, I’m picking thimbleberries.
They grow best where the soil feels right to them. Their presence on our hillside is neither good nor bad, it just is. They are there because they grow best there. Unlike my little patch of struggling vegetables, the thimbleberries aren’t fighting very hard against their circumstances. I’ve been given what I’ve been given, and I can either smile and work it out, or make life hard, resisting and struggling against it. Being upset about this part of my journey is like being upset with the berries as they stain my fingers with their juice. To get what you want, you have to get your hands a little dirty.
We all somehow feel as though it’s necessary to judge things and people and situations as either good or bad, but maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s all just berry juice.
Wanted to let you know about my upcoming workshop at 5 Focus integrative center on June 7th. I'd love to see you!
From Chocolate to Kale…
Spruce up your summer with new foods on your plate!
Sunday, June 7th
2 - 3:30p.m.
Cost: $30 –food samples included!
· Are you tired of your food routine?
· Love shopping at organic markets but can’t pronounce or identify many of the foods on the shelves?
· Are you curious about quinoa, kale, or other ‘exotic’ grains, vegetables, and natural sweeteners?
Join Bastyr-educated nutritionist Christine Weiss for a lively and tasty class on demystifying the many healthful ingredients found in natural food stores. Christine will discuss the health benefits of kefir, agave nectar, buckwheat and other foods that can liven up meals and snacks. You’ll also have a chance to taste a variety of products new to your palate – traditional socca made with chickpea flour, homemade ginger root tea and an energy bar made with almond butter and maple syrup. Go home with new flavors and new recipes for a new healthy start.
Christine received her MS in Nutrition from Bastyr University in 2008 and is currently a dietetic intern at Sea Mar Community Health Center. She has a passion for food and wine, which she shares with her students as a culinary instructor for PCC Cooks.
For more information or to register, please call 206.631.2818 or visit www.5focus.com