Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 23rd
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Friend or Foe?

dining wildonionIt was a charming plant, a gift from my neighbor, and I could just imagine its sword-shaped emerald leaves decorating the forest floor. Atop the stalks, unusually triangular in cross section, hung four to 19 frilly, white, bell-shaped flowers, each painted with fine green lines.

The plants are wild onions, or allium triquetrum, a native of south-western Europe, and all parts are edible. The tender leaves taste vaguely of onion, but with a spicy garlic aftertaste. The plants set new bulbs each year, but each flower also holds six seeds. Let's see, that's 24 to 114 seeds per plant. You can see how some people consider them weeds. As the old saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, eat 'em, so I set out to reduce the population by making pesto.

To tone down the onion's flavor, I added some flat leaf parsley. In this herb's second year it sends up an inverted umbrella of flowers, whose seeds have been dispersed into numerous patches in the yard. An abundance of fresh parsley is a problem I don't mind having.

In a blender jar I combined one packed cup of parsley leaves and two of onion leaves, along with six onion bulbs, two tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup cashew nuts, 1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper. Turn the motor off, and scrape down the sides of the blender often. The resulting paste is a pale green, sweet, and mildly spicy. Use it on grilled vegetables or meat. For a more savory sauce, substitute almonds or sunflower seeds for the cashews.

Tonight I'll sauté some more of the leaves with collard greens, and perhaps roast some of the miniature onions. I suppose they could be pickled, too, adding a garlicky kick to the classic martini. | KP

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Best of Santa Cruz County 2014

The 2014 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll Come on in, and have a look around. There’s a lot to see—hundreds of winners selected by thousands of GT readers across Santa Cruz County. So if some of this looks familiar, it’s probably because you helped make it happen. But there are always new things to discover, too—you could go to a different winner or runner-up every day in the Food and Drink category alone, and you’d be booked just about until next year’s Best of Santa Cruz County issue comes out.


Something Essential Disappears

Lunar and solar eclipses follow one another. Lunar eclipses occur at full moons, and solar eclipses at new moons. Two weeks ago at the full moon we had the blood red moon—a total lunar eclipse (the next one is Oct. 8). On Monday night, April 28 (new moon), as the Sun, Moon and Earth align, a solar eclipse (Sun obscured) occurs. Eclipses signify something irrevocably is changed in our world. The Sun is our essential life force. Monday’s new moon, 9 degrees Taurus, is also an annular solar eclipse when the Moon moves centrally in front of the Sun, yet does not cover the Sun completely. The Sun's outer edges, still visible, form a “ring of fire” around the Moon.


Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.


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