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What do food writers and chefs do during summer vacation? Jonathan Gold had fresh mozzarella in Italy and Mary Sue Milliken went hunting in Mongolia.  They share their adventures.  Nancy Zaslavsky has some ideas for Mexican produce found in area markets.  The LA Times’ Russ Parsons has some tips on how to store your summer farmers market bounty. The story of Jon Reiner, the man who couldn't eat.  Kazi Pitelka gives a tour of her urban farm featuring chickens, turkeys, fruit trees and bees.  School is back in session but what is being done about the school lunch program?  Deborah Lehmann shares what’s on the menu at schools around the country and Slow Food USA’s Josh Virtel offers a solution.  Plus, Laura Avery finds out what's fresh at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

Guest Interview Market Report 5 MIN, 52 SEC

CJ JacobsonCJ Jacobsen, former Top Chef contestant, is the new chef at The Yard located at 119 Broadway, Santa Monica.  His gastropub is serving a roasted asparagus dish that's easy to make at home. Roast asparagus in a 400 degree oven until easily pierced with a fork. Top with smoked almonds, a good olive oil and Zamorano cheese, a hard sheep's milk cheese that comes from the Kingdom of Leon, Spain.  He also smokes almonds with persimmon wood that he gets from Penryn Orchards.




Persimmon Wood

Honey Crisp farms is run by Art Lange who, for decades, has brought the highest quality and most experimental fruits to the market. This week he has five different varieties of pluots - a plum/apricot mix. He's also bringing in delicious white Concord grapes. This seeded variety tastes very similar to its red cousin. It's in season for just one more week. You can find Honey Crisp at the Beverly Hills farmers market on Sunday and the Santa Monica market on Wednesday.

Concord Grapes

Guest Interview Mexican Produce 4 MIN, 33 SEC


Nancy Zaslavsky teaches cooking and leads culinary tours to Mexico.  She is leading a trip to Oaxaca in time for the Day of the Dead.

Fresh Hoja Santa Table Salsa
Makes about 2 cups

Anise-tasting hoja santa (Piper auritum) commonly known as hierba santa, yierba santa, acuyo in Veracruz, momo in Chiapas, and root beer plant in the US are prized throughout the southern half of Mexico, especially in Puebla and along the Gulf coast states. Cooks wrap raw fish fillets in huge, 8- to 10-inch, heart-shaped leaves—so the cooked seafood gets permeated with hoja santa’s enticing herbal flavor—and then they grill, bake or steam the packages. The wrapping leaves (do not eat) sometime blacken but add great flavor.

Find Mexican herbs at Coleman Family Farms at the Santa Monica farmers’ market.  This easy-to-make, uncooked table salsa is great with fish or chicken.

1 hoja santa leaf (about 6-inches), stem removed
1 large (3-inches) white onion
1 or 2 fresh green jalapeño or serrano chiles
3 Mexican limes (a.k.a. Key limes), juiced
1 large, ripe Hass avocado
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 tsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp sea or kosher salt

1. Coarsely chop the hoja santa leaf and put in a blender or processor.

2. Peel and cut the onion into large chunks. Stem one chile and coarsely chop (include seeds). Add onion and chile to blender. Pour in the lime juice and blend about 15 seconds. Scrape down container sides.

3. Cut the avocado open, remove pit and spoon the flesh into the blender. Add the cilantro, agave syrup and salt. Purée until foamy, about 30 seconds.

4. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Add more finely chopped chile if desired. Serve immediately at room temperature.

© Nancy Zaslavsky 2009

Fresh & Foamy Tomatillo Table Salsa
Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce

Tomatillos (Physalis ixocarpa) are in the cape gooseberry family—not green tomatoes with papery husks. Common names are tomate verde (Oaxaca), Mexican jam berry and husk tomato. Mexico’s indigenous tomatillos are ground into table salsas or cooked sauces; their citrus flavor sparks many dishes normally enhanced by lime juice.

Firm tomatillos (never soft) are not peeled, but always used with their skins intact. Find them in the summer from Windrose Farms at the Santa Monica farmers’ market—they are medium-sized with purple markings, and especially delicious.

This almost instant, uncooked table salsa has a citrus-mint tang. Serve with seafood or pork (great alongside take-out carnitas!).

6 medium tomatillos
1 medium (2-inches) white onion
1 or 2 fresh green jalapeño or serrano chiles
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 to 2 tsps agave syrup
1/2 tsp sea or kosher salt

1. Remove the papery husks and discard. Rinse tomatillos (they are naturally sticky). Cut in half. Put in blender or processor.

2. Peel and cut the onion into large chunks. Stem one chile and coarsely chop (include seeds). Add both to blender with cilantro, mint, syrup and salt. Pulse to chop. Scrape down the container sides and then purée until smooth and foamy, at least 30 seconds.

3. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Add more finely chopped chile if desired. Serve immediately at room temperature.

© Nancy Zaslavsky 2009

Guest Interview Storing Summer Produce 6 MIN, 8 SEC

Russ Parsons is the food editor for the LA Times and the author of How to Pick a Peach.  He offers these tips for storing summer produce:

1) Don't refrigerate all produce.  Tomatoes should never be refrigerated.  Peaches and Nectarines should only go in the fridge when they are ripe.

2) Store herbs like flowers - in a glass with water.  Place a sandwich bag with holes on top.

3) Wash produce right before you use it.

How to Pick a Peach

Russ Parsons

Guest Interview The Man Who Couldn't Eat 9 MIN, 1 SEC

Jon Reiner

Photo: Sarah Wilmer / Esquire

Jon Reiner suffers from Chron's disease, which causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract.  Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, ulcers and weight loss. 

Complications from the disease caused a fistula to form in Jon's small intestine.  The treatment was for Jon to not eat or drink anything until the fistula healed.  Instead of food, he had a steady intake of TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) taken intravenously. 

Read his story in the September '09 issue of Esquire.

Guest Interview Urban Farm in Altadena 6 MIN, 7 SEC

Kazi's Herb Garden

Herb Garden

Kazi's Chickens


Kazi's Chicken Dispatcher

Chicken Dispatcher

Kazi's Beehive


Back of Kazi's Farm

Kazi's Urban Farm

Kazi Pitelka is a professional violist and an urban farmer.  She owns 3/4 of an acre in Altadena and has 30 chickens, 130 fruit trees, bees, and a huge spread of vegetable plots.  Read her blog.


Guest Interview Hunting in Mongolia 7 MIN, 45 SEC

Mongolia Map

Mary Sue Milliken is the co-owner with Susan Feniger of Ciudad and the Border Grill.  This summer she traveled to Mongolia with four other female chefs: April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig (New York), Anita Lo of Anissa (New York), Traci De Jardin of Jardiniere (San Francisco), and Loretta Keller of Bizou Restaurant (San Francisco). 

They started their journey in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and traveled north to an area close to the border of Siberia.

Hunters in Mongolia

The Hunters

Mutton Hanging

Mutton Hanging

Inside Mongolian Ger

Inside the Ger

Guest Interview Jonathan Gold in Italy 5 MIN, 13 SEC

Fresh Mozzarella

Jonathan Gold is the Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer for the LA Weekly.  This summer he traveled to Italy with his family where they tasted numerous varieties of fresh mozzarella cheese. 

Guest Interview President Obama on School Lunch 56 SEC
Guest Interview School Lunch Legislation 6 MIN, 5 SEC

Serving School Lunch

School Lunch with Chicken Nuggets

School Lunch Tray

Deborah Lehmann writes for the blog School Lunch Talk.  The National School Lunch Program was established in 1946 by President Harry Truman.  It's now part of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 which is up for reauthorization this fall (it expires September 30).

According to a study, the top 10 foods that kids ages 6 to 12 eat at school are:

1. Milk, half of which is chocolate
2. Sandwiches
3. Fruit
4. Fruit drinks
5. Vegetables
6. Pizza
7. Chicken
8. French fries
9. Fruit salad
10. Cookies

Guest Interview Time for Lunch 6 MIN, 50 SEC

Josh Virtel is the President of Slow Food USA.  Their "Time for Lunch" Campaign aims to get healthier food in school cafeterias.  Slow Food is sponsoring "Eat-In's," or potluck meals organized by communities across the country.  They are taking place on September 7. 

Sign Slow Food's petition and find an Eat-In near you.

Los Angeles area Eat-in's include:


Cesar Chavez Arboretum in Elysian Park

835 Academy Road, Los Angeles

Beginning at 11:30am

Organized by Jennie Cook

RSVPs and information by email to jennie@jenniecooks.com or by phone: 323.982.0052


Milagro Allegro Community Garden in Highland Park

115 South Avenue 56, Los Angeles

Beginning at 4:00pm

Organized by Emily Ventura

RSVPs and information by email to hpeatin@gmail.com or by phone: 323.442.3198



5617 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

From 4:00pm until 7:00pm

Organized by Terry August

RSVPs and information by email to admin@fancifull.com or by phone: 323.466.7654


Spiraling Orchard Community ArtPark (downtown)

1246 West Court Street, Los Angeles

Beginning at 5:00pm

Organized by Nancy Zuniga

RSVPs and information by email to acla213@ gmail.com or by phone: 213.481.8013


Anderson Park in Redondo Beach

229 Ernest Avenue, Redondo Beach

Beginning at 4:00pm

Organized by Kelly Wolschon

RSVPs and information by email to kwolschon@rbusd.org or by phone: 310.370.9420


Culver City at Reyhan Persian Grill

11800 Jefferson Boulevard, Culver City

Beginning at 3:00pm

Organized by Frieda Hosseini

RSVPs and information by email to reyhanpersiangrill@gmail.com or by phone: 310.390.6800

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