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Food

Winter 2013

Beans

“I was determined to know beans.”

—Thoreau, Walden

Having abandoned journalism and returned to her family’s farm on Whidbey Island, Georgie Smith ’93 started gardening, and one thing led to another. Smith had at least two things going for her, family land and a knack for farming. Farmer’s markets sales led to supplying restaurants, and ten years later, she’s still in business, farming 20 acres on Whidbey’s Ebey Prairie outside of Coupeville with four full-time employees and the same number of three-quarter time workers.

Even though Smith grows multifarious crops—greens, alliums, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, whatever—at the heart of her enterprise right now is a lovely … » More …

Fall 2013

Washington’s sweet corn secret

Washington corn? Midwesterners may scoff, but right now an abundance of sweet corn from Yakima Valley and around the Columbia Basin is heading to grocery stores, farm stands, and farmers markets from Anacortes to Zillah. It is something of a surprise that our state is also one of the largest sweet corn producers in the country.

The stuff at the farm stands is just a hint of how much of the crop is here. Three states dominate in the production of sweet corn for canning and freezing. The first two are no revelation: Wisconsin and Minnesota. But some years Washington is the source of 850,000 … » More …

Greg Blanchard at WSU
Summer 2013

Greg Blanchard—On timing and taste

Greg Blanchard is making dinner for 224. From the cramped confines of the CUB kitchen, he and his staff have just a few hours to create three different types of crostini, chicken parmesan and linguine, garlic bread, Caesar salad, and strawberry shortcake, with exceptions for vegetarians, the lactose intolerant, avoiders of gluten, and one person who just doesn’t like cheese.

Come 6:30, student waiters and waitresses in black ties will serve the food on individual plates, a timing play that ups a chef’s game from, say, a buffet. If the food is ready too soon, lettuce will get flat, chicken will get dry, strawberries will … » More …

Concord grapes—primarily a Vitus labrusca (fox grape) cultivar. Courtesy NGWI
Summer 2013

Juice Grapes

I should point out right up front that I haven’t tried unfermented grape juice in a long, long time. In fact, the last time I had it may have been as a teenager during communion at our teetotaling church, where grape juice was our “wine.”

So it’s intriguing now decades later how familiar the taste is as I sip a glass of Concord grape juice, most likely grown—in spite of the Massachusetts address on the bottle—in the Yakima Valley.

Familiar, and also quite delicious. Full-bodied, not too sweet, with a pleasing astringency and a distinctly Concord flavor that Craig Bardwell ’84 refers to as “foxy.” … » More …

Bread loaves
Summer 2013

Let everyone eat bread

For the better part of four decades, Mark Wildung (’89 BS, ’92 MS) felt lousy.

He felt like he had a flu, but wrote it off, thinking everyone felt that way. He had a hollow leg, packing twice as much food as his friends on backpacking trips, but his body was withering away, his weight dropping to 138 pounds.

Finally, at a going-away party before a trip to Germany, a physician-assistant friend suggested he might have celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction to certain gluten proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. His symptoms got worse in Germany, a land of great bread and … » More …

Spring 2013

How Washington tastes: The Apple meets Cougar Gold

Much of Carolyn Ross’s work involves training people to quantify their taste. The sensory evaluation panels that she and her graduate students organize assess taste attributes in fruit and other foods and beverages such as sweetness, acidity, bitterness, and astringency. And “mouth feel,” which contributes enormously to the taste experience.

But for these panels to arrive at a consensus of, say, how sweet a given apple is, or how tart, or how much it crunches in relation to other apples, everyone must agree on the intensity of those attributes.

Before the panel members can evaluate a given food, they will train for a number of … » More …