Editor's note: Today we launch our first blog by local physician and foodie Dr. Hal Grotke!Grotke is President, CEO and Medical Director of Redwood Family Practice in Eureka. He came to Humboldt County from Ventura in 2007 and has immersed himself in the food, culture and politics of our region.
I have some thoughts as we are well into local food month. Many of these are have been coalescing for several years and I think they are ready to share. We on the the North Coast are under-utilizing some of our greatest natural resources and I think some of those could be turned into profitable, sustainable businesses. I have a successful business that takes a tremendous amount of my time so I can't take any direct involvement in any of these ideas so I hope the entrepreneurial spirit and strong sense of place so characteristic of Humboldt County will take at least some of these ideas to fruition.
It's a muggy September afternoon in the Eel River Valley. Robin Paul, Judy Alvarado and Joy Frasier have commandeered the commercial kitchen at the Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department. With windows and doors open to catch an errant breeze, mixers whir and the women laugh as they transform pallets of peak-harvested local produce into Eel River Relish. The goal is to produce 17 cases of relish by the end of the day: each jar contains four tomatoes, four bell peppers, four onions and a smattering of secret ingredients, all cooked for 4-6 hours.
It’s an interesting time to be English. On Thursday of this week, the 300+ year-old partnership generally known as the UK, but more formally known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, may begin to break apart. Every resident of Scotland over the age of 16 has the opportunity to go to the polls and cast their vote for or against independence from the UK. Currently the pundits put the Nays ahead by a thread; my gut tells me that’s probably where it will end up, but this is not going to go away. You can be sure that, if the Nays do prevail this time, there’ll be another referendum in the not-too-distant future. Meanwhile, we'd all just better have a cup of tea ... (this is how the English do anarchy)
Happy Humboldt Local Food Month! This week we're giving you a closer look at a local maker and producer. Elizabeth Nester took over Celebrations Tamales and Sauces in 2011, a year after her son Jahmel was born. She has a small staff that helps prep the tamales, but Elizabeth does much of the cooking, packaging and delivery herself, often with Jahmel in tow. She is also the owner of Redwood Organics (yummy Thai almond sauce.)
Along with Local Food Month (see last week's post), the start of a new performance season at Dell'Arte is a big part of my September happiness.
This year, the first production of the new school year is written by Dell'Arte alumna Robin Shaw, who also appears in the production; the piece is directed by Dell'Arte's Producing Artistic Director Michael Fields. Originally created under the auspices of the Merrigong Theatre of Australia, Beneath the Soulskin tells the story of Charlie (played by Shaw), a young woman adrift in an uncharted sea at night.
Performers Robin Shaw and Bradley Stryker in "Beneath the Soulskin"