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Serving the Skagit Harvest: Local cookbook from Eat Your Yard

Sep 12th, 2010 | Category: Books, Features

Sarai Stevens holding one of her many chickens in her garden. She lives in Bow. Photo by C Vince Streano

Peter Heffelfinger at the base of Mount Erie. Photo by C Vince Streano

by Stephanie Ashton

Local food lovers can look forward to a surge of inspiration this fall with the release of Serving the Skagit Harvest, a cookbook compiled and published by the Skagit County organization, Eat Your Yard. As a side project of Skagit Beat the Heat – a 501(c)(3) non-profit group devoted to spreading awareness and slowing the effects of global warming – Eat Your Yard has offered regular workshops, classes and tours focused on converting lawns to garden space, thereby promoting the growth and consumption of local food, since autumn 2008.
Serving the Skagit Harvest should function as somewhat of an encyclopedia for gardeners and cooks in northwest Washington. Offering over 90 recipes, the book also includes gardening, harvesting and storage tips from experienced gardeners, along with profiles of four local gardeners working under unique conditions.
Such a book had been a dream of Skagit County resident Linda Zielinski, who pitched it to Evelyn Adams, Beat the Heat’s coordinator. “The idea fit in perfectly with the mandate of Eat Your Yard,” said the editor, Jane Billinghurst, “and it turned out we had a lot of talent right in Anacortes that could bring the book to fruition.”
Requests for recipes were sent to members of Beat the Heat, and to participants in Eat Your Yard’s workshops. Announcements were placed in the Skagit Valley Herald, and were sent to area CSAs, restaurants, and other establishments involved in the local food movement, ensuring a diverse selection of recipes. “The recipes follow what is seasonally available here in Skagit County,” Billinghurst said, “[drawing from] home gardens, farmer’s markets, and local CSAs.”
Organized by season, the book also includes a harvest calendar to show readers what produce can be expected throughout the year. As for popular ingredients among the recipes, Billinghurst concedes that tomatoes and basil are perennial favorites. “Squash is a biggie,” she said, “both summer and winter. [But] what sets this book apart are the recipes for those green, leafy vegetables that do so well here over the winter months, such as kale, chard and collards. Want a recipe for dark, leafy greens? This book is the place to go.”
Billinghurst added the more exotic produce that can be grown in the area, such as kiwis, eggplant and figs, find a place among the recipes as well.
“There is a wonderful synergy going on in this book, as it brings together so many different groups interested in fresh, local food,” she said. “Everyone is celebrating local food and doing their bit to promote resilience in the local community. The book is one of many ways to get people together on this issue [to] bring it to the attention of a wider group of people.”
A presentation of the cookbook, featuring many of the contributors, will take place Tuesday, Sept. 28 6:45 – 8:15 p.m. at the Anacortes Library. In addition, the Skagit Valley Co-op will host cooking demonstrations of recipes from Serving the Skagit Harvest during the month of October. Visit the Co-Op’s blog All Food Considered for event dates and details (skagitfoodcoop.wordpress.com/category/events/).
All proceeds from Serving the Skagit Harvest will return to Eat Your Yard in an effort to continue funding the exceptional programs it offers the community. During its two years of operation, Eat Your Yard has held classes in soil-building, insect control, herb-growing, composting, and crop varieties best suited to the Skagit climate, among many others. “Our workshops try to give the basics to beginning gardeners, while giving more experienced gardeners a forum to share what they have learned about the unique challenges of vegetable growing in our climactic conditions,” Billinghurst said. “All of the classes and workshops we offer are free to the public, and book project funds will help us keep it that way.”
To learn more about membership, volunteer opportunities and events for Skagit Beat the Heat and Eat Your Yard, visit www.skagitbeattheheat.org.

Where to get Serving the Skagit Harvest

The cover features Anacortes resident Linda Zielinski, who pitched the cookbook idea to Beat the Heat Coordinator Evelyn Adams.

Serving the Skagit Harvest costs $20 and is available for purchase in several locations around Skagit County, including:
• Anacortes: Ace Hardware, Pelican Bay Used Books, and Watermark Book Company
• La Conner: The Calico Cupboard
• Mount Vernon:  Skagit Valley Food Co-op, Gretchen’s, La Conner Flats Farmstand
• Concrete: Red Apple store
• Anacortes: Anacortes Farmers Market and Fresh Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m. at Island Hospital in Anacortes
• Bow: Bow Little Market
The book can be ordered online from Skagit Beat the Heat (www.skagitbeattheheat.org) and Samish Heirlooms Farm (www.samishheirloomsfarm.com).
There will be a cooking demonstration and sale of books at the Sedro-Woolley Farmers Market on Sept. 15. A presentation of the cookbook, featuring many of the contributors, will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 28, from 6:45 – 8:15 p.m. at the Anacortes Library. Throughout October, the Skagit Valley Co-op will host cooking demonstrations (details available through the Co-op’s newsletter or visit the Co-op’s blog All Food Considered at http://skagitfoodcoop.wordpress.com/category/events/).

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