A Few Favorite Things Recipe

A few favorite things - Winter 2007.

A Few Favorite Things

It has been a few months since I've pulled together a "favorites" list. So, here goes...

Victory Gardens
Amy Franceschini is working on a project that beautifully demonstrates how life, art, food, design and community can intersect to make a positive impact on the way we live. Some of you might remember the Victory Gardens of World War I & World War II? It was long before my time, but Amy's project is referencing history as it re-imagines these gardens and how we could deploy them again. I attended a talk last night at the SFMoMA where Amy presented her vision to a modest crowd. I spent the entire hour trying not to figit in my seat - excited to get involved, wondering what I could contribute to help push this project/movement forward. The archival images she presented and statistics she cited were both compelling and inspiring. A couple examples:

  • In 1943, 20 million Victory Gardens were producing up to 41 percent of all the vegetable produce that was consumed in the nation - it was my understanding that the bulk of this transformation took place over two years. In San Francisco and across the country public land was put to use, including portions of Golden Gate Park. Have a look at this garden near the front steps of San Francisco City Hall.
  • There are roughly 1822 acres of possible food production land in backyards, public lots, and undeveloped areas in San Francisco alone.

Imagine the benefits of a movement like this happening again... Locally produced, seasonal foods traveling minimal food miles. Kids (and adults!) reconnecting with where their food comes from. The emergence of a public network of seed banks preserving genetic diversity. The potential for neighborhood CSA programs. The decentralization of food production and independence from corporate food systems.

I'll keep you posted on how this project progresses, I hope it meets with great success. If any of you reading have any insight as to why the original gardens eventually fizzled, I'm very curious to learn why.

NAMA ROCOCCO Wallpaper Studio
NAMA ROCOCCO produces stunning artisan wallpapers. For those of you who appreciate the imperfections and tactility of letterpress - this is the wallpaper equivalent - and then some. The process involves hand-painting and then silk-screening each sheet of acid-free French paper. They mix their own paints to formulate their own colors. I look forward to the day I find the perfect wall that is worthy, and a wallet that is willing. I suspect the wallet will be the easy part of the equation.

Quixote Winery
After a long wait, Quixote Winery is now open to the public. This is a winery unlike any you've ever seen - as you come up the drive, just a few minutes off the famous Silverado Trail, you're greeted by a color-flecked structure free of straight lines, punctuated by a vibrant, gold-leafed onion dome. Hundertwasser believed that spending time under the dome would bring good fortune - at the very least it brings smiles and delight to those who visit.

The winery was profiled in the New York Times last week by Chris Colin, in an article titled, Where the Winery Itself Is a Little Tipsy. I smiled openly when I read the following quote,"...Tucked up in the golden hills, away from the stately villas and incongruously ornate mansions, sits what might seem the creation of a beautifully demented child."

A building like this is a statement, and as the article points out critics thought of Hundertwasser structures as "three-dimensional manifestos." Hundertwasser's manager, Joram Harel, lends insight, "Well, Hundertwasser agreed...He just wanted to show that the soul perishes in all these traditional buildings, and it's especially dangerous because you don't feel it happening. He felt the hidden longing of people to live differently."

The next time you are in Northern California, visit Quixote. Spend some time under the dome, pad around on the uneven floors, take a nap on the roof in a bed of wildflowers. This is the kind of place that has the power to change the way you think about what is possible in the world.

And a few other links I wanted to share:

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Hey, I just wanted to throw my two cents in about your favorites list. I’m in the middle of Ian McEwan’s novel “Saturday”, and I think it’s fascinating. Thanks for including another book of his, “Atonement”, on your list…I’ll toss that on my “must-read” list! Maybe, in between my full college course load and my full-time job(s), I’ll find time before the end of the decade to actually READ it…sigh… 😉


Considering I spent most of high school tromping around the hills around Stag’s Leap with a BB gun (my best friend’s grandma lived there, my family lives a bit farther off the Trail)– I hope there’s not a rattlesnake, skunk, wild boar or cougar sleeping in those flowers with you.
Man. I hate tourist wineries so much.

Mary Sue

In reference to Erica’s comments about 50’s food being horrible – I ate virtually only fresh meat, fish, vegatables and fruit while growing up in Minneapolis. Far from horrible. We had much less obesity thatn today. So there’s my thoughts for what they are worth. Lawrence

Lawrence B

More backyard gardens sounds good, but how will people too impatient to wait for pasta to cook endure germination?

Andrew Galarneau

Regarding the FDA, I’ve read articles after the recent e coli breakout in spinach and salmonella in peanut butter; the amount of testing they do is so small, especially in relation to giant corporate food growers. And those corporations have lobbyists that are fighting regulation (see the meat industry). So the safety is from the concept of regulations, rather than actual inspection or enforcement and punishment.
Even if “victory gardens” took off as a trendy thing, the amount of food produced and the size of the plots (tiny) would probably mean the risks would be smaller and the individual attention would make me trust that produce more than what is shipped in from Central America at the local supermarket chain.

Jerry Jeff

I would support it, but the idea of the FDA is to regulate food production and standards. This by-passes that and adds to the possibility that something could go wrong; from over use of pesticides or fertilizers, or the pollution in the city simply being absorbed into the food.
For your own consumption it would save money and increase the amount of time spent with family. But, to sell this food is a danger.


I think the victory garden idea is wonderful!!!


I need a new hairdryer too, mine is currently held together with packing tape. Perhaps I could borrow that willing wallet of yours for a minute whilst I pop over to Amazon?


Heidi, Thanks for your excellent 101 Cookbooks….the concept seems to be changing as time passes? As a child I had the opportunity? to assist my parents with a Victory Garden….it was a necessity in our lives rather than a “nice” thing. Necessity is a powerful motivation. Over the last decade I’ve spent a lot of time in rural Russia where the dasha (country house) garden plot is ubiquitious….once again, necessity is the apparent motivation. Terry


Heidi ,what a shame that I am in Europe.I would love to visit Quixote. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm.It is contagious.


If you use Internet Explorer Version #7, at the bottom of the window in the lower-right corner, there’s a function that lets you zoom in or zoom out. The default is 100%, and ranges from +400% larger to -50% smaller.
Mine is set at the default, and I have no trouble reading the print.


Heidi, you have the best taste. Where did you ever find that hot wallpaper? And I don’t know if I’ve ever referred to wallpaper as being “hot” before! Unfortunately my home has these earthy tudor style irregular walls so it wouldn’t make sense to wallpaper. But I think when we move we are going to have to consider a space that works with these gorgeous designs!


Since you moved to this new format, the print is now so tiny it is very difficult to read. Are others experiencing this probelm or is it something on my end?


From my understanding, Victory gardens were in response to war rations. And after the war and rations were lifted, Americans were chomping at the bit to get back to normal. This created an huge demand for meat, cheese, guttony and processed foods. Things that obviously have lingered. The 50’s were a horrible horrible time for fresh, delicious foods (on the whole.)


I love these favorites lists! Thank you…

Jennifer Jeffrey

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