The Spring equinox brings a bal­ance of light and dark­ness as the sun rises from the true east and sets in the true west.

The first day of Spring arrives this Wednes­day, no mat­ter what the weather reports might claim.

Most of us in the United States wel­come the new sea­son pos­si­bil­i­ties and the promise of milder days and nights. No one more so, per­haps, than the Cal­i­for­nia farmer.

It’s been a cold, soggy win­ter in the Golden State. This year’s storms are a dra­matic change com­pared to last year, which was extremely dry.

Snow totals are above aver­age in most of the west. The high­est snow to water totals are in California’s Sierra Nevada moun­tains, which is great news for farm­ers of the San Joaquin and Sacra­mento val­leys.

At this writ­ing, num­bers are about 200 per­cent higher than 2018 totals. This is good news for the reser­voirs in west­ern states.

Read more: Ver­nal Equinox →

Cab­bages belong to the Bras­sica fam­ily of cole crops and are closely related to broc­coli, cau­li­flower and Brus­sels sprouts.

This cru­cif­er­ous veg­etable is widely used around the world in prepa­ra­tions from raw to cooked, shred­ded to leafy rolls.

While we most likely think of a com­mon cab­bage head as that large, green can­non­ball type, there are other vari­eties that make spe­cific appli­ca­tions and recipes stand out.

Red Cab­bage – Sim­i­lar to green cab­bage, this has dark reddish-​purple leaves. The fla­vor is a lit­tle deeper and earth­ier. Pick heads that are tight and heavy for their size. It adds great color to slaws and cold sal­ads.

Napa Cab­bage – Also called Chi­nese cab­bage, this oblong-​shaped cab­bage has wide, thick, crisp stems and frilly yellow-​green leaves. The fla­vor is sweeter and milder com­pared to heartier green cab­bage. Its soft tex­ture works great as a fill­ing for dumplings or as a del­i­cate fresh salad com­po­nent.

Savoy Cab­bage – This attrac­tive cab­bage is round in shape but the leaves are deep green and crin­kled. The fla­vor is mild and earthy. The leaves are ten­der even when eaten raw. Heads should be com­pact and tight and will yield to light pres­sure due to the crin­kled leaves. Soups, sal­ads and stir fry dishes are all good savoy cab­bage methods.

Read more: Cab­bage Head →

Food trends come and go. Some which are started in metro cities like San Fran­cisco and New York may com­pletely skip over the entire mid­dle sec­tion of the nation.

One trend look­ing to accel­er­ate this year is the seduc­tion of sour. Adding a punch of sour can bal­ance rich or savory dishes.

Global cuisines heav­ily influ­ence our own restau­rant offer­ings and choices. Take a page from Per­sian, Korean, Fil­ipino or even Ger­man menus to inspire new twists on fla­vor pair­ings.

Sour tast­ing foods are indica­tive of higher acid­ity, along with tart­ness or tangi­ness. Bit­ter foods are mostly attrib­uted to unpleas­ant, sharp and some­times unde­sir­able foods. Sour cov­ers pop­u­lar Greek yogurts, kim chees, sour krauts and other fer­men­ta­tions.

Sour fla­vors have piqued our col­lec­tive inter­est, on par with the spicy food addic­tion. Con­sumer demand toward tangy fla­vors has more to do with a move­ment toward well­ness, arti­sanal foods, and eth­nic cuisines.

Read more: Seduced by Sour →

Cities across Amer­ica have been imple­ment­ing bans on plas­tic bags, plas­tic straws, poly­styrene and other mate­ri­als used for food and bev­er­ages.

Retail and food­ser­vice estab­lish­ments have seen oper­at­ing costs rise along with alter­na­tive pack­ag­ing costs.

Con­sumer expec­ta­tions are higher and grow­ing in the realm of single-​use, dis­pos­able items, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to take out foods. Lit­ter and waste are not the only two con­sid­er­a­tions.

The gen­eral pub­lic is sen­si­tive to the envi­ron­men­tal and human health issues related to the overuse of plas­tics. Overuse of the seduc­tive one and done, throw-​aways is get­ting national atten­tion.

In sev­eral cities, cus­tomers must request plas­tic straws for drinks. Some have begun to carry their own bam­boo or metal straws to juice joints. We are all, by now, accus­tomed to pro­vid­ing our own reusable tote bags for shop­ping at retail stores.

Read more: Beyond Straws →

Gin­ger, lemon, honey and mint. Four fairly com­mon kitchen ingre­di­ents, they part­ner well as a win­ter home rem­edy for what might be ail­ing us.

The chang­ing win­ter weather con­di­tions and con­stant fluc­tu­a­tion in tem­per­a­tures taxes our resis­tance to catch­ing a cold or the flu.

Immu­nity lev­els tend to dip in colder months. Con­fined to indoor envi­ron­ments, expo­sure to other human’s cough­ing, sneez­ing and wheez­ing puts us at higher risk for those nasty germs and viruses.

Calm jan­gled nerves and sup­press early symp­toms by get­ting into the kitchen. OTC in the pantry means some­thing alto­gether dif­fer­ent from the vast over the counter drug­store nasal, throat and body ache solu­tions.

Stay­ing hydrated and flush­ing out the sys­tem with avail­able fresh herbs, fruits and veg­eta­bles puts the home phar­macy at our fingertips.

Read more: Win­ter Kitchen →

Flow­ers speak a lan­guage all their own. We give them for hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions, mile­stones and achieve­ments and to mourn the loss of someone’s pass­ing.

Var­i­ous flower stems con­vey mean­ing through color, scent, and their cul­tural indi­ca­tions.

Bound by tra­di­tion, Valentine’s Day gifts typ­i­cally include cards, candy and in some cases jew­elry. Flow­ers nearly always accom­pany any of those presents.

For many cen­turies, flow­ers were used to con­vey roman­tic mes­sages with­out hav­ing to ver­bal­ize the direct inten­tions. Par­tic­u­larly in the Vic­to­rian Era, it was con­sid­ered impo­lite to openly state emo­tions or show phys­i­cal affec­tion.

The vehi­cle most often used to con­vey roman­tic inter­est or courtship was flow­ers. Spe­cific bou­quet arrange­ments, col­ors or types of flow­ers used would send a quiet lovers message.

Read more: Be Mine →