Archive for December, 2011

Community Garden Canning Party

Two weeks ago, volunteers from all the Parks Department Community Gardens came together for a common cause: to get our can on. (Excellent question posed by Sophia: why is it called canning if everything goes into jars?)

We reserved the commercial kitchen at Miller Community Center on Sunday, December 11 and purchased 132 pounds of pears and apples from Oxbow farms. In all we had about 16 people come out to can, but it was hard to get an exact count since some people came and went and it was a fairly chaotic 7 hours.

Here’s what we made and divided among ourselves:

  • Vanilla brandied pears – 41 half-pint & pint jars, 7 quart jars
  • Apple butter – 25 half-pints
  • Applesauce – 18 pints and quarts
  • Black pepper & vanilla pears – 14 half-pints
  • Spiced pears (combo of vanilla/cardamom/szechuan pepper)- 22 half-pints and  pints
  • 8 tubs apple/pear sauce

Although we’d only reserved the kitchen until 3:00 we were lucky that no one had it after us since we were hurrying out the door at 5:00 when the Center closed – 132 pounds is a lot of fruit! The day was very upbeat, filled with community and teamwork, imagination and substitution, and several creative ways to cook box upon box of apples and pears (including convection). We had to make several runs to the store and our houses for more jars and in the end most of us ended up taking home a plastic tub of apple/pear sauce since there were no more jars to be had.

This was such a fun and successful event that we may try to make it a quarterly or half-yearly tradition. But next time, half as much food…

Here are a few shots capturing the event – thanks to Daniela and Sophia for the great photos, and for everyone who participated!

A fraction of the pears

Partial box of apples - I think there were 4 or 5 boxes total

Starting to prep the piles of fruit

Chopping mounds of apples and pears

It got really steamy over that stove

We were a very enthusiastic bunch

Because 6 burners and a convection oven weren't enough

The stove was occupied so we made rice-cooker Mexican food for lunch - a delicious and much needed energy boost!

In reaction to the amount of sugar in a recipe

Food mill and water bath - two very common jobs that day

The day's bounty

Those of us who were still standing at 4:59


December 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm 1 comment

Just Garden Fundraiser – Success!

The Miller Community Center Garden hosted a “Secret Cafe” style dinner for the Just Garden Project on Saturday, and it was a huge success! We raised our goal of $1,500, which is enough to build a garden for a low-income family in King County. Together we helped a family feed itself – pretty powerful.

We had two seatings, from 4-6 and 8-10. By the end of it we were exhausted but in that incredible “we just did something important” kind of way. We served five courses, and everything went so smoothly you’d think we had been working together for years. Here is the first course, a roasted beet salad with chopped almonds and pomegranate seeds:

Spooning up course #2, ginger masala squash soup (croquettes in the background waiting to be broiled):

Course 3, mushroom and herb risotto:

Course 4, wild-caught Keta salmon or cannellini croquettes with roasted carrots and sweet potato and Yukon gold mash (by this course people were filling up, but we happily wrapped their food to go):

Course 5, option of baklava, pear cake with rum drizzle, or vegan chocolate cake with Stumptown coffee:

The volunteers taking a moment to enjoy the food we prepared:

Diners at each of the three tables across two rooms (at the later seating):

The organizers at the end of the night, not too much the worse for wear:

Many thanks to our volunteers and donors: Full Circle Farms, The Calf & Kid Artisan Cheese, Loki Fish, Central Co-Op, and Essential Baking Co.

And of course, thanks to everyone who came to support the Just Garden Project by eating great food, building community, and donating some cash!

If you would like any of the recipes from the evening, send an email to:

December 7, 2011 at 11:30 am Leave a comment