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Why would I purchase plastic food containers when I already have some?  I wouldn’t.


The amount of plastic waste generated by a single family American home, by a single person home for that matter, is staggering.  We, as a culture, generate an amazing amount of non-composted trash, and much of this will not be  making it into the post-consumer recycle process or breaking down in our landfills.

I heard someone say once “when they dig us up in 2000 years they’ll call us the “plastic civilization”.  That is ironic on several levels, but I also found it rather embarrassing, and admit I thought it true. Considering the treasures we ourselves have dug up from past civilizations, things we place in museums and see auctioned off for millions of dollars, golden artifacts, once beautiful pottery and the like, our buried treasures are going to pale in comparison.

It may seem like a small contribution to re-use the plastics we all end up with once the foods they came in are gone, but multiply your plastic encased or covered purchases by the number of houses on your street or number of houses attached to your school district or town, and I hope you’ll realize too, that plastics are all of our problem.

We see much more recycling of plastics than we’ve seen in the past, but recycling plastics is an expensive business and there aren’t nearly enough companies doing it.  Much of the plastic you see with the recyclable sign do not get recycled.  It’ll be a good day when there’s enough companies to recycle the majority of plastics people throw away each day, but that day has not arrived.  As it is, there’s an active association of plastics recycling companies and that is good, but until I am assured the majority of plastics are being recycled I’m going to keep using the ones my foods come in and otherwise lessening my purchases of items encased in plastic.

Granted some of the post-consumer containers I use are not see-through, and I suppose that’s part of the attraction to people’s need to purchase “glad ware” and the like.   I use a sharpie pen and/or tape to easily mark and identify what’s in a particular re-used container in my freg, freezer or pantry.

Have you heard of Garbage Island?  Garbage Island is a floating mass of trash twice the size of Texas, floating out in the Pacific Ocean. Journalist Thomas Morton did a documentary on Garbage Island.  When I saw that documentary, I was once again shocked and embarrassed.  NOAA – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Assoc., calls these floating phenomenons “garbage patches” and has some very interesting information about them on their site.    I don’t want to be part of a culture that creates such things.  But, since I am, I’m going to do what I can to decrease my contributions.   Click on the NOAA map, below, for more information on our garbage patches.

All of us, or at least most of us, remember the campaign to cut the plastic six pack rings that hold a six pack together so they would not harm our natural wild-life.  I do not see that campaign publicized anymore.  Surely those who invented this plastic six-pack holder did not imagine that their invention, something that made them wealthy and helped an industry keep their cans together, would harm wild-life and otherwise start a national campaign to cut each of the circles on the thing to save wildlife from certain death getting caught in them.  But, those little plastic six pack things have been very harmful to wildlife, resulting in deformation, starvation and death to animals who unwittingly get stuck in them. The picture, at the end of this post, of a turtle who sadly became deformed by a six-pack net is linked to a blog post by eco-logical on the harms of these, and other, plastics to our environment.  That post also includes a lot of pictures of six-pack plastic trapped animals.There’s been a lot of information published, filmed and covered on all of this plastic trash we create, what happens to it and what doesn’t, and as an environmentally minded person I’ve read or seen a lot of it, but this week I’m adding my voice to the reminder, we still need to work against our trash making it into our oceans, our landfills and our homes.

Xtra trash is not necessary and while cleaning out the cupboards is a labor of necessity, this week it is also a seed for a new blog post, and acknowledgement that I’m interested in working on lessening my plastic consumption.  When they did us up I hope they’ll see our art, our science and many of our efforts to better ourselves and how we leave our planet.

Hope you’ll, consider your own purchases as a way to lessen our plastic foot print, and even save money, cut all of your six-pack nets, pick up plastic trash you find on our beaches and otherwise do your best to lessen the amount of harmful plastics in our environment.

– Best wishes – Gwen

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PS:  My lack of posts in the last year is attached to other commitments and issues that have monopolized my time.   I am glad to report that I am seeing the other side of both and look forward to being motivated to more blogging more often.

Salsify is an heirloom plant and its root is a culinary ingredient known as oyster root for its flavor.  But, many cooks  agree it tastes more like artichoke hearts.  

Thomas Jefferson grew salsify, and it’s coming back in fashion!  

 Growing and recipes for salsify, part of the asteraceae/sunflower family, are just recently making the popular grade as gardeners and weed pickers alike realize it’s got a delicious root you can use in cooking. The leaves are also edible and best used off of young plants.

Many gardeners have considered this weed a problem for its prolific re-seeding and growing habits.  But, with new attention toward heirloom produce, this weed is now something many gardeners and organic growers are paying attention to.

I too, used to consider this plant a weed until I attended a gardening class at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia some years ago.  Since that time I have never had to cultivate this plant, because it comes up fine on its own and does very well re-seeding where I live in the Pacific Northwest.  I have used the root young and old, but prefer the younger version for its easy pulling and flavor, though the older roots are worthy too.  As Barbara Damrosch mentions in her article (below) the salsify root is best used fresh but will hold well in the refrigerator and can be dried or dehydrated.

Recipes for salsify are logical to what you may think a long carrot or parsnip would be; it can be shredded, chopped and kept whole.  Don’t let the milk which comes out after pulling and/or cutting scare you off as it quickly turns a sort of rusty color after the air has hit it.  When I pull my salsify I let it sit in a bucket of water, to help disperse the milk and loosen the dirt until I get to cleaning, storing or cooking it.

Especially good is salsify fritters.  Some of my favorite recipes come from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who writes for The Guardian in the United Kingdom. But, fritters are a fav.  Also good with salsify are soups, stews, salsify chips among many other usages.  Simple search “salsify recipes” on a search engine for more recipes.

I have included 3 of Hugh’s recipes here, along with Barbara Damrosch’s article from Jan 2012 in the Washington Post and the content of the Wikipedia page for salsify. ALL good reading, headed toward good eating!

DON’T look down on this interesting and delicious root, anymore!   It’s time Salsify was included in your purchases, gardening and culinary pursuits.  As far as cultivating salsify, it’s as easy as growing weeds.  But this post is about cooking, so if you want to know about cultivation, click here and Kenny Point will plow you through it.  Once you’re done learning to grow Salsify, enjoy, and educate yourself on Kenny’s very fine gardening blog.

Many European countries have salsify in cans available to cooks.

Like me, Hugh (Fearnley-Whittingstall) thinks salsify is a good root with a fine future! As I visit the gardens of friends I always make sure I inform my friends that the weed they’ve just pointed out as “pretty, but a real problem”, is a good vegetable root they can enjoy in a number of ways.  YOU can also slice and dry salsify for long storage and carrying in your backpack or camper for that yummy soup you’ll make on your next over night hike or camp out. Drying will greatly reduce the weight of this root vegetable. Below are some of Hugh’s ideas for this fine somewhat ugly, but delicious root.  The link to Jane Grigson’s suggestion for salsify is great too.  Salsify is good eating in many recipes, soups, stews, salads, and just roasted with olive oil like Hugh shares below.



“The simplest way to prepare these lovely roots is to peel them, put them in a roasting tin, trickle over a little olive or rapeseed oil, add a few bashed garlic cloves and a bay leaf, and roast at 200C/400F/gas mark 6 for 20 minutes. Serve with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt, or follow Jane Grigson‘s excellent suggestion and sprinkle on some gremolata, that zingy southern Italian condiment made of lemon zest, finely chopped garlic and parsley. Or boil or steam them until just tender, chop small and serve with a mustardy, garlicky vinaigrette and perhaps a few pieces of diced ham, rather as you might with a celeriac remoulade.” – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Salsify fritters

A great brunch or lunch dish, and perfect served alongside a few crisp rashers and a fried or poached egg. Makes six fritters. – Recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

300g salsify
45g unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small red chilli, finely diced
3 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 tbsp olive oil

Peel and coarsely grate the salsify. Warm 20g of the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the salsify until softened. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the garlic, chilli, coriander, egg and flour. Season generously, then form into six fritters. Warm the remaining butter and the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and cook the fritters until golden, about four minutes a side.

Salsify tempura with a spicy dipping sauce

Crisp, battered salsify is delicious with this easy dipping sauce, but it’s also great served simply with a little flaky sea salt and a few lemon wedges. Serves four as a starter. – Recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

3-4 salsify or scorzonera roots

For the batter
125g plain flour
½ tsp sea salt
1 egg yolk
175ml ice-cold sparkling water

For the dipping sauce
2 medium red chillies, deseeded, membrane and seeds removed, and finely diced
1 large garlic clove, grated
2 tbsp caster sugar
100ml cider vinegar
2 tbsp water 
About 1 litre sunflower or groundnut oil for frying

First, make the dipping sauce. Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan, place over a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Now raise the heat a little, bring up to a simmer and cook until reduced and syrupy, about five minutes. Pour into a small bowl and set to one side until you are ready to serve.

Fill a medium-large saucepan with water, bring to a boil and cook the salsify for five minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, then rub off the skins and cut the salsify into 4cm pieces. Whisk the ingredients for the batter – don’t worry if it turns out a bit lumpy.

Heat 10cm of oil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan until it registers 180C on a frying thermometer or a cube of bread goes brown in 30 seconds. Dip the salsify in the batter and deep-fry a few pieces at a time until crisp and golden, about a minute. Serve at once with the spicy dipping sauce. alongside.

Photo Credit Bobbi Rightmyer

Salsify gratin

The perfect accompaniment to a Sunday roast (incidentally, this is different from the recipe [he] wrote for The Guardian magazine in Christmas 2007). Serves four. – Recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

The last time I cooked this – it impressed the foodie friends attending the potluck dinner we organized at a wonderful cabin in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia. – Gwen

35g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
Juice of 1 lemon
850g salsify (about 8 roots)
1 litre vegetable stock
150ml dry white wine
60g kale (or cabbage), washed and finely shredded
25g plain flour
150ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
75g grated cheddar or other hard, well-flavoured cheese
50g coarse white breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6 and butter a gratin dish about 26cm in length. Put the lemon juice into a large bowl along with some cold water. One by one, peel each salsify root, cut into 4cm x 1cm batons and drop straight into the lemon water to prevent discolouring. Repeat with all the roots.

When the salsify has been prepared, drain and transfer to a saucepan along with the stock and wine. Bring up to a simmer and cook for five minutes, until tender but still with a bit of bite.

While the salsify is cooking, put the kale in a large pan with a centimetre or two of water and cook for about three minutes, until wilted. Drain the salsify, reserving the stock, and set aside. Return the stock to the pan and simmer until reduced by half.

Meanwhile, mash together the butter and flour with a fork. When the stock has reduced, keep it simmering and add the flour paste in little nuggets, whisking all the time. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens to the consistency of single cream. Stir in the double cream and remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Lay the salsify and kale in the gratin dish, and pour over the creamy sauce. Combine the cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden.


Below is an article by gardener and writer Barbara Damrosch – for the Washington Post – Jan, 4, 2012 

Salsify, a root vegetable that does double duty

By Barbara Damrosch

Readers of this column have had some strange dishes offered up to them over the years. Of the lesser-known crops I’ve suggested you try, a few might not have won you over. Was the saltwort a little too prickly, the Malabar spinach too vicious? Then again, maybe you found great uses for them.I figure being adventurous in what you grow makes gardening more fun and can lead to new favorites. And the reason many of these foods are obscure may have more to do with the needs of long-distance shipping than whether they are good to eat. This is what gives the home gardener or local grower such an advantage. It might seem like the supermarkets have everything, but here’s the big secret: Potentially, you have a much wider repertoire.

So you’re going to have to trust me about salsify. This is a white root — rather like a parsnip but skinnier — that keeps beautifully in the ground. Like the parsnip, it’s planted in spring, as early as the ground can be worked, then allowed to grow all summer and fall until the first frosts bring out its flavor. You can then pull it up during thaws, saving some under refrigeration if you like, but it will shrivel a little and is best dug and eaten fresh.

When you do this, don’t be dismayed by the way those roots look. They are tan and shaggy with coarse side roots. They make me think of the tabloid headline “Movie Stars Without Makeup.” Just wait till they’re all dolled up.

The dolling-up consists of peeling them with a vegetable peeler to reveal the snow-white flesh, then placing them into a bowl of water acidulated with lemon juice, to keep them that way. Or not. If you’re going to brown them in butter it won’t matter, right? And that’s just what I do with them after I’ve steamed them for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on size.

I also use the greens, which look like tall, wide grass blades. The light-colored part of the leaf, the bottom six inches or so, is tender and delicious, like the bottom of a leek, so it gets a thorough washing and then a quick butter saute, along with the roots.

The most surprising thing about salsify, the first time you eat it, is its flavor. Traditionally it is called “oyster plant,” a name as inaccurate as it is unappetizing. The roots taste nothing like oysters, and nothing like parsnips either. They taste like artichoke hearts — unlike the so-called Jerusalem artichokes that are said to taste like artichokes but don’t.

This is a great two-in-one crop. Greens and roots tend to nourish us in different ways, and the role of roots is to bring up minerals from deep below the soil, especially a taprooted plant such as salsify. That’s why it’s important to give these crops a deeply cultivated soil with plenty of compost dug in. And by the way, have you ever tried two of salsify’s even more obscure taprooted cousins, scolymus and scorzonera. Are you curious?

Damrosch is a freelance writer and the author of “The Garden Primer.”


Wikipedia page for Salsify reads as follows:

ragopogon, also known as salsify or goatsbeard, is a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family Asteraceae that has over 140 species, including the vegetable known as salsify, as well as a number of common wild flowers, some of which are usually regarded as weeds.

Salsifies are forbs growing as biennial or perennial plants. They have a strong taproot and milky sap. They generally have few branches, and those there are tend to be upright. Their leaves are somewhat grass-like. Flower colour varies within the genus, with some yellow species, and some bronze or purple. Seeds are borne in a globe like that of a dandelion but larger, and are dispersed by the wind.

The salsifies are natives of Europe and Asia, but several species have been introduced into North America and Australia and have spread widely there.

Some of the more common species of Tragopogon are known, in the regions where they are most common, by the common names goat’s beard, goatsbeard, salsify, or common salsify, without further qualification. These names are therefore inherently ambiguous, and best avoided, or reserved for the genus collectively. In the species list below, the first common name given is the one that seems to be most widely used for that species and is not in significant use for any other species.

The vegetable called salsify is usually the root of purple salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius; the root is described as having the taste of oysters (hence the alternative common name “oyster plant” for some species in this genus), but more insipid with a touch of sweetness. The young shoots of purple salsify can also be eaten, as well as young leaves[1]. Other species are also used in the same way, including the black or Spanish salsify, Scorzonera hispanica, which is closely related though not a member of the genus Tragopogon.

THERE’S STILL TIME!  Tomorrow night at So. Whidbey High School!  Monday – Jan 30 @ 7pm

I’ve sat down to type this with a racing heart, ears tuned to the recording I captured today, and excitement to get this written and posted fast, in the hope you’ll CHANGE YOUR PLANS, and be at South Whidbey High School tomorrow night at 6:45!

Where artistic director and conductor Legh W. Burns and the musicians of the Saratoga Chamber Orchestra,

have something very special for you!

From Russia With Love

What could be more perfect, in the dead of winter, than to be transported to Russia with the exultingly moody, brightly traversed, and powerfully portrayed music of Russian masters like Tchaikovsky, Prokoviev, Rachmaninov and Rimsky-Korskov?  Not much, by the response of the packed house at today’s concert of From Russia With Love.

Joined by accomplished violinist Lara Lewison, a 13 year old pianist, violinist and singer, this concert is, all at once, an amazement, and a tour de force of excitement!

On the stage you’ll see friends, neighbors and that familiar island face, performing some of the most fantastic music Whidbey can offer, leaving you inspired with what is possible during our winter months.

This concert left me invigorated on a slightly chilly drizzly winter day.


Tomorrow – Monday – January 30th – at 7pm – at South Whidbey High School 

you’ll have the chance to brighten your horizons, in the dead of winter, all the way from Russia – with love. 


Photo: Kim Tinuviel




Tchaikovsky – Cossack Dance from “Mazeppa”

Prokoviev – Violin Concerto #2, Op. 63
Lara Lewison, violin


Rachmaninov – Vocalise Op 34, No. 14 

Rimsky-Korsakov – Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34

CONDUCTOR: Legh W. Burns has been the music director and conductor of THE SARATOGA CHAMBER ORCHESTRA since its inception. He is Professor Emeritus of the University of Oklahoma School of Music and former first trumpet with the United States Air Force Band in Washington D.C. where he founded and conducted the Washington Chamber Ensemble. Additionally, Mr. Burns has taught at Springfield (IL) Junior College and the University of Denver, where he founded the National Trumpet Symposium and was founder and conductor of the Festival Chamber Orchestra of Denver.

Mr Burns is a graduate of The University of Miami (FL) earning a Master of Music degree in Trumpet Performance. He lists Pierre Monteux, Herbert Blomstedt, Richard Lert and Renee Longy as conductors and musicians with whom he has studied.

He is also very interested in the development of young musicians, having founded and conducted the Oklahoma Youth Orchestra and the Oklahoma Youth Symphonies and founding The Guy Fraser Harrison Academy for the Performing Arts. Youth orchestras under his direction have successfully undertaken performance tours in thirteen foreign countries, including a concert tour of The People’s Republic of China in 1981. For this, he was awarded the Music in Education Award by the Governor of Oklahoma.

THE ENSEMBLE is comprised of musicians from all corners of Whidbey Island and individual members of the SCO have held or currently hold positions in the Seattle Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Boulder (CO) Philharmonic, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Everett Symphony, Seattle Philharmonic as well as other regional and community orchestras and musical ensembles.  The unique multi-generational membership of the SCO, allows talented youth of the community to perform alongside adult members in a professional-educational setting.

7 pm


Whidbey’s only community radio station – for airing in the following weeks. 

Joining Gwen on KWPA’s Whidbey Chat this week were Coupeville Lion’s President, Dennis Bullock and, member and “Zone Chairman” John Kohlmann, for an interview about the Coupeville Lions Club.

Anyone who has been to Coupeville has seen the big Lion’s emblem on Coupeville’s welcome sign at Hwy 525 and Main St.  But, do they know just how many lives and community projects they touched.  Dennis Bullock, sitting Coupeville Lions president and member John Kohlmann are just two of our island citizen’s who are members of just one of our 5 island Lions clubs.

With a membership of 112 – the Coupeville Lions is the larger of the 2 clubs in the central Whidbey area.  The other is Central Whidbey Lions with a smaller membership, but no less good work done.  Dennis and John say there are multiple clubs for multiple reasons – could be the meetings are on the wrong day for some one’s schedule so they choose to start another club to better fit theirs and others free hours.  None the less, it doesn’t matter, as these Lions said, all Lions Clubs are good Lions clubs.

The Coupeville Lions, in particular, hold the infamous Garage Sale people come from miles around to attend.  They also hold an annual Scholarship benefiting dinner and auction, where Gwen’s co-host on What’s Up Whidbey, Harry Anderson seems to always get the heritage turkey up for auction, and that’s just two of the big events Coupeville Lions maintain annually.

LISTEN to this interview for more!   AND contact the Coupeville Lions to inquire about their annual open house – if you’d like to find out about joining the club –  April 13th, 2011 at the Methodist Church in Coupeville.  YOU must make contact & have a Lion invite you to attend this event – per the limited number of seats available.

Contact information for the Coupeville Lions – PO Box 473, Coupeville, 98239 – 360-678-4105

Visit the Coupeville Lions website:

Coupeville Lions Calendar pdf.

Listen to this interview re-air on Thursday March 24th, 2011 at 9am & Friday, March 25th, 2011 at 4pm.  YOU can tune into 96.9fm around the Penn Cove area of Whidbey Island – OR listen through your computer at the KWPA listen page.

This interview will appear on the podcast page of KWPA in 30 days.

KWPA radio – Whidbey Island’s public and community radio station – is happy to provide Whidbey Island property owners with information on the special MAIL IN only ballot – set for MAY 17, 2011 – in which Whidbey General Hospital will be asking Whidbey property owners for a 50 million dollar bond for the hospital’s upgrade and expansion.

Listen to Harry Anderson’s March 7, 2011 – interview with hospital CEO Tom Tomasino and CFO Joe Vessey for more information about this special ballot measure – by clicking on the linked title below


KWPA hopes this special interview will help Whidbey Island Property Owners understand more about this special election BOND.

Gwen would like to thank KWPA’s What’s Up Whidbey host – Harry Anderson for taking the time to host this special interview.

Thank you for listening to KWPA



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