The Viet­namese noo­dle soup that fea­tures a rich, aro­matic broth and rice noo­dles is a light, sat­is­fy­ing meal fit for sum­mer.

Pho (sounds like “fuh) is tra­di­tion­ally made using whole spices, beef bones, and fish sauce. It’s easy enough to elim­i­nate the meat or fish com­po­nents and zero in on the fresh herb and veg­etable ele­ments.

This suit­able for sum­mer vegan broth derives its depth and char­ac­ter from whole spices, aro­matic veg­eta­bles, chile pep­pers, and mush­rooms. Shi­take mush­rooms are first in line. Oys­ter or cri­m­ini are excel­lent sec­ond and third place drafts.

Gar­nished with cilantro or basil, bean sprouts and a squeeze of lime, the essence of this sim­mer­ing bowl is fully present.

Home cooks are find­ing ways to cre­ate their own ver­sions of this sooth­ing broth when take out or deliv­ery is unavail­able. Com­fort is a byprod­uct of in-​home prepa­ra­tion and as well as the slurp­ing.

Build base fla­vors begin­ning with star anise, whole cloves, whole pep­per­corns, and cin­na­mon sticks. Fresh gin­ger root, gar­lic and onions get the soup pot going. Char the onions, gin­ger and gar­lic to max­i­mize their potency.

Tamari, soy sauce and water sub­sti­tute the fish sauce. Steep the ingre­di­ents over low heat to release the aromatics.

Read more: “PHO“nomenenal →

Ever since the start of the global pan­demic, cit­rus demand and vol­ume have been tremen­dous. Navel oranges, in par­tic­u­lar, have been in high demand.

Con­sumers have got­ten the mes­sage that vit­a­min C is a good immu­nity boost. Given any chance to fight COVID-​19 through health­ier food choices, cit­rus makes log­i­cal sense.

Typ­i­cally, veg­etable choices make their way to the gro­cery shop­ping list. We tend to build meals around veg­eta­bles or at min­i­mum, lay a foun­da­tion of fla­vor. Fresh fruits suf­fer the fate of being more of an “impulse” buy over must have items.

Onions, cel­ery, gar­lic, car­rots, mush­rooms and bell pep­pers fre­quent any tasty sauce, stir fry or sum­mer grilling dish. It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine cook­ing with­out them. These pantry sta­ples are hardly out of stock.

Spe­cialty or eth­nic menu sug­ges­tions call for egg­plants, cab­bages, green onions, leeks, pota­toes and squashes. Turn­ing them in to a sump­tu­ous meal is only a recipe away.

Most fresh prod­ucts are being sold by super­mar­kets. In the United States and many other coun­tries, restau­rants are still closed or lim­ited on how much and what food is being served.

Less demand on cer­tain fresh pro­duce items and more demand on oth­ers makes it a very unpre­dictable sup­ply chain. Afford­able fruits and veg­eta­bles with a good shelf life com­mand shop­per atten­tion. In nor­mal mar­kets, fruits gen­er­ally get trac­tion from sea­sonal pro­mo­tions. Today’s empha­sis is geared towards stay­ing healthy.

Read more: Fruit Impulse →

Artists use ele­ments of design (line, shape, form, value, color, tex­ture and space) to make a con­nec­tion between a com­po­si­tion and a viewer.

The depic­tion of food in art cuts across all cul­tures and all recorded his­tory. Ancient Greek and Roman ban­quet tables laid out feasts of food as inspi­ra­tion and stim­u­la­tion.

We’re famil­iar with still life draw­ings, sketches and paint­ings that high­light fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles as the main sub­ject mat­ter.

This recent long stretch of stay-​at-​home/​cook at home pan­demic behav­ior gives more per­mis­sion to play with our food. Is any­one else out there look­ing at sum­mer pro­duce from an artist’s per­spec­tive?

Chefs and home cooks have always appre­ci­ated the sea­sonal value of what we eat when. Can­ning, pick­ling and pre­serv­ing are other food cen­tric activ­i­ties that cap­ture the best of summer’s showy spread.

Food (agri­cul­ture food prod­ucts in par­tic­u­lar) in all it’s forms is a dom­i­nant artis­tic theme. From plant­ing to har­vest and prepa­ra­tion to eat­ing, food imagery is cen­tral to social engage­ment.

COVID fatigue may be blur­ring the lines of California’s rich agri­cul­tural bounty. Farmer’s are given the tall task of feed­ing our great nation. That is not a new phe­nom­ena. The ever fluid impacts of the pan­demic now weigh heavy on grow­ers to adapt, per­form and deliver.

Read more: By Design →

Dat­ing back to the Cal­i­for­nia Gold Rush, Cal­i­for­nia pear farm­ers have a his­tory of a com­mit­ment to safe, sus­tain­able and healthy farm­ing.

Pear orchards in Cal­i­for­nia are some of the old­est on record to still be pro­duc­ing com­mer­cially. A 2011 assess­ment reveals the aver­age age of a Cal­i­for­nia pear orchard ranges between 33 and 100 years old,. Some of the old­est plant­i­ngs date back to the 1840’s.

Many of today’s pear farm­ers are still farm­ing orchards handed down to them by their grand­par­ents or great-​grandparents and most hope to pass their farms on to their own chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.

Mod­ern com­mer­cial pear farm­ing is an extremely com­pet­i­tive busi­ness. Mar­ginal prices, some­times below the cost of pro­duc­tion, have taken a toll on the num­ber of pear farm­ers who remain in busi­ness. Where once the state had over 300 pear farm­ers, today there are just 60. Those who are left must use their resources wisely. They’ve learned to band together to fund mar­ket­ing pro­grams and con­duct impor­tant research nec­es­sary to thrive and pros­per.

Today’s Cal­i­for­nia pear farmer per­fectly fits the model of the “ideal farmer” that today’s con­scious con­sumer is look­ing for. Grow­ing and har­vest­ing fruit is basi­cally done in the same way as gen­er­a­tions before them farmed, only adding new tech­nolo­gies to reduce pes­ti­cide use and pre­serve the envi­ron­ment. They are mostly small, non-​corporate, family-​owned busi­nesses, who care and sup­port the peo­ple in their close-​knit communities.

Read more: Pear Legacy →

Food has always been a gal­va­niz­ing bridge towards under­stand­ing her­itage and dif­fer­ent cul­tures.

Week what­ever dur­ing COVID con­fine­ment presents the per­fect storm to fly our food flags.

Leisure travel is off the table. Enjoy the world through the eyes of a chef or cook.

Col­or­ful assem­blage of plates from desir­able loca­tions feed more than the belly. Cap­rese salad, red, green and white– toma­toes, sweet basil and fresh moz­zarella — bring Italy to the table.

Pep­pers are an essen­tial Span­ish ingre­di­ent, whether they are fresh, roasted or fried. Served as a side dish or a tapa, red and yel­low are flag emblems of Spain. So too are dishes like gaz­pa­cho (cold tomato soup), romesco sauce or sofrito. Add color and fla­vor of pep­pers and toma­toes to sig­nify Span­ish influ­ences.

Cir­cle the globe with a week­night menu item that includes sea­sonal dishes from coun­tries of inter­est. Sum­mer corn and zuc­chini latkes move us to Israel for a light sup­per paired with a green salad. They’re per­fectly suit­able for week­end brunch with fruits and eggs cooked to order.

Inter­est­ing that pre­cious saf­fron is used in Indian main dishes and desserts. This color is rep­re­sented in the national flag. Exotic in color, fla­vor and aroma, take advan­tage of this very evoca­tive spice.

Read more: Wave That Flag →

When it comes to travel, many will opt for “roads less trav­elled” this sum­mer. Post­cards may reflect local, state and national loca­tions over more exotic global des­ti­na­tions.

Even then, tight restric­tions to our national trea­sures will likely limit those expe­ri­ences.

Camp­sites, parks and recre­ational areas will have pre-​set guide­lines for vis­i­tors. Adher­ing to the health advi­sories may pro­hibit even the most dar­ing of trav­el­ers. Road trips are mor­ph­ing into SAFE-​cations.

For all our shelter-​in-​place bud­dies, grab a new road map. Buckle up for safety. We’ve heard of “stay­ca­tions” prior to COVID-​19. They’re now more rel­e­vant and gain­ing wide atten­tion.

Plan an at home or close-​to-​home adven­ture. Cre­ative events bring us together in the safety net of our own back­yards. Decom­press­ing and tem­porar­ily escap­ing real­ity is what’s needed for reju­ve­na­tion. Time off from the every­day “new life nor­mals” can breath energy in to worn and weary souls.

Themed home events– for­eign movie night, cow­boy cam­pout, seren­ity day spa and ani­mal photo safari are wor­thy of explor­ing. Those who’ve trav­elled the world have fond mem­o­ries of cafes in Paris, muse­ums in Rome and moun­tains in Switzer­land. Revive those mag­i­cal remem­brances through newly designed travel events. Food is always cen­tral to any des­ti­na­tion, near or far.

Pre­pare the foods that sum­mon a nos­tal­gic glance back­wards to happy past travel moments.

Read more: Safe Travels →