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Visit the Cook for Good blog for wildly good cooking tips, money-saving ideas, book reviews, and more from Linda Watson and guest bloggers.

Saturday
Apr172010

Teaching outdoors in beautiful Urbana

Urbana-Champain? Champain-Urbana? One of the participants in my class at the Common Ground Food Co-op told me folks say it either way, but that Chambana covers it all. We had about 10 people on a gorgeous spring day outside the co-op. I was a little concerned about the distractions from the fire station across the street and the occasional Harley in the parking lot, but all went very well. What a delight to be outside talking about delicious food with such a lively group.

A question came up about freezing food as it does in nearly every class. If that's a question you have too, please check out my freezing food primer on the site.

The Common Ground Food Co-op is in a bright & airy space, with spring-green walls and colorful displays of produce and bulk goods. Just eighteen months ago, they were in a church basement on campus, with irregular hours and limited parking. Front End Manager Rachel Hess told me how far the co-op had come in a short time, with regular hours, plenty of parking in lovely Lincoln Square Village, and record-breaking sales month after month ... even through the winter!

What sets Common Ground apart? Rachel told me she is especially happy about the partnership they have with local farmers. The farmers' market is in their parking lot every Saturday. The co-op opens at 7 a.m. so folks can get coffee and use the bathrooms. "A farmer who runs out of basil will tell customers, 'I sold a bunch to Common Ground yesterday. Go on inside and get some.'" She's also glad that, being in a university town, they get a fresh crop of customers every year to introduce to the joys of fresh and healthy eating.

I felt right at home in Chambana and knew it would be a great place to live after following Rachel's advice to get dinner at Mas Amigos. Excellent Mexican food with great service and lively music. I hope to come back soon.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about the magical time we had in Fairfield, Iowa, and about today's adventures in Denver.

Wednesday
Apr142010

Sustainable Urbana

I'm looking forward to the Cook for Good in 20 Minutes a Day class tonight at Common Ground Food Co-op in Urbana, Illinois at 6:30.

Before then, I'm going to check out all the terrific local businesses here in Urbana-Champaign. Local magazine Community Concierge ran a terrific article about the local support for independent businesses, particularly arts-related ones: Vitality at the City Square.

I love seasonal cooking and I love towns and cities with distinctive personalities!

Tuesday
Apr132010

Small but enthusiastic class in Lexington, KY

And when I say small, I mean small! But Janet and I had a great time and she said she learned a lot, even though she's already a cook who's not afraid to spend an hour making a good dinner.

The Good Foods Market & Cafe was a very polished and well-stocked co-op, more on the Whole Foods end of the shopping spectrum. They have a terrific hot bar and salad bar.

Sunday
Apr112010

Great event at Hendersonville Community Co-op

What a great first stop on the western part of the Cook for Good Coast-to-Coast Tour. About 20 people gathered in the charming warehouse/classroom at the Hendersonville Community Co-op for Cook for Good in 20 Minutes a Day. Folks at the co-op set up about a quarter of the warehouse as a classroom and community area with art, colorful posters, and good chairs. After the class, co-op manager Gretchen took me on a tour, showing me the Preserve recycled products made in part from category 5 plastics, such as yogurt cups, that the co-op collects and ships to Preserve at its own expense.

Ryan and his crew in the deli there made us a delicious and colorful lunch: beet salad, potato salad, and a black-eyed pea salad. Made friends with Lynne at the cash register, whose 19-year-old son works at the co-op too. Lynne said her son had been coming to the co-op since he was about 4. What a warm place!

Gretchen invited me back to do more classes, so I'm looking forward to coming back to Hendersonville often!

Wednesday
Apr072010

A cooking radio show

I'm listening to Steve Boss and Dylan prepping for his Great Taste cooking radio show just before we go on the air:

"Will the couscous be crispy?"
"Not in that broth."

"Sautee more garlic!"

... later after the show...

What fun! Dylan cooked during the radio show, so there was sizzling and tasting as delicious background music. Steve even sent me a picture of the food, so I've got all the senses going except taste!

Judy Kingsbury, the Savvy Vegetarian, joined us. She shared her adventures in researching the nutritional value of agave.

I'm really looking forward to meeting them all in Fairfield on April 15th.