Monthly Archives: July 2011

WORKSHOP! Radicalizing Herbalism and Activating the Healers

And now, for a Dépanneur Le Pick-Up-related missive, another workshop that I’ve organized….

Our friends Meghan Murphy and Claudia Abbott-Barish, two lovely California-based food and food justice activists, are traveling across North American in their cherry red 1980 Ford Courier pickup truck and touring bicycles… and making a stop in Montreal! They will be hosting the workshop “Radicalizing Herbalism and Activating the Healers” at the Dep on Sunday, August 14 at 6pm.

Both have been local food and food justice activists for many years and have come to look at their herbalism studies as another side of the same coin. Feeling a significant lack of social analysis and activism around herbal medicine as they have encountered it, they have been cultivating a common desire to radicalize herbalism, and mobilize healers to realize the innate activism in their pursuit of an alternative paradigm of healing.

Not to miss an opportunity for broad geographical and social engagement, the ladies have decided to fold their road trip, cycle trip and workshop tour into one jammed-packed adventure of intrigue, physical tests, emotional and psychological trials, community involvement and anarchist hedonism.

Here’s what they have to say about the Montreal workshop:

“Using popular education, our workshop will cover a brief history of corporate power and how herbal medicinal use has been prevented in the past, barring us from actions of self-sufficiency. We will focus on why cultivating, wild-crafting and teaching about herbs creates new possibilities for us to create more healthy, reciprocal systems (social and economic) in the rest of our lives. This analysis will include examples, past and present, of how people have used herbs and herbal medicine to resist exploitation by those in power. The workshop will end with a dialogue on how to engage around these issues with members of our communities; what methods are inclusive, representative and equitable, and how to collaborate with the most people.“

They’ll also be doing fun, hands-on activities like making salves, tinctures, and tea blends.Spots for registration are extremely limited, so please email me at natasha.pickowicz AT for a spot. Unlike our other workshops, this event will be charged on a sliding scale of $10-20. Please pay an amount with which you feel comfortable.

This workshop is aimed at healers, herbalists or self-taught herbal-medicine makers, who are interested in how their work can have a greater community impact beyond the traditional forms of engagement. That said, it is open to ANYONE who is remotely intrigued by the subject matter. Your contribution is valuable no matter who you are.

For more information, please visit their website, Root Medicine. We hope to see you there!!


The bridal shower I keep going on and on about? I was also in charge of the food. The vibe was simple and light — and I didn’t want to go the finger sandwich and chicken salad route — and I decided on grilled crostini two ways: broiled garden tomatoes soaked in balsamic and torn basil, and white bean, mushroom, thyme, and zucchini, drenched in white wine and lemon. Two salads, too: red leaf lettuce with dill, terragon, basil, garden cucumbers, and fresh summer corn, and arugula with grilled radicchio, blueberries, and homemade rye croutons. And dessert, of course — two summer fruit crostatas, one peach and raspberry, the other blueberry. Not only was it the first bridal shower I’ve ever hosted, it was the first bridal shower I’ve attended, ever. Hopefully it had the low-key and ladylike vibe befitting the lovely bride!


Last weekend I helped host a bachelorette weekend for my friend and future bride Meredith. The night before the bridal shower, I made Meredith’s favorite food for dinner. Pizza!

Now that I’m writing for Slice, the heat is really on to make some superlative pies. My favorite tip so far? Michelle once told me that the key to great pizza sauce is to not cook it — and I had always simmered my sauce on the stove first. She liked to blitz a can of San Marzano tomatoes in a blender with some salt and garlic, and then ladle the raw sauce onto the dough. The tomatoes heat up in the oven, and the taste remains fresh and vibrant. Genius.

[And also — are you in Ithaca? Sasha and Jarek are hosting a show with my friends tonight!]


Beautiful Sasha made me dinner! Roasted red pepper + feta + crispy sweet potato frittata with salad greens + tomato + cucumber + herbs. “Easy peasy,” she called it. I love her style of cooking so much. Similar to me, yet super different, too. I always feel like I learn so much when I watch her cook. We brought a wedge of Red Meck — so salty and smooth.


Man, I love my new camera. It makes Joni look even more adorable than she already is! (Didn’t know this was possible, for her to look even more adorable than she already is).


Guess what? Last week I bought my very first DSLR! It’s been overwhelming and amazing trying to figure out how to work this thing, but I really love it so far. Perfect timing, too — I had it for my arrival in Ithaca and plan to bust it out every five minutes for the next two weeks.

Also, I’m kind of in love with my friend Bill’s coffee table (first photo). He has concert stubs dating back over a decade on display. Smart idea. I have a million shoeboxes stuffed with ticket stubs, and while I can’t bear to throw them away, I don’t know what to do with them, either.

Another genius idea? My friend Christian’s kimchi stew (!), third photo from bottom. He caught nine trout from the lake earlier that morning. I think I can safely say that it was some of the best fish I’ve ever had in my life. Ever.

It’s great to be back.

On Starting With Gougères

My friend Katherine recently planted a terrific idea in my brain.

“Can we please eat lobsters and drink white Burgundy together? Like, soon?” It was like I had never heard of a more amazing idea in my life.

Fast forward one week and five grocery trips later, and Adam and I were confronted with a refrigerator bursting forth with eight lobsters and nine bottles of white wine. Conceptually, we decided on a menu that melded both classic Burgundian and traditional American techniques — kinda like me and Adam, actually.

This is what we came up with:

Champagne with raspberry syrup // Gougères  // Smoked salmon with crème fraîche, lemon and cucumber

Wilted pea shoots + baby swiss chard + garlic // Richard Olney’s 45-minute scrambled eggs with fava beans + garlic sourdough rye croutons

Boiled lobster with tarragon butter + garlic-scallion butter + green peppercorns // Boiled new potatoes with scallions + walnut vinaigrette

Peach tart with fresh pastry cream //

The night was magical, and I’ll share all the recipes in the next few days, starting with the gougères, a savory choux pastry — picture a French cheese puff — traditionally made with milk, cheese, flour, salt, and egg. (I’ve also seen variations that use white pepper or Dijon mustard). Gougères are often made with salty Gruyère, but you could use Comté or emmenthaler, too. They’re an indisputably classic — and irresistible — French hors d’oeuvre, and happen to pair spectacularly with white Burgundy, and even champagne. Though I loosely followed an old Saveur recipe, Dorie Greenspan’s iteration looks lovely, too. The finished gougères are a thing to behold — light to the touch, and even lighter in the mouth. And they couldn’t be simpler to make.

Makes 3 dozen. Adapted from here.

Saveur’s Gougères

8 T butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup AP flour
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups grated gruyère cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water and butter in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add salt. Bring to a boil and remove pan from heat when butter has melted.

2. Dump in flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until the batter pulls away from the sides of the pan. (This took less than a minute for me; it should happen very quickly).

3. Return pan to heat for one minute, stirring. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

4. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Make sure dough is smooth after each addition — it should look shiny and slick, and very thick.

5. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese until well combined.

6. Scoop spoonfuls of batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and brush each puff with a bit of milk, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup grated cheese.

7. Bake 20 minutes, or until golden and light. Serve immediately.


My time spent home in San Diego was short and sweet.

Now I’m off for a weekend of maid-of-honor duties at the big bridal weekend! Hello, New York Fingerlakes…


Hallelujah, the maid-of-honor dress search is over, with not a minute to spare (the wedding is in two weeks). Picked this up for $30 at H&M. Not bad. I was getting so desperate I almost dropped $600+ on a beautiful putty-colored Marc Jacobs dress at Neiman Marcus. (Nordstroms has it on sale here). But I think I prefer the $30 dress, thanks.

Jerk Chicken: It’s Not Just Heat

[All photos by Allen McInnis, courtesy of the Gazette] After alluding to it here, and after countless hours tinkering around in my kitchen and on my grill, I’m so stoked to finally share my story (and recipe!) on jerk chicken. I really wanted my jerk recipe to seem super approachable for the home chef, and it’s really as simple as spinning a marinade around in a blender, and exercising some patience while the meat barbecues super slowly and gently. The results are almost as good as anything I had in Jamaica, and I was thrilled with how it came out. I plan on making it all summer long!

Read the full story in today’s Montreal Gazette!

Also, wondering about my rad apron? It was designed by my dear friend Meredith Towsand. I love mine and wear it all the time.

And finally, thanks to Cheryl (whose blog I adore) for the wonderful mention in Simple Lovely Blog! What greater pleasure is there in the world than to inspire each other?