Hollyhock: Garden to Table
by Moreka Jolar, Heidi Scheifley and the Hollyhock Cooks
"Garden to table is both metaphor and practical resilience," Joel and Dana Bass Solomon write in their introduction to this Hollyhock cookbook. He is Board Chair and she is CEO at Hollyhock, "a centre of learning and connection" on Cortes Island, British Columbia.
I had the pleasure of visiting Hollyhock a few years ago and one of the first delights one sees is the garden. It's a one-acre, French-intensive, bio-dynamic garden tended for thirty years by Nori Fletcher.
Dr. Andrew Weil writes about Fletcher in his foreword to the book. He's been friends with her since he first went to Hollyhock thirty years ago to teach a workshop on herbal medicine. Dr. Weil acknowledges Fletcher as the source of inspiration for the book as she's a master of garden-to-table cooking.
The Hollyhock grounds are on the shore overlooking miles of the Georgia Strait (between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia) and low tide reveals an expanse of soft sand. The forest, sea and sky create an amazing setting for the garden and when you see the buffet table at mealtime, all elements converge in a beautiful and nourishing array.
While you can't pick produce from the Hollyhock garden, you can follow the cookbook's "secret" recipes. As the authors suggest: "Plan your week so that you do most of your shopping at the farmer's market or sign up for a CSA (community-shared agriculture) box from a local farm."
The book really encourages that sort of nourishing of one's self and sustainable farming practices. There's even a quote by Pablo Neruda from one of his odes to the onion.
Each section has an introduction. For "Salads and Dressings", for instance, we learn that "washing and tearing lettuce is a full time job" at Hollyhock. The salads, in their huge bowls, are sprinkled with nasturtiums, lilies, calendula, borage, tulips and roses so they become a "feast for the eyes."
The comments before the recipes are a delight to read and as I read the recipes I planned some flavorful and unique meals. How about Kale Caesar Salad with Hazelnut Dressing? The recipe for Warm Potato Nicoise Salad is a West Coast version with smoked salmon.
"Warm salads are the answer to a rainy night's cry for comfort," Moreka Jolar and Heidi Scheifley say. That's when you roast vegetables and add beet orange vinaigrette.
"Soups and other bowls are a trademark ingredient to a day's buffet at Hollyhock," the authors say. There's a section on them with an introduction that describes the steamy Hollyhock kitchen.
Menus are rarely planned ahead of time. "They design themselves based on what the gardeners have harvested," the authors write. That has me rethinking my own grocery list. I'll check out the farmers' market (it's July as I write this), and plan the meals once I know what's available.
And at any time of year, as the authors say, "Intuitive cooking with the garden as your guide and curiosity as your fuel will have you exploring the nature and nuances of food in new ways each season."
The cooks at Hollyhock are "locavores" and enjoy the wild seafood available: salmon, albacore tuna, BC spot prawns, halibut, oysters, clams and mussels.
Pizzas will never be the same when you try this variation: nettle pesto with roasted sweet potatoes, asparagus and chevre. The forests around Hollyhock are teaming with nettles in early spring.
Indian, Thai and Hebrew dishes make their way into all the possibilities as do Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Italian and Middle Eastern.
I've been inspired by Hollyhock: Garden to Table and I'm feeling grateful for the abundance around us. I've become aware of so many tantalizing possibilities and I know my taste buds will never be the same.
Moreka Jolar has been cooking professionally for 25 years; 15 have been in Hollyhock's kitchen. She is a teacher, farmer and co-owner of Cook's Cooperative, and the co-author of the bestselling cookbook, Hollyhock Cooks. Heidi Scheifley is a certified Gourmet Natural Foods Chef who has cooked in kitchens from Hollyhock on Cortes island, Canada to Greece, Southeast Asia, Egypt, Israel, Nepal, India and Hawaii. The authors have a website with recipes at Ripple Rock Cooks.
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