Archive for the ‘Project Menu’ Category

Last Day In Italy – Unintended Consequences of a Project Gone Awry

Monday, November 9th, 2009
What a Fantastic Mistake - The Leaning Tower of Pisa

What a Fantastic Mistake - The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Since I accidentally left my Italy tour books at a counter in JFK, on Saturday we were flying blind. We decided to go to that most displayed Italian landmark from our childhood, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The tower was first built around 1100 BC and started learning around 1200 BC. Now, I might be wrong here, but this tower put Pisa on the map. Also, it most likely would not even still be standing today if it weren’t for it’s less than 90% vertical status. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is what gets people to visit Pisa. And what do people do when they visit an area – they spend money. I’d say this mistake has had a great 800 year run on creating revenue for the people of Pisa. GOOD WORK.

I’m back in the States – back at the grind.  Literally.  My Nutrimill grinder showed up when I was gone.  I’m milling my own flour.  It’s supposed to be a lot better for you than the over processed stuff at the store.  I have a loaf of bread rising in the oven.   I am also going to try to make “Mustardo.” This is candied apples in a mustard and hot chili pepper syrup. I can’t find a recipe for it on the web, so I’m going to do what I do best, experiment.

And for the record – I lost four pounds on my eating tour of Parma. Rather amazing – to lose weight, I need to spend more time eating. I’ve been doing it all wrong all these years. We didn’t even eat that many fruits and vegetables – just Prosciutto de Parma, Parmagiano Reggiano cheese, lots and lots of fresh pasta, meats with sauces, bread, butter – I even had chocolate croissants and pastries at breakfast with whole milk. Amazing. Viva Italiano!

Life After Cooking School

Friday, November 6th, 2009
Being Serenaded by An Admirer at the Trattoria

Being Serenaded by An Admirer at the Trattoria

Cooking school boot camp ended yesterday.   And I’m still in Italy.   I head home on Sunday.   I figured it might be nice to have some unscheduled time after the culinary immersion to just hang out in Italy.   I didn’t leave the room until 1.   Went to a little Tratorria a block from the hotel.   And had a lovely 84 year old gent sing us an Italian love song.   Boy do I like a country where I am treated like one of the treasures from God instead of in the US where I’m treated as if I have some type of self-discipline disorder for not being a perfect size 8. In Ominvore’s Dilemma, Michael Polen says the US has a nationwide eating disorder.  After being here – where these folks eat and eat and eat – all natural, locally raised foods, prepared with no additives,  I completely agree with Mr. Polen.   We aren’t getting fatter and fatter in the US because we don’t have any self-discipline.   We are getting fatter and fatter because we are purchasing crap products with too many preservatives and additives that help the food manufacturers increase the shelf life and shelf stability of their products, but that are literally killing us.   Spending five hours a day in the company of great people, enjoying great food and great conversation is the way to live – not running from one meeting to another gulping down whatever food you can quickly get.   The US doesn’t just have a national eating disorder, they have a national living disorder.

Cantina in La Buca - a very authentic Italian Ristorante in Zibello.

Cantina in La Buca - a very authentic Italian Ristorante in Zibello.

What is odd is in the US I am pretty much invisible – a standard middle age, rotund short woman of average looks.  It’s very strange – I am very well known in my field.   Pictures of me appear in all our publications.  Many people claim they know me.  Yet when they see me in person at meetings, they ignore me – like I don’t exist – until I go up and introduce myself.   Then it’s as if – oh my god, this PM “big wig” is standing here in front of me.   When five minutes earlier, they just blew me off.   Yes we have a problem in the US of what we think “successful” people should look like.

But because of way I look, people actually treat me nicer here.   I am reading the book Heat by Bill Buford.   In his book, he mentions a restaurant in a town just south of here called Zibello and a restaurant there called La Buca.  We had our tour guide Melanie make us a reservation there for tonight.  We were warned the woman who runs the place Mariane was a force of nature sometimes prone to storms, but the food was GREAT.  

Diesel or Gas - Google on the Iphone Saves the Day.  New found friends Fabio and Stefano.

Diesel or Gas - Google on the Iphone Saves the Day. New found friends Fabio and Stefano.

Carey practiced her Italian all afternoon making sure she had the basics down so we would do nothing to cause bad weather with Mariane.   However, when we got there, we
were welcomed with open arms.   Mariane, just loved us.   She showed us her “cantina” – with all her salami’s, cheeses, proscuitto’s, and wine barrels.   She had her son-in-law wait on us since he spoke very good English.   We were treated like royalty.   Maybe she doesn’t like the skinny US reporters who visit her?   She was very nice to us.

The big adventure with going to La Buca was just getting there.   We had not ventured out in the car since we got here.  And getting here was a very disorienting experience.   We left for La Buca right as it was getting dark, and it was raining.   We made it there without getting lost – and had an hour to drive around.   So for another adventure we decided to gas up the car.   At the station, we couldn’t figure out if the car took diesel or regular.   After much discussion with the gas station attendant Fabio and his friend Stefano, I decided to google the make and model of the car on my Iphone – both guys looked at each other and said Google – SI, Google and were nodding their heads up and down.   Very funny – yes the answer was on google – it took diesel.

One last day in Italy before we head back to the States.   I think I might find some type of cooking school in residence back here where I can come live for a couple of months.   Who would not want to be where you are just totally loved for who you are – instead of being dismissed by the general population since you don’t live up to some ideal of what others think you should be?    I love the Italians.

Cooking School Fourth Day – Grapes, Olives, and Fish

Friday, November 6th, 2009
Chromulous Structure Side View - Nice

Chromulous Structure Side View - Nice

Chromolous Sculpture Front View - AMAZING

Chromulous Sculpture Front View - AMAZING

This day of cooking school was spent on the bus and not in the kitchen.   However, it was GREAT.   We drove up to a lake region where the cold air from the alps is funneled down into the area along a deep lake creating the perfect climate for grape growing.   It is called the Francicorta region famous for the production of Italian Spumante.   We went to the Bella Vista winery – the crown jewel of the region.   I loved this winery being a systems engineer as everything was so carefully thought out and very artistic.   It was both elegant AND functional.   There were these little surprises every where you looked – and pointed your camera.   One sculpture, while it was interesting, didn’t illustrate the WOW factor until you looked at it through your cameral lens – where it became a christmas tree ornament with the evergreen in the background.

I had read the book Super Crunching last year and remembered reading about a guy who had created a model that analyzed number of weather factors of the main wine growing regions of the world to determine where the best wine would be produced.   He had it down to a science.  I inquired about how they used weather “metrics.”   I was told that they cut apart three onions and after three days, the onions that sweat the most, that is the month they are going to get the most rain.   Personally, I think there is a little more to it than that.   I predict it’s more like they have to cut apart these three onions on the second full moon AFTER Christmas (sometime in mid-february, early march).  Then this tells them when the next six months will have the most rain.  I will test it out later this year and let y’all know.

I just loved the geometric design of the winery.   Since I am still working on my own geometrically designed house in Nevada, I got some fantastic ideas.   The triangular tables in their conference areas where amazing.   I loved the pervasive use of arches, circles, triangles, ovals, squares that were everywhere.  I’ve used the similar design approach in Nevada – just not on this grand a scale.

Summary of geometric elements at the Bella Vista Winery

Summary of geometric elements at the Bella Vista Winery

We left the winery and went to the lake for a lunch on an island that was fish, fish, and more fish.   We were served five different types of fish.  Nice lunch.   THEN we were served four more types of fish.   More nice lunch.   Two hours later, extractating ourselves from that restaurant, we headed for the Olive oil pressing plant.   By now, my pants were getting tight.  HOWEVER, I had three pairs on.  As we were told it would be very cold on the boat to the island restaurant.   Recalling the cold dank day the day before, I was prepared.  I am happy to report, today with only one pair of pants on – they are still loose.  How I can go to cooking school, eat for over five hours per day, sit on a bus most of the day and lose weight is beyond me.   I think my regime of exercising a lot and eating healthy may just not be that healthy for me.

The olive oil pressing plant was very small – they were a neighborhood processor that processed all the olive oil for the surrounding olive growers.   At Academia Barilla we learned about three types of olive oils – Tuscan that is very strong and good in soups and on breads.   Ligonia olive oil – that is very delicate and good on fish.  And Sicilian olive oil that is mild and good on salad.   The olive oil we tested at the plant was an extra virgin (only pressed once) and good for salads and bread.   The version I tasted was unfiltered.   That was pretty darn bitter.   More hazing.

First Day of Cooking School

Thursday, November 5th, 2009
Carey and I learn how to boil Italian water at cooking school.

Carey and I learn how to boil Italian water at cooking school.

Well, it is now the fourth day of cooking school, and I am just getting around to writing in the blog about the first day of school.  They keep us busy here from early morning to late at night.   Mostly in EATING.   Yes I am learning quite a bit about Italian cooking – which I am coming to find out is as much about selecting the correct ingredients and enjoying a fine meal as it is about cooking.   The Italians are very passionate about their food.  More than five hours every day is devoted to meals.   This explains why I am having to play late night catch up on the blog.

Oddly enough with all this attention on eating, my pants are getting looser, while many of my classmates are having the opposite problem.   WOW what does that say about my eating habits at home?   A big part of the Italian cooking class is also learning how to consume wine with every meal and not get too inebriated.   I unfortunately am allergic to alcohol.  So while most of my classmates are getting a good number of calories from the wine, I am just doing the tasting meals.  Which is lots of little portions.   And lots of time in between.  Slow eating, over a couple of hours, small quantities of food and LOTS of walking in between time.  That explains it all.

Overall the experience with Academia Barilla in Parma has been fantastic.  My classmates are primarily woman – most over 40.  Two brought their husbands.  The rest came with friends or solo.   It’s a group of woman who love to cook and have a great time.   The laughter has been non-stop.   What I love even more about it – I am NOT IN CHARGE.   If there is a problem, it is someone else’s to solve.  (I did have to get one of my classmate’s computers to work on the internet – but as a volunteer it didn’t matter if I succeeded at that or not).

We spent the first day in a lecture where we learned about the quality certifications on the foods produced in Parma and how to distinguish the real thing from the fakes produced all over the world.  Very insightful education.   Sounds like the food industry has the same problems the Project Management industry has with people presenting knock offs as just as good as the real thing (non-certified PMs vs. PMPs).   Then we went to their incredible kitchen classroom.   We were in groups of four working on the recipes for a five course meal.  For every two groups, we had a dedicated chef to help us.   One of the woman in our group was trained at Cordon Bleu (what she was doing in this class for untrained folks was beyond me).   I learned “knife” skills the first day. by our in group “expert.”   The Academia Barilla chef, Nicola, seemed fine with my knife skills but taught me some  techniques if I wanted to try something new.   I preferred his approach.   After almost 40 years of cooking,  I wasn’t doing everything wrong with the knife.  I learned more about group interaction styles and what approaches work well in a team and what don’t more than I learned about knife skills from our group’s self proclaimed expert.

One of the other woman taught me how she chops up rosemary – never really had given much thought to how I chopped up rosemary or that it even needed to be chopped.  But then she explained all the different ways she used chopped rosemary with cooking her own beef as well.  We became good friends fast – a fellow cattle woman.   Now we’re exchanging stories on installing windmills.  Maybe we woman who love to cook and are willing to travel to Italy to learn more, have more in common than we realize.   And since I am not the teacher in this group – I am allowed to have favorites.  Mary Jimmy is one of my favorites – she is an emergency room nurse.  If I ever find myself in need of an emergency room nurse near the Jack Daniels distillery in Tennessee, I will be in good hands at her hospital.  I think we need to write the definitive guide to cooking an entire cow.

I’ve made lots of other friends in class as well.   An elegant woman who on a wing and a prayer made a dramatic life change to follow her heart and start her life over in San Diego – she was as beautiful as she was gutsy.   Another was  a recently widowed full of life woman from LA.  And then there was the truffle loving  veterinarian who took copius notes.  I became fast friends with “Mom and Dad” – a recently liberated couple who sold their chain of hotels.  And by the end of the week was discussing entreprenurial opportunities with this spit fire mom-preneur from Georgia who was on the trip with her Mom.   I also got to know  two wonderful employees from Sur La Table (good move sending those two to this class).  When we reconnect with each other back in the states – at least we know we can all cook.

I’ll write more tomorrow – it’s almost 1 AM and we’re taking a boat to some island to try out various olive oils tomorrow.

Pedal Power in Parma

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
Rental Bike Posing for a Picture in Front of Stadium Entrance in Parma

Rental Bike Posing for a Picture in Front of Stadium Entrance in Parma

Now I know how the people of Parma stay so petite.  They bike EVERYWHERE.  This is one bike friendly city.   After the rat in the maze experience on Saturday that had us driving round and round in circles, we discovered the code to the city streets on Sunday.    You rent a bike, and follow the bike paths all over the city designed in a circle around the Cathedral.   What a total blast – well for a couple hours at least.   Cooking school officially started Sunday evening so we had the day to explore.

You can rent bkes here for the day or for the year.  And they have about 10 locations where you can pick up and drop off the bikes (that is if you rent them for the year).  We also discovered, that while you rent the bikes for the hour, you have to return them from where they came.   If you want to return them during the lunch break (which lasts 2 to 3 hours depending) – you get the privelege of keeping the bike another three hours.   Being two middle aged woman who were here to cook, five hours on a bike was not why we came to italy.   So being creative, we found a lovely cafe to park ourselves and our bikes – fitting in with the natives.

People bike here like they drive in the US – with kids in car seats, sipping lattes, and talking on their cell phones.  While large buses whiz by at 30 MPH.    I don’t think they have discovered bike helmets over here – or those are just for the “serious” bikers.   And there is a major competition for side of the road space with the vespas that scream in and out of traffic.   Crossing the street is not for the faint of heart either – as stopping at a cross walk for pedestrian is a completely optional event.  It seems like a very large game of “chicken” for all participants.  And folks think Rome is dangerous.

Made it to Italy AND the Internet is FINALLY Working

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Cooking School In Italy

Cooking School In ItalyMichelle LaBrosse, PMP

We made it to Parma. YEAH. Odd how whenever I travel the business booms. I wasn’t gone more than 2 hours and sales doubled over the previous day. I am not sure why that is – but the team wants to take up a collection to get me a motor home.

Being that I love project management, everything went off like clock work – EXCEPT when the Iphone croaked and we lost the map to the hotel. Which was probably for the best. We passed the Parmagiano Reggiano Cheese factory twice and were most definitely not in a city area. Once we lost the Iphone, I picked up random signs for the hotel every other kilometer, but I’d lose them entering a round about. We got to drive all over Parma for two hours. Lovely little city. Finding the hotel was just an act of random kindness by the universe.

The Sur La Tab folks have already been in touch with us. Caught us snoozing. But got us up in time for dinner. We are still trying to figure out what time it is over here as it’s supposed to be six hours different from the US East Coast but for some reason it’s only 5 hours ahead. Maybe everything will work itself out tomorrow with daylight savings time. My body has no idea what time it really is so it doesn’t matter what time the clock says anyhow.

Carey and I are coming up with lots of ideas for columns already. One is just the project of managing a trip like this – it certainly has taken a lot of coordination by us and the folks at Sur La Tab. We had our schedule and our risk management plan (like arriving in JFK in NYC at rush hour on a Friday with three hours to go before our flight). Being highly risk tolerant travelers – we don’t worry that much about where we’re going once we get there. We both plan in broad brush strokes – not the minute details. It leaves a lot more room to find those unknown treasures that makes foreign travel so much fun. Day one of the trip and after the joy ride through Parma, Carey is still talking with me.

Got to go get ready for dinner – we’re going somewhere “fun” – but the earliest reservation is at 7:30 PM over here. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the place and we have a vague idea of the directions. Will be interesting to see where we end up eating dinner. Oh Carey has just informed me, she wrote down the name of the place – or at least her rendition of the name of the place. Like I said – will be interesting where we eventually eat dinner.

Carey just discovered our trip itinerary – I’m sure they had an element of this for us before. Why know what you need to know before you need to know it? We made it to Parma – that was all I needed to know.

Lessons Learned – Much easier to travel with someone who likes a little planning and a LOT of adventure. Carey is a good travel companion for cities as she lived in NYC for 15 years and spent 6 months in Rome so she somewhat knows the language. Plus she has more convenient reading glasses than I do. She is my risk management plan

Off to Cooking School

Friday, October 30th, 2009

When I got the last of the little birds to fly the nest off to college, I decided to go back to school as well.   Cooking school.   Nothing too extreme – I do after all have a business to run and employees to care for still.   It is part of my overall Mom Emancipation Program.   The “Mom Emancipation Program” involves doing those things that I could not do over the past 20 years and could not do the previous 27 years before that due to being in “real” school.   It will be interesting to see where the “Mom Emancipation Program” leads me as the goals are fairly vague – do those things I could not do the previous 47 years of my life.

Packing Light for Cooking School

Packing Light for Cooking School

I’m off to “Cooking School Lite” with Sur La Table in Italy.  So far the experience has been OUTSTANDING.   They have an event concierge who sends you cooking supplies before you ever get there.  Calls you every other week or so to check in on how you’re doing with your travel plans (her name is Andrea and what an asset she is to Sur La Table).   Yes I was a little anxious to do this – I’m not inclined to fly off to Europe for a ten day cooking school experience.  Plus all my cooking skills have been self taught.   I talked my foodie pal and writing guru Carey, into coming with me.

I like to see how light I can pack.  I managed to get everything I need for the next ten days stuffed into these two little bags.   The question is – will I be able to stuff it all back into those two little bags for the trip home?

Swine Flu Recovery Kit

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Ginger Root - the Amazing Swine Flu Cure

Ginger Root - the Amazing Swine Flu Cure

As more and more of my friends and family succumb to the swine flu, I have been mailing them my swine flu recovery kit.   Yes, it might seem a bit odd for them to be opening this package that contains a large tuber of ginger, a box of zen green tea and a small container of agave nectar.   But for those who have tried this and reduced the severity and length of their flu symptoms, yes it is a GREAT swine flu recovery kit.   Ginger has been used since ancient times to relieve common flu symptoms of congestion, upset stomach.   It is  a well known anti-inflammatory as well.   And what is happening in your body when it’s fighting off the flu virus, inflammation.  The green tea is a great detoxifier – helps the liver and kidneys more efficiently get rid of the toxins being tossed off from your body fighting the flu virus.  And the agave nectar – a low glycemic sweetner for the tea.   Won’t spike the blood sugar – something that the flu invaders love.   Here is what I do with these three ingredients:

Slice up the ginger root – a lot of it – at least 1/4 cup per quart of water.   Bring the water to a boil and then just let the ginger root sit in the hot water.  Toss in several tea bags.  Sweeten to taste with the agave nectar.   Drink at least six cups of this a day until you start feeling better.

If you start feeling flu like symptoms coming on – start quaffing this gingerroot tea mixture.   If you are already in the full blown throes of the flu, have someone get you these ingredients and start drinking it.  You’ll be on the mend a lot faster.

Standard Disclaimer – this is no substitute for medical advice.   If you have a serious medical condition, and get the flu, get to your doctor.

Another great remedy is homemade chicken soup – already wrote up a great recipe for this.   Great anti-viral properties come from cooking the living daylights out of a chicken.   Don’t think it has any voodoo origins either.     I posted a chicken noodle soup recipe that will do the trick back in the summer –

For more of my flu remedies (I was one of the lucky ones who got the swine flu before it became that popular) check out this earlier post –

Ina Garten’s Incredible Cold Cucumber Soup

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Amazing Cold Cucumber Soup Recipe in Here

Amazing Cold Cucumber Soup Recipe in Here

Okay Ina, I hope you don’t get too upset with me for sharing this. But it is the MOST fantastic soup I’ve EVER had. For those of you who love to cook – get Ina’s “Barefoot Contessaa Back to Basics” cookbook.

Here goes with the project story of how I stumbled upon this recipe.

Project Initiation

I recently listened to an audio book on tape called “Julie and Julia”. It’s a story about this woman who after recently turning 30, decides that her life is pretty blase and to spice things up, she undertakes to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s book – “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in one year. She also decides to blog about her year adventure.

My younger daughter, who’s kitchen claim to fame is “Easy Mac” just howled at the book. She purchased it on a jaunt across the country. She talked about it endlessly for several days and I figured any book that got her inspired to move her culinary exploits past the reheat button on the microwave might be entertaining on a ride to Cape Cod to go camping in the rain for three days. She claimed the actual book was a lot better than the audio version (for whatever that is worth – not having read the book, I can’t comment).

Oddly enough, when I got back to Alaska several weeks later, I had a copy of Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” on my bed. My oldest daughter had given it to me for Mother’s day and I had just started reading it before I left for my two month summer adventure. Having grown up watching Julia Child’s cooking show on PBS, I am prone to spontaneously break into Julia Child imitation when I’m explaining something I’m doing in the kitchen to anyone within ear shot. My children always just thought this was how people normally behaved while cooking, until they got older and realized, I was just doing my “Julia Child’s” schtick. So it’s no wonder I get books like this for Mother’s day.

One day last week, I randomly opened the Julia Child Mastering the Art of French cooking book on my bed and was reading a recipe for Poulet Saute or something like that related to pan frying chicken and serving it with a cream sauce. But since the book was upstairs, and NOT in my kitchen, the idea went in and out of my head to make that recipe. (For some reason when I first got the book, I had no idea it was a cook book which was why it made it’s way to my bedroom for some light night time reading – ha ha ha). An hour later, still in the cookbook mode of being, but now in the room where I happily co-exist with cookbooks, the kitchen, I was thumbing through Ina’s lovely book. With fantastic pictures, and very unique recipes. Ina’s book makes for a fantastic breakfast companion. Earlier in the week I had made Ina’s Parmesan Roasted Broccoli with my award winning broccoli, Tuscan Lemon Chicken, and Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits (three other GREAT reasons to get her cookbook). Julia Child’s team of revisionists really need to upgrade her books to the Ina Garten standard.

That morning at breakfast, would start the tastebud adventure of a lifetime. Little did I know this as I studied Ina’s Chilled Cucumber Soup with Shrimp recipe. The ingredients looked a bit like what you’d find in Tzatziki sauce. Tzatziki sauce is what is used on Greek Gyro’s that also goes great with leg of lamb roast (Trader Joe’s sells a nice pre-made Tzatziki sauce as does Costco). I figured, if it wasn’t good as a soup, I could always use it with lamb.

Okay this was Saturday when I read this recipe. I purchased all the ingredients on Sunday to make the soup. But since it required a two hour refrigeration time, I just didn’t get my act together enough until Wednesday (yesterday) to actually give it a shot. Usually I’m a bit faster on the uptake than this for new culinary adventures.

Project Planning

The ingredients for Ina’s cucumber soup are pretty basic (as she promotes on the cover of her cookbook).

3 (7 oz) containers of Greek yogurt. (all I could find was a 24 oz container of greek yogurt in my small Alaskan town).
1 cup half and half
2 hot house cucumbers – unpeeled, seeded, and chopped – I peeled the cucumber, didn’t seed it, chopped it, and used 4 instead of two. I have no idea if they were hot house or not.
1/2 cup chopped red onion – I just cut a large red onion in quarters and used that.
6 scallions – white and green parts chopped – the old wilted ones in the fridge worked just fine.
4 teaspoons kosher salt (YES that seemed like an awful lot to me too).
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (this is really hard to measure – I just worked the pepper grinder for about a minute).
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill – fresh dill is rather hard to find in rural alaska – I just used dill in the spice jar.
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons) – easy enough
1/2 pound cooked large shrimp, halved (okay I dominate in this area – we had just got fresh shrimp out in the cove – but it was little. Worked just fine).

Project Execution

You mix the cucumbers, onions, scallions, yogurt, half and half, salt and pepper together and then process it beyond recognition in a food processor or blender. Then you fold in the dill. Cover and refrigerate for two hours. Right before serving, put in the lemon juice and garnish with the shrimp.

Project Monitoring and Control

If you taste this BEFORE it chills for two hours, it will taste way too salty. After two hours, the saltiness mellows out and with the addition of the lemon juice, you don’t perceive it as “too salty.” With regards to putting in the lemon juice just before serving it, I had leftovers and it was just as fantastic the next day so I’m not sure how much it really hurts the soup to have the lemon juice in ahead of time.

Project Closeout

This is one of the most incredible taste bud experiences I ever had. The guests I had over dinner didn’t have as adventurous palates as I do, and they even loved it. It is very different than anything any of them ever tasted before and it is nothing at all like Tzatziki sauce. I don’t understand why the recipe suggests you don’t peel the cucumber – I really think that is a typo. Plus I really don’t like the bitterness of cucumber peels so I did away with them. GREAT recipe Ina – THANK YOU!!

Alaskan Square Foot Garden Produces Prize Winning Broccoli!!!!

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Best in Division, Best in Class, First Place - does it get any better than this????

Best in Division, Best in Class, First Place - does it get any better than this????

Okay I must admit, broccoli is not my favorite vegetable, but my gosh does it grow well in my alaskan square foot garden. My daughter encouraged me to enter one of the heads into the Southeast Alaska State Fair. So, the morning of the competition, I took knife to plant, and beheaded it. Yes, whacked it there on the spot. Then with lovely broccoli bouquet in hand, went to the exhibit hall at the state fair grounds and entered it into the competition. They even supplied the lovely vase. I’m not sure what division it was in or why it won best in division – but here it is in all it’s glory. The first of the bounty from my first alaskan square foot garden.

Was it the automatic watering system, the extensive wind protection, the uncharacteristically warm summer, the thousands of worms from Uncle Jim’s worm farm, the seaweed I mixed in with the vermeculite, composite, manure planting mix? It certainly wasn’t my attention as I was not even here all summer. I am more inclined to think it might be the lack of other competitors. No one else entered broccoli. I’m not sure if this town has many broccoli fans as the main reason I grew broccoli was because it was one of the few starts left at the nursery. Late to the party and what happens – I WIN!!!!!!! YEAH. I am so proud of my head of broccoli. I might even start to like this vegetable.