Archive for March, 2010

Many years ago, my friend Karyn was in my kitchen.  This was shortly after Passover.  She looked up at my cabinet, where lurked what I thought was an innocuous-looking little brownish-grey, narrow-winged moth, and said, “That’s a kitchen moth.  They’re going to infest all your grains.

This sounded implausible, and I made a joke about how it sounded like a plague of punishment for not following the rules of Passover fully, since I’m not really religious.  Strict observation of Passover involves getting rid of or sequestering/selling all your grains, as well as not eating grains. Kitchen moths also sounded a bit like the locusts and lice and frogs and cattle disease we refer to when we recite the Ten Plagues at Passover.

Then, a few weeks later, I picked up a bag of quinoa in the cabinet to discover it had tiny little holes in it, a dusty, tan substance at the bottom, some webbing, little moth eggs that looked disturbingly like quinoa, as well as some (ew) little larvae and dead moths.  Turns out the kitchen moths were in everything, and Karyn was right.

You may never have had kitchen moths, or you may have faced them over and over again.  They’re hard to get rid of and very common in the Pacific Northwest.  They can squeeze down the spiraled rings of tightly-closed glass jars that aren’t heat sealed, can bore into hard plastic containers (to say nothing of plastic packaging or bags), and could probably unlock and drive away your car if they were big enough.  They live not just in grains and flours, but in dried fruit, some spices, chocolate, pastas, and whatever else suits their fancy.

I don’t eat a lot of grains, but I do keep rices and beans pretty well stocked, as well as gluten free flours.  I try to be vigilant about kitchen moths, but I still see a few sometimes, and go through steps to get rid of them.

In honor of Passover, both for its traditions of cleaning house and getting rid of grains, and for its reference to plagues, I present you with:

How to Get Rid of Kitchen Moths

1. Search every food container in which they could possibly live, even if it’s made of glass.  Search flours, grains, dried fruit, spices, pastas, chocolate, nuts (the moths just attacked my almonds!) and all your pantry storage other than metal cans or heat-sealed jars, really.  If you see any trace of the moths (look for the dust that looks like sawdust near the bottom, larvae, webbing, and dead moths), throw the item out and take the garbage out immediately.  If you don’t see moth residue, set the item aside.

2. Freeze everything you’re not throwing out for 24-48 hours.  You can do this in batches if necessary while cleaning, but consider storing in the refrigerator the stuff that’s waiting for its turn in the freezer.

3. Clean everything.  Take shelves out of cabinets and wipe the edges; moths like to hide their eggs in hard-to-get-to places.  Clean your kitchen ceiling if you see any webbing or moth larvae.  Focus especially on any cabinet or drawer that has held food.

4. Kill or remove every single kitchen moth you see.

5. Repeat as necessary, especially when you start seeing moths again

NOTE: As a preventative measure, you can freeze any grains or flours when you bring them home from the store.  I don’t use a lot of grains, but I keep a pretty good supply of things like rice and lentils around, and I have my bag of gluten-free flours.  I store those all in the freezer in one big bag, because they’re expensive and it would be disheartening to have to throw them all away.

I will add that grains aren’t the best foods for us, particularly when not treated with soaking/sprouting/fermenting.  Maybe the moths are trying to tell us something.

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Do you know about JHarvest? It’s a local Jewish community CSA (community supported agriculture) project, one of many around the country sparked by Hazon.

Tomorrow at UW Hillel, 4745 17th Ave NE Seattle, WA, we’re having a potluck lunch to launch the start of the season. I’ll be judging dishes in the best use of local ingredients category, so make something delicious and head on over. Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 12:00pm until 1:30pm. Everyone’s welcome.

Information on the event is available here.

I’ve written before about the link between Judaism and sustainable food — that, in essence, the idea of keeping kosher is largely about eating in a meaningful and thoughtful way, and that there’s a lot of basis in Jewish culture for connecting with land and working to keep human impact on Earth more sustainable.  You don’t have to be religious, by typical definitions of that word, to appreciate a cultural basis for these things.

Here’s a little more information on Jharvest, from their website:

How it works:

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, where members commit to buying a share to Oxbow farm for the growing season and pick up a weekly box of fresh, organic produce at Hillel at The University of Washington.


Jharvest’s CSA Program puts Jewish purchasing power behind local, sustainable agriculture. Jharvest is also a platform for innovative educational and community-building programs that explore the intersection of food and Jewish tradition. Run by Jconnect Seattle and Hillel at the University of Washington, the educational programming sets Jharvest apart from other CSAs by creating a deeper relationship as Jews to the food we eat. For more information check out our website: http://www.jconnectseattle.org/jewsandfood

CSA season: June 3rd-October 14th (20 weeks)

Pick Up Location:

Hillel at the University of Washington
4745 17th Ave Ne Seattle, WA

Share price:

Breaks down to $20-$30 weekly depending on your share size

Family: $618
Standard: $418


Registration forms will be available in late March.

For more information contact: Jharvest@jconnectseattle.org

Get organic, locally-grown vegetables delivered in time for Shabbat – all Summer long!

Credit to Jharvest for the image.

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Clarification: I posted this yesterday, so by tomorrow I mean today, Tuesday March 16, 2010

Thanks to Beth for passing this on. I had no idea tomorrow was an election day, but it is indeed, for the board of supervisors of the King Conservation District. Because the election is handled privately, you won’t receive a ballot in the mail. In fact, there’s only one place you can vote in Seattle: the downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library (voting locations here).

Beth sent the link on because one of the candidates is Mary Embleton, who has directed the great organization Cascade Harvest Coalition for over ten years, and is a committed advocate for local, sustainable food systems. You can read about her background here.

Turnout for this election is usually tiny. Seems like a good reason for a trip to the downtown library tomorrow. Vote for a local foods advocate, check out a book or two, get some (non-local, non-healthy, so delicious) gelato a few blocks away, maybe walk down to Pike Place market for a snack… Not a bad way to take a break.

There’s a Seattle Times article on the election here.

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Simple Celeriac Soup

Celeriac, or celery root, is in the category of winter root vegetables that some people look at with glee and others look at with bewilderment. The latter reaction is pretty understandable; they look kind of like the shrunken heads of ancient, forest-dwelling beings in need of a shave. Or something like that.

But there’s no need to fear this charmingly hideous hypocotyl.

Peel away the outside and you have a solid root of mild, celery flavor great for stews, soups, mashes and other comforting winter dishes.

This soup is extremely simple and comforting. It works well as a meal on its own or can be paired with roast chicken, lamb or salad.

Simple Celeriac Soup

  • 1 large celery root/celeriac
  • 2 fingerling potatoes or 1 medium Yukon Gold type
  • pinch of saffron
  • water
  • broth, about 2 cups
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cream or crème fraîche
  • immersion blender or regular blender

I’m intentionally being ambiguous with some of the proportions above because it depends on how thick/creamy/salty etc you like your soup.

1. Peel celery root/celeriac.  Chop it and the potatoes.   Place in medium, thick pot and add water until it’s covered by about half an inch or an inch.  Boil until fairly soft.

2. Add broth, soft and saffron and cook a few minutes more until the vegetables are quite soft.

3. Use an immersion blender to blend until creamy.

4. Add cream or crème fraîche in the quantity you desire (I used about half a cup).  Salt and pepper to taste, and serve.  Flavor is also great the next day.

Thanks to cosygreeneyes for the flickr CC photo of celeriac.

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Just got word of a mini conference on sustainable food and do-it-yourself food production on Vashon Island this weekend.  Make your own sauerkraut, grow your own mushrooms, cheese-making, canning and all sorts of fun sounding stuff.  I can’t make it; I’m pretty swamped with grad school, but if you go please let me know how it is!

Info is here: http://www.vashonfoodsummit.org/index.htm

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