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Strong Women Brew

If a women’s place is in the kitchen, then why do men get celebrity chef status?

This age-old question, although archaic, still has some validity when you take a moment to study the statistics on which gender tends to hold more power in the culinary arena. Of course, we can acknowledge and celebrate the legions of legendary women who have risen to the top of the food world, but we should also not forget to keep asking ourselves if things are truly equal.

This holds true in beverage circles as well.  The list of iconic winemakers, distillers and brew masters heavily tilts to male.  So where are the ladies?  Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is helping to turn the tide.  Opened in 2005 by wife and husband Emily Thomas and Chad Brill (she actually taught him how to brew), they are all organic, integral to the local community, and work to promote beer education through a myriad of events throughout the year.  The second annual Strong Women Brew Day took place on a rainy weekend during SF Beer Week, and the turnout was heartening despite the downpour.  Strong women gathered to learn about, taste and craft the next batch of the brewery’s Belgian Wit. In between hauling canfuls of mash, forklift trips and temperature checks, owner and brewer Emily Thomas ducked inside to talk with me about women and beer. Read more

Slow Cooking in Tight Spaces

My kitchen has been whittled down to about 50 square feet.  Standing room only to say the least is our new cooking protocol, making collaborative meals a thing of the past. The kitchen counter is rapidly shrinking as more and more household items get piled onto the rare space, along with the dirty dishes in our bus tub that have to get washed outside. My elbows tuck in closer when chopping and I have to set the toaster oven on the floor by the power strip that reaches the single outlet in operation. The large vintage Viking range, a mere foot away, makes for a hot and sweaty prep station if cranked up during the dinner hour, so even on these chilly autumn evenings our faces flush with any kitchen task. What has restricted our game, you might wonder? Read more

Building Raised Beds

This post is part of a series called Roof Garden Rookies, which explores my attempt, as an amateur gardener, to grow a garden on the rooftop of my building in lower Manhattan.

For the past two weeks, some of the building’s residents and myself have been on the roof non-stop, getting the garden ready for its debut this weekend at our annual shareholder’s meeting. We hauled lumber, soil, plants and other materials, up 6 flights of stairs (no elevator!), to create a living space on our brand-spanking new roof. First thing was first, we needed to build the raised beds. Read more