DIY skill training in eugene and beyond


Resolved to improve your DIY skills this year?  Winter is the time!  Take advantage of rainy days in Eugene to attend one of many classes and workshops on gardening, keeping various helpful critters, or food preservation.

The Fun with Fermentation festival at the WOW Hall on January 12, 11:00-4:00, is now in its fourth year.  I’ll be holding a workshop on fermentation basics — making kim chi and sampling salsa and other goodies.  And that’s just the beginning! There will be plenty of fun, learnin’, and fermented food tasting for all.

The OSU Oregon Master Beekeepers program starts in Eugene on January 16, 2013. See their website for details about the apprentice program and class schedules.

The Lane County Extension Master Gardeners are beginning their annual certification training.  It starts Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1685 W 13th (at Chambers) in Eugene. Here’s a taste of the schedule:

  • 8:30-11:30 a.m. is Tree ID with Steve Bowers;
  • 12:45-3:45 p.m. is Tree Fruits with Ross Penhallegon [in his last few months before retirement — congratulations, Ross!];
  • 3:45-4:15 p.m. is an informational meeting about the Pruning Specialist Program.

All MGs are welcome to sit in on classes, of course, but the public is welcome, too – $25 per class.

Another event:  Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 7 p.m. for the Master Gardener Seminar: Backyard Homesteading with Bill Bezuk. Note new location: EWEB North Building, 500 E 4th Avenue, Eugene. Free, bring a friend.

Lane/Douglas Counties Extension Master Food Preserver full certification class series will begin in April.  We’re taking applications now until March.  And don’t forget that Master Food Preserver winter workshops in Eugene are in full swing:

MFP Winter Saturday Special Classes:

Registration is now open for three 2013 Winter Saturday Specials workshops. Take one, two or all three of the classes. Cost per class is $25 if taken individually or take all three for $60. Print off the registration form and mail check made out to OSU Extension Service to 783 Grant Street, Eugene, OR 97402. Workshops are held at the Community of Christ Church, 1485 Gilham Road, Eugene from 10 a.m. -2 p.m.

  • January 12, 2013 – Soups & Stews: Learn to make Lamb Basque, Moroccan Chicken, and Irsh beef stews. Soups made will be Cambodian Sweet and Sour, Cuban Moros & Christianos, and Mexican Gazpacho. All served on rice. Credit card payment $25.
  • February 9, 2013 – Get a great introduction to the many varieties of beans and how to cook them even for dessert. Credit card payment $25.
  • March 9, 2013 – Discover many new whole grains and grain-like foods. Learn basic cooking techniques and ways to use grains in your meal-planning for health, economy and taste. Credit card payment $25.

MFP Spring Saturday Special Classes:

Registration is also open for three 2013 Spring Saturday Specials workshops. Take one, two or all three of the classes: Cheese Making, Fermentation, and Intro to Canning.

  • April 6, 2013 – Cheese Making: Learn the basics in this hands-on class. Make soft cheeses to taste and take home. Credit card payment $50.
  • May 18, 2013 – Fermentation: Learn tips on fermenting dairy, bread, pickles and other fermented delights. Hands-on class. Limited to 12 students. Credit card payment $50.
  • June 8, 2013 – Intro to Canning: Learn about equipment, tips for success, and what is safe to do at home and what is not. Credit card payment $20.

creating a buzz: vanishing of the bees film/lecture 2/27

Hi!  I missed y’all.  It’s been a tough week here at Culinaria Eugenius headquarters, where the CEO/Director of Floor Scrubbing is kind of tapped out with all the conferencing and eventing and dinnering.  I’m taking the weekend to just stay at home and regroup.

On those personality tests that were so popular a few years ago, I always score right around 50/50 for introversion and extroversion, and I’ve been operating at about 110% extroversion lately, so that’s why you see me around town all lopsided and half-baked.  It’s been a transformative and stimulating month, but I missing my domestic quietude, not to mention the ever-growing pile of papers to grade and books to read and essays to write.

But for those of you who are hungry for more events — and you should be, because we’re riding a wave of excellent food lectures in Eugene — check out an film/lecture series TOMORROW – 2/27! featuring some involvement by fellow Eugene local food/garden bloggers, Squash Practice. It’s a daylong exploration of a very serious issue — the vanishing of the bees in North America, thanks to Colony Collapse Disorder.  In short: no bees = no pollination = no fruit = no seeds = no plants = death of planet.  There will be two showings of the film, two lectures, and a seed exchange, all held at Cozmic Pizza.  See more details by clicking the poster.

Gary and his wife Ellen are great proponents of sustainable agriculture, and thanks to Gary’s engineering background, they not only save seeds but experiment with cross-pollination and genetic engineering (in a non-evil GMO way!).  You can read more about Gary’s beekeeping practices in one of his many well-researched posts.

A real food recipe-style post is coming up soon, I promise.  I have a backlog of photos and experiences to share!

frankenstein farm day 2010

We visited mad scientists at work this weekend at the Lewis-Brown Research farm in Corvallis.  Inspired by last year’s trip, when I sampled new blackberry varieties, I thought I’d see what was now in development.  The cherries were in full, glorious fruit under the special experimental tents, marked by colorful balloons that mimic birds of prey.  We sampled about a dozen varieties, including some fantastic cultivars that deepen the flavor and firm up the texture of Raniers.

We sampled the wares at the National Clonal Germplasm Repository, or a field of blueberry specimens from all over the world.  OSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture work together to preserve the genetic material of all the blueberry cultivars they can find.  It’s one of 30 seed banks around the nation set up to preserve agricultural crops and other plants.

Although the high bush varieties were full and tall enough to hide my blueberry fan friend, the fruit was about 2-3 weeks late this year, and the scientists commented that they were ripening unevenly, with the extra early varieties coming in with the early varieties, and an unusual mix of ripe and unripe berries on the same branch.  As you might imagine, this would cause all kinds of problems for commercial growers.

At the bee station, we got to stick our hands into a box and let drones tickle us with their fuzzy, buzzy bodies.   Bee expert Dr. Ramesh Sagili, who was on site in a beekeeper suit talking about hive health, was hired by OSU last year. We also talked to some of the research team working on a new pest in the Willamette Valley, spotted drosophilia, which burrows into ripening fruit and can wipe out a crop in a manner of days.

We also talked to Dr. Jim Myers, the vegetable development specialist, who is now part of a research coalition that is working with different regions and farms to help improve organic farming practices.  Dr. Myers was soliciting names for his purple tomatoes, a lovely aubergine color that apparently have more anti-oxidants.

“But how do they taste,” cried one visitor.

“Like a tomato,” he replied.