.Diana Kennedy Tours Santa Cruz, Octagon Changes, and GF Report

Guess who’s coming to dinner? Diana Kennedy, the acclaimed cookbook author and culinary historian, that’s who. Kennedy is probably best known for her archetypal The Art of Mexican Cooking, but the list of her mouthwatering cookbookery is long and tasty. At 93, the matriarch of Mexican cooking research has been there and done that, but she still has time to visit Santa Cruz next month for three events celebrating the recent re-issue of Nothing Fancy: Recipes and Recollections of Soul Satisfying Food. New recipes, revisions and lists distinguish the book, originally published in 1984. Nothing Fancy also reads like a memoir chronicling Kennedy’s many years living in Mexico and includes family recipes from England and from her travels around the globe.

Author Diana Kennedy
Author Diana Kennedy

Hurry to book some time with Diana Kennedy. 6 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 15, Soif Wine Bar will host Kennedy a reception and book signing, followed by a special dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets ($150) include a copy of Nothing Fancy, and a portion of the proceeds go to the Diana Kennedy Center, committed to the preservation of Mexico’s cuisines and biodiversity. Make reservations online at opentable.com or call Soif, 423-2020.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16 Kennedy will be at the Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers Market. Expect to find her checking out the wares from local farms from 2-5 p.m., and giving a talk and Q&A scheduled for 3 p.m. Thanks to Bookshop Santa Cruz you’ll find many of Kennedy’s books for sale at the market. Finally, on Saturday, Nov. 19 Kennedy returns to the Aptos Farmers Market to visit with market-goers and sign books. She will give a brief presentation at 10 a.m. Seating is limited—plan to arrive early. (The Aptos Farmers Market happens at 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos.)

Diana Kennedy is the real thing—I know many Santa Cruzans who have taken cooking classes with her in Mexico. She’s a lifelong cuisinartist who communicates the importance of using correct ingredients and authentic preparation techniques. Her energy helped to preserve the cooking traditions of Mexico for many professional and home chefs.

“We must preserve for future generations,” she says “the beauty and diversity of this unique and marvelous planet Earth on which we are privileged to live.” Make plans to spend time with  Diana Kennedy, listening to the stories she has collected and making the food she has loved over a long lifetime of cooking.

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Octagon Update

Nina Simon, director of the Museum of Art & History says she’s “excited to integrate it into Abbott Square. To that end, we’re working on plans that will take several months to get moving. But,” Simon reveals, “I’m also looking for potential partners in short-term use of the Octagon over the winter. The plaza will be under reconstruction, so it will be surrounded by an active construction site, but I imagine there is some creative pop-up store, artist collective, community use that might make sense.” Sounds like a shout-out to creative entrepreneurs—Octagon, Abbott Square, and MAH. Exciting.

Pamela’s GF Cornbread Mix

Yes this is the bomb for those desiring to avoid gluten. (I know that “real” cornbread doesn’t contain much flour, anyway.) Just add eggs, melted butter, a little bit of organic brown sugar and some water, and bob’s your uncle. I make mine in those teeny micro-muffin tins. First I add a blueberry or two to each and then pour in the batter. Fifteen minutes in the oven you’ve got aromatic, tender, delicious little cornmeal muffins. Freeze most of them, and then release them when you need to consume something that acts like a muffin, but avoids gluten. Once again, thank you Pamela’s!


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