Author and naturalist Diane Ackerman once said, “Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains.” There is a new coalition in Burbank that is taking the senses of smell and taste to an extraordinary new level, known as the women of The Preservation Society. Co-founded by Chandra McLaughlin (left) and Kristin Vanderlip Taylor (right), their company produces some of the best pickles, relishes, jams and preserves in Los Angeles. I caught up with them at their recent display booth at the Burbank Ladies Night Out. This gathering of artisans and food trucks takes place on the last Friday of every month at Magnolia Park. (I’m not altogether sure why they call it Ladies Night Out, as it’s mostly a family oriented event, but I’ll go along with it.) Their display table had a myriad of samples to try, both sweet and savory, such as their Curry Pumpkin Pickles (pictured below).
The society was created at time when both women were experiencing some challenging alterations in their lives. One beneficial(and feng shui) way to cope with stress is to turn to a hobby that allows one to create something meaningful and tangible to them. Some choose to knit, or build things, write or paint. Whatever the item, the creative wood energy put into the object benefits their environment and life in a positive manner, while helping to reduce stress. Kristin and Chandra both enjoy the culinary arts. It was during these arduous times that their pantry shelves began filling up with the most unusual and tasty canned items.
Why exactly are these specific relishes and preserves considered to be good from a feng shui standpoint? For one, the creative and positive energy put into each jar can be tasted in the recipe, versus, say, something made on an assembly line in a factory. Factory items usually lack that human influence that goes into handmade food. They also use mostly organic ingredients. Our bodies absorb the energy of everything we consume. Whenever possible, is it always better to choose the organic option of an item over its chemically altered counterpart. Not only are organic fruits and vegetables healthier for you, they will usually taste much better as well. (My best friend didn’t care much for tomatoes, until she tried an organic one right off the vine. Now she can’t get enough of them – as long as they are organic.)
Another feng shui aspect of The Preservation Society is their science of taste. In addition to being based on produce readily available, each recipe is bold and dynamic in their use of flavorful combinations. Take their Apricot Saffron with White Pepper preserves (pictured below). The pepper and saffron (yang elements in this instance), with apricots (a yin element here), is an alluring example of the taste balance of yin/yang. Another example would be their Jalapeno Lime Jelly, combining the yin (in this case) of limes with the yang of jalapenos. Their whole product line can be deconstructed in this manner. The jams and preserves are much more yin in nature, given the sweetness of the spreads. Whereas the pickles and relishes are more in the yang category, due to their zesty and piquant impressions. There is also the aspect of shape and color. Each canned item has a beautiful, rich hue. I was most taken with their Spicy Fancy Carrots. I usually despise carrots, but the warm and passionate colors the heirloom carrots naturally provide really draw one in. I may have to try them.
Here are the ones I have had either in the recent past, or am currently enjoying:
- Blueberry Acai Preserves – Purely sublime. Rich blueberries in a thick spread. The acai acts as a subtle dance partner here. Perfect on toast or pancakes.
- Lime and Juniper Berry Marmalade – Absolutely astounding! When a little of this is added to a glass of lemonade, or to a gin and tonic, the taste experience is unforgettable. However, the last jar I purchased was so good, I ended up using it all on toast before I could make a gin and tonic. Oh well, next time.
- Dill Chard Stem Relish – Sensational. A tangy and zesty use for the part of chard that usually gets discarded. I use this as a topping for fish fillets or chicken breast. It’s good on sandwiches as well.
- Sangria Preserves – Rich and powerful. A thicker version of that delectable beverage. One can make an instant sangria by added a little of this to a glass of red wine served over ice. It’s also good when mixed into vanilla yogurt.
- Pumpkin Butter – Heavenly. This is perhaps my favorite of them all, but I am biased as I love anything pumpkin. Perfect on toast or English muffins.
- Jujube and Emerald Pluot Butter with Ginger – Exotic and refreshing. I had never tried jujube before, and was thoroughly impressed. A Chinese plum, jujubes have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. I usually put this on croissants.
- Apricot Saffron and White Pepper – Simply beguiling. This spread is amazing either on toast, or as a glaze for chicken and scallops.
- Curry Pumpkin Pickles – Enigmatic. Thin slices of pumpkin influenced by mango, curry and lime. These are ideal when served atop a burger or thrown into a salad for an unexpected dose of yang energy.
The Preservation Society can ship orders anywhere, and if you live locally in Los Angeles, one can arrange to have special delivery of their items to save on shipping. For more details on this, please visit their website. The Society is also environmentally conscious. Should you decide not to reuse the cute jars the preserves come in, you can recycle them back to The Society for a discount on your next order ($0.50 for the larger jars , and $0.25 for the smaller ones).
Like any good society, they are very active in the community. When not turning jalapenos into jelly, Kristin is an art educator and the Development Director for the Life Through Art Foundation. This children’s foundation focuses on providing support for underprivileged students and artists to participate in artistic studies they would otherwise be unable to attend. One of their upcoming events is the Life Through Art Holiday Artisanal Fair. This will be held in the upstairs portion of The Federal Bar in NoHo on Saturday, December 15th from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. The Preservation Society will be there in full swing to provide jams and relishes in time for the holiday season (these make great gifts). One can also catch the Society in action at Holiday in the Park, another of the festive events located in Burbank’s Magnolia Park this Friday, November 16th, from 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm. I may stop by there this Friday evening, in fact. I’m going out-of-town for Turkey Day, and I may need some additional jars of pumpkin butter for a brunch or two I’m attending…
The Preservation Society
The Preservation Society’s Upcoming Events
Holiday in the Park
Friday, November 16th from 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Burbank, CA, near the corner of Hollywood Way and Magnolia Boulevard.
Note: This is the same location for the monthly Burbank Ladies Night Out.
Life Through Art Holiday Artisanal Fair
Saturday, December 15th from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
The Federal Bar (upstairs), 5303 Lankershim Boulevard, NoHo 91601
Note: If you are interested in being a vendor for this event, please download an application at http://www.ltaf.org/wordpress/holidayfair