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Heirloom veggie missionaries

  • Jere and Emilee Gettle, shown with their daughter at the 2011 National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa. The couple has a new cookibook out, "The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook." Photo: BRIAN DUNNE

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed founders Jere Gettle and his wife, Emilee, are on a mission to make the world a better place, one vegetable at a time.

Not only do they want to keep heirloom varieties alive for future generations, but they are also trying to teach folks how to grow their own produce and encourage them to eat healthier, plant-based meals.

The couple, who also co-founded The Seed Bank store in Petaluma and launched a "world's fair" of heirloom vegetables in Santa Rosa last year, publishes their own seed catalog and a quarterly magazine, The Heirloom Gardener.

Just in time for the second annual National Heirloom Exposition Sept. 11-13 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, "The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook" by the Gettles is scheduled to hit local bookstores this week.

The cookbook features 125 vegetable-centric recipes for everything from Heirloom Apple Pie to Cambodian Yellow Cucumber Salad with Crispy Shallots.

The cookbook explains traditional ways to cook, preserve and eat the harvest, drawing inspiration from veggie-loving cultures such as Morocco and Asia. It is organized by vegetable type, from artichokes to zucchini.

"That way, if people have carrots ready, they can turn to the carrot chapter and find several recipes," Gettle said. "There are recipes for asparagus and cauliflower, apples and berries, tomatoes and eggplants."

The cookbook, co-written with Adeena Sussman, reflects the way the couple likes to cook and eat.

"The recipes came from family and friends, and dishes we developed at the restaurant," Jere Gettle said. "It's our take on different cuisines."

Gettle, who has been a vegan for the past 20 years, hopes the cookbook will encourage folks to branch out and try different kinds of vegetables, such as parsnips.

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