Local ingredients for local recipes / Anderson Valley salsa project wants to keep true to area's culinary spirit

by Laramie Treviño for The San Francisco Chronicle

A cry for help is echoing through the canyons and treetops of the Anderson Valley.

The plea comes from a group of immigrant women mobilizing their community to grow crops they need to prepare the recipes in their cookbook published four years ago, "Secrets of Salsa," so they can offer tamales, organic tortillas and other treats commercially under their Las Salsitas brand year- round. The bilingual cookbook/literacy project of the Mexican women, known as Las Salsitas, at Anderson Valley Adult School is now in its sixth printing ($13 for spiral-bound edition, plus shipping costs). The cookbook highlights dishes that utilize basic vegetables, herbs and seafood as well as tropical fruit and other touches to make varieties of salsa.

"Frankly, it is more practical to have produce grown here in the Anderson Valley (to use in our products)," said Barbara Goodell, salsa project coordinator and school district staff member. "It can help with all aspects of the project."

While Boonville -- little more than a hamlet by Ukiah, reached by traversing isolated, wooded territory -- can provide Las Salsitas with a steady source of tomatoes in season, Goodell found they had to search elsewhere for just about everything else.