Co-ops lead flood relief

Twin Cities natural food cooperatives are raising funds for co-ops and co-op suppliers affected by the devastating Midwest floods of this summer. They're collaborating with the Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund (NCDF), which is making its Cooperative Disaster Relief Fund available as a collection and disbursement agent for donations. Shoppers at participating Twin Cities natural food co-ops will be able to donate in four ways: Leaving cash and spare change, dropping off checks, mailing checks to Northcountry -- Co-op Disaster Relief Fund, 219 Main St. SE., Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55414 -- or using PayPal by going to www.ncdf.coop. Click on "Donate," followed by "Make a Donation," and follow the instructions.

Learn from the best

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's 2008 Cooking Series continues this summer with a spotlight on local "Restaurateurs of the Year," as named by Mpls./St. Paul magazine. The chefs will prepare multicourse meals, with tastings of three wines. The roster is Marshall Paulsen of Birchwood Café, Aug. 7, 6:30-9 p.m.; Lucia Watson of Lucia's Restaurant, Aug. 21, 6:30-9 p.m., and Mike Phillips of Craftsman Restaurant, Sept. 18, 6:30-9 p.m. Classes are in the Marion Andrus Learning Center. Attendees must be 21 years of age. Class fee is $50 per person for arboretum members, $60 for nonmembers. For more information visit the Arboretum's website at www.arboretum.umn.edu and click on the "Learn" section. Or call the education office at 952-443-1422.

Cook see, cook do

Ah, the power of a visual aid. That's the idea behind MonkeySee.com, a how-to website with thousands of videos featuring everything from flying a Frisbee to changing a tire. In its Food & Drink category, a variety of chefs demonstrate how to make gnocchi, cook lobster, grill a cheese sandwich, make a perfect latte, etc., etc., etc. There's also a series by a wellness counselor about easy healthful food for kids. Be forewarned: This is one of those sites you can get lost in, leaving you with no time to actually make those pretzels. It's at www.monkeysee.com.

Tune your vegetables

There is a group called the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra. It's based in Austria. They play instruments made from vegetables. They have a CD for sale. They have a website, complete with YouTube video, at www. vegetableorchestra.org. And that's enough said.

KIM ODE