ETCETERA - 12/23/11

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Sandra Richie and Naomi Fulgham for the past two winters have spearheaded a project that brings warmth to those in need in the Walla Walla Valley.

Along with fellow Women's 18 Hole Golf Association members at Walla Walla Country Club, they've been making blankets to give to people in need.

Sandra and Naomi said they begin working in late October when golf season ends and continue into mid-March. Most of the blanket-making team meet at the Country Club and work together on Thursday mornings, the time they would usually find themselves golfing in the spring and summer.

Most of association members have been involved in the project by working on the blankets, donating materials to make them, or donating funds to support the project.

At their Dec. 1 luncheon meeting members took up a collection to buy more blanket materials, gloves, caps, and scarves to help stay people warm this winter, according to a release from Sandi Blackaby.

This group completed around 61 blankets last year that went to Helpline and the Walla Walla senior center. So far this year they have completed 51 blankets and hope to complete 75 by the time the spring round of golf starts.

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A new restaurant that opened at Bookwalter Winery in Richland features the cuisine of Kristin Swaggart, a recent graduate of the Walla Walla Community College culinary arts program.

She was featured in a Tri-City Herald story by Andy Perdue on Dec. 5. Kristin will focus on locally grown, fresh ingredients at J. Bistro, which opened on Nov. 25 by winery owner John Bookwalter.

This is Kristin's first foray into operating a restaurant, but she's not daunted. She became a creative cook when her youngest son was born with severe food allergies in 2000 and she had to be creative to keep him well and happy. That's when she discovered her love for cooking.

After Kristin completed the two-year WWCC program in June, she won a national competition of culinary students and an Iron Chef-style competition at the Benton Franklin Fair in August.

A former stockbroker, Kristin, 41, originally planned to be a chef for private events and work with Tri-City school districts to help educate children on healthy eating.

"I didn't have the desire to work in a commercial kitchen," she told the Herald. "I didn't want to be stuck in the back just pumping out food."

Bookwalter was intriguing, however, and ultimately, she joined the winery in early October and started redesigning the kitchen and working on a menu.

In early November, she slowly introduced the new cuisine to customers. And the day after Thanksgiving, she and Bookwalter opened J. Bistro with the full menu.

The menu will change seasonally to take advantage of what's produced at Mid-Columbia farms, she said. Right now, she serving various tapas, naan bread pizzas, soups from scratch, empanadas and buffalo Wellington.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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