»Preparing for a third season, pickle pros Harriet Fasenfest and Marge Braker (a former restaurateur and home economist) have announced the schedule for Preserve , their backyard business teaching the basics of "putting up" summer's bounty. Even though classes don't begin until June, Fasenfest, the former owner of Groundswell coffeehouse on Northeast Alberta Street, said that quite a few spaces are already taken, and she's impressed with how popular the technique has become. "I think preserving is going to be the new knitting," Fasenfest says, predicting that big batches of homemade apple sauce, dilly beans and chutney will soon be filling our cupboards. Check out portlandpreserve.com for class schedule.

»Magic beans? If you're willing to plop down $7.50 per pound for a hill of beans with a pedigreed past, swing by City Market NW (735 NW 21st Ave., 221-3007) and pick up a tub of dried heirloom cannellini beans , perfect for a rich cassoulet. Legendary chef Alice Waters picked the luxurious Italian legumes to grow at California's Phipps farm, and they've been appearing on menus like Paley's Place, Simpatica Dining Hall and Fratelli locally. Plump, huge and velvety smooth, the beans worth a trip across town. Also available online ($4.50 per pound), at phippscountry.com.

»McMinnville's Nick's Italian Cafe and R. Stuart&Co. Winery are preparing for a March visit to New York City to cook a lavish seven-course feast at the noble James Beard House . A dress rehearsal Feb. 7 will give new chefs Carmen Peirano and Eric Ferguson a practice run at garganelle with braised lamb shoulder with pecorino Romano paired with the likes of Big Fire Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Nick Peirano, owner and former chef at the restaurant, turned over operations to his daughter Carmen Peirano and Ferguson late last year. Tickets are still available for the dinner at 434-4471.