Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pulling it all together

I love comments! A reader suggested I do a post on how I organized the food for the dinner party I had last week, so it would all be ready at the right time for serving. My lists were not as extensive as those for a big holiday dinner, but I did write everything down, including which plates and serving pieces I planned to use and I made a timeline of when to begin preparing each dish. Here's how it all came together...

Our guests were to arrive at 7:00 pm on Friday, so I worked backwards from that deadline.

I made the creme fraiche on Wednesday.

On Thursday I mixed the Olive Focaccia and Cranberry-Pecan sourdough, let them rise, shaped them, and put them in the extra fridge overnight to proof. They finished proofing at room temperature before I baked them Friday morning. Good bread is not supposed to be eaten warm; it just tastes like steam. The flavor is not fully developed until the loaves cool, so I was not trying to wait until the last minute to bake these. (My only exception to this is soft dinner rolls, which I like to serve warm from the oven.)

Also on Thursday, I washed all the salad greens and stored them in a 2-gallon ziploc bag in the refrigerator so they'd be ready to go the next day.

Friday morning, after the bread was baked, I toasted the pecans that would go in the salad and left them at room temperature to cool.

(At this point I took a break from the kitchen to straighten the rest of the house and go to the gym)

Friday afternoon I washed the beets and put them in my large crockpot with a little olive oil to roast for several hours. I put butter out to soften, though no one actually used it on their bread.

About 5:00 pm I started cooking in earnest. First off, I made the carrot soup and put it in my small crockpot on low to stay warm. I put the salad plates in the frig to chill. I browned the pork chops and shallots and let them simmer. I scrubbed the potatoes, par-boiled them just until tender and drained them.

About 6:00 pm, the beets were done, so I slipped the skins off under warm, running water and cut them into quarters or eights, drizzled them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a dash of sea salt and put them in a bowl back inside the crockpot to keep them warm.

I made the berry-vinaigrette for the salad. I set the table. I tore up the lettuce and put it in a tupperware bowl in the frig.

About 6:45 I lit the candles and made one last swipe of the bathroom sink and fixed my lipstick!

I sliced the bread and put it in a basket on the table. I put ice in the glasses--non-drinkers all of us, we had ice water with our dinner.

When our guests arrived, right on time, I was still washing up some dishes (so the kitchen wouldn't be a total disaster) but the food was ready.

I filled the soup bowls, garnished them with a dollop of creme fraiche and put them on the table just before we sat down to eat.

After we finished our soup, I cleared the bowls, then quickly chopped the apple for the salad, dumped the lettuce into my myrtlewood salad bowl and added the pecans and dried cranberries, then tossed it with the berry-vinaigrette. I served the salad on the chilled plates and then put the bowl on the table in case anyone wanted seconds.

After the salad, I needed a few minutes to finish preparing the main course, so I suggested my husband give our guests a quick tour of the guest room/laundry room/canning and baking kitchen we are in the process of adding on. This gave me a chance to finish the sauce for the pork and saute the potatoes in a bit of butter. I served the main course family style, placing the pork chops with their sauce, the pan-roasted potatoes and the warm beets on the table in serving dishes and we passed them around.

And finally, I cleared the dinner plates and we enjoyed the cookies and a selection of dark chocolate for dessert before we moved into the living room with our herb tea. Oh, and I did take a minute to put the food away, for safety's sake, but waited until our guests had left to do all the dishes!

Yes, it was a lot of work, but this is my idea of fun. I can't sing or dance or paint a picture--cooking and baking are my hobbies. I hadn't had a "real" dinner party like this in years, so once-in-a-while it's nice to go all out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Winter Dinner for Four

We had some friends over for dinner the other night. Since there were just four of us, I decided to get all fancy, polish the silver, and serve the meal in courses.

I planned a local winter menu. We started off with bowls of Pureed Carrot Soup garnished with homemade creme fraiche, accompanied by a basket of Olive Focaccia and Cranberry-Pecan Sourdough slices. For the salad course, I made My Favorite Salad, using Fuji apples and toasted pecans with a raspberry vinaigrette. Pork chops in a creamy shallot sauce, roasted beets with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and pan-roasted baby potatoes from my garden made up the main course. Our guests provided the dessert and entertainment; delectable chocolate thumbprint cookies and classical guitar-playing.

After dinner, we sipped our herb tea by the fire while we listened to a selection of traditional Christmas carols. The perfect finish to a lovely evening with dear friends.

If I had my way, I'd forego all the holiday gift-giving frenzy for more occasions like this; good food, uplifting conversation, and the sharing of talents with family and friends.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Local Food Gifts

Someone left a comment asking if I had any ideas for local food gifts. What follows is a quick, random, off-the-top-of my-head list:

Flavored vinegars using local berries (frozen berries work even better than fresh because they are already broken down). Put in a pretty recycled bottle and attach a berry-vinaigrette recipe with ribbon.

Local walnuts or hazelnuts--shelling them is a gift in itself.

Gift certificate to a local restaurant: Dino's and The Mark V top my list.

A basket with fresh Lighthouse breads and some of their jam. Or a gift certificate for their bread.

Baklava from The Baklava lady.

Chocolates from Arrow's Delight or Umpqua Valley Chocolates (Kathey at 430-5600).

Delicious Hazelnut Toffee from Donna Holm.

A couple half-gallons of Umpqua Dairy Ice Cream (or gift certificate) with local nuts and homemade berry topping.

Gift certificate for a Cooking for Charity class. $$$

Local wines.

A pie from Kruse Farms.

Culinary herbs from Bunyard's Barnyard or culinary lavender from Double P Soap & Lavender Farm (733-5287)

A combination of any of the above into a gift basket.

A dvd of the movie FOOD, INC.

Local jerky from Oakland Lockers.

I'll post more if I think of any. Help add to the list with your suggestions

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Butternut Squash Pie

This is my friend Laura's recipe. It's the pie I made for our Thanksgiving feast and the pumpkin pie lovers raved about it. Laura says she doesn't usually let on that it's not pumpkin until after the skeptics have tasted it.

I used a butternut squash I bought at the farmers market before it closed for the season. It had been sitting in a basket on my kitchen table for nearly a month and it was still perfectly good. Winter squash will keep for months in a cold garage and Kruse Farms still has some to stock up on.

Butternut Squash Pie
(adapted from Libby's Pumpkin Pie recipe)
Makes one 10-inch pie

Pastry for one 10-inch pie pan, unbaked
1 3/4 cups pureed butternut squash (see note)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I used freshly ground and I counted 50 swipes across my grater)
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups cream, half-n-half, or evaporated milk (I used evaporated milk)

For the pastry, I made one batch of all-butter pie crust (see Perfect peach pie) and used half for the butternut squash pie and half for the Dutch apple pie.

Preheat oven to 425. Combine pureed squash, sugar and spices. Blend in eggs and cream or evaporated milk. Pour into unbaked 10-inch pie shell. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 45 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Note* To prepare the squash: Wash thoroughly, pierce with a sharp knife ( I make a two or three-inch slit in one side) and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 1 hour, until soft. Let cool, remove skin and puree in blender or food processor until smooth. If not using right away, cooked squash may be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen. One 3 1/2 pound uncooked squash yields about 4 1/2 cups of puree.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Update on The Lists and the Day in Photos

Laura and Kevin set a lovely table for us.

I asked my son Kevin to photograph the day for me and told him I would buy any photos I could use on my blog. A buck a piece is his going rate, he says, so this post ought to just about pay his way into a movie with a friend this afternoon!

Featherlight roll dough ready for dividing and shaping.

Oma's (my mother's) Macaroni & Cheese

Scraping every last bit of Vanilla Ice Cream off the dasher.

So lists are good. And though there's always a mad rush at the end, trying to get the gravy made and the peas cooked, ice in the glasses, and rolls baked at the very last minute while my husband carves the turkey, things went more smoothly this year than they ever have. I didn't get everything on my lists done. I decided to forgo making cinnamon rolls and sticky buns in favor of an hour-long bike ride to the Discovery Gardens with my son. But the lists definitely kept me on track and there was no last minute panic at having forgotten an important part of the meal.

Birthday presents didn't get wrapped until just before I handed them to my husband, the sweet potatoes didn't get prepped the night before (and I ended up cooking them on the stove, instead of in the oven), I decided to use butternut squash instead of pumpkin for the pie and didn't bother roasting the seeds. But it all came together pretty much on schedule and we sat down with thankful hearts to a glorious feast just after 2:00 pm.

We were a small group this year, just six of us. We took our time enjoying the food and conversation and eventually ended up in front of a crackling fire in the living room listening to and telling old family stories. To me, that's the best part of all holidays and celebrations and if a delicious meal helps bring everyone together, then I am happy to do my part.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Prepping for the Big Day

As the big day draws near, my to-do lists are getting longer and more detailed. I'm trying to get as much done ahead as possible because I need to pick my daughter, Laura, up in Portland on Wednesday and I'll be gone from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon. On top of that, my husband's birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year!

The following notes are not meant to make me look like a martyr or slave to my kitchen. Cooking is my thing and this is my favorite holiday. But for anyone who is cooking a big dinner for the first time (my oldest daughter is doing her first Thanksgiving dinner in North Carolina) , I thought these lists might come in handy.

The Menu

Roast Turkey
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Cornbread Dressing
Buttered Peas
Fruit Ambrosia (Mom's bringing it)
Macaroni & Cheese (Mom's bringing it)
Cranberry Sauce
Featherlight Rolls w/butter and homemade jam
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Olives and Sweet Pickles
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Sparkling Cider & San Pellegrino

Here's the game plan:

Several days ahead--

Big grocery trip for all of the non-perishable items. DONE!

Make a huge batch of granola for easy breakfasts. DONE!

Bake 100% whole wheat buttermilk bread and freeze several loaves for turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving. DONE!

Refresh dormant sourdough starter so I can make Pain au Levain to use in the McDaniel Family Cornbread Dressing (that's my twist on it--it only calls for cornbread and whole wheat bread, but I like the slight tang of sourdough). DONE!

Iron all the cloth napkins. DONE!--I paid my son to do it.

Chop onions for the dressing and freeze. DONE!

Put the frozen turkey on a tray in the extra fridge to begin defrosting. DONE!

Make pie crusts and freeze. TOMORROW

Chill beverages. TOMORROW

Make cranberry sauce. TOMORROW

Bake Pain au Levain. TOMORROW

Cook pumpkins and puree for pie. Roast seeds. TOMORROW

Last trip to grocery store for perishables. TOMORROW

No school this week, so my son is home to help with all of the above!

Tuesday morning--

Make cornbread.

Wrap birthday gifts. Sign card.

Mix whole wheat cinnamon roll/sticky bun dough.

Clean house for the last time before the holiday.

Wednesday evening after we get home--

Leave cornbread out to dry.

Mix featherlight roll dough.

Make custard for ice cream.

Prep sweet potatoes (peel, slice, layer in buttered casserole with brown sugar, butter, a bit of salt and lemon zest. Cover and refrigerate.

Shape cinnamon rolls and sticky buns.

Bake pumpkin pie and apple pie.

On Thanksgiving Day--

Bake cinnamon rolls and sticky buns.

Get the turkey in the oven.

Set the table.

Soften butter for rolls.

Make ice cream.

Divide and shape rolls.

Bake sweet potatoes.

Make and bake dressing.

Whip cream for pumpkin pie.

Put out olives, pickles and cranberry sauce.

Boil and mash potatoes. (Save potato water for breadmaking)

Bake rolls.

Cook peas.

Make gravy.

Enjoy dinner with my family! (then relax while they do all the dishes)

I don't know if I will have time to post anything during all this, but I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with your family and friends.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Canning Venison

My husband got a deer last week, so I have been canning venison. It is incredibly easy. You just cut the raw meat into chunks, add salt, put the lids on and process in a pressure canner. When packing raw you don't add any water or broth, but the meat makes its own juices while it is processing. Honestly, unlike most things I preserve, the final product is not very appetizing to look at--sort of like a jar of chunky dog food--but the meat is so tender! I love having it on hand to make a quick stew or "venison bourguignon." I'm going to try using it for shredded "beef" tacos too.

We froze the tenders and backstrap and had the rest ground into burger for chili, tacos, and spaghetti this winter.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Food-filled Weekend

Four back-to-back food events filled up my entire weekend. I started off Friday night in charge of the "local concessions booth" at our Think Local Umpqua screening of FOOD, INC. With the help of some teenage boys to run the popcorn machine (popping locally-grown popcorn) and a couple girl scouts to bag the popped corn, serve cookies and biscotti and pour eggnog and apple cider, all I had to do was handle the money. We had a great turn-out and managed to squeeze 117 people into the room we had set up for 80.

Saturday morning I headed out early for our OSU Extension "Gifts from your Kitchen" class in Sutherlin. Twenty-five people turned out to learn some new ideas for homemade holiday gift-giving. My part of the two-hour class was to demonstrate making flavored vinegars. I brought lots of vinegars to sample: Chive Blossom, Blackberry, Raspberry, Rosemary, Blueberry-Lemon and Mulberry. Geri Johnson then did a demo on microwave peanut brittle and creamy caramels and Clara Langton finished up with some hands-on cookie and soup mixes.

I had to dash out a bit early to make it to my next event--being one of the five judges at the Umpqua Dairy recipe contest cook-off. Two of us were local home cooks and three were professional chefs from the Valley River Inn, Seven Feathers and Market of Choice. Umpqua Dairy had narrowed the entries down to nine finalists: three desserts, three appetizers/side dishes, and three main dishes. We got to review the recipes and sample each one, then score them on ease of preparation, originality, appearance/appeal, and taste.
It was fascinating to listen to the chefs discuss and critique the recipes from a professional viewpoint. They thought of things that didn't cross my mind. We chose a winner in each category and grand prize winner overall. I am sure the News Review will do an article with all the details and the local tv station covered it, though I didn't get to see the news. We sampled a Fall Citrus Carrot Salad, Cheese Tarts, Crab, Spinach, and Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese, Creamy Chicken Chowder, Spiced Chicken Fettuccini, Holiday Bread Pudding, Sour Cream Panna Cotta, and Crab and Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes, but the grand prize went to Nancy Woodside of Roseburg for her Razzapple Sour Cream Streusel Pie, which was divine. Something I will definitely make soon for Sunday dessert. I got to keep my copy of all the recipes, but I can't post them because Umpqua Dairy is going to publish them in a cookbook next spring. Trust me, if you like dairy products, you're going to want the cookbook.

We finished the judging by 4:00 pm and as luck (or gluttony) would have it, my husband and son and I had tickets for the 7:00 pm seating of the annual Scandinavian Smorgasbord at Faith Lutheran church! It's a fundraiser for their church missions and one of our family traditions. So, after putting away all the supplies from my morning demo and taking a quick nap, we headed over to the church to listen to the German Band before filling our plates with Swedish meatballs (my favorite), potato sausage, cold poached salmon, Swedish Beans, red cabbage, lefse, homemade breads, red potatoes, pickled herring, pickled beets, cucumbers in sour cream, apple salad, cheese, liver pate and Swedish apple dessert. The ladies (and a few men) must spend the entire week cooking and prepping for this event. One of these years I'm going to see if they'll let me help out so I can get a behind-the-scenes look (and maybe a few recipes?) at all their hard work.

You'd think I wouldn't be able to eat for a week after all this, but it was my mom's turn to cook Sunday dinner and she made her fabulous pork roast with mashed potatoes and gravy, so there was no holding back.

Time to hit the gym this week!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Maple-Covered Walnuts

Local walnuts are ready at Cleveland Rapids Orchards. The Lehne's have a great crop and they've kept the price the same as last year.

Walnuts and blueberries are two of my favorite local foods and I generally toss a handful of each into my morning bowl of oatmeal or cold cereal. For a great recipe that uses both of these superfoods, check out my Blueberry-Walnut Zucchini Bread.

The following recipe is quick and easy and great for holiday gift-giving.

Maple-covered Walnuts

1/2 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups walnut halves

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. In a heavy skillet (I use cast iron), combine the maple syrup, cinnamon, butter and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is dark and thick and the consistency of raw egg whites, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Add the walnuts and toss until well-coated with the glaze. Spread out on the waxed paper to cool.

Note: If you did not cook the glaze long enough and the nuts are still sticky even after they have cooled completely (give them at least an hour or so, depending on the weather and humidity in your kitchen), just put them in a low oven for a bit to help them dry out.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

G is for Apple

Is this not the most gorgeous "apple" you have ever seen? It's actually a gourd that was grown, dried and painted by Robin and Dennis O'Neill of Happy Valley Farm (679-9767). You can't tell from the photo, but it's about 8 inches tall. I haven't decided yet where I'm going to put it or what I'm going to do with it, but I couldn't resist buying it at the farmers market this morning. It makes me smile just to look at it!

Farewell to the Farmers Market

It was a gray, drizzly Halloween day for our farmers market season finale, but I couldn't pass up one last chance to see my favorite vendors and wish them well until spring. Many were in costume and handing out treats.

The Baklava Lady had cleverly transformed ordinary gingerbread boys into mummies. I'm gonna have to remember that for next year.

These golden persimmons will be cut up and tossed with some orange juice, dried cranberries, and perhaps some toasted walnuts, for a lovely autumn fruit salad.

I bought one more jar of honey from Kauk's Bees for my winter food storage and then picked up some garlic, a bag of arugula and a loaf of honey wheat bread from the Lighthouse folks.

I bought two small "naked seeded" (hull-less) pie pumpkins from Jim and Joni Leet. The seeds I roasted last year were excellent and the pie I made with the flesh was a hit.

The market really took off at its new location on Diamond Lake Blvd. this year. People are beginning to see how satisfying it is to put their money directly into the hands of the people who grow their food. Here's to buying and eating local!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Frozen Yogurt Survey

For anyone who has 60 seconds to spare...

My daughter, Laura, is currently involved in research a project for her college advertising class. Her group is doing some primary research about TCBY through a random, nationwide survey and she would love it if you would take a minute to click on this link and answer a few questions. You don't have to give your name or e-mail or location and it really only takes about sixty seconds to complete.

Thanks for helping her out!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Gifts from Your Kitchen

Here's the info about the class I am helping with in a couple weeks...

OSU Extension and the Douglas County Master Food Preservers will hold
their next In the Kitchen cooking class
Homemade for the Holidays: Gifts from Your Kitchen
Saturday, November 7, 2009
10:00 to noon
Sutherlin Community Center
150 S. Willamette St.

Master Food Preservers Jennifer Coalwell, Clara Langton, and Kathey Linn will share ideas, samples, demos, and recipes for a variety of easy and economical gifts you can make ahead, including microwave peanut brittle, flavored vinegars, soup mixes, cookie mixes, master mixes, homemade caramels, flavored teas, cocoa mix, and more.

Cost for the class is $15.00. You must preregister with payment by noon on Thursday, November 5.

Stop by the Extension office at 1134 SE Douglas in Roseburg to pick up a registration form or go to the webpage at: then click on menu item 2a. Mail the completed form with your check to:

Douglas Co/OSU Extension
Attn: MFP-CL
PO Box 1165
Roseburg, OR 97470

Questions? Call the OSU Extension office at 672-4461.

Food, Inc. is coming to town.

Think Local Umpqua is sponsoring a showing of FOOD, inc! I saw it in Eugene last summer, but if you missed it, now's your chance. We'll be serving locally-grown popcorn, local eggnog, and locally-baked treats in our concession stand. This is a great movie; educational and very entertaining. It will change the way you think about food.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Dinner Group

My daughter Laura and some of her college friends recently formed a dinner group. A mix of guys and girls, they each take a turn cooking dinner for the whole group and with nine members that means they only have to cook every ninth time, but they get to eat a homecooked meal every night. (Well, they only cook Monday through Thursday so weekends are left open for dates.)

Yesterday was Laura's turn to cook. The menu: Crockpot Roast Beef, Roasted New Potatoes (from her local farmers market!),
Sour Cream & Chive dinner rolls, cut-up plums, apples and carrot sticks (also from the farmers market).

Thank goodness for IN-Calling with Verizon! I even got picture messages to show me how the Sour Cream and Chive Potato dough looked while she was kneading it! This was only her second attempt ever at making bread.

In the end everything turned out well and the homemade rolls were a hit. Laura wrote a hilarious blog post about shopping for the roast which you can read

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chocolate-Mint Brownies

Okay, this is the final installment in my decadent brownie repertoire--at least for now. It's my son's turn to bring the snacks to Cub Scouts tonight and Chocolate-Mint Brownies are his favorite because, unlike my Marionberry-Walnut Brownies, Peanut Butter Brownies, or Caramel-Pecan Brownies, these have frosting!

I used to use York Poppables in the batter, but I don't think they make them anymore; I haven't been able to find them in a couple years. Today I cut up York Peppermint Patties into small pieces, but you could use Junior Mints, Andes Mints or mint-flavored chocolate chips. Those minty M & M's that are out during the holidays might be good too, come to think of it. Whatever you decide on, you'll want to set aside some for grating on top of the frosting as the finishing touch.

As always, I recommend baking on a preheated baking stone, if you have one.

1 pound unsalted butter
8 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
4 cups (1# 12 ounces) sugar
8 large farm-fresh local eggs (weighs 1 lb.1 oz. in the shell, if you have odd sizes)
1 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon mint extract
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 ounces)
1 12 oz. package York Peppermint Patties, chopped (or see above for other choices)
1 recipe Mint Buttercream Frosting (below)
a few extra chocolate mint candies for grating on top. Frozen Junior Mints work well.

Line a 12 x 17-inch jelly roll pan with unbleached parchment or grease and flour well. Preheat the oven to 350 degreees (with a baking stone, if you have one).

In a large, heavy saucepan melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate over very low heat just until melted. Stir in the sugar, turn off the heat and let stand for 5 or 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar is melted.

Whisk the eggs, salt, vanilla, and mint extract together in a very large bowl. Slowly pour in the chocolate mixture, stirring constantly until well-combined.

Gently fold in the flour until no dry particles are visible. Pour into the prepared pan.

Scatter the chopped York patties evenly over the surface of the batter. Using a rubber scraper or the back of a spoon, gently smooth the top so the candy pieces are covered with batter.

Place on the baking stone or center rack of the oven and turn the heat down to 325 degrees. Bake for exactly 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

When completely cool, frost with Mint Buttercream frosting and grate additional chocolate-mint candies over the top before the frosting sets. I use the same Zyliss grater I use for Parmesan cheese.

Brownies will be easier to cut if covered tightly and then refrigerated several hours or overnight. If you're in a hurry you can chill them in the freezer. I slide a metal spatula under the parchment and lift the whole thing out onto the counter before cutting into squares.

Makes 48 small or 24 large brownies. As with all my brownies, these freeze very well.

Mint-Buttercream Frosting

In a large bowl beat together 1 stick softened, unsalted butter and a 1 lb. box of powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon mint extract and a pinch of salt. Gradually beat in up to 6 tablespoons milk or cream until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Market Round Up

Some people might think there is not much left at the farmers market by now, but they would be wrong. Here's what I picked up on this beautiful autumn morning:

--An absolutely gorgeous Cinderella (rouge vif d'etamp) pumpkin and an heirloom "Long Island Cheese" pumpkin. These will grace my doorstep for the next few weeks along with a Japanese kuri squash until I am ready to cook and eat them.

--a large bunch of carrots and a mixed bag of red and golden beets
--one last local canteloupe
--three ears of Bodacious corn
--a yellow acorn squash and a butternut squash for soup
--a bag of slender green beans
--a pound or so of just-dug sweet potatoes
and for munching....two spanakopita tarts and two Greek wedding cookies.

Two markets days left this year and I am making the most of it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Whole Wheat Crepes

It was my son's school carnival last night and a no school day today, so I let him have a friend spend the night. They requested crepes for breakfast and I indulged them. I started with the vanilla crepes recipe from, but I substituted freshly ground soft white wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. We filled them with peanut butter and sliced bananas, rolled them up, then topped 'em off with a dusting of powdered sugar and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Spoiled? You bet!

Dinner at Dino's

We had a delicious dinner at Dino's Ristorante Italiano last weekend. Debbi DeNino is a skilled and creative chef and the restaurant has such a wonderful ambience.

We started off by devouring Debbi's freshly-baked bread, tearing off hunks and dipping them in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. My husband ordered a bowl of the corn chowder and the Osso Buco; I chose the Wild Alaskan Salmon. The salmon filet was seared with Sicilian spices and served on a bed of baby greens, topped with a cherry tomato-basil vinaigrette. A mix of orzo and slender yellow wax beans were served on the side. The vegetables were straight from the DeNino's garden and everything on the plate was superb.

A slice of the housemade Tiramisu was the perfect finish to an outstanding meal.

I'll be back soon. I'm hoping Debbi will put her mouthwatering Pumpkin Lasagne (cubed, seasoned pumpkin layered with sheets of egg pasta, bechamel sauce and parmesan and mozzarella cheeses--yumm!) on the fall menu.

Dino's is located at 404 SE Jackson St. in downtown Roseburg. 673-0848.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Blog and Bake Day

I'm at home today catching up on various projects around the kitchen. My parents are having company for dinner tonight and my mom asked me to bake some bread for the occasion. We decided on Semolina Bread with Basil Butter filling, so I mixed the dough last night, let it ferment in the frig and took it out this morning to finish rising. It is just about ready for shaping and proofing and I'll run it over to my mom this afternoon, still warm from the oven.

I scalded some milk for a batch of homemade yogurt, which is now incubating in my food dehydrator. I'm also drying some green bell peppers and a red paprika pepper at the same time on the top rack, hoping my yogurt does not take on a pepper flavor!

I cleaned out the crisper in the refrigerator and decided to roast the odds and ends of root vegetables in my mini slow-cooker. I pared the baby carrots and left them whole. Pared and quartered the yellow beets, sliced the red onion and tossed them all together in some olive oil and gros sel de mer (fancy french sea salt). That will be our side dish for dinner.

No football practice for my son today, which means we actually get to sit down for a family dinner before 8:00 pm. The main course will be chicken breasts that have been pounded thin and quickly browned in olive oil, topped with a marinara sauce I have simmering on the stove. A friend gave me a big bag of tomatoes, which I combined with some of the Black Krim heirloom tomatoes from my garden, and my own bell peppers and onions. I cooked the onions and peppers, along with three giant cloves of garlic from the farmers market, in some olive oil until everything was tender, then added the washed and quartered tomatoes and a huge handful of fresh basil. I crushed some of the tomatoes with the back of a spoon to make enough juice to get things simmering. When the tomatoes are soft, I'll run it all through a food mill to strain out the peels and seeds and then continue simmering it, uncovered, until it's thick. Seasoned with salt and pepper, it should make a fine topping for the chicken and for mopping up with a slice of semolina bread. I'll probably serve it over spaghetti with some freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano I splurged on at the Rogue Creamery, but it would be good over brown rice too.

We are entirely out of cookies, which is a cardinal sin at my house. I almost always have cookie dough balls in the freezer, just waiting to be plopped on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and baked, or (my personal indulgence) eaten straight from the freezer. The butter is softening on the counter and I will whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies shortly, putting a smile on my son's face when he gets home from school and making the house smell wonderful.

I got carried away buying different varieties of apples at the farmers market the last few weeks and we haven't eaten them all quickly enough. Some are past their perfection for fresh eating, so I'm getting ready to make a batch of Lazy Lady Applesauce in another slow-cooker. I'm thinking of adding the last of the frozen cranberries I have and turning it into cranberry applesauce (incredibly good if you've never tried it) because it's time for a trip to Bandon to stock up on fresh cranberries for the coming year.

With all the chopping and peeling I've been doing today I managed to clog up my garbage disposer. I know, I know, I should have taken it all out to the compost pile, but I'm still in my slippers and I just didn't feel like it. Anyway, here's my method for getting things unstuck: Pour a half cup of baking soda into the clogged sink, right through the standing water, if there is any. Follow that with 1 cup of plain old white vinegar. It will bubble a bit. Let that sit while you heat a tea kettle full of water to boiling. Pour the boiling water in and let it work a minute or two, then give it a quick plunge, if necessary. For some clogs you might have to repeat the process, but unless something is actually jamming the disposer this method always works for me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Harvest Festival at the Farmers Market

Extraordinary pumpkins and other squash at the Happy Valley booth.

Fresh Figs

The Umpqua Valley Farmers Market will hold their annual Harvest Festival this Saturday, October 3 from 9:00 to 1:00 and you won't want to miss it. This is the place to buy your one-of-a-kind pumpkin for Halloween. There will be music, prizes and fresh, local produce at its peak.

Along with a wide array of squash, you'll find perfectly ripe melons at the Happy Valley booth and fresh figs. And the folks at Sterken Farm have a great selection of crisp juicy apples you can't buy at the store.

Bring the kids and enjoy the local fall harvest in all its glory.

Monday, September 21, 2009

From Russia With Love

Local hazelnuts will be ready soon and that reminded me of this photo taken in April of 2006. That's me in the long coat buying a newspaper cone full of roasted hazelnuts from a street vendor in Moscow. I decided to pass on the dried fish you can see in the foreground.

Norm Lehne is my local source for hazelnuts and his should be available in a few weeks.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Only Six Market Days Left

I can't believe there are only six more Saturdays to shop at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market this season. The market is at its peak right now.

Today my first stop was for melons. I have learned to buy them first and take them to the car, so I don't have to carry them around the market with me. I bought a long and slender Charleston Grey watermelon, two canteloupes (different varieties) and one other melon that I can't remember the name of. That should be enough for the week. Don't know the vendor's name, but he helped me pick out the sweetest, juiciest melons he had.

Next I bought some green beans and butterstick squash from Jim Leet.

At the Big Lick Farm stand I chatted with Susie and Asinete and loaded up on carrots, French fingerling potatoes, golden beets, arugula, garlic and small red onions.

I picked out a huge bouquet of bright yellow sunflowers and had Dang hold them for me until I was through with my shopping.

I stopped by the Double P Soap Company booth and bought a bar of Lavender-Oat soap--smells divine.

I chose a variety of apples from Sterken Farm: winesap, macintosh, golden delicious, pink lady. They even had Granny Smith's, which seems a bit early to me, so I decided to wait a few more weeks before buying some to make an apple pie for my dad.

I browsed the handmade greeting cards at the Black Dog Woods booth and chose one for my daughter's birthday. These are delightful all-occasion and blank one-of-a-kind cards with a butterfly theme, painted by local artist Claudia Lapham. Gift tags are also available.

Finally, I topped off my bag with a dozen fresh eggs and some local lettuce, picked up my flowers and headed for my car.

If only someone sold milk at the farmers market, I wouldn't have to go to the grocery store at all this week.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ingredients (the film)

Rogue Flavor is sponsoring three southern Oregon showings of this timely film. Click here for dates and locations.

Still posting from the library.....

Chocolate and Flowers

The perfect combination! Strolling down East Main Street in Ashland a couple weekends ago, we popped into Enchanted Florist chocolate 'flowers' cafe. No, it's not chocolate molded into flower shapes or those red foil-wrapped chocolate roses, made with really poor quality chocolate. It's a combination floral shop and artisan chocolate cafe, owned by husband and wife team Leslie and Brandon Kirkland.

I adore fresh flowers, but, being on vacation, I wasn't prepared to buy any, so I headed straight for the chocolate sampling. I tried several varieties of chocolate from chocolatiers around the world, including a 100% cacao Franch Pralus bar, but the Dark Milk Chocolate with Fleur de Sel from Askinosie Chocolate in Springfield, Missouri was my very favorite. Made with single origin "Trinitario" cacao beans, organic cane juice, goat's milk powder, cocoa butter and sea salt, it was the smoothest chocolate I think I have ever eaten. I bought a 3 ounce bar for $8.00 and I have been savoring a square or two after dinner. This would be the perfect chocolate to make "kisses". I am spoiled now--can't ever go back to Hershey's!

I also tried the Aztec Drinking Chocolate, but it had a bit too much bite (heat?, kick? It has chile in it) for my tastes. Made me think of the movie Chocolat.

If you are headed up or down I-5, this shop is certainly worth a detour off the freeway.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gifts from the Kitchen...I need your help!

The reason I haven't posted anything in awhile is that I am in the process of switching internet service providers and it's proving to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. I am at my public library right now using their computer.

I will be teaching a class in November on Gifts from the Kitchen. Do you have a favorite gift you like to make to give away during the holidays? Do you have a special gift someone makes for you each year? Send me your ideas at and I will enter your name in a drawing for a surprise gift box from me. Not sure what all will be in it, but it will most certainly contain something delicious baked just for you. The more ideas you send my way, the more chances you have to win!

I'm hoping to be back online at home sometime this week. We shall see....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lunch at Summer Jo's

My husband and I headed south for a couple days to celebrate our 28th anniversary. The first stop, about an hour from home, was at Summer Jo's Organic Farm, Gourmet Restaurant, and Artisan Bakery in Grants Pass, for a leisurely lunch. We had eaten dinner there two years ago on our anniversary and I was eager to go back. If you are anywhere in the area or just passing through at mealtime, do not miss the chance to enjoy a meal at Summer Jo's! If you live within an hour and a half of Grants Pass, it is well worth the drive for a special evening of incredible food in lovely surroundings.

We chose a table outside in the “backyard” of the old farmhouse. You can also eat indoors (even right up at the large counter watching the chef prepare your meal) or on the screened porch.

My husband ordered a bowl of macadamia nut granola with yogurt and two poached eggs. I opted for the Bacon, Avocado, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich with garlic aioli on their own multigrain toast. The side salad came with a delicious creamy tarragon dressing. Everything was perfect. If I lived in Grants Pass I think I would have to eat there at least once-a-week.

On our way out I poked my head into the bakery and spied a table full of olive bread dough, neatly scaled into loaf-sized pieces, resting before being rounded into hearth loaves. Summer Jo's even grows their own wheat for the artisan breads they bake!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A S'moretilla?

Got the idea for this on a backpacking site. They called it a s'moredita, as in a combination s'more and gordita. I didn't use gordita-sized tortillas; I used whole wheat (10-inch?) regular tortillas, so maybe s'moretilla is more accurate. I tried it out on a recent camping trip with my son and thought it was very tasty

Lay the tortilla out on an ungreased griddle or frying pan and set it over hot coals. Break up some chocolate pieces or scatter chocolate chips over one half. Add a layer of crunched up Teddy Grahams or graham crackers and top with marshmallows. I didn't have mini-marshmallows on hand so I just cut some large marshmallows in half. When the tortilla gets soft, fold it in half, covering the filling. Let cook over the coals until the chocolate begins to melt, then carefully flip it over and finish cooking on the other side until the marshmallows are melted too. Cut into wedges and enjoy by the campfire.

The link I found said dark chocolate was essential for a good s'moredita. I made mine half dark and half with milk chocolate chips and much preferred the milk chocolate side.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Suncrest Peaches

My son and I picked 70 pounds of beautiful, juicy Suncrest peaches this morning at Norm Lehne's Garden and Orchards, less than five minutes from my house. They'll be gone in a day or two, so get 'em while you can. They are 65 cents per pound and very easy to pick. I brought mine home and laid them out in a single layer on newspaper on one end of the dining room table. Some are almost ready to eat; the others will ripen over the next several days. I'll be starting each morning with a big bowl of freshly-sliced peaches and if they get ahead of us, I'll slice them and flash freeze on cookie sheets, then pack them in ziploc bags to use in smoothies this winter.

Friday, August 7, 2009

What's for Dinner? New Mexican Cooking!

You guys get to find out about this before it hits the papers...

OSU Extension and the Douglas County Master Food Preservers will hold
their next What's for Dinner? cooking class
Thursday, September 17, 2009
11:30 am to 1:30 pm
Sutherlin Community Center
150 S. Willamette St.

Master Food Preserver Lori Salars and her husband Mark
will teach the basics of New Mexican cuisine featuring green chiles:

1. Roasting and peeling (and discussing preservation methods of) green chile
2. Making chile rellenos
3. Making a quick and easy chile relleno casserole
4. Making and frying up sopaipillas

Cost for the class, which includes a full lunch, is $15.00. You must preregister with payment by noon on Monday, September 14.

Stop by the Extension office at 1134 SE Douglas in Roseburg to pick up a registration form or go to the webpage at: then click on menu item 2a. Mail the completed form with your check to:

Douglas Co/OSU Extension
Attn: MFP-CL
PO Box 1165
Roseburg, OR 97470
Questions? Call the OSU Extension office at 672-4461.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Homemade Fruit Fly Trap That Really Works

That old saying about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar is clearly false. Fruit flies are just beginning to make an appearance in my kitchen and this is my tried and true method for keeping them under control. Place an inch or so of apple cider vinegar in the bottom of a quart jar. Add two or three drops of dishwashing liquid and swish it around to mix well. Make a paper cone with an opening at the tip just small enough for the flies to get through. You want the top wide enough so it seals the top of the jar. Set it on your kitchen counter and watch it work. The flies fly into the jar, but can't figure out how to get back out the small hole. Put a fresh solution in every couple days. It's not particularly attractive, but it does the job.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Store Wars

This video is hilarious! I will tell you up front though that I am not a purist when it comes to organic food. Local, organic food is my first choice, but I will choose local, conventionally-grown produce over organic produce that is imported from half way around the world.

Local Nectarines

Just picked some nectarines at Paris Orchards down Curry Road in Garden Valley. Only 75 cents a pound (weighed and paid for on the honor system, no less) and so easy-to-pick, my daughter had to restrain me from picking more than we can eat. "We can always dry them," I told her, as dried nectarines are delicious and don't need to be peeled like peaches do. I just slice them right onto the dehydrator trays, without bothering to dip them in a lemon juice solution to keep them from discoloring. They make a great snack. I store them in ziploc bags in the freezer.

I was actually after peaches, but was told their u-pick peaches won't be ready for another 2 or 3 weeks. I'm planning to make two Perfect Peach Pies for a pool party this Saturday. I attended a potluck last weekend and disappointed several people (mostly men) by showing up with coleslaw. (Hey, I was assigned to bring a salad!) Apparently, I have a reputation as a piemaker, so I will try to redeem myself.

It was 108 degrees here yesterday, setting a new record, and feels that hot again today. I hope the local crops survive!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Food, Inc.

I went to see Food, Inc. at the Bijou in Eugene last night with Laura and Kevin. First we spent a couple hours at the Amazon Pool in the triple-digit heat, then we cleaned up and went to the early showing at 5:10 and enjoyed our box of frozen Junior Mints* while we learned about how food is grown and processed in this country. I didn't really learn anything I didn't already know, as I have read The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Fast Food Nation, Deep Economy, etc. over the past few years, but seeing footage of the giant meat processing plants and poultry houses makes a strong impression.

After the part about E. Coli and a mother's efforts to get "Kevin's Law" passed in Congress, which would give the FDA the authority to shut down operations that consistently fail to meet the safety standards, my own Kevin decided he would like to try being a vegetarian for a month.

One of the farmers interviewed, who raises pastured beef and free-range chickens, was wearing a t-shirt that said "Grassfed" and Laura and I both decided we need one.

I highly recommend the movie.

*The Bijou is a funky former funeral home turned arts cinema that shows independent films and foreign films. It's the first theater where, when I ordered my usual movie snack of Junior Mints, I was asked if I wanted them frozen and and the clerk pulled a box out of the freezer behind the counter. Really refreshing! (They also sell Genesis Juice, Naked Juice, Thomas Kemper Rootbeer, you get the idea.) One of my daughters mentioned this a few years ago to a friend who worked at our local cinema and now we have frozen Junior Mints available in Roseburg, too.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dutch Babies with Blueberries

Here's a quick and easy breakfast dish to feed a houseful. I made this last week as part of our family reunion. Dutch Babies are like a thick, puffy crepe you bake in the oven. They are simple to throw together, but they must be baked just before serving, as they deflate quickly if left to stand. They are traditionally served with powdered sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. I thought the fresh blueberries would add a nice touch and they did.

Place 1/3 cup butter in a 9 x 13 baking dish and put it in the oven while you preheat it to 450 degrees. Using a blender, hand blender, or food processor, blend 5 eggs for one minute. Gradually add 1 cup milk and then 1 cup flour and continue blending until well-combined and there are no lumps. Remove the hot pan from the oven and pour in the egg mixture. Return to oven and reduce heat to 425 degrees. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until puffy and lightly browned. A knife inserted into the center should come out clean. Cut into squares and serve immediately with powdered sugar, lemon wedges and fresh blueberries.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Old Glory

Kevin wanted to make this delicious cake for our Fourth of July barbecue.
He got the idea from one of his ZooNews magazines.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day at the Market

(Don't worry; it's only a tablecloth!)

I celebrate my independence from imported food every Saturday at my local farmers market. Today my tote bag was loaded down with fingerling "peanut" potatoes, a loaf of multigrain bread, the first local tomatoes of the season, slender carrots, seascape strawberries, arugula, lettuce mix, a lavender bouquet, enormous Liberty Bell cherries from a new vendor called Glengarry Fruitlands, and a flower bouquet with the first local sunflowers I've seen.

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independents Day!

No, I didn't spell it wrong. This week local thinkers around the Umpqua Valley are celebrating
our independent, locally-owned businesses. We kicked off "Independents Week" on July 1 with a gourmet dinner at the Mark 5 restaurant in Roseburg. Sean Vincent and his crew prepared a fabulous meal. Here's the menu:

Local Wine Tasting
Braised Lamb
Tomato-Basil Bruschetta
Lighthouse Center Bakery bread and basil and tomatoes from Big Lick Farm
Summer Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Vegetarian Lasagne with Zucchini and Broccoli
Norm Lehne Gardens
Herbed Heirloom Potatoes & Vegetables
Big Lick Farm, The Kitchen Garden and Norm Lehne Gardens
Chocolate & Raspberry Mousse
The Berry Patch

Everything was delicious. The dressing on the salad was superb and the combination of chocolate and raspberries for dessert finished off the meal perfectly.

The Local Pages Guide is Here!

Hot off the press! It's your guide to finding locally-owned, independent businesses, u-pick farms, restaurants, farmers markets and more throughout the Umpqua Valley. We've been working on this project for over a year and it's finally complete. Kudos to Lily Brislen for making it happen.

I took a boxful of guides to the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market this morning. Several vendors who are Think Local Umpqua members will have them available at their booths. You can also drop by Umpqua Community Development Corporation and pick up a copy at the front desk. Other member businesses will have them soon. Look for the Think Local Umpqua logo in their window.

Check it out and give me some feedback. I think you'll be impressed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lovely Local Lavender

Pam Waldow of Douple P Soap Company & Lavender Farm and her
lovely lavender display at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market.

Several varieties of dried lavender.

Pam recommends these two types for culinary uses.

I am going to try making a Lavender-Blueberry Jam when I get out to pick some blueberries. I'm also going to bury some dried lavender in a container of sugar to use the next time I make caramels. The sugar crystals absorb the lavender flavor. I'm sure mine won't be quite as good as Lilliebelle Farms signature Lavender Caramels with Sea Salt (voted Best of the West by Sunset Magazine), but I'll give it a shot anyway.

Pam and her husband, Paul (Double P) have a lavender farm in Sutherlin, Oregon and they make soaps, lotions and bath products with the lavender they grow. They'll be at the farmers market throughout the summer or you can contact them at 541-733-5287.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cherry-Picking Time

Laura (now 20) in her pink leotard and tutu, helping pit cherries. Picking cherries and pitting them for drying has been a summer tradition in our family for many years.

Shady Lane Orchard opened at 8:00 am this morning and I was there by 8:10 with my bucket-on-a-belt, ready for two-handed picking. I picked 16 pounds of beautiful bing cherries in about 45 minutes, without any need for a ladder. I could have kept on for hours; it's hard to stop when the picking is so easy, but I wanted to get to the farmers market early for the best selection of local vegetables and other fruits.

Shady Lane cherries are $1.00/pound, u-pick or you can buy them picked for $1.85/pound. Sterken Farm and Kruse Farms in Garden Valley and Brosi's SugarTree Farms in Winston also have cherries right now.

Squash Blossoms and Other Culinary Adventures at the Market

John Riggs at the farmers market had one last basket of baby zucchini with blossoms attached this morning. I have been curious to try stuffing them-I'm thinking a mixture of candied tomatoes (from my freezer), some type of cheese, finely minced shallots and herbs--we'll see. Traditionally they are deep-fried, but I think I will try dipping them in egg and breadcrumbs and then baking or sauteeing them. I never deep-fry anything.

I still don't know whether it's Romanesco broccoli or cauliflower--I've heard it called both; googling it seems to favor cauliflower--but it's so unusual-looking that I can never resist buying it.

The blue potatoes are supposed to be deep blue all the way through and Jim Leet recommends them, along with the reds and Yukon golds, for a Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad for the Fourth of July.

And I'm not a big onion-lover, but I bought a Walla Walla sweet onion just for the heck of it.

Didn't buy any flowers today, as the bouquet of Canterbury Bells I bought last week is still looking fine.

Mulling over Some Mulberries

I'd never seen a mulberry until last week when I went out to Sterken Farm to pick peaches. I passed a few trees that looked like they had ripe blackberries growing on them. I picked one and popped it into my mouth; very sweet and no seeds! I ended up picking a small pail of them, not sure what I would actually use them for.

We ate some fresh and I started my first ever bottle of mulberry vinegar. The rest I laboriously pinched the stems off of and made into a cobbler. It was good, but mulberries do not have any of the tartness that blackberries or Marionberries do and even though I added a bit of lemon juice, the cobbler was still rather bland. I wouldn't go out of my way to pick them again, but at least I know what they're like now.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

One-Stop Shopping for a Father's Day Feast

I found everything I need for the Father's Day dinner I'll be preparing tomorrow at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market this morning. I'm cooking for my father and my husband, so I've tried to come up with a menu that will please them both.

The beautifully-slender carrots from Sterken Farm will be cut into chunks and simmered with the top sirloin I bought from Kathey Linn for a savory Boeuf Bourguignon. Petite red potatoes from John at Riggs Family Farm will be combined with the Yukon Golds from Jim at Linnea Marie Farms for Parmesan Roasted Potatoes. I'm still deciding on the veggies. Stir-fried snow peas? Roasted beets? Grilled baby zucchini? So many local choices!

I'll probably toss together My Favorite Salad and I still have some Basil Butter in the freezer to mix a batch of Semolina Bread with Basil Butter Filling this afternoon so I can pull it out of the frig and bake it fresh tomorrow.

Dessert? Perfect Peach Pie and perhaps a Mulberry Cobbler (Dad likes pie; husband prefers cobbler), with Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mo's Clam Chowder

Mo's famous chowder served in a sourdough cannonball.

My mom and I spent a few days on the Oregon Coast last week. Mom's "must do" list included a bowl of clam chowder at Mo's in Old Town Newport. We ate at the annex on the waterfront. Locals and tourists were elbow-to-elbow, but we were lucky to get a table-for-two at the window overlooking Yaquina Bay.

The view from our table.

First Peaches of the Year

I got an e-mail from Sterken Farms (541-260-7755) yesterday letting me know that their "Earlytreat" peaches were ready to pick, along with some of their cherries. I was the first one there, basket in hand, at 9 am this morning.

I've never tried this variety before, but local peaches were in very short supply last summer due to the snow we had in April, so I am excited to see what these are like. They are small, but the three trees were loaded with easy-to-reach fruit.

I'm hoping enough will soften in time to make a peach pie for Father's Day.

Local Bing Cherries are Ready

I picked these early bing cherries at Brosi's SugarTree Farms in Winston Monday evening while my son was at baseball practice. Brosi's trees are very short and plenty of cherries can be picked from the ground--great for taking children with you. I am not fond of climbing ladders, but I wouldn't let that keep me from picking the darkest, sweetest cherries higher up in the tree.

Brosi's is open from 9 to 6 daily. Call 679-1472 to check availability.

Sterken Farms in Garden Valley (541-260-7755) also has some varieties ready-to-pick, though the bings I saw this morning didn't look quite as ripe as I would like. A few more days of sunshine will sweeten them up.

Shady Lane Orchard should be opening up soon, too.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Field Trip, part one

No Joke! And it's actually quite good.

I'm in charge of organizing a field trip for our Master Food Preservers group so a friend and I went on a little scouting expedition the other day, checking possible food-related destinations. Our first stop was at The Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon. Famous for their blue cheeses and cheddars, visitors can sample the many varieties: Oregonzola, Crater Lake Blue, Oregon Blue, Lavender Cheddar, Chipotle Cheddar, Chocolate Stout Cheddar, to name a few. A viewing window lets you see the cheesemakers in action, but nothing was in the vats when we were there.

Next we headed on foot to the Lilliebelle Farms factory and retail store. This is only separated from the creamery by a parking lot and a vineyard tasting room. If you park in the middle, you can walk to all three, though, being non-drinkers, we skipped the wine tasting. Central Point is billing this as the Exit 33 Artisan Corridor, but if you weren't looking for it, you'd just see it as an industrial area. Great idea and in five years time it will probably be all trendy and touristy (and crowded).

Jeff Shepard, Master Chocolatier at Lilliebelle Farms, makes exquisite artisan chocolates. Many are filled with organic berries from his own farm. The lavender caramel with fleur de sel is a favorite, but I think I liked the raspberry cordial I bought even better. Here too, there is a viewing window where one can get a glimpse of process.

A chocolate painting, entirely edible.

Chocolate being melted and/or tempered for dipping.

Back in the car, we headed toward the town of Eagle Point, home to Butte Creek Mill. This is the only water-powered grist mill west of the Mississippi. Bob Russell and his wife, Debbie, bought the mill four years ago and now grind whole grains into flour, which they sell in the mill's general store. Bob gives a great tour of the mill; his passion and enthusiasm for this historic treasure are infectious. Definitely worth the ten-mile side trip if you are ever in the Medford/Central Point area.

I'll post more after the field trip. I'm still working on the itinerary. My goal is to time it just right, so we are able to see cheese being made, chocolates being dipped and flour being ground all in one day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Smokin' Chicken Strips

I am delighted to report that Smokin' Friday's BBQ Spice Rub (available at their farmer's market booth on Saturday mornings) makes delectable chicken strips. These were a huge hit for our Memorial Day celebration. We had our barbecue Sunday afternoon because I wanted to go on a hike Monday.

I cut chicken breasts into strips, tossed them with the rub so each piece was fully coated and refrigerated them for about 6 hours. Then I threaded them on (soaked) wooden skewers and my husband cooked them on the grill with some alder chips for smoke. I lost track of how many my 10-year old ate, but he was raving about them the whole time.

I used a family pack of chicken breasts and the whole bag of spice rub. We took the leftovers on our hike as part of our picnic lunch, with some house dressing from Anthony's Italian Cafe to dip them in. They are just as good cold as they were hot off the grill.

Today I chopped a few strips up and added them to a bowl of romaine and red oak leaf lettuce, tossed in some dried cranberries, toasted a piece of Laura's garlic bread for makeshift croutons and topped the whole thing with some more of the house dressing. Sort of a delicious smoky Caesar salad for an al fresco lunch on this gorgeous, sunny day. I know, I know, three days in a row, but these are really, really good.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jam Session

It's time to be cleaning out the big freezer (and defrosting it soon. Ugh!) and using up the frozen berries from last summer. I tend to get a little carried away at the u-pick farms and we still have lots of berries. So, after our trip to the farmers market this morning, Laura and I spent several hours making jam.

Laura has a list of things she wants me to teach her to do while she's home from college for a few months (on her days off from work) and "How to make jam" is on the list. We made three batches: Raspberry, Raspberry-Strawberry, and Strawberry-Rhubarb, for a total of 22 jars. We sampled all three and I think the Strawberry-Rhubarb is my favorite.

Stay tuned...I think breadbaking is next.

Farmers Market Round-up

Flowers at the farmers market are such a bargain. Today I bought one bouquet from Hom and one from Dang, two different vendors, and combined them. Total cost? $7.00. Pleasure I get every time I look at them? Priceless.

I also picked up a quart of pure plum juice (canned with no added sugar) from the Sterken Farm booth. It will be the base for several berry smoothies during the week--juice, frozen berries, a handful of pumpkin seeds, some homemade yogurt or protein powder added to the mix--I can just feel all those antioxidants going straight into my bloodstream.

Both Sterken Farm and Linnea Marie Farm had the first local strawberries of the season and I bought 2 pints. If there are any left by tomorrow, they'll go into a fruit salad.

At the Big Lick Farm booth I chose one more pepper transplant (ancho) for my garden and watched Suzi while she bagged up some beautiful spinach leaves for a whole line of customers.

And my daughter, Laura, couldn't resist buying a loaf of Garlic Romano bread from the folks at Lighthouse Center Bakery.

Shopping local is so much fun!

Friday, May 22, 2009

McKenzie Cranberries

I love dried cranberries. I sprinkle them on my morning cereal, toss them into oatmeal, use them in cookies, bread, salads and granola. I was searching the web for a place to buy Oregon-grown dried cranberries and came across McKenzie Cranberries, Inc. in Port Orford. They sell sweetened (with sucrose) dried cranberries, blueberries and cherries. They will UPS the berries in quantities of 10 lbs. or 25 lbs.

I ordered 10 pounds of dried cranberries at $3/pound. Even with the additional $10 shipping, the total cost of $4/pound was still less than buying them from the bulk bins at the supermarket. The regular price at Sherm's is $5.29/pound and right now they are on sale for $4.39/pound.

OceanSpray Craisins work out to $5.12/pound. The bag says "processed in the USA from North American cranberries" or something like that, which means they could be from Maine or Oregon or Canada. There's no way to tell.

These are incredibly good dried cranberries. I tried drying my own last fall for a Think Local dinner and even steeping them in a sugar syrup before drying didn't keep them as plump and soft as these are. Worth every penny to buy them, in my opinion.

FYI...the blueberries are $5.88/pound and the cherries are $4.00/pound plus shipping. Both are sweetened. I have never tasted dried blueberries, but I did dry 40 pounds of pitted bing cherries last summer. They are easy to dry and don't need any sweetening, though it can take a 24 to 30 hours in the dehydrator if you don't cut them in half.

You can e-mail Gloria at to place an order. I mailed them a check on Friday, they shipped the cranberries on Monday and I received them on Tuesday.