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.