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.