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.