Friday, December 10, 2010

Cranberry Scones from Delfino Vineyards

 Delfino Vineyards in all its autumn glory.

We had a Think Local Umpqua advisory board retreat in the guest cottage at Delfino Vineyards.  It was a lovely setting and perfect for our purposes, with a good-sized dining room table to meet around.  I brought sliced apples, cheese cubes, and cookies for everyone to munch on, but the real treat was Terri Delfino's signature Cranberry Scones, still warm from the oven.  I made several kinds of scones when I baked for the farmers market;  lemon-ginger, cheddar & chive, maple-oatmeal, but I never used cranberries.  We're all in luck!  Terri generously shared the recipe and gave me permission to post it.  

These scones are perfect anytime, but would be especially nice if you have company coming for the holidays.  See my do-ahead tip after the recipe.  Oh, and don't forget about McKenzie Cranberries as a source for Oregon-grown and dried cranberries.  Even with shipping, they work out to less per pound than than those you can find at the grocery store and who knows where they came from.

Delfino Vineyards Bed & Breakfast
Guest Cottage

3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter softened to room temperature
1 cup craisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1-2 teaspoons grated orange rind (from one orange)
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large bowl, blend flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut butter into mixture until it becomes a coarse crumb texture. Stir in craisins or dried cranberries, nuts and orange rind. Make a whole in the middle and pour in buttermilk. Mix with a fork until moistened - don’t overmix but include loose flour. Flour hands and shape sticky dough into a ball and place on a lightly floured board. Pat into a circle about 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 12 pie-shaped pieces. Place on a buttered baking sheet approx. 1 inch apart. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes until lightly browned.
Thank you, Terri!

Jennifer's do-ahead tip:  Scone dough (and biscuits) can be cut to desired shapes and frozen on a waxed paper-lined sheet pan until firm, then transferred to a freezer bag.  When ready to bake, place frozen scones on cookie sheet in preheated oven and give them an additional 3 to 5 minutes baking time.  This allows you to bake just a few at a time, as scones always taste best when still warm. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Another cake to make you laugh

Here's one to add to my collection of Cakes to Make You Laugh Out Loud.  This year, my son requested a cake in the shape of a present, with ice cream inside!  I naively thought it would be "a piece of cake".  I mean, it's a cube--how hard can that be?  Well, you can tell from the photos that it was quite a challenge and the result is definitely laughable.  

This was my first attempt at making and using fondant icing. Overlooking the fact that the taste is pretty revolting compared to homemade buttercream frosting, fondant icing is very tricky to roll out and pick up.  It does drape beautifully over the cake, but shows every lump and bump and imperfection (kinda like a clingy skirt!) even though I used a layer of buttercream frosting underneath to hold the cake pieces together.  Oh, and a pasta machine DOES NOT work when trying to make fondant ribbon!

It's a good thing we are not perfectionists about this. Kevin keeps saying it's the best cake I ever made!  And that's what counts.

To redeem myself and prove that I do have  a bit of baking skill, I made some excellent focaccia for the panini he requested for his birthday dinner. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brunch at Arnaud's

I was searching through some boxes of memorabilia and children's artwork today and came across an old travel journal from a trip my husband and I took to New Orleans in 1990.  I have only kept journals sporadically over the years, but somehow I always find time to write about good food.

This was written on September 18, 1990:

"Bruce and I flew from Medford to New Orleans on the 15th of September.  We stayed that night at St. Peter's Guest House in the French Quarter, took in Bourbon Street, etc. that night and the next morning and had brunch at a wonderful and extremely elegant restaurant called Arnaud's.  All of the waiters, maître d's, etc. were in black suits or tuxedos--not a woman among them except the cashier--and a jazz trio wandered through the room playing everyone's requests.  The service and food were excellent.  I had Eggs Benedict and Strawberries Au Port.  Bruce had a Red Bean Omelet and Turtle Soup.  We shared Banana's Foster for dessert, which was "flamboyantly flambéed" to perfection right at our table.  (Of course, Bruce thought it was too sweet, but I thought it was heavenly.)

An unsliced loaf of bread was also served, but no bread plate was on the table.  I confidently broke off a piece of the crusty bread, scattering crumbs all over, but I assumed the waiter would "crumb" the table eventually.  I was correct.  Before serving dessert, our waiter whipped out a small gold instrument somewhat like a tongue depressor that was curved lengthwise and deftly removed my crumbs to an empty glass which he then carried away.  Another passing waiter, upon seeing what our waiter was doing, immediately performed the same task on Bruce's side of the table.  As I said, the service was excellent!

I believe to total bill came to about $55.00 and Bruce added a $10 tip to that, plus we paid for parking.  It was a very special experience, though not inexpensive!

I'm thankful to my mother for taking me to so many elegant and expensive restaurants when I was a teenager.  Her main purpose was to teach me how to behave so that I would feel comfortable in those and similar surroundings for the rest of my life.  I hope someday I will be able to do the same for Christine and Laura.  I don't want them to be snobs, but I want them to feel at ease and confident in all types of settings.  Manners are always in style."

I am lucky to be married to a man who enjoys a great meal as much as I do and never complains when the check arrives.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Need a Little Help From My Friends

Hi, guys.  My daughter, Laura, is working to help Tipping Bucket win a $250,000 grant in the PepsiRefresh competition.  It's is an incredible organization, making the world a better place.  Just check out this video...

What is Tipping Bucket?

Tipping Bucket is an organization and website that allows everyday people to get involved and help fund projects (for as little as a dollar.) This month they are working to win a grant from Pespi as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project to help build the organization and help more people in more places.

Tipping Bucket projects LITERALLY heal the sick, cause the blind to see (funded over 500 cataract surgeries in Uganda over the summer,) the lame to walk (through prosthetic limbs,) and allows people to submit projects and ideas that will allow them to help themselves and their communities.

What Can You Do?
As part of the competition you have the opportunity to vote everyday during month of November, in 3 different ways.
1) Sign up at it requires you to have an account but you won't get spammed.
2)Go to and submit a vote using facebook.
3) Text 104182 to 73774 (PEPSI)

You can vote each day using all 3 methods and I encourage you to do so. Please copy and paste this and post it to your blog or send an email out to your friends if you think this is a worthy cause.

Every vote (like every drop in the bucket) makes a difference. Join me in making these dreams a reality. Spread the word, add your drop. Thank you so much!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cabruca Chocolates

I'm sitting at a table in The Daily Grind this morning while my car is being serviced at Mobile Tune.  This is the first chance I have had to use my new netbook in a public place and take advantage of free Wi-Fi.  I feel so cool!

I ordered a hot chocolate and spied some interesting-looking truffles made by a new, local chocolatier, Juliana Bounds of Cabruca Chocolates. Chocolate for breakfast?  It's a bit early, even for me, but I bought one to savor later today.

Well, I thought they were truffles.  According to the website, these are called brigadeiros, a Brazilian-style fudge truffle.  They're made with sweetened condensed milk, butter, chocolate and some exotic ingredients. I chose the pumpkin-dark chocolate brigadeiro; pumpkin-white chocolate cream and dark chocolate rolled in toasted pumpkin seeds.

Okay, I can't stand it.  I'll take one bite just so I can tell you what it's like...  Ooooooh!  Tastes like pumpkin pie in the middle.  Very good. 

I'm not sure where else Juliana's confections (she makes traditional truffles and brownies, too) are currently available. The Daily Grind sells the brigadeiros individually or in packages.  Stay tuned.  I'm sure we'll be hearing more about Cabruca Chocolates in the future.  Another great, local gift idea.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Farewell to the Farmers Market

Tomorrow is the last day of the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market and their annual Harvest Festival.  There is still plenty of local produce to be found:  sugar pie pumpkins, parsnips, carrots, lettuce, apples, figs, pears, garlic, mushrooms, and more.

There are some great gift ideas, too:  beaded jewelry, cutting boards, wooden spoons, handmade cards, hazelnut toffee just to name a few.

Also, you can purchase or order a fresh holiday wreath from Sterken Farms.  They range from 18 to about 24 inches in diameter. Check out the photos below.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wild Boar Ragu

Bet that got your attention!  No, I didn't cook it myself.  My husband ordered a Ragu of Wild Boar at Dino's last night.  He's always up for something new and this turned out to be an excellent choice.  The boar, slow-cooked in a Chianti tomato sauce and served with rigatoni, was fork-tender and oh-so-flavorful.  Not at all gamey.

I have to force myself to order something new. I tend to stick with the same old things I know I love.  I was tempted to get the Gnocchi con Gorgonzola (melt-in-your-mouth potato gnocchi, artichokes, and chicken in a creamy sauce), but I made myself try something new. 

First, I asked if Debbie had made any of her incredibly delicious Pumpkin Lasagne.  No, she had not.  After hemming and hawing for a bit, I settled on Pumpkin Gnocchi with Spicy Italian Sausage, Spinach, and fresh mozzarella (Gnocchi alla Sorrentina).  This turned out to be very good, but the sausage was a little too spicy for my taste.  I ate about half of it and had the rest boxed up to take home.  Didn't want to be so full I couldn't enjoy my tiramisu. 

Here's a tip: when you order your entree, sweetly ask the server to set aside a piece of tiramisu for your dessert and then you won't be distracted during your lovely meal worrying that they are going to run out.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Local Chanterelles

Those of you who adore mushrooms will be happy to know that there are local, Douglas County chanterelles for sale at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market.

Only two market weeks left!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Beautiful Jewelry at the Farmers Market

Check out this gorgeous jewelry from Cjewelry, available for the next two Saturdays at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market.  Cortnee Jensen crochets--yes, CROCHETS--wire and Swarovski crystals into one-of-a-kind necklaces and bracelets.  A truly original idea and each piece is lovely.  She also makes earrings (look for the adorable snowmen and grape clusters) and wine charms.

These photos, taken last Saturday, will give you an idea of what is currently available, but be sure to check out her website and browse the full gallery.

Might just be time for some Christmas shopping.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Braided Loaf

 I've been trying to harvest as much from my garden as possible before the cold, wet weather sets in.  Yesterday I gave the chives a "haircut" and made a  double batch of Sour Cream & Chive Potato Bread.  I made one large braided loaf to take to a Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club potluck last night and baked one round loaf to keep at home.  I shaped the remaining dough into four hearth loaves and refrigerated them overnight.  The last two are in the oven now and the house smells sooooooo good.

For the braid, I started with 2 lbs. 4 oz. of dough and divided that into six equal pieces of 6 ounces each.  Then I rolled them long and thin, let them rest 10 minutes to relax, rolled them a bit more and then made a six-strand braid and placed it on a parchment-lined sheet pan.  I brushed the finished braid with an egg wash, covered it with plastic wrap, and refrigerated it several hours so I could bake it later in the afternoon, just a few hours before the meeting.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Egg Carton Firestarters

Okay, so this is not food, but while I was in the kitchen today baking a batch of 100% Whole Grain Oatmeal Bread and roasting some "Candied Tomatoes," I decided to refresh my supply of homemade firestarters.

These are simple to make and come in very handy when you're camping or even for the fireplace at home.  I offered one to a friend on a group camping trip just a couple weeks ago when he was struggling to get a fire going with green, wet wood and it took off in no time when he added one of these.

And, they are practically free.  You need a cardboard egg carton, a bunch of dryer lint, and some old broken candles or candle stubs that you would otherwise throw out.  

If the candle pieces are big, it helps to chop them up.  Place them in a tin can (#10) and melt them over a very low flame on the stove or put the can in a pot of water and heat until the wax is liquid.  Wax is flammable, so in either case, DO NOT LEAVE IT UNATTENDED.  

Place the egg carton on a cookie sheet that is lined with waxed paper.  Stuff each section with as much lint as you can, really packing it in.  Pour the melted wax over the lint, filling each section to the top.

Set aside to cool completely and then break and tear into twelve individual firestarters.  Store in a ziploc bag or other waterproof container.  To use, just light one corner of the cardboard and build your fire over it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Reserve Your Local Hazelnuts Now

Norm Lehne's hazelnuts will be back from the dryer any day now.  It's not too late to get on the list and reserve some.  Give him a call at 541-672-2745.  He hasn't set the price yet, but two years ago I bought a 10 pound bag for $15 and after shelling them (you can run them through the cracker when you pick them up) they worked out to around $3.50 per pound--much less than what they cost at the grocery store.

I love chopped, toasted hazelnuts on winter salads and I have even made my own hazelnut butter (since peanuts don't grow here) and it's delicious.  Just toast the hazelnuts lightly in the oven until they become very fragrant and then whirl them in a food processor for several minutes.  I don't bother trying to rub the skins off.  The butter will still be a bit grainy, similar to almond butter or peanut butter made from Valencia peanuts.  Add sea salt to taste.  

If you store the hazelnut butter at room temperature the oil will rise to the top and you can drain some of it off to make a divine vinaigrette.

I have not been satisfied with my attempts at homemade Nutella, but I'll keep trying.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hayden's Lakefront Grill

My mom, my friend, Laura, and I went to Portland last week and stopped in at  Hayden's Lakefront Grill at the Century Hotel in Tualatin for a late lunch.  The weather was so pleasant that we decided to eat outside next to the manmade lake at Tualatin Commons.

I had eaten there a few times before on weekend trips to Portland with my husband when we just didn't feel like driving back into the city.  We used to enjoy staying at the Sweetbriar Inn right off I-5 at the Tualatin exit.  It has since been torn down and replaced with a huge shopping center.  I think we read about Hayden's in one of the little entertainment guides we picked up in the lobby of the hotel.  We had an excellent dinner by the lake one evening and a great breakfast on another occasion.

Anyway, lunch was delicious.  Laura had a seafood soup, a lovely field greens and pear salad, and fresh bread.  My mom and I split their half-pound signature hamburger and it was so good, I am sure I could have eaten the whole thing by myself.  Excellent local beef topped with peppered-bacon, sharp Tillamook cheddar, and house-made chipotle mayonnaise on a brioche bun.  And the fries were hot and crispy too!  

Of course, since we had split our entree, that meant we still had room for dessert.  Hayden's offers mini versions of several of their desserts, which is a great idea.  You get to finish off your meal with something sweet and not feel stuffed.  Laura and I both opted for the mini version of their Pecan Blondie that comes topped with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.  Mom chose the New York Cheesecake with blackberry topping. We were all very happy with our choices.

Hayden's is just west of I-5 and only a minute or two out of your way.  Worth the slight detour to find a local restaurant instead of settling for fast food or mediocre freeway fare.

Bread Baking Workshop Coming Up November 6

 A variety of breads I baked for my daughter's 
wedding reception buffet in June.


From: OSU Douglas County Extension Service
Event: Bread Baking Workshop
Date & Time: Saturday, November 6, 2010 from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm
Location: Pine Grove Community Church, 1729 Buckhorn Rd. in Dixonville
Cost: Suggested donation of $30

Douglas County Master Food Preservers and Master Gardeners are sponsoring an all-day bread baking workshop to benefit the Douglas County Extension Development Fund. Leo Grass will demonstrate basic bagels with several toppings and spreads. Ed Hoffmann will use a wild yeast starter and his bread machine to mix a country French dough, then shape it by hand and discuss home baking methods for a crusty loaf. He'll also be making Portuguese Hard Rolls and giving away sourdough starter. Jennifer Coalwell (that's me!) will talk about grinding your own whole grain flours and demonstrate updated techniques for making light and fluffy 100% whole grain breads by hand—no mixer needed.

Pre-registration is required. A tax-deductible donation of $30 is suggested. The goal of the Douglas County Extension Development Fund is to create an endowment to provide long-term funding for educational programs and services important to Douglas County residents, and to fund the faculty members (agents and specialists) who develop and deliver these resources. This endowment would become a source of stable funding for programs and positions not covered by the voter-approved Extension Service District.

Bring a sack lunch and a hearty appetite for samples.

Stop by the Extension office at 1134 SE Douglas in Roseburg to pick up a registration form or click here to download it.  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, October 9, 2010

Three More Weeks of our Local Farmers Market

There were only a handful of vendors at the farmers market this morning. I think they all thought is was going to rain and decided to stay home. I didn't get to the market until about noon but I still found plenty to purchase. More strawberries from Big Lick, more garlic, lunch-sized Sweet Sixteen apples,Winesap apples, Newton Pippen apples, yellow crook-neck squash, red torpedo onions and two lovely greeting cards made by a local photographer. I was searching for a few new pumpkins to add to my doorstep collection, but there were none to be had. There's always next week.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fall is in the Air

I made it to the farmers market this morning. All the pumpkins and winter squashes are ready now and the fall colors are spectacular. I bought a Cinderella pumpkin for the doorstep and some broom corn for the entryway. It's time to decorate for fall. 

I stocked up on garlic from Chip Clough of Tranquility Meadows Farm. I bought a mix of hardneck and softneck varieties to last me through the winter and spring and picked up several free recipes for roasted garlic dips and purees. Chip says the garlic will keep for months if stored at about 50 degrees in the dark. I'm thinking a corner of the garage should work well.

I can't believe we're still eating fresh, local strawberries in October! I bought four baskets from Suzi and Asinete at the Big Lick Farms booth and also picked up a pint of their raspberries and three pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes.

I sampled two kinds of honey at the Kauk's Bees booth and bought a quart of each. I still have some from last year, but I like to stock up.

A bouquet of zinnias and sunflowers rounded out my purchases.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Eve's Garden Cafe and Tea Room

We took the scenic route home from Ashland through Jacksonville and the Applegate Valley.  We happened upon Eve's Garden Cafe and Tea Room and decided to stop and have a late lunch/brunch.  The garden was lovely and the food was excellent with generous portions, always a plus in my husband's mind.

I ordered the Spinach, Feta and Bacon Quiche and it was perfect.  Tasted like they had just pulled it out of the oven.  The crust was flaky and not too thick.  I am always a bit leery of ordering quiche as it is often baked ahead and then reheated in a microwave, making for a soggy, steamy crust.  This was definitely not nuked.

My husband had Lori's Scramble, a combination of eggs, asparagus, avocado, cheese, and tomatoes and he gave it a big thumbs up.

Lori's Scramble with a side of toast

I love the handkerchief window accents.

The Applegate Valley is a lovely detour from Interstate 5.  You connect back up at Grants Pass.  If you're going that way, don't miss the chance to stop by Pennington Farms and pick up some agave-sweetened jams and preserves or one of their freshly-baked pies.  I bought a jar of their Fig Conserve, which is divine spread over the top of a block of cream cheese and served with crackers.

Breakfast at Summer Jo's

Pecan-crusted French Toast 
stuffed with dried apricots and mascarpone
with real maple syrup

Well we didn't make it to Summer Jo's for an anniversary dinner (29 years!!!) but we did stop in for breakfast on our way to Ashland.  I had the French toast pictured above with a glass of lavender lemonade.  Both were outstanding and I'm going to try duplicating them at home.  Stay tuned.

 Lavender Lemonade

My husband ordered the house-made Corned Beef Hash with two poached eggs on the side (which he topped with a generous grinding of pepper before I could take a picture.)

I never tire of eating at Summer Jo's!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Garden Girl Co. at Norm Lehne Garden and Orchard

Norm and Cinda's daughter-in-law, Wendy Lehne, opened Garden Girl Co. this summer, creating value-added products using the Lehne's fresh local produce.  The list of artisan jams is enough to make anyone's mouth water: Loganberry-Tart Cherry, Marionberry-Peach, and Raspberry-Rhubarb, to name a few.  Wendy also makes salsa, pesto, and spiced hazelnuts.  And then there are the baked goods!  Muffins, old-fashioned pies, breads, and cookies and many are gluten-free!  Baked fresh daily right there on the farm.

Non-food products include unique garden benches and all-natural applewood pruning chips for grilling or smoking (no, the chips themselves are not for smoking--you know what I mean!)

This is such a fantastic way to expand the family business.  What's next?  Gift baskets for the holidays to send to our family and friends?  A full-fledged cafe with tables overlooking the farm where I can relax with an ice-cold glass of lemonade after I've picked my fill of Norm's perfectly-ripe peaches, corn or beans?  Or how about hazelnut oil???  It's incredibly expensive, hard-to-find, and usually comes all the way from France, but hazelnut oil makes an exquisite vinaigrette.  Wouldn't it be fun to buy it freshly pressed from the Lehne's very own hazelnuts?  You go Garden Girl!

This Saturday from 9-1pm Garden Girl Co. will be having an open house featuring lots of samples of baked goods, jams and specialty ice cream toppings. There will also be an apple wood smoking demo. Take some time out of your day to check it out.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Umpqua Dairy Milk Recall

I was just at Sherm's planning to buy a gallon of skim milk and, lo and behold, found out there was a recall of Umpqua Dairy brand and Sherm's brand (which also comes from Umpqua Dairy) milk about an hour ago.  The refrigerator cases were bare except for a few gallons of Organic Valley milk.  The stockboy was directing people to Fred Meyer or Safeway, as they carry their own brands of milk, which do not come from Umpqua Dairy.

You can read all the details on their website here, but this is what you need to know:

The voluntary recall affects the following products purchased on or prior to Monday, Aug. 16, 2010:
• milk, half-and-half and cream with an expiration date of Sept. 5, 2010 under the Umpqua Dairy, Cascade, Great Value, Lady Lee, Market of Choice and Sherm’s brand labels;
• buttermilk under the same brand labels with an expiration date of Sept. 10, 2010, or earlier;
• Umpqua Dairy brand gallon, quarts and pints of orange juice and fruit drink with an expiration date of Sept. 15, 2010, or earlier;
• and any fluid milk product stamped with a plant code 41-62.

Consumers should dispose of any remaining milk, orange juice or fruit drink, or return unopened products for a refund at the retail location of purchase. Ice cream and other dairy products, including sour cream and cottage cheese, are not being recalled. Umpqua Dairy has also established a toll-free hotline for questions and further information at (888) 672-MILK (6455); information is also available at
Note:  This is a voluntary recall.  I use Umpqua Dairy and Sherm's brand dairy products exclusively and will, of course, continue to do so in the future.  I'm sure they are doing everything possible to prevent this from happening again.

Monday, August 16, 2010

More peaches!

Luscious Suncrest peaches are ready at Lehne's. They are open until six tonight or get here at 7:30 tomorrow morning for the best picking.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Delicious Turkey Meatballs

Beth and Kerry Olson of B & K Natural Farm in Sutherlin (541-459-0830) sell ground turkey, as well as whole chickens.  I bought a pound a few weeks ago when I was picking up my chicken order and came up with this meatball recipe.  It was a huge hit at our house.

The Olsons will be at Kruse Farms this afternoon delivering chickens and they'll have more ground turkey with them.  You don't have to pre-order the turkey; just stop by and ask for it.

Delicious Turkey Meatballs
serves 4

1 pound B & K Natural Farm ground turkey, thawed
2 slices bread (heels are great here), to be processed into crumbs
1 large sprig of fresh parsley
6 or 7 fresh sage leaves
1 farm fresh egg
½ cup heavy cream (or milk)
¾ teaspoon sea salt
a few grinds of pepper
freshly ground nutmeg (25 swipes across the grater)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil for browning
1 cup water or chicken broth (white wine might be good here, too)
½ cup sour cream

In a food processor or blender, process the bread with the parsley and sage to fine crumbs. In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly, add the cream (or milk), the breadcrumb/herb mixture, the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and onion powder. Stir to blend. Add the ground turkey, mixing thoroughly with your hands (I use rubber gloves because my hands get too cold).

Heat a tablespoon or so of butter or olive oil in a large frying pan. Using your hands or a cookie scoop, shape the meat mixture into balls about 1½ inches in diameter. Brown the meatballs on all sides; remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Deglaze the pan with 1 cup water or chicken broth (or wine), scraping up any browned bits from the bottom and sides. Return the meatballs to the pan, cover lightly, and simmer for 30 minutes. Much of the liquid will evaporate and concentrate during this time. Remove lid and stir in ½ cup sour cream just before serving. Great over brown rice or egg noodles.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Peach Pit Baskets

Picking peaches the other day reminded me of my Uncle Reggie and the peach pit baskets he made for me.

Uncle Reggie is from North Carolina and has the most beautiful southern drawl, so soothing and calming and peaceful, it's impossible to feel tense or stressed around him.  I could listen to him tell stories about his childhood all day long. 

I became fascinated with a peach pit basket he showed me years ago, so, of course, he made me one.  On subsequent visits he has graciously made one for each of my children.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Nectarines at Paris Orchards

I just ate the most deliciously sweet and juicy nectarine!  If I were on Twitter, I would tweet about it (and I would also tweet about the two cute little neighbor boys around the corner from my house who are selling lemonade right now and tell you to go buy some--kinda watery, but I can never resist a kid's lemonade stand).

My dad has been telling me all week that I need to get out there and get some nectarines because they are soooooo good this year, so I stopped by to pick "just a few" on my way home from the farmers market.  Anyone in my immediate family knows that I can never pick "just a few" of anything; I came home with eleven pounds!

Aside from fresh eating, nectarines are great for drying because you don't have to peel them.  I'm thinking a nectarine sorbet might be in the works later today, too.

Paris Orchards is at the end of Curry Road, almost to Singleton Park.  A sign shows you where to pick; another informs you that "Shiny is green.  Dull is ripe."  You weigh and pay on the honor system at the roadside scale and money box.  You won't see much fruit at first, but if you're willing to climb the trees or get on the ladders they have available, there are still beautiful nectarines to be found on the higher branches.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lehne's is now open for picking

Today was opening day at Norm Lehne Garden & Orchard.  A friend and I showed up just after 7:30 am to pick Red Haven peaches.  They don't actually open until 8:00 am, but we were the second in line waiting our turn to get into the orchard.  By the time Norm unlocked the gate there was a line of a dozen cars behind us.

Norm said (in last night's email) that it was going to be a light crop.  I think the entire two rows were picked clean within a half hour.  I forget how many pounds Cinda weighed for me, but counting the six peaches we have eaten since I got home (Kevin and I had big, juicy bowls of them and I made us each a Peach Lassi for breakfast) and the six I gave away to my dad, I picked about 60 peaches.  Perfect Peach Pie is definitely on the menu for Sunday dinner!

I also picked enough yellow wax beans, Romano beans, slender zucchini, crook-neck squash, and red beets to keep us in fresh veggies for a few days.

Slender Blue Lake beans

Norm says Suncrest peaches will be ready in a week and a half or so.  You can sign up to get on his email list if you check out his website.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sunflower Bread

 Loaves proofing.

I made nine of these sunflower-shaped Semolina Bread with Apricots and Sage loaves yesterday.  The recipe is from the original Amy's Bread, by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree.  The fresh sage in my garden was getting out of hand and this was a delicious way to use some of it up.  It made the house smell like Thanksgiving while they were baking, as sage is a key ingredient in my cornbread dressing.

The finished loaves.

The sage and dried apricots make an unusual and very tasty combination.  Every time my husband walked through the kitchen last night, he would pull another "leaf" off the loaf on the counter and pop it into his mouth.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Strawberry Lassi

Laura's Lassi

My daughter, Laura, made Strawberry Lassi to serve with Chicken Curry she prepared when she was home for Christine's wedding.  Light, refreshing and simple to blend together, you can vary the fruit to whatever is in season. 

I still had two baskets of Suzi's organic strawberries on hand, so I whipped up some lassi to go with a venison curry I threw together at the last minute yesterday.  Another great use for my canned venison.  I stir-fried sliced carrots and cauliflower florets in a little olive oil, added the broth from the pint jar of venison cubes along with the meat and stirred in a heaping spoonful of mild curry paste.  I tossed in some frozen peas for color and  a half-cup or so of canned petite-diced tomatoes, covered it and let the whole thing simmer until the vegetables were barely tender, then I took the lid off and let the juices evaporate a bit.  I didn't have any coconut milk on hand or I would have added that at the very end.  We ate it over brown rice, topped with a dollop of plain yogurt.  Yum! 

Strawberry Lassi
serves 4
2 cups fresh strawberries
2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup iced water

Blend all ingredients together and serve over crushed iced.  Buttermilk in place of yogurt is supposed to be good, too, but I haven't tried it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chicken Salad Veronique

Perfect chicken salad for a hot summer day.  This salad was a huge hit at my daughter's wedding last month, so much so, that I was asked to make it again two weeks later for my nephew's wedding in California.  The dressing is perfect--light and slightly sweet because it is a blend of mayonnaise and lemon yogurt.

"Veronique" generally indicates grapes in the recipe; I prefer seedless red grapes for the color they add.  If grapes are out-of-season (I don't buy the ones from South America), I sometimes use chopped Granny Smith apple and local walnuts in place of the almonds.

I made a gigantic batch for the wedding.  A friend came over on Thursday and we cooked and diced all the chicken breasts, stemmed and halved the grapes, and chopped the celery.  We stored everything separately in plastic bags in my extra refrigerator.

On Friday I mixed the dressing and combined all the ingredients (except the almonds, which I toasted, cooled, and bagged) so the flavors would blend overnight.

Saturday, just before serving, my kitchen crew (very dear friends) added the almonds.

 Mixing half of the entire batch in my canner for lack of a large enough bowl.

Toasting the almonds in half-sheet pans.

This recipe serves four to six.  It's delicious on sliced croissants (if you can find or make real butter croissants), but we also like it in whole wheat pita pockets.  It's also delicious just on a big lettuce leaf.

Chicken Salad Veronique
(I have been using this recipe for over twenty years.
I have no idea where I got it.)

3 cups chicken, cooked and cubed (I use chicken breasts*)
1 cup seedless grapes, halved
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/3 cup Best Foods mayonnaise
1/3 cup lemon yogurt (I always use Yoplait and I use the whole container)
1/2 teaspoon mustard (I use Country Dijon)

Toast the almonds in the oven or a dry frying pan and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix the chicken, grapes, and celery.  In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, onion powder, celery salt and mustard.  Stir the dressing into the chicken mixture and chill several hours or overnight.  Add the almonds just before serving.

*Leftover cooked chicken works fine.  If I am cooking chicken breasts just for this recipe, I place them in a buttered shallow pan, brush them with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover with foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for about thirty minutes or until the juices run clear.  Two large or 3 medium chicken breasts is about right for three cups of cooked, diced chicken.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Local Organic Strawberries!

I was thrilled to find organic Seascape strawberries at the Big Lick Farm booth this morning at our local farmers market.  Suzi and Asinete's farm is now "Certified Naturally Grown."   This is a fairly new designation for small-scale farmers who need to avoid the expense of becoming "Certified Organic."

Conventionally grown strawberries are always on the list of fruits to avoid because they are often heavily sprayed with pesticides.  No spray on these and only organic fertilizers are used.  And they are sweet and juicy.

Suzi says they should have them all the way into September.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Jo's

The Mezze Platter
Clockwise from top:  Orange-Olive Tapenade, Pistachio-Pepper Chutney,
and White Bean & Mint Hummus served with Sumac-dusted pita wedges.

My friend, Laura (not to be confused with my daughter, Laura, who is also my friend!) and I had lunch at Summer Jo's in Grants Pass last week on our way home from a trip to Central Point.  I have been raving about how wonderful the food is for months, but Summer Jo's is only open Thursday through Sunday and we never seem to be passing through on the right day.

Last Thursday we planned ahead so we'd have the opportunity to eat outdoors on a beautiful summer day.  For our appetizer, we split the Mezze Platter pictured above.  All of the spreads were delicious; the tapenade was my favorite.  We ate our fill and still had some left to box up and take home.

For our main course, we split a Poached Chicken Sandwich made with their own multi-grain bread, roasted red peppers, field greens, and cilantro-almond relish, accompanied by a salad with a creamy tarragon dressing.  I love tarragon and the dressing was perfect. 

Seriously, this is a place I could close my eyes and point to anything on the menu and I know I would enjoy it.  It's so difficult to choose because the choices are all so tantalizing.  They use local, organic herbs, vegetables, and fruits that they grow right there on the farm, regional pastured meats, artisan cheeses, and they bake their own bread.

Okay, so on to dessert.  Don't fret if you don't see it listed on the menu.  The waitress will bring a tray and, trust me, you will be hard-put to resist.  Once again we were splitting it.  I could tell Laura wanted to try the Lavender Creme Brulee, but knowing how much I love chocolate, she graciously agreed to the decadent Brownie with Raspberry Coulis and Chantilly Cream.  One bite and we decided it was an excellent choice; dense, dark, did I say decadent?  It was all that and more and beautifully presented.

Really, Summer Jo's is worth a special trip to Grants Pass.  Laura said all my high praise was justified.  I'll be eating there again in August with my husband for our anniversary dinner when we head south to see my favorite Shakespeare play, The Merchant of Venice.

P. S. They serve breakfast too!  Check out photos of my husband's granola and poached eggs from last year's post.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Local Chicken!

I just picked up four local chickens from Beth and Kerry Olson of B & K Natural Farm, located in Sutherlin.  They have a sign-up sheet at their booth at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market.  You put down how many whole chickens you would like and they call you when they are ready to butcher them, once or twice-a- month.  You pick them up at from the Olsons in the parking lot next to Kruse Farms.

They also have packages of frozen ground turkey and two-packs of turkey drumsticks for sale.

I put three chickens in the freezer and refrigerated one to roast in my slow cooker tomorrow or Sunday.  I'm going to make meatballs out of the ground turkey for dinner tonight.

They only sell the chickens whole, so if you want parts, you'll have to cut them up yourself.  Not that difficult with a sharp knife.  Check out my post on Thrifty Chicken for ideas on getting the most out of one bird.

The whole chickens are $2.50 per pound and range from three to over five pounds per bird.  The ground turkey is $4.00/lb. and the turkey drumsticks are a dollar a piece in packages of two.

I think I will try canning some chicken this fall.

We are lucky to have hormone-free, antibiotic-free, humanely-raised poultry available in our area.  Folks are finally catching on and the Olsons said they have a hard time keeping up with demand now.  That's progress!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vanilla or Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

I made these shortbread hearts from leftover dough I had frozen after I finished baking over 1500 miniature heart-shaped cookies (half vanilla, half chocolate) to fill the favor bags for my daughter's wedding last month.

The recipe below is adapted from the one in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.  I had to come up with my own chocolate variation; I couldn't find one anywhere.  Christine's colors were black and white with red as an accent.  The chocolate cookies would have been darker if I had used "black" cocoa powder, but it's hard to find and I didn't think about it in time to mail-order it.

Vanilla Shortbread Hearts

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 (6 ounces) cup sugar (I used superfine)
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 1/2 (7 ounces) cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) cornstarch
pinch of sea salt

Cream together the softened butter and sugar with an electric mixer on the low setting.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix until well-combined.  In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cornstarch, and sea salt.  Add to the butter mixture and mix in just until it holds together.  Divide in half, press into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill several hours or overnight.  Alternatively, you can roll each half out to the desired thickness (1/8 to 1/4 inch) between two sheets of waked paper and freeze in a 2-gallon ziploc bag.  It's very easy to peel off the waxed paper, place the dough on a lightly floured board and cut into shapes.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment.  Roll out dough to desired thickness (if you didn't freeze it that way you'll need to let it soften about 30 minutes) and cut into shapes.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness.  Do not let the cookies brown.  Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for one minute.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

 Cookies everywhere!

If you have a convection oven, you can bake three sheets at a time for 15 to 19 minutes.

Chocolate variation:  Same as above but increase sugar to 1 1/4 cups and add 1 ounce melted and cooled dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chips) to the butter mixture.  Add 1/4 cup (1 ounce) cocoa powder with the flour.

To dip the hearts in chocolate, use the recipe for Chocolate-dipped Strawberries.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Love Basil

The warm weather finally gave my basil plants the boost they needed to really take off.  I was able to cut enough today (1 ounce) for a batch of Basil Butter with Garlic.  I just tossed the ingredients in my food processor, pulsed it for a few seconds, and, voilà, the perfect way to preserve basil for year-round use. 

The Cuisinart DLC-7 Pro food processor pictured above was given to me by my parents as a college graduation present in 1984.  It's still going strong 26 years later.

The recipe makes nine ounces of flavored butter.  I spooned 1-ounce "blobs" onto waxed paper and put them in the freezer.  That's perfectly portioned for eight loaves of Semolina Bread with Basil Butter.  I used the remaining ounce of butter to sauté thinly pounded chicken breasts for tonight's dinner.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Drying Sweet Cherries

 Pitted bing cherries going into the dehydrator.
I crowd as many as possible onto each tray.

I picked up 60 pounds of pitted bing cherries at Hentze Family Farm in Junction City on Friday and have been dehydrating them all weekend.  Yes, I am generally the "Buy Local" gal (hey, Junction City is only about seventy-five miles away) but Hentze's is the only place I know that will pit the cherries for you and their machine never misses a pit!  I pick cherries at Shady Lane Orchards for fresh eating, but it would take me a very long time to pit 60 pounds for drying using my Norpro hand-powered cherry pitter and it quite frequently leaves pits in.  (Works better for pie cherries, which I do pick locally and pit myself.)

I can fit 30 pounds of bing cherries at a time in my Excaliber dehydrator, using 8 of the 9 trays.  (The top tray is too close to the ceiling to fit such plump, juicy cherries.)  I dry them whole, so it takes about 36 hours at 135 degrees.  You could speed it up by cutting them in half, but be prepared for purple fingers for a few days.  After they are dried (larger cherries will not be as dry as smaller ones) you need to transfer them all to a large covered container and let them sit at room temperature for a few days.  This is called conditioning and during this time the moisture content evens out, so the smaller cherries that perhaps got a bit too dry absorb some of the excess moisture in the larger cherries that didn't get quite dry enough and they all end up just right.  Then I store them in plastic bags in the freezer in one-pound amounts.

After 30 to 36 hours in the dehydrator.

Dried cherries are a favorite snack around here and I love having them on hand for baking.  In fact, I just pulled a batch of cookies out of the oven that I made with dried bing cherries, white chocolate chips, and chopped walnuts in a cocoa cookie dough.  Yumm!!!

Get Your Blueberries Soon!

Just got back from picking another eight pounds of blueberries out at Ed and Sharon Richardson's Big Bend Berries.  It was my third time out there this season for a total of 33 pounds, but I still don't have enough to last until next July.

My husband eats more of them than I do, so he's happy to go out and help when they are open for evening picking on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

There are still plenty of nice berries, but you have to hunt a little bit for them now.  Lots of people just pick the ones that are easiest to reach and leave many, many big, ripe berries on the bush.  If you lift up the branches and take a peak underneath you will be well rewarded.

The Richardsons don't use any sprays on their berries, so you are free to sample to find your favorite variety.  Blueberries should not be washed before freezing and it is not necessary to flash freeze them individually on cookie sheets, as they don't stick together.  I'm always careful to pick blueberries without leaving the green stem on (and I have trained my family to do the same) so all I have to do when I get home is put them in plastic bags and toss them in the freezer.  When frozen, I just shake out however many I want onto my hot or cold cereal, into the blender for a smoothie, or measure them out to bake a pie, muffins, pancakes, etc.

I made a blueberry pie to take to a Friends of the Umpqua hiking club meeting the other night and one person said it was "the best pie she had ever eaten."   High praise, indeed!

Big Bend Berries will be open for another two weeks or so.  In addition to Tuesday and Thursday evenings, they are open from 8:00 am to noon on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  Their number is (541) 673-8767.  

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Honey Maid Shrunk My Graham Crackers, Too!

Note:  I thought it was a clever title until a google search came up with a post from August 2009 with the same name.  I didn't notice a change in the crackers until June of 2010.

The Nabisco Honey Maid graham cracker on the left was purchased in June 2010.  The one on the right was purchased in May 2010.  I could see immediately that the new graham cracker was smaller, by almost half an inch in width.  (Yes, I got out my ruler.)  That was no big surprise.  Ice cream "half gallons" are now actually 1.75 quarts and the amount of tuna in a standard can has decreased considerably over the last few years.  I figured it was just economics (or greed.)

The real problem with the new graham crackers is the taste.  Graham crackers are one of the few baked goods I buy, rather than make myself.  I like them spread with natural peanut butter (and topped with chocolate chips if there are no cookies in the house) and sometimes we like to make s'mores.  

These new graham crackers taste like sawdust!!!  You can see from the photo that they are pale and pasty-looking, not golden like they used to be.  What they have done is increase the whole grain from 2 grams to 5 grams per serving and they point that out on the new box.  Well, I wasn't buying them as health food.  After all, they're still made with partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil and high fructose corn syrup--two ingredients I almost always avoid.  I was buying them because I liked the way they tasted.

Guess I'm going to have to spend some time learning to make my own.  I certainly won't be buying these again!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Raspberry Freezer Jam

A sunny bowl of just-picked raspberries

I picked about nine pounds of raspberries yesterday at Dillard Farm Market for $1.25/pound.  This was enough to make three batches of Raspberry Freezer Jam with enough berries leftover to get some raspberry vinegar started.

I posted two years ago about the Ball freezer jam pectin that uses much less sugar than the older kind.  They changed the packaging this year.  This is what it looks like now.

The ingredients and directions are the same.  It's as easy as ever.  Sherm's and Bi-Mart both carry it.  Look for the set of five plastic 8-ounce containers (purple lids) nearby.  They're perfect for one batch of freezer jam.  They also work really well if you like to make individual containers of homemade yogurt.

Weaver Creek Ranch Pies and Yarn

There'a a new pie vendor at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market.  Deborah Keller of Weaver Creek Ranch offers freshly baked pies, whole or by the slice,  at her booth on Saturday mornings. 

No need to worry about trans fats in these pies, as they are made with an all-butter crust. As someone who has baked quite a few pies in her time, I can tell you that an all-butter crust is more difficult to work with (check out my Perfect Peach Pie recipe if you want to give it a try) and more expensive, but the flavor is unbeatable.  I doubt there is anywhere else in town you can buy a pie that isn't made with at least some shortening.

If you're a knitter you'll also want to check out Deborah's  hand-dyed yarn--such lovely colors!

I'm a beginner knitter, still trying to learn to knit socks.  I have one sock finished!  When I complete the pair I think I'll treat myself to one of those t-shirts that says, "Knitting is knotty."