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.