Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cherry Season Begins

I adore bing cherries!  They are one of my favorite fruits, right up there with a sweet, juicy peach or a wedge of perfectly ripe canteloupe.

Today is opening day for cherry-picking at Shady Lane Orchards off Melrose road.  I got there about 8:15 this morning with my son, Kevin, and we picked 20 pounds of bing cherries and a couple pounds of tart pie cherries.  I'd have picked longer--it's so hard to stop when it's a beautiful day and the picking is easy--but Kevin broke his thumb last week so it was more of a challenge for him.

Shady Lane has a good crop this year and there were not nearly as many "splits" from all our rain as I expected.  The price is $1.00/lb. u-pick and $1.80/lb. if you buy them picked.  They also have the lighter- colored Rainier cherries, though I have never picked those.

Brosi's Sugartree Farms on the way to Winston also has cherries ready for picking.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Breakfast at the Market

Spent the weekend chilling out in Portland, still recovering from the craziness of the wedding last week.  Of course, I couldn't pass up a chance to visit the Portland Farmers Market in the park blocks near PSU.  So many vendors!!!  I sampled cherry cider and pear cider, and a roasted fennel pesto.  I munched on a chocolate panini from the Pearl Bakery booth and split a pint basket of Albion strawberries with my husband for breakfast.  (He also had a bowl of red curry with yogurt!)  I bought some fixings for a picnic lunch, which I enjoyed poolside at our hotel later on--a fig-anise panini (also from the Pearl) which I topped with chunks of a pungent, but delicious semi-soft "table cheese" from Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese.  Gigantic bing cherries on the side were sweet enough to be dessert, but I also bought a bar of Triple Cherry & Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark as a finishing touch.  It was a perfect not-too-hot day of summer sunshine for unwinding.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ken's Artisan Pizza

We had dinner at Ken's Artisan Pizza in the funky Belmont District of Portland last night.  Huge windows open out to the street, just like at Ken's Artisan Bakery on the corner of NW 21st and Flanders near the Nob Hill District.  The place was hoppin' but we only had to wait about fifteen minutes for a table and then my seat had a perfect view of the wood-fired oven.  The pizzas are about 12 inches in diameter and they're made with a very thin crust, so they cook quickly.  We chose to split the "Amatriciana," a thin layer of roasted tomato sauce with diced house made pancetta, roasted red onion, and pecorino cheese.  Interesting combination, but not one I would order again, especially since there are so many other combinations to try.  I had a scoop of their "salted caramel gelato" for dessert and that is definitely worth dipping into again.  It was incredibly smooth and creamy and the caramel flavor was intense. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Farmers Market Round-up

Things are perking up at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market.  The first potatoes of the season appeared today at the Linnea Marie Farms booth.  I bought a basket of fingerling "peanut" potatoes and a basket of baby Yukon golds.  I'll make some pan-roasted potatoes tonight with the ultra-fresh garlic I bought at the same booth and serve them alongside the Emerald Hills Beef patties my husband will be grilling tonight.  You can buy Emerald Hills beef at Kruse Farms in the freezer case.  Their extra lean frozen patties (1/3 pound each) come in bags of 8 and work out to about $3.25 per pound for local, grass-fed beef.

I chose a lovely bouquet of flowers from Dang's Gardens and a head of Romanesco cauliflower from Suzi at Big Lick Farm.  Bought one feta and spinach tart from Judi aka The Baklava Lady  and topped it off with a sample of Donna Holms delicious hazelnut toffee.

My son and I picked two buckets of strawberries at my parent's house yesterday (they are out-of-town, so we get to raid their garden) and i think we'll practice making chocolate-dipped strawberries for tonight's dessert.  We'll be dipping lots of berries next week for my daughter's wedding on Saturday.  I'm going to try using coconut oil instead of shortening with the melted chocolate chips.  I bought the refined kind that is not supposed to have a distinct flavor, so we'll see.

More on the wedding later, if I can spare a few moments to blog!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

My son, Kevin, couldn't make up his mind; chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies?  Hmmmmm........I decided to combine the two in one cookie and sneak in some whole wheat flour while I was at it.  The recipe that follows makes excellent cookies.  I would have used milk chocolate chips if I'd had them on hand.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup natural peanut butter ( we only eat Adam's chunky)
2 farm fresh eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose white flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 (12 ounce package) semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Add the eggs and peanut butter and mix until well-combined.  Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add to peanut butter mixture just until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoons or small scoop onto parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for 9 to 11 minutes, just until center is puffed and beginning to set*.  Remove from oven and let cool one minute before transferring to a wire rack. 

*This makes chewy cookies.  If you want them crispy, increase baking time by one to two minutes.

If you have a convection oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 8 minutes.

I rarely bake a whole batch of cookies when I mix them.  I like to drop the dough onto wax paper-lined cookie sheets and freeze until firm and then store in plastic bags.  That way I can make the house smell wonderful and have warm cookies on short notice.  Bake dough balls straight from the freezer at 350 convection for 10 minutes or in a regular oven at 375 for 12 to 14 minutes.

Summer Food Preservation Classes

In case you missed my interview on KPIC's Spotlight on Douglas County last week (sounding like Minnie Mouse!), here is the line-up of our OSU Extension summer food preservation classes:

OSU Extension and the Douglas County Master Food Preservers will hold
their next In the Kitchen class
Canning Jams, Jellies, Fruits, and Pie Fillings
Saturday, June 19, 2010
9:00 am to 12:30 pm
Pine Grove Community Church
1729 Buckhorn Rd.
in Dixonville

The class will cover all aspects of safely preparing and processing high acid foods in a water bath canner.

Cost for the class is $15.00. You must preregister with payment by noon on Wednesday, June 16th.

Other scheduled summer food preservation classes are as follows:

Saturday, July 17 from 9 to 2—Making Pickles and Pressure Canning Vegetables, Pine Grove Community Church. Cost is $15.

Saturday, August 14 from 9 to 12:30—Safely Canning Tomatoes and Salsa. Sutherlin Community Center. Cost is $15.

Saturday, September 18 from9:30 to 2:30—Pressure Canning meats and tuna. Sutherlin Community Center. Cost for this class is $20.

Pressure canner gauge testing will be available at all classes.

Preregistration is required for all classes.

For more information call the extension office at 672-4461.

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.