Thursday, December 15, 2011

Simple Featherlight Dinner Rolls

Oma's Featherlights

These rolls are a tradition at our house for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  My mom got the recipe thirty years ago from her friend, Cora Leavitt.  They were originally called "Grandma's Featherlights" but in our family, my mom is "Oma" so that's what we call them.

They are truly simple to make.  You mix them up the night before (no kneading required!) and let the dough rise in the refrigerator overnight.

Combine and let stand for 20 minutes:
2 pkgs. active dry yeast (or 4 teaspoons instant yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar

Meanwhile, scald 1 cup milk, cool and add in
1/3 cup oil (I use cold butter instead as this helps cool the milk)
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, well beaten

Add the yeast mixture to the cooled milk mixture and stir to combine.  Mix in 4 1/2 to 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour.  (You can do this in a big mixer or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.  You do not have to knead it, just be sure all of the flour in incorporated into the liquid.  It will be sticky.)  Place in a large greased or oiled bowl with enough room to rise.  Cover tightly and refrigerator overnight.

Two hours before you plan to bake the rolls, take the dough out of the refrigerator and turn onto a lightly floured board or counter.  Divide into 24 equal pieces (about the size of an egg) and shape into balls, pinching the seam tightly.  (I  scale them at 2 ounces each.)  Place into greased baking pans with a bit of space in between for rising.  Spray lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper and let rise at room temperature 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is.  I like to time it so they are ready to go in the oven after I take the turkey out, while I make the gravy.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and bake for 8 to 10 minutes,  until golden on top and not doughy in the center.  Remove from oven and immediately brush with melted butter.

Makes 24 large rolls.

Note:  I always have to double the recipe for my family.  I like to shape all the rolls at once and then put one pan of them (lightly sprayed with oil and covered tightly) back in the frig.  That way I can bake them the next day so they'll be fresh to go with our leftovers.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Word on Walnuts

Okay, so I don't have time to take a photo of them right now (Shhhh!  I am busy constructing a chocolate volcano cake with strawberry syrup lava for my son's birthday tomorrow), but if you are in the market for local walnuts, have I got a deal for you!!!  A friend of mine has a bumper crop this year and just dropped off the 30 pounds I ordered from her. 

Georgie's walnuts, grown in Garden Valley, are the most beautiful, delicious walnuts I have ever had.  If you are accustomed to grocery store walnuts, you will be in for a real treat when you try these.  Fresh walnuts are not at all oily or greasy (or rancid.)  Shelled walnuts store wonderfully in the freezer all year long. 

Last year the local walnut crop was dismal.  I am not taking any chances this year.  In addition to Georgie's thirty pounds of shelled walnuts, I bought 50 pounds of cracked walnuts from my friend, Rusdee, and another 50 pounds uncracked, still in the shell from Brosi's Sugartree Farms in Winston.  Overkill, I know, but my husband and I each eat at least a handful of walnuts every day, plus I use them in my baking.

Anyway, if you are in need of walnuts, Georgie still has some for sale.  She researched all the grocery stores, including Costco and set her price at the extremely reasonable rate of $5/pound for halves, pieces, or small to medium whole walnuts.  (Costco is the only store close at $4.99/lb when you buy a 3-pound bag for $14.99 and I guarantee you they are not this fresh.)  If you are into candymaking, she also has large and extra-large whole walnuts for $6/lb. and $7/pound.  Perfect for Maple-Covered Walnuts.

They won't last long, so call Georgie at 541-673-2321 if you'd like to stock up.  Don't forget to tell her Jennifer sent you her way!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Eatin' Barbecue in Memphis

We visited my daughter Christine and her husband Blake for Thanksgiving.  They took us to Central BBQ the other night for some authentic Memphis ribs.  We ordered two "slabs", one "dry" and one "wet" and a variety of sides to go with them:  baked beans, slaw, cooked greens, potato salad, fries, and mac & cheese.  We also got their BBQ'd nachos, a house specialty--tortilla chips smothered with pulled pork, bbq sauce and cheese with jalapenos on the side.  (Kathy from Smokin' Fridays, if you're reading this, I think these would be a hit back home!)

I love pulled pork, but I have never been a huge ribs fan; they are just so messy to eat.  These, however, were delicious, so tender and flavorful, definitely worth getting sticky for and finger-lickin' good.  The ones with the dry rub were my favorite, but the wet glaze was excellent too, just a bit spicier.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Support Your Local "Farmacy"

"Let [local] food be your medicine."  I think all food was local when Hippocrates gave that advice.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In Praise of (local) Prunes

 Photo courtesy of Robin Loznak

I bought ten pounds of the best-tasting local prunes yesterday at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market.  Janet Fisher and her daughter and son-in-law were giving out samples, so naturally I had to try them and oh, were they good!

My complaint about the packaged prunes at the grocery store (the bag says "dried plums" now to sound more appealing) is that they are too wet and gushy.  I've always wished they were drier and chewier, more like raisins.  I've even considered taking the time to put them in my dehydrator and dry them out a bit more.  Well, guess what?  These local prunes are exactly what I'm after, nice and chewy!  (Of course, you can steam them or stew them if you like them soft.)  Yes, they have pits, but you just pop one in your mouth and chew around it or slit the skin with a knife (or sharp thumbnail) and pull the pit out before eating.  Once pitted they can be chopped or snipped into pieces with scissors and used just as you would raisins.  I'll be tossing them into my morning oatmeal and using them in baked goods all winter long.  Exotic ideas are running through my head.  Once the pit is removed, the "pocket" could be stuffed with all sorts of delectable things; nuts, goat cheese, chocolate chips?  What a fun and nutritious snack!  C'mon, admit it, we could all use more fiber in our diet.

Janet Fisher, with the help of her family, grows Moyer, Italian, and Brooks prunes on her historic Umpqua Valley century farm, the Martha A. Maupin Century Farm, named for her great-great-grandmother.  According to the pamphlet I picked up at their booth, they use natural, organic growing methods and dry the prunes right on the farm in a commercial dryer (shown in the photo above) that has been serving them and other local growers since the 1930's.

The Moyer prunes are sold out for the season, but I sampled both the Italians and Brooks.  The Italian prunes are slightly smaller and a bit more tart than the Brooks, but both are sweet and delicious.  Prices are $12 for a 5-pound bag or $23 for a 10-pound bag of the Brooks--that's what I bought.  The Italians are $11 for a 5-pound bag and $21 for a 10-pound bag.  They will store nicely in your freezer for years, though I'm guessing mine will get eaten up long before next year's harvest is ready.

Your last chance to stock up on these wonderful prunes will be this Saturday, October 29 from 9 to 1, at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market on Diamond Lake Blvd.   Don't miss out!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Time to Get Crackin'

Hazelnuts (filberts) are ready at Norm Lehne Garden & Orchards, but if you'd like some, you'd better hurry out today as they are going fast.  These are large/jumbo Ennis variety nuts.  They are $1.75/lb. and you can crack them yourself on the spot with Norm's old-fashioned cracker.  It doesn't take long at all to separate the nutmeats from the shells later--a great task for a rainy evening by the fire.  You will get about 50% nutmeats from the total weight.

I store them in the freezer and roast a small batch at a time to add to salads or nibble on.  I also use them in cookies and granola.  They make delicious hazelnut butter, too.

If you can't get out there today, you might be able to reserve some to pick up Monday by calling 541-672-2745.

Walnuts should be ready soon.  You can get on the list at Brosi's Sugartree Farms (541-679-1472) and they'll call when they are harvested and back from the dryer.  Cleveland Rapids Orchards (Ray and Kaye Lehne) no longer sell walnuts.

Update:  Just got back from Sherm's and I noticed they have hazelnuts in the shell, uncracked, for $3.45/lb., so Norm's are a bargain!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pizza at Delancey

Our Pizza Margherita fresh out of the oven.

My husband and I just returned from a two-week vacation around the Pacific Northwest.  Seattle was our last stop and on the final night of our trip we searched out Delancey to try their wood-fired pizza.  I had read about Delancey on Molly Wizenberg's food blog, Orangette.   Molly is also the author of the book, A Homemade Life.  It's a delightful series of vignettes and essays and recipes.  I've given away two copies so far; you can read my daughter's praise for it here.  Anyway, in the book we learn about how Molly meets her future husband, Brandon, their long-distance romance, and eventually their wedding.  They opened this pizza place in Seattle together in 2009, so I thought it would be fun to go find it. 

When I called to see about a reservation I was told they only accepted reservations for parties of six or more and that it could be an hour to an hour and a half wait for a table of two on a Thursday night.  (Delancey was written up in the New York Times just a few days before; I wasn't sure we'd be able to get in at all.)  We decided to take our chances and showed up about 6:30 pm, hoping we could still make a 9:20 movie showing of Life in a Day (very worthwhile!) We were told it would be about an hour until a table was free, but if we wanted to eat at the bar (which was really just four stools and a counter overlooking the kitchen and wood-fired oven) we might be able to sit down in 30 minutes.  Of course, I jumped at the chance to not only try the pizza, but to watch it being made and see Brandon himself slide our pie into the oven and pull it out.  It's a tiny space and I had great fun watching all the action.

We started with a charcuterie plate of prosciutto, lonzo (another cured meat), and marinated green olives.  We ordered the simple Pizza Margherita--just tomato sauce, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, and olive oil.  The sauce was excellent--no herbs in it and I didn't even detect garlic--just a very fresh, robust tomato flavor.  The crust was thin and crispy and black around the edges.  There was just enough mozzarella to make the pizza substantial, but not so much that we felt stuffed.  I had the server wrap up one of Molly's Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookies with Gray Salt to sneak into the movie we were heading to afterwards.  Yumm!

Molly is currently working on a book about the opening of Delancey.  If you happen to be in Seattle, it's definitely worth a visit.
I don't know the name of the guy tossing the dough, but that's Brandon getting ready to put our pizza in the oven.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Berries, Berries, and Cherries!

Kevin and I picked sixty-six pounds of blueberries in less than two hours last Friday at Haven Farms.  I gave some to my parents and packaged forty-eight pounds of them in 2-pound bags for the freezer.  The rest are still in the frig and we're eating them fresh.

This morning I went out to The Berry Patch (in the rain) and picked eleven pounds of raspberries.  It was wet and muddy, but there are still plenty of nice berries and more to ripen over the next week.  I just finished making a batch of raspberry freezer jam and I started a quart jar of raspberry vinegar.  I froze two 2 lb. bags of raspberries to make a couple batches of cooked jam this winter.  Still deciding what to do with the remaining berries--they must be dealt with today as they are dead ripe.  I don't have time to make a batch of cooked jam right now and there aren't enough left to juice.  I do need to pick more this week to make enough raspberry juice for raspberry lemonade during the coming year.  The Berry Patch has boysenberries and Marionberries right now too, so I'm hoping I'll have time to stock up on those as well.

We are on our second 12-lb. box of bing cherries from Shady Lane Orchards.  We bought them picked; I don't like to get on ladders if I don't have to.  We just keep eating them fresh until we're tired of them because their season is so short.  I'm going to pick up 80 pounds of pitted bings at Hentze's in Junction City this Thursday for dehydrating.

And I still need to go pick more blueberries out at Big Bend Berries.  I figure we go through about two pounds of frozen berries per week, in smoothies or on our cereal, so I don't have nearly enough in the freezer yet.  Hmmm....and I might need to start a batch of blueberry-lemon vinegar.  I'm imagining a variation of my favorite salad with dried blueberries, Rogue Creamery bleu cheese, and a blueberry vinaigrette.  Oh, and I still want to try making lavender-blueberry jam, but I can always do that later with some of the frozen berries.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Haven Farm Blueberry Picking Starts Tomorrow

Quick note:  Tomorrow, Friday, will be opening day for blueberry-picking at Haven Farm near Tyee.  Picking starts at 8:00 am but you will want to get there by 7:30 am or so to get in line.  Their Duke berries all ripen at once, which makes it easy to pick lots of berries very quickly, but it also means they will be gone in just a few days.  Check the website for picking dates for their other varieties.

Big Bend Berries (673-8767) is also open for blueberry-picking now.  I'll be out there next week to get some Patriots and Berkeleys, as I prefer their flavor for fresh eating.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Carpinteria Farmers Market

I'm in Southern California this week visiting family.  I didn't make it to my hometown farmers market, but I spent the day at the beach in Carpinteria on Thursday and when I'd had enough sun and sand and salt water, I walked down Lindon Street with my signature yellow canvas "Eat Local Produce" shopping bag to the afternoon farmers market.  I pumped forty-two dollars into their local economy with my purchases and then struggled to haul everything back to my car without squashing any of the deliciously ripe fruit or breaking the stems of the flowers.

As always, I made one trip through the market from end to end to survey the offerings and compare prices.  Such abundance; so many possibilities.  The second time through I began formulating a menu.  My brother, Dave, and I like to cook together, so I knew we'd have fun "playing" with whatever ingredients I brought home and they would not go to waste.

First off, I bought a half flat of incredibly sweet, deep red strawberries.  These are not the huge, crunchy, flavorless "California strawberries" we Oregonians scorn.  These are perfect.  (On a whim, I threw a packet of Ball Instant Fruit Pectin into the snack bag I was packing for our road trip and later today I will make a batch of low sugar freezer jam for my brother's family.)

Next, I bought a few luscious, juicy, ready-to-eat peaches.  Everything ripens earlier here; I don't think we'll have peaches at home for several weeks. I was so excited to get a head start on peach season!  As I type, I am eating a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with peaches and strawberries and just a touch of honey.  A perfect warm weather lunch--loads of antioxidants, vitamins, calcium, and eighteen grams of protein.

Okay, so I'm walking around trying to shop without bruising the fruit.  It was too far to take it to the car and I was afraid the best berries would be gone if I waited until the end to buy them.  I got the last four peaches as it was.  And I couldn't put any of it in my market bag or it would certainly be mush by the time I was through.  The plastic bag handles were cutting off the circulation in my fingers, but I struggled along to pick out some vegetables. many choices.  Red beets, orange beets, lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, bright yellow butterstick squash.  I was very tempted by the basket of ten baby zucchini with blossoms still attached.  The vendor suggested stuffing the flowers with goat cheese, twisting them closed, brushing the flowers and squash with olive oil and baking for about ten minutes.  Sounds wonderful, but I know I will be able to get zucchini at home and the lovely, pencil-thin asparagus next door was really calling my name, as our local asparagus is done for the year. I bought three bunches. We'll roast them for dinner tonight along with the boneless leg of lamb Dave just walked in the door with.

I bought two heads of hydroponic butterhead lettuce.  "No dirt, no bugs" the sign said and they were a bargain at two for $3.

I picked out a few vine-ripened, just-picked Roma tomatoes and a bunch of fresh basil.  With a store-bought baguette (too hot for baking!) we'll make bruschetta for our appetizer.

I chose a gorgeous bouquet of two-toned gerbera daisies for my sister-in-law.  Four bucks for ten exquisite peaches and cream flowers.

I tasted some fresh green garbanzo beans still in their pods and bought a scoop just for the novelty of it.  They taste much like fresh peas and make a refreshing snack.  I've never had edamame, but I'm wondering if it's similar.

I bought four very hard avocados to take home with me.  I don't want them to ripen for at least a week.

I didn't splurge on a bottle of California olive oil, but I did buy a small bar of lavender-scented castille soap from the same booth.

Surprisingly, there were no baked goods at this market.  Nothing to sample or munch on during my hour-long drive back to Valencia.  It's a scenic route through Ventura, Santa Paula, and Fillmore past acres and acres of orange groves.  Normally I wouldn't be able to resist the pull of the roadside fruit stands, but my cash was gone, my skin was still salt-crusted from swimming and I was ready for a shower.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Dinner with a Local Flair

The menu...
Salmon on a plank
Baby zucchini and yellow squash
Steamed fingerling potatoes
Roasted beets
Mixed greens with nasturtiums 
dressed with an orange muscat vinaigrette
Baguette slices with Boursin cheese
Individual Berry Pavlovas

The salmon was a gift from a friend, caught in the North Umpqua river just a few miles from our home.  The squash, potatoes, beets, lettuce, flowers, raspberries, and cherries came from the farmers market.  Even the eggs for the meringue and the whipping cream were local.  Our blueberry harvest hasn't begun yet, so those were from Salinas and, of course, the sugar, vanilla, olive oil, salt and pepper came from far off places, as did the flour and yeast I used for the baguettes.  Still, without being a true locavore, putting together an Umpqua Valley feast during the summer is pretty easy.  

 I sliced the baby squash in half and cooked them quickly on a hot griddle, turning once halfway through.

 The nasturtiums looked lovely in the salad.  My family thought it was strange to be eating flowers, though.
 The salmon was delicious.  I brushed it with olive oil and sprinkled it with freshly ground pepper and some of the Pink Himalayan salt my daughter gave me for Christmas before my husband placed the fillets on cedar planks for grilling.

Dessert was a hit!  Raspberry coulis, meringue, whipped cream, berries, another layer of meringue, more cream, more berries, and a bing cherry on top.  Details here.

A Star-Spangled Dessert

I made individual berry pavlovas for tonight's dessert, in honor of Independence Day.  (My folks are doing the hamburger and hotdog barbecue tomorrow, so this was my chance!)

I used this recipe from the pastry studio blog (oh, what fun I could have working my way through that blog!) and the only change I made was to make five small pavlovas instead of one large pavlova.  I drew five circles about three and a half inches in diameter on each of two sheets of parchment.  Be sure to place the parchment on the pan with the pencil side down or it will transfer to your food.  You need two discs for each pavlova.  This recipe made just the right amount.

The smaller meringue discs will not take quite as long to bake, but you still need to plan on about an hour and a half.  They will lift off the parchment easily without leaving much meringue behind when they are done.

While the meringue discs are baking you can get the cream whipped, the berries rinsed, and the coulis made.  Then, assembling the pavlovas just before serving is a snap.


Saturday, July 2, 2011


Okay, so I went a bit overboard at the farmers market this morning.  I just couldn't help myself.  I started out at The Baklava Lady's booth just a few minutes after 9:00 am.  You have to get there right when the market opens because she sells out fast.

My favorite croissants were on display, the ones with the fabulous Nutella and marshmallow fluff filling, so I bought one of those and three mini spanakopita.  I fully intended to take photos to post, but, sorry, none of that made it home.  I also bought a thick slice of Lime Cake.  I think Judy said there was a full cup of lime juice in the recipe and, no, she didn't feel compelled to dress it up with green food coloring.  I haven't tasted it yet, but I'm sure the flavor speaks for itself.

Right next door is the Cabruca Chocolates booth.  I sampled a traditional Brazilian Honey Cake--the texture is somewhat of a cross between a brownie bite and a mini cupcake.  Juliana said there are no eggs or butter in the batter, but it does have local organic honey and dulce de leche.   I admired her assortment of truffles and bought a chocolate-mint truffle, which I have managed to resist eating so far.

At Dang's Gardens I picked out a bouquet of red, white and purple sweet peas and a bouquet of gorgeous orange nasturtiums.  I'm going to add some of the nasturtiums to our Sunday dinner salad tomorrow and see what kind of reaction I get.  I also bought a bag of arugula.

On to Growing Crazy Farms where we discussed the cherry crop (okay, but not overly abundant this year) and I got a head of lettuce.

At the Riggs Family Farm stand I went for the baby (tiny!) zucchini and yellow summer squash.  I'm thinking I'll halve them lengthwise and grill them to go with dinner tomorrow.

Hayhurst Farms from Yoncalla had a lovely display of vegetables--napa cabbage, broccoli, kale, beets, carrots, snow peas, and garlic.  I bought some beets and a few transplants for my garden--tarragon, rosemary, and cucumbers.

I bought one roma tomato plant and a basket of organic bing cherries but I didn't look at the names of the booths.  The cherries really could have used a few more days on the tree to sweeten up, but for some reason, after chatting with the grower, I bought them anyway.

By this time I had made two trips to the car to unload some of my bounty and get more money out of my purse.  On my last swing through the market I bought a bunch of carrots from Big Lick Farm and picked up the fingerling potatoes and raspberries I had reserved at Linnea Marie Farms.

So tomorrow's menu is shaping up nicely.  My husband is going to do Salmon on a Plank on the grill for the entree.  I'll round it out with a salad, the baby squash, roasted beets, and crusty baguette slices spread with Boursin Garlic and Fine Herb cheese.  I'm thinking of making a berry pavlova for dessert--fluffy white meringue topped with vanilla creme anglaise, blueberries, and raspberries.  How festive is that for (almost) Fourth of July?

Have a great holiday.  I'm off to mix baguette dough, plant my new transplants, clean the house, and head to the gym.   

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Goat Cheese Truffles

New from The Baklava Lady at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market!  I sampled one of these Goat Cheese Truffles last Saturday and was headed back for more this week, but they were sold out before I got there.  A delightful combination of  goat cheese, snipped chives, and dried cranberries rolled in chopped pecans.  Savory and sweet all in one creamy bite. 

These truffles would make an elegant finish to a sophisticated dinner but they could also be served as an appetizer or tucked into a basket with some fresh fruit and a great baguette for your Music-on-the-Halfshell picnic.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Ultimate 'Buy Local' Experience

If you haven't made it to the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market yet, you are missing out on the ultimate spot to 'buy local.'

I've been buying zesty lettuce mix, tender asparagus, leeks, flowers, and of course, sampling the baked goods.  

There are four bakers at the market this year.  Well, five, if you count the baked goods (muffins, tarts, etc.) at the Growing Crazy Farms booth.  B & J's Bakery is there with giant monster cookies, bread, and so far is the only one with pies.  Lighthouse Bakery is back with their hearth loaves, biscotti, and walnut sticky buns.  The Village Baker from Ashland has a booth at our market this year; I haven't tried any of their goods yet.  And Judy, The Baklava Lady, is there with an expanded selection of pastries, biscotti, and cookies in addition to her baklava and spanakopita.   I bought one of her flaky chocolate croissants filled with a mix of Nutella and marshmallow fluff.  Superb!  Her lemon-basil cookies were also excellent--buttery dough with flecks of green basil and lemon zest, then topped with a lemon glaze.

I picked up some local handmade chocolates for my son's Easter basket at the Umpqua Sweets & Treats booth and tried one of the "Yumpqua" bars--a caramel layer, a blackberry layer, all dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with hazelnuts.  Yum indeed!

Looks like the sun might actually come out on Saturday, so I'll be checking out the selection of transplants for my garden. 

Hope to see you there!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Return of the Farmers Market!!!

The Umpqua Valley Farmers Market opens at 9:00 am tomorrow morning!  I can't wait.  It's been a long winter.  It's so fun to reconnect with all my favorite vendors again.

I'll be picking up some tender asparagus from Jim and Joni Leet and then I'll be looking for lettuce, arugula, and flowers. 

I hear there is a new food cart this year; I'm looking forward to seeing who it is. 

I'll also check out the transplants for my garden, but I'm in no mood to start digging until the sun comes out.

Hope to see some of you there.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Osteria Sfizio

Warm, sugar-crusted doughnut "pillows" with creme anglaise for dipping.

On the recommendation of Jennifer over at Culinaria Eugenius, my friend, Laura, and I stopped into Osteria Sfizio in Eugene for lunch a while back.  I don't pretend to be a food critic and I only write about places I like (Thumper's rule), but this sleek, modern restaurant in the Oakway Center near Trader Joe's is too good not to blog about.  A bit spendy (I don't often spend $25 on lunch and that was my half of the bill!) but worth every penny.

We started off with the asparagus soup and long, thin, crispy breadsticks, then Laura ordered the wild mushroom ravioli in a brown butter and sage sauce and I chose the elk lasagne bolognese with bechamel sauce.  We decided to split an order of roasted root vegetables.  Both entrees were out-of-this-world--we shared, of course.  And I'm not even much of a mushroom fan.  The pasta is made in-house using flour milled in Pendleton and local eggs.  They use as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible, always a plus and worth paying extra for.

The root vegetables--carrots, parsnips, turnips (or maybe they were rutabagas?) were roasted to perfection and seasoned with black pepper and a dash of honey.  I definitely want to try to duplicate those at home.

For dessert there were several interesting choices, but we decided to split an order of the "Sfizio Doughnuts" (pictured above) and enjoyed every bite.

Osterio Sfizio is worth the drive to Eugene for a special-occasion dinner.  They also offer brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, which I look forward to trying next time I'm in Eugene for the weekend.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

That's My Farmer!/FRESH the Movie

Think Local Umpqua has teamed up with the First United Methodist Church in Roseburg for their second annual "That's My Farmer" event.

This is a great chance to meet farmers in our area, learn more about local CSAs, watch a great film called FRESH:  New thinking about what we're eating, and enjoy an ice cream sundae.  I get to help make the toppings.

I had a friend over for lunch a few weeks ago and we previewed the film.  It is excellent.  It highlights farmers who have gotten back to growing and producing safe and delicious food using healthy, humane, and sustainable methods.  Definitely gives one hope for the future of agriculture in our country.

Won't you join us?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bake Sale Number Two

After my pie-baking marathon last week, I needed something a bit easier for this week's bake sale.  For the bread, I made a quadruple batch of Sour Cream & Chive Potato Bread.  I mixed the dough Wednesday afternoon, refrigerated it overnight, then shaped and baked the loaves Thursday morning so they would still be warm for delivery.

Hearth loaves proofing

Scored and ready to slide onto a hot baking stone.

At this point, the kitchen smells divine.

For the sweet treat I made Dark Chocolate-Raspberry Brownies.  The recipe is the same as my Marionberry-Walnut Brownies, but I omitted the nuts and used seedless raspberry jam on top.

I always make my brownies the night before I plan to serve them; it makes cutting them so much easier.  I line the pan with parchement, then the next day I can slide a heavy-duty spatula under the parchment and lift the whole giant brownie out onto the counter.  With the help of a yardstick and my metal bench knife I can divide it evenly into twenty large, dense, rich, gooey brownies.

It all went so smoothly this week, I was actually done a couple hours early.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Crazy Bake Sale

Yesterday I had the challenge of making eleven apple pies in about six hours.

My daughter, Laura, is going on a six-week trip to El Salvador this spring as a volunteer with Help International. She'll get to practice her Spanish while fighting urban poverty in the capital city of San Salvador. In order to finance her service she's doing quite a bit of fundraising. I decided to help her out by contacting some of my former farmers market customers to see if they would like to participate in a weekly bake sale. I would send out an email each week with details of what I was baking, how much the donation would be,  and where they could meet me for delivery. They could then reply with their order and pick up their order at the designated time and place with a check made out directly to HELP International.

The response was overwhelming. Yesterday was my first bake sale and I had orders for eleven apple pies, ten loaves of 100% whole wheat buttermilk bread, and eighteen chocolate chip monster cookies. It's a good thing I have four ovens! This was a great test for my new (almost finished) laundry room/bakery/food storage and food preservation room.

With some thoughtful organization, I mapped out a plan to get everything baked in time for delivery between 1:30 and 2:30 pm on Thursday. Here's how it worked:

I made the cookie dough on Wednesday morning.  Using my spring-loaded ice cream scoop, I portioned out the dough and then rolled and formed each mound into a disk about four inches in diameter and  1/2-inch thick. I layered them between waxed paper on a cookie sheet, covered them tightly, and refrigerated them overnight. (I have two refrigerators.)

Also on Wednesday morning, I mixed the bread dough and refrigerated that overnight too.

Wednesday evening I prepared the crusts. I don't like to make pie dough in a food processor because I think it is difficult to get the water incorporated without over-processing the butter, making for a tough crust. However, I do like to use the food processor to cut the butter into the flour and salt mixture if I am making several pies, then I stir in ice water with a fork to form the dough. In my 25-year old Cuisinart I can make a double recipe, enough for two double-crust pies. I weigh the flour and salt into the workbowl with the steel blade and process a few seconds to blend. Then I add the cold butter in chunks and pulse 40 or 50 times until the butter is in fairly uniform small pieces—not crumbs—I like to see some streaks of butter when I am rolling it out. I made six batches of “crust mix” and refrigerated it in plastic bags overnight. This mix can also be frozen for use several weeks out.

I knew I was going to need help with the apples, so I asked my mom if she would like to come over Thursday morning and visit while we worked together. (I made eight pies single-handedly the night before
Christine's wedding, but they were all berry pies and berries don't need to be peeled and sliced.) My dad must have felt sorry for me because he showed up along with my mom before 8:00 am ready for kitchen duty. I put them both to work on the apples while I baked the cookies, four to a parchment-lined sheet, three sheets at a time in one of my convection ovens. 
After I finished with the cookies I started on the pies. I weighed the sliced apples into several bowls, then I weighed out batches of sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon juice, lemon zest, freshly grated nutmeg, a pinch of salt, and a splash of vanilla and stirred it all into the apples. I like to let the fruit and sugar mix sit for at least fifteen minutes to get the juices flowing before I put it in the crust, so while the apple mix “juiced” I weighed out crust mix, added ice water and rolled out crusts.

After I got the first two pies in the oven, it was time to divide and shape the bread dough. I had taken it out of the frig when I first got up so it could come to room temperature. Things were getting a bit crazy by this time with three of us working, cookies cooling all over the place, bowls of apples everywhere in various stages of preparation, and only an occasional swig of chocolate milk to keep us going, but we were having a good time. My dad did most of the interior work on this extra kitchen and I think he enjoyed seeing it put to good use. I let him go home after all the apples were sliced, but Mom stayed around to help keep track of all the timers and to offer moral support.

I shaped the bread dough and the loaves sat proofing in their pans on the counter while I continued rolling out pie crusts, mixing bowls of apple filling, and making pies.
The bread rose nicely and I started baking it about 11:00 am in the two “inside” ovens—the ones in my regular kitchen--while I kept the “bakery” ovens busy with pies.  Mom was stationed inside to alert me when the timers went off.

I got the last two pies in the oven a bit before 1:00 pm; they wouldn't be done in time to take them to my first delivery stop at 1:30. I loaded up the car with everything else, leaving Mom at home to watch the pies. I dashed off to my first stop for a quick hand-off, then rushed back home in time to take them out of the oven and make it downtown by 2:15—only fifteen minutes behind schedule and I did call to warn everyone I would be a tad late.

I got back home just in time to see my mom washing the last dirty bowl, greet my son coming home from school and take him to his piano lesson at 3:00. Whew!

All in all, things went according to plan. One thing's for sure though—I won't be offering pies next week!

P.S. I had enough sliced apples and crust mix leftover to make one more pie, so I baked a twelfth pie before dinner and took it over to my dad.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I "heart" Local Food--Support the Direct Farm Marketing Bill

Hello faithful readers.  I got a call-to-action from fellow master food preserver and food blogger Jennifer Burns Levin (Culinaria Eugenius) regarding HB2336, the Direct Farm Marketing Bill.  If you care about access to local food, please take a minute to call or email your house representative and urge him or her to support this bill.

Keep reading and click on the links below to learn more.  A vote is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 16, so it is critical to lend our support right now!  The Farm Bureau and NW Food Processors are opposing this bill, so "We the People" need to speak up!

Gleaned from the web.....

HB 2336, the Farm Direct Bill

HB 2336, the Farm Direct Bill, has passed its House committee in a 6-2 vote and is likely to be debated on the House floor on Wednesday February 16.

As we celebrate the institution of love this week, please take a moment to shower a little love on our direct market farmers by calling or emailing your state representative BEFORE 11 AM on Feb. 16!  Whisper a few “sweet somethings” their behalf. Suggestions follow.

If you are a farmer and belong to the Farm Bureau, please add that fact to your call or email. The Farm Bureau has joined the NW Food Processors in opposing portions of this bill, which is the product of a year’s work by many parties, including the Oregon Farmers’ Markets Association.

Talking Points for HB 2336 

Farm direct marketing is key to revitalizing local food systems – stimulating grass roots economic development, improving food security and providing healthy choices for Oregon families.

For decades, we have been asking farmers to do all for Oregon this without a clear and rational set of rules for what needs a license and what does not. ODA, the farmers, farmers’ markets and the communities they serve all will benefit from the clarity HB 2336 offers.

Farm direct products are highly traceable, and there is no greater accountability than looking your customers in the eye.

HB 2336 eases regulation only for very low risk products. Pickles and jams are made in millions of homes today, and have been keeping food safe for thousands of years.

Farm direct marketers are entrepreneurs who deserve some room to innovate. Successful businesses will outgrow the gross sales limit in this bill, and production will shift to licensed facilities. is the alpha list of House members . Please hold off on the Senate until we make it through the House. is a fill in form to determine who represents you. 

Want more detail? Look here:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Oreo Truffles for Valentine's Day

I learned to make these the other night and if you like Oreos you will love them. The recipe is simple and comes from a great baking blog called Bakerella. Check it out here then come back for my tips.

  • I used regular Oreos, but mint Oreos or peanut butter Oreos would be great too. 
  • I don't like using “bark” or candy melts for dipping. I used 2 cups (1 package) of Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips melted in the microwave with 4 teaspoons Spectrum organic non-hydrogenated shortening. This makes the chocolate a bit softer (like bark) when hardened so that it doesn't crack all over the place when you bite into it. The is the same mix I use for chocolate-covered strawberries. 
  •  You can pulse the cookies in the food processor to the right texture, then mix the softened cream cheese in by hand with a sturdy spoon. I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla just because I love vanilla. 
  • I used my cookie scoop to portion out the “dough” and then rolled each one by hand to smooth it out. I set them on a waxed paper- lined cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for a couple hours to make dipping easier. 
  •  A fork works better than a spoon for dipping. It allows the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Scrape the bottom of the tines against the side of the bowl to avoid a puddle on the bottom of each truffle. Use a cake tester or toothpick to gently scoot the dipped truffle off the fork and onto the waxed paper. The frozen balls help the chocolate set up quickly, but you can cover the tray and put it in the frig if you're in a big hurry. 
  • I had a tiny bit of white chocolate on hand so I melted it and used it to decorate the tops of the dipped truffles Jackson Pollock-style by dipping a spoon in and frantically shaking it back and forth over the tops. You could also use candy hearts or sprinkles.

  • When the truffles are set put each one in a paper or foil cup and arrange them in a pretty box for gift-giving. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve or give away. 
  • Any extra dipping mix can be refrigerated and remelted to use again. It's also great for dipping dried cherries, nuts, pretzels, and a ripe banana is perfect for cleaning out the bowl.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kruse Farms Closes Today

FYI....Today is the last chance to stock up on produce from Kruse Farms.  They will be closing until mid-April.
They still have apples, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, winter squash, oranges, etc.
They also have jams, instant refried beans and other packaged products.
Everything is 20% off.  I believe they are open until 6:00 p.m.  After that, all the leftover produce is going to the UCAN Food Bank.