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.