Thursday, December 6, 2012

Drumroll, please....Flavors of the Umpqua Note Cards

My project for the past several months has been designing a line of note cards based on photographs and recipes from my blog, as well as setting up a website for online sales.  This has been an incredible learning experience!  I have had this idea in my head for three years, but it took a great deal of prodding and encouragement from my family and friends to follow through.  I am now officially ready to launch  Ta da!!!

I have four different designs so far.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Caramel Pecan Brownies with the recipe printed inside!

 That's me on the back with my Kenner EasyBake oven 
when I was five.  I've been baking ever since!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Buying Apples in the Big Apple

We took a trip to New York City a couple weeks ago to visit our daughter, Laura. (We arrived four days after Superstorm Sandy hit!)  Of course, I had to find a farmers market in Manhattan. Lots of varieties of apples that we don't get out west.  We tried the Winesaps and Macouns and warm apple cider--delicious!

I'd never seen carrots in so many colors!  I love visiting the markets wherever I am in the world, but it's frustrating because I want to buy everything and go home and cook.

Can't "Beet" This Gift Idea

My clever husband made this "beet doll" to send me off on a shopping spree for my birthday.  His grandmother used to make "potato dolls" decorated with felt and pipe cleaners when she gave him and his siblings money for Christmas.  He's adding his own twist to the tradition.  They're great fun to receive and it makes for a more substantial package to open, rather than just an envelope.  Just don't make them too far ahead of time; the potatoes might sprout!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oodles of Noodles

I made whole wheat egg noodles to put in my turkey carcass soup today.  I followed the recipe I posted a few years ago, but I ground fresh flour from soft white wheatberries for these noodles.

Would you look at the color of those egg yolks?  I've been getting eggs from a hiking friend and they are excellent.

After kneading by hand for about 10 minutes, the dough looks like this.

I cut the dough ball into 9 pieces and ran each one through my hand-crank pasta machine, working my way from level one to level 6.  (I think level 7 makes the noodles too thin.)

Each time you run it through, the dough gets longer, thinner and wider.

The noodles cut more easily and don't stick together if you let the final sheets dry for 10 or 15 minutes on a floured board before putting them through the blades.

I separate the strands and lay them in soft bundles on my dehydrator racks to dry.  They will dry overnight without heat, but I set the temperature at 115 degrees and they were brittle in less than an hour.

Ready for the soup pot!  Because there is so little moisture left in the noodles, they should keep fine in bags or jars at room temperature (and they are going to be boiled, anyway!), but with all those raw eggs, I like to store them in the freezer just to be safe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Loaves for Learning

Gloria, John, and Janet with their hand-kneaded
loaves of whole wheat bread.

I had the great pleasure of spending the day helping three of my dear friends hone their baking skills.  They were eager students and, as you can see from the photos, produced some lovely loaves.

We made 100% whole wheat potato bread, traditional baguettes, all-butter pie crusts, and no-knead refrigerator roll dough for featherlight dinner rolls.  

We managed to time it all so we could sit down to a lunch of cream of cauliflower soup, a freshly-baked baguette, and coleslaw with diced green apple, chopped hazelnuts, and dried cranberries.  Oh, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. 

Good work, gang!


Monday, October 22, 2012

A Lovely Lunch

My friend Janet has been making huge batches of pasta sauce with organic San Marzano tomatoes from Big Lick Farm. She freezes it for the winter in ziploc bags, if she can keep her family from eating it all first!

Lucky me, I was invited over for lunch to sample it and it was outstanding!  I love how the simplest ingredients, when perfectly ripe and fresh, can be turned into something so delicious--red ripe tomatoes, basil, parsley, lots of garlic, salt, and olive oil all cooked down into a satisfying sauce.

Janet served it over radiatore pasta (which means "little radiators" in Italian) and topped it with freshly grated Pecorino-Romano.  Zucchini from her garden was sliced and stir-fried with garlic and olive oil for our side dish.  For dessert we each savored a square of dark Valhrona chocolate.

Thank you, Janet!  Your sauce is a winner.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hotline Extended Through Friday

A quick update..... the OSU Extension Statewide Food Safety and Preservation Hotline (800) 354-7319 has been extended for one more week due to our extra-long harvest season.  We're open through this Friday, October 19.

I'm off to fill in on the morning shift....

Friday, October 12, 2012

Homemade Hazelnut Butter

I roasted a pan of hazelnuts yesterday and used them to make a batch of hazelnut butter.  It only takes about three minutes in a food processor.  Here are the step by step photos:

I used my 27 year old Cuisinart (college graduation gift) and put in one pound of roasted (cooled) nuts.

After one minute of continuous processing, the mixture looks pretty dry and grainy.  Keep going!

After three minutes, the nut mixture has become shiny (from the natural nut oils) and spreadable, with a texture much like almond butter.  At this point, you could add a bit of sea salt, but I think it tastes great without it.

Subbing hazelnut butter for peanut butter in this recipe makes delicious cookies.

Roasting Hazelnuts

Raw hazelnuts

Just thought I'd post Norm and Cinda's instructions for roasting hazelnuts:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Spread hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet.  (My note:  a half-sheet pan will hold 1 1/2 pounds of shelled hazelnuts.)  Roast for 15-20 minutes.  Stir and continue roasting for another 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned.  You will be able to see the brown centers in the hazelnut pieces.  Let cool.  The texture will be even more crunchy after roasting.  

 Roasted hazelnuts

To maintain freshness, roasted hazelnuts must be stored at 34-38 degrees, up to six months.  Frozen, hazelnuts are good at least one year.

I roasted a batch yesterday and ground one pound into delicious hazelnut butter.

Food Preservation Resource

Today is the last day that the OSU Extension Statewide Food Safety and Preservation Hotline (800) 354-7319 will be open, but here is a link to a great library of PDF files on food safety and food preservation topics that you can view, download and print at home.

There is a wealth of up-to-date information in this online database on canning, drying, freezing, emergency preparedness and other related topics.  Bookmark the site for future reference.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Get Your Hazelnuts Now

Hazelnuts are back from the dryer and ready for purchase at Norm Lehne Garden & Orchard.  I drove out yesterday with my friend, Gloria, and we bought 25 pounds and took turns running them through the cracker.  Quite a good little upper body workout!

These beautiful hazelnuts are $1.75.  Now is the time to stock up.  They will stay fresh in your freezer all year.  I haven't checked this year, but last fall at Sherm's hazelnuts still in the shell were selling for $3.45/lb. so Norm's are a bargain and they are local and so fresh.

Be sure to pick up a copy of Norm and Cinda's newsletter that has instructions for roasting your hazelnuts to bring out their best flavor. 

I love hazelnuts in my granola, in salads, and just for snacking on.  I often use them in baking, instead of walnuts.  

Click here for a video of Norm demonstrating the cracker.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fall at the Farmers Market

What a lovely display of fall colors at the

It was a perfect autumn morning at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market.  Crisp air, clear blue skies, and fall colors everywhere.  This is my favorite season of the year.

I was determined to get there early today so I wouldn't miss out on Suzi's organic strawberries.  Can you believe we can still get sweet, juicy strawberries in October???  This "Indian Summer" probably won't last much longer and we've already had some frosty mornings, so I'm making the most of all our local produce.  The booths are overflowing with delicious, nutritious, LOCAL food. 

In addition to strawberries, I bought a lovely bunch of kale for my morning green smoothies, tender mixed greens and dried Bandon cranberries for my favorite salad, slender carrots for roasting, a crusty loaf of Harvest Wheatberry bread, two huge cantaloupes, a bag of Jim's russet potatoes, a fresh pimiento pepper, an Amish pie pumpkin and a couple gourds to decorate my entryway, three spanakopita for my breakfast (and Judy threw in a sample of a salted caramel brownie that was outstanding!) and I stocked up on local beef and chicken for the winter.  Oh, and I picked out a beautiful bouquet of dahlias for my dining room table.  

Sunday dinner is at my house tomorrow and I'm pondering the possibilities.....

Bruschetta made with thick slices of the bread (if there's any left) and topped with tomatoes and basil from my garden

Chicken Fingers with a toasty hazelnut breading
or perhaps a Chicken Pot Pie

Potatoes roasted with fresh rosemary & garlic

Pencil-thin green beans, cooked until just tender 
(bought from Kruse Farms yesterday)

Sliced melon and strawberries

and, of course, something yummy for dessert

Friday, September 7, 2012

Working on the Hotline

I'm volunteering on the statewide Food Safety and Preservation Hotline from 12:30 to 4:00 pm  today.  Call with your canning, freezing, drying questions or if you need sources for local food to preserve and we'll do our best to find the answers.

Hotline hours:
  • June 25, 2012 (Monday) through October 12, 2012 (Friday)
  • Daily Schedule (except for holidays):
    • Wednesday:  1:00 PM TO 4:00 PM
    • Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday:  9:00 AM TO 4:00 PM
  • Telephone Number:     1-800-354-7319

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tri-Color Rotini with Pesto, Green Beans and Smoked Salmon

It's supposed to be 98 degrees today and that calls for a cold supper.  Here's an updated version of the traditional tuna-macaroni salad.  I used two (3 oz) pouches of Sea Fare Pacific's smoked sockeye salmon.  It's wild-caught, prepared, and packaged nearby in Coos Bay.  You can find it at Booster Juice on Garden Valley.  They have smoked albacore tuna, too.  (And while you're there, order a Green Dream smoothie.  It's not on the menu, but it's my favorite--full of wheatgrass juice, greens, and mango.)

This would feed three or four, depending on what else you serve with it.  We'll be having cantaloupe and roasted beets.

Pasta with Pesto, Green Beans, and Smoked Salmon

8 ounces tri-color rotini
6 ounces fresh green beans
6 ounces smoked salmon
1/2 cup pesto

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, remove tips and tails from about 6 ounces of fresh green beans (a large handful).  Rinse the beans and cut into two-inch pieces.  Blanch in the boiling water for about three minutes, just until tender-crisp.  Drain and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

In the same pot of water (which you have returned to a boil) cook 8 ounces of rotini according to package directions, just until barely tender.  Drain well.

Toss the warm pasta with 1/2 cup pesto and add the salmon, breaking up any large chunks with a fork.  Remove the beans from the ice water and drain well.  Add to the pasta mixture and toss well to coat everything.  Add additional salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Chill well, but remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.  Toss well and serve on a bed of lettuce.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What To Do With All Those Nectarines

Harko nectarines from 

We're still eating nectarines I picked at Paris Orchards (541-673-6417) last week, but I couldn't help picking a few more at Lehne's this morning.  They are so juicy and sweet!  I pick them in varying stages of ripeness so they are not all ready at once, but if they get ahead of me they are easy to freeze; no peeling necessary.  

I slice them directly onto a wax paper-lined baking sheet and flash freeze them for several hours or overnight, then pack them into plastic bags.  They make a refreshing snack straight from the freezer, sort of like a mini popsicle.  They are delicious added to smoothies.  Sliced nectarines can also be dried until chewy for winter snacking or adding to trail mix for a hike.  They can also be canned.  Processing times are the same as for peaches, but you don't peel them first.

Nectarines can also be substituted in this sorbet recipe for a light dessert.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lehne's Opens Friday

U-pick season is in full-swing now.  Norm Lehne Garden and Orchard in Garden Valley opens this Friday at 8:00 am with beans, beets, and summer squash to pick.  They'll also host the OSU Master Food Preservers this Friday and Saturday from 10 to 2 to answer questions and test your pressure canner gauge.  (It's very important to have you gauge tested every year!)

And, fresh from the East Coast, Wendy, Norm and Cinda's daughter-in-law, is back with her Garden Girl baked goods and jams. beans with basil butter, roasted beets dressed with olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar and snipped chives, grilled zucchini and yellow summer squash...fresh veggies for every meal.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Death By Chocolate Cookies

I tore this recipe out of a magazine years ago.  I don't think the folks at Baker's Chocolate will mind if I pass it along.  See my notes at the bottom for substitutions and changes I made. 

Baker's One Bowl
Death By Chocolate Cookies

2 pkg. (16) squares Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, divided
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon CALUMET Baking Powder
2 cups chopped nuts (optional)

HEAT oven to 350 degrees F.  Coarsely chop 8 squares (1 pkg.) of the chocolate; set aside.  MICROWAVE remaining 8 squares chocolate in large microwavable bowl on HUGH 1-2 minutes.  Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Stir in sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla.  Stir in flour and baking powder.  Stir in reserved chopped chocolate and nuts.  Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.  BAKE 12 to 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and feel set to the touch.  Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies.

My version:  I didn't have any Baker's chocolate today.  I used about a bag and a half of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips (no chopping required).  I weighed them out so I had 16 ounces to start with. I always use dark brown sugar.  It helps to have the butter at room temperature.  You don't use a mixer, just stir it all together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.  I use Clabber Girl or Rumford baking powder.  I used coarsely chopped pecans today.  I don't make the cookies as big as they say.  I used my regular cookie scoop but heaped the dough up--maybe 2 tablespoons worth.  I baked mine at 325 pure convection for 11 minutes on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  I got about 3 1/2 dozen, not counting the snitches of cookie dough I ate (I know, I know, I'm not supposed to do that!).


Monday, July 9, 2012

Peaches at Brosi's

The first local peaches of the summer are here!  I bought quite a few at the Brosi's Sugartree Farms booth at the farmers market on Saturday and they have just softened up enough to eat.  They are sweet and dripping with juice.  I'll never be able to save up enough for a Perfect Peach Pie at this rate.

They will open the orchard for u-picking this week.  Check their facebook page or call 679-1472 for details.

Update on local berries

It's time to stockpile some berries for year-round enjoyment.  Big Bend Berries still has plenty of blueberries, with new varieties ripening each week.  I've been out there picking four times so far and I almost have my quota to last us until through next July.

I went back to The Berry Patch last Friday to pick some more raspberries, but I got side-tracked when I saw that the boysenberries and Marionberries were ripe and ready.  Once they get going, the berries all seem to come at once.

I picked a huge pan of the giant boysenberries and decided to save the Marionberries for another day.  I made my way to the raspberries and I had to hunt a bit as they are getting sparse now, but I did pick a whole bucket full.

I stayed up late and made a batch of raspberry jam and a batch of boysenberry jam--the regular, old-fashioned cooked kind, rather than the easy low sugar freezer jam I usually make.  I'm running out of room in the freezer with all the frozen berries in there.

Cherries are still on at Shady Lane and Brosi's.  The last week of sunshine should have sweetened them up quite a bit.

The heatwave is taking it's toll on all the fruit, so get out soon if you haven't got your fill yet.

Next up are the wonderful thornless blackberries at The Berry Patch that will be coming on around the 25th of July.  If we're lucky, they will last all the way into September.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Let the Blueberry Picking Begin!

Big Bend Berries (458 Big Bend Rd. off Garden Valley, 541-673-8767) is now open for u-picking!  They have tons of beautiful Patriot berries just waiting for you.  I dashed out there this morning and picked for about 45 minutes.  I'll head back tomorrow evening with the family.

Big Bend is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8:00 am to noon and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 pm until 8:30 pm.  They WILL be open this Wednesday on the 4th of July until noon.  

Berries are $1.20/lb and they are not sprayed with anything--no fungicide, no insecticide.  Bring your own containers.  I always use the "bucket-on-a-belt" method for hands-free picking.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the new pamphlet put out by the Oregon Blueberry Commission when you weigh and pay.  There's a recipe for for Blueberry Chicken Salad Wraps that sounds delicious.  More luscious looking recipes on their website.

For a primer of blueberry picking, storing and freezing, check out my previous post here.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sunday Dinner Italian-Style

I'm going with an Italian theme for dinner tomorrow.  I'll be helping with food for a wedding reception in August and we've settled on a casual Italian menu for that, so I'm going to play with some ideas rolling around in my head.

We'll start with an antipasto platter.  I stopped by the Rogue Creamery in Central Point the other day on the way home from a camping and hiking trip in northern California.  I bought a cheese called "Beecher's No Woman".  Not sure why it has that name, but it's marbled with Jamaican jerk spices and it's delicious; a little bit smokey and a little bit sweet.  I'm going to serve it on thin crackers along with slices of Salametti Secchi (dry salami) that I bought at the same time.  I'll add some olives and perhaps artichoke hearts to round things out.

Next up we'll have a salad with the fresh greens I bought at the farmers market this morning and an oil & vinegar or creamy Italian dressing.

For the main course, I'm going to try to duplicate the margherita pizza I had at Ken's Artisan Pizza a couple months ago with my daughter, Laura.  Super thin crust, a light smearing of a garlicky tomato sauce, whole fresh basil leaves, all topped with fresh mozzarella slices and a grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano.  (I bought the mozzarella and parmesan at Rogue Creamery too.)

I usually cook pizzas directly on my baking stone in a 550 degree oven, as hot as it will go.  With a thin crust, it only takes a few minutes.  I'm toying with the idea of trying something new, if the weather cooperates.  I have lined our gas grill with half-size firebricks before to bake Whole Wheat Pita Bread.  I'd like to try baking the pizzas out there and perhaps even add some smoke chips to give them more of a wood-fired flavor.

I bought some lovely long thin green beans (the lady said they were from Medford, but who knows?  I think it'll be awhile before local beans are ready).  I might steam them as a side dish.

Haven't figured out dessert yet.  I need to practice pavlovas, but I'd like to do a lemon curd and blueberry combination and I haven't gotten any blueberries yet.   Hmmm....I could try my hand at gelato.....

Please "Like" Me on Facebook

Check out my new Flavors of the Umpqua facebook fan page.  That's the place to look for quick updates on what's in season or what I'm cooking.  If anything tickles your fancy you can click a link that will lead you back here for details or the recipe.  Feel free to "like" or comment!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quick Cherry Report

Here's what I know about the local cherry crop this season:

Brosi's Sugartree Farms currently has Chelan cherries for u-picking.  These are a dark, sweet cherry similar to bings.  Bings will be coming on shortly.  The trees at Brosi's are nice dwarf-type trees that make for easy picking from the ground.  Prices are $1.00/lb. u-pick or $1.99/lb. picked.

Kruse Farms and Shady Lane (342 Shady Drive, Roseburg  541-672-3430) both say their cherries will not be ready until closer to the end of the month.  You can check back here or check the News Review nightly to see their opening dates.

Gordon Hentze of Hentze Family Farm in Junction City tells me his cherries will not be ready until mid-July.  That's where I go to buy already picked and pitted cherries for drying.  I bought 80 pounds last year.  I dehydrated 60 pounds and froze the remaining 20 pounds to use in smoothies and protein shakes--frozen cherries, chocolate whey protein powder, skim milk, and some freshly ground flaxseed--perfect for my post-workout recovery shake.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dutch Oven Lasagne

A friend of mine (also named Jennifer) was in charge of feeding about 65 twelve and thirteen year old girls and their leaders for a three-day church camp.  Tonight's main dish was Dutch Oven Lasagne.  I volunteered to drive out to Camp Mooney and help so that I could learn how it's done.

Jennifer did an amazing job coordinating it all.  She had the ground beef already cooked and the cheese shredded.  Any lasagne recipe will work but here's what we did:  We started off by lining seven 14-inch Dutch ovens with aluminum foil so clean-up would be a snap.

The layers go in this order:  Sauce, UNCOOKED noodles (break them up to fill in the gaps), half of the cottage cheese (or ricotta) mixed with shredded mozzarella, eggs and Italian seasonings, more sauce, ground beef browned with onions, another layer of noodles, the rest of the cottage cheese mixture, more sauce, more meat, a final layer of noodles, and then sauce to completely cover them.  At this point you pour a cup of water over everything.  This adds enough extra moisture for the dry noodles to absorb.  Then, top the whole thing off with a layer of mozzarella cheese and then sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

Cover with the lid and get ready for the fun part.

To determine how many charcoal briquets you need to prepare to simulate baking in a 350 degree oven use this formula:  take the diameter of the Dutch oven and subtract two.  That is how many briquets you put underneath the pot.  Add two to the diameter and that is how many you put on top.  (Note:  I was told this is not the same formula if you are baking bread in a Dutch oven because you need additional heat on top, but I will try to cover that in another post.)

We were using seven 14-inch ovens, so we needed twelve on the bottom and sixteen on the top of each oven.  One of the guys at camp used a blowtorch attached to a propane tank to quickly fire up all the briquets in "chimneys" and they were ready in about ten minutes.
Jennifer used tongs and leather gloves to distribute all the hot coals onto metal stands.

But wait, there's more!  Hungry girls need dessert, so we also prepared Peach Cobbler in six more Dutch ovens and stacked them on top of the Dutch ovens the lasagne was in.  We added more briquets to the top and dinner and dessert cooked together.  How ingenious is that?

It took about an hour and fifteen minutes to cook the lasagne and then we removed the those ovens from the stands and let the it sit for ten to fifteen minutes before we served it.  We put the cobblers back on the coals and let them continue to cook another half hour or so.

The cobbler was simple to put together.  We covered the bottom of the smaller foil-lined ovens with a layer of undrained canned peaches, sprinkled on some cinnamon and then a whole dry white cake mix and drizzled the top with 3/4 cup melted butter.

Both the lasagne and the cobbler were delicious and got rave reviews from the girls and the adults.  I can't wait to try this at home for my family.  Great job, Jennifer! Thanks for letting me help.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Organic Strawberries at The Berry Patch!

I just saw in tonight's News Review that The Berry Patch in Roseburg has organic u-pick strawberries.  I'm not sure if this is new this year or if I have just been out-of-the-loop.  I think they only used to offer them already picked.  I always pick raspberries, boysenberries, Marionberries, and blackberries there, but I don't ever remember strawberries being available.  The organic u-pick strawberries are $1.25/pound or you can call to order picked berries.  The answering machine message didn't say how much the picked berries are but their number is 541-440-8484.  They are open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to noon.

We only eat organic strawberries now and my own plants are not producing much this year.  It was probably time to pull them out and start with new plants, but it was such a rainy spring that I never got around to it.  My dad has been sharing his berries with me for fresh eating and I've made two batches of freezer jam, but I'd love to have a supply of frozen strawberries to go in my winter smoothies.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Poison Paper Collection

Another great find at the Lookingglass Farmers Market.  I picked up these "Poison Oak" notecards from Kathy Stutzman, of Kathy's Kreations, part of her "Poison Paper Collection."

Kathy scanned a poison oak leaf (let's hope she used gloves!) and created these unique cards.  They come in a variety of paper and envelope colors that you can mix and match.  The ivory paper (above) has a lovely smooth but not glossy finish--just right for using a fountain pen.  How fun for sending a note to one of my hiking friends! 

Kathy (of the Harrison's Hardware family in Winston) also has jewelry for sale that she's created out of nuts, bolts, and the like.  Some people are just so creative!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Beeswax Tea Lights

Beeswax Tea Lights

I bought a dozen of these beeswax tea lights for $4.00 from fourteen-year old Caitlyn Rose at the Lookingglass Farmers Market last Friday.  They fit easily into the bottom of any size mason jar for an inexpensive way to add a bit of ambience to the patio or backyard.  A perfect way to dress up the picnic table for an al fresco dinner on these warm summer evenings.

Check them out at the Amazing Love booth on Fridays from 3:00 to 6:00 pm or call 541-679-5065 to find out where else you can buy them.  Hooray for young entrepreneurs!

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Strawberry season is in full swing here in the Umpqua Valley.  Kruse Farms opened their fields for u-picking over a week ago and they have their fresh rhubarb for sale for those who enjoy the combination in dishes like Rhubarb-Strawberry Crisp. U-pick berries are $1.00 per pound.

Brosi Sugartree Farms had a booth at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market this morning with their strawberries for sale, but they also do u-pick at their farm near Winston.  U-pick berries are $1.00 per pound.

And, for those of you who have been searching for "no-spray" strawberries to pick, I've found the spot.  I checked out the Lookingglass Farmers Market yesterday and met Anna from 3 Sparrows Farm.  She is growing, picking and selling Benton and Tri-star berries at the site in Canyonville that was formerly Mary's Garden.  She says they are not certified organic but the fields have not been sprayed in years.  They are open seven days a week from 8:00am to 10:00 pm, but call first to check on conditions at 541-784-5705.  Anna also sells her berries at the Canyonville Farmers Market (new this year!)  and it's held on Wednesdays from 4-7pm.  She said it's a great market with about 24 vendors so far.  I'm going to have to plan a Wednesday to go pick berries and check out the market afterward.  U-pick berries are $1.15 per pound.

Of course, if you just want to buy a few pints of berries for fresh eating, you can't beat the organic strawberries from Big Lick Farm I buy at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market.  Suzi and Asinete grow the most delicious Seascape berries and they are worth every penny of the $3/pint basket I pay for them.

Enjoy the strawberries while they last.  Cherries will be coming on soon.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Making the Most of Fresh, Local Chicken

The big news this week is that we can now buy fresh, local chicken at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market.  Beth and Kerry Olson of B & K Farms in Sutherlin just had the final inspection on their new processing facility which allows them to process up to 20,000 birds a year.  They had previously been limited to 1000.

They plan to be at the market every Saturday with fresh, whole chickens for sale.  What they don't sell that day will be frozen and available for future purchase.  They also sell eggs.

Some of the chickens Kerry showed me today were in the 6 to 7 pound range and if I were going to roast a chicken for Sunday dinner I would have bought the largest one he had.  However, it's my mom's turn to do Sunday dinner this week, so I opted for a slightly smaller bird.  At $3/pound, it cost me $14.95.  Worth every penny for a hormone, antibiotic and chemical-free pastured-raised chicken that was carefully slaughtered--no need for the kind of disinfectant bath that most commercial birds are required to have.  (Click here for an eye-opening article about drugs and chemicals in factory-farmed chicken.)

I brought an insulated bag to the market with me to keep the chicken cold and to separate it from my lettuce, spinach, arugula, fresh (uncured) garlic, spring onions, and Cabruca chocolates.  When I got home, instead of just putting the whole chicken in the freezer, which seriously limits one's options in the future, I took the time to cut it up first.  (If you're rusty, check out this video tutorial on cutting up a chicken.)

We never eat the skin so I removed that.   I wrapped the two boneless, skinless chicken breasts individually for the freezer.  Each breast weighed over 10 ounces!  One breast that size will feed the three of us in a stir fry, cut into thin strips for oven-fried chicken fingers, or poached and diced for a casserole.   I packaged the two thighs and drumsticks together for another meal.  I put the neck, back, wings, and any meat scraps into a saucepan, covered them with water, added some sea salt and freshly ground pepper and set it to simmering on the back burner.

(At this point, after cleaning up and disinfecting the counters and cutting board, I left the house for several hours while the rest of my family made and bottled a huge batch of rootbeer.)

When I returned, I strained the stock and put it back on the stove over a higher flame to concentrate it while I picked every bit of meat off of the bones.  I ended up with 2 cups of cooked chicken, which I diced and mixed with mayonnaise salt, pepper, finely minced onion and snipped tarragon from my garden.  (Someday I will try making my own tarragon mayonnaise.)  I didn't have any celery or I would have added that too, but just before serving I will add some toasted pecans for texture and then make sandwiches or have a scoop atop of a bed of lettuce.  I then transferred the stock to a bowl and put it in the frig to cool overnight.  Once the fat has hardened on top it will be easy to remove and I can freeze the stock.

All in all, a pretty economical way to eat.  For more ideas on making the most of a whole chicken take a look at my Thrifty Chicken post from a few years ago.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mad Dash Through the Market

We had to head to Cottage Grove at 9:45 am yesterday for a baseball double-header with my son, so I made a whirlwind trip through the farmers market as soon as it opened at 9:00.  First stop, The Baklava Lady for five spanakopita to go with my lunch at the ballfield, then off to buy some of the first snap peas of the season and a bunch of scallions from Jim and Joni.  I picked out a gorgeous bouquet of lilacs, irises, lilies, and azalea blossoms at Dang's stall and then bought a bunch of radishes, a bag of mixed lettuces, and a bag of spinach from John Riggs.  I kept searching for my regular egg lady, but she was nowhere to be found, so I ended up back at Jim and Joni's and I was able to buy two dozen ultra-fresh eggs from them.

Now I had the challenge of keeping all of this fresh while it sat in a car the entire day.  No time to go home and put it in the frig.  I had brought a large metal flower bucket half-full of water (with rocks in the bottom for stability while I was driving) for my bouquet.  The eggs went into an insulated bag with ice pack.  I stashed the veggies in a cooler with more ice packs.  I met up with my husband and son at 9:30 at the team meeting spot and transferred it all to the shady side of his car.  When we returned at 7:15 pm everything was still cool and fresh.

After dropping Kevin off at home and quickly cleaning up, we drove to Glide for a delightful dinner with dear friends--Boursin Lasagne, homemade bread, roasted asparagus, a simple salad (my contribution) and organic strawberries for dessert with or without homemade angel food cake and maple-syrup sweetened rhubarb sauce.  What a treat after such a long day!  We took time out to look at the "super moon" and were able to get a clear view of Saturn, Mars, and Venus through the telescope, too.  It was a lovely evening.

Baseball is in full swing now, with games or practice almost every night of the week.  I'm going to have to come up with something more exciting than the turkey sandwiches, chips and fruit we been eating for our ballpark suppers.  There is no way I am resorting to hotdogs and pretzels with "cheese" sauce from the concession stand!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Great Opening Day

When the sun was out it was warm and beautiful.  When the clouds got in the way it was downright chilly.  Either way, the opening day of the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market looked to be a great success.

My son and I arrived about 9:15 and headed straight to see Judy, The Baklava Lady.  She was already sold out of English Muffin bread, but I did get three spanakopita for my breakfast before they were all gone.  I bought two large slices of Judy's delicious lime cake, which I will divide into thinner slices and serve for dessert tomorrow night--assuming I can keep myself from eating any today.  Kevin had a piece of walnut baklava.

On to visit with Suzi and Asinete at the Big Lick Farm stall next door and pick up a dozen fresh eggs.  I stopped by Linnea Marie Farms to say "Hi" to Jim and Joni and pick up the asparagus I had reserved and then made my way to Dang's Gardens for a lovely bouquet of deep purple irises and tulips.  I also bought a bunch of green elephant garlic stalks that will go in the cream of asparagus soup I'm going to make for the first course in tomorrow's dinner.

Lastly, we found Anthony of Oh My Gato farm and his artisan breads.  Anthony keeps expanding his repertoire!  Last year he made mostly ciabatta, sourdough and focaccia,  but today he brought Jalapeno-Cheddar bread, Cranberry-Walnut bread, a rye bread and long baguettes.  He said he'll have croissants and pain au chocolate next week.  We bought a baguette and took photos of the very cool boxes that Patrick Starnes made to hold the fresh loaves.  The slats allow for ventilation when the bread is still warm and the top keeps out coughs, sneezes, and curious fingers.

Anthony will have his work cut out for him trying to bake enough each week to fill the gap left by Lighthouse Bakery's absence from this year's market.  Keep up the good work Anthony!

I passed the market several more times coming and going from baseball practice at Sunshine park and each time the parking lot was full and the vendors were busy.  Yes!!!!  The farmers market has finally caught on in Douglas County.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Farmers Market Opens This Weekend

Don't forget!  The Umpqua Valley Farmers Market opens this Saturday, April 14 at 9:00 am.  I've already reserved my first bunch of local asparagus from Jim Leet at Linnea Marie Farms.  I can't wait to see what else I'll find.

Enjoy the (predicted) sunshine!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Classic Chicken Pot Pie for Pi Day

You might not realize it but tomorrow, March 14 (3.14) is officially "Pi Day" and math geeks everywhere will be celebrating with their favorite pie.  I'm planning to buck the trend toward dessert pies and bake a Chicken Pot Pie for my parents.  It's been at least fifteen years since I have baked one, but once upon a time when I was newly married I made pot pies fairly often.  I'd use leftover chicken or turkey or sometimes I'd combine the leftover pot roast, gravy and vegetables from Sunday dinner and make a Beef Pot Pie.  It's the sort of hearty, comforting dish I would take to someone who was sick or just had a baby.

This recipe is updated from one in the Betty Crocker cookbook given to me by my roommate, Julie, at my bridal shower way back in 1981.  (I don't use margarine or shortening anymore and I never did add the celery seed called for in the pastry recipe.)  I still have the book, though the way we eat has evolved over the years and I don't use it much anymore.  My husband doesn't eat pie at all nowadays, but my father, who still likes salami for lunch (gasp!), is sure to enjoy it.

Classic Chicken Pot Pie

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup finely chopped onion (or 1 teaspoon onion powder)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (or several grinds of freshly ground)
1 3/4 cups chicken or turkey broth (homemade or from a base)
2/3 cup milk
2 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas and carrots (no need to thaw)
1 recipe all-butter pastry for a double-crust pie (see below)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with a baking stone set on the center rack. 

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Blend in the flour, onion (or powder), salt, and pepper.  Cook until smooth and bubbly, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heat-resistant rubber scraper.  Remove from heat and whisk in broth and milk until smooth.  Return to heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir for one minute.  Add diced chicken and frozen vegetables and stir to combine.  Let stand while you prepare the crust.

Perfect Pastry (from my Perfect Peach Pie post)

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold

6-8 tablespoons ice water

Stir the salt into the flour in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut the remaining cold butter into the flour until well-distributed and no large chunks remain. Add 6 tablespoons ice water while tossing the mixture with a fork. Add additional water as necessary and continue tossing gently just until all of the flour is moistened. Do not stir vigorously or the crust will be tough! 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board or counter and press together into a disc. Cut in half and set one half aside. Roll out the other half into a circle a couple inches larger than your pie pan. Place in the pan allowing it to hang over the edge. Fill with the chicken mixture.  Using a sharp paring knife, trim the edge of the dough so it comes just past the edge of the pan. Roll out the second disc into another circle about the same size as the first. Place over the filling and trim so it hangs over the edge of the pan by about 1 inch. Now, tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and press to seal well all around the pan. Then you can make a decorative edge with your thumb or by pressing with fork tines. This keeps the sauce (gravy) from bubbling down under the bottom crust and burning.

Cut a small hole, about the size of a Cheerio in the center of the crust to allow steam to escape, then cut slits or a design in the top being careful not to accidentally cut through to the bottom crust.

Place on the baking stone in the preheated oven and bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling.  To be safe, you might want to put a piece of aluminum foil under the pie pan, just in case it bubbles over a bit.  If you don't and it does, see my post here about cleaning a baking stone.

Serve immediately.  About six servings.

(I just tasted the pie and I had forgotten how seriously good it is!  My son is begging me to make it again tomorrow.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Counting Down the Days

This little bit of sunshine today reminds me that winter doesn't last forever.  Spring is on the way and we only have 43 days to go until the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market opens on Saturday, April 14th.  Mmmmm, baby lettuce, arugula, and other greens for salads, slender spears of asparagus for roasting and turning into a creamy soup, flowers for my dining room table, tiny onions, leeks, and garlic shoots, fresh herbs, bread, spanakopita, chocolates, and who knows how many new vendors to meet.  So much to look forward to.

My only challenge is that my hiking group leaves for the trailhead at 8:00 am every other Saturday, so I am always torn between hiking or enjoying my favorite local shopping experience--an extremely tough choice for me!

Counting down the days.....

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tradition! Tradition! (Think Tevye singing)

It's "Scalloped Potatoes & Ham night" at our house; the celebration and recreation of a magical March 1st meal, one that made my dreams come true.

Comfort food at it's very finest, even better than my mom's mac & cheese, this is a tradition that symbolizes hope, love, commitment, and faith in the future.

Here's to you, dear! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Words of Love

I saw this idea at The Painted Lady in Myrtle Creek a few weeks ago and I plan to use a variation of it on my Valentine's Day dinner table tonight.

This could be a fun way to do place cards for a dinner party, too, though it might require an extra set of letters to spell everyone's name.  I'm always on the lookout for used Scrabble games when I go resale shopping.  The letters come in handy for all sorts of things.

Happy Valentine's Day!