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