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Friday, December 6, 2013

It's Better With Butternut

(This post was published in the December 2 Tasty Tuesday section of The News Review.)


With one feast behind us and more holiday treats ahead, I thought I'd offer a few recipes packed with nutrition to balance the candy, fudge, cookies, and other goodies we'll likely indulge in this month. I've recently become quite fond of butternut squash. It's inexpensive, locally grown, and easy to prepare. It's also low in calories, high in fiber and vitamins A and C, and a good source of magnesium and potassium. You can store whole butternut squashes in your garage all winter long, so why not head out to your local farmers market or fruit stand and stock up?

From soup to pie to a raw squash salad, you won't get bored with this versatile vegetable. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, roasted butternut squash is delicious straight from the oven. I recently made lunch for two dozen people and received as many compliments on the roasted squash side dish as I did on the double chocolate raspberry brownies I served for dessert. Roasting squash is a simple procedure and it's the first step in several of the recipes that follow.

My dear friend and baking buddy, Laura Smith, has generously shared her recipe for Butternut Squash Pie. Pumpkin pie devotees are often skeptical, so Laura doesn't let on that it's not pumpkin until they have tasted it and begin to rave. She's won many converts over the years, including my son.

Raw squash salad is a delight. I'd never thought about eating butternut squash raw until I saw a recipe in Clean Eating magazine. I use the same dressing I make for a carrot salad, but I now prefer it made with squash.

The soup is my version of a classic. The sweetness of the vegetables is intensified by roasting the squash and the onions until they begin to caramelize before pureeing with the broth. It's perfect as a first course for dinner or a light lunch.

Tools of the Trade
(Hint: these make great gifts!)

I'm not a big fan of kitchen gadgets, but I'll mention two tools that I don't use often, but love having on hand when I need them. The first is a Microplane zester/grater. It's razor-sharp and looks like a wood rasp. It's perfect for zesting citrus fruits or grating fresh nutmeg. (Once you try fresh nutmeg, you'll be hooked. The most economical way to buy fresh nutmeg is from the spice section in the bulk foods aisle. A few whole nutmegs will last all year and cost less than a dollar.) The Microplane also works on Parmesan cheese. It's so much fun to use that I've been known to wander around the kitchen just looking for new things to grate.

The second tool I'm crazy about is my Titan julienne cutter. I would never have bought it on it's own; it came in a set with a vegetable peeler I wanted for shaving hard cheeses and chocolate.

Now I can make lovely julienne strips of carrot, zucchini, and butternut squash quickly and easily to use in salads and side dishes or to add a professional-looking garnish.

Simple Roasted Butternut Squash

This is my current favorite way to eat butternut squash. So simple, but oh so delicious. I'm constantly picking cubes of roasted squash off the pan before I even get it to the table.

Roasted Butternut Squash


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half. (To make this easier, first cut a 3-inch lengthwise slit in one side of the squash and microwave it for 5 minutes, then cut all the way in half.) Scoop out the seeds and remove the skin with a sharp vegetable peeler. Cut the peeled squash into 1-inch cubes. Place on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Use your hands to gently toss and coat the squash evenly. Sprinkle with sea salt and a grating of fresh nutmeg if desired. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring once or twice. The squash should be tender and have some browned edges. Serve warm.


My Titan peeler works well for this job.


Roasting squash or pumpkins for puree (to use in pies, bread, muffins, pancakes, etc.)



Follow instructions above but don't peel the squash. Place the halves cut side down on an oiled or parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender and pierced easily with a fork. Let cool, then remove the peel. Puree in a blender or food processor or mash with a potato masher until smooth. Use within a few days or freeze in heavy-duty freezer bags.


Raw Butternut Squash Salad

 Lovely long julienne strips of raw squash and dried 
cranberries in a citrus vinaigrette. You'll be using the zest, 
so look for organic limes and oranges.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad
(inspired by a recipe in the October 2011 issue of Clean Eating magazine)

1 small butternut squash
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 orange, organic if possible
1 lime, organic if possible
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Remove peel with a sharp vegetable peeler. Cut into thin strips using a julienne tool, the julienne blade of a food processor, or grate the squash on a box grater. You will need 3 cups. (Roast any remaining squash for another recipe.) Place squash strips in a serving bowl and add the dried cranberries.

For the dressing, remove the zest from the orange and the lime (only the colored part!) and place in a small bowl. Cut the orange in half and use one half to squeeze ¼ cup of orange juice. Peel, separate, and slice the remaining half into bite-sized pieces and add to the squash. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice from both halves. Add the juices to the small dressing bowl and whisk in the honey, olive oil, and salt. Pour over the squash mixture and toss to combine. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Makes about four cups.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

My version of a classic. I served this soup at a dinner for fifty women last month and it was a big hit.

Jennifer's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 4 to 6



1 medium butternut squash, about 8 inches long

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion

4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup half & half
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half. (To make this easier, first cut a 3-inch lengthwise slit in one side of the squash and microwave it for 5 minutes, then cut all the way in half.) Scoop out the seeds and remove the skin with a sharp vegetable peeler. Cut the peeled squash into 1-inch cubes to make 6 cups. Place on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Peel and slice the onion and separate it into rings. Add it to the squash and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Use your hands to gently toss it all together, coating the vegetables evenly. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice. The squash should be tender, the onions translucent, and both should have some browned edges.

Ready for roasting

Scraping up all the browned bits after roasting

Heat the chicken broth in a large pot and add the roasted squash and onions, scraping up all the browned bits that stuck to the pan. Using a hand blender, purée the broth and vegetables right in the pot. (Or puree in batches in a regular blender.) For the very smoothest soup, after blending press through a sieve or colander with a rubber spatula. Return to the pot.
I love my Cuisinart hand blender!

Stir in the half & half and nutmeg. Heat gently and season with additional sea salt to taste. Serve in warmed bowls garnished with additional nutmeg, if desired.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Baking Bliss

Sour Cream & Chive Potato Bread
ready to slide onto a hot baking stone.

I got to put my baking skills to the test last week. I started off Tuesday making a batch of cornbread for cornbread dressing and pizza dough for my husband's birthday dinner that night. 

On Wednesday I mixed the dinner roll dough and refrigerated it so it would be ready to shape and bake the next day, just before our Thanksgiving feast. I mixed a batch of dough for Whole Grain Pecan Sticky Buns (my son-in-law's favorite) and refrigerated that, too. 

 Dinner roll dough. These containers are available at 
restaurant supply stores. They come in all different 
sizes and are perfect for yeast doughs.

 

My daughter, Christine, requested Sour Cream & Chive Potato Bread for leftover turkey sandwiches so I mixed and baked that next. My husband prefers whole grains, so I also made a batch of Whole Wheat Potato Bread. (Those are both straight dough breads, meaning they are mixed and baked on the same day.)

Then came the Butternut Squash Pie.

Not the prettiest pie I have ever baked, but it was delicious! 
(I should have added a bit more water to the pastry dough. It was crumbly and difficult to work with.)

First thing Thursday morning, it was time to get the apple pie into the oven. 

  I like to spray the top crust with water and sprinkle with coarse demerara or turbinado sugar before baking. 
The foil keeps the buttery crust from 
dripping on my baking stone.

About noon, Christine and I shaped the dinner rolls and set them to rise. I baked them just before we sat down to eat.

Oma's Featherlight Rolls fully proofed.

(My mom brought the turkey and Christine and I had fun working together to prepare the rest of the dinner: Cornbread dressing, Donna's dressing, macaroni & cheese, candied sweet potatoes, buttered peas, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, black olives, sweet pickles, sparkling cider.)

Friday morning I got up early to shape and bake the sticky buns. They came out of the oven just in time for a leisurely breakfast.

 Sticky Bun work station.



 Yum!


And after all those carbs, we headed out to North Bank Habitat for an eight-mile hike.

 Breakfast of champion hikers!



 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Georgie's Local Walnuts

Just a quick post here....two years ago I wrote about my friend, Georgie, who sells her own Garden Valley walnuts. Last year's crop was dismal and she didn't have any to sell, but she had a good harvest this year. The nuts are all dried, shelled, weighed and bagged. They are beautiful walnuts and she sells them for $6/pound.

She's putting her signs up today for the general public, so if you don't want to miss out, call Georgie asap at 541-673-2321 and tell her Jennifer sent you her way!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Drying "Grapples"

A friend gave me two 5-gallon buckets of Golden Delicious apples awhile back.  They are great for fresh eating, but I decided to dry some for hiking snacks.  I dipped these in Concord grape juice after coring and slicing. (I still have some juice in the freezer that I made with grapes my dad gave me last year.) You don't really taste the grape flavor, but the purple color is fun.

I like to leave the skins on, so I used my Pampered Chef apple/pear corer to remove the core before slicing the apples, one at a time, in my Cuisinart food processor.  I find this to be much quicker than using my old apple core/peeler/slicer and I like the apple rings it produces.  The slices were about 1/4-inch thick.

Here's what they looked like going into the dehydrator...

and after ten hours of drying.


Here's the apple corer I used.

(I buy my Pampered Chef tools from Shelly Baird.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Gifts for the Cook

 Rolling pin and pottery pieces at
Umpqua Local Goods

I don't start thinking about Christmas until after we've polished off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers and celebrated our son's birthday on December 1. However, some of our farmers markets will be closing at the end of the month and they are an absolute treasure trove of unique handmade gifts. If you've got a cook on your holiday list, I've got some hints for you. On a recent stroll through the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market I found these “ingredients” for the perfect foodie gift basket: wild dried gourmet mushrooms, embroidered dishtowels, fanciful aprons, hand-turned wooden bowls, dried herbs and spices, hazelnut toffee, chocolate truffles, pottery bowls and mugs, kitchen knives with lovely wooden handles, potholders, market bags, garlic braids, culinary lavender, cutting boards, and even a lemon tree! How easy was that? Craft fairs, art galleries, tasting rooms, and Umpqua Local Goods are other sources for one-of-a-kind gifts with local flavor. And, of course, I've got my own line of recipe note cards at flavorsoftheumpqua.com.

 Beautiful wooden bowls at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market.






 Cutting boards and bowls at
 Umpqua Local Goods






 While it's not hand-crafted or locally made, one of my favorite kitchen tools is my Cuisinart Immersion Blender, also known as a hand blender. This “blender on a stick” gets used multiple times a day at our house for morning smoothies and post-workout protein shakes. For creamy soups, puréeing the cooked vegetables and broth can be done right in the pot! Best of all, it's a snap to clean under hot running water and stores conveniently in a drawer.

Soup's On! (Tasty Tuesday Column October 2013)


Autumn is in the air, no doubt about it. It's time to dig out my boots, scarves, hats, and raincoat. Soon it will be cold enough for a morning cup of cocoa and an evening fire. The local harvest is in full swing and markets are overflowing with the earthy colors of apples, pears, pumpkins, winter squash, carrots, beets, and onions. Fall is my favorite season!

The cooler weather means “Soup's on” at my house. Simple and comforting, soup warms the soul as well as the body. When I was a teenager in San Diego, my mom and I enjoyed eating at a restaurant called The Hungry Years. The décor was from the 1920's and 30's. Photos of soup kitchens and breadlines from the Great Depression covered the walls, a visual history lesson and the spark for many great conversations. They served only soups, salad and all the fresh cornbread and hot rolls with butter and honey you could eat. It was a novel idea then, before Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes buffets came along; a refreshing alternative to the standard meat and potatoes fare served elsewhere.

Soup is still an easy, healthy, economical way to nourish a family. Our local farmers provide all the ingredients we need. The recipes I've chosen to share are all “creamy” soups, though actual cream is only used as a garnish. Whole, 1%, or 2% milk all work well. Blending disguises the vegetables for picky eaters, but floating a few whole grain goldfish crackers on top for the youngsters can be fun.

Recipe links:





All of these soups are great additions to your soup file.

Do You Have a Soup File?

The Soup File

When you're making soup, consider doubling the recipe for quick meals from your freezer later in the season. Here's my best tip—create a soup file! Instead of freezing soup in hard plastic containers or canning jars (which take hours to thaw), ladle it into heavy-duty zippered freezer bags, either gallon or quart size, depending on the size of your family. Label the bags before filling with soup. Carefully remove all the air when zipping securely closed, lay the bags flat on a cookie sheet, and freeze until firm. When frozen, the bags can be stored upright in a plastic bin. If you double-up every time, eventually you'll have a “file” of soups you can easily flip through to find just what you're looking for. Because these bags of soup are so thin, they can be thawed in about ten minutes in a sink of hot water.

This method can be used for many other foods. My file currently holds homemade grape and raspberry juices, a variety of cooked beans, roasted tomato and pepper sauce, lentil stew, chicken stock, and purées of butternut squash and pumpkin. Important note: when freezing soups that include milk or cream, freeze the soup base before adding the dairy products. After thawing, stir in the milk or cream and heat gently to serving temperature.

Potluck and Recipe Swap for Food Day


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Umpqua Valley Walnuts


I'm cracking the last of the walnuts I bought two years ago from Brosi's Sugartree Farms near Winston. They have kept beautifully in their shells in my laundry room/extra kitchen. 

Now is the time to get on the list for this year's crop. You can call Brosi's at 541-679-1472 and tell them how many pounds you would like. They'll let you know when the nuts come back from the dryer, sometime in October. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Farm to Table for Families





I'll be teaching a class at the Conference on Extraordinary Living at Umpqua Community College on Friday, September 13.  Here's the description from the online brochure:
  

Farm to Table for Families:
Fresh Local Food to Nourish Your Busy Life
Jennifer Coalwell, Master Food Preserver, food blogger
and local volunteer presents this fast-paced, high
energy class focusing on where to find fresh local food,
why it’s important and how to prepare it quickly, simply,
and deliciously to nourish yourself and your family.
Demos and Sampling!

I'm working hard to pack in as much useful information as possible.

FYI...I was the chair of this conference for five years, when it was called the Conference on Aging.  I'll enjoy going back as a presenter.



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Peak of the Season Celebration in Canyonville

This sounds like fun!!! 

 Rainy Rattlesnakes will provide entertainment.


Canyonville Farmers Market August 28, 2013 CELEBRATES Peak of the Season!

Live music, free raffle, wine and beer tastings and more!
Every year during the summer, communities are converging to celebrate a wonderful atmosphere: farmers and friends coming together to share a harvest that’s feeding local families.  Local artisans, crafts, jewelry and bakers share in the occasion as well.   

We owe the success of our market to you; therefore we decided to celebrate on August 28, 2013 4-7pm!  Canyonville Farmers Market is hosting live music with Rainy & The Rattlesnakes; playing bluegrass/Jazz with a fiddle and mandolin. Ray (their father) also joins them by playing guitar.

We also are offering a few free raffles, along with wine and beer tastings!

Join our vendors offer farm fresh produce sweet corn, tomatoes, peaches, strawberries, blackberries, melons, beets, carrots, zucchini, garlic, teas, breads, jewelry, wood products, ornamental gifts, dog treats, homemade pies, fresh cut flowers, hot tamales, and more!

“It is a chance for people to come together and appreciate local, handmade products, artisans and home grown fresh, local and mostly organic produce.  This year the market is proud to accept SNAP/EBT which opens the market to everyone. ”-Karen Snyder, Market Manager

Check out the manager gazettehttp://cfmgazette.blogspot.com/ and Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/CanyonvilleFarmersMarket for the latest up to date information, recipes and vendor highlights!

Canyonville Farmers Market: We grow it, we make it, we produce it! Every Wednesday 4-7pm at the South Seven Feathers Casino Parking Lot, Canyonville, OR 

Freezing Convenience Foods

Douglas County OSU Extension Master Food Preservers can teach you how to stock your freezer with homemade convenience foods.  Check out this upcoming class...
Freezing Convenience Foods

WhenSaturday September 21, 2013, 10am – 2pm
WherePine Grove Community Church
1729 Buckhorn Road
Roseburg
Event typeWorkshops
Event descriptionACCEPTING REGISTRATIONS NOW.
Class Date: Sept. 21, 2013 (10 am-2 pm), registration deadline: 9/11/13.
Cost: $40.00
Learn how to take fresh, healthy ingredients and transform them into your favorite frozen dinners. You can save money and make exactly what your family likes by customizing the recipes. This class is hands-on and we will have a luncheon to taste test all the recipes.
Contact emailholly.burton@oregonstate.edu
Contact phone541-672-4461
Linkextension.oregonstate.edu…

Monday, July 22, 2013

Caro Amico Italian Cafe

Needing a break from the OHSU cafeteria, I used my Urban Spoon iPhone app to search for an interesting nearby restaurant for dinner last Saturday. Caro Amico, just minutes down the hill near the tram, had excellent reviews so we decided to give it a try.

What a find! Normally, I would have chosen to eat on the deck, but I was out-voted by my dad and brother. (It was getting a little chilly!) so we ended up in a comfy window booth in the dining room. 

One of the first things I notice about a restaurant is the quality of the bread, if they serve bread as an appetizer. I admit that I'm a bread snob. The bread basket is like a party invitation; it sets the tone for what's to come. If it's cheap and unoriginal, it can dull one's expectations for the main event. Well, the bread at Caro Amico was excellent. Thick slices, fully caramelized crust, and served at room temperature as artisan bread should be. I'm always frustrated by restaurants that feel the need to microwave the bread to serve it warm. It ruins the crust and all you taste is steam!

Had I known how good the bread would be, I might not have bothered ordering the bruschetta pomodoro, but that would have been unfortunate as it was the best bruschetta I've ever tasted. The usual basil and tomatoes piled high on garlicky toast, but they added finely minced sweet red onion and I think they might have used a balsamic reduction instead of straight-from-the-bottle vinegar. Beautifully presented on a bed of baby greens. 

For my entree I chose the artichoke & feta ravioli in a creamy tomato sauce topped with Pecorino-Romano.  My dad had meat & cheese cannelloni. My brother ordered pasta puttanesca.  We all agreed our dinners were superb. 

When the appetizer and main course are of such high quality, you can be pretty sure dessert will follow suit. There were several varieties of cheesecake on the menu, along with spumoni, but the tiramisu was calling my name and I was not disappointed.  A great finish to a lovely meal. 

I will most certainly eat at Caro Amico again on a future trip to Portland.  The service was excellent, prices reasonable, parking abundant, and the food was some of the best Italian food I've eaten. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lunch at the OHSU Farmers Market

I've been in Portland for the past week, with one brief trip home to Roseburg for clean clothes and to see my husband and son.  My mom had open heart surgery at OHSU and it looks like I will be up here for at least a few more days.  I've spent the majority of my time in the ICU or surgical waiting room and now I'm camped out during the day with my iPhone and netbook in my mom's room.

As always, I'm on the look out for anything related to good food. I have been pleasantly surprised by the hospital food so far.  I've been able to make several good main dish salads in the cafeteria with baby greens, carrots, hard-boiled egg, edamame, and sunflower seeds dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Tonight I ordered Caribbean black beans with basmati rice, baked plantains, and steamed asparagus from the "room service" menu so I could eat with my mom and dad and, hey, it wasn't half bad, though it could have used a bit more salt. I haven't seen any Jello anywhere!

I spied a flyer about a farmers market here on the OHSU campus on Tuesdays and knew I'd have to escape the confines of the hospital to check it out.  My brother and I decided to see what they had in the way of lunch offerings and we were not disappointed.  I opted for a crepe filled with turkey, cranberry-pear relish, Tillamook cheese, and organic greens from the C'est Si Bon booth.  Delicious!  My brother went for a Middle Eastern platter of hummus, falafel, and tabouleh.  We both headed for the Scoop Handmade Ice Cream stand for dessert.  Dave had the salted caramel ice cream.  I was hoping to try the dark chocolate-marionberry sorbet, but they were out.  I went with an organic strawberry and balsamic popsicle instead and it was very refreshing on a blisteringly hot afternoon.

 A few photos...








Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Star-Spangled Dessert Step by Step

My second Tasty Tuesday column for those of you who don't get The News Review...


I'm a patriot at heart. I still get chills when I hear the national anthem or watch the Veterans Day parade. My Fourth of July celebration is filled with tradition. Beginning with the annual pancake breakfast at church, followed by a slow and humbling drive through the avenue of flags on the V. A. grounds, a family barbecue in the afternoon and, finally, watching the spectacular fireworks show from a blanket on the Riddle High School football field, we make the most of this holiday.

I spend the rest of the summer celebrating my semi-independence from imported food by stocking up on local fruits and vegetables for year round enjoyment. Raspberries, Marionberries, boysenberries, blackberries, blueberries, and cherries are at their peak now. They're nutritious, delicious, and plentiful. Aside from eating them fresh at every meal while they're in season, all of these fruits are easy to pick and freeze for use throughout the year. Frozen berries and pitted cherries get blended into smoothies, tossed into cereal, stirred into pancake batter, baked into muffins, pies, cobblers and crisps or turned into jam when the weather cools off.

Local vegetables are coming on strong, too. Potatoes in all shapes and colors, slender green beans, baby zucchini and yellow squash, snap peas, snow peas, garlic, and onions are all available at area farm stands, farmers markets, and Umpqua Local Goods. It takes only a few minutes of steaming or stir-frying to make a colorful, tasty side dish.

A pavlova is a meringue-based dessert created for Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballerina. Australia and New Zealand both take credit for its invention and it traditionally includes fresh strawberries, kiwi, and passionfruit. It's often made as one large dessert, but I find small, individual pavlovas to be prettier on the plate and easier to serve. I've used raspberries, blueberries, and Bing cherries here for a red, white, and blue version.

This dessert is not difficult to make and several steps can be done ahead. The following tips should guide you to success:

--Eggs whip best when they are at room temperature but it's easiest to separate them while they are cold. If any bit of yolk gets into the whites, use a piece of the shell to remove it. (Egg yolks can be refrigerated for up to four days and used in other recipes.)

--Egg whites need to be whipped in a bowl that is completely free of any oils or greasy residue. If using a plastic bowl, wash thoroughly, rinse and wipe down with a paper towel saturated with plain white vinegar before adding egg whites.

--Cream whips best when it is very cold. I often place the bowl and beaters in the freezer ahead of time to chill them. I always use Umpqua Dairy heavy whipping cream because it's local and it's not ultra-pasteurized, a process that extends the shelf life but compromises flavor. The cream can be whipped several hours in advance and chilled until you're ready to assemble the pavlovas.

--The meringue discs can be baked, cooled, and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 24 hours. Separate layers with waxed paper or parchment.

--The raspberry coulis can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight.

--Fresh berries can be rinsed, drained well and refrigerated several hours ahead of serving.

Good luck and Happy Independence Day!

 
Individual Berry Pavlovas
Adapted with permission from

Makes six servings

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and place two racks as close to the center as possible. Cut two sheets of parchment to fit two cookie sheets or half-sheet pans. Using a teacup or ramekin as a guide, with a pencil draw six circles on each sheet. They should be about three inches in diameter. Place the parchment on the pans, pencil side down, and set aside.

For the meringue:

4 egg whites (½ cup) at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites on low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium-high. When the mixture becomes foamy, gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated. Continue mixing until glossy, very stiff peaks form. This will take several minutes more.

Carefully divide the mixture among the 12 circles you drew on the parchment. Using a rubber scraper or the back of a spoon, very gently spread the meringue to the edges of the circles. Bake at 180 degrees for 1 ½ to 2 hours, longer if it's a particularly moist or humid day. When done, the meringue discs will pull away from the parchment easily without leaving much behind. Turn the oven off and leave the pans in the oven to continue drying until you are ready to assemble the pavlovas. (See the tips above for storing overnight.)


For the whipped cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream (not ultra-pasteurized), very cold
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

With an electric mixer, whip the cream until it just begins to thicken. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue whipping just until soft peaks form.

For the raspberry coulis:

2 cups raspberries
granulated sugar
lemon juice

Place the berries in a blender or food processor and puree. Add sugar to taste and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Process until smooth. Pour the mixture into a strainer set over a bowl and use the back of a spoon to press the puree through, straining out the seeds.

1 ½ cups fresh raspberries
1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
6 fresh cherries

Rinse the berries and drain well.

To assemble the pavlovas:

For each serving, place two to three tablespoons of the raspberry coulis on each plate. Place one meringue disc on top of the coulis. Add a layer of whipped cream and then about ¼ cup of berries. Repeat those three layers (meringue, cream, berries). Add another dollop of whipped cream and top with each serving with a cherry. Serve immediately.





Sunday, June 23, 2013

Haven Blueberry Farm Opens Friday

Haven Blueberry Farm in Tyee will open this Friday, June 28 at 8:00 am.  They posted these details on their website:

The farm will open for the 2013 u-pick season Friday, June 28.  Hours are 8:00 am to 2:00 pm Monday thru Saturday.  (Closed Sunday) Prices: $1.10/lb for U-Pick, $2.25/lb for PrePicked berries.  We do not accept credit or debit cards.  (checks OK)
Orders for PrePicked berries can be placed on our phone message (541-459-0364) or by e-mail ( blueberries@thehavenfarm.com)
We will provide buckets to pick in, but pickers should bring containers to take berries home.
We will be picking Dukes and Spartans.  It looks like a pretty good crop of Dukes this season, with a relatively heavy crop and a high percentage of large berries.  The clusters generally consist of fully ripe berries, with some green berries to leave for the second picking. 
The strange weather this spring has produced a lot of ripe berries in the Spartan field.  While we would usually open Spartans for upick about a week after the Dukes, this year we should be able to pick ripe berries, at their prime, through-out the season.  (We have eaten a few "test" breakfasts of both varieties and think most people will be pleased with the quality) 
If you've never picked at Haven before, here's what you need to know:  Cars will begin lining up along the road between 7:00 and 7:30 am.  Most people come to pick in groups to save gas because it's quite a drive.  One person needs to get out of the car and line up at the gate.  When they open the gate at 8:00, everyone rushes in to get their row assignments.  You need to have a general idea of how many pounds of berries your group wants to pick because you might want more than one row and they will ask how many buckets you want.  You pick into their standard buckets and then transfer the berries to your own (shallow) containers after you pay for them.

After you have your row assignments, the cars begin driving in to park.  Hopefully you get to park close to your row so you can carry your filled buckets to your car to stash them until you're finished picking.  Don't leave them in your row; filled buckets have been known to disappear! 

Picking is easy at Haven.  They grow commercial varieties that ripen in big clusters and the berries are huge.  You can pick a lot of berries in a short amount of time.  It's a bit stressful getting started because this is an annual event that people come from all over for and it will be crowded!!!  I personally prefer the leisurely, kid-friendly picking at Big Bend Berries in Garden Valley (which should open this Tuesday or Wednesday) and I like the flavor of some of their varieties better, but I pick at both places because we eat so many blueberries I need to make sure I get enough to last the whole year.  Plus, once you get going at Haven, it's kind of fun to be out picking with what seems like the entire community in a lovely setting along the river.  You see the same people every year and everyone is so enthusiastic about our local berries that it warms my heart.

Bring plenty of water to quench your thirst and have fun!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Price Report on Berries


I didn't have this information last night, but here are the current prices for local u-pick berries and cherries:

At Kruse Farms, cherries are $1.50/lb. and all other berries are $2.00/lb.

At Brosi's, cherries are $1/lb. and berries are $1.25/lb.

At The Berry Patch (opens for u-pick raspberries 6/22), the berries are $1.25/lb.

I don't have prices yet on blueberries.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Cherry and Berry Report


I have been gathering up all the latest information on our local cherry and berry crops.  Everything is early this year!  Here's what I have learned:

Strawberries are pretty much over for u-pickers.  The Berry Patch (541-440-8484, no website) is officially done with strawberries, though they tell me they get a second, lighter crop in July and you can ask to pick them.  I've had several people tell me that the strawberries they picked at The Berry Patch were not very sweet this year.  Most of the berries I picked were turned into jam, so this was not an issue for me.  My favorite strawberries for fresh eating are the seascape variety that I buy from Big Lick Farm at the farmers market (either Lookingglass Grange on Fridays or Umpqua Valley Farmers Market on Saturdays).  I planted seascapes in my garden this year and I'm just beginning to harvest them.  Oh so sweet!  Big Lick should have them through September.  There were still a few folks u-picking at the Kruse Farms field on Quail Lane this afternoon, but they had to really hunt for them.

Cherries will be available for u-picking for another three weeks or so at Brosi's Sugartree Farms in Winston and for about two weeks at the Kruse Farms orchard off of Quail Lane.  Brosi's has dwarf trees for those of us who don't like climbing up ladders, though I picked 22 pounds of dark, sweet cherries at Kruse's this afternoon mostly from the ground or using the very short ladders.  Kruse's orchard is small, so go soon if you don't want to have to pick from the tippy-tops.  Pie cherries might be getting scarce by now.  Guido Orchards (aka Shady Lane Orchards) had an abundance of pie cherries last week, but not many ripe sweet cherries that were easy to get to.  I don't know anything about light cherries like Royal Anne or Rainier because we never eat them.  That's what they use for maraschino cherries. 

Raspberries are available right now for u-pick at Brosi's, Kruse Farms, and The Berry Patch should have them this weekend.  They will be at their peak for the next couple of weeks.  If you don't like bees you might want to wait a week or so until all of the blossoms are gone.  I sometimes get nervous in the middle of the row with all that buzzing around me, but I refuse to let the bees keep me from the berries.

Kruse's has Marionberries and an early variety of blackberries right now, too, and they will start u-picking boysenberries on Saturday.  The Berry Patch will have all of these berries coming on in the next few weeks and many of their varieties are thornless, which makes my fingers very happy.

Blueberries!  Everyone keeps asking me about blueberries!  Norris Blueberry Farm is already picking their berries, though they don't allow u-pick anymore.  Brosi's blueberries are just coming on now and they have bushes that produce berries all the way into September.  Big Bend Berries in Garden Valley will likely open next week.  Ed said to check the News Review on Monday for their opening date, which may be Tuesday or Wednesday.  Haven Blueberry Farm in Tyee says they may open sometime next week, but to watch their website for the official date.  I'll let you know as soon as I know.

Whew!  Once they get started, the berries all come at once.  Have I forgotten anything?  We live in cherry/berry heaven!!!  Stay tuned to see what I'm doing with all the fruit I pick.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Ranch-style" Buttermilk Dressing and Dip

Ranch-style” Buttermilk Dressing and Dip

¾ cup mayonnaise
½ cup buttermilk (more or less, depending on how thick you like it)
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ to 1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients with a wire whisk or fork. Use immediately or refrigerate several hours to allow flavors to blend. Makes 1 ¼ cups.

Strawberry-rhubarb Crisp


Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the filling:
12 ounces rhubarb, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces (3 cups after slicing)
16 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced (2 cups after slicing)
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Stir the flour and sugar together in a medium bowl. Add the rhubarb and strawberries, tossing until well coated. Transfer to a 9 x 13 baking pan.

For the topping:
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
a dash of sea salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup rolled oats (I use quick oats)
1/4 cup butter, softened or melted

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl (same one the fruit was in, no need to wash it), stirring well to distribute the spices evenly. Stir in the softened or melted butter until a crumbly mixture forms. Sprinkle over the fruit mixture. This seems like a lot of topping, but just keep sprinkling it on until all the fruit is covered well.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, until topping is browned and rhubarb is tender when pierced. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of real whipped cream or a scoop of
vanilla ice cream. Serves 8.

Hazelnut-crusted Chicken Strips


Hazelnut-crusted Chicken Strips

3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 pound
½ to ¾ cup buttermilk dressing (above)
1 cup hazelnuts
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
dash of cayenne

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment or spray with oil. If you have not already done so, prepare the buttermilk dressing. Combine the nuts, flour and seasonings in a food processor and pulse until nuts are finely ground. Place in a shallow pan. Measure the dressing into a small bowl. Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 1-inch strips. You should get 3 or 4 strips out of each one. Dip each strip in the dressing, turning to coat all sides and then roll in the nut mixture, pressing the coating into the chicken. Discard any remaining dressing. Place the coated strips on the baking sheet, leaving a little space between each one. Bake for 15 minutes, turn them over and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, just until chicken is no longer pink in the middle and the outside is crusty. Serves 4 to 6.

My First "Tasty Tuesday" Column

In case you missed it, or don't get The News Review, here is my first contribution to the new "Tasty Tuesday" food section.  Scroll through for photos and recipes.  I'll also post each recipe independently for easy reference.

Validation. That was my first reaction to Michael Pollan's newest book, Cooked. Mr. Pollan poses several questions, but two hit home for me. “What [is] the single most important thing we could do as a family to improve our health and well-being?” and “What is the most important thing an ordinary person can do to help reform the American food system, to make it healthier and more sustainable?” The answer to both, according to Pollan, is to cook.



I've spent a good portion of my adult life in the kitchen in an attempt to put nourishing and tasty food on the table for my husband and three children. I claim no professional credentials. I've been cooking from scratch for 35 years and I have a passion for foods grown and raised in the Umpqua Valley and for the farmers and ranchers who produce them. I took on the role of family CFO (Chief Food Officer) because I enjoy cooking; over the years it's become political, an act of defiance and self-reliance. I refuse to outsource the preparation of my dinner to corporations motivated solely by profit, without concern for my well-being or the health of the planet. Buying directly from our local farmers and ranchers benefits everyone, whether it's at farmers markets, fruit stands, u-pick farms or through a community-supported agriculture (csa) share. I vote with my fork.



Through my once-a-month contribution to this new food section, we'll explore how to incorporate more of our local bounty into our everyday meals. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition, but knowing what's in season, where to find it, and how to prepare it can go a long way toward helping reduce our dependence on “convenience” foods. So let's get cooking!



Chicken strips are a favorite with kids and simple to prepare. I've added hazelnuts to the breading because I adore them and I stock up on them every fall at Norm Lehne Garden and Orchard. We're fortunate that Beth and Kerry Olsen of B & K Farms in Sutherlin expanded their poultry processing facility last year to meet the local demand for their naturally raised chickens. You can find their products at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market on Saturdays or during the week at Umpqua Local Goods on Cass Street in Roseburg. The buttermilk dressing is used to coat the chicken strips before breading and additional dressing, reserved separately, can be used for dipping the baked strips. Add some steamed broccoli and boiled or pan-roasted new potatoes, both available at local markets, and perhaps a salad and you have a well-balanced meal. For those who fancy a sweet finish, local strawberries and rhubarb beneath a whole grain topping should do the trick.



I'll try to highlight local sources whenever possible. Your most complete resource is the 2012-2013 Think Local Umpqua guide, available at NeighborWorks Umpqua and member businesses.



Hazelnut-crusted Chicken Strips

3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 pound
½ to ¾ cup buttermilk dressing (above)
1 cup hazelnuts
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
dash of cayenne

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment or spray with oil. If you have not already done so, prepare the buttermilk dressing. Combine the nuts, flour and seasonings in a food processor and pulse until nuts are finely ground. Place in a shallow pan. Measure the dressing into a small bowl. Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 1-inch strips. You should get 3 or 4 strips out of each one. Dip each strip in the dressing, turning to coat all sides and then roll in the nut mixture, pressing the coating into the chicken. Discard any remaining dressing. Place the coated strips on the baking sheet, leaving a little space between each one. Bake for 15 minutes, turn them over and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, just until chicken is no longer pink in the middle and the outside is crusty. Serves 4 to 6.

Ranch-style” Buttermilk Dressing and Dip

¾ cup mayonnaise
½ cup buttermilk (more or less, depending on how thick you like it)
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ to 1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients with a wire whisk or fork. Use immediately or refrigerate several hours to allow flavors to blend. Makes 1 ¼ cups. 

 
Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the filling:
12 ounces rhubarb, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces (3 cups after slicing)
16 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced (2 cups after slicing)
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Stir the flour and sugar together in a medium bowl. Add the rhubarb and strawberries, tossing until well coated. Transfer to a 9 x 13 baking pan.

For the topping:
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
a dash of sea salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup rolled oats (I use quick oats)
1/4 cup butter, softened or melted

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl (same one the fruit was in, no need to wash it), stirring well to distribute the spices evenly. Stir in the softened or melted butter until a crumbly mixture forms. Sprinkle over the fruit mixture. This seems like a lot of topping, but just keep sprinkling it on until all the fruit is covered well.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, until topping is browned and rhubarb is tender when pierced. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of real whipped cream or a scoop of
vanilla ice cream. Serves 8.

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