Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Strawberry Fields Forever

Organic Strawberries at The Berry Patch
Brosi's and Kruse Farms have had u-pick strawberries for over a week now, but I have been patiently waiting for the The Berry Patch to open.  Not only are their berries organic, but they are grown in pipes waist high, so the picking is easy.  I've been scanning the News-Review nightly, looking for their ad.  Finally, yesterday, I decided to drive out and see for myself.  They had, in fact, opened on Friday, but had not been able to get it into the paper in time.

They were closed for the day, but first thing this morning I donned my baseball cap, pulled on my "mucking around" boots and headed out there.  Rain or no rain, I was ready to pick.  I was so excited that I rushed off without my bucket-on-a-belt for two-handed picking!

These Chandler berries are big and beautiful and there are plenty of them.  They could use a couple days of sunshine to sweeten them up a bit more for fresh eating, but they are just right for making jam, strawberry shortcake, or anything else that will be sweetened.  I'm going to dip a few dozen in chocolate to take to a scout meeting tonight.  

The sun is going to come out before the end of the week.  I am thinking the berries will be perfect by the weekend.

The Berry Patch, located at 6271 Old Melrose Road, is open from 8 am to noon Monday through Friday and until 2:00 pm on Saturdays.  Closed on Sundays.  The berries are $1.25/lb. u-pick or you can order them picked for $20/flat. Bring your own containers. 541-440-8484 for more information.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Food Pod in Grants Pass

Carnitas tacos from the Flor de Izote truck.  ¡Muy delicioso!

The food pod craze has finally reached Southern Oregon.  I happened upon a four-truck pod in Grants Pass last week.  It's located downtown at the corner of 6th and K streets.

Check out these menus:

 (The next two are too small to read, but you get the idea.)


It's not big, but it's a start.  When do we get a food pod in Roseburg?  I know we've got a taco truck and a bbq truck; we need to get them together and add the tamale guy from the farmers market.  And maybe Jasmine's sushi.  And somebody making crepes or waffles...

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's Strawberry Time!

Luscious organic strawberries from Big Lick Farm

Friday was a busy day.  I baked 144 very large (six half-sheet pans!) Raspberry-Walnut Brownies in the morning and spent the afternoon catching up on housework.  At 3:15 pm I plopped down in a chair to visit with my son, who had just gotten home from school.  At 3:25 (you know how long visiting with teenagers lasts when all they want to do is chill out with a TV show), still in the chair, I checked my Facebook feed on my iPhone.  What to my wandering eyes did appear but Suzi from Big Lick Farm posting that their first picking of organic strawberries would be for sale at the Lookingglass farmers market from 4 to 6 that very day!!!  Nothing like news of fresh local produce to perk me up.  I was out of the chair and out the door by 3:30 and I arrived at the market five minutes before they officially opened.

Asinete was filling pint baskets with berries when I walked in.  I splurged and bought five!!!  I also picked up a loaf of bread from Anthony's Artisan Bread and two packages of super-lean grass-fed beef from Circle Star Ranch.

I ate berries all the way home, so juicy and sweet and such a welcome change from apples, oranges, and bananas.  We ate a huge bowl with our dinner and took some in our picnic lunch at a baseball tournament on Saturday.  I finished off the last few as part of my Mother's Day breakfast.

This is the earliest I can remember having local strawberries in the thirty-two years I have lived in Roseburg.  Brosi Sugartree Farms in Winston has even begun their u-pick strawberries, as of yesterday.  If the weather keeps up, Kruse Farms and The Berry Patch can't be far behind. 

Bring it on, farmers!

Friday, May 10, 2013

River Rush Bistro

 The Kelly

I finally got myself out to the River Rush Bistro at Umpqua Community College for lunch this week. What a treat!  Walk through the etched glass doors in the far corner of the cafeteria in the Campus Center and enter the classiest "classroom" on campus. The bistro serves as a learning environment for students in the culinary arts program. 

Anyone who's ever had lunch out with me knows that I love a main dish salad-- lovely lettuce with a combination of protein, cheese, fruit, nuts and an unusual dressing. Bingo! The Kelly salad I ordered fit all my criteria. Tender field greens topped with a perfectly grilled chicken breast, thinly sliced tart green apple, feta cheese, spiced nuts, and dried cherries. And the dressing? A chocolate cherry balsamic vinaigrette! How's that for exotic? Delicious doesn't begin to describe it. I'm not sure I can wheedle the dressing recipe out of them, but I will ask about buying a batch to take home on my next visit.

Desserts of the day included a chocolate cake layered with an orange filling and covered in dark ganache or a crispy berry and lemon curd Napoleon.  I chose the cake and it exceeded my expectations--rich, moist and beautifully presented. 

The River Rush Bistro is open to the public from 10 to 1 Tuesday through Thursday when school is in session. Call 541-440-7671 to confirm before heading out to UCC.

My lunch was excellent, the service was professional and the prices are extremely reasonable.  Go see for yourself!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Glorious Greens

Lovely lettuce ready for the salad spinner

The farmers market was loaded with fresh, vibrant greens of all varieties this morning.  At Rigg's Family Farm they were offering a green lettuce mix, a red lettuce mix, and curly leaf Savoy spinach.  At three half-pound bags for $10, I bought one of each.

Savoy spinach spun dry and ready to be bagged.

Once home and after giving my kitchen sink a thorough cleaning, I filled it with cold water and dumped both bags of lettuce into it and swished it all around for minute or so before giving the leaves a spin in my salad spinner to remove excess water.  I divided the dry greens between two new gallon-sized Ziploc bags and they are now in the frig, ready for salads and sandwiches all week.

I repeated the rinsing and spinning process with the spinach and it, too, is all set to be tossed into green smoothies or added to casseroles.

It was a long winter without local lettuce!  I broke down a few times and bought the organic stuff in the plastic boxes at the grocery store, but there is absolutely no comparison in freshness and flavor to what is grown right here in the Umpqua Valley.