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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.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Strawberry Jam Time



There are still plenty of beautiful organic strawberries at The Berry Patch. I picked another 10 pounds this morning, for a total of 40 pounds so far. We've been dipping them in chocolate, freezing them for smoothies, making strawberry-rhubarb crisp and just eating them by the bowlful. Tonight I'm giving my daughter, Laura, a jam-making lesson!


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