Nossa Familia Coffee — Stop by the North Portland Cafe

October 30th, 2009
No other local coffee company sources solely farm-direct AND family-direct coffee.

No other local coffee company sources solely farm-direct AND family-direct coffee.

Augusto Carvalho Dias Carneiro co-owner of Nossa Familia Coffee — which was founded in 2006 and is the only family-traded coffee in Portland — grew up in Rio de Janeiro but spent holidays on his family’s farm eight hours west of Brazil’s capital. According to Augusto that’s where most of his childhood memories are. Some of the fondest include early morning horseback rides with his grandpa and his grandpa’s friends through the coffee fields.

These days Augusto who’s lived in Portland since 1996 still likes to ride around his family’s sixth generation Brazilian farm. He just has different transportation now — his bicycle. Augusto is a cycle enthusiast and has made a couple trips to the farm with fellow mountain biking friends. (The last time I saw Augusto he was setting up a coffee booth at a cycle event at the Washington County Fairplex in Hillsboro the same weekend as the Home Orchard Society’s All About Fruit Show.) Of course anytime Augusto returns home now — usually once or twice a year — there’s plenty of work to be done.

Although Nossa doesn’t roast its own bean (another Portland roasting company roasts for them) Augusto hopes to in the near future. Nossa currently imports about five percent of the farm’s Brazilian coffee — about 80,000 pounds a year — so there’s plenty of room for growth in more ways than one.

In the summer of 2009 Nossa Familia opened a café at the non-profit Ethos Music Center on North Killingsworth that serves Nossa Familia Coffee, tea and snacks. In addition to the café you can find Nossa Familia Coffee at all New Seasons Markets, People’s Food Co-op, Food Front Cooperative Grocery, the Hollywood and Lents Farmers Markets and other locations around town.

Nossa Familia Cafe at Ethos
2 North Killingsworth St.
www.familyroast.com
Hours:
Monday-Friday 8am-6pm
Saturday 10am-3pm

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

October 26th, 2009
I sliced up a couple trays worth of cabernet and chocolate cherry tomatoes last weekend and slow roasted them with garlic and olive oil. I took this, of course, before I put them in the oven.

I sliced up a couple trays worth of cabernet and chocolate cherry tomatoes last weekend and slow roasted them with garlic and olive oil. I took this, of course, before I put in the oven.

I don’t know about you but we still have a lot of tomatoes — especially small cabernet grape tomatoes. I got the idea to slow roast some of them after I noticed a post on Culinate that looked tasty and I followed that link to a post on Smitten Kitchen.

I planted more tomatoes than ever this year so beyond all the salsa, hot sauce, soups, scrambles and then some tomato cookery I’ve been looking to break my mold a little. I’m happy I did. These are good.

I think the reason why I don’t love sundried or slow roasted tomatoes more has something to do with my feelings toward raisins. Inferior grapes. Slow roasted tomatoes create that same kind of jammy, sticky sweetness that occurs from grape to raisin. Still, these are good — they’re nice on egg sandwiches, in pastas and I bet they’ll be great on pizza. I took out the garlic before the tomatoes and used that in a curry and also in a chicken and rice soup.

I’ll make these again next year — if the harvest is as heavy — to change it up a little. Go to Smitten Kitchen if you want to slow roast your tomatoes the way I did.

This is what they looked like after about three hours in a 225 degree oven.

This is what they looked like after about three hours in a 225 degree oven.

Garlic Growing 101 — for the lazy winter gardener

October 23rd, 2009
I grew this type of garlic last year and again this year. It's really good.

I grew this type of garlic last year and again this year. It's really good.

I planted garlic for the first time a year or two after I moved to Portland — so in 2003 or 2004. Ever since then I’ve devoted a good section of my garden to it. I’ve tried my hand at fall and winter gardening — building cloches and other contraptions to keep the veggies warm enough and protected from the weather — but I’ve never been all that successful. These days I usually just plant a lot of garlic in the fall, broadcast my cover crop seeds, and then call it quits in the garden until the following spring.

I planted this year’s garlic last weekend (I usually plant it mid-October) — 60 early Italian softnecks in a sheet-mulched bed in the front and 16 Musik hardnecks in a smaller sheet-mulched bed up front. I still have a couple heads of the Musik hardnecks left and I think I’ll plant those in the back somewhere. I always like to plant a mix of hardneck and softneck because I like the hardneck for the scapes (I make them into pesto and also sautee them) and flavor and I like the softnecks for better storage and braiding.

Here’s a trick I learned last year — MULCH! I know that’s not really a trick — it’s more of a given for most gardeners but I wised up to it late. I mulched my epic garlic crop last year with a couple inches of straw and those garlic heads were bigger than any I’ve ever grown before. Mulching keeps the beds relatively weed free (garlic doesn’t like competition), keeps the soil from compacting and also keeps it a bit warmer.

I plant most bulbs — including garlic — about 2-3 times their depth. So I usually plant my garlic about 2-3 inches deep with the skinny end (you know, the end that sprouts if don’t use your garlic fast enough) pointing up. This year I mixed a small handful of all-purpose organic fertilizer into each hole with loosened soil. After planting all the garlic, I covered the beds with a thin layer of compost, and finally layered them with a couple inches of straw. I don’t always fertilize but it’s a good idea. A lot of folks side dress their garlic at intervals throughout the year as well but I never do and I’ve always had good results.

Most varieties of garlic will poke their green heads out in a few weeks — usually by Thanksgiving if you’ve planted them early-to-mid October — but once it gets cold enough they stop growing. Most of garlic’s growth is in the spring which is why some people plant it then. I’ve never done that but I don’t think the flavor would be as good or that the garlic would get as big with a spring planting.

One of my favorite homemade spring foods is garlic scape pesto — made from the spiraling seed heads that you want to cut off whether you cook with them or not. If you don’t snip them off the energy goes to flowering rather than to the garlic head.

One more quick thing. Planting supermarket garlic is a gamble because a lot of commercial garlic has sprouting inhibitors meaning it won’t grow or won’t grow well. If you plant grocery garlic just be sure it’s organic and then you’ve got a green flag. I often use market garlic for my softnecks but I always buy my hardneck garlic at nurseries. Mostly because there’s more variety and it’s not so easy to find hardneck garlic in markets.

Go plant some garlic!

Newly planted softneck bed up front -- Early Italian garlic. The green patch is chives which are perennial.

Newly planted softneck bed up front -- Early Italian garlic. The green patch is chives which are perennial.

Portland Fruit Tree Project — No Fruit Left Behind

October 19th, 2009
Although citrus doesn't grow so well in Portland (unless you have potted trees that you bring indoors in the winter) all sorts of fruit does and Portland Fruit Tree Project's mission is to make sure good fruit gets to good people.

Although citrus doesn't grow so well in Portland (unless you have potted trees that you bring indoors in the winter) all sorts of fruit does and Portland Fruit Tree Project's mission is to make sure good fruit gets to good people.

I remember hearing about Portland Fruit Tree Project when it was just a seedling in 2006 and thinking it was a brilliant idea. Now it’s not just a brilliant idea it’s a thriving non-profit dedicated to harvesting fruit that would otherwise be left to fall and rot and getting that fruit to folks who need it. In addition to harvesting parties during the summer and fall (when fruit from all over Portland is collected and sorted) from January through spring PFTP also hosts various workshops on fruit tree pruning and maintenance.

I met up with 30 year old PFTP executive director Katy Kolker — who started PFTP with her friend Sarah Cogan in 2006 — a few months ago at the organization’s old office and ever since then I’ve run into her at all sorts of food and farm events around town. Her mom owns the very cool Looking Glass Bookstore in Sellwood and she immediately offered to put in a good word for me for a book reading there when Food Lover’s Guide to Portland comes out in the spring.

Kolker was working as an AmeriCorps volunteer for Growing Gardens in 2006 and living in Northeast Portland when she came up with the idea that grew into PFTP. Month after month Kolker would watch fruit in and around her neighborhood go unharvested and turn from ripe to rotten. She approached a few households and asked if she could harvest their trees. Everyone Kolker approached agreed so she organized a group of about 10 people that season to help out. Since then that’s been the PFTP mode of operation — seasonal harvest parties from summer through fall throughout Portland.

PFTP harvest parties take place on weekends and weekdays usually from July through November and generally begin mid-morning and run for two to three hours. The 10 to 15 reserved harvest party spots fill up fast and there is usually a long wait list weeks in advance. Participants meet at a site where PFTP ladders, fruit picking poles and milk crates for packing the fruit are provided.

Once the fruit is picked and sorted the group moves to another nearby site to harvest. For now fruit is collected in a pickup truck that follows the group from site to site but eventually Kolker hopes to utilize cargo bikes for fruit transport. The best quality fruit goes to the Oregon Food Bank and its hunger and relief agencies and the rest is distributed amongst the tree owner and volunteers.

Kolker is quick to add that, “The intention of our program is not to be feeding the food banks. A large part of our programming is to empower people to see their community and the urban ecosystem as a potential food resource and to be an avenue for people to access those resources.” For this reason half of the harvest party spots are reserved for low income folks.

In June 2009 PFTP moved to its new location on North Killingworth with onsite composting, tool storage a demonstration garden and offices.

Portland Fruit Tree Project
www.portlandfruit.org
1912 NE Killingsworth St.
503.284.6106

Oregon Distillery Month: Oregon Distillers Guild Tasting

October 16th, 2009
Rogue Distillery gave me this photo a couple years ago to use with a story about local spirits. They're one of many distilleries that will be sampling their wares at the Edgfield this Sat. from 1-4pm.

Rogue Distillery gave me this photo a couple years ago to use with a story about local spirits. They're one of many distilleries that will be sampling their wares at the Edgfield this Sat. from 1-4pm.

So apparently I’m all about last minute or after-the-fact posts lately. Life has been a little busier than usual which is why it’s Friday and I’m just now telling you about an awesome event on…Saturday. Yes, tomorrow.

Here’s the scoop. The Oregon Distillers Guild is throwing its annual fall tasting tomorrow — Saturday, October 17th from 1-4pm at McMenamins Edgefield to kick off Oregon Distillery Month. Tickets are $20 and if you want one call McMenamins Edgefield at 503.669.8610 or just head on over.

A lot of local distilleries are participating and there will be more than 20 spirits to taste.

Distilleries representing include Artisan Spirits, Bendistillery, Cascade Peak Distillery, Highball Distillery, Hood River Distillers, House Spirits, Indio Spirits, Integrity Spirits, Liquid Vodka, New Deal Distillery, Rogue Spirits, McMenamins Edgefield Distillery, Sub Rosa Spirits and more.

I wrote a story about several of these distilleries a couple years ago.

According to the press release:

The Oregon Distillers Guild was the first state based craft distilling group to band together and form a Guild. The Oregon Distillers Guild formed in May of 2007 and has sponsored two bills before the Oregon Legislature; influenced policy within the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and worked with Travel Oregon and Oregon Bounty programs to promote Oregon as a destination for all things liqurious.

I’m not sure about “liqurious” but the rest sounds great.

Oregon Distillers Guild Fall Tasting
@ McMenamins Edgefield
Sat., Oct. 17th 1-4pm
tickets $20
Call 503.669.8610 or tickets
This is obviously a 21 and over event

All About Fruit Show: Home Orchard Society

October 13th, 2009
Quince, quince and more quince.

Quince, quince and more quince.

I finally found out what kind of apple tree we have in the backyard. I’ve gotten many opinions on the matter but this one I trust. At Home Orchard Society’s All About Fruit Show this weekend at the Washington County Fairplex in Hillsboro three people sniffed, sliced and asked questions about my sole remaining apple of the season from our backyard tree.

These apple detectives consulted old books, inspected the seeds and stem and asked me things such as — when does the fruit usually ripen (September-October), how tall is the tree (40 feet give or take), how old is the tree (an arborist guessed it was 60-plus years old), how wide is the trunk (4 feet or so) and so on. It took awhile and I was happy that I got there early. The final verdict…GRAVENSTEIN!

Our Gravensteins are usually prettier than these.

Our Gravensteins are usually prettier than these.

You know it honestly doesn’t make that much of a difference what we call it. That old gnarly tree in the backyard will still produce beautiful tart and sweet, big, great fresh or cooked apples. But I’m happy to finally be able to call it something other than the dumb name we have been using — heritage red.

Know what kind of apple that is? After about 10 minutes the Home Orchard Society experts decided my friend's backyard apple tree is a Jonagold.

Know what kind of apple that is? After about 10 minutes the Home Orchard Society experts decided my friend's backyard apple tree is a Jonagold.

This was my first All About Fruit Show and I’ll be back for more of this annual, weekend-long fall fruit extravaganza. It was quite the trek for a Saturday morning but this weekend was chock full already so I just added one more tasty event to the roster. This year Home Orchard Society members paid $4 (or $8 per family) to get in and non-members $6 (or $10 per family) and parking was free.

So what do you get for that small chunk of change? You get to sample all sorts of fruits and varieties of fruits you’ve never tried before (there are hundreds of varieties on zigzagging card tables). You get to learn all sorts of interesting things about fruit and fruit cultivation (I bet you didn’t know that quince makes an excellent air freshener if you leave one in your glove box for up to 6 months. It doesn’t rot and will just shrivel up and make your car smell good. I promise that most of what you learn isn’t quite so random.) and sit in on lectures about edible gardening and more. It’s all about geeking out over fruit and I loved it.

Check out all the interesting fruits I got to sample…

Looks like a nut but is sweet and crisp -- jujubes.

Looks like a nut but is sweet and crisp -- jujubes.

All sorts of custardy pawpaws. My friend Karen shown here liked these a lot too.

All sorts of custardy pawpaws. My friend Karen shown here liked these a lot too.

Medlar which some people describe as a tart cinnamony apple.

Medlar which some people describe as a tart cinnamony apple.

Lots of varieties of tart and tiny hardy kiwi.

Lots of varieties of tart and tiny hardy kiwi.

All sorts of grapes.

All sorts of grapes.

Lots of different pears. I like the name of the one in the middle.

Lots of different pears. I like the name of the one in the middle.

And, of course, hundreds of different apples.

And, of course, hundreds of different apples.

If that all looks good to you than you should check out the All About Fruit Show next fall. I know I’ll be there.

Home Orchard Society
www.homeorchardsociety.org

Home Orchard Society’s All About Fruit Show
www.homeorchardsociety.org/aafs/

Wordstock this Sat. and Sun. @ the Oregon Convention Center

October 8th, 2009
I'll show you mine, if you show me yours...

I'll show you mine, if you show me yours...

I know I’ve posted about Wordstock already but it bears repeating now that it’s Thursday and Wordstock proper is this weekend. I’ve figured out my short list of writers and writer panels I want to see and now I’m really getting excited. There’s a lot of overlap — how could there not be with eight stages? — but I’m sure that I’ll be able to catch a lot of great readings this year.

Beyond readings I’m looking forward to working the Hawthorne Books booth from 1-4pm on Saturday and 9-noon on Sunday. It’s pretty wild for me to think of what I was up to last year at Wordstock — I’d just wrapped up a summer internship with Hawthorne and at Wordstock I got to meet my possibly/maybe book publisher for the first time (we had a loose spoken agreement at that point but the contract wasn’t signed until January). Shuttle ahead to this year’s Wordstock and I’ve delivered my first to-be-published manuscript to Sasquatch Books and I’m working as an editor for Hawthorne Books. Not too shabby!

Be a literary omnivore.

Be a literary omnivore.

All of that is just another way of saying Wordstock can bring good fortune to you as well. If you stop by this weekend and spare a mere $5 for an all-day-pass you might just shake hands with your future publisher or brush shoulders with a writer, or two or three that you love. At Wordstock you’ll be surrounded by books and the people that make books happen — readers, writers, publishers and editors.

If you haven’t seen the amazing Wordstock promo. at the downtown Powell’s (it’s worth checking out — just off the main entrance) I’ll give you the gist:

Drop everything and go to Wordstock.

Oh and this year Wordstock is homing in on food — hence this year’s theme:

Be a literary omnivore.

If you want to read more about the food writing side of this year’s Wordstock go here.

Wordstock
Sat., Oct. 10th and Sun., Oct. 11th 10am-6pm at the Oregon Convention Center
777 NE MLK Jr. Blvd.
www.wordstockfestival.com

Stumptown Producer Panel: @ Leftbank this Thursday at 6pm

October 6th, 2009

Go to Stumptown's Leftbank event this Thursday, October 8th at 6:30pm if you want to know more about where coffee comes from.

Go to Stumptown's Leftbank event this Thursday, October 8th at 6:30pm if you want to know more about where coffee comes from.



(((Unfortunately I didn’t make it to this coffee panel but WW did. Go here if you want a run-down of the standing room only, super successful event.)))

Although this is kind of last minute I want you to know about this free and open to the public coffee event this Thursday night at Leftbank:

Stumptown Coffee Roasters is hosting international growers and exporters from Columbia, Kenya, El Salvador and Costa Rica for a public panel discussion about everything from sustainable farming vs. conventional production to innovations in trade channels. There’s a coffee tasting that precedes the event in the Leftbank lobby at 6pm and the panel discussion begins at 6:30pm.

If you’re hungry or thirsty for something more than coffee you can also sample food and drink from Upright Brewing Company and Leftbank Cafe while there.

Stumptown’s green coffee buyer Aleco Chigounis will moderate the event and panelists include:

Jeovanny Liscano & Walter Penna, farmers from Pedregal de Cauca, Colombia

Alejandro Cadena, exporter from Bogota, Colombia

Ngatia Kanyoge, farmer & assistant general manager from Gaturiri Cooperative, Karindundu, Karatina, Kenya

Kamau Kuria, agronomist and mill manager from Nairobi, Kenya

Juan Ramon Alvarado, farmer & exporter from Heredia, Costa Rica

Francisco Mena, exporter from Alajuela, Costa Rica

Aida Batlle, farmer from Santa Ana, El Salvador

I don’t think I’ll be able to make it but I hope a lot of folks turn out. It’s pretty incredible that Stumptown is hosting such an event for its growers, exporters and for Portland. I have a lot of love for this.

Leftbank
240 North Broadway
Visit www.leftbankproject.com for directions

It’s Getting Chile: Homegrown Spice

October 2nd, 2009
The containers might be small but the flavor and heat is fierce.

The containers might be small but the flavor and heat is fierce.

I’ve never had huge success growing chiles. And although the Pacific Northwest isn’t exactly the best place to grow them I often see friends and neighbors’ chile plants often grow two, three and four times the size of mine. I know that our yard isn’t the best spot in Portland to grow chiles since the arc of the summer sun is so often interrupted but I keep trying anyway. Heat is a big factor and some people in cooler climes surround their chiles with heat holding stones or cover the surrounding soil in black landscape plastic to keep the soil temperature up. I’ve thought of doing both but never have.

Our friends Anthony and his girlfriend Deborah grow incredible chiles. Lucky for us they process a lot of them and often give us everything from pineapple juice and bourbon soaked, dehydrated and toasted habaneros to sundried tomato and chile powder blends…

Just like bay leaves -- don't forget to remove the habaneros before serving like I did.

Just like bay leaves -- don't forget to remove the habaneros before serving like I did.

Anthony and Deb's habanero, cayenne and tomato powder.

Anthony and Deb's habanero, cayenne and tomato powder.

This year Anthony even gave me a bunch of rare chile seeds and starts — most of which he got here. I did my best with them and although none took off like theirs I’ve been making all kinds of tasty hot sauces and salsas with them as they ripen. And if I hadn’t lost my copy of The Spicy Food Lover’s Bible I’d be tapping into that for hot recipes too. At least I finally found my lost recipe satchel (recipes from old restaurants I’ve worked at, family recipes, old neighbors’ recipes) which is much more important than a still in print book.

Left to right: white bullet habanero hot sauce, jamaican hot chocolate habanero salsa and kung pao chile hot sauce.

Left to right: white bullet habanero hot sauce, jamaican hot chocolate habanero salsa and kung pao chile hot sauce.

Here are some shots that I took today of my front and backyard chiles. It’s amazing how many colors some of them go through as they ripen.

These Jamaican hot chocolate habaneros are going into hot sauce this weekend.

These Jamaican hot chocolate habaneros are going into hot sauce this weekend.

According to my friend Anthony the best thing he ever did with Jamaican hot chocolate habeneros was sautee orange marmalade with some dried pieces of them and a little brandy for about 15 minutes. He said it was an amazing cooking glaze.

From pale yellow, to purple to orange to red…

Twilight chile peppers

Twilight chile peppers

Wrinkled old man chiles are sweet and flavorful.

Wrinkled old man chiles are sweet and flavorful.

And finally one that’s really good pickled…

Just beginning to ripen hot cherry peppers.

Just beginning to ripen hot cherry peppers.

How are your chiles growing? Any great recipes? I can never have too much hot sauce or salsa but some new fiery recipes would be great.