Yard Fresh Pt. 3

November 28th, 2009
Roasted chicken soup with first chicken and stock of the season with lots of lime, homemade habanero hot sauce, sweet pea tomatoes, roasted garlic, and celery from the garden.

Roasted chicken soup with first chicken and stock of the season with lots of lime, homemade habanero hot sauce, sweet pea tomatoes, roasted garlic, and celery from the garden.

There isn’t a lot going on in my vegetable garden at the moment. Mostly I have greens growing — chard, mizuna and some hardy cabbage. Beyond that I’ve got a lot of dormant overwintering herbs as well as 100 or so garlic that should be pushing through soon.

Even still we’ve managed to eat some really tasty yard fresh food in the last few weeks. I like this Yard Fresh series because it reminds me of why I love Portland so much and it also makes me reflect on this delicious city I live in and all of the home gardeners and cooks that I’m friends with here.

Without further ado, here are some tasty things I’ve made lately with a little help from the garden…

What one of my last home garden harvests consisted of mid-October -- lots of tomatoes, chiles, basil and celery.

What one of my last home garden harvests consisted of mid-October -- lots of tomatoes, chiles, basil and celery.

This red lentil curry had celery, tomatoes, basil, golden chard and chive blossoms from the garden along wtih some other veggies, chicken broth, coconut milk and lots of spice. I used turmeric, cumin, coriander, dried ginger, mustard seed and five spice. Ladled over rice it made us very happy.

This red lentil curry had celery, tomatoes, basil, golden chard and chive blossoms from the garden along wtih some other veggies, chicken broth, coconut milk and lots of spice. I used turmeric, cumin, coriander, dried ginger, mustard seed and five spice. Ladled over rice it made us very happy.

Even though I've posted about this already I have to include these slow roasted from-the-garden tomatoes because they were so good and versatile.

Even though I've posted about this already I have to include these slow roasted from-the-garden tomatoes because they were so good and versatile.

They went onto this chorizo pizza with homegrown tomato sauce, olives, scallions and lots of garlic.

They went onto this chorizo pizza with homegrown tomato sauce, olives, scallions and lots of garlic.

And this was a little bit of everything sausage dinner with the last of the tomatoes and sauteed wrinkled old man chiles from the yard along with some brussels.

And this was a little bit of everything sausage dinner with the last of the tomatoes and sauteed wrinkled old man chiles from the yard along with some brussels.

You can also check out:
Yard Fresh
Yard Fresh Pt. 2

FoodHub: Ecotrust’s Newest Venture

November 25th, 2009
FoodHub reaches out so that food producers and buyers in the Pacific Northwest.

FoodHub reaches out to food producers and buyers in the Pacific Northwest.

Ecotrust is at it again. They’ve crafted yet another brilliant way for Pacific Northwest food producers to connect and build solid relationships with the region’s food buyers — FoodHub. FoodHub allows food producers and buyers in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington to tap into the same bright idea that Ecotrust supports year after year at its co-hosted Farmer-Chef Connection. Times 1,000. And, well it’s online.

According to the FoodHub website:

Thanks to FoodHub, food buyers can walk to their computers, type in the word “raspberry” and quickly access a list of regional raspberry producers. They can sort their search results by specific attributes, check out various raspberry producer profiles, send one a message through FoodHub’s message center, and arrange for delivery – either direct or through a mainline distributor. Never before have Northwest raspberry producers been so highly visible to the region’s food buyers. And never before have food buyers had it so easy.

The site is still in beta which means you can join for just $80 a year before December, 31st when the annual fee rises to $100. And fear not, trepid food folk — there’s a free demo that you can sign up for on the homepage.

Let your fingers do the walking.

Let your fingers do the walking.

If you still aren’t convinced after that sneak peek, read up about the ambitious project here at Capital Press.

FoodHub questions or comments:
call 503.467.0816
or email meet@food-hub.org
www.food-hub.org

Mercy Corps Northwest: New American Agriculture Program NAAP

November 23rd, 2009
Not quite ready to eat...

Not quite ready to eat...

Carrots are most often associated with spring and summer but the prime season for Oregon carrots is late summer through early winter. That’s Suleyman Idrisov photographed above of Southwest Portland’s two-and-a-half-acre Hayat Farm. He’s showing off some of his just out of the dirt, several weeks shy of harvest carrots, for a story I did about him for the Portland Tribune a couple years ago.

Idrisov was born in Uzbekistan, and moved to Russia when he was 16 years old to escape ethnic persecution. Idrisov and his family are Meskhetian Turks, a displaced Muslim population originally from Meskheti (now the country of Georgia). Russia proved difficult as well, so in July 2005 Idrisov, along with his wife, children and sister, sought asylum in Portland.

Idrisov had worked as a farmer in Russia, and shortly after arriving in Portland he learned of Mercy Corps Northwest’s New American Agriculture Project, or NAAP. NAAP educates and assists refugees and immigrants in the Portland and Vancouver, Washington area in establishing small agricultural businesses by leasing local farmland.

In the spring of 2006, Idrisov planted his first American crop of fruits and vegetables on NAAP’s organic certified Hayat Farm — leased from the 60-acre Malinowski Farm. Idrisov pays 10 percent of his revenue to Malinowski Farm for use of the land, while a large portion of his remaining profits are funneled into savings.

Suleyman Idrisov of Hayat Farm

Suleyman Idrisov of Hayat Farm

Idrisov speaks very little English (we had a translator for my story) so when he sells at various farmers markets around town he lets his vegetables speak for themselves which is in part why he’s known as the “beet king.” Idrisov adds that in 2007 the title shifted to “turnip king.” because of his purple-top globe turnips. You can find Idrisov’s Hayat Farm carrots, radishes, cabbage and more at the downtown Portland Farmers Market on Saturdays and at the People’s Cooperative Farmers Market on Wednesdays.

Latest NAAP Happenings:

In 2009 NAAP broke ground with its first CSA on land donated on a lot just south of Westmoreland Park. The previous blackberry and weed infested lot is now a vibrant and productive organic garden cultivated by three Nepalese refugee families. Visit the Mercy Corps Northwest website for more information about the Westmoreland Vegetable Box.

Another recent NAAP development is the Damascus training site established to help train new farmers and launch new farm businesses. Larry Thompson of Thompson Farms in Damascus donated individual half acre and acre plots of his 100-acre farm to NAAP participants.

Damascus site participants have access to $1,500 start-up grants from Mercy Corps Northwest while they learn to budget for expenses such as land, tillage, water and seeds. As participants successfully manage their businesses they can qualify for additional capital from Mercy Corps Northwest. NAAP participants market their organic produce through farmers markets, farm stands, churches and other diverse channels.

For more information about NAAP check out a story I wrote for the Portland Tribune as well as this Edible Portland story.

Mercy Corps Northwest New American Agriculture Program
43 SW Naito Parkway (In September Mercy Corps Northwest moved to this new location)
Portland, Oregon
503.896.5076
www.mercycorpsnw.org

galleryHOMELAND Bake Sale @ The Cleaners at Ace Hotel THIS Saturday

November 18th, 2009

A week ago I got word of a galleryHOMELAND bake sale taking place this Saturday at The Cleaners at the Ace Hotel from 11am-2pm. galleryHOMELAND is a local non-profit arts organization and they’ve invited 30-plus chefs, mixologists, artists and others to donate baked goods and other tasty treats for the Saturday bake sale in order to drum up funds for their 2010 programming.

Hot cider and old time country music tunes will be on the house and you can buy individual baked goods for $3-$5 and various jarred goods for $5-$8.

A few participants and their treats include:

Chris DiMinno of Clyde Common: Terri DiMinno’s Sour Cream Coffeecake
Emily Katz of Emily Katz: Cardamon Apple pie
Sara Dudzinsky of Better Late than Never: Banana bread
Morgan Wu and Colette Higgins of Clyde Common: Artisan Ice Creams
Colleen French of Renegade Dinner Club: Old fashioned Chocolate Cake

galleryHOMELAND is a Portland, OR based non-profit arts organization advancing awareness of Portland’s rich cultural community by creating new opportunities and lasting cultural exchange in a unique series of programs focused on exporting local arts and artists and importing national and international art and artists.

galleyHOMELAND Bake Sale Benefit
Saturday November 21, 2009
11am-2pm
The Cleaners at Ace Hotel
403 SW 10th
Portland, OR
www.galleryhomeland.org

Smoked Salmon Alfredo — Siletz Tribal Smokehouse

November 17th, 2009
Introducing smoked salmon alfredo

Introducing smoked salmon alfredo

Even though this isn’t a recipe-based blog every once in awhile something happens in my kitchen that I have to share. A few days ago, armed with a quarter pound of smoked salmon and a handful of brussels sprouts I decided to make smoked salmon alfredo. With brussels sprouts. It was delicious and I’m going to give you a recipe in a minute.

First I want to tell you that the smoked salmon I used was a nice surprise. I often get shelf stable smoked salmon (rather than refrigerated, often vacuum-packed smoked salmon) for various far away folks during the holidays and walking down the aisle where I normally find it at New Seasons I noticed a new package of smoked salmon on the shelf — this one from Oregon. I grabbed a box.

You can't miss the packaging

You can't miss the packaging

I’d like to give you some info. beyond the fact that it was yummy, and moist and made my stomach happy but for some reason the website attached to the product — Oregon Smoked Foods, Inc. — is acting funny. I’ll revisit it soon and get you some more information. I’m curious. The only info. I can give you about the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians is that I gathered and included some very interesting old recipes from the tribe for a story I did about lamprey in 2006 for the Portland Tribune.

For now, let me tell you about the tasty smoked salmon alfredo I made.

First I sauteed several thinly sliced brussels sprouts over medium heat with half a diced yellow onion and two minced fresh cayenne chiles in a couple teaspoons of bacon fat and tablespoon of butter. After a few minutes I added the broken into hunks smoked salmon and took the pan off the heat. I preheated the oven to 400 degrees.

Next I put a salted pot of water to boil and once boiling I added a pound of spaghetti and let it cook till done.

While the pasta boiled I put a small oven-safe dish in the oven once it was preheated to 400 degrees and left it in there for a few minutes to warm up. I removed the pot once it was hot and cracked a couple eggs into it with a cup or so of finely grated asiago, a half cup or so of half-and-half and I whisked that together.

Then I mixed this heated egg/cheese slurry with the right out of the pot and still piping hot cooked pasta and the hot brussels/onion/chili/salmon mix. I ground some fresh pepper over the lot, added a few shakes of sea salt, and topped the spaghetti with some minced parsley. It was delicious and I highly recommend it.

This smoked salmon salad from Tria Cafe in Philadelphia that a hungry blogger recently wrote about sounds pretty yummy too if you’re looking for other smoked salmon ideas.

Farmer-Chef Connection — Hosted by Portland Chefs Collaborative and Ecotrust

November 11th, 2009
Vanity strikes.

Vanity strikes.

Yes, I took a photo of my nametag. It equated me to my book and since it was the first time I got to “wear” my book I was pretty excited.

And what was the nametag for you might ask? This past March was my first time attending the Farmer-Chef Connection — a Portland Chefs Collaborative and Ecotrust hosted event. It was held at Clackamas Community College — a half hour south of Portland.

I love farmers. In fact I considered becoming one right after high school when I worked on a small herb farm in the Extremadura region of Spain. In recent years, one of my favorite long-term assignments was visiting and interviewing local farmers for the Portland Tribune. I still interview farmers from time-to-time but not regularly.

The Farmer-Chef Connection is put on annually as a way to bring producers and food buyers together to chew the fat, break bread, share advice, and most importantly speed date. The latter is just another way to say make connections. Mid-day farmers and producers gathered on one side of the conference room and took turns giving microphoned introductions and quick run-downs of their farms and crops. After that restaurateurs, chefs and other food service folks buzzed around talking with them about their needs.

Lunch was a big potluck with foods prepared by participating farmers and chefs. On the long buffet table were delicious Picklopolis Pickles from David Barber of Three Square Grill, a Cattail Creek Lamb roast from Nostrana, New Seasons Market spicy Thai lamb ribs, a kale salad from Organically Grown Company, Sweetbriar Farms pulled pork, Hot Lips Soda and much more.

I sat at a table with a friend who’s enrolled in the Clackamas Horticulture Program and broke bread with Cathy Whims chef/owner of Nostrana, her sous chef and other culinary and farm folks. Toward the end of lunch John Witte of Tenino Farm in Southeast Portland stopped by and handed Whims a small container of his farm-grown, salt cured black olives. It was a charming gesture and Whims seemed touched as we passed the dish around the table. I heart farmers. I heart chefs.

Tasting table madness. David Barber of Picklopolis samples his briny goods at the Farmer-Chef Connection.

Tasting table madness. David Barber of Picklopolis samples his briny goods at the Farmer-Chef Connection.

Farmer-Chef Connection
www.farmerchef.org

More Pix Patisserie Love

November 5th, 2009
These are a few of my favorite things -- Pix Patisserie macarons.

These are a few of my favorite things -- Pix Patisserie macarons.

I think I’ve made myself pretty clear here about my undying love for Pix Patisserie. It’s one of my favorite Portland businesses which is why I’m excited to tell you about some new tasty things happening at the North Portland and Southeast Portland Pix. Here’s the scoop from the latest press release.

First up is Pix’s Time for Tea:

Each Sunday in November and December there will be a formal tea service between the hours of 11am and 3pm at the North Portland Pix. The $28 all inclusive menu will include a pot of tea from Townshend’s Alberta Street Tea House and a selection of 14 sweet and savory bite sized treats, including French macarons, soft-boiled quail eggs wrapped in prosciutto and rotating flavors of chocolat chaud. Reservations are required.

Next up is La Fete du Macaron:

On Saturday, November 28th both Pix locations will throw parties celebrating the French macaron. The macaron, made of two almond meringue cookies sandwiched together with various buttercream fillings, has been sought after in Paris for many years. To find a Pâtisserie that does not have a macaron is like finding a cheese shop that does not sell Rochefort.

While the English macaroon, spelled with double “o’s” and plump full of sweetened coconut can be a tasty treat, if you have never had a French macaron we think you are missing out! And there is no better day to try them than the day of the Fete du Macaron! Thirty different flavors will line the pastry case shelves from the traditional (Espresso, Pistachio) to the obscure (Roasted Red Pepper, Scotch Whisky, Tomato) to the sublime (What? You’ve never tried our Fleur de Sel Caramel macaron?!). There will also be macaron desserts, ice cream filled macarons, mini macarons and our new product — the Macaron Tower! At over 2 feet tall and covered with 100 colorful French macarons, this is sure to be a party pleaser! (Now available by special order. $190)

Want to win a macaron cake? Try your luck at the Macaron Cake Walk happening at Noon, 3pm and 6pm at each store.

Got a fabulous flavor idea? Enter our Macaron Flavor Contest. If we like your flavor idea and use it in our store, we’ll give you a $50 gift certificate /and/ a dozen macarons of that flavor. Start brainstorming. Submissions accepted at the festival.

And that’s not all. Every guest who buys a macaron will get a key to the Magical Treasure Chest. If your key opens the chest you could win a $20 Pix Gift Certificate or possibly turn into that genie character on Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Did I mention there will be a “Meka Leka Hi Meka Hiney Ho” macaron? To find out what flavor that one is you better come to the celebration!

And then there's always The Royale...

And then there's always The Royale...

Pix Patisserie North
3901 N. Williams Ave.
Portland OR 97227
503.282.6539

Pix Patisserie SE
3402 SE Division St.
Portland OR 97202
503.232.4407

www.pixpatisserie.com

I Love Oregon Farmers Pt. 2

November 2nd, 2009
Mantovano fennel at Troutdale's Dancing Roots Farm.

Mantovano fennel at Troutdale's Dancing Roots Farm.

So this is my second installment for showering love (they don’t need more rain at the moment) on Oregon farmers. I started this series in early August as a way to write about some of my favorite local folks. It’s also a great way to share various photos that I took while researching local food/agriculture stories — photos that weren’t published.

In the summer of 2007 I wrote a seasonal food story about fennel for the Portland Tribune. They used one of many photos that I took with the story so I’ve included a few here that didn’t make it to print. In my original draft I wrote about Troutdale’s Dancing Roots Farm apprentice Soleil Hutchinson of Eastern Canada who’s pictured below and those couple paragraphs didn’t make the cut. She was harvesting fennel when I visited and talked with me for awhile.

I asked Soleill if she remembered the first time she’d tried fennel and she said: “I’d never eaten fennel before I came here and I’ve grown a taste for it. I love black licorice and it kind of tastes like that. It’s just kind of tricky cooking with it. I find that it loses its flavor so easily. I like it in salads the best — raw so you get the full flavor.”

Dancing Roots Farm apprentice Soleil Hutchinson harvesting fennel.

Dancing Roots Farm apprentice Soleil Hutchinson harvesting fennel.

And then quickly before she put the fennel in the box she…

Trimmed it.

Trimmed it.

Although I spent some time in the field with Soleil I also got to talk with Dancing Roots Farm farmer/owner Shari Sirkin while she was rinsing freshly harvested lettuce in a propped up antique bathtub vegetable rinse station in the barn. Shari’s owned the 10-acre farm with her husband since 2002. Too bad I didn’t take any photos of her. Sirkin told me that she likes to cook fennel low and slow so that it caramelizes with butter and a little salt. Yum.

I grow a lot of fennel every year in our front yard. My trick is to always let a few plants go to seed. Although they produce pretty flowers I let some go to seed so I’ll get more fennel the next year. Once the stalks have dried I shake them and scatter the seeds.

I like fennel both raw and cooked but I’ve never dried fennel fronds and cooked with them. If you like rabbit, bacon and fennel and don’t mind drying some fennel (or buying some dried) go here and check out the slow roasted meaty goodness.

Dancing Roots Farm
Troutdale, Oregon
503.695.3445
www.dancingrootsfarm.com