Edible Gifts: Love Feed

January 28th, 2010
'Tis the season...

'Tis the season...

Even though, yes, my friends and family obviously know that I’m a food nut this year’s holidays were exceptional in terms of edible gifts. I mean just look at all of the deliciousness that I got above. I feel the love. And to be honest, there’s a lot that was already eaten by the time I got around to taking this photo…

My friend Wendy went all out with edible gifts this year. She gave my boyfriend and I that big, beautiful, ceramic bottle of homemade Jolly Rancher sour apple infused vodka, homemade toffee (didn’t make it to the photo…), and all sorts of other treats I won’t tell you about because then you’ll really think I’m spoiled rotten.

Our friends Steve and Lorna from Humboldt County gave us a dozen of their home cooped chickens’ eggs, all that lovely Cypress Grove Chevre straight from the source, homemade blackberry elixir, AND homemade pear brandy.

My brother and sister-in-law gave us all sorts of edible gifts from Cincinnati’s Findlay Market (where I’m from — Cincinnati, not the market of course) including the spicy kimchi and the beautiful box of culinary salts. Our friend Alice and her family gave us herb-infused olive oil, candied almonds (also gone before the photo), balsamic vinegar, and sparkling sake.

So I guess I’m a braggart. I can’t help it — had to share.

And what about me this year — what did I cook up as gifts? Nada. I know, it’s pathetic. The holidays hit my on the head this year and practically knocked me out. I was working and writing and then whamo. Well, I bought lots of edible gifts — I know, not the same. But locally smoked salmon, local hazelnuts, and slow cookers from Kitchen Kaboodle aren’t too shabby. I’ll be better next year. I’ll get back to my homemade mustard, tea blends, hot sauce, blackberry jam and then some making ways.

What edible gifts that you gave/received this year stood out? I’d love to hear about them…

EaT Oyster Bar: Mardi Gras Mayhem and King Cake Babies

January 26th, 2010
Please bite the baby.

Please bite the baby.

Several years ago a baby was born. A little pink plastic king cake baby.

I can’t remember how I got the baby but I’m guessing from my friend Loly who’s from Lafayette, Louisiana. I’d never heard of king cakes until I met Loly. I kept the baby on my windowsill for a year or so with all the other knick knacks that reside there — figurines, shot glasses, a corn cob pipe, a couple shells. It fit right in until one day I kidnapped the baby from its comfortable home.

I was making postickers for New Year’s Eve and decided to put the king cake baby in one. Whoever bit into the potsticker with him in it (or her — it’s hard to tell) would be on track for a very fortunate year. Don’t worry, I warned everyone not to bite too hard. My friend Chris got the baby that year. One of the only times when it is ok — in fact your encouraged — to bite a baby.

Shrimp, cabbage and mushroom potstickers.

Shrimp, cabbage and mushroom potstickers.

So I’ve done this a few times since. It’s a great tradition — an every couple of years tradition.

This all leads me to Mardi Gras. King cakes and Mardi Gras…

One of my favorite North Portland restaurants has some fantastic Mardi Gras action this year that you might want to check out. Here’s the scoop straight from the source:

EaT Oyster Bar is hosting a big Mardi Gras party as well as lots of events during the entire week leading up to Fat Tuesday.

Bon Ton Roulet is playing live on February 13th for EaT’s Crawfish Boil, which starts at 1:30pm and goes until they run out. There will be king cakes, traditional beads and doubloons along with a Grand Mardi Gras Dress-up Ball on Fat Tuesday February 16th. Festivities start at 11:30am and go all night with live music, cajun specialties and the crowning of the Mardi Gras King and Queen of Portland. Check out the website for a schedule closer to the day of the event.

EaT Oyster Bar
www.eatoysterbar.com

Oregon Tilth’s 2010 Gardening Classes

January 21st, 2010
Oregon Tilth is offering all sorts of great gardening classes in 2010.

Oregon Tilth is offering all sorts of great gardening classes in 2010.

No, this post isn’t about how my boyfriend constructed an awesome two-stage compost set-up in our backyard. I just thought it’d be a good segue into a post all about Portland gardening classes.

In 2008 I had the pleasure of taking several classes via the local Organic Gardening Certification Program with various Oregon Tilth teachers (and lots of other knowledgeable folks) and I learned so much. We all did. A couple weeks ago I got word from Kathy Dang, Oregon Tilth Organic Education Center program manager, that Oregon Tilth has doubled its classes this year and added new ones for beginning and advanced gardeners.

Classes are diverse in terms of topics covered, cost, and location. Here are some highlights from Oregon Tilth’s 2010 class program. Visit the Oregon Tilth website for more information.

Tilth Toolshed Series: Plan, Sow, Plant!

Our practical 3-class series offered in partnership with the City of Portland’s Urban Growth Bounty gardening initiative. Take each class separately or together as a series.
Read More…

Four-Season Vegetable Gardening Series

Another series offered in partnership with the City of Portland’s Urban Growth Bounty Initiative. Come find out how to encourage a bountiful harvest from your garden every season of the year!
Read More…

Tilth Toolshed Series at Luscher Farm

The Tilth Toolshed Series: Plan, Sow, Plant! is being offered at second time at our demonstration garden at Luscher Farm. Come discover simple techniques for getting your garden started and increase your urban bounty this season!
Read More…

Comprehensive Organic Gardener Program

The curriculum merges scientific and practical information, emphasizing hands-on practice. This unique and popular course introduces beginning gardeners to the dynamic world of organic gardening and gets their hands dirty in the process! March 4th – 25th!
Read More…

Organic Gardening Certificate Program
In partnership with Oregon State University, Oregon Tilth offers a program similar in size and scope to the OSU Master Gardener program, with an organic gardening focus.
Read More…

Urban Gardener Series

Offered in partnership with the City of Portland’s Urban Growth Bounty initiative, Oregon Tilth’s Urban Gardener Series equips city gardeners with the tools necessary to farm our urban landscape.
Read More…

In an Oregon Tilth class you might even learn how to plant kiwi vines that attract white fluffy dogs.

In an Oregon Tilth class you might even learn how to plant kiwi vines that attract white fluffy dogs.

Oregon Tilth
www.tilth.org

Fremont Tangerines: New Seasons Markets

January 18th, 2010
Leopards love tiny tangerines.

Leopards love tiny tangerines.

In recent years my relationship with citrus has grown. Lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and then some. I’ve always loved citrus — from quartered oranges at half time during elementary school soccer, to childhood morning’s eating halved grapefruit topped with a generous pour of sugar, to fresh squeezed lemonade when lucky in the summer growing up.

What’s changed in recent years is that I don’t just appreciated citrus solo as in a slice of orange or a segment of tangerine — I appreciate it as an accent, a bright contrast to everything from soups and salads, to pastas and marinades. A generous squeeze here, a bit of zest there.

Below is visual evidence of my evolving relationship. It happened around the time I found the beautiful piece of heavy aluminum kitchen equipment on the left of this photo at an estate sale. I’d been looking for one of these citrus juicers for some time because we grew up with one and it worked wonders come lemonade time as a kid. A few months after I found it, my brother and his wife bought me the new orange one. And then just weeks later I found the old stand up citrus juicer (good luck comes in threes) at a thrift store. I juice citrus so frequently now that three is indeed better than one. Do my dishes?

The long limbs and beauty of synchronized juicing.

The long limbs and beauty of synchronized juicing.

Anyhow, my original train of thought with this post was this:

A couple weekends ago when New Seasons Market hosted a front-of-the-store Saturday and Sunday citrus tasting I was very happy. I tried a bunch of citrus that I’d never tried before.

The best of the batch that I tried — the tiny but oh-so-full-of-flavor Fremont tangerines. Wow — if you haven’t tried them and you love tangerines even a quarter as much as I do you better get your heinie over to New Seasons and grab a few.

They’ve brought me back to wanting citrus and only citrus — no accouterments.

I think you're going to like these.

I think you're going to like these.

Never Cry Wolf

January 11th, 2010

I need to take a little hiatus from the blog this week for personal reasons and just want to let you know that I’ll be back next week. Don’t you worry about me — I’ll be back before you know it.

Eat, drink and be hairy!

White Pine Products: Kinda Nutty

January 6th, 2010
Maple spice hazelnut, brussels sprout and bacon spaghetti loaded with freshly grated parmesan and a good squeeze of lime juice.

Maple spice hazelnut, brussels sprout and bacon spaghetti loaded with freshly grated parmesan and a good squeeze of lime juice.

A couple years ago I wrote a story about locally grown horseradish (wasabi grows in the Pacific Northwest too by the way) and for that I interviewed the Krizos in the Klamath Basin. It was a really interesting story to research and then I didn’t talk with the Krizos for a couple years.

A few weeks ago I got to see the working cover design for my book Food Lover’s Guide to Portland. I love it and I should because I took all of the cover photos except one — the one of the Krizos’ harvest truck.

So I got to check in with them about this agricultural shot of their truck filled to the brim with horseradish. They gave the green light and that opened up the dialogue. A couple weeks later I heard from their son — Ira Krizo — who lives in town and runs a thriving local, wholesale food business — White Pine Products. Ira provided the recipe to go with that seasonal horseradish story in 2007 — horseradish crusted filet mignon with a blue cheese cream sauce.

In 2007 Ira’s all-natural (some organic) White Pine Products — granolas, candied nuts, pancake mixes, and more — were only in a few stores. Since then WPP has grown and diversified. You can now find White Pine Products in local Whole Foods Markets, Market of Choice stores, and other food and drink shops around town.

The past few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to sample several White Pine Products and here are a few of the tasty treats I’ve enjoyed as a result…

Caramalized onion, feta, white wine and spinach spaghetti topped with candied pecans.

Caramalized onion, feta, white wine and spinach spaghetti topped with candied pecans.

Butter lettuce, bacon, egg, and maple spice hazelnut salad with a miso lime vinaigrette.

Butter lettuce, bacon, egg, and maple spice hazelnut salad with a miso lime vinaigrette.

As you can see from the photo below there’s a lot more to White Pine Products than spiced nuts (Although WPP’s are so fresh and perfectly spiced they takes spiced nuts to a whole new level.) I’ll let you know how the pancake mixes, granola and muesli are next time…

White Pine Products line-up.

White Pine Products line-up.

White Pine Products
503.794.4083
www.whitepine.us
WPP online store

The Grand Central Baking Book: Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

January 1st, 2010
Celebrate 2010 with these Grand Central Baking Book chocolate shortbread mint chocolate ganache sandwich cookies.

Celebrate 2010 with these Grand Central Baking Book chocolate shortbread mint chocolate ganache sandwich cookies.

I’m not a big baker. I don’t have a stand-up mixer, I rarely sift, I can’t remember the last time I bought shortening, and I don’t even own cake or bread tins. It’s not that I don’t enjoy baking it’s just I’ve never gotten into the habit of doing it. Not like some people I know. A couple months ago though something happened that might have an influence on that.

I interviewed Piper Davis of Grand Central Bakery in the spring for my book and shortly after spending an afternoon with her at the Fremont Grand Central, The Grand Central Baking Book hit the shelves. Piper wrote the book with local food writer Ellen Jackson and a couple months ago their publisher Ten Speed Press sent me a copy.

I’ve been reading various sections of the book since then and I really like the simple and straightforward approach they’ve taken. It’s a really nice all-level bake book because there are step by step photos for the amateur as well as more complicated techniques and recipes for the more advanced baker.

I decided to bake the chocolate shortbread, mint ganache sandwich cookies from it for Christmas and I’m so freakishly happy that I did. They were incredible.

First I made a batch of chocolate shortbread and chilled it in the fridge for a couple hours:

I doubled the batch...

I doubled the batch...

After the shortbread had chilled I sliced and baked it:

Into the oven with you!

Ready and waiting.

Then I baked the shortbread while preparing the chocolate mint ganache:

Chocolate, heavy cream, mint extract.

Chocolate, heavy cream, mint extract.

After 15 minutes in the oven the shortbread was ready:

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven.

The melt in your mouth chocolate shortbread combined with the creamy dark chocolate minty ganache was knee buckling good. These are definitely a new annual holiday cookie in my books. The only thing I’d change with the recipe would be to cut the ganache in half. It was a lot. That said, it never hurts to have a little extra ganache hanging around.

I’m really looking forward to trying Grand Central’s pizza dough next. I love homemade pizza and I’ve used the same dough recipe for awhile now. It’ll be nice to switch it up.

Even though I’ve only baked one recipe from the book so far — the success of that combined with reading through techniques and other recipes — I stand behind my loud and proud recommendation of The Grand Central Baking Book.

Two ganache covered thumbs up for this one.

Two ganache covered thumbs up for this one.


The Grand Central Baking Book

by Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson
Ten Speed Press