River’s Edge Smoked Salmon

March 29th, 2010

It doesn't get much more spring than this...

I got a really nice package on my doorstep a few weeks ago from a woman that I used to work with at The Alameda Cafe — Erika Simeon. I hadn’t spoken with her in years and since then it turns out that she and her dad have started a business smoking and selling the above — River’s Edge Smoked Salmon.

The past two and half years they’ve been perfecting this secret recipe smoked salmon and I was lucky enough to get samples of the King and Coho. The King was definitely my favorite because it was so moist and flavorful. The Coho — on the salt bagel above with cream cheese, capers, and scallions — was a bit drier but still really good.

According to Erika they use wild line caught Northwest salmon, organic brown sugar, and solar evaporated sea salt for the small batch alder smoked salmon.

We went to the coast last weekend and I brought along a couple packages of chevre, along with some fresh herbs clipped from the garden and some of last year’s garlic. I minced the herbs (oregano, mint, thyme, chives, sorrel) along with the garlic and whipped them into the chevre with a good amount of half and half. One of the tastiest things that we ate over the weekend was wamed and sliced Pearl Bakery baguette smeared with the garlic and herb chevre and topped with River’s Edge Smoked King Salmon along with a nice, dry French rose.

Although River’s Edge products aren’t available in local stores yet — I’ll let you know when they are — you can purchase the smoked salmon online. If you’re local email Erika at erika@riversedgesalmon.com for free Portland area delivery.

Local smoked salmon at your service

River’s Edge Smoked Salmon

Homemade Beef Jerky in my Excalibur Food Dehydrator

March 24th, 2010

Thinly sliced tri-tip on its way to becoming jerky...

In the fall I went to the Home Orchard Society’s All About Fruit Show in Hillsboro and had a really good time. It was the same weekend as Wordstock, and also my first Wordstock while working for Hawthorne Books so it was a chock full weekend. While at the fruit show I bought a whole bunch of raffle tickets for three reasons — I didn’t pay to get in but I wanted to contribute, there was a beautiful wooden cider press in the raffle that I wanted, and I also liked the looks of the Excalibur Food Dehydrator.

A few months went by before I was home sick in January and got a call from a very nice Home Orchard Society volunteer telling me that I’d won the food dehyrdator! I was pretty dang excited to get the news and even more excited when this man brought the dehyrdator all the way over to my house — what a man.

For the past few months the dehydrator has been shuffled around from the front room to the utility room until I finally plugged it in in the kitchen this weekend and put it to use. In the summer and fall I’ll have plenty to dehydrate — plums, pears, apples, tomatoes and chiles etc. Right now in the garden I’ve got seeds sprouting, and lots of spring growth but not a lot to harvest.

I decided to break my Excalibur in with a little homemade beef jerky this weekend and I’m so glad I did. I read the recipes in the accompanying Excalibur booklet and also surfed online to get some ideas. I ended up hybridizing all of that into a spicy worcestershire, soy, honey and onion marinade that turned out fantastic…

Trimmed and thin sliced tri-tip soaking up the marinade...

Out of the marinade, blotted dry, racked and ready to go...

Six hours later cooling but ready to eat homemade spicy beef jerky

The little engine that could -- my lovely Excalibur Food Dehyrdator

Excalibur Products
6083 Power Inn Road
Sacramento, CA 95824

I’ve Been a Miner for…Miner’s Lettuce!

March 22nd, 2010

Trimmed, bagged and perfectly wild miner's lettuce

I like taking my dog Rubin to my writing studio. It’s a small enough room that it feels like a den — more like a walk-in closet — and he usually curls up under my desk and keeps my feet warm. He’s a white malamute shepherd so he’s not small and only has a few places to get comfortable in the room. It’s nice having company while I write, research stories and projects, boil ramen in the hot pot, talk on Skype.

The best part of taking Rubin to work is that he gets me on a regular walk schedule. I love walks period but I’m more inclined to skip them when he’s not around. So at the end of last week — remember how sunny and beautiful it was? — I was at my studio and took Rubin on a mid-day walk. I was soaking up the sunshine and shaking off a little work stress when I came upon something extraordinary…

You see what I’m talking about above and below — the largest urban patch of miner’s lettuce I’ve ever laid eyes on! So large in fact I actually looked around to see if anyone else was onto it. There were a couple homeless guys tinkering with their tent fifty yards away but other then that it was just me and Rubin. Bounty!

I plucked a bit and ate it on the spot — first miner’s lettuce of the season! And then we carried on with our walk after deciding to make a pit stop there with a bag to harvest before heading home.

Miner's lettuce is unmistakable and it's one of my favorite wild edibles.

By the time quitting time came around I almost forgot about the miner’s lettuce but lucky for me my post-work brain kicked in and I stopped by the patch to snip enough for a big salad for a barbecue that night. I didn’t even come close to making a dent. The patch is so big that I could probably eat salads from it all summer. I plan to do just that in fact. For the miner’s lettuce salad last week I added butter lettuce and radishes along with mint, fennel and ribboned sorrel from the yard. I tossed it all with a homemade white miso, lime and olive oil vinaigrettte. Delicious.

I’m not telling you where my newfound miner’s lettuce patch is but if you’re looking for urban wild edibles now’s the time. I highly recommend that you check this open source website out too — Urban Edibles. I wrote about it in my book and there’s a ton of great PDX foraging info. there. If you need some schooling Wild Food Adventures is heading into another fantastic spring season of local foraging expeditions and workshops.

I found it here! Sea of miner's lettuce...

Queen of the Sun Sneak Peek this Saturday

March 17th, 2010

This Saturday night...

This is where I’m going on Saturday night. Queen of the Sun is Taggart Siegel’s soon-to-be new movie (he last directed the film The Real Dirt on Farmer John) and there’s a sneak peek screening in Portland this Saturday night at 8pm at Sunnyside Methodist Church. The film has been in the works for three years and the screening honors the film’s main character Gunther Hauk who’s visiting Portland for it as well as some beekeeping workshops — see details below.

This special screening will raise money for Hauk’s Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary as well as for the world premier and national release of Queen of the Sun later this year.

Details for the Saturday, March 20th screening:
Cost: $10 advance, $15 at the door
Time: Reception @ 7pm, film @ 8pm
Location: Sunnyside Methodist Church, SE 35th Ave. and Yamhill
Q&A with Gunther Hauk and filmmakers following the screening at 9:30pm

Beekeeping Workshop

March 19th-21st beekeeping workshop from biodynamic expert and teacher Gunther Hauk. All workshop activities will take place at Portland Waldorf School in Milwaukie.

Cost: $90-$125 — lunch and snacks included.

To register and get full details contact Cathy at beeworkshop10@yahoo.com

Queen of the Sun Movie

French Prairie Farm Showcase — Portland Chefs Collaborative Event

March 11th, 2010

Final yard harvest last fall

The onslaught of gardening and farming posts is due in part to the changing season. Spring has almost sprung and with all the changes that come with that there are some pretty fantastic events happening in Portland. The event I’m writing about now, however, is just for cooks and chefs so be forewarned.

I love what Portland Chefs Collaborative does for Portland food. I’ve written about them plenty on this blog including a post around this time last year for the organization’s annual Farmer Chef Connection. The 2010 FCC just took place and although I didn’t attend this time around I hear it was great.

Without further ado, Portland Chefs Collaborative is also hosting the upcoming French Prairie Farm Showcase next Thursday, March 18th in Butteville, Oregon.

Info. straight from the source:

The goal of this mini-trade show is to connect chefs with local farmers and specialty distributors. At present there are approximately 20 farms and 3 specialty distributors registered to be there to talk to you about locally grown organic and conventional products such as:

Row crops: bush and Italian flat beans, lettuce, salad green mix, green onions, special variety red onions, culinary herbs, radishes, spinach, parsley, beets, peppers, carrots, garlic.

Field crops: squash, zucchini, pumpkins,  potatoes (Yukon Gold, Red Fingerling, etc.).

Cold crops: Brussels sprouts on the stalk, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.

Pasture raised eggs

Pasture raised chicken and beef

Organic hops

Blackberries, raspberries and Marion berries

Thursday, March 18 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm

Lunch provided: Reservations required—call ahead

Location: The Historic Butteville Store

10767 Butte Street, Butteville, OR 97002

RSVP to:

Ben Williams – 503.568.5670

Dianne Stefanni-Ruff – 503.250.2791


Portland Chefs Collaborative – fostering a sustainable food system through advocacy, education, and collaboration with the broader food community.

Spring for Zenger

March 8th, 2010

Zenger Farm needs your help

Ever been to Portland’s non-profit urban farm and wetland Zenger Farm? I haven’t but now, more than ever, I really want to. Starting March 14th local restaurants and nurseries are celebrating Zenger Farm and its newest program — Healthy Eating on a Budget — which educates outer Southeast Portland youth and adults about shopping for, and cooking, healthy meals on a limited budget.

Restaurants and nurseries participating in the fundraising initiative include Nedd Ludd, Biwa, Pine State Biscuits, Pistils Nursery, and Portland Nursery.

If you’re interested in other Zenger Farm initiatives, events and classes (beekeeping, chicken butchering, sausage making and more) check them out here.

Spring in the Garden

March 4th, 2010

The smaller the nettles the more powerful the sting.

The days are getting longer and spring is in the air even if it isn’t technically until March 20th. I planted my first seeds of the season last weekend — spinach and mizuna. I sifted through the compost, added it to the big backyard bed two weekends ago and last weekend I raked in the seeds and covered the bed with a PVC hoophouse. Next up: sweet sugar snaps. Mmmm. Even though my seeds haven’t germinated yet there’s all kinds of spring action in the garden. Oh, and the BIG spring happening — I became an auntie several sweet hours ago! My one and only brother and my lovely sister-in-law gave birth to a beautiful Marielle Linda Crain. I can’t wait to meet her out of the pod!

Here’s a taste of what I’m talking about in the garden…

I planted two honeyberry bushes last summer. Bigger and sweeter fruit than blueberries.

Lemon balm is as pervasive as mint

One of my favorite spring sights -- red-veined sorrel

Seaberries on the way

Lots and lots of garlic

Spinach and mizuna under wraps

Taste of Jakarta & Indo Heritage Reunion

March 2nd, 2010

Introducing Mr. Takeout -- Nasi Padang from Taste of Jakarta

When I pick up the phone and call Taste of Jakarta and they don’t answer a tiny part of me dies. The part that can’t go one week without their Nasi Padang. (Spicy braised beef curry, young jackfruit curry, deep fried hard boiled egg with chutney and white rice. I usually ask for yellow rice — seen above — cooked with lots of turmeric, coriander and a little coconut milk.) This happened mid to late January when TOJ was closed on and off for a couple weeks and then on a day when I’d almost lost hope TOJ stalwart Timothy answered the phone. I felt silly but I said in a very high pitched voice — “Yea!” Embarrassing but truly impossible to hide my joy.

Well, last week while talking up my favorite takeout folks I learned that they will be cutting back their hours this week. Here’s why…

This weekend is the third annual Indo Heritage Reunion — a local Indonesian festival that Taste of Jakarta is catering. They have a small kitchen and need to devote it to the event for a few days. Lucky for you — you’re invited to the Indo Heritage Reunion. Well, not particularly but it’s open to the public and you certainly don’t have to be Indonesian to attend. I’ve got my hands full this weekend unfortunately but here are the details in case you want to attend.

According to Timothy you’ll get some of the on-the-menu TOJ fare in addition to harder to find foods. If you go please let me know how it was. I’m really sad I won’t be able to attend.

Kembang Manis Presents the 3rd annual Indo Heritage Reunion
this Saturday, March 6th
6pm-Midnight @ Club Paesano
3800 West Powell Loop
Gresham, OR

All ages welcome
0-5 free
6-12 years $5
13-64 years $15 in advance, $20 at the door
65 years and up $12 in advance, $15 at the door
Cash only bar

Included in the entry fee: dinner, live music, authentic Indonesian dancing, Pencak Silat demonstration and more.

For more info. contact Debi Leidelmeyer Freund 503.970.0059

Taste of Jakarta
1239 SW Jefferson St.
Portland, OR
Hours: Mon. – Sat. 11am-3pm, 5pm-9pm
Closed Sunday