Dan Akroyd Wants You to Drink Vodka…

September 27th, 2010

Dan Akroyd will sign one of these for you today in Vancouver. No lie.

His vodka to be exact — Crystal Head Vodka. And as strange as this might sound, he’ll be in the ‘Couv today from 3-5pm signing bottles of his strange looking hooch at Stateline Liquor Store.

I’ve scheduled this blog post because, as you might already know, I’m under sail in the San Juan Islands. I’m thinking that you, however, might just want to go shake hands with Dan Akroyd this afternoon.

I haven’t tried the stuff, although samples are on the way. The press release for this vodka was one of the strangest ones I’ve gotten in awhile. Check part of it out below.

If I was in town I’d be heading to Vancouver this afternoon. I don’t think I could resist meeting Akroyd and asking him about his vodka, which according to the press release is, “triple crystal filtered through Herkimer diamonds.” It’s your supernatural world Mr. Akroyd, I’m just in it.

Here’s some more info. straight from Akroyd’s PR peeps about his vodka:

The Ghostbusters and Blues Brothers star himself, Dan Aykroyd, will be in town on Monday, September 27th to promote his popular vodka, Crystal Head Vodka. He will visit Stateline Liquor Store at 1109 North Jantzen Drive from 3–5pm for a bottle signing.

Aykroyd, known for his work on Saturday Night Live and in films including Trading Places, Ghostbusters and Driving Miss Daisy, has been involved with producing and distributing wine and spirits for seven years. He recently created Crystal Head Vodka as a result of his fascination with the supernatural.

The super-premium vodka is made with water from a deep aquifer in Newfoundland, Canada, blended with selected grains for a creamy and slightly sweet finish, and triple crystal filtered through Herkimer diamonds, which, according to New Age belief systems, embody positive energy and goodwill. Crystal Head Vodka is available wherever fine wine and spirits are sold.


Feast your eyes on this weirdness…

DIY Galley Cooking On A Small Sailboat

September 23rd, 2010

Out of the water and ready for the San Juan Islands.

When you read this we’ll be en route and setting sail for Lopez Island, our first stop, on this boat above on our San Juan Islands sailing trip. The past several weeks have been a confluence pretty much of two things — book events and boat readying.

Early this summer my boyfriend and I decided that at the end of summer/beginning of fall we’d finally take our 19-foot, 1970s O’Day sailboat out for a real spin and, of course, take a much needed vacation.

We bought the boat with our neighbors last summer and have been up and down the Columbia where it’s been moored ever since. This will be the first big journey — ten days sailing around the San Juan Islands.

There’s been a lot of preparation including getting it out of the water, scrubbing it, decking it out with more down-below storage, purchasing a dinghy, barbecue, lights and then some. We’re in the last leg though now since we leave on the first day of autumn — September 23rd.

To be honest, my boyfriend has done the bulk of the work but my job is important. I’m stocking and setting up the galley. Well, we don’t actually have a galley so it’s more setting up the makeshift galley.

I looked at some books at Powell’s on galley cooking and got some good ideas but didn’t feel like any were worth buying. Really, I think the most important thing to galley cooking is planning ahead, just like camp cooking. Learning to work with your small cooking space, stocking up with minimal and long lasting ingredients and some full-flavor tricks up your sleeve are all important. Having a food dehydrator doesn’t hurt.

We’ll be stopping at a lot of markets and farmers markets (my friend Rachel’s mom is the editor of the publication that I just linked to here) during the trip to stock the larder and we’ll also be checking out the local cuisine. Here’s some of what I’ve cooked up for the trip…

I turned these Brooks plums from our front yard tree...

Into dehydrated plums.

And I turned these backyard Gravensteins...

Into dehydrated apples.

I made a big batch of spicy beef jerky.

Stocking up...

The Accidental Affineur: Humboldt Fog Cheese

September 20th, 2010

Good enough to eat.

Most people leave cheese aging to the cheesemakers but not our friend Lorna’s dad Dave. He was given a free 16 ounce wheel Humboldt Fog cheese from Cypress Grove Chevre in Arcata (it was overly salted and they wouldn’t sell it) and after returning home, a few miles away, he promptly put it in his kegarator. He also promptly forgot about it. For a year and a half.

The cheese stayed in its original wrapper in his kegarator for 18 months before he laid eyes and hands on it again. Accidental affineur Dave wasn’t so into the now hard-as-a-rock goat cheese but his daughter Lorna and her husband Steve were.

If you haven’t tried Humboldt Fog get your hands on some. It’s soft ripened goat cheese with a ribbon of ash through the center that’s sold when it’s soft with fresh chevre in the center and ooey, gooey closer to the surface.

After a year-and-a-half the Humboldt Fog became hard, dry and more salty. Think of an older manchego but with goat milk. Steve and Lorna ate it grated it over food and thinly sliced on its own for a couple weeks before heading up from Arcata to visit us.

Since stopping through Portland and setting off for their year-and-a-half Land Rover journey around North, Central and South America Steve and Lorna left the home-aged cheese with us. Lucky us. Truly.

I don’t know how brave you are about food and I don’t know how strict you are with expiration dates but we’re pretty happy that Dave forgot about the cheese. Many great foods are the result of kitchen mishaps and although I won’t go so far as to say this is better than Humboldt Fog as intended I will say it’s pretty dang delicious.

The other night we grated it over spicy lamb and bulgar red sauce spaghetti and last weekend we grated it over eggs. This week I’m thinking more omelettes with grated cheese and chives. In other words, we’re digging it.

Two years in the making...

Cypress Grove Chevre
1330 Q Street
Arcata, California

Syncline Winery and the Gorge

September 15th, 2010

The perfect spot for a picnic -- Maryhill Museum of Art's picnic grounds. That peacock did not eat with us but I'm sure cleaned up our crumbs.

My mom and her husband visited Portland from Cincinnati (where I grew up) mid-August and I’ve been meaning to post about their visit for awhile since a lot of what we did centered around food and drink as it usually does. We had some great meals out at Toro Bravo, Ping and Acadia to name a few and we also had a really good barbecue at home on their last night in town.

The trek we took this time while they visited was out to the Gorge. On our way out in the morning we stocked up on all sorts of great picnic supplies and then we pretty much beelined for Maryhill Museum of Art. I wanted to finally visit what Raymond Carver referred to, in so many words, as the strangest museum he ever went to.

By the time we got there mid-day — it takes about two hours from Portland — we were hungry and headed straight to the picnic grounds. It was a great picnic spot next to the sculpture garden and behind the museum with our peacock friend. My favorite foods from the picnic were the spicy paprika loaf from Edelweiss Sausage & Delicatessen on Grand Central baguette and the tiny pickled anchovies from New Seasons Market.

On the way home (the museum was great and I fully agree with Carver) we only had time for one winery stop so we made it Syncline Winery and I’m so happy that we did. We tasted several of their delicious reds and whites and came home with two whites — their Viognier and Roussanne. I’ll be back to Maryhill and to Syncline. Check both out the next time you’re in the area.

We tasted the whites and the reds. Tastings are $5, deducted if you buy wine...

Turn here for Syncline Winery in the Gorge...

The tasting room is in the production house with the fermenting tanks and the barrels.

Syncline Winery, if you can't tell already, is beautiful.

Maryhill Museum of Art
Goldendale, Washington

Syncline Winery
Lyle, Washington

Salsa Days Are Here Again

September 13th, 2010

I've been waiting for this all summer.

This summer has been unique for many reasons — one being it’s September and this weekend I made salsa for the first time this season. I’m usually cooking up all sorts of fresh and spicy salsas and hot sauces from the garden all summer long. I can’t exactly make salsa out of zucchini though (the only thing that’s truly rocking the garden at the moment) so I had to break down last weekend and buy supplies. Luckily, I had great selection at the Beaverton Farmers Market — namely Sosa Farms.

I bought from other vendors too because I needed everything for big batches of red and green salsa. I made both back to back and we’ve been happily eating it all ever since.

I almost always make my salsa the same way. I throw my veg. in a thick pan, set the oven to broil, and put the pan directly under the broiler until everything is nicely blackened. Then I put all of that, including the juices, into the food processor with salt, lime, lots of cilantro and fresh chiles and that’s that. This time I added a lot more of the blackened skins and I’ll do that again — added to the smoky flavor.

Next up, need to get my hands on some habaneros and moritas

I left some of the charred skin of the onions on for flavor.

Maybe this is why green and red are two of my favorite colors.

Beaverton Farmers Market

September 10th, 2010

Early apples were on the scene at last Saturday's Beaverton Farmers Market.

It was my first time at the Beaverton Farmers Market last weekend and I can’t stress to you enough what a fantastic market it is. I’d heard that it was a good one but until I saw it with my own eyes — adjacent to the Beaverton City Library and just north of Beaverton City Park — I had no idea.

First off, it’s huge — nearly 200 stalls. Second, vendors from Oregon and Western Washington are fully loaded with farm fresh products because people really shop at this market. I’ve never seen so many customer bags, baskets, carts and wagons full-to-brimming before at a market.

I talked with market director Ginger Rapport for a while (I was there selling books and she stopped by a couple times to check in) and she told me that the Beaverton Farmers Market stands out because folks there are shopping for families as opposed to other urban markets where people are sometimes snack shopping, gathering a few boutique edible items, or just treating the market as a great people-watching spot to check out.

Folks really use their purchasing power at the Beaverton Market and this has a lasting impact. In other words, there’s A LOT to choose from. Including some really good eat-there market foods. My friend Christine and I ate some super tasty pork and asparagus tamales from these folks.

Here’s a bit of what stood out for me at last Saturday’s market…

A very good sign...

My friend Christine stopped by and we both got salsa supplies from Forest Grove's Sosa Farms.

More from Sosa Farms...

If I didn't have a big sack of hazelnuts already I would've gotten some from this guy.

The Pony Espresso folks had a long line all day.

Notebook, pen, money pouch, camera, sunglasses and books is all I need for a great day at the market...

Beaverton Farmers Market
Downtown Beaverton at SW Hall between 3rd and 5th Street
Get directions
Saturdays 5/8/10-10/30/10 — 8am-1:30m
Wednesdays 6/16/10-8/25/10 — 3-6pm
Harvest Market 11/20/10 — 8am-1:30pm

Yard Fresh Pt. 7

September 7th, 2010

Picked a lot of the backyard Gravensteins this weekend. They're destined for fresh eating, crumbles, apple butter and the dehydrator this year.

It feels like fall and we’ve still only had a handful of tomatoes from the garden. That’s alright though because we’ve had a lot of other great homegrown food in the past couple weeks including Brooks plums (into wine and dehydrated), zucchini (grilled, pureed into soup, sauteed and then some), lemon cucumbers (straight up, but soon to be pickled), and some really nice garden gifts from neighbors — big sacks of green beans and pickling cucumbers to be exact.

A lot of people have been complaining about green tomatoes in the past few weeks (myself included) and so I’d just like to pass on a little trick. If your tomatoes don’t ripen on the vine this year — a lot of them still will — harvest them and keep them in a brown paper sack rolled up or fastened at the top in a cool part of your home. Check the bag every couple days and pull out the ripe ones. They’ll ripen that way for weeks and although they don’t taste as good as vine ripened it’s a nice trick if you can’t deal with any more fried green tomatoes or tomato chutney.

Here’s a slice of what I’ve been cooking up during the past few weeks…

Happy hour spread and homemade hard cider with Steve and Lorna.

Roasted red pepper, zuke and scallion sandwich with cheddar and romesco sauce.

Grilled salmon and fresh jalapeno sandwich on Pearl ciabatta with slow cooked green beans and tomatoes.

Pureed zuke, potato, cilantro, spinach and lime soup with bread and olive oil.

Turkey, lemon cucumber, green zebra tomato sandwich on an english muffin.

Yard Fresh Pt. 6
Yard Fresh Pt. 5
Yard Fresh Pt. 4
Yard Fresh Pt. 3
Yard Fresh Pt. 2
Yard Fresh Pt. 1

Upcoming Book Events

September 2nd, 2010

Come say hi if you're at the Beaverton Farmers Market this Saturday.

When I was thinking about summer in respect to my book I decided that I’d give it a solid three months of events and publicity and then I’d let it do its thing. Well, now it’s the beginning of the third and final month and there are some fun upcoming events to report. I’m also happy to announce that I’ll be cutting the month a little short and heading out for a 10-day vacation on the first day of fall. Yahoo!

Here’s a slice of what I’ll be up to in upcoming weeks. Come say “hello” if you’re at any of these events…

Beaverton Farmers Market
Saturday, September 4th

Check out the Beaverton Farmers Market this Saturday.

Belmont Street Fair
Stumptown Scribes
Sunday, September 12th

I'll be at the Stumptown Scribes table all day...

Monday, September 13th
The Heathman library

I'm honored to be in this line-up for Portland's first Foodportunity at The Heathman Monday, September 13th.

Wild About Game
Sunday, September 19th
The Resort at the Mountain in Welches, OR
11am-4pm (game dinner buffet 5:30pm)

I'll be at Wild About Game this year -- about an hour southeast of Portland.