Homemade Fermented Food and Drink

July 25th, 2011

Hard cider bottling of the Newton pippin cider that I pressed with Nat West last winter. Really good this year -- much better than last's. The dandelion wine is bottled on the left...

Ever since I bought a copy of Sandor Ellix Katz’s Wild Fermentation shortly after moving to Portland I’ve been a food fermentation freak.

I love everything about home food fermentation. I love the DIY aspect of crafting foods that I love such as sauerkraut, wine, and miso. I love the time and patience involved in creating these foods and drinks — most ferments I make take anywhere from a few days to a year. I love the full flavor of food ferments — from pungent and sour to salty and spicy to sweet and effervescent. I love that fermented foods and drinks are inherently good for me because of the live micro-nutrients they contain. I love that I’m carrying on food traditions born well before refrigeration, artificial preservatives, and pasteurization. The list goes on and on.

In January 2009, I got to travel to Nashville to meet one of my heroes — Sandor Ellix Katz — and interview him for The Sun Magazine. In October of 2009, we got him to come out for the inaugural Portland Fermentation Festival that David Barber, George Winborn and I organized and continue to organize every year. The date is still TBD for this year’s and I’ll let you know soon when/where it will be.

For now, I’ve got a bunch of home food and drink ferments that I’ve been checking on, bottling and eating up lately to share with you here. This weekend I started a sour cherry wine with fruit collected from a neighbor’s tree. I’ll post about that soon.

I’ve got two batches of miso going right now that I started in November — soybean miso and red bean miso. Here’s what they’re looking like now after several months of fermenting…

I scraped the salt off the top of this red bean miso and it's looking pretty and already tasting DELICIOUS. Going to be patient though and let it ferment until fall. At least.

The soybean miso is looking and tasting great too. Did the same and scraped off the salt and mold, repacked with a nice layer of sea salt, covered and put back in the utility room till fall.

Yes, you have to be very generous with the salt so you don't get too much mold.

This year's three gallons of Brooks plum wine has finished fermenting and is now bottled. It's so good. It's tart and off-dry and tastes like a perfect plum. The alcoholic kind.

These petals and more went into this year's gallon of dandelion wine. We bottled last year's and it's delicious as always, a little more flowery this year too which is nice.

If you’ve never done any home food/drink fermentation I recommend starting with saurkraut or kimchi. They’re both quick and easy ferments that pack a lot of flavor. I can’t recommend Sandor Ellix Katz’s book Wild Fermentation enough. I use it all the time. Happy fermenting! Let me know what you make.

Yard Fresh Pt. 13

July 18th, 2011

Baked this Saveur Magazine strawberry pie with Hood strawberries from the front yard, lemon zest and juice.

I always like these blog posts but when the garden is kicking in they’re even more fun. Lately we’ve been eating a lot of spinach, arugula, Hood strawberries, honeyberries, blueberries, sugar snap peas, nettles and fresh herbs from the front and back yard. In my front yard herb garden I have rosemary, thyme, lavender, sage, bay, mint, lemon balm, peppermint, fennel, chives, thyme, valerian and chamomile. I use the first five year-round and the remaining from spring through early to mid winter.

Coming in now we’ve got tomato plants searching out the sun, all kinds of beans and pickling cucumbers gaining ground, garlic curing, asparagus going uneaten so the root system gets bigger and better for next year, rhubarb thickening, blueberries ripening and seedlings trying to scare up some more sunshine. So there’s a lot more good food to come.

If you have a garden, how’s it growing? Any new edibles you’ve got in the ground or are planning to cultivate this year? If you don’t have a garden what early season eats have you been enjoying?

Pickled this asparagus that a neighbor gave us for my boyfriend's Grizzly Tattoo shop opening party in early June. It went fast.

Everything in this arugula, ribboned fresh herbs (including oregano, mint, lemon balm, fennel, chives) and chive blossom salad was from the front yard except the toasted hazelnuts. Dressed it with a Jorinji Miso, lemon vinaigrette. Look forward to this every year.

Made potato tacos in the evening and the next morn used the filling for this tostada topped with a sunny side up egg.

Look forward to making this every year too -- hazelnuty arugula pesto with lots of lemon juice, parm, garlic and olive oil.

Pesto and tapenade spaghetti topped with parm.

Straight up Hood strawberries and honeyberries from the garden.

Mustardy tuna salad sandwich with homemade cornichons.

Yard Fresh Pt. 12
Yard Fresh Pt. 11
Yard Fresh Pt. 10
Yard Fresh Pt. 9
Yard Fresh Pt. 8
Yard Fresh Pt. 7
Yard Fresh Pt. 6
Yard Fresh Pt. 5
Yard Fresh Pt. 4
Yard Fresh Pt. 3
Yard Fresh Pt. 2
Yard Fresh Pt. 1

Bite of Oregon 2011

July 11th, 2011

From last year's Bite of Oregon...

I’m really looking forward to this year’s Bite of Oregon. I attended last year’s and had a booth with my then recently released local food book — Food Lover’s Guide to Portland. This year, I’ll be judging a fun competition that you can compete in if you want called the Hot Shot Cook-Off.


Four aspiring chefs (18 years old+) will compete for the Hot-Shot Bite title on Saturday, August 13th and Sunday, August 14th. Competitors have thirty minutes to create one dish with a secret ingredient.

First Hot Shot Competition — Saturday, August 13 12:25pm – 1:25pm
Second Hot Shot Competition — Saturday, August 13 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Final Hot Shot Competition — Sunday, August 14 12:30pm – 1:30pm

To enter…

Email contests@soor.org by Friday, Wednesday August 3rd and include:
A photograph
A written submission detailing in 100 words or less why you can stand the heat in the kitchen
Your name
Culinary aspirations
Your favorite thing to cook
Why you love to cook

Ten potential competitors will be announced on the Bite of Oregon Facebook page and public voting will commence. A week later the four competitors will be announced.

The prize…

The winner gets a trophy as the 2011 Hot Shot Cook-Off title holder and a prize package including a gas grill and a gift certificate to a culinary store. Their winning recipes will appear in The Oregonian.

Bite of Oregon
August 12-14, 2011
Waterfront Park
Portland, Oregon

Tanuki Time!

July 5th, 2011

Quick glimpse of the Tanuki closing party spread. Throughout the night it included everything from grilled unagi and halibut cheeks to spicy bulgogi burritos and lots and lots of tasty adult beverages.

The first thing I want to say is — don’t be sad. Tanuki is closed (and yes, I agree, that this is enough of a reason to stay in bed all day — all MONTH — with a box of tissues), and Tanuki Northeast MLK is no longer on the table, but good things come to those who wait and I’m certain that Tanuki will find an even better location to kill it in Portland. Just you wait.

My boyfriend and I were lucky enough to be invited to the Tanuki friends/family closing party a few weeks back and good times were had by all. There were a lot of toasts, and so yes, lots of drinking, lots of incredibly tasty food — most of which Janis grilled outside by the entrance, and a lot of good conversation too, well, from what I can remember.

My feeling throughout the night can pretty much be summed up by this — a friend of Tanuki is a friend of mine. My feeling the next morning — Holy f#!ck my head hurts.

Tanuki is one of our favorite Portland restaurants and we miss it very much. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then stay tuned for its newest incarnation. For all things Tanuki go here.

Here’s the scoop for before Tanuki finds its new brick and mortar spot. Details straight from Eater PDX:

“…Martin will set up shop in the downtown culinary incubator KitchenCru (whose owner Michael Madigan happens to be a longtime Tanuki regular), serving a series of lunches and happy hours on July 13-16 and July 20-21, from noon until 6pm. Expect happy hour faves like the kimcheezesteak sandwich, tsukune burger, and noodles on the menu, in addition to a few new items like yangnyeom dak (Korean fried chicken) and Dak Bal (crispy spicy chicken paws). ‘Having access to an actual kitchen, I’ll be doing a lot of things we couldn’t do before,’ Martin says. Also in the works: Kimchi available for purchase.”

Tyler at Tanuki's closing party.

Things got a little blurry after that...

Portland, Oregon

Vegan Iron Chef Lucky Winner!

July 1st, 2011

Lucky number 8 wins two free tickets for this year's Vegan Iron Chef!

Thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about the next Sunday, July 10th Vegan Iron Chef Competition and to everyone who commented on my last post about tasty vegan food. Lucky #8 commenter Lindy is the winner of two tickets to this awesome event! (So sad that I’ll be out of town for it.) Lindy, please drop me an line at info at liz crain dot com for ticket details. Congratulations!

For those of you who don’t have tickets already the advance tickets have sold out BUT there will be a limited number available at the door the night of the event. So definitely try your luck again because it’s going to be a super fun event. Also, head over to the Vegan Iron Chef Competition website for more details on how to volunteer for the event and do other related stuff.

Here’s a little more info. from the press release:

Three chefs from the community’s favorite establishments will prepare dishes inspired by an unveiled secret ingredient for a panel of esteemed judges and a live audience, while the event is live-streamed to anticipated thousands.

The event will be co-hosted by bestselling cooking author Isa Chandra Moskowitz of The Post Punk Kitchen and local artist and zinester Nicole J. Georges.

Our chefs are Kitchen Dances’ Piper Dixon, Homegrown Smoker’s Jeff Ridabock, and Dovetail Bakery’s Morgan Grundstein-Helvey.

This year’s judges include Julie Hasson from Native Bowl and Everyday Dish, Aaron Adams from Portobello Vegan Trattoria, Grant Butler from The Oregonian, John Janulis from The Bye & Bye, and last year’s crowned Vegan Iron Chef, Quasu Asaase Yaa.

Live music, exhibitors, sampling, trivia, and raffle prizes round out this can’t-miss event.

Tickets ($12 in advance/$15 door; $100 VIP tasting seats) are available at VeganIronChef.org. Sponsorship opportunities available now.

Vegan Iron Chef is a nonprofit organization based in Portland, OR, with a mission of spreading the message of veganism by showcasing the art of vegan cuisine and celebrating community. Other cities are encouraged to join the Vegan Iron Chef network, hold their own competitions, and unite for regionals and finals in upcoming years.

Below is one of this year’s fierce competitors. Go Morgan!

Cheer your favorite competitor on at this year's Vegan Iron Chef!

Vegan Iron Chef Competition
Sunday, July 10th, Competition 5-7:30pm; after party until late
Event @ Refuge PDX