MoonBrine Pickles

August 29th, 2011

Spicy MoonBrine Pickles really made this ham sandwich. Freaky good.

I’m kind a pickle freak although I’m particular. I’m not so into bread & butter or other sweet pickles. I like the salty, sour and spicy pickles the best — namely fresh garlic, spicy, dills and crock-fermented dills. Just made some of the former, in fact, and can see them on the kitchen counter from where I’m typing at the kitchen table — my studio is too hot today.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I came home to a lovely package on my front porch — two tasty jars of MoonBrine Pickles courtesy of the pickler himself — Stew Golomb — a former elementary school teacher from Boston who moved to Portland a little more than a year ago. Thanks Stew!

I love them. We’ve eaten most of them as is but have added some to sandwiches too. They’re tasty fermented pickles with a little vinegar added for good measure. By the way, some of my favorite local pickles are Picklopolis Pickles. Picklopolis’ Mr. Briney Barber is a very good friend of mine so I don’t want to let a pickle post go without a shout-out. He knows how much I love him.

I recently got to ask Stew some questions via email about MoonBrine Pickles and here’s what he had to say — sometimes abbreviated…

Can you give me a short/sweet explanation of your process. Fermented and then vinegar added?

MoonBrine Pickles are 100% fermented (lacto-fermented). The cucumbers/vegetables start in a pail of brine, consisting of water, salt and a small amount of (gluten free) distilled vinegar. The pails sit at room temperature for a couple weeks until the vegetables are fully fermented. The pickles are then packed and refrigerated in quarts for retail and pail for restaurants.

You have a pickle tasting room/space?

I do have a little shop. I roll my pickle bar out of my kitchen and sell right there in the basement of the Ford Building at 2505 SE 11th Ave. in Portland. People seem really into discovering it. I call it the MoonBrine Shop N’ Snacketeria.

There you’ll find quart glass jars of our fermented MoonBrine Super Dill, Pretty Hot All Natural Pickles, MoonBrine Sour Mash (Relish) and our MoonBrine Brine, a magical product all on its own. Rotating offerings of deliciousness also include half-sour cucumber pickles, pickled green tomatoes, pickled cauliflower, pickled carrots, pickled cabbage and whatever else comes off the farm and lands in the brine.

MoonBrine Snacketeria hours: Monday – Thursday 11am-3:30pm. Off-hours by appointment if you email email Stew at

Where can folks purchase MoonBrine Pickles? Can you give me a price list of various types if bought direct?

Currently, in Portland the pickles are available at the shop – all quarts are $5.
Folks can also buy the pickles at which is a food buying club in town. Ford Food & Drink and Detour Cafe use the pickles on some of their plates and in their Bloody Marys. More stores and restaurants are on the horizon and there are five stores and two restaurants in Boston currently carrying the pickles.

MoonBrine Pickles

Further evidence of my pickle obsession -- me and friends at Kenny & Zuke's Pickle Throwdown earlier this summer.

Hillsdale Paella Dinner

August 22nd, 2011

Chef Ted Coonfield's paella. He'll be cooking up paella at the Hillsdale Paella Dinner from 6-9pm on Saturday, September 10th.

I love Spanish food. Ever since I worked on an herb farm in Spain in the mid-90s and traveled around the country to and from it for several months it’s had a good hold on my heart. Lucky me, I’m now working on the Toro Bravo Cookbook — I promise I’ll give more details soon. So, when this paella press release landed several weeks ago I knew I had to share it with you. Below you’ll find all the details for this fundraising September paella dinner pretty much straight from the press release…

Hillsdale Main Street, a non-profit dedicated to revitalizing Hillsdale, is hosting the Hillsdale Paella Dinner on Saturday, September 10th from 6-8pm in the Hillsdale business district under a large tent next to Korkage Wine Bar & Shop.

The Hillsdale Paella Dinner claims to be the largest paella dinner in Oregon — the paella pan is more than 5 feet in diameter — and I believe it. The open-to-the-public dinner features tapas, breads, desserts, drinks and, of course, paella by chefs Ted Coonfield, Greg Higgins, and Chris Biard.

Dinner will be served to 300 people under a tent decorated to transport you to Valencia, Spain. Besides the paella itself, entertainment will include flamenco dancing and wine tasting. Tickets are $75/person. Sponsors of the event include Baker & Spice, Food Front Cooperative Grocery and Pacific Natural Foods. Are you going to go?

Hillsdale Paella Dinner
Saturday, September 10th
In the Hillsdale business district under a big tent next to Korkage Wine Shop @
6451 SW Capitol Hwy.
Portland, Oregon 97239
$75 per person (proceeds benefit Hillsdale Main Street and Neighborhood House)
Purchase tickets

Contact the Hillsdale Main Street office for additional info.:
info at hillsdalemainstreet dot org

Yard Fresh Pt. 14

August 15th, 2011

This old stand-up juicer is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. 20 limes for sailboat margaritas!

Even though the garden isn’t exactly fruiting at full potential this summer (not a great spring and early summer, sun-starved seedlings had a rough start) we’re still eating a lot of tasty, fresh, homegrown and friend-and-neighbor grown foods these days.

The berries and greens have been great this year — especially the blueberries — so lots of pies, aguas frescas and salads. Right now the cucumbers and green beans are kicking in so over the weekend our house smelled like a pickle factory — dill, garlic, spices, and vinegar brine. I love the smell of spicy dills cooling in jars on the kitchen counter.

I’m sad that Limbo has closed (very sad, one of my favorite Portland produce shops, not to mention the herbs and spices…) but to fill the gap I’ve been going to Kruger’s Farm Market on Southeast Hawthorne and Cherry Sprout Produce in North Portland a lot lately to supplement our less than usual home fruit and veggies. And then, of course, there are all of the farmers markets which are going strong now.

I hope you’ve been eating lots of great fruit and veggies lately. Any new ones or old favorites you’ve been enjoying?

On the N/A side made this yummy strawberry lime juice with Hood strawberries from the front yard.

Perfectly delicious on their own too...

Seem to always make a lot of migas in the summer. This one with refried beans and cheddar.

Egg sandwich with parm and tapenade with lots of herbs from the yard was delicious.

Vij chicken curry over basmati with a little raita to cool us off.

Eat a lot of ramen at my writing studio because only have a hotpot here. Added sauteed chard and onion to this one. So much better.

Lots of arugula this spring and summer. Salad of it with miso lime dressing and pickled onions over tapenade rice.

Another yummy breakfast with toasted corn tortilla, potatoes and chorizo.

Yard Fresh Pt. 13
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

Portland Growers Alliance

August 8th, 2011

Portland Growers Alliance at the Monday Pioneer Courthouse Square Portland Farmers Market.

A few weeks ago Portlander Lauren Morse contacted me to see if I might put something up about Portland Growers Alliance, a marketing collective for the farmers of Mercy Corps Northwest’s Agriculture Project in conjunction with Grow Portland.

I’m a big fan of this Mercy Corps Northwest project and, in fact, I’ve written about it in the past for the Portland Tribune and on this blog. So, I said, of course, but why don’t you write something and I’ll put it up since I’m clearly not the expert. (Lauren also wrote a more personal blog post about Portland Growers Alliance here if you want to learn more.) Without further ado, here are some thoughts and photos from Lauren Morse, lead marketer for Portland Growers Alliance…

As a consumer, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the abundance of smells and sounds at Portland’s bustling farmers markets? Imagine being a farmer there. Many shoppers do not realize the underlying steps required to orchestrate these markets. Farmers must reserve a stall, arrange transportation to the market, and communicate with customers. For many emerging farmers in the Pacific Northwest these simple steps are an impassable barrier.

The Growers Alliance is a new marketing collective designed to help emerging farmers succeed. It was founded in 2010 as a partnership between Mercy Corps Northwest’s Agriculture Project and Grow Portland.

Mercy Corps Northwest’s Agriculture Project provides refugees, immigrants, and new American growers with the access to land and supplies needed to begin market gardens. Grow Portland teams with Mercy Corps Northwest to provide the trucking and marketing services for growers to sell their produce locally. All growers are welcome to volunteer at markets and CSA pick-ups, but the Growers Alliance relies on its lead American growers to do the bulk of produce marketing.

An increasing number of growers in the Pacific Northwest are immigrants, refugees, or beginning American farmers. Though they make up a necessary component of local agriculture, these growers often lack the English skills, business training, or access to trucking necessary to sell their produce to direct markets. (Direct markets refer to any sales that occur directly between the grower and the consumer.) Selling through direct markets, however, guarantees that growers will get the best price for their product. But what if you lack the English skills to communicate with consumers? Or what if your individual plot is too small to have your own CSA or farmers market stand? This is where the Portland Growers Alliance steps in.

This year the Alliance is composed of Nepalese, Bhutanese, Slavic, Burmese, Somali, and American growers. Though their individual plots are less than an acre each, collectively they are able to sell produce through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, two Portland Farmers Markets (Saturday at PSU and Monday at Pioneer Square), and a few local restaurants. Visit the Growers Alliance
to learn how you can support these growers.

Most important to their marketing efforts is recruiting members for fall CSA shares. Fall shares run for 14 weeks from late August through November. Members can pick up at Mercy Corps Northwest in Old Town/Chinatown or the Warehouse Café in Southeast’s Brooklyn neighborhood. Sign up here! Contact Lauren for more information at lmorse at growportland dot org or 503.858.0216.

Somali growers of Mercy Corps Northwest's Agriculture Program at Westmoreland Garden.

Portland Growers Alliance CSA boxes being filled in Southeast Portland.

Contact Lauren Morse for more information at lmorse at growportland dot org or call 503.858.0216
Visit the Portland Growers Alliance booth at the Pioneer Courthouse Square (Mondays) and Portland State University (Saturdays) Portland Farmers Markets.
Sign up for the fall CSA here

Portland’s Urban Farm Store

August 1st, 2011

Spring chick at Urban Farm Store.

Sometimes stories get cut and sometimes just portions of stories go RIP. A major national story about Portland food that I worked on last year left out Southeast Belmont Street’s Urban Farm Store so I thought I’d finally post something about this sweet little open-since-2009 shop owned by husband-and-wife-duo Hannah and Robert Litt.

Urban Farm Store has a lot going for it. On my last visit I purchase a bale of straw, pantry moth traps and compostable dog waste bags. Yes, it’s a diverse shop where you’ll find everything from animal feed and beekeeping supplies to edible plants for the garden and DIY food and brewing supplies. (And if you don’t have a copy of my book they carry it. Wink, wink.) Anyway, maybe you’ve been and maybe you haven’t — either way here are some photos that sum up this urban homestead shop…

All sorts of bulk feed, fertilizers and mulch to choose from at Urban Farm Store...

This is the largest supply of Urban Cheesecraft kits I've seen in town...

A lot of gardening and DIY books in the front.

Get some tasty local honey!

Urban Farm Store owners Hannah and Robert Litt with their shop kitties.

Urban Farm Store
2100 SE Belmont St.
Portland, Oregon 97214