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

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

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.

Kitchen Kaboodle: Still Need Last Minute Gifts?

December 20th, 2009
Hey Chuck, why don't you slow cook?

Hey Chuck, why don't you slow cook?

I love me some Kitchen Kaboodle. That sounds a little dirty but it’s not. It took me a while to realize that Kitchen Kaboodle is locally owned. I think it’s because it reads like a big chain — large selection, multiple locations in town, online shopping etc. but no sir — Kitchen Kaboodle has been a locally owned, Portland tried and true establishment since 1975.

Despite the fact that they shortened their hours drastically at all locations for a few months Kitchen Kaboodle stores are open holiday hours now through January 3rd — seven days a week. As far as I can see the stores are filled to the brim and in full swing. I was a little worried before the holiday hours to be honest. The slashed hours felt a little last breath to me.

So last week when I purchased my very first slow cooker from them (and then made that bright red chuck above into a lovely pot roast) I was pleased to see both the Northwest and the Northeast locations hopping with local shoppers. There are loads at great gifts at Kitchen Kaboodle in every price range — stocking stuffers, huge honking Cadillac-like kitchen equipment, and everything in between.

Kitchen Kaboodle’s three Portland locations (there’s also a shop in Clackamas as well as in Hillsboro) are fully loaded so you’ll find the same kind of diverse assortment of cookware and dinnerware as at a Sur La Table. A lot of the products—ranging from Le Creuset and All-Clad cookery to kitchen linens, tools and gadgets, and glassware—are displayed throughout the store on tall metal racks. There’s a kitchen knife and table cutlery section, a table setting and flatware section, along with all sorts of gadgets big and small, and even a home furniture section. I love this store for its diversity, friendly service, and competitive prices.

There’s a lot of sale merchandise at the moment too so if you still have some shopping to do head over. And what about the pot roast? It was delicious. The parsnips, carrots, potatoes and onions soaked up all the juices and it was melt in your mouth comfort food. Next up: pulled pork, posole, and congee.

Please support our lovely and local Kitchen Kaboodle!

Kitchen Kaboodle

Holiday hours
1520 NE Broadway St, Portland; 503.288.1500; Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm. 404 NW 23rd Ave, Portland; 503.241.4040; Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-6pm. 8788 SW Hall Blvd, Portland; 503.643.5491; Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-6pm.