Sunday, June 29, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 4 Report

We've had a few different local meals this week, but my favorite was this evening's dinner. The plan started out when I was in Manzanita and went to the great bookstore there because I'd finished reading the book I'd had with me (The God of Small Things). While I was at the Cloud and Leaf Bookstore, I found a copy of The Farm to Table Cookbook, by Ivy Manning, calling my name. So, I started reading the "Spring" chapter and found a couple of things I thought would go nicely together.
Spicy Minced Pork in Lettuce Bundles (well no lettuce bundles showing here, but this is the pork with all it's seasonings)

Watercress, Snow Pea, and Shiitake Stir-Fry

and Asian Slaw with Peanuts from

And, here is the whole package. Pretty sloppy-looking picutre, but, being at our friends' house, I didn't want to take time to stage photos.

It all went together quite well and we've all had more than our daily ration of fresh ginger today since there was a good amount in all three dishes. The vegetables came from our garden, Cochran's garden and the farmer's market. The pork loin came from Pacific Village portk producers in Oregon via the New Seasons market in our neighborhood. Not local: peanuts, ginger, red pepper and lime juice.

And I'm looking forward to spending more time with Ivy Manning's cookbook.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sand, Yarn and Local Food

Another quick trip to the coast this week for beach-sitting, local eating, and knitting, not to mention 99 (actually got to 100 on Saturday) degree weather-avoiding. I left early Friday afternoon. I was inordinately happy driving to Manzanita - tuna sandwich, bag of fresh cherries and an iced latte for lunch en route, windows down and sun roof open. I was on my own this time. Grady had to stay behind to do his neighborhood civic duty on Saturday morning (innoculating elm trees in Ladd's Addition). And Molly was not invited. With guests coming to use the house Sunday morning, I didn't want to spend any extra time cleaning the house since we had already done a thorough cleaning the last time we left.It was actually HOT at the coast the past couple day - in the 80's. (This is unusual in case you are not familiar with the Oregon coast.) So, it was a great time to sit on the beach and read or nap, and I did plenty of both. On Friday, there was a pretty good breeze, so we had lots of kites and kite surfers. Today, it was completely calm.
Friday evening I went to the farmer's market in Manzanita to get dinner. Wow, talk about crowds! I got there about 20 minutes after it opened and it was already getting crazy. I got my dinner items and scooted on out.
So, I had a nice simple local meal for myself. Broiled ling cod, mixed salad greens with a bit of hothouse tomato, and roasted red fingerling potatoes, plus a sauvignon blanc from our neighbor state to the north.

I first started this blog to write about my experiences with learning to make local foods a regular part of our diet. This was one of the things I wanted to learn about and do in my retirement. Among the other "new tricks" on that retirement "to do" list is learning to knit. It just happened that a brand new yarn store opened up in Manzanita recently and they were offering a one-session introduction to knitting beginner class this morning. So, I signed myself up and drove down to attend. Lou, our incredibly patient teacher, got us started with two ways to cast on and the basic knit stitch. And, "TA DA.....", here is my first effort (well, actually second, but the first one looks pretty much the same, except even more uneven.)
The store is called T-Spot Yarns, Teas, and Chocolate. Doesn't have a website yet. But, if you like any of those three things and find yourself in Manzanita, I would encourage you to stop by and see Olga.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Now It Feels Official

that I am retired. Today was the last of the various retirement festivities - a luncheon put on by our Portland district administrators professional organization. Along with my fellow principal retirees, I was given a plaque and a nice tribute. In my case, the little speech was given by one of the Assistant Superintendents whom I have worked for in three different positions in my career with the district. It was embarrassing, but nice to be acknowledged by my colleagues.

Since I didn't need to go back to work afterwards, I celebrated by taking the time to ride my bike to the athletic club for a workout. For normal people, this wouldn't be any big accomplishment since the gym is only a bit under 2 miles from here and it's a posted bike route most of the way, even though on city streets and crossing the bridge. But, it's the first time I didn't take the car to go the gym, so I feel like it was a step forward for my exercise program.

Why couldn't it have just been a nice day all around instead of coming home to the news that the Supreme Court has made a huge mistake?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bike Toys

Ann, don't read this.

On Sunday, I rode my bike downtown to the Bike Gallery and got their help to install my bike computer. The dirty little secret of this story is that Ann and Gina gave me this computer for Christmas (!) and it's taken me this long to get it installed and working. (That's why I don't want them to read about this.) And, in fact, right at the beginning, Ann suggested I just take it to a bike store and have them install it. But, oh no, we had to do it ourselves. Grady was sure he could install the apparatus on the wheel and I worked on the set up of the computer itself. But, it didn't work. Over time, we had various people, including our son and our almost-son - both avid bicyclists - look at the installation and declare it to be done correctly. But, still no readings on the computer. To make a long story short, over the long stretch of crummy weather, I didn't have a huge interest in riding the bike somewhere to get help and there was always something else to do. Eventually, I called the store that it came from in Seattle to ask if they knew what local Portland bike stores sell the same brand and they suggested the Bike Gallery. And, I finally found a time to call the store here, they were available to help and it was a nice day to ride downtown.

Turns out the computer itself was the problem. When the bike mechanic couldn't get the system working, he started trading out parts and, as soon as he put in a new computer, it worked like a charm. Luckily, they were willing to let me take home the new one on my bike under the assumption that the warranty on my original one would get them a replacement. I had to pay an installation fee, but it was well worth it.

So, I rode around that day for 8.4 miles, just in case you're interested, including the trip back from the store and then an excursion down the Springwater Trail, a path that heads south along the Willamette River. Today I rode down to the People's Coop for their weekly farmer's market - only 1.2 miles. Ok, I promise not to report on the mileage of every bicycle trip I take. It's just that I do love gadgets and this shows distance, speed, time, temperature and a few other things - could probably get stock market quotes if I were interested.

By the way, I bought cabbage, white onions and shiitake mushrooms at the market. The first two are for making a local version of fish tacos tomorrow night.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 3 Report

We've had a few meals that were all, or nearly all, local this week. But, I have no pictures. For the first couple, I wasn't thinking about it since we were eating with friends. And last night, I started out taking pictures during the preparation, but then misplaced my camera! Couldn't find it when I went to take a shot of the finished product. It has to turn up soon - I hope!

Last Sunday, Jennifer and I made a dinner for three of the fathers in our lives. We had:
Salad - lettuce, spinach, carrots and snap peas
Sauteed spinach
Roasted carrots and fingerling potatoes
Grilled stuffed salmon *
Rhubarb crisp

The salmon was wild caught from Bristol Bay, Alaska. Everything else (except the lemon juice) was local - either from one of our gardens, a farmer's market, or Jennifer and Ian's CSA farm. Even though I couldn't get salmon from the Oregon coast, I decided to go ahead and make the stuffed salmon for Father's day because it is one of Grady's favorites. The recipe came from his Mom many years ago (but I don't know where she got it.)

Last night I made whole wheat fettucine from scratch and topped it with a mushroom sauce. I sauteed the Oregon shiitakes, added garlic, green onions, rainbow chard, chives, white wine and cream. The chard and chives came from our garden, wine and cream from New Seasons, everything else was purchased at the farmer's market. Salad accompanying the pasta also was fresh from the back yard.

We also had a local breakfast while out at the coast mid-week, using Melinda's recipe for yogurt pancakes, topped with strawberries. (See last post).

* Barbecued Stuffed Fish (serves 12)

Wash fish quickly in cold water, pat dry. Rub cavity with salt & pepper, stuff with garden veg stuffing. Close opening with skewers and lace. Brush with salad oil. Place in wire basket on grill 4 in. from medium coals. Cook 45 min. until fish flakes easily with fork, turning 3 times and basting with mixture of 1/2 c melted butter & 1/4 c lemon juice.

Garden vegetable stuffing
(enough for 10# fish--salmon, cod, snapper, lake trout)

1 c finely chopped onion
1/2 c cut parsley
1/4 c butter
1 1/2 T lemon juice
1 clove garlic crushed
1 c mushrooms cut up
2 c dry bread crumbs
1 egg
1 c shredded carrot
1/4 tsp ea marjoram and pepper
2 tsp salt

Cook the onion in butter until tender. Lightly mix in remaining ingredients. If there is extra stuffing, place in aluminum foil pan, cover, heat on grill for 20 minutes.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Strawberry Day

On our way down to Manzanita on Wednesday afternoon, we stopped to buy some strawberries from a farm in Canby. And, then, when Jeff drove down a little while later, he bought some as well - a whole flat. Plus, I'd brought from home a pint that I'd gotten at the farmer's market. We were knee deep in local strawberries. And no one was complaining. So, Thursday was a full-on strawberry day.

sliced strawberries on the yogurt pancakes I'd made ( many thanks to Melinda at 'Elements in Time' for this great way to start the day. This link to her blog has the recipe and photos.)
a little sliced bread with cheese and whole strawberries on the side
grilled steak with leftovers from Father's day and another party, followed by strawberry shortcake that Jeff made for us - using the traditional recipe in my old copy of Joy of Cooking that I keep down at the beach.

Proud to say we're doing our best this week to support a couple of the local strawberry farms in our area.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Note to self: get a life

It's a darn good thing that I am pretty sure my kids do not read my blog. If they did, I imagine it would reinforce their opinion that I need to "get a life". But, since they do have lives and better things to do, I think it's safe for me to write about exciting experiences such as reorganizing the food storage container drawer. Along with the more entertaining things I've done since retiring, I am also trying to occasionally address some of those not-so-fun things on the "to do" list. So, one of those was to deal with the frustrating experience of rooting around in the tupperware drawer looking for a box and a lid that match for storing leftovers.

When I got everything out onto the counter island, this is what I found:

Keeping in mind, this does not count things currently in use in the fridge or freezer. Seems like a bit much, wouldn't you say? There are only two of us who live her now. How much food could we possibly store?! My theory is that there is hanky panky going on in that drawer when we're not around and they are reproducing. I know I have never purchased that many containers. And, then, of course, after matching up all the boxes with lids that fit, these were left over:

Have no idea where are the containers that once went with these, but it does not seem necessary to continue harboring these orphans in the over-full drawer.

So, next step is to figure out which to keep and what to do with the ones we don't keep. To some extent, this project was motivated by the fact that we got a new freezer, that raspberries should be arriving soon and, in general, I want to do more long term storage of foods that are available in the summer and fall in order to keep us eating locally for more of the year.

I'm guessing that I will no longer be able to give my sister a bad time when she writes about racoons, toilets or her toes on her blog. Darn.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 2 Report

Our dinner this evening:
Black Cod (troll caught in Columbia River): Hollywood Farm Market
(grilled after marinating in olive oil, garden cilantro, salt and pepper)
Salad: cilantro and 3 kinds of lettuce from our garden, carrots and onions from Sweet Leaf Farm, Rogue Creamery blue cheese (OK, Central Point, Oregon is quite a bit more than 100 miles from here, so technically, not local as in 100 mile radius, but it's in the same state after all and darn good blue cheese)
Red Potatoes with Wilted Greens: potatoes and garlic from Sweet Leaf Farm, rainbow chard and chives from our garden
"Peace Bomb" bread by Dave's Killer Bread at Portland State Farmer's Market

Otherwise, it has been a week of eating elsewhere (Sun, Wed, Thurs, Fri) - still the season of retirement parties, dinners before seeing a play, and visits from out of town friends.

Hooray, the sun has FINALLY returned to the northwest and we feel like we are actually getting some summer here in Portland. I enjoyed a nice bike ride to the downtown Farmer's market today only to find that half the population of Portland also thought it was a terrific time to go to the market. All I could think of, as I elbowed my way through the crowds, was that farmer's markets were one of the early items in the list of "Stuff White People Like".

Meanwhile, still no evidence that the raspberries or loganberries are even close. :(
But, we're ready - our new freezer has been delivered and is ready to go!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"June-uary" = CSA delay

Juneuary - the TV station weather people are very fond of this term that one of them came up with. But, I have to admit I laughed the first time I heard it because it pretty well describes what's been going on here in the lovely Pacific Northwest. We had been due to have our first CSA pickup on June 18, but, as the weather has dragged on in this cool mode, I was guessing we'd hear that there would be a delay. And, that email came yesterday. Heather, at Little Frog Farm, gave us this update: "the unusually cool and wet weather during much of May and so far June has meant that veggies are growing very slowly in the open farm field. Since I don’t have the green houses or hoop houses that other larger farms may have, we’ll just have to wait for the sun to make an appearance and do its good work. "

So, in the meantime, we are enjoying the greens from our garden and the veggies, fish, cheese, etc. that we can get at the various farmer's markets that are close to us.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 1 Report

It's time for the first week's report on our efforts in the "One Local Summer" challenge. And the story here on Ladd Avenue is lettuce, lettuce, lettuce, rainbow chard, various herbs, and - did I mention lettuce?! We have had some beautiful salads from our garden the past couple of weeks. If you're not from Portland, you wouldn't know that it has been Rose Festival for the past two weeks here. And, one guarantee with Rose Festival is crummy weather - well, crummy for me, at least. Really, I don't know why they always hold it at this time, but it is entrenched in tradition, so there it is. (presumably good for the roses) So, the good news is that our backyard lettuce and the chard love Rose Festival weather - cool and rainy.

But the raspberries are not so much loving it. Usually during the last week or so of school, I would be able to bring in a bowl of raspberries. But, this is what the raspberries look like at this point:
And the loganberries are not much closer:

But, we've had one fully local meal and a couple of "almost" dinners. The first, and my favorite, was actually a brunch where I made a scramble with local eggs, Willamette Valley farmstead cheddar, Oregon crimini mushrooms, troll-caught salmon from the coast, yellow fin potatoes ( the salmon and potatoes leftover from our trip to the coast). Also this week, we had chicken enchiladas one evening, where everything was locally grown or made except for the enchilada sauce which I had to buy ready-made because of shortage of time. And another evening we had a grilled steak (Country Natural Beef, Brothers Oregon) and polenta with roasted vegetables. I don't have a local source (that I know of yet) for polenta, but the vegetables were all from the farmer's market.

And, beyond that, it was a lot of eating elsewhere. It's the season for graduation and retirement parties and one 60th birthday celebration. We'll have more of that in the next couple weeks. But, I did bring home some nice things from one of the farmer's markets yesterday to complement our continuing crop of greens for our meals at home.