Thursday, August 28, 2008

Curly Kale and Potato Soup

Last week's CSA share brought a nice looking bunch of Red Russian kale. So, I turned to my Alice Waters, Art of Simple Food for ideas and found her recipe for "Curly Kale and Potato Soup". I don't know the difference between curly and Red Russian - but the Red Russian was, in fact, kind of curly so I figured that was good enough for me. The recipe calls for Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold potatoes. I used some Yukon golds and some of the Red Nordland that Heather has been bringing in the farm share. I used onions from the farmer's market and the CSA. And, then we'd also gotten garlic yesterday from Heather's harvest. I did have to use store-bought chicken broth because we didn't have any on hand, but it is made here in our area. And I did add one of the optional variations - a half pound of spicy chicken sausage, made at our market. We thought it might have been a little bland without the spicy sausage, but next time I would try it with some dried red peppers to accomplish the same thing.

Simple, as promised by the title of the cookbook, but very nice.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

She Did What She Needed to Do...

... and did it well.

Hillary's speech at the convention tonight brought me right back to the tears I felt when she officially dropped out of the race. I voted for Barack Obama in the primary and I have volunteered at his office since then. But, as a woman close to her age, who has dealt with some overt discrimination because of my gender, the primary race has been a huge bag of mixed feelings for me. So, it was hard to watch and, at the same time, I admired her for putting her own personal feelings aside and doing what needed to be done. I just hope she convinced those supporters of her who have been threatening to throw their votes away.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 12

Even with my limited picture-taking ability, aren't those just beautiful?! More basil from our plants in the pot, but now we also FINALLY have some tomatoes ready to go. So far, only the cherry tomatoes are ripe, but the others are working on it. So, at least a couple of our local meals this week involved pesto and tomatoes.

My cousin, Carol, from Virginia and her friend were in town visiting this week. Since it was her first trip to the Pacific Northwest, I thought we needed to show them what we can do with local foods in Portland. I made pasta with pesto, Italian chicken sauage and cherry tomatoes plus a green salad. Later in the week, I made another batch of it to take to a potluck party.
pesto - basil from our garden (parmesan, pine nuts, and olive oil not local)
Chicken Italian sausage - made at New Seasons
Cherry tomatoes - backyard
Lettuce - backyard and CSA
Tomatoes - backyard
Scallions, red onion and carrots- CSA
pasta - bought in bulk at New Seasons, but I don't know its origin

Meanwhile, back in the garden - in addition to the arrival of the tomatoes, here are a couple of other recent appearances:

on our espaliered pear tree

and peppers

And, in the preservation department, today, I froze some green beans from our CSA and a bunch of rhubarb brought to us by a friend.

To Market, To Market...

but not to buy a fat pig. Instead: plums, peaches, corn, lettuce, garlic and a pickle! I haven't been down to the farmer's market at PSU in a while. We've been getting most of our vegetables through the farm share or at the nearby Eastbank farm market lately. But, having gotten my bike looked over yesterday, I was in the mood for riding to the market this morning. There is a new stand - Pickleopolis (aka "Kingdom of the Brine") where they sell pickled cucumbers, beans, beets and some kraut. The pickle I brought home for lunch was really good - lots of garlic, very crisp. And, seeing my bike helmet, the woman very nicely packaged it in a second bag for me so it would survive the trip without getting pickle juice all over my fruit.

On the way home, I stopped at Clever Cycles and bought myself a present - a small basket to put on the front handlebars. I've been looking at them in various places for a while and found a nice simple one there. It has 2 hooks which just hang over the handlebar - very easy to put on and take off, has a handle if I want to take it off to carry around. There are some things that I don't really want to put in the panniers, but which should survive a trip in the basket more safely. For example, this morning at the farmer's market, I was looking at pints of berries and some flowers, but passed on both because of not having a good way to carry them.

So, with a little tuning up and a new basket, I'm good to go - trying to ride without worrying about falling again. My arm and leg are mostly healed, so it seems like I should be able to get over the rest of it. At 58, I don't seem to bounce back as quickly as I did in my days of bike-riding around Menominee, Escanaba and East Lansing. Duh.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 11

On Friday, I took a cooking class with three friends at the In Good Taste Cooking School in Northwest Portland. This is the second one that a couple of us have taken and it is a great way to learn some new things and have a lovely dinner. This class was called "Dog Days Dinner Party" - a menu you can prepare in the cool part of the morning and then serve on a hot summer evening. Little did they know, when the class was planned in April, that August 15 would turn out to, in fact, be a true dog day in Portland. Seeing Ken's comment to this post, I'm adding an quick edit. It reminded me that I had forgotten to put in the name of the instructor for this class - Ken Hoyt. With a demonstration class, the instructor's ability to carry on an entertaining conversation can make a big difference in the enjoyment of the class and we really did have a good time. Thanks, Ken.

One thing on the menu was "Summer Corn Salad". So, for tonight's dinner, I tried it out.
The salad is made with:
tomatoes (Denison Farms in Corvallis)
corn (from Washington)
red onion and bell pepper (our CSA)
avocado (not local)
cilantro (California, unfortunately, since my plant is dead)
pine nuts and jalapeno pepper (can't remember where they came from)
and dressed with olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper

We had it with quesadillas made with local whole wheat tortillas, Tillamook pepper jack cheese, the same tomatoes, jalapeno and cilantro that I used in the salad. Turned out to be a nice summer dinner.

Our heat wave seems to have come to an end - for which we are all pretty much thankful, including Molly. Looks like we'll even have a little rain this week which should make the garden plants happy.

Dog Days in Portland

When we have three days in a row of 100+ temperatures, and you have a fur coat you can't hang up in the closet, you need some help. Molly seemed to appreciate having her own personal fan.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Have Not Fallen Off the Planet

Wow, it really has been a long time since I've added a new post to the blog! My list of excuses is long, but maybe not entirely honest. I have been busy, but I can't say that I have had no time on the computer during this busy period. But, I just haven't felt motivated with all the other things going on.

The "busy" stuff included a week at the beach and then a house full of people for four days, including a big party at our house. The visitors here were related to a celebration we held on Sunday to honor Grady's Mom who died in May. It was a lovely afternoon of remembering, telling stories and just good conversation. I know that Anne would have appreciated it, so I think it was well worth the effort.

Meanwhile, we actually have had lots of local food eating with all the garden and farm share options, but I didn't even turn in a weekly report for the One Local Summer Challenge. By way of example, recently, I made a pizza with swiss chard, mushrooms and an Italian sausage along with a fruit salad.
Swiss chard – CSA
Oregon Mushrooms and Italian sausage – Local
Fruit salad – Oregon cantalope, honeydew & blueberries Washington cherries (Wa)

And just to update another recent blog topic, my beat up arm and leg from the bicycle fall are healing pretty well. The bruising is almost gone, scrapes and scabs on the mend. The only thing I'm a little concerned about is that the swelling in my arm doesn't seem to be improving much. But, the doc did say that could take a while.

So, there's a brief check in. I hope to get back into some regular reporting in on our garden and local eating efforts as I get back into normal routines.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 8

Wow, when I think back to the "Dark Days Eat Local Challenge" and the degree of difficulty factor in finding local vegetables back in December, January, February. And, then compare to the options now, it is amazing! The offerings at the farmer's markets, of which there are many in Portland, our CSA share, and our little backyard garden make it easy to eat local. In fact, the difficulty now is in choosing and in keeping up with the garden and farm share.

So, we've been having mostly local meals except for when we want to just try something else or are eating elsewhere. One of our best local meals from this week is the one in the picture above.
Grilled Pork Country Boneless Ribs - Sweet Briar Farms in Eugene
Marinted with Huckleberry Pear grilling sauce - Apple Valley Farm Country Store, near Hood River
Russian Banana fingerling potatoes, garlic and WallaWalla scallions - all from our CSA
Salad -garden and CSA lettuce, local blueberries, radishes and snow peas from the CSA share

That Huckleberry Pear grilling sauce is to die for. When we make our next trip up to the "Fruit Loop", I will want to get another jar.

Meanwhile, we've switched over a few things in the garden. Took out a couple of the lettuce plants that had bolted while we were in B.C., cleaned things up and put in some more chard and some new lettuce plants. The peppers and tomatoes are making progress, but still have a ways to go.

The basil, on the other hand, has gone to town. I pulled off enough from it at the stage it is in here to make 3 batches of pesto and still have plenty for everyday cooking.