Sunday, October 26, 2008

Farm-to-Congregation Project: our CSA

Tonight we celebrated the end of the growing season at a Harvest Potluck with other people who participated in this same project. Grady and I have been enjoying fruits and vegetables through our CSA (Community supported agriculture) since early June. Inferfaith Food & Farms Partnership is an effort of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. Their goal is to "empower faith communities, farmers and neighborhoods to build rural-rban alliances and create innovative partnerships for just and sustainable food systems."

In the Farm-to-Congregation project, some congregations have a farmer who brings produce to sell at the church on Sundays. In others, the partnership is a CSA. My faith community, St. Andrew's Catholic church partnered with a Lutheran church in the same neighborhood and Heather Burns. Heather leased space on Sauvie Island and established Little Frog Farm. Each week, she brought the harvest of that week to a location in northeast Portland and we picked up our share.

It has been a wonderful introduction to being part of a CSA for us. Heather has been very welcoming and great to talk with each week. In addition, I usually ran into other people I knew from St. Andrew's when I went to pick up the share. I even had a chance to chat with a woman from the Lutheran church who had been a reading tutor at my school when I was principal at Vernon. I've had mixed feelings about being a part of this particular farm share since the pick up is not close to our house. But, the connections with other people I know has offset that concern somewhat.

So, for the potluck, I made a vegetarian lasagne. For the sauce, I used tomatoes, garlic and onions from Heather and also some out of our garden, plus basil from our plant. Then I put in swiss chard that came from our garden. The rest was pretty much standard issue lasagne items. We came home with an empty pan even though there was a lot of good food at the potluck.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I voted this morning and this pretty well sums up my decision on the top of the ticket:
My thanks to Steve on More Hockey Less War for providing this best comic relief of the day. He found this on the site of one of our local newspapers, The Willamette Week. If you're really into this kind of thing, you can go there and download a pdf of the image to print.

I have to admit I need a laugh once in a while on the topic of the election. I think I'm spending WAY too much time reading various political blogs and news sites. Aside from the fact that I do actually have other things to do in my life, I'm finding every so often that I am getting that pit-in-the-stomach feeling worrying about it. (That and, oh, maybe the economic situation maybe?) I've neglected my own blog and the other local foodie blogs that I usually enjoy.

But, Grady and I are both done voting. I dropped mine off at the election headquarters this morning - hopefully no more calls, no more mailers, no more folks at the door. Back to local food reading and writing!

(Sorry, Maureen. I don't mean to poke a stick in your eye. I know you like her. But, it's my blog and I get to say what I want. Feel free to comment, though. I won't let anyone beat you up for your views. We've never been shy about airing differing views in our family! Dad would have loved the debating.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

More Fall Favorites and New Ones

Squash, mushrooms, wine and cream - hard to miss with that combination. We had half of a butternut from our farm share last week, so I was looking for a good way to use it. I remember from last fall some squash with stuff on pasta combinations that we enjoyed. I found this on Epicurious: Farfalle with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms and Spinach

As usual, I adapted the recipe to use something we have - in this case, I used swiss chard in place of the spinach. Our little chard plants have just kept chugging along, producing all summer long. Grady says it likes the location and the environment.

If you use Epicurious recipes, you probably know that they have a feature in which previous users can rate the recipes. Many of the ratings of this recipe said it was kind of bland and I would have to say it was a little bit on the bland side. I grated fresh nutmeg and used more than the recipe suggests and I think those steps helped. I might use more pepper or even add some dried red pepper if I make it again.

Then, browsing through my Farm to Table Cookbook, I found a recipe for "Toffee Apple Upside Down Cake" since I had a bunch of apples on hand and was looking for a dessert idea. This is a good news, bad news story. On the not-so-good side was my success in making the caramel toffee layer. I've never been good with anything that involves melting sugar. I seldom make candy because of this challenge. But, this seemed like it would be pretty reasonable to pull off. Unfortunately, my "caramel" layer turned out more like solid plastic - good for scraping my car windows if we get ice. So, I ended up pulling it off the top of the cake. The good news is that it didn't really matter - the cake was delicious without it. Besides, Ivy Manning suggests that this cake can be used as a coffee cake for breakfast as well and that 's probably all the better without the candy on top! I'll definitely make it again with or without the caramel layer. We're going to go up to the Hood River Fruit Loop Tour again next weekend, so we will have a big supply of apples on hand for the next month or so.

This is a great time of year for local eating with so many fruits and vegetables that are new this time of year and still plenty that are fresh and local. And, for those of us with that delayed summer, we're still getting tomatoes along side the squashes and greens and apples and pears.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Celebrating Chili Weather Again

After a hiatus due to a trip to the San Juan Islands, I'm ready to blog again about our local eating efforts. I'll add a post about the trip once I sort through the pictures a second time.

There is nothing like the first cold days of fall to call out for a big pot of chili. And, just as I was contemplating this fact, one of my favorite local eating blogs turned up with a recipe. Laura, at (not so) Urban Hennery, adapted a recipe for sloppy joes from another of my favorite food blogs (Married with Dinner) into a chili. Laura was very happy with her results and, likewise, Grady and I thought my version was one of the best I've made in quite a while. So, I'm giving this version a strong recommendation.

I will note that I made a few modifications - not because I thought they were needed, but rather in response to items I had on hand. I only had about a cup of tomato sauce, so I added some additional tomatoes and cooked it a bit longer. I also added both a red and a yellow bell pepper and, instead of the Anaheim chile, I used a couple of peppers from our garden. One was a jalpeno and I'm not sure what the other was, but it looked like a small poblano. That business of the chiles you use is, of course, one of the big factors in varying the heat level. We like things pretty hot, but not so much that you are wiping your forehead constantly. This combination worked well for us, but the Anaheim might be safer. I'd like to try that another time when I have one on hand.

So, yes, we are still eating locally pretty regularly - even though I haven't been writing it lately. I missed a recent opportunity for an October eat local challenge. But, I will report in as if we were in the challenge group. The beef came from our 1/8 share from Kookoolan Farms . The chorizo was most definitely not local, but was something we have had in the freezer for a while, so I was glad to use it. All the fresh produce, except the bell peppers, were from our garden and our farm share. Beans were local, but purchased at a store at some point.
So, here is the Laura/Anita recipe:

San Francisco Joe’s Chili
makes a big pot adapted from Anita’s San Francisco Sloppy Joes

1.5 pounds bulk Chorizo
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium Anaheim chile, diced, or to taste
1 small bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced (I like red)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tbs chile powder, or to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups fresh tomato, chopped
3-4 cups tomato sauce
1.5 cups pinto beans
1.5 cups kidney beans
1 cup black beans

1. In a dutch oven, or medium pot, brown the chorizo in a bit of oil. Then set it aside, leaving the drippings in the pan.

2. In the same pan, brown the ground beef. Add the chiles, pepper, 2/3s of the onion and garlic when the beef is almost done. Cook several minutes until onions becomes translucent. Then add the chopped tomato, chile powder, oregano and salt.

3. Add the tomato sauce and beans. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for at least 45 minutes.

4. Serve with shredded Monterey Jack cheese, the remaining onion and a touch of sour cream. We had corn bread muffins on the side. Yum!

It does, indeed, make a big pot. We've had it three times so far and have enough left to put some in the freezer for later on. To vary things a bit, we had it with cornbread one night, with tortilla chips another, and then tonight served it over brown rice.