Saturday, May 31, 2008

"One Local Summer" Begins

It's time for another eat local challenge. Regardless of whether anyone reads my blog, I found that participating in the challenge and needing to write about our efforts was a motivator to keep me thinking and planning ways to create more of our meals from local sources. So, now, it is the "One Local Summer" challenged organized by the writers on "Farm to Philly". There are 138 participants. 30 states in the U.S. are represented, plus there are a few Canadians participating this year as well as several people from France and the UK.

Here is the deal that the 138 of us signed on for:
The challenge - prepare one meal each week using only locally grown ingredients - the exceptions are oil, salt and pepper, and spices. The challenge will begin on Sunday, June 1 and run until Sunday, August 31.

I started off with a very tasty, mostly local brunch today. A scramble with eggs, leftover salmon (troll-caught Pacific from our trip to the coast last weekend), yellow fin potatoes from the Astoria farmer's market, Oregon crimini mushrooms, and Willamette Valley Cheese Co. farmstead cheddar. I did also throw in a few non-local grape tomatoes. A delicious start to the challenge. Tonight, we're eating out as we usually do with our friends just before seeing a play at Portland Center Stage. I think the restaurant we are trying out tonight does make at least some effort to use local ingredients, so I'll check that out and report on it later.

And, just to show off, I"ll finish up with a view of spring in our front yard. It's rhododendron and azalea season here and these guys are in full bloom.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Local Eating on the Coast

Boy, did we have some great meals over Memorial Day weekend while we were at the coast. On Sunday, we drove up to Astoria to go to the farmer's market. We brought home lettuce, asparagus, and yellow fin potatoes. On the way back to Manzanita, Ardie spotted a sign for fresh seafood. Following the signs down a back road, we came to Joe's Seafood Market and Smokehouse. We chose some fillets of fresh troll-caught Pacific salmon. Grady cooked the salmon on the charcoal grill, we roasted the potatoes, steamed the asparagus and made a salad with the greens. And I'm sure it wasn't just the influence of the champagne and pinot noir when we all declared the salmon to the best we'd had in a long time. So moist and delicious.

As good as it was, we didn't finish all the salmon. So, Monday morning Karla made omlettes for us with the leftover salmon, chunks of the potatoes, mushrooms, and a Willamette Valley farmstead cheddar. Plus, I had made a compote with the local rhubarb I had gotten the previous week at one of our Portland markets.

Earlier in the weekend, we'd had a salad with lettuce from our garden and some other local greens that Karla brought for a dinner. Grady and I had stopped at the new pie shop in Manzanita and brought home a marionberry pie for dessert. It was as tasty as it was pretty:
And, just so you don't think that all we did was eat, here are a few pictures from some of our other sight-seeing in Astoria. These next two are the famous Astoria column. It was built on the highest hill in the town and is about 125 feet tall with scenes from the Lewis and Clark expedition all around it. The artist used a technique called 'sgraffito' - a combination of painting and engraving in plaster. Here are Ardie and Grady in front of it - in the short view and the longer view:
Looks kind of like the leaning tower of Astoria here:
The bridge that crosses the Columbia River from Astoria to Washington:

So, there you have it - my latest report on local foods, a new vocabulary word for the day, and some goofy pictures of a phallic-looking landmark on the Oregon coast.

Friday, May 23, 2008

About as Local as it Gets

Some lettuce varieties from our back yard

I started this blog last fall when I signed up for the Dark Days Eat Local Challenge and needed to have a venue for writing about our experiences. Looking lately, you might think I had given up on the local eating. But, not so - although, there was a period there during which is was getting pretty difficult to find some items grown within our 200 mile radius. But, of late, we have actually been doing quite well thanks to the opening of some of the farmer's markets and the beginning offerings from our garden. I just haven't been writing much about it lately. I have signed up for another eat local challenge for the summer that begins on June 1, so I've taken a bit of a break from the reporting on our local meals until then.

Here is some of what we've been eating from our back yard lately:
Some different kinds of lettuce, rainbow chard, and cilantro

the pak choi has gone to flower, but has provided quite a few meals and still has a fair amount left

These will be planted next

And our first CSA share is due to be ready in a couple of weeks. So, more on this topic beginning June 1.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Me and about 75,000 of my best friends

hung out today at Waterfront Park, next to the Willamette River to hear Barack Obama speak. This picture from a TV news site pretty much shows the view that I had - from the northside of the Hawthorne Bridge. Actually had a pretty good view of him, but it was hard to hear him from this angle.
I rode my bike down about 12:30, which is the time they were due to open the gates. As soon as I rode out of our alley, I began to see people walking and riding bikes in the same direction - more and more as I got closer to the river. When I got downtown, I gave a brief effort to looking for Jennifer and Ian and the boys, but soon realized it was extremely unlikely I would find them. And also very unlikely I was going to be willing to get in the line that led to the bowl where the rally was held. At that point (2 hours before he was due to speak), the line was already a good 12 blocks away, 4-6 people wide, and, since I didn't go to the end of it, it could have been longer than that. Instead, I went down to a spot just north of the bridge (the rally was on the south side) and parked myself in a shady spot until he started speaking. At that point, I walked up onto the bridge and lucked into a spot along the sidewalk from which I could see quite well. We were looking at his back, of course, but he actually turned around a number of times.

These are my buddies on the bridge (among the 15,000 estimated to be outside the actual rally area).

One of the most challenging things, after giving up on finding my friends, was finding a place to lock up my bicycle. I have no idea how many people rode bikes to this event, but there were bikes locked up everywhere- to trees, benches, railings.

Finally, after walking about three blocks the other direction, I found a spot on the railing next to the river.
Here's my trust Novarra.

I'm not sure why I'm adding in this picture, but I just kind of like it. Taken from down on Waterfront Park looking up to the Hawthorne Bridge as people were gathering up there to see Senator Obama.

By the way, all this excitement has a lot to do with the fact that, for the first time in about 40 years, the presidential nomination has not been already decided before our primary race on May 20. For a musical explanation, see Ian's Portland Songs blog.

Friday, May 16, 2008


I made a rhubarb cake today with some rhubarb from last week's trip to the farmer's market. As I was working on it, I was thinking how much my mother-in-law would enjoy a piece when I take it over to her. We'd have some french press coffee and a little cake. Grady and I have been keeping dessert-making to a minimum lately as we try to improve our overall eating habits. But, whenever I do make something, we usually take some over to Grady's mom - unless it has nuts, which she hasn't been able to eat for quite a while.
And then I remembered.

We lost Anne last week. Grady and I were blessed to have been with her when she passed away on the morning of May 5. So she was not alone and we were able to be reassured that it was a peaceful transition for her. She had been prepared for this for some time, but we operated under the assumption that she would make it to 100. Instead, the 95th birthday party we had been planning for this summer will become a celebration of her life.

I have been stalling, to some extent, on writing about Anne's passing. In part, I just don't feel I have the gift of language to do her life justice. I also had hoped to find some other pictures to include. Like my sister, Ann, the only digital pictures I have of Anne Miller are from the last couple of years - and mostly at Christmas.

Although her mobility had become very limited due to her long battle with osteoporosis, her mind was still quite clear and active. She was playing cribbage with Grady on his almost daily visits right up to the end. And scrabble was the game of choice when Ardie was in town.

We all miss her, but we are also happy for her that she died the way she had always hoped she would. Anne was a woman of deep faith, dignity, and class - not to mention a master gardener and an avid reader. We have all been fortunate to have her in our lives for such a good long time.

And, now I guess Grady and I have to find someone else to join us for rhubarb cake.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

"Vote For One"

Yikes, now I am going to finally have to decide (or at least within the next two weeks). My ballot for the May 20 Oregon Primary arrived yesterday. We actually have quite a few interesting local races with real choices among good candidates. But, the big question for me that I have not yet resolved is which I will check in this part of the ballot:
United States President
Four year term
Vote For One
Hillary Clinton
Barack Obama

It's not that I haven't given it quite a bit of consideration, but rather that I continue to see different strengths for each candidate. I know this is dangerous to ask, but I am still interested in hearing reasons for voting for choosing either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama if any of my minions of blog readers(!) want to give me advice in a comment. I am not a superdelegate, or any other kind of delegate, so this is just for one vote in the primary election. But, feel free to send cash or other items of value to enhance your recommendation if you feel strongly.

Meanwhile, the daily "input" keeps arriving- either in the mail or at the door. This is just from this past week's recycling box. (24 separate pieces) And, as I said, we have a little over 2 weeks to go. It might be worth noting that many of these candidates tout their commitment to sustainability.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Opening of the Hollywood Farmer's Market

Brought home from the farm market today:
blue cheese from Oregon Gourmet Cheeses in Albany, OR
from Sweet Leaf Farm
  • rhubarb - already made into a compote
  • Spanish onions
  • new carrots
pork country ribs from Sweet Briar Farms in Eugene
a panini baked by Delphina's
Hillary Clinton flier*

*Mrs. Clinton's flier is sitting on my desk along with Mr. Obama's sign acquired the previous day while working at the Democratic party headquarters.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Yes, Still Working at the Locavore Thing

I just haven't written much about it for a while. I guess I was taking a break after the end of the Dark Days Eat Local Challenge. I am still working on using as much local food as I can without worrying about any particular rules of the game.

So, here are a few examples from this past week. I had some cooked chicken to use up so I looked through my recipe collection and pulled out the directions for "Chez Jose Lime Chicken Enchiladas". A few years ago the newspaper published this recipe courtesy of the chef at Chez Jose, a restaurant we used to go to pretty regularly. Grated peel and juice from limes are combined with sour cream, half and half and cayenne. This combo is spread on the tortillas that have been filled with cubes of chicken and then topped with shredded cheese and baked. Local items I used included the chicken, chicken broth, corn tortillas, sour cream and the topping was Wilamette Valley Cheese Co. farmstead jalapeno jack. I also made a few modifications to reduce the fat content - 2% milk for the half and half, nonfat sour cream, and a low fat cheese for half of the cheese topping.

Tonight I returned to The Art of Simple Food for "Fusilli with Greens and Sausage". Local foods in this were a puttanesca chicken sausage (made by New Seasons from local pork) and greens and scallions from the PSU farmer's market. I also added some Oregon shitake mushrooms which were not part of the original recipe. I had a couple of photos from the dinner preparations, but now I can't find the cord that connects my camera to the computer.

I am also excited to say that we ate a few things from our pots in the back yard this week. We had some red chard and some lettuce with a local steak a couple days ago.

Ah, just found the camera cord.

The lime chicken enchiladas

Preparing the Fusilli with Greens and Sausage

This is the puttanesca sausage.