Tuesday, September 1, 2009

End of One Local Summer Challenge

Well, Becke said last week she was hoping we'd go out with a bang since this has been the last week of the One Local Summer Challenge. And I'm going to have to let her down. No big production this week - just a lot of good local produce and simple meals. We had a quiche with local eggs, mushrooms from the farmer's market and cherry tomatoes from our yard. One night we had a beautiful fruit salad - all from our CSA and other stands at the farm market. Tomatoes on sandwiches, tomatoes in salads, tomatoes in gratin and sometimes... just plain sliced tomatoes. Big red ones, dark colored Black Russians in large and small sizes, pear-shaped little reds. And they are cooperatively getting ripe in the garden a few at a time. So we eat a few one day, by the next evening more are ripe.

Last night was one of our simple, but all local and very delicious dinners. Aileen and one of her college buddies joined us. We each had an ear of corn (from the farmer's market) with a very lovely gratin made with zucchini and tomatoes (both from the garden). Then, having had a fairly light dinner, we enjoyed a raspberry (backyard frozen earlier) and peach (farm market) crisp. Aileen happened to have brought a pint of "Ginger Dream" ice cream made by one of her neighbors last week which went extremely well with the crisp.

The recipe for this gratin was in "the Oregonian" last week. Needless to say - a recipe using summer squash and tomatoes, both making big appearances in our garden - I cut it out immediately. Here's a link to the recipe and a photo:
Zucchini and Summer Squash Gratin with Parmesan and Fresh Thyme

The picture was taken shortly after I started cooking it. And, then, when it was done, I forgot to take an "after" picture. But, this gives an idea of what it looked like.

So, local eating will continue here since we are now in the season where the choices are plentiful and will be for a while into the early fall. But the crushing pressure of producing a report every week will be lifted. Whew!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

One Local Summer

I went looking for something new and different to do with sole this evening and found something on Epicurious that included a few other things I wanted to use and was written by Jamie Oliver, a favorite of Jeff's. I varied the recipe quite a bit and, fortunately, it still turned out to be wonderful. The green beans were steamed just plain and the potatoes were roasted.

So, here is the rundown on this meal for my One Local Summer report:
tomatoes, swiss chard, basil - our garden
other tomatoes, green beans, new potatoes, garlic - our CSA and the farmer's market
dover sole - caught in Oregon
white wine - not local

Here's the recipe from Epicurious. I'll describe my variations at the end.

Pan-Baked Lemon Sole with Spinach, Olives, and Tomatoes by Jamie Oliver

Adapted from Happy Days with the Naked Chef

  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Chardonnay or other dry white wine
  • 1 (28- or 32-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup brine-cured black olives (3 oz), pitted
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 flat anchovy fillet
  • 4 (7-oz) lemon sole fillets
  • 5 oz baby spinach

Make sauce:
Cook garlic in 2 tablespoons oil in a 2-quart flameproof gratin dish over moderate heat (on stovetop), stirring until softened (but with no change in color), 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, breaking them up with a spoon, and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Add sea salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

Prepare fish while sauce simmers:
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Pulse olives, basil, and anchovy to a coarse paste in a food processor (or finely chop with a knife). Add 2 tablespoons oil and pulse to combine.

Lay fish fillets, skinned sides down, on a work surface and season with pepper. Divide olive paste among fillets and spread evenly. Beginning at narrow end, roll up each fillet.

Bake fish:
Arrange fish rolls, seam sides down, on tomato sauce in gratin dish. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil and bake, uncovered, in middle of oven, until fish is just cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Transfer fish to 4 heated plates. Heat tomato sauce in gratin dish over moderate heat (on stovetop), then add spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 1 minute. Spoon sauce with spinach alongside fish.

My variations:

I had about 1/4 the amount of fish, but made 1/2 the amount of the sauce and was glad I did - would have been happy to have even more of the sauce. And these were dover sole - have to admit I don't know anything about lemon sole.

Used fresh tomatoes instead of canned, added a little extra water and a little extra wine.

Don't like olives and didn't have an anchovy fillet. So, the sole was wrapped up only with chopped basil with a tiny bit of olive oil.

We had a lot of chard in the garden, so I used that in place of the spinach - chopped it up to be about the same size as baby spinach leaves.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Roasted Ratatouille - One Local Summer

It being zucchini season, among other things, we are in that perennial hunt for "what is one more way we can use zucchini?" One of my favorites is ratatouille and we'd had it a couple weeks ago. But, I had found a slight variation in the Moosewood "Simple Suppers" cookbook recently. They suggest roasting the vegetables instead of cooking them on the stovetop. So, that's what I tried Sunday evening. It's the usual assortment of late summer vegetables, with some olive oil and salt and pepper - but roasted in the oven for close to an hour at 450. When serving, a bit of chopped fresh basil is added. It was delicious, sweet and rich tasting as is often the case with roasted vegetables. We had the ratatouille with a small London Broil steak cooked on the grill and a piece of wheat nut bread, with whole wheat, walnut chunks, flax and millet - from New Seasons' bakery.

zucchini, tomatoes, basil - our garden
eggplant, peppers, onions - Deep Roots Farm, our CSA
steak - New Seasons Pacific Village beef

The ratatouille - Before....

during.... (stir periodically during the roasting)

and after

Friday, July 31, 2009

First Tomatoes out of the Garden - OLS Week 9

Hot, hot, hot here in Portland. Whew, we're just not used to this. We generally wilt when it gets to 100, never mind 106! I've never been good in the heat and that certainly hasn't changed. So, cooking meals is just not an option. What is an option is eating out at restaurants with AC and eating simple meals that can be prepared with chopping and assembling. On our worst three days this past week, we had two salads here and one at one of those restaurants.

The best was last night's caprese salad. I have to say it was nothing unique or unusual. But, all I need to say is that the tomatoes came right out of the garden and onto the plate. It just doesn't get much better than that. They were still warm from the sunshine and so delicious. With the salad, we had bread with pesto. I did actually heat up the broiler and put in the pesto bread with a little cheese for a few minutes. All done quickly enough not to heat up the kitchen.

So, here's the local food rundown:
tomatoes - first of the season from our garden
mozzarella - have to admit I don't remember where it came from
basil - also fresh out of the backyard
olive oil - brought from Italy by our friends the Dawsons
white balsamic vinegar - I got it in San Francisco on our last trip
ciabatta bread - from the bakery down the street, Grand Central
pesto - made last week using our garden basil
cheese - Tillamook white cheddar

And, lastly, because Patty requested more puppy photos, here's one of Lucy. She's growing like crazy. Still pretty shy, but making slow progress on that front.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fresh Crab and Zucchini from the Garden - OLS Week 8

We are escaping a small portion of the heat wave in Portland by spending a few days at the coast. Alas, we have to return on Tuesday morning and I believe that Tuesday and Wednesday are predicted to be the worst days - somewhere in the vicinity of 102 degrees. But, at least we will have missed the high 90's days leading up to that. It's lovely here in Manzanita.

I headed to the Little Apple grocery store to look for some fish for dinner. They're pretty good about getting in a variety of whatever is in seasons and caught nearby. There was a sign on the door that said: "Crab Today". No further persuasion needed for me - we both love fresh crab. This was caught near Astoria and I brought home one nice sized crab for us to share. I basically did nothing other than clean it and melt some butter, an obvious additional benefit to eating crab - no cooking!

Ordinarily, we have a green salad and some sourdough bread with fresh crab. But, for this dinner, I did something different because of what we have and what was available. Our lettuce didn't fare so well with our three weeks away. So, Grady pulled up most of what was left and planted new starts. While we're waiting for those to be ready for harvesting, the zucchini in our garden has gotten itself ready. So, I had brought down a yellow zucchini when we came to the beach. Recently, we've sauteed and grilled it, so I decided to make a stuffed zucchini tonight. I carved out the center of each half of the squash. I sauteed the zucchini that was cut out, some mushrooms, part of a carrot and some green onions in butter and white wine. Then I added crumbs of some Grand Central Bakery bread and a little shredded white cheddar cheese. Put all this back into the carved out zucchini and baked them for about half an hour at 350 degrees. There was a fair amount of extra stuffing, which I baked at the same time.

Before baking....

...and after

I looked for some herbs to add to the stuffing, but couldn't find anything that seemed appropriate in spite of this selection:

Since we loan out the house to other friends and family, we end up with a random accumulation of spices and herbs - not necessarily what I need at any given moment. But, it's always a challenge to see if I can use up any of this stuff!

So, here's the local wrap up for this meal:
Crab - caught near Astoria miles north up the coast
Zucchini - our garden
Green onions and carrot - Deep Roots Farm, our CSA
mushrooms - probably not at all local (but I really wanted mushrooms in this stuffing)
cheese - Tillamook Aged White Cheddar (Tillamook is about 30 miles south of here)
bread crumbs - Grand Central Bakery bread brought from Portland
Sauvignon Blanc- from New Zealand (could probably have found something that was made closer, but we had this on hand in the cupboard here)

PS: In reading one of the comments about this meal, I realized that I was a bit careless in the use of the term "fresh". In fact, most of the time when we buy crab at a fish market or grocery store, at least around here, the crabs have been previously cooked - usually steamed or boiled. So, in fact, they are cooked when we get them. But, I think of them as fresh because they came in that day from where they'd been caught and because I don't have to cook them myself.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Eatling Local in Bergen, Norway

"Pingvinen", the restaurant Aileen originally chose for her 30th birthday dinner ( by reading about it in a guide)- not knowing that pingvinen is Norwegian for penguin*. We had to come back a different day because they were full up on June 17. But, she chose it because she'd read that they specialize in traditional Norwegian fare. This food may actually qualify more as "traditional" than truly "local" to the Bergen area. But, I promised a post on local eating from our trip and this is probably going to be the best I can muster up.

We all agreed that the best approach at this restaurant was to order five different entrees for the 6 of us (as Karen was sick this particular evening) and share them around. This way, we all got to try each thing.

Dried salted cod ( similar to Bacalhau in Portuguese cuisine)

Fish Souffle



We also had a dish with meatballs, but I don't seem to have come home with a photograph of the meatballs. Overall, the food was quite delicious. A few (well, specifically the whale) unusual enough to qualify more as "interesting" than "good" tasting, in my opinion. But, the vegetables served with these items were all nicely cooked and very fresh tasting.

The crew heading back to our hotel after a delicious and very unusual dinner at Pingvinen.

In general, the food we had throughout Norway was much better than I had expected. Fruits and vegetables were usually very fresh. The bread served with breakfast, at every hotel, was full of whole grains and really wonderful. We had very fine picnic lunches of flatbreads with cheeses, sliced meats and fruit. A couple of evenings, one or more of us also had reindeer - either in a stew or sliced and served with mushrooms. So, although VERY expensive, food was a pleasant surprise throughout our trip - in small towns and in the bigger cities.

*For the occasional readers who are not familiar with our family, I'm thinking I might explain why it was such a coincidence that Aileen chose this restaurant without knowing what the name means. She is a biologist and a significant amount of her work has been with research on penguins in Antarctica.

One Local Summer, Week 7 Babyback Ribs and Green Beans

This is somewhat of a cautionary tale about finding and remembering recipes this week. I always read the food section of the newspaper each week and I also read a variety of food blogs - recently, the folks around the country who are participating in the One Local Summer eat local challenge. Earlier this week, I remember reading more than one or two descriptions of preparing ribs. And I also saw a recipe for green beans, using a little maple syrup, that sounded interesting. Then, I happened to see that Sheridan was having Carlton Farms babyback ribs at what looked to be a good price. And I got green beans from the CSA. So, I went back to look for those recipes I'd seen. And, of course (!) I couldn't find any of them. I don't know why I read things and think I'll remember where to come back to find them. I think I need to do more bookmarking of online recipes and more cutting out of newspaper ideas.

But, obviously, there are lots of ways to cook green beans and ribs. As it turns out, we have some locally made barbecue sauce in the fridge and it seemed to make sense to use that rather than make something new from scratch - especially since it was a warm day and less time in the kitchen sounded better than more. So, the ribs got the "Ooga Booga" treatment - with advice from the butcher at Sheridan on how to cook them. And, in a happy coincidence, while looking for the previous recipes, I found a nice description of a treatment of green beans in the blog of another OLS participant: Versatile Green Beans by Ami at Writing:My Life . She used tomatoes, onions and garlic (which I had on hand), basil (which I have in the garden) and goat cheese (had a small chunk leftover from the anniversary party). I also roasted some fairly local small potatoes with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

Here is the rundown of where our dinner tonight came from:
Babyback ribs - Carlton Farms, Yamhill Valley
Ooga Booga BBQ Sauce - made in Northeast Portland
German butterball potatoes - from "Oregon" (according to New Seasons market)
Green Beans, tomatoes, and onions- from Deep Roots Farm, our CSA
Garlic - farmer's market
Basil - our backyard
Goat cheese - Rivers Edge, Logsden, Oregon

We had spent most of the week eating leftovers from our anniversary party, and had two dinners out. So, today was really the first time I was doing any serious cooking this week.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Back From Norway - One Local Summer, Week 6

Yes, we're back from our adventures in Norway and France. More on that later.
In the meantime, I wanted to make a quick report for the One Local Summer Challenge since I missed out on weeks 2-5. And even this is a bit late, but I can chime in on the comments section.

This is not about a whole meal, but one thing that I made for our anniversary party Saturday night. We celebrated 35 years this week, so decided to have a party and invite what turned out to be about 35 friends. We had three people who were at our wedding with us - my sister, Grady's sister and our best man. We have fabulous contributions from friends and family, cooked a few things here and got a couple of items from a caterer. All in all it was a lovely evening - good food, good friends and lots of catching up.

So, one of the salads I made was pretty much all local. It was a tomato-bread salad using a recipe from one of our cooking classes taught by Ken Hoyt at "In Good Taste" Cooking School. The tomatoes and onions came from our CSA (Deep Roots Farm), garlic from another stand at the farmer's market, basil out of our garden (survived our absence - hooray!) and the bread was made at New Seasons. Here is Ken's recipe:

Tomato-Bread Salad with Basil and Capers
5 C 1/2 inch cubed French or Italian bread
1.5 lob tomatoes, diced medium
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 large red onion, diced
1/2 C fresh basil leaves, julienned
1/4 C capers, drained (I forgot these)
1/4 C olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar (I actually used a white wine vinegar because I didn't realize I was almost out of red wine vinegar)
salt and ground black pepper, to taste.

Put bread cubes in middle of 250 degree oven until bread is dried out, about 30 min.
Combine tomatoes and garlic in medium bowl; stir and let stand until juicy, about 30 min.
Add all remaining ingredients (reserving bread) and fold to combine. Ten minutes prior to serving, add the bread cubes; toss again. Adjust seasoning, including pepper, to taste.

Since I was making this the day of the party, and was just a tad bit busy, I didn't remember to take a picture. But, it both looked and tasted quite wonderful.

Later, I'll do a post on some of the local foods we ate in Norway.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Off to Norway with the Family!

We are off to Norway and then to Paris - leaving tomorrow morning. It's a family trip - Grady and I, our two kids, his sister, and her two kids. Several years ago, G and I took Aileen and Kris to Ireland and were able to visit with some of my Irish end of the family and see Arranmoor Island, home of the Boyle end of our family. Since that time, I've suggested to Grady that we should follow up with a similar family trip to Norway where much of his family originated. So, it's finally happening!

This means my blog and my weekly reports for One Local Summer will most likely be on a hiatus until early July. We return on July 2, but then head to the coast for the 4th of July holiday. I'll keep an eye out for Norwegian food specialties, but I don't know whether I'll want to spend much time in internet cafes. I hope to have things to report on when I return.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Day at the Races

Dragon boat races - for Rose Festival here in Portland today. Grady has been practicing with the Realty Trust team 3 times a week since March. That's three 7 a.m. times per week, I should add. Oh, boy, doesn't that sound like fun. But, he did it - never missed a practice except for the two that took place while we were out of town back when they first started. So, today was the first day of racing - two heats, one at about 11 a.m. and another at 3:30 p.m. Tomorrow morning they will race again - this time in a group of other boats that had similar times to theirs. If they win the first one, they race again and possibly a 3rd time. That's it - no vast monetary prizes, just the glory and prestige of winning.

Dragonboats are large wooden boats paddled (not rowed, I was informed) by 18 people plus a drummer and a flag-catcher. The ones used for the Rose Festival races here were given to Portland by our sister city in China, Kaohsiung. There are smaller boats without the decoration that are raced year-round.

I walked over from my gym for the morning race. Ian, Liam and Graham joined me to cheer on the Realty Trust Red Dragons in their first heat. Later in the afternoon, I walked over from the east side of the river and watched the afternoon race with their coach.

Ian's picture of the Red Dragons as they were coming in for their first race. Came in 3rd, but at least they beat the Victoria's Secret Team. (How bad would that be to say you were beat by the underwear team?) Grady is in the last seat on the right (OK, that's starboard, right?) side of the boat with the tan hat (which you really can't see.)

First place in a close finish for their afternoon heat. When the flag-grabber gets the flag, that's the official end.

Coach Sue pointing out that they hadn't done very well with the precision paddling in the second race, even though they won.

Grady listening intently, of course, to the coach's comments.
On the way back up after the 1st place finish.

About 85 teams in and out, using the same eight boats, all day long. It takes a system and they have one - very organized - always four teams lining up while another four are loading and another four are racing. Grady's team is heading down the ramp and out onto the dock for their afternoon race.

These gals looked more like my kind of team actually. Cheerleaders for one of the teams - complete with poodle skirts, heart-shaped sunglasses and little white canvas shoes. They had a full selection of choreographed cheers. I wonder what time of day they practice?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pasta with Spring Vegetables in Light, Lemony Cream Saucie - One Local Summer WEek 1

One Local Summer Begins this week. Our west region's activities will be moderated by Becke at Columbus Foodie. It's great to find a new food blog with beautiful photographs and great ideas.

We started out the week with a dinner inspired by a recipe in "The Oregonian" recently. In the category of great minds think alike, I was at Jeff's house recently and he had made the same thing. We both made several modifications, but the basic recipe was a terrific starting point. You can go to this link to see the original newspaper version.

I made made a trip to the farmer's market this weekend and had new spring veggies I wanted to use. I also had gotten some spinach fettucine at the market. A cool thing about this recipe is that it does use some cream, but it is fairly minimal, and yet still makes a very nice sauce. You reduce some chicken broth (no, not a vegetarian recipe inspite of its name) by about half, add the cream and reduce further, adding lemon zest after taking it off the heat. Then toss in the veggies, some parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.

The biggest change that both Jeff and I made was to saute the vegetables in a very small amount of oil, rather than steam them. We both wanted to use mushrooms and steamed mushrooms just doesn't sound very good at all. In mine, I used fresh peas, leeks, sweet onion, baby carrots, zucchini and shitakes. Plus, Grady had brought up some green beans from last year's CSA that we still had in the freezer, so I added some of those as well. For the fresh herbs, I used chives and basil out of our garden. The meal was completed with a salad using three types of lettuce from our garden plus some a raw version of the same things we put in the pasta.

So, in the category of local foods in this meal were all the vegetables, the pasta, chicken broth and cream. Not local in Oregon, but important, were the lemon and the parmesan.

I didn't manage to remember to take a picture before we ate the pasta. Not back in the routine yet. But, here is a substitution:

our farmer's market goodies from this week. We have joined an alternative form of a CSA with Deep Roots Farm. Instead of having a box delivered somewhere each week, this is set up as a running account balance to use at the farmer's market stands. This scenario takes some of the challenge and surprise out of having a farm share. But, since we are going to be gone a fair amount this summer, this seemed to be more practical for us this year.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Let's see.....liver?..... or shrimp?

I almost got rejected by the Red Cross on Friday. My iron level was too low for making a donation based on the first sample they took. Since they offered a chance to have a second sample taken, I agreed and that time, on my dominant hand, the iron level was right at the level needed to be eligible to give them a pint.

Which means I need to pay attention to iron intake for a while again. This has happened to me off and on when I've gone to donate blood - periodically I get rejected. And, every time that I come home and talk about needing to get more iron, Grady says I'll need to eat liver and spinach. He's so predictable. There are many foods that are rich in iron, but he always mentions those two because he knows I hate liver and like spinach only when fresh. Actually, he is remembering when his mother would have to get more iron and what she ate, at that time, was liver and spinach. It's been MANY years since he lived with her and observed this liver and spinach regimen. But, it's stuck in his replay tapes.

So, imagine my happiness when I happened to see an article about the iron content in shrimp in the May issue of "Cooking Light". Six ounces of shrimp have 4 mg of iron (compared to .5 mg in scallops). This seemed like a good excuse to have shrimp for dinner last night. And the magazine actually had two different risotto recipes involving shrimp. I made a variation on
Spinach Risotto with Shrimp and Goat Cheese. As I mentioned, I'm not a big fan of cooked spinach, so even though we had fresh spinach from the farmer's market, I substituted swiss chard out of our garden. We also did not have goat cheese, but it tasted fine with some pecorino that I did have in the fridge. I also added some mushrooms just because I had some and thought it would be good. Made for a nice simple dinner with a salad of greens out of the garden. All in all, not a high percentage of local foods - but those parts that were local could be measured in feet traveled from the backyard.

I know I have some lists of iron-rich foods somewhere, but, if you have suggestions (other than liver and spinach), please let me know.

One Local Summer 2009

I have signed up for the One Local Summer Challenge again. It is organized by the folks at the Farm to Philly blog. They start up June 1. Participating in these challenges helps me keep my attention on local eating more often and also on keeping up the blog. It will feel good to be more focused on this again.

We are trying a different approach to joining a CSA this year. I loved getting the weekly boxes from Heather at Little Frog Farm last year and joining with other folks at St.Andrews in the Farm to Congregation program. But, it really didn't make sense for us to make that trip to the pick-up point every week - not very close to us. So, there I was putting extra miles on the car in the cause of supporting local agriculture. Our friend Jeff had taken a different approach last year and we've decided to do the same thing this year. We are part of the CSA through Deep Roots Farm near Corvallis and Albany. They bring their produce to a couple of the Portland Farmer's Markets. Having a CSA share with them means you select things at their market stand instead of having a box delivered somewhere. One of those two markets is pretty close to us so it will save on the driving. Plus, for this summer, in particular, it makes a lot of sense since we will be gone quite a bit. With this arrangement, we can get what we need when we're here and not have to make arrangements for produce getting delivered while we are out of town. I will kind of miss the surprise and the challenge of figuring out to use everything that comes in the weekly delivery, but this really seems more practical for now.

Meanwhile, we've been eating lettuce and chard out of our garden pots for a few weeks now and they are doing really well so far.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rhubarb Chutney

Recently I made another foray into the downstairs freezer to see what was on hand. After some reconnaissance, I discovered that we still had some packages of rhubarb and of berries from last spring. Whoops! Time to start using those before we have a new crop coming in fresh. So, I decided to bring up a bag of local 2008 rhubarb and think of something to do with it. The trouble with rhubarb and berries is that the first ideas that comes to mind are all in the dessert food group, not something that Grady and I need very much. So, I looked for other ways to use them and found a couple of ways to make rhubarb chutney.

I had a tough time deciding between two Epicurious recipes, so I kind of followed one, while adding elements to the other. My amalgam had:
4 C rhubarb
1 C golden raisins
1 C dried tart cherries
about 1/4 C brandy (all that we have left in the bottle - probably should have been more)
I think I used about 3/4 C sugar, but started low and then tasted as it went along
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp grated orange peel
juice of 1 lime

I cooked the fruit for a little while first until the rhubarb was fairly soft. Then added the rest and cooked until it tasted pretty good.

We used it with grilled chicken breasts one evening and then with some ham tonight.

So now to think of some ideas for the berries that does not include pie crust, lots of butter and sugar...... ?? I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shop til You Drop

I had to tell Mom that she is not supposed to take that literally!

While on an outing to Macy's on Sunday, Mom had a leg give out on her and she fell. The outcome, after an ambulance ride to the hospital, was a broken femur and a broken wrist. Surgery, and lots of heavy metal additions to her bones later, and she's on to a rehab place. She's been having some difficulty with the pain medication, so the recovery has had its ups and downs so far even though the doctors were quite happy with her initial progress.

I'll be off to spend about 10 days there during the sibling relay (...Jim and Catherine hand off to me, I hand off to Mary....) - leaving this coming Saturday. It's been very hard to be so far away, so I will be glad to have some time on site to do whatever I can to help. And also to celebrate her birthday and Mother's day.

I just noticed that my sister, Ann, has got a post on her blog about Mom's set-back, so I'm going to skip any other details. You can check that out at Ann's blog.

Here's one of my favorite photos of Mom - with our daughter Aileen at Katie Rinehart's wedding.

She was shopping for a trip to Paris to spend time with our sister Mary and her family. Obviously the France trip will be on hold for a while while Mom makes new friends in the PT department.

Lunch with 'Married with Dinner'

OK, so I still seem to be dragging out this blogging holiday. But, here goes an attempt to start catching up. For this post, I'm going back to March 23 - while Grady and I were in California for spring break. At the beginning of the week, I had an opportunity to meet Anita from Married with Dinner. In response to my question about places in the Bay area that were some favorites for featuring locally grown or made food, one place Anita suggested was the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco. So, I took the ferry over from Alameda, spent some time wandering around the shops in the Ferry Building and then she met me there for lunch.

After following Anita and Cameron's blog for a couple of years, it was a treat to meet her in person and find out a little more about her and about how her interest in local eating developed. We ate at a Vietnamese restaurant and enjoyed a nice conversation before she needed to head back to work and I had to catch my return ferry. It was quite gracious of her to take the time in the middle of a busy work day to come and chat with me.

And her recommendation about the shops in the marketplace led to a delicious dinner that evening, plus some goodies that I brought back to Portland. Here are a few random pictures from my shopping expedition:

Stonehouse white balsamic vinegar - one of the things I brought home. We have really been enjoying this delicious vinegar in various ways. The most obvious use - in a vinaigrette with olive oil brought to us from Italy by our friends, the Dawsons. Very nice.

Part of the dinner that evening - green beans and mushrooms from farms in that area. We had this with locally grown chicken breasts. The chicken was marinated in another treat I brought home from that outing- Cranberry Pepper Sauce from Marin Gourmet. Of course, since I've waited this long to write about this experience, I can't remember the names of the shops or the farms. It sure doesn't pay to get behind.

And this is a shop at the Ferry Building where I actually did not purchase anything....

but, you gotta love a store whose name includes the phrase " TASTY SALTED PIG PARTS".

On the way back, I stopped at a winery that is located right next to the ferry in Alameda - Rosemblum Cellars, another of Anita's suggestions. Spent an enjoyable hour tasting wines and chatting with a few other folks, and, of course, adding to my take away package.

So, my thanks to Anita for wonderful suggestions and for a delightful lunch conversation.

PS. Finally found my camera, as you can see.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Easter Buffalo

Well, I've been on a blogging holiday for a while now. No particular excuse - just kind of lost momentum. I'm thinking of it as a bit of a break between the end of the Dark Days Eat Local challenge and the beginning of the farmer's market season. I had a trip to California in the middle of this hiatus, but that really wasn't an excuse either since I had computer access while I was there. I did get to meet one of my favorite local food bloggers while there. More on that later.

So, for Easter dinner yesterday, we had a small crowd of 13 people. With all the leaves in our dining room table (and turning it diagonally in the room), we have room for the 14 we expected. Fortunately for me, our guests brought major portions of the dinner, so I didn't have to spend all day in the kitchen getting ready. On the other hand, Grady and I did have to spend a fair amount of time cleaning up the house beforehand. But, that, after all, is half the reason for having guests, isn't it? To make you clean your house?

The featured item on the dinner menu was buffalo roast. This buffalo was not, technically, local. However, it did travel here on an airplane with the rancher who raised it. Jeff's sister and brother-in-law, Janet and Duke, work two ranches in Colorado. The bison run as a wild herd on the Zapata/Medano Ranch. Not only is the buffalo grass-fed and finished, but it was cooked by someone who really knows what to do with a good cut of meat. Such a treat for all of us.

Accompanying the buffalo, we had
"Aunt Janet's Potatoes" made by Ian
braised kale, and a green salad (both of which I got at the downtown farmer's market on Saturday)
steamed asparagus
Jeff's hot cross buns
rolls that Duke made

And, in case that all wasn't enough, Jeff made a lovely lemon poppyseed cake. And Tig had made lemon sorbet which she served in lemon shells - so lovely and wonderful!

So, all in all, a great evening - fabulous food and terrific conversation. Not to mention, plenty of activity with our two young friends (ages 3 and 5) who had had WAY too much Easter candy. Alas, no photos of the guests or the food because I've not been able to find my camera since we got back from California. :(

Lastly, here is the recipe (or one, anyway, Ian's version) for the potato casserole - a regular feature of Miller/Creswell holiday meals:

Aunt Janet's Potatoes
5 lbs. potatoes
1 pint sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup jack (I always use more like 1/2 lb.)
1/2 cup cheddar (ditto)
2 large cans diced chiles (I often use about four fresh chiles of
varying spiciness)
1 bunch green onions, chopped finely
Salt and pepper (probably about 1 or 2 Tbsp. of salt and as much
pepper as you can stand)

Peel potatoes, then boil whole potatoes on high for 10 minutes. Turn
off heat and drain the potatoes in cool water for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add sour cream, melted butter, Jack and cheddar cheeses
(grated), chiles, green onions, salt and pepper into a large mixing
bowl. When potatoes are cool, grate them in Cuisinart (I usually
grate the cheese this way too, since it's already out). Mix potatoes
in with other ingredients, and then pour everything into a 9" x 13"
baking dish. Bake until bubbly at 350 degrees -- usually about 30-40

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Great Spring Freezer Clean-Out: Dark Days report

I had decided that part of my Lenten discipline would be to work on using up food in the freezer and tackle some of the overfull closet/storage areas. So, Friday I headed to the basement freezer and wasted a bit of energy with the door open examining what was available. Recently our smaller freezer that is part of the fridge got itself into trouble and had to be evacuated. I was out of town and Grady's solution was to haul everything down to the basement. Consequently, that one downstairs really got full and was not at all organized. He was in a bit of a hurry since first priority was to deal with the water leaking upstairs.

Well, long story short, I moved things around and got an idea of what all we have. Here is how my reasoning started - I knew that I had unintentionally ended up with two bunches of cilantro, so I wanted to make something that could use some of that. I pulled out beef stew meat, a small leftover package of chorizo, some of the frozen jalapenos out of our garden, and decided to make chili.

Given that this is the last week of the 2009 Dark Days Challenge, if I'd planned ahead better, I would have tried to come up with something more interesting and with a higher % of local items. But I didn't. So, I kind of feel like I'm closing out with sort of a fizzle. But, hey, the chili was very good and the beef share in the freezer has shrunk, cans of beans and tomatoes were used out of the cupboard, and half the cilantro is gone! The only thing I got at the grocery store were non-local bell peppers.

I did find that I was in good company when I read Anita's post (40 Days with my freezer) on Married with Dinner. They have gone into freezer clean-out mode, as have several of the folks who wrote comments to her. I felt lucky, though, not to have had any heavy packages of meet fall out and nearly hit my toe, although I can easily see how that can happen.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Kitchen Tools

Well, not real new. But, I'm catching up on some blog ideas hanging in the back of my brain closet. Recently I used two new additions to my kitchen tool collection for one evening's dinner.

I made a pinenut-crusted fish using a recipe from Moosewood's "Simple Suppers". This was the product of a trip to Powell's for Norway books and maps. While Grady and Ardie were browsing in the travel section, I hung out in the cookbook department. And managed to find something that is new to me and which looked really useful.

A while back when a few of us were taking a cooking class, the chef showed us a Messermeister peeler - with a very sharp serrated blade. He used it to peel an apricot for a dessert. I have found it to be extraordinarily useful. In this case, I used it to peel some delicata squash for a risotto.

This is the squash and chard risotto with fried sage leaves - a variation on a recipe in The Farm to Table Cookbook.

Later, I'll show you my terrific new kitchen shears, but I think this is enough excitement for one evening.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Snoopy Bloggers

Ok, so I'm a little behind on blogging. Really, it's not Facebook. Current best excuse is work - quite a bit more than half time recently and likely to continue until school staffing season is over.

Meanwhile, Pam issued a challenge to show the inside of our fridges after posting a photo of hers and admitting to being a bit of a voyeur. Laura took her up on it. And I just have to join in to represent those of us who are a little less organized in the refrigerator department. Theirs were way too clean and tidy looking.

By way of local foods, there is the steak we grilled recently from our beef share, the leftover risotto with delicata squash, some chard in the vegetable drawer. And then there is the salsa - an item of such importance to warrant having two on hand at a time. One is an organic salsa from Muir Glen in Sedro Woolley, Washington. But, the one that I think is best is Zuniga's Handcrafted Salsa. Zuniga Foods in in Tigard, but the salsa is processed just a short distance from where we live in Portland - hand diced in small batches, very fresh and tasty.

So much for snooping in our refrigerators, maybe next we can reveal medicine cabinets!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dark Days Challenge - Week 16 Report

For our Dark Days Eat Local Challenge meal this week, our closest effort is today's dinner - a rather traditional meat and potatoes kind of meal. I went down to survey the freezer and we still have a fair amount from our Kookoolan Farms beef share. So, I pulled a sirloin tip steak.

Our dinner was the sirloin tip steak grilled on the back porch, a potatoe casserole, and some sauteed chard with garlic.

the steak - Kookoolan Farms in Yamhill
potatoes - Washington was the closest I could find for the russets
cream - Tillamook
Chicken broth - made from the last whole chicken we cooked
cheddar - Provvista Organic sharp cheddar. Unfortunately, this probably is not made locally, just imported or distributed by a local company. Not enough information on the label. But, the cheese tastes very good.
Red chard - part of it came from somewhere in Washington, but, believe it or not, we also had some growing in our pot in the backyard - same one we planted last spring. Woo-hoo!

Creamy Potato Casserole
8-10 servings
2.5 lb russet potatoes, scrubbed, skins left on (about 5 medium)
1 C whipping cream
1 C chicken broth
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 C unsalted butter
3/4 C grated parmesan
3/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1.5 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese

boil potatoes until just barely tender, 15-17 minutes. Drain. when cool enough to handle, peel and shred. Place shredded potatoe sin large bowl and set aside.

Bring cream and broth to simmer in saucepan. remove from heat and stire in garlic, butter and parmesan. Pour cream mixture intow bowl with potatoes and stir. Stir in salt and pepper. Scrape into 2 qt. oval baking dish and sprinkle with cheddar. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until top is nicely browned, 20-25 min.
from Cook's Country magazine, published in The Oregonian

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Poblano Bread Pudding

I've kind of lost my rhythm with local foods eating lately. The out of town travel threw me off and I haven't gotten organized since returning. But, we have still been eating in the meantime. And I have been on a different campaign, which is to use up things we have on hand. So, here is what we had tonight - Poblano Bread Pudding.

For many years, our favorite restaurant in Manzanita was the Blue Sky Cafe. It was a wonderful restaurant - good food, good cocktails, very friendly staff. We loved it. But, alas, the owners decided to close a couple years ago. I held out hope for a while that they might change their mind or a similar restaurant might move in. But now the space has been taken over by the bakery. And the bakery is very good as well - lovely baguettes, rolls, and other bread things. But, I am getting sidetracked. While the Blue Sky was still open, one of their regular items was this Poblano Bread Pudding. Since I really loved it, I finally asked one day if they would share the recipe. So, here it is - with their original amounts and my modifications. As you will see, it is designed for a very large batch. Being a former math teacher, it was obvious that many of the ingredients were in amounts that would be easily divisible by 5, so that is what I did - or best approximations thereof. I think I had hastily copied the recipe from something, so the amount of the poblano chiles is, I think, actually incorrect. But, estimation is another good math skill and it has always turned out well.

Poblano Bread Pudding (courtesy of Bue Sky Cafe in Mazanita, Oregon)
15 eggs (1)
1 onion, chopped (a small handful)
5 C. half and half (1 C)
2 handfuls cilantro (about half a small handful)
1 t. salt and pepper (a few quick shakes)
2 T cumin (about 2 t.)
1 handful parmesan (I actually forgot this tonight)
1T chile powder (1 t.)
5 C. jack cheese (1 C)
20-30 C bread, torn (4-5 C)
6 t roasted chiles (recipe says this would be 8-9 poblanos, but obviously this would be more than 6 t - so I used 1 poblano and it chopped up into about 2 large T.)

Whisk eggs, milk and spices. Add bread. Let soak 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion, chile, both cheeses and cilantro. Mix and put in baking dish.
Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

My approximate one-fifth recipe filled a 7 " x 11" pan (which is about the same volume as a 9 inch square pan).

I decided to make this because we had three different partial loaves of Italian or French bread - all made by local bakeries. And we also had two packages of Tillamook pepper jack (due to Grady and I not realizing what the other had gotten while shopping). The eggs and half-and-half were also from local area dairies. So, I guess it was mainly the chiles that weren't a local item in this dinner. Not as bad as I was thinking. In any case, very useful for using up that bread. I served it with glorified pinto beans and a small salad.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rochester Trip Photos, March 09

These next two posts are just going to be a series of family pictures from my recent trip to Rochester to visit Mom. More on food - local and not - coming up.

The McHughs are in the hunt for a family dog. Since I am still in Molly withdrawal, I went along to check out some golden-doodle puppies. VERY VERY CUTE!

This little one really liked the spot Kyle made for him.

Krissy gettting geared up for St. Patrick's day while waiting for dinner at Flaherty's. Not only do they let kids in the bar area, but they give them beer trinkets. I didn't manage to score one myself, but Kyle very kindly gave his to me, so I will be set for the 17th also.

I gave my camera to Krissy while I was sitting out in another waiting area. She captured this very sweet picture of her Mom.

Finally, we got called to a table for dinner. Mom, along with the rest of us, was ready.

To be continued.....

Rochester Trip Photos, part 2

Then, there was the infamous Boggle game. Kyle is busy totaling up his score. Krissy was the official timer, keeping us from cheating. She also added up my scores for me.

Beat by my 7th grade niece. Ugh.
Tara - displaying a surprising lack of humility after beating her aunt.

The not-so-gracious LOSER.

But, hey, we were first and second, after all. And there were other people playing the game as well. (not mentioning any names)

And, no trip to Rochester would be complete without Sunday breakfast after church with the gang. Pretty good looking group. Don played hooky from church that morning. tsk, tsk.

And, lastly, have to have one more shot from the mutual admiration society of Krissy and the camera.