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