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By Kelly James

IMG_2975 You know fall has arrived when the leaves begin to change colors and the cool, crisp autumn air is blowing throughout Portland. Pumpkins, winter squash, apples, apple cider, pears, and other seasonal crops have also begun to take over the tomatoes, berries, corn and green beans of summer.

Another sign of fall is the return of the Great Pumpkin harvest festival! To celebrate this wonderful season, Portland Farmers Market will host the 16th annual, family-friendly Great Pumpkin event at Saturday’s PSU Market and, for the first time, at Sunday’s King Market.

This year’s events include:

IMG_2916Pumpkin Carving Contest
As in past years, the highlight of the Great Pumpkin for many is the pumpkin carving contest for adults and children. At PSU, from 9:00am-12:00pm (or while supplies last), get your carve on and make the most spooky, traditional, fun, or decorative jack-o-lantern you can imagine! There are prizes for the best adult and child carvings, which will be announced at 12:30pm at the music stage. At King, shoppers can carve pumpkins from 10:00am until they run out!

IMG_2757Children’s Costume Parade
At the PSU market, a children’s costume parade kicks off at 12:00pm around the north block from the Information Booth and there will be market goody bags for all participants. While there won’t be a parade at the King market, any child who comes in costume will receive a goody bag!

*We also encourage adults to come in their costumes to share in the festivities.

NEW! Dave’s Killer Bread Toast Bar (PSU Market Event Only)
New this year is a Toast Bar hosted by our season sponsor, Dave’s Killer Bread. There will be a “toast bar” set up with free samples of toasted Dave’s Killer Bread topped with market ingredients like jam, honey, soft cheeses, etc.

IMG_2896NEW! Market Photo Booth, Face Painting & Games (King Market Event Only)
A photo booth will be provided by Joe Forbish Photography to capture your awesome costumes, carved pumpkins, and big smiles.  There will be face painting for kids and pumpkin bowling (use your imagination) for all.

The Great Pumpkin is family-friendly and anyone is welcome. Come and enjoy the fall festivities and go home with your own carved pumpkin — you could even win the prize!

If you need a little inspiration for pumpkin carving ideas, check out these sites:

IMG_2883While there’s no contest for “Best Toast”, check out these sites for some delicious toast toppings ideas to make at home with your favorite loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread:

Hope to see you there!

Kelly James loves all things local. Kelly has interned at a small CSA farm in Newberg, Oregon and has done research on the young adult perspective of local food. It was only fitting that upon moving to Portland, Kelly teamed up to volunteer with Portland Farmers Market. When Kelly is not learning about local food, she develops social media content, bakes cookies for her friends, and reads books on marketing. Learn more about Kelly here.

Cabbage Revival

By Dave Adamshick

With kale and chard continuing to trade turns as the trendy ingredient everyone is talking about, isn’t it time we found a new vegetable crush? While my market colleague, Jaret, predicts spinach is due for a turn on the top, I believe we’re at the dawn of the age of cabbage. For openers, there is a degree of familiarity. Like kale and chard, cabbage is a member of the brassica family. With over 400 varieties of cabbage being cultivated, one could spend a year trying a variety a day and two on Sundays.

Pretty in purple

Pretty in purple

Admittedly, although cabbage has been cultivated since before written language, its moment of glory has yet to arrive. It came close once. Greeks and Romans believed eating cabbage at a banquet would prevent you from getting drunk, but that just guaranteed its ubiquity, not acclaim. (Warning to tailgaters: experience tells me sauerkraut does not remedy beer ineffective).

In medieval times, written records prove the plant was held in disdain, apparently only fit to eat by peasants. Modern writers extol cabbage’s high Vitamin C, betacarotene and potassium content, which is great for marketing the latest sports drink, but perhaps not so much for creating desire at mealtime.

Crinkly savoy

Crinkly Savoy

I implore you to give this often overlooked vegetable another chance. Now is the season for hearty veg and cabbage is as hearty as they come. Try it in stews, soups, smothered chops, kraut or, if you’re lucky enough to make or source them, pierogis. Stuffed with mushroom and cabbage, these little Polish dumplings just taste like fall. Keep it simple by cooking a one pot meal of green cabbage with kielbasa, bacon and apples. Washed down with a beer or cider, you’ll be adding a protective layer of insulation just in time for the cold and damp of winter.

Crispy napa

Crispy Napa

Although cabbage stores well and is available year around, now is the time to stop by area markets and check out some more unusual varieties. Savoy, the cabbage whose textural leaves lend themselves to stuffing with ground lamb, cooked rice and tomatoes makes for a seasonal treat. Napa cabbage, with oblong leaves that are crispier, juicier and lack that heavy cabbage flavor, goes well sesame oil or peanut sauce. Try lightly braising red and purple varieties Italian-style in red wine and tossing it with gorgonzola and vinegar.

Reaping the Harvest

By Vicki Hertel, Third Generation Farmer, Sun Gold Farm

Charlie, Vicki and Chris Hertel of Sun Gold Farm

Charlie, Vicki and Chris Hertel of Sun Gold Farm

Late summer is probably not the time to ask most farmers about their career choice.  By this point in the season, most of us are worn out from a summer of hot days and short nights.  Spring found us full of hope and energy after a dormant, restful winter.  New ideas mixed with past standards filled our days of planning and planting.  We looked forward to an even better harvest than the year prior.  And as the days grew warmer and longer and the fields filled to the edges, we were even excited about all the work that comes with the harvest.  But now it is fall, and we are tired.  Very tired.

summer squashThis past summer, especially, was exhausting.  With the largest harvest we can remember coupled with hot, dusty days, we are glad it is about over for the year.  Summer squash and cucumbers were picked, washed , and sorted three times weekly.  Tons (literally) of potatoes and tomatoes made their way into the sorting shed.  Often the lights came on in the evening after supper to finish boxing tomatoes and tomatillos. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries waited impatiently on the vine.  Ten acres of sweet corn were hand picked and rushed to the coolers almost daily.   Work began as soon as there was enough daylight to find the fields – in June and July that was 5 AM.

This was a season of rapid weed growth and ravenous insects.  Some of our fields escaped with little damage – others not so lucky. Aphids were worse than ever this year.  Even the thousands of lady bugs that were shipped in could not keep up at times.  Cucumber beetles kept the mud swallows fed, and then some.

irrigationProper irrigation was the key to success this unusually dry summer.  From May through August, there was water flying or dripping somewhere on this farm 24 hours per day.  Irrigation lines were laid in the wee hours of the morning and turned off just before bedtime, only to be moved and repeated the following day.

By the end of August, some farmers really begin to question their chosen career.  But then, somehow, for some reason, our memories of the long, hard days, and our aches gypsy peppersand pains all seem to fade as we slow our pace and head into fall.  Maybe it’s that promise of winter that the fall color gives us. Tomatoes are in abundance, red and orange color peeping through green leaves. Sweet peppers are turning orange, red and yellow, becoming even more flavorful. Lastly, the winter squash, gourds, and pumpkins arrive, bringing a variety of shapes, colors and textures to the fields.

red warty thingIt’s almost as if nature knows of the farmer’s weariness and does its utmost to make the ongoing harvest as pleasurable as possible. Everything has its own unique color, pattern and shape and helps to keep the farmer entertained.  Seed catalogs start arriving in the mailbox and a new season is in the planning stages.  The long nights of winter give us plenty of time to rest up and start the cycle all over again next year.  And most of us are more than happy to do so.

Eggplantopia

By Dave Adamshick

EggplantEggplant is such an odd name for a plant that’s usually large, pear-shaped and purple. In most English speaking countries, it’s sold as an aubergine, a word that also refers to that rich purple skin color that encases common varieties. The eggplant is a little odd in that, like its tomato cousin, it’s botanically a fruit, whose seeds are encased in an edible flesh, but it’s sold commercially and cooked as vegetable.

A member of the nightshade family—a designation that compels me by custom, style guides and possibly law to use the phrase, the deadly nightshade—eggplants were originally cultivated in India. Because of the association, most westerners believed the plant to be poisonous until the Renaissance, causing Europeans to miss out on centuries of baba ghanoush.

japeggplantGrowing up in the Great Lakes region, the eggplant may have just as well been poisonous for as often as it was prepared. In recent years, my dad has developed a love of eggplant parmesan. Good for my dad, trying new foods, keeping himself open to new experiences. Except that, in true Midwestern style, breaded, fried and topped with cheese is the only way he’ll eat it.

While melanzane parmigiana is very good and proves everything sounds better with an Italian accent, there are other ways to prepare the plant. There’s the custardy moussaka, the Provençal ratatouille. Small, golf ball sized eggplants are found in both red and green curries in Thai style dishes. Everything that can go on the grill, should, and eggplant is no exception. Olive oil, salt, pepper and flame takes care of the problem of what to do when it’s too hot to turn on the oven.

multieggplantThe plant loves warm weather and in the Pacific NW, as August turns to September, the eggplant population explodes and you’ll see all the variations of the cultivar that will grow in this part of the world. At area farmers market you’ll find dozens of varieties. The shape will be familiar, but the plant’s skin color can be chocolate, purple striated, green or snow white. You’ll also likely spot banana shaped Thai and Japanese varieties and the small white fleshed eggplants, whose appearance will help you realize how the plant got its name.

Peaches are an enigma wrapped in a fuzzy skin. Easy to delight in, harder to understand, the relative to the almond, apricot and cherry is full of contradictions: Golden hued fruits are almost universally better tasting but people are primally attracted to the red skinned varieties. A brown spot on the skin that looks like a blemish is actually a concentration of sugar; a mark of quality inside. The fruit can be refrigerated, but only after they’re ripe – chilling an unripe fruit will make it mealy. Georgia is known as The Peach State, when in reality the fruit is grown across the US and even though half the domestic crop comes from California, the best peach is the one grown nearest to you. DSC_0274

Despite their near koan-like quality, enjoying a peach requires no meditation. The tricky part, picking the fruit when it’s mature but not yet ripe enough to be damaged in shipping is handled by the grower. Peaches are climacteric, meaning they continue to ripen after they are picked. A firm peach needs only a time a room temperature until they soften. There’s no need to squeeze a peach, the bane of many orchardists, you can actually smell a ripe peach from yards away. One of the joys of buying at area markets is the fruits are grown for taste, not for their ability to be trucked to a store to sit on a shelf for a week. Ask your grower what’s and why it’s good.

Fresh, ripe peaches don’t need a cook to improve them. While the words, ‘peach pie,’ may make you smile, the peach embedded in your memory is the one you ate straight out of your hand during the dusk of a still hot day. Yet, not every peach will be ripe the exact moment you need it and sometimes it’s hard not to get all culinary on ingredients. Peach ice cream? Enough said! Sliced and tossed in port or red wine before dinner will yield a heavenly dessert; possibly topped with mascarpone. Grilled and topped with Sauce Romanoff, which sounds complicated but is just a combination of sweetened whipped cream and sour cream. A cobbler, mixed with blueberries and topped with Greenwillow Grains oats grown in the Willamette Valley will make the most Oregony dessert this side of strawberries. The season is short, stretching into early September, but the memories will last forever.

DSC_0291

Farm to Soul

The new Pono Farm Soul Kitchen on NE Sandy Blvd (photo courtesty of Pono Farm's Facebook page)

The new Pono Farm Soul Kitchen on NE Sandy Blvd (photo courtesy of Pono Farm’s Facebook page)

After much anticipation, Pono Farm & Fine Meats has opened their restaurant, Pono Farm Soul Kitchen, in NE Portland. Featuring refined takes on Japanese influenced comfort food, the menu makes good use of the eggs, well-marbled Waygu and Red Angus beef and heritage Berkshire, Red Wattle, Duroc and Yorkshire pork all pasture-raised on their farm in Bend, OR.

Amidst the excitement of opening the new restaurant and retail meat counter in Portland, we were able to catch up with Shin Nakato who, along with his brother Ted, own the operate the farm and hybrid restaurant/retail establishments in Bend and Portland. Here’s what we learned from Shin about their background, philosophy and new farm-to-table (in the truest sense) restaurant.

"Land Sushi"

“Land Sushi”

What is the concept of your new restaurant, Pono Farm Soul Kitchen?

Pono Farm Soul Kitchen will feature Japanese influenced comfort food.  Our ingredients will be from our farm and other local farms.  The sushi bar will be utilizing locally caught and/or sustainable seafood, including some “land sushi” menu items from our farm raised beef, pork, and egg.

As a farmer/rancher, what inspired you to open a restaurant in Portland?

We are third generation restaurateurs, and started our farm over 14 years ago with the goal of opening the best farm to table eatery that we could provide.  After many years of farming and contemplating many different concepts, we have come up with The Soul Kitchen and the retail meat shop.

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

Comfort food deluxe: braised Pono Farms heritage pork with black truffle congee

How does the restaurant complement your farm business?

The restaurant will represent the products that our farm and butcher shop provides.  We feel that the restaurant is our final stage of our total cycle of growing fine foods.

Portland is known for its thriving restaurant scene. What sets your restaurant apart?

I would say, that there are many restaurants with locally grown ingredients but very few that provide meats and other products made by their very own farm and butcher shop.  This gives us an unique advantage in that we control the quality, consistency, and supply of everything that we do.  This goes back to genetics and the feed program that we have worked on for 14 years.

Chawan mushi (savory egg custard) with Dungeness crab, shimeji mushrooms and peas

Chawan mushi (savory egg custard) with Dungeness crab, shimeji mushrooms and peas

Can you tell us a bit about your family background?

Our grandmother, father, and other family members started the first Japanese restaurant in Atlanta, GA over 40 years ago.  Then our father expanded to Charlotte, NC; Myrtle Beach, SC; and Springfield, MO.  The concept was primarily teppanyaki and sushi with Washoku (traditional Japanese) dishes.  My brothers and I have grown up working in restaurants since we were about 11 years old.  We started as busboys and dishwashers and cleaning the whole restaurant daily; then to the kitchen for many years before working the front of the house.

When my brother, Ted and I, began managing the restaurants over 20 years ago; we were saddened to see the decline and inconsistencies in the ingredients, especially the meats.  We saw how corporations and mass production was ruining our food quality.  The future of our family business was jeopardized by the global economy way of thinking.  My family and I decided to do something about it.  We knew that it would be a long arduous journey with lots of sacrifices, but sometimes that is what it takes to develop something of value.

Karaage - juicy, seasoned nuggets of fried chicken

Karaage – juicy, seasoned nuggets of fried chicken

Tell us about the team who helps you make the magic happen.

We have an excellent team of chefs and managers that make the whole circle work.  It starts on the farm in Bend which is managed by my wife, Kelli Rae, and our right hand man, Kelly Auernig.  Then the butcher shop which is managed by Erik Olson—who has extraordinary culinary skills—with help from a third generation butcher, Brian Yamamoto.  And then the restaurant, with a team of highly skilled individuals managed by Cristine Orocio and Ellen Chien for front of the house, and the kitchen led by Ric Ramos with help from Yasu Tabita for sushi and Vince Tien for the rest of the kitchen.

Ric started in our kitchen in Springfield, MO and quickly became a great asset.  He then moved to New York City to work under Morimoto and David Bouley.

Pono Farms charcoal grilled ribeye with black truffle demi sauce

Pono Farms charcoal grilled ribeye with black truffle demi sauce

What are your favorite dishes on the menu?

My favorite dishes maybe a little bias, since I farm.  But, I enjoy:

Flatiron Carpaccio, Ginger Scallion Chimichurri, Ponzu 

Wok Fired Beef Liver, Nira, Bean Sprouts 

12 oz Charcoal Grilled Loin Chop, Ginger Apple Sauce 

Beef Tartar w/ Quail Egg Gunkan Maki sushi

Download the Soul Kitchen Menu

Visit the restaurant at:

4118 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR 97212

For more information about Pono Farm and Soul Kitchen, visit their website.

By Lindsey Berman, Regional Water Providers Consortium

Kids love getting dirty! Playing, digging, moving and piling—dirt is just one of many reasons that gardening is a fun, family-friendly outdoor activity.

This summer, the Regional Water Providers Consortium (RWPC) encourages you to hand your kids a bucket and shovel and turn gardening into a learning experience.

DiggingWe work hard to teach children the value of using resources wisely, and understanding water conservation is especially important in the Portland metro area. While we receive about 37 inches of rainfall annually, we get only about 12 percent of that precipitation June through September. We tend to use the highest amount of water during summer months when our water supply is at its lowest—most people are surprised to learn that water use can often double in our region during the summer months due to outdoor watering.

Living in rainy Oregon can make it tough for kids to connect the dots about saving water. Here are three activities that promote water conservation and produce tangible results.

Introduce your kids to the joy of gardening using native plants. Children love gardening —helping your little ones plant a seed, care for it and watch it grow and bloom into a beautiful flower is a great way to introduce an understanding of the value of natural resources. Choosing native plants for children’s early gardening experiences is a great way to set them (and the environment) up for success: once established, native plants are very low maintenance, require little to no pesticides or fertilizers, and survive on minimal water.

Activity: Start seedlings indoors using planting soil and an egg carton for a container (make sure to poke holes in the bottom for drainage). After seeds have sprouted into seedlings—and after the danger of frost has passed—transplant to the garden. Work together to identify a part of the yard with ideal conditions for the plant(s) you’ve selected, and group with others that have similar needs, including water, sun and shade. Penstemon is a great choice for a native plant that is easy to grow from seed, with the added bonus that its brightly colored flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

RaspberriesGive your soil a healthy boost with compost. Adding organic matter such as mulch or compost can greatly increase your soil’s ability to absorb and store water (especially important in our region, where the native soil is dominated by clay). Plus, it’s a great excuse for kids to dig!

Activity: Next time you are at your local garden center, pick up some compost or mulch to add to your garden beds. Work together to spread the compost or much around your plants—2 to 3 inches thick is best. You can also compost vegetable scraps and other plant debris such as plant clippings or fall leaves to make your own compost at home.

Use a watering gauge to make sure you water your garden efficiently. A watering gauge helps you see how long it takes your sprinkler to water an inch—about what grass needs each week. Once you know this, you can adjust your watering to meet your garden’s needs so that it gets just the right amount of water each week.

Activity: Request a free watering gauge kit from RWPC, and follow the instructions together. The kits are available from July 7-31 for anyone who lives in the RWPC service territory (while supplies last; one per customer). Request your free watering gauge kit by calling 503.823.7528, emailing RWPCinfo@portlandoregon.gov or visiting RWPC’s Facebook page. Please include your mailing address, water provider name and how you heard about the offer.

Looking for other fun activities that help kids understand water conservation? Visit RWPC’s Kid’s Corner at www.conserveh2o.com/kids.

Finally, here are some additional resources offered by RWPC to help you create a waterwise garden that will be enjoyed by kids and adults alike:

Happy gardening!

About the Regional Water Providers Consortium:
The Regional Water Providers Consortium (a group of 20+ local water providers plus the regional government Metro) is committed to good stewardship of our region’s water through conservation, emergency preparedness planning, and water supply coordination. The Consortium provides resources and information to help individual and commercial customers save water.

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