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Archive for June, 2011

Party Gras

By Deborah Pleva 

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Portland Farmers Market is throwing the community a big birthday party today at its Saturday market at Portland State University. Everyone is invited to join the Market’s staff, board members and founders to celebrate this special occasion with birthday treats by local chefs, a dunk tank, live music, birthday hat making for kids, and other festive events.

Also joining in the celebration will be Congressman Earl Blumenhauer, Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Nick Fish, who will each speak during the public ceremony at 11 AM. Mayor Adams will also read a City Proclamation announcing June as Farmers’ Market Month in Portland.

  • Lighted birthday cake and with crowd singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Portland Farmers Market
  • Shoppers waving sparklers
  • Founding farmers/vendors wearing 20th anniversary aprons
  • Shoppers signing a memory book with a note or memory about the market.
  • Farmers, vendors and Portland Farmers Market staff and volunteers getting dunked in the dunk tank by marketgoers
  • Kids making and wearing festive birthday hats
  • The Lego Kid, aka Warren Seely, son of PFM vendors Mike and Candy Seely of Seely Family Farm, and his amazing Lego recreations of farm equipment
  • Visitors enjoying birthday treats prepared by local chefs
  • High School winner of the COUNTRY Financial reusable bag design contest receiving large $1,000 scholarship check
  • A market bounty table, displaying all that visitors can find at the market
  • Live music by 3 Leg Torso

11-11:40 am- Anniversary ceremony on stage in the center of the Market (near main music stage) with

  • Remarks by elected officials, Portland Farmers Market representatives and founders
  • Mayor Adams reading the City Proclamation announcing June as Farmers Market Month in Portland
  • Unveiling of the new Portland Farmers Market logo
  • COUNTRY Financial presenting $1,000 to the Portland Public School high school winner of their reusable bag design contest, $500 to each of two runners up
  • Ceremonial birthday cake presentation, with all singing “Happy Birthday”

11:40 am – Free samples of dishes that celebrate market offerings, including a pork dish by chef Adam Sappington of The Country Cat, a vegetable salad by Market chef Kathryn Yeomans and a berry dessert by Ellen Jackson, co-author of The Grand Central Baking Book.

12-2 pm – Live music by 3 Leg Torso

All day – Dunk tank; birthday hat creation table for kids


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Jim Dixon is a man of many talents: Yurt enthusiast, Olive Oil dealer, Farro Broker and seller of Real Good Foods. Jim is also a writer and way back in 1992 he wrote this review of what was then Portland’s brand spanking new Farmers Market. This article originally appeared in Willamette Week and is reposted to our blog with Jim’s express permission.  BTW- Jim and his Real Good Food will be at this week’s PSU Market. Stop by and say hi. 

Portland’s New Farmers Market

by Jim Dixon

The city dweller may feel uncertain when it comes to supporting sustainable agriculture. It seems like the organic produce in the natural foods store always costs so much more, making it a “politically correct” purchase available only to the well-heeled. And don’t those same stores carry imported produce in the winter?

While it’s often true that “natural foods” marketing includes some contradictory messages, outlets such as Nature’s, Food Front, People’s, and Happy Harvest are often the only source for locally produced food. Going to the country, whether to shop the roadside stands or pick it yourself, isn’t an option for everyone. Farmers markets fill the gap.

Getting up in the wee hours, hauling the produce into town, and setting up shop is an old tradition for farmers around the world. Nearly every American city once had a thriving farmers’ market, typically a warren of noisy stalls offering everything from fresh-picked vegetables to live chickens. The industrialization of agriculture began with the dust bowl. After WWII, interstate highways, supermarkets, and the quest for “convenience” doomed the farmers’ market as hopelessly quaint and in the way of progress.

In the past, Portlanders have had to settle for markets in the outlaying ‘burbs. That changed this summer with the premiere of the Portland Farmer’s Market at Alber’s Mill. Craig Mosback says he started the market because “I like the market atmosphere, meeting and talking with the farmers, and I like getting people down here to see where the food is from.”

Occupying a corner of the old mill’s new parking lot, the bright blue and yellow plastic tarps strung up by the vendors as cover from the rain and sun make it look as though a low-budget circus has come to town. Even the mood is festive, as shoppers eye the produce and cut flowers that spill from tailgates onto makeshift counters. The growers hawk samples of cucumbers and blueberries like carnival touts and offer advice on preparing fresh corn.

Lindsay Bradshaw represents the Oerther Family Farm, an all-organic farm near Clackamas that he describes as “a loose family operation.” He’s selling summer squash, garlic, cucumbers, and fresh herbs. The Peruvian purple potatoes, gnarled, thumb-sized tubers the color of grape jam, come from rootstock obtained, says Bradshaw, “from an old hippy named Johnny Lovewisdom who started a farm commune in Ecuador in 1947.” It’s information like this that you won’t get at Safeway.

Down the way, a table is covered with bright green moss so that it resembles the floor of an old-growth forest deep in the Coast Range. Piled on top of the moss sit creamy white oyster mushrooms, darkly-mottled matsutake fungus as big as your fist, and dusky orange chantarelles, their inverted gills looking like umbrellas caught in the wind. Bags of dried morels resemble miniature coral, and dried boletus—the Italian’s porcini—exude an enticing aroma. Lars Norgren’s Peak Forest Fruit offers wild mushrooms as well as red and blue beach huckleberries. Norgen himself is full of information and willing to share it.

Among the 20 or so other stands you’ll find long, Kentucky Wonder beans mottled with green and purple; red and yellow, round and pear-shaped tomatoes; strangely bulbous Kohlrabi, looking like tiny, tentacled alien beings; bouquets of multi-colored statice and long gladiola stems; potatoes—Yukon gold, Norwegian blue and plain red besides the Peruvian purple; tart tomatilloes with papery husks; muskmelon, yellow-bellied watermelon, and cantaloupe; resh local rabbit, cut into hindquarters and tenderloins and made into Italian, curry, and cranberry-nut sausage; garlic, by the single head or in long braids, alone or with tiny red peppers; shinseiki and hosui pears, crisp, mild, and looking more like apples; white and yellow corn picked just a few hours ago; sweet green bell peppers, hot green and red jalapenos, incendiary pencil-thin yatsafusa chilis, montegas, cubanelles, anaheims, and anchos.

While some of the shoppers are clearly curious as to what’s going on here along the river, others come with a clear purpose. “I wouldn’t make it out their farms to buy produce in the small quantities that I want, but I can do it here,” said Jean Rystron, loaded down with tomatoes and cucumbers. And some do understand the notion of sustainable agriculture. Sara Packer, explaining that all three generations of her family enjoyed the experience of shopping at the Farmers’ Market, added that she also comes “to support small farmers rather than agribusiness.”

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Indian Feast

Article and Photos by Elizabeth Miller
     In India, where 31% of the population identifies itself as being vegetarian (and, by many Indian standards, being a vegetarian in the most basic sense means that one eschews not only meat, but also eggs), it’s not difficult to find a great balance of meals that are able to please both vegetarians and meat eaters alike.  With Indian food, you’re being treated to a mix of deep flavors and hearty ingredients that combine to create a vegetarian experience that is not just incredibly delicious, but also undeniably complete.  What you are eating is not a meal that was designed to substitute or make up for a lack of meat, but rather a meal that was created to be tasty and fulfilling by virtue of vegetables alone.  In Indian cooking, vegetarianism is not an excuse to try and recreate the flavors and experiences of a meaty meal, it’s simply a different way of making fantastic and flavorful food.  You don’t miss the meat, because the meat was never meant to be there in the first place.
     This is not to say that India does not boast some incredibly tasty meat dishes.  I’ve eaten a super spicy dish of rogan josh with chicken that possessed a deliciousness capable of sending mere mortals to the outer reaches of the universe in a state of unparalleled bliss.  (And, as an added bit of information, the region of India from which my mother hails is known for its decidedly meat-centric, non-Indian-food-like diet, so I can confirm that it’s not as though all Indian food leans towards vegetables.)  Nevertheless, when I think of Indian food, I oftentimes find myself focusing on vegetables.  In a slightly reversed chain of events, when strolling around amongst the farmers market produce this weekend, I found myself thinking of Indian food.

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     I don’t know if it was the one pound tomato I bought from Salmon Creek Farms or the positively enormous single potato I picked up at the Winter’s Farm stand, but just seeing the sheer size of the produce that was featured at the market was making me imagine an all vegetable, all Indian feast that could satisfy even the most carnivorous of hungers.  After relieving the Rick Steffan farm stand of a head of golden cauliflower that was larger than my own head, an arm-sized zucchini, and an onion and a cucumber that together weighed enough to warrant some serious carrying refusal from my son, my grocery bag was practically bursting.
     The state of my grocery bag made for an apt description of our bellies by the end of the evening.  With $10 in farmers market produce, I made three positively heaping dishes of Indian food and, believe it or not, I actually had produce left over after preparing all this food.  An Indian feast for the night, with plenty of spare onions and zucchini left over for a delicious breakfast omelet the next day.  Providing one is able to hoist oneself out of bed and waddle to the stove the following morning, that is.
Indian Zucchini Fritters
(Zucchini Pakoras)
4 cups unpeeled, grated zucchini
¼ cup finely shredded onion
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
½ cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ cup chickpea flour (also called garbanzo flour or besan)
¾ cup water
½ cup vegetable oil, for frying
In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, onion, spices, cilantro (if using), salt, and flours.  Gently stir to combine.  When flour has been evenly distributed, slowly add water in a steady stream, stirring to incorporate.  Stir until the zucchini and onions are completely coated in batter.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, until a pinch of batter bubbles rapidly when dropped in.  Using a 1 tablespoon measure, drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil.  Do not crowd the pan or your pakoras will be oily.  Cook each side of the pakoras until golden brown, 2-3 minutes on each side.  Drain the pakoras on a double thickness of paper towels while you fry the remaining batter.  If desired, serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Indian Potatoes and Cauliflower
(Aloo Gobi)
Adapted from Madhur Jeffrey Indian Cooking
1 to 1 ¼ pounds of potatoes
1 large head of cauliflower, about 1 pound of florets, large stem and core removed
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground tumeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
Boil the potatoes in their jackets until tender, then drain and allow to cool completely.  When cool, dice into ½-¾ -inch cubes and set aside.
Separate and slice the cauliflower into medium-sized florets about 1 ½ inches long.  Heat oil in large frying pan set over medium heat.  When oil is hot, add cumin seeds and ground cumin and allow to sizzle for 3-5 seconds.  Add the cauliflower and stir for 2 minutes.  When cauliflower has browned in spots, cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and allow to simmer for 4-6 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked through but still retains a bit of crispness.
Add the diced potatoes, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and some black pepper to taste.  Stir gently to mix, then continue cooking for an additional 3-5 minutes until the potatoes are warmed through.
Tomato, Cucumber, and Onion Salad
(Kachumber)
1 pound tomatoes, seeded and sliced into a ¼-inch dice
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, and flesh cut into a ¼-inch dice
½ of a large red onion, cut into a ¼-inch dice
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, cilantro, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and salt.
In a small pan set over high heat, dry toast the ground cumin until it begins to turn a dark shade of brown.  Immediately remove pan from heat, then add the toasted cumin to the vegetable mixture.  Stir to evenly combine all the ingredients.
Taste for seasoning.  You may want to add more salt or a squeeze more lemon juice.

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Original Albers Mill market, photo by Craig Mosbaek

It’s amazing to think that Portland Farmers Market has been bringing farm-fresh, local produce to the residents of Portland for 20 years.  Established in 1992 by three founders – Craig Mosbaek, Ted Snider and Richard Hagan – the original market was held in a parking lot along the Willamette River at Albers Mill with just 13 vendors that later grew to 22 that first year. Since then, Portland Farmers Market has blossomed into a thriving network of over 180 vendors at six weekly markets in diverse neighborhoods throughout Portland.

To celebrate this momentous occasion and to thank Portlanders for supporting our markets for 20 years, we are throwing a big birthday party this Saturday, June 18, at the PSU Market. Here are some of the festive activities we have planned for you:

PUBLIC CEREMONY AT 11AM

  • Keynote speakers Congressman Earl Blumenhauer, Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Nick Fish
  • New PFM logo designed by FRANK Creative revealed
  • Market founders, sponsors and other key contributors honored
  • Winner of COUNTRY reusable bag design contest announced
  • Market picnic samples provided by Adam Sappington, chef/owner of The Country Cat, Market chef Kathryn Yeomans and Ellen Jackson, co-author of The Grand Central Baking Book
  • Musical guest 3 Leg Torso plays from noon-2pm

ALL DAY ACTIVITIES

  • Dunk tank for shoppers to dunk their favorite PFM farmers, vendors and staff
  • Birthday hat-making activity for kids
  • Signature books where shoppers can write a note or share memories about the market

Remarkably, the 22 founding vendors that kicked off the inaugural 1992 market season are still with us today! The following original vendors will be identified by a special booth sign, so stop by and thank them for providing our community with fresh food and flowers for the past 20 years:

  • Baird Family Orchards, Dayton, OR
  • Early Mom, Aloha, OR
  • Favorite Produce of Oregon, Aloha, OR
  • Gabriel’s Bakery, Portland, OR
  • Gathering Together Farm, Philomath, OR
  • Hummingbird’s Flower Farms, Salem, OR
  • Kaleng Produce, Canby, OR
  • Kenyon Growers, Forest Grove, OR
  • Liepold Farms, Boring, OR
  • Lucky Farms, Gresham, OR
  • Market Fruit/Packer Orchards, Hood River, OR
  • Oregon Walnuts, Beaverton, OR
  • Osmogaia, Woodburn, OR
  • Persephone Farms, Lebanon, OR
  • Philleos Premium Pak, Eltopia, WA
  • Rick Steffen Farm, Salem, OR
  • Rogue Creamery, Central Point, OR
  • Salmon Creek Farm, Battle Ground, WA
  • Spring Hill Farm, Albany, OR
  • Springwater Farm, St. Helens, OR
  • Thompson Farms, Damascus, OR
  • Viridian Farms, Dayton, OR

Join the party this weekend.  We’ll see you there!

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Chard, Hazelnut, and Strawberry Salad

By Ken Rubin, Chef Director, International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Portland

Serves 4 as a salad

1 bunch swiss or rainbow chard, de-stemmed and cut into thin ribbons (a.k.a. chiffonade)

2 Tb. Hazelnuts, toasted, chopped

2 Tb. queso fresco or (or other white crumbly cheese)

½ cup sliced strawberries

1 tsp. sherry vinegar

1 Tb. Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and serve immediately.

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Two Season Meal

Article and Pictures by Elizabeth Miller

During this time of the year, it is often just as difficult to figure out what to buy at the farmers market as it is to figure out what to wear while braving the indecisive weather one must face while at the farmers market.  The occasional ray of sun that bursts through the sky’s thick cover of clouds may tease you with thoughts of warmer days, but you can still count on steady rain showers to douse your mental pictures of backyard grilling and lazy weekend afternoons spent swinging in a hammock.  Your heart wants to wear a light jacket and short sleeves, but your brain tells you to stick with boots and a raincoat.

My debate about food follows a similar train of thought.  Gloomy weather still encourages me to want to roast and braise things, making hot food that will warm my soggy bones.  The sun, however, makes me instantly crave fresh, light fare that I can eat outside in the sunshine while holding a chilled beverage.  My heart wants to have a picnic, but my brain tells tells me to turn on the oven.  In an effort to satisfy my entire being, I decided that this weekend I would do both.

Stopping off at the Delphina’s Bakery stand, I picked up a crisp baguette.  A few steps later, I was cradling a huge bulb of fennel in my arms from Spring Hill Farm.  The size of the produce I was seeing at the farmers market today ran the gamut from impossibly huge to improbably tiny.  When I picked up an enormous parsnip from DeNoble’s Produce, it positively dwarfed all the bunches of petite beets and carrots I saw spilling off of various tables.  At the Deep Roots Farm stand I grabbed a generously sized bundle of incredibly aromatic basil that, I swear, I could smell from nearly five feet away.  While standing in line, I held the basil to my face and breathed in as deeply as I could.  The air outside was cold and the sun had yet to emerge even briefly from behind the clouds, but in my hands I held the promise of summer.

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Roasted Fennel and Parsnips with Lemon Basil Bruschetta

Serves 3-4

Roasted Fennel and Parsnips

1 large parsnip (roughly 12 to 16 ounces), peeled and sliced into ½-inch thick sticks, with the tough inner core removed

1 large bulb of fennel (roughly 8 to 10 ounces) sliced into ½-inch thick ribs

2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed or roughly chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place an oven rack on the lower middle shelf.  Combine parsnips, fennel, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper on a large baking sheet.  Toss together until parsnips and fennel are evenly coated with olive oil and seasoning.  Roast in lower third of oven until parsnips and fennel are tender, caramelized, and the edges are browned, 20-25 minutes, turning once, about 15 minutes into the cooking time.  Serve warm.

Lemon Basil Bruschetta

3 cups loosely packed basil leaves

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 French baguette, cut into slices roughly ¾-inch thick

1 large clove of garlic, peeled

In food processor or blender, combine basil, lemon zest, and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Process or blend until ingredients are evenly incorporated and basil is completely chopped, about 20 seconds.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside while you prepare the bread.

Heat a heavy skillet or grill pan over medium heat.  Using the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, lightly brush one side of each slice of bread.  Place each slice of bread, oiled side down, in the hot pan.  When the oiled side is crisp and lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes, remove bread from pan and rub the still-hot, oiled side with the clove of garlic.  Repeat with all remaining slices of bread.

Top each slice of garlicky grilled bread with 1 teaspoon of lemon basil spread.

With her 3rd Contribution to our blog, Elizabeth has been promoted to our contributors page. You can read her bio here.

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By Amanda Frankel

The supermarket is an active place—people pushing their wheeled plastic carts up and down the fluorescent aisles, weighing fruits and vegetables, comparing calories on the backs of cereal boxes. Here at the supermarket I can find almost any fruit or vegetable I want, no matter the season. However, I can’t help but ask myself: From where do these out-of-season veggies come? Even, where do these in-season veggies come from? How far must an asparagus stalk travel to make it to my plate?

Portland Farmers Market is almost always bursting with energy and action; like the supermarket, shoppers are feeling the fruits, inspecting meats and cheeses, and buzzing about one another like bees around a honeycomb. But the personal interactions, the sights and smells of the market, the personality of the market, are what set it apart. There is a constant conversation between vendors and shoppers, comments exchanged as market-goers cup the belly of an eggplant, sample a sun-ripened berry or indulge in a hot tamale or baby quiche.

Marven Winters, center

Here, I can know exactly where my asparagus comes from. Today I have chosen to purchase from Winters Farms. Winters is a family farm located in Troutdale, Oregon, which means this asparagus has traveled roughly 20 miles to make it to my abode in North Portland.  Comparatively, the asparagus at my local supermarket has traveled from Pasco, Washington– just about 218 miles.  Not bad considering the distances other produce must voyage, but this spring asparagus crop is just one of many produced year-round by this particular importer/distributor. During the rest of the year, their asparagus comes from farms as far away as Mexico, Chile and Peru.

Winters Farms provides more than just asparagus—fruit, flowers, jams, and honeys among their repertoire—to multiple farmers’ markets in Portland and Beaverton. By their own description, Winters Farms is about 150 acres large, and produces “sustainably grown products incorporating free range, IPM, drip and overhead irrigation using commercial fertilizers with no GMO or hormones.” Each week, I see Marven Winters, proprietor, farmer, and vendor, bagging the very produce he grows to hand to shoppers. Unlike at the supermarket, I can see the face behind the food I am buying.

I like knowing where my asparagus has come from and the practices by which it is grown. I tried contacting the distributor of the asparagus from my local supermarket, and have yet to hear back from them. In contrast, if I have questions about Winters Farms’ growing practices, I can visit their Facebook page, look at the PFM website or just ask a member of the Winters family personally at the market.

So as I bite into my asparagus tonight, lightly sautéed with a bit of garlic and lemon, I know confidently where my asparagus has been. I know it was grown locally by the Winters family, I know I am not putting genetically modified food into my body, and I know it was grown sustainably. I have no doubt that some of the best farmers anywhere are those I meet weekly at our local Portland markets, and that they are our very own environmental stewards providing us with healthy, in-season produce that they have grown and delivered to us with their own hands.

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