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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.

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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.

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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.

Backyard Brilliance

Looking for a little backyard inspiration?  This weekend, Sustainable Overlook is holding its 3rd annual pesticide-free neighborhood garden tour.

SustainableOverlookPosterSustainable Overlook Garden Tour

Saturday, June 28, 2014

All gardens open from 10am to 3pm

Self-guided tours include a map and begin at either 3908 N Concord Ave. or 5929 N Curtis Ave.

Suggested Donation $5

This tour features yards in the Overlook neighborhood of North Portland that express Sustainable Overlook’s mission of ‘Building Community and Resilience’ in a variety of clever and inspiring ways.

In just one neighborhood you’ll discover parking strips converted into edible gardens, green roofs, low-water use plantings, backyard honeybees and chickens, aquaponics units, a celebrated winery in a garage, and five Backyard Habitat Certification Program landscapes.

Living_roofIn addition, the historic W. C. and Adeline Elliott House will open its doors to welcome a tour of the stunning first floor restoration of this classic Victorian home with its flower-filled, bee-friendly front yard.

Tour-goers will also have the opportunity to learn more from these esteemed organizations: East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Metro, Xerces Society, Backyard Habitat Conservation Program, Bee Friendly Portland, Growing Gardens, Right to Know Campaign, and Friends of Overlook Bluff.

For more information and profiles on the gardens included in the tour route please visit Sustainable Overlook’s website.

by Bruce Pokarney, Oregon Department of Agriculture

Whether it is selling at farmers’ markets and roadside stands or marketing through community supported agriculture (CSAs), Oregon producers are more likely than their counterparts in other states to cut out the middle man. The latest Census of Agriculture shows Oregon farmers and ranchers are among the nation’s leaders in farm direct marketing.

According to the Census of Agriculture, Oregon ranks sixth in the nation with 6,274 farms reporting direct sales of agricultural products to individual consumers. Only California, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio have more farms with direct sales. The value of sales by farm direct marketing in Oregon has eclipsed $44 million, ranking ninth in the nation. The numbers include sales from farmers’ markets, roadside stands, pick your own operations, door-to-door sales, and CSAs.

While the census does not tally the number of farms participating specifically in farmers’ markets or roadside stands, it does break out farms marketing products through CSAs where Oregon ranks 10th of all states with 391 farms.

The growers behind the numbers agree there are advantages to farm direct marketing. The middle man is eliminated, which gives the farmer a better profit margin. Other advantages of selling directly to customers include better price and getting the money sooner. For the consumer, it’s easy and satisfying to know that the product being offered directly from an Oregon farm and locally grown.

Board of Agriculture member Barbara Boyer co-founded the McMinnville Farmers’ Market. She isn’t surprised by Oregon’s high rankings in farm direct marketing.

“The consumer is getting more educated and I think they want to close the loop from when the produce leaves the field to when it makes it to their plate,” says Boyer. “There’s a comfort level with food purchased directly from the farmer. I think the consumer enjoys meeting the farmer and having that conversation. That experience is just as important as the purchase.”

When the McMinnville Farmers’ Market started in 2001, it had 600 shoppers. Today, that number exceeds 4,000.

Laura Masterson is another Board of Agriculture member not surprised at Oregon’s standing, especially given the increased interest by consumers wanting to know where their food comes from.

“The opportunities for people to buy direct, the growth has been exponential in farmers markets, CSAs, in all of those areas” says Masterson. “We’ve been reaching into new markets, reaching new people, reaching suburban audiences that didn’t have access before, and all that equals more opportunities for more farmers.”

A look at the census shows that CSAs generally follow the same pattern of distribution around the state. CSA subscribers pay at the start of the growing season for a share of the harvest to follow and receive weekly shares of vegetables and fruits. The arrangements are particularly popular in Oregon’s urban communities.

As an urban farmer operating the 47th Avenue Farm in Southeast Portland since 1994, Masterson has been supplying fresh local produce primarily through a community supported agriculture program. Initially having an intense interest in agriculture but no real experience or ties with agriculture, she thought a CSA was a good way to start small and try it out with no major capital outlay. The decision for her proved to be a good one.

“I love farming and would want to farm no matter what,” says Masterson. “But the weekly interaction with the CSA customer is a huge benefit to me. I’m able to visit, share recipes, and have my food appreciated by our customers– just having that direct, heartfelt and thoughtful interaction on a regular basis means so much.”

More farmers and more consumers in Oregon are seeing the value of the farm direct relationship.

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Interested in joining a CSA?  View this awesome map created by the City of Portland.

Wondering what to do with all that kohlrabi from your CSA or the late summer bumper crop of zucchini from your garden?  Below you’ll find a message from our friend Katherine Deumling about a wonderful new service she is providing to our community.

CWWYH

Cook With What You Have has just launched its Seasonal Recipe Collection! Now you can cook even more, eat better, and never waste any of those precious vegetables you buy or wished you bought but didn’t because you weren’t sure what to do with them.

The collection is 500 + recipes, organized alphabetically by vegetable, from the common to the lesser known. For $25/year you have access to tips and techniques and recipes for the bounty we have at our fingertips, with new features every week.

I have been cooking with our local produce for years while writing recipes for CSA farmers and their members. I have come to love the garlic scapes and fava beans, the giant purple mustard greens, the cauliflower and winter greens as well as the more common peppers, tomatoes, green beans, snap peas and corn and so much more.

I feel fortunate to live in a climate that allows year-round cultivation and even more fortunate to have skilled and dedicated farmers who provide a staggering bounty of vegetables, herbs and fruits and make the most of each month of the year. Learn more about my background and approach to making the most of our bounty.

So what do you do with the lesser known items or when you’re in a rut and want new ideas for your favorite vegetable or a way to preserve it, pickle it, stretch it or move through a mountain of it? Let me help you! Join the Cook With What You Have family and my collection of 500+ recipes will become your recipes.

RECIPE

Fennel Frond and Garlic Scape Yogurt Sauce

fennel frond garlic scape yogurt sauce IITry this sauce with grilled vegetables or seafood.  I served this recently with grilled fennel and garlic scapes and grilled salmon.

Makes about 3/4 cup sauce

Ingredients

½ cup (or more) finely chopped fennel fronds

1 garlic scape, minced or 2 cloves new/green garlic with some of the stalk, if attached and tender, minced

Generous ½ cup Greek yogurt (full fat preferably)

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of ½ a lemon (or more to taste)

1 tablespoon good olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning. It should be good and lemony and a bit spicy from the garlic.

ABOUT KATHERINE

duemlingKatherine Deumling is the owner and operator of Cook With What You Have – a small business devoted to making cooking a regular, delicious, and creative part of people’s lives. She partners with area farmers markets to promote local produce and works with non-profits, public agencies, and businesses to empower people to create healthy, delicious meals.

Katherine is the chair emeritus of the Board of Directors of Slow Food USA. She previously served as a Slow Food chapter leader in Portland, OR. Katherine is a Sister on the Planet Ambassador for Oxfam America. She was the recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship that allowed her to study food and culture in rural Mexico and Italy for a year in 1996. Katherine is active in the food community in Portland and is an avid gardener and cyclist.

By Kelly Merrick

tomatostartsIs it just me, or is everyone’s schedule packed full of activity? These days I feel like I am constantly moving from one thing to another, with hardly a moment to breathe in between.

But if the market activities planned for the next month are any indication of how busy market staff have been, then no, I am definitely not the only one, because wow, is there some market news to be shared!

First, let’s cover what’s happening this weekend:

  • Julie Merry of The Merry Kitchen will host the Market Play Zone at the King Market this Sunday, June 1. Bring your little ones by to make and sample strawberry swirl dip!
  •  In other news, three of our very own market vendors have been nominated for Local Hero Awards, hosted by Edible Portland. The awards honor businesses who are transforming how they engage with the community, source ingredients and care for their employees, animals, land. This year, 24 local businesses were nominated, including Starvation Alley in the beverage artisan category; Sun Gold Farm in the farm category; and Tails and Trotters in the retailer category.

If you’re a fan of these three vendors (and you should be!) you can visit www.ecotrust.org/project/local-hero-awards/ to cast your vote. But hurry, because voting ends May 31.

Several vendors will also be making their first appearance of the year at this week’s Portland State University Market:

  • IMG_6223Unger Farms (berries!)
  • Baird Family Orchards (cherries!)
  • FoodWaves
  • Eva’s Herbucha

While a few others will be making their monthly appearance:

  • Cascade Naturals
  • Jacobsen’s Salt

Second, let’s cover what’s happening at the market in June:

  • Three markets opening: Northwest on Thursday, June 5, Kenton on Friday, June 6 and Pioneer Courthouse Square on Monday, June 16.
  • Kids Cook at the Market also begins in June and runs through the end of August. The cost per child is $5, and market staff asks that you sign up prior to visiting the market, as class sizes are limited.
  • Chef in the Market will also make its debut June 7, kicked off with Chef Todd Koebke of Sabin Schellenberg Center. Chef demonstrations begin at 10 a.m. on the center stage at the PSU Saturday Market, each Saturday from June through September, and are a great opportunity to get to know local chefs and try freshly-prepared market ingredients.

And third, let’s cover just a few of the delicious and seasonal goodies you can get at the market this week:

  • IMG_6214Strawberries, strawberries, strawberries!
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Asparagus
  • Fava beans
  • Tomato starts
  • Herb starts

Happy shopping!

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