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Archive for July, 2010

July 31, 2010 Chef in the Market Demonstration by:

Dax Erickson, Chef de Cuisine; The MAC Club

Recipes:

Pickled Summer Vegetable Slaw

Herb and Cucumber Relish

Ingredients for Pickled Summer Vegetable Slaw:

(Please note that any summer vegetable can be used. The time for the pickling is dependent upon the overall density of the vegetable and the thickness in which you cut it.)

3 oz sweet onion

1C cabbage (julienned or shredded)

2 t ginger (peeled and minced)

2 cloves garlic

3 oz sweet or bell peppers (hot peppers can be used as well if desired)

3 oz carrot (julienned)

3 oz mushroom (field or seasonal varietal)

¼ C champagne vinegar

½ T sugar

1 T salt

To taste fresh cracked pepper

Directions for Pickled Summer Vegetable Slaw:

Process the vegetables:

  • As stated above the time for the vegetables to take on the marinade is dependent upon the type of vegetable you use and how thick you cut it. For this recipe all the vegetables are cut fairly thin to allow for a quick marinade.
  • Julienne the cabbage, peppers, and peeled carrot, place in a colander.
  • Thinly slice the garlic and mushroom (depending on what type of mushroom you use) and then place in the colander with the cabbage and carrots.
  • Peel and mince the ginger and place in the colander with the other vegetables.
  • Salt the vegetables, be sure to work the salt into them with your hands as you mix the ingredients.

Make the marinade:

  • In a small mixing bowl combine your vinegar and sugar, mixing them well.
  • Set aside.

Assemble:

  • When the vegetables have given off all the liquid they are going to, rinse with cold water and then place them in a mixing bowl and add the marinade.
  • Let stand lightly covered.

Ingredients for Herb & Cucumber Relish:

½ cucumber (peeled and seeded)

1 ½ C Italian parsley

½ C chive (or the green from a green onion)

2 T capers

1 T lemon juice (fresh)

½ C olive oil (extra virgin preferably)

Directions for Herb & Cucumber Relish:

Process the ingredients:

  • Finely dice the cucumber and place in a mixing bowl.
  • In a food processor blend the herbs, capers and lemon juice. When finely chopped turn off the processor and scrape down the sides.
  • Turn the food processor back on and slowly add the olive oil and continue to until the mixture is slightly creamy.
  • Take the herb mixture and fold in the fine diced cucumber.
  • Set aside.

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Guest Blogger, Lauren Morse

You may have noticed the Portland Growers Alliance at recent Monday Pioneer Square Markets. We’re a brand new collaboration between Mercy Corps Northwest’s refugee agriculture program and Grow Portland, a grassroots urban agriculture organization.

Koushila Koirala, Pabitra Dhimal and Kali Dhungel from Nepal and Bhutan

Growing Together

How does this collaboration work? Mercy Corps Northwest’s New American Agriculture Project (NAAP) supports recent immigrants and refugees begin market gardens in the Portland area. These growers must access outlets for their produce in order to create durable farm businesses; however, due to limited English skills and business backgrounds, they often struggle with this marketing and distribution aspect of growing.

Roots, Rock

The Portland Growers Alliance is providing this marketing and distribution support. Our work is guided by the following principles:

(1) Connecting local growers and consumers

(2) Promoting all natural growing practices

(3) Utilizing vacant urban land for productive agricultural use

(4) Harnessing the skills and potential of immigrant, refugee, and beginning farmers

In our first year of service, we are distributing the produce of NAAP farmers through the Pioneer Square Market, local restaurants, and a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. In the future, we hope to provide our services to additional beginning farmers in the Portland area.

To learn more about the Growers Alliance and our CSA program, see our website. Here you’ll be able to view a brochure with details on our CSA, which will run from late August through November. We’re recruiting new shareholders now, so sign up soon!

And don’t forget to print out our coupon for $2.00 off veggies! Stop by the Pioneer Square Market this Monday from 10 am-2 pm to say hello and get some delicious produce.Portland Growers Alliance Coupon

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A Lesson in Canning Demystification

Can't beat Zoe's Favorites pickled beets

“It’s a miracle,” Michelle Cooper of Zoë’s Favorites Pickles and Preserves told me in response to my question about her small-business beginnings. Michelle, a former General Manager for Gustavs and the Rheinlander, and later Director of Food and Beverage at a large hotel, found herself busy, successful, and totally out of balance.

“I was working too much…I wanted a simpler life.” So she grabbed all the canning and recipe books she could get her hands on, made friends with national food scientists and the FDA, and introduced us all to Zoë’s Favorites. Named after her oldest daughter, Zoë’s Favorites is a buzzing booth at the market that specializes in small batch pickled asparagus, garlic, carrots, jams and jellies, and famous picked beets.

There are some people who would say that ordering 200 pounds of local asparagus at a time, raising 4 girls under the age of 12, and running a small business is far from simple, but Michelle doesn’t skip a beat. For her, canning is a way to stay connected to local communities, support small farms, and keep her family happy and healthy by serving up seasonal produce year-round.

I have to admit, prior to writing this article I had only really canned twice before. The first time was a 5 hour adventure making raspberry jam with a friend who jokingly reminded me that one false move could send my loved ones to the hospital with a serious case of botulism. Great. The second was a much more relaxed solo adventure where I canned yummy dilled carrots. I was surprised after both experiences at just how simple it was to put up my own food. I even felt a little rebellious thinking, ‘forget you Smuckers, I’ll make my own jam!’

Canning or “putting up” is a centuries-old tradition that seemed to have gone the way of the Dodo for many, but has recently resurfaced to become an integral part of the staying local food movement. You’d have to be in a long Portland hibernation to miss the locavore’s Stumptown-fueled cries: We need to know where our food comes from.

Michelle agrees, and her excitement for local food is contagious. She treats her canning business as a personal extension of the farm, buying from local growers and encouraging others to do the same. On Saturdays, you will see her at the PSU market, giving out canning advise to veterans and newbies alike with unwavering enthusiasm.

According to Michelle, canning is especially fun and easy to do because it doesn’t require much special equipment. A large pot to boil water, clean pint or half-pint jars with un-used lids, and a jar lifter to remove the jars from boiling water will get you going. Michelle also relies on her Ball Blue Book, what she cheekily referred to as ‘the Bible’ of canning. Biggest tip? Stick to the recipe.

So the next time you’re at the Farmer’s market, pondering whether or not you really can eat an entire flat of strawberries, consider putting ‘em up instead. There are hundreds of books, friendly farmers, and helpful Youtube videos to guide you along the way. Better yet, you can sign up for lessons in preservation right here through our own Portland Farmer’s Market! So go ahead, choose your favorite market bounty and give canning a shot. If you have trouble deciding what to do first, let Michelle guide the way. She even gave us her most popular recipe to get you started. Now that’s a miracle.

Nicolette Purcell Smith

Visit Nicolette’s blog

Beet Pickles from Zoë’s Favorites Pickles and Preserves

5 lbs of beets

4 cups apple cider vinegar

1 ½  cups water

2 cups sugar

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Boil the beets until fork tender. Peel the beets. Cut into wedges and loosely pack into jars. Combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Fill the jars with the hot liquid, leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top of the jar. Remove any air bubbles. Attach the lids and rings on the jars. Process the jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

Yields 6 pints.

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Watermelons turned up at Wednesday’s Shemanski Market. Saturday’s PSU Market could be in the melons too. Last week, PSU had 100s of fruits and veggies including okra, tomatoes, peaches, cherries, blueberries, new potatoes, green beans, zucchini/other summer squash, onions and garlic – garlic that is so fresh and tender it is waiting for a someone to memorialize it with Neruda-like Ode to Garlic, or at least cook with it. This week’s PSU Market should have all that plus more reasonable weather.

Little Fresh Courgette

If you live or work in NW Portland and haven’t quite nailed down dinner plans for tonight, stop by the NW 23 Market for something quick and easy. Twist wine, Grand Central bread, goat cheese, lettuce and a big juicy peach for dessert. Or Copper Crown Pesto, Spring Hill Gang’s new potatoes and a little something-something from Two Tarts. Or some other equally good combination of salty-sweet-nutritiously good foods – They are waiting for you at 23rd & Savier between 3-7 today.

Last week I took a trip to the Buckman Market to watch Katherine Deumling make some zucchini fritters, which looked like a perfectly good thing to do to a zucchini. Katherine did such a good job they tasted  better than I thought a zucchini ever could.  This week’s market has plenty of zucchini but no Katherine, you can learn how to shop the Market with Katherine here. Next week, August 5th, there is a garden workshop about organic pest and weed control at the Buckman Market from 5:30-6:30.  Advance registration, this right here – GardenWorkshopFlierFullPage, is encouraged but not required.

As usual, King Market on Sunday. And what is better than coffee on a Sunday Morning?  Spunky Monkey Coffee – one of the 50+ businesses who have started at PFM and since expanded to a bricks and mortar business. Sip your coffee, go early and get eggs, bread and cheese for brunch or roll in late eat a baked good and get a little something to grill your weekend dinner. As far as Sunday activities go, King beats the trip to IKEA.

Busy week on our blog: Russ Parsons answered 5 questions about fruit, Executive Director Ann Forsthoefel asked readers to get involved with Senate Bill 510, tomorrow a feature on Zoe’s Pickles – Plus a recipe. Next week, we’ll checking in with Susan Bliss to see how she is spending all the Market tokens she won in last year’s raffle and maybe a new video. Make it a habit to surf on by our blog or for more up to the minute information, Facebook and Twitter are there to keep you in the moment – come on all the kids are doing it.

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Senate Bill 510, also known as the FDA Food Modernization Act, seeks to make food safer for consumers. Portland Farmers Market believes in healthy, affordable and safe food for all, but worries how Senate Bill 510 will affect our vendors. At issue: As written, the proposed law’s ‘one size fits all’ regulations will hurt family farms, food related small businesses and agricultural entrepreneurs or, as you know them, the growers, ranchers, farmers and food artisans who make up Portland Farmers Market.

PFM Executive Director Ann Forsthoefel on Senate Bill 510:

Last week at the Buckman Market we had the privilege of hosting a group from the Oregon Sustainability Experience. It was a beautiful evening and the participants were very interested in learning more about direct farming and how it makes a difference in the community. Jamie Reckers, the site coordinator for this market, proudly shared that there are 17 farmers participating at this market who sell directly to the residents of this urban neighborhood. This fresh produce that has been harvested in the last 24 hours is being sold to approximately 1,500 shoppers weekly. Jamie also shared that the total acreage under the care of these farmers and orchardists is approximately 800 acres. I could tell by the reaction of some of the participants that they were impressed with the amount of land under tillage as well as the amount of shoppers in attendance each week.

Raised in rural Ohio where my next-door neighbor alone farmed over 1,000 acres of soybeans, corn, and wheat, I knew that 800 acres was not a lot. What is impressive though is that our grower’s 800 acres of row crops produces a stunning variety of fresh, vibrant fruits and vegetables, as compared to the 1,000 acres of commodity crops grown by my former neighbor. Our local farmers are feeding people not feedlot animals or cars.

I began to wonder, why are we even debating on Senate Bill 510?

The family farmers participating at our markets are not in the same category as commodity farmers—not by a long shot. The largest farm operation in the United States is Farmers National Company (FNC). In 2008, FNC had 1.2 million acres in production, represented over 3,600 farms and ranches under its management, and had 140 full time employees in farm management services and an additional 100 real-estate agents. It is simply mind blowing that Senate Bill 510 would require our small family farms to follow the same regulations as this mega-operation.

Senate Bill 510 will not be a financial hardship for FNC, but I cannot say the same for our farmers. The Tester-Hagan Amendment seeks to exclude farms and food businesses with revenues below $500,000 from the new produce standards and preventive controls in the bill. These smaller entities would continue to be regulated under existing local, state and federal law. I am hopeful this amendment will succeed in a floor vote, as it will provide insurance against the one-size-fits-all rules that could be potentially harmful to the family farms and small food businesses that nourish our community.

Please contact your senator today.

We urge you to read, share, email, post, link, comment and most of all contact your senator in support of the Tester (Jon, D-MT, the Senate’s only farmer)-Hagan Amendment that exempts small scale processors and direct marketing farms from the proposed law. Contact info can be found at congress.org or below:

OR Jeff Merkley: merkley.senate.gov, (202)224-3753; 503-326-3386
OR Ron Wyden: wyden.senate.gov, (202)224-5244; 503-326-7525

WA Patty Murray: murray.senate.gov, (202)224-2621; 360-696-7797
WA Maria Cantwell: cantwell.senate.gov, (202)224-3441; 360-696-7838

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5 Questions for Russ Parsons

Russ Parsons’ knowledge of produce combined with his passion for seasonal foods makes his books and articles read like the  prose offspring of Alice Waters and Harold McGee. From his work home at the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Parsons’ beat includes everything from the gigantic agriculture industry to the ephemeral food fads of Southern Cal.

Pick Me, Pick Me, Pick Me

Outside of the Southland, Mr. Parsons is better known for his books, How to Read a French Fry and one of my all-time favorite books on food, How to Pick a Peach. That book’s list on which fruits can be refrigerated is the single most practical piece of information ever published and the rest of the book is pretty good too – Detailing everything from how and why varieties are grown to how to select ripe fruit to what to do with your selections after you bring them home. Mr. Parsons was kind enough to answer 5 questions for us via email from his home base in LA.

Due to a cool and extremely wet Spring, the strawberry crop, normally a $17m crop in Oregon, was brutalized this year. What is the importance of a cash crop like strawberries for small farms?

Traditionally strawberries have been one of the highest earning crops … that’s why you hear so many stories about strawberry farmers who put their kids through college on 5 acres. They are very demanding, very susceptible to diseases and they require a lot of handwork, but they earn a lot, too. Beyond that, there are certain crops that people HAVE to buy when they see them, I think, and strawberries are one of them. Even if the farmer has other crops, the strawberries are important because they draw people to the stand … as long as I’m picking up my strawberries, I’ll get some kale and some garlic, too.

One of our growers produces raspberries for a grocery chain but grows a different variety to sell at Market. Could you explain how ‘successful’ varieties of fruit are selected (and why flavor might not be a consideration).

The big benefit of shopping at a farmers market is being able to taste before you buy. So farmers who sell at them are smart to choose fruit that tastes good. Seems simple, but shoppers at the grocery can’t taste, so they have to buy on visuals, so farmers may choose varieties that are bigger, firmer, or have more color. There’s another factor: Farmers at growers markets can price their fruit high enough to make it worthwhile growing a variety that may have great flavor, but may be producer fewer fruit. Since farmers at the grocery have to make their money on volume, they have to go with the heavy bearers.

Agriculture-wise, everything is so much bigger in Callie. For better and worse, what does this mean for both consumers and growers/farmers?

There are a lot of really big farms in California, but there are a lot of small ones, too. I think the average size is somewhere around 100 acres, which may be big in Oregon, but certainly wouldn’t be in Illinois. Also something like 80% of the farmers in California are owned either by families or by individuals. Lately, we’ve seen an increase in the number of really small farms, 10 acres or less, that are possible because of farmers markets. Of course, we’re also seeing an increase in the number of really big farms, because they are the only ones who can absorb the really thin margins that come with commodity fruits and vegetables.

So how do you pick a peach anyway, or at least a ripe one?

First, recognize that there is a difference between maturity and ripeness. They are separate but overlapping processes. Maturity is when the fruit has built up as much sugar as it can; ripeness is when it tastes as good as it can. Maturity only comes when the fruit is on the tree, but ripeness will continue after the fruit has been picked. When I’m buying peaches (or nectarines, or plums for that matter), I’ll usually try to pick up a couple of good ripe pieces of fruit for that day, but generally I prefer to buy fruit that’s a little under-ripe. Truly ripe fruit is very delicate and since it’s standing out in bins for other shoppers to paw through, it’s frequently bruised. Just leave fruit that’s slightly underripe out on the counter at room temperature and within a day or two it’ll ripen. One really important thing with peaches and nectarines– don’t refrigerate them until they are dead ripe. That ruins them.

To pick a peach (or a nectarine), look for color: not the red blush, which is genetic, but the background color, which should be golden. Feel the fruit: when it’s ripe there’ll be a slight give to it. Smell the fruit: ripe stonefruit has amazing perfume. For truly great peaches and nectarines, as opposed to really good ones, choose fruit where the background color is more orange than yellow.

What is your favorite thing you have been cooking at home lately?

The thing I’ve been doing most lately is making quick jams — it’s really easy: 1 pound of cut-up fruit, about 1 pound of sugar and the juice of half a lemon. Cook them until the juices are clear, then set them aside overnight. The next day, cook them 2-2 1/2 cups at a time in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. The jam sets in about 5 minutes and the flavor is really fresh and bright.

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July 24, 2010 Chef in the Market Demonstration by:

Michael Uhnak, Besaws

Recipes:

Pork Loin

Potato Salad

Ingredients for Pork Loin:

One 5lb Pork Loin

5 fresh peaches

1 lg yellow onion

1 bunch rainbow chard

3 sage sprigs

salt

pepper

Directions for Pork Loin:

• Roll cut pork loin

• Pit peaches and cut into wedges

• Peel, julienne and place yellow onion in pan

to caramelize

• Rinse chard

• Chop sage

• Lay pork loin out in one layer like a sheet. Season with salt and pepper

• Combine and spread peaches, chard and onions across pork loin sheet

• Roll, tuck and skewer pork loin

• Slice into wheels and sear in a hot pan of oil

Ingredients for Potato Salad:

2 lb baby red or Yukon potatoes

8 cloves garlic

1/8 C extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch spinach

1 pint fresh cherry tomatoes

Salt

Pepper

1 oz white wine vinegar

Directions for Potato Salad:

• Cut potatoes into thin coins

• Saute in olive oil until tender

• Add garlic and caramelize the potato and garlic together

• Add tomato, spinach and add white vinegar, salt and pepper.

• Serve immediately

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