Archive for April, 2011

Photo of vendor Eatin' Alive

Paige Common of Eatin' Alive with her raw food chariot.

Paige Common of Eatin’ Alive, one of the many new vendors to peddle their wares this year, took a slightly indirect path to get where she is today. She lived abroad working in WWOOF programs (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). Then she pursued a degree in naturopathic medicine, but became a yoga instructor instead. Now Paige is a grade school teacher.

But her early training in the world of food never left her system. This Sunday, opening day of the King Market, Paige will be taking a much more direct route to get where she’s going. This time through Portland streets atop a darling “bicycle-powered vending station.”

Eatin’ Alive’s mission statement says it all:

We believe in harnessing raw energy in our transport and our cooking. We use all organic, locally grown produce to create seasonal, freshly prepared raw snacks such as: seed and nut pates, wild crafted pesto, garden wraps, a variety of prepared salads, and delicious sweet treats.

With the help of her boyfriend, who won a grant to design and build pedal-powered “bike cars,” Paige is not just talking the talk but biking the bike. She started slowly, selling handmade chocolates off her bike at events like First Thursday. She befriended vendors who knew she was a good cook. They encouraged her to apply to be a vendor.

Herself a vegetarian, she learned about raw foods and said she’s never felt better. After “falling off the bike” during a particularly busy period with school, she recommitted to raw foods and had much more energy as a result. That being said, she does enjoy cooked meals with friends. Paige learned on her travels that it was a mistake to turn down foods offered by locals. These food faux pas helped her confirm that sharing food with others is just as important as the food you put in your body.

With a grin stretching across her bright face, she said, “my food is like medicine”—in the best kind of way, of course. She’s bothered by the perception that raw food is somehow elitist and said that in some circles, packaged raw food is very expensive. “Good, healthy food should be for everyone. It shouldn’t be exclusive.”

So what can you expect on Sunday?

• Sunny Seed Pate

• Wild Dandelion Pesto

• Pear Fig Hazelnut Cobbler

You’ll be able to sample these raw treats with what she calls krautkers, her version of a cracker made from pureed vegetables and flax seed, which is then dried. You’ll find Eatin’ Alive’s goodies in glass jars. Shoppers can pay a $1 deposit, which they’ll get back the next week if they return the jar. Or they can reuse it!

So stroll on over to the King Market this Sunday to meet Paige and the other new and returning vendors. Or better yet, pedal on over.

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Table of radishes
On a fine April day at the market last year, I stopped in my tracks. All that had been left of an earlier mountain of radishes was some leafy shrapnel and a sign indicating what you could have had, had you been quick enough. It was like vegetal strip mining.

I thought the radish was an overlooked vegetable until I recalled their swift disappearance on that occasion. Suddenly, radishes are appearing in full force on restaurant menus around town. Could it really be that radishes are so desirable? Or were market shoppers lured by the vivid green and red display? Or are the French, who adore radishes with butter and salt, stealthily infiltrating our fine city?

Whatever it is radishes are here and at their best now until around July.

What’s so great about radishes?

They are satisfyingly crunchy and peppery. They come with lovely names attached, such as French breakfast, Easter egg and watermelon. And they come in equally charming colors—pinks, whites, purples, blacks, reds and white tipped. They’re also very nutritious.

The radish’s roots trace to China and Egypt but get their name from the Greek word for quickly appearing. They’re the most quickly harvested vegetable and also protect the garden from critters. Radishes are yet another member of the large family of crucifers such as mustards, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.

How to choose and prepare

Select firm radishes without blemishes and splits in them. To keep radishes fresh, remove the green tops and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. Use within a few days of purchasing. But don’t toss those greens! You can make a radish greens soup.

Jar of pickled radishesYou can do most anything with a radish—pickling, braising, (see below), poaching and broiling. Thinly sliced, they can be added to fish tacos or made into slaws (combined with other shredded vegetables like cabbage). Toss them on a salad with crumbled blue cheese and nuts. Shred and mix them with butter, salt and pepper to spread on bread. They are a good foil to sweet flavors like shaved fennel. Or citrus like lime and orange. They pair well with dill, chives and other herbs. To make the pickled radishes at left, heat some cider vinegar and salt, add a little water and then pour into a jar of sliced radishes sprinkled with herbs de Provence.

The recipe below is a perfect excuse to grab a bunch of radishes. Get them fast but don’t knock anyone over in the process!



Sweet and Sour Braised Radishes
from Gregory Perrault of June

Greg is serving up these braised radishes with wild steelhead and a yogurt fennel seed sauce, green garlic and cilantro. “The radishes provide a nice contrast in texture, flavor, and color from the other components of the dish,” said Greg. He’s in the midst of experimenting himself, so you might try these with red or white wine and maybe your favorite herbs. In other words, feel free to improvise.

3 bunches radishes (any type)
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar (champagne or white wine)
2 cups white wine
1 T butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Caramelize the sugar: heat the sugar in a medium pot over medium heat. Add just a little water to help the sugar dissolve and prevent burning. You don’t need to stir; just allow the sugar to heat up, keeping an eye on it. When it turns a nice caramel color, add the vinegar and simmer until it starts to thicken. Then add the wine and return to a simmer. Add radishes, either whole or cut, and gently simmer for 2-3 hours, or until they are at a desired level of tenderness. Add the butter and stir till radishes are glazed. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

You can also make the radishes ahead of time and re-warm the mixture just before serving, adding the butter at the end and simmering until the radishes are warmed through and glazed.

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A Year of Eating Locally

A year ago in April, Friend of the Market Jane Pellicciotto began to wonder where her food dollars were going.  As a frequent shopper of farmers’ markets, Jane believed in the benefits of purchasing local, seasonal food directly from the hands who had grown or produced it, so she made a decision: she was going to put her money where her mouth was by tracking how much she was spending on local food—and record the results for an entire year.

Below you will find some highlights from Jane’s journey, including the utterly charming visual logs she created each month along with other musings and conclusions.  For an in-depth look at Jane’s yearlong endeavor, visit her blog. Click on each produce log below for more details on that particular month.

Year at a Glance:

April produce May produce June produce
April: in the beginning May: asparagus, radishes, fennel, raabs June: peas, zucchini, artichokes, kohlrabi
July produce August produce September produce
July: berries, arugula, artichokes. beans, carrots August: Is there folly in local? Sept: fennel, melon, peppers, peaches, tomatoes, plums
October produce November produce December produce
October: squash, apples, pears, peppers, soup makings November: sunchoke, cranberry, greens, romanesco December: finding local in winter, root veg, cabbage, pears
January produce February produce March produce
January: enjoying chicories and root veg February: making time to nourish March: final tally, eating well, what’s next

Total Produce Costs

Local produce: $748.48 (81% of total)
Non-local produce: $178.43 (19% of total)
Total produce: $926.91

What Is Local Anyway?

My definition of local could be debated. I included Oregon and Washington. A Washington carrot might have less far to travel to Portland than would an Oregon carrot, given that Portland sits at the border of Washington State. I also knew that it would be hard to find out where that cameo apple was from in Washington—500 miles away, or only 50? Grocery store clerks don’t know that kind of thing. To keep it simple, I included the whole state.

Why I Like Buying Local

• I’m more connected to the producer.
• The food is about as fresh as it can get.
• I feel pretty confident the food is grown in safe conditions.
• Waiting until an item is in season makes me appreciate it more.
• I know that more of my dollar is kept in the local economy.
• When you buy local, you’re more likely to commune with other people.
• Picking produce at a farm (or in your garden) gets you outside enjoying fresh air.

Thank you, Jane, for sharing your journey with us!

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Master Preserver Cara Haskey and her enviable edibles

Spring is here. I know it, as my rhubarb told me so. The first stalks sprouting up from my garden shouting ”sunny days are ahead” sounded the alarm that it is time for me to begin planning my food preservation strategies for the year ahead.

So I get to work, making my first batch of jam: Rhubarb-Ginger. This small batch of low-sugar jam will never see a canning jar. I’ve been waiting months to enjoy it and it will be consumed immediately, enjoyed warm on some fresh crusty bread or homemade scones, while I map out my plan for the bountiful season ahead.

I’ll take stock of what I have left from previous efforts and reflect on the meals my family enjoyed most over the past year. I’ll peruse cookbooks borrowed from the local library and scour blogs in search of new recipes I might like to try in the year ahead. I’ll organize my jars and inventory what I need for the canning season ahead.

I can and preserve food all year long, but the bulk of my work lies between the months of June and October.  Luscious Oregon berries will fill my freezer and take their rightful place on the pantry shelves in the form of jams and syrups. Beans, corn, carrots and more will be stashed in tangy brine. Pastured chickens and grass-fed meats will fill the bottom baskets in my freezer for safe keeping until I’m ready to make stock, soups or hearty family meals. Finally, hundreds of pounds of tomatoes will be condensed and jarred for a yearlong supply of sauces, soup bases, salsas and savory spreads.

While filling a pantry with a year’s worth of home-canned goods and stocking your freezer with the best the market has to offer may seem like a daunting task, I assure you that any modern homemaker is capable of achieving this task. With the right strategies and careful planning followed by a few days of hard work you can supply your family with homemade convenience foods that showcase local produce and reduce your dependence on industrial foods. I’ve done it, even while working a 40-60 hour/week job outside the home. Let me show you how!

I’m passionate about sharing my knowledge of the domestic arts and helping others identify appropriate strategies for incorporating them into our modern lifestyles. Whether your ambitions are grand-scale or you’d just like to learn a bit more about the time-honored tradition of home canning, I invite you to join me in the upcoming “Preserving the Market” series of classes.  We’ll be kicking the season off on May 12 with an introductory canning class. I’ll cover all the basics of water bath and pressure canning and share my favorite tips and strategies for stocking the pantry. We’ll also sample a few of my favorite dishes made with the home-canned goods we’ll be producing during the remainder of the series’ classes.

Instructor Cara Haskey is a veteran PFM instructor and volunteer. In addition to teaching the annual “Preserving the Market” series of classes, she has tested, developed and demonstrated recipes for Taste the Place, answered shoppers’ questions about seasonal produce at the Recipe Station and assisted with special events. Cara has earned her certification as a Master Preserver and Food Safety Advisor from Washington State University Extension. She teaches classes in the Portland and Seattle areas. For more information, recipes and tips visit Cara’s site: www.modernpreserves.com.

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Move over, cupcake- there’s a new pie in town.

Not just one pie either, many pies. Sweet ones, savory ones, and tiny little pie tarts that fit right in the palm of your hand.

Get ready for a lattice-crust-covered take over.

This year, some of the newest additions to the Portland Farmers Market line up include some pretty amazing pie slingers who feature everything from raw, vegan pies; to savory, bacon-in-the-middle hand pies. If your most recent experience of pie resembled something like canned pumpkin during Thanksgiving, you’re in luck. There are some new artisans around town that will show you just how pie is supposed to be: No canned pumpkin in sight.

The Raw: Divine Pie

Meet Alissa and her raw food creation, Divine Pie. Alissa originally began creating her famous raw pies for a food cart she cleverly called, A Streetcar Named Inspire. While the food cart business was good for Alissa, she gradually realized she needed to break out on her own and focus on her unique, raw pies full time.

Divine Pies are all made with love and filled with as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. With flavors like Key Lime, Chocolate Hazelnut (featuring our own Freddy Guy’s hazelnuts), and Marionberry Cheesecake, Alissa’s pies will trump any pre-conceived notions that raw food is too bland or too earthy. She even has a growing cult following to prove it. This may be the first year for Alissa at the market, but over the past few weeks, she’s been selling out like a true veteran.

The Classic: Loretta Jean’s

Named after owner Kate McMillen’s grandmother, Loretta Jean’s makes classic, flaky, butter crusted pies just the way you wish your own grandma used to make.

Kate’s grandmother taught her the secrets of pie making, and we’re all better for it. Kate spent 3½ years dreaming up creative pies at Random Order Coffeehouse on NE Alberta, as well as a stint at Tastebud in Southeast before opening up her own pie-centered business.

Loretta Jean’s quiches and pies are made from gorgeous, seasonal ingredients found right here in Oregon. Just like the name of her bakery, Kate’s market booth is nostalgic with elevated cake pedestals and tiny little fluted pie tarts filled with chocolate custard and whipped cream. But don’t be fooled by the sweet little pie “sliders” in the front of the case, Kate also has savory treats up her sleeve with ingredients like spicy meatballs, and roasted squash with goat cheese and caramelized onion. Last week she even gave us the first rhubarb pie of the year.

The Future of Portland Pie

Whether you’re into raw food pies sweetened with agave nectar, or butter laden pies filled with meatballs, the 2011 Portland Farmers Market has everything your little heart desires. Loretta Jean’s and Divine Pie are only two of our four, new, pie-centric vendors this year. Queen of Hearts, a gluten free bakery (though you’d never know it) can be found at the Saturday PSU market, and a new vendor, Crust & Common, will be opening up at our Northwest market in June.

Pies aside, if you still want a classic, frosting-loaded cupcake, you can get that too. We even promise not to give you a hard time about it, even though it’s like, so, 2010.

-Nicolette Smith

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Parsley & Caper Saves Time

My brother and I not only look a great deal alike, we share some of the same interests namely food, reading and writing. The similarities end there: I like prose – particularly narrative non-fiction and big hearty meals. Carl focuses his energy on poetry and one could argue his cooking takes on poetic edge of nuanced flavors and focus on getting the most flavor out of a few ingredients. (That’s also the difference between French and Italian cuisine, one is about the cook and the other is about the ingredient, but don’t read too much into that.)

I have been trying to get Carl to contribute to the blog since its inception, Carl’s writing, poetry often revolves around slow moments and small pleasures, sometimes even involving food. You can learn more about Carl and his new book Curses & Wishes at carladamshick.com.

Parsley Salad

by Carl Adamshick

Here is a super easy salad to make next time you have chicken. Pick up a bunch of Italian parsley. I don’t know what curly parsley is. It seems to be for garnishing, to put on a plate with a slice of orange in an old school diner where everyone is confused if they should eat it or not. You should certainly eat it, but for this salad stay away from it and buy the Italian or flat parsley. Get some capers and a lemon, that’s all you need. Well, and salt, if you don’t already have some by the stove.  Rinse and let parsley dry, cut down from the top leafy part in lengths as long as a fork’s tine until you reach the end of the leaves. The stems can be composted or saved to put into a soup stock. Place chopped parsley into a bowl with two tablespoons of capers, juice of half the lemon and a tablespoon olive oil, or a little more. Toss and salt.

Parsley and Herbs (Allison Jones)

As for the chicken, take a skinless, boneless breast and pound it flat. That’s right! Pound it flat. I like to use the smooth side of a meat tenderizer for my pounding. I also like to keep the brown, waxed paper from the store under the chicken and the thin sheets the butchers use for grabbing across the top of the chicken while pounding. The breast should be somwhere between a quarter inch to a half inch thick. Fry with a little olive oil over medium high heat (about three minutes a side) or until it is a good crispy brown. This process of pounding something flat in the kitchen is called scalopine and it happens more often than you would think. I like to serve a healthy scoop of cold diced tomatoes somewhere between the salad and the bird. If you think you need a startch or a grain to round out the meal, toast some bread and then put a layer of mustard on the slices. I must confess. When I’m feeling uncivilized I do without the bread and the plate. I chop the chicken into pieces that will fit on a fork and put it (along with the tomatoes) into the bowl with the parsley salad. Usually eaten by myself while watching a movie and drinking a nice blonde ale.

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Spring Lamb

In the pasture at Sexton Ranches

Every season has its food. Summer has hotdogs and burgers, fall brings squash and turkey, winter is the season of roasts, and to many, spring is synonymous with lamb.

Food writer Mark Bittman in an article in the Kitchen Daily web site, noted that of all the domesticated animals raised in the US (cattle, pigs and chickens), sheep are ranched most traditionally.

According to Christine Deck of Deck Family Farm, most of the lamb in the Willamette Valley is raised on grass fields. The sheep are used to keep the grass short until the grass seed farmers are ready for it to go to seed.  However, whereas grass fields are often heavily sprayed with herbicides, Deck Family Farm uses dedicated, pesticide-free pastures for their animals.

In fact, all the lamb sold at Portland Farmers Market reflects the animals’ environment. Sexton Ranches’ lambs munch on Eastern Oregon grass. SuDan Farm in Canby Oregon grazes their herds on grass. Bend is the home of Pine Mountain Ranch and holistic rancher Allan Rousseau. Lamb is just a part of his operation as he also raises buffalo, elk and other exotics—all grazed on high elevation pasture land.

At Draper Girls’ Country Farm, sheep were a project for one of the daughters, Stephanie. “Then she went to college and that was that,” noted matriarch Theresa Draper. She said the animals love fruit. They eat fruit and fruit pulp left over from the orchards and cider-making operations.  According to Draper, “They scream if they don’t get it.”  Draper Girls began selling produce at the market late in the 2007 season, and began selling lamb in 2008.

Although there are distinctions between the kind of sheep and the resulting flavor, most farms raise white face or black face sheep. Draper likes the flavor of her black face Suffolk mix sheep while Pine Mountain’s Rousseau swears by the mild flavor of the Big Horn Dall sheep he raises, as well as the smaller St. Croix hair sheep he tends.

Susie and Dan Wilson of SuDan Farm have been at the market for nine or ten years, selling (among other things) wool and lamb. Their meat animals are made up of three breeds: Katahdin cross breeds, Coopworth, and Border Leister, an old British breed.

Dick Sexton of Sexton Ranches raises a white face breed of wool sheep called Romeldale.

This may seem like a lot of information to consider, but breeds of sheep and their particular characteristics matter to food nerds (like me – and probably you if you’re reading this), chefs, and ranchers. Rousseau recommends trying different cuts and breeds of lamb to find your favorite. A market veteran of seven years, he makes lamb stew in the winter, kabobs in the summer and shoulder steaks all year long.

Lamb is as versatile as beef, and has as many cuts and variations. Chops, roasts, ground lamb, lamb legs, ribs, shanks…the list is long. Lamb in hand and thawed under refrigeration, it’s time to cook. Christine Deck marinates lamb in buttermilk or kefir, then roasts it adding water to the bottom of the pan. Dick Sexton simply sprinkles lamb with sea salt, and grills.

Need more inspiration?  Susie Wilson of SuDan Farm has a dozen or so lamb recipes at their Portland Farmers Market booth, including this recipe for The Perfect Leg of Lamb. For beginners, she says this recipe for Braised Lamb Shanks are damn near impossible to mess up. Famous food writer Mark Bittman uses a coriander rub to make his Coriander-Pepper Crusted Leg of Lamb. The world’s largest cookbook—the Internet—teems with good recipes.

The key to lamb chops and racks is nailing the appropriate temperature. Lamb is best served medium-rare to medium.  Any cook used to grilling beef, knows how a medium-rare steak ‘feels.’ It is soft and yielding in the center, growing more firm towards the edges of the meat.

However, because of the texture of lamb, chops ‘feel’ more done than they are. If a chop feels medium-rare, it’ll be cold and raw in the middle, so lengthen the cooking time accordingly. Lamb racks must rest for a full 8 – 10 minutes before slicing. Give roasts at least 10-15 minutes to rest. If the meat isn’t rested properly, all the yummy juices will run out when cut and it will be dry.

–by Nancy Schaadt, PFM volunteer, line cook and food writer. Learn more about Nancy and her food adventures in Portland by visiting her blog.

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