Archive for May, 2011

Imagine if there was a place where you could take your kid(s) to enjoy some fresh air, meet the farmers that grow their food, and have fun cooking and eating seasonal fruits and vegetables—and you didn’t even have to clean up the mess?  Watch this video if you think this sounds too good to be true.

Kids Cook at the Market classes are held at the PSU Market two Saturdays per month during June, July and August, from 8:30 – 10:00am. Classes are taught by instructors and students of The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Portland and include a guided market tour, hands-on instruction and recipes to take home and share. The cost is $5 per child per class and advance registration is required. Click here to enroll.

2011 class dates and topics are as follows:

June 11 – Strawberry Crepes
June 25 – Sushi for Kids
July 9 – Berry Bonanza Salad
July 23 – Blender Gazpacho
August 6 – Creative Corn Recipes
August 27 – Summer Salsa

Photo by Jane Pellicciotto


Kids can also get cookin’ with seasonal produce and recipes at the new Bite Size Kids Cook classes held at the Buckman, King and Northwest neighborhood markets. These drop-in cooking classes for children will take place once a month at each location during market hours.

All Bite Size Kids Cook classes, which are made possible by the generous support of season sponsor COUNTRY Financial, are free of charge and open to kids of all ages (though recipes and equipment are geared toward age seven and up).

Featured Ingredient: Groovy Greens
Buckman Market: June 2
King Market: June 19
Northwest Market: June 30

Featured Ingredient: Booyah Berries
Buckman Market: July 7
King Market: July 31
Northwest Market: July 28

Featured Ingredient: Sassy Summer Squash
Buckman Market: August 4
King Market: August 28
Northwest Market: August 25

Featured Ingredient: Terrific Tomatoes
Buckman Market: September 1
King Market: September 25
Northwest Market: September 29

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Market Kids

Article by Leslie Gilman

If you happened to stop by the Ancient Heritage Dairy booth last Saturday and found the wonderfully talented cheese maker, Paul Obringer, fighting a losing battle to keep his sample plates filled, I apologize.

It was my son. He’s two and just barely tall enough to reach his chubby little hands over the top of the table — and yet with a ninja-like accuracy he is able to obliterate the samples in the blink of an eye. And there I stand, dumbfounded, as he smiles up at me with scio feta oozing through his widely spaced incisors.

The Cheese is sooooooo close

Every variety pleases him – soft and mild, hard and sharp, or creamy and smooth. On one hand, I’m a little embarrassed by his voracious appetite and complete disregard of social convention but on the other hand, I’m insanely proud. While most toddlers wander around with goldfish clenched in their sweaty little fists, he has pecorino romano in his.

But that’s typical for my son, a kid raised with farmers markets central to his understanding of food, its origins, and its celebration. That’s not to say that we don’t go to the supermarket – we do, and he sits passively in his little plastic car/shopping-cart, watching the parade of rain boots, high heels and shopping cart wheels pass before his 18” high perspective. If we make it to the checkout counter without a meltdown – and then over that final hurdle of resisting the barrage of toys and candy offered right before you hand over your credit card – it is a successful trip.

Our outings to the farmer’s market are on the far other end of the spectrum. When our train makes its final stop at PSU and we disembark, his little legs start kicking with wild enthusiasm, knowing what lies just up the hill. As soon as we reach the market he leaps from my arms and walks amongst the crowd, a proud member of the group, rubbing shoulders with other toddlers, fingering the leafy kale that hangs over the table’s edge, and staring into the eyes of banjo-strumming musicians that recline on the grassy knoll.

The market for a toddler isn’t just a place where food is sold; it’s a place where food is celebrated. It’s where wooden coins and broad smiles are readily exchanged, where shouts about the health benefits of local wild honey mingle with the hiss of coffee brewing, oil popping and tote bags bristling against each other, filled with seasonal bounty. It’s a sensory rich carnival of colors, sounds, people and products that he only finds here, in this great cultural gumbo where food and people collide. I couldn’t find a playground or a prescribed “enriching toddler experience” that offers him as much as this reality.

And to me, this experience is as nourishing to him as the food itself.

Besides volunteering at Saturday’s PSU Market, Leslie is raising a cheese ninja 

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You can make this too!

The most exciting time of year in my kitchen is when I find inspiration from shopping at the farmers market and buying my favorite fruits and veggies as fresh as can be, straight from the farmers that grow them. Usually when market season is over, my interest in cooking tends to diminish a bit. This year however, instead of grieving the loss of access to those amazing products that I appreciate so much, I hope to embark on a method of extending that special feeling I get when knowing that my meal came directly from the hands that grew it: preservation.

When I was asked if I wanted to write this blog post about Cara Haskey’s introductory class to her preservation series, I was immediately intrigued, yet a little intimidated. I had never considered food preservation, as it always seemed complicated, and things can get a little hectic in my kitchen when I attempt new projects. However, after getting a taste (literally and figuratively) for what you can do with canning, I can confidently say that the payoff definitely seems to be worth the process.

Preserving also seems to be the best way to make use of summer’s bounty. Cara expressed that she often preserves simply because she cannot resist buying far too much of a beautiful item when it is available at the market. Seeing and tasting that extension of the market season in the form of homemade jams, chutneys, salsas and pestos that Cara generously shared from her pantry, I imagined myself almost forgetting that the market ever ended during those normally routine winter months. Cara also touched upon the importance of using fruits and vegetables as close to harvest as possible in order to maximize their flavor.

The class went on to explain a variety of other aspects of canning including safety tips, how best to organize your collection, and what equipment to use. And though it did seem overwhelming at first to think of all the things one must consider when preserving, Cara does a great job of explaining everything in a simple way. The rest of the classes should prove to be equally informative and delicious, as every class will cover a different topic such as low sugar jams, pickling, and tomatoes, each one in more depth.

Cara in action

Cara truly offers a knowledgeable and unique perspective on food preservation as her background includes volunteering with Portland Farmers Market, a certificate as a Master Preserver and Food Safety Advisor from Washington State University Extension, many years of canning experience, and a genuine appreciation for farm fresh foods.

The next class in the series will take place on June 9th and will be all about luscious Oregon fruits and berries. Click here to register for upcoming classes, offered once a month at the Buckman Market location, and find out more about Cara’s background at her website, www.modernpreserves.com.

–by Laura Harrison

Laura Harrison hails from the East Coast following the Oregon Trail in search of greener pastures. Drawn by a desire to bring delicious, healthy, and sustainable food into her home and to the masses, she finds herself digging in the dirt and loitering around farmers markets more often than not. Her love for fresh and responsible food influences her life decisions, dinner plans and wardrobe. She currently works for Gee Creek Farm and volunteers with Growing Gardens as well as with the Portland Farmers Market’s Fresh Exchange program. Laura wants to continue helping bring farm-fresh produce into the cities as she enjoys bringing it into her own kitchen.

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Each year, through the Farm Direct Nutrition Program (FDNP), federal funds are distributed to eligible seniors in the form of vouchers that can be used to purchase locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables directly from authorized farmers at farm stands and farmers markets. In 2010, FDNP provided nearly 30,000 seniors with fresh food and generated over $1 million dollars for 600 farmers across the state of Oregon.

FDNP vouchers are distributed on a first come, first served basis, so if you know of anyone eligible for this program, please encourage them to send in their response cards because funds go very quickly! (View a sample of the letter they would have recently received.) For questions regarding senior eligibility or check distribution, please call Oregon Health Authority at 1-866-299-3562.

Our friend Robyn Johnson at Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon shared with us that new federal funds have just become available to expand the Senior Farm Direct Program in Oregon. Additional funds would  provide fresh food for 9,400 additional seniors and result in more money going directly to our local farmers. However, the state needs to contribute a match in order to access these funds, so action is needed!

Visit this link to learn more about what you can do to help, or contact Robyn Johnson at 503-595-5501 x 303 or robyn@oregonhunger.org.

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Ch-ch-changes & Substitutions

I have a problem with recipes – I don’t follow them. After years of cooking professionally and recreationally, unless it’s a recipe for a baked good, where absolute precision is required, I use recipes as a reference – a starting point; something to be adjusted, amended and tinkered with depending on what’s in the cupboard, fridge or in season. As for cookbooks, I love them, but at the risk of sounding vapid, a lot of the time, I just look at the pictures.

Plus I don’t always need recipes; I’m pretty good at CSI-ing foods. If I taste something at a friend’s, traveling or at a

Game On

restaurant, odds are I can reconstruct it in my lab (and by lab, I mean kitchen). Except for Japchae. The first time I ever had it, my friend Gwi made and served a dish that was part noodle, part vegetable, a little meat, soy and sesame and all deliciousness. When I asked her what it was she told me it was ‘Mongolian Beef’. She’d probably called the dish Japchae first, but like the good transplanted Midwesterner I am, upon hearing a term that had never, ever been used in Wisconsin, I’m sure I looked stunned, confused and/or disoriented. That’s when she translated the name of the dish into words I did understand, but unfortunately, the one time I was willing to look something up, Gwi’s terminology made recipe absolutely google-proof.

My habit of substituting and tinkering with ingredients runs the risk of changing a dish from what it was intended to be to something else: I love asparagus – the combination of beef, mushroom and asparagus is a winner. It’s also a variation my friend Gwi has never tried. She told me her Japchae is made with “Fishcake, spinach, beef, shiitake mushrooms, bell peppers”. Matt Choi of Choi’s Kimchi replied in an email, his family goes with “carrot, spinach, mushrooms, onion, bell pepper and bulgogi” – bulgogi, a term that is literally translated as ‘fire meat’, this refers to the heat source – over flame – rather than its spiciness.

Something both Gwi and Matt were quick to point out was Japchae (sometimes spelled chapchae or chopchae) is a food for special occasions, birthdays, parties that type of thing. I think I go about japchae wrong. I eat it on non-special occasions, unless random weekdays are special. I make substitutions like asparagus, I add chili sauce, I eat it cold, I cook the beef separately rather than stir-fry it plus it’s not marinated and it might be a more premium cut then traditionally used. I am almost always drink a beer when I eat my noodles, party food or not – I’m not sure how that fits into a tradition. At the end of the day, I feel a little more comfortable calling this preparation aspchae than trying to pretend it falls under the literal definition of japchae.

A Few of my Favorite Things

Notes on ingredients: Dangmyeon, is a cellophane noodle derived from sweet potato, it’s usually labeled “sweet potato noodle”. On the upside it is chewy and wonderful. On the downside it’s a little hard to locate, a trip to a store specializing in Asian foods is probably necessary. On the more downside, I find, the noodle wants to quickly revert to its natural state of pure starch. Rather than follow the instructions on the bag, I have much more success when I cook it al dante, plunge the noodles into cold water, drain and toss with a tablespoon of sesame oil.

Special thanks to Gwi Young-Ayers and Matt Choi for explaining the nuances and customs of Japchae.


½ lb. Steak (Sexton Ranches top sirloin is my favorite)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

½ c. soy sauce

1/3  cup sugar

1 Tablespoon Sesame oil

2 Tablespoons chili sauce like Sriracha

black pepper

½ lb. Sweet Potato noodle

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

½ lb. asparagus, cut into 2-inch segments

¼ 1 onion, thinly sliced

¼ lb. Shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 bunch green onions, sliced

1 Tablespoon sesame seed

Pan fry of grill steak to medium rare. Cover and let steak rest for 10 minutes or longer.

Whisk together garlic, soy, sugar, chili, oil and pepper.

Bring water to a boil and add noodles. Cook about 5 minutes. Noodles are done when they are slightly chewy. Plunge cooked noodles in cold water, drain and toss with 1 T. of sesame oil.

Stir-fry the veg in sesame oil over medium-high. Add onions first and cook until they brown, follow with asparagus, when asparagus is nearly done, add mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Turn heat off and add green onions and sesame seeds.

Slice steak thinly, toss with noodles, veg, soy mixture and eat up.

I like a side of daikon kimchi, the sweetness and crunch round out the dish, but Matt Choi recommends a Napa Cabbage or baek kimchi.

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Eat the Book Backwards

Bossy Artichokes

Psssst!”  said the Artichoke.  “Over here!  I wanna be stuffed with breadcrumbs and Parmesan and drizzled with a fruity EVOO!” 

I don’t take orders from Artichokes!” I sniffed.  “Besides, I really need Zucchini today.  Except there aren’t any. What’s up with that you think?”

Once upon a time, I hated the kind of cookbooks that are organized alphabetically by ingredient.  You know, from Artichoke on through Zucchini.  This approach I did not find helpful.  No, I found it somewhat backwards at best and oddly sentimental at worst.  I didn’t want to think about Asparagus as ‘that tender harbinger of Spring that shows up along with robins and daffodils!’  I wanted ideas for interesting meals and menus to suit my mood of the moment, satisfy cravings, get my kids to eat without making barfy sounds, earn man-praise, delight guests, and dirty as few dishes as possible.  I was looking for solutions to problems that had nothing to do with the seasons.  I wanted sustenance and pleasure on my terms.

As Farmers Market aficionados, you probably know what I didn’t: It’s natural to pursue sustenance and pleasure, yes.  The back-spinning trick of it is to up the quality of sustenance and depth of pleasure by eating what the earth is putting forth right here and right now.  I’m not trying to preach to the converted here. I’m just asking, how do you figure out what to make for dinner? Do you ever eat the book backwards?

Eating the book backwards means that instead of starting with a recipe and then shopping for ingredients, you reverse the process and start by gathering fresh, local ingredients at the Market — then figure out what they can become.  This might mean looking into the backs of your cookbooks first, at the indices where key ingredients are listed.  It might mean consulting one those alphabetical-type cookbook, which I now love, or a seasonally-organized cookbook.  (My favorite is Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison. What’s yours?) Learning to eat the book backwards creates small, but profound, shifts in how we might approach cooking.  Ultimately, it puts our nourishment and pleasure into a more authentic, healthier relationship with the world.

But that’s not all.

Health, environment, economy and politics aside, eating the book backwards can yield unexpected rewards, for example I’ve reaped…

What is your kohlrabi trying to tell you? Photo by Allison Jones

A broader repertoire.  I’ve become good friends with celeriac and kohlrabi, vegetables I never encountered growing up.  I’ve also learned to love beets and Brussels sprouts, vegetables I did encounter (and despised) in canned and overcooked forms, mostly upon school lunch trays.  Fortunately, my earlier convictions were overturned by “fresh” evidence.

Bumper-to-bumper crops.  I’ve learned to have fun with the creative challenges of eating a lot of one bumper crop for a time, and then a lot of the next bumper crop, and then a lot of bumper crops all coming at me at once, like bumper cars.

Way more potlucks.  A great thing to do with all those zucchini, or corn, or winter squash is to make a big batch of something delicious and then share it.  It’s also fun to see what my friends and neighbors concoct from essentially the same ingredients.  What’s available right here and right now can be magicked into an endless variety of dishes.

Hugs from my farmer.  After many years of picking up my CSA box from the market, I have come to know my farmer, John Eveland of Gathering Together Farm. Now, I get a hug along with my lettuces, how cool is that?

So, here’s a thing to try, if you like.  The next time you visit Portland Farmers Market, let the farmers’ goods whisper their wishes to you.  Let inspiration and impulse guide you.  Eating the book backwards, you might go overboard, but you really can’t go wrong.

Pssst!  Over here!”  said the Eggplant.  “I would make a terrific Thai stir-fry, like with ginger and garlic?”

I gasped, “Oh, my! It’s a dear harbinger of Summer! Yeah, stir-fry, sure.  Or moussaka?  Or ratatouille?   Or baba ganouj?  Lots of possibilities.”

“I know, right?”

“OK, in the basket you go! And you over there, you too!”

Once upon a time, I didn’t take requests from Eggplants.  But now I do, and from Artichokes and Zucchinis, too .  Turns out it’s a great way to eat happily ever after.

-by Miriam Garcia

Miriam Garcia is a folklorist-foodie, freelance writer and guardian of a super-secret chicken soup recipe.  You can contact her at Miriam_G@me.com

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Article & Photos by Elizabeth Miller

On an unusually sunny spring day, armed with nothing more than a small amount of cash and a camera, I set out to buy dinner at the farmers market.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of any farmers market is the almost immediate inspiration the offerings can trigger. At the Shemasnki Park Market, baskets of plump crimson rhubarb made me want to fill my arms with the beginnings of a delicious cobbler.  The Pearl Bakery stand offered piles of shatteringly fresh breads, and when I discovered brown bags filled to the brim with wild mushrooms at the Springwater Farm stand, I began to imagine a wonderful crostini topped with a creamy mushroom caviar. Sensing a wave of cooking impulsiveness coming over me, I made a tactical decision to stroll around the market and investigate every vendor before making any rash purchasing decisions.

At Gathering Together Farm I found a crisp bunch of delicate pea shoots nestled among the bins of colorful lettuces.  Having never previously cooked with them, I nearly passed them up, but when I got caught up in a tasting of fresh chevre from Dee Creek Farms, I very suddenly knew that I needed to backtrack and buy those pea shoots.

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Pea Shoot and Roasted Beet Salad with Sauteed Beet Greens and Breaded Chevre
I bunch of petite beets
1 bunch of pea shoots, thoroughly washed
4 ounces goat cheese
¼ cup panko, or other fine bread crumbs
2 large cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Serves 2 people as a meal or 4 people as an appetizer.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove greens from ends of beets and set aside.  Scrub beets to remove any dirt.  Tightly wrap beets in a large sheet of aluminum foil, then roast in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until beets are crisp tender.  Carefully open the aluminum foil wrapping and allow beets to cool slightly.  Lightly rub the beets with their foil package to gently remove the skins.  Slice beets into coins and set aside.

Thoroughly wash reserved beet greens, then roughly chop, removing any large or tough stems that run along the rib of each leaf.  (There should be very few tough stem pieces, as petite beets tend to come along with very tender greens.)  Slice garlic cloves as thinly as possible.  In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  When oil begins to shimmer slightly, add in chopped beet greens.  Saute beet greens for one minute, stirring constantly.  Add sliced garlic, and continue to stir the greens and garlic as they sauté.  When the garlic has turned lightly golden, remove the greens and garlic from the heat and set aside.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a small pan, dry toast panko or breadcrumbs over medium-low heat, watching carefully.  When the breadcrumbs turn a dark golden brown, remove from heat and pour onto a small plate to cool.

Slice goat cheese into 2 or 4 slices, depending on how many people your salads will be serving.  With wet hands, form the slices into flat discs.  Dip each cheese disc in the cooled breadcrumbs, using hands to adhere crumbs to all areas of the cheese.

In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar and lemon juice.  Slowly drizzle in 4 tablespoons of olive oil, constantly whisking the vinegar as your pour, allowing the dressing to emulsify.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, combine washed pea shoots with ¾ of dressing and toss to combine.  If you feel the salad needs more dressing, add in the remaining ¼ a continue to lightly toss.

Divide the dressed pea shoots among the appropriate number of plates.  Scatter roasted beets on top of each salad portion.  Divide the sautéed beet greens among the servings, then top each pile of beet greens with a disc of breaded chevre.  Add more freshly ground pepper, if desired.

Elizabeth Miller is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Sustainable Industries Journal, the Denver Quarterly, J&L Illustrated, and Mcsweeney’s.  A 15-year resident of Portland, she feels she has earned her stripes as a true Portlander by working as an advocate for skateboarding (Skaters for Portland Skateparks), a freelance project manager for a community outreach and recycled building materials nonprofit (The ReBuilding Center), and marketing and events specialist at Portland’s most storied local business (Powell’s Books). Elizabeth currently runs Savory Salty Sweet, a food and kitchen appreciation website, and she is a regular contributor to indiefixx.com, where she writes a food and cooking column called Melting Pot .

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