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Archive for July, 2011

Farm to Fork

Every once in a while, you get to witness something special—and if you’re really lucky, you realize it while it is happening.  This was definitely the case for the 100 or so guests that gathered at Wealth Underground Farm on a recent Saturday evening for Farm to Fork Events’ first Portland area farm dinner.

The evening began with guests milling about the farm sipping glasses Pinot Noir Rosé from Teutonic Wines and nibbling on a trio of seasonal bites prepared by Chef David Padberg of Park Kitchen. The crowd gathered to listen to the host farmers share stories both inspirational and entertaining about life on the farm before wandering uphill through tidy rows of beets, lettuces and raspberries to arrive at a clearing in the woods.

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There, the guests were seated at communal tables set with mismatched china and softly glowing kerosene lamps.  Farmers, families and food lovers became fast friends while passing family-style platters of Salad Nicoise—buttery slabs of local albacore, crisp green beans, cherry tomatoes, olives and fingerling potatoes—and rabbit stuffed with duck sausage on a bed of quinoa studded with fresh peas, resting on a pool of vibrant orange carrot puree, the majority of which was sourced locally and even directly from the very grounds we dined on.

As each of the evening’s speakers took the microphone—Mayor Sam Adams, the hosts, the farmers, the winemakers, Chef Padberg—all spoke of our good fortune to live in a region of such agricultural bounty and to have residents that are passionate about local food grown, raised and prepared with care.

When David Sweet of Fresh Exchange spoke about his belief that every resident should have access to this very bounty we were all celebrating, diners showed their support by donating nearly $700 dollars to the program, which matches SNAP food stamp dollars for low income residents to purchase fresh, local food at our King and Buckman Markets.

Farm to Fork creator Matthew Domingo and Portland Farmers Market share a common goal: building connections—connection to the food on our plates, to the earth, to our community, to our local farmers, producers, winemakers and chefs.  That is the secret ingredient, the little touch of magic that you will experience both at these dinners and at our markets.

To purchase tickets to an upcoming Portland area Farm to Fork dinner, please click here.  You’ll be glad you did.  Seats are still available for August 13 at Dancing Roots Farm in Troutdale, August 20 at Square Peg Farm in Forest Grove and September 17 at Gaining Ground Farm in Yamhill.  Fresh Exchange will also be the beneficiary at the dinner held at Square Peg Farm (a PFM vendor).

Kudos to Matthew and the hardworking Farm to Fork team for an inspiring evening!

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By Camille Storch

Though there are more glamorous vegetables this time of year (juicy tomatoes, sweet corn, spicy peppers), summertime is also beet season. One of my favorite ways to enjoy beets is to pickle them. Pickled beets are delicious in fresh salads, but they also offer a taste of warmer weather when the winter sets in again.

Beets are easy to grow. In Oregon, you can sow the seeds directly into the ground anytime between February and August for a main season crop. When they’re about three weeks old, thin out the seedlings, and throw the extra greens into a salad for a little color and flavor. The roots should be mature enough to harvest when they’ve been growing for about two months.

To start this recipe, get yourself some beets. If you don’t have any in your own garden, hit up the farmers’ market. Trim off the greens and scrub the roots. Don’t worry if you have a mixed-size collection.

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Steam or boil the beets either whole (longer cooking time but easier to peel) or in bite-size-ish chunks (shorter cooking time if you don’t care about peeling) until they’re tender. Beware that beet juice stains, so use a cutting board that you’re not particularly fond of and wear a red shirt!

While the roots are steaming, thinly slice a couple sweet or storage onions for extra flavor. Figure about one medium onion per 4-6 quarts/8-12 pints of pickled beets.

Sterilize enough pint or quart jars for your desired quantity of pickled beets.

Pack beets and onions into jars. If you opted to cook your beets whole, you will probably need to slice them up a bit to fit them into the jars.

If desired, add some spice mix to each jar; about 1 tablespoon per quart or 1 teaspoon per pint. Pickling spice is a blend of about 10 different herbs and spices (coriander, peppercorns, crushed bay leaves, dill seed, chiles, etc.) that tastes great with beets. If you are particularly motivated, you could mix up your own spice medley, adding or omitting in accordance with your personal preference.

The most important factor with the pickling brine is that you maintain a ratio of 2 parts vinegar (apple cider vinegar is best) to 1 part water. This solution will be your primary preservative. Pour it into a pot, and set it on medium heat.

Add honey to the liquid. Honey is not acting as a preservative in this instance, so use your own judgment for sweetening. Beets have their own natural sugars, but some folks prefer their pickled beets to be VERY sweet. One cup honey to six cups vinegar/water produces an acidic but subtly sweet pickle.

Bring your vinegar-water-honey solution to a rolling boil.

Fill your jars with hot brine, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Add canning lids and lightly screw on rings.

At this point, your pickled beets will be delicious but not shelf stable for the long term. Without canning, you can store them in the refrigerator for a couple months.

If you want or need to preserve them for many months, use conventional boiling water canner processing as per Oregon State University Extension‘s recommendations for pickled beets (30 minutes of boiling in a canning pot).

After you eat a jar of pickled beets, and all you have left is that gorgeous pink brine, you’ve got to try pickled beet eggs. Hard boil and peel a few eggs, re-boil the brine, and then pour the hot brine over the eggs in a jar. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a day or so. The pink will permeated the white of the egg, so they’ll look fabulous and they’ll taste great, too.

Camille Storch is an off-grid mom of two living outside Philomath, Oregon. Her family gets a majority of their fresh food off their modern homestead, which includes a greenhouse approximately six times the size of their home. Camille raises Nubian dairy goats and spends a lot of time culturing some pretty darn good fresh cheeses. She also writes about local ecology, agriculture, and the reality of one family’s modest but joyful life on her blog, Wayward Spark (waywardspark.com).

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5 Questions for Frank Creative

For our new logo, we put a bird on it.  Well, Frank Creative, a Portland-based marketing and communications firm, put a bird on it anyway.

Careful who you call chicken

We hit the jackpot with Frank Creative – not only did PFM score a new iconic logo, but we had a chance to work with great creative partners. Frank set-up a process that was easy (and things that look easy take a lot of work), collaborative and inspirational. Considering that what most of us know about agency work comes from TV’s Mad Men, we were pleased to discover that except for a shared love of bourbon, Frank Creative’s David Karstad is basically the un-Don Draper. His fashion style is a little more REI than Brooks Brothers, he’s more likely to be seen shopping for fresh greens than chain smoking, and instead of brylcreemed hair, there’s a ponytail.

But being described as the opposite of a fictional character doesn’t do a person justice. In order get to know the man who helped shape our new logo, David and his agency cohort, David Huecker, were kind enough to play 5 questions for our blog.

Frank Creative in a Mad, Mad Men World

1) What does Frank Creative do?

You can find all of this at frankcreative.com *hint, hint. wink, wink*. We are a brand and design agency that helps grow, position and communicate products and services in the outdoor, athletic and LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) markets.

2)  Every year Frank works with a pro bono client, how did you choose the market as this year’s project?

We’d like to think that each project chooses us. In the case of PFM, here we have a product and purpose that we are passionate about and believe in, and quite frankly, just happy to be a part of. As you know, doing what you love makes it easy.

3) Which farmers Market do you shop at?

Portland State Market

David Karstad, Frank Creative

4) Two part question: When you cook, what is your “go-to” dish?

Depends on the season (of course); however, in the summertime, it’s all about the berries. Everything after that is incidental.

Follow up – Blueberry or cherry?

I refuse to participate in that Sophie’s Choice.

5) I get the umbrella, why a chicken?

Technically, it’s a rooster. And it seems that the rooster has been a popular item with the farmers market for years, so we felt it appropriate to bring it back. Besides, they don’t say put a cow on it, do they?

Thank you, Team Frank, for sharing your time, talents and enthusiasm with us.

Frank is not a who, Frank is a how

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South Meets West in Northeast

Article & Photos by Elizabeth Miller

The King Farmers Market is the perfect example of the old adage that, sometimes, smaller really is better.  With a smaller footprint to wander, the entirety of the market can be taken in in much less time than one of the larger markets, but one shouldn’t be led to believe that a smaller market results in a less worthy pool of fresh and tantalizing goods.

Pone

Inspiration struck me almost immediately this week when I visited the King Farmers Market for the first time and, with fewer stands and people with which to contend, happened to walk right up to the Gee Creek Farm Stand and spot a big bag of freshly milled corn grits staring back at me. Perhaps due to the fact that Portland is not a hot bed of grits fanaticism, seeing fresh grits (as opposed to boxed, quick cooking grits) available at the market was a pleasant surprise.  I am not from the south, but I have a soft spot for grits, having developed a taste for them while visiting friends in North Carolina a few years ago.  Paired with some large leaves of Gee Creek Farm chard, I had a sense that the grits and I were going to get along just fine.

Providing accompaniment to the Southern aspect of my plans for grits, Groundwork Organics and Winters Farms both offered up a variety of bright and crisp vegetables that were practically calling out to be combined together into a light and summery potato and vegetable salad.  Not so much a fan of heavy and creamy salads, I decided to make a simple pickle for half of the salad ingredients and then top the salad with a smooth vinaigrette.  Envisioning a thick and creamy plate of grits, topped with tangy, garlicky chard and accompanied by a tart and vinegary salad, I headed home with my purchase, prepared myself to bring a tiny bit of the South to my house, albeit with a Western twist.

Grits with Sauteed Chard

Chard is what Popeye wishes he ate

1 cup freshly milled grits

3 cups water

½ tablespoon butter

¼ cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

1 bunch (about 12 ounces) chard, washed and trimmed of large stems

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 large cloves garlic

juice from half a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Soak grits in a large bowl of fresh water for  1 minute.  Skim loose bits of corn hulls and chaff from top of water, then drain grits in a fine mesh sieve.  Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, then slowly whisk in soaked grits. Whisk constantly for about 1 minute, until grits have just barely begun to thicken.  Lower heat under grits as low as it will go, cover the pan, and slowly simmer grits for 45 minutes to 1 hour, whisking every 5 minutes or so.  Grits are ready when they are thick, creamy, and no hard bits can be detected when grits are tasted.

When grits are finished cooking, thoroughly whisk in butter and Parmesan cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Gritty Realism

Right before the grits have finished cooking, roughly chop the chard, discarding any hard and woody stems.  Slice the garlic into thin chips.  In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  When the oil is heated, drop in the garlic chips and, stirring constantly, sauté the garlic until it is just fragrant, about 20 to 30 seconds.  Add the chard to the pan.  When chard has wilted, reduce heat to low and sauté for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.  Squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the chard, and stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve sautéed chard spooned over grits, with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

 

Potato and Pickled Vegetable Salad in a Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 medium cucumber, about 8 ounces

1 bunch radishes, about 12 ounces, stems and tips removed.

½ cup white vinegar

½ cup water

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar

1 ¼ pounds new potatoes

¼ cup fresh peas

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

To pickle vegetables, very thinly slice cucumber and radishes into small coins.  You can use a mandoline do to

Rad

this, but I was able to complete the task by using a very sharp knife and lots of focus.

In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, water, salt, and sugar until both salt and sugar have dissolved.  Add thinly sliced cucumbers and radishes to the pickling liquid, and toss everything to evenly cover all the vegetables with pickling liquid.  Tightly cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or as long as overnight.  When ready to use, remove vegetables from pickling liquid and drain thoroughly.

Bring a pot of water to a bowl.  Prepare a small bowl of ice water, and set aside.  Add the fresh peas to the boiling water, and boil until peas are crisp tender, about 30 seconds.  Using a slotted spoon or a strainer, immediately remove the peas from the boiling water and plunge them into the ice water.  When peas have cooled, about 1 minute, remove them from the ice water and set aside.  In the same boiling pot of water, add the new potatoes. Boil the potatoes in their skins until they are mostly soft, and a fork is able to easily slide into a potato when pushed lightly.  Drain potatoes and allow to cool.  When cool, slice potatoes into medium, bite-sized chunks.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Whisk until the dressing has become thick and emulsified, about 30 seconds.

In a large bowl, combine drained pickled radishes and cucumber, peas, and potatoes.  Add 2/3 of the dressing and gently toss to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then taste the salad to see if you would like to add more dressing.  I like my salads lightly dressed, so I opted to not add any more dressing, but you might prefer a salad with more dressing.

Not just for breakfast anymore

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Ah, Bings

Lapins waiting for the Market Photo T. Baird

A peculiar thing happens with fruit when it’s selected for mass production, taste isn’t a consideration. Shelf-life, yields, culivars that lend themselves to processing, and thick-skinned varieties that can travel 1000s of miles are more valuable than the best-tasting, slow-growing, sun-ripened, soft fleshed fruits.

The result: titular tomatoes, so-called delicious apples that aren’t really at all, and strawberries as flavorful as red cotton – I’m tempted to complain that nothing is like it used to be…like some sort of a foodie Andy Rooney. It’s not quite the fruitocalypse yet, every once in a while the taste wins.

Meet the Bing Cherry

In 1875, a workman at Seth Lewelling’s Milwaukie nursery discovered a new variety of cherry. The Lewellings, agricultural pioneers in Oregon, are a hybrid themselves – imagine a cross of Luther Burbank and Johnny Appleseed. The family was driven from the pre-Civil War Midwest for their antislavery views and if legend is believed, the Lewellings kept walking across the country until they reached Oregon, often diverting drinking water to the saplings they were carrying. The Bing, a fluke pollination, was discovered on a Republican, that was the name of the parent seed tree, not a political bent, the pollinator was unknown. In a story already infused with legend, the Bing apparently is named after the Chinese nurseryman who noticed and realized the potential of the fruit, Ah Bing.

The Bing would quickly dominate the sweet cherry market. 65% of the sweet cherries grown are Bings – no other sweet variety exceeds 10%. Understandably too, the Bing produces heavy yields (many cherries per tree), it’s thick skin protects the fruit during shipping but here is the amazing part, and this almost never happens, the fruit tastes really good. Sweet, with a touch of tartness, the Bing possesses a rich palate of flavor – hints of almond, clove and plum orbit the deep-rich cherry taste. The Bing is incredibly sophisticated but still approachable, worthy to be held up as an example that mass-produced fruit doesn’t have to be insipid.

The Bing has one defect though, if it rains close to harvest the cherries split, bruise and discolor. In California, because of land and irrigation expenses, a late rain force growers into action – helicopters are called in to help dry Bings to preserve the harvest. Closer to home, such drastic action isn’t employed, the heavy yields and acreage under cultivation means ultimately there will be some saleable crop. Plus we’re a little more used to rain and make accommodations.

Because of this flaw, growers are switching to different strains like the Brooks. The Brooks is an early yielding variety and there is always a premium with being the first of the season. My problem with the Brooks, compared to the Bing it’s meh. That and the Brooks lacks a cool back story, boringly introduced in 1988 by Cal (Go Bears). Sure, mostly because they come in early, the Brooks hit the spot, but give me the Bing or give me, I don’t know, or give me canned cherries.

Shh, dont tell the birds about thesePhoto T. Baird

Which might be my choice this year. Trevor Baird says this year’s Bing crop was small but flavorful and is gone. The Baird Family Orchards are gearing up this week to sell Lapins, a bigger, lighter-skinned cherry that doesn’t suffer from splitting like Bings. Trevor texted me to let me know after the Lapin’s there will be Morellos, if the birds leave some. Arguably, neither are quite as good out of hand, but both will work brilliantly in Clafoutis – due to my Midwestern upbringing I am unable to pronounce any French word properly, so I like to call it – Baked Crepe Custard Cake. Keep an eye out though, because our growers produce on diverse microclimates, there might for a few more Markets anyway, be Bings floating around. Scoop them up while you can.

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Bees enduring their bumpy ride to the farm

By Vicki Hertel, Sun Gold Farm

Don’t worry, this is a good thing.   The invasion actually consists of eight hives of our neighbor’s honey bees which he loans us every season to help pollinate the squash and cucumbers.  They are usually very tame and do a great job in our fields.    When we start to see the huge squash blossoms appear on the zucchini, we know it is time to give neighbor Gene a call.

In the cool of the evening he will ready the hives for their short trip down the county road from his farm to our farm.  He stacks and straps the hives onto a pallet and we receive the call that they are ready to travel.  Early the next morning, just after daybreak, Charlie takes the loader tractor over to pick up the bees.

The weather must be cool so that the bees stay in the hive for the trip.  He goes up to them slowly and gently lifts the pallet and heads down the too-bumpy road.  A few of the bees will come out of their hive and lose their way, but most of them arrive at their new home on our farm ready to go to work.

Honey bees do most of their work within 100 yards of the hive, so Charlie places them in a central area in the field for the season.  It takes a few days for the bees to get their bearings in the new surroundings, but they are anxious to get pollinating!

For too many years we have all taken honey bees too much for granted.   I can remember the swarms of “wild” honey bees that came through the farm several times each summer.  We would hear the sound of a far away roar which quickly became almost deafening.  We knew to hit the ground face down and lay still until the sound ceased.

Such occurences became fewer and fewer because of a condition which has since been called  “colony collapse disorder.”  No one can tell you with any certainty why our honey bees are disappearing in such huge numbers.  Our neighbor, who is an accomplished beekeeper, loses up to 30% of his hives each season.  Some say it is a disease, others believe bees are being killed by insecticides,  and some folks claim too many micro waves and cell towers are disturbing the the bees homing instincts.

Whatever the cause, it is very serious.  Studies are now being conducted nationwide to solve the mystery, and their success cannot come too soon.  We rely on bees for pollination of most every fruit and vegetable that we eat.  Without them making thousands of trips from hive to blossom each day,  farm production will drop drastically.  Cross your fingers that scientists find the answer to the disappearing bee problem soon, and the next time you dip into your honey jar, be thankful for the little creatures who flew so many miles to make it for you.

Sun Gold Farm is owned and operated by fifth-generation farmers Vicki and Charlie Hertel, along with their son Chris. The Hertel family currently farms 120 acres in the fertile Tualatin Valley, near Forest Grove.  You can find them selling their pesticide-free fruits, vegetables and plant starts at our PSU, King and Shemanski Park Markets and can also sign up for their CSA Harvest Box which includes optional honey and greenhouse shares.

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By Camille Storch

Visit Camille’s blog for a chance to win one of her beautiful handcrafted cutting boards!

Kohlrabi is a wonderfully under-appreciated vegetable that deserves a little more credit and attention. It originates from the same species as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, collards, and Brussels sprouts, and you can definitely see and taste the resemblance to those close cousins. Like cabbage, kohlrabi can be purple or green. It has edible, kale-like leaves, but the above-ground swollen stem is what generally gets eaten.

If you want to grow kohlrabi in your garden, start seedlings in a greenhouse or a sunny spot indoors in the early spring for transplanting in early May. You can also plant seedlings in late July for an October harvest. Plant kohlrabi at one-foot spacing and make sure they get plenty of water, so they won’t get stressed and bolt before the stems fatten up. Pull your bounty of kohlrabis when they are about the size of a flat-ish baseball. They’ll get woody if you keep them in the ground too long.

If you have mature kohlrabi plants in your garden, they should pull easily out of the soil. Cut off the underground roots, but be sure to have a sharp knife for the job because they will be quite woody and hard. Sometimes it’s easier to break them off. If you buy kohlrabi at the farmers’ market, it will probably have the root and some of the leaves trimmed off already.

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To prepare a kohlrabi, shear off all the leaves, and then peel the bulbous part. The skin is tough and basically inedible (though it would be great in soup stock). The root end is also fibrous and should be sliced off. You’ll end up with a pale green orb about the size of a lemon. Once it’s peeled, you can go ahead and slice it up and eat it raw, perhaps with a shake of salt. It’s crunchy and delicious, tasting quite similar to sweet broccoli stems.

Kohlrabi is a welcome addition to stews, slaws and salads.  It could also be turned into a fine pickle or gratin.  For more inspiration, peruse the recipes on the Portland Farmers Market website, or browse through TasteSpotting‘s collection of kohlrabi recipes.

Look for fresh kohlrabi at the farmers’ market in the next few weeks. Kohlrabi season is brief, so be sure to partake now while they’re at their peak.

Camille Storch is an off-grid mom of two living outside Philomath, Oregon. Her family gets a majority of their fresh food off their modern homestead, which includes a greenhouse approximately six times the size of their home. Camille raises Nubian dairy goats and spends a lot of time culturing some pretty darn good fresh cheeses. She also writes about local ecology, agriculture, and the reality of one family’s modest but joyful life on her blog, Wayward Spark (waywardspark.com).

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