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Archive for May, 2012

Think & Drink

Thanks to Eloise Holland at Oregon Humanities 

Oregon Humanities hosts a happy-hour series, called Think & Drink, which sparks provocative conversations about big ideas. This week, Think & Drink features a conversation about food, led by Robert Paarlberg, professor of political science at Wellesley College and author of Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know; and Susan Bragdon, an international sustainable development advisor who is currently

Author Speaking Wednesday
in Portland

serving as the executive director of the Agriculture and Innovation Policy Network.

This event is free and open to the public. It takes place, Wednesday, May 30, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan St., Portland. Minors allowed when accompanied by an adult.

This is the second in a four-part series that explores how technology shapes the future. Upcoming programs will look at the future of human and artificial intelligence and the future of robotic warfare. Richard Read, economics and international affairs reporter for the Oregonian, will moderate the series.

Oregon Humanities connects Oregonians to ideas that change lives and transform communities. More information about our programs and publications—which include the Conversation Project, Think & Drink, Humanity in Perspective, Idea Lab Summer Institute, Public Program Grants, Responsive Program Grants, and Oregon Humanities magazine—can be found at oregonhumanities.org. Oregon Humanities is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a partner of the Oregon Cultural Trust.

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Peel or Scrub Well

If food poisoning were like the game of Clue, my answer would have been – Mayonnaise, in the sun, with the potato salad. My mom likes to correct me and say, it was Miracle Whip. While at least one can laugh at this, til this day, I won’t eat anything with mayonnaise, but I didn’t hold a grudge against potatoes (or the maker of the potato salad).

Potatoes are affordable, easy to work with and they’re pretty satisfying: all good reasons not to quit potato salad due to one bad experience, decades ago. Unfortunately, my nemesis, mayonnaise solves some problem in potato salad – adding a much needed flavor and texture to boiled potatoes. To compensate for the lack of mayo, I’ve played combinations like curry, vinegars or even the classic ingredients of sour cream, bacon & chives, but the best substitution is pesto.

Pesto and potatoes get even better when you add another vegetable to mix. Roasted cauliflower is a good addition but artichokes work best. I know I should endorse local artichokes, now just coming into season, but canned artichokes work better in two ways:  First, opening a can and draining is easier than defoliating an artichoke – there is a time for steamed delicious fresh artichoke, but not when you need to put something together for a picnic on the weekend. Secondly, canned artichokes are salty and sharp adding a nice contrast to the neutral flavor of potatoes.

Artichoke-Potato Salad

2 pounds gold or red potatoes, cut into 2 inch cubes

1 or 2 8oz cans of artichokes, drained and chopped

½ cup pesto*

2-4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Optional; the juice of a half lemon

Boil the potatoes in salted water until you can insert a knife into the center of a potato and pull it out with ease. Drain and combine ingredients while potatoes are hot. Lemon adds a little extra acidity, which is sometimes needed.

*Pesto recipes are generally unhelpful. Example – “2 cups of basil leaves” is a pretty standard issue for pesto recipes  and while usually exact measurements are more helpful than vague ones, in this instance – I’ve never known anyone other than the people who write recipes who actually  measure basil leaves. Pesto, like potato salad, isn’t about exactness; a cook has to know when they have reached that balance of salty, sweet, acidic, savory, that comes with time and experience, not level measures.

Other issues with pesto recipes – is adherence to ingredients, it’s far more flexible than you’d be led to believe. For instance, instead of Parmesan, you can use Romano, Asiago, or domestic Parmesan, you don’t need to use a top shelf cheese in a dish where the subtly that comes from 18 months of aging is going to be lost next to the flavor of raw garlic. Oh and I use walnuts instead of pine nuts, I like the taste and the cost better. When you have fresh basil and garlic, good to very good oil and cheese, you’re going to be hard pressed to make something that’s bad. Taste, make adjustments and and realize this isn’t as exacting as chemistry; it’s mixing. Use this as not as a recipe but as a guideline.

Basil – handfuls, picked from at least 6 stems

Optional but good -Parsley leaves from 2 stems

4 cloves of garlic

½ cup-ish grated cheese

6 walnut halves, preferably toasted in a pan on low for 10 minutes.

½ cup olive oil

Place basil and optional parsley in food processor, pulse 6 times for 1 second. Add everything EXCEPT olive oil, pulse until you have a smooth paste. Stir olive oil in by hand. A food processor is a horrible thing to do even a low grade olive oil, the good to very good stuff, it’s kind of a shame.

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For most parts of the country Memorial Day weekend is the start of the summer season.  Portlanders are obliged to wait a few more days until the end of the Rose Festival. Even if summer starts here late and lingers well into the ‘er’ months, this weekend we’ll still have the same cookouts and backyard get-togethers, they’ll just happen at lower temperatures and higher precipitation rates as the rest of the country would tolerate.

You can go to your cookout armed with food. There are the grillables: Salmon, asparagus, pono sausages, Sexton steaks, Pine Mountain all beef hot dogs. I’ll be post a recipe for Potato-artichoke-Pesto Salad Saturday

The Raw Ingredients for
Seasonal Syrup

morning. (I really avoid things with mayonnaise and the outdoors; not just together, either/both). Markets will have strawberries for shortcaking and for a twist on a theme, try topping with Elizabeth Miller’s Rhubarb Mint Syrup instead of whip cream. Or if you want to stick with classics, Lady Lane will have their creamy, cream, ready to be whipped and you can save the Rhubarb Mint Sryup to julep.

For those looking for something foodish to do but maybe without all the cooking and shopping, try attending the informational session of NW Earth Institute’s 6 week course on the future of food. The location is Smith Hall in the middle of the Market on the PSU Campus, 12-1, the theme is food and sustainability. For $23 you can attend all the sessions to learn about our current food system and what you can do to make it better for the future.

Next Wednesday, our friends at Oregon Humanities are hosting Think & Drink, an informal and free lecture series. This week’s topic is food as Robert Paarlberg, professor of political science at Wellesley College and author of Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know; talks with Susan Bragdon, an international sustainable development advisor who is currently serving as the executive director of the Agriculture and Innovation Policy Network. We’ll have more info on Tuesday for you, but you can pencil in May 30, Mission Theater, 6:30

This week, PSU is getting a visit from Organic Valley. They are on hand to promote their new Grassmilk, a product that actually doesn’t have any grass in it at all. I don’t want to give away trade secrets, but the grass is what the cows eat and you can read about Organic Valley and grassmilk here.

This Weekend it’s PSU from 8:30-2. King

 

 

runs 10-2 NE 7th & Wygant. Next Friday, June 1st, our inaugural Kenton Market kicks off, bringing local food to the 217 (it’s a zipcode thing). Located at N Denver Ave & N McClellan St, our newest Market is 3-7 on Fridays through September. NW Market returns June 7th,  across the street from Trinity Episcopal and On Monday, June 18th, the Market at Pioneer Courthouse Square is back, which means we will have everything but the Winter Market in operation, We’ll have  high quality, farm direct, local foods 6 days a week (Sorry Tuesday).

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Grass Fed

From Lesley Rush of Organic Valley

Organic Valley will be at the PSU Farmers Market this Saturday, May, 26 and we’re  looking forward to spending time with our regional farmers and Market-loving Oregonians. Our farmers are located all over the country, including the Pacific NW, but we don’t get to visit enough with food-obsessed Portlanders, who will spoil us with early season veggies, vibrant flowers, and the hunger-inducing smells of delicious foods. Visit us at the Market as we introduce our new Grassmilk and try your hand at our “Cows Like Grass” Bean Bag Toss, Meet local Organic Valley Farmer, Jon Bansen, taste our 100% Grassmilk, & enter to win an organic breakfast delivered by B-Line Sustainable Urban

It’s the Cows that are
Grass Fed

Delivery to your home or office!

What is Grassmilk? Organic Valley Grassmilk is sourced from pasture-raised cows grazing in the lush pastures of California’s north coast. The cows eat only fresh grasses and dried forages, like hay. It all starts with the soil— They do not eat supplemental grains or soybeans – organically managed soils that support diverse forages and the highest quality pasture grasses which the cows eat. Grassmilk is minimally processed and non-homogenized, or “cream on top” milk (with exception of the fat-free variety.) Like single-vineyard wines or artisanal chocolate, the taste profile is a result of where the cows live and what they eat. Northern California coastal plains feature river valleys thickly topped with rich, alluvial soil. Giant redwoods stand sentinel between the Pacific Ocean and the verdant pastures where Grassmilk cows dine.

Who are Organic Valley’s Farmers? Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,687 farmers in 35 states and three Canadian provinces with 59 Family Farms in Oregon & Washington. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. With its regional model, milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support our local economies.

Find your nearest Organic Valley Farmer; Organic Valley is also on Twitter @OrganicValley and Facebookwww.facebook.com/OrganicValley.

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Good For Waffles, Cocktail; Whatever

Photos & Words by Elizabeth Miller, who has her own blog called Savory Salty Sweet and you should visit, because it’s all the quality words and pictures you see here, only more frequently. 

Several months ago, while out to dinner with some friends, I suggested to everyone that we try out some house-made drinking vinegars that were a staple of the restaurant’s menu.  After mulling the various flavorings, we decided that we would order and share a few different vinegars, starting with pomegranate, moving along to a seasonal berry, and ending with rhubarb.

And this was the point at which the proverbial record came to a scratching halt.  All heads whipped towards me as I was inundated with what I can only refer to as questions of worry and utmost concern, with perhaps the slightest bit of disgust thrown into the mix.  Rhubarb?  Rhubarb?  That tart, bitter stuff that has to be mixed with strawberries and copious amounts of sugar in order to make it palatable, and you want to drink it in a vinegar?  It was like I had admitted that I was a secret devotee of eating baby bunnies or drinking wine on the rocks (because those culinary transgressions are considered equal offenders in the eyes of many).

Rhubarb and I, however, have a long and loyal relationship.  While many people consider the arrival of strawberries to be the signifier of the farmers market’s entrance into a new season, I look to rhubarb to welcome a season’s change.  Fresh, new rhubarb is a beautiful sight when agonizing over the long wait through winter into spring, and I look forward to nothing more than gathering up bundles of the crimson stalks and shuttling them home for some springtime celebration in my kitchen.  Simmered down to nearly nothing and paired with fresh mint, another blessed early-season crop, this week I transformed some new rhubarb into a delightfully cheerful syrup.  Not just for splashing into a glass of plain soda water or on top of your favorite spirit, this syrup makes a phenomenal addition to waffles, pancakes, or even brushed in between layers of a simple butter cake.  It’s a versatile treat that, unlike some other presentations of rhubarb, is sure to please everyone it meets.  (For the record, I, and I alone, loved the rhubarb drinking vinegar.)

Rhubarb Mint Syrup

1 pound rhubarb, trimmed of rough ends and cut into 1-inch pieces

4 cups water

juice of 1 large lime

¼ to 1/3 cup granulated sugar (depending on how tart vs. sweet you like things)

a large handful of fresh mint leaves

In a medium saucepan, combine rhubarb and water and bring to a boil.  Simmer over low heat for around 20 minutes, until the rhubarb has completely broken down.  Drain the rhubarb through a fine mesh sieve, collecting the liquid in a medium bowl.  Use a ladle or spatula to press down the rhubarb and extract as much of the liquid as possible.

Pour the liquid back into the saucepan.  Add the lime juice and your desired amount of sugar, then stir to dissolve the sugar while bringing the mixture to a low boil.  Allow to gently boil for an additional 20 minutes, until the liquid has reduced a bit and is starting to thicken.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, squeeze the handful of fresh mint leaves to bruise them a bit and help them release their oils, then stir the mint leaves into the syrup.  Cover, and allow to steep for 20 to 30 minutes.  Strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve to remove all the mint leaves and any errant rhubarb bits.  Allow syrup to cool completely before transferring to bottles or jars and covering with a tight lid.

Store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.

Makes a generous 3 cups of syrup.

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The Complicated Emotions of Local Strawberries

Strawberries!

If strawberries are enough to motivate you to go to PSU on Saturday (8:30-2) or King Sunday (10-2; NE 7th & Wygant) then stop reading now. Okay, strawberry bonus; there should be at 3 to 4 pints of the elusive Hood strawberries at the PSU Market. We don’t expect them to last.

Hood strawberries, are small, exquisitely flavored berries. And they do taste memorably good, but don’t believe the hype if someone tells

Eating Local has Never Been So
Suitable For Framing

you this is the only way strawberries should taste. Earlier in the week, I ran across a passage, from Steinbeck’s East of Eden, where protagonists, a pair of California farmers regret that berries don’t taste like they used to. The novel was published in 1952, the time when characters are complaining that berries tasted better was set in the early nineteen-teens. So it’s at least 100 year old complaint.

Locally grown varieties like Chandlers and Totems taste great. 80% of all strawberries are grown in California, the state to the south produces over a billion pounds of fruit a year, available 11 months a year, selected not for taste, or being able to provoke, memories of an earlier, more innocent time, but for their ability to be shipped 1,000s of miles. At PFM your berries are picked, Friday and early Saturday morning. They are very good, the local season is short, and even if I am a blueberry guy myself, they’re memorable enough that, when I’m older, say twenty

PFM Director, Trudy
Hoopin’ For Health

years in the future, I will shake my fist and bitterly complain that the berries in the future don’t taste as good as the berries of my youth (by youth, I mean middle agedness).

And speaking of local, Jen Bracy has designed a beautiful guide to aid in the quest to eat local. She will be selling these guides for $10 all day at PSU in the center of the market near the music stage. Wait, there’s more! Be one of the first 3 people to show up with local berries, asparagus or sweet peas that you purchased at the market and get a FREE copy. More info here.

Quick notes: Special thanks to Highway to Health Fair at this week’s Buckman Market. Organized by HealthCorps, this event engaged high school students and the broader community to raise awareness about the impact of individual choices on healthy eating, active living, and mental well-being. Benson and Cleveland high schools staffed the event and I forgot to mention it, learn more here.

Happy birthday, Senior Market Manager, Jaret Foster.

Finally, this year, the omnibus legislation known as the Farm Bill will be passed. Last year we interviewed Congressman Earl Blumenauer about the bill. You can learn more about how this important bill by watching a webinar sponsored by the Farmers Market Collation. Cost is $25 and you can sign up here

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Graphic designer and educator Jen Bracy is so passionate about the benefits of eating local, organic food and supporting local farms that she recently created a collection of materials to help Northwest consumers better understand how and why to make healthier and more sustainable choices about what they put on their plates.

The Guide

Her beautifully designed Eating Local set includes two small posters and a perpetual calendar guide to seasonal eating. Created to be useful at the market or in the kitchen, the guide consists of individual laminated cards for each month of the year, highlighting what produce is in season and tips on how to best grow, cook and preserve it. Also included are resources and information on local CSAs, farmers markets, businesses, restaurants and products.

Jen believes that eating local is one of the most significant ways in which consumers can have a positive impact on the environment, local economy and their health. Her visually dynamic guide is one step toward making that goal easier and fun.

Come meet Jen this Saturday, May 19, at the PSU Market, where she will be selling her Eating Local guides ($10) and posters ($6).  Her additional market dates will be June 23, July 21 and 28. The guides are also available for purchase at New Seasons Market, Bob’s Red Mill, Food Front Coop, Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply, Cherry Sprout Product Market, and City Farm. Click here for more information.

WIN A FREE GUIDE!

This Saturday, the first three people that stop by Jen’s booth to show her their purchase of strawberries, sweet peas or asparagus will be the proud owner of a free Eating Local guide!

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