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Archive for October, 2012

Food Pioneer

Article and Picture by Elizabeth Miller

Anyone who has read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books knows what an important role food plays in telling the story of growing up on the untamed prairies of 1800s America. The books, filled with lush descriptions of endlessly wide sunsets, untouched grasslands, frigid winters, and baking hot summers, always pay intricate, loving attention to the family’s meals, acquired through the back-breaking efforts of the family’s farming and hunting. Sometimes the meals, as in the case of The Hard Winter, when early, cataclysmic blizzards robbed the townspeople of their winter supplies, consisted of nothing more than coarse brown bread, made from the family’s hand-ground seed wheat and a bit of sourdough starter. In richer times, the family ate garden fresh lettuce and tomatoes over little rounds of homemade cottage cheese, a light and refreshing meal that seems almost incongruous with the rough and hardscrabble times.

Farmer Boy, the sole book in the Little House series that was not based on the story of her own family’s pioneer days in the Midwest, is a particularly ripe example of Ingalls’ ways with words when it comes to food. Of course, it helps that the story is about her husband Almanzo’s upbringing in a successful farming family. Whereas Laura’s family would consider 5 bushels of potatoes to be a bumper crop worthy of several rounds of exuberant high-fiving, Almanzo’s family grew potatoes by the thousands of bushels, his family probably able to consume the Ingalls’ entire potato crop in the span of a week’s meals. And ate Almanzo did. His family’s meals consisted of whole roasted hams, sausages with gravy, mashed turnips, roasted potatoes, candied squash, several types of pie, huge wedges of cheese, and entire loaves of buttered bread all in one meal. True, this was a family who awoke at dawn to begin what would be a 12-hour workday consisting of intense manual labor, but still. Reading Ingalls’ descriptions of the food Almanzo Wilder’s family ate is enough to make a person start nibbling at the book’s pages.

As a child, reading about the food Almanzo’s family ate made me feel a sort of nostalgia for a time when pie was available to be eaten after every meal, and nightly after-dinner snacks included mugs of frothy apple cider and giant cauldrons of hot, buttered popcorn. But I was just as often confused by many of the foods Ingalls wrote about. What did crab-apple jelly taste like? Was the description of “quivering” headcheese supposed to sound delicious? And what in the world was salt fat pork? I spent a great deal of time not wanting anything to do with a lot of the food they ate (mincemeat made with boiled pork scraps and vinegar, for instance), but for years I maintained a fascination with what Almanzo Wilder claimed was the dish he liked most in the world: fried apples’n’onions.

Most people would probably find the thought of those two foods cooked together to be utterly repulsive. It remains a mystery why the dish stuck with me so much, and why I didn’t immediately draw away in horror when I first read about it. There is no logic that dictates why an apple and an onion might want to be stuck in a pan and sautéed together, but, alas, after almost 25 years of thinking about fried apples’n’onions, I decided that it was high time I took the plunge.

And do you know what? Fried apples’n’onions are incredible. They taste like the best parts of every meal you’ve ever had—the soft, mellow onions melting into the subtly sweet apples, together creating the type of comforting, savory experience that I can only imagine would envelop a labor-exhausted farmer in waves of narcoleptic splendor. It didn’t, of course. These people were hard working farmers, so they ate their food then went outside and worked some more. They made their own roof shingles, for heaven’s sake. They braided their own hats out of straw they grew and harvested. I do none of these things, of course (the closest I’ve come to being so self-sufficient was when I chipped bits of wood off of a recently felled apple tree so that I could use the chips to smoke some salmon at home but, man, did I feel totally rustic when I did that). Since I will never train my own oxen or dye my own full cloth (yeah, I had to look it up too), I will settle for simply testing out the food of the hard working farmers of the 1800s. While the work is certainly not nearly as notable, it is, in my mind, definitely interesting. I mean, how can you not want to learn how to make something called birds’-nest pudding?

Fried Apples’n’Onions

There are all sorts of ways you could dress up this dish, from adding a pinch of chopped fresh rosemary or sage, or subbing out the butter for bacon fat. I like this dish as is, however, with each of its elements shining through in their own subtle way.

2 medium yellow onions

2 large apples

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Slice the onions in half, then slice each half into medium-thin half moons. Core the apples, then slice into rounds, leaving the skins on.

In a large pan set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, then stir to coat with the butter. Add the pinch of salt. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes, until the onions are just softened and beginning to wilt.

Add the apple circles to the onions, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, until you can start to smell the onions and apples release a bit of their sweetness. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the apples and onions, cover tightly, and cook for 20 minutes, until the onions are tinged with golden, the apples have broken down a bit, and the whole dish is very aromatic. Remove the lid, stir, and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so, just to allow a bit of the moisture to evaporate.

Serve hot or warm.

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We’ve got pumpkins on the mind. Kabocha, sweet dumpling, delicata, butternut and red kuri too.  But back to those pumpkins…

This weekend at our PSU Market we’ll be holding our annual Great Pumpkin Event.  This year’s  festivities include the ever-popular pumpkin carving contest with prizes for the best adult and child carvings. The pumpkin carving contest runs from 9:00am-noon (or while supplies last) and awards will be announced at 12:30 at the music stage.  The winning child will receive a basket of market goodies and the adult carving winner will receive $130 in Organic Valley coupons.

Costumes are encouraged for vendors and shoppers, plus there will be a children’s costume parade around the north block of the market, with market goody bags for all participants.  To join the parade, just gather at the information booth at noon.

Organic Valley, our Great Pumpkin Event Sponsor, will be at the market sampling organic grassmilk at their booth.  When you stop by, you can also meet Melissa Collman of Cloud Cap Dairy, one of the local farms that provide milk for Organic Valley.

In addition to all those pumpkins and squashes, you will also find other seasonal delights like chestnuts both fresh and roasted at Cascadia Chestnuts, ruby red cranberries at Eagle Organic Cranberries and ridiculously good raw, roasted and chocolate-covered hazelnuts at La Mancha Orchard.  For a taste of the unusual, La Mancha also has winter melon, while Groundwork Organics grows fresh ginger and Rayblest Farm offers locally grown lemongrass.

This Sunday is our last regular King Market of the season–though King marketgoers take note: all your favorite vendors will be reconvening once again for a special Thanksgiving Harvest Market on Sunday, November 18th, where you can pick up everything you need for your locavore holiday table.  This weekend though, there will be plenty of pumpkins for pies and carving, apples, pears, wild mushrooms, leeks, Brussels sprouts and other autumnal goodness.

Now it’s time for some shout outs.  We are in constant awe of how hard our vendors work to bring us beautiful food each week and we proud of their many accomplishments.  Here are a few things we’d love to share with you:

Chef Kathryn serving it up at the market

Chef Kathryn Yeomans works with Springwater Farm at the market each week, dispensing samples, kitchen wisdom and, now, hot soups from the adjacent Soup Annex.  She also does regular pop-up dinners that feature ingredients both farmed and foraged by Springwater Farm.  On a recent tour of Portland’s food scene, GQ Magazine’s food critic, Alan Richman, had the pleasure of eating at one of Chef Kathryn’s pop-up dinners and here’s what he had to say about it:

“My most delightful meal was a pop-up lunch that fortuitously took place while I was in town…Among the best dishes, as noteworthy as any I ate in Portland, were bruschetta topped with morels poached in Chenin Blanc, stinging nettle flan with tomato-coulis, and, best of all, verging on magnificent, an assemblage of morel mushrooms with poached eggs and roasted asparagus…That was the finest and, for that matter, the most iconic vegetable dish I ate. It wasn’t just Portland food. It was idealized Portland food, the kind I thought I would find in every restaurant but did not. This was a glorification of farm, field, woods, and wild.”

Wow.  Congrats to Chef Kathryn and Springwater Farm for the lavish and well-deserved praise!  If you want to see what all the fuss is about, do as Alan Richman did and visit one of their pop up collaboration dinners, like this Pozole and Taco night next Monday.  We love pozole here at PFM (see this pozole post by our Senior Market Manager, Jaret Foster) so we’ll see you there!

Two of our vendors have also opened new bricks-and-mortar stores.  Fressen Bakery recently opened in the former home to Black Sheep Bakery (also a PFM vendor).  Now fans of their exceptional baked goods can satisfy carb cravings six days a week.  In addition to their stellar line-up of rustic European breads and pastries, they are also selling sandwiches, frittatas and what sounds like the world’s best pig in a blanket, featuring an Olympic Provisions frankfurter wrapped in their famous pretzel bread.

Pie lovers rejoice!  Market darling Lauretta Jean’s has opened a second location on Division in the former Pix Patisserie location.  Here you will find the sweet and savory pies you fell in love with at the market, as well as coffee service, soups, salads and sandwiches–all served in a space as charming as baker Kate McMillen herself.

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Food Day, Food Days and No Waste

Article by Kelly Merrick

This time of year one of my favorite activities is browsing the artfully displayed stands of colorful produce at each of the Portland Farmers Market locations. During every trip I take I discover a variety of fruits and vegetables I have never seen before, and I have found that I have to keep my shopping list and husband close by or I will take home far than I could ever cook before it spoils.

But over the last few weeks we have had a special reason to purchase more than our normal share of produce. My husband Josh and I participated in the Northwest Earth Institute’s 2012 EcoChallenge and for two weeks we pledged to stop purchasing food with packaging. The rules: we could use food we already had in the pantry, we could purchase goods in bulk using our own containers and we were not allowed to stock up before the challenge.

Usually, avoiding food packaging is like avoiding a puddle during Portland’s rainy season – it’s everywhere and hard to avoid. Luckily for us, the farmer’s market featured an abundance of package-free food. The highlights? Apple sauce made from a variety of Old World Apples, soup with roasted butternut squash from Food Waves, black bean chili with sweet peppers and my new favorite side dish: curried mashed purple cauliflower from DeNoble’s. 

I found our challenge to be fun, despite the extra work. The challenge isn’t for everyone, but we can all get in the habit of using less packaging by shopping at the market. Test the water with a few simple recipes, like roasting your own pumpkin and baking with it. If this seems like something that is right up your alley, then head straight for Sun Gold Farm, where they will be so kind as to sell you a sugar pumpkin and then give you a recipe for pumpkin pie made from real pumpkin. I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but their sugar pumpkin did turnout some delicious almond flour pumpkin cookies that I can’t stop eating.

Now that you’ve had a first-hand account of my market food purchases, it’s time to move into other things the market is offering this week.

Wednesday, October 24 is Food Day, a nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food, and we’ll be celebrating it tomorrow, Saturday, October 20, at the PSU Market.

We will have a veggie-centric cooking demonstration staffed by market volunteers, along with some delicious recipes for you to take home and try. Plus, the following food-and-farming-related organizations will have tables set up for you to visit and I strongly encourage you to stop by their booths and learn about the great work they are doing.

If you are looking for other ways to celebrate Food Day, you can also participate in a free Collective Cooking group training and information session. It will take place tomorrow, Saturday, October 20 from Noon to 2 pm at Trinity Full Gospel Pentecostal Church. You can read our latest blog post to learn more about Collective Cooking.

The PSU market runs through mid-December, but Sunday’s King and Wednesday’s Shemanski run through the end of October, so be sure to make your way over to your favorite vendors, pick up a few goodies and tell them you’ll see them next season.

Kelly Merrick lives in Portland with her husband Josh. Kelly is a Master Recycler and a self-proclaimed locavore. She has been a volunteer at the Portland Farmers Market since the spring of 2012 and says the market is her favorite place in Portland. She is a marketing assistant at PECI for Energy Trust of Oregon’s New Homes and Products team and loves to talk to others about ways they can conserve resources to protect our environment. In her spare time she enjoys exploring Portland’s many parks, cooking, reading, blogging (you can check out her blogs here and here) and spending time with family and friends. She can often be found volunteering at the PSU Farmer’s Market so stop by and say hi sometime. She’d love to chat.

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Collective Cooking

By Rell Ohlson, Kitchen Commons

National Food Day is coming up on October 24th, which is a celebration of healthy and sustainable food systems. Here in Portland, many of us are aware of the different aspects of socially and environmentally just food systems, particularly in relation to the local growing and distribution of fresh food.

However, I’ve always felt that the role of cooking in food justice is just as vital. I think most of us can appreciate the simple pleasures of sharing an awesome meal with our friends. Preparing and sharing meals together has been a part of many cultures for hundreds of years, and not just for special occasions. Yet cooking together can also keep us engaged with one another and more appreciative of the food we eat.

Since I’ve started working for the local non-profit Kitchen Commons, I’ve seen firsthand how cooking can be used in community building. We’ve been supporting a network of organizations who are either interested in creating their own cooking groups or sharing their kitchen space with the community. My role has been to organize and help facilitate two collective cooking groups in NE Portland.

Collective Cooking Groups are a way of stretching food dollars, strengthening community ties, promoting cultural preservation and fostering resource and skill sharing. Participants learn from each other, sharing tips and tactics for cooking healthy food even with busy schedules. Our groups have made dishes such as fennel salad, pumpkin tortilla soup, corn chowder and peach blueberry cobbler, and on a budget to boot!

As the year winds down, we’ve been gathering the information and lessons we’ve learned in order to share ideas with others who are interested in using cooking groups as a community building tool. On October 20th, we are hosting a free Collective Cooking Group Facilitator Training and Information Session. Our group leaders and I will share what we have learned throughout the year in our pilot cooking groups, share resources and help you navigate through the initial steps of organizing your own cooking group. We’ll be meeting in one of our partner kitchens, with a chance to prepare a simple dish together. Our brand new Collective Cooking Group Handbooks will also be available to share with participants.

WHEN: Saturday, October 20th 2012, 12-2 pm
WHERE: Trinity Full Gospel Pentecostal Church, 4801 NE 19th Avenue, Portland, OR 97211
Light refreshments provided. Send RSVPs or questions to rell@kitchencommons.net.

There’s still room for more participants, so don’t hesitate to sign up at the last minute if need be. Whether you work with an organization that wants to integrate cooking programs into your work, have access to a kitchen space that can be used by the public, or are simply interested in collective cooking groups, we’d love to meet with you.

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Rain, I (Mostly) Don’t Mind

A friend, a friend I trust, told me that monsoon season was going to begin this week. I asked where she was traveling to. NE Portland was her answer. I’m all for hyperbole and the rain does occasionally get to me, but a little autumn rain? Come on! Sensible shoes and one of the Gore-Tex/titanium jackets we’re so fond of municipally and it’s like summer. Literally, like early summer.

Plus getting a little wet helps you appreciate being warm and dry. Especially when you come home, turn the stove on and cook comfort foods. Soups, stews and all those one pot meals for dinner – roast chicken, pot roast, pork cooked for hours in cider – they’ll feed you today and get you through the damp week.

The Market has your back, a chance to get a little wet and then a chance to go home and cook. Last week there was lemongrass, along with a few carrots and potatoes there’s a big pot of Thai curry. Maybe you lean more towards Midwestern cuisine and all the implied comfort: Pono Sausages/bacon cooked with cabbage – served with roasted potatoes from La Terra Vita.

Mashed Potatoes! Mashed potatoes with sauteed wild mushrooms from Springwater. Mashed potatoes with chives. Mashed potatoes with roasted garlic. Mashed potatoes with Jacob’s creme fraîche or some of Dee Creek’s goat cheese. Or maybe close the circle and make your mashed potatoes a homage to Midwesternism with Rogue cheddar.

The cream of mushroom soup was a pantry staple growing up. The can wasn’t wrong about the flavor, just the application. Combine Lady-Lane cream and Temptress truffles, the taste will amaze you then sadden you of when you think of what this flavor combination became.

Or like me, you can leave the Midwest, and embrace your Oregonness: go salmon from Columbia River Fish, wild rice from Freddy Guy’s and while your there, hazelnuts for a hazelnut pear torte.

Pie, apples, there will be close to a 100 different varieties of apples at PSU and dozens. My favorite? All of them and don’t forget the pears.

King is entering the home stretch, 3 to go. 10-2 on 7th & Wygant.

PSU, now 8:30-2,  runs almost until Christmas. See you tomorrow, I’ll be the guy in the sweater.

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Pozole for the People

by Jaret Foster, Senior Market Manager, Portland Farmers Market

A few weeks before the end of September, Jamie, one of our Market Coordinators, asked what I thought about cooking for the last Buckman Market of the season. Historically we have always marked the end of the season with a vendor appreciation of some sort, often Hot Lips or Tastebud Pizza. A few years back Jamie organized a vendor potluck at Buckman for the last day with PFM providing an entree and this season I agreed to make something special. Jamie wanted to make salsa to feed her tortilla chip habit and asked if I would follow suit with a Mexican theme: Pozole!

Pozole, a Mexican stew of hominy, chiles and, typically, pork was something of a staple in my mother’s arsenal of camp cooking when I was a kid and is one of my favorites. We decided that instead of the traditional pork that Buckman vendor Reister Farms’ lamb would make an excellent variation. Jamie bought 10 pounds of frozen lamb shoulder and leg roasts and brought them to the office for me to take home and prepare later the next week.

Chile paste, thick and spicy

On Monday I made the trip to Don Pancho Carniceria up the street from my house to procure chile ancho y california and set about making chile paste. I start out roasting a whole onion and a head of garlic (in skins) in a cast iron pan. Once they are tender and almost black I toast the chiles (no stems or seeds), soak them in water to rehydrate and whiz the whole thing in a blender. I strained the mixture so it was nice and smooth and sent a picture to Jamie to let her know that the soup was underway; three days in advance of service!

That Wednesday evening I had set aside to slow cook the lamb but already had a pot of chicken stock simmering on the stove when I left for work. I had some chicken carcasses around (in my freezer) and always like to start with something delicious when I cook; water is just so…watery. A number of things conspired to keep me from getting the meat on the stove that evening; the first of which was that I forgot to bring it home from the office, the second being that it was still frozen. Thankfully my friend and co-worker Mona was generous enough to run it over after she left work. By the time it was thawed enough to cut into it was nearly 10pm; perhaps not the best time to start cooking something that could take as long as 4 hours to tenderize.

As I was going through the motions of getting it on the heat I kept telling myself that I could start it in the morning (too risky, what if it wasn’t done by 2pm when I needed to get it to market) or slow it down and overnight it on the stove (6 or 8 hours? It’ll dry out!). I opted to stay up with it and finally took it down no sooner than 3am. The best part? I had also agreed to make a vegetarian version using squash that Jamie had cubed up for me (and also forgot in the office refrigerator—I need better calendar reminders…no Mona to save the day now!) and had intended to hit the Wednesday market for fresh corn but the day got away from me. Who can help? Who can help at 7am on a Thursday? Why, my friend and neighbor Lane of course! She works for Gathering Together Farm and always has a ridiculously well stocked fridge. “Lane! Got any corn, cilantro and onions?” “Sure. C’mon over.“ Awesome.

Pozole soup for the soul

I got to Lane’s a little after seven after stopping by the market office to pick up the squash and she sleepily loaded me up with six ears of corn, two sweet onions and a nice fat bunch of cilantro. “Need any chiles?” She asked. “Nope chile paste was made a day ago. Thanks so much L!” and home I went to make the fastest and might I say most delicious butternut squash and fresh corn pozole ever. Corn stock being the first order of business (again, water? Please.) I roasted the cubes of squash in a hot oven to put some color on them and kept the corn fresh to add last. Both soups finished and in the back of my truck I even made it to work by 9:30.

We closed four markets that week starting with Monday PCS. It’s become a tradition that for PCS’s last day we bring none other than the infamous Voodoo Dozen. I’m always impressed by how excited many of our vendors get about Voodoo Donuts; some of them have inevitably never even tried them. It’s pretty fun to bring in the pink boxes and make bad donut jokes with them.

Nicki, our Market Coordinator for the Northwest Market, made an amazing layered polenta lasagna with a luscious kale pesto sauce. She is a fantastic cook and an excellent baker; for dessert she made a huge apple galette. I had the good fortune of getting over to the NW Market before it was all gone after serving up my Pozole at Buckman. Five bowls of Pozole, two slabs of polenta and apple galette. I am so well fed!

That Friday was the last day of our newest weekday market, Kenton in north Portland. For the vendor dinner there Amber, the Market Coordinator, made her specialty: Thai coconut curry. She spent a good amount of time living and working in Thailand and has an incredible way with kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk and jasmine rice. For dessert she made some of the richest pumpkin cheesecake bars I’ve eaten. I had three to follow up my four bowls of curry.

It was one of the better eating weeks for me and our vendors and staff. September having been a gorgeous month, we had much to draw from for produce at the markets. It is one of my favorite months for cooking. The weather is a bit cooler, the sexy summer fruits are still in and the beginnings of autumn vegetables are making their first appearances. Love it.

After we served the Pozole on Thursday, Jacob Reister from Reister Farms asked what it would take for me to share my recipe. He need only ask.

Enjoy!

Lamb Pozole
serves 6-8

2-3 pounds lamb leg or shoulder roast cut into 2 inch slabs

1 white onion quartered

6 cloves of garlic, peeled

2-3 chipotle chiles

4 quarts of chicken stock or water (if you must)

1 quart hominy (canned is fine, prepare it from scratch if you have the tenacity)

Chile Paste

1 white onion, cut in half with skin intact

1 head garlic, cloves separated with skin on

3 Ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded

3 chiles California, stemmed and seeded

In a hot cast iron pan roast the onion and garlic until tender and almost black, then peel. Toast the chiles in the pan until fragrant but not charred. Soak the chilies in hot water for 10 minutes to rehydrate. Discard soaking liquid. Place onion, garlic and chilies in a blender with enough water to just cover; you’ll want it to be a thick paste. Season with sea salt and strain through fine mesh strainer, pressing on solids.

For the Pozole:

Bring the stock or water to a low simmer and add the vegetables and chiles. Season the meat with sea salt and add to the stock. Slowly simmer until the meat is tender— ensuring that it does not boil—about 3 hours. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Strain the stock, discard the vegetables and chiles and adjust seasoning. Add the hominy to the stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Once the meat is cool enough to handle shred it into bite sized chunks and add back to the stock. Stir in the chile paste a half cup at a time until it is the color and spiciness you desire.

Serve with lime wedges, avocado, shredded cabbage, diced sweet onion and thinly sliced radishes

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October-Feast

So how long will this magical weather with the warm days and cool nights last? I don’t claim to know, but I want to be in it as much as possible until the inevitable happens (Spoiler Alert: I’m referring to rain). And with two Markets this weekend, there is ample chance to enjoy these golden days.

Apples! Every market is like an Applefest as we show off one of the crops the NW is famous for. Old World Apples, who we only see this time of year will be at PSU, they have varieties you’ve never heard of but should get to know, plus the beloved favorites. And if you’ve ever enjoyed a red delicious, grown to maturity, picked and offered within days of being off the tree, you’ll understand why it became THE apple of choice. To appreciate it, you just have to go back to the beginning. Then let’s not forget the pears. Kiyokawa Family Orchard, Maryhill to name a few will be offering fruits of the tree this weekend. For those of you who don’t want to deal with stem and skin – well Wandering Aengus, has ciders, hard ciders. As a public service, Wandering Aengus, bridges the gap between beer and wine drinkers, offering suitable drinking for Thai takeout, risotto or braised pork.

And speaking of pork, Olympic Provisions is offering a free demonstration of pig butchery this weekend 10-11am, center of market at chef’s stage at PSU. Springwater will offer hot soups tomorrow and Converging Creeks is bringing dried tomatoes.

King Market is entering it’s last month: Only four Markets left in NE Portland. 7th & Wygant between 10-2, King will have apples too. Plus all the farm fresh goodies you come to expect – tomatoes, greens, onions, mushrooms, cabbage – there’s a meal waiting to break out.

For those of you who greet Sundays with the NY Times, open to the Sunday Review and check out the essay by Portland Farmers Market Blog contributor Aaron Gilbreath called, What Miles Davis Taught Me about Brevity. It seems like just a year ago he was writing about squashes and now he’s in the NY freaking Times and getting paid and stuff. They grow up so quickly. And good for Aaron, few people work as hard and well as he does.

PSU Market goes until mid-December. Our Sunday King and Wednesday’s Shemanski run through the end of October. Get out in the nice weather. Eat some apples, make some sauce, and enjoy your weekend with a good meal. 

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