Archive for May, 2013

Welcome Back, June

June-uary?  Nah, that was so 2012.  This weekend June beckons with whispered promises of warmer days and we say thank you and yes please to  grilling weather, to ice cream sandwich weather, to shop the market for a picnic at the park/river/beach weather.

Get some

Get some

This Saturday at PSU, there will be berries, berries everywhere and spring produce will be on full blast: think sugar snap peas, shelling peas, asparagus, artichokes and lovely fava beans, which our friend Lois shared a recipe for here.  Load up your basket with the good green stuff, then stuff your face with one of Ruby Jewel’s ravishing new ice cream sandwich flavors: Chocolate Walnut Cookie w/ Portland Creamery Chevre & Thyme Ice Cream, Brown Sugar Cookie w/ Strawberry & Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream, Pecan Toffee Chip Cookie w/ Caramel Malt Ice Cream, and Graham Cracker Cookie w/ Chocolate Cream Cheese Ice Cream. Um, yum.

Chef in the Market starts at 10am

Chef in the Market starts at 10am

Currently trending at the market:  the bearded boys of FoodWaves have returned for the season and Square Peg Farm will join the lineup again–both have beautiful vegetables to ply you with.  Nut-tricious will also be making their monthly appearance, so stop by if you want to seriously upgrade your PBJ.  Also, Chef in the Market is back!  Hosted by Portland Monthly’s ever-delightful Allison Jones, this week Todd Koebke of Sabin Schellenberg Center will be making a a spectacularly seasonal dish of French-style scrambled eggs with morels and asparagus. Demos start at the chef’s stage at 10am in the middle of the market and will take place every Saturday through September.  Check out the full chef lineup here.

Noteworthy at the King Market this Sunday?  Winter Green Farm will make their debut with farm-fresh organic produce and Schoolyard Farms will be hosting a special seed planting activity at the Market Kid’s Play Zone.  Schoolyard Farms is a nonprofit with the mission of growing food on urban schoolyards in order to create healthier communities. Stop by to let the kids get their hands dirty and talk to them about their vision is to see a farm on every schoolyard that can circle its food back to the cafeteria.

Next week, we’ve got you covered from Wednesday through Sunday, when we open two more markets: Northwest on Thursday and Kenton on Friday.  Farmers market season is officially on and crackin’, y’all.

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5 Questions for Mary Roach

Mary Roach is awesome and she writes the best books: Stiff, Bonk, Packing For Mars, Spook approach their various subjects

with good humor and wide-eyed curiosity. Her new book, Gulp, bypasses all the agriculture policy and culinary skills we usually write about on this blog and begins the tale in the bolus stage and follows food on the journey through the body. This is very much the third act following Farm to Table.

The book looks at salvia, posits theories on the real reason Elvis passed and digresses on other alimentary facts. Ms. Roach, who just finished an epic book tour, was kind enough to take time to answer 5 questions for us via email from her home in California.

Everyone Digests. But talking about food after it’s ingested is viewed as somewhere between transgressive to taboo. Why are people so reluctant to talk about the post-chew experience?

Humans don’t like to be reminded that they too are big, moist chewing, digesting, belching, excreting, mating, dying sacks of organs.  We like to think of ourselves as minds, personalities.  We tend to turn away from the traits we share with animals. Or that’s my theory, anyway.

Who was your favorite specialist of the digestive sciences you interviewed for this book?   

I adored Dr. Silletti, the beautiful Italian saliva researcher.  I loved the passion she had for this reviled and unloved substance, I loved the juxtaposition of beauty and spit.  I loved that I could not persuade her — even her! — to drink a small beaker of her own stimulated saliva (which is 99 percent water)…

I was surprised to learn humans cycle through only thirty different foods in their diets. Working with a great farmers market and priding myself on being a adventurous eater, I kept track of different foods over a four day period, certain that I would easily top thirty. I finally had to eat a bag of cool ranch dorotios* to get over the mark. When you learned this, did you track and see how long it took you to reach thirty?

I had that on my to-do list, alongside “Spit into yogurt to see how watery it gets as enzymes break down starch.”  Never got around to it.

You just spent weeks on the road promoting your book: Bagels, craft food, airport sandwiches, yet your research concludes the benefits of dietary fiber may be overstated.  Did you learn other facts about digestion that seem counterintuitive?

Everyone should eat  heaps of fruits and vegetables and legumes — but not just because of fiber  Because of vitamins and other nutrients.  And fiber — fiber’s good too.  Fiber just didn’t turn out to be the miraculous cancer-preventer that it was touted to be back in the 80s.

You wrote you enjoyed rancid olive oil. Confession, I like Thai cuisine, even when it’s demonstratively bad – grease, texture, overcooked items – because the flavors are so different from what I’m used to.  Do you have really bad taste buds or is there something to be said for enjoying new flavors?

It’s not a matter of genetics. More a matter of experience  and of educating oneself.Unless you’re seeking work in the industry, or as a food sensory analyst, no real reason to.    Eat and drink what appeals to you.  “Good” and “bad” have to do with  ego, fad, culture.

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Fava beans with Crispy Jamón

By Lois Weinblatt

Lois a Michigan native living in Murcia, a region of Spain known for the produce it supplies to the rest of the country and most of Europe. Before landing on the peninsula she interned with Cook´s Illustrated, worked with Zingerman´s and moved to Sicily to learn the ropes in the world of specialty foods exporting. What started as a strict budget in Italy has turned into a way of life, and she has been cooking on less than €5 a day ever since. Follow her adventures at her blog, Live to Eat, Eat to Learn.

After trying out a regional Spanish recipe for fava beans during my first week living in Murcia, I was reminded that a) just because a dish is traditional doesn’t guarantee that it’s going to taste good and b) when it comes to fresh favas, pretty much anything beyond fat and salt is gilding the lilly.

I peeled my way through lots of favas after developing an addiction to them in Sicily and I’m still amazed each time I whittle a mountain of them down into a tiny dish of delicate, slippery little beans that look straight out of a whimsical Fantasia number.  After needing both hands to transport the tough pods to the trash and then a spoonful or two to sprinkle them into the pan, those things are vegetal gold.  But as soon as the mess of tomatoes and onions hit the skillet for those first favas in Murcia, it was no longer evident that the dish had anything to do with them.  That all got turned into a soup the following day (by way of a little broth, a hard boiled egg yolk to thicken the mix and an immersion blender to whip it even further beyond recognition), so I had no plans to doctor them up the next time around.

Fresh from the market favas

Fresh from the market favas

I’ve seen fruit vendors in the U.S. selling their seconds for half price but Southeastern Spain is the first place I’ve noticed the vegetables offered in distinct grades too. I circled the local farmers market a few times scoping out the fava scene and when I came upon a stand selling them for half the going rate I had a feeling it was too good to be true.  The scraggly cardboard sign read 1€ and was placed just off center between two huge piles of beans.  When I got closer I realized that one heap looked like the favas I got (literally off the back of a truck) in Sicily and the other seemed sort of like an air-brushed version of the same with smooth, unblemished skin and not an age spot in sight.

When I asked the vendor if there was a difference in price he looked over the top of his glasses in a friendly librarian sort of way and gesturing between the two piles I imagined him saying “is a high speed computer database worth more than a dusty card catalog system? Of course it is”.  Having already shelled out two euro for green onions that morning I wasn’t about to part ways with two more.  I knew half a kilo wouldn’t yield much, but it wasn’t bulk I was going for.

That night I saddled up to the counter at home and got into bean peeling position. I opened the first one and besides the flawless favas, even the bright green pod itself was tender. The underside of the shell was so downy it could have easily landed a spot in the tactile awareness book I “read” with the 2 year old Spanish triplets I look after on Fridays.

I pulled myself together after realizing my Spanish living companions weren’t quite as excited about just how soft a young bean pod could be and kept shelling.  From there it was a pretty straight shot from the pan to the plate with a little jamón fat, green onion and egg fried sunny side up along the way.  As I was finishing my dinner one roommate asked why I hadn’t cut off a good hunk of bread to soak up the yolk, but  I decided against a lengthy explanation.  Yes, perhaps that was because I was too tired to try saying it all in Spanish, but remembering her low enthusiasm level for the pillowy shell I reasoned with myself, “ah, she just wouldn’t understand”.

The finished dish

The finished dish

Fava Beans with Crispy Jamón 

Yield: Side dish for 1

1 pound fava beans in their pods
The strips of fat torn from 3-5 thin slices of jamón serrano, with a bit of meat left on each one
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of finely chopped green onion

-Remove the fava beans from their pods and skin each bean
-Heat the serrano fat in a pan until it has rendered and the little bits of meat have crisped up
-Add just a bit of extra virgin olive oil
-Add in the favas and cook, stirring occasionally  for a few minutes, until just tender
-Taste and season with a touch of salt if needed
-Serve with a sunny side up egg that’s also been cooked in rendered serrano fat and a little olive oil

If you want to skip cooking altogether, do like the Murcianos do.  During fava season they frequently show up to meals with friends toting a few ropes of dried sausage, a loaf of bread and a big bag of fresh beans to be shelled at the table and eaten raw.

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Get Your Grill On


Your Grilling Experience May Differ

From Friend of the Market, Kelly Merrick,

Memorial Day weekend is here and I don’t know about you, but for me that means pulling out the grill and inviting friends and family over for a day of food and games. Of course it may not seem like BBQ weather because the rain has hardly let up this week, but with some luck maybe the weather will dry out in time.

And just like there hasn’t been a shortage of rain, there is also no shortage of great grilling foods available at the market. All week I’ve been dreaming up delicious grilling recipes, so if you’re planning a party of your own, here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Asparagus – Asparagus is at the market in abundance right now! Just grab a bunch from your favorite vendor, sprinkle some salt and pepper and squeeze some lemon juice and you’ve got a delicious and simple dish.
  • Mushrooms – I’ve found that shiitake and portobello are the best kinds to throw on the grill, especially after you’ve marinated them in some balsamic vinegar.
  • Tomatoes – Try quartering some juicy tomatoes, then grilling them and tossing them into your green salad. You can also skewer them and add them to shish kabobs (my personal favorite meal on the grill).
  • Sweet onions – I love the sweetness of the onion along with the char you get from tossing these on the grill.
  • Zucchini – Grilled might be my favorite way to eat zucchini. It’s best when you do it simply – just slice it thinly and sprinkle some salt and pepper on it before serving.
  • Beef – Make a few burgers or if your crowd is full of meat-lovers, throw a few steaks on the grill and serve with veggies like grilled asparagus, mushrooms and zucchini.
  • Chicken – If you’ve got a slow cooking grill like a Traeger, consider picking up a whole bird from Pine Mountain Ranch and cooking it that way.
  • Tempeh – Tempeh’s firm texture makes it perfect for grilling if you’re not a meat eater. And lucky for you, Cascade Naturals will be at the market this week for their monthly appearance just in time for you to pick some up.

Grilling season is here but there’s also another reason to be excited: strawberry season is officially here! And to kick it off, Unger Farms, The Berry Patch and K Berry Farm will be at PSU, so make sure you get down to the market before they’re gone!

And if for some reason you can’t make it to the market tomorrow, don’t forget to stop by King Market on Sunday to pick up any last-minute items you need for your party. While you’re shopping, there’s even something for the kids. This week’s Kid’s Play Zone activity will be making vegetable stamps, like this.

Now if the rain would just go away!

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Gaining Ground

GAINING GROUND is a new documentary about food justice and feeding our communities sustainably.  The film features longtime PFM vendors the Hertels of Sun Gold Farm as well as Stalford Seed Farms, whose milling arm, Greenwillow Grains vends at our Saturday PSU Market.  At the June 1st preview screening of the film, both farms will be on hand to discuss the project and the food issues it raises.

See below for more details about the screening and visit the GAINING GROUND website for more information. 

Gaining GroundFrom the filmmakers, Barbara Bernstein & Elaine Velazquez:

The negative impacts of industrial agriculture are everywhere. The increasing threat of genetically engineered food and the destruction of local communities can make us feel powerless to effect change. GAINING GROUND is an intimate view of rural and urban farmers who are embracing this challenge.

On Saturday, June 1 at 7 pm, the Media Project presents a screening of a short rough cut of our upcoming documentary film GAINING GROUND. A benefit to raise finishing funds for the film, the event takes place at the Fifth Avenue Cinema, 510 SW Hall St in downtown Portland.

GAINING GROUND tells the stories of farmers who are transforming their farming practices so they can feed their local communities sustainably grown produce and grains. From farms in Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley to the food desert of inner city Richmond, California, GAINING GROUND reveals the ingenuity and courage of these diverse urban and rural farmers who are committed to serving and empowering their communities.

Following the screening there will be a discussion with the filmmakers and the farmers featured in the film: Vicki Hertel, Sun Gold Farm in Verboort, OR; and Willow Coberly and Harry Stalford, Stalford Seed Farms in Tangent, OR.

About the Filmmakers

Elaine Velazquez and Barbara Bernstein have been creating film and radio documentaries for over thirty-five years. Their award winning work has been broadcast on public television and radio, screened at international film festivals and distributed through broad grassroots networks. Barbara also hosts the environmental show Locus Focus on KBOO-FM.

Indiegogo Campaign

GAINING GROUND is partially funded by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, but we’ve just launched an Indiegogo Campaign to raise finishing funds for our film.

Your contribution will enable us to complete a film that instills in its viewers the potential to create change on a personal, local and global scale. Your donation will help us inspire people to make choices in their own lives that support local and sustainable food and the farmers who are working to take back our food system.

Please take a moment to check out our Indiegogo Campaign and share it with your friends. You can get perks for your contribution and follow campaign updates. If enough of us get behind this campaign we can make GAINING GROUND happen!

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Good to Grow

By Trudy Toliver, Executive Director, Portland Farmers Market

Am I a farmer?  No, definitely not, not me.  I only this year planted food, other than herbs for the first time.  Finally, I live in a home with a sunny yard and plenty of space for growing food.  Couple that with an interest in eating close to the earth and Mel Bartholomew’s book, Square Foot Gardening which my friend Catherine said “you have to have” and I’m good to grow.

Making every inch count

First planting on March 24th

My husband seems to be able to build anything these days.  I guess he’s accumulated adequate wood working equipment and confidence to take on our property with cedar planks and galvanized nails.  With Mel as our guide we got the beds built and filled with soil. When I say “guide” I really mean it. We followed his advice word for word. Making the soil felt familiar – a recipe of five ingredients that make up the perfect balance of nutrition, pH, moisture and oxygen.

Mel has practice growing food enough over his 30-some years of doing it that he’s got it down to just 6 inches of soil in a 4 foot by 4 foot or larger raised bed.  I haven’t asked, but guess that a real farmer would scoff at just 6 inches of healthy soil.  With the right blend of perlite, peat and several types of compost and no compacting, keep it light and airy, we should have a bounty.

Look at how the garden has grown!

Look at how the garden has grown!

A bounty of plant starts are in the farmers markets right now, since the last frost has past.  In late March I planted food sturdy for cool temps, fava beans, garlic, lettuce, snap peas and three kinds of …wait for it… kale.  I’ve been harvesting lettuce and kale for about three weeks now.  Flowers are blooming on the fava and peas, shy smiling faces of what’s to come.

More recently I put in tomatoes and sweet peppers. I still have space for lemon cucumbers, eggplant and yes, I’ll plant a zucchini, but just one.

No, I’m not a farmer, they get up early, do back-breaking chores all day, are super knowledgeable about plants, worry about weather and pests and spend most of their lives outside.  Ahh, I envy that.  My food mostly comes from them; I like to leave challenging and precise work to the professionals.  My little bit of backyard food growing is enjoyable, makes me feel connected to the earth and a tad closer to a farmer.

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Suddenly, What Happened to Summer?

Hard to believe this is what mid-May is suppose to act like after the last few weeks of early summer. Worry not, there will still be markets to enjoy despite a little rain; rain that our growers need anyway, so no complaining. Instead embrace the weekend markets and enjoy with the knowledge the markets may not be as crowded, considering people aren’t as hardcore as you are.

DSC_0008Rhubarb is such a good idea and then strawberries come around and people are like, “No, we didn’t used to see each other” and you quit returning rhubarb’s texts then totally ignore it (or at least one of those things.) It doesn’t need to be that way. Rhubarb is awesome and our friend Carrie Cowan has all sorts of rhubarb ideas including a rhubarb mojito. You can buy rhubarb at PSU and/or King this weekend. You can visit the recipes here.

Speaking of strawberries, the venerable, The Onion, is just dead wrong on this one (Language; mild by my standards, but others be aware.)


Potatoes; Awesome Potatoes

Kids Cook Preview at PSU this weekend. Kids can make an asparagus ribbon salad, it’s free, it starts at 8:30 am and you’ll have a chance to sign up for future classes (cost $5) in June, July and August. More info here.

And for those younger than kid age, you probably aren’t reading this, but we’ve seen you with your smiling babyheads, especially at King – the most fertile place on earth™ – we have food for you too. Little Localvores is at King every Sunday 10-2. They have organic, which means non-GMO, baby foods in compostable containers. Stop by say hi to Jennefer and ask her about her new business and new addition to her family.

Also Sunday: Our Kenton Market opens the first Friday of June but this Sunday is the Kenton street fair. Bands, local businesses, food, the PFM Market Bike aka, The Produce Pedaler with berries. Take a photo of the bike and tag it with #PDXProducePedaler and you can win a bag and t-shirt. We’re doing this monthly. You shall know The Produce Pedaler when you see it. Stop by, ask how hard it is to pedal and take a picture. The fair is 10-6; PFMers totally endorse Kenton – check it out, more info on this poster: Kenton Street Fair Poster.

Olive Oil enthusiasts unite! Jim Dixon of Real Good Food is offering marketeers an opportunity to meet extra virgin olive oil producer Albert Katz. Albert grows olives organically in California’s Suisun Valley, just east of Napa, and makes award-winning olive oils used at Le Pigeon, Ava Gene’s, and Alice Water’s seminal restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley. He’s a founder of the California Olive Oil Council and responsible for its certified extra virgin seal, the only way for consumers to know if the olive oil they’re buying in the supermarket is really extra virgin. Taste his Rock Hill Ranch and Chef’s Pick organic extra virgin olive oils and learn how olives are grown for oil.

Shemanski Wednesday. Buckman Thursday. How is your garden growing? Our very own Director Trudy will blog about hers next week. Tune into see who has the better garden, yes it is a contest, maybe you need to pick up some starts this weekend.DSC_0156

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