A Palace for Cakes

by Abby Warren, Project & Office Coordinator at Portland Farmers Market and cake peddler at Palace Cakes

palace1On the second day of Palace Cakes settling into their new home, the staff all took appropriate measures of celebration – champagne and, of course, cake. Although I’d been lucky enough to indulge in owner and baker Elizabeth Beekley’s heavenly masterpieces a few times before when they were being crafted at the sister bakery, Two Tarts, there’s really nothing that can prepare one for the jaw-dropping sensation (likely because you want to put as much cake in your mouth as possible) of taking your first bite of straight-from-the-farm buttercream or end-of-summer peach nestled into a breakfast cake.

Ok – back to our celebration. As we were chatting over bubbly and buckies (Beekley’s creative alias for cupcakes – think Buckminster Fuller, geodesic dome), I couldn’t help but notice the palace3number of people who strolled by, stopped, did a double take, and then popped on in. “Oh, it’s a cake shop! I had to see what was happening in here.” No question they were drawn in by the warm glow that emanates from the enormous windows that circle half the shop. From the outside the windows invite you in, and from the inside they shower you with warm sunshine or, during the rainy months, make you feel ever so grateful to be inside with coffee and cake in hand.

Just as I’m a sucker for Elizabeth’s baked goods, I also am baffled by her innate interior decorating abilities. The walls and shelves are adorned with antique treasures, all donated by the community who supports this venture – doilies knit by a friend’s great aunt, 1950s cake cookbooks from a regular, even the bathroom boasts pals’ postcards from the 1970s.

palace6Ok, so now that you’re settled in the space, go ahead, sit down. Let’s talk cake. The magic that happens behind the counter at Palace is a force to be reckoned with. In my entire quarter of a century in this life, never have I had a slice of cake that rivals Palace’s – yes, honestly.

As a long-time Portland Farmers Market vendor (Two Tarts actually got their start at our PSU market), Elizabeth has friends in all of the right places. Winters Farms honey, raspberries and blackberries and, featured this season, Starvation Alley cranberries, all contribute color and flavor to different buttercreams. Hazelnuts from Freddy Guys, peaches from Baird Orchards, sweet potato from Rick Steffen Farms, quince from Sun Gold Farm, apples and pears from Stephens Farm, and carrots from Groundwork Organics or Spring Hill Organic Farm all make their way into seasonally featured cakes. Flour from Shepherd’s Grain, eggs from Dancing Chicken and butter from an assortment of local vendors make up the “meat of the operation”, creating rich, real, light, fluffy delicacies.

palace4As I mentioned earlier, Elizabeth is a born decorator. Her design skills are in no means reserved for interiors. Watching that woman drop dots onto a wedding cake, or wave a spatula to create perfectly swirled full frosting – that is something to behold. Elizabeth is joined by fellow cake master, Annastacia Weiss, a true baking genius with past experiences at other Portland staples. Together these two create some of the finest masterpieces in this food paradise we call Portland, while simultaneously supporting sustainable, fair agricultural practices and our local farmers. Cake with a conscience has never tasted so good.

By Deborah Pleva, Weinstein PR

Portland Farmers Market and Portland State University today announced that Portland Farmers Market’s flagship Saturday market, located on the south Park Blocks in the heart of the PSU campus, previously operating mid-March through mid-December, will now remain open year-round.



This season, the Winter Market at PSU will be open every Saturday from January 3, 2015, to February 28, 2015, from 9 am to 2 pm. The Winter Market footprint will be one block, from Montgomery to Harrison, expanding back to the full two-block footprint in March, when it resumes its regular hours of 8:30 am to 2 pm.

“Portland State University’s beautiful South Park Blocks have long been the perfect location for our world-class market, and we are thrilled to now make the location our year-round home,” said Trudy Toliver, executive director of Portland Farmers Market. “We are grateful to the university for its ongoing support of our dedicated farmers, ranchers, fishermen and small food businesses, as well as our loyal shoppers.”

Portland State President Wim Wiewel praised the new agreement as an expansion of a highly successful partnership between the university and Portland Farmers Market. “The Portland State Farmers Market exemplifies our connections to the community.  It provides economic opportunity and showcases sustainability. We are proud to have this grow,” Wiewel said.



Portland Mayor Charlie Hales welcomed the news, and said, “The Portland Farmers Market has played a major role in establishing our city as one of the most sustainable cities in the world. It is a major benefit to our residents and local farmers, and one of the institutions that makes Portland so livable and unique. It’s terrific news to have a year-round farmers market at PSU in the heart of the city.”


Founded in 1992, the original Portland Farmers Market was held in a parking lot along the Willamette River at Albers Mill. Portland Farmers Market transplanted the budding market to one city block on the PSU campus in 1996. In 2010, as crowds of shoppers swelled to 16,000 in the summer months, the market doubled its footprint expanding to two city blocks, from SW Montgomery Street to SW Hall Street.



In January 2012, Portland Farmers Market opened an eight-week Winter Market at Shemanski Park to meet the growing demand for locally-grown produce during the winter months. Now, rather than closing down the PSU location and moving to Shemanski Park, the Saturday Market at PSU will stay open all four seasons of the year.

Portland Farmers Market staff will provide a covered seating area at the PSU Winter Market to protect shoppers from inclement weather. Just like during the other market months, shoppers will have easy access to restrooms in the Smith Memorial Student Union building.


Year-round farmers markets have become increasingly viable thanks to the region’s innovative farmers, who have started to employ a variety of season-extending techniques such as planting winter-hardy varietals and using row covers, cold frames and hoop houses to protect crops from the elements. Dedicated shoppers that frequent markets even during the darkest, coldest, wettest months also have been key to expanding the season.

The year-round market helps expand the local food economy by providing shoppers a destination to purchase locally grown and produced foods all year long. For small family farms, having year-round sales can greatly impact their ability to balance out annual income, retain employees and invest in farm equipment and other needs.

“More people buying vegetables at farmers markets in the winter means more income for the farm in the winter and being able to keep some employees working year round rather than the standard seasonal work model,” shares Lane Selman, market manager for Gathering Together Farm.



Market shoppers can expect to find produce vendors offering piles of purple and green kale, broccoli and cauliflower; pyramids of carrots, parsnips and beets; and baskets of apples, pears, winter squash, potatoes and onions. Other vendors will sell meats, fish, eggs, artisan breads, cheeses and sweets.  Hot food and coffee will round out the full market experience.

Added Toliver, “The Winter Market at PSU will offer everything we need to keep our soup pots and dinner tables full of local goodness throughout the winter months.”

By Kelly James

IMG_2975 You know fall has arrived when the leaves begin to change colors and the cool, crisp autumn air is blowing throughout Portland. Pumpkins, winter squash, apples, apple cider, pears, and other seasonal crops have also begun to take over the tomatoes, berries, corn and green beans of summer.

Another sign of fall is the return of the Great Pumpkin harvest festival! To celebrate this wonderful season, Portland Farmers Market will host the 16th annual, family-friendly Great Pumpkin event at Saturday’s PSU Market and, for the first time, at Sunday’s King Market.

This year’s events include:

IMG_2916Pumpkin Carving Contest
As in past years, the highlight of the Great Pumpkin for many is the pumpkin carving contest for adults and children. At PSU, from 9:00am-12:00pm (or while supplies last), get your carve on and make the most spooky, traditional, fun, or decorative jack-o-lantern you can imagine! There are prizes for the best adult and child carvings, which will be announced at 12:30pm at the music stage. At King, shoppers can carve pumpkins from 10:00am until they run out!

IMG_2757Children’s Costume Parade
At the PSU market, a children’s costume parade kicks off at 12:00pm around the north block from the Information Booth and there will be market goody bags for all participants. While there won’t be a parade at the King market, any child who comes in costume will receive a goody bag!

*We also encourage adults to come in their costumes to share in the festivities.

NEW! Dave’s Killer Bread Toast Bar (PSU Market Event Only)
New this year is a Toast Bar hosted by our season sponsor, Dave’s Killer Bread. There will be a “toast bar” set up with free samples of toasted Dave’s Killer Bread topped with market ingredients like jam, honey, soft cheeses, etc.

IMG_2896NEW! Market Photo Booth, Face Painting & Games (King Market Event Only)
A photo booth will be provided by Joe Forbish Photography to capture your awesome costumes, carved pumpkins, and big smiles.  There will be face painting for kids and pumpkin bowling (use your imagination) for all.

The Great Pumpkin is family-friendly and anyone is welcome. Come and enjoy the fall festivities and go home with your own carved pumpkin — you could even win the prize!

If you need a little inspiration for pumpkin carving ideas, check out these sites:

IMG_2883While there’s no contest for “Best Toast”, check out these sites for some delicious toast toppings ideas to make at home with your favorite loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread:

Hope to see you there!

Kelly James loves all things local. Kelly has interned at a small CSA farm in Newberg, Oregon and has done research on the young adult perspective of local food. It was only fitting that upon moving to Portland, Kelly teamed up to volunteer with Portland Farmers Market. When Kelly is not learning about local food, she develops social media content, bakes cookies for her friends, and reads books on marketing. Learn more about Kelly here.

Cabbage Revival

By Dave Adamshick

With kale and chard continuing to trade turns as the trendy ingredient everyone is talking about, isn’t it time we found a new vegetable crush? While my market colleague, Jaret, predicts spinach is due for a turn on the top, I believe we’re at the dawn of the age of cabbage. For openers, there is a degree of familiarity. Like kale and chard, cabbage is a member of the brassica family. With over 400 varieties of cabbage being cultivated, one could spend a year trying a variety a day and two on Sundays.

Pretty in purple

Pretty in purple

Admittedly, although cabbage has been cultivated since before written language, its moment of glory has yet to arrive. It came close once. Greeks and Romans believed eating cabbage at a banquet would prevent you from getting drunk, but that just guaranteed its ubiquity, not acclaim. (Warning to tailgaters: experience tells me sauerkraut does not remedy beer ineffective).

In medieval times, written records prove the plant was held in disdain, apparently only fit to eat by peasants. Modern writers extol cabbage’s high Vitamin C, betacarotene and potassium content, which is great for marketing the latest sports drink, but perhaps not so much for creating desire at mealtime.

Crinkly savoy

Crinkly Savoy

I implore you to give this often overlooked vegetable another chance. Now is the season for hearty veg and cabbage is as hearty as they come. Try it in stews, soups, smothered chops, kraut or, if you’re lucky enough to make or source them, pierogis. Stuffed with mushroom and cabbage, these little Polish dumplings just taste like fall. Keep it simple by cooking a one pot meal of green cabbage with kielbasa, bacon and apples. Washed down with a beer or cider, you’ll be adding a protective layer of insulation just in time for the cold and damp of winter.

Crispy napa

Crispy Napa

Although cabbage stores well and is available year around, now is the time to stop by area markets and check out some more unusual varieties. Savoy, the cabbage whose textural leaves lend themselves to stuffing with ground lamb, cooked rice and tomatoes makes for a seasonal treat. Napa cabbage, with oblong leaves that are crispier, juicier and lack that heavy cabbage flavor, goes well sesame oil or peanut sauce. Try lightly braising red and purple varieties Italian-style in red wine and tossing it with gorgonzola and vinegar.

Reaping the Harvest

By Vicki Hertel, Third Generation Farmer, Sun Gold Farm

Charlie, Vicki and Chris Hertel of Sun Gold Farm

Charlie, Vicki and Chris Hertel of Sun Gold Farm

Late summer is probably not the time to ask most farmers about their career choice.  By this point in the season, most of us are worn out from a summer of hot days and short nights.  Spring found us full of hope and energy after a dormant, restful winter.  New ideas mixed with past standards filled our days of planning and planting.  We looked forward to an even better harvest than the year prior.  And as the days grew warmer and longer and the fields filled to the edges, we were even excited about all the work that comes with the harvest.  But now it is fall, and we are tired.  Very tired.

summer squashThis past summer, especially, was exhausting.  With the largest harvest we can remember coupled with hot, dusty days, we are glad it is about over for the year.  Summer squash and cucumbers were picked, washed , and sorted three times weekly.  Tons (literally) of potatoes and tomatoes made their way into the sorting shed.  Often the lights came on in the evening after supper to finish boxing tomatoes and tomatillos. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries waited impatiently on the vine.  Ten acres of sweet corn were hand picked and rushed to the coolers almost daily.   Work began as soon as there was enough daylight to find the fields – in June and July that was 5 AM.

This was a season of rapid weed growth and ravenous insects.  Some of our fields escaped with little damage – others not so lucky. Aphids were worse than ever this year.  Even the thousands of lady bugs that were shipped in could not keep up at times.  Cucumber beetles kept the mud swallows fed, and then some.

irrigationProper irrigation was the key to success this unusually dry summer.  From May through August, there was water flying or dripping somewhere on this farm 24 hours per day.  Irrigation lines were laid in the wee hours of the morning and turned off just before bedtime, only to be moved and repeated the following day.

By the end of August, some farmers really begin to question their chosen career.  But then, somehow, for some reason, our memories of the long, hard days, and our aches gypsy peppersand pains all seem to fade as we slow our pace and head into fall.  Maybe it’s that promise of winter that the fall color gives us. Tomatoes are in abundance, red and orange color peeping through green leaves. Sweet peppers are turning orange, red and yellow, becoming even more flavorful. Lastly, the winter squash, gourds, and pumpkins arrive, bringing a variety of shapes, colors and textures to the fields.

red warty thingIt’s almost as if nature knows of the farmer’s weariness and does its utmost to make the ongoing harvest as pleasurable as possible. Everything has its own unique color, pattern and shape and helps to keep the farmer entertained.  Seed catalogs start arriving in the mailbox and a new season is in the planning stages.  The long nights of winter give us plenty of time to rest up and start the cycle all over again next year.  And most of us are more than happy to do so.


By Dave Adamshick

EggplantEggplant is such an odd name for a plant that’s usually large, pear-shaped and purple. In most English speaking countries, it’s sold as an aubergine, a word that also refers to that rich purple skin color that encases common varieties. The eggplant is a little odd in that, like its tomato cousin, it’s botanically a fruit, whose seeds are encased in an edible flesh, but it’s sold commercially and cooked as vegetable.

A member of the nightshade family—a designation that compels me by custom, style guides and possibly law to use the phrase, the deadly nightshade—eggplants were originally cultivated in India. Because of the association, most westerners believed the plant to be poisonous until the Renaissance, causing Europeans to miss out on centuries of baba ghanoush.

japeggplantGrowing up in the Great Lakes region, the eggplant may have just as well been poisonous for as often as it was prepared. In recent years, my dad has developed a love of eggplant parmesan. Good for my dad, trying new foods, keeping himself open to new experiences. Except that, in true Midwestern style, breaded, fried and topped with cheese is the only way he’ll eat it.

While melanzane parmigiana is very good and proves everything sounds better with an Italian accent, there are other ways to prepare the plant. There’s the custardy moussaka, the Provençal ratatouille. Small, golf ball sized eggplants are found in both red and green curries in Thai style dishes. Everything that can go on the grill, should, and eggplant is no exception. Olive oil, salt, pepper and flame takes care of the problem of what to do when it’s too hot to turn on the oven.

multieggplantThe plant loves warm weather and in the Pacific NW, as August turns to September, the eggplant population explodes and you’ll see all the variations of the cultivar that will grow in this part of the world. At area farmers market you’ll find dozens of varieties. The shape will be familiar, but the plant’s skin color can be chocolate, purple striated, green or snow white. You’ll also likely spot banana shaped Thai and Japanese varieties and the small white fleshed eggplants, whose appearance will help you realize how the plant got its name.

Peaches are an enigma wrapped in a fuzzy skin. Easy to delight in, harder to understand, the relative to the almond, apricot and cherry is full of contradictions: Golden hued fruits are almost universally better tasting but people are primally attracted to the red skinned varieties. A brown spot on the skin that looks like a blemish is actually a concentration of sugar; a mark of quality inside. The fruit can be refrigerated, but only after they’re ripe – chilling an unripe fruit will make it mealy. Georgia is known as The Peach State, when in reality the fruit is grown across the US and even though half the domestic crop comes from California, the best peach is the one grown nearest to you. DSC_0274

Despite their near koan-like quality, enjoying a peach requires no meditation. The tricky part, picking the fruit when it’s mature but not yet ripe enough to be damaged in shipping is handled by the grower. Peaches are climacteric, meaning they continue to ripen after they are picked. A firm peach needs only a time a room temperature until they soften. There’s no need to squeeze a peach, the bane of many orchardists, you can actually smell a ripe peach from yards away. One of the joys of buying at area markets is the fruits are grown for taste, not for their ability to be trucked to a store to sit on a shelf for a week. Ask your grower what’s and why it’s good.

Fresh, ripe peaches don’t need a cook to improve them. While the words, ‘peach pie,’ may make you smile, the peach embedded in your memory is the one you ate straight out of your hand during the dusk of a still hot day. Yet, not every peach will be ripe the exact moment you need it and sometimes it’s hard not to get all culinary on ingredients. Peach ice cream? Enough said! Sliced and tossed in port or red wine before dinner will yield a heavenly dessert; possibly topped with mascarpone. Grilled and topped with Sauce Romanoff, which sounds complicated but is just a combination of sweetened whipped cream and sour cream. A cobbler, mixed with blueberries and topped with Greenwillow Grains oats grown in the Willamette Valley will make the most Oregony dessert this side of strawberries. The season is short, stretching into early September, but the memories will last forever.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 20,584 other followers