Thursday, July 31, 2008

Silent Killer: Inflammatory Breast Cancer

I received an e-mail with accompanying video from my friend Michel and, while the topic isn't part of GSNW's usual mix, I felt the information in it was important enough to share here.

video

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Berry Nice!


Ask Donald Kotler of the Southeast Portland cafe Toast what his favorite berry is and you get a frustrated sigh.

"It depends on what I'm doing with it," he begins. "If I'm baking . . . "


The owner of Toast, the small but popular new restaurant in the burgeoning FoPo (Foster-Powell) neighborhood, pauses in mid-sentence. "Well, it depends if I'm making pancakes, syrups, or scones or muffins."

To find out what Donald does with which berries and to get his recipes, you'll have to read "Berry Flair," my article in today's FoodDay section of the Oregonian.

Market Watch: Oregon City Farmers' Market


Small but growing, this market is hitting a sweet spot this season as more and more vendors join the roster of regulars, making it a destination for area shoppers wanting fresher and better produce than they can find in area supermarkets. And they're right on the cutting edge of another market issue, that being the banning of dogs from the aisles. Lake Oswego has a similar rule (laxly enforced) and Hillsdale will bar dogs starting on August 1. Read this week's Market Watch report and get the juicy details.

Monday, July 28, 2008

These Wings Will Fly


I'm so excited! After begging, bargaining and eventually resorting to groveling, I finally got the recipe for some of the freaking greatest chicken wings on the planet from my neighbor and good fairy Susana.

She'd brought these over for a couple of back yard gatherings here at the ranch, and people were almost literally falling out of their chairs in ecstasy. It almost got a little ugly as the pile dwindled, with couples eyeing each other to see if the other would graciously give up their last piece for their true love.

Fortunately no melée ensued and no blood was spilled, but be forewarned that you'll need to make plenty to stave off any threat of chaos at your next gathering.

Susana's Amazing Asian Chicken Wings

Wings:
1 dozen chicken wings, wing tip segment cut off and discarded and remaining two joints separated

Glaze:
1/4- 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce (easy to find in most grocery stores but an Asian market has more choices)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely minced or grated on a micro grater
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1/2 fresh lime, juiced
2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp. Sambal Chili Sauce

Bake chicken wings at 400 degrees for approximately 30-40 minutes. They should start to pull away from the bone and be crispy. (Flabby wings are a no-no!) While the wings bake, prepare the glaze.

Mix all ingredients for the glaze in a large mixing bowl. Adjust ingredients if you like your wings hotter, sweeter, more acidic, fish saucier, etc. Mix in wings hot from the oven and toss to coat. Serve on platter with leftover sauce on the side for dipping.

Hot Item: Sardine Skewers at Garden State


I don't know what it is about fishy snacks, but I can't seem to get enough of them. Anchovies have found their way into just about every corner of our diet, from appetizers all the way to entrees. Though we have yet to find a place for them in the dessert course, I'm not averse to trying them in that venue.

So when I saw that Kevin Sandri had sardine skewers on the blackboard at his Garden State cart in Sellwood, I obviously had to have one. Rounds of fish stuffed with savory bread crumbs and eaten hot on a skewer, these totally rock. And paired with some of his chick pea "fries" it comes close to heaven in terms of snackage. But you'll have to get in soon, 'cause these are only going to be around for a bit.

Details: Garden Sate, corner of 13th and Lexington in Sellwood (5 blocks north of Tacoma). Phone 503-705-5273.

In Season: Cipollini Onions


In a recent foray to a local farmers' market I ran across these cipollini (pron. chip-oh-LEE-nee) onions at the Winter Green Farm stand. Running just a buck each or three for $2.75, I'd never seen them fresh before, and my mind started racing with the possibilities. Grilling them whole with steaks seemed an honorable use, or slicing them into paper-thin rounds and placing them on crostini drizzled with olive oil or a blop of aioli might be a worthy way to savor them. Or if you have a better suggestion, do tell!

Lunching at Lucca


A friend recently said she saw evidence on this blog that going out for lunch is an activity I partake of with some regularity. And to that charge I plead guilty and offer an explanation.

First, it's a good way to judge the quality of a restaurant without the (generally much) higher tariffs found on dinner menus. Second, it's an easy time of day because there aren't pets and people prowling around for their next meal with the threat that if something isn't done quickly there may be payback in my future.

And lastly, it's just nice to take a break in the middle of the day to socialize, something we work-at-home freelancers need on occasion to keep our social skills in the acceptable zone. So when my pal Mary came over, we decided to walk over to Lucca to give their recently-announced lunch menu a whirl.

Mary chose the slow-roasted pork sandwich (photo, top), a juicy mouthful that, instead of the all-too-frequently cloying (and mediocre) barbecue-sauce overpowering the meat, had a nicely spiced chili aioli complementing the smoky tenderness of the pork. And the house-made rosemary-parmesan potato chips are worth ordering as a side on their own and would be perfect with one of the beers on tap.

My funghi pizza provided a thin-crusted but substantial platform for wood-roasted mushrooms, fontina, mozzarella, parsley and truffle oil and was large enough to provide lunch for the next day (or, as it turned out, a snack for Mr. B when I got home). The crust was nicely blistered but not overdone, showing the care the kitchen takes with all of its wood-oven items.

Lucca's location on the southwest corner of the block makes it a perfect place to sit outside, and their very comfortable chairs and well-placed umbrellas take the threat of heat prostration off the list of concerns. The prices are all in the moderate range, with starters and sandwiches all under $10 and the good-sized wood oven pizzas just over that.

And, as we found with the dinner we had there, it was comfortable enough for a casual mid-day respite with a friend yet has the class to be a successful spot for a business lunch. Not to mention the fact that there weren't any pets (or people) whining pathetically for dinner.

Details: Lucca, 3449 NE 24th Ave. Phone 503-287-7372.

"Help Me, Dap Kings!"


OK, I admit it. I hadn't been to a summer zoo concert for years.

My interest waned in direct proportion to the increase in the crowds and the subsequent rise in ticket prices, along with concessions that force concert-goers to buy all their beverages from on-site vendors. Though I admit that back in the day our blanket was known to have some pretty rockin' screwdrivers that had been smuggled in as a cooler of "juice," now you can't even bring in your own bottled water.

But when music mavens K&J said they'd scored tickets to see Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, a crazy good funk/soul group, we jumped at the chance to hear them live. We'd been knocked out by the video of their song, 100 Days, 100 Nights, so on a recent Friday night we packed up a cooler of foodstuffs (no "juice" this time) and headed out to the zoo.

A blanket had been staked out earlier and, thanks to the magic of cell phones, we found our group happily ensconced on the sloping lawn with a fine view of the stage and a spread of the most delicious munchies one could hope for. BTW, if you'd like something more than mediocre merlot or over-oaked chard for your picnic, amble over to the nearby Afri-Cafe for better choices and no long lines.

When Ms. Jones was brought onstage after a musical introduction by her very tight backing band, this tiny titan (she can't be more than five feet tall) showed that she was a legitimate heir to James Brown not just in the power of her singing but in the energy of her performance. Needless to say, we were on our feet most of the concert and couldn't have been more satisfied when it was all over. So if you notice an artist you like on the roster, get your posse together and get over there. You won't regret it!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Letter from Manhattan: Stiles Show, Pt. 2


In Part 1 of the story, our friend Mark wrote about a greengrocer in his neighborhood, Stiles Farmers Market. In Part 2 he explains that it's not exactly a New Seasons type of place.

Shopping at Stiles is an experience.

You will see a cross-section of humanity there. Tiny elderly ladies flock there for their once-weekly excursion to buy a grape or three. Local firefighters, meanwhile, shop in bulk for their crew, exiting Stiles with armloads of broccoli, onions, red potatoes.

Se habla español in Stiles. And though the signs above the bins are written in English, they sometimes invite confusion. You may see a label for “melons” over the bin brimming with lemons. But you’ll eventually catch on. As with most Manhattan shopping endeavors, though, you won’t usually be greeted effusively at the checkout lane. There will likely be no peppy “Thank you for shopping at Stiles today! Did you find everything you were looking for?” However, the young woman will move you through the line briskly. And just watch: She’ll inevitably use that slice of cucumber she’s placed beside the cash register to moisten an index finger for counting the bills you’ve handed her.

Fortunately, you won’t have to fork over too many dollars. It’s an open secret that Stiles is one of Hell’s Kitchen’s best bargain centers. If you pick selectively, you can walk out of the place with all the fresh fruit and vegetables you can carry, for 10 bucks or less. At the 52nd Street Stiles, they were recently selling limes at 9-for-a-dollar. The price rose to 8-for-a-dollar a couple days later—due, undoubtedly, to some nasty hiccup down on Wall Street. (Been a lot of indigestion there lately, no?)

Stiles also offers baked goods, including bagels, and a few other non-produce staples. I never buy olive oil anywhere else. But, again, you can’t depend on getting it any old time you drop in. You’ll look for it without luck for a few visits. Then, suddenly, there it will be, in some back corner of the store, with a price tag that will make your eyes pop (in a good way).

There are other modest specialty food stores near the 42nd Street Stiles. One features coffee and tea. Another has big bins by the front door with stiff dried fishes the size of baguettes. When I first moved into the neighborhood, the guy who sublet his apartment to me pointed out all the establishments I needed to know about. (This helped me find forgiveness for him when he wanted the apartment back, abruptly, five years later.)

My all-time favorite neighborhood store was a seafood vendor with a scrap table where you could get remarkable chunks of tuna and swordfish for something like 20 cents a pound. These “scraps” seemed like fine cuts to a pescetarian like me, and I ate like Neptune on a bender till a year or so ago, when the place lost its lease (after decades in the same building) and moved— reputedly to Queens. Again, you can never count on anything entirely in New York City.

But maybe that’s true everywhere.

I mean, I’d assumed Wirf’s was long gone. But when I checked with my Aunt Pat, she gave me a whole history of the old fruit stand. The Wirfs have been out of the picture for years. The place changed owners more than once, going through good times and bum times. But it’s still there (now known as Firestone Farms). And, at some point, it expanded—adding nursery stock and
a nut-processing plant.

I wouldn’t even be surprised if they carried starfruit these days.

[Firestone Farms can be found at 18400 N Hwy. 99W, Dayton. Phone 503-864-2672. - KAB]

Photo from FamousAnkles.com.

Friday, July 25, 2008

One for the Road


It's nice to break up any journey into bits. And any trip is made immeasurably better by the inclusion of at least one snack for the road. As mentioned previously, we headed back from our camping sojourn by taking a detour on Hwy. 35, taking us around the east side of Mt. Hood and down through the Hood River Valley.

This means winding along that same Hood River as it tumbles down from its source, through the farmland and orchards that spread out like a patchwork blanket on this side of the mountain and past the little towns of Parkdale and Odell. When the highway dead-ends at the river, you're in Hood River and ("Why, look at the time!") a snack is always in order.

The fish and chips.

We were hoping to go to Double Mountain Brewing to check out their tap room, but it's not open for lunch on weekdays, so we headed to the recently remodeled Full Sail Brewing Tasting Room for some chow and a brew. This used to be quite the funky place with a purely functional aesthetic, but it's now been turned into a place you could take the parents for a pint and a nosh.

Dave opted for the pulled pork sandwich, a decent version nicely sauced in a bit-too-lightweight bun, while I went in the direction of the fish and chips. The chunks of fish came out hot and moist, with a thick but crispy battered crust and a lemon-caper tartar sauce, a creative twist on the pickle-and-onion classic. The fries were crunchy and light, but seemed a little more baked than deep-fried.

The nice surprise was the cole slaw, which had the expected shredded cabbage but also included fennel in the mix along with a little heat, perhaps from jalapeno or cayenne. It's fun when a kitchen takes what might be a ho-hum side like the tartar sauce or cole slaw and ups the ante. It makes me feel like someone's paying attention.

The cask IPAs went well with both our selections, as you might imagine, and (with the pints of water we also consumed) we headed down the holy-crap-I-forgot-it-was-so-incredibly-beautiful Columbia River Gorge and home.

Details: Full Sail Brewing Tap Room, 506 Columbia St., Hood River. Phone 541-386-2247.

Camp Stories: Camping Among the Tadpoles


There we were. Nearly the end of July and we hadn't been able to get out of town for even an overnight trip. The new tent, bought to replace our old domed tent that was finally shredding to nothing after 20 years, was still in its box, the camping equipment scattered around the basement in various boxes. And don't even think about the canoe. The closest it had been to water in a couple of years was when someone left the sprinkler on in the back yard and some wetness seeped in through a crack in the wall.

So one morning last week Dave and I looked at each other over the New York Times and decided to head out for a quick getaway to the mountain. We threw the gear and Rosey into the car, leaving Walker at home under the care of Mr. B, and headed out to seek our campsite. Not having a map or a clue, we stopped at the Zigzag Ranger Station where the helpful young woman behind the counter had two words for our request for a small, simple campground where we could paddle our canoe.

"Frog Lake."

Lakeside martinis.

Since it was just off the main highway past Timberline Lodge, it took only another half hour to be parked at our lakeside campsite. A half hour after that we'd set up the tent and Dave was shaking up a couple of his famous martinis. And shortly thereafter we were dining on pan-fried New York steak with portobello mushrooms and onions and a risotto with haricot verts.

Really roughing it (aka dinner the first night).

The next day the canoe, with Rosey reluctantly riding along, was launched and we rowed out into the lake past hundreds of quarter-sized tadpoles swimming alongside the boat, clear evidence that the lake's naming was not merely a romantic fancy. About halfway out I turned to check on Rosey and saw an incredible view of Mt. Hood rising up behind us (photo, top).

A great place for a quick getaway, it would also be fun for families with kids, especially because of the lake and the old-fashioned hand pump that provides the water for the campground. Good hiking trails to nearby lakes and viewpoints are also available according to the camp hosts, though we didn't check them out.

Any drawbacks in the form of nighttime temps in the mid-30s, a bit of traffic noise from trucks rumbling down the highway or the (updated) pit toilets were more than offset by the opportunity to sit by the campfire reading a (gasp!) book, paddling to our hearts' content on the quiet lake and just enjoying doing nothing for a couple of days. Choosing to drive back the long way through Hood River on a warm summer day made the whole thing sheer bliss. And something we'll be doing again soon.

Details: Frog Lake Campground, Mt. Hood. Recommended campsites: Numbers 16 and 18. Reservations accepted online.

Letter from Manhattan: Stiles Show, Pt. 1


Our friend Mark, a writer and editor, came for a visit a few weeks ago and I asked him if he'd be interested in sharing his thoughts on what it's like to be a small-town Oregon boy who's moved to the Big Apple. He graciously agreed to give it a go, and in his first letter he talks about a market in his neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen.

Summer in the Willamette Valley—I hardly need tell anyone who reads this—is a season of endless bounty. Farmers Markets, U-Pick operations, and roadside produce stands offer a stream of inexpensive, freshly harvested everything.

I remember one of these stands from my childhood in Yamhill County. It was run by a family named Wirf, just up the road from my Grandpa Dundas’s farm—along Highway 99 near Dundee, Oregon. Whatever variety of fruit or berry wasn’t growing on your own property, you could probably find at Wirf’s.

OK, so you probably couldn’t get starfruit. But who knew from starfruit in those days? Local stuff, though? In spades. Later I found operations on Sauvie Island that were much more elaborate than Wirf’s—and pretty hard to drive by without stopping and checking them out.

Living in the middle of Manhattan, I find such bonanzas somewhat rarer. Still, summertime here can still induce blasts from my fresh-produce past. Certainly there are no U-Picks handy in Hell’s Kitchen—unless what you’re looking to do is rifle through debris left by tourists on 42nd Street. But there are plenty of markets with sidewalk displays of produce, as well as pushcart vendors offering fresh fruit. On my way to work, I often buy a banana from one of these guys, on the corner of 45th Street and 5th Avenue.

Except on the days when he’s not there. Don’t ever depend entirely on anything in New York City.

There are outdoor Farmers Markets here and there, including a good one a few subway stops south from me, in Union Square. Here, during summer weekends, you can also get tomato and pepper and geranium plants for your window box or sill. And there are big gourmet food stores too, of course—Whole Foods and Fairway. But those stores don’t remind me in the least of rural summers in Oregon.

But there is a store—a plum’s throw from the Port Authority Bus Station— that is a godsend to a thrifty former Oregonian: the year-round Stiles Farmers Market. Hot, sweaty and crowded in the summer months and cold, shivery and crowded in the winter, Stiles is not an entirely open-air operation. But in lieu of a solid roof it has a big tent-top that flaps noisily in the middle of a good gust. The floors are rolling asphalt and you probably should avoid the place after a drenching summer thunderstorm.

There is a second Stiles on 52nd Street with an almost identical layout. However, a couple years ago a handwritten sign in the front of one Stiles proclaimed that it had no affiliation with the other. I’m not sure whether that was a permanent rift or merely a short-term family feud. Regardless, either store is worth checking out if you’re ever visiting Manhattan and want to score, say, some apricots to have on hand in your hotel room.

Look for Pt. 2 coming soon!

Photos from FamousAnkles.com.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fifty, Count 'Em, Fifty!


You know how you meet someone and hit it off, and it's always fun to see where the relationship goes from there? We met our friend Suzanne when she was the bartender at Castagna Café, one of our very favorite places in Portland to have an amazing meal without an amazing price tag. Then she decided to move on and we hoped she'd pop up again someplace, knowing she would be a success at whatever she put her mind to.

Well, it turns out she's one of the bartenders at 50 Plates, an ambitious new restaurant in the Pearl district that is part of the JoPa Hospitality Group under the owndership of Joe and Ginger Rapport. (Ginger's also the market manager of the Beaverton Farmers' Market.) And goodness knows what lies she must have told, but the dear girl managed to wangle an invitation for Dave and myself to their "media opening" last week.

The Steakhouse Trifecta.

I'd never been to such an event, hobbing and nobbing with the city's food media, drinking at the open bar and sampling from their fine wine list, all for free. It was quite a fantastic affair, with endless fresh oysters, almost irresistible little dirty rice beignets with bits of andouille, plus a scallop ceviche that totally killed.

Then the crowd sat down for a dinner featuring, among so many dishes it made my head spin, an heirloom tomato salad, a deconstructed clam chowder of roasted fish with clams and sauce on a bed of mashed potatoes, a braised lobster with clams and, as if that weren't enough, a combo they called the Steakhouse Trifecta that consisted of kobe steak, a potato-with-bacon fritter and a romaine wedge salad.

But wait, there was more. Desserts started pouring out of the kitchen and included one of the most fabulous slices of chocolate cake I've ever had, that was maybe even better than the Big 'Ol Chocolate Cake that was served at Shaker's Café, my brother's legendary place in the early days of the Pearl.

As you can imagine, everything was perfect for this crowd, so it'll deserve a trip back to check out the reality of daily service. But it looks like it could be a contender if their pricing is right and they keep up the outstanding quality on display for the media. It opens on July 28th, so stop in and say hello to Suzanne at the bar, and thank her for me!

Details: 50 Plates, 333 NW 13th Ave. Phone 503-228-5050.

Farm Bulletin: Upon the Fields of Barley


This week brings the news that Ayers Creek Farm will be expanding to include another market, this one in McMinnville. We can only assume that this is a scheme to dominate the rare organic heirloom vegetable and fruit markets, first in the city, then (bwa-ha-ha) the world. Though it may take awhile. A long while. So, for now, look for Anthony and Carol at the Hillsdale market on Sundays from 10 am till 2 pm and the McMinnville market from 1:30 pm until 6 pm on Thursdays.

Arabian Blue barley (photo, above) is an ancient six-row variety out of Saudi Arabia. It remains beautiful when cooked. The naked barleys thresh free from their hulls. For brewing and animal feed, a persistent hull is necessary as it separates the grains and keeps them from overheating during the malting process or digestion. Consequently, almost all of the barley grown in North America has a hull glued to the grain. The naked grain barleys are generally associated with cultures where brewing alcohol is forbidden. There is some breeding of the naked varieties for fattening swine, but flavor is not one of the selection criteria in those programs.

We have a few varieties of naked barley in the pipeline. Unfortunately, there is very little commercial interest in the naked varieties, so we rely on seed savers for our seed stock. There is an Arizona seed company that has some varieties, but they are proprietary and the farmer has to sign a contract that prevents them from replanting. That's no fun. It takes several years to get the first commercial crop from 200 seeds we receive from the barley enthusiasts. And yes, there are people simply dotty over naked barley walking among us unattended.

As a whole grain, barley is more nutritious and digestible than wheat. And among the grains, only corn and rice have greater diversity in kernel color, size and texture. Barley is very good for summertime vegetable and grain salads. Rinse well and soak overnight prior to cooking the grain.

[For more information on grain production than you'd ever want to know, please see Anthony's treatise on Market Farming and Grains on the blog Small Scale Grain and Pulse Production.]

Photos by Anthony Boutard.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Gooseberry Pie Experiment


I said I'd get back to you on the results of the gooseberry pie experiment, and the result was a wonderfully quirky and delicious slice of summer. Like the fireflies of the Eastern US, these little green jewels come and go so quickly that they linger in your memory long after they've left the stage. Now I can't wait for them to come again next year to taste that fleeting flavor once more.

Gooseberry Pie

Crust (makes one 9" crust)
1 1/4 c. unbleached flour
Pinch salt
1 tsp. sugar
8 Tbsp. margarine (1 stick), frozen
2-3 Tbsp. ice water

Filling
4 c. gooseberries
1 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch or other thickener
1/2 tsp. egg white

Put flour, salt and sugar in food processor. Pulse to combine. Add margarine in slices. Pulse till the texture of cornmeal. Turn processor on and add water till it makes a solid ball. Remove, wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hr. Repeat for top crust.

In large bowl, mix gooseberries, sugar and cornstarch. Roll out dough for bottom crust and place in pie plate. Brush egg white over bottom of crust and add filling. Roll out top crust and place on top of filling. Trim and crimp edges. Bake in 450-degree oven for 10 min., turn heat down to 350 degrees and back 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Back to the Smoker


Most wives would find a husband's new romance to be somewhat threatening. I, on the other hand, heartily encourage these dalliances, since Dave's tend to take the form of comestibles, either liquid or grill-related.

As mentioned previously, this is the summer of the smoker and his latest experiments have been turning out magnificently. The most recent, a nearly-six-pound hunk of brisket, went in the smoker for about six hours and came out with the requisite smoke ring (that pink edge in the photo) and a melt-in-your-mouth texture that rivaled the pernil he smoked earlier for its meaty deliciousness.

Brisket

5-6 pound beef brisket

Rub
1 Tbsp. cumin
1/4 c. Kosher salt
5 or six garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tbsp. paprika
1/4 c. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. ground black pepper
2 dried red peppers, finely chopped

Mix non-meat ingredients together and pat it firmly onto the brisket. Save a little bit of the rub for the barbecue sausce. Put the brisket into a container, cover it and put it into the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Remove it from the refrigerator a half-hour or so before the smoker is ready.

When coals are ready and in the smoker, add four or five bigger chunks of hickory or other wood that has been soaking in water for at least an hour. After about an hour of smoking, add four or five more chunks.

The barbecue sauce is basically the same as the one for the baby back ribs, with the addition of two tablespoons of the rub.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Spaghetti Dinner



I saw this on my brother's blog and had to share it with you here. Great idea imaginatively executed, not to mention fun! Thanks, BB!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sticking to His Ribs


The onset of warm weather has Dave on a tear with his smoker, and for the Fourth of July he was determined to take a stab at that all-American summer classic, ribs. So we hit Gartner's the day before and went inside to find it packed cheek-by-jowl with trucker hats and "Everyone Loves a Good Butt Rub" t-shirts.

Beef ribs ready to go in the smoker.

Wading through the crowd to the counter, we got our number and found they were serving number 3 while ours was 87. Heading to a corner to wait our turn, I spied a tag with the number 27 on the floor that someone had dropped. I prayed it wasn't from an earlier round and, sure enough, when 27 was called no one came forward, so we stepped up to claim our two racks of beef and three racks of baby back pork ribs.

Almost ready (note the pork ribs on the lower rack).

Rubbed with spices, Dave let the meat sit and warm up to room temperature while the fire was lit, then slapped them on the grills and into the smoker. Seven hours later they were ready for the table, and with a big bean salad and rhubarb crisp for dessert, it was a most fitting way to celebrate our national holiday.

Dave's Rib Rub

2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 or 5 medium sized garlic cloves, minced

Combine ingredients in small bowl, sprinkle on ribs and rub it into the meat.

Dave's BBQ Sauce

1 1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. Kosher dill pickle juice
1 tsp. finely chopped dried red peppers or flakes
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
3 good shakes Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1/2 small lemon

Combine ingredients in small sauce pan, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 20 min. Serve on side.

Lunching in a Jewel Box


For me, going out for lunch isn't usually about the food. It's a chance to meet a friend for a nice quiet chat, just the two of us, a time away from work, pets and the demands of family. The other day I got a call from a friend I'd been close to years ago but had drifted away from, the events in our lives pulling us into other relationships and commitments.

Since she works in the Pearl, we opted for a spot across from her office in a funny little building on the corner of 10th and Flanders that houses a café called Isabel. The most striking thing about it are the large glass wall sections that are cantilevered to open out onto the courtyard of the condominiums next door, allowing air to circulate and blurring the distinction between outside and inside.

The food on the lunch menu is fresh and simple, with a combination of comfort, Latin and Asian dishes. In other hands this might be a confusing mish-mash, but chef Isabel Cruz makes each one a distinctive rendering rather than trying to create a fusion of elements.

I chose the BLT, a basic version of the sandwich with thick-sliced fresh bread and decent, if not thrilling, bacon. My friend had the Single Happiness, a plate of brown rice and seasonal vegetables topped with sliced, grilled chicken breast and a peanut sauce. Again, simple and well-prepared and just the right amount for lunch.

It's definitely not the ritzy, expensive type of place with overly executed food that is all too typical in this neighborhood, and Isabel's casual, approachable sensibility makes it a great place to meet friends for a quick bite or a drink. And the building itself is worth experiencing on a sunny day with a breeze coming in those huge open windows.

Details: Isabel, 330 NW 10th Ave. Phone 503-222-4333.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Farm Bulletin: The Juicy Bits

This week our correspondent Anthony Boutard muses on the multitude of contributions that Finnish folk have made to our lives. Knowing many fine Finns myself (Andy? Sylvia?), I would have to agree with him. You can speak with Anthony about your favorite Finns at the Ayers Creek Farm stand a the Hillsdale Farmers' Market every Sunday from 10 am-2 pm.

The Finns have blessed the earth with Jean Sibelius, Eero Saarinen, Sisu and Mehu Liisa. This week, we pulled out our old Mehu-Maija, a Finnish steam juicer. It is an easy and gentle way of extracting juice. The old model we have has been replaced by the Mehu-Liisa, and is distributed by a Eugene company. Ours came from the Scandanavian store on the Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway [Scandia - KAB], so they probably sell the Mehu Liisa as well.

The Finns love berries, and have the highest per capita berry consumption of any nation. Berries are wrapped up in their folklore, traditions and culinary ways. Soups, porridges and beverages are all flavored with berries or their juice. Families still forage for berries in the wild, and grow them in their yards or allotments.

During these hot spells, we consume a great deal of water. Following the lead of our crew, we make batches of agua fresca, essentially water flavored with a splash of fruit juice. High acid fruits with a tannic note, red currants and loganberries are particularly refreshing. Steam extraction of the juice is so simple, so we can slake our thirst generously and deliciously. In the case of currants, it is not necessary to to take the stems off the fruit when using the steam juicer.

Livin' in the Blurbs: In the Country, Out of the Country

Chrissie Zaerpoor is intelligent, ambitious and energized. You wouldn't be surprised to find her at a major corporation and, indeed, she was a senior engineer at Intel. What might surprise you is that she left that world to start farming with husband Koorosh (an astrophysicist by training) and their son. And Kookoolan Farms currently has a farm stand at the Hillsdale Farmers' Market on Sundays. But that's just part of the story. She also manages a farm store, is working on getting a license to make mead and holds farmstead classes at the farm in Yamhill. Upcoming classes include:
  • July 19: Basic Cheesemaking with Mary Rosenblum, $50 person includes extensive cheese tasting plate.
  • Aug. 8: Artisan bread baking with Bethany Lee, $50 person. Take home a loaf of bread and an indispensable breadmaking tool.
  • Aug. 23: Washed-curd cheesemaking (edam, gouda, Colby, Havarti, among others) with Mary Rosenblum, $50 person includes extensive cheese tasting plate.
  • Aug. 30., Aug. 31: Fresh Mozzarella with Will O'Donnell from Mt Townsend Creamery, $50 person.
Details: All classes are held at Kookoolan Farms in Yamhill and reservations are required. Kookoolan Farms, 15713 Highway 47, Yamhill. Phone 503-730-7535.

* * *

It's that time of summer when I'd rather be swinging in the hammock in the back yard with a tall, icy drink than digging around in the garden. But the time is definitely right to do some planning for when cooler temperatures make gardening a joy. Portland Nursery is hosting a couple of classes at their SE Stark store for those of us who'd rather hear about planting than do it right now. Upcoming classes include:
  • July 20: Composting Basics with Sean Gillman. 10 am; free with reservation.
  • July 27: Growing Bamboo with Ian Connor, director of the Oregon Chapter of the American Bamboo Society. 10 am; free.
Details: Classes require pre-registration and will be held at Portland Nursery, 5050 SW Stark St. Phone 503-231-5050.

* * *

If you miss the Sunday Family Dinners that used to be held at Ken's Place before he left to join business partner Nick Zukin and open the fabulously popular Kenny & Zuke's, then you'll be ecstatic to learn that they've caved to the entreaties of their fans. The upcoming schedule includes:
  • July 27: The Road to Morocco including tajines, exotic spices, preserved lemons, olives, couscous, dates, garlic.
  • Aug. 31: Summer in the South of France with Provencal Fish Soup, La Grande Aioli, and (they claim) the best Pasta with Pesto you've ever tasted.
  • Sept. 28: Flavors of the Yucatan with a sampling of this complex and tantalizing cuisine, accompanied by a Pomegranate Sangria.

Details: All dinners begin at 6 pm with four courses for the price of $30, $40 including wine. Children under 12 are $18.75. Gratuities not included. Reservations required. Kenny & Zuke's, 1038 SW Stark St. Phone 503-222-3354.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Perfect Timing: The Good Fairy Reappears!


Dave and I were talking about making a batch of our raspberry-lavender infused vodka when the doorbell rang and the dogs exploded into a snarling, snapping rage as they scrambled to be the first to disembowel whomever was at the front door. It turned into docile whimpering as soon as they realized that the good fairy had returned, this time with an armload of fabulously scented wands of fresh lavender from her garden. (Corgis know who butters their biscuits or, perhaps, gives them chicken strips) So with a minimum of effort we were within a week of serving some of Dave's famous raspberry-lavender lemon drops. How lucky are we?

Raspberry-Lavender Lemon Drops

For the infused vodka:
2 pints raspberries
1-2 Tbsp. dried lavender flowers
1 bottle vodka (we prefer Monopolowa)

For the cocktail:
2 lemons, juiced
2 1/2 oz. infused vodka (2 scant jiggers)*
1 1/4 oz. simple syrup (1 scant jigger)
3/4 oz. triple sec (1/2 scant jigger)

To make the infused vodka, mash raspberries in large non-reactive bowl. Mix in lavender flowers and vodka. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least one week. Strain through fine mesh sieve or, to remove all residual pulp, strain through coffee filter. Store in refrigerator.

For the cocktail, fill cocktail shaker 2/3 full of ice and add all ingredients. Shake 15-20 seconds. Pour into sugar-rimmed martini glasses and serve.

* For regular lemon drops, use straight vodka.

Makes 2 cocktails.

In Season: Gooseberries


Even more fleeting than fresh favas and as rare as a rainy day in July, gooseberries are an old-school and out-of-fashion treat. Tiny and incredibly sour, they're also apparently difficult to harvest, growing on thorny bushes that tear at your skin when you try to pick them. My mother used to make gooseberry jelly when she could find these pale green jewels at the market, so when I ran across a few hallocks at Sid and Louann Bones' Greenville Farms stand at the Multnomah Village Market, I grabbed enough for a gooseberry pie. I'll keep you posted on how it comes out!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Market Watch: Lents International Farmers' Market


A question that's been nagging at me for some time now is how to make sustainability and eating local accessible to a broader spectrum of the population. It's fine for all of us who have the wherewithall to travel to a market and pay a little more to know the person who grows the food we put on our tables.

But what about those who may not have the money or may not know how to access fresh, local food? How do we engage those folks in eating healthier and feeling better? The little Lents International Market is taking a step in the right direction, and this week's Market Watch column tells you what they're doing.

In the meantime, here's a recipe for a summertime no-cooking-needed dinner that we made from some of John Felsner's mizuna (photo, top).

Summer Shrimp Salad

Mustard vinaigrette
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar or lemon juice or a combination
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 clove garlic, crushed

Salad
1/2 lb. small cooked shrimp
1 c. feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 c. kalamata or oil-cured olives, pitted and halved
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
Large bunch mizuna or other greens

Combine vinaigrette ingredients in container with a tight lid. Shake vigorously. Put salad ingredients in salad bowl and pour enough vinaigrette over to moisten. Toss and serve with loaf of ciabatta. Perfect!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Waffle Window Hits the Big Time


It's always wonderful when the people you love experience success. New job, children, new house, a long-awaited adventure; it's all worth celebrating, not to mention cheering about. When I originally wrote about my friend Mary Fishback's successful quest to recreate the Belgian street waffles her sons had discovered on a trip to that country, I knew she'd hit on something special.

Then when she repurposed an unused back hallway of her and husband Bruce's Hawthorne restaurant, Bread & Ink Café, and opened the Waffle Window, I knew it was just a matter of time before it hit that special nerve that brings Portlanders running.

Well, it looks like she's hit the big time now, with a photo and mention in the national edition of AAA's Via Magazine about Portland's eastside dining scene. How long will it take for mentions in Gourmet and Bon Appetit? Stay tuned, 'cause I'm betting it's soon. Congrats, Mary!

Details: Waffle Window, 3610 SE Hawthorne at the blue doorway on the 36th Street side of the building. Phone 503-239-4756.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

In Season: Cherries


The Northwest is famous for its sweet cherries and, while it's still a little early for Oregon cherries, Yakima's warmer and drier climate is giving us bunches of Bings and Rainiers (photo, above) right now. Fabulous cooked with brandy and sugar and served over cheesecake or ice cream, they're also great in salads and with meats. My friend Michel made a startlingly luscious cherry salsa and shared her recipe with me.

Cherry Salsa

1 c. fresh or canned corn kernels
1 pt. cherries, pitted and halved
1 mango, cut in small dice
1 roasted poblano or ancho chile, chopped
1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1/4-1/3 c. lime juice
Cilantro

Combine ingredients and serve. Amounts and ingredients can be varied depending on what you have on hand.

Oddities: Doggy Etiquette


I never take my dogs to the farmers' market. Rosey would just as soon stay on her polka dot pillow at home and snooze as be tripped over by shoppers oblivious to everything but that perfect bunch of mizuna across the aisle. And forget about Walker. He would wrap himself around me in a flash trying to rip out the throat of any Doberman that glanced his way.

So this sign came as a welcome development in market etiquette, though I had no idea that dogs might have a sudden urge to light up in the middle of the mustard greens. But considering the mess that the spent butts and burnt-out matches would make, I guess it had to come to this.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fenugreek Follow-up

Hot on the heels of his treatise on fenugreek from last week's Farm Bulletin, Anthony shares a response and a pair of recipes from reader Rahul Vora.

"Methi leaves are treated more like a green than like an herb in Indian cooking, though dried methi (also called kasoori methi) is sometimes used in northern Indian cooking as an herb in lentil soups (dals) to give an earthy, slightly bitter aromatic accent. In Ayurvedic medicine, methi (in leaf and seed form) is considered to have many medicinal properties and nutritive values. Lots of info on that on the web."

Aloo Methi (Potatoes cooked with Fenugreek greens)
This is a popular North Indian dish.

1 1/2 c. fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves (cleaned, washed and chopped)
2-3 med. potatoes peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 med. tomato (chopped)
1-2 cloves garlic (crushed)
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
Red chili powder (or cayenne or paprika) to taste
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2-3 whole dry red chilies
2-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Heat oil and add crushed garlic and fry till brown. Add cumin seeds and dry red chilies.
When cumin seeds are slightly browned and chilies turn brown add salt, turmeric, chili powder and chopped tomato. Sauté for a moment. Add potatoes and mix well. Cook till potatoes are half done on a medium flame. Add some water if the potatoes get too dry.

Add methi and cook on a medium flame till done and most of the liquid has evaporated. Adjust salt and squeeze a little lime juice. Serve the aloo methi hot with chapati, naan or rice accompanied with some plain yogurt. I like it with whole wheat tortillas - you can make a delicious burrito/wrap with aloo methi as the filling and a little yogurt for dressing.

Murgh Methi (Chicken cooked with fenugreek greens)
Adapted from A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey

This dish comes from the Hyderabadi cuisine of southern India. It combines the earthiness of the fenugreek greens with the tanginess of yogurt to create a delicious sauce in which browned pieces of chicken are braised gently. It is important to pick just the leaves and discard all the stems for this dish to ensure a sublime sauce. In another variation, chopped fresh dill is used instead of fenugreek leaves for an equally delightful version called Murgh Sooa.

(serves 4-6)

3 lb. chicken pieces (I like thighs), skinned.
1" piece of ginger, minced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground turmeric
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 lg. onions, cut in half lengthwise and cut crosswise into fine half rings
1 1/4 c. plain yogurt (preferrably whole milk)
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. well-packed chopped fresh cilantro
2-4 fresh serrano chillies, slit but kept whole.
1 cup well-packed fresh fenugreek leaves

In a wide-based pan or dutch oven, heat the oil and sauté the onions until they brown lightly. Add the chicken pieces. Stir them around until they turn golden brown. Now add the ginger, garlic and turmeric. Stir and cook on a medium-high heat for another 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the yogurt and sat. Stir, scraping the bottom. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 15 mins, until the chicken is almost done.

Add the cilantro, chillies and the fenugreek greens along with 1/2 cup water. Simmer for 5 mins. until the sauce has thickened and clings to the chicken. Serve with naan or basmati rice.

Farm Bulletin: Wasted Energy and Currants


Anthony Boutard pooh-poohs the experts and shares his practical experience with us this week. Carol and Anthony are more than happy to share their advice in person when you visit the Ayers Creek stall at the Hillsdale Farmers' Market every Sunday from 10 am till 2 pm.

Raspberries and Loganberries
Certain tedious tasks, such as laying out berries side-by-side on every available cookie sheet you own, survive as evidence of virtue flying in the face of practicality. For the life of us, we cannot understand the endurance of the cookie sheet thing, though endure it does. The "berry experts" persist in recommending the pointless cookie tray task. Every year it is carefully detailed in Food Day and other food publications, regaling us with the awesome precision required, and often presenting it as the brilliant idea of the author's mother, an heirloom task worth every second of the dreadful tedium.

Here is the original and unrivaled "Ayers Creek Farm Method" of freezing organically grown fruit or, as it is known in the trade, Methode de Parresseux. Take the berries home and, without so much as a glance at the fruit, immediately put the hallock or flat in the freezer. A day or two later when berries are fully frozen and you feel like a spot of work (but not too much), take out the hallocks and give them a gentle squeeze while pouring the berries into an air tight container. They will be perfectly frozen as individual berries. Even delicate, late season fruit will freeze perfectly.

Should you wash berries? That is a personal matter. If you are compelled to wash all fruits and vegetables, fine, wash them. However, we fail to see how you can effectively wash a berry. Bear in mind that doctors and nurses are advised to scrub their hands for 15 seconds with hot water and soap. No one has ever explained to us how pouring some cold or lukewarm water over berries will disinfect them, or remove pesticides. In fact, pesticides are applied using a spreader/sticker to make sure they stay on the plant. Once again, washing fruits is a personal matter, based more in culture than science.

Red and Black Currants
Regarding red currants, in the 5 July, 2002, Dining Out section of the New York Times, Kay Rentshler made the following observation: "At Danube on Hudson Street, Mario Lothinger likes red currants for their sharp tones with fish...He also marinates raw scallops in red currant juice: the acid in the currants poaches the scallops lightly and sets off their sweetness." Since reading that, we have made ceviche with red currant juice when the fresh berries are available. What Rentshler leaves out is the wonderful pink color the juice gives the fish. If you enjoy ceviche, try using red currant juice in the place of the lime.

Red currants can be preserved in brandy, vodka, or vinegar. The liquid will turn a beautiful red color and take on the flavor of the currant. They also freeze well.

The stem, or strig, of the currant is bitter and should be removed before processing the fruit. Some people detach the berries using a fork. Fine for small amounts, a couple pints or so. Several years ago we asked Joe Bennett, our fieldman from Cascadian Farm, how they remove the stems on a commercial scale. (For a short time Cascadian produced a currant preserve.) Joe told us to freeze them with the strigs attached and, when frozen, roll them on a flat surface with our hands. The strigs break off easily from the frozen berries without making a mess. Wearing neoprene gloves, we roll them on a screen and the stems drop through the screen. Works well.

Through the nine seasons we had a contract with Cascadian Farm, it was always a delight to work with Joe. Although we no longer sell to the company, Joe still stops by for preserves, beans and conversation. Our red currant remains his favorite. We love to linger in the vegetable plot and talk about beans, sweet potatoes and other vegetables. Joe did his field research in Central America and is very knowledgeable about fruits and vegetables that originate from that region, such as beans, sweet potatoes and corn. And we could never have made red currant preserves commercially by just forking berries.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

In Season: Mmmmmmint!


I was out in the garden the other day, moving pots around to take advantage of the sun that bakes our patio and was suddenly struck by the urge to have a mojito. The reason wasn't heat or thirst, so I looked down and realized I'd just jostled a pot of mint that had perfumed the air around me.

Mint is one of those plants, like bamboo or bishop's weed, that requires containment. I've tried burying it in a pot in the ground, but it always escapes. So it's relegated to above-ground cultivation only, and it seems to thrive anyway. Every spring it pops up and begs to be made into those frosty cool drinks, mixed into dips and tossed with salads and dressings.

You'll find tons at the farmers' markets now, so get out there and get yourself a bunch or two. Here's Dave's favorite mojito recipe to get you started.

Mojito
From Williams Sonoma's The Bar Guide

6 fresh mint leaves
1-1/2 Tbsp. simple syrup
1 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
Crushed ice
2 oz. light rum
2 oz. club soda
Lime wedge for garnish

Put mint leaves into a highball glass. Add simple syrup and lime juice. Muddle gently (try to leave the leaves whole rather than tearing them up too much...that way you won't have to strain them through your teeth when you drink it). Fill glass with crushed ice and add rum and soda. Garnish with lime wedge.

Woman on Fire


You already know that at our house we'll grill or smoke just about anything, and not just in summer. As long as Dave has a beer in hand, he'll be out there at Thanksgiving or Christmas, braving snow and freezing rain, wrestling a bird from raw and pink to bronzed and beautiful to put on our holiday table.

So when I got the assignment from the Oregonian's FoodDay to write about chef Jennifer Buehler's love of grilling, it was a great opportunity to pick up some tips from a pro about cooking large hunks of meat. As a summer primer, you can read "Some Like It Smoked" to find out how to turn your charcoal grill into a smoker and what types of meat work best with direct and indirect methods. It could change your (entertaining) life this summer!