Monthly Archives: November 2011

Thanksgiving Crazy Part II

Standard

I am, first of all, by no means, going to be making all of these desserts. Maybe not even any at all. I may relinquish my baking duties to Shane’s brother (the chef of the family) and my own father (the self proclaimed chef). But I thought I would throw some recipes at you that I commonly use at the bakery and fit into my locavore Thanksgiving:

Basic Pie Dough (makes 2 pie crusts. You will never make another pie dough again, this stuff is the easiest to work with ever and is near impossible to make it fall apart when putting it in the dish)

  • 1 lb flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 c salt
  • 1/4 c oil
  • 1/4 c egg yolks
  • 1/4 c cold water (put ice cubes in and hold back when pouring in)

The most important part of making this pie dough is Keep Everything Cold. So what we do at the bakery is: put the flour and salt in a bowl and put in the fridge. Take butter and cut into small cubes, put back in the fridge. Measure out all other ingredients. Finally, mix flour, salt, and butter until crumbly, add egg yolks and oil, then add cold water. You may not need all the water, just pour enough in so that all ingredients stick together but the mixture is not sticky. Form into 2 balls and place in fridge until ready to use.

Sweet Potato Pie (makes 2 pies. Some of the seasonings are not local, but that is one luxury you should allow)

  • 4lbs baked and peeled sweet potatoes (you are definitely going to want to bake these all the way through so they are nice and soft, you dont want lumpy pie. Also, these may be difficult to find locally at this season, which is another advantage of rootcellaring!)
  • 3/4 c maple syrup or honey (maple syrup really adds great flavor to this pie, but may not be local in your area, honey is another great addition)
  • 2/3 c water 
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 c milk
  • 4 tsp rum (or whatever you have lying around Amaretto, Frangelico, or Brandy could be nice substitutions)
  • 2 tsp vanilla

This is the most simple pie recipe ever! Preheat the oven to 350. Mash the potatoes or whip them in a mixer until no lumps. Add honey mix. Add eggs mix well. Then add all the other ingredients and poor into pie shells. I find this recipe takes about 45 minutes to an hour to bake, but check it around 30 to make sure your dough edges aren’t getting to dark.

Pumpkin Walnut Loaf (makes 2 9x5x3, this recipe is adapted from the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf in “Baked The New Frontier” by Lewis and Poliafito)

  • 3 1/4 c flour
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 c pumpkin puree (to get pumpkin puree, cut a pie pumpkin in half, bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, scoop innards and mash or puree with immersion blender) 
  • 1/2 c melted butter
  • 2 c honey
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c chopped walnuts (or whatever nut or addition you have in your area like hazelnuts, almonds, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour two baking pans. Whisk together all dry ingredients. Beat together all wet ingredients. Fold in dry ingredients, do not over mix. Fold in walnuts. Divide batter and gently knock down batter. Bake for about an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Hazelnut Cheesecake

  • 1 c ground toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 T butter
  • 32 oz cream cheese
  • 1 c honey
  • 2 T vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (or rum or amaretto or whatever sounds tastey!)
  • 5 eggs
  • 2/3 c chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 c whipping cream
  • 2 T liquer or amaretto

Preheat oven to 325. Combine first two ingredients and press into 9 inch spring form pan. Combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and beat. Stir in nuts. Pour filling over crust and bake for about 1 hours. Cool for about 4 hours before adding the whipped cream.

Here are just a few for your holiday enjoyment. Thanksgiving feast photos to come soon. Have a wonderful holiday everyone!


Thanksgiving Crazy!

Standard

Yes, I admit it, I am “one of those.” One of those hosts who loves to cook, obsesses about making everyone happy, searches recipes for weeks, and hardly leaves the kitchen the entire day. This will be my third Thanksgiving I have cooked, and this year not only is it going to be the biggest (I might have anywhere from 7 to 11 people over!) but it will definitely be the most flavorful. Most other Thanksgivings my father typically wins a turkey or spends enough money at the grocery store to get the turkey for free. Not really the highest quality. This year I will be purchasing mine from the local butcher, Long’s Meat Market. But unfortunately, I believe my turkey will have traveled the farthest of all my food items. I was hopeful to have a local turkey, but there are no more available for butchering, and the already butchered local turkeys run around 100 dollars. I wish I could support my local farmers, but the turkey I am buying is free range, organic, and from Northern California, and is about 50 dollars.

Seeking recipes for side dishes that include seasonal ingredients was actually surprisingly difficult. Yes, there are many recipes for potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, and squash, but how many people have had green bean casserole, cranberries, and corn (which may be somewhat seasonal, but not here). There were lots of great root vegetables, but I was trying to get a little more diversity in my menu…. So here is what I found! Hopefully you find them as tasty as I think it will be.

Appetizers

Southwestern Black Bean Dip

  • 1 1/2 c dry black beans, soak (Getting mine from Camas)
  • 4 c water
  • 6 garlic cloves (root cellar-ed)
  • 1 c chopped onion (root cellar-ed)
  • 1 dried chile (dried this summer)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c olive oil (or butter)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 c cilantro or 2tbsp coriander (I think cilantro is still being grown in green houses in Willamette Valley)
  • 2 hot peppers (dried this summer)
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • This will take a while to cook down so give it a day or two in a slow cooker or expect to spend a couple hours on the stove. Can add yogurt or sour cream after cooking.

Homemade Cheese Wafers:

  • 1/2 c butter (Noris or Rose)
  • 1 c grated cheddar cheese (about 4oz) (Noris or Mariposa)
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 drops hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c flour (Camas)
  • In bowl, blend butter and cheese. Stir in Worcestershire, hot sauce, and salt. Add flour, mix well. Chill in 1 1/2 inch logs over night. Cut into slices, bake 10-12 minutes until golden (makes about 24)

Cheese Ball

  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 c grated gouda, mozzarella, or other grated cheese (I might use Tillamook smoked cheddar)
  • Toppings: bacon, pumpkin seeds, nuts, herbs
  • You can make one big ball or lots of little balls and roll in all different toppings.

Pasta Salad

  • Pasta, Roasted Red Pepper (canned this summer), Feta (local goat feta, so good!), Balsamic Vinegarette, Onion, Garlic, and maybe Broccoli, Kale, or ZChard.

Popcorn! I found some great heirloom black kernel popcorn at the Fill Your Pantry event. I will probably have a bowl of this out with some herbs.

(Ok so I did not say these were going to be exactly “healthy,” I did notice a cheese trend aboveI will have some crudites out too like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, hazelnuts, and walnuts)

Dinner Side Dishes

Cranberry Persimmon Sauce (I know I said cranberries aren’t local, but this will be my luxury item, and my family would be disappointed without it)

  • persimmons (there is a persimmon tree at farm), minced fresh ginger (saved from Groundworks Organic Farm this summer) , cranberries, apple cider (can squeeze at home or maybe find some from Detering), 1/2 c honey.

Sausage and Chantrelle Stuffing

  • Sausage (probably Sweet Briar), chantrelles (dried some this summer and got some from Eugene Local Foods website), whole wheat antico from my lovely ECB (Camas), onion, garlic, salt, pepper, fennel seed, sage (dried this summer), and maybe something crunchy like apple or carrot.

Mashed Potatoes (I can’t get away without making these, thought I would spice them up a bit though..)

  • Purple potatoes (my secret weapon from Lonesome Whistle Farm), butter, milk, salt, and pepper. Make mashed potatoes like normal. On top carmelized onion, bacon, and bleu cheese (lots of local cheese sources). Bake in oven for a few minutes until crispy on top.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

  • 2 c flour
  • 2 tsp powder
  • 1/2 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 T honey
  • 3/4 c cold butter
  • 1 c mashed sweet potato
  • 1/3 c half n half or milk
  • Mix all dry ingredients. Work in cold butter with hands until crumbly. Mix in mashed sweet potato, honey, and milk. Do not over work. Roll out to about 1 in thick and cut with biscuit cutter. Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes.

Wild Rice Pilaf

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bell pepper (still can find these some places, if not, just add in what you think tastes good)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 c rice (there is wild rice available on Eugene Local Foods, in the Kiva, and in Sundance from Junction City)
  • 2 1/2 c chick broth
  • 2 bay leaves (tree on campus and at farm)
  • 1/4 c nuts (probably walnuts is best option around Willamette Valley)
  • 1/2 c chopped kale
  • Saute onion and pepper in salt and butter until tender. Add rice and cook until smells nutty. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until rice is done.

Cauliflower Gratin

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • kosher salt
  • 4 T butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 2 c hot milk
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 c grated white cheddar
  • 1/2 c hard cheese like parmesan
  • 1/4 c bread crumbs
  • Cook cauliflower in water until tender. Melt butter in saucepan, add flour (to make a rue), poor hot milk in and stir until boils. Off of the heat, add spices and cheese. Mix cauliflower and sauce together and pour in baking dish. Top with bread crumbs. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.

Grilled Carrots in garlic and herbs (needed some simple things)

Baked Squash with honey and cinnamon left in skin.

Cornbread Muffins

  • 1 c cornmeal (I picked up some really awesome purple cornmeal from Fill Your Pantry)
  • 1 c  flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs (Blissfully Produced from Eugene Local Foods website)
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 c corn (canned from this summer)

Well, I feel stuffed just from writing this post. So I think I will stop here and there will be a Thanksgiving Crazy Part 2 coming soon with dessert ideas!

Tools for Locavores

Standard

Recently, I was asked a very important question about beginning life as a locavore and being a more conscious eater…

What tools would you suggest are vital to this process? Christmas is coming and I want to ask for things that can help improve my life and the life/health of my family.

I thought it might be important to consolidate all the little blurbs I have given in my blogs into a nice Christmas shopping list and just personal locavore manual. So, in eating locally, I believe that there are three basic components:” obtaining the food, eating the food, and preserving the food.

Tools for obtaining the food: Decide whether growing a garden or supporting local farmers (or a combination of both) is appropriate for your life. If you would like to grow a garden, check out local community garden plots (simply google-ing community gardens provides many resources), begin a compost bin or a worm bin (my next project), and look for local sources of fertilizer instead of synthetic (chicken manure, fish meal, etc.). If you would like to support your local farmer, find local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture which can be cheaper and more diverse, there are also CSAs now for meat and grains not just produce), if you live in the Willamette Valley pick up a copy of the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition pamphlet (this contains all the information you could ever want about local farms), go to your local farmers market and by mass quantities of what is in season (savor those flavors and preserve)  and also check out U-Pick farms nearby which are often much more affordable. There are also more options for obtaining food like gleaning, which is contacting farmers and taking the left over  produce after the harvest that they do not want (check out the Eugene facebook site), and foraging for things like mushrooms, blackberries, etc.

Tools for eating the food: This is a very diverse and varied part of the food cycle; vegetarian vs omnivore vs vegan, lactose intolerant, gluten intolerant. One very crucial tool, no matter your diet, is a slow cooker. The life of a locavore is slow and patient, even though life around you may be going at the fast pace technology age speed. Besides the normal pots, pans, and trays,  I find it crucial to have a slow cooker/crock pot to start meals when you know you will not have time after school or work. On the same note, having a pressure cooker might entice you. Though I do not currently have one, I know you can make pulled pork in about an hour, while normally it would be a four or five hour slow cook. Another really great appliance to have is a juicer. It is nearly impossible to find local juice (Columbia Gorge juice is made in Washington, but do you think they grow the bananas and soy there?) and nothing is better with a cocktail than fresh squeezed blueberries, or better on a cold fall day than hot apple cider. Living without orange juice (if you are anywhere in the US besides Florida and California) will be much easier if you can experiment and have fresh local juice on hand. Other nice little gadgets: cherry pitters, nut crackers, loaf pans, and an immersion (wand) blender.

Tools for preserving the food:

Preserving food is an extremely critical part of being able to eat locally, unless you like potatoes and kale for every meal. So for this, there are a few tools I found to be extremely useful: a pressure canner, a giant stock pot (like 2 to 3 gallons), and a dehydrator. A pressure canner is useful for a person like me who has extremely limited freezer space but wants to keep vegetables around in the winter. And for things like jam and pickles all you need is a giant stock pot; this is also useful for sterlizing jars (especially if you do not have a dish washer like me). Another great option is dehydrating, which I find to be a much more appetizing and easy way to preserve fruit. The biggest expense I had this summer was jars (though I think I could have found them at a better price at a thrift store) and Pamona’s Pectin. Other optional things I found helpful were: old tights/nylons for storing onions outside, rubber tubs and saw dust for storing root vegetables, extra jars and containers for extra things like grain, flour, nuts, and dried produce.

Almost all of the items I mentioned I found at either at a thrift store or was passed down through my family. Remember eating locally is about community, friends, and family, as much as it is about economics and diet. So, get involved with those around you and combine tools and resources to help each other live happier healthier lives.

Valley Love

Standard

Today was another one of those days in the beautiful Willamette Valley that made me appreciate what this fertile earth has to give. This winter will be a little bit easier because of the “Fill Your Pantry” event put on by the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition and hosted by Hummingbird Wholesale (two incredible businesses). Fill Your Pantry is an event that brings together local farmers (this year there were six-ish), mainly consisting of those involved in the Southern Willamette Bean and Grain Project and those with root cellar crops.

The Bean and Grain Project is a subgroup of the WFFC and focuses on bringing back staple foods to the Willamette Valley and trying to bring its residents’ diets closer to home. According to the Mud City Press blog, the Bean and Grain project is  “a step by step strategy to rebuild the local food system by increasing the quantity and diversity of the food crops that are grown in the Willamette Valley. The Bean and Grain Project also seeks to evaluate deficiencies in the food system infrastructure, build buyer/seller relationships for locally grown food, and compile information on organic and sustainable agricultural practices specific to this region. As the name of the project implies, central to the task is stimulating the cultivation and local marketing of organically grown staple crops like beans and grains to provide a foundation for year-round food resources in the Willamette Valley.”

Fill Your Pantry supplied me with 10lbs of Flax seeds, 10lbs of Oat Groats, 10lbs Crimson Lentils from Camas Country Mill, 3lbs of heirloom beans, 1lb of heirloom black popcorn kernels, and 5lbs of  Purple Viking Potatoes from Lonesome Whistle, also (very exciting) 3lbs of Red Sweet corn meal (that actually looks more purple/blue in the bag). This event went really well, was super easy and laid back, and was the perfect start to a long cold winter.

Speaking of Lonesome Whistle Farm… I am loving these people and this farm. The husband and wife duo have cultivated an organic farm of grains, beans, garlic, and potatoes, seemingly by themselves. They also have the bombest popcorn I have ever tried. But the coolest thing they have done is start an Heirloom Dry Bean and Grain CSA. This CSA consists of 4lbs of dried beans and 9lbs of grains a month for six months for $333. They are also willing to accept FoodStamps and payments. This is an amazing step in the right direction for the Willamette Valley folks.

I think I have completed my season of canning and finished my preservation list. Already I am seeing that there are areas I am lacking in. But, I still think with a little creativity I will make it through this season without having to supplement much from the grocery store.

Coming soon… my local thanksgiving day menu!

That time of year again…

Standard

Oh how my heart aches these past few weeks and even more these past few hours. It has been a month since I have last posted, finding the time only by the default of the pain of another. My chest has grown more and more tight over the past few weeks. My only sanctuary being that of a warm cup of tea or my head resting on the warm chest of my love, only soon to be taken away by a slumber full of dreams of dreaded anticipations. Exams, readings, hectic schedules, work, all are greatly diminish ideas of hopes and dreams and a good nights rest. Then, my once-thought weekend of rest, began with my fathers agonized body coiled tightly against the bed, waiting for the pain to pass.

All of these things again remind me of the importance of relieving stress and educating one’s self of things worth being educated about. School could never do this for me, but seeing my father shake from the difficulty of passing a kidney stone, now that could do it. These past 48 hours have really reminded me of how sick our dependence on money is. I cannot sit around watching him in so much pain just because neither of us have insurance, or much money. Any amount of money to relieve his pain, I would pay.

I also am reminded that I need to take care of my own body in times like these, so that I may be strong for him and for myself. It is so crucial to be in control of the body, but even more importantly, the mind. I find myself eating well, proper amounts of fruits, vegetables, proteins, but still my body aches. I realize it is difficult to take deep breathes and then I go to yoga. Though I am not particularly found of the Kundalini style yoga, it truly forces me to focus on the mind and to relax the neurons. I need to reevaluate my life once again: find a way to get insurance, find a way to be more stress-free, find time to spend with loved ones, etc.

So, now comes that time of year again. Time to refocus, push through until I reach the holidays. Take walks, meditate, give love, receive love, make love, watch movies, laugh, put gardens to bed, and worries to bed. Writing this, I am already excited for future posts of new Thanksgiving dishes and Christmas treats. I will be back soon my friends with news of joy!

Happy Autumn.