I'm passionate about writing and design and I love living in Oregon with its combination of urban style and down-home friendliness.

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Market Scene: Summer's in Full Swing at the Hollywood Farmers' Market

Did a double take when I saw that tomatoes were available at the Hollywood Farmers' Market! The reason is that here in Portland we have a Hollywood market as well and, in the northern Willamette Valley, while we've got plenty of berries and cherries right now, tomatoes are a ways off. Thanks for the glimpse of what's to come!

Healthy & Delicious: Blueberry Salsa

Great idea! Like Mary_Eats, blueberry season is in full swing here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, so this will be fantastic to have with salmon or chicken on the grill. I'd never had a fruit salsa before a friend brought a cherry salsa to a potluck dinner and it got raves. Thanks!

Grilling: Buffalo Wings

I'd avoided wings altogether, thinking they would be too complicated, until I realized (d'oh!) that all they are is baked or grilled wings that are tossed in a sauce. My neighbor made some amazing Asian chicken wings (and gave me the recipe) that have changed my life. Imagine how well these would go with an Asian-inflected pizza!

Healthy & Delicious: Black-Eyed Pea 'Caviar'

I am all about bean salads—and I don't mean that awful too-sweet three bean variety sold at most deli counters—for summer dining. Whether a nicoise with cannelini beans and oil-packed tuna or a black-and-white bean salad with a cumin vinaigrette, you can't beat 'em for ease of preparation and deliciousness. Thanks for pointing this out!

Another Portland restaurant succumbs

Indeed. I've received several comments on this on the blog, all lamenting the loss of a neighborhood place that really staked out new territory in the city.

Chef leaves Portland restaurant

As several people close to Anderson have said, it's a young chef's dream to get an opportunity like this.

Cook the Book: Rhubarb Cream Cheese Pie with Fresh Strawberries

I try to freeze at least 15 lbs. each spring just to have enough to last through the winter! Favorite recipes: rhubarb crisp and an olive oil cake with honey-roasted rhubarb. And I never, ever mix it with strawberries...that'd be like spray-painting a Lalique vase!

Serious Heat: Huntley Dent's Red Chile Sauce Recipe

I adapted my recipe for chile sauce from American Cooking: The Great West, part of the Time-Life Foods of the World series. Great with huevos rancheros, chili, enchiladas or, as you mention, for braising meats.

Cook the Book: 'Rustic Fruit Desserts'

Barista in the Wild, Part 2: Roasting to Perfection

Portland, Oregon, may be cornering the market on small-batch, specialty coffee roasting. Even excluding our larger hometown roasters like Stumptown (that just opened an outlet in NYC), Kobos Co. and Portland Roasting, the city's microroasting community is going strong. Coffee's not just for staying awake any more!

Meat Lite: Bulgur 'Risotto' with Roasted Asparagus

Thanks for the suggestion! I've been experimenting with farro, the Italian name for emmer wheat, and it's great in a grain salad with pecorino. I'll have to substitute bulgur sometime!

Where to get fresh morels?

Practically daily at any of about 40 farmers' markets here in the Portland, Oregon, metro area! Or you can find great pickings only about 30 minutes away by car on the flanks of Mt. Hood!

Illustrated Guide to Steak Cuts, Plus Grilling Tips

I was surprised to find out, though I suppose I shouldn't have been, that the National Cattlemen's Beef Association recently spent $1.5 million on a 5-year study to, in the words of NY Times writer Kim Severson, "dig around in the carcass and find muscles that, when separated and sliced in a certain way, were tender and tasty enough to be sold as a steak or a roast." One example cited is the newly named "Denver steak" that, instead of being ground into hamburger and sold for $2.99 a pound, can be cooked like a steak and sold for $5.99 a pound.

Healthy & Delicious: Lighter Home Fries

My husband started using Spanish smoked paprika on our home fries a couple of years ago, and now we can't imagine having them without!

In Videos: Michael Pollan on 'The Colbert Report'

Unless I missed it, Pollan didn't actually take a drink. He sniffed it, then put it down. Smart guy.

Esquire Names The Best Bars in America

I can't believe the two bars they listed for Portland, Oregon, included Jimmy Mak's (great jazz but lousy drinks). The other was Clyde Common, a terrific restaurant with good cocktails, but nowhere near Secret Society, Teardrop Lounge or Ten-01. Obviously the compiler only talked with some flak rather than actually coming here and trying them out. Egad.

Making Paprika at Home

Hank rocks! His blog is not only incredibly informative, it's subject is one of the more unusual among food blogs. He shoots/hunts/grows everything he features and has detailed instructions on preparation. Plus it's fun to read. It's a 10!

Serious Green: Saving Energy By Using The Microwave

I was a late comer to the microwave (not crunchy enough for this gal) but can't do without it now. Barbara Kafka's classic "Microwave Gourmet" is high on my list of must-have cookbooks. Scoff if you will, but her recipe for microwave risotto is indistinguishable from the stirred (and stirred and stirred and...) version!

Weekend Cook and Tell: 'Off-cuts' of Meat

We're going to be doing some hearty hunks of flesh in the smoker this weekend, one for my brother's 50th and one just for us. The cut is a brisket (weighing in at just over $4/lb.), which we've done before, and our source here in Portland being the temple to all things meaty, Gartner's Country Meats. I'll report back on the results!

Salmonella Found in Raw Alfalfa Sprouts

Thanks, CJ, for making that point! Once again, like the pistachio and peanut contamination, it's not the food itself but the processing that's the problem. Here's a link on how to sprout seeds at home.

Cook the Book: Choucroute

Choucroute is my favorite braised dish ever! We had it while traveling in Alsace many years ago and have made it at least a couple of times a year since, using the Cooking of Provincial France book from the Time-Life Foods of the World series.

First, you don't need duck legs...they're expensive and unnecessary. Substitute bone-in chicken thighs (leave the bone in for extra flavor), slices of smoked ham or plain or smoked pork chops.

Second, drain the sauerkraut well and rinse in several changes of water, squeezing out as much liquid as possible each rinsing to get rid of the vinegar taste. You can then braise it in half chicken stock, half wine or all stock and the sauerkraut will be mild and slightly sweet. So delicious!

Snapshots from Italy: The Mother Of All Carrots

I seem to have caught carrot fever, too...I just planted three varieties in my raised beds last weekend, an orange (Parmex), a red (Atomic Red) and a purple (Purple Haze). Can't wait!

Cooking with a Friend: Seasonal Produce and a Family Soup

I don't know if it's in season where you are, but we've had some terrific rapini showing up in our markets. Jealous that you've already got favas...can't wait! Yum!

Cooking Lamb Shoulder

I've adored this cut since my friend Michel shared her incredible braised lamb recipe (after, I hate to admit, a bunch of pathetic pleading) with me. Great suggestion for Easter! Thanks!

Serious Cheese: Mt. Townsend Creamery's Seastack

These guys not only make fabulous cheeses but are truly nice folks. I was fortunate enough to meet Will O'Donnell when he taught a cheese class at our local cheese shop. The next best thing to meeting such a sincere, dedicated artisan was tasting his wares!

Making food safe or putting small farmers out of business?

Part two of a three part series by farmer Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm on what measures different states are taking to insure food safety and encourage family farms. Read the entire essay here.

In the first installment of "Farewell Frikeh," we noted that the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) defines "food processing" as the "…cooking, baking, heating, drying, mixing, grinding, churning, separating, extracting, cutting, freezing, or otherwise manufacturing a food or changing the physical characteristics of a food, and the packaging, canning or otherwise enclosing such a food in a container." While this long recitation certainly includes all activities that happen in food processing factories, the definition also covers many traditional farm activities that fall well short of what we consider processing foods. Under a strict interpretation of ODA's rules, all of the activities identified above must take place within a licensed facility.

Because frikeh involves heating and drying, ODA calls it a "processed food." Like many other traditional foods, including raisins, sundried tomatoes, dried peppers and herbs, frikeh is prepared outside in the field, and not in a factory. Under ODA's scheme, if a "processed food" is not produced in a licensed facility, the agency prohibits the sale of the food. If California took such a view of food processing, we would have neither raisins, nor domestic sun dried tomatoes and peppers.

The food industry is where the problem lies, not the family farm. The reality remains that, in states with progressive views on farm-based food production, food borne illnesses have not been an issue at farmers' markets or with CSA's.

Oregonian's MIX magazine to publish 10x/year

It's a time when newspapers and magazines all over the country are vaporizing like flies on a bug zapper.

So it's encouraging when a print publication actually finds an audience, as well as advertisers, and increases its output to reflect that. And that's just what's happening to MIX (which I've written for), the glossy food magazine that's put out by the same folks who bring you the Oregonian's FoodDay section (ditto), according to FoodDay editor Martha Holmberg.

Currently publishing every two months, MIX will begin publishing ten times a year. "There will be a couple of 'double' issues, in summer and at the end of year," Holmberg said.

Another Portland restaurant succumbs

Portland restaurant CAVA, which established an outpost for casual dining on a little-known stretch of SE Foster Road, has closed. Owner Amy Ruppel, in an e-mail to patrons, said it was a victim of the downturn in the economy.

"We've stayed open as long as we could," Ruppel wrote, "Digging deep into our own pockets to try to keep it all running, but to no avail...It makes me ill to think about all the work and love we put into that place, only to have it fade away and become another statistic."

Chef leaves Portland restaurant

David Anderson, the chef de cuisine at Portland's Vindalho, has decided to leave the restaurant he helped craft into the city's go-to spot for great Indian-inspired cuisine.

A new opportunity presented itself when he met former Nike exec Rudy Chapa and his wife, attorney Patricia Eiting, dedicated eastside Portland residents who'd just purchased the much-beloved Genoa with the intention of reopening it. Anderson, just past his 30th birthday, had ideas he'd wanted to put into practice and impressed the couple with his experience and drive.

The magic happened, Anderson tendered his notice at Vindalho and is currently on board as executive chef and general manager with an equity stake in the business. The plan is to reopen Genoa in November along with a second concept, an Italian-style enoteca/bar, in the space next door.

OMG! Obama seen drinking in public!

Yup. That's him in the picture in today's NYT. Watching a ball game and drinking a beer.

According to an article in today's Times, he went to a (Chicago, of course) Bulls/Wizards game recently. And he and Michelle have even (gasp!) dined out at Washington restaurants like Equinox, Bobby Van's Steakhouse and other spots not normally associated with presidential appearances.

Whose cockamamie idea was this, anyway? Doesn't he know that a president isn't supposed to venture outside the bubble that is the White House with its sycophantic, self-referential babble? And how welcome a sign is that?

More to the point, even: What that beer he's drinking?

Beard Awards Act on a Whims

The James Beard Foundation Awards has recognized chef Cathy Whims of Nostrana in Portland, Oregon, as a professional who exhibits "high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship." Whims was notified of her "Best Chef NW" award at noon today by a friend who saw it on the Beard Foundation website.

Whims was a founding chef of Genoa restaurant in Portland, a progenitor of Portland's movement toward use of local, organic and sustainably grown ingredients. In an article on its closing in November of 2008, Oregonian writer David Sarasohn wrote:

"So, while some Genoa stories are about Mick Jagger coming in one Halloween, or Sandra Day O'Connor accompanied by a battalion of federal judges, more are about the farmer from Philomath [Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seed] who would mail his greens in layers to the restaurant (with a chart explaining which was which), or being the first restaurant in the country to bring in prosciutto di Parma (after the law against importing it was repealed), or about founder Michael Vidor's wife growing her own basil at a time when it couldn't be bought anywhere in Portland."

"For a lot of people," says Cathy Whims, whose 10-year stint as chef/part owner was a high point in the restaurant's history, "it was their first experience with high-quality ingredients."

After a trip to Italy's Piedmont, she started Nostrana with friends Deb and Marc Accuardi in 2005, which was named the Oregonian's Restaurant of the Year in 2006. Whims eventually took over ownership of the restaurant in 2008, continuing her commitment to the cuisine of Italy and the Piedmont.

Hot Coffee: Portland's New Breed of Micro Roasters

A decade ago, Portlander Duane Sorenson founded Stumptown, which, along with other roasters who emerged in the mid-'90s, quickly became the standard-bearer for artisan coffees: well-sourced and roasted to bring out nuances that weren't necessarily in the vocabulary of earlier roasters whose focus was often on deep and dark. Stumptown's beans are brewed around the city, the West Coast and now in New York. And while Stumptown's volume is still small compared to the name-brand roasting giants, in indie-minded Portland, Stumptown might be considered "establishment."

Enter the micro-roasters, people who, like most of their predecessors, were drawn from other fields to the life of a coffee roaster for reasons that aren't necessarily rational, but can be felt by the cascade of beans spilling from a cloth bag, smelled through the waft of coffee toasting in a drum-roaster, heard in the crack of beans as they're transformed from simple fruit to the source of so much pleasure and sustenance for rain-soaked Portlanders.

Read about five of the city's hottest new roasters in this month's MIX magazine.

Walking His Talk

Great audio slideshow on today's Oregonian website about a guy in Portland, Oregon, who had an epiphany while eating a taco in Mexico. The taco was so good and the place so magical that he decided then and there to go back and open his own tacqueria with a green and socially conscious edge.

New York Times on Dirty Food

In a fascinating (if occasionally repellant) article titled "The Maggots in Your Mushrooms," E.J. Levy enumerates the "defects" that are allowed in our food by the FDA.

Like tomato juice, which "may average '10 or more fly eggs per 100 grams [the equivalent of a small juice glass] or five or more fly eggs and one or more maggots.' Tomato paste and other pizza sauces are allowed a denser infestation — 30 or more fly eggs per 100 grams or 15 or more fly eggs and one or more maggots per 100 grams."

Levy sums it up by saying, "In case you’re curious: you’re probably ingesting one to two pounds of flies, maggots and mites each year without knowing it, a quantity of insects that clearly does not cut the mustard, even as insects may well be in the mustard."

Thanks for sharing. I think.

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