Friday, October 30, 2009

See You Next Spring!

The farmers markets are closed for the season.

Enjoy the winter and we'll see you in June 2010.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Preserving without the Can

When canning season arrives, everything else gets put on hold, and it's hard not to fall behind with the cavalcade of produce. The good news is, you don't have to can everything now to eat it later.

At the September 26th farmers' market, I demonstrated three techniques that I use every year and not one of them involves sterilizing jars:

quick refrigerator pickle
There are lots of veggies to pickle besides cucumbers, like onions, carrots and fennel. All these crunchy vegetables hold up well in a vinegar brine in your refrigerator for months and months provided they're well sealed.

To make the brine, I use a general formula of equal parts vinegar and water, then spice it up any way I like--with pickling spices, chilis and garlic or curry powder. Curry powder?

At the market I made Curried Pickled Carrots by slicing Backyard Gardens carrots into long fingers about 1/4-inch thick and crowding them into a pint-sized jar. I poured a brine made from equal parts rice wine vinegar and water, then spooned in a tablespoon of curry powder, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 clove of garlic and a slice of fresh ginger.

Put on the lid, shake well and put it in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before tasting.

roast or grill then freeze
This is a simple and quick technique. I use it for all the tomatoes (from beefsteak to cherry), eggplant, zucchini and peppers that I don't have time to can. I slice them, rub or brush them with olive oil and season with salt. I grill them or roast them in a 400 degree oven until they're blistered and charred in spots. Then, I freeze them all in resealable plastic bags.

Oh, the possibilities when I pull them out of the freezer--everything from soups to stew to panini sandwiches. At the market, I demonstrated a great appetizer called Caponata using grilled eggplant and roasted tomato puree.

First I pureed 3 roasted and defrosted tomatoes in a food processor until smooth and put it into a medium mixing bowl. Then, I diced defrosted grilled eggplant slices to make about 2 cups. I added 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. I tasted it to make sure that it was pleasingly sweet and sour, which you should do too and adjust to suit your own taste.

Caponata typically calls for toasted pine nuts, golden raisins, capers and green olives, pitted and chopped--a few tablespoons of each. That day, I had to improvise with pumpkin seeds and minced pickled peppers and it was really good. The key is to make it sweet, sour, bitter and salty with crunch and texture. Then spread it onto pieces of toasted bread and grab a glass of wine.

puree then freeze
Making pesto is all well and good, but I often skip all the expense of olive oil and pine nuts and puree the herbs themselves in just enough neutral-tasting oil, such as canola, to make a paste. You can do the same thing with parlsey or cilantro. Then, drop tablespoon-sized dollops of the herb puree onto a sheet pan lined with plastic wrap and put the whole thing in the freezer. In a few hours or the next day, peel the frozen herb "cookies" and store them in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer.

You'll be amazed the zest fresh-frozen herbs add to all your winter soups and stews. Dried herbs can't ever compare! At the market demo, I used the basil puree I made to garnish the caponata crostini.

Mmmmm, they were good.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Best of 2009 Pie Bake Off/Taste Off

Summer fruits are at their peak and so are summer pies. Wallowa County has some talented pie makers (and many dedicated tasters) and in Joseph on Saturday, August 29th they showed us what they could do. Digging into my heaping plate of pie, I savored peaches, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and even a mouthful of popcorn pie (pronounced an excellent invention by our many tasters.) I sampled crusts, from crumbly to flaky to cookie. What better task could there be? All the pies were good and it was very hard to choose—I considered going back for seconds to help me make a decision. The sun-warmed, juicy blackberries won me over in the end and I marked down my vote with the satisfaction only a belly full of good pie can bring.

Wallowa County Best of 2009 Pie Bake Off/Taste Off Winners:
First Place: Joni Fluit, for her blackberry/raspberry/blueberry pie
Second Place: Wendy Reininger, for her blackberry pie
Third Place: Carol, Grace, and Joel Bartlow, for their popcorn pie
Honorable Mention (this pie arrived a little later than the others but it was catching up fast): Jenet Hansen of Wildflower Bakery for her peach pie

Thank you to all the participants for making this a great contest!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Salad Days & Nights

Does anyone feel like cooking in this heat? Certainly not me, and I'm not only an avid home cook, but a professional recipe developer and food writer.

At last Saturday's farmers' market in Joseph, I shared tips for making summer supper salads. While making a salad doesn't sound like a major cooking challenge, there are some key elements that make it satisfying:
  • feature a protein, such as shredded grilled chicken, thinly sliced grilled steak or a hearty vegetable like roasted beets
  • include a starch, such as (leftover) roasted potatoes, cooked beans or bowtie pasta
  • garnish with croutons, crumbled or shredded cheese or nuts
  • drizzle it with a creamy dressing, such as a blue cheese, ranch or green goddess (homemade is easy and best)
We all have our favorite classic salad, be it Caesar, chef, cobb, nicoise or steak. All of them are called composed salads built on a base of salad greens with a main ingredient (or 2), vegetables, garnishes and dressing.

At the demonstration, I prepared 3 salads from a host of mix-and-match ingredients from Fluit Family Farms and Backyard Gardens that included:
  • Grilled steak salad with salad mix, thinly sliced flank steak, tomatoes, green beans, bacon, white beans, homemade croutons with blue cheese dressing
  • Asian steak salad with Asian salad mix, rice noodles, sliced cucumber, snap peas, chopped grilled flank steak and cilantro with a rice wine dressing (recipe follows)
  • Raw beet salad over salad mix with shredded grilled chicken breast, grated beets & carrots, feta, chopped toasted walnuts and chopped parlsey with red wine vinaigrette

I could easily have made a dozen different salads from these ingredients. The best part was, since all of them were prepared in advance, there was no actual cooking involved.

Try it yourself at home!
--Lynne Sampson Curry

Rice Wine Dressing
This is my all-purpose dressing for Asian-style salads made with shredded cabbage, rice noodles or cooked rice tossed with grilled chicken, pork or tofu plus grated carrots or radish, chopped scallions and cilantro--and that's just to name a few possibilities.

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 teaspoons red chili flakes (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Toss into the salad to taste.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Heat Is On

Basil, summer squash and tomatoes--Oh my! This is the moment we've all been waiting for. There's such abundance with even more to come, so come to the Thursday market in Enterprise or Saturday market in Joseph to check out all the vendors.

There are so very many vegetables (and fruits) to get excited about. Still, there's one that's notable simply because it's only available fresh for a limited time, and it doesn't keep or freeze well at all: green beans.

Tender and snappy, green beans are summer's sweet treat. Great for snacking straight out of the bag, they're also marvelous steamed for salads, sauteed with garlic or roasted until crinkly and browned.

One of our favorite recipes from the Backyard Gardens Kitchen is Green Bean Salad with Walnuts and Shaved Parmesan in Lemon Dressing from Friend of the Farm. It is so summery, delicious and satisfying.

And isn't it great to make green beans the star of the show?

Green Bean Salad with Walnuts and Shaved Parmesan in Lemon Dressing
Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 pound green beans
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved (about 1/2 cup)

1. Toast the walnuts in a dry, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat until they start to brown in spots and become fragrant. (Be careful not to overtoast them, as they will burn very quickly once toasted.) Immediately transfer the nuts to a dish to cool.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the beans and salt; cook until tender but still firm, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Transfer the beans to a colander in the sink and run cold water over them. Trim the beans if necessary.

4. Toss the beans and walnuts in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and olive oil until well combined. Pour this mixture over the beans and toss until well coated. Transfer the salad to a serving platter or to individual plates. Scatter the Parmesan shavings on top.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Heart of Summer

With this heat comes great reward: summer offerings start showing up at the market to accompany the greens and herbs. This week brings sweet carrots, luscious beets and tender cauliflower.

Sure carrots are great for nibbling raw, beets for roasting and cauliflower for steaming, but try mixing things up this summer.

How about:
*grilled whole carrots slicked with olive oil and coarse sea salt as a side dish
*raw grated beets in your salad--how pretty and tasty
*roasted cauliflower florettes tossed with pasta and parmesan

Keep on the lookout for green beans, summer squash and peas all coming soon.

Special this week: Sweet cherries from Cove only at the Thursday market in Enterprise. (There is no Saturday market in Joseph because it's Chief Joseph Days.)

See you at the lake!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cooking with the Kids

Getting kids interested in cooking goes a long way toward increasing their appetite for a range of foods. And we all want them hooked on what's fresh, local, seasonal...and green.

At last Saturday's cooking demonstration, Ann Bloom helped Chance slice, season and toss together a wonderful Mixed Greens and Blueberry Salad. Try it yourself at home!

Mixed Greens and Blueberry Salad
Serves 6-8

Other berries or nuts may be substituted if desired. Avocado is also a good addition.

For the salad:
6 cups salad mix, spinach, or other mixed greens
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 small red onion or several scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped tarragon leaves

For the dressing:
1/2 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or blueberry vinegar
1 tablespoon blueberry jam (raspberry may also be used)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine the greens, blueberries, onion, walnuts, and tarragon. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Garnish with a few blueberries and nuts.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New to the Market

Great new local products are always coming into the Wendy McCullough's goats' milk soap.

Check out her unscented and lemongrass soaps available at Saturday's Joseph Farmers' Market.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Cherries Are Coming!

We know you get excited when the fruits begin to arrive at the farmers' markets. Along with the heat, they're the sure sign that summer is here.

At this week's Thursday market we'll have not only strawberries from Double Eddy Farms in Troy, but more cherries from Peach Blossom Orchard. Come get 'em while they last!

At Saturday's market Lynne Sampson Curry will prepare a July 4th menu from items you can pick up right at the market, including:
  • stuffed hamburgers
  • Asian cole slaw
  • a cherry honey milk shake.
Recipes from this demonstration and all other farmers' market events will soon be posted on our recipes archive coming soon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Great Taste

It wasn't a pickle sell-off or a jam contest. Just a good-old social tasting, a place to sample original recipes, tell canning tales and share tips for preserving the best of the season. Some of the highlights of the contributions from community members included sweet and garlicky pickle chips, hot pickled carrots, dilly beans, apple butter and grape jelly.

According to Emily Cooper, second year intern for Backyard Gardens who staffed the tasting table, "People exchanged lots of stories about moms' and grandmothers' pickles, recipe ideas and techniques, and excitement about new ideas for future canning."

This is only the first of several scheduled tastings later this market season. Mark your calendars for:

Saturday, July 29: Pie Bake Off Taste Off
Thursday, September 17: Tomato Tasting
Saturday September 19: Salsa Tasting
Saturday October 10: Apple Tasting

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pickle Heaven

Love pickles? We sure do.

While we're cleaning out our pantries to make room for a new season's stockpile of canning jars, we're celebrating at this Saturday's Joseph farmer's market with a Best of 2008 Pickle and Jam Tasting.

If you've got some of your own blue-ribbon-worthy pickles or jams to contribute, bring 'em on down. Or just come with your palate cleansed and ready to sample a host of succulent and creative offerings.

It will offer all the inspiration you need to kick off another canning season.

Oh, didn't you know? Canning is all the rage. Just check out this article in the recent Dining section of The New York Times. Who knew we in Wallowa County were so very hip?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Seasonal Cooking Kickoff Demonstration

I know that you're really looking forward to tomato season, but since it just stopped snowing, I'm awfully excited to have anything locally grown that's fresh and green and tasty.

In early June at our elevation that means loads of sweet spinach, Asian greens, and lettuces, plus early season herbs like chives and dill.

I was lucky to dodge thunderstorms to do the first 2009 market cooking demonstration with offerings generously provided by the vendors.

In case you missed it live, here's what I prepared (market items in bold):

*wilted spinach salad with bacon, blue cheese, pecans, apples and radish
*stir-fried bok choy with grass-fed bottom round beef and garlic, ginger hoisin sauce
*snap pea pasta with basil, chives and parmesan topped with herbed ricotta

The recipes will be posted as links on the blog soon. And check back for the list of all the upcoming farmer's market events planned for this season.
--Lynne Sampson Curry

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Brand-New Season

The 2009 season of the Wallowa County Farmer's Market opened on June 4th under rainy and cloudy skies. The long-standing damp and sometimes downright unhospitable weather hasn't squashed this year's vendors' excitement for another year of bringing you great local, seasonal and delicious foods.

Founding farmer's market member Backyard Gardens is back with a stunning array of fresh seasonal produce. Fluit Family Ranch is selling their grass-fed beef and free-range eggs along with breads and pastries from Wildflour Bakery.

Come and meet new vendors Erica and Tyler of Arrowhead Ranch who are selling exciting greenhouse-grown produce and homebaked local whole wheat bread.

These vendors show up on Thursdays in Enterprise and Saturdays in Joseph (exact locations and hours are posted to the right) with their wealth of products come rain or shine.

See you at the farmer's market