Thursday, May 28, 2009

Food Group Recap

For those of you who weren't able to make it to last night's food group, here's a little of what we discussed. Thanks again Lisa for opening up your home!
What’s in Season and What to do with it:
One challenging aspect of eating locally and in season is utilizing loads of produce that one does not normally cook with, or cook with in great quantities. For instance, getting a bunch of radishes in your CSA is exciting, but how do we make the most of an item that isn’t exactly “main course” material. Here are a couple of recipes and ideas for using in-season produce. The important things to remember are be creative, experiment, and have fun!

Radishes: Most people assume the radish is the only part you eat, but did you know you can eat the leafy green tops too? Here are a couple radish recipes for both the radish and the leafy green tops. Recipes courtesy of…Enjoy!

Radish Dip: (I made this for food group and Paul loved it so much he barely let me take it!)
4 cloves garlic peeled
6 radishes, quartered
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (Or better yet, homemade!)
Place garlic in the container of a food processor, and pulse until finely minced. Add radishes, and mince. Add cream cheese, and mix until well blended. Transfer to a serving dish, and chill until serving.

Radish Top Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
2 medium potatoes, sliced 4 cups raw radish greens 4 cups chicken broth 1/3 cup heavy cream 5 radishes, sliced
1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and saute until tender. Mix in the potatoes and radish greens, coating them with the butter. Pour in chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.
2. Allow the soup mixture to cool slightly, and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth.
3. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Mix in the heavy cream. Cook and stir until well blended. Serve with radish slices.

Lettuce: Currently, in the space of a square foot, I’m getting enough lettuce for Paul and I to each have a salad everyday. It’s a great feeling knowing I always have fresh greens right outside my door and only have to pick what we’ll use without letting it go to waste. Since lettuce does go bad so quickly and can’t easily be preserved I foresee the challenge of using it up (along with any from my CSA) in a timely and tasty manner. Here are some ways that I have and will put my leafy greens to use:

Taco Salad: Instead of using seasoning packets from the store I used the following recipe. I didn’t have enough chili powder so I improvised, but it was tasty. This recipe can be made in larger quantities and stored for later use.
Taco Seasoning
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried minced garlic
1 cup chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons salt
In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine flour, onion flakes, garlic, chili powder, oregano, cumin, and salt. Close lid securely, and shake well to mix contents. One half cup is equivalent to 1 (1.25 ounce) package of taco seasoning. Courtesy of**This recipe will season 4lbs of ground meat

Veggie Sandwich: Spread some hummus on pita or fresh bread, stuff it with lettuce and other veggies in season, add some Greek olives and/or feta cheese, and enjoy this delicious spring lunch.

Spring Salad with Balsamic Dressing: Conventional salad dressings are filled with artificial colors, flavors, stabilizers and genetically modified organisms. When I first tried this recipe from Nourishing Traditions I was amazed at how tasty and simple this dressing is. This recipe is by far my favorite salad dressing and tastes wonderful paired with feta cheese, Greek olives, nuts and anything else that suits your tastes.

Balsamic Dressing:
1 tsp Dijon-type mustard, smooth or grainy
2 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ Cup olive oil
1 Tbsp expeller-expressed flax oil (good source of Omega 3 to balance out the Omega 6 in the olive oil; if you don’t have it, don’t worry about it)
Dip a fork into the jar of mustard and transfer about 1 teaspoon to a small bowl. Add vinegar and mix around. Add olive oil in a thin stream, stirring all the while with the fork, until oil is well mixed or emulsified. Add flax oil and use immediately.
Recipe note: I like a more acidic punch to my dressing so I usually don’t like to use this much olive oil, so adjust the recipe to your taste.
Thanks for a great time!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Food Group - Wednesday May 27th, 7pm Lisa's House

Hi friends,

This month has gone by way too fast!! I am excited to slow down a little bit this Wednesday and get together with all of you and enjoy some good food, great discussion, and encouraging support!

Thanks to Lisa Engelman who is opening her brand new home to the group this month! I can't wait to see your new place Lisa! For those of you who have been to my apartment, Lisa only lives about a mile away.

Lisa's Home
(email me for her adddress)
Portland, OR 97213

Come and enjoy a relaxed evening this Wednesday May 27th, at 7pm. Bring a treat if you want, bring a friend if you want, or just bring yourself!

Topics of discussion: Gardening in small spaces, What's in season (and what to do with it), and much more!

Can't wait to see you all,

P.S. Keep Bethany in your thoughts and prayers as she will be absent from Food Group this month in preparation of finishing her Landscape Architecture licensing exams!! Way to go Bethany! We'll miss you though!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Recent kitchen adventures...

The month of May seems to be screaming a zippy firecracker straight on the way to the 4th of July! If I blink, I think I might miss the month of June altogether. Eeking out moments in the kitchen comes as a calming pastime, however, and even the most basic of domestic duties help keep me grounded during the frenzy.

Take for example my Saturday excursion two weeks ago -- replies to a couple of craigslist posts led me to a woman's kitchen to pick up kefir grains and then on to a new friend's farm (complete with tour of the pasture grounds inhabited by the milk cow, the pigs, the chickens...the soon-to-arrive turkeys and goats). I returned home with a gallon of fresh milk and thankfulness for the springtime sunshine and the naturally raised, free range Thanksgiving turkey I'd just committed to purchasing this autumn. (I'm also keen to take her up on the offer of cheese making classes...must wait until exams are over, though.)

Since that Saturday, I've been able to use my new kefir "pet" to supply the base for some delicious smoothies...I'm also excited to brew some summer ales in a few months. Reading Full Moon Feast continues to inspire me.

I've continued experimenting with various dairy products. My second batch of yogurt turned out amazingly well! (My new trick - keeping the mason jar in a warm water bath over the pilot light overnight.) I strained it to make Greek-style yogurt, and Ted loved it! Sweet success... Not-quite-so successful with the buttermilk biscuits made from my fresh buttermilk, though. Maybe I'll blame it on the oven.

I've also discovered that I don't need to purchase one of those squishy "stress-balls" (that you squeeze and release to diminsh stress) -- I just need to enjoy churning my own little batch of butter in a handheld jar. Ten minutes of furious shaking really can help one unwind.

Last but not least -- today was, as Emily termed it, the "Soft Opening" for Calliope's Table CSA. Official pick ups don't begin until June 3rd, but we were able to visit the garden and pick up an assortment of springtime greens. In search of the perfect pea shoot recipe, I stumbled across this site tonight, and I thought I'd share it here: Pea Shoots. I'm already salivating over the recipes... I'm out of Parmesan cheese, but once I pick up some more tomorrow, I'm going to try out the Pea Shoot and Walnut Pesto and use some of Ted's grandpa's home-grown walnuts.

Anyway...all for the moment. Just a chance to catch up and encourage everyone to try something courageous in the kitchen! :)

Carry on...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May Day!

April's Food Group was a blast, and I defininately had fun trying out lacto-fermenting garlic. For those of you who missed Food Group but are curious about lacto-fermenting, here's a little excerpt about it:

Lacto-fermented foods have been around for a very long time. Common in Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and North and Central European cuisine, fermentation has been used to enhance the flavor of food, create food, and help food having a longer shelf life. Fermented foods are delicious and nutritious. These traditional foods are key to our health.

Fermentation allows the bacteria, yeasts and molds to "predigest" and therefore break down the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to create "Probiotics" which offer friendly bacteria into our digestive tract. This helps keep our immune system strong and supports our overall digestive health. Courtesy of

The recipe we used for lacto-fermented garlic can be found in Nourishing Traditions. All the recipe required was garlic, water, sea salt, and oregano. I'll let you know in another day or so if it worked! :)



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