You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Local Goodness’ category.
Why wait to make pesto when the basil is abundant. You can put to work those long-awaited bundles of asparagus. You can pesto just about anything using a basic recipe as a guide and substituting similar ingredients. Here in the Northwest, I like to substitute hazelnuts for pine nuts to give dishes a more local flavor. Mint makes this pesto even more bright and springy.
Asparagus Hazelnut Mint Pesto Recipe Read the rest of this entry »
I feel entitled, once in a while, to veer of the subject of the business of design and branding to cover one of my two loves—nature and food. Who knows how a rock or a shell or the pattern of seeds inside a cut piece of fruit will wend their way into that magazine layout or logo design? You just trust that what inspires you will work its magic at some point in the future.
Many designers I know are obsessed with rocks. The closest I’ve come to making sense of it is that rocks, with their smoothness, a wild streak of mineral deposit, surface pocked with teeny holes or perfectly oval shape, resemble the best intentionally designed objects, only they are accidents of the magic forces of nature.
Once such place where the forces of nature collide is Ona Beach on the central Oregon coast. Basalt rocks, both teeny and gigantic, have been sculpting this patch of coast for eons, creating an other-worldly landscape. You have to be here at low tide to be rewarded.
Needing an antidote to days of focused computer work, I took a partial inspiration day starting with a visit to the new Keen Garage store in Portland’s Pearl district, followed by a trip to the Portland Japanese Garden to see maples dusted with snow. The new, more visible store location allows passersby to visit this sustainable gem of a store that puts to clever use reclaimed materials and objects. The result is a playful, industrial-meets-vintage-meets-upcycled-meets-woodsy environment.
Repurposed oil drum furniture with cushions made from a patchwork of old car seat fabrics.
No beer sampling since it was only 10 a.m.
One of many charming woodsy installations filled with the popular air plant tsillandia.
Windows and door frames become shelving systems for plants, socks and other merchandise.
Fortunately, I left the store without a dent in my credit card.
“Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
I took Jobs’ quote to heart apparently, picking nearly 80 pounds of berries so far this season. With jam and biscuits behind me and no room in the freezer for sorbet, I turned my sights elsewhere. First, marionberry pastilles, which satisfied my hunger to transform at least part of my stash before they turned to mush. And foolish to have tripled the recipe. The next was marionberry barbecue sauce with some of the leftover pastille goop. Perfect for the pulled pork I had just made.
But first, a bit about marionberries. If anyone thinks kite boarding and mountain climbing are Oregon’s extreme sports, they haven’t picked marionberries. Every inch of the plant, except the berry itself, is coated in thorns. This includes the back of the leaves you often must brush out of the way to find berries overlooked by the previous picker. But, as in many cases in life, greed and desire outweigh practicality.
Pastilles are essentially gumdrops, often served in Europe at the end of a meal. They’re made from fruit and sugar cooked down to a thick consistency so that the flavor is very concentrated. Like making jam, only cooked longer. I confess I had a problem with my pastilles. The recipe called for raspberries but I used marionberries and the mixture took hours to thicken properly. I also used less sugar than the recipe called for. It might have been that marionberries have more liquid. Another recipe (raspberry passionfruit pastilles) calls for pectin, which you might try if you don’t want to be up all night.
Pastilles require some work to cut and free from the pan. But they are sure to delight the friend who receives them in a pretty box. My neighbor and taste tester suggested serving these at the end of a meal with cheese. Tested with goat cheese, they passed!
1/3 cups sugar, plus 1/4 cup for coating the fruit
2 pints (4 cups) fresh berries, rinsed and drained, puréed and seeded, to make 2 cups purée.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and 8-inch pan. Put 1/4 cup of the sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Combine berries and sugar in a wide saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes, until the mixture leaves the side of the pan and a spoon drawn through leaves a trough. Pour into the pan and bake for 10 minutes—the fruit will bubbling rapidly. Let cool in pan.
When the candy is completely cool, cut into squares. To remove the pieces from the pan, rub a little oil on the tip of a knife blade or small spatula and dip it in the remaining sugar. Pick up one piece of candy at a time and completely coat it in sugar. Store in plastic wrap in a well-sealed container. Should keep for years if covered tightly.
Variations: rolled sugared pastilles in grated coconut or dip in melted high-quality chocolate.
Have you ever made pastilles? If so, let me know how yours turned out.
Marionberry barbecue sauce
I tired of cutting pastilles (remember, I tripled the recipe), so I saved the leftover mixture. That I had just made my first pulled pork called for barbecue sauce so I modified an American Barbecue Sauce recipe from the same book.
Instead of 2 cups of berries, I used some of the super-intense pastille mixture, which already contained sugar so I left out the 1/2 cup of corn syrup the recipe called for. I might have left it out anyway, even using straight berries because I wanted a tangier sauce. I also adjusted some other ingredients and left one out. You might opt for the lesser amount of each ingredient, cook the sauce till it’s thick and then adjust to taste. How sweet, tangy, spicy or garlicy the sauce is should depend on your preference.
2 cups fresh or frozen marionberries or other blackberry variety
3–4 garlic cloves
1/4–1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar (not packed)
1 cup ketchup
1 1/2 t smoked paprika
1/4–1/2 t red chili flakes
1–2 t salt
1/2 black pepper
Puree all the ingredients in a blender. Put in a small saucepan and simmer for 1 hour until the sauce has thickened. Allow it to cool and store in a jar in the fridge for up to 1 month. The sauce can be used on chicken, pork, ribs or duck.
Next up? Maybe a tie died tee shirt with marionberry juice.
I was lucky enough to see these blues posters as large banners at Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival. They’re part of youth art program called Caldera that brings in artists from around the world to do month-long residencies working with at-risk youth.
Students worked with local artist, Joe McMurrian, to learn about blues legends and create illustrated portraits. View all the Caldera blues posters online. Originals and small prints are available for sale. Contact 503-937-7594 or email email@example.com. Proceeds are split between the young artist and Caldera to support more programs.
Even though anyone with Photoshop has long been able to “instagram” a photo, it’s still easier to add a filter or change the focus with Instagram. That ease makes me go for my iPhone as I make the rounds to local businesses.
And before you ask, why are you putting images on a blog post when they’re on Instagram and now, Facebook+Instagram, I’ll just say that no one venue does it all. Here, I can curate. And believe it or not, not everyone is on Facebook or Instagram.
Crate (above) and red truck (below) both at Porch Light in Portland’s Pearl District, an airy store that places great music.
(Below) Blackboard and reclaimed lumber at The Rebuilding Center of Our United Villages, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable practices by accepting donations of and selling used building materials.
(Below) Donald inspecting free-roaming chickens at the adorable Pistils Nursery on N. Mississippi—
country living in the city.
(Below) The Meadow specializes in gourmet items like this impressive array of bitters as well as chocolates, salts, flowers and vermouth.
(Below) The dry rock garden at the Portland Japanese Garden, one of the many wondrous spots to linger in.
(Below) A recent find at the Portland Farmers Market booth of Sweetwater Farm. Chef Kathryn of The Farmers Feast cooks up mushrooms alongside Sweetwater Farm. In this case, sauteed porcini and Douglas Fir tips.
(Below) Need a newsprint Chinese umbrella, a wooden head or a 10-foot-long paper dragon?
Cargo in the Pearl District might just have it.
(Below) I could roam the aisles of Beaumont Hardware store forever. My favorite find was this wall diagram of available springs. If they had let me, I would have bought the display.
And to top it off with something sweet, below is a portion of 21 pounds of Hood strawberries from Sauvie Island Farms, my favorite spot for picking berries through the summer.
Stay tuned for more…
My mother likes to tell people what I said about chemistry class, “I don’t know why anyone would care about the rate of a reaction. I don’t even care about the reaction itself.”
This, coming from the daughter of two biochemists.
I’ve always loved science, but failing at one type forever brands you a flunkie.
And yet, I’ve spent more hours than I can count creating science on the stove, in the oven and, unfortunately, in the fridge of the bluish-green variety.
Chemistry was never so fun than at a recent cheesemaking class with cheese whiz Mary Rosenblum (and science-fiction author). Thanks to SlowFood Portland (organizers) and to Chef Robert Reynolds Chef Studio (use of space). Read the rest of this entry »
When a friend asked if I was interested in taking a tour of Bob’s Red Mill on a Monday, I decided I could make it a “work-related” event. The boss (that would be me) is a stickler for purposeful hookey. I do write and design a bit about food, especially of the local variety. But Bob needs no promotion from me since his product is sold by every grocery store chain in the U.S. of A.
So I was glad to find some visual treats, like this wall of grain sacks. Read the rest of this entry »
This month marks the final installment of a “Year of Produce” in which I charted my fresh produce purchases in illustrated form for a year starting in April 2010. I was curious to see if I put my money where my mouth is about eating locally and, by definition, seasonally. Yes, 2010 was so last year. But April is so now! Which means you can start all over again if you missed the whole thing. Scroll down for March as well as a mini image of each month that links to that month’s post. Each one has some combination of recipes or recipe links, preparation ideas, thoughts on eating locally and other good stuff. So please explore!
With this final post I offer:
• A tally for the year
• Thoughts on what is local
• My observations on the project
• March recipe links
• How to eat seasonally, affordably (prompted by a question someone asked me) Read the rest of this entry »