Archive for December 2008
I’m feeling somewhat guilty about enjoying the dungeness crab we ate on the recent trip to Newport and Waldport. Looks like commercial fisherman in California, but also Washington and Oregon are struggling to stay afloat given “an unusually weak Dungeness crab harvest.” As if the collapse of their Pacific chinook salmon livelihood wasn’t enough.
But an Oregon Public Radio story suggests the situation may not be as bad in Oregon, which appears to have at least an average harvest. Seems too early to tell.
Wish I hadn’t fallen in love with with the sweet, succulent taste of fresh Dungeness crab. To make matters worse, apparently “harvesting Dungeness crabs in the Pacific Northwest is the most dangerous fishing job in the country” (scroll down in article).
Can we really ethically continue to eat these crustaceans if harvesting them puts crabbers life in jeopardy? And are they being overfished?
We’ll just have to push back the start of our diet until we return from San Francisco.
We meant to cook some simple spaghetti at home tonight. But we couldn’t resist stopping at The Depot, a little hole in the wall fish ‘n’ chips place in neighboring Albany. We stopped for an early dinner on the way home from Portland.
Fish ‘n’ chips made with local Pacific Cod is the thing to order there. We had some on a seafood platter, which came with a delicious shrimp salad. I love the taste of those mild Oregon bay shrimp. They were scattered over red cabbage and greens and topped with blue cheese dressing (or that of your choice). The chowder, however, was bland and lacking in seafood.
We had skipped lunch and were hungry. But in addition to the fried seafood, we also began the day with an unhealthy snack. We finally got to the infamous Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, whose confections range from the decadent to the gross-out weird (think Pepto Bismal and Nyquil-glazed doughnuts).
We played it safe, splitting a huge Memphis Mafia banana fritter topped with peanut butter, chocolate chips and nuts. Just like Elvis, I’m a sucker for peanut butter and banana. I need to go on a raw food, all-veg diet!
Alas, come dinnertime I couldn’t find my precious recipe for “Autumn Salad with Apples, Comte and Hazelnuts” that I had clipped from The Baltimore Sun. These scraps get lost in a move. So I tried to recreate the apple cider vinagrette anyway and did the rest from memory. I used spinach greens, substituted walnuts for hazelnuts and sliced up some celeriac (celery root) along with the celery hearts. The syrupy reduced apple cider in the dressing and tangy raw milk comte cheese really make for a memorable salad I’ll continue to make.
Googling around, I remembered the recipe came from Susan Spicer’s Crescent City Cooking book of New Orleans recipes. I finally found the recipe reprinted on a blog (see below).
Hey all you turophiles out there, any other ways you recommend using comte? This one for comte and pear phillo triangles looks intriguing. The cheese just pairs so well with any kind of fruit.
Autumn Salad with Apples, Comte, and Hazelnuts
8 cups mixed greens, cleaned
1 medium apple, thinly sliced into matchsticks
2-3 ounces Comte cheese, cut in matchsticks
1/4 cup sliced celery hearts
1 cup Cider Dressing, recipe follows
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries, optional
In a large bowl, use your hands or two wooden spoons to toss together the lettuce, apple, cheese, and celery hearts. Drizzle in enough dressing to lightly coat the salad; reserve remaining dressing. Season the salad with a little salt, if necessary, and divide among four plates. Sprinkle salad with hazelnuts and drizzle with equal portions of the remaining Cider Dressing.
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup pure olive oil or a mild vegetable oil
1 teaspoon hazelnut oil, optional
salt and pepper
Place the cider and vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until reduced to 3 tablespoons of liquid. Pour it into a small bowl and add the shallots and mustard. Whisk to combine, then slowly whisk in the olive oil and the hazelnut oil, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
We were supposed to spend tonight in Waldport on the Oregon coast. But my in-laws found our Corvallis house more comfortable so we came back a night early.
Luckily, the best Chinese restaurant in town– China Delight — was open for dinner. It was pretty lively there. You had to love the family there forcing the kids to play Hanukkah games at the table.
We feasted on their scrumptous sesame tempeh (which I ordered in a combo with saccharine sweet lemon fake meat pork chops and savory string beans), chicken lo mein, eggplant and garlic sauce and hot and sour soup. And even restaurants like China Delight have good Oregon beer on draft here.
Yes, I’m obsessed with the luscious orange persimmons of the Pacific Northwest. But as we move out of their peak season, it’s better to bake with them as they turn to mush.
Two holiday recipes for persimmon pudding caught my attention of late. Tonight I made Deborah Madison’s recipe (see bottom picture below), which I found of the Grist website. It was a delicate steamed British-style cakey pudding. But what a potchke to make! I’m not sure it was worth the effort. I just don’t have much experience steaming puddings in molds.
This persimmon pudding recipe that recently ran in the New York Times also interested me.
Any easier persimmon recipes you would recommend out there?
Sure, snow is a beautiful and apparently rare event here in the Pacific Northwest. But this Portland storm has only been a pain.
My in-laws flew in last night but we haven’t seen them yet. They’re stranded in Portland: so close, yet so far away. We didn’t drive in to pick them up today, because chains were required, some even major roads were closed and we might have gotten stuck. Let’s just hope they make it in by Greyhound tomorrow. It’s times like this one feels really far away.
Just our luck: it’s the worst snowstorm to hit Portland since 1980. But here just 80-some miles south in Corvallis, our roads are clear, the snow has melted revealing green grass again. If only my in-laws could have gotten off in Eugene, where their plane stopped to refuel.
There seems to be a real dearth of snowplows in Oregon, too. Is it a matter of environmental policy, budget constraints or lack of manpower and actual plow trucks? Snow seems to always catch them off-guard here in this land of constant rains.
The start of the festival of lights nicely coincided with the winter solstice today, the darkest day of the year, especially here in Oregon, which has been usually cold, snowy and grey.
This half-Jew and her ambivalent Jewish husband were pleasantly surprised by the eclectic latke party and potluck the Beit Am Mid-Willamette Valley Jewish Community organized tonight. In a way it’s nice to have only one Jewish space in town, where those of all persuasions and degrees of unaffiliation are welcome.
We met a German-born economics professor emeritas, who migrated to Israel then studied at Berkeley and landed at Oregon State, where he retired in 1991. He had some colorful things to say about department politics and the writer and former OSU prof Bernard Malamud, who features Corvallis in his excellent novel A New Life. And we chatted with a young Israeli couple (guy is a resource economist) whose secular sensibilities reminded me just how out of touch American Jews can be with Israeli culture. Funny, the guy reminded us so much of Damiano, the Italian roommate of our Israeli friend Yoni back in Baltimore. Ah, Baltimore friends, we miss you:)