BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Archive for January 2009

A Buttery, Banana-y, Brown Sugar Bread

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I don’t bake nearly enough. But the results are always so instantly gratifying. There’s the real before-and-after sense, with the magic between batter and baked good happening behind the closed door of the oven. Cooking on the stove, on the other hand, is a gradual transformation that unfolds before your eyes.

This is a fabulous Banana Banana Bread recipe, simple and moist and redolent of the pureed fruit, topped with a delicate crushed walnut-turbinado sugar crust. It’s easy to see why it’s a top-rated recipe on Lacking a loaf pan, I used a square one instead, which happily yielded more browned chewy corners. I added vanilla to the batter. Next time, I’ll throw in chocolate chips for Dan. But I prefer the unadulterated banana flavor.

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January 31, 2009 at 2:38 am

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The Simplicity of Soup: Wild Mushroom, Spinach & Barley from Atlanta

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I finally had the chance to attempt a recipe from Souper Jenny Cooks, the cookbook from the Atlanta soup diva whose cafe my sister Elaine loves. I just happened to try the “Wild Mushroom, Spinach & Barley Soup” recipe (see below), which Elaine says is one of her favorites.

This is a soup for the peak of fall mushroom season. But I still found the shiitake and oyster mushrooms I needed at the food co-op (mushrooms ain’t cheap, though). Luckily, cremini mushrooms were on sale so I used them too. I added a combo of homemade chicken stock and prepared vegetable broth, and tossed in wild rice because I didn’t have enough barley. Through in some celeriac and chopped cabbage, too. And I’m probably the only person who would have Chinese Shaoxing wine in the house but not dry sherry, so I made that substitution too (the two can be used pretty interchangeably).

It was a healthy, hearty soup. Can’t wait to try more of the recipes. Thanks for the great cookbook, sis! Can’t wait to visit the soup cafeteria in person with you.

Wild Mushroom, Spinach & Barley Soup (Serves 8-10)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

4 cups shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

4 cups oyster mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

8 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 cup dry sherry

16 cups low sodium vegetable broth

2 cups fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped

2 1/2 cups dry barley

salt and pepper

Heat a heavy duty stock pot and add olive oil. Saute onion and garlic until soft. Add all mushrooms and sherry and saute over medium heat until mushrooms are soft (about 15 minutes). Add vegetable broth and spinach and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in barley and simmer for another 25 to 30 minutes. Add more broth if soup is thicker than you like. Add salt and pepper to taste.

A Note on Cleaning Mushrooms

For this soup, I am very careful about how I clean my mushrooms. First put mushrooms in a colander and shake out any loose dirt or grit. Then, with a damp cloth, wipe down the mushrooms individually. Rinsing mushrooms causes them to absorb excess liquid, which makes them rubbery.

From Souper Jenny Cooks by Jennifer Levison

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January 28, 2009 at 11:52 pm

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“Clearcut:” Culture Wars in Nearby Philomath, Oregon

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Denuded hillside south of Corvallis, Oregon

Denuded hillside south of Corvallis, Oregon

I half-watched a documentary last night about the clash between old-time timber folks and newer urban refugees in the nearby town of Philomath. Every high school graduate once had their college tuition funded by a guaranteed scholarship from a local timber baron’s foundation. But the foundation threatened to cut the purse strings as the school board drifts in a more liberal pro-environment direction, as previously unheard of things like gay student groups spring up at the local high school. They scaled the scholarship back to only apply to second-generation Philomath residents who would study traditional timber-related fields. The major flash-point occurred in 2005, when the foundation suspended grants for any students attending Oregon State University, ironically the ag school just down the road. OSU was “using education to indoctrinate studwents with the socialist ideology of the Global Green Parties,” the film quotes the foundation. Not sure what the current state of the scholarship program is, since the Clemens Foundation doesn’t appear to have a website.

You can hear more about the culture wars in Philomath here.

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January 28, 2009 at 12:50 am

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Wheat Berries for Breakfast

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“There in Spirit” and the wholesome site 101 Cookbooks inspired me to try wheat berries as a hot cereal for breakfast. Afterall, I do have a five-pound bag of locally-grown whole soft white wheat to plow through. Here’s the 101 Cookbooks recipe. I topped the cereal with sauteed pear, apple, crystallized ginger, maple syrup and a little vanilla coconut milk yogurt. Should have reduced the volume of wheat berries, to have a less oaty, higher fruit to cereal ratio. It was better heated up the next day. But I still think I prefer steel-cut oatmeal and granola. How many varieties of hot cereal do we need. What grains do ya’ll eat hot for breakfast?

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January 27, 2009 at 1:00 am

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Achiote Chicken with Grilled Scallions

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Thanks again to Julia for this marvelous Latin chicken recipe. Finding whole annatto seeds proved to be a quest, but I finally found them at a Mexican bakery/tienda. The storekeeper told me most Mexicans just buy the ready-made (MSG-laden?) paste. But BaltimOregon pretends to be an intrepid cook. I also should have ground the spices in a coffee grinder instead of mini-food processor. My paste didn’t emulsify but still made for tangy coated chicken. Should I have chopped the grilled scallions? They came out a bit limp. The best part was butchering the whole chicken by myself for the first time (see a video on how to do so below). I’m hooked though I had trouble locating the precious oyster during the dissection. See below for Julia’s delicious recipe. I served it with quinoa. And we had a simple New Orleans Sweet Potato, Corn and Jalapeno Bisque to start.

Achiote Chicken with Grilled Scallions

preheat 450

1 whole chicken
2 Tbs annatto seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp oregano, dried
6 whole allspice berries
1 tsp sea salt
4 cloves pressed/smashed garlic
4 Tbs lime juice

1/4 cup achiote paste
1/4 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed
1 bunch scallions
1 lime
1/2 head shredded cabbage

cut the chicken into 9 pieces, save the back and wings for stock. season the chicken with salt and pepper. place in a medium bowl while making the achiote paste.

paste: combine annatto, cumin, oregano, allspice and salt in a grinder to make a powder. mix the powder in a small bowl with garlic and lime juice. measure out 1/4 cup and store the rest in the fridge.

puree the 1/4 cup of paste with orange juice in a blender.

using fingers, gently loosen chicken skin, spread the paste beneath the skin and over the chicken’s surface. place the chicken pieces in a roasting pan. roast until chicken is cooked and skin is crisp ~25-30 mins., broil for a little if skin is not crisp.

while chicken is cooking peel the outer layer from the green onions, squeeze the juice of one lime over them, and grill until soft and browned from the grill pan. shred cabbage and use as a bedding for chicken and scallions.

Here’s the link on how to cut-up your own whole chicken:

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January 26, 2009 at 2:15 am

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There’s No Place Like Home for Indian Food (in Corvallis)

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Really Lovely Red Lentils with Ninkasi Brewery (from Eugene) Domination IPA

Really Lovely Red Lentils with Ninkasi Brewery (from Eugene) Domination IPA

Sadly, we weren’t enthralled with the meal we had at at Nirvana, the newer Indian restaurant in Corvallis. Dan said the Lamb Vindaloo and Mushroom Mattar sauces tastes ketchup-y. We’re heard the other place here, Evergreen, isn’t that great, but at least they do have South Indian veg dishes like Masala Dosa. How I miss the Woodlands in Charlotte, perhaps the best Indian I have had in the U.S. And I loved the thali Indian tapas-style lunch specials at Indigma in Baltimore.

For now though here, we’re content to cook Indian at home. Tonight I whipped up a really simple red lentil curry dish I found in The Thymes, the monthly newsletter of our food co-op. (See the recipe below). I only used one can of coconut milk, adding more water instead, and substituted some leftover scraps of collards and kale instead of the swiss chard. Throw any vegetables in the bin in! I also made cucumber raita as a condiment to give the dal more creaminess.


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January 25, 2009 at 3:16 am

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Getting Into Those Whole Grains

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Three Grain Salad Primavera with Lemon Vinaigrette

Three Grain Salad Primavera with Lemon Vinaigrette

This is a hearty, nutty, soul-satisfying salad from my sister-in-law, Julia. She picked it up while attending a holistic culinary school in San Francisco. The best part: you can use up those remainders of random grains stashed in the back of the cupboard. I used soft white wheatberries from Stalford Farm here in Oregon (the same source of my locally-grown chickpeas), black wild rice and an Israeli couscous/quinoa blend. This is a recipe that’s hard to screw up, thankfully. I also didn’t have flax seed oil so just doubled the olive oil in the dressing. Dan threw in some grape tomatoes (which he purchased against my will. I’m trying to abstain from eating tomatoes outside the local season. Winter tomatoes or those from Mexico just don’t compare.)

Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy (feel free to half the portion, but it keeps well in the fridge for the week):

Three Grain Salad Primavera with Lemon Vinaigrette
(serves 16)

Grain salad options (you will need 1 cup of three of these grains):
wild rice
Israeli couscous
Choose three of these or other favorite grains — you will want to end up with 7 cups
cooked product total

Vegetables for salad:
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 orange pepper, chopped (NOTE- i used 3 whole peppers- just eyeball it)
1/2 pound green beans or snow peas, slivered
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 bunch scallions, chopped
1/2 bunch italian parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh mint, finely chopped

Dressing ingredients:
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 teasponns dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup other vegetable oil like flax seed oil or safflower
2 tbsp warm water
2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely chopped

Choose three grains and cook 1 cup of each separately. Set them aside to cool while
preparing the vegetables and the dressing.  As the vegetables and herb s are chopped, put
them into a large mixing bowl.

Combine all of the dressing ingredients except water and lemon zest, and whisk together
or put in a blender or small food processor.  Cover and blend.  Add warm water and blend
until smooth while the machine is running.  Taste, adjust as needed, and then add the
lemon zest.  (Dressing will keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks).

Measure out 7 cups of the combination of cooled grains.  Add to the vegetables in the
mixing bowl and toss to combine.  Add 1/2 cup of the dressing and toss to coat the grains
and vegetables lightly.  Taste and adjust if more dressing is needed.  Serve chilled or
at room temperature.

Written by baltimoregon

January 23, 2009 at 12:50 am

A Bar That Could Make You Love Corvallis

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Bluegrass band playing at Squirrel's Tavern tonight.

Bluegrass band playing at Squirrel's Tavern tonight.

I’m embarrassed to say we’ve only been to the best bar in Corvallis twice. Hopefully we will make Squirrel’s Tavern a more frequent habit. They offer a tremendous selection of local microbrews on draft and grill up some luscious burgers. Someday we’ll try the Squirrel Burger (topped with a fried egg and ham). Or gross?

The bar was jam-packed tonight with a festive crowd for a fundraiser for the local wildlife rescue center. The local Oregon Trail Brewery donated kegs of its nut brown ale; all proceeds went to the animal shelter. We munched on free roasted hazelnuts and listened to a bluegrass band playing in the eves.

Great burgers and brews in a vintage wood-paneled pub. My father-in-law about died and went to heaven there.


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January 22, 2009 at 1:29 am

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“American Girl”: The Other Obama

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It was her husband’s day, but my eyes kept drifting towards the stately Michelle Obama, watching the televised inauguration festivities this week.

Check out Baltimore native Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Atlantic piece on the “radical normalcy” of Michelle Obama, how she disrupts all stereotypes of the angry black woman. “The first time I saw Michelle Obama in the flesh, I almost took her for white,” Coates writes in the jarring opening of his piece. In a related video segment, Coates tells his father he’s almost more confident about her ability to be first lady than Obama’s as president.

And read this profile of her by my friend Nia-Malika Henderson, who is hot on the first family beat.

“Michelle disrupts a lot of the racial and gender stereotypes that people have about black women, that they are single, unhappy, angry, not very literate, or hustlers, hypersexual, inappropriate, mammy, seductress, I could go on, servant, all of those stereotypes are all out there,” Guy-Sheftall. “I think the dominant culture doesn’t know what to do with Michelle, so they put her in a frame with which they are familiar. The angry black woman stereotype is predictable, we know that one, then when she was not really conforming to that story, then it shifted to her fashion.”

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January 21, 2009 at 1:56 am

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A Chicken in Every Pot

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I plan to roast more whole chickens this year. They are economical, yield moist meat and at least three meals for the week. I roasted one Sunday night, slathering it first with a favorite salt rub we also used on our Thanksgiving turkey. I’m still figuring out the optimal temperature and time to cook the bird at in our convection oven. Any suggestions?

Then tonight, I briefly sauteed the shredded chicken with onions, a pasilla pepper and chile powder, baking it or tortillas with sauce and cheese for enchiladas.

I also boiled the carcass for soup stock but accidentally left the pot out overnight. So I chucked it. How long is it safe to leave the fresh chicken broth out?

Will you find yourselves cooking more whole chickens this year? It could be a 2009 food trend.

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January 20, 2009 at 12:47 am

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