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Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

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Fourth KBOO Radio Show: Food, Inc. and Jamming

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My latest KBOO food show is up. Click here to stream. My co-host Miriam Widman and I attended a special screening of Food, Inc. the night before the show to prepare. I really recommend it, though the documentary tries to cover a dizzying array of topics in 90-some minutes. Now I’m brain dead from that and my last day of food preservation class today. Here’s the press release we sent out for the show:

The season of bounty (ripe strawberries, shelling peas, cherries) is upon us. But you may lose your appetite after seeing Food, Inc., the new documentary that exposes how industrial agriculture has tainted our food supply. You’ll never care to eat Smithfield pork, Tyson chicken or transgenic high-fructose corn syrup again! All the more reason to grow and preserve your own food. And with the Pacific Northwest’s abundance of berries, now is the time to jam.

Wednesday’s show will feature:

  • An interview with Elise Pearlstein, producer of the new documentary Food, Inc.
  • The “Jamming for the Hungry” program, where Corvallis and Philomath volunteers turn gleaned fruit into low-sugar jams and jellies for local food banks.
  • An interview with local cookbook author Linda Ziedrich, on tips and recipes from her newly published The Joys of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves.
  • Canning jams and fruits with the Oregon State University Extension Service’s master food preserver program.

Written by baltimoregon

June 19, 2009 at 12:21 am

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Summer Reading: Food (and Cycling) is Hot

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Elegant book review illustrations by Chris Silas Neal

It’s a rare delight to feel the theme of a magazine’s issue or newspaper section was selected with you just in mind. That’s how the New York Times Book Review made me feel today. I wanted to read everything all at once: the sections on cookbooks, foodoirs, gardening, a David Byrne-penned review of an Oregonian reporter’s book on the Pedaling Revolution, the backpage essay on the previously unpublished culinary tidbits from the Federal Writers’ Project, or the “Food Bloggers of 1940.” What would I give to be a part of such an endeavor, that attracted the likes of everyone from Zora Neale Hurston to Eudora Welty, among a mass of mostly unestablished writers, “lots of chaff.” If only President Obama would resurrect the writer’s project for our own trying times.

The “Heartburn” review of three food memoirs-with-recipes reminded this food blogger to cling to her journalistic chops, to guard against cloying sentimentalism in her tales of food. I’m most eager to read Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life, as I follow her Orangette blog and Bon Appetit columns. But Wizenberg’s whimsical tone and fairy tale days do seem out of touch at times.

She goes to Paris for a few weeks, then returns to her apartment in Seattle and does . . . what? It isn’t clear how she spends her days beyond making sentimental meatballs or French-style yogurt cake with lemon and writing about them in her fine-tuned, flowery prose…

While she’s mastered the short-­attention-span form, Wizenberg can be wincingly twee, writing in a confidential style that flips into blog mode and addresses the reader directly: “I learned that kissing a man while leaning against a warm dishwasher is a lovely, lovely experience. (Go ahead! Try it! I’ll wait.)” Compared with many other bloggers, though, she’s Alice Munro. Besides, you’re not looking for literature in the cookbook section, are you?

Goodies abounded in the Cookbooks section. I’m most excited to sink into Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More, co-authored by Oregon’s own Cory Schreiber, founding chef of Portland’s Wildwood restaurant who now works with the Oregon Department of Agriculture to get more local produce into public schools. We have to have him on the radio show!

Written by baltimoregon

June 1, 2009 at 1:16 am

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Third KBOO Radio Show: Local Foods Special

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FarmToTableCoverI’m just loving my adventures in Radio-land. I’m still in awe that such distinguished food folks have agreed to come on the show. Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Portland-based chef and food writer Ivy Manning, whose Farm to Table cookbook is one of my new favorites. Click here to listen to the archived show.

Our local foods special also featured an interview with the Portland Farmers Market director on expanding access through the new Sunday King neighborhood market. We also talked to local chain Burgerville about their campaign to highlight local (but not organic) foods on their menu. After the show, I got a chance to taste firsthand the Yakima, Wash.,-grown asparagus Burgerville is promoting this month. It was delicately fried, tempera-style, and served with a garlic mayonnaise dipping sauce. But the Burgerville promotion also includes an asparagus and tomato melt sandwich on the menu. Doesn’t that less than local tomato cancel the asparagus out? The Burgerville COO said their tomatoes are from California but could some be produced under sub-slavery conditions in Immokalee, Fla.? Could enough Burgerville customers say no to out-of-season tomatoes to make the company change their policies?

Burgerville Fried Asparagus/Flickr Creative Commons/By kthread

Burgerville Fried Asparagus/Flickr Creative Commons/By kthread

Written by baltimoregon

May 20, 2009 at 11:59 pm


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Portland has no shortage of culinary mysteries, including rare supper clubs such as Simpatica Dining Hall. We keep indulging on food since we don’t spend money going out to bars with friends here.

Inconspicuously nestled in a warehouse district in Southeast Portland, the “restaurant” has one family-style seating Friday and Saturday nights (online reservations required) and Sunday brunches that require quite the wait.

The chefs and hostesses treat the 30-some customers as guests at their intimate dinner party. For $40 a person, we had these simple yet succulet four courses:

Fresh Porcini Mushroom, Fennel and Arugula Salad (with shaved parmesan and the raw porcini were delicately shaved and marinated in lemon/olive oil)

Handmade Pappardelle with Rabbit Sugo (spiced with pungent fennel pollen)

Herbed Roast Leg of Lamb (thyme, rosemary, marjoram, garlic) with Braised Cavolo Nero (black kale) and Natural Jus

Glazed Viridian Farms Pippin Apple Bread Pudding with Warm Brandy Custard

Yum-Yum! We aren’t worthy. We’re living beyond our means I fear.

Written by baltimoregon

November 8, 2008 at 2:12 am

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Foraging in High Chanterelle Season

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I apologize for my month-plus long hiatus as I just now settle in Corvallis and hope to commense daily blogging in earnest.

We’re embracing all life has to offer here, which on Sunday included a wild mushroom foraging expedition with the new Slow Food Corvallis group here. It helped that it was a perfect nearly 70-degree day that made it hard to accept the rains are coming.

Fluted Pacific golden chanterelles, known as Oregon’s state mushroom, were the object of our search in the shaded woods of Alpine, a rural timber town between Corvallis and Eugene. For those who fear death by poisonous mushroom, the chanterelles are among the easiest to pick out. Their amber color stands out against the damp, loamy forest floor, yet much of the mushrooms’ flesh is concealed under the soil, leaves and underbrush. (Unfortunately that’s not my bountiful harvest below, but I did collect a paper lunch-bag’s worth.)

Our fearlesss guide was Rex Swartzendruber, a professional forager who sells his finds at Corvallis and Salem markets and online at TruffleZone. He spoke with eloquence about the important symbiotic (or parasitic) role mushrooms play in maintaining the Coastal Range forests’ delicate eco-systems, how everything, from the trees to the fungi to the arthropods that crawl and digest the soil beneath them, is connected.

When the timber companies clear-cut the forests, the trees aren’t the only natural resource to go. Chanterelles take 15 years to reappear after a forest has been clear-cut, Swartzendruber said. What’s more, Big Timber, he said, has been blocking access to public forests where foragers are normally free to hunt. “Access for a mushroom picker is everything,” Swartzendruber said of his livelihood.

The deforestation was apparent on our ride back to Corvallis.







The risk of accidentally plucking a poisonous one almost makes wild mushrooms a heightened delicacy. I kept thinking of fugu, which is popularly eaten in Japan but can be lethal if prepared incorrectly.

We avoided false chanterelles with more orange gills and a darker cap. The potently toxic amanitas were the scariest mushrooms we found but could be easily identified with their white-dotted “veil” caps and lacy skirt on the stem, making the lethal mushrooms sound feminine, almost bridal (see below and AVOID).

But the highlight of the day was the $20 three-course mushroom dinner Swartzendruber arranged for us at Sybaris Restaurant in Albany, the city that neighbors Corvallis. Chef Matt Bennett, who graciously hosted us on his day off, was still beaming from recent press he got in The Oregonian about a meal he recently prepared at the James Beard House in New York. For dessert, we got a litle taste of Bennett’s celebrated Oregon black truffle ice cream (made with powder from TruffleZone) but what was really remarkable was the candy cap mushroom panna cotta which had a rich maple flavor that exclusively came from the fungus. The appetizer was leek and potato soup with sauteed lobster and shrimp mushrooms, the later which we found while foraging. When it smells like rotten seafood, it’s too late to pick them. The Russian-inspired main course was lamb two ways: loin with wild mushroom Stroganoff and a particularly memorable “Communist cutlet” lamb patty with chantrelles (the French spelling) on creamy Savoy cabbage. Bennett, who just also opened a more casual Italian cafe near Sybaris, seems committed to a downtown Albany rennaissance. The historic buildings apparently used to house brothels for the timber workers.

Written by baltimoregon

October 27, 2008 at 7:24 am

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