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Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘Obama

Passover in Oregon

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This Year at the White House/Obama's Seder (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

This Year at the White House/Obama's Seder (Official White House photo by Pete Souza), which just happened to be organized by Carolyn's Harvard classmate.

President Obama hosted his history-making Passover seder at the White House, and we were invited to two here in Oregon, that most secular of states where there are more Buddhists than Jews (but lots of Jew-Bus).

Homemade rye matzo

Homemade rye matzo

The first invite came at a matzo-making party I attended with my chef friend Intaba. She’s teaching me to make all the Jewish breads. It’s really a wonder more folks don’t make their own matzo instead of subsisting on the Manischewitz boxed-stuff. You just mix two cups of flour to one cup of water, don’t let it sit more than 18 minutes and then bake at 400 degrees. But I realize, who has time to make matzo when preparing the other dishes for the seder feast?

For our first seder, I prepared an unusually savory carrot and sweet potato tzimmes, accented with fresh thyme and chopped green onions. I’d make this side dish year round. That the veggies are roasted with lots of butter doesn’t hurt. I also made a Sephardic version of charoset, blending dried figs, dates, apricots and raisins together with the traditional apples and walnuts. It got rave reviews and the fruity paste spread nicely on matzo.

Carrot and Sweet Potato Tzimmes

Carrot and Sweet Potato Tzimmes

Fruity charoset

Fruity charoset

We’re constantly impressed by the kindness of practical strangers, and neighbors, here. We had only met the host of the Wednesday night seder once, and there we were comfortably reclining around her table until 11 p.m.

But our Friday night hosts, Slow Food Corvallis president Ann Shriver and her husband Larry Lev, both of OSU’s agricultural econ department, we met back during our first weekend in Corvallis. I made the matzo ball soup for that meal. Let’s just say the balls were a tad rubbery and marked with my fingerprints, rather than in perfect spheres. Still tasted good though. Ann prepared a feast: Moroccan chicken tagine (see recipe below), purple cauliflower and potato puree, grilled asparagus and Greek salad. Larry’s simple Ashkenazi-style charoset was sweet and delicate: peeled and grated apples, chopped walnuts and pecans, a bit of grated lemon peel and dashes of wine, cinnamon and sugar. Ann indulged us with a cheese course (featuring a prize-winning hard Tumalo goat cheese from Bend) and a delicate ginger-dark chocolate mousse served, with a fresh whipped cream cap, in demitasse cups. It was an informal, secular, social justice-minded seder. We didn’t even go back to the haggagah after the meal. Very reminiscient of the McCandlish-Friedberg seders growing up. I was right at home! Next year in Corvallis, right?

Moroccan chicken

Moroccan chicken

Chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon & Olives (from Ann Shriver)

Here’s the recipe I promised you. It’s not difficult but does require a lot of time and planning. Believe it or not it comes from an ancient “Food and Wine” magazine that someone gave me about 23 years ago. The article is by Paula Wolfert who is a pretty well known chef of Moroccan food.
First you need to make the lemons, at least 7 days in advance (14 is even better.)
I use the regular thick skinned lemons. I wonder how it would be with Meyer lemons? Anyone have experience with those?
7 day preserved lemon
2 ripe lemons
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Olive oil
Scrub the lemons and dry well. Cut each into 8 wedges. Toss with the salt and place in a 1/2 pint glass jar with a plastic-coated lid. Pour in the lemon juice. Close tightly and let ripen in a warm place for (at least) 7 days, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice. To store, add olive oil to cover and refrigerate for up to 6 months.
Marinated chicken with lemons and olives (Tagine Meshmel)
1/4 c olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
3/8 tsp ground cumin
pinch of powdered saffron (I used a pinch in the marinade and another good pinch in the stew, and I used whole, not powdered.)
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 cinnamon stick (I used a couple of shakes of ground cinnamon instead)
pieces of chicken–thighs and breasts, but I cut the split breasts further into two pieces (I used 5 split breasts and 6 thighs, and removed the skins to make the dish less greasy.)
2 1/2 c. grated spanish onions (~2 large)
1/4 c chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1/4 c chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 1/2 c. green greek-style cracked olives (I used a mix of green and black ones from the co-op, and I didn’t bother pitting them)
16 wedges of preserved lemon, pulp removed, peel rinsed, and sliced thinly
1/4 to 1/3 c fresh lemon juice, to taste.
1. In a large bowl combine the ingredients up to and including cinnamon, plus 1/4 c water. Roll the pieces of chicken in the mixture, cover and refrigerate overnight in the fridge, or for an hour at room temperature. (The recipe calls for using the chicken livers. I did not do this. I think it would make the dish taste quite different.)
2.  The next day put the chickens, livers, and marinade into a large pot. Add 1/2 c of the grated onion, the parsley , coriander and 2 c water. (I also added a good pinch of saffron to the broth.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
3. (If using), remove the livers from the pot and mash them to a paste and reserve. Add remaining 2 c grated onion. Continue to cook, partially covered, for another 1/2 hour or so, until the chicken is done. Remove the chicken pieces to a serving platter. Cover with foil and keep warm.
4. Add the olives, preserved lemon (and reserved liver paste, if using) to the sauce. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes. If you haven’t removed the chicken skins, you may need to skim off the fat at this point. Add the lemon juice (and salt to taste–but I didn’t add any as I found it quite salty enough.), pour over the chicken, and serve (I actually let it sit in the sauce for an hour or so covered with foil in a warm oven, before we ate it.)
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Written by baltimoregon

April 13, 2009 at 1:43 am

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A Church Where the Homeless, Atheists, Gays and Muslims, Etc., are Welcome

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Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco

Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco

Wendy and I went to check out the radically-engaged, legendary Glide Memorial Church in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco Sunday. Barack Obama’s pending inauguration and overturning the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 were the dominant themes at this racially and sexually diverse congregation. This is not your grandmother’s church. This is also a hub that serves over 750,000 meals to homeless and struggling folks each year.

Now why didn’t Obama just pick the Glide pastor to bless his inaguration instead of Rick Warren?

Glide openly those from all faiths and those who have no faith. The opening greeting: Halleujah! Amen! Shalom! Salaam! Namaste! A lively choir belted out gospel music, accompanied by a jazz band. There was lots of standing and clapping.

And talk of New Year’s resolutions. How instead of just resolving to change some petty thing about ourselves generate a revolution by going out into the world to work for change. For example: instead of resolving to diet, work to ensure that all people have access to nutritious and sustainably-grown food.

It’s such a popular church that cars were double-parked outside.dsc01657

Written by baltimoregon

January 10, 2009 at 2:21 am

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Obama and Sweet Potato Pie

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sweet_potato1

We’re having a spiced pumpkin tiramisu-like cake for Thanksgiving dessert. But I do love sweet potato pie, especially the praline-topped ones my former colleague John-John used to make. It’s also our President-Elect’s favorite kind of pie. See this video on the best sweet potato pie around D.C.

Another former colleague, Rona Marech, wrote a deliciously descriptive features story about that Henry’s Soul Food place near D.C. They can’t wait for Obama to come try some.

Written by baltimoregon

November 27, 2008 at 10:29 pm

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Sandra Tsing Loh: like Oprah on Fire

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Sandra Tsing Loh holds court at Wordstock in Portland.

Sandra Tsing Loh holds court at Wordstock in Portland.

 
Live Wire! at the Aladdin Theater in Portland.

Live Wire! at the Aladdin Theater in Portland.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

The food wasn’t even the highlight of the weekend in Portland. No, that was seeing Sandra Tsing Loh, the writer, comic performer and feminist first amendment icon turned public schools activist, who is just about my favorite person on the page these days. We especially love her bi-monthly column in The Atlantic.

At the Live Wire! radio show Saturday night, she read a five-minute stream from her new tome, Mother on Fire, squirming with nervous energy and flailing her arms as she recounted the woes of a 40-something perimenopausal woman clinging to her last strings of sanity, as she and her young children navigate the segregated, class-obsessed world of education in L.A.

But uncensored Sandra, holding court for a full hour at the Wordstock festival Sunday, proved to be the real treat. She lamented a feminist movement (though she embraces it) that drained our public schools of uniquely nurturing female genius, a movement that has never exalted the mothers-on-the-move powerhouse organization for change: the mighty P.T.A.

And she blasted politicians (Barack Obama included) and other journalists in the chattering classes for not putting their money where their mouth is by sending their children to public school. It’s like cops living in the suburbs, away from the violent inner-city districts they patrol, she said. They don’t have that same stake in the community where they work.

Readers chewed her out on an New York Times election blog for taking Obama and Biden to task for sending their children to private school while Sarah Palin sent her progeny to the humble little public school in Wasilla (granted there are less options there, and now post-campaign, they will surely go to Wasilla Prep:)). So President Obama, heed her call and send Sasha and Malia to D.C. public schools! Then the public might again worry more about our failing urban schools and less about the puppy you’re bringing to the White House.

 

Besides, Tsing Loh works a crowd just like your great supporter Oprah, bouncing around with a microphone to her seated audience members, treating them as equals as they ask a question to her face.

Written by baltimoregon

November 11, 2008 at 2:18 am

Proud to be a (native) Virginian

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Virginia going Democrat for president is big election day news. The former capital of the Confederacy relinquishes its ghosts to cast a vote for social change.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/04/AR2008110404110.html

Maryland, of course went overwhelmingly for Obama, and approved slot machine gambling and early-voting. Those were hot issues while I was at The Baltimore Sun.

And in Oregon, Obama surely won but the Gordon Smith-Jeff Merkley Senate race was too close to call. This seat is essential for the Democrats to gain the coveted 60 seats, so much so that Obama taped a TV endorsement for Merkley. This Democratic activist Steve Novick had an aggressive plan to take on the incumbent Republican Smith. The WW  launched his campaign, his policy proposals got favorable coverage from the mainstream media and popular bloggers, but then he lost to Merkley in the primary. I heard him speak on political reporting at a recent journalism conference.

Written by baltimoregon

November 4, 2008 at 11:47 pm

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