Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’
It’s my second September living year-round in Maine, and the access to fresh, affordable seafood is one of the things I’m most grateful for after more than a year here. Of course the produce is incredibly bountiful now, though a chill is setting in. I can barely keep up with our C.S.A. and my neglected community garden plot’s bounty. I’m actually a member of three C.S.A.s at the moment–incredibly indulgent I know, though I believe they are saving us money on food costs if you pencil everything out. In addition to the vegetable C.S.A., I just started John Bunker’s incredible bi-weekly “Out on a Limb” heritage apple C.S.A. program. And on and off for almost a year now I’ve had the privilege of being one of the inaugural members of the Salt & Sea Community-Supported Fishery, which does a weekly drop of fresh-from-the-boat fish and shellfish in Brunswick. I’ve had a chance to cook with some of the freshest fillets of pollock, Acadian redfish (my new favorite…especially pan-fried for fish tacos), haddock, dabs and monkfish you can imagine. Every week, owner Justine Simon emails us a suggested recipe for that week’s fish, which can usually be assembled with ingredients you have on hand. It takes all the guesswork out of coming up with dinner and then procuring those items. Effortless, delicious fish dinner!
Unfortunately, Justine says last week’s share caught many members off-guard. I was delighted to get her announcement of whole fish for the first time: “some lovely little whiting (silver hake) tonight from Jerry and crew on the Teresa Mare IV. They caught them close to shore as they were coming in from their trip,” Justine wrote. It’s also GMRI’s fish of the month in their excellent Out of the Blue Campaign.
I’ve had a fascination with whiting ever since living in Baltimore, where filets of the cheap fish are fried and known as the local delicacy, Lake Trout (not from a lake nor a trout). As Justine went on, “Whiting is considered a delicacy in many different types of cuisine, and is more often than not prepared whole.” I’m not sure if you can call young whiting “scrod,” but seems to be similar to young cod, haddock and other whitefish.
The whole fish thankfully came gutted and cleaned. Justine said folks most often remove the head, fins and tail, then dredge the fish in egg and flour and either fry or bake them. But my in-laws had just arrived, so we opted for take-out (something we rarely do) to avoid the mess of frying fish.
So I gladly opted for Justine’s latter suggestion that whiting are perfect for fish stock for those who “don’t want to wrestle with small fish.” I’d never made fish stock before, but this was the perfect alternative, since we weren’t eating the fish right away. Plus, I’ve always been disappointed by the canned version. Doesn’t seem worth paying for doctored water when you have time to make your own. Justine goes on: “I was talking to an Italian woman while the boats were unloading and she gave me a simple recipe that we made last night, and it was delicious:
Fry some onion and garlic in olive oil, cook on low heat until onions are caramelized. Add plenty of water, some salt and the fish. Bring to a boil and let simmer for an hour or so. Strain, so all you are left with is clear stock. Put back in pot, and add more water, finely diced potato and carrot, orzo, parsley, salt and pepper. Yum!”
We simmered potatoes, carrots, celery, fennel, onions and tomatoes from our CSA and/or my garden in the stock, which made for a delicious meal. I just used a mesh ladle strainer to remove the fish bodies, picking off the sweet delicate meat that gave right away from the bone. It would also be perfect for bouillabaisse, cioppino or my grandmother’s Manhattan-style clam chowder.
Surprisingly, Justine reported “overall the whiting didn’t get great reviews from the CSF.” How I often forget my tastes are more exotic and adventurous than my average fellow American. Fortunately, several members rallied to tell Salt & Sea they liked it! So they’ll at least offer it again as a preference that people of which people can opt out. Count me in! I’m ready to continue to get my hands dirty with fresh fish. If only I could have smoked these small fish as a stand-in for whole smoked whitefish at our lovely Yom Kippur break-fast we had with friends this year. I brought the bagels, local Maine lox and cream cheese instead.
I had never cooked with fresh, baby ginger before. I remember seeing local ginger once in Oregon, at the Eugene Farmers’ Market, at the Groundworks Organics booth, I believe. But Maine is not Oregon. Artichokes, and even citrus such as Meyers Lemons, are relatively easy to grow in temperate Oregon. It rarely snows during the Willamette Valley’s mild winters. In Oregon, the garlic seed sends up green shoots by November, vegetation that reminds you spring is coming throughout the wet, grey winter. But in Maine, the fall-planted garlic doesn’t poke up until April or May.
So I was more than a little surprised to chance upon locally-grown ginger at the farmers’ market in this harsh clime. At least half a dozen farmers in Maine are growing the niche crop in their unheated, underutilized greenhouses throughout the summer. Leading ginger producer Freedom Farm will speak on a panel about “New Crops [winter-sprouting broccoli, raspberries and ginger] in Tunnels” at MOFGA’s upcoming Farmer-to Farmer conference this weekend.
I first chanced upon ginger at Morning Glory Natural Foods in Brunswick. It was from the Koubek family of The Good Shepherd’s Farm in Bremen, which planted the rhizomes for the first time this season. The Koubeks also supplied Chef Aaron Park (who grew up in Eugene, Ore.!) of Henry and Marty Restaurant here. Park, whose sister lives in Corvallis, pickled the rosy young ginger into the Japanese sushi condiment, gari. He also shaved it over ocean perch and grated it into a beef short rib marinade for Korean kalbi.
The best thing about young ginger is it doesn’t require the painstaking step of peeling before use. Its pink bud-scales lend pickled ginger its natural pink hue. My former KLCC “Food for Thought” show colleague Jennifer recommends throwing in a slice of raw beet to stain the slices a punchier pink. And here’s a shout-out to my former “Food for Thought” colleagues! Eugene Weekly readers recently voted it their second favorite radio show in town.
For pickled ginger recipes, I recommend consulting this one, from my friend Linda Ziedrich, a food preservation guru and cookbook author who homesteads in Scio, Ore. I also drew on the “pickled fresh ginger” recipe from Old Friends Farm in Amherst, Mass., which pioneered the growing of New England ginger back in 2006. Ginger seed supplier East Branch Ginger is another good source of baby ginger recipes.
Alas, the fresh ginger season has come to a close. I’m out of product. Next year, I hope to candy my own crystallized ginger. And I’ve always wanted to try naturally-fermented ginger beer. Oregon master bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler has this recipe. You can even use the gnarled spent mother-roots of the baby ginger to make the “bug,” so nothing goes to waste.
I’ve never been much of a doughnut girl. Sure, I’ll indulge in an occasional airy Krispy Kreme or a coconut-frosted from the 24-hour Donut Pub when I lived in Chelsea (as featured in Louis CK), but they generally don’t seem worth the calories. Not my go-to vice. However, Dan (and his dad) love a good donut, so I’m wont to buy them to be a good wife.
While working at KLCC, I once came home with a nasty $5 bucket from Voodoo Donuts. That’s how they clear out the inventory at the end of each shift. It was chock full of Capt’n Crunch, Double-Bubble Gum and rainbow sprinkle-clad donuts, way too syrupy-sweet for my palate. Dan gifted most of them to the OSU economics student lounge, where they were appreciated. The Voodoo thing is more about shock-value than flavor. We did enjoy their Neapolitan (chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, tangy strawberry sugar and marshmellows in whole) and the huge Memphis Mafia (glazed banana fritter topped with peanut butter, nuts and chocolate). Voodoo can not be judged by its mediocre glazed donut. And just say no to Voodoo’s gimmicky Bacon Maple Ale, brewed by Rogue. It’s expensive and supposedly nasty.
So far, Maine donuts are more my style, with old-fashioned, uncomplicated flavors. I hit up landmark Tony’s Donuts on the drive back from the Portland airport last week. Tony’s kept my father-in-law warm and happy when his Visicu work took him to Maine Med. The sought-after glazed molasses is my order at Tony’s.
Now, it’s rare that I’ll have two donuts in one week. This is not a habit I’m looking to acquire. But Dan came home from a downtown eye appointment today with two donuts from Frosty’s, whose reputation seems to exceed Tony’s, at least here in Brunswick. The blueberry one tasted artificial, but the glazed buttermilk one, yes buttermilk!, was a revelation. So light and creamy and not at all cloying. Almost like the famous Mrs. Yoder’s sourdough ones at the Richmond Farmer’s Market. These buttermilk donuts won’t help in the ongoing quest to lose the baby weight (sure, blame it on the baby even though you had those pounds to lose before he was even conceived). I was already worried about the freshman fifteen with the stellar dining hall food, which we do partake of here.
Maine and Oregon have so much in common from a culinary perspective: an abundance of fresh seafood, blueberries, lots of freely ranging chickens, cattle and pigs. And mushrooms just begging to be foraged from wooded trails. Unfortunately, my foraging in Oregon was limited to easily identifiable golden Chanterelles. I hope to get more adventurous here in Maine and got a good start today with our first black trumpet harvest.
There’s nothing like the serendipity of chancing upon delicious mushrooms while on a hike. It makes the hike more of a hunt. It’s a simple thrill. We saw at least a dozen other mushroom varieties on the hike, but felt too amateur to pick others than the striking black trumpets. Consulting images on the web, I now suspect we saw Lobsters, Yellow-Foot Chanterelles, and Reishis growing on trunks. I’ll have to tag along with someone more senior soon.
If you get your hands on some black trumpets (in Oregon my source was The Mushroomery), you must make this pasta dish (assuming you aren’t dairy or gluten-intolerant. My sister did enjoy it with gluten-free pasta).
Black Trumpet Mushroom and Gorgonzola Pasta (recipe courtesy of Tree and Elaine)
1 oz. dried or fresh mushrooms,
1 cup heavy cream (use 1/2 and 1/2 cream; just as good)
1 oz. Gorgonzola dolce
1 lb. penne pasta (used wild mushroom linguine)
1 c. fresh parmesan
minced parsley, (tarragon-opt.)
Before using, soak mushrooms for 30 min. in warm water, drain and rinse
well to get rid of any remains.
Melt butter and add shallots. Saute 7 minutes,
Then add mushrooms, cream and stir in the Gorgonzola.
Simmer 10 minutes.
Cook the penne with salt till al dente and pour it in skillet with the sauce,
Fold in the parsley and the Parmigiano.
Why is it that you’ll only truly appreciate a place, deeply fall in love with it, when you’re about to leave it? For the past month, I’ve had these daily moments of reverence for Corvallis, and Oregon in general, I know I wouldn’t linger upon if we weren’t moving. At the Gathering Together Farm restaurant (our favorite place to eat around town), the Corvallis Farmer’s Market, at our food co-op (okay, we’re a bit food-centric here), our richly-sourced Asian market, in yoga and Zumba and WaterBabies classes, and at the radio station, I find myself already missing what I haven’t yet left. But we can’t look back.
We’re moving to Maine in mid-August. And it’s finally starting to feel right. My family convened on Great Pond in Belgrade Lakes about every other summer, but I’ve never been to Maine in winter. Ice-fishing, here we come. My parents are semi-retiring there; both Dan and I have lots of family around New England. We’re tired of day-long cross-country flights. We want to put down roots and stay put during summer. The trouble is, in four short years, we’ve become much more rooted here than we ever imagined.
So it felt reassuring to discover the things I love here are connected to Maine. Maine indirectly kept asserting itself on a tour of a magical 2.5-acre urban farm today. This farm I’m just now stumbling upon is surely the best-kept secret (perhaps intentionally so) in Corvallis.
And what do these Greenhorns use to sprout their starts? None other than Maine organic pioneer Eliot Coleman‘s seed-starting mix. And where do they source their heirloom, open-pollinated vegetable seeds? Not from Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley. They’ve come to put their trust in Johnny’s Selected Seeds and FEDCO, both of Maine (not far from Belgrade Lakes in fact), for the most reliable germination rates. Apparently, many seed companies sell home gardeners the dregs. Like me, many assume the fault is their own black thumb and not the seeds when they don’t sprout. Still, it was surprising to hear this Corvallis farm has to source its seeds (and many farm implements, such as soil-block maker, from as far away as Maine.
Maine is where it’s at, I keep telling myself. And we’ll see the local food scene converge in full force, soon after we arrive, at the Common Ground Fair. It’s put on by what I believe is the oldest organic-farming association. Something nice to look forward to, to balance all the missing.
And touring the farm today, I felt awash with gratitude for all that Oregon has taught this former fire escape-gardener about agriculture. In Baltimore, I grew herbs and maybe a cherry tomato in pots on my fire escape. Since moving to Oregon, I’ve grown lots of garlic and peas, rhubarb, fava beans, asparagus, carrots, potatoes, beets, tomatoes, blueberries, a few figs, most without great success since I’m bad about watering. And we’re often gone in summer (hence the desire to relocate back East). But today I knew how to recognize all the crops on this esteemed farm–the lace-y carrot tops, the feathery forests of asparagus, the buckwheat–because I’ve now tried (often in vain) to grow many of them. These struggles make you feel a sense of awe and connection to the work of these farmers.
We finally hosted our first (and last) seders in Oregon…next year in Jerusalem (I mean Maine). I never did learn to make gefilte fish from Dan’s Bubbe, who passed away when we were back East in January. I only grew up with the Manischevitz-jarred version, which my father relished doused with horseradish and chased with a tall glass of V8. (Note: this year, I concluded the all-natural Yehuda brand is superior to Manischevitz, which, gasp!, apparently contains MSG).
I never grew up with homemade gefilte fish. And after making it from scratch again this year, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort for the most (unfairly) reviled Passover food. This year, I poached homemade gefilte, in a tart court bouillon. The Pacific Northwest patties were made from salmon and haddock/cod (which I substituted for halibut). Perhaps I should have sprang for fresh Chinook over the frozen standard wild Alaskan Coho I got at Trader Joe’s. Somehow salmon doesn’t taste quite right in gefilte to my palate. But it looked pretty in the perfectly-shaped pink patties this year. The haddock/cod (or halibut) flavor is undetectable in the presence of salmon.
Poaching didn’t add enough over the bake-in-muffin tins short-cut I’ve taken the past two years. If you want an easy way to prepare your own gefilte, this is one way to go. You could try any combination of fish in the following recipe. I would also keep the addition of lemon zest, chopped fennel frond and matzo meal (I thought all gefilte fish was made with matzo meal) from Jenn Louis’s recipe.
Salmon Gefilte Fish from Judy Bart Kancigor’s Cooking Jewish (adapted from Marlene Sorosky)
Vegetable cooking spray
2 medium-size onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 medium-size carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup curly-leaf parsley leaves
3 pounds skinless salmon, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup sugar, or to taste
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 24 standard muffin cups. (I don’t grease the pop-out silicone ones I use).
2. Place the onions in a food processor and pulse until they are minced. Transfer the onions to a very large bowl.
3. Process the carrots, celery, and parsley until ground. Add to the onions.
4. Process about two-thirds of the salmon, adding 1 piece at a time through the feed tube, until ground. Add the processed salmon to the onion mixture.
5. Process the remaining salmon, adding it through the feed tube. Then add the eggs, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper and process until well blended. Add this mixture to the onion-salmon mixture and combine well.
6. Divide the salmon mixture evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until the top feels set when touched, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the fish cool in the muffin cups, then unmold and place on a bed or greens surrounded with thinly sliced cucumber, a few grape tomatoes, and horseradish. (If the “muffins” are prepared ahead, remove them from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.)
It’s September 2010, which means we’ve been here exactly two years now. Though after another summer mostly out of town, it somehow feels like we’re moving in once again. It’s a time of new beginnings. With the new school year and approach of fall (it’s friggin’ cold here!), somehow it makes more sense to celebrate the new year now instead of in January. It also just so happens to be the two-year anniversary of this blog!
Yet walking around the Corvallis Farmers’ Market yesterday with a gal from back East who is new to town, I realized how comfortable I’ve finally gotten here. I’m especially grateful for the farmers, chefs and activists who make our local food community so vibrant.
Speaking of Rosh Hashanah, this article on kreplach, the Yiddish dumpling, made me nostalgic. I only made them with Nonny (and my mother) once, but I have fond memories of rolling out the dough and stuffing the wontons that day. Nonny’s mother’s kreplach recipe calls for cinnamon-spiced chopped brisket or roast beef, but any leftover meat can be used. Maybe I’ll try a vegetarian version, since we feel compelled to eat less meat these days.
Any other Jewish foods (Ashkenazi or otherwise) to out try this time of year? I plan to make Stuffed Swiss Chard (like dolmades) once I stop testing Hangzhou recipes for my next NPR column. Enough Chinese food already:)