BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘organic

The Best of Corvallis: Our Neighbor’s Cherry Stand

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An umbrella to shade the heat-swollen cherries.

Here in the stone fruit-and-berry rich Pacific Northwest, kids sell cherries freshly picked from their backyard trees in lieu of having a lemonade stand. At least on our street in Corvallis, they do. These are not the crappy, under-ripe and non-organic Hood River ones sold along the highway on the Oregon Coast last week. These are ripe, beautiful, juicy, seemingly chemical-free Bings.

The organic Raniers grown under high tunnels on the OSU research farm.

Apparently, and ┬ábased on the neighbor’s harvest, Oregon is having a bountiful, if delayed, cherry season this summer. Often, the constant spring rains will force many blossoms to drop before pollination. They seemed to fare better this year. Giant organic Ranier cherries especially flourish, when protected and heated up by high tunnels, on an OSU research farm here.

How I will miss these cherries, and the raspberries and blueberries and especially the Tayberries, upon our relocation back East. So I’m savoring them now. A $20 bill got me 10 pints from the neighbor’s stand. Then Dan decided to surprise us with a box on his bike ride home, so we had 11 in total. Several have already disappeared. Theo loves cherries and, fortunately without incident, appears to have swallowed his first cherry stone. Maybe he’ll have a sister, Cherry Stone, someday:)

No, you can’t take them with you. Please don’t accuse us of hoarding cherries. Freezing them won’t do this year. I’m also liberated from canning.

Now it’s time to make clafouti, or brandied cherries, or the bing cherry-rhubarb brown betty I discovered our first summer here. That was the first year I bought the neighbor’s crop. Apparently, the young boys have doubled their asking price since four years ago. That seems fair.

It’s a self-serve stand operating under the honor system.

There’s something hopeful, and of course entrepreneurial, about young boys holding a cherry (or even lemonade) stand. These boys work for their allowance. Their mother also has them play their fiddles for change sometimes at the farmer’s market. So mothers begin to instruct their sons to make a buck the honest way.

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Written by baltimoregon

July 7, 2012 at 12:18 am

Corn, Tomatoes and Melons from a Sacramento Valley Roadside Stand

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Ripe tomatoes for 49-cents a pound. Local, yes, but obviously not organic.

The tedious drive down I-5 from Corvallis to the Bay Area is not one we hope to make again anytime soon, at least not there and back as we did in one weekend. But we had a wedding in Napa, and since our budget and patience have been drained by summer travel, driving seemed preferable to flying.

There were bright spots along the way: a satisfying outdoor lunch at The Cottage in Cottage Grove, spectacular views of Mount Shasta and gourmet tacos and agua fresca in Ashland. But the most memorable stop? A nondescript roadside stand on Highway 20 near Sacramento, just before we exited for I-5 N to Redding, and finally, Oregon. We passed it by, but I made Dan turn back. Summer corn, which isn’t quite yet ripe in cooler Corvallis. Melons. Giant Beefsteak tomatoes. I didn’t care if they weren’t organic. At least they were local, grown (perhaps with copious amounts of synthetic fertilizer and fungicides) in the fields that backed up to the stand. In the hot California sun.

The Charter Family Fruit Stand, on Highway 20 and King Road, just before you exit for I-5 towards Redding.

It was Sunday afternoon and packed with customers. They husked ears of sweet corn, sitting in heaps on ice, five for $1. Green bell peppers were five for $1, too. Tomatoes were 49-cents (marked down from 65-cents) a pound. At the farmer’s market, I think I’ve paid up to $3.50 a pound for organic tomatoes. Here, generic orange-fleshed melons were 2 for $1, as were fragrant cantaloupes; large honeydews and mini watermelons were just $1 each. The produce was local, fresh and cheap, and people couldn’t get enough of it. We grew giddy ourselves, coming home with such bounty for less than $10. I’m still committed to organic agriculture, but I choose local over pesticide-free produce shipped in from China or Latin America. And this farm stand makes affordable, healthy produce available to the masses.

Sweet corn on ice. I'd never seen that before.

As we drove home, I planned to make gazpacho and Mexican-style roasted corn with these treasures. I remembered seeing this melon gazpacho recipe, but tonight, didn’t allow enough time to macerate the ingredients in lemon juice. Instead, I turned to Mark Bittman’s far simpler tomato-melon gazpacho. The quick sautee in olive oil really brought out of the flavor of the still unripe orange-fleshed (with a honeydew-like rind) melon we used. I also finally peeled and seeded tomatoes using the proper technique, though I’m still not sure it’s worth the time.

Unfortunately, the soup lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. Dan declared it heresy to make gazpacho without garlic, but wouldn’t that overpower the sweet, delicate melon flavor? Maybe it just needed salt. I added a splash of balsamic vinegar to brighten things up. The bright orange soup presented well, at least, garnished with a dollop of yogurt and basil leaves. Anyone have better melon gazpacho recipes to recommend instead?

The corn, which we oven-roasted in the husk, was delicious. I still prefer my corn roasted on a proper grill, but we’ve never been big grillers. I’m still dreaming of that magical Mexican corn recipe from last summer. But my mother thinks it’s a crime to slather fattening butter and sour cream onto sweet corn. When it’s really good, she prefers hers without condiments.

Oven-roasted corn and tomato-melon gazpacho.

Written by baltimoregon

August 10, 2010 at 1:39 am

The Milkman Cometh!

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Ah, Pleasantville: Our First Delivery from a Local Organic Dairy.

What a pleasure to receive our first milk delivery today. Like canning and knitting and other homey rituals of yore, milk deliveries are making a comeback. I knew the South Mountain Creamery we used to patronize at Baltimore’s Waverly Farmers’ Market delivered, but we never took advantage of that service. And here in Oregon, we’ve usually purchase local Lochmead milk (until learning their plastic containers might contain BPA) and then increasingly Organic Valley. But who knew we had other options?

It turns out local organic Noris Dairy, in nearby Crabtree (Scio area) delivers to Corvallis once a week. Our friend Amy in Eugene had raved about their milk. I even got to sample some steamed in a frothy cappuccino she prepared for me. But it was only at the recent Chef’s Show-Off and Local Foods Fair Ten Rivers Food Web hosted at LBCC that I learned about the home-delivery service. At that event, Noris kindly plied us with samples of cream-top milk, chocolate milk, and several cheeses (the mozzarella was good: perfectly salted). Then I called in a delivery.

Sauteed some Oregon sea bass in Noris butter with maitake mushrooms and leeks, topped with chopped chervil from the garden.

When I returned home from teaching today, there the insulated bag sat on the front stoop, full of non-homogenized milk, blocks of cheese and salted butter and a container of ricotta. It’s less processed, and I believe pasteurized at lower temperatures, than your standard bland supermarket milk. They ran out of the fruity yogurts I ordered, but Noris left an I.O.U. to redeem with our next order. The butter added a lovely touch to the local sea bass (not to be confused with the over-fished Chilean variety) I sauteed up with some maitake mushrooms and leeks for supper.

Written by baltimoregon

April 27, 2010 at 11:09 am

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