Sunday, August 31, 2008

Digesting it all

Fruit pies were the largest category of entries
Oh the Pie-Off was fun. I still can't believe it actually happened. See what happens when you talk smack about your pie making skills? You end up putting together an event with two other people who also talk smack about pies....and then 125 people come, and 49 pies are placed on tables waiting to be judged.

Like I said, I still can't believe it actually happened. A Pie-Off. A pie baking contest. And such a great cross section of people came. And their kids entered (and won!). And their moms entered (and won!). And it was really fun. And some of them even wore their LeLo Aprons: you can spy one here, and here and even here. And of course I had one on.

You can read about the winners here, and you can read what everyone else is saying about the Pie-Off here. Go read what they said and saw: there were some really great people there.
Admiring the beauty of pie
The wonder of pie!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Whoa nelly. Now THAT'S a tomato!

heirloom tomato
Is it a pumpkin or is it a tomato? Tomkin? Pumpato? Nah. Tomato through and through. Super delish, and fresh from the garden. Heirloom tomatoes grow like this. Huge, delicious, succulent and meaty. And our golden heirloom is really producing right now. So happy! Finally!

No, really, get a good look at it:
is it a pumpkin, or a tomato?

Aaaaah. Labor Day weekend. I'll be eating more tomatoes, attending a little event here, and meeting the father of one of my bestest friends. Beyond that? We'll see if I can squeeze in a little canning of pears. Canning you ask? Why yes. Seems I have a bit of a new hobby. Preserving. More about that next week.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Can you see it?

the light is changing
I saw it yesterday. The light. It was different. The way the sun shines on the garden.
The angle of the shadows.
The color of light.
It's heavier.
More golden.
Shadows deeper.
A photographer's eye sees it. Your eye can see it.
The seasons are changing.
It's coming to late summer in Portland.
Dang it.
I know I recently protested it. But I obviously was in denial. I'll still hold out for some great heat and sunshine, but I can't control the light.
It's my signal.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

When the camera is taken away from the photographer

when the camera is taken away from the photographer
Isn't that a lovely setting? Shooting a friend's garden for an upcoming Sassy Gardener column. But alas, he got the camera away from me, and there I am. Sneaky.

And yes, my braids are long. I'm growing my hair long like Crystal Gayle's. "Excuse me, but I think you're sitting on my hair."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hang on little summer, hang on

fish at eye level
To everyone talking about fall, back-to-school, weather changing and rains returning, boots, tights, new sweaters: I say ptooey. It's August. It's supposed to be our one dry hot month of the year. I know it's raining. But it can't be for real. It just can't be. It's a fluke few days and soon it will be summer again! Sunshine! Heat! Summer! I'm manifesting here. Say it out loud and it will be.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

100 Foods You Should Eat

Oooh, a new meme! Of the following hundred items, those in bold are the things I have eaten. What about you?

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari

12. Pho

13. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns

20. Pistachio ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters

29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi (mango lassi and sweet lassi)

34. Sauerkraut

35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (darnit: I was prepared to in Pueblo, MX but I was sick.)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette

71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake
101. Pie at the Portland Pie-Off (oh okay, I added this one, but it should be on the list)

Thanks SassyFemme!

God is good, God is galette: summer fruit is abundant, time to make a galette

galette: blueberry and nectarine
What exactly is a galette? I've been reading more recipes and articles about galettes. It sounds fancy, but looks rustic. Actually, it looks like a rustic pie. Or pizza. Or something in between. Googling around I find a variety of information about galettes. Some say it's like a spongy crepe. Others say piecrust. I've read about savory galettes, and sweet galettes.

So recently it was a galette gala here at Casa de LeLo y AdRi. And in the end, the fruit galette gets a big thumbs up....mainly because with fresh fruit at the center of attention, with little to no sugar added to it, you taste the real essence of the fruit without the sugary addition. It's simple, and I can definitely see opportunity for lots of flavor combinations. I used nectarines and blueberries, because it's what I had on hand. And I think that's the beauty of a galette: using what you have on hand, and making it work.
blueberry+nectarine galette
Blueberry+Nectarine Galette

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup stone-ground fine yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (8 tbsp) butter
1 tablespoon cream
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

3 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
1-2 nectarines, sliced
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (or none)
1 ounce (2 tbsp) butter, chilled
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoons raw sugar to sprinkle on crust

1. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in a standing mixer: blend. With the motor running, add the pieces of butter, and run on low until texture is sandy and small pieces of butter are the size of peas.

2. With the mixer on low, slowly add the cream and 2 tbsp of the ice water. Mix just until the dough holds together.

3. Turn the pastry dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a flat disk, wrap tightly and chill in the refrigerator until firm before using, about 2 hours. When ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit for 11-15 minutes to become pliable.

4. Place the berries and 2 Tbsp granulated sugar in a mixing bowl and toss together to distribute evenly. Or don't use any sugar at all. If the fruit is ripe and tasty, who needs it?!

5. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. On a smooth flat surface, roll out the pastry dough between sheets of parchment paper to a large circle, 11 to 12 inches in diameter. Carefully peel the paper off the top of the dough. Slide the parchment paper with dough onto a baking sheet.

6. Mound the berries in the center of the dough circle, leaving a 3 inch border all around. Add your nectarine slices, nestled into the blueberries. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces and distribute evenly over the fruit.

7. Fold the border up so that it partially covers the berries. Brush the dough with the cream, being careful that it doesn't run down the sides and under the galette. If it does, wipe it up because it can cause the bottom of the galette to burn. Evenly sprinkle the raw sugar over the dough border.

8. Bake the galette for 30 to 35 minutes, until light golden. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

Galettes are meant to be eaten warm or at room temperature. Mine had a lot of blueberry juice, but it certainly was tasty. The galette gala was glorious. And good. No, it was great.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Added to the summer playlist 08

roddie romero
A mix of zydeco and cajun, Southwest Louisiana band Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars. Seen live in Carlsbad, California. Completely fun, wickedly talented.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

A small summer moment and a realization of privilege

banjo band at balboa park
We wandered towards the music. Balboa Park is full of surprises. As we came around the corner I could see the outdoor pavilion was full of people enjoying music on a summer evening. I recognized the music. Pic pic pic of banjoes, but there were more. Oboes and vocals and maybe a clarinet? The sea of white-hairs in the audience sitting in the waning summer sun moved a bit to the beat. I thought we might be the youngest people there. We sat for a moment.

The band was having fun. Really getting into it. Playing music, that while I didn't recognize nor know any of the songs, the rest of the audience certainly did. Feet were tapping, and a woman who must have been in her late 80's, danced in the front where the mosh pit would be. She wore a flower in her hair, and clapped her hands.

At one point, the band announced they were going to play a medley, and directed the audience to stand when their song came on. Were people picking their favorite song? Was it a contest? And then the band launched into a tune I somewhat recognized. I couldn't quite place it though. And all of a sudden 30 men in the audience, all in different places, stood up, very straight. The crowd applauded, and the men kept standing. Some clapped to the song, some looked around at the others standing, seeking a face they might recognize.

The song transitioned to another. This one I knew, too. But not by heart, and I didn't know the words. They weren't singing the words either, just playing the song. And the men sat down and others stood. This time, more men. More applause. I recognized the song as one I thought I remembered my mom singing. It was the Air Force theme song. And the band was playing a medley of armed forces songs: marines, army, navy, air force. I remembered or knew these songs from old movies I watched as a child. But with no familiarity in my current life.

The men who stood were being celebrated, thanked, hands were being shook, and the audience sometimes would clap along to the song. It was patriotism, honor and respect. I felt like I was in a movie. I don't experience these moments anywhere else. The soldiers fighting our wars? I don't see them nor attend events that celebrate them. I know no one who is currently serving in the armed forces. I didn't know how to respond at this concert. So I applauded along with the crowd, and enjoyed the summer evening. And was glad for a window into another world.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Karolcooks gets down with her own bad self...

...and so does her BBQ sauce. Portlanders? Get yourself to New Seasons this weekend for the BBQ Sauce tastings. You know what I'm talkin' about with the tastings. Everytime I drag myself into New Seasons on the weekends I have to work my way around every Tom, Dick and Harry testdriving the weekend tastings. Ice creams, cereals, juice: if you're not sure what options on the shelves are your favorites the tastings are the opportunity to figure it out. But this weekend? Hold on, I need a drumroll...

You must go in.
You must taste the BBQ sauces.
And you must vote.
I strongly urge you to vote for the tastiest.
And that will be the Peach BBQ Sauce entered by my good friend Karol!

Can I have a woot? No, can I have a WOOT?

Thank you.

Karol is one of four finalists: now go give Karol a WOOT and let's hope she wins. She's an awesome cook. I know. I've tasted. And my pulled pork recipe comes directly from her. It's a winner. And so is she! Woot!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's high time for produce in the Portland area

33 lbs of peaches
The bounty is almost overwhelming. Farmers markets are at their peak. Farms, themselves, are bustling and in overdrive, harvesting and working. We played hooky yesterday and went to the orchards at Sauvie Island. Just a quick trip. In less than hour we had 33 lbs of peaches in the back of the car. The car was filled with the scent of the peaches. Just like the orchard had been. Warm and sunny, the fruit was dropping with a thud to the ground. It's time to pick that type of peach. The orchard smelled sweet. Sweet with peaches.
peaches in the orchard
I'll end the story there. I won't tell you about peeling them and slicing them and cooking them and canning them and eventually going to bed at 1 AM. Because that would ruin the beauty of this simple post.

It's lovely out there. Go get yourself some produce and enjoy it. And say thank you to those farmers. They're the salt of the earth.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lavender, lavender everywhere. From jam to cookies to lemonade.

drying lavender
I've been working with lavender lately. Thanks to a gift of a few huge bushels from neighbors with an abundance of lavender, we've been enjoying the scent throughout the house. Once dried, I pick the lavender buds off of the stem and drop them into a jar for storage.
lavender storage
To make lavender flavored/scented sugar, I've mixed some into a cannister with sugar. After a few weeks of intermingling, I just sift out the lavender remove the buds and it's done.

Recently, I sprinkled some fresh lavender buds on top of a bowl of raspberries, and refrigerated them overnight. The next morning I made some decadent raspberry jam.
raspberry lavender jam
This jam making thing is getting easier.

One of my favorite lavender recipes is lavender shortbread cookies. And with a little Tillamook Vanilla Bean ice cream smashed between two, they make perfect ice cream sandwiches. (And duh, Tillamook Vanilla Bean is the very best vanilla ice cream, is it not?) I've discovered cookie presses and ooh, now my lavender cookies are imprinted with dragonflies. See?
dragonfly cookiepress
So pretty.
dragonfly lavender cookies

Lavender simple syrup has gone into a few cocktails. It's a flavor I have yet to succesfully mix into a drink: with lime it's tangy, but too much lavender and you're drinking a bath tub of floral scents. See? Lavender can be tricky that way.

I wrote about it my love of lavender in my current Sassy Gardener column, where you can also get the recipe to those tasty lavender shortbread cookies and lavender lemonade, too. What's your tastiest lavender creation?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

You know this is getting serious, right?

I'm feeling like I need to practice and strategize or something! Check out the action: it's being updated daily with stories, news and graphics. There's judges, people. Oh, it's ON!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Question for you Oregonians

:at the coast
Why do we call it "the coast" instead of "the beach"? What do you call it when you go to the ____?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A tale of blueberries and summer travel

Lay your hands on these
I'm done traveling outside of the Pacific Northwest for the rest of the summer. Because now is the sweet spot. The sweet spot of summer in Portland. When it's dry and sunny and warm. The produce is pumpin'. The farmer's markets are bountiful. The parks are filled with free concerts and music and water and dogs and so many smiles it makes your face hurt from smiling so much. When I take photos like a madwoman, in the golden sunshine and the green, green grass. When I make lists of tomato sauces to preserve, herbed vinegars to concoct, and to get back on that summer cocktail series. (My backdoor clay pot of flavored mints runneth over and demand to be muddled and mixed and combined with spirits.) When girls (I mean, assistants) need to be picked up from cheerleading camp and dogs need to be walked. When events fill the weekends, all scheduled without fear of rain, this one, special month. When pies are baked and thick slices are delivered to elderly neighbors. Bike rides and BBQs and daytrips to the beach. Sigh. You with me here in this moment?

But we're just back from a trip to Southern California, to be immersed in sunshine, and bright pools, baptism and babies, family and movies and lots of good things to eat. I miss the mission architecture of California, and the streets in spanish. Limon Ave., Avocado St.....I kept hoping for Cilantro so I could make a street full of guacamole. And a baby who had his first blueberries, and couldn't stop eating them. One after another, blueberries popped into his little mouth, chubby fingers eagerly picking them up and scooping them in.

Here's to August!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It's high summer

And I'm back from a little vacation, but too busy to give you a real post. Instead, I give you two photos demonstrating summer. Sweet, sweet summer.
Just hangin' out
Rest, relaxation and naps.
REALLY hangin' out
More later...