Sunday, September 27, 2009

A "Best of" from Lelo in Nopo

If you're not keeping up with the wonderful Bridget Pilloid's blog Voila, here's your chance. She had a week of storytelling and asked me to submit a story. I pulled one of my favorite posts from here on Lelo in Nopo and she has posted it on her blog as part of the storytelling series. It's about how I ended up in Portland, which was really about being open to listening to the universe, and the universe pretty clearly telling me what I should do. It's from two posts I did in 2006, and the writing is clunky and a little raw. I was still developing my voice and style of writing. But it's still a great story. Go to Bridget's and read it, and while you're there, poke around a bit and read more of her blog. She's a pretty cool woman with a hell of a lot of talent and intuitive powers.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I love Lynne Rossetto Casper, don't you?

I hope you've been following the Canvolution this summer. It's been such a blur. This week on the fabulous show, Splendid Table, Lynne Rossetto Casper chimes in with the founder of Canning Across America.

Lynn joins in and cheers, "Hold up your preserving jars!"

Thanks to this work and efforts, that's where the wonderful give-away on this blog came from earlier this summer. To think I'm connected, even so very distantly, to the great Lynn Rosetto Casper, brings me great joy. Awesomeness.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

About my canning labels...

the finished product
So many great questions and e mails I've received asking about my canning labels. I went round and round in how best to share these with you, and in the end, I'm providing custom labels to my fellow food preservers via my Etsy store.

I experimented with a few different types of labels for our own canned goods, and in the end, liked these the most for their utilitarian use. I've tried tying tags on, but that's too fussy. And they don't always stay on. I don't like the adhesive on the jars themselves because I like to re use the jars, and getting them and the adhesive off is a pain. These are so simple because they're designed 12-up per 8.5x11 sheet, color coded with the product that's in the jar, and has simple space for name of product, what goes in it, and a date. No waxing eloquently, just simple, straight forward, with great typography and classic imagery.

If you'd like some custom labels made for you, head over to my Etsy shop. I have four colors up and available: green, plum, orange and red. If you need something different, you just say the word.

And thank you for all of the kind words and inquiries about them! Happy preserving.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fig preserves with fennel and ginger

I'm reminded all of the time, the world is a small place. And that there are pretty cool people out there who read my blog and even though they may not comment, I run into them at the library, the farmer's market, downtown....and say things like "hey, I read your blog!" I don't always know what to say when that happens, but know that I'm completely flattered and just so happy to meet you in person.

So that brings us to figs. And the joyous woman who reads this blog who offered me figs, and as it turns out, lives 4 houses away. On the same street. How much do you love that? Love that. And I love that she has a fig tree, hates figs, but doesn't want to see them go to waste. You see where this is going, right?

That brings us to...

fig preserves with fennel and ginger
Fig preserves with fennel and ginger.

These were very ripe figs and needed to be used ASAP. No grilling for me. Though I did eat a few fresh while I was making the preserves. Wow.

Last year I made fig preserves with orange liquor, which were delicious. But this year I changed it up a little, and went with a flavor profile of fennel, lemon and ginger. I followed a classic preserves instruction of fruit + sugar, but then I threw in meyer lemon juice, chopped candied ginger (extra spicy), and fennel.

fennel from the garden

The fennel needed to be harvested, and those little seeds are so full of flavor. This is not a typical preserves for morning toast. I'm thinking this is served with cheese during the winter, maybe baked into a crust, or just served alongside a cracker. It's sweet, a little spicy, and bursts of fennel complete the flavors.

But the best part? I met a new neighbor.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Late summer bliss

I passed by the front door the other day and this caught my eye:
Oh Frida. You're such a lady. But sometimes, you just can't help it. The warmth of the sun, a welcoming porch, a late afternoon. Bliss.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It takes a farm: a family business grows strong in Gervais

You know you’re at the right place when you see the big red barn, marked by a grand old oak tree at its entrance, timeless in its stance, overflowing with cascading petunias. An old-fashioned blue farmhouse, surrounded by gardens, sits to one side, and the barn store and other buildings bustle with people. You’ve arrived at Bauman Farms in Gervais, just outside of Woodburn, and what you may have pictured in your mind’s eye of a classic barn and farmstand, you’ve found.

Bauman Farms encompasses 350 acres, owned by several generations of its namesake’s family. “My great grandmother moved here from Minnesota in 1896,” says Brian Bauman, 29, owner/retail manager. “She purchased a piece of land a mile from where the store is located.” Bauman’s grandfather farmed the land and sold vegetables to folks from town.

Farming is in the Bauman genes. Brian’s dad built the original roadside stand for his wife, who wanted to sell produce, and Brian grew up in the blue house adjacent to the barn. After graduating from college and working at a Portland accounting firm, Bauman returned to the farm to take over responsibilities.

“I knew I always wanted to run the farm,” Bauman says. “I like farming and working with plants, but I was drawn to the business side of things.” And business is definitely a part of the farm, with its plethora of things to see, do and buy.

What was once a simple farmstand built for a stay-at-home mom has grown into a destination for those of us charmed by its authenticity, and obvious hard work to stay current and in touch with its customers. It’s also a destination for school kids from near and far, with plenty for them to explore, including interactive puzzles, pygmy goats, chickens, geese and sheep. And did I mention the tee pee?

Pet the goat!

From fresh produce to Bauman’s own canned goods—including jams and sauces—to made-to-order smoothies and even a bakery churning out fresh scones, the farm store is a busy retail operation featuring an array of goods grown and made onsite. Bauman says, “We’ve been working on products that are local, healthy and convenient. We grow most of it, and it was picked fresh that morning.”


When wandering the farm on a recent visit, my every turn brings a new vista. I know there’s a good eye at work here—a lusciously romantic grape and hops arbor, swirls of color mixed into display garden borders, and a vintage windmill painted with the name Bauman Farms punctuating the landscape.

In one of the gardens, huge pumpkins are tucked in for a nap, a blanket atop each one. I soon learn these gourds are capable of putting on 50 lbs a day in September, which is a good thing, since Bauman’s first Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off is right around the corner. From October 2-4, growers and their giant pumpkins will be blazing a trail to Bauman’s to vie for $20,000 in prizes. “We’ll have some of the biggest pumpkins in the country and one of the top prize packages,” Bauman says. Those blankets on the pumpkins? It’s to prevent them from cracking while they grow so quickly.

The pumpkins are impressive, but I’m fascinated with Bauman’s cider press. In a building adjacent to the barn, the press operates October through February, producing cider from the 45 varieties of apples grown here. If you haven’t tried fresh-pressed apple cider, you should. Bauman explains, “We use a UV light machine to treat the cider but without changing the sugar content or taste.” And yes, the bakery is a very popular spot during this time, churning out fresh apple cider donuts.


But it’s the greenhouse and plants that continue to inspire Bauman’s work. “My first job on the farm was taking care of the retail greenhouse,” he says. And he’s working hard to keep the farm relevant to his customer’s needs. “We do a lot of different container designs, including having people bring in their baskets and planters in January.” Patrons drop them off, Bauman’s plants and cares for them in their greenhouse until May, when the customers can pick them up, already blooming and in prime health.

Bauman’s partner, Mike Smith, helps on the farm, coordinating the popular cooking classes with local chefs. And on Wednesday mornings this past summer, Bauman’s 6-year-old son joined him at work one day a week. “It’s how I grew up,” he says. “As a kid we’d work for a couple hours each day. It taught me responsibility and the value of the money you earned. My son has loved it.”

When asked how it is to be a gay farmer in rural Oregon, Bauman says of coming out three years ago, “I didn’t know how my family or how my customers would react. These are really buttoned down, church-going people.” Bauman says matter of factly, “I haven’t had a problem. Everyone has accepted me for me.”

This is truly a family farm, in more ways than one.

See more photos and movies from my visit here.

This is a cross-post of my on-going Sassy Gardener column at Just Out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And the tomato love continues: canning chili sauce

My most favorite of tomato canning recipes? By far, no questions asked, chili sauce.
spices for spice bag: chili sauce
It ends up making the best meals during the winter, paired with black or kidney beans, ground turkey if you like, and just about any skillet free-for-all, this chile sauce is a great staple in the pantry. Using the best of the harvest at the height of the season, tomatoes + chiles + spices and all things good just make for an awesome combination.

spice bag: chili sauce

Ooh and it uses a spice bag. You gather your spices, and wrap them up in cheese cloth. I use a slice of cheese cloth to tie the bag shut.

And then off they go into a vat of tomatoes to season themselves off.

chili sauce

I use a variation on the classic chili sauce recipe in the Ball Canning Book and I have to tell you, it's a delicious recipe. It provides the perfect amount of sauce and tang to a winter dish.

24 large red ripe tomatoes (I rough chop them)
3 medium onions chopped
4 medium red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 jalapenos chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup sugar (we halved this)
3 T salt
3 T mixed pickling spice
1 T celery seed
1 T mustard seed
2.5 cups distilled white vinegar (I used cider vinegar this year)

1. Combine the tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, sugar and salt in a large sauce pan. Cook over a low flame for 40 minutes.
2. Tie the spices in a cheesecloth bag and add to the tomato mixture. Cook until mixture is reduced by one half about 45 minutes. As mixture thickens stir frequently to prevent sticking.
3. Add the vinegar and cook slowly until desired thickness. (we used very juicy tomatoes this year: this took hours.) Remove spice bag.
4. Pour into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Adjust caps. Process for 15 minutes in boiling water bath canner.
finished jars of chile sauce

Monday, September 14, 2009

Preserving tomatoes: canning tomato sauce

bowl of tomato
Oh sweet jesus. Last weekend was busy. I already blogged about it, didn't I? Well, I'll stop complaining and start posting. Though I'm still tired from it all.

It's tomato sauce time. And I've been perfecting the perfect, simple, lasagna, all made from scratch (and from Alice Waters' book The Art of Simple Food). It's pretty darn good, and perfect to use with homemade tomato sauce.

spices for sauce

Our sauce is hefty with spices and herbs, and this year we once again go to the motherlode, Barbara Kingsolver and her family's tomato sauce. It really is that good.

If you aren't using roma tomatoes, but are using the big juicy ones like I was using, it will take a while to cook down to a good sauce consistency. A while as in, hours. But that's okay. The kitchen smells so incredibly good with all of that good stuff percolating on the stovetop. Just make sure you're stirring.

In the end? 9 quarts of Italian Tomato Sauce. It deserved a special label and all, marked by a singular, huge, red tomato.

the finished product

Yes, it's the same tomato on my "I Can" items. Which, by the way, are super fun. I have the tote and get stopped all the time asking where I got it. And after last weekend, I definitely can. Do you?

Next up? I'll share my favorite of all recipes for tomatoes...chili sauce!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I've become the woman you fear to be

In last weekend's frenzy of canning and preserving tomatoes and pears, I looked down, and this is what I saw. I'm brave enough to share it with you.

Um, this is my canning outfit

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's a Canvolution, yes it is: Pear Chutney

Pear Chutney
Are you a chutney fan? I've had chutney before, and made it last year for the first time. But it wasn't until we used the jars of chutney throughout the year that I discovered its versatility and tastiness. It pairs wonderfully with pork and chicken, I love swirling it into cottage cheese in the afternoon, or tucking it into pita sandwiches with whatever veggies and cheese I have on hand. Oh and then there's the wow factor for parties and the holidays: pair some chutney with crackers and cream cheese (or fromage blanc) and you have a fancy appetizer.

Last weekend was Labor Day, and while many relaxed and rested, alas, it was not in my stars. It's harvest time and the abundance of beautiful produce and fruit is at its pinnacle. It's high tomato season, and that means sauces. More on that in the coming days but here's proof I was busy:
It was a busy weekend

Our friend Barb's tree hung heavy with pears and she offered them up. Just a few minutes of picking provided enough for a big batch of chutney and an overnight run in the crockpot for pear sauce. Which, by the way, is the single best topping for morning pancakes.

But I digress. This is about chutney.

Don't tell the food safety police, but I changed up the recipe a wee bit. Oh I know. That's deemed a dangerous thing. But I think the subbing of craisins for half of the golden raisins makes it even more zingy and complex. And with the abundant use of sugar and vinegar, I tend to think I'm safe.

I really love this recipe: it has a lot of ingredients, but the mix of dried fruits, nuts, and fresh fruit, along with spices – including cayenne – gives it a wonderful depth, texture and flavor balance. And look at the beauty of the pot as it was filled with good stuff:
Ingredients for Pear Chutney: all in the pot

In the end, we have another year's worth of chutney with extra to share.

Jars of Pear Chutney

My recipe comes from Sunset and I've adjusted it by doubling the cayenne, and subbing 1 cup of the golden raisins for dried cranberries. The original recipe is as follows:

Pear Chutney
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 6 pounds ripe pears
  • 1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped red bell pepper (about 14 oz.)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 1/3 cups golden raisins (15 oz.)
  • 2 2/3 cups chopped dried apricots (15 oz.)
  • 1 2/3 cups chopped red onions (about 14 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Place almonds in a 9-inch pan and bake in a 350° oven until golden, shaking pan occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes.

Peel, core, and chop pears; you should have 10 1/2 cups.

In an 8- to 10-quart pan, combine almonds, pears, bell pepper, sugar, vinegar, raisins, apricots, red onions, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, garlic salt, and cayenne.

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-high and stir often until mixture is thick and reduced by 1/3, about 1 1/4 hours.

Leave 1/2 inch of headspace in each jar and process jars for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Escape to Witch Mountain

one of the porches calls
Okay not really Escape to Witch Mountain, but Escape to Troutdale just didn't seem as intriguing. Or sexy. But last week's getaway for only two days was just what we needed. We headed to Edgefield.


You know when you fall into the same patterns? And you need a little jumpstart to reconnect, regroup, disconnect and just be? Maybe that doesn't make any sense, but to me, it totally does. We needed it.

from the garden

To play together, hold hands, laugh, talk, and just experience life, together. We swam, golfed, walked, ate, sipped wine, listened to Chris Isaac live from a porch, and watched Bonnie Raitt live from the grass.

rocking chairs are made for rocking

And we rocked in rocking chairs on big huge porches on a summer morning.

secret hideaway in the garden

Our secret place to visit, and a place we've been escaping to our entire relationship. It grows like this tree. When it was first planted I knew exactly why it was there. But it was so little. Just a few feet tall. This trip, it's finally become what I knew it was for. A secret hidden getaway. A refuge. To get lost and find one another in.


My roaming with my camera and that crazy lensbaby lens feels good again. It feels good to reconnect to the things I love, and the people I love. Love is never a bad thing.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Still life: tomato with dog

Still life: tomato with dog (adorable dog, right?)
It's tomato time. High tomato time. That means as I type this, the house is filled with the rich floral heady scent of tomato sauce bubbling away on the stovetop. 20 pounds of tomatoes have been pureed and combined with onions, spices, some honey and other super sekret ingredients and many winter time meals will be enjoyed thanks to this afternoon of work.

And here's a message to anyone who's just getting started canning and learning the ropes: it gets so much easier the second and third year. You know where to go to get what you need, the process and tools are all at your fingertips, and it's smooth. Trust me. It gets easier.

Okay, back to stir the sauce pot. You can smell it from there, can't you?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Eating those edible borders: fresh cabbage salad

With the demise of our front shrubs at the hands of last winter's Snowpocalypse, we've filled the front gardens with edibles of all kinds. You've seen them here in the photos of the edible front border.

Edible border

A blog visitor recently noted it looked like we weren't eating our edible border. Alas, I was just recirculating that earlier photo, but rest assured, we're eating that border. (And trading it for eggs, too.) It's just not as pretty for photos as it gets eaten! I'm thinking of replanting the cabbage with starts now in hopes they'll continue into the Fall and Winter. But here's a photo from a recent harvest:

harvesting the edible border

I've come to love cabbage, and that's good, because that entire front edge is cabbage. My favorite way to eat it? Simple, fresh, lightly dressed and served as a big delicious salad. And oh the beauty.

the new cabbage salad: don't say coleslaw

It's a sturdier salad and holds up in the fridge for a few days, even growing better in flavor on day 2 and 3. I like to make a big bowl of this and munch on it in the afternoons when I need something crunchy, and a big pile on a dinner plate is a great side. As for a take-along to picnics or parties? It's the best for summertime: no mayo or dairy makes it an easy and safe bet. And the best part? Using as much as you can from your garden. I freeform this salad, meaning I make itup as I go along, with what I have, what's in season, and white kinds of flavors I'm looking for.

Here are a few scenarios of it I like...

Red Cabbage+Shredded Carrots+Green Onions+Parsley
Green Cabbage+Shredded Carrots+Red Onions (sliced paper thin)+Cilantro

This salad is all about your knife skills or how you rock that food processor. For the cabbage, I use a serrated knife and slice nice thin pieces, then cut them to bite size. My goal is to make all of the vegetables about the same size so they're easy to pick up with your fork. I like to run the carrots through the slicing blade on the food processor, but this would also be a great salad to rock with a mandolin.

You can add thin slices of red bell peppers if you like, and add ground coriander and cumin to the olive oil and vinegar dressing. For the dressing, emulsify (shake in a jar) 1 part vinegar (red wine or apple cider are both great, try rice vinegar if you're going more for asian flavors) to 3 parts olive oil. Squeeze with a fresh lime for a great bright taste.

Toasted sesame seeds are a nice addition if you want to add some jazz hands to your salad. Or should I say spirit fingers? Either way, I'm a convert to this simplified cabbage slaw. You can erase the horrible memories of coleslaw with mayo from your minds forever now.

Better living through cabbage.

big cabbage!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

How did that Pie-Off go anyway?

In case you were wondering if that pie thing I was working on was a success or not, check out our Pie Social over at the Portland Pie-Off website for links to all of the wonderful recaps, write ups and media coverage. We knew there was something special about pie, but it's so great to know you think so too.

And then check out the cover of today's FOODDay section in The Oregonian. Oh such pretty photos and what a great write-up: there's even use of my most favoritist of terms, Home Arts. You can read it online here. Lucky for you, they've published some of the winning pie recipes! And I love how Leslie captured the fir trees and red checked table cloths in her description: it was truly a lovely summer day in a classic park, with friends, family, and pie.

Yes, pie brings people together.