rosemary riesling confetti jelly


As promised, I’d like to serve up the recipe for my riesling jelly, sparkling with confetti bits of lemon peel, rosemary and chili flakes.  It appears in my monthly food column in the Eugene Weekly today, yay!  The basic recipe is to steep the flavoring agents in a bottle of white wine, then add sugar and pectin for the gel.  It’s great served in any way you’d serve pepper jelly for the holidays.

The secret is to use a really dry riesling.  I’ve spent several months tasting cheap PNW rieslings, because it’s such an underrated grape that does so well in our soil (hence easy on the budget and almost always a good buy).  My prime motivation was to find an Alsatian-style dry riesling to make wine-braised sauerkraut with large, varied pieces of pork and sausage.  The French call this winey, salty, crunchy, sour, porkulent concoction Choucroute Garnie à l’Alsacienne; I call it eyes-rolling-back-in-my-head delicious.

The search took a detour into the marvels of drinking the stuff straight all summer, and even into the depths of winter.  Every vintage, every winery is very different, so it’s worth sampling around for your favorite.


The jelly was a happy accident; since I usually have a half-dozen bottles of riesling hanging out with me at any time, and I wanted to make an herbal jelly but absolutely loathe apple juice (usually recommended as a “neutral” base, gah), I thought I’d give a pale gold, lovely dry wine a whirl.  For the recipe I prepared in class and the one in the EW photograph, I used an Airlie dry riesling from Monmouth, OR, a wine so dry it leaves a trail of dust.

It would be fun to taste the jelly made with different kinds of wine; if you make it with something else, please let me know how it turns out.

I’ll be away for the next week or so: Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and a happy and healthy New Year!

san francisco here i come


Can I tell you how excited I am about my upcoming trip to San Francisco?  Not for my profession’s notorious annual conference, where anxious grad students and exhausted professors wrench themselves from their families directly after Christmas to face off in stressful interviews and panels, but for the happy accident of being one of those anxious interviewees in a city I love with many people I love.  It will be a busy week full of networking, socializing, rendez-vousing, reminiscing, dreaming, and real, honest-to-goodness holiday cheer.

In doing my serious research, I have scoped out the area for bars, restaurants, and cafés within walking distance.  I used to work in the area where the conference is being held, and I can’t wait to see if some of the places I used to frequent for lunch are still there. I have big plans after the conference, too, including an important plan to buy gorgeous, exotic, seasonal citrus to make my first batch of low-sugar marmalade upon my return.

As you might imagine, I’m a little nervous about the drive over the passes in Southern Oregon.  The weather is not being cooperative.  I was really torn up about whether to fly or drive, but my gallons of pickles and jams kinda made the decision for me.  I’ve got chains and all-wheel drive, still, I figger if I get stranded I’ll have enough to eat.  They’ll find me preserved with salt and sugar in perfect condition by the side of the road.

Please pray to your weather gods for me, and if I do make it, I’d appreciate your good thoughts for the interviews.

stocking stuffers

OK, I’m not supposed to be posting, but I’m consumed by holiday greed and can’t stop looking at STUFF FOR SALE.  So I’m parlaying my greed into stocking stuffing ideas for you.

  • Fee Bros. new bitters, in cherry and rhubarb flavors, for the mixologist in your life.  We have them in town at Marché Provisions, and they’re worth every penny, since you can’t find anything else like them out there.
  • Any of the fantastic repro cocktail books put out by Mud Puddle Books, but especially The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David A. Embury.  I want this.  I want this.  I mean, it would be a terrific gift for the literary cocktail person in your life.  And the Mud Puddle website is offering this and their other titles at $10 off list price.
  • A Canon PowerShot SD770 IS 10 MP Digital Camera for only $160 at Amazon.  Little, chic, not too spendy AT ALL, I mean, come on!  And it would fit so sweetly in the stocking, too.  Seriously, replace that brick your loved one has been using.  It’s like she’s been playing Pong in a Wii world, know what I mean.  Of course you do.
  • Krogstad Aquavit out of Portland’s House Spirits.  Caraway and star anise to lengthen the wintery spiciness on your palate.  So lovely.  It won’t fit in her stocking, but she won’t care.
  • Oxo angled miniature measuring cups in stainless steel.  I use the little angled plastic cups all the time, since you can see the liquid level measurement without lifting the cup, and you don’t have to fuss with spoons.  The new stainless steel ones are sweet.
  • Felco classic garden shears for small hands.  Because those grape vines aren’t going to pruno themselves, yanno.
  • Le Creuset silicone pastry brushes.  Out of all the silicone pastry brushes out there, these are arguably the best, since you can remove the head from the wood handle, making cleaning a snap.  They’re also thicker and fuller than the other models on the market.  Two sizes.
  • Garlic peeler.  Put your garlic cloves in this simple silicone tube, roll.  Done.  Beautiful, uncrushed peeled garlic cloves.  I’m not a big fan of gadgets, but after test-driving this one and then having to peel, like, a gazillion garlic cloves by hand at home, I’m mad I didn’t give in.
  • Tyrkisk Peber, a Scandinavian liquorice candy with hot, sour, salt filling.  Black in color, staining your tongue green and bestowing ill health effects from an upset stomach to heart palpitations, Wikipedia describes it as tasting of “genocide” and “filled with salty hate.”  And addictive, too.  Of COURSE this would be my candy of choice.  You can’t buy it in Eugene, to my knowledge, but grab a friend going to Eastern Europe or Scandanavia, and have them bring you back a package, if you dare.
  • Gastronomica, renewing your subscription thereto.  Food, culture, research-based articles, not the least bit sentimental in that treacly foody way, crack writing!  One of those little cards would fit into the stocking just fine.  $35 student rate.  Because you want to be Editor Darra Goldstein when you grow up.  Really, really badly.
  • Life-swapping with Darra Goldstein.  Hard to fit in a stocking, though.
  • A subscription to Elliot Martinez’s BoozeWeek, which you can never get because you don’t go much to Whiteaker, being old and unhip, and as annoying as the MySpace “webpage” for this local booze ‘zine is, it would be tolerable if you didn’t have to create a MySpace page just to send them a message, since comments are turned off to the general public.  Come on, guys!  People want to give you money.  Grumpy, crotchety, drinking, blogging-instead-of-writing-their-dissertation people.
  • Shun angled paring knife.  Shun knives are strong and beautiful, sharpened at a special angle that helps keep the edge sharper longer.  The angled knife concept was developed by Alton Brown, and improves leverage and control.  I received a wood-handled version as a freebie when I was working at a cooking store, and it hasn’t left my hand since.  Makes typing hard.  This is the excuse I will use to my advisor.

morgenthaler: if we each grab a leg, he can’t leave

It was quarter to dawn, all the Whos still abed,
All the Whos still asnooze when he packed up his sled.
Packed it up with their presents, the ribbons, the wrappings,
The tags and the tinsel, the trimmings, the trappings.

Someone’s trying to leave town at Christmas, and taking our booze with him.  I’m just going to be blunt about it.  We need to stop this, and I don’t mean stand around in a circle singing “Fa Foo Foray.”

O Jeffrey!  Single girls are kneeling at the river Willamette, beating their breasts and tearing out their hair.  Eugene’s alcohipsters are wailing in the downtown streets, causing enough of a ruckus to be banned from the Special Fortified Police Zone.  Old married hags (not mentioning any names) are shooting mournful photo montages:


And that weird tweeker couple who knocks on the window at Bel Ami will have to move on to Mac’s at the Vet’s.

Bitter, bitter days!  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’ll have to go visit our local bartender extraordinaire, Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Bel Ami, before he leaves for Portland next week.  He has taken a position up there at Clyde Common, and it is a fantastic opportunity, and we wish him well because he’s a terrific guy as well as an ace mixologist and blah blah blah JEFFREY DON’T GO WE NEED YOU!

Ahem, sorry.  It’s just that, well, I’m a graduate student.  In EnglishIn the last few months of my dissertation.  And without a good bar, well…

Now, we shouldn’t feel quite so sad, since Jeff’s team will be taking over his duties at Bel Ami.  Scott and Rico know Jeff’s repertoire as well as anyone can, and they also understand the hospitality and ambiance Jeff has cultivated at the bar.  (But I should take this opportunity to complain about the noise level of the bands:  jazz = good; in the corner next to the bar = deafening.  Egads.)  It’s my understanding that things won’t change much in the short run, so for that I’m grateful.

Still, I think we should give Jeff as much shit as possible for deserting us for a singular opportunity in a great city.  Clyde Common is close enough to home that we can all go up there and continue to give him shit for a long time.  So head over to Bel Ami this weekend and let your feelings be known.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler, we’ll miss you, we’ll visit you, and the best of luck and success in your new venture!  We know Portland will love you as much as we do.

yummy class and upcoming weeks


I’m pleased to report that the Gifts from the Kitchen class went well yesterday.  Although I co-led the instruction, it was really team-taught, with veteran and new MFP teachers giving instruction on safely canning cranberry chutney and herbal jelly; making sweet gifts of homemade marshmallows, glazed nuts, and soup and cookie mixes; and making flavored vinegars, oils and liqueurs.  We had a terrific group of students, one of whom wrote a report on the class over at her new Eugene food blog, Our Home Works.  Thanks, Amy!

Since she did such a good job with the recap, I don’t have much more to say, other than I think that she makes a really good point about the Master Food Preservers focusing on budget-conscious planning, shopping, and preparing local foods.  One of the many things I like about the organization is the old-school home economics focus that comes from the veterans of the programs; many of them are farmers or were raised on a farm, most have lived in Oregon for many decades, and they know how to make the most of every single penny and every single moment.  I can’t express how inspirational — and I’m a pretty cynical, non-sentimental grump so you know this word is special — they’ve been to me.  I knew that they’d pitch in to help in every way they could, and they did, from doing all the dishes and ingredient prep to jumping in and fielding questions, adding immeasurably to the presentations Jen and I had prepared.

I posted a couple of new classes that are being offered after the holidays (see the descriptions on the right), and I’d encourage you all to take them and see for yourself!

I’m going to write about one of the demos we did in the class, the Rosemary Riesling Confetti Jelly, for my next Eugene Weekly column at the end of December, since its pale bubbly color and festive confetti bits of rosemary, chili and lemon zest makes such a lovely appetizer for New Year’s Eve.  Stay tuned ’til then.  I’m going to be taking a bit of a blogging hiatus in the next few weeks to focus on finishing some school obligations and planning an upcoming conference trip to San Francisco, but I’ll pop back in from time to time if I think of anything interesting to say.  In the meantime, enjoy your holiday baking, cooking, and entertaining!

snow day?


Oh, and another quick post:  the class is on!  The weather outside is frightful, but the latest weather advisory I’ve seen sez it won’t snow tomorrow until late.

If this changes, and/or there’s any risk to our volunteers or students, we’ll cancel the class by calling you tomorrow morning before 9:00 am., and I’ll be eating buckets of soup for the next few days.  I guess it could be worse.  :)

winter food donations in lane county

Donations are down from last year, and as you know, we’re entering cold, stark times.  Please consider taking a look through your pantries for food you might give to those less fortunate.

The easiest way to give is right outside your front door.  Tomorrow (Saturday, December 13) is the second and last day for the Lane County Letter Carriers Food Drive.  Leave non-perishable, non-glass food donations out by your mailbox in plastic bags.

Local markets are also collecting food and other donations.  Albertson’s on 18th and Chambers, for example, has a barrel for donations, as well as the Scan-A-Coupon program you’ve seen at checkout registers in many Eugene grocery stores, where you can purchase an amount for Food for Lane County.

Another local market, Friendly Street Market at 28th and Friendly, is offering a 10% coupon for any purchase at the market this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13 and 14) in exchange for one of two offerings:  (1) 3 cans/packages of non-perishable food; or (2) a new toy/gift/gift certificate for children from 0-21.  They especially need gift certificates for teens and older children.

If you’d like to know more about what foods are most needed, check out my earlier blog post on this topic.

The Register Guard ran an ad from Food for Lane County (FFLC) the other day that has a couple more suggestions:

  • Donate money by calling FFLC at 541-343-2822 or online at ; and
  • Volunteer preparing food or sorting food in their really top-notch facility, or serving dinner in their dining room.  Call Sheyla Norte at 343-2822 x306 to discuss volunteer opportunities.

creamy, spicy vegetable crab bisque


I bet you’re wondering how a jar of dried vegetables, a jar of homemade salsa, and an onion can make a delicious creamy, spicy vegetable crab soup.  Come to my Gifts from the Kitchen class on Saturday, December 13 (details to the right), and you’ll find out!  :)  There are still a few spots left, and I’d love to meet you all and share our ideas about local, cost-efficient, homemade gifts for holiday giving.

I recently found out that we’ll have a plethora of jams to taste at the class, plus a sumptuous potluck spread, and a raffle basket of goodies.  We’ll also have the sweetest, plumpest, freshly shelled Willamette Valley hazelnuts and California almonds (donated by a local benefactor who owns some of the orchard) for sale at prices that can’t be beat.

But back to the soup…I’ve been experimenting with recipes for vegetarians and vegans, and ways to give gifts of dried garden vegetables.  This soup is so good it can be served to guests.  It recently kept a vegetarian full and happy when the rest of us were eating brisket.  I think he may have won that round.

Here’s a hint:


when she laughed she shook like a box full of jelly


I’m preparing my holiday gift packages, listening to Esquivel’s Merry X-Mas from the Space-Age Bachelor Pad to console myself.  Word from the mountain is that the Retrogrinch has mandated a moratorium on Christmas jazz and novelty tunes.  Guess who’s getting a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce for lunch?  Locally made and organic, too.  (Am I the only one who pondered actually turning this line from the Grinch song into an appetizer — sauerkraut, sauteed boletes with a bit of cream, crushed almonds, puff pastry?)

Anyhoo, I have a sleigh full of jam and pickles to give away, and as I’m packing them up for shipping, I started wondering what other homemade gifts were being given this year.  Are you making your own food gifts?  Is this an old tradition for you or a new one?

I also wanted to direct Pacific Nor’westers looking for ideas to check out the post I made a few months ago about Oregon/PNW food gift possibilities.   The comments section has more ideas.  I’d love to list as many ideas as possible, so if you know of local products or ingredients you include in your own gifts, please add your own comments!  Also check out the links to the right to read other food blogs from PNW writers with fantastic ideas.  (Edited to add:  Some PNW cheese possibilities are here, courtesy of the cheese whiz at the excellent Pacific Northwest Cheese Project.)

For the record, the 2008 Culinaria Eugenius Cannery Catalogue follows.  All fruits and vegetables are local and either from my garden or a nearby farm, except the Grinch pickles, which fittingly (?) were made from cucumbers shipped in from CA to our neighborhood Asian market.

  • Oregon Albacore Tuna.  Young, fresh, single-piece, troll-caught days before I canned it, no mercury issues!
  • Pickled Green Tomatoes with Celery.  Kosher-style, with vinegar.
  • Grinch Extra Sour Pickles.  Fermented cucumbers stewing in their own salty juice, extra garlic.
  • Purple Cauliflower Pickle.  Brilliant magenta color comes from purple cauliflower.
  • Mixed Pickle.  Dilled garden vegetables: kohlrabi, green beans, cherry tomatoes, Hungarian peppers, ripe jalapeños, cauliflower, garlic.
  • Sauerkraut with juniper berries.
  • Vegetable Salts.  Carrot and celeriac.
  • Willamette Valley Dark Fruit Honey Jam.  Wild blackberries, boysenberries, blueberries with meadowfoam honey.  Low sugar.
  • Lingering Autumn Cider Jelly.  Willamette Valley fresh cider, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa nibs, hint of chili pepper.  Low sugar.
  • Strawberry Pinot Gris Jam.  Benton strawberries, Sweet Cheeks 2006 Estate Pinot Gris syrup, hint of Szechuan pepper.  Low sugar.
  • Oregon Strawberry Elderflower Jam.  Benton and Honeoye strawberries, elderflower syrup.  French-style (no pectin).
  • Tayberry Jam.  Pure, unadulterated, musky, complex tayberries, a blackberry-raspberry cross.
  • Raspberry Apricot Preserves.  Willamette raspberries, apricots.  French-style (no pectin).
  • Apple Cranberry Sauce.  Mixed local apples, Bandon cranberries.  Low sugar.
  • Brandied cherries.  Sour pie cherries, Courvoisier.

A personal note to my friends and family reading this:  let me know which ones you’d like, if you have a preference!  I can mail everything but the Grinch Extra Sour Pickles, which are refrigerated, but I’m driving to San Francisco and plan to bring a cooler.  Love, me.