sfizio tuscany dinner tonight

Trying to escape trick-or-treaters? Head on over to Osterio Sfizio tonight for their special dinner, featuring foods from the Italian region of Tuscany.  The chestnut tortelli, in particular, promises to be delicious.  If you can’t make tonight’s dinner because you’re, say, engaged in being a vampiress, cardboard box, or rhetorical pun, join me at the next one.  They’ll be journeying to Friuli, the part of Italy that gets all weird and wonderful with Central European influence, on November 28.

be vewy, vewy proud…james beard is hosting wabbit!

All the best of luck to Chef Gabriel Gil and The Rabbit Bistro team as they head out to New York to showcase Oregon food and wine at a James Beard House dinner on November 2, 2010.  Here’s the menu from the JBF website:

Hors d’Oeuvres

Dungeness Crab with Sweet Onions, Green Olives, and Coconut
Foie Gras with Gravenstein Apples, Avocado, and Pumpernickel
Oregon Prawns with Serrano Ham and Quince
Capitello Brut NV

Dinner

Pork Belly with Chanterelles, Fennel, and Verjus
Lemelson Vineyards Tikka’s Run Pinot Gris 2009

Pacific Yellowtail with Pork Jowl, Buttermilk, and Persimmon
Brandborg Umpqua Valley Gewürztraminer 2008

Columbia River Salmon with Sourdough, Butternut Squash, and Black Trumpet Mushrooms
Ayres Pioneer Pinot Noir 2009
Westrey Oracle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

Ancona Duck with Époisses, Cherries, and Oregon Black Truffles
Lemelson Vineyards Stermer Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008
Evesham Wood Le Puits Sec Pinot Noir 2008

Dessert

Avocado Gelée with Pineapple, Black Sesame, and Dates
Andrew Rich Gewürztraminer Icewine 2007

I had the opportunity to try the avocado gelée last night, and it was  wonderful.  The acidic pineapple is blackened (beyond caramelized, really), so the burnt flecks impart a grainy, almost acrid contrast to the pillowy soft barely avocado’d panna-cotta-like gelée.  The sesame seeds, which are sweetened by (I think) a light date syrup, are crunchy and nutty, so you have crunch, cream, acid, and caramel.  It’s a brilliant dessert, perfectly balanced.  I can only imagine what the rest of the menu will be like!

If you haven’t tried The Rabbit yet, do.  They serve the best cocktails in town — one of my favorite places to go after a long day.  The restaurant has had some issues with reputation and its haut-cuisine entrées and techniques aren’t for everyone, but as creative as Chef Gil is with flavor combinations and molecular tidbits, his kitchen puts out mean comfort food, too.   The fall menu is downright domestic, I was surprised and pleased to see.  There’s a lamb navarin with mash and a halibut on puy lentils that are spectacular.

I often sneak off and grade papers or edit a manuscript while eating moules et frites (mussels and fries) at the bar, as I did last night.  In fact, the moules are so good that I never even want to try anything else, which is death to me as a food writer!  But they’re the best mussels I’ve ever had anywhere, here or Europe, no lie.  Someone in that kitchen knows how to prepare shellfish.

So let me just warn you, New York, even though you are going to want to keep our Rabbit team in a warren at the James Beard House, we won’t take kindly to that here in Eugene.  Have a safe trip and a wonderful time and come back soon, Rabbits!

think of the pumpkin seeds!

Spare pumpkins?  Please carve an extra for ShelterCare‘s Jack-O-Lantern fundraiser on October 30 at 5th Street Market, or consider donating pumpkins for carving to the Lane County Master Gardeners.  ShelterCare is aiming for 5,000 pumpkins!

This is from an email sent by the MG coordinator:

Don’t forget to carve a pumpkin for Shelter Care’s annual Jack-O-Lanterns on 5th. This is a fun event that will allow us to spread the word that Master Gardeners are still active in Lane County. Tom Kulick put MGs in for 15, but the more the scarier. Their sponsors give them $5 for every pumpkin!

Shelter Care will provide us with a sign while we provide the Jack-O- Lanterns. You can carve/paint your pumpkin and drop it off at the 5th street market south parking lot (off 6th) starting at 9:00 am on the 30th of Oct.

If you have pumpkins that you want to donate we will have a carving party on the 29th of Oct.  If you have 3 or fewer drop them off at the Extension Office (783 Grant  – between Garfield and Chambers) if you have more than 3 give Tom a call (541-465-4545) or drop him an email (tmkulick@comcast.net) to arrange a convenient time and place for pick up.

Check out the web site jackolanternson5th.com for details.

wine, futures

My future plans include this bottle of wine, a 2007 Pierre Sparr Pinot Gris from Alsace, and 7 lbs. of sauerkraut.

Wine-braised, juniper-bejeweled, caraway-flecked mountain of Alsatian love, how you beckon.  My main plan of attack is to nestle slices of smoked pork loin, mild sausages, a confit chicken leg, and some fingerling potatoes into a big pot full and bake it forever.  But I might gently roast some apples in pork fat and serve it with panfried pork chops, or I might just convince Retrogrouch to grill up some kielbasa in the rain.

I have one more rough week of writing ahead (if you consider last week finished) and it will be the hardest one so far.  Then, I hope, the worst of it is over, and I can enjoy all the things I’ve had to set aside, e.g.:

Clockwise from noon: homegrown caraway waiting to be put in jar, new dill pickles, aforementioned sauerkraut and wine, delicata and pattypan squash, mix of red hot and sweet peppers, waterbath canner, walnuts, pressure canner.

And a bit of advice: your plans should also include this 2007 Pierre Spar Pinot Gris.  It usually sells in the $18 range, but Marché Provisions managed to snag a bunch of cases at $7 a bottle.  At that price, you can dump it in a pot of sauerkraut or just swig it from the bottle, but it would be a great wine for a civilized meal, too.  I’m thinking fall poultry and pork — you can decide whether or not your family’s Thanksgiving can be called civilized.  Unlike any Oregon Pinot Gris you’ve ever had (and this is a good thing).  High acid personality, dry, witty.  Nice floral nose with some rock or petrol to give it backbone, tastes of stone fruit and honey.  Meditate on the golden color, remembering the sun.

homemade cider vinegar

I had a half-gallon or so of fresh apple cider start to ferment into hard cider in my refrigerator, so instead of hitting the hooch, I decided to try making cider vinegar.  I’ve always wanted to do this!  I’ll keep you posted. I’m going to try this batch without the yeast activator, since we’re already fizzy and alcoholic-y.

Homemade cider vinegar shouldn’t be used for canning, of course, but it will be wonderful used to deglaze pork roasts and dress roasted root vegetables.  Thanksgiving salad dressing, anyone?

The link above provides instructions from Ohio State University Extension (the other OSU!), or you can just download OSU’s .pdf file for making apple cider and cider vinegar by clicking AppleCiderVinegar.

poisoned halloween candy?

I grew up long ago and far away, in a land where we sifted through our Halloween candy to cull the razor-blade apples and poisoned nibbles, identifiable by their opened wrappers.  My mom took the extra precaution of keeping Yuck Mouth at bay by making us give up all the “pure sugar” hard candy and soft, chewy, cavity-inducing candies.  We could keep the chocolate, because it had at least a tiny bit of nutritional value.

Now, it most likely doesn’t.  Most of the sugar has been replaced by high-fructose corn syrup.  But there’s even more frightening stuff in your Hershey’s minis: child slave labor. After being reprimanded with other chocolate companies years ago, Hershey’s decided not to take significant steps to change labor practices in Africa, where they source their chocolate.

So even though (because?) I’ve celebrated my freedom from the oppressive regime of my own childhood, where even the kittens needed to be taught to fake smile, I’m done with mass-market Halloween candy. No Hershey’s for me this year.  Because of the deprivation* of the Great Cull, I never thought I’d be the kind of person who gave out raisins or pencils or (quelle horreur!) UNICEF change, so I’m going to go for another candy alternative. I’m not sour enough to give out crummy toys or office supplies yet.  Yet.

We don’t get many kids, so I can spend a little more on fair trade chocolates.  Dagoba, an Oregon organic chocolatier, has spendy tasting squares [Dagoba is now owned by Hershey’s — thanks, Carol, for the comment and see more info here], and there are other fair trade options here and here.  Euphoria Chocolate Company, based here in Eugene, also has cute Halloween chocolates by the half-pound, but I don’t know anything about where they get their chocolate.

What are you giving away for treats?

* No, Mom, I’m just kidding.

…but first, the news.

I think I’m done with my summer canning, finally.  It being October 17 and all, that’s a good thing.  There’s still a batch of green tomato pickles to come, but I’m ready for fall.  It took me a while, but I’ve squeezed in preservation breaks over the past couple of weeks.  I taught some friends how to make sauerkraut and put up 10 lbs. of cucumber pickles to replace the last batch that rotted in the fridge while I was working around the clock a few weeks ago.  I’ve also pickled my garden hot peppers, made from all my Eastern European pepper varieties. The pickled peppers are a much better option  for those preservative-laden jalapeno slices my husband adds to nachos and tunafish sandwiches. I really like fishing out different kinds of peppers in the jar, and tasting their differences.

So now it’s fall canning time, yay!  I foolishly (?) reserved 20 pounds of gorgeous cranberries grown on the Oregon coast, so I’m going to have to get crazy with cranberry recipes this year.  I’m also planning to put up pounds and pounds of dried beans, since I don’t cook with beans as often as I should because I always forget to soak dried ones, I don’t like the texture of frozen ones, and the commercially canned ones have preservatives and too much salt.  And I just bought a big sweetmeat squash for pies and other pumpkin goodies this year, so I’m going to can cubes of the bright orange flesh for the very first time!

I’m also in the process of buying a freezer.  I’ve been unable to buy bulk meat or freeze anything in quantity, since my regular refrigerator freezer is stuffed to the gills.  I love the pleasure of digging into the depths and finding perfectly good sauerkraut beef stew, for example, or roasted poblanos, or realizing I still have 2 cups of quince juice left.  But right now, I can’t find anything.  Every time I open the freezer, a container of tomatoes or posole or ham hock jumps out and tries to smash my foot, vengefully.  I need a better tomb for these zombies.

After years of halfassedly looking on Craigslist and finally deciding to break down to buy a new old-fashioned non-frost-free chest freezer, I casually mentioned my search to a friend who said she had an extra one!  I’m very much hoping this works out.  Then I’ll just need to take care of the easy stuff, like, you know, finding a place to plug it in.

Soon, we’ll be eating homemade Hungry Man tv meals 24/7!

local beans and grains — get ’em while they’re hard

Need some local grains and beans for your winter pantry?

I received two notices from the Willamette Farm & Food Coalition, an organization that is working hard on replenishing our local food shed.  I’m so impressed by the efforts of these farmers.  I’ve had Stalford pintos and garbanzos, and recommend both. (I see there aren’t any garbanzos this year, though.  Alas.)

1)  There is a new Bean and Grain Booth at the Lane County Farmers’ Market (8th and Oak) for the next four Saturdays — Oct 16, 23, 30 and Nov 6.   Products available include: Whole Wheat Bread Flour and Brown Teff Flour from Hunton’s Farm; Whole Wheat Bread and Pastry Flour from Greenwillow Grains (Stalford Farms); and a variety of heirloom dry beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm.

Pricing at Farmers’ Market Booth:

Greenwillow Grains (Certified Organic)

  • 3 lb Whole Wheat Bread or Pastry Flour – $5.50
  • 5 lb Whole Wheat Bread or Pastry Flour – $8.95  

Hunton’s Farm (Transitional Organic)

  • 4 lb Whole Wheat Bread Flour – $5.50
  • 4 lb Brown Teff Flour – $14.50
  • 1 lb Brown Teff Flour – $3.75  

Lonesome Whistle’s Heirloom Dry Beans

  • 1 lb bag, all varieties – $6

Also of note:  Lonesome Whistle also has a bean CSA.  I bought some of their on-the-cob Dakota black popcorn on the cob a few weeks ago, and it is drying in my back room.  Can’t wait to try it!

Lonesome Whistle Farm’s Heirloom Dry Beans CSA

Lonesome Whistle’s organically grown heirloom dry beans are also available through their 2010 fall CSA. There are only 9 shares remaining. The CSA features 8 heirloom varieties (listed above). Shares will be ready for pickup in November. Lonesome Whistle is asking for a $30 deposit to reserve your share.   One share will provide you with 24 pounds of beans (~1/2 pound per/week/year) at $5.50 a pound = $132.    Two shares will provide you with 48 pounds of beans (~1 pound per/week/year) = $264.   There is also a Dakota Black Popcorn share available (5 pounds at $5.50 per pound) = $27.50   To reserve your spot, please contact Jeff or Kasey at (541) 345-3415 or jeffandkasey@lonesomewhistlefarm.com

2)  The first annual Fill-Your-Pantry farmers market looks like a great opportunity to interact with bean and grain farmers, absolutely worth the drive up to Corvallis.  Several of these folks are converting land used for other crops (like grass seed) over to food. Yay!  The prices are quite good, too.

1st Annual Willamette Valley Fill-Your-Pantry Market

Saturday, October 23, 2010 2-5 p.m.

A2R Farms, 7205 Cutler Lane, Corvallis

(2 miles west of Corvallis Municipal Airport off Airport Rd.)

Purchase staples (grains, flour, beans, seeds, winter storage produce, honey, meats, canned fish, etc.) directly from local farmers and fishers. Stock your pantry for the winter. List of foods available below, including growing method (conventional, natural, certified organic or transitional to Organic) and price per pound. Orders for over 100 pounds of a single item (e.g. oats) must be reserved by October 19th.   Smaller orders should be reserved as supply is limited. Or, may be purchased at event. All orders must be picked up at the event. Payment by cash or check only. Oregon Trail tokens available after 3 p.m..   Send your order to sunbow@peak.org. By Oct. 19th. Please include farm, item and quantity.   Check for updates only at: www.tenriversfoodweb.org. This event is sponsored by by South Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project and Ten Rivers Food Web.

Fill-Your-Pantry Market Product List

Stalford Farm, Tangent, OR. Harry Stalford and Willow Coberly

Certified Organic Bean and Grain production. Product List: Soft White Wheat berries (for pastry flour) 75 centls/lb Hard Red Wheat Berries (for yeast breads) 75cents/lb Oats: Hull-less $2.00 /lb (Can also be used for seed.) Raw oats w/ hulls for animal feed: 50 cents/lb Steel Cut Oats $1.50/lb DEPENDING on if we can get processed in time. Rolled Oats $1.50/lb DEPENDING on if we can get processed in time. Scottish Oatmeal (coarsely stone ground oatmeal) $1.50/lb Malting barley $1.50/lb Beans: Pintos $2.00/lb .$1.50/lb if 5 lbs or more ordered Pre-order only/delivery later Beans DEPENDING on harvest outcome (marketable qty’s) Flour: W. W. Hard red (for yeast breads) $1/lb W.W. Soft white (for pastries) $1/lb

A2R Farm, Corvallis. Mike Robinson and Clint Lindsey

Transitioning 800 acres from conventional exported rye grass seed to local Certified Organic Bean, Grain and Seed production. Product list: Hard Red Wheat Berries-50 cents/lb Soft White Wheat Berries- 50 cents/lb Brown Flax-$2/lb Hull-less Oats: Rolled-$1/lb Depending if we get it processed in time. Whole-$2/lb ( can also be used for seed) Cayuse Oats- for feed- $40 cents/lb.

Sunbow Farm, Corvallis, Harry MacCormack

Certified Organic for 26 years – produce, bean and grain Product list: Triticale- cross between wheat and rye $2/lb Garlic- Not cleaned . Store in cook dark place, with necks. $4/lb Fava bean- $2/lb

J & D Farms, Harrisburg, Darrell Smucker

Conventional growing methods. Product list: Soft white wheat berries 2.50/10lbs or $9/50lbs.100lbs available

Horseshoe Creek Farm, Albany Paul and Elnora Harcombe Naturally grown- without chemicals or synthetic fertilizer Product list: Whole Barley- Barley with hull. De-hull with blender then sieve to remove chaff.Then grind into flour. $1/lb. 300 lbs available

GoodFoot Farm, Hoskins Beth Hoinacki and Adam Ryan

Certified Organic. Product list: Potatoes—Bintje, German Butterball, Yellow Finn, Canela russet.  $1/lb, 5 pound minimum purchase.  Additional varieties may be available at the event in limited amounts. Onions—cured Walla Walla and yellow storage.  $0.75/lb, 5 pound minimum purchase. Winter Squash—Delicata and Amber Cup.  $0.75/lb, 5 pound minimum purchase. Garlic, bulk—long keeping softneck.  $4/pound, 1 pound minimum. Garlic, plain braid—approximately 2 pounds of garlic in a braid.  $10 each. Garlic, fancy braid—approximately 2 pounds of garlic in a braid with our choice of herbs and flowers.  $12 each

Harmony J.A.C.K. Farms, Scio, The Westlund Family

Certified organic. Product List: Whole Chickens Whole chicken is 3-4 pounds. Cut into pieces or cook whole.  Great for grilling or roasting. Left over bones make a nutritious and versatile stock. 2-3# $12 3-4# $16 4-5# $20.

Beef Club Box (10 Pounds)

Many customers want the benefits of buying a half a cow, but do not have the freezer or eaters to make such a large commitment.  So, now you can order a share that is much smaller, offering you the same diversity within each box that you would find when ordering a larger quantity. Each Beef Club Box includes: 3-4 pounds of lean ground beef (1 pound pkgs) 3-4 pounds of roast or ribs 3-4 pounds of steaks (1-2 steaks per pkg). 10# mixed beef box $65.

Pork Club Box (10 lb. total wt.) with cured products

Many customers want the benefits of buying a half a pig, but do not have the freezer or eaters to make such a large commitment. So, now you can order a share that is much smaller, offering you the same diversity within each box that you would find when ordering a larger quantity. Each Pork Club Box includes: 3-4 pounds of lean ground pork (1 pound pkgs) 3-4 pounds of roast, hams or ribs 3-4 pounds of chops (1-2 per pkg) or bacon (does contain nitrates/nitrites).  10# mixed pork box (with cured meats) $60.

Pork Club Box (10 lb. total wt.) with NO cured products

Many customers want the benefits of buying a half a pig, but do not have the freezer or eaters to make such a large commitment.  So, now you can order a share that is much smaller, offering you the same diversity within each box that you would find when ordering a larger quantity. Each Pork Club Box includes: 3-4 pounds of lean ground pork (1 pound pkgs) 3-4 pounds of roast or ribs 3-4 pounds of chops (1-2 per pkg). 10# mixed pork box (with NO cured meats) $60.

Open Oak Farm, Sweet Home Andrew Still , Sarah Kleeger and Cooper Boydston

Transitional. Product List: The following winter root veggies come in a 4 gallon bucket with sawdust. Store in cool, dry and dark place Beets $1.50/lb !0 lb minimum and pre-order only. Rutabagas, turnips, daikon and winter radish $1/lb 10 lb minimum. Pre-order only. Canadian rye berries $2/lb 5 lb bag

Soilsmith Services, Corvallis Shepard Smith

Product List: Honey: 2010 Raw/unfiltered/UNHEATED Blackberry Honey from the Coast Range Quarts – $12 Pints 16oz – $7 Garlic- grown by Shep at Sunbow Farm and Certified Organic: Enchelium “softneck” garlic- cleaned w/o neck. $5/lb Thermal Compost: $3/ gal. zip-loc sample bags. 3.5 lbs Great for house plants showing “positive” plant response. Inoculate by putting a layer of compost on top of plant soil. Feeds 10 plants

Queen Bee Apiaries, Corvallis, Karen Finley and Tad Buford

Product List: Honey-Raw/Unfiltered from wildfflowers 12 oz glass jar $4 Quarts $10 1 Gallon-12lbs- $36 Pre order only 4 gallon bucket- 48 lbs- $100 Pre order only

Canned Fish Oregon’s Choice Gourmet Seafoods, Newport, Herb & Ginny Goblersch

Order directly from them at www.oregonschoice.com, Pick up at the event. When ordering on-line there is no way around the shipping charges BUT they will be refunded! Please type Pantry Pick-up in the ‘special instructions’ box during checkout. The shipping cost will be refunded to your card after the order is placed. To order by phone, call 541-929-8862.

apple saucy crumble in a cast iron pan

I used half of a pint of my homemade, slightly sweetened Gravenstein apple and cranberry sauce with 3-4 apples for this crisp crumble.  Because I was too lazy to dirty up two dishes (pot plus Pyrex baking dish I usually use),  I cooked down the apples in a cast iron pan and then just added the sauce and crumbly topping before popping the pan in the oven.  Chop yer apples, then cook until soft and just beginning to break down with some butter and brown sugar and a touch of lemon juice.  And lo!  You will find that the apple/sugar/sauce starts to caramelize around the edges of the pan much more than they ever would in Pyrex.  You heard it here first.  Yum yum.

nosh pit moves to new location, new project in works

The Nosh Pit has moved from Kesey Plaza to the university area, starting today.  I did not see you in line outside of PLC Hall on Kincaid between 13th and 14th, which meant there was more pulled pork for me.  Haha!

But seriously, university folks, stop by and give the Nosh Pit a try.  Good local food and especially great meat.  They change up the menu every few days, stopping in a variety of global destinations.  The picture is old, but should give you a sense of what I mean: it’s their Jamaican hash with jerk chicken and a fried egg.

Today I was almost swayed away from the pork to the lamb meatball soup, and I know many of you wouldn’t be able to resist their chanterelle mac and cheese.  The prices are great for local meats and produce, too.  You’ll be helping out new parents, too — owners Corey and Nicole are due any day to have their baby, and they could use your support!

There’s more food cart news that I’ve heard in my perambulations around town.  New bbq cart coming to 7th and Chambers, and a new chili stand to open up on Kesey Plaza, just in time for winter warming needs.  Be there!