niblets: get ’em while they’re hot edition

Thanks to all of you who took the poll about what you’d like to see on Culinaria Eugenius.  Still plenty of time to take it!  Here’s a plate of niblets that should please most everyone.

Tuna Classes in August

One of our best classes — learn how to can tuna with our Fish Canning Expert Master Food Preserver Dale Dow.  We’ll be canning sustainable albacore tuna off the boats fishing the Oregon coast, some of the best fish on earth. Nine (count ’em, NINE!) small classes: August 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 22 & 24. Register and choose a date NOW. These are hands-on, 5 hour classes, limited to 6 participants each. Learn to use your pressure canner and take home 24 one-half pints of tuna.  $25 plus cost of tuna (at about $2.50 per jar for 24 jars); bring your own new canning jars. Call 541-344-4885 for more information ASAP and/or download registration form here.

Indian Sampler, July 30

Michael Scott, whom I know via the Friendly Neighborhood Farmers Network, hosts the Cheap Thrills Supper club.  This month is foods of India, and the menu is based on the sadya of the Kerala region, but ranges to all areas of India.  July 30.  $35 gets you a mostly vegetarian meal, sitar music, and a slide show of a trip to India.  The menu looks fantastic. Several spaces left; hurry to reserve them for what promises to be a fantastic evening.

Raspberries

It’s time to pick your own and buy one of our local miracles — raspberries.  For jamming, look for these cultivars, which have a more complex flavor/acidity profile: Meekers (my favorite), Tulameens and Cascade Delights (supposedly better than Meekers), and Willamettes (the ubiquitous WV commercial raspberry and the large ones you see on bigger farms and in clamshells at markets).  Wait a few days for the sun to sweeten them up again.  Pick your own at a number of local farms, including Riverbrook Farm, a pocket farm on Beacon off River Road.  Please comment with your favorite U-pick farms.

Local Chickens

Another of my favorite local farms, Sweetwater Farm in Creswell, is now selling roasting chickens and stewing hens!  I visited the plucking and cleaning operation last month out at the farm, and want to do a longer post on humane chicken slaughter, but thought it unfair not to let folks know now about the birds.  I made a delicious roast chicken with one of them, and a big pot of silky broth with some chicken feet I managed to forage from the farm. :) Roasters are $4 a pound, really a fair price for pasture-raised, no soy feed birds.  An order form is on their website.

Sour Power

It’s also time to pick and buy those rarest of cherries, the evanescent ruby red pie cherry (my brandied cherries in process, above).  Coming into its already short season during this freak rain, we are assured of a tiny crop.  Get them now.  Hentze Farm is one place (where you can thankfully buy them pitted), and I think River Bend Farm has some u-pick.  Any others?

Under Pressure? Gauge Testing July 21

Master Food Preserver Patty Driscoll will be available at the Extension Service office on Thursday, July 21 July 28 between 11:30 and 1:30 to test pressure gauges [Edited to add: You may drop off your lids on July 21, but she has a meeting during that time, so plan to drop off/pick up later that day]. Be safe. Test your gauge yearly. $5. Office is located at 783 Grant, Eugene and there is parking.  Bring your lid only.

Genesis Juice

Speaking of fresh juice and pressure canning, I had the opportunity a month or so ago to check out the new dawning of the old Eugene hippie raw juice purveyors, the Genesis Juice Co-Op, which was effectively shut down after federal laws changed standards for processing juice a number of years ago. The same green folks who own Toby’s Tofu Paté bought them out, and they’re putting out environmentally sensitive, organic, fresh juices at Genesis Juice.

I got to meet Toby, of tofu fame, and Sheldon, the CEO, of Toby’s Family Foods.  We watched the crew in the processing room sorting apples and checked out the pressurizer machine.  It’s a sleek, efficient operation — trading off tofu/salad dressing days and juice days.  Very nice people, too.I had a chance to try their products (the standard disclaimer applies, since they were free on my visit/tour) and liked them very much, though most are a bit too sweet for me as someone finds most juice too sweet.  But for those with sweeter palates, they’ll be a delight!

Two items of note: (1) the fruit stays fresh and raw-tasting via a non-thermal, high-pressure pasteurization method, where the juice undergoes pressurization in a huge tank instead of being subjected to cooking to kill beasties, making a significant difference in the taste; and (2) the organic produce and HPP makes flavor variations quite apparent in different batches of the juice.  I tasted one strawberry lemonade that was much tarter, for example, than the previous week’s tasting at an event.   The apple juice is the closest to fresh apple cider that I’ve tasted in a commercial product, and the ginger lemonade has a nice, fresh ginger kick.  Also try the Herbal Tonic, which is quite refreshing.  You can get a coupon for a free bottle on their website.

Gyro Cart [and We Hope Tunisian Food Before Too Long]

Excellent cucumber salad with a tiny dice, mint, and olives nestle up alongside a lamb-beef gyro at this improbably located new food cart, 4 Gyros.  You’ll be greeted by a poster of a smiling woman urging you to eat GYROS and by an incredibly sweet guy: Tunisian-American and former UO Arabic instructor Mohamed Jemmali.  Right now, the cart’s at 6th and Chambers, but I can’t imagine he’ll stay there long (like, hmm, maybe a week?).  Food is quite good and a welcome addition to the food cart and local dining scene. Give him your business.

But how can we convince Mohamed to make Tunisian couscous and stews?  I asked; he said it would be too hard in the cart.  I say nonsense — sounds like a campaign to me! Let him know we can handle more authentic Middle Eastern food in Eugene, and it’s up to him to do it.  Once a week?  Once a month? Please!

Late Lamented Tim’s Dill Pickle Chips Back in Town

And I don’t know for how long, since the internet has failed to even confirm the product exists.  But I ate almost an entire bag, so I can assure you they do (did).  This is the only shelf product I’ve written to a manufacturer about after being dumped for low sales, begging for its return.  They’re like salt and vinegar chips, but with dill.  At Capella’s Market now.  Don’t wait.

Tom Cruise, Move Over

And I have to end this with a neighborhood delight, Josh Chamberlain from J-Tea literally shaking his moneymaker.

He’s been serving up Taiwanese-style frothed iced oolong this summer.  I sampled one this spring, and it’s very fun to watch.  As soon as it actually TURNS summer, I can’t wait to have him shake me another tall, frothy cool one.

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