duck duck pig

IMG_4986Thinking about bodies, and the soft flesh and puzzle of bones that enable us to stand, walk, smile, bend, wave hello, and say goodbye.

The first time I broke down a duck, I marveled at the difference between its structure and that of a chicken: the longer body, slenderer breasts, little drums.  This time, at Camas Davis of the Portland Meat Collective‘s duck and pig butchery classes in Eugene last weekend, I couldn’t stop thinking about the structures we share with the pig.  No, not in the sense that I could never eat an animal with a face or a clavicle or whathaveyou, but rather this unshakeable feeling of being part of the universe, a community of matter.  I can’t get over the metaphysical sense, lately, strangely, insistently, of the impermeability of bodies, of all things, and the wheel of fortune that spins these molecules into personhood, those into livestock, and yet others into mosquito netting or Prada clutches or a turnip or cat’s breath or frost. Why don’t we all just dissolve into the ether?

No, I haven’t been taking more drugs.  Thanks for asking.

Ever more firmly I believe I can’t eat meat without knowing more about how the process works, but my awe and respect for the workings of a creature, our very distinct matter, is kind of overtaking me right now.  I’ve spent an entire year completely (and utterly nonconsensually) focused on broken bodies and death, on dissolution and transformation, so to take part in the slow, careful, respectful craft of turning life into food is quite profound and healing for me.  Meat, somehow, even more so.

We broke down a pig and a half, totaling about 400 lbs. of meat, and a duck apiece, then we learned how to make some cured products, including bacon, rillettes, and duck liver mousse and prosciutto.

IMG_3547IMG_5029 The classes were wonderful, made even better by the gorgeous facility and commercial kitchen at Sprout! where the Springfield farmers market takes place on Fridays.  We were able to take home the meat we broke down, which added yet more value. The Master Food Preservers helped with the class prep and clean-up, and we had a great group of farmers, restaurateurs, home cooks, and teachers who eagerly participated.  Although someone confessed that she was initially nervous about sharing a table with me at the duck class, I laid that to rest quickly with my slow hands and jerky knife skills.  (Any mystique I might have held as a food guru was soon dashed as my knife slipped around a joint, the duck popped, and I sent a bowl of curing spiced salt flying across the room.)

Not only does one learn how the body works, and that you can actually do most of the butchery with a big knife and a small knife (and a hacksaw for the rest), but Camas teaches about cuts that we don’t really use commercially in the U.S.  I’m now on a campaign against loins.  No, sorry, the religious right shouldn’t get too excited — it’s a campaign against the soft, mild cuts that privilege the loin parts of the pig.  I’ve always been a big fan of the shoulder, but now I see even more possibilities for flavorful cuts of pig meat, thanks to the class.

Now I’m hungry.  Check out the full set of photos for both classes on my Facebook page.  If you’re local, you might want to follow me on Facebook while you’re there — I accept all friend requests and post local events and happenings there much more frequently than I do on the blog, which has more of a national readership.

And by all means, take one of Camas’ classes. She promised to come back to Eugene, and we promise to love it when she does!

DIY skill training in eugene and beyond

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Resolved to improve your DIY skills this year?  Winter is the time!  Take advantage of rainy days in Eugene to attend one of many classes and workshops on gardening, keeping various helpful critters, or food preservation.

The Fun with Fermentation festival at the WOW Hall on January 12, 11:00-4:00, is now in its fourth year.  I’ll be holding a workshop on fermentation basics — making kim chi and sampling salsa and other goodies.  And that’s just the beginning! There will be plenty of fun, learnin’, and fermented food tasting for all.

The OSU Oregon Master Beekeepers program starts in Eugene on January 16, 2013. See their website for details about the apprentice program and class schedules.

The Lane County Extension Master Gardeners are beginning their annual certification training.  It starts Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1685 W 13th (at Chambers) in Eugene. Here’s a taste of the schedule:

  • 8:30-11:30 a.m. is Tree ID with Steve Bowers;
  • 12:45-3:45 p.m. is Tree Fruits with Ross Penhallegon [in his last few months before retirement — congratulations, Ross!];
  • 3:45-4:15 p.m. is an informational meeting about the Pruning Specialist Program.

All MGs are welcome to sit in on classes, of course, but the public is welcome, too – $25 per class.

Another event:  Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 7 p.m. for the Master Gardener Seminar: Backyard Homesteading with Bill Bezuk. Note new location: EWEB North Building, 500 E 4th Avenue, Eugene. Free, bring a friend.

Lane/Douglas Counties Extension Master Food Preserver full certification class series will begin in April.  We’re taking applications now until March.  And don’t forget that Master Food Preserver winter workshops in Eugene are in full swing:

MFP Winter Saturday Special Classes:

Registration is now open for three 2013 Winter Saturday Specials workshops. Take one, two or all three of the classes. Cost per class is $25 if taken individually or take all three for $60. Print off the registration form and mail check made out to OSU Extension Service to 783 Grant Street, Eugene, OR 97402. Workshops are held at the Community of Christ Church, 1485 Gilham Road, Eugene from 10 a.m. -2 p.m.

  • January 12, 2013 – Soups & Stews: Learn to make Lamb Basque, Moroccan Chicken, and Irsh beef stews. Soups made will be Cambodian Sweet and Sour, Cuban Moros & Christianos, and Mexican Gazpacho. All served on rice. Credit card payment $25.
  • February 9, 2013 – Get a great introduction to the many varieties of beans and how to cook them even for dessert. Credit card payment $25.
  • March 9, 2013 – Discover many new whole grains and grain-like foods. Learn basic cooking techniques and ways to use grains in your meal-planning for health, economy and taste. Credit card payment $25.

MFP Spring Saturday Special Classes:

Registration is also open for three 2013 Spring Saturday Specials workshops. Take one, two or all three of the classes: Cheese Making, Fermentation, and Intro to Canning.

  • April 6, 2013 – Cheese Making: Learn the basics in this hands-on class. Make soft cheeses to taste and take home. Credit card payment $50.
  • May 18, 2013 – Fermentation: Learn tips on fermenting dairy, bread, pickles and other fermented delights. Hands-on class. Limited to 12 students. Credit card payment $50.
  • June 8, 2013 – Intro to Canning: Learn about equipment, tips for success, and what is safe to do at home and what is not. Credit card payment $20.

fall preserving classes with the master food preservers

The fall classes for the Lane County MFP program have been announced and are filling up as we speak.  Interested in low-cost Friday night cooking classes or hands-on classes on cheese-making or smoking meats and other delectables?  Check these out…

CHEESE-MAKING
Saturday, October 13, 2012, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Join the Master Food Preservers and learn to create several soft cheeses: mascarpone, uncooked cream cheese and farmer’s cheese.  The cheese you make goes home with you to enjoy later.  Lunch (with cheese, of course) is included, as are recipes. Class is limited to 12 eager cheese makers. Class fee $50.

SMOKING BASICS
Saturday, November 3, 2012, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Smoking may be detrimental to your health? Not if you learn to smoke with the Master Food Preservers — meat, fish and cheese, that is. We’ll teach you about the necessary equipment and demonstrate safe techniques for making delicious smoked products. Class is limited to 25 students. Class fee $25. Includes recipes and samples for lunch.

FRIDAY NIGHT SPECIALS SERIES

JUICES & CIDER. October 19, 2012: learn to use a steam juicer and press cider, pasteurize the product for safety, then freeze it or can it.

SUSHI. November 9, 2012: learn the history of sushi, see classic varieties made, then make your own California rolls to enjoy at the class or take home. Some hands-on.  (Note to CE fans: I’ll be discussing sushi history and skills!)

HOLIDAY BREADS. December 7, 2012: learn an easy bread dough, then turn it into special holiday treats such as, tea rings, filled braids, monkey bread and teddy bears. Some hands-on.  This is one of our most popular annual classes!

Class fee: $15 each or $35 for all three.  6-8:30 p.m.  Includes instruction, recipes and samples.

All classes are held at the Community of Christ Church, 1485 Gilham Road, Eugene.  To find more information about all of these classes and how to register, visit this website or call 541-344-4885.

mfp fall preservation classes!

Hear ye, hear ye!  We’ve set the schedule for an exciting slate of fall OSU Extension-Lane County Master Food Preserver classes.  There are two series: one a continuation of our popular Friday night short, cheap, lecture/demo-style classes; the other a smaller, more exclusive, hands-on class.

I’m particularly excited by the very special Pacific Northwest cheese tasting class led by Mary Lou Shuler of Newman’s Fish Market on Friday, Sept. 30.  Don’t wait to make your reservation for this one!

For registrations, call 541-344-4885 or download a Saturday class form or a Friday class schedule to mail in with your check. (These forms are both in .pdf format and can be printed out from your computer.)

Saturday Hands-On Classes

All classes will be held at the Community Church of Christ located at 1485 Gilham Road, Eugene. You will receive intensive training at these two “hands-on” classes, then take home the items that you learned to make! Classes Start at 9:30 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. Classes are limited to 8 participants, so register early to save your place. Registration Fee is $50.00 for each class.

  • October 22nd—Cheese Making.  Learn to make 4 to 5 different cheeses; take them home to enjoy! You will learn the techniques and receive the recipes. Lunch is included (with cheese, of course). If you have always wanted to learn how to make cheese, here is your chance. Register early as this class will fill up fast!
  • November 5th—Fermented Foods. We’ll start with sauerkraut and move to kimchi, bake some sourdough bread, make a little sour cream and crème fraîche, kefir too! You will also learn how to make vinegars! This class will send you home with wonderful products you made yourself to enjoy with family and friends. Lunch with fermented goodies, including chocolate (we bet you didn’t know)! Lunch is included.

Friday Short Classes

All classes will be held at the Community Church of Christ located at 1485 Gilham Road, Eugene. Classes Start at 6:00 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m.  These fun classes are in a lecture/demo format, and accommodate more people than the Saturday classes.

  • SPECIAL!!  September 30th—Cheese Tasting. The Master Food Preservers present an evening of cheese tasting, featuring cheeses made in the Pacific Northwest. Hosted by local cheese specialist, Mary Lou Shuler of Newman’s Fish Market. Lots to learn and lots to taste. Join us for an evening of cheese delight. Registration Fee is $20.00 per person.
  • October 14th—Apples and Pears. Learn to cook and preserve a variety of these delicious seasonal favorites. You will receive information on varieties; how to store the fruit throughout the season; and when the fruits are available. Come and join us. Taste lots of samples! Registration Fee is $15.00 per person.
  • November 11th—The Turkey Show. Varieties and how to choose them; frozen vs. fresh; safe storage and handling; smoking; brining; stuffing; roasting; gravy; what to do with leftovers. Just in time for Thanksgiving. Take away knowledge that will enhance your dinner and promote food safety. Lots of samples! Registration Fee is $15.00 per person.
  • December 9th—Sweet Breads & Fancy Shaped Breads. Simple bread dough recipes plus How-to-Help with Making Holiday Gift Baskets. Purchase items at our Holiday Gift Bazar on December 3rd, then learn how to arrange your freshly made goodies in a Holiday gift basket. Registration Fee is $15.00 plus $5.00 for materials.

And last but not least, Oregon State University Extension Service is celebrating its 100th Birthday on September 22. You are invited to join in the festivities and check out our temporary home.

  • OSU Extension Centennial Celebration Open House, September 22, 2011, 2:30 – 6:00 p.m., Extension Office – 783 Grant Street, Eugene. Light refreshments will be provided.

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.

pickled cherries and cherry festival

One of my favorite local farms, Hentze Farm, is having their annual cherry festival this weekend, July 16 and 17.  I’m planning to sling preserved cherry products for the crowd on Saturday as part of the Master Food Preserver demo station.  We’ll be answering questions about how to preserve summer tree fruit and berries.

Come out to Junction City to say hello!

This might be the only week (they tell me) for U-Pick cherries, and you can also buy other fruit and vegetables.  There will be BBQ, live music, and farm animals and games for the kids.  Kids and adults alike may enjoy the cannery equipment that sets this farm apart from others, too.  The family bought up some of the machines that cut beans, pit cherries, and strip corn, so you can always get your farm-fresh produce prepared for convenience there.  Each year, I buy a 10# bag of freshly pitted sour cherries for brandied, frozen, and dried use during the year.  The leftover juice can be turned into a sour cherry jelly or syrup.

I’ll be bringing my pickled cherries to sample as a prelude to my demo at the upcoming “Intro to Pickling” class on July 22.  We’re nearly full but if you’re desperate to learn how to pickle, it’s from 6 to 8:30 at the Community Church of Christ, 1485 Gilham Road.  Call 541-344-4885 for information on how to register. The class is $15 or you can still buy all three remaining classes (pickles, tomatoes & salsa, meats) for $40).

Believe me, once you taste these, you’ll want to include them in your repertoire, so I’m including a recipe here!

My pickled cherries use the classic Chinese five spices as flavoring: star anise, cinnamon, clove, Sichuan peppercorn and fennelseed.  These spices all work beautifully with cherries individually — why not put them all together?

As they mature for a month or so, the vinegar and spices mellow to produce a sweet, sour, spiced pickle that is absolutely delicious with roast pork or duck.  Imagine it alongside a thickly cut pork chop from Biancalana Pork, for example.

Pickled Cherries with Five Spices

Makes about 3 pints

You can use fresh Bing (dark sweet) cherries or premium frozen ones (the bigger the better) for this recipe.  I used Hentze’s frozen cherries from last year, already pitted, since the crop wasn’t quite ready.  And a pint of fresh Queen Annes for some color variation!  The cherries are prettier if you leave the pits in, and the pits add a nice, slightly almond flavor to the brine. Be sure to plan ahead for this recipe, as it sits for several days on the counter and then needs to rest for a month or so.

  • 4 cups sweet dark cherries (see note above)
  • 2 cups cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns (can use less for less kick)
  • 5-6 whole cloves
  • 3-4 whole star anise
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds

Stem the cherries and pit them, if you wish.  Let cherries sit overnight in the vinegar in a non-reactive bowl.

In a non-reactive saucepan, add sugar, water, and spices. Drain the vinegar from the cherries into a bowl or directly into the saucepan if you are bold.  Place the cherries into the non-reactive bowl.

Heat the vinegar mixture to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Let the liquid cool to room temperature, then pour over the cherries.  Cover with a plate to submerge, and put a towel or plastic wrap over the bowl.  Let sit at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Drain the liquid from the cherries into a non-reactive saucepan.

Remove the cinnamon stick and strain the spices (if you wish).  Boil the liquid.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature.

Clean and sterilize 3-4 pint jars.  Scoop the cherries into the jars, leaving room for quite a bit of liquid.

Pour the liquid over the cherries in the jars, leaving an inch or so headspace.  Cover the jar with a non-reactive cap (the plastic ones are fine, but metal lids/rings are not) and store in the refrigerator for a month before eating. Keeps for many months.

summer canning class series — only forty bucks!

Behold the breakfast my husband made me on this, the holiest of all days, last day of classes in spring term.  And it’s sunny!  I think I speak for everyone — faculty, students and staff alike — when I say HALLELUJAH!  Can I get an amen in here?

So, as I eat my Sweet Briar farms breakfast sausage, sauteed brussels sprouts, scrambled eggs with scallions, and blueberry yogurt parfait, let’s start some serious summer food planning.

Have you signed up for your canning basics summer demo course series through the Master Food Preserver Alliance?  It’s a very low cost set of four classes covering everything to get you started: jams, pickles, waterbath canning (tomatoes), and pressure canning.  Fifteen dollars a class, or even better, $40 for the series.  These classes are meant to demystify the process with demos, and they aren’t comprehensive, but it’s a great way to start canning safely and meet the MFPs in your neighborhood.  Plus you’ll get plenty of samples and tips.

Summer Canning Class Series

Featuring demos by certified volunteers with the OSU Extension – Lane County Master Food Preserver Program.

  • JAMS AND JELLIES: June 17, 6-8:30 p.m. Cost $15.
    Community of Christ Church, 1485 Gilham Rd., Eugene.
  • PICKLING: July 22, 6-8:30 p.m. Cost $15.
    Community of Christ Church, 1485 Gilham Rd., Eugene.
  • WATERBATH (Tomatoes and Salsa): August 26, 6-8:30 p.m. Cost $15.
    Community of Christ Church, 1485 Gilham Rd., Eugene.
  • PRESSURE CANNING (Meat): September 23; 6-8:30 p.m. Cost $15.
    St. John the Divine Church, 2537 Game Farm Rd., Springfield.
  • Summer Series (all four summer classes). Cost $40.

I’m leading the pickling class in July.  Any requests?  I think we’ll discuss cucumber pickles, canning fermented pickles, and quick pickles, and do a demo on dilly beans.

Register for the series or a single class on the OSU Ext. Lane County MFP website here.

There will also be classes on canning tuna, demos at Down to Earth and other places, and more classes as we’re able to schedule them.