salt and shiso

IMG_3859One wouldn’t think an herb so fragile and leafy as shiso (aojiso or ohba, sometimes labeled as perilla or beefsteak) would take kindly to salt, but it does.  If you grew a plant or two this year, consider making the traditional salted pickle from Japan, or a shiso kimchi from Korea.  Personally, I’m partial to the clean, simple flavor of the salted shiso, but have enjoyed both.  Either lasts for several weeks to months in the refrigerator, but quality is best after at least a few days of curing.

In Japan, red shiso (akajiso) is used as a dye for umeboshi, pickled plums, and a delicious addition to pickled cucumber or eggplant.  It’s also dried and used as a furikake, or crumbly delicious crunchy topping for morning rice.  Mmmm.

Why don’t I eat more Japanese breakfasts?

Because I don’t have a Japanese wife to make them, duh.

Ah, right.

Green shiso leaves are chiffonaded and mixed in with rice, or used to wrap bits of ground chicken breast and pork and grilled.  I often pick a few leaves and eat them with rice, using them like those little nori strips that are now popular with the nutritionist crowd.  The basil-anise-Thai basily green flavor is exquisite, and again I urge you to grow your own, as the stuff in the market is rare, expensive, and fades quickly. I’ve grown two kinds of the green shiso: one that has a purple underleaf, and one that doesn’t.

It is also preserved, most successfully with salt, but sometimes with soy and a little garlic. One can also use the seeds fresh or salted, but I scatter them in my herb bed for another crop.

The Korean form of shiso (kkaenip, sometimes called ‘sesame leaf’, Perilla frutescens var. frutescens) is a different strain of the Japanese perilla (Perilla frutescens var. crispa) and the ornamental perilla (coleus).  See a good picture in the LA Times here.  If you can find it, use it for kimchi.

IMG_2339Salted Shiso Pickle

The recipe couldn’t be easier.  Pick the largest leaves of your fresh green shiso, then sprinkle a little sea salt on each leaf, stacking leaves in a container. You might weigh them down (as I did above, with ocean beach stones) or not.  Let cure in the refrigerator for a few days, then enjoy for months.


Shiso Kim Chi

You will need to make a souse, but this recipe doesn’t ferment the kim chi like cabbage or radishes.  It’s milder and softer, perfect for summer.

  • 3 cups medium to large shiso leaves
  • 3 tablespoons very thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 3 green onions
  • 3 tablespoons julienne carrot
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon powdered Korean red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Prepare the shiso leaves by rinsing them, if necessary.  Prepare the vegetables for the souse.  Thinly slice the red onion and mince the garlic; thinly slice the whites and greens of the green onion; julienne the carrot. Toss the vegetables with the sugar, fish sauce, red pepper, and sesame seeds.

Layer every two shiso leaves with a bit of the sauce, gently rubbing it into the leaves evenly.  Leave some souse for the top of the pile, press down gently, cover, and refrigerate for at least a week.


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.


Nice things in my life lately are orange.

Prawns beriberi with butter and the Ethiopian hot pepper blend, beriberi powder.

Fresh apricot-colored oca, a South American starch, at Berkeley Bowl.

More jam, but this I made in Oakland with my friends from their very own loquat tree.

One of my favorite dishes at the Iron Chef Eugene competition, a rearranged arroz con pollo by Mike Meyer of Red Agave, with sauce swath inspired by dahlias brought by his daughter.

A Holy Donuts! pineapple-apricot upside down cake delivered to my door.  Note to self: lend cookbooks to bakers!  My neighbors came over to help me devour it.


oregon mfp food safety hotline 2011 open for season!

Canning for the first time?  Wondering if Grandma’s pickle recipe is safe?

Call 1-800-354-7319!

The annual Oregon MFP Food Safety Hotline is now open through mid-October each week from M-Th 9-4 p.m.  We welcome all calls from Oregon with questions about food preservation and safety.

This is the first year the hotline has been located in Douglas County, after many years in the now-defunct Lane County Extension office.  Believe it or not, certified Lane County volunteers are making the trip down to Roseburg on a regular basis to train and staff the hotline this summer.  Didn’t I tell you these ladies were dedicated volunteers?  Headed up by our beloved Donna Crosiar (above), who has forgotten more about preservation than I’ll ever know, the hotline is still in good hands.

By the way, if you want research-based preservation recipes, we have them up on our Lane Extension website.  Hard to find a link (and negotiate that site in general), so I’m linking them here.

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.









the one that got away


I admire the sneaky ones who hide under the leaves, trying to develop to maturity.  But Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm posted a link to a German recipe on his newsletter that seals their fate, too.  Old, overripe, yellow cucumber pickles!

And their name: senfgurken.  Irresistible.

Sorry, guys.

Anthony says he substitutes tarragon vinegar for the white wine vinegar.  I haven’t tried the recipe, but it looks great, not to mention dissertation-writing-neglectful-gardener friendly.  Maybe I’ll let a few more go.

fair enough


Have you been to the Lane County Fair yet?  I gave my talk on blackberries there the other day, but it was so hot I couldn’t spend more than an hour walking around and looking at the exhibits and rides.  Still, I managed to snap a few shots of the local color.


Fun to look at all the canning efforts, some so much better than anything I’m capable of doing; others, well, grey dill relish.

I do hope to get back before it ends, so I can see the animals and vegetables.  And minerals, too, I suppose.  Right now, here I am, pondering my looming dissertation deadline:


Let’s hope the safety belt is operating properly!

winter blackberry varenye: preserves 101


My latest food column for the Eugene Weekly is on the stands!

In the article, I wrote a few tips for eating all the food that’s clogging up our freezers in the Willamette Valley, separated by freezer food groups:

  • meat;
  • berries;
  • small round vegetables; and
  • sauce.

If you’re looking for recipes I mentioned in the article and similar ones, here are two for frozen corn.  My summer blueberry liqueur and blackberry thyme vinegar recipes are now available for the clicking.  Fava bean recipes I wrote last year are here.  And an impromptu frozen chicken drum-ette fiesta with frozen tomato puree takes place under these words.

I thought I’d provide another good frozen berry recipe today: something to whittle down those berry bags.

Varenye is a loose Russian preserve served as a sweet treat.  In Russia, they eat it in a little bowl alongside tea, or actually in the tea itself as a sweetener.  I eat it on bread, but it would also make a good topping for crepes or waffles, since the berries are swimming in syrup.  Best yet: it’s a concoction anyone can make at any time.  You can use frozen berries and you don’t have to worry about sterilizing jars, since the preserve is stored in the freezer.  No pectin to buy, either.  It’s easy and delicious — what else can we ask for in late winter?

My varenye is made with frozen boysenberries and my homemade blackberry cordial, a  vodka-based fruit liqueur, but you can use any kind of blackberries.  Any berry, really.  This version has less sugar than some recipes, which can run up to a 1:1 ratio of sugar to berries. The instructions to bring the berries to a boil three times, cooling in between, seem unnecessary, but that’s how I first heard the recipe I rather like the tradition.

Blackberry Varenye Preserves

  • 3 c. sweetened frozen blackberries or boysenberries*
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3  T. vodka or other spirit (kirsch would be nice)
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice

Bring all ingredients up to a boil, stirring carefully to ensure the sugar has melted.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, removing foam if necessary.  Let cool, then bring to a boil again and simmer for 5 minutes.  Repeat a third time.  Pour varenye into freezer-safe containers and keep in the freezer, spooning out a bit into a bowl, spooning out a bit when you need it.  The sugar will keep the varenye from completely freezing.  You can also keep a small jar in the refrigerator, but the preserve lacks the copious amounts of sugar in regular jam and won’t keep as long, so plan on using refrigerated varenye within a couple of weeks.

Makes about 4 cups.

*I freeze my berries with a ratio of 1 c. sugar to 3 lbs. berries to keep them plump and individual in the freezer, as per MFP guidelines.

in which she foods it up around the clock

Yesterday’s jam class went well.  I didn’t teach the class, just assisted; it’s always a pleasure to see how someone else handles the pedagogy.  We covered making all manner of jellies and jams with frozen fruit, and the class was delightful.  It was small, but quite frankly, I’m not sure we could have handled more people without a significant redesign and much more help.  The biggest hits were the long-cooked gooseberry preserves, which cook up dark pink even though the berry is green, and the strawberry freezer jam.  I’ll definitely be adding gooseberries to my 2009 jam catalog at Cannery Eugenius.  And I learned a couple of new tricks: placing the lids in the simmering pan back-to-front so they don’t stick together, drying one’s rings in the oven at a low temp to inhibit rusting, and making reuben sandwiches in a crock pot.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…and I’m speaking as a bargain-hunter and an educator here, not a cheerleader for the Master Food Preserver Program.  If you have any desire to learn food preservation, you’ll take one of these MFP classes.  The prices are way too cheap for the quality of education, resources, and product you get.  The jam course cost $25, provided 5 hours of instruction, lunch of entirely homemade ingredients from the mustard to the bread, a packet of researched recipes and tips on different techniques, and six half-pints of jam/jelly.  The jam alone would have cost you $30 at the store.

You can download a registration form for upcoming MFP classes here.  I’m particularly interested in the three-part bread series in February, but the soup class and gluten-free cookery seem great, too.

After the class, I had to hustle to prepare the yellow-eye bean and tuna salad I had promised for the evening gathering.  A recipe will follow, since this week is bean week here at Culinaria Eugenius.

I paused a moment to flip through a book I’ve been wanting for years, The Art of the Table: A Complete Guide to Table Setting, Table Manners, and Tableware by Suzanne von Drachenfels, that had just arrived from a remainder sale at Daedalus Books.  The pictures of forks alone made me drool.

But there is no rest for the forkéd.  On the road, I stopped by a friend’s house to pick up some errant grapefruits, and I arrived just in time for an apéritif of vin de noix, a fortified wine steeped with green walnuts.  Delicious. We examined beans, discussed important Italian seed matters and range venting, and ate gloriously yummy nibbles.  N.b.:  Celeriac is in season — I saw some amazing specimens at Sundance this week, and the salad we ate confirmed the time is now.  I somehow managed to leave the gathering with my pockets stuffed full of borlotto lamon beans and home-cured pancetta.  Am I lucky to have such friends, or what?

Came home, reintroduced myself to my husband, was set-upon by cats, and caught up on email.  Some time around 11 p.m., I woke up eating pizza in bed.   I’m not sure how that happened.

And then the world went black.

bittersweet orange to clear the taste from our mouths


And what better way to celebrate two more short days of bitter rule than a pot of homemade bitter orange marmalade?

dscf3430After two days of chopping, juicing, stirring, stickysugaring, dicing, scraping, squeezing gloopy natural pectin from orange seeds, and playing with napalm ooze, the two batches of citrus marmalade are finished: dark, complex Seville Orange and Meyer Lemon, and light, bright Kumquat and Satsuma.

I had a very special request for marmalades last month, so I brought home citrus from Berkeley Bowl.  The poor things languished while I had my car incident in San Francisco, and the struggle to get caught up afterward.  Then, as luck would have it, I spied some perfect kumquats at Market of Choice the other day, looking much better than the moldy old ones at Berkeley Bowl (?!? the local deities will forgive me), so I suddenly had twice the work.  This is my life.  I complain.  But still I don’t change.  Can’t change?  Won’t change.  Yet.

Anyway, I don’t have anything fascinating to report, other than it takes forever and is a giant pain in the a$$.  Making the pectin from the big goober ball of orange seeds and membranes was kind of cool.  I had never made pectin before.  You boil the seeds in cheesecloth, then squeeze out the jell they form into your fruit.  The marmalades set up beautifully.


The recipes I used were slight adaptations of David Lebovitz’s Seville Orange Marmalade, and the Ball Blue Book’s Kumquat Marmalade.  The kumquat recipe is much sweeter and less complex than the Seville orange, and it’s not just the difference in recipes.  Lebovitz’s cooks much longer, probably twice the time.

But if you think about the fruit, it also makes sense.

Kumquats are kind of one-dimensional.  I think I’d mix them with Sevilles if I ever make marmalade again.  Which I probably won’t.  I actually have a blister on my chopping finger.  A blister!  Look at those ragged cuticles!  Woe is me!  Woe!

All right, fine; don’t feel sorry for me.  I’m going to go eat some marmalade and think about sweeter times ahead.