Is it oregano, really?

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,garden by mark Thursday August 2, 2012

THIS week’s job was to finally process the oregano hanging in the garage the last 3 weeks…yep, the hanging bundles that immediately drew a neighbor asking how we were brave to dry our marijuana in plain sight. As IF we had any. Remember the oregano ?

Yes, pretty simple process, but I was surprised how much actually came through…must be the mild summer. First the bundles placed on the counter:

Stems stripped, leaves lightly pressed to break ’em up a bit, and of course, pull out most of the smaller stem pieces:

Result in about 1hour? 2 half gallon jars:

The biggest demand for the oregano will be in the Tomatillo Salsa upcoming weeks, but maybe I should set up a small box and chair by the road and put up a Oregano Sale sign? hah.

That effort brought about the need for a good chewie, so a batch of my M&M Cookies began to replace the space Oregano took up:


Favorite NW Berry Jam project completo for 2012. MORE to follow.

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,General Home Life,Scuff Boys by mark Thursday July 12, 2012

The season’s sudden change almost overnight from cool and damp to steady 80+ days, 55+ nights has brought an explosion to our summer gardens, and production plans. THIS WEEK? The only grower in this area I know of that, for about 2-3 weeks, has: Cascade Delight Raspberries, …… WEST UNION GARDENS ……..called to say they’re ready. Next morning, 2 flats were brought home to become jam within a few short hours of being picked:

So. Preps are made. Lids gathered sorted and placed for sterlizing dip into the hot water as jars are filled:

The jars we’ve saved or returned to us are always welcomed when the season starts….here they await loading into the sterilizing dish washer cycle:

We then begin processing the berries, one batch at a time (about 7 jars yield for each batch):

After the mixing, processing, this beautiful berry jam is placed into the jars, sealed, and await cooling:

4 hours later: 48 jars of Cascade Delight Raspberry Jam complete the Raspberry inventory for 2012. NEXT? West Union Gardens has called me this morning to advise the Boysenberry picking begins Saturday………. Nice.

Summer Puddin’ Time it is!

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,General Home Life,Nature,Pacific Northwest by mark Thursday August 4, 2011

NOTE: ALL the photos here were caught JUST with the PHONE Camera…it was all I had…. I AM surprised how well it does, I know some aren’t composed really well….but…… summer’s moving too fast to pose for long.

On to my favorite summer dessert.

You KNOW your summer’s peaked when you eat SUMMER PUDDING (link to Recipe) . . . . . the first time.

Nancy had a few family members over last evening for a summer picnic evening ….yes it was fabulous. We both made a little of that magic dish and “I” thought it was the highlight of the evening.

There’s no stopping me now….after the dental appt this morning, picked up 4 mixed berry containers and am on the way! (Blueberries, Boysenberry, Blackberry, Raspberry)………

***** SOME of these pics can be enlarged ******* They get a little more interesting on a hot day if you can almost FEEL some of this summer air *****

Summer Pudding starts this way:

Next thing you know, your berries are mixed, and brought JUST to the point that the juices start to run:

Next thing is slapping down the pound cake slices around the bottom and sides of the bowl, pour in the fruit & juices, then TOP the thing with more pound cake:

Weight that all down, set in the fridge for 12 hours. You’ll pull out a purple lovely Dessert just begging for a little whipped cream………. Yep, that was Poor Man’s Dessert in England 100 years ago.

We’re STILL enjoying the best of summer, and hoping friends suffering from the 100+ temps back east can feel the falls, here’s photo of La Tourell Falls, this time kept LARGE so you can feel it’s power…..CLICK on this photo:

And sure, portland has lots of rose gardens. Here’s a minor one: Peninsula Park Rose Gardens #1:

Garden Pic #2

And those SAUVIE ISLAND FARMS old trucks they keep seasonal flowers in? Here’s what they look like this week.

Truck 1:

Truck 2:

Truck 3:

Let’s try to cool off a little…..Here’s a Columbia River Gorge Shot from cooler times in the early summer, shot from the Washington Side of the river, simply with the Android phone camera….

And lastly, a little wild foxglove….really stood out hiding there in the forest:

Ah summer. It’s too short.

Our latest Menu Favorite(s)

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out by mark Tuesday August 31, 2010

Another interesting time for us this weekend. Somehow, from the prior Picklathon weekend, we didn’t think we had “quite” enough jars of the Habanero Spicy Pickles, so had bought two “small” bags of cukes for Saturday’s completion of the task. **KATE and IAN, from the prior week, who visited while the cousins pickles, decided they too were going to pickle Saturday. We combined efforts and made a full day of it………………(pic from prior week…..we took NO pics THIS day):

By Sunday morning, when our appetites had returned, we realized we had NO food prepped for the week. But we had some things we’d wanted to try. However, fatigue from two busy weekends, meant we took Sunday easy. Monday, however, we got caught up on some NEW Recipe tryouts……..I hope you try them as well, they are delicious.

Once again, we had watched America’s Test Kitchen w/Christopher Kimball last weekend. From that a really delicious Baked Manicotti Dish was prepared by Rodger last night. (**The LINK goes to a video of ATK preparing the recipe.)
**ATK’s video shows an efficient way to stuff the pasta:

**Rodger patiently stuffed each one carefully:

**And, MAC, of course, tried to not be noticed in the background hoping a speck would hit the floor:

Also watched on the Food Network was one of Ina G’s new shows, “Ina Garten: Cooking for Beginners” . . . . from THAT program two new recipes caught our eye, and Mark made: Moroccan Chicken Tagine. He WILL be making “Preserved Lemons” as soon as the lemons are brought home from a store, or orchard which ever’s closer, hah!

Can’t leave without mentioning our stop at a local gourmet bakery out on NE Broadway, and it’s been here a LONG time: Helen Bernhard’s Bakery, and NO, we didnt’ intentionally drive by it, but once we were “there”, and God had provided a parking space by the front door, we were helpless…..WHY? On SUNDAY, THIS choice spot doesn’t bake anything….it’s the one day off in the back. It may be “unadvertised”, but EVERYTHING they have not sold from saturday, goes on sale half off! YEP, we took out a small bag of breads, rolls, pastries and a full Carrot Cake………IF ONLY I’d taken a picture of it before we ate it. . . . . .The photos of cakes on the web page do not exaggerate.

Ah! Late summer! Nothing like it.

The Nancy’s Do Pickles

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,garden,Scuff Boys by mark Monday August 23, 2010

125 Pounds of Cucumbers were gotten at the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island Friday Morning…..luckily at the very moment the new load came in from the field! They were placed in 5 tubs like the above to soak in water until Saturday Morning when cousins Nancy M & Nancy P would arrive for a 2 day picklathon. It’s only our 2nd year doing this, and it already feels like a tradition!

The first morning, friend Ian and Kate (& of course, Celeste) arrived to watch the process. Kate intends to make pickles from Grandma Nancy’s recipe herself this year. We enjoyed Kate’s help for a couple of hours:

Yep, we had a good start, and it doesn’t take long for the island to look busy:

During the day, it may look good or messy depending on your point of view:

**By the way, the sliced cukes were for a special batch of pints we canned, you know, for those small “Hamburger on the grill” weekends……

Within a few hours, the process sort of evolves into an efficient operation, and by Saturday’s end, we were 2/3 done…… a good sign! However, we had NO Habanero’s! Yikes! Before Sunday’s work began, we had retrieved said peppers and were well on our way to saving the few jars of Spicy Pickles many DO love:

By early Sunday afternoon, we were finito! Complete!

2 Nancy Boys, and 2 Nancys had finished making another 93 bottles of Grandma Nancy’s Dill Pickles! We were SO proud we hauled off to Russell Street BBQ for some down time! This was a fabulous time for us to be together again…… Mark grew up with these women….. and we both love them completely.

**On the birding side, ALL of our songbirds are now GONE! Flown the coop! The woods are silent again for almost 8 months up here, sadly. We’re currently left with the gangly clumsy Band Tailed Pigeons …….and feelings about them are mixed, but their clowny arrivals are fun to watch:

And once again, MAC had a boring weekend, but he was well behaved, and TIRED somehow after all the company left:

And we’ve heard from Bill H back home in NYC! HE DID JAM while he was here:

And word is out that he’s enjoying serving his friends HIS OWN home-made Raspberry Jam. MOST cool.

Fresh Raspberry Ice Cream

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out by mark Tuesday June 29, 2010

Fresh RASPBERRY Ice Cream

Thanks to the fabulous visit of the Taron/Hallorans, and Doug telling me that the recipe in the Ben & Jerry Ice Cream Cookbook for Fresh Raspberry Ice Cream was “excellent”, we made some. We’d had the book for years and I’ve only used the Vanilla recipe up to this date. The raspberry experiment? I ate a PINT of it the first night. Oh, but it was a pleasure.

Hence, I’m putting it out here for all to enjoy….. IF YOU like fresh Raspberries, you must try this, and it IS that season right now.

*Compared to other fresh fruit, fresh raspberries are intensely flavorful and very tart, so to make ice cream you need less fruit and more sugar.

1 Pint fresh Raspberries
1 1 / 2 Cups Sugar
Juice of 1 / 2 lemon
2 Large Eggs
2 Cups heavy or whipping cream.
! cup whole milk

1. Toss the raspberries, 3 / 4 cup of the sugar, and the lemon juice together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
2. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 3 / 4 cup sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minutes more. Pour in the heavy cream and milk and whisk to blend.
3. Drain the juice from the raspberries into the cream mixture and blend. Mash the raspberries until pur’eed and stir them into the cream mixture.
4. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes a generous quart. Bon Apetit !
= = = =

I’m way behind in keeping this “diary”…………and hope to catch up soon.

THE sign of EARLY Summer: Berries Begin

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,garden by mark Wednesday June 23, 2010

Something magic has happened once again! In some mysterious way, after all the whining, the GRAY, the wet, the mud, SUMMER snuck in the back door. ALL the pessimism about a rotting garden? (WELL, some of that was earned, some of those plants are in their 3rd planting after all!)…….is GONE.

JUST today, believe it or not, I had to water vegetable plants! THE fabulous news about that is, our 15 year old garden space shows healthy soil condition….it has been DRAINING the moisture all through the wet period. ALL I had to fight today was some MOLE invasions under plants, fertilize a bit, and truly admire nature, appreciate that things are actually GROWING (MORE on this later)….

THIS post is about what happens to signal the REAL beginning of a Northwest summer, at least to me.

The REAL INNER SENSE of this season happens WHEN the BERRY SEASON begins, and I make FREEZER STRAWBERRY JAM! THEN, my mood is changed, and renewed once again! Truly, it is.

Any worthy project starts with a spot of tea, yes?

Next, you’ll prepare your little freezer cups for their coming duty:

Then, it’s the last look at these Hood strawberries in their original form, just picked a few hours ago:

Everything peripheral gets measured and set out…pectin/sugars:

Finally, we start the fun stuff. Getting the berries cleaned, stems removed, and things look good:

Now, we core the berries, crushing ’em a bit with a potato masher, and “lucsious” comes to mind:

You’re ready to go………….Mix some of your pectin w/sugar, add a bit o-water, bring to boil, add your berries and get it OFF the heat immediately so berries don’t cook.

Ladle the luscious fresh berries into those cups, seal ’em up…..and you end with this:

That what happens to the first flat of strawberries that comes to this house………………….every year.

THIS JAM, represents just one of the many fabulous food gifts my Mom always made for us.

From the time we were kids before many folks even had a freezer, she was making this jam and did until she was in her last house….something she was so proud to serve when we came home to visit. Now I enjoy it year round.

Homer Desserted us!

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out by mark Wednesday May 26, 2010

I completely forgot to post a pic or two of those fabulous desserts Homer makes without even consulting a recipe while he was here during some unplanned very rainy weather. He was a most Gracious Guest………….and fun.

Our first was his famous Lemon Meringue Pie he seems to make for LOTS of parties at his home in Tucson:

About a day later, we picked our first batch of rhubarb out of the garden and he threw together a fabulous Rhubarb/Strawberry pie (that had PECANS in it):

If that weren’t enough, about day 5, we watched him whip up an angel food cake (using 1 doz egg whites), then he made fresh lemon curd (using 1 doz egg yolks…no nothing wasted). All one needed to add was the fresh strawberries and Voila!

….and yes, we’re sort of dieting this week……………… I learned quite bit this week ….. and intend to master all of these desserts so we can make them again for friends here. If I don’t succeed, watch out, we may have to take a trip to Tucson! THANKS, HOMER!!!!

A breather coming?

Bloged in birding,food: recipes + dining out,General Home Life by mark Sunday May 23, 2010

We have just finished a most pleasant week enjoying the company of a vacationing friend. Homer was kind enough to join us here for a week that’s been filled with good food, fun lots of talk, Sauvie Island Birding, dog walks, talks, the gorge, Homer’s Pies: Lemon Meringue & THEN, a fresh rhubarb/strawberry (his own recipe)….and let me say, when Homer T says he can make a good pie, he KNOWS what he’s talking about. I am determined to learn HOW to make that rhubarb/strawberry/pecan wonder.

The gorge is always a great view from Crown Point, eh?

We ALL got some thrills on our birding trip: 1) A bald eagle hatchling being fed in the giant nest….fabulous, and…. 2) The Heron Rookeries we posted about a while back are SO very alive now with 2-3 big heron babies in each nest sounding out calls to parents constantly (it’s how they recognize and find their own “kids”)…..THAT was thrilling. When the trees were leafing out 3 weeks ago, we thought we wouldn’t see the birds again…we DID.

We enjoyed some fine Portland food at home, John St Cafe, Ya Hala, Pause Restaurant, and Swagat-Orenco –to name a few….. (do not remotely think any of the other “Swagat’s in this town are connected to, or even close to the beautiful presentation and incredible variety of rich northern Indian food this place offers…no matter what the web site indicates. This one is run by a separate group of people).

At one point, we certainly enjoyed how someone carefully changed the “P” to an “F” on this advertising car . . .

Sadly, we’ll say goodbye to this “animal whisperer” friend tomorrow…..and maybe begin getting to the “to-do” list that’s been idle for a week, dang! After all, even without Homer here, it has been nothing but spring storms / hail / rain / wind every day. One night, we ate my Mom’s Recipe for Enchiladas de Santa Fe in the dark here ….

the power remained out until early morning hours.
The link points to the recipe I’ve posted long ago here. Oh well.

May has been a month with NO pauses, and I have some more worthwhile material to put here in my diary…..but I must get to that tomorrow. We had TWO beautifully inspiring and fun outings with Nancy G & Carol to fabulous nurseries in the Willamette valley…. that’s next up.

The birding excitement was high all week. This is that time of year here in the hills/forests, the song birds are ALL HERE singing in the mornings….eating about 2 quarts of sunflower seed a day plus other mixes. IT is fun.

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