Saturday, June 27, 2009

I've been out of touch...

This past couple weeks has been a bit of a struggle. We are in the midst of trying to buy a home and still looking for that combination of affordability, close to our current life and lifestyle (schools, friends, commuter transit etc.) and a place we actually want to live. Not the easiest thing in the Puget Sound region for a single Dad and his 11 year old son & 100 lb dog. Anyway that took some precedent over the cooking and blogging and while I have managed to make it to a taco truck or two, cooking has been usually basic burgers on the grill or a quick salad. Nothing much to write about...

Then on the way to visit my Step-father in the hospital my Mum lost her footing and broke her leg in 2 places. He's 85 and she's 70 so as you can expect they needed help so the day Mum was booted out of the hospital I was in Oregon instead of the Seattle area.

As part of the help though I have been cooking up a storm and the folks live in the Willamette Valley which at this time of year is a tremendous cornucopia of fresh local produce, great locally made cheeses and meats as well as the wine for which the valley is famous. Although I have been cooing up batches of "freezer food" for the microwave after we leave, we have had a few other good experiences with our chow.

Strawberries from Unger Farms in Cornelius, OR over freshly whipped not too sweet cream - OMG these berries are so sweet. We also had them on some of my freshly made farmer cheese. I made a full 2 lb batch and used the majority on a couple of lasagnas but saved some out for toast with farmer cheese and fresh strawberries; truly a sensational dish.

Broken Halo IPA from Widmer Bros in Portland, OR - great hops and extra tasty with the Willamette Valley weather (a bit warm and humid) as well as with the "Backdraft" pizza from 3rd Street Pizza in McMinnville - a fine thin crust with Italian sausage, jalapenos and fresh garlic.

McKibben Ranch beef - we only had the ground beef but the lovely beefy minerally flavor of the all grass fed fresh ground (the ranch and processing is less than 30 miles from where we are) were delicious with Tillamook medium cheddar.

Red Fox Bakery - finally they are making baguettes and although their other breads are very fine I still hold that a bakery cannot be a truly artisan bakery w/o baking a good baguette

Gooseberries, red currants, sylvan berries, boysenberries, strawberries, green and yellow zucchini, 3 or 4 varieties of radishes and baby turnips spicy and sweet along with the numerous salad greens at the local farmer's market have kept us in fine stead and here the growing season begins early enough we can get this kind of thing by early June; most from less than 20 miles away. At home we need to get the early produce from Eastern WA so more than 100 miles away. I like the true locavorian nature of eating here.

Yesterday I whipped up 2 lasagnas, and a large batch of homemade mac & cheese. Today is it arroz con pollo and chili verde both for boil in bag type preparation.

Anyway, I'll try and get back in the swing of things when we get back next week although I may need to come back to Oregon in another week. I wonder what will be on the fresh sheet then...



  1. It sounds like you have been making excellent use of all you have learned and all you believe, plus enjoying the local fare. Your project is alive and well.

    I hope your folks are doing better. It sounds like they are having a tough time. Your presence and your wonderful food is helping, I'm sure.

    I'm fascinated to read about the easy-prep meals you are making for them, I love the combination of fresh local real food with super easy prep, which is exactly what is required when recovering. Do you use a seal-a-meal? I have been tempted to get one, it would be helpful to hear how it's working for you.

    I am working on pitting & freezing the 50 pounds of black cherries we picked yesterday from our tree. They will keep us in smoothies all winter. We decided to pick them all, ripe or not, and found they are all sweet but with flavor changes as they darken. A seal-a-meal would be handy for these!


  2. Hey, we love reading your blog and have made your bread recipe several times. Find your musings inspiring and hope you can find the time to keep them up!!

  3. Oh Jim,
    I hope everything is calming down a bit and you find your perfect house. Looking forward to your future posts soon.