Gorgeous Garden Greens

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

As I water my Rainbow Chard daily, with these hot summer days, I ponder what the heck am I going to make with all of this. When I planted my seedlings I didn't think of the mass amount of harvest I would have. If you are an individual who is garden-less, then go on down to your farmer's market and get yourself some greens.

The best part about greens such as, laccinato kale, chard and mustard greens is that when you cook them they shrink vastly. Sometimes that might always be a good thing, but when you have as many as me, its great. Usually I simply steam or braise the greens in vinegar and a little salt and pepper. Delicious, but I need change...So, lately my preferred preparation for these Brassicas is finely chopping the leaves, followed by a steaming session of 3-4 minutes and a long shock in ice water. After I drain the cold water off I dress the leaves with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. No need to make a complicated dressing, just simply nature's wonderful flavor. Serve this salad cold with your favorite summer dish. Hope you enjoy! Happy Summer!

Seattle for a day!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A few weeks ago I went to Seattle for a job interview. Not only did I get the job (that's for another post), but I also got to explore the city a bit. Being the cupcake connoisseur that I am I had an itching desire to go to Trophy Cupcakes, a very popular Seattle bakery. The owners had made an appearance on the Martha Stewart Show, and I had tried a recipe of theirs that turned out very well. Unfortunately, when you've been in a car for 3.5 hours and your stress level has been through the roof for the last 35 hours, you aren't thinking too clearly. In my case, I forgot the name of the bakery. We ended up going to Cupcake Royale instead. Oops! I guess I have so many cupcakeries ingrained in my head that they can easily get mixed up. All mistakes aside, here is my take on Cupcake Royale:

Although the special of the month was Lime & Coconut, my boyfriend and I opted for different flavors. I chose the Salted Caramel and Eric picked out Carrot Cake. The cashier offered us the carrot cake for free since she had a "less-than-perfect" version (the swirls of the frosting were not up to Royale par), so we got a red velvet cupcake as well.

We chose a seat in the back of the large room, which was very white but decorated with a lot of colorful paintings. A lot of people were there on their laptops, doing homework with coffees by their side. I didn't see any empty cupcake wrappers on their tables though...

So here are my problem with the cupcakes at Cupcake Royale. First, the tops fall off immediately upon trying to peel the liners off of the cake. That's a big no-no for me. I want to be able to taste the cake, the top of the cake and the frosting all in one bite. Next problem: the cake was so moist that it crumbled in my hands before I could get it to my mouth. Moist is good; too moist is not good. However, when I took a bite of the top of the cupcake I liked what I tasted. The frosting was a little sweet, but not too sweet like most powdered sugar-based recipes. I guess I'm used to a french buttercream or swiss meringue buttercream. Before I could taste Eric's cupcakes, they were gone. I asked them how he liked them, and he replied "they were okay". That certainly didn't stop him from eating them though!

I particularly liked the slogans on the plates:

After a quick peek at their apparel and a chuckle at this t-shirt, we headed out to our next adventure: beer!

Just up the street we spotted Elysian Brewing Company. We decided to grab a quick drink before we began the trek back home. The inside was very spacious, and there was a lot of seating. You could see the brewers working their magic behind the glass windows, which was exciting! There were also a lot of flags stating years they won 'Best Brewery in Seattle', legitimizing the place a little more.

I'm a porter/stout kind of girl, so I ordered the Perseus Porter. It was delicious! Eric got one of the IPA's, which he enjoyed as well. The service was a little slow, but considering we needed to hang out for awhile before driving it didn't bother us much.
What a great day in Seattle. A good interview followed by a cupcake and beer coma - and I didn't have to drive!

Surfin' the food net

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pardon my lack of posting in the last few weeks - I could share with you a list of excuses as to why I have been absent from this wonderful blog...but I prefer to spare you the pathetic lies and just give you some good food news.

When I first began my baking endeavors, I looked to the internet for sources, ideas, inspiration, etc. I stumbled upon all sorts of great websites, blogs and twitters and my list has continued to grow throughout the last several years. Here is a long list of some of my favorite winspirations (web inspirations; clever, I know):

David Lebovitz (Paris, France)
Bake at 350 (US)
Building A Bakery (Las Vegas, Nevada)
CakeSpy (Seattle, Washington)
101 Cookbooks (San Francisco, California)
Get Sconed! (Portland, Oregon)
Vegan Shizzle (Portland, Oregon)
Stumptown Vegans (Portland, Oregon)
King Arthur Flour (US)

PDXHappyHour (Portland, Oregon)
PDXFoodCarts (Portland, Oregon)
BobsBakers (Milwaukie, Oregon)
Forkfly (Portland, Oregon)
Glutenfreee (Portland, Oregon)

Try Vegan PDX (Portland, Oregon)
My Sweet and Saucy (Long Beach, California)
CakeCentral (US)
Tasting Table (US)

There are plenty more, and I will share them with you as they come! Happy surfing!

It's time to try something new (or old)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Do you like beets? How about broccoli? Asparagus? If you answered no to any of them, be honest...when was the last time you tried them? If it was as a child maybe it's time to give it another shot. I'm guilty of this too, for years I didn't eat avocado or mushrooms because I didn't think I liked them because I didn't like them as a kid. Now I love both! You can also have a false sense of dislike if you've never had whatever it is prepared well.

Last week at the farmers market I picked up some beets. The only thing I really remember of beets was that my grandmother ate them when I was very young (like 4 or 5) and I didn't like them. For years I haven't touched them, but they looked so beautiful with their deep purple color I decided I owed them a fair shot. I carefully searched for a recipe. I do love how in this age of the internet I don't have to take a shot in the dark with a recipe, I can rely on others experiences and feedback to find a trustworthy recipe. My favorite recipe site, allrecipes.com, had several recipes for beets but one stood out for the number of good ratings it had. I made Roasted Beets and Sauteed Beet Greens. The verdict: I still don't like beets. Haha! But at least I tried! My husband actually enjoyed the greens, I found them to be bitter.

I am excited to try something entirely new that I found at the grocery store yesterday. Garlic scapes are the buds of the garlic plant and the tag tells me they have a taste and texture somewhere between asparagus and artichokes with a mild garlicky-ness. I love garlic, asparagus, and artichokes so I figure I can't go wrong here. Looks like they are most popular for turning into garlic scape pesto. I'd like to try eating them whole first, though. Still trying to find a good recipe, if you know of any, let me know!

If it's been a while since you've really tried something, it's probably time to give it another go. Be sure to find a trusted recipe. Nothing worse than bad preparation to solidify your dislike of something. And don't be afraid of the new and unusual, too!

A Winery with a Smiling Face

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last week I wrote about the People's Farmer's Market and guess what...? This week I went again. I had my vegan dawg and Jonny had the vegan beer brat. Both were delicious and piled high with our choice of condiments. After I finished my very satisfying vegan beast of a dawg, I saw wine! Hmmm, maybe a tasting? Yes, yes it was! Klickitat Canyon, "where the grapes speak for themselves" had three different wines for all to try. This winery is located in Lyle, WA. and the grapes are grown in the Columbia Gorge. First, I tried the Pinot Noir, with it's bold, sour and thick taste I was sure it was going to be my favorite. Then, I tried the Ruby Red Table wine and it's drinkability was amazing. I tasted a woodsy, tangy zest, ending in a rather sweet tenure. Lastly, the Syrah was poured, I could really taste the dirt in this wine. The lovely representative explained to us that the grapes are not washed of their natural yeast, what looks like dust, that is apparent on them while they grow. This lack of washing adds intense fermentation and a very tasteful end product. We purchased a bottle of the Ruby Red Table wine considering it was the cheapest, $10.99 and the others being $25.99 we passed on for today. I will go back and buy the Pinot, no matter what the price. It was delicious!

We were told that no two bottles will taste the same, basically because nature just isn't that consistent. Klickitat Canyon being USDA Organic, prides themselves in, "nothing but the grapes". The wines are unfiltered and contain no added sulfites. I was very satisfied with the complexity and drinkability of these wines. I suggest them all! The befriending wine pourer invited us to try all of their wines at the winery. She spoke of the skilled vintner and the wineries authentic practices. All the more reason to drink their wine and visit the winery. After navigating the website, I have found that the owner is quite educated and just seems incredibly interesting. So, buy Klickitat Canyon's wine at the People's Co-op for certain, or check at your local grocer. I hope you all will enjoy a glass of vino this evening or in the near future. Support organic wines, it is the way wine is supposed to taste. Just grapes!

Farmers Market finds

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I, too, enjoyed a trip to the Farmer's Market yesterday. I was thrilled to find out Oregon City has a mid-week market; I'm unable to hit up the Saturday market because of work. The weather was a bit dreary and I came near the end of the market as a stop on the way home from work, but it did not disappoint. Still plenty of fresh produce, flowers and other goods available. My mother in law, who works for the county and was working at the information booth at the market, told me a few farmers had canceled because of weather. I'm not shy, I'm a true Oregonian and a few raindrops don't scare me.

I've learned a few things about the market. First, always do a loop before buying anything, ask questions about the food and other goods and scope out prices. Don't be afraid to ask about farming practices, farmers are usually happy to share. You probably won't see any "organic" labels there because of the cost of organic certification, but that doesn't mean the food isn't grown organically, so ask. Also, the Farmers Market is a good place to hook up with farmers who offer CSA subscriptions.

Here's my haul from yesterday's market:

A huge gorgeous bouquet of fresh flowers, 3 potted herbs for my garden (variegated marjoram, Italian parsley, and globe basil), 2 pints of fresh strawberries, asparagus, beets, and two bottles of wine from local King's Raven Winery.

To Market, To Market to buy a fat....not a pig.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Having Wednesdays off, I always try to plan things that work well in the middle of the week. For those of you who know me, I like to cook grand meals on my days off, so it is very necessary for a mid-week grocery pick-up. Every Saturday morning while I am rolling bread at work, I day dream of being at the farmer's market. So today on my trip to New Season's I passed by the People's Farmer's Market. Located in front of the SE People's Co-op, it is a small, no bigger then 10 tent market that has just what you need. I had to stop when I heard the laughter and music and saw the obvious charm.
A few of the vendors included wild mushrooms, Myriad farms, bodacious flower bouquets, Fressen bakery and a fabulous mother-son tamale operation. There was a strumming guitarist, a vegan hot dog cart and smiles all around. While the rain poured down my friend and I noshed on a monumental mixed vegetable tamale. Topped with their fresh and spicy tomatillo salsa, I was in heaven. Each tamale was a more than fair price of $3.00 and the friendly cook offered five different kinds: chicken, shitake, jalapeno cheese, spinach cheese and vegetable. I conversed with many friendly individuals and was able to finish my mid-week shopping inside the co-op. If your abode is in or near SE I recommend this store and weekly market.
The People's Farmer's Market is held every Wednesday afternoon from 2 pm-7 pm. This is the perfect time if you get off work later in the day or like me, just get a late start. Bring your bags, cash and be ready for some good deals! No worries if you forget cash money you are able to get cash back on debit purchases in the store. Hmmm... I think next Wednesday I will try the vegan hot dog topped with caramelized onions and mustard. MMMm... can't wait till then!

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