Archive for Personal & Portland Impressions

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello friends and family! Just thinking of you on this holiday, so I thought I’d get motivated and post about our day and especially our meal. It’s all a work in progress, so I’m sure I’ll be posting all day about it. Feel free to comment and tell me what you are eating today.

Chris and I are chillin’ today. No big plans, nothing too social. It’s actually quite nice – I’ve been gone a lot for school and work and we’ve been keeping different schedules, so this will be some quality time for us . Heh. Plus, I’m not going to think about school or work all day, which is a treat for me.

Here’s what my menu plans are for the day…I got hooked up with a farmer out of Dallas, OR who models his farming practices after Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm…the name might ring a bell if you’ve read Omnivore’s Dilemma. My shortcut way to explain this is Happy Meat. I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch, but I want to know that my meat was brought up on a farm in a humane way by people who care about the animals and the land, something that is getting harder and harder to find these days with our food systems focused on factory farms and cheap meat. I’m not going to soapbox here, today anyway. If you want to know more, please ask me.raw duck

So I met my Abundant Life Farm farmer on Monday night and purchased a pasture-raised 4 1/2# duck. It was happy, at least until recently. 🙂 I’ve cooked duck before, but not very often, and there is only one dish I’ve made that I want to recreate – a smoked duck breast that we used to make at Viking Culinary in Franklin. I turned to a cookbook that my mother-in-law gave me a few years back that is co-authored by Jacque Pepin and Julia Child, Cooking at Home. Mom, remember our Julia Child cooking shows? I’ve used this cookbook before for some great recipes and instructions on traditional French-style dishes, and it doesn’t disappoint. I love Jacque’s Roast Chicken.

Anyhoo, in order to use the duck to its fullest, I am going to smoke the duck breast and serve it sliced with a fresh grapefruit sauce over greens and cranberries. I then plan to pan-roast the legs with parsnips and shallots, and make a killer sauce from cooking the carcass down into stock and then into a lovely brown sauce. And cracklins with the skin! squash

Also on the menu are a version of a sweet potato roll that some of you have had before – they are dipped in honey butter and rolled in graham cracker crumbs before baking. mmmmmmmm. This time I’m using butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes and I started the dough last night to get a jump on it. In fact, I should go shape those rolls and start the duck stock now. I’ll be back later to tell you about the additional sides and general updates. What are you cooking today? dough


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Lunch and Dinner, Week 8 (Food, Ethics and Sustainability Class)

Perogies and Portabellas

perogiesI wanted to focus on eating fresh this week, but that’s always a challenge when it comes to a busy schedule and not much kitchen time to put meals together. I’ve found frozen perogies at Trader Joe’s that are good for convenience food, so I boiled some of those and sautéed a portabella mushroom, also from Trader Joe’s with Tamari to top it, The Russion-style dumplings were made for Trader Joe’s who distributes from California, but both the sourcing of ingredients and the actually making/processing could have happened anywhere. They have relatively simple ingredients: flour, water, potatoes, cheddar, onion, corn oil and salt/pepper. The mushroom was probably grown and packaged in California for TJ as well. Tamari is a better flavored soy sauce, made by a Japanese-owned company in a factory in Richmond, Virginia. The ingredients are water, soybeans, salt, alcohol (to preserve freshness), organic wheat. There is a statement on the bottle: We add only enough corn-based alcohol to prevent the growth of yeast or mold.

I had some homemade caramelized onion dip left over from a potluck, so I added a spoonful of that and it transformed the dish into a takeoff on Mushroom Stroganoff. The dip had local yellow onions in it, sour cream [Sunshine brand: probably cream, milk, lactic acid], mayonnaise [Smart Balance Omega Plus: water, blend of natural oils (canola, soy and flaxseed), vinegar, sugar, food starch modified, egg yolks, natural plant sterols, egg whites, tapioca maltodextrin, xanthan gum, salt, inactivated yeast, lemon juice, mustard, calcium disodium EDTA, sodium benzoate, sodium acid sulfate, TBHQ and potassium sorbate to protect flavor, Vitamin E acetate, oleoresin paprika and beta-carotene color] and cream cheese [Philly: milk and cream, cheese culture, salt, stabilizers (carbo bean & guar gum)]. I ate this with French Breakfast radishes from the Farmer’s Market. Also, served on a bed of baby spinach grown in Oregon and purchased at New Seasons.

How strange that the homemade piece of this meal was the craziest as far as ingredients!! I expected the frozen food (perogies) to be full of chemicals, but it was the “healthy” low-fat may instead. The meal was still super satisfying, lots of good textures and very filling, also the leftovers were easy to carry around and reheat on-the-go, a new criteria of mine due to my schedule.

Lunch, Roast Beast roll-ups with Strawberries

Mmmmm, this was a delicious snacklunch – light but filling. I’d
just picked the lettuce after working for four hours out at JEANs farm, a working educational farm, doing lots of dirty chores including mowing in the hot sun and hauling wood around. My treat at the end of the work day was to pick some braising greens and lettuces right from the field, so the first thing I did upon coming home after washing my hands was to eat some of it. I had some nice roast beef from New Seasons, raised sustainably according to Niman’s web site. The strawberries were a splurge from the previous weekend, grown in California organically, hopefully not in a traffic circle! I have strawberry plants starting to develop fruit in my front yard and the wait has been painful, so this purchase helps to tide me over.

The wraps are lefse, a lovely Norwegian flatbread that I discovered when I married my husband – his sister is married to a man from a large Minnesota clan with solid Norwegian roots, and every Christmas his 80+ year-old parents make lefse for all their 8 kids and their extended families. The homemade version is delightful, super-thin and soft with an instant mashed potato base. They are the kind of food that is incredibly hard to stop eating. I like them plain but several of my family members like to butter and sugar the lefse before rolling and eating. We also employ them for turkey leftover lunch roll-ups. I was surprised and pleased to find that New Seasons carries a version of these <;, and while I’d originally purchased them to be a treat for my husband and didn’t expect the store-bought brand to hold up to the real thing with regards to taste and texture, I’ve found that they actually make great low-calorie/carb wraps for quick lunches. They are made in Minnesota (no surprise), and I’m guessing that there was a transplant working for New Seasons who got this item stocked originally. Highly recommended, they are vegetarian but not vegan (contains milk). The website for this brand also sells Hockey Stick Ice Scoops for ice fishing and has a list of the top ten ways to get your kids to eat Lutefisk, but doesn’t talk much about the company (or where they source their instant mashed potatoes). I also used Wasabi mayonnaise from Trader Joes, my favorite sandwich condiment at the moment.

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Food Journal Meal 1, Week 6 (Food, Ethics and Sustainability)

Beet & Spinach Salad

…with local goat cheese to which I added some sauteed sage from my garden. There is some of that wonderful NW Heritage bacon on there and pecans from the bulk bin at New Seasons. No idea where those were grown or how far they were shipped to get to Portland. Read the rest of this entry »

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New York Times Editorial from a Chef (Food and Farm Bill)

Hey folks, remember me? I’m now in a great program at PSU getting my Masters, so life has been a bit hectic… I’ll try to be a little more communicative here, especially since I’m running across so much great material and interesting articles and reading cutting edge stuff, I really should share it with you. Here’s a link to my program:
The website is a little sophomoric, but you get the idea…

January 14, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor

Amber Fields of Bland


Tarrytown, N.Y.

THERE’S invariably something risky, if not risible, about allowing Congress to decide what’s for dinner. Bad decisions about agriculture have defined government policy for the last century; 70 percent of our nation’s farms have been lost to bankruptcy or consolidation, creating an agricultural economy that looks more Wall Street than Main Street.

Now, after the uprooting of a thousand years of agrarian wisdom, we chefs have discovered something really terrible — no, not that the agricultural system we help support hurts farmers and devastates farming communities, or that it harms the environment and our health. What we’ve discovered is that the food it produces just doesn’t taste very good. Read the rest of this entry »

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My First Earthquake

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A bunny made of fire

Local to the Southeast part of Portland, this elusive rabbit is an unassuming grass-eater by day, but at night, if you sit quietly in your backyard, you can bear witness to a fantastic transformation. Just don’t burn your hands.

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HOT weekend


Originally uploaded by eatlikeachef.

The temperature hit 124 according to my outside thermometer, not the most perfect weekend for Marcia and James to vist from Salt Lake City. But we made the best of it, traveling down the shady Gorge to view waterfalls, eating some good food and enjoying a cold beverage or four. Unfortunately for James, he doesn’t like cheese. The horror.


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