Sunday, September 30, 2012

September - Favorite Things

Here it is the end of September and time for some favorites of the month.   Included are links, when available, for additional information about the items. I hope you find some things in the list that you too enjoyed in September.  Let me know what you think.

Years and years and years ago this magazine first inspired me to appreciate really good food.  Always interesting with imaginative recipes, now the September issue has announced that Luce Italian Restaurant in Portland (pronounced LOO-chay), is one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in the country for their brilliant Italian cooking. Congrats to Luce and Portland.

Pink Martini’s A Retrospective is the first compilation album by the American group, released in 2011 the album contains twenty-one tracks from six studio albums. What can I say, I love Pink Martini and their funky international style. They are just another example of Portland's really cool, but ever so slightly off-beat vibe.

Albacore Tuna Roastgrilled on a bed of Rosemary branches. The fleet is in, buy albacore tuna fresh from the Oregon Coast now.  It's the best September has to offer.  

Dahlias - Real dazzlers in September!

Left Coast Cellars 2006 Heritage Pinot Noir. An exceptional wine fermented by native yeast in French oak and aged for 34 months, this wine has every component to age for a future generation. Elegant and structured; decant to serve now or age upwards of 15 years.
(only 30 cases remain).  My favorite for very special occasions and the very best company (dear old friends and family).

The Race which took place September 16th raises significant funds and awareness for the breast cancer movement. It was a time to celebrate survivors and their families while working toward the promise of ending breast cancer forever.

You really should take a look at this time lapse video which is beautifully composed. It captures  the City of Roses in a most creative style.   If you like Portland, you’ll love this video - created by Uncage the Soul Productions.

Pumpkin Vase - Flowers, shrubs, and fruits can be arranged in a hollowed out pumpkin vase.  Perfect for October or November (you can use other members of the squash family also, depending on space and color scheme).  This and other stylish centerpiece ideas (and great pumpkin recipes) come from Holiday Pumpkins by Georgeanne Brennan, Jennifer Barry Design.

Here we come October !  Evelyn

Remember:  Buy local when you can!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pennsylvania Pictorial

This month it was time for a long overdue trip to visit friends who had moved from the West Coast to Pennsylvania. This was my first trip to the Quaker State. The first thing I noticed was  how much Downtown Pittsburg looks like Portland, and then (just like Portland) in no time your out in a countryside which is strikingly similar Oregon.

It was one of those trips spent visiting the smaller cities and towns around the Amish country, the battlefields of Gettysburg, historic Johnstown, and the somber, yet serene Flight 93 Memorial. We were on a pretty tight schedule taking in all the history that has formed the framework of what our country is today.  

With all this sightseeing we were fortunate enough to find a wonderfully secluded rural bed and breakfast appropriately named the Swiss Woods Inn located in the town of Lititz the heart of Lancaster County (Amish territory).  It truly was idyllic, where you could reconnect with nature, discover history, and experience Pennsylvania Dutch culture, lulling you back to a slower, gentler time.  Plus if you were not careful you could put on a bit of weight devouring their sumptuous breakfasts.  First morning there we woke up to enjoy their featured recipe of the month, Pumpkin Pancakes with Lemon Apples.
The owner of this charming inn has teamed up with several other bed and breakfast owners around the country and started a blog about their recipes, kitchen wisdom, and anything that is foodie related.  It is appropriately named, "Eight Broads in the Kitchen."  
I warn you the recipes are not for the weight watcher crowd, but they involve good, fresh ingredients avoiding the fast food approach to cooking or eating.  That’s what I call “kitchen wisdom”.

Battlefields of Gettysburg

Pennsylvania Countryside

It was a wonderful trip, but as Dorothy put it, "there's no place like home".

Bye for now - Evelyn

REMEMBER:  Buy Local When you Can!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

McMinnville and More

The planning commission got it right in historic McMinnville with the development and renewal of the downtown district which over the years has been transformed into a vibrant business area for merchants, artists, and visitors.  It's always worth the drive up Highway 99 to visit  their charming historic downtown and have breakfast at the Crescent Cafe. 
Although the Crescent is one of those unique eateries where you march to the tune of their drum it's worth every bit. First of all they only serve breakfast, they are only open from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, (but luckily every day to the week),  the menu is somewhat limited, they will not split a check, and they will not except American Express.  And you have somewhat of a wait for your breakfast to be served after you’ve ordered it, but that’s because everything is made from scratch (as I said it's worth every bit).  Aside from the good food, there’s just something about the place that makes you want to come back for more.

To start with there is the host, a particularly fastidious gentleman, who manages to keep all the patrons served in an orderly manner and gets you started off in the right direction with the menu and the specials of the day.  The place is small, but charming, very well maintained with lots of wood, pleasing light fixtures and beautiful fresh cut flowers.  Breakfast is always worth the wait, but the outstanding (and I mean outstanding) feature is the bread which is made every morning in their kitchen.  Although you do have a long wait for your meal, you are allowed to linger long with no pressure to leave before you are ready.  And beware the place is usually packed.
Of course the Crescent is right smack in downtown McMinnville (probably my favorite small town in the Willamette Valley).  Known to be in the heart of the wine country, the downtown is overwhelming endowed with wine bars and really fine restaurants, plus the Mcmenamin’s Oregon Hotel (half a block from the Crescent). 

Needless to tell you, last Saturday I got one of those uncontrollable urges to visit the Crescent (with my gardening mate) and after having gorged ourselves on breakfast, had a delightful walk around downtown, peeking in all the shop windows and doors.  It’s a pretty friendly place where you stop and talk about dogs or hair styles or the weather with shop keepers and other McMinnvillites.  
Going on down Highway 99, the countryside is quite literally covered with small wineries and tasting rooms where you can just stop in, enjoy the scenery, taste a little wine, and have a nice chat with the staff .  I can tell you Oregon is not Sonoma – our wineries are pretty casual and comfortable for the most part.

One such winery south of Mac (that's what people call McMinnville) on Highway 99, named Left Coast Cellars, is particularly special, not just for the wines they produce (which are pretty special), but for the incredible park like setting they have created on the property. It’s a large acreage and they have tastefully landscaped the area (which includes a small lake) that runs beside the drive up to the winery and tasting room.  Stunning in the spring, lovely in the summer, and then in fall all you notice are the immaculately manicured vineyards with opulent bunches of black pinot noir grapes promising another fine year of great wine. 
The winery is worth the visit just for the drive up to the tasting room. And an inviting tasting room it is, well appointed in a sort of shabby chic motif.   Not only can you sample their very good wines, but they have a small café serving small plates such as figs and gorgonzola, dolmades (stuff grape leaves), caprice salad, or maybe some of Carolyn’s special carrot cake.  During the summer they offer live music on the patio on Saturday afternoons or you can take a walk on the well maintained hiking paths around the property.

All and all it’s a great place to be – somewhere on highway 99 between McMinnville and Corvallis!

Life is good! Bye for now.  Evelyn


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Goat Cheese Salad

The other night, having had no thought about dinner until it was time to eat, I had to concoct something from what I could find in the frig.  Thankful we had the vegetable garden for I found a cucumber and some heirloom tomatoes sitting on the kitchen counter, which I put together with the goat feta cheese bought at the Fairview Farm Goat Dairy last weekend.
The Fairview Farm Goat Dairy was a place I'd wanted to visit for sometime - ever since I sampled some of their cheese at the Dallas Farmers Market (aka the Polk County Bounty Market).  Since the farm is only open to the public Friday through Monday, I took a ride over to the far side of Dallas last weekend. Aside for the dairy store they also have a road side self serve kiosk outside farm. You’re on your own, using the honor system, but you can purchase eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk and other things (is this possible?). 

The owners, Terry and Laurie Carlson, are usually working around the farm and in the dairy store on the weekends.  They are happy to talk to you about the dairy, the goats, and the products they produce and sell.  There's all sorts of samples to try so you can decide what you like the best, and to my pleasant surprise, they have soft serve goats milk ice cream on tap, served up in a cone just the way I like it.

As you can see I had a great time at the farm, the goats were as interested in me as I was in them.  Confidentially, they really are more like pets than dairy goats.  It’s obvious they are loved and well cared for – as are the chickens!
Meanwhile, back to my dinner -  which turned into sliced up cucumber, tomatoes and chunks of that goat feta cheese, mixed with dill, a pressed garlic clove, equal parts of fresh squeezed lemon and olive oil (about 2 T each), salt, and fresh ground pepper.  Humm –  explode in your mouth flavor – wonderful.

Usually when I have fresh chevre on hand I prepare a warmed goat cheese salad  that I found in Ina Garten’s book, Barefoot Contessa Parties!.  The simplicity of the salad makes it a perfect starter to a more elegant meal and I have served it often.  I substitute equal parts of champagne vinegar with half olive and vegetable oil instead of the dressing suggested in the recipe, just because this is what I prefer.
Or one could simply marinate disks of fresh chevre in olive oil and fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, parsley, etc.) for a couple of hours (or not), coat with bread crumbs (sour dough, panko, whatever you have that will work), bake in the oven (I use my toaster oven)  at 300 degrees for about 4 minutes (or until the goat cheese is warmed), then very carefully remove the disks from the pan to a plate.
That’s pretty wonderful too!

Bye for now - Evelyn

Remember:  Buy Local When You Can!