Monday, September 29, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Monday in September

Today in my kitchen I:

Enjoyed bananas in the early morning with the boys.

Made our oatmeal porridge with applesauce, cinnamon, butter, and raisins.

Made peanut-butter-honey-sandwiches with apples for lunch while my husband snacked on chicken and chips.

Chopped up lots of basil in preparation of tomorrow's sauce making.

Made chicken-enchiladas with rice for dinner topped with "little beauties", avocado, and yogurt (in lieu of creme fraiche).

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Soaked flour for pizza dough for tomorrow's dinner.

Soaked coarsely ground coffee for husband's cold-water-extract.

Started a new batch of beet Kvass.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Farm Bounty: Tomatoes

We spent the day at the farm in the midst of tomato harvesting. It is time for sauces, pastes, and salsas. The visit provided bounty (it almost seems we should call it booty!) to bring home and preserve for our own winter supplies.


Heirlooms waiting to be made into sauce.


"Little beauties" as my 3-yr-old lovingly calls them when asking for another.
Oh the joy of tomatoes on EVERYTHING for the next week.


Plenty of Romas to make some salsa for ourselves.

Chèvre: Review and Opportunity

Technically speaking, "chèvre" just means goat in French, so all the cheese that Quail Run Creamery produces is chèvre. However, it is the soft, creamy goat cheese that earns the title Chèvre.

We were lucky enough to come home with a little tub of herbed chèvre today from the farm. Chèvre has a much shorter shelf-life than hard cheeses (two weeks). I have used plain or herbed chèvre in everything from quiche, to salad, to dressings, to cracker and sandwich spreads. With so many uses, it is unlikely you will see your chèvre through to its "use by" date.

Scott, the Quail Run Creamery Cheese-maker extraordinaire, is offering a class on making chèvre November 1st at Kookoolan Farms. The promo for the class is as follows:

"Saturday Nov 1, we are offering a basic soft cheesemaking class. This is a perfect introductory class for the hobby cheesemaker or anyone interested in how cheeses are made. During the class, several demonstration cheeses will be made from both goat milk and cow milk, and we'll talk about how to flavor cheeses with herbs, vegetables, and fruits, and how to use soft cheeses in recipes. The instructor is local cheesemaker Scott Catino of Gaston, Oregon, who is about to launch his own brand, Quail Run Creamery. Scott (who prefers to use his cheesemaker name 'Dominic' when he's making cheese) makes the best chevre I have ever tasted, and he’s very personable and a great teacher as well (in his day job he teaches Technology at Gaston High School). The cheese tasting will feature three of his absolutely outstanding cheese varieties, plus local and imported goat cheeses, soft cheeses, and hard cheeses. "

For those who cannot wait for Quail Run Creamery to open for business, this might be a good sneak peak (and more importantly, taste!)

In My Kitchen: A Sunday in September

Today in my kitchen I:

Made banana pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Came home from a day at the farm spent foraging, making salsa, and sampling cheeses, to then forage for leftovers to polish off before the boys crashed into bed. Everyone's meal included crackers and herb-chevre from the farm.

Snacked on leftover salad, and dried plums.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked tomorrow's oats.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Saturday in September

Today in my kitchen I:

Buttered bread and had milk for first breakfast with Soren while we waited for everyone else to wake.

Made pancakes and tea for second breakfast.

Made peanut-butter, butter, and raw honey sandwiches with left-over cilantro-celery salad for lunch. Reheated lamb shanks and potatoes for husband's lunch.

Soaked rice for dinner.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Made salmon and rice for dinner with broccoli and salad on the side.

Enjoyed applesauce for dessert.

Friday, September 26, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Friday in September

Today in my kitchen I:

Made the oatmeal porridge.

Made bread and fed the new sourdough mother.

Ate chicken and cheese for lunch (waiting for the bread for proper sandwiches).

Continued dehydrating crackers.

Snacked on Ak Mak (sesame crackers - available at the store) with butter.

Made lamb shanks with sauce, potatoes, and a cilantro-celery salad for dinner.

Made ice cream.

Enjoyed ice cream with the boys for family movie night.

Baked bread.

Soaked flour in yogurt for Saturday pancakes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Thursday in September

Today in my kitchen I:

Made our oatmeal porridge for breakfast with butter, leftover pear-plum-apple sauce, and raisins.

Ate more quiche and lamb for lunch.

Snacked on dried plums.

Processed and formed the cracker grains and set them to dehydrate.

Concocted a meal from what was on hand: rice, ground beef, carrot, basil, garlic, wine and beef stock, topped with cilantro, green onions, and Yamhill. I am not sure if I can call it dinner, but there it was.

Marinated Lamb shanks in wine for tomorrow's dinner.

Popped and ate popcorn.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked oats for tomorrow.

In My Kitchen: A Wednesday in September

Today in my kitchen I:

Made our oatmeal porridge.

Refilled the beet kvass sediment with water and let sit again to make the second, less potent, batch.

Enjoyed leftover quiche for lunch.

Rinsed and replenished water on the cracker grains.

Snacked on chicken, lamb, and cheese for dinner (as I have previously explained, dinner is hit and miss on Wednesday's because of this little endeavor).

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Enjoyed ice cream for dessert.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Tuesday in September


Today in my kitchen I:

Made our morning oatmeal porridge with butter, cinnamon, raisins, and peaches.

Started a new batch of Kombucha.

Enjoyed yogurt and banana's for lunch with the boys, while husband enjoyed left over leg of lamb.

Soaked wheat berries and sesame seeds for crackers.

Made pie dough for crust, and extra for next time to put in the freezer.

Made an onion, spinach, green bean, chevre (soft goat cheese) quiche for dinner with a side salad topped with balsamic-creme-fraiche vinaigrette.

Finished the chicken broth and pulled apart the meat to save.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Soaked the oats for tomorrow's breakfast.

Enjoyed ice cream for dessert.

Kvass: A Crash Course

Kvass translates literally as "leavened". When you speak of kvass, most (who have ever heard of kvass) will think of kvass made from bread (which I have yet to try...but now that we're talking about it I might have to give it a go and provide a photo-how-to for everyone).

Kvass is a "leftover" for traditional bakers, but what a leftover it is! Kvasses are extremely beneficial to the gut, and the gut is the center of health for your whole body. Kvasses protect against infectious diseases, boost the immune system, are more hydrating to the body, and are all together fun and fizzy to drink.

Kombucha is a tea kvass. You know my thoughts on kombucha.

Beet Kvass is a tonic, more than a beverage (unlike a bread kvass, which, as I understand it, is quite tasty). That is because beets are so nutrient dense. Here is what Nourishing Traditions has to say about Beet Kvass (pg 610):

"This drink is valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are just loaded with nutrients. One 4-ounce glass, morning and night, is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments. Beet Kvass may also be used in place of vinegar in salad dressings and as an addition to soups."

Additionally, beet kvass is being used as cancer therapy in Europe as it seems to have favorable effect on disturbed cellular function. Many studies have shown that beets have a regenerating effect on the body (paraphrasing Annelies Schoneck Des Crudites Toute L'Annee, from the side bar on the Beet Kvass Recipe page in N.T.)

The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) provides a great article on Kvass and Kombucha here.

Why might I make such a beverage? My husband is a recovering Normal American, and at 40, like many others, he is experiencing the cost of all that "refined" eating. For him, it is ulcerative colitis (this article by wiki is obviously of the conventional medicine mindset as it doesn't think there is a connection to diet! Ha! But it explains well what the symptoms are, for a better analysis of digestive health and problems, see this WAPF article). Beet kvass is a part of his medicine, along with a "no refined foods allowed" policy that he likes to compromise on a weekly basis that sends us back into acute colitis issues. This cycle is slowly goading him toward permanent change. I am proud of my husband, he has done amazingly well at choosing health and making dramatic changes to his pre-marriage lifestyle and diet, but his body wants more, and I don't want to be a young widow!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn comes to the Kitchen

Apples and Pears and late Plums prepare for Applesauce:


Fresh, local Beets make a potent Kvass:


Early Carrots and Parsnips make for a very comforting Soup:


One of my personal favorites, in-season Brussels Sprouts on the side are what finally convince me that Fall has arrived:

Autumn Solstice Feast

I tried preparing my first Leg of Lamb last night, and it was delicious.
In my excitement we ended up with a 5-course meal...but no complaints here.



Clockwise from top:
Butternut squash with butter and raw honey,
Butter sauteed Brussels sprouts with plenty of sea salt,
Med-rare roasted leg of lamb with Dijon gravy,
Roasted red potatoes also with gravy,
Red butter lettuce salad with apple-cider, Dijon, vinaigrette

Also exciting is the leftovers I will get to try in another new recipe for "leftover leg-of-lamb soup". Oh, how I love food. I am thinking that soup might be a good place to add some more Yamhill cheese.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Catering: My Sister's Wedding - Report


Me and my sisters

A couple things to remember for catering in the future:

1 - Don't cater an event you want to attend (especially if you are supposed to be in photographs).

2 - Don't cater an event from out of town.

That said, I would do it all again for my sister and new brother. I think it was a success, and we had ample food, as I was given the head count for the invited number rather than the rsvp'd number. I do not think anyone minded the left-overs.

Once in the kitchen on location, I realized I had left the gravlox at home in my refrigerator, and had brought a yogurt container half-full of yogurt, rather than a yogurt container stuffed-full of Bok Choy leaves to add to the gravy. These details were not much missed.

I was incredibly blessed to have some wonderful volunteers helping in the kitchen, and most notably, this lovely lady on the left:



It was not only tremendously helpful to have help, but it was also a joy to see so many friends supporting my sister and brother-in-law on their special day.

I was not able to document the process, or the finished results in the way I had hoped, but I know that the photographer took some shots of the banquet table, so I do hope to have something to share soon.

In the mean time, I did take pictures of the homemade, live crackers that were a huge success (so much so that my husband asked if I could start making him some - so I have a new batch in process right now), and SO simple.

This recipie is from Nourishing Traditions:

3 cups soft wheat berries
1/4 cup non-irradiated sesame seeds (I used half black half white, and you can also use caraway seeds)
filtered water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup raisins or currents (optional - I did use them; it lends a little more sweetness)

Place wheat and seeds in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Cover and leave in a warm, dark place 24-hours. Pour out water, replenish, leave for another 24-hours.
Test berries by pinching. If still hard, pour out, replenish, and leave for another 24-hours (mine were soft after 48 hours and did not require another day of soaking - this probably depends on the weather conditions).
Pour off excess water, transfer berries with slotted spoon to food processor, and process with salt until smooth. Add optional raisins or currents and pulse a few times.

Then for crackers, brush stainless steel baking sheets with olive oil or butter, and use a rolling pin to flatten dough into thin sheets on the pans. Bake in a 150-degree oven or in a dehydrator until crisp. Break into crackers.

For bread, form dough into balls and flatten slightly, place on the baking sheets and bake at 150 for 12-hours, turning half-way through. If you live in a hot climate, you can bake these in the sun.

(I used a dehydrator we were borrowing, and flattened the dough on parchment sheets I placed on the dehydrator trays. I also used my large butcher knife to pre-cut the dough to make for an easy and clean break once the crackers were dry.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Catering: My Sister's Wedding - Menu and Schedule

My youngest sister is getting married this Saturday and I have the privilege of catering the event! It is only 40 people, which is a good bite-size for gaining experience. This will be my second catering experience and I am quite excited about it. My first was a 20-person, 5-course, plated dinner for the baccalaureate celebration of the Gutenberg College graduating class of 2005 - myself an alum, class of 2006. I was eight months pregnant and in the house kitchen from noon until nine loving every sweaty minute. This time I know a bit more about food preparation and will be doing the work all week long.

One of the things I love about taking the time to prepare foods according to traditional methods (aside from the nutrient density and digestibility), is the opportunity it gives for happy anticipation. The tending I do throughout the week makes me look forward to sharing the well-prepared foods with friends and family. It is truly making something with love. My time, thoughtfulness, and love will go into these wedding meal details all week long, and then my heart will be full when I watch people that I love enjoy them - transfixed, not on the good food nourishing them - but on each other, as it should be. May this meal be a nutrient-rich foundation for many long years of loving one another well!

Here is the menu:

Platter of Fresh Local Fruits

Platter of Fresh Local Cheese served with Sourdough Bread and Zarathustra Crackers

Gravlox (Raw Marinated Steelhead)

Pear Vinaigrette Salad with Crispy Pecans

Potato Leek Soup

Stuffed Flank Steak with choice of a Red Wine Sauce or a Butter Sauce

Chocolate-Carob Covered Strawberries

(someone else is in charge of the wedding cake)


Here is the schedule of preparation:

Friday a week before:
Split sourdough mother for additional loaves

Saturday before:
Soak wheat berries and sesame seeds for Live Zarathustra Crackers
Feed Sourdough mother

Sunday:
Drain and replenish water on the cracker grains
Feed the Sourdough mother

Monday:
Process grains and seeds with raisins and salt for crackers - then dehydrate
Feed the Sourdough mother
Start Beef Stock
Soak Pecans for Salad

Tuesday:
Pick up Cheese from farm
Break and Store crackers
Feed the Sourdough mother
Simmer Beef Stock
Dehydrate Pecans for Salad

Wednesday:
Simmer Beef Stock
Store Pecans
Feed the Sourdough mother
Order Flank Steaks from Butcher in Eugene

Thursday:
Finish Beef Stock
Marinate Steelhead
Purchase Fresh Produce
Chop and Maple-coat Pecans, dehydrate again
Make first batch of Potato-Leek Soup

Friday:
Store "candied" Pecans
Make second batch of Potato-Leek Soup
Make and Bake Bread
Prepare stuffing for Flank Steak
Make Chocolate-Carob Sauce
Dip and Chill Strawberries
Make Salad dressing

Saturday morning:
Stuff and roast Flank Steak
Reduce Wine Sauce
Prepare Butter Sauce
Reheat Soup
Assemble Salad
Arrange Fruit and Cheese Platters

Saturday Afternoon:
Serve and Eat!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

"Yamhill" Review

More cheese art made it's way into my kitchen last week:


As you can observe from the rind, this was a rustic hearty cheese.


This cheese made me crave sausage. I have not yet tried the combination, but I can only say it is the first cheese to make me crave sausage. I will have to try to track down a good quality local sausage to see if it really combines the way I imagine it.


This cheese is softer, milder, and creamier, than The Rooster, but still hard and still pleasantly sharp. It will be lovely crumbled into a hearty soup to kick off the coming of fall (um...perhaps a rustic sausage soup!). I will work on a recipe and hope to have something to share soon.

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