30 July 2009

Brain Burn

We Oregonians spent this week frying our asses off. It has been in the 100's, including a special afternoon yesterday where it got up to 107 degrees. It's weird that this was the week that my friend from NYC was here for a visit. We spent the whole week underwater... in matching straw hats from the drug store...

What do you eat when it's stupid hot? We decided that wine was good. Also hot peppers, watermelon and pickles. One of the best moments of this week was when we were floating down the river on our backs with a bottle of wine, not a reasonable thought in our heads. We ate a whole box of popsicles in one sitting that afternoon... I miss that day-even if it was too hot for chips.

I am sure by now you are realizing that I am brain dead. Heat damaged. Forgot english and how the computer works. Please forgive me. Also forgive me for the fact that zucchini is visible in this photo of the purple bush beans that I finally got around to picking.

24 July 2009

A Summer Party

As a special hostess with the mostess move, I baked my guests' initials on their slice of pie.
For dinner, steak and rainbow veggie kabobs, bacon wrapped scallops and fillet. For dessert, blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream. For drinks, Pimms Cups and many bottles of rose. A success!


I have discovered a few spots in my new neighborhood that rule.

One of these spots is where The Best Day Of My Life Happened: I Got To Feed A Baby Goat With A Baby Bottle. And it is only ten, count 'em, ten, blocks from my new house!!!! It is called Abita Springs Farm, and it is an urban goat farm AKA my dream land. I have recently realized my dream future, and it involves living on ten to thirty acres, raising goats and making cheese. There are other parts to this dream but those are the basics that don't include the 100 Jacky Scrapple clones that will be frolicking with the baby goats in the background. Something that I have been reading a lot about lately is raw milk, and that is how I found Abita Springs. Raw milk is living and wholesome and remarkably good for people to drink. I love the raw goats milk and plan on using it for my first attempt at making cheese!
Also, if you ever get the chance to feed a baby goat I highly recommend it. The little girl I was feeding was so happy- her little tail was wagging like crazy!

Another great local spot in NE Portland is Livingscape Nursery. They specialize in edible and native plants, and they have stuff for raising chickens. Right now they are trying to get rid of all of their pepper, tomatillo, and tomato plants, and they are giving them away for free! So stop by and get some plants! We got 6 pepper plants today and they all have little peppers already growing.

Not quite as close but still local, blueberries are finally in season. My friend Mariah and I drove out to Sauvie Island yesterday and picked a few pounds of giant, sweet blueberries. We went to Sauvie Island Blueberry Farms which is right off the road heading out to the beach. They have everything you need and you can even pick in a skirt. We finished our trip by stopping off at Kruger Farms and picking flowers. We picked a ten gallon bucket full and it only cost $12 dollars. My house is totally full of flowers and berries now. And zucchini. And goat dreams.

19 July 2009

The Great Harvest

I went into the backyard yesterday to glance over the vegetable beds and find some zucchini to bring in for staff meal. It had been 2 days since I last picked the squash, so I expected to find just a few little guys. Well, I don't know what happened exactly, but shit went crazy back there. The squash I found were aggressively large. I brought some to my neighbors, and the rest to work. We ended up using them as a display and then my coworkers brought them home to make jokes with.
I went out to the beds this morning, full of fear, and found three more. It's going to be a long summer of squash recipes. I have included an image of the zucchini noodles and jacky on the zucchini phone, talking to his grandma.

Also: Buttermilk Pie. I can't give out this recipe now as I am still working on it for the pie contest, but this was my first draft effort. Not bad!

Group Effort

Last night the front of house staff brought in what we wanted the back of house to make us for dinner. We wanted cheeseburgers.
We had delicious beef and pork burgers with curly fries. It ruled. Thank you to the people who made it possible.

A note from the floor last night- I have a new favorite kind of person. This person has a real passion for a general category: sauce. I was talking to a table last night and one guy asked, "So, does the salmon have sauce on it?" And I said, "Well yes it does- we put sauce on almost all of our entrees." The look on his face was ecstatic as he exclaimed, "I love sauce." My favorite part of this story was as I retold it to my boss last night, she started laughing so hard that she cried a little bit. And then, after the laughter and tears stopped she said, "It's just that... I love sauce too."
How great is all this love for sauce???

17 July 2009

2 hot 2 blog, or work

I am getting ready for work and am filled with fear. It's hot out and I have to wear clothes there- and we don't really have air conditioning. People really like to get mad at me for that reason. They start to get sensitive when their backs stick to the leather seats. They look at me, running around drenched in sweat, arms stacked with plates and spackled in other peoples food, looking nothing but joyful, and say "CAN YOU PLEASE DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE TEMPERATURE IN HERE?" and I'm like "Well I could, but why would I want to? I feel great!"

14 July 2009

Fancy Ramen

Nic and all of Saturday night's cooks made us a huge treat after work. Dark, porky broth with ramen or udon noodles, boiled eggs, fish cakes, green onions, pork, and seaweed. Guess what else we had- tempura battered shrimp and zucchini from my yard! We also had these weird Japanese cookies that were both salty and sweet and also were a lot like styrofoam. Thanks team!

Coldplay (?!)

Another summer surprise, Kevin, our friend and I were given backstage passes to Coldplay last week. None of us are big fans, but let me tell you- we had a kickass time. That band AIMS TO PLEASE! The butterfly confetti is what really did me in, but they also gave everyone in the 16,000 person audience a free CD with 9 songs on it. What what? If you look at the photo I took of the audience with all the yellow balloons (guess what song those came out during), you'll notice that it goes on forever. It was a huge crowd. And then you will realize that we were in the second row. Weird! I feel so bad for all the insane Coldplay fans that didn't get to sit in the second row while we sat right up front feeling smug.

We have concluded that there is no point going to concerts if we can't have seats in the very front, so I guess we won't be going to see any more live music, ever.

Zucchini Fest '09

Holy shit do we have too much zucchini! The squash plants are completely out of control- please notice the photo that includes Hiro for scale- His enormous head is smaller than the squash leaves! He looks positively tiny!
I am doing my best to keep up with it- in fact, I'm starting to get obsessed with it. Why not shave some into waffle batter? Would anyone like a 10 zucchini omelette? Zucchini bread, zucchini noodles. Fritters. Cakes. Salads. Lets do it! It's only a matter of time before my purple beans and tomatoes take over the kitchen, but for now squash is king. Today I started zucchini bread madness, where I plan on taking this vegetable and turning into bad for you. And I plan on doing this a lot. This bread is AWESOME. It's very moist, earthy and delicate. And it loves to be smothered in butter and sprinkled with sea salt, just like me! Or... whatever. It's really good.

*adapted from Bakers Illustrated.

1 lb. zucchini (no big seeds- get rid of those if you're working with a big zuc), shredded
3/4 cup of sugar
2 eggs
3/4 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of plain, full fat yogurt (I like-no- love, Nancy's)
juice from one lemon

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a standard 9" loaf pan. Shred the zucchini into a bowl (I found that one pound= 3 small zucchini). Mix 2 tablespoons of your sugar with the shreds and put all of it in a strainer. Let sit while you do everything else- a lot of the water from the squash needs to drain.

Toast the walnuts for a few minutes and then let cool. Melt butter, let cool. In a small bowl, mix the rest of the sugar with the yogurt, eggs, melted and cooled butter, and lemon juice. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients with the cooled walnuts included. Add the drained (and don't be afraid to give it a good squeezing with some paper towels to get out any remaining liquid) zucchini to the wet mix, and then incorporate the wet and dry together. Stir until everything comes together, but don't over mix. Pour into the greased loaf pan, and then bake for 55 minutes or so. Don't over bake! When a toothpick comes out mostly clean, it's done. Let it cool most of the way before serving! Give it to your friends and neighbors!

Another great way to eat this wonderful squash is as a pasta. My favorite food writer, Molly Wizenberg, suggests julienning the zucchini so that it looks like noodles. Saute it in oil and add to real pasta with fresh pesto and you're in for a treat! I ate this last night and added WAY to much salt, but it was still alright. I'm trying again tonight- with pesto from my garden! Way to go you crazy basil plants!

Coming soon- cippolini onions, patty pan squash, and something I have not yet identified!

11 July 2009

Independence Day

Dogs, children, friends, pulled pork and my grandma's baked bean recipe made this day very extra-special.

Oma's Baked Beans:

1 can butter beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can lima beans
1 can white kidney beans
1 can (16 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 onion, sauteed in olive oil
2 tablespoons worcester sauce
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar to taste
1 fat piece of bacon or pork belly
S+P to taste

Preheat oven to 270 degrees. Saute large onion and bacon in a dutch oven. Add the tomatoes, and then all of the drained beans. If you have time, my Oma liked to use mostly canned but one dried variety for extra texture and flavor. In this case pick which bean you would like to start as dry and soak overnight before cooking. After adding beans, stir in brown sugar and worcester sauce. Don't be afraid to stir in some catsup if the mood strikes you. We forgot to, but usually it is a featured ingredient. After this all has heated stove top, put the covered dutch oven into the oven. Bake for a couple of hours! It should reduce a bit and be bubbly, sweet and salty. This can be made vegetarian but vegetarians usually want to be lied to about baked beans with pork.