Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring 2009 Food Group Surveys

As mentioned during the March meeting, we're up for gathering feedback on your thoughts about the happenings and goings-on of our grassroots group. Please take a little bit of time and share your thoughts. Responses will help guide the next several months of group activities, discussion topics, field trips and...yes...did somebody say "movie nights"??

We're limited on number of questions per survey, so there are two separate surveys/ten questions each. Beware...the ten questions are jam packed!


Monday, March 30, 2009

Homemade Nutella!

For those of you interested in the homemade Nutella recipe from our last meeting, here you are:

Thanks very much to Chefs Gone Wild for the recipe inspiring the concoction I came up with, thanks to David Lebovitz via Sarah Nett for the Macaroon recipe, and thank you to variations One, Two, Three, & Four for additional inspiration.

~ 2 cups hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
~ 1/3 c. dark cocoa powder
~ 3/4 c. powdered sugar
~ 1 tsp. vanilla extract
~ 1/8 tsp. salt
~ 2 T. hazelnut, peanut, or vegetable oil

1. Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast at 450F until the skins are dark but not burned. Remove them and let cool for five minutes, then rub them with a dishtowel to remove the skins. (Skins will cause a bitter taste, so try to remove as much as possible...)

2. Blend hazelnuts in a food processor for 4-5 minutes. Nuts will go through several stages - dry, to wet and clumped, to a final smooth consistency once the nuts have released all of their oils.

3. Add and continue to blend until incorporated: cocoa powder, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Check flavor. Sugar and cocoa powder amounts may be somewhat modified to suit your taste and sweetness preferences.

4. Add oil and mix until smooth. Keeps covered in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Viola! No high fructose corn syrup, no soy lecithin, no modified palm oil. Just yum!

Thanks again to Lucy!

We enjoyed the privilege of having Lucy Hardiman join us at our past meeting and share about her experience and knowledge related to the community gardens system in Portland. She also made reference to a few examples of note outside of our city for those of you interested in learning more:

Seattle's P-Patch Program
Boston's Natural Areas Network Community Gardens
Atlanta's Community Gardens Project

Keep an eye out for the April issue of Horticulture Magazine and look for her piece on community gardens across the nation.

Lucy also kindly passed along a list of local resources and partnerships. Some have been referenced before, others are new. Please take a bit of time to look into those of interest to you and feel free to share your findings and thoughts with the group!

Local Community Gardens:
Portland Community Gardens
Neighborhood Notes: Portland Community Garden Directory
Oregon Food Bank Learning Gardens

Local Farms, Learning Programs & Non-Profits:
Zenger Farm
Luscher Farm
Sauvie Island Center
Janus Youth Programs

Garden of Wonders Food and Garden Education Program
American Society of Landscape Architects: Oregon Chapter
The City Repair Project
Growing Gardens

Local Nurseries & Agricultural Resources:
Pistils Nursery
Livinigscape Nursery
Concentrates, Inc.
Green Posting
Edible Portland
Food Alliance
Oregon Tilth

Local Food Source:
Portland Fruit Tree Project
Urban Edibles

Connect and Let Your Voice be Heard:
Portland Multnomah Food Policy Council
PSU Community Development Student Group
City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
Coalition for a Livable Future
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon: Food and Farms

Grow your Skills & Knowledge:
The Master Gardener Program
Portland Permaculture Institute
Hardy Plant Society of Oregon

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Tale of Chicken Woes...

I am intimidated by meat. I say this because I have a story to tell about a recent experience involving me, my oven, and a dead chicken. Before this week I have never cooked any meat that closely resembled it's original state. Let me tell you the tale...

It all started on a reluctant trip to Trader Joes. Don't get me wrong, I like good food, I just hate shopping for it. Inside, I made a few selections before being cornered by the meat cooler. Standing there I saw a pile of organic free range whole chickens. Out of the whole cooler there was one bird staring me down...almost taunting me. Subconsciously I knew I couldn't let a decapitated bird get the best of me so I picked up the 4lb chicken and triumphantly put it in my cart. Little did I know that the battle had only yet begun...

It's great to try new things, but I would advise against trying them on friends you don't know too well. I guess this was my first mistake. Paul and I invited some friends we are trying to get to know more over for dinner...yep, you guessed it, a CHICKEN dinner. My second mistake was that the dinner was on a weeknight when I didn't even get home til 5:30pm. And finally my third mistake was that I completely missed the red flags of my first two mistakes!

With all the sweet ambition and lofty thoughts of a naive cook I put my chicken in the oven surrounded by potatoes, onions and carrots I obtained from the farmers market. What I failed to realize then (and only until my sweet husband pointed it out many hours later) was that I put the smirking chicken completely upside down so that the breast was on the bottom. As our gracious guests arrived I told them I was running a little behind and dinner should be ready soon...(ha!) Thinking I would speed things up I decided to leave the "meat" thermometer in the chicken so I could simply open the oven to see how the bird was doing. Well, the "meat" thermometer turned out to be a candy thermometer with a top made out of plastic...it melted, just like my confidence.

After an hour and a half I looked in the oven at my half raw chicken, looked at our guests, looked back at the chicken and with a refined smile said, "Who feels like pizza?" We all did. Leaving the bird to roast without care if it got charred to a crisp, we left the apartment and went and had a delicious pepperoni pizza. (The chicken was still not done when we got back). In the end it turned out pretty tasty, but without our friends to help us eat it, it has been lunch and dinner for Paul and I since Tuesday (I guess it's a break from cooking!)

I don't think I'm intimidated by meat anymore, I think I'm mainly just aggravated by it and would like to say to all the chickens reading this "Watch yourselves, the battle is not over yet!"


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Seed Chart

Hey Ladies!!

SO GOOD to see you all last night! I am super excited about this group and the direction it's going. I just wanted to share this chart that I got at Portland Nursery, it is the most helpful and concise source I've found for what and when to plant our little seedlets! (Click on it and it'll get bigger)...I've also done a lot of research into soil amendments for what plants/natural slug control/sun-shade placement and more if anyone wants any more info. I am loving this stuff:). Have a wonderful month and see you in April:)!! ~ Margs

Monday, March 23, 2009


Well, not really...but I DID just buy 1/2 of a cow! This past week I started looking into buying a grass fed cow from local sources. Many ranches and farms will butcher a cow and sell it by quarters for a set price per pound. Often times it tends to be more economical, the only issue is if you have enough freezer space!

After emailing several ranches and farms I came across a man selling a cow up in Brush Prairie. He was selling it for the cheapest I've seen because the cow wouldn't breed and was just eating him out of house and home (or barn and field!) Anyways, after talking with him on the phone for a good while, I asked if I could come check out the cow in person.

After going to the Portland Farmers market (and getting some yummy items) Paul and I along with Ted and Bethany drove up to see our potential cow. Not only was the farm beautiful and expansive, it was very well maintained and healthy. The cow was HUGE! It stood as tall as a horse and was definitely the alpha cow. We talked more with the farmer and then amongst ourselves and decided to go for it!

I really enjoyed the whole process. Not only did I learn a bunch about the beef industry, but I really learned what questions to ask. Questions like: Does your price include the butchering/processing/wrapping fee? Has your cow had any injections, if so for what? How long does the meat last in the freezer without freezer burn? etc...

Overall it has been a really educational experience... and we're going to have meat for a long time!

Can't wait to see you all at our next meeting, Wednesday March 25th at 7pm.

Friday, March 20, 2009

To piggy-back on Bethany's post...

I'm really amazed at the difference between my attitude this year about spring and my attitude last year. Last year I don't think I cared that it was the first day of spring except for the fact that *hopefully* it would be getting warmer soon. However this morning, I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for the new season and all the wonderful things it promised to bring.

I prayed for the land today. A year ago I would of thought that was kind of stupid, but I prayed that the land would be blessed and fertile and bring forth abundance, and also that I would be able to steward any bounty I recieved with gratefulness and generousity. It's exciting to me how I much I am looking forward to first fruits of this year.

Let's go into this great season with joy in our hearts, gratefulness in our souls, and LETTUCE IN OUR MOUTHS!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Farewell, Winter!

Tomorrow joyfully marks the first day of spring. One college classmate of mine now works for a landscape architecture firm that gives all employees the first day of spring as a company holiday, and I've always been just a little jealous...

For anyone game to hunt out fresh asparagus and support our local growers...the Portland Farmers Market at PSU kicks off the season this Saturday from 8:30am to 2pm.

Food Finds* I stumbled across the Food Rengade website recently. Here's a bit of an introduction to and overview of Fermented & Raw foods for your reading pleasure...

Hope you're well and warm and that daffodils are popping somewhere nearby!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Raw Milk Hot Chocolate

I'm really posting this just to brag on my husband, Ted. He just made the most amazing hot chocolate I've ever consumed (possibly rivaled only once when I enjoyed liquid decadence at Angelina in Paris...but even that memory begins to fade in light of this new experience).

Thanks to Emily, I had a beautiful glass jar of raw milk in the fridge, and on this dreary Saturday afternoon, Ted offered to bring me a surprise while I worked on the computer. The only catch was that I couldn't come in and see what he was up to. Let me say, it was worth the wait! He made the hot chocolate on the stove, whipped up the most light and airy, delicious cream spooned straight from the top of the milk jar, and placed generous dollops into my apple green teacups. The cream looked like beautiful meringue surrounded by a sweet little ribbon of chocolate rimming the cup...

I still can't say how much I miss my broken camera. Perhaps if you saw a picture you'd believe that the experience was like sipping a chocolate cloud...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Checking in...

Hello all! Can you believe the sunshine and snow (and gropple!) this week? With a few red leaves thrown into the mix we would have a full year's worth of seasons in less than seven days...

Anyway, this will be a short note...just mainly enough to say hi and to share a couple of tidbits.

Celebration* Emily worked her magic this week and made homemade pizza dough on which to lay our combined assortment of edible goods. Between her delicious mozzarella, Parmesan, mushrooms, olives, and pizza sauce and my dehydrated heirloom and cherry tomatoes, frozen basil, and frozen pesto from last summer's harvest, plus a little TJ's olive oil...we had a feast. My camera is currently out of commission, otherwise I would have loved to take a picture of our beautiful masterpiece... In keeping with out eclectic natures, it was a rectangular pizza. :)

Food for Thought* I came across this article about the example of the Hawaiian Islands as a case study for food sustainability issues. Hawaii is a telling microcosm of global agriculture, health, land use, and food security concerns...

Anticipation* Lucy Hardiman will be joining us in two weeks for our next meeting (May 25th at Emily's place). She will be sharing about the current state of affairs related to Portland community gardens and the Pacific Northwest foodshed... Lucy is a dear friend, a native Oregonian, a garden writer/designer/speaker/extraordinaire and a very generous heart. I'm excited that we will be able to host her...

Word on the street* (Sorry! It was just the first phrase to jump into my head.) I've just found out about another interesting sounding documentary: Food Fight. Take a peak...

Lastly, any thoughts on Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? I just returned my library copy...so if any of you had it on hold, it should be arriving shortly :)

Take care,


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