Nossa Familia Coffee — Stop by the North Portland Cafe

October 30th, 2009
No other local coffee company sources solely farm-direct AND family-direct coffee.

No other local coffee company sources solely farm-direct AND family-direct coffee.

Augusto Carvalho Dias Carneiro co-owner of Nossa Familia Coffee — which was founded in 2006 and is the only family-traded coffee in Portland — grew up in Rio de Janeiro but spent holidays on his family’s farm eight hours west of Brazil’s capital. According to Augusto that’s where most of his childhood memories are. Some of the fondest include early morning horseback rides with his grandpa and his grandpa’s friends through the coffee fields.

These days Augusto who’s lived in Portland since 1996 still likes to ride around his family’s sixth generation Brazilian farm. He just has different transportation now — his bicycle. Augusto is a cycle enthusiast and has made a couple trips to the farm with fellow mountain biking friends. (The last time I saw Augusto he was setting up a coffee booth at a cycle event at the Washington County Fairplex in Hillsboro the same weekend as the Home Orchard Society’s All About Fruit Show.) Of course anytime Augusto returns home now — usually once or twice a year — there’s plenty of work to be done.

Although Nossa doesn’t roast its own bean (another Portland roasting company roasts for them) Augusto hopes to in the near future. Nossa currently imports about five percent of the farm’s Brazilian coffee — about 80,000 pounds a year — so there’s plenty of room for growth in more ways than one.

In the summer of 2009 Nossa Familia opened a café at the non-profit Ethos Music Center on North Killingsworth that serves Nossa Familia Coffee, tea and snacks. In addition to the café you can find Nossa Familia Coffee at all New Seasons Markets, People’s Food Co-op, Food Front Cooperative Grocery, the Hollywood and Lents Farmers Markets and other locations around town.

Nossa Familia Cafe at Ethos
2 North Killingsworth St.
www.familyroast.com
Hours:
Monday-Friday 8am-6pm
Saturday 10am-3pm

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

October 26th, 2009
I sliced up a couple trays worth of cabernet and chocolate cherry tomatoes last weekend and slow roasted them with garlic and olive oil. I took this, of course, before I put them in the oven.

I sliced up a couple trays worth of cabernet and chocolate cherry tomatoes last weekend and slow roasted them with garlic and olive oil. I took this, of course, before I put in the oven.

I don’t know about you but we still have a lot of tomatoes — especially small cabernet grape tomatoes. I got the idea to slow roast some of them after I noticed a post on Culinate that looked tasty and I followed that link to a post on Smitten Kitchen.

I planted more tomatoes than ever this year so beyond all the salsa, hot sauce, soups, scrambles and then some tomato cookery I’ve been looking to break my mold a little. I’m happy I did. These are good.

I think the reason why I don’t love sundried or slow roasted tomatoes more has something to do with my feelings toward raisins. Inferior grapes. Slow roasted tomatoes create that same kind of jammy, sticky sweetness that occurs from grape to raisin. Still, these are good — they’re nice on egg sandwiches, in pastas and I bet they’ll be great on pizza. I took out the garlic before the tomatoes and used that in a curry and also in a chicken and rice soup.

I’ll make these again next year — if the harvest is as heavy — to change it up a little. Go to Smitten Kitchen if you want to slow roast your tomatoes the way I did.

This is what they looked like after about three hours in a 225 degree oven.

This is what they looked like after about three hours in a 225 degree oven.

Garlic Growing 101 — for the lazy winter gardener

October 23rd, 2009
I grew this type of garlic last year and again this year. It's really good.

I grew this type of garlic last year and again this year. It's really good.

I planted garlic for the first time a year or two after I moved to Portland — so in 2003 or 2004. Ever since then I’ve devoted a good section of my garden to it. I’ve tried my hand at fall and winter gardening — building cloches and other contraptions to keep the veggies warm enough and protected from the weather — but I’ve never been all that successful. These days I usually just plant a lot of garlic in the fall, broadcast my cover crop seeds, and then call it quits in the garden until the following spring.

I planted this year’s garlic last weekend (I usually plant it mid-October) — 60 early Italian softnecks in a sheet-mulched bed in the front and 16 Musik hardnecks in a smaller sheet-mulched bed up front. I still have a couple heads of the Musik hardnecks left and I think I’ll plant those in the back somewhere. I always like to plant a mix of hardneck and softneck because I like the hardneck for the scapes (I make them into pesto and also sautee them) and flavor and I like the softnecks for better storage and braiding.

Here’s a trick I learned last year — MULCH! I know that’s not really a trick — it’s more of a given for most gardeners but I wised up to it late. I mulched my epic garlic crop last year with a couple inches of straw and those garlic heads were bigger than any I’ve ever grown before. Mulching keeps the beds relatively weed free (garlic doesn’t like competition), keeps the soil from compacting and also keeps it a bit warmer.

I plant most bulbs — including garlic — about 2-3 times their depth. So I usually plant my garlic about 2-3 inches deep with the skinny end (you know, the end that sprouts if don’t use your garlic fast enough) pointing up. This year I mixed a small handful of all-purpose organic fertilizer into each hole with loosened soil. After planting all the garlic, I covered the beds with a thin layer of compost, and finally layered them with a couple inches of straw. I don’t always fertilize but it’s a good idea. A lot of folks side dress their garlic at intervals throughout the year as well but I never do and I’ve always had good results.

Most varieties of garlic will poke their green heads out in a few weeks — usually by Thanksgiving if you’ve planted them early-to-mid October — but once it gets cold enough they stop growing. Most of garlic’s growth is in the spring which is why some people plant it then. I’ve never done that but I don’t think the flavor would be as good or that the garlic would get as big with a spring planting.

One of my favorite homemade spring foods is garlic scape pesto — made from the spiraling seed heads that you want to cut off whether you cook with them or not. If you don’t snip them off the energy goes to flowering rather than to the garlic head.

One more quick thing. Planting supermarket garlic is a gamble because a lot of commercial garlic has sprouting inhibitors meaning it won’t grow or won’t grow well. If you plant grocery garlic just be sure it’s organic and then you’ve got a green flag. I often use market garlic for my softnecks but I always buy my hardneck garlic at nurseries. Mostly because there’s more variety and it’s not so easy to find hardneck garlic in markets.

Go plant some garlic!

Newly planted softneck bed up front -- Early Italian garlic. The green patch is chives which are perennial.

Newly planted softneck bed up front -- Early Italian garlic. The green patch is chives which are perennial.

Portland Fruit Tree Project — No Fruit Left Behind

October 19th, 2009
Although citrus doesn't grow so well in Portland (unless you have potted trees that you bring indoors in the winter) all sorts of fruit does and Portland Fruit Tree Project's mission is to make sure good fruit gets to good people.

Although citrus doesn't grow so well in Portland (unless you have potted trees that you bring indoors in the winter) all sorts of fruit does and Portland Fruit Tree Project's mission is to make sure good fruit gets to good people.

I remember hearing about Portland Fruit Tree Project when it was just a seedling in 2006 and thinking it was a brilliant idea. Now it’s not just a brilliant idea it’s a thriving non-profit dedicated to harvesting fruit that would otherwise be left to fall and rot and getting that fruit to folks who need it. In addition to harvesting parties during the summer and fall (when fruit from all over Portland is collected and sorted) from January through spring PFTP also hosts various workshops on fruit tree pruning and maintenance.

I met up with 30 year old PFTP executive director Katy Kolker — who started PFTP with her friend Sarah Cogan in 2006 — a few months ago at the organization’s old office and ever since then I’ve run into her at all sorts of food and farm events around town. Her mom owns the very cool Looking Glass Bookstore in Sellwood and she immediately offered to put in a good word for me for a book reading there when Food Lover’s Guide to Portland comes out in the spring.

Kolker was working as an AmeriCorps volunteer for Growing Gardens in 2006 and living in Northeast Portland when she came up with the idea that grew into PFTP. Month after month Kolker would watch fruit in and around her neighborhood go unharvested and turn from ripe to rotten. She approached a few households and asked if she could harvest their trees. Everyone Kolker approached agreed so she organized a group of about 10 people that season to help out. Since then that’s been the PFTP mode of operation — seasonal harvest parties from summer through fall throughout Portland.

PFTP harvest parties take place on weekends and weekdays usually from July through November and generally begin mid-morning and run for two to three hours. The 10 to 15 reserved harvest party spots fill up fast and there is usually a long wait list weeks in advance. Participants meet at a site where PFTP ladders, fruit picking poles and milk crates for packing the fruit are provided.

Once the fruit is picked and sorted the group moves to another nearby site to harvest. For now fruit is collected in a pickup truck that follows the group from site to site but eventually Kolker hopes to utilize cargo bikes for fruit transport. The best quality fruit goes to the Oregon Food Bank and its hunger and relief agencies and the rest is distributed amongst the tree owner and volunteers.

Kolker is quick to add that, “The intention of our program is not to be feeding the food banks. A large part of our programming is to empower people to see their community and the urban ecosystem as a potential food resource and to be an avenue for people to access those resources.” For this reason half of the harvest party spots are reserved for low income folks.

In June 2009 PFTP moved to its new location on North Killingworth with onsite composting, tool storage a demonstration garden and offices.

Portland Fruit Tree Project
www.portlandfruit.org
1912 NE Killingsworth St.
503.284.6106

Oregon Distillery Month: Oregon Distillers Guild Tasting

October 16th, 2009
Rogue Distillery gave me this photo a couple years ago to use with a story about local spirits. They're one of many distilleries that will be sampling their wares at the Edgfield this Sat. from 1-4pm.

Rogue Distillery gave me this photo a couple years ago to use with a story about local spirits. They're one of many distilleries that will be sampling their wares at the Edgfield this Sat. from 1-4pm.

So apparently I’m all about last minute or after-the-fact posts lately. Life has been a little busier than usual which is why it’s Friday and I’m just now telling you about an awesome event on…Saturday. Yes, tomorrow.

Here’s the scoop. The Oregon Distillers Guild is throwing its annual fall tasting tomorrow — Saturday, October 17th from 1-4pm at McMenamins Edgefield to kick off Oregon Distillery Month. Tickets are $20 and if you want one call McMenamins Edgefield at 503.669.8610 or just head on over.

A lot of local distilleries are participating and there will be more than 20 spirits to taste.

Distilleries representing include Artisan Spirits, Bendistillery, Cascade Peak Distillery, Highball Distillery, Hood River Distillers, House Spirits, Indio Spirits, Integrity Spirits, Liquid Vodka, New Deal Distillery, Rogue Spirits, McMenamins Edgefield Distillery, Sub Rosa Spirits and more.

I wrote a story about several of these distilleries a couple years ago.

According to the press release:

The Oregon Distillers Guild was the first state based craft distilling group to band together and form a Guild. The Oregon Distillers Guild formed in May of 2007 and has sponsored two bills before the Oregon Legislature; influenced policy within the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and worked with Travel Oregon and Oregon Bounty programs to promote Oregon as a destination for all things liqurious.

I’m not sure about “liqurious” but the rest sounds great.

Oregon Distillers Guild Fall Tasting
@ McMenamins Edgefield
Sat., Oct. 17th 1-4pm
tickets $20
Call 503.669.8610 or tickets
This is obviously a 21 and over event