Katrina Blair author of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds at Reed College for free & open-to-the-public event this Thursday

November 10th, 2014

I'm really looking forward to the years to come with this book. Great wild edible reference by Katrina Blair with an intro. by my friend and food hero Sandor Ellix Katz.

A fine fellow in my life called me a hedonist in a sweet and loving way this weekend — it was my birthday weekend after all — and I agreed wholeheartedly before adding that I do well by my happiness-above-all-else and pleasure-seeking ways because I genuinely love the natural, wild side of life in addition to my less wholesome proclivities.

When it comes to food and drink that means that I favor whole foods and quality ingredients, homegrown fruits and veggies, homemade ferments and most importantly here — wildcrafted foods. (I especially love wildcrafted Munchos. I forage these in this region primarily from Plaid Pantries.) I started foraging when I moved to Portland in 2002 and every year I seem to add a couple more foraging favorites.

Some things that I look forward to harvesting from the wild annually in the Pacific Northwest include morels and chanterelles, stinging nettles, dandelions, miner’s lettuce, sorrel, blackberries +++

I’m so lucky to have received an advanced copy of Katrina Blair’s book The Wild Wisdom of Weeds just out from Chelsea Green. My friend and food hero Sandor Ellix Katz wrote the intro. and I agree with him when he writes: “In our contemporary society, most people grow up with minimal connection to the natural world around us. Most of us can identify many more corporate logos than plants. Yet plants are incredibly important and without them we could not exist.”

Katrina’s book is a very personal, dig deep look at 13 of the world’s most common wild edible plants that includes all sorts of DIY projects and recipes (100+) for the plants including info. on fermenting, dehydrating, making oils from and sprouting these wild edibles: dandelion, mallow, purslane, plantain, thistle, amaranth, dock, mustard, grass, chickweed, clover, lambsquarter and knotweed. Half of these wild edibles are already my friends and the other half I want to become more acquainted with. I’m looking forward to using this book as my guide.

Katrina is in town this week for a fun, free and open to the public event at Reed College. Maybe I’ll see you there?

When: Thursday, November 13 from 4-6pm
Where: Meet at Eliot Hall Room 314 Reed College
What: Go for a wild plant walk with Katrina Blair, wild-foods advocate and author of the new book The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival. Return to the Aspen Utility Room for a presentation and wild green juice sampling.
This event is hosted by the Reed Outing Club

Yard Fresh Pt. 30

May 15th, 2014

My kitchen is being remodeled by my friends at St. Johns Design Build. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

I haven’t done one of these since last summer! Holy shit time flies. Lately I’ve been wishing that there were a way to expand time to fit more of the best of life in. I don’t necessarily want the days to be longer I just want to be writing, sailing, cooking, loving, swimming, travelling and on and on and on contemporaneously somehow/someway. So that each would be enjoyed fully but a different part of me would be present for each. I’ll go do some more drugs now. Sorry.

So, I’m getting my kitchen remodeled! Finally. My super talented friends at St. Johns Design Build (they don’t have a website yet but once they do I’ll shout it out here) — Brian McVay, Clarence Jacobs and Rude Graves — are kicking ass doing a complete overhaul. Things that I’m really looking forward to: the original fir floor being sanded and finished, my new-to-me kick-ass professional-style Dynasty gas stove, sweet-ass tiling by Rude, old bleachers made into beautiful new cabinets and drawers and shelves by Clarence, a bar, maple chopping block peninsula, paperstone counters and all sorts of other magic by Brian and crew. Life is sweet. I’ll put up some photos of the progress in the next several weeks.

In the meantime, near and dear friends in the neighborhood are happy because I’ve been using their kitchens more and I also have a funky little interim kitchen in the back of my house in the utility room with a hotpot, rice steamer and toaster. It works and it’s actually been fun to have some cooking restraints. It’s like camp cooking, boat cooking etc. — pushes you to be creative and work in new ways with what you’ve got.

It’s been a really fun spring so far and I hope you’ve been doing well too. I just finished writing the Tasty Brunch Book proposal with John (now it’s with our agent, next to the designer), I’m working on all sorts of food-plus projects at Hawthorne Books, working on a still secret book project, little here and there on my novel and Food Lover’s Guide to Portland 2.0 review copies go out NEXT WEEK and it publishes in three short months. Madness. In the very best sense of the word.

Here’s what I’ve been eating. What have you been cooking and eating?

Miso, bacon, fish sauce, broccolini spaghetti. Really good.

Mission Street Food's Braised Sausage with my friend Kalera's kraut, Reverend Nat's Hard Cider and house German sausage from Western Meat Market on Lombard.

Miso rice with homemade kimchi.

Rice cooker steamed Dover sole in homemade miso/ginger/lemon sauce with asparagus.

Nettle'ing with Jess. Made all kinds of dishes with them. Morel nettle risotto, sauces, tea yada yada. Love nettles.

My haul.

Found this huuuuuge morel in my backyard. Was too waterlogged and gone to eat but still had...

The last of the dehydrated/foraged ones from last spring. Have been making a lot of risottos with them. My friend Jess, different Jess, took these from the Mother's Day risotto I made for her and Rich with red-veined sorrel from the yard and my homemade plum wine. Tasty.

Racked and then...

Bottled the plum wine. 100 bottles this year from the Brooks plum tree in my front yard.

Also bottled last year's dandelion wine and started this year's. Make it every year with my friend Michelle and her daughter...

These guys!

Dinner becomes breakfast. Spag and eggs. One of my favorites.

Still cooking from the Toro cookbook. Forever and always. Toro's piperade and boquerones over pan-fried polenta.

For our first kitchen remodel meeting/party made a big batch of kimchi fried rice and it, of course, became breakfast the next day. So good.

Cook and eat something good tonight!

Yard Fresh Pt. 29
Yard Fresh Pt. 28
Yard Fresh Pt. 27
Yard Fresh Pt. 26
Yard Fresh Pt. 25
Yard Fresh Pt. 24
Yard Fresh Pt. 23
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Yard Fresh Pt. 13
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Yard Fresh Pt. 5
Yard Fresh Pt. 4
Yard Fresh Pt. 3
Yard Fresh Pt. 2
Yard Fresh Pt. 1

Homemade Fermented Food and Drink

July 25th, 2011

Hard cider bottling of the Newton pippin cider that I pressed with Nat West last winter. Really good this year -- much better than last's. The dandelion wine is bottled on the left...

Ever since I bought a copy of Sandor Ellix Katz’s Wild Fermentation shortly after moving to Portland I’ve been a food fermentation freak.

I love everything about home food fermentation. I love the DIY aspect of crafting foods that I love such as sauerkraut, wine, and miso. I love the time and patience involved in creating these foods and drinks — most ferments I make take anywhere from a few days to a year. I love the full flavor of food ferments — from pungent and sour to salty and spicy to sweet and effervescent. I love that fermented foods and drinks are inherently good for me because of the live micro-nutrients they contain. I love that I’m carrying on food traditions born well before refrigeration, artificial preservatives, and pasteurization. The list goes on and on.

In January 2009, I got to travel to Nashville to meet one of my heroes — Sandor Ellix Katz — and interview him for The Sun Magazine. In October of 2009, we got him to come out for the inaugural Portland Fermentation Festival that David Barber, George Winborn and I organized and continue to organize every year. The date is still TBD for this year’s and I’ll let you know soon when/where it will be.

For now, I’ve got a bunch of home food and drink ferments that I’ve been checking on, bottling and eating up lately to share with you here. This weekend I started a sour cherry wine with fruit collected from a neighbor’s tree. I’ll post about that soon.

I’ve got two batches of miso going right now that I started in November — soybean miso and red bean miso. Here’s what they’re looking like now after several months of fermenting…

I scraped the salt off the top of this red bean miso and it's looking pretty and already tasting DELICIOUS. Going to be patient though and let it ferment until fall. At least.

The soybean miso is looking and tasting great too. Did the same and scraped off the salt and mold, repacked with a nice layer of sea salt, covered and put back in the utility room till fall.

Yes, you have to be very generous with the salt so you don't get too much mold.

This year's three gallons of Brooks plum wine has finished fermenting and is now bottled. It's so good. It's tart and off-dry and tastes like a perfect plum. The alcoholic kind.

These petals and more went into this year's gallon of dandelion wine. We bottled last year's and it's delicious as always, a little more flowery this year too which is nice.

If you’ve never done any home food/drink fermentation I recommend starting with saurkraut or kimchi. They’re both quick and easy ferments that pack a lot of flavor. I can’t recommend Sandor Ellix Katz’s book Wild Fermentation enough. I use it all the time. Happy fermenting! Let me know what you make.

Vegan Iron Chef Ticket Giveaway!

June 27th, 2011

Last year's Vegan Iron Chef in Portland. Photo by Lucas DeShazer.

Unfortunately, I’m not going to be here for the second annual Vegan Iron Chef Competition this year — but if you are I’ve got a pair of tickets for one lucky commenter. Since last year’s event sold out quickly I’m doing this giveaway early so those who don’t win can go ahead and purchase tickets ($12 advance/$15 at door/$100 VIP tasting seats).

Comment below on the best vegan dish you’ve eaten out in Portland recently (or a vegan dish you’ve made at home recently if no restaurant dishes stand out) for a chance to win a pair of tickets.

From the press release:

Three chefs from the community’s favorite establishments will prepare dishes inspired by an unveiled secret ingredient for a panel of esteemed judges and a live audience, while the event is live-streamed to anticipated thousands.

The event will be co-hosted by bestselling cooking author Isa Chandra Moskowitz of The Post Punk Kitchen and local artist and zinester Nicole J. Georges.

Our chefs are Kitchen Dances’ Piper Dixon, Homegrown Smoker’s Jeff Ridabock, and Dovetail Bakery’s Morgan Grundstein-Helvey.

This year’s judges include Julie Hasson from Native Bowl and Everyday Dish, Aaron Adams from Portobello Vegan Trattoria, Grant Butler from The Oregonian, John Janulis from The Bye & Bye, and last year’s crowned Vegan Iron Chef, Quasu Asaase Yaa.

Live music, exhibitors, sampling, trivia, and raffle prizes round out this can’t-miss event.

Tickets ($12 in advance/$15 door; $100 VIP tasting seats) are available at VeganIronChef.org. Sponsorship opportunities available now.

Vegan Iron Chef is a nonprofit organization based in Portland, OR, with a mission of spreading the message of veganism by showcasing the art of vegan cuisine and celebrating community. Other cities are encouraged to join the Vegan Iron Chef network, hold their own competitions, and unite for regionals and finals in upcoming years.

Vegan Iron Chef Competition
Sunday, July 10th, Competition 5-7:30pm; after party until late
Event @ Refuge PDX

How to Forage for Nettles

May 3rd, 2011

Stinging nettle booty.

I love nettles. I even grow them in my yard. But the small patch that’s in the enter at your own risk section of my garden — raspberries and nettles — is really only good for a few scrambles a year. That’s not enough. I need to make big platters of nettle lasagna, dinners of nettle risotto, early spring nettle pesto. You get it.

We harvested A LOT of nettles recently and here’s my advice — gloves, scissors, bags and don’t bring the dog. The last part is difficult but please heed the warning. Ours whimpered for hours after because he stung his foot pads. Poor guy. We just kept soaking his feet in cold water and applying cortisone. You could tell it really hurt.

Don't forget your gloves...

Nettles as far as the eye can see.

On the positive side we made a lot of delicious things from our nettles and didn’t get hurt in the slightest. (Lots of risotto as you can see because we’ve been craving that with the cold, dark weather we’ve been having this spring.) Wear gloves when collecting and preparing nettles and remember that just a few minutes of cooking gets rid of the sting.

Golden beet and nettle risotto.

Nettle risoto finished with cream and asiago.

Sounds strange but this nettle tostada the next morning was awesome.