Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dark Days Challenge - Week #6

After 2 weeks of Holiday madness, I am back with week #6 of the Dark Days Challenge. As I was planning out the Christmas meals, I realized that my traditional Christmas breakfast would adapt perfectly to the Challenge. Each year I make a breakfast strata for us to enjoy. It is hearty and comforting, yet isn't so filling that you aren't ready to indulge in the main Christmas dinner hours later. I especially like that this is assembled the day before, so on Christmas morning the cook just has to pop it in the oven and isn't in the kitchen missing out on any fun with the rest of the family. I hope everyone had a Happy Holiday Season and that 2010 is filled with peace, joy and many local, delicious meals.

-Breakfast Sausage - 3 Miles/Sweet Briar Farm
-Eggs - 3 Miles/Sweet Briar Farms
-Wheat Bread - 27 Miles/Cottage Grove Farmhouse Bakery
-Milk - 13 Miles/Lochmead Dairy
-Cheddar Cheese - 102 Miles/Tillamook Creamery
-Swiss Cheese - 102 Miles/Tillamook Creamery

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past,
courage for the present, hope for the future.
It is a wish fervent wish that every cup may overflow with
blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.
~Agnes M. Pharo~

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Frozen Creek

This last week the temperatures in the Southern Willamette Valley have been well below normal. The week started with lows in the twenties and by Wednesday morning the low was 8 degrees at our house and the high never got above freezing. It is very unusual for us to have temperature this low and for the cold to last as many days as it did. The cold finally broke yesterday around noon and today is much warmer. As I was taking a walk around the property I noticed something in the creek. I quickly realized that the extended period of cold had actually frozen the surface of much of the creek. While some of it has melted in the last 24 hours, much of it is still frozen. I never remember it doing this before. It was quite beautiful !

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A hard frost and cold, cold nights

This morning we awoke to yet another hard frost. The temperature has been in the low twenties for the past few nights and the forecasters are calling for low temps in the teens the next few nights. It took until 1 PM today for the fog to burn off and the temperature to rise above freezing. This morning I took a very brisk walk around the property.

Everything was covered in white and my footsteps crunched as I moved along. Nothing missed Jack Frost's touch.

Both birdbaths were frozen solid. Brrrrr!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Dark Days Challenge - Week #3

I started Thanksgiving morning working out on my treadmill ...and watching the Food Network. Hmm, maybe not the best combination! But Emeril Live was on and Emeril was fixing a Thanksgiving meal for New York Fireman. What really caught my attention was his starter, a Smoked Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Wild Rice Soup. Suddenly my week three meal was set in motion.
  I already had the Butternut Squash from my garden and knew where I could get most of the other ingredients locally. But the challenge for me was the wild rice. I thought I remembered buying a locally grown wild rice once so I began with a search on google. Sure enough, up popped Oregon Jewel. A trip to Cappella market and I had my wild rice. What I learned through my research though, was pretty neat. The rice is grown just outside Brownsville, Oregon on converted conventional farm land. The Willamette Valley clay soil that has challenged home and professional vegetable farmers for generations has proved to be perfect for growing wild rice. The clay soil holds water, which in turn eliminates the need for irrigation. The water keeps the weeds down and eliminates the need for herbicides. Native grasses and trees have returned, growing up next to the paddies. And with the return of this food and shelter the biodiversity of the region has reemerged. In fact, the Audubon Society lists the farm as a birding site. Pretty great stuff! And I haven't even mentioned the fact that we have a great source for a locally grown whole grain.

But back to this weeks meal. I followed Emeril's recipe but cut it in half and eliminated the parsely and corn. I think it would have been great with the addition of corn, but I didn't have any frozen away to use. Next year! So here is my "shopping list" -
- Butternut Squash - O miles/ My garden
-Chicken Stock -92 Miles/ Pacific Foods
-Yellow Onions - 16 Miles/Hey Bayles! Farm
-Wild Rice - 20 Miles/Oregon Jewel
- Linguesa Sausage - 3 Miles/Sweet Briar Farm
-Half-in-half - 13 Miles / Lochmead Dairy
- Exceptions - Oil, Salt & Pepper

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Dark Days Challenge - Week #2

For week #2 of the Dark Days Challenge, "Breakfast for Dinner" was theme. A trip to the last outdoor Farmers Market of the year, a stop at the store, and preserves from the pantry provided everything we needed for a quick and tasty dinner. The menu consisted of eggs ( scrambled or poached) with a sprinkle of cheese on top, bacon, home-fries with onion, and toast with butter and jam. I particularly loved looking at the egg carton with its mix of tan, brown and blue eggs. Beautiful, unique eggs from happy girls.

Eggs - 3 Miles/ Sweet Briar Farm
Bacon - 3 Miles/ Sweet Briar Farms
Fingerling Potatoes - 13 Miles/ Groundworks Organics
Yellow Onion - 13 Miles/ Groundworks Organics
Wheat Bread - 27 Miles/Cottage Grove Farmhouse Bakery
Milk- 13 Miles/ Lochmead Dairy
Tillamook Cheddar - 102 Miles/ Tillamook Cheese
Butter- 102 Miles/ Tillamook County Creamery
Blackberry Jam- O Miles
Exceptions: Oil, Salt, Pepper

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Dark Days Challenge - Week #1

This week kicks off the 3rd Annual Dark Days Challenge. Hosted by Laura at the (not so) Urban Hennery, the challenge invites bloggers to cook one meal a week focused on SOLE ( sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients and write about it. Traditionally the definition for local has been a 100 mike radius, though this is more difficult in the Winter. The true object of the challenge is to widen your awareness of in-season local foods and share your triumphs and frustration with the others. Each week a full recap of every one's meals will be posted at the (not so) Urban Hennery. So here we go!

For my first weeks meal I went with a family favorite - stuffed Delicata Squash.I was able to buy everything I needed at the Saturday Farmer's Market. My only exception for the week was corn bread stuffing. I think now that I could have bought loaf of local bread and dried bread crumbs to use, but I didn't have the time or energy this week. A goal for the next time. Ingredients:

-Delicata Squash - 0 Miles, my own garden
-Ground Pork Sausage - 5 Miles, Farmers Market/Sweet Briar Farms
-Onion - 5 Miles, Farmers Market/Hey Bales! Farm
-Egg - 5 Miles, Farmers Market/Sweet Briar Farm
-Corn Bread Stuffing - Non-local

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Arrival of the Seed Savers Exchange Catalog!

Tonight when I got home from work, I was excited to see in my mail pile the 2010 catalog from Seed Savers Exchange. For those of you who are not familiar with the name, Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization based in Decorah, Iowa. Its mission is to to save the world's diverse but endangered garden heritage for future generations. Each year they offer through their catalog hundreds and hundreds of unique fruit & vegetable varieties for the home gardener. The catalog is a visual treat as well as an amazing resource and idea bank. If you are interested in the work of Seed Savers Exchange or would like to receive your own catalog just visit their website. You will be so glad that you did!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Last Day of the Farmer's Market 2009

Today was the last day for 2009 of the outdoor Lane County Farmer's Market. Next Saturday it moves inside the Fairgrounds for the Holidays. For the middle of November, the weather couldn't have been nicer. Clear , sunny but briskly cold. Beth and I ran into Aunt Jayne which was a pleasant surprise. We all had our market baskets and warm jackets on!

The produce mostly reflected the season. Lots of squash, onions, shallots, and brassicas. Leaks were plentiful at most booths but these were the largest to be found.

A popular vendor the last few weeks had been the Rain Forest Mushroom Company out of Eddyville. They were busy selling bags and bags of Chanterelle, Oyster and Lion's Mane Mushrooms.

Nothing says Fall in Oregon like fresh apple cider. We saw many folks walking around, doing their shopping, with a glass of hot cider in their hand.

As I prepare for the upcoming Dark Days Challenge, I stopped at Sweet Briar Farms and stocked up on local bacon, sausage and eggs. It sounds like a breakfast is in my future!

As we were walking the aisles, I spied this huge Hubbard Squash back behind a stall. It's difficult to tell in the picture but I bet it was over 25 pounds. Beth joked you could cook it instead of a turkey at Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween at the Farmer's Market

This morning Beth and I went to the Farmer's Market. The day looked gray and gloomy, but the rain stayed away and the temperature outside was actually quite mild. Being the last day of October, we expected to see some characters and we weren't disappointed. There were quite a few little children dressed up for the day and one or two adults as well.

We started our day off by stopping for some goodies at Hideaway Bakery. As always their display of artisan loaves were beautiful.

Winter Squash continued to be in abundance at almost every stall.

Another vegetable in peak season were carrots. I loved this display showcasing Orange, Purple, Red and Yellow carrots. You sure wouldn't find that at a conventional grocery store.

This was a display of "Savoy" Cabbage. The delicate veins and ruffles on them were amazing.

New to me were these "Romanesco" Broccoli. They looked like a combination of sea shells and alien creatures. 

I am always excited when a new product arrives at the market. Especially one that is widely available and grown in Oregon but hasn't been available straight from the farmer. Today we discovered this cranberry grower, Scott Rudle. He was selling bags of organic, Oregon Tilth certified berries from Bandon. I was glad to see that he had a steady stream of shoppers supporting his venture.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Views of Fall

I mentioned earlier how quickly the trees have been loosing their leaves this year. It seems like one day they are in their full glory and then the next day they are bare. Below are two pictures taken of one of our Japanese Maples. The pictures were taken exactly one week apart.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall 2009

Today I went on a walk to enjoy the remaining Fall show. Last year, this weekend was the peak of color. This year I would say most trees peaked two weeks ago and many have completely lost their leaves. There are a few exceptions though. One is the above native tree. It is about 2/3rds changed in color and looks beautiful right now. It is the one tree on our property that turns orange in the Fall.

The crab apple that I gave Mom for Mother's day lost all of its leaves this week. It had turned a beautiful shade of red but the show didn't last very long. The next thing I knew it was completely bare with the exception of its lovely red berries. It will be interesting to see if the birds snack on them.

No walk is complete without a buddy to go along with you. Cleo enjoys tromping around the property as much as I do. She particularly likes all the paths that I have mown the last 3 weeks.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Garden Clean Up

I spent a few hours this morning finishing cleaning up the vegetable garden. The tomato plants, beans, squash vines, sunflowers, and cosmos have all been stacked on the compost pile. I raked the soil smooth again and cleaned up any debris that was stuck in the netting. It's now all ready for a long winter's rest.

It's also hard to remember how stuffed it was this summer with healthy, productive plants.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bulb Panting

This morning I planted some bulbs in the front walkway area. I purchased them a week ago at the Saturday Farmer's Market. Buggy Crazy had a really nice selection of different bulbs, tubers and corms for sale. Beth and I each picked up a few new ones. I planted one group of narcissus " Tete-a-Tete" and another group of a fragrant narcissus. Hopefully today's work will pay off with beauty and enjoyment in the Spring.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Hard Frost

Last week, the night of October 5th/morning of October 6th, we had our first light frost. Last night, we had a heavy killing frost. The temperature read 28 degrees as I drove into town this morning. The dahlias that were lightly damaged a week ago were burned black this morning. Luckily, the weather was predicted. So late yesterday afternoon I snuck back down to the garden and picked the last bouquet of the year. Here's to Summer 2009! A banner year for Winter Squash, Tomatos, and Acorns. What will next year's challenges and triumphs be?

October at the Market

Beth and I made it down to the Farmer's Market this morning. It was such a perfect Fall day. The market could be summed up in two words - Squash and dahlias. How handy that they are two of my favorite things!

One new face at the market this week was sweet potatoes. I don't know what variety these were but they were covered in a beautiful purple skin.

The flower vendors were flooded with dahlias. They were the main star in every bouquet found.

But for me the day was all about Squash. Every booth had lovely piles. The most common were "Delicata", "Acorn", "Butternut" and "Buttercup". But I also found "Kabocha", "Spaghetti" and "Sweet Dumpling".

Then I spied these beauties tucked away on the ground. It doesn't get any better!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Acorns everywhere

Besides being a stellar year for Winter Squash and Tomatos, it also is an amazing year for Acorns. I started finding them littered on the ground weeks ago and their numbers have only increased since then. There are literally dozens and dozens under each Oak tree and many more still in the trees, waiting their turn to fall. I don't have any way to explain this year's abundance. All I know - it's a great year to be a squirrel!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Totals are In

Monday night I got the squash off the bench and under cover, since the forcasters were calling for a change in the weather. Then I got out my scale and weighted the harvest. I was surprised - just over 70 lbs. of squash. Now I had better get cooking!

"Butternut" bathed in the setting sunlightand a "Buttercup' hiding under the leaves.