Tag Archive: farmers market

If you love food, you have to go to Portland. Full stop.

Right by Voodoo Doughnuts!

My husband and I just got back from our 10 day honeymoon to Portland (and Newport), Oregon where we had the most amazing time! We saw waterfalls, wandered around in the huge Japanese garden and the International Rose Test Garden, enjoyed the wonders of Powell’s Books, visited wine country in the Willamette Valley, braved the icy (okay, 58 degree) wind to stroll along the beach in search of tide pools…and had some of the best meals we’ve ever eaten in our lives!!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter already got a preview of some of the great food we had, but it’s definitely going to take me more than one post to tell you all about it!  So stick around–I’ll try to get posts up as quickly as possible but it’ll take a little while to get all the photos edited, etc.

Part I:

Friday:  We got to Portland around dinner time (or after dinner time if you factor in the time difference!) so we decided to go to Saucebox since it was only a few short blocks from our hotel.  In retrospect, this was probably not the best place to go when you’re starving and tired from having spent the majority of your day on planes and in airports.  The service was extraordinarily slow (seemingly due to disorganized management more than anything else – our server seemed perfectly nice and competent when she was actually at our table) and the food, while good, was not quite able to compensate.  (Though the five spice cauliflower is definitely worth trying, and the jackfruit sorbet was quite tasty, as was the fudgy brownie).  But there is one reason why Saucebox should still definitely be on your list of places to go in Portland: their bartender.  The bartender at Saucebox is an absolute genius and you absolutely have to try their cocktails!  I had the Jade Scorpion which they describe as: “house-infused thai chili vodka, house-infused ginger vodka, muddled with thai basil, grapefruit, lemon-lime, finished with ginger brew”.  Basically it tastes like Thai food in a glass, and is the single best cocktail I have ever had in my life.


The best cocktail ever.

Saturday:  The next day we hopped on the MAX train to go to the Portland State University farmer’s market.  Move over, Disney World, because I’m pretty sure that this farmer’s market is the happiest place on earth!  I believe the first words out of my mouth were: “I want to move here!!!!!”


Just one small part of the market.

The market was filled with booth after booth of delicious looking organic produce of every type imaginable–mushrooms, tomatoes, squash, greens, carrots, potatoes, beans, apricots, berries of every type…and CHERRIES!  So very many cherries!  Of course you had your regular Bings and pie cherries and ridiculously cheap Rainier cherries (seriously…we paid about $2.50 for a whole big bag of them!  They cost $8.99/lb at home!) but then there were other kinds which I had never heard of before (I wish I had written them all down!) including these huge cherries that filled your whole mouth with delicious cherry goodness!

My favorite kind of cherry ever!


At first we just wandered around in awe, admiring the great heaps of produce and then, as we hadn’t had breakfast yet, we got down to the business of sampling.  The free samples were abundant, with farmers at every booth encouraging you to try their products without pressuring you to buy anything.  We tried fresh milk from a nearby farm (they had an album with pictures of their cows!), fresh cheese, kimchee (there were four kinds!  I had never had kimchee before, but all were delicious!), blueberries, raspberries, golden raspberries, cherries (of course!), sea beans (salty!), and much more!  But farmers weren’t the only ones with booths there.  Local restaurants and bakeries had booths that were filling the air with delicious aromas!

Frying up fresh chicken to go with their hot biscuits!

The line was a mile long for Pine State Biscuits!

Hungry for something a bit more substantial than the samples we’d been trying, we made our way over to a booth that was selling pies. So many pies.  We hung back for a bit, wondering how we were ever to decide on a flavor and then we noticed the hand pies.  Cute little half-moon shaped pies that were just begging us to buy them.  I went for the Italian one–multiple kinds of salami, some spicy peppers, a bit of cheese…and the most flaky delicious crust you can possibly imagine!  My husband went for the vegetarian option of caramelized onions and bleu cheese–also delicious and coated in the same perfectly flaky crust!  We devoured them so quickly that I didn’t even think to snap a picture!  To go with our pies, we stopped at the next booth which was selling freshly made juices.  After trying some samples, we went with a strawberry hibiscus juice which the guy casually told us he’d made just last night at his place up the road.  So good!

As we sat on a bench listening to the live music (a singer accompanied by a cello…it gave my husband goosebumps!), we noticed another booth where a cooking demo was being set up!  This was not something we could pass up so we claimed a couple of chairs nearby and settled in to learn how to make vegetable spring rolls with hazelnut dipping sauce.  The awesome part was that she told us where we could find each ingredient at the market so had we wanted to go home and make the rolls right then, we totally could have done it!

Action shot!

Stir frying the veggies.

Once the cooking demo was done and we had devoured our bag of cherries and composted the pits (yes, there are bins for trash, each kind of recycling and compost strategically placed throughout the market!), we decided to head back towards downtown to go to the Saturday Market near the river.

The Saturday Market is huge, with booths upon booths of art of every kind imaginable, clothing, jewelry, and (of course) food!  By this point we were in need of lunch, so we set off in search of the Kathmandu Cafe, a well-reviewed booth selling vegetarian and Himalayan food.  The sun was out and the weather was warm, so it seemed like the whole city was out enjoying the market!  We made our way through the crowds, and eventually reached our goal; it was right next to booths selling Nigerian food and kettlecorn.

Right by the kettlecorn

We found it!


Momos – Himalayan dumplings

After wandering the market for a while and finding such treasures as windchimes and jewelry made out of silverware, we headed off in search of Powell’s books–the biggest book store I’ve ever seen!  Of course on our way there we walked past Voodoo Doughnuts which is located in a building covered in glitter paint and which had an epically long line snaking out the door (but that’s another post!).

Then after exploring the bookstore and a quick stop at Morso for gelato (the lemon vanilla custard rocked!) it was back to the hotel to get ready for dinner…

[To Be Continued…]

Acorn Squash Risotto

I’ve been cooking a lot lately and I have so many new posts to write!  But this one had to jump to the head of the line because, well, you need to make it.  It’s delicious.

I only recently learned how to make risotto, but it’s actually really easy to do, if a bit labor intensive.  And it’s definitely worth the work.

The first thing I did was roast the acorn squash in the oven.  It’s really unpredictable how long it takes for a squash to get soft–a tiny one the other day took over an hour.  This one was much bigger and was done in less than 45 minutes.  So put it in for half an hour, and then just make sure you check on it every 10 minutes or so thereafter (unless it’s still really hard after half an hour.  Then give it another 20 til you check it.)  Once it was done, I set it aside and got started on the risotto.  You can start your risotto while the squash is still in the oven if you’re pressed for time, but you might end up burning your fingers on the squash when you go to scoop it out!

Ready for roasting

For the risotto, I started with half an onion in a bit of butter and olive oil, and once that softened up I added the rice.  I had wanted to use 5oz of rice but our kitchen scale is, most inconveniently, out of batteries, so I had to guesstimate how much rice to use and how much broth to make.  After some quick googling and a bit of math, I decided to go with 3/4c of rice and 2c of broth.  It’s not actually a big deal if you run out of broth though…you can always use hot water towards the end.  Just make sure you taste things so they’re seasoned enough.

Another couple keys to tasty risotto which I’ve picked up from watching Jamie Oliver: use 1/2 cup of white wine in the beginning before you start adding the ladle-fulls of broth.  It makes the most amazing smell once that wine starts to cook into the rice!  Also, let the risotto rest for a while at the end before you eat it.  It makes it better!

Risotto in progress

When the risotto was almost done, I stirred in (most of) the squash and corn.  I added it a little at a time, tasting as I went, because I wasn’t sure how “squash-y” the flavor was going to be.  I ended up not using all of the squash, but I had a pretty big acorn squash that I was using.  If you have a smaller one, you might end up using all of it.

Squash and corn are added in!

And then the cheese.  You really need a good melting cheese–fresh mozzarella is good, but you can use something with a stronger flavor if you like.  And then you need freshly grated Parmesan.  I would really stay away from using the stuff in the green canister if at all possible–it’ll do in a pinch, but it’s so salty and the flavor is really quite different from Parmesan you buy in a block and grate yourself.  So get yourself a grater and a brick of Parmesan!  You’ll thank me!

Acorn Squash Risotto
(Serves 4)

  • 1 acorn squash
  • olive oil (a drizzle and a splash)
  • 1 pat of butter 
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 5oz or 3/4c Arborio rice
  • 1/2c white wine (I find dry works better)
  • 2c vegetable stock (I use Rapunzel cubes, but I halve what the box calls for)
  • 1/2c frozen corn, thawed
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • oregano
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 leek
  • salt and pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3oz fresh mozzarella or other melting cheese
  • a good handful of freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat your oven to 400.  Cut your acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds, then place it face up on a baking sheet.  Drizzle it with a little olive oil and rub the oil in to the flesh.  Then cover it with aluminum foil and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.  Check it with a fork.  If it’s really hard still, set a timer for another 20 minutes.  If it’s getting soft, set the timer for another 10.  Check it again, and keep checking it at 10 minute intervals until a fork goes into it easily.  Then take it out of the oven and set it aside to cool.

Meanwhile, get out a small saucepan and pour the stock into it.  Keep it simmering on a back burner, and keep it covered so that it doesn’t boil off.  On another burner, get a medium-sized pan going on low heat (it was around 3 on my electric stove).  Add the pat of butter, a splash of olive oil, and the onion, along with a bit of salt and pepper, and a bit of thyme, finely chopped rosemary, and oregano.  I used dry herbs, but fresh herbs would make this even better.  Stir it around occasionally, and let it go for about five minutes until the onion starts to get soft.  While it’s cooking, scoop the flesh of the squash out of the skins and into a bowl.  Mix in the corn and then set it aside.

When the onions are ready, add the rice to the pan, and stir it around for about a minute or so until it’s well coated by the butter, oil and spices.

Pour in the wine, and stir it around more or less constantly until it gets absorbed by the rice.  Then you start adding your stock.  Add it one ladle at a time, stirring constantly, and wait until it’s fully absorbed before adding the next ladle.  By the time you’ve used most of your stock (maybe one or two ladle-fulls are left in the pan), your rice should be almost done.  Start adding your squash and corn to your risotto pan.  I added probably about 3/4 of the squash that I had, but if your squash was smaller, you might end up using all of it.  It all depends how “squash-y” you want the risotto to taste, so taste it periodically as you stir in more of the squash.  Then add in the leeks and garlic.

Mix it all together and let it continue to cook (while you continue to stir!)  The squash has a fair amount of liquid in it, so wait for it to thicken up a bit before continuing to add stock as before.  If you run out of stock and your rice still isn’t done, you can start adding hot water, but you probably won’t need much if any.

Once the rice is fully cooked, take your risotto off the heat.  Tear up the fresh mozzarella and toss that in, and grate in a generous amount of fresh Parmesan.  Add some crushed red pepper flakes (more or less, depending on how much of a kick you want to give it), and add salt and pepper to taste.  Then cover it up, and let it sit for several minutes to rest.

And that’s it!  Enjoy!

Heidi Swanson over at 101 Cookbooks always has great recipes, but her recipe for Feisty Green Beans ranks as one of the best things I have ever tasted.  Period.  Between the crisp freshness of the still-slightly-raw green beans to the pops of sweetness from the raisins to the aromatic mixture of Indian-style spices, everything about this dish works perfectly together.  I’m so happy I have leftovers!  And if there are green beans again at the farmer’s market the next time I go, I’ll definitely be making this again!

I came across this recipe while trying to figure out what to with the pound of beans I had sitting in my fridge.  I wanted to make something more inspired than just beans sauteed with a little butter and basil, which was all that was coming to mind for me.  I also didn’t want to have to go to the grocery store, because I’m trying to stop spending so much on groceries by cooking with things I already have in the pantry.  So I looked around for different recipes and found a few that sounded like they had potential, but nothing that would work as a main course, and nothing that I had all the ingredients for.  Until I found the Feisty Green Beans.

Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list–most of the ingredients are spices which you probably have on hand.  (Especially if you ever make Indian food).  I did end up substituting paneer for the tofu because a) I didn’t have any tofu and b) I really don’t like tofu.  The paneer works out really well in this dish though, so I’m really glad I used it.  It adds a bit of a salty flavor which contrasts nicely with the raisins and spices.  You could also probably substitute queso blanco for the tofu if you can’t find paneer, but I personally find that queso blanco doesn’t have quite as nice a texture as paneer.

So the next time you’re at the farmer’s market, get yourself a pound of green beans and make this recipe!  You’ll be sooo happy you did!

We’ve been going to the farmer’s market the past couple of weeks.  Now that it’s mid-summer, the market is full of all kinds of fresh, local, and often organic produce.  All for way less than you’d spend at the grocery store.  It’s fabulous!  Two weeks ago when we went, as we wandered past the cheese stand, we saw one last stand of vegetables, hiding just off the main drag.  Along with the usual assortment of beets, onions and lettuces that were populating most of the stands, this one had these delightful, curly green things with cone-shaped bulbs near the top.  The Asian man working at that stand told us that they were part of the garlic plant and that many people just used them to decorate their kitchens, but that in his culture people would chop them up and put them in stir fry.  Never ones to pass up new varieties of produce, we bought a bunch.

A little googling told us that these curly green stems were called garlic scapes and that they had a milder garlic flavor than the bulb so I decided that they would go really well in an omelette.  The stems seemed a little tough, so I figured they would need to cook for a little while before I poured the egg in (actually, they could have cooked even more than they did).  I dropped some butter in a skillet (nonstick because I can’t for the life of me make an omelette in stainless steel) on medium heat.  Once it melted, I dropped in the garlic scapes which I had chopped into half inch pieces, some finely chopped green chili pepper, and some onion.  Meanwhile I beat four eggs in a bowl and after a few minutes, added them to the pan.  After giving everything an initial stir, I covered it and let it cook, shaking it every so often to unstick it from the bottom.  When it was almost finished, I added some freshly ground pepper and pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese on half of it.  I folded it in half when dumping it onto the plate.  The cheese was plenty salty, so it didn’t need any additional salt, but if you’re making it without cheese or with a different kind, you might want to add some salt.  The garlic scapes did indeed have a wonderful, aromatic flavor which went really well with the eggs and cheese.  The bulbs were a bit strong, but if you cook the scapes a bit longer than I did, it would probably mellow out.

Sorry I don’t have any pictures, but it was gone before I thought to take any!  It was that good!


Garlic Scape Omelette
(serves 2)

  •  one bunch fresh garlic scapes
  • one shallot or small onion
  • one green chili pepper (optional)
  • butter
  • four large eggs
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  • pepper (and salt)

Put a skillet on medium heat and add about 1.5tbsp of butter.  While it’s melting, chop your garlic scapes into half inch pieces, dice the onion, and finely chop the green chili pepper (if using).  Add all the vegetables to the skillet and cook until garlic scapes start to soften.  Meanwhile, crack four eggs into a bowl and beat them until they’re a uniform color.  Once the vegetables are starting to soften, add the eggs, give everything a good stir to evenly distribute the vegetables and cover.  Check on it periodically, giving it a good shake, and if it seems like the bottom is cooking much faster than the top, you can cut slits in it to let the uncooked egg on top run down to the bottom.  When the omelette is almost set, add the fresh mozzarella over one half, along with some freshly ground pepper.  Cover it again and cook a bit longer, til the cheese starts to go melty.  When transferring your omelette from the skillet to the serving plate, fold it in half so that the half without cheese covers the half with it. If desired, add more pepper over the top.  Enjoy!