Chickpeas and Pork

Last weekend, some dear friends cooked us a local dinner and it was delicious. If you can get your hands on some dried chickpeas, use them in the dish below. I could have eaten the whole thing on my own.

Both of these recipes are from Mark Bittman. Check out his cookbooks and it’s really easy to find him on the NYT where he writes the Bitten Blog.

Grilled Meat Skewers and Bay Leaves
• 1 1/2 to 2 pounds pork or lamb shoulder, or beef tenderloin (filet mignon), cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 15 to 20 bay leaves, preferably fresh
• 1. Start charcoal or gas grill, with the fire moderately hot, and the rack about 4 inches from the heat. If using wood skewers, soak in water while you prepare the meat.
• 2. Toss meat with oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Skewer meat alternately with bay leaves; if leaves break, jam between meat chunks.
• 3. Grill the meat 2 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the fire’s heat and how well done you like your meat. Remove and serve.

Fried Chickpeas With Chorizo and Spinach

• 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
• 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, as dry as possible
• Salt and black pepper
• 4 ounces chorizo, diced
• 1/2 pound spinach, roughly chopped
• 1/4 cup sherry
• 1 to 2 cups bread crumbs
• Heat the broiler.
• Put three tablespoons of the oil in a skillet large enough to hold chickpeas in one layer over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add chickpeas and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
• Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until chickpeas begin to brown, about 10 minutes, then add chorizo. Continue cooking for another 5 to 8 minutes or until chickpeas are crisp; use a slotted spoon to remove chickpeas and chorizo from pan and set aside.
• Add the remainder of the 1/4 cup of oil to the pan; when it’s hot, add spinach and sherry, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook spinach over medium-low heat until very soft and the liquid has evaporated. Add chickpeas and chorizo back to the pan and toss quickly to combine; top with bread crumbs, drizzle with a bit more oil and run pan under the broiler to lightly brown the top. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Yield: 4 servings.


Visiting the Farm

Last weekend, we went to the farm in Southern Oregon with Stefan’s sister, Camille and her husband, Matt. I love the farm because it is where Stefan learned how to grow a garden. Stefan moves in our garden in Portland with an unassuming grace. Every seed he plants grows. Because he learned how to plant, water and harvest food when he was barely walking, gardening comes naturally to him as an adult. The lettuce seeds he planted in our covered raised bed 2 weeks ago are coming up nicely. There is a sea of itty bitty green leaves. This never happens to me.

At the farm, we cooked, played cards, read and hiked. The madrone (arbutus) trees scattered everywhere are solid and they have a beautiful red bark that is the color I want to dye my hair when I start to turn gray. Camille is an excellent at all things hair and I bet she can match the color perfectly. These trees will always remind me of running in the hills outside Berkeley. As well as the fog.

The photos are taken on our hikes and one of the cabin. At the bottom, I included a recipe for the tastiest tomato soup we have made yet and ate at the farm. I found the recipe at this great website. Local and delicious. The tomatoes came from our garden last year. We froze a bunch and they cook up really well in soups.

Tomato Soup
Adapted from Jane & Geoff

2 (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano – and it’s worth the expense)
2 medium or 1 large onions, finely chopped
6-7 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Chicken or vegetable stock (16 oz)
1 tsp finely chopped basil

Ricotta (optional)
Pesto (optional)


1. Saute onion & garlic in olive oil slowly until translucent and softened substantially.
2. In a tall heavy-bottomed pot, add tomatoes and the stock. With a wooden spoon, squish the tomatoes down against the wall of the pot. Stir in basil. Bring to a point where the soup is almost boiling and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes to let the soup thicken.
3. With an immersion blender, blend the soup until all the tomatoes are pureed and the soup is has a smooth consistency.
4. Season with salt and pepper and serve, garnished, if you like with a dollop of ricotta and a swirl of pesto.
Serves 6.

This is what the bugs do to Cedar trees.  Isn't it pretty?

This is what the bugs do to Cedar trees. Isn't it pretty?

That Teaser Febraury Sun

We planted seeds this weekend indoors and out. Instead of trying to grow seeds in the bathtub, I built a platform for my seed trays out of IKEA shoe shelves on top of a table (it teeters, it totters but it won’t fall down!) and put them in front of our windows in a back bedroom. So far, so good.

In January, when we planted seeds in the trays and put them in the tub, the plants got too leggy and I gave up after noticing mold in the dirt. This time, we are going to try to grow the seeds with natural light and use a spray bottle instead of the shower head. I have always had a problem with excess.

We decided to rip out the grass in the front yard and use the space for growing veggies. We want it to look, someday, like this. We had the dirt delivered on Friday and had good intentions of building raised beds this weekend to shovel the dirt into and voila! Garden done. Not so fast. We managed a few things, and like usual, our eyes were bigger than our muscles.

Eventually, we are going to add 2 more raised beds for a total of 5 and I want to create a circular garden patch like this. We have the dirt. Now, we will build and dig and plan. And, lay down from exhaustion. Which is why we did not get farther along this weekend.
We did transfer the baby spinach out of the covered bed to an uncovered one. In the uncovered bed, we have spinach starts and planted radish seeds. In the covered bed, we planted lettuce seeds.

We did have a gorgeous weekend and it was great to be outside planting things that we know full well could freeze in March or even April. Stefan thinks that this teaser week of February sun that happens every year is the reason people stay in Oregon. I tend to agree.

Home Delivery from Noris Dairy

I just drank the best glass of milk I have ever had. Granted, the milk was full fat because we think skim and 2% are a waste of our time. Especially after we listed to this podcast about fat.
I think the glass of milk is delicious because it came from Noris Dairy. We ordered meat, cheese, milk and yogurt from Noris Dairy and had our loot delivered last Friday. There are a lot of really great things about this place and you can read about them below. One of the best things is that you can order from them and they will deliver to your house. For more information about how to order, check out their ordering details.

Noris Dairy is about 60 miles from us in Scio, Oregon. After talking to many dairies, we agreed that Noris makes the most sense for us right now because not only are all of their dairy products made on their farm, but their cows are also raised in Scio and slaughtered just a bit farther south in Springfield.

Noris Dairy is different than any other farm you will find in Oregon. They are the only farm that uses only their own milk in all of their products (cheese, yogurt and milk). We have talked to many dairies in Portland and they get their milk from cows that live as many as 300 miles away.

They have their own bottling and processing plant onsite—the only one between Seattle and San Francisco and have been “Organic” since before there really was a Certified Organic. They hace been Certified for over 20 years.

Noris Dairy has about 300 cows in production and over 1,200 acres for them to roam. Their cows are grass fed only and are at pasture year round. When the weather does not permit, the cows to be at pasture eat hay that is grown in their own pasture.

Farming Geeks Read On:
Noris has a closed herd method, meaning that they don’t bring in outside cows into their breeding program. `This means that they know the health and history of each and every one of the cows in their herd. They rotate the cows through the different fields for two reasons, the first is each field has different types of wildflowers and grasses so the cows are never bored with their food choices and second so that they can give each field the necessary time to lay dormant and recooperate.

Before their cows go into labor, they move them into an expecting field close to birthing barns so that they can have constant supervision. Once the cow gives birth the calf is placed in pen next to its mother so that bonding time may still occur. The calf is given only its mothers colustrum and milk for the first few weeks. The calves are then moved to playpens and the mother back to the normal fields. Calves are bottle fed milk for up to 8 months (normal is only a few weeks). Bulls are separated and moved into their own herds and fields where they are grass fed for 2-3 years before being sent to butcher (normal industry standard is 8-14 months).

All of the milking cows are kept for their entire natural life on the farm. That means that after they are done milking they go to our retirement herd and their lives do not really change.

Noris Dairy milks twice a day and their processing plant is yards away from our milking parlor so the products are processed and bottled within hours of “leaving the cow”.
They make all of their own products onsite and even have their own Artesian Cheese Specialist.

Com Panis

Pork and Polenta

Pork and Polenta

The word Company comes from the words com panis. Baking bread together. Although we did not bake bread together this week since we have not found local wheat, we did eat together. With many incredible people. We celebrated a quiet Wednesday evening with friends and threw beads at each other at our Mardi Gras celebration.
As I said in my last post, one of the reasons that we wanted to try this experiment is that we are inspired in what we eat in people and events. This week, we got to experience many amazing people and events when we ate with them. We hosted 14 adults and 7 kids to celebrate Fat Tuesday with a delicious Cajun meal and washed it down with King Cake.
Continue reading

How to Roast an Old Chicken

Brian's old chicken turned into a delicious meal

Brian's old chicken turned into a delicious meal

We are back on! This week is the easiest yet to eat locally since we have an ever growing stock pile of food to choose from. One of the reasons that we wanted to try this experiment was that we wanted to grow more curious, flexible and nimble in the kitchen. This week, we got to practice those skills.

Our original Monday night dinner plan of roasting a chicken who had seen her day took twice as long as we planned for to cook. She was an older sweet hen who gave Brian lots of eggs and we discovered when you cook an older bird, you need to stew it instead of roasting. The Chicken tasted like chicken and we are making stock out of the remainder. So we opted for chicory salad topped with hard boiled eggs and beans instead. We topped the beans (check out the recipe for the beans here) off with a green verde sauce our farmer Brian made.

How to Cook an Old Chicken

Here is how we made the chicken:
• 1 whole free-range/organic chicken
• 1 onion, sliced into rings
• 3+ garlic cloves (more, if you’re a garlic lover)
• Olive oil, white wine, and/or lemons
• Sea Salt and Pepper
1. Place the sliced onion rings on the bottom of the crockpot. Add the garlic cloves.
2. Place the chicken on top of the onions and garlic.
3. Add sea salt, pepper and drizzle olive oil and/or white wine (maybe 1/4 to 1/2 cup) over the chicken.
4. You can also slice lemons and either place them around the sides and in the cavity of the chicken, or tuck them under the chicken skin (all optional).
5. Cook chicken on low heat for 24 hrs. The chicken will create a lot of juice as it cooks, which will caramelize the onions and garlic in the bottom of the crockpot.
6. Once the chicken is cooked, reserve the juice for drizzling over the meat, or make a gravy.
7. Any remaining juice can be left in the crockpot, if you plan to make stock that night.

Last night, we finally carved the chicken. Reminded me of when the bean tasted like beans .

Another reason that we wanted to try this experiment was because we are inspired in what we eat in people (and events). Some of those people are our friends who are more like family that live 2 blocks away and we decided to host each other for a local meal on our “on” weeks. We are making them carnitas with polenta. The carnitas recipe was passed to us from Kelly C and Lisa. I have never made polenta—curious how to make it and what it will taste like with carnitas. I have never been a polenta fan but we found some at the farmers market. I’ll post recipes and pictures of our local meal with people who inspire us soon.

Braised Cannellini Beans with Garlic, Marjoram and Oregano

We used orca beans and it turned out just as good!

We used orca beans and it turned out just as good!

First Appeared in Gourmet Magazine in January 2009
• 2 cups dried cannellini beans—we used these beautiful orca beans and have also used cannellinis which are equally good
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, smashed
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 tablespoon dried marjoram—we used thyme and both are great
• 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumb, toasted—we omitted this for 100 mile purposes

1. Rinse the beans well in a colander, picking out any broken beans and pebbles.
2. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plenty of cool water, and let soak for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
3. Drain the beans and transfer to a 3 qt pot and add water to cover by 1 to 2 inches.
4. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.
5. Adjust the heat to a slow simmer and cook uncovered, skimming as needed for 2 hours or until beans are tender (it might be necessary to add more water).
6. Remove from the heat, stir in the salt and let the beans stand in their cooking liquid for 30 minutes.
7. Drain the beans, reserving 3/4 cup of cooking liquid.
8. In a pot, heat the olive oil over med heat.
9. Add garlic, bay leaf and oregano and cook for 3 minutes or until the garlic begins to soften.
10. Stir in the beans and 3/4 cup cooking liquid and simmer, stirring gently, for about 4 minutes, or until the beans achieve a creamy consistency.
11. The beans should not be as thick as mashed potatoes, but they should just hold their shape if spooned onto a piece of bread.
12. If the beans are too thick, stir in a little water and continue to cook.
13. Stir in marjoram, taste for seasoning, and add salt if needed.
14. Remove from the heat.
15. At this point beans can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week, reheat gently before serving.
16. To serve, pour beans into a warmed serving bowl, or ladle them into warmed individual bowls. Top with bread crumbs and a drizzle of olive oil.
17. Serve immediately.

***A16 Food and Wine