My Weekend In Pictures

My new flex schedule at work provides me with three day weekends twice a month.  I’m loving the extra time and here’s some evidence to prove it!

A lovely little tea service.  Followed by a delicious cucumber sandwich.

Working fast to get caught up with my fellow knit-a-longers on the Holla Back Tank.

Time spent in the kitchen for blueberry jam and plum muffins (recipes to be posted soon).

A trip to the Farmer’s Market.

And an evening chopping veggies for Samosa Wraps.

Plus, a great long run and ordering yarn for another knit-a-long (more on that to come)!

The Oregon Berry Festival . . . and 10 lbs really is A LOT of fruit!

Last weekend was the Oregon Berry Festival and I had the opportunity to spend a bit of time there on the lovely warm Saturday afternoon we had.  This is a small festival, but what it lacked in size, it more than made up for in berry-goodness.

It was held in Portland’s Pearl District at the Ecotrust Building, a beautiful modern retail space with an outdoor courtyard-like area.   In the courtyard several local farmers were on hand to share their bounty.  Booths were seriously overflowing with berries of all kinds – raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, tayberries, and others I had never heard of!  It was a gorgeous sight.

Inside, the festival had space for vendors who weren’t growing the berries themselves, but who sure knew how to put them to good use.  Berry liqueur, cocktails, preserves, pastries, and juices were there for the tasting (and buying!).  

It was a really fantastic little piece of the local food scene and I took a home a delicious pint of raspberries which I later used to make a raspberry sauce for peach parfaits (more on those below).

I suspect the reason that I only bought one lone pint of berries at the festival was that I arrived there straight from a farmer’s market, where I had collected on a Groupon purchased a few weeks back.  The Groupon entitled me to 10 lbs of peaches and apricots from a local farmer.  Now, when I purchased that Groupon I was seriously excited (I also have one for 10 lbs of apples and pears to pick up later in the season).  I love fruit.  I love locally grown produce.  And, I love a deal.  I saw the offer and snatched it up right away.

I didn’t really stop to figure out how much 10 lbs is in regards to peaches and apricots.  You should probably know that I am notoriously bad at this sort of thing.  Something is seriously awry in the part of my brain that allows most people to estimate weight, size, space, et cetera.  I am always WAY off.

I arrived at the Farmer’s Market, happily handed over my Groupon voucher to be redeemed, and I was told to select the fruit I wanted.  A scale was at the ready and I could weigh it out myself.  I started sorting through standard peaches, donut peaches (extra yum for those), and apricots, placing the chosen ones in my bag.  After a couple of minutes, I figured I surely had to be at least halfway there.

I was wrong.

I placed my bag on the scale and it read: 3 lbs 2 oz.

Seriously?!  I already had enough fruit to last me the week!  I kept going and repeated this startling process a few more times before I finally was finished and made my way through the crowd with my huge bags of peaches and apricots slung over my shoulder.

I clearly just had no idea how little these fruits actually weigh.

Once home, I had to figure out what to do with all of it.  I had intended on making parfaits with what I thought would be about a third of the peaches (and turned out to be about a twelfth of them!), which is what prompted me to buy the raspberries at the festival.

After all was said and done, I made the parfaits (which were quite tasty), used all the apricots up to make homemade apricot-vanilla bean jam (SO good), and have been snacking on the rest of the peaches all week.

I will certainly try to be more prepared when the time comes to cash in on my apple and pear voucher in a couple of months.

In the meantime, I share with you my recipe for Bourbon-Poached Peach Parfaits with Raspberry Sauce.  Enjoy!

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Bourbon-Poached Peach Parfaits with Raspberry Sauce  

makes 3 parfaits

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups water

½ cup brown sugar

2 tblspns bourbon

½ long or 1 short vanilla bean (split lengthwise)

2 tblspns lemon juice, divided

3 peaches, stones removed and quartered

1 cup fresh raspberries

2 tblspns confectioners’ sugar

12 oz greek non-fat yogurt (plain or vanilla)

¼ cup crushed graham crackers (I used Annie’s Organic)

Directions:

  1. Put the water, brown sugar, bourbon, 1 tblspn of the lemon juice, and vanilla bean into a pot and heat over medium-low until the sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently.
  2. Once sugar is dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil, add peach quarters and let simmer for 7-8 minutes.  If the syrup doesn’t cover them entirely, turn peaches over halfway through.  Pierce with a fork and test to ensure the peaches are soft.  If they are, remove from pan, peel off skins, and let cool.  (The remaining syrup can be discarded or used to poach other fruit if you like).
  3. While the peaches cool, make the sauce.  Toss raspberries, confectioners’ sugar, and remaining 1 tblspn lemon juice into a blender or food processer.  Process until liquefied and combined.  Push through a strainer to remove any raspberry seeds.
  4. Assemble the parfaits when ready to serve.  First, place two peach quarters in the bottom of each glass.  Top with a few spoonfuls of yogurt.  Drizzle raspberry sauce on next.  Repeat these layers in each glass one more time.  To finish, sprinkle crushed graham crackers on the top of each parfait.

Note:  I imagine that these parfaits would be equally good with crushed nuts or granola in place of the graham crackers.  And, you could always use ice cream instead of yogurt for an even more decadent dessert  – though I do think these were fantastic as is!

Fruit, Vegetables, Flowers, Oh My!

Yesterday I went to one of my absolute most favorite places in the world.  I am not exaggerating.  Every time I go to the farmer’s market at Portland State University, I am newly delighted at the sights, smells, and sounds there.  I love food.  Particularly, I love fresh, local food from Oregon growers that show up to share their crops with the rest of us.  One of my favorite things is to watch and anticipate the changes throughout the market season as the crops shift and turn over.  Early in the season (as it was today) the market was overflowing with huge heads of lettuce and bunches of kale, bright bundles of asparagus and juicy, ripe strawberries.  I know that as the season progresses, I’ll find blueberries, melons, peppers, and other favorites.  It’s a bit of a culinary adventure to see what the market will have on any given Saturday and how I can put my finds to use.

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One of the things I love about this particular market is that in addition to the produce, there are local craftspeople selling products they have made and packaged for quick eating.  There’s pickled vegetables.  Jams, lemon curd, and preserves.  Kimchi.  Soup.  Pastries and breads galore.  Hard cider and wine.  Hummus.  Salsa.  Pesto.  And, so on!  Of course there are also samples of all these things to taste and try as you stroll through the stalls.  There are also food carts and booths set up, ready to make you breakfast or lunch – though I never try them at the market.  I prefer to get a big, hot cup of black coffee and wonder around, tasting samples as I go.

For those of you who haven’t been, this market is large.  And, it’s a great place for people watching.  Musicians are inevitably set up to give you something to tap your foot to and on a warm, dry day there are plenty of places to lounge in the grass or on a bench.  To me, this market encompasses so much of what I love about the city.  It’s focus on supporting local business owners, appreciation for good food and drink, a place to spend time outside (surrounded by the lovely PSU campus) and a general laid-back, friendly, jovial spirit.

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Given that it encompasses all of the major themes of this blog, I thought it would make a great topic for my first official post.

Delicious food, a little bit of (relaxed) exercise, and so much inspiration for creativity – not a bad way to spend my Saturday morning .

Oh!  In case you were wondering, I used market greens and radishes to whip up this salad from Martha Rose Shulman.  If you haven’t tried any of Shulman’s recipes, by the way, I highly recommend that you do.  She has yet to steer me wrong. This salad is so simple, so fresh, and was absolutely delicious.  I served mine as a first-course to Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas and freshly made guacamole.

Romaine and Radish Salad with Buttermilk Lemon Dressing

From the Recipes for Health NYT Column – Martha Rose Shulman

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For the salad:

2 hearts of romaine

1 cup thinly sliced radishes (if you have one, a mandolin slices these beautifully)

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped chives, or a mixture of chives and tarragon (I used about 2 tablespoons of only chives)

For the buttermilk dressing:

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 small garlic clove, puréed (I minced mine)

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

5 tablespoons buttermilk***

Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

1. Combine the romaine, radishes and herbs in a large salad bowl.

2. Whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, salt, olive oil and buttermilk. Just before serving, toss with the salad mix. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, toss again, and serve.

*** I made my own buttermilk by combining 5 tablespoons of 1% milk with 1 teaspoon of white vinegar.  Let sit for 5 minutes, stir.  Lemon juice can also be used in place of the vinegar.

This made just over ½ cup of dressing.  I had a bit left over that I didn’t need on the salad and am saving for another night!