Since beginning the transition toward eating as a locavore (a person who eats only locally grown food whenever possible), I’ve learned to make a lot of things myself that I used to buy ready to eat. In the process I’ve made four simple discoveries which have revolutionized my overall approach to eating and feeding my family. Here they are: Continue Reading
“Corning” beef is actually a method of pickling. The raw beef is soaked in a salty brine for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the recipe you use. (I opted for a few days, because that’s the way I am.) Continue Reading
This recipe is inspired by fresh apple cider from BelleWood Acres. However, it also includes a beverage experiment I tried several years ago.
I was living in a cabin with a huge walnut tree just outside the door. Every year, I’d watch for the walnuts to ripen, but every year I’d awaken one morning to the sound of blue jays. That was the day the walnuts would all be gone. The jays were faster than me when the walnuts were ripe.
One year I read about an Italian liqueur called nocino, which is made from green walnuts steeped in vodka for a couple of months, sometimes with added herbs and spices. At last! I’d found a way to enjoy at least some of the walnuts before the jays ate them.
At first, the nocino I made tasted bitter, but everything I read said the flavor would get better with age (as in years). It did. Continue Reading
Sweet potatoes can be prepared exactly as you would prepare regular white potatoes, though the flavor will be considerably different–richer and sweeter. In salads, as fries, mashed, sautéed, boiled, steamed, or however you choose to prepare them, sweet potatoes add a sweet earthy flavor to any dish.
I also use them in recipes just as I would squash or pumpkin. Their sweetness makes them ideal for desserts as well as savory dishes. The classic sweet potato pie is a good example. In the recipe below, I’ve used a favorite German potato salad recipe and adapted it to use sweet potatoes instead. Continue Reading
In honor of the 2013 Wild Mushroom Show, hosted every October in Bellingham by the Northwest Mushroomers Association, I wanted to create a mushroom recipe. The main question in my mind was about which type of mushroom to use. The list wasn’t as long as you might imagine. While there are multitudes of edible mushroom varieties that grow wild in this area, and I love hunting for them and looking at them, I have zero skills at identifying them. I sadly crossed all wild mushrooms off my list. Continue Reading
For a sample of Debra Daniels Zeller’s work in The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook: 200 Recipes That Celebrate the Flavors of Oregon and Washington (see my review of this cookbook), this Borscht recipe is reprinted by permission from the book. There were a few ingredients which were not local, so I’ve added notes about adaptations I made to substitute local ingredients. The results were both lovely and delectable. The surprising (to me) use of potato to thicken the beet soup gave it a smooth, creamy texture without the use of cream. Give it a try! Continue Reading
Winter squash (including pumpkins) have a nutritional treasure at the center–and a tasty one, too! In the middle of the stringy pulp are the lovely squash seeds. They are quick and easy to roast, filling the kitchen with a wonderful fragrance that only comes in the fall.
Cleaning the seeds can be a bit of a chore. They grow in little clumps, and I pinch them off one at a time like picking grapes. Then I put them in a colander and rinse well under cold water, rubbing the seeds together to remove the slippery juice. (Learn more about how to cut open winter squash.)
Don’t let seed cleaning stop you from fixing this healthy autumn snack. Just put on some good music and have at them! The rich flavor and concentrated nutrition makes it worth the effort. Continue Reading
If we were going to do true confessions I’d have to admit pears are my favorite tree fruit. They’ve been my favorite for as long as I can remember, going all the way back to childhood.
When I was in my twenties, I can still vividly remember the time at a friend’s house in Alaska when I first tasted fresh pears with Gorgonzola cheese. I think I may have swooned.
For the recipe below, I chose a vinegar reduction for a tart contrast to the sweet Bosc pears, some hazelnuts to add a roasted crunch, and some basil as an earthy note to warm up the pear’s brightness. I recommend you be sitting down when you taste it. You might swoon! Continue Reading
I’d read you could smoke salmon in a charcoal barbecue grill using a hot smoking technique, so I decided to try it with some fresh chum fillets I’d just cleaned. Chums make good fish for hot smoking because they are a fattier salmon and so stay moister during smoking. The fish I had was caught the previous day by local reefnet fishermen here on Lummi Island.
I made the brine/marinade shown below and soaked a couple of fillets overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, I took the fillets out to drain and dry slightly. I also put a couple big handfuls of alder chips (purchased at Yaeger’s Sporting Goods, 3101 Northwest Ave., Bellingham) in a bowl of water to soak for a few minutes. Continue Reading
When our family takes driving trips, we like to have snacks to munch on along the way when fueling stops and hunger pangs don’t align. Beef jerky is a snack I grew up eating, and it’s perfect for traveling. It doesn’t require refrigeration, is loaded with flavor, needs no preparation, and provides a long-lasting energy boost because it’s mostly protein. Jerky also takes a lot of chewing, so a little lasts a long time.
Jerky is a good snack choice for hikers, skiiers, backpackers, people who fish, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Since it’s dried, it weighs relatively little and takes only a small amount of space. It can be broken into bits and used almost like dehydrated bacon in campfire or cookstove dishes, such as pasta. It punches up the flavor, and adds protein and salt at the same time. Continue Reading
Lobster mushrooms have a meaty texture, even more than portobellas. For that reason they are often used by vegetarians in recipes instead of meat. People also use lobster mushrooms to dye fibers for knitting or weaving.
Lobster mushrooms are particularly fascinating in the strange world of fungi. Read my article about Lobster Mushrooms.
If you’re interested in learning more about mushrooms and how to identify, collect and eat them safely, I’d recommend contacting the Northwest Mushroomers Association (NMA). Call Jack Waytz at (360) 303-4079 or Margaret Dilly at (360) 675-8756, or see their website at: www.northwestmushroomers.org Continue Reading
Poaching is a simple cooking technique used for things which need to be cooked gently, either because they are very tender or because they cook really quickly. Poaching is very forgiving in terms of slowly cooking things to the point of being perfectly done.
Tree fruits are often good poached. The low heat of poaching allows you to cook them slowly so you can determine when they are just soft enough to pierce with a fork, but not so soft that they begin to fall apart. Continue Reading