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
As the end of canning season approaches, and my pantry is full of local ingredients I will use throughout the winter, my thoughts begin to turn toward new and interesting recipes to try. I pull out cookbooks, buy a few new ones, and explore the possibilities.
One of my favorite cookbooks to browse is The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook: 200 Recipes That Celebrate the Flavors of Oregon and Washington by Debra Daniels-Zeller. I was first attracted to the book by the enticing cover photo of one of my top food choices–fresh asparagus. Later I had the good fortune to meet the author at a Community Food Co-op event about a year ago. I enjoyed talking with her, and later visited her blog titled “Food Connections: connecting with local foods in the Northwest and beyond.” I’ve been following her work ever since. Continue Reading
(First published October, 2012)
A fall chill was in the air, and by “chill” I mean it was windy and cold. I hadn’t been into town to visit the Bellingham Farmers Market for several weeks, so I was looking forward to seeing the produce vendors and what they were offering. 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
Fall is the time for ripening winter squash. Most people are familiar with acorn squash, pumpkins, and maybe delicata or hubbard varieties, but there are dozens of squash varieties available to grow.
They all have one thing in common–most have a very hard shell. The bigger the squash, the tougher the shell. As a result many cooks limit their culinary squash choices. 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
When thinking of Washington farm products, most of us think of apples. Washington is known as the largest apple producing state in the country. Did you know that Washington farmers are also the top producers of pears?
Apples are a wonderful fruit and I enjoy many varieties of them, but 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. 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
(Originally published October 10, 2012)
A couple of weeks ago I had an iconic Pacific Northwest food experience. It began with a salmon.
It was the last day of reefnet fishing, a special method of salmon fishing which has been practiced in Legoe Bay off Lummi Island for many years. Reefnetters keep the fish they catch in live holds until the last possible moment. Besides keeping the fish alive it also greatly reduces stress and bruising from rough net handling. When you buy fish directly from the fishermen on the beach at the end of the fishing day, you get the freshest possible fish in the most perfect possible condition. The fish will be whole–head, guts, and all. I bought a chum salmon from Rush Rock Reefnet. 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
(First published Sept. 2012)
Lobster mushrooms and I first became acquainted when I had some for lunch at a friend’s home. The son of a college friend had brought some lobster mushrooms he had foraged earlier that morning near Bellingham. I had never heard of them, but was enchanted with their bright, orange-red color–the color of a lobster shell. He prepared them by simply cutting them into pieces and sauteing them in butter. The taste and scent intrigued me further–a distinctive flavor with shellfish overtones. In short, they were a surprising revelation, and I’ve remembered them fondly since then. Continue Reading