Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Recipe of the Week #1

After two years of subscribing to a Community Supported Agriculture farm and growing our own food, Sarah and I have created many recipes using the fruits and vegetables we accumulate throughout the year. Last week we received the first of our summer shares and I thought it would be helpful to share these recipes in weekly installments. The recipes in these post will be vegetarian and of our creation. Since I tend to change the quantities of ingredients in cookbooks to meet our preferences, I will list the the items then add the amount we use in parentheses in the instructions.

Recipe #1: Spring Empanadas

I fell in love with empanadas while traveling in South America. These savory pies were reminiscent of the Cornish pasties I grew up eating in Montana, but were filled with a greater variety of ingredients. For this recipe, we chose rich, earthy ingredients that are available in the spring.

Pizza Crust (we use New Seasons's pre-made variety - one package makes three large empanadas)
Shredded Jarlsberg cheese
Chopped kale, chard, spinach, or other greens
Chickpeas, squished with a potato masher
Diced shallots
Sliced shitake mushrooms
olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. In a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat (I used 1 tablespoon). Add sliced mushrooms (2 cups) and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add shallots (1 large bulb) and kale (3 large leaves) and cook another 10 minutes. Stir in chickpeas (1 can) and cook mixture until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with desired amounts of thyme, salt, and pepper and set mixture aside.
Divide dough into equal portions that are large enough to form into 6-inch circles. Dust with flour to prevent sticking to cutting board. Place enough filling mixture to cover one half of the circle with an inch-tall mound, leaving 1/2 inch of the edge exposed. Add desired amount of cheese and apply a small amount of water to the edge of the dough for sealing. Fold over dough and press the edges together with the bottom of a fork to make half-moon shapes. Pierce the top several times with a fork and place into oven. Decrease heat to 375 degrees and cook 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Flowers and Flyovers

When we returned home from the beach on Sunday, we were greeted by dozens of new flowers. Most of the shrubs and perennial herbs were here before we bought the house last winter, so we did not know what colors to expect.

We are not sure what species these are above, but they popped up in the pre-existing garden and produced bright pink blooms.

We were surprised by the scarlet flowers on these peas we bought several weeks ago.

The long wait for rhododendron flowers is over.

They came in two shades of pink and are attracting bees like crazy.

We also have several rose bushes that appear to be quite old. This one is producing large, peach yogurt-colored flowers.

The time has also come for me to count birds at Killin Wetlands in Washington County. Today I had a hard time listening for birds because a pair of Red-tailed Hawks were unhappy about my proximity to their nest (under the arrow above). They flew overhead and screamed at me until I finished my work and drove home. I saw one chick in the nest that will probably fledge soon, so I should get some peace when I return next week.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Coastal Bivalve Consumption

Last weekend we went to the beach to spend some time with friends and take advantage of the negative tides.

Fellow forager Jere and I dug razor clams at Clatsop Beach on the north coast.

We used Jere's clam guns to pull up plugs of sand beneath "shows"- quarter-sized dimples in the sand that indicate the presence of razor clams. Look closely and you can see one above.

Like the hundreds of fellow diggers out there, we quickly bagged our limit of 15 each.

We returned to Pacific city and spent the rest of the day processing our catch.

We breaded and fried the surprisingly large clams and enjoyed a great dinner. This is the second year in a row that we have had a spring clam fry at Pacific City and we hope for many more to come.

The next day, we tidepooled during the low tide.

Like us, ochre sea stars were busy consuming bivalves.

Despite this relentless predation, the California mussels at Cape Kiawanda are quite abundant and very large. It does not look like the sea stars will be going hungry any time soon.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Backyard garden work

Though our winter was relatively mild, the unusually wet and cold April put many of our gardening plans on hold. On Saturday and Sunday, the sun returned, so Sarah and I got to work on reducing our backyard lawn cover while increasing our garden space.

We uprooted heavy piles of sod, constructed an 8 x 25 ft cedar frame, and filled it with a gardening mix from southeast Portland.

We still have a long way to go in our grass removal project. We hope to have the lawn replaced by rocks, shrubs, and vegetables in a couple of years

Monday, May 3, 2010

Birdathon 2010

On Saturday, Sarah and I led a Birdathon fundraising trip for the Audubon Society of Portland. It was our fourth year as trip leaders and the 3oth year of Birdathon.

We started the day at Cooper Mountain Nature Park, then drove to coastal town of Newport and back.
During the 13-hour trip, we found 92 species of birds, several of which we had never found on previous Birdathon trips.
As always, we had a great time birding with and getting to know our participants. We are already planning and looking forward to next year's expedition.

Bird species list:

1. Pacific Loon

2. Common Loon

3. Western Grebe

4. Red-necked Grebe

5. Brown Pelican

6. Brandt’s Cormorant

7. Pelagic Cormorant

8. Double-crested Cormorant

9. Great Blue Heron

10. Green Heron

11. Canada Goose

12. Brant

13. Greater White-fronted Goose

14. Mallard

15. Northern Pintail

16. Gadwall

17. Northern Shoveler

18. Green-winged Teal

19. Greater Scaup

20. Surf Scoter

21. Ring-necked Duck

22. Harlequin Duck

23. Bufflehead

24. Red-breasted Merganser

25. Bald Eagle

26. Turkey Vulture

27. Cooper’s Hawk

28. Red-tailed Hawk

29. American Kestrel

30. Sooty Grouse

31. American Coot

32. Killdeer

33. Black Oystercatcher

34. Greater Yellowlegs

35. Lesser Yellowlegs

36. Solitary Sandpiper

37. Western Sandpiper

38. Least Sandpiper

39. Dunlin

40. Western Gull

41. California Gull

42. Glaucous-winged Gull

43. Caspian Tern

44. Pigeon Guillemot

45. Common Murre

46. Rock Pigeon

47. Band-tailed Pigeon

48. Mourning Dove

49. Vaux’s Swift

50. Anna’s Hummingbird

51. Belted Kingfisher

52. Hairy Woodpecker

53. Downy Woodpecker

54. Northern Flicker

55. Pacific Slope Flycatcher

56. Steller’s Jay

57. Western Scrub Jay

58. American Crow

59. Common Raven

60. Violet Green Swallow

61. Tree Swallow

62. Cliff Swallow

63. Barn Swallow

64. Black-capped Chickadee

65. Chestnut-backed Chickadee

66. Bushtit

67. Red-breasted Nuthatch

68. Brown Creeper

69. Winter Wren

70. Bewick’s Wren

71. Golden-crowned Kinglet

72. Western Bluebird

73. American Robin

74. European Starling

75. Yellow-rumped Warbler

76. Orange-crowned Warbler

77. Wilson’s Warbler

78. Common Yellowthroat

79. Spotted Towhee

80. Chipping Sparrow

81. Savannah Sparrow

82. White-crowned Sparrow

83. Dark-eyed Junco

84. Song Sparrow

85. Brown-headed Cowbird

86. Red-winged Blackbird

87. Brewer’s Blackbird

88. Evening Grosbeak

89. House Finch

90. Lesser Goldfinch

91. American Goldfinch

92. House Sparrow