Thursday, June 24, 2010

Recipe of the Week #5

Multi-purpose Tahini Sauce

While in Pacific City last weekend, I crafted a quick tahini sauce as a topping for tempeh tacos, which were inspired by a dish at Cafe Mundo in Newport.

During the next few days, I used the remainder of the sauce for dipping vegetables, such as radishes, that are now growing like crazy in our garden.


Tahini (a spread of roasted sesame seeds)
Soy sauce
Lemon juice (can be substituted by other acids such as vinegar or orange juice)
Finely chopped scallions (green onions)


Place several spoonfuls of tahini into a mixing bowl (I used about 5 tablespoons). Stir in juice of one lemon and the chopped scallions (I used three small scallions). Add soy sauce, stir, and taste, adding more until level of desired saltiness in achieved. Adjust to desired consistency by adding water or more tahini. Place in the refrigerator for several hours before serving to let the flavors blend.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Recipe of the Week #4

Grilled Portabella and Scallion Fajitas

While planning our trip to central Oregon, we decided to cook dinner using the barbecue provided by our motel. We wanted to grill something local and veggie, so we packed some portabella mushrooms and scallions (green onions).


Large Portabella Mushrooms
Olive oil
Flour Tortillas
Toppings such as lettuce, avocado, cheese, or salsa


Light briquettes in barbecue. Remove stems and scrape dark brown gills of off undersides of mushrooms. Brush each mushroom with oil and sprinkle with salt and cumin. Place mushrooms stem-side down over coals and move from heat if they start to blacken. When mushrooms have collapsed a bit, flip them and cook until moisture has stopped bubbling up from center. Place scallions over coals and remove them when they are tender and just starting to blacken.
Warm tortillas over the grill for a few seconds on each side. Slice mushrooms into strips and place into warmed tortillas along with scallions and selected toppings. Eat immediately, preferably outside.

Central Oregon Birds

Sarah and I decided to take a weekend trip to central Oregon to enjoy the sunny weather and see some birds that are unique to the east side of the Cascades.

We drove to Camp Sherman on Friday afternoon, stayed in a small motel near the Metolius River, and returned to Portland Sunday evening.

On Saturday, we spent a long day birding a variety of habitats such as pine forests, riparian areas, and wildfire sites.

It was great to see drycountry birds like Pinyon Jays and Green-tailed Towhees while taking in amazing views of the Cascade peaks. We can't wait to return next year!


Canada Goose
Common Merganser
Common Goldeneye
Bald Eagle
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Virginia Rail
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Common Nighthawk
Calliope Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Red-naped Sapsucker
White-headed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Western Wood-pewee
Pacific Slope Flycatcher
Dusky Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Cassin's Vireo
Steller's Jay
Western Scrub Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Violet Green Swallow
Barn Swallow
Mountain Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
House Wren
American Dipper
Western Bluebird
American Robin
Swainson's Thrush
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Macgilivary's Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Western Tanager
Black-headed Grosbeak
Spotted Towhee
Green-tailed Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Brown-headed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Cassin's Finch
Pine Siskin
Red Crossbill
House Sparrow

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Recipe of the week #3

We had a backlog of leeks from our CSA, so this weekend I made potato leek soup following instructions in The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook (highly recommended). Their soup recipes call for chicken broth and we only cook vegetarian, so I made a veggie broth using items from our refrigerator, freezer, and backyard. I adapted this recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (our cooking bible).

Spring Veggie Broth


Frozen winter squash
Green parts of leeks
Garlic cloves
Fresh parsley
Fresh thyme
Fresh oregano
Bay leaf
Olive oil
Nutritional yeast


Heat olive oil (2 tablespoons) in a dutch oven. Chop leek parts (I used the tops of 5 small leeks) and rinse well to remove mud. Dice garlic ( 2 cloves) and add to oil with the leeks and squash pieces (I used four 3-inch strips). Add nutritional yeast (1 tablespoon) and salt to taste. When garlic has caramelized (about 5 minutes) add water (two quarts is enough for one large pot of soup), bay leaf, thyme (3 sprigs), parsley (3 sprigs), and oregano (3 sprigs). Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a slow boil and cook uncovered for 3o minutes. Pour through a mesh strainer into a large bowl and taste for seasoning. Add more salt if desired.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gardening in the Sun

We took advantage of break in our rainy weather to catch up on some gardening. We now have patches scattered around our front and back yards full of seeds and starts.

Along the side of our driveway, we covered our strawberries and blueberries with netting to keep the birds out.

A few feet away, I constructed a tomato frame and planted a few squash seeds.

In the back, our raised bed is now full of plants in various stages of development.

I finally weeded the old garden, whose peonies are now in bloom.

Finally, we added some soil to an open patch of clay. We planted sunflowers and squash in hopes of big yellow flowers this summer. Another 1.3 inches of rain fell on Sunday, but some sun is expected for the rest of the week. Between our gardens and CSA membership, we should have plenty of food to work with this summer. More recipes to come!

Friday, June 4, 2010

20 days of rain

It has been one of the wettest springs on record in western Oregon. Rainfall totals in May were much higher than the usually wetter month of February. On Friday, we reached 20 straight days of at least some precipitation. I am used to soggy springs and I like interesting weather events, so I refuse to join the ceaseless complaining of the local tv anchorpersons.

We have had one rain-related casualty in our yard, however. One of our rose bushes has fallen. Hopefully it can be saved.

Our gardens have been soaked, but our cold-season plants such as radishes and greens have fared well despite heavy slug predation.

We now wait for a dry and sunny stretch to plant our warm-season seeds.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Recipe of the Week #2

Beans and Greens Burritos

This quickly prepared recipe is always a good use of the greens we accumulate in the spring. As the summer progresses, we add fresh tomatoes and summer squash to the filling to change the character of the dish. The quantities in the parentheses below serve two of us with a little left over for the next day's lunch.

Beans, canned or pre-cooked dried
Rainbow chard, leaves chopped with wide ribs removed and diced
Chopped spinach or other tender green such as mispoona
Chopped kale
Diced onions or scallions
Diced garlic
Ground cumin

Cooking instructions
Bring one tablespoon of vegetable oil to medium heat in a large skillet. Add onions (two handfuls) and saute until translucent (about 10 minutes). add kale (one handful) and cook, stirring several minutes until wilted. Rinse beans (one can) and add to skillet, then cook, stirring occasionally until beans are softened and heated through, about 15 minutes. Add garlic (two cloves) and chard (one handful) and spinach (one handful) and cook mixture until leaves are thoroughly wilted. Season with salt and cumin to taste (two teaspoons each for us). Wrap mixture in flour or corn tortilla and top with cheese and your favorite salsa or hot sauce.