Blogs: Food

cover image of the feast nearbyThe Feast Nearby contains all the things I like in a memoir: a woman in the midst of some major life crises (her husband asked her for a divorce and she lost her job all in the same week), an element of budgeting and simple living by necessity, and recipes! She did lose a bit of credibility when she went on about "retreating to her small Michigan cabin."  Really, how bad could it be if you've got a little cabin all squared away for retirement I wondered?  But I digress...She imposes a strict limit on her grocery budget of just $40 a week and tries to have as much of it as possible be locally sourced, but not necessarily organic.

Forty dollars a week is a stretch no matter what you do these days, so reading about her method and reasoning seemed fantastic. Having shunned the freezer for a number of years, I have only just come round to the idea that the freezer is your friend and can save you not only time, but a little dosh as well. Of course it will save you nothing without the planning and preparation, so that is what I found most helpful about this book. Ms. Mather goes through the year in seasons and has some simple pleasing recipes to use the foods now as well as preserving them for future use. She shows that it is indeed possible to live the good life while enjoying the bounty of nature on a budget.

Cover image of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb PerlmanWhen I first stumbled upon Deb Perlman's food blog Smitten Kitchen, I was home with a small toddler and on a mad Google quest for homemade cracker recipes. Goldfish crackers specifically. My sister had recently exposed my son to the highly seductive, cheesy toddler staple and I wasn’t having it. I was on a passionate whole grain, non-boxed snack mission, and I approached it with the fervor that only a well-meaning and admittedly obsessive new mother can know.   

While it was Perlman’s labor intensive goldfish snack cracker recipe that reeled me in (I know..), I quickly found that while she would indulge my whim for scratch baked versions of boxed favorites, the vast majority of her recipes are much less demanding. Her specialty is simple, uncomplicated food that tastes delicious and leaves the impression that you’re a much better cook than you really are (I may only be speaking for myself here). 

Perlman makes her creations in a teeny tiny Manhattan apartment kitchen that doesn’t allow for huge productions.  Me in my teeny tiny Portland ranch kitchen can appreciate that kind of efficiency and I've learned to trust that if a Smitten Kitchen recipe takes more than 30 minutes to make or 3 bowls to mix in, it’s because that’s the way it has to be, because it will be worth it.  While I still visit the blog fairly regularly, when The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook came out, I quickly made space on my crowded kitchen shelf.

If you invite me to a potluck, it’s a fair bet that I’ll be bringing some variety of baked dish from this book.  The caramelized onion and butternut squash galette is a fool-proof crowd pleaser and when I breeze in twenty minutes late, with play clay stuck to my pants and Legos in my coat pocket, 'galette' just makes more of an impact than 'casserole.'

I love cooking in late winter and early spring, because this is the time of year that you can get really experimental. In the summer, from the time the asparagus and rhubarb start to sprout until you get those last tomatoes, there’s all this pressure to eat local, eat what’s ripe right now. Then in the fall, everyone wants comfort food, which is heavily prescribed by tradition. Roast chicken! Minestrone soup! Pot roast! Next, the holidays come along, and if you don’t cook just what everyone’s come to expect from you during the holidays, there  might be a rebellion.

But now, at least until May, we can go a little crazy in the kitchen and try new things. For me, that means checking out some of the library’s wide collection of international cookbooks and traveling the world a little, in a culinary way. And now, after the excesses of the holiday and while the rain is falling down outside, we want lighter recipes that take us to warm and sunny places.

Try Jerusalem by by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, two cooks who were raised in opposite ends of that city and inspired by its cuisine. My husband and I both cook and peruse a lot of cookbooks, and often when we look at cookbooks, we’re all, “Ho-hum, we’ve seen this before.” Jerusalem’s recipes are new and exciting, full of contrasts and sunshine. Make chicken with caramelized onion and cardamom rice and a spinach salad with dates and almonds.

Or head off to Vietnam with its beguiling combination of salty, sweet, hot and sour. A great book to explore Vietnamese food is Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan. You will be inspired by this cookbook's big, gorgeous pictures to cook delicious things like Lemongrass Beef Stew and a salad with leeks and roasted eggplants.

Visit India with Madhur Jaffrey, who has released a bunch of cookbooks celebrating Indian food, most recently At Home with Madhur Jaffrey. She has the knack of taking exotic, ingredients-laden recipes and making them seem utterly doable in your home kitchen. This is a great cookbook for someone who is exploring Indian cuisine for the first time. Cook Salmon in a Benghali Mustard Sauce and treat yourself to Kheer, a saffron- and cardamom-scented rice pudding, for dessert.

Portland is rich in international grocery stores where you can find the ingredients you’ll need to cook some of these recipes, and even trips to Fubonn, Barbur World Foods, or International Foods Supply can make you feel like you're traveling. Bon voyage!

In 2011, the  United States Department of Agriculture replaced the idea of the Food Pyramid with My Plate ,which gives you a plan to figure out what you need to eat to be healthy. But not everyone agreed that My Plate represented healthy eating habits. Healthy Eating Plate vs. USDA Eating Plate argues that the USDA plan was influenced by political and commercial pressures from food industry lobbyists. They said that their plan, created by experts at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, is better because it’s based on science.

 

There are also food pyramids created to represent Latino, Asian, African Heritage and Mediterranean Diet food cultures. Which ones match the way you eat? If you need more help researching diet and nutrition, feel free to contact a librarian.

 

At this year's Portland Zine Symposium, we found that quite a few zinesters were offering new zines about food - from the practical to the poetic to the bizarre. Read, relish, cook, laugh, enjoy!

(Also, check out our other blog post about new zines from the Zine Symposium!)

 

FoodStampFoodie3Food Stamp Foodie #3 by Virginia Paine

This issue of Food Stamp Foodie includes recipes, self-care tips and DIY projects in comics form. Simple vegan recipes, easy sewing projects and more!

 

Carnage

Carnage by Kelly

A zine about cooking and eating meat, from the perspective of an author who was formerly vegetarian.

 

 

KosherKosher

A zine about eating kosher!

 

 

Burgermancer

Burgermancer #1 by Jason “JFish” Fischer

A burger fanzine, full of comics, recipes, reviews and articles - all about burgers. It’s delightfully weird, and features an interview with Hamburger Harry, burger connoisseur and curator at the Hamburger Museum.

 

FlavorFlavor by Sofie Sherman-Burton

Rich prose (or prose poems?) recalling the author’s most prominent food memories.

 

 

Burrito Burrito BurritoBurrito Burrito Burrito: A Zine Created for Burrito Lovers by Serena H.  

Origins of the burrito, recipes, interviews with burrito experts, log of burritos eaten in Portland. Focuses on vegetarian and vegan burritos.

 

Brew Your Own KombuchaMake Your Own Ginger AleBrew Your Own Kombucha

Make Your Own Ginger Ale

both by Kione

These two teeny-tiny 8-page zines feature clear instructions and tips for making your own kombucha and ginger ale!

 

I started reading The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti late last week.
The subtitle says it all. Love, betrayal, revenge, great cheese. If there were room on the cover I would add the words 'Family' and 'Sun-burned Small-town Spain'.
For the first couple days I would think about the book for hours, clock-watching until I could get a few more minutes with it. But it's the kind of book that deserves more than 15 minutes between loads of laundry and emptying the dishwasher. It deserves a quiet space and a steaming cup of coffee. Now one week in I'm getting up extra early to read in bed during that delicious time before the city is awake. Every single page is densely packed with delicious writing and humor. There are on-page footnotes (love them) that make a Siamese twin to the story itself.
I'm not finished yet but I can tell you this book is my favorite of the year. And I know in my heart that Paterniti will find himself receiving accolades and awards for months to come.

Humans bond over food, don’t we?  Bowls Around Town Project logoWe get together over a meal casually, as well as mark major milestones with a special meal.  Food or meals from childhood often take on a mythic status, as in the case of the macaroni and cheese served at my father’s elementary school in Cleveland, Ohio.  My mother spent 50+ years of marriage trying to replicate that recipe … which was – knowing cafeteria food – probably awful.

Artist Michael J. Strand understands the pull of food. He wants to collect your recipes – for cafeteria mac and cheese or the special stuffing you serve at Thanksgiving or your grandmother’s tamales. He wants to collect your stories of preparing and eating that recipe. Through Bowls Around Town, a collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Strand hopes to gather these treasures from you.

Picture a wooden box … inside is a large hand-thrown ceramic bowl and a book.  Place a hold on the box (found here in the catalog), check it out, take it home. Think about a dish with special meaning to you. Prepare it. Eat it. Take lots of pictures (instructions on where to send these are in the box). Write your recipe in the book along with a bit of its history and what happened when you prepared and ate it this time.  

Bring the box and its contents back to the library.  Return it on time so someone else can share their story.  

Bowls Around Town ProjectBowls Around Town at Multnomah County Library will circulate from May 16 to September 21, 2013. 
Museum of Contemporary Craft logo

Want to impress your friends by serving them that delicious crab and mango salad from The Heathman menu? Need help replicating the flaky, crispy crust that ring the pies at Ken's Artisan Pizza? Ready to try cooking with Caprial? Then this is the blog post for you. Check out these great cookbooks that offer recipes from some of Portland's favorite chefs.

 

 

Savor Portland Cookbook offers recipes from over 25 area restaurants including several James Beard Award winners and Stumptown stalwarts including Papa Haydn's, Saucebox, Veritable Quandry, Paley's Place and Higgins. A culinary glossary and a list of sources for hard to find ingredients will help guide your dishes to success. You can preview the book here

 

 

 

Few can do comfort food better than Lisa Schroeder, the chef behind wildly popular Mother's Bistro and Bar. Chicken and Dumplings, Pot Roast (oh, that pot roast!), Meatloaf and Mac n' Cheese are some of the delicious homestyle plates offered at Mother's. Lisa has shared over 150 of her fabulous recipes in Mother's Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again.

 

 

 

If you've never eaten one of Ken's Artisan pizzas, or croissants, or walnut bread, raisin bread, brown bread, or a brioche bun, or.....sorry, I got lost daydreaming for a minute there! Well, if you haven't yet tried one of these delectable treats, you must go grab one of his out-of-this-world creations. Go ahead, I'll wait. Okay, see what I mean? This man knows dough! And he's sharing his secrets with us in Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast.

 

 

 

Caprial and John Pence have been feeding Portland for the past seventeen years, first from their Sellwood Bistro and now at Supper Club and by teaching cooking classes at their Chef's Studio or in your own home. If you want to try making some classic cuisine that is sure to please, check out Caprial and John's Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking Together.

Portland is home to a vibrant community of gardeners, some of whom wanted to make it easier to barter or swap home-grown goods with a broader range of neighbors. Try these services if you like to share.

Portland Food Exchange: Anyone can go to this site and offer up foods for bartering. Your free listing includes up to four photos, and PFE has plans to partner with local food banks so that unclaimed trades can help feed hungry folks in our community. 

PDX Food Swap: A sister chapter to other swapper communities around the country, PDX Swappers meet seasonally to share, exchange, and celebrate handcrafted foods in Portland, Or. You can find other cities' swaps by searching at Food Swap Network.com.

Chowswap: A site for people who make, grow, or raise their own food. Ever can 40 quarts of tomatoes and wonder what you're going to do with them? What if you could trade a couple jars for some fresh backyard eggs? Or some homemade pasta, or some apricot jam?

Food Buying Clubs: If you're trying to save money and cut down on packaging by buying in bulk, you may benefit from joining a food buying club like Know Thy Food which can connect you directly to local food producers and wholesale distributors. They can help you obtain high quality, fresh foods at fair prices, and they also accept SNAP payments.

Simply stuffing face at the 600+ food carts in P-town is enough for me, but not so for many of you. No, some of you actually want to run one of these things!

If you’re ready to become one of the peas in a cart pod, first you’ll need to do some research about permits, licenses, business plans, outfitting a cart and the like.

Here is a handy list of links and books to get you started....

Start-up Support:

How to Open a Food Cart in Portland
Advice and Experience from a Food Cart Owner
Food Cartology Report - Trends and Impacts

Permits and Permissions:

Mobile Food Unit Operation Guide (Oregon DHS)
Mobile Food Unit Licensing and Inspection  (MultCo Health Dept.)
Vending Carts on Private Property (Portland Bureau of Development)
Vending Cart Types and Permits (Portland Bureau of Development) 

Buying the Cart:

Northwest Mobile Kitchens
CateringTruck.com
Used Vending.com
Festivals and Shows Equipment Sellers

Buying Supplies:

Boxer NW Kitchen Supply
Rose's Equipment
Cash & Carry

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