Thanksgiving…..off the grid.

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This year we had the opportunity to have the holiday with our friends (also from Ogden, UT) Heidi and Steve. Last year they sold their home in Ogden and decided to move to Wilhelmina, Oregon. The Edwards’ were always the self-reliant types, growing gardens, DIY projects, distilling, sewing, making their own cured meats. They decide to “go off the grid” or “homestead” in a rural town in OR. Just an hour out of Lincoln city on the coast. This region is particularly interesting as it is a rather fertile area, with more wineries then residents it seems, it is the unpretentious Oregon version of Napa, with some top notch pinot gris and pinot noir being made between hazelnut farms, meat producers, and eclectic art galleries. Their property is five acres, they have chickens, greenhouses they constructed themselves, and a mix of art and future plans for a massive garden.
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We headed up from Portland, and within an hour and half were in another world it seemed. After turning onto a gravel road and heading up the hill we made it to their lovely home tucked between trees and a haven for critters of all sorts, the kids loved it, and we loved it to. Heidi and I grew up on the same street, three houses away, we oddly never really met until we both worked together at the “City Club” in Ogden, UT. We instantly hit it off, with loads in common, and an appreciation of questionable jokes and potato vodka.
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As a hostess gift this year I brought her a handle of our favorite “Mono” as a homage to our friendship, we drank a few as well and dined on a fantastic “Franken Bird” as she called it, it was an outrageously fresh and delicious turkey from Providence farm in Philomath.
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Steve brined, deboned, and stuffed this bird with homemade pork sausage, and fresh spinach, trussed and roasted to perfection. I make a fine turkey don’t get me wrong, but this rendition was mind blowing, also on the menu was eggnog glazed ham, homemade ciabatta, the usual suspects of potatoes, gravy, stuffing, I brought a butternut squash salad, and bakalava, and Heidi’s friends the McLean’s brought a really good gluten free pumpkin pie.
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Heidi and Steve take great pride in their ability to be self-reliant, to them that is off the grid, what a wonderful holiday we had, if each one of us could find our own way to be “off the grid” I think the world would be a more peaceful place…Namaste.
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Stuff I Love…Stumptown Hairbender


Hair Bender Blend Whole Coffee Beans from Stumptown, 2 Bags – $28.00

from: Food52
Anyone that knows me, knows that I MUST have coffee as my breakfast du jour. I’ve always loved a good brew, but today I wanted to share with you my go to brew, it’s STUMPTOWN hairbender, and it’s my favorite brew for my morning french press. I wanted to make sure that all you folks that can’t get it where you live would have the opportunity to order this life changing coffee. I pack a bag when I leave town, I buy it religiously, and now it is available to everyone everywhere! If you click the link you can drink some of PDX’s finest without having to leave the comfort of your couch….and it’s the same price per bag as I pay here in the Rose city! I love this coffee, I really do, with a complex blend of savory and sweet, you taste milk chocolate, caramel, jasmine, apricot, pineapple, with a hint of meyer lemon. It’s heaven. If you love coffee you’ve gotta try it! Order yours today and make sure you let me know what you think!
Sponsored link.

Demitasse collection at the Stumptown on Belmont, it isn't on display anymore there, but it was such a cool collection.
Demitasse collection at the Stumptown on Belmont, it isn’t on display anymore there, but it was such a cool collection.

Truffled twice baked heirloom potatoes

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This recipe actually came together by accident, as I had roasted off way to many baby heirloom potatoes one evening. In the morning I realized I had a ton left over and I remembered a trick I learned working as a bar cook. We would always save our left over bakers to make potato skins, topped with cheddar, bacon, and green onions. This version is kind of a mix of that and twice baked potatoes, with utterly creamy, savory results!

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

9 heirloom potatoes, I had reds, yukons, and blue.
1/4 cup half and half
2 teaspoons white truffle oil
2 tablespoons butter, salted
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated, one Tablespoon reserved for topping
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
several sage leaves.
1/2 cup cooking oil
Bake your potatoes on a sheet pan at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes, when fork tender remove from oven and cool, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop out innards, place in a bowl with 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, truffle oil, half and half and 3 Tablespoons cheese. With a hand masher or immersion blender whip up potato mixture to desired texture, I like smoother for these. In a small saucepan place cooking oil over medium high heat, fry skin portion of potatoes until golden and crunchy, lightly salt. Fill each skin with whipped potato mixture, top with panko mixed with 1/2 Tablespoon remaining butter, and remaining cheese, top with a sage leaf. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes until golden and bubbly.

The turkey I grew up eating, or how to make the grocery store bird look and taste like a million bucks!

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I learned early in life that my mother Diana had a way with roasting, I mean I can’t remember one Thanksgiving where her delectable, moist, turkey and pan gravy didn’t steal the show, seriously it’s like watching community theatre and having Marlon Brando come out to do a character role. We never bought the fancy bird, we got the bird that usually was “free” with purchase of all your other groceries at “Smith’s” or “Albertson’s”, the biggest we could find, domestic, un chic, cheap. The magic that would happen was one part seasoning and three parts her own weird method. I don’t know if she wants me to share it really…haha, easier to ask for forgiveness I suppose, but really this is a homage to the master turkey maker…my mommy. We would let “fat Freddy” our frozen bird defrost for a few days in the fridge, then the night before the spell would begin….she would use butter under the skin, massaging it in like an experienced masseuse working on a client, then she would use her blend of dried herbs, all kinds, I didn’t even know fresh herbs existed till I was about 16 and started working in other restaurants! She would add her secret weapon, that being Kikkoman soy sauce, for as thrifty as my mother is, she would never, ever settle for a cheap soy, uttering cuss words if a bottle of another brand was purchased on accident, she swears by the stuff, as do I, she also would douse our bird with a good glug or two of “real lemon” lemon juice concentrate, she still rolls her eyes at me to this day when I opt for fresh lemons. I wanted to blog the bird as close to hers as I could, without losing out on my own style, so here we go, in the words of the Beatles; “Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream
It is not dying, it is not dying
Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void
It is shining, it is shining
Yet you may see the meaning of within
It is being, it is being
Love is all and love is everyone”
This may not make any logic sense to “Traditional” recipes, and to keep it not only simple, but authentic, I used a cheap, run of the mill, grocery store “bargain” bird, don’t get me wrong, I have cooked some wonderful fresh, brined, beautiful free-range, expensive turkeys, but I want this version to be accessible to all, without pretense, to enjoy on a small budget, the way I did growing up. My memory, my gift, my family. There will be no snobbery only love.
You will need:
A turkey, I bought about a 16 pounder, I have cooked up to 35 pounders with my mom growing up.
A stick of butter, softened.
Several cloves garlic, my mom used granulated garlic, always, to this day….I like fresh better.
Herbs o’ plenty, my mom would use a handful of Italian seasoning, dried, dried parsley, I will be using fresh Thyme, sage, rosemary (mom hates this), and flat leaf parsley.
An onion, a carrot, a few ribs of celery
¼ cup Kikkoman soy
2 lemons, I use fresh, but the green bottle is moms go to, no judgment here, I’ve used it before.
½ cup dry white wine, mom uses plain old water
Salt and pepper, no measurement here really, she would toss it on like she was feeding pigeons on Mary Poppins.
Smoked paprika, about a palmful
Big ass roasting receptacle
Foil
Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees, in your roaster, place celery and carrots down to use as a edible rack for roasting, dress your bird, I like to mix the butter with the garlic and herbs (commonly known as compound butter) and rub it under the skin of the turkey, mainly the breast area. I sprinkle the whole bird with salt and pepper, if you have a pre-brined bird you don’t need to do this….we got ghetto fab turkey so we are salting and peppering. I squeeze the lemon over the bird then put the halves in the cavity with some rosemary and thyme, half the onion, pour on the soy and wine and cover with smoked paprika (this makes the color outrageous). Cook at 400 for about 20 minutes, then cover with foil and turn oven down to 300 degrees. Cook 5 hours, a little longer than the conventional recipes say, but trust me….it’s worth it. Never a bad idea to roast off one occasionally if you are fan of deli turkey, turkey noodle soup, and turkey curry, whatever! Roast your own, and you won’t believe how much more tasty, and affordable it can be!

Thanksgiving or not....roasting a turkey is never a bad idea!  Look at what you can do with the "leftovers"!
Thanksgiving or not….roasting a turkey is never a bad idea! Look at what you can do with the “leftovers”!

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Shumai Dumplings

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So I love, love, love dim sum! Often times I catch myself trying to calm my craving by buying pre-made frozen pot stickers, although in a pinch they are fine, they don’t even touch the real deal. I found some thin gyoza wrappers and I’ve had them staring me down in the freezer now for a few weeks, I decided that today was the day to make shumai. Shumai are a delicious version of Asian dumpling, mine are filled with pork, shrimp, and cabbage, but the possibilities are endless! I read a few recipes and found the best to be the Chinese food tutorials, the worst hands down was Alton Brown’s pot sticker recipe that included ketchup and mustard, and one review said they were like “meatloaf” pot stickers. Not what I was after so I tried the more traditional recipe ideas and honestly the results were so good that after cooking three for photo purposes I instantly had to make three more, because I had devoured the first three before I could get all my pics taken! Yeah that good……I would challenge you to try these at your next holiday get together or cocktail party, served in Asian soup spoons they would be a super sexy passed appetizer, WARNING make a lot cuz they won’t last long! Traditional Shumai are steamed but I didn’t have the right gear for that so I cooked them like you would cook any run of the mill pot sticker (oil first, then water, then lid) and they worked out beautifully.
Makes 3 dozen.
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You will need:
36 thin wonton wrappers, I used circular “gyoza” style but square would be fine as well
1 pound ground pork
36 small shrimp, I used 41/50 which were a little large so I cut mine in half, I like big pieces of shrimp cuz they look all pink and pretty when steamed, most recipes called for chopping them up, but I prefer the texture of the bigger pieces.
1 cup coleslaw mix, or shredded cabbage, I used an organic bagged coleslaw that worked great
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 8 oz can water chestnuts diced, small
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce, I used this because I hadn’t realized I ran out of sesame oil, it worked great
5 green onions, white parts minced, green parts sliced thin
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons dry white wine
Dipping sauce of choice, I used Kikkoman ponzu, a bit of sciracha , black sesame seeds, a little chopped cilantro, and a little fried shallots. You can use what you like, there are plenty of great recipes for pot sticker sauce on the web, find your fav.
In a bowl combine everything but, wrappers, shrimp, and of course dipping sauce. Combine those ingredients well to make sure the seasoning is spread throughout and everything is well incorporated, set aside.
Put a bit of water in a small bowl, place a few wrappers out at a time, with your index finger rub a little water just around the edges of the wrapper, add 1 Tablespoon filling to the center, top with shrimp, 4

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and then you can either form them by wrapping your thumb and pointer finger around 5
or you can pinch them closed the then fold the pinched portion over. 6
To cook, use a medium skillet, preferably one with a lid, and heat over medium high, add a little cooking oil of choice, add about 6 shumai at a time, let them cook in oil for a few minutes, then add ½ cup water, cover for a few minutes and watch until water evaporates, let sizzle a minute long and remove, serve hot with sauces of choice! Sorry though, these will totally ruin you for the frozen ones!

Vegan Shepard’s pie with roasted root veggies, French lentils, and topped with truffle infused whipped yam

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Every time I go to visit my family in Utah I gain 5 lbs.…..it never fails, this last time I was only there 5 days!  I wish I could go about blaming altitude or something else, but it was probably my lack of self-control on what I was gobbling.  So I figured now may be a good time to go back to some plant based foods.  With Thanksgiving just around the bend I thought it would be a perfect time to blog a vegan main that would work great for such a holiday.  The place I  work serves a version of lentil Shepard’s pie as our “go to” vegan entrée and there is blog after blog of recipes on the subject, I checked out several and I must say my favorite was Bon Appetit’s version, although way to fussy and complicated for a comfort food dish, it did have a great idea to roast several varieties of root veggies and add them to the mix, they opted for russets on top, I went with yams, and they had a ridiculously complicated gravy that would make the seasoned chef scoff (come on its Shepard’s pie people!), so I simplified that, and added a bit here, left out something superflerious there, and left out ALL animal products, I even got some Earth balance “butter” to test if it could stand up to the taste I was after, oh and I might’ve drizzled the whipped yams with a bit of white truffle oil and that is never a bad thing.  So there she blows…….You will need:

Filling:

1 cup brown French lentils, cooked in 4 cups boiling water, reduce heat, until done, but not mushy (20 min), drain.

1 parsnip, peeled, medium dice

2 carrots, peeled, medium dice

1 rutabaga, peeled, medium dice

1 small butternut squash, peeled, medium dice

10 cippollini onions, peeled and cut in half, if you can’t find these frozen pearl onions are ok.

½ of a head of cauliflower cut into florets

5 cloves garlic, yes 5, peeled.

8 oz fresh mushrooms, your choice, I used crimini

1 tbsp. bragg’s liquid aminos

3 tbsp. olive oil

A handful chopped herbs, I used flat leaf parsley, sage, and thyme.

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce:

1 medium onion, small dice

1 15 oz can good quality crushed tomatoes

A palmful of dried porcini mushrooms, tea’d up with about ¼ cup hot water

1 ½ Cup dry white wine

2 cups veggie stock

2 tbsp. white miso or soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Topping:

2 large yams

2 tbsp. earth balance “butter”

¼ Cup almond milk, I love, love, love Califa farms!  It’s the best, I have three different varieties in my fridge as I type!

Salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle of white truffle oil, trust me….you can thank me later.

Method:

In a pre-heated 450 degree oven, bake yams on sheet pan, skin on for about 45 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.  Cool long enough that you can handle them, peel off skin, put the insides in a stand mixer with “butter” and milk, whip till light and fluffy, turn down speed add truffle oil.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large bowl combine all the veggies for the filling except mushrooms.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and olive oil, spread evenly onto two sheet pans and roast in oven at same temp as the yams cooked for about 25 minutes.

In a medium saucepan lug a bit of olive oil and add onions for sauce, cook down over medium heat for 15 minutes or so.  Add tomatoes, cook 10 more minutes, deglaze with wine, reduce by half, add stock, cook 20 minutes and then blend together, with a blender or an immersion blender is what I used, doing this sort of naturally thickens your sauce without having to add any additional thickeners.

Assembly:

In a 3 quart casserole dish place cooked lentils, top with roasted veg, sprinkle with fresh herbs, and spoon over the sauce, paying close attention to every nook and cranny.  Top with yams and bake 30 minutes or so on the same temp till bubbly and browned.  Let sit at least 15 minutes before feasting!  Old turkey might have some competition this year!
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Butternut squash veloute with brown butter croutons and sage

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A week ago I had the utter privilege of eating at one of PDX’s most famous restaurants “Beast” headed up by renowned chef Naomi Pomeroy and nestled in the heart of Concordia in the northeast, this 24 seat high end eatery is a hot reservation here in Portland. My husband, and I got the opportunity to go there since we had his mom in town to watch the kids, and I had been dreaming of eating there since we moved here three years ago. The food did not disappoint, with six courses, and French wine pairings it was surely a night to remember. The dish that stood out for me was course one, it was a butternut squash veloute, with pork rillettes and brown butter crumble. It was sublime, velvety, and the rillette was like a pulled pork “tater tot” of sorts that literally melted in your mouth, bathed in butternut blankets and topped with brown butter crumble so light that it seemed it was something not of this world. I’m pretty sure it might’ve been topped with a hint of truffle oil, and hey, I ain’t complaining. I wanted to make this as an opener for Thanksgiving this year, and I figured I would need to do a “dress rehearsal” beforehand to get it right. I didn’t make the rillettes (a post for another day) yet as my son had an epic fit today at the Lloyd farmer’s market that seemed only an exorcism could cure. I did pick up a beautiful butternut squash from Naked Acres Farm here in Portland, it doesn’t get any more local then that! Naked Acres is on SE Foster here just outside of the city and if need be I could be there in 10 minutes! I love this about Portland, yes Hood river produce is awesome, but if I can support a small sustainable farmer right in town it’s a win for us all. This squash was so fresh that upon peeling it wept tears of sweet moisture! My soup is of course my own interpretation and I think the results were stellar. Try this as an opener at your Thanksgiving celebration!
You will need for four servings:
Soup:
1 ½ lbs butternut squash peeled and roughly chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 cups stock, chicken or veg
One palm full of dried porcini (you could omit this if you want to drizzle it with truffle oil at the end)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T. Olive oil
4 oz. heavy cream, 1 oz put aside for garnishing.
2 T. beurre manie with sage (1 tablespoon butter mixed with 1 tablespoon flour and three minced sage leaves, this is used in place of a traditional blond roux)
In a heavy bottom sauce pan, sweat squash, onion, and garlic in oil over medium heat, until onions are translucent, add stock and porcini, simmer until tender, using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree, add cream, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, add beurre manie and simmer five minutes. Soup is done. Can be made ahead, just don’t add the cream or beurre manie till the day of.
Croutons:
Two slices white bread, I used Marquee bakery country white, cubed
Two tablespoons brown butter (cook until brown and toasty)
1 sage leaf
Brown butter in a small skillet, add sage leaf, add bread, cook bread until golden. Salt croutons lightly, serve on top of soup.
For presentation, drop a few drops of cream into soup and garnish with croutons. Enjoy!

Oven baked “Jo Jo” potatoes, or my love letter to gas station grub.

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I gotta say I ate some gas station food in my day…..one thing in particular was the fav.  Tater logs, basically a chicken fried potato, sometimes called “Jo jo’s”.  I remember my mom piling us into whatever 70’s station wagon we had at the time, without seatbelts (yikes), to get lemonade and 8 for $1 tater logs at “Stimpson’s” usually before we would drive up 28th street in Ogden, UT to see my grandparents and watch some “programs”.  My mom would go to this particular gas station because the fry cook there (my mom called him the “Chef” of course, as she is a lifer in the industry and felt he deserved the respect), I remember the times when we would actually go inside and talk to him directly!  Feeling so star struck, there he was rather chubby with a grimy white apron, a broad Cheshire cat smile and happy eyes. Visiting him was like visiting “gas station Santa” for me….when my sister Georgia got her driver’s license I remember many a night picking up food from the window and getting some sour “C” (probably not an ounce of dairy in the stuff) to go with them at 10 cents a cup, not sure why it was called sour “c” and honestly I don’t really wanna know!  Haha!  Stimpson’s has been closed for many years now, and I still to this day haven’t had tater logs that are quite as good as his, so today’s post is for a dose of nostalgia, I don’t advocate eating gas station food, as most of it is terrible for you and prefab…..but I do want you to think about the exceptional in the mundane, you have to cook with love, you can make something exceptional from the entirely plain if you do it with love and passion, Harriet Van Horne said “Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”  I don’t care how great or expensive your ingredients are if you find cooking a chore your dish won’t be good, the energy that you put into something is consumed by those who eat it.  That fry cook (Chef) loved what he did and that is why I will never forget his potato logs, nothing fancy for sure, but an example of being exceptional, where it is least expected, here is my ode to him, not fried, so slightly healthier, made with love and isn’t that really the point?  So here is my healthier, oven baked version…..eat the sour “c” at your own risk!

This makes a bunch….or in my house 4 servings:

  • 2 lbs. of russet potatoes cut into quarters, I used some small and odd shaped one that I got in my 5lb bag from WA.
  • ¼ cup flour (I used whole wheat “white”)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch (use all cornstarch if you want gluten free jo jo’s)
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. parsley
  • 3 tbsp. Oil, I used camelina
  • Pinch cayenne pepper

Pre heat your oven to 375, in a large bowl toss your potatoes with the oil.  Combine dry ingredients and pour into potatoes, toss well making sure all potatoes are coated.  Place potatoes on baking sheet rubbed with oil or sprayed with cooking spray and bake 40 – 45 minutes, turning half way through.  Serve with dip of choice or au natural!  These are great for pot lucks, BBQ’s, or just dinner on a week night.  Also really fun to get kids involved in this recipe!  I topped mine with a little fresh dill that I had…mainly for food styling purposes, but if you have it, use it, but totally optional!
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