Friday, April 2, 2010

Baby Trees and Lasagne

Last Sunday started with a flurry of activity prior to the shared meal.

Joanne has been volunteering with the after-school program at Taft High 7-12, helping to develop the youth garden and greenhouse work. As a fundraiser, the program will be selling tree seedlings to the City of Lincoln City for their distribution to the public. The city is embarking on many initiatives to help reduce our carbon footprint, and distributing the trees for planting is one.

Having picked up about 700 trees from the Oregon Department of Forestry, the gang (Kate, Duane, Joanne & Ren) gathered at the school to unpack and "heel-in" the little hemlocks and red cedars. Duane was busy fixing the door on our tool shed so it would resist popping open in the wind.

We also enjoyed a brief visit from our friends who live in Seattle and keep a beach house in Roads End, who were able to stop by and view our progress and tour the garden. Unfortunately it was pretty wet for most of our time at the garden but we still accomplished our task and had a nice time... then it was on to dinner!

Joanne had prepared that morning a vegetarian lasagne, just the standard whole-wheat pasta with ricotta, sauteed mushrooms & onions, Italian cheeses, spices etc. Kate made up a batch of tasty foccacia bread, one with onion, and a lovely Caprese salad of tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. This easy make-ahead menu (except the salad) was a welcome sight after a morning of wet and dirty work, requiring only a heated oven to bake the entree and warm the foccacia.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Little Salty Cured Things, Berry Cookoff, and Daylight Savings Time!

Posting this a little late - but better than never. So last Sunday, we had a really delicious Sunday lunch. It was a little later in the day so that Christina wouldn't miss it after work. The main dish was taken from Alton Brown of Food Network. He was giving tips on his 50-lb. weight loss. It sounded very interesting, so we gave it a shot. You begin with canned sardines marinated in their own oil, with red wine vinegar, lemon zest, and pepper. Next, you brush sourdough bread slices with some reserved oil from the sardines, and broil them for a short time until toasted. Alton Brown recommended not taking your eyes off the broiler, and he was not kidding! While the bread is toasting, but without taking your eyes off it, mash some avocado. Spread avocado on the toasted bread, then break up the marinated sardines and spread it onto the avocado. Finish by adding a little salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Everyone loved it. We rounded out the meal with baked butternut squash, cantaloupe melon balls, and a a green salad. Since Daylight Savings Time had just begun, we had time to take a walk around the neighborhood. When we returned, we divided two servings of dessert from Saturday's Oregon Berry Cookoff between the 6 of us. We had marionberry cobbler from Steve and Kathy Keck's Oregon Coast Catering, and cheesecake from Bill & Vivian's in Lincoln City. It was just the right portion for all of us. We'll definitely try this again!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Serbian Christmas

Last week, our Sunday lunch was held at our friends Timothy and Nadja's apartment. It was a traditional Serbian Christmas dinner. From Wikipedia: The Serbs celebrate Christmas for three consecutive days, beginning with Christmas Day. The Serbian Orthodox Church uses the traditional Julian Calendar, as per which Christmas Day (December 25) falls currently on January 7 of the Gregorian Calendar. This day is called by Serbs the first day of Christmas, and the following two are accordingly called the second, and the third day of Christmas. Tim and Nadja invited friends and family from near and far. The food was varied and abundant. There were a variety of pre-dinner foods, including a beet salad made by Joanne. My contribution was the cesnica (chess-neet-cha), which is the traditional bread with the hidden silver coin. It's very eggy bread and the dough is sticky and almost pourable when placed for the first rise. According to Nadja, it turned out correctly, so I was relieved about that. When the bread is served, it's passed around and each person tears a piece from the loaf (not cut into slices). The finder of the coin is guaranteed good luck for the coming year. The finder of one coin was the teenage daughter of Tim's friend. The other coin was not found when we left. I made two loaves, anticipating a large turnout. With the abundance of food, however, one loaf would have been sufficient. The dinner itself consisted of a chicken soup with dumplings, followed by the delicious and aromatic sarma (sauerkraut rolls - so good!), and moussaka with potatoes and spinach. The piece de resistance was Nadja's spread of desserts, which were hidden in a back bedroom until the finale. Especially delicious was a roulade made with raspberry and lemon filling (from Joanne's and my lemon curd, made with lemon juice from the salvaged lemons at the farm). It was a fun and festive occasion with lots of family and friends. Thanks to Tim and Nadja for all the many hours of work that went into this celebration. We'll look forward to next year!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Beets and Bread

Missed a few weeks of posting with the holidays and all... though we had some memorable Sunday lunches in the meantime. A highlight was joining with Kate's family and a couple close friends to see a local production of "A Christmas Story," by Porthole Players from Newport. It was staged at the Lincoln City Cultural Center for this weekend, and featured in the lead role of Ralphie the son of Kate's friend Meredith. We had a larger group of 8 that week at my house, with stuffed acorn squash (one each) as the main entree, filled with veggies and seasoned ground beef. A nice holiday memory.

This week we gathered at Kate's house, and she had requested I bring beets for the salad and I tried my hand at a new bread recipe. The beets were from my garden this summer, which I had roasted and diced, then frozen for later use. She combined them into a wonderful salad (Kate... where is that recipe?) that included baby greens, the beets, walnuts, mandarin wedges tossed in a light flavored vinaigrette. It all turned a shocking pink from the beets but tasted supreme.

My bread turned out nicely, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. It was the "Perfect Loaf" recipe from Sullivan Street Bakery owner Jim Lahey. I had heard him discussing on The Splendid Table his unusual methods for making bread, with minimal kneading and handling. It requires a long time to rise, but a tiny amount of yeast. My sister Betty had recently shared her copy of Lahey's new book My Bread with us, and her resulting loaf. I have to say this was one of my better bread-making efforts, so I am looking forward to getting a copy of his book soon!

The main course for this week was a rump roast Kate prepared (low and slow roasting) along with hearty potatoes and carrots. Combined with the salad and bread, and Duane's beef gravy, it was a well-rounded winter meal. A glass of Bailey's stood in for my dessert, yum.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shoulder Roast and Christmas Lights

This Sunday we met at Kate's house and a return to nostalgia. Growing up on a small farm where we raised our own meat animals, a dinner of pot roast with vegetables was a familiar comfort in winter. The roast was part of our wonderful score of local beef, a steer butchered in October and split between several households.

The week followed a long stretch of unusually cold (in the teens!) weather for the central coast, so this warm and filling meal was a welcome sight. Kate got to "break in" her new crock pot, rounding out the entree with carrots and potatoes. The hands-off technique allowed her to focus all energy that day on her "carbolicious" baking day that included rugelach, Swedish Lucia buns and some dinner rolls for us.

I had spent the day puttering in our woodshop, and set aside just enough time to put together a simple dessert of lemon-berry tartlets. At least that's what I called them. Just simple 3" squares of puff-pastry dough, pinched to form a well that holds a spoon of lemon curd and a few blueberries and raspberries from the freezer. The berries were frozen from our summer garden, and the lemon curd made fresh from our greenhouse crop of Meyer lemons with eggs supplied by the girls, our unnamed Black Australorp hens. Set the oven to 400 for 15 mins or so, they are ready when golden.

Our late lunch was topped off with a seasonal tour of the Lincoln City Christmas lights... there aren't many, so it doesn't take long to see them all. The best display this year was on NE Holmes Road, a benefit for the My Sisters Place family shelter, to help them take care of their pets-- donations of pet food welcomed.