Summer Fiesta!

For most of the year (Spring, Fall and Winter), we bake weekly. But come summertime, we are on an oven-ban so as not to heat the house to extreme temperatures. So, I start to get creative in other areas of cooking. Mexican food is my personal summertime favorite cuisine and it usually sneaks into our menu once a week (at least)! The farm is a great help in this area because we have fresh tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos. This week I mixed up a batch of tomatillo salsa and we have been eating it every which way. It was topping for nachos on Saturday, skirt steak marinade Sunday night and will slather our chicken enchiladas on Wednesday. It is such a versatile sauce that I find myself having it in the fridge almost all summer.

Salsa Verde (Tomatillo Salsa)

Yields about 1 quart

  1. Peel and wash 1 pound of tomatillos.
  2. Put the tomatillos in a blender with the following ingredients:
    • 1 poblano pepper with seeds removed (about 1/4 cup)
    • 1/4 of a white onion
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1/8 cup of cilantro (or a small handful)
    • 1/2 of a jalapeno (optional)
      • use as much or as little jalapeno as desired for your spice preference. Salsa verde is usually mild in spice and I tend to make it with no jalapeno.
    • 1 tbsp of lime juice
    • 1/2 tbsp of dried oregano
    • 1/4 tbsp of onion powder
    • 1/4 tbsp of garlic powder
    • 1/4 tbsp of cumin
    • 1/2 tbsp of salt
  3. Blend all of the ingredients until all large pieces are broken down.
  4. Taste test the salsa to make sure it is to your liking and then chill salsa for at least 2 hours before serving.
  5. This salsa is perfect for chip dipping, enchilada topping, or as a marinade for steak, chicken or pork!

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Baking and Waiting

Rain rain, go away, come again some other day!

There’s nothing quite like springtime in Portland. You always hear that “April showers bring May flowers”. Well in the beloved Pacific Northwest that saying is more like “April showers bring May showers…. bring June showers”, and so we wait. Wait for sun, wait for warmth and wait to get the garden started.

So, what do I do to occupy my time while all this waiting is going on? I bake! It’s a great way to warm up the house, fill the freezer with treats (and my stomach), and use the ever growing pile of eggs in our refrigerator! We totaled 117 eggs in March and we are looking to hit that number again in April. That means that we have to use and sell a lot of eggs, to keep from overflowing.

Egg basket

I love trying new recipes and growing my baking knowledge. This past month, the list has included chocolate cake, buttermilk biscuits, soft pretzel bites, double chocolate cookies and Mexican flan. I don’t have a favorite on the list, but the flan definitely used the most eggs which is a win in my book. Flan was the dessert request of my brother, for his birthday, so I decided to try my hand at it! (For those of you interested in giving it a try, I used this recipe, from Genius Kitchen, with a couple of changes. I added orange extract instead of orange rind (only because I lacked fresh oranges) and I baked the flan in individual ramekins which changed the baking time to around 45 minutes and had me make a double batch of caramel.

But, the recipe I really want to share is the one for these extravagant double chocolate cookies which stay chewy and melt in your mouth. The recipe also allows for plenty of variation! Instead of chocolate chips, use white chocolate, or macadamia nuts, marshmallows, peanut butter chips, or even go with a salted caramel by using small caramel chunks and dusting the top with some large flake salt.

So, here it goes:

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields 24 – 3″ cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar and then add the eggs and vanilla. This is best done in a counter-top mixer.
    • 1 1/8 cups of room temperature, salted butter (2 sticks, plus 2 tablespoons)
    • 1 cup of white sugar
    • 1 cup of brown sugar
    • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
    • 2 tsp. of vanilla
  3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and espresso powder.
    • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup of cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp. of baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp.  of salt
    • 2 tsp. of espresso powder (optional)
  4. Start adding the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Do this in 3-4 batches and mix slowly so you don’t get sprayed with cocoa powder!
  5. Fold in your choice of toppings.
    • 2 cups of chocolate chips (or other topping options)
  6. Scoop the mixture onto baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or generously sprayed with non-stick spray. Keep all of the cookies about the same size and make them as small or as large as you want. The listed baking time is for 2 tbsp of dough, so adjust time as needed. If the mixture is too sticky to work with, put the bowl in the fridge for up to 30 minutes (no more than that or it will be too hard to work with).
  7. Bake the cookies for 9-10 minutes for a bit of chew. They will still be a little soft in the middle right out of the oven, but will firm up as they cool. Slide the cookies off the tray as early as possible and cool on a wire rack. This is where the parchment paper comes in handy because it allows for easy sliding and no breaking!
  8. Store the cookies in an air tight container for 3-4 days (if they last that long).
  9. Want to freeze some cookies for a midnight snack next week? Scoop the dough onto baking sheets and put into the freezer, instead of the oven. Once the dough balls are frozen solid, transfer to a bag and keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and put frozen dough onto a greased baking sheet. Cook for 10-12 minutes.

*This recipe has been adapted from Genius Kitchen.

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Farm Survey

We are busy planning the 2018 growing season and need some input on what to grow! We always plant what we love, but we want to hear about your favorite veggies so that we can have offerings for everyone. Your answers to the survey below will influence what we grow so that you can always find something amazing offered at the stand! You also get the chance to pick the best times for the farm stand to be open, for your convenience. So, take a few minutes and let us know what you want!

Winter Break

Winter is a great time for us to relax a bit and get re-organized for the next year.

We anxiously look for new seed catalogs in our mailbox (Territorial Seeds is our favorite). We get a head start on pre-ordering bare root plants for spring delivery, like new grape vines and kiwis. Once we’ve decided on everything we will be growing, we start planning our garden space out using The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Planner software. This will give us an inch by inch plan for everything new being planted and maintains our existing plants year after year. If you’ve never used a planning software before, this is definitely one to try!

We are also getting our garlic and shallot bulbs planted into pots right now which will be transplanted into the garden once the ground is thawed and not completely soggy from rain. We didn’t have great luck with our garlic last season, so this year we are going to pay extra good attention to it! That’s really it for the plants, though we will have some tree trimming coming up soon for the pear trees.

The animals still keep us busy especially when it gets into freezing temperatures. We have to make sure that their water dishes haven’t frozen over each morning and night and the goats go through their hay much faster, so it feels like we are constantly refilling their feeder. The chickens’ egg production drops significantly in the winter with only 2-3 eggs each week. Many farmers will add heat and light into the coop to extend the production time, but we like to keep things natural and give the girls a much deserved break. They will pick back up in early spring with eggs ready for sale by the time the farm stand opens up!

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This is our resident herd of Elk that visit us during the winter.