Monday, April 30, 2012

Miss Kitty Regrets

My mother agreed with Ben Franklin, who said something like, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days."

While I'm sure that's true of some guests, this little lady has been a house guest for more than a week and we're starting to think of excuses not to send her home. Most of these wouldn't, to extend the fish metaphor, pass the sniff test. Especially since her owner, who allowed us to babysit while she was on a trip out of town, is a pretty sharp cookie.

Still, she just might go for the abducted by aliens story, wouldn't she?

Garden 2012: So Many Possibilities!

And so it begins. We spent the weekend tilling, weeding, picking up a load of compost (above) and spreading it over our garden beds. All motivated by the anticipation of the sweet taste of homegrown tomatoes in (fingers crossed) August, along with a (again, fingers crossed) bountiful harvest of carrots, peas, greens, herbs and squash.

The beds with tarragon, miner's lettuce and thyme from last year. Rhubarb anchors the strip behind.

We decided that with its full southern exposure, the strip behind the raised beds—in their sixth planting season and still going strong—would be the perfect place for some blueberries. Peas will be growing up the chain link fence behind them, to be followed by beans when the peas are done. The fence not only provides a great climbing structure for the twisty vines, but makes an edible screen between the back yard and the sidewalk.

The parking strip where the tomatoes will live.

I know, I know, it's all sounding pretty pie-in-the-sky right now, but that's just what an expanse of darkly rich, ready-to-be-planted soil does to me. So until reality intrudes, forgive me while I put on my rose-colored glasses and dream.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Farm Bulletin: Leaving the Nest

Many farmers are keen observers of the life of their land, but few are as clear-sighted as contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm, who has taken on the stewardship of his land like the scientist that he is. This includes the insects, animals, birds and humans that it supports. Recently his eye has been focused on a great horned owl that built a nest within view of his camera lens.

Last night, the two owlets were in the nest, and when I woke up this morning it was empty. It has been a little over two and a half months since the hen laid the eggs, and now they are fledglings moving about the fir boughs. At this point, they are more hoppers than fliers, and sometimes the wings seem to hinder more than help. They are furtive and hard to see tucked into the tree canopies.

The empty nest.

One hopped out in plain view for a moment (top photo). The facial disk is well developed, and the darker, immature plumage is replacing the silvery down they had as nestlings. They are also getting their ear tufts, or horns. In a couple of weeks they will start flying, and they will roost together, if all goes well. Even with a fiercely protective mother, this is a hazardous moment for the birds. They need more food as they grow, so the mother is in hunt mode all day.

I am not sure, but I think her mate may roost and hunt in another place. This grove of trees is small, and they share it with a pair of nesting red-tailed hawks.

Photos by Anthony Boutard. Track the progress of this owl family with Who's Minding the Frogs and the Great Horned Owl Follow-Up.


My husband, as I've intimated many times in the past, is a baking maniac. Most weekend mornings the dogs and I stumble downstairs to find him measuring flour on his digital scale to feed his sourdough starter for bread, or to make the biscuits, scones, pancakes, waffles or whatever else has tickled his fancy. As I get the dogs' breakfast bowls lined up, I'm careful not to impede his progress, though they seem to delight in milling around our feet, making us dance to avoid a floury, kibble-and-fur-strewn catastrophe.

Just about the time they've finished gobbling their breakfast, I'm sitting down to a cup of coffee and the paper, the smell of baking goodness emanating from the stove, mixing with whatever tunes Townes or Eliades or Gillian is playing for us that morning.

Not content to rest on his laurels, lately Dave's put a new spin on his morning repertoire with the addition of some lovely, jam-studded biscuits known to Grand Central Bakery fans far and wide as jammers. The recipe is from the The Grand Central Baking Book by Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson, a tome widely admired by those with flour in their blood as well as those of us who weren't born with rolling pins in hand.

Grand Central Bakery Jammers
Adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book

Makes 10 to 12 jammers

4 c. all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter or margarine
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c. (10-12 fluid oz.) buttermilk, milk or lactose-free whole milk
About 3/4 c. good quality preserves or jam

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

Measure the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a bowl with high sides or the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Dice the butter (or margarine) into 1/2-inch cubes. Use your hands or the paddle attachment of the stand mixer on low speed to blend the butter into the dry ingredients until the texture of the flour changes from silky to mealy. There should still be dime to quarter-size pieces of butter remaining. If you’re preparing the dough the night before, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill overnight; otherwise proceed with the recipe.

Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in 1 cup of the buttermilk (or milk) in one addition. Gently mix the dough just until it comes together; it will look rough. Scrape the dough from the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add another 1/4 cup buttermilk and mix again to incorporate any floury scraps. The majority of the dough will come together, on the paddle if you are using a stand mixer. Stop mixing while there are still visible chunks of butter and floury patches.

The dough should come out of the bowl in 2 to 3 large, messy clumps, leaving only some small scraps and flour around the sides of the bowl. If the dough is visibly dry and crumbly, add up to 1/4 cup more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing no more than one rotation after each addition.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Use the heels and sides of your palms to gather the dough and gently pat it into an oblong shape 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. It won’t look smooth or particularly cohesive; that’s okay. Use a biscuit cutter (or empty, clean tin can or wine glass) to cut the jammers into circles at least 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Layer the leftover scraps on top of one another and gently pat them out to a thickness of 1 1/2 to 2 inches and again cut into circles.

Use your thumb to make an indentation the size of a fifty–cent piece in the middle of each biscuit. While gently supporting the outside edge of the biscuit with your fingers, use your thumb to create a bulb–shaped hole that’s a bit wider at the bottom and that goes almost to the bottom of the biscuit (think pinch pot). Try to apply as little pressure as possible to the outside of the biscuit, to avoid smashing the layers, which are the key to flaky jammers. Fill each indentation with 1 tablespoon of jam and put the jammers on the prepared baking sheet with 1 1/2 inches between them.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The jammers should be a deep golden brown.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Walk in the Park (Kitchen)

I am so glad I chose to write about farms, farmers' markets, gardening, seasonal eating, Northwest travel and (thanks for your patience on this) my dogs. I can't imagine having one of those restaurant blogs where there's constant pressure to keep up on the latest who's-smashing-dishes, what's-the-hottest-table, what's-opening-where-and-when gossip.

Sprout salad, carrots, hazelnuts, quinoa.

So when a friend asked where we should meet for dinner recently, my head started swimming. Should we go check out a new place of the too many I hadn't been to yet? What kind of food? I froze up.

When I hadn't called back for several hours, she wisely took matters into her own hands, suggesting that we meet at Park Kitchen. My brow immediately unfurrowed, my death grip on the phone relaxed. I'd run into PK's owner Scott Dolich at a lunch at Raptor Ridge winery, where he kindly let me watch him make quenelles (cool!). And David Padberg, his Chef de Cuisine, was a pal of Clare and Brian of Big Table Farm, as well as filming a video on cooking with wasabi with my friend Rebecca at Cooking Up a Story. I knew we'd be in good hands.

We arrived to find our table ready, its copper top gleaming in the intimate (but not dim, thank you) lighting that makes the small dining room feel cozy rather than crowded. I had a great view of the unfussy open kitchen where Scott, David and the crew were cooking and plating the orders of the diners already seated, and watching the plates sail by only confirmed the decision to come here.

Flank steak and blue cheese salad.

Nettles, beets, wild mushrooms and spring greens, along with wild salmon and local meats populated the simple menu comprised of small hot and cold plates, large plates and desserts. After ordering a Boulevardier for me and a French 75 for my companion, we opted to share a couple of small plates and an entrée.

The baby octopus arrived topped with crusts of light bread, the better to sop the broth below, and the tiny barely blossoming rapini and small, tart chunks of pickled celery gave this plate a nice balance of tang and texture. The flank steak, blue cheese and sherried onions turned out to be a lovely salad of butter lettuce, with shreds of the medium-rare meat mixed with the other ingredients and tossed in a simple vinaigrette. The kitchen then sent out a complimentary salad of quinoa and carrot purée topped with crunchy housemade crackers.

Our large plate was a hefty slice of salmon on a bed of potato horseradish gratin, topped with watercress and trout roe and with a lightly creamy wine sauce underneath (top). The salmon had a perfect, clean flavor that only the freshest fish carries, and the soft, almost gravlax-like texture practically melted in my mouth. On the recommendation of our server we chose to pair it with a pinot noir from the always-satisfying Athena Pappas and Stewart Boedecker of Boedecker Cellars.

Love the dots!

Normally not a big dessert person, I was glad we'd shared our plates since we weren't too full to order the ricotta fritters with preserved blood oranges and little dots of bay leaf panna cotta. My friend said the fritters reminded her of beignets, those airy Southern specialties, and the bay leaf panna cotta went on the "gotta figure this out at home" list. Stay tuned!

And I have to remark on the service that, even though the restaurant was busy and the kitchen humming, made us feel very well cared for. For its focus on locally sourced, sustainably produced food, perfect execution and the aforementioned attentive service, Park Kitchen should be high on your list of the best restaurants in town.

Details: Park Kitchen, 422 NW 8th Ave. 503-223-7275.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Grill It. Grill It Good.

If it has to do with the grill and the garden, you can bet that contributor Jim Dixon of RealGoodFood will be all over it. And I love his mention of the edible herbs that may be growing in a neighbor's yard, though of course I'd always encourage you to ask first before gathering…or "liberating" as it was called in more, shall we say, revolutionary times.

Salsa Verde

Just about any fresh herb or mix of herbs chopped with some olive oil and some combination of garlic, shallot, onion, anchovy, capers, hard-boiled egg, vinegar or lemon (juice and zest) can be called salsa verde and be delicious. And the long-awaited sun called for firing up the Weber for some grilled protein.

After arranging some skirt steak and tuna over the coals, I chopped together French sorrel and mint from my garden, a few Egyptian onions from last year—dried out a bit but intensely flavorful—salt-packed capers, anchovy and a hard-boiled egg, then stirred in a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil and splash of Katz late harvest sauvignon blanc vinegar.

We spooned the salsa verde over the beef and fish, but it’d be good over just about anything. If you don’t have herbs growing in your yard (or a neighbor’s), buy some flat leaf parsley and a couple of other herbs from the farmers' market or New Seasons and make a batch now.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Horses. Camera. Action!

My friend Dana is taking a film class and one of her first assignments was to make a 10-minute film. As an avid horsewoman, she naturally decided to make a film about her favorite subject. Which prompted me to introduce her to Clare Carver of Big Table Farm. The rest, as they say, is (film) history.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Farm Bulletin: The Nature of Farming

The latest bulletin from contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm introduces some brand new additions to the residents of their farm in Gaston.

The killdeer is the common plover of cultivated ground. Their nests are frequently encountered in our fields. It is a simple depression lined with a few bits of straw and containing three or four eggs. While the female is brooding, the male acts as a sentry, drawing or driving away threats.

Birds like owls and robins are called atricial; they are born naked and blind and must be tended by their parents for weeks, or even months in the case of birds of prey. Precocial birds, such as the killdeer, are born with a down coat and start foraging shortly after they hatch. Within hours these downy balls are scurrying about the fields like Miyazaki's soot balls (detail, left).

Even though the chicks can chase down their own food, the parents remain in attendance, ready to sound the alarm when a harrier is near, or produce a broken wing in an attempt to draw us away. I was planting chickpeas and favas Sunday, and three chicks, just a day or so out the egg, found the freshly turned soil an irresistible lunch counter. After a couple of passes, the parents regarded the noisy tractor as harmless.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Speed the Plow

Blue skies and a wide green field beckoned hundreds of visitors yesterday to watch teams of gorgeous draft horses turning over perfect rows of black earth for the 46th Annual Farm Fest in McMinnville.

There were Percherons, Clydesdales, Belgians and Shires, along with lesser-known breeds like Halflingers and Fjords, as well as a team or two of mules. They were harnessed to comparatively delicate-looking plows steered by men and women who walked in the furrows they dug, directing their teams with whistles, calls and an occasional pull on the lines.

The sweat dripping off both horses and handlers showed how hard this work was, despite their methodical speed and the undulating waves of turned earth left in their wake. Each team was competing to plow a 50 by 150 foot section, which would take about three hours, with prizes awarded based on the straightness of the furrows and the performance of the team.

There won't be another chance to see these magnificent beasts (equine or human) demonstrating their skills until next year, but mark your calendar for early next April…you can even combine it with wine tasting or a picnic and make it the perfect day trip!

Photo at top of Clare Carver of Big Table Farm driving Huston and Hummer, her team of Halflingers, in this year's competition.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Company Dinner That's No Lemon

We had friends over for dinner the other night, one of those evenings where the main dish sang, the sides were in perfect harmony and the wine was perfection. That's when I suddenly realized everyone was talking about food…a memorable restaurant meal, a dish their mom made for special occasions, a favorite recipe. Not that it's an unusual occurrence, at least around here, where a wonderful meal seems to conjure memories of other flavorful experiences.

So when Jeff and Kathryn mentioned a chicken dish his mom liked to make for company, my ears pricked up, especially since his mom and step-dad are both fantastic cooks. And when he mentioned that the dish called for roasted lemons, a personal weakness of mine, I was on board big time.

A few nights later I pulled out the Meyer lemons I'd had stashed in the fridge and whipped it up. While it takes a little prep, it's basically a one-dish dinner for four, or you could add a couple more breasts and a few more potatoes and it'd easily serve six to eight. Toss some broccoli rabe in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it in the oven while the chicken cooks, or just tear up some butter lettuce and sprinkle with olive oil and lemon and you've got all your bases covered.

Chicken with Roasted Lemons and Rosemary
Adapted from Michael Chiarello, Tra Vigne

1 1/2 lbs. small new potatoes
2 large lemons
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing on lemons, plus 1 Tbsp. salt and freshly ground pepper
4 boneless chicken breast halves, skin on
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 c. chicken stock
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine (optional)

Put the potatoes in a pot of salted cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool, but do not peel. Cut in half and set aside.

Preheat the broiler. Cut a small slice off both ends of each lemon, then cut in half crosswise. Arrange the lemons, flesh side up, in a flameproof non-reactive baking dish, brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Broil 6 inches or more from the heat until browned and soft, about 10 minutes. Let cool. Squeeze the lemon halves over a sieve suspended over a bowl. Push and stir the pulp through the sieve with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Discard the lemon shells.

Preheat the oven to 450°. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken, lower the heat to medium, and cook, turning once, until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove to a platter.

Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring and tossing, until brown all over, about 5 minutes. Drain off the excess oil. Arrange the chicken breasts on top of the potatoes and place in the oven to reheat and cook through, about 10-20 minutes. When done, remove the chicken to a platter and put the pan with the potatoes over medium-high heat. Toss well so the pan juices are absorbed into the potatoes. Scrape the potatoes out of the pan onto the platter around the chicken.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the garlic. Sauté briefly until light brown. Immediately add the reserved roasted lemon juice (this final flash of heat will cook off any residual acid flavor), stock, rosemary, and parsley. Stir and scrape up all the browned bits that cling to the bottom and sides of the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the sauce tastes too lemony, stir in the optional butter. Pour the sauce over the chicken and potatoes and serve immediately.

The ABCs of CSAs

The one thing that people tend to forget when they sign up for a weekly share in a season's worth of produce from a Community Supported Agriculture farm?

"You actually have to cook," said Katherine Deumling of Cook With What You Have.

Read my article on choosing a CSA in the Oregonian's FoodDay section titled "Get Recipes Ready When Joining a CSA."

Monday, April 09, 2012

Tickle Bee Time!

Dave saw him first. Our neighbor, Mace, was on his knees in the school field across the street. No, he hadn't lost a contact lens or dropped his keys.

You see, Mace is a bee guy, and he was giddy over the Andrena sitiliae that had just made their annual appearance in the field. The school kids call them "tickle bees" for the way they feel when they crawl on your skin without biting or stinging.

Mace's assistant, a budding entomologist.

Mace, the pollinator program director (like I said, "bee guy") for the Xerces Society, has been helping to educate the kids about these little bees and their importance in the local ecosystem. He's working on a video about the bees to use at the school and to help illustrate the importance of pollinators on his nationwide lecture, so I'll post that when it's available.

Until then, enjoy these little guys for what they signify. As Mace said, "It's a sure sign that spring is officially here."

Friday, April 06, 2012

Farmers' Market Frenzy!

Cherry blossoms. Daffodils. Tulips. It can only mean one thing, right?

Yes…it's farmers' market season! The Portland Farmers' Market at PSU has already opened its regular season after being mobbed by eager shoppers in its first attempt at a year-round schedule. The city's six other year-round markets are gearing up to start their regular weekly schedules and will be popping up here and there over the next few weeks.

Here are a few bits and pieces of market news that have come in over the transom:
  • Beaverton Farmers' Market opens Sat., May 12, and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season with more than 200 vendors, including 18 that are new to the market this year. Check the website for anniversary events. Saturdays, 8:30 am-1:30 pm. On SW Hall Blvd. between Third and Fifth Sts., Beaverton. 503-643-5345.
  • Hillsboro Farmers' Market opens Sat., April 28, and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this season. Saturdays, 8 am-1:30 pm. In historic downtown Hillsboro on Main St. and 2nd Ave., one block NW of the 3rd Ave. MAX station. 503-844-6685.
  • Kenton Farmers' Market, a brand new market in the Portland Farmers' Market fold, opens Fri., June 1. Fridays, 3 pm-7 pm. On N McClellan St. at Denver Ave. near the Kenton/N Denver Ave. MAX Station.
  • Gladstone Farmers' Market opens Sat., June 2, with new hours from 10 am to 4 pm. 580 Portland Ave., Gladstone. 503-756-6477.
Sadly, I also received news that the Interstate Farmers' Market decided to cease operations at the end of its 2011 season. It will be missed!

And don't forget to check out the GoodStuffNW Oregon Farmers' Market Schedule for a comprehensive listing of farmers' markets with dates, hours, maps and links to your favorite market. And please let me know if I've missed any!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Farm Bulletin: Great Horned Owl Follow-Up

I just got a note from contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm that the farm now has two great horned owlets added to its population.

Anthony writes: "I have been watching the owls carefully, and today the mother finally tired of sitting on her nestlings. A brief moment of sunshine allowed me to shoot this picture. They are about 24 days out of the egg, give or take a day or two."

Hope this makes your day the way it did mine!

Photos by Anthony Boutard. Click on the top photo to see it full size. Track the progress of this owl family with Who's Minding the Frogs and Leaving the Nest.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Travels with Chili: Crazy For Kelowna

Though the Okanagan wine region reaches as far north as Tappen and Kamloops, our northernmost stop would be the city of Kelowna, about halfway up the ribbon that is Okanagan Lake.

Our first two nights were booked at a country bed and breakfast a bit south of the the city, one that also happened to be a winery specializing in ice wines. Working Horse Winery featured a separate house with private suites for guests that boasts a dramatic view overlooking the vineyard and the lake below (top photo). Winemaker and proprietor Tilman Hainle and his father planted the vineyard in the early 70s, producing their first wines in 1978. Since then Tilman and his partner, chef Sara Norman, have been producing their award-winning ice wines, including the innovative Pinot Noir Lavender Ice wine and the barrel-aged Tilman Ice.

Breakfast on the patio. Sigh.

They also happen to be two of the warmest, funniest people on the planet, and they were happy to share not only their hospitality but their company the second night as we cooked up a fabulous dinner together. Under a clear, moonlit night sky, Dave made his famous martinis, we dined on Tilman's infamous grilled chicken and Sarah came up with a beet risotto that had us all swooning. As might be expected, there was no shortage of wine passed around, included a bottle of Amity Vineyards 1986 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir that Tilman had squirreled away in his cellar. Crazy!

Though tearing ourselves away was difficult, we ventured to our next destination, Myra Canyon Ranch, a bed and breakfast inn that also offers horseback riding through the dramatic Myra Bellevue Provincial Park that it borders. Though we weren't there for the horses (this time), we thoroughly enjoyed our suite where even the shower had a breathtaking view of the countryside (above right).

Dinner that evening was one I'd been looking forward to since the itinerary hit my in-box. RauDZ, which chef Rod Butters opened in 2010, is a casual dinner house in downtown Kelowna, one that is gaining a reputation for its groundbreaking farm-to-table commitment. Even more, its bar program, run by the spectacularly talented Gerry Jobe, is revolutionary, even for farm-friendly Portland, for its use of local products in what might be called farm-to-bartop.

Jobe's Golden Club.

When RauDZ opened, area farmers weren't used to selling directly to restaurants, but gradually local farmers (like Covert Farms) realized that there was a lucrative, year-round market in providing them with produce. Pretty soon farmers were appearing at the door with crates of local goods and, not-so-coincidentally, started selling those same greens, vegetables and other crops to customers at the farmers' markets.

Lamb tenderloin crepinette.

In one instance, Jobe recalled reading about an apple he'd never heard of and mentioning it to a local orchardist. Two seasons later the farmer he’d spoken with brought it in and has been supplying them ever since. He also said that they now get farmers and foragers wandering in with boxes and bags of sage blossoms, mushrooms and potatoes, and the restaurant (and bar) has to figure out what to do with them. Nothing like a reputation!

Our evening kicked off with Gerry's Golden Club for me, made with local Okanagan Spirits Bear Gin, Lillet, Cointreau, muddled golden raspberries and house-made sage blossom bitters, garnished with sweet William and golden raspberries.

Coriander-crusted ivory salmon.

Dave’s de rigeur-but-not martini was made with Okanagan Spirits Gin that included botanicals like juniper berries, lemon balm, orris root, orange peel, rose petals and spruce. Our appie of choice was Gulf Island mussels with crostini in a chorizo, tomato, onion and Crannòg Ale broth, which I announced would make a fabulous cioppino. I don’t know if anyone was listening.

To follow this, I decided on a glass of ’09 Pentage Syrah from Penticton, and Dave ordered a pint of his new favorite beer, Crannóg Ales’ Back Hand of God, a super dark, dry-hopped stout. My red was to accompany a lamb tenderloin crepinette, lamb tenderloin wrapped in…ooh la la…bacon, served on a bed of local polenta, roasted carrots, lamb jus and drizzled with arugula pesto. This was the equivalent, for me, of what heaven will taste like.

Dessert wines and fresh local fruit.

Dave ordered coriander-crusted ivory salmon that had been marinated in soy sauce and grilled, then served with shimeji mushrooms, new potatoes, red cabbage slaw and julienned vegetables. It was a combination that not only did justice to the salmon, but highlighted the freshness of the accompaniments, an all-too-rare occurrence in many restos.

We declined dessert, but they brought out small fruit platters, each with samples of perfectly ripe fruit that was in season: Italian prunes, red plums, small local wild green plums, peach, nectarine, golden raspberries, blackberries and raspberries. This selection accompanied two tastes of a raspberry and a blackberry dessert wine from Okanagan Spirits—which uses 20 lbs. of fruit to make 1 oz. of liqueur and totally tasted like it!

Truly fabulous whisk(e)y.

After that, Gerry thought we needed to try some of the local spirits (after a discussion about the distilleries in PDX) and brought out three tastes: Urban Distilleries Whisky, Urban Distilleries Rum and Okanagan Distilleries' McLoughlin and Steele Blended Whisky. It was a fitting ending to an incredible meal, one we still haven't forgotten. Especially since we brought home some of that awesome McLoughlin and Steele Whisky.

Read the other posts in this series, The Great Okanagan Road Trip, Okangan's Lake Country, Magical Moment, Perched In Penticton and Penticton Personalities.

A Scone, a Scone, My Kingdom for a Scone!

Scones are a recurring theme on Sunday mornings here at GSNW Central, aka our house, where nothing short of the apocalypse could keep us from reading the New York Times (print, please!) and slurping down copious amounts of (half-decaf) coffee.

Dave's always been in charge of breakfast on this holy day, and his favorite currant scone recipe has served us well. But lately he's been looking around for a new challenge, and he ran across a recipe that called for toasting oats in the oven, then folding them into the dough. It makes a cakey, slightly crumbly scone that plays nicely with coffee and the New York Times. Enjoy!

Toasted Oat Scones
Adapted from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
2  tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
10 Tbsp. cold butter or margarine
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1/4  c. cream
1/4 c. milk (or replace milk and cream with whole milk)
1 egg
1 Tbsp. sugar

Spread oats on shallow pan and place in 375 degree oven for 8-9 minutes, until they begin to turn toast, browning slightly. Remove from oven.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in processor to mix. Cut butter into bits and add to ingredients in processor. Pulse 12-14 times until mix has coarse cornmeal texture. Put mixture into large bowl. Reserve 2 Tablespoons of oats in a separate bowl. Put rest of oats into large bowl with other ingredients.

Put cream and milk into a separate bowl. Add egg and whisk until well combined. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the liquid in another bowl. Toss dry ingredients briefly. Add liquid. Mix gently with spatula, then use hands to knead gently to form into a mass. Put half the reserved oats on a flat surface like a counter. Place dough on top of oats. Sprinkle the rest of the oats on top and press into a 7-inch diameter circle, 1 inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Glaze with egg-cream-milk mixture. Sprinkle sugar on wedges. Place in oven. Check at 11-12 minutes, baking as long as 14 minutes until slightly browned. Rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then put on cooling rack for half an hour.