Monday, December 28, 2015

When Everyone Else Goes Right…

No, this isn't about Hill vs. Don or Bernie. It's about perspective, and, from what I've seen so far, mine is pretty different from the pack. As background, Mattie John Bamman, the new editor for the Portland outpost of the restaurant-industry website Eater, sent the following request: "Would you be interested in sharing your dining opinions as part of Eater Portland's end-of-year coverage?"

Now, I met Mattie—yes, it is his real name and isn't short for Matthew (the reason he gives is that he had "hippie parents")—at a media lunch given by the wonderful Bette Sinclair. For whatever reason he decided to include me in this year's survey. Here are the questions and my answers. I'll include links so you can read what others felt was noteworthy.

What were your top restaurant standbys of 2015?
My husband and I don’t go out much because, frankly, dining out is way too expensive for us to do on any kind of regular basis, so I’m hopelessly out of date on the “hot list.” As a matter of fact, several of them will close before we ever get a chance to go to them. (Cases in point: June, Levant, Noisette.)

Nostrana's Cathy Whims (r) and one of her—and my—favorite farmers.

So our standbys are places that make the kind of food we love and source ingredients from local farms and farmers: Bar Avignon, Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty, Old Salt Marketplace, Nostrana, Lucca and Davenport. Tastebud has to be included even though it’s just opened (we’ve been twice) because Mark Doxtader and Sarah (of Lovely’s) are the god and goddess of woodfired pizza made with local ingredients. Burrasca has become a favorite on our hit parade, as well.  Read more.

What were the top restaurant newcomers of 2015?
Tastebud because of the reasons listed above (Mark Doxtader, right). Burrasca (top photo). Love their take on Florentine classics like ribollita, peasant food that uses the simplest ingredients like old bread, leftover beans and greens to make a bowl of comfort; pappa al pomodoro; the deeply intriguing combination of squid and kale that is inzimino.

I’m hoping they’ll find a source for the fourth stomach of a cow, the abomasum, so I can have the famous street food favorite of Florence called lampredotto. Read more.

Describe the 2015 Portland restaurant scene in one word.
Free-for-all. Read more.

What was the best dining neighborhood in 2015?
No place like NE: We live within walking distance of Alberta, Killingsworth, Cully, Williams and Mississippi. (Sarah Minnick of Lovely's Fifty-Fifty, left)

Cully has to be the up-and-comer. Read more.

What was the biggest dining surprise of 2015?
No idea.

What was your single best meal in 2015?
Overall, very few meals can match what we have at home on a regular basis, from roast chicken to braised beef neck to pig trotters in a pot of Ayers Creek Farm beans to steaks on the fire when we’re camping.

Ben Meyer (l) and Bill Hoyt.

Meals out, wonderful as they can be from any of the places listed above, become more special because I don’t have to cook them. Current crave is the beef tartare at Old Salt using beef from Bill Hoyt of Hawley Ranch in Cottage Grove. Read more.

What was the biggest restaurant grievance of 2015?
The focus on chefs and technique versus good food made simply using the best ingredients (preferably local). Read more.

What are your headline predictions for 2016?
No idea.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Plenty of Persimmons? Make Cocktails!

Lately my life has been imitating the old saw about making lemonade when life gives you lemons. What's been interesting is that the lemonade I've been making has had a particularly alcoholic bent to it.

It started with a gift of green walnuts last summer, which are in the process of becoming an Italian liqueur called nocino. Then this fall my neighbors called to inquire whether we might want to come pick a few of the quince that were threatening to break several branches on their overburdened trees, which prompted me to chop up a few and throw them in a jar with vodka.

Drenched but pleased.

A few weeks later, my friend Kathryn called to see if I'd be interested in helping her harvest persimmons from her neighbor's tree across the street, which were just going to end up falling and making a stinky, slippery, insect-attracting mess on the road. These persimmons were the variety called fuyu, the squat, non-astringent variety with a slightly sweet, mild flavor that can be eaten out of hand, sliced into salads or served alongside, oh, say, a seared duck breast.

I arrived at Kathryn's just in time for a drenching downpour, despite which we managed to haul the ladder out and pick a bushel of the still-rock hard fruits. I suggested that might be enough for our needs, but, coming from generations of hardy Kentucky women, rain or no rain Kathryn insisted on filling up both fairly large baskets.

Sliced persimmons in vodka.

A little over two weeks later, the persimmons had just started to ripen to the point where they could be used. This gave me some time to do a few searches online, and I narrowed the options down to three: I'd make and freeze a purée for use in summer margaritas and a batch of sorbet; then thinly slice enough to fill a gallon jug which I'd top with vodka and decant in a month or so to make a liqueur for next fall.

The third intriguing option was to pack layers of the whole fruit into a gallon jar, covering each layer with cane sugar. The idea was for the moisture contained in the fruit to gradually melt the sugar, making a syrup as well as preserving the fruit itself. So with the purée in the freezer and the two gallon jars sitting on a shelf in the basement, all that was left was to wait until something (hopefully delicious) happened.

Persimmons packed in sugar.

Four weeks later, the magic had worked. I decanted the now-pale orange vodka from the sliced persimmons and put it in a jar that went back down in the basement. Then I poured off the syrup from the preserved fruit, sealing it into tubs that went into the freezer. Well, almost all of it went into the freezer. I kept a little out to make homemade fruit syrup soda for my nephew, similar to the rhubarb soda he'd so loved last spring. And of course Dave immediately put his name in to use a few ounces for cocktail experiments (see below), a request I'm always happy to oblige.

Being the magnanimous sort I am, and thinking maybe there was a chance another cocktail recipe might be forthcoming, I shared a bit of the syrup with my neighbor Bill. Within a few hours he'd texted back a recipe for a lovely rye-and-lemon concoction he called the Good Fuyu. We tried it alongside Dave's version of an Old Fashioned he dubbed Old Persimmon's Old Fashioned after the nickname that T.S. Eliot gave Ezra Pound.*

Not to brag, but now I have two excellent new cocktails to add to our growing list (and now so do you)!

Old Persimmon's Old Fashioned

2 oz. bourbon
3 tsp. persimmon syrup
Dash Angostura bitters
Dash orange bitters
Orange peel

Fill a cocktail mixing glass half-full of ice. Add all ingredients except orange peel to mixing glass and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into short rocks glass. Holding the orange peel skin-side down over the drink, twist and then drop into the liquid.

* * *

Good Fuyu

1.5 oz. rye
.75 oz. persimmon syrup
.5 oz. lemon juice
Dash Peychaud's bitters
Amarena cherry

Fill a cocktail mixing glass half-full of ice. Add all ingredients except cherry to mixing glass and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into short rocks glass. Add cherry.

* Apparently the two writers frequently corresponded by—gasp—handwritten letters and, inspired by  the Uncle Remus folk tales, Eliot referred to Pound as "Old Possum" while Pound dubbed Eliot "Brer Rabbit."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Great Gifting: A Gift That Keeps on Giving

It was my mother, the Queen of Christmas, who first suggested it, amazingly. She'd always seen gift certificates as cheating somehow—plus the loss of control over how it was spent irked her no end. So when she suggested that, rather than hours spent shopping for earrings or a sparkly pin or gloves or a scarf, she'd like us to give to a charity in her name, we heaved a sigh of relief. And we agreed that she could return the favor for us. Here are a few suggestions if your family feels the urge to do the same.


When Lake Oswego native Curt Ellis made a movie with his college buddy and best friend Ian Cheney, he had no idea that, as a result, he'd be running a nationwide service organization that in its first five years has put 205 young people (and a few oldsters, too) out in the field to work with 600 local schools and 200,000 school-age kids, educating them about nutrition as well as building and tending school gardens and promoting local food in school cafeterias.

Cheney (l) and Ellis in King Corn.

That movie was King Corn, a documentary that followed Ellis and Cheney as they attempted to grow an acre of corn in the nation's heartland. In a recent conversation at their Portland office, Ellis said that as he and Cheney toured the country showing their film on college campuses, he was struck by how few opportunities the students had "to put their shoulder to the wheel and change their relationship to food." The question then became, he said, "how to create a pathway where [the students] were making a difference in our food system."

Coincidentally, at that same time President Obama had signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, reauthorizing and expanding the Americorps service program. The signing of the act prompted Ellis and a group of friends to form a nonprofit corporation called FoodCorps, which applied for and received grant funding from Americorps, which now accounts for 20 percent of its budget.

Curt Ellis.

In addition to the direct impact that FoodCorps members have in schools, Ellis said that the organization seeks to build a cadre of leaders in the food movement, the success of which is borne out by the fact that every single one of its alumni have gone on to find work in related fields.

"I love what I get to do at FoodCorps," Ellis said. "Stories from the field are heartening—there's something magical about kids trying a food for the first time." On the effect FoodCorps has had on its members, he said, it helps them take an equity lens and learn about community organizing. "It's ultimately about promoting social justice, lifelong health and opportunity."

Additional opportunities

  • Zenger Farm An urban farm representing a unique partnership between the City of Portland and a non-profit organization that encompasses a six-acre working organic farm and a 16-acre wetland inside the city limits. An educational center, it also supports immigrant programs, tours, classes and a CSA.
  • Outgrowing Hunger This Portland-based organization (photo above) was formed to get healthy food to hungry people by transforming unused private, public and institutional land into neighborhood gardens.
  • Friends of Family Farmers Works to support small, family-scale Oregon farms and farmers to promote local, sustainable agriculture through education, legislation and the establishment of farmer networks.
  • Next Generation Nepal A friend's daughter works for this group in Nepal. It's attempting to stop child trafficking in that country by rescuing children, rehabilitating them and reconnecting them with their families, all in incredibly difficult conditions, lacking fuel, heat and clean water.
  • Architectural Heritage Center A nonprofit providing a resource for historic preservation through programs, tours and exhibits which help people appreciate and preserve older and historic buildings, neighborhoods, and traditional commercial areas.
Read this year's other Great Gifting posts: The Gift of Class(es); The Gift of Deliciousness and More Deliciousness, From Italy.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Farm Bulletin: 4. Der schwer gefasste entschluss (Grave—Allegro) Muss es sein? Es muss sein!

Market farmers for 14 years at the Hillsdale Farmers Market, Anthony and Carol Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm have decided to end their tenure at the market on a high note. Tomorrow, Sunday, December 20, will be their last appearance at Hillsdale, and I highly encourage you to attend and wish them well. Regular readers, fear not, Anthony's piquant and estimable contributions to Good Stuff NW will continue as he and Carol move into their new incarnation.

As we contemplated our four final markets at Hillsdale, the mood of each corresponded uncannily to the notations on the four movements of Beethoven's final quartet, Opus 135. The cheerful return celebrating the autumn's harvest, the lively Thanksgiving market, the quiet, sedate holiday market with its singing and ambulations, and the final market marking the resolution of a weighty decision, something that must be, a mixed and contrary mood indicated: solemn—happy. Hence the cryptic Italian tempo markings on this quartet of market essays.

Without treading into the dangerous territory of translation or discerning the composer's meaning, the German notation indicates a calm resolution to a weighty decision, something that must be. Last March when we were contemplating the future, it became clear we had to decide if we would continue with an open air market into 2016. A blend of factors forced the discussion. Part business, the market's contribution to the farm's income has been slipping as other venues have expanded. We invested in a building that makes our farm more efficient and expanded the farm's capacity substantially, and we were not seeing promise of growth at Hillsdale. Part personal, we are in our 60s and the task of setting up and breaking down the stall is formidable. Especially in the summer when we have to remove everything from the van so we can make deliveries the next day. Although we use a lot of weight on the tent, twice this year the wind almost flipped it, reminding us that we are neither as strong nor as lithe as we were. The art of aging gracefully is accepting the need to change how we carry out our work. There is also an element of public policy at work. Farmers' markets are not grounded in the city's planning framework, restaurants and retail stores are. Like Peter Pan's home, no maturation or evolution is contemplated: "And Neverland will always be, the home of youth and joy and liberty, I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me, not me, no sir, not me."

We discussed various options such as truncated schedule, hiring someone to staff the stall or finding an alternate venue. Ultimately, none of these options made sense to us, neither personally nor from a business perspective. Our resolution is that starting in January, we will sell directly from the farm on selected days. The first scheduled days are:
  • 9th and 10th of January, 2-5 pm
  • 13th and 14th of February, 2-5 pm
This decision allows us to retain the satisfaction of direct sales and yet meet the growing needs from our other customers. We are about 40 minutes west of Portland, so it is not a daunting trip. It will be a different experience, true, but we will do our best to make it a rewarding one as well. For example, instead of running out of berries, we can run out for berries. Instead of having to wait a week for cornmeal if we run out, you just have to wait for us to mill some more. Oh yes, and we will have calendars available in January.

Last week, Leah Scafe of LetUmEat posted an interview covering our reflections on becoming vendors at Hillsdale, and the changes ahead. As you all know, New Seasons and Food Front carry our berries and we we plan to test the waters on other crops we grow. In addition, Josh Alsberg, formerly of New Seasons and Food Front, is preparing to open the produce stall Rubinette Produce Market in the new Providore market that will open at NE 24th and Sandy in late January or early February 2016. Alsberg is keen to build on our long working relationship, and we are offering no resistance to his overtures.

It is new and unfamiliar territory for us.

Photo at top by Linda Colwell.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Soup's On: Perfect Pot of Winter Warmth

For those of us who don't always have the funds to go out for dinner when we don't feel like cooking—or don't have the time to whip up a culinary feast for our hungry families—I highly suggest jumping off the plate and into the pot. In other words, think soup.

It's almost the perfect winter warmer. Its steaming heat warms the body and fills the belly, especially when you add beans, pasta, potatoes, rice or root vegetables. It's easy, usually taking no more than 30 minutes or so to go from start to finish. It satisfies a crowd, needing only a good loaf of bread and maybe some cheese or a green salad to make a meal. Seriously, it's hard to do better when you're feeding a family or, indeed, a table full of guests.

And I've been making a lot of soup lately, from a Thai-inflected curried squash soup to a Tuscan white bean soup to a split pea soup with bacon to a corn chowder. Though at my house we often call it "stewp" because it invariably turns out to be less brothy and more hearty.

The soup in the photo above was a complete improvisation. I was pressed for time to make dinner on a recent weeknight and was rummaging in the freezer for ingredients I might be able to thaw quickly. That's when I ran across a package of frozen chorizo sausage I'd bought from Don Felipe at the Portland Mercado. Hm. A start.

A bit of digging in the vegetable bin brought up some carrots and a couple of garnet yams, and I found a container of leftover black beans I'd made earlier in the week (though you could always use canned). Perfect.

And, like I said earlier, in just over a half hour we were sitting down to what may be my new favorite soup.

Chorizo, Black Bean and Yam Soup

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. fresh chorizo sausage*
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3-4 c. cooked or canned black beans
2 large carrots, chopped in 1/4" dice
2 medium garnet yams, chopped in 1/2" dice
4-6 c. water, depending on how brothy you like your soup

Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. When it shimmers, add the chorizo and brown, breaking up with a spoon as it cooks. Add onion and garlic and sauté till tender. Add black beans, carrots, yams and water and bring to a boil, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until carrots and yams are tender.

* I highly recommend Don Felipe's Tolucan-style red chorizo sausage, or you can make your own version with this simple recipe.

Guest Essay: A Lesson in Grace

My friend Daphne Bramham is a columnist at the Vancouver Sun in Vancouver, British Columbia. On a recent reporting trip to Cambodia she learned a simple lesson about want and need from a little Cambodian boy and his pencil.

A tiny boy with nothing would seem an unlikely teacher, just as Cambodia with its history of genocide and pain would be an odd place to learn a lesson in grace.

But four years ago, I did learn a lesson from a boy in a remote Cambodian village, where only days earlier flooding had washed out the dirt track that is known locally as a road.

Pencils and notebooks are precious things in subsistence farming communities. They cost money, and money is scarce. But without pencils and notebooks, children are hobbled in their learning. So, I’d spent the equivalent of a few dollars to buy a big bucket of pencils, a pencil sharpener for the school, and an armful of notebooks.

As I passed them out, children smiled shyly and said quiet thank yous in Khmer. I was sure that the tiny boy had been passed over. I tried to give him a pencil, but he shook his head. No.

Why not? Why wouldn’t he take one? My guide and translator from Plan International stepped up to help.

“I already have one,” the little boy said, pulling his new pencil from his pocket to show me. He was happy with one. It was his fair share.

I thought of him this Christmas season as I flipped through flyers, websites and magazines looking for gift suggestions and fretting about what to buy, whom to buy for (building manager, caretaker, newspaper delivery guy, the nephew’s girlfriend who I’ve never met?), and how much to spend.

It wasn’t solely altruistic either. I’ve been asked a few times what I want for Christmas, and I draw a blank. I don’t need anything, really. The few things that I really want (like less time at the computer and more time with people) are not things that anyone can buy.

But it is the season of giving. So, I keep flipping pages, searching websites and marching up and down crowded store aisles searching for that perfect something for the ones on my list.

In a culture of plenty, the recommended gift lists suggest that there is no limit to how much we should spend. Even stocking stuffers on many of the lists are no longer limited to things like oranges, nuts, candy, socks and dollar-store puzzles.

There are, of course, lists of “useful” gifts for those who have everything. Among those I’ve seen are: a $130 brass pen described as “super compact and sleek;” $200 pruners for that special gardener; a $1,000 stand-up mixer when the same version in a different colour is half the price; a $30 box of “vintage-style” fireplace matches; and a $50 box of popcorn with truffle salt.

I do pity harried parents searching frantically and often futilely for the must-have toy of the season that tops their children’s lists. But I pity more the parent who must explain why sometimes even if a child is very, very good, Santa can’t bring them what’s on their list.

Does anybody really need/want this stuff, or even some of the things that we buy?

Read the rest of Daphne's column.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Great Gifting: More Deliciousness, From Italy

As mentioned in the previous post, there's more than enough goodness to go around this time of year. But this one was too good not to add to the list.

Before I get to the "gift" part of this post, I have to tell you about the mind-blowing factoid I learned while sitting in on Jeff Bergman's presentation to the staff at Nostrana. He's the brand manager of Manicaretti Italian Food Importers in Oakland, California, and was there to educate the staff about just-pressed olive oils from Italy—called olio nuovo in the north and olio novello in the south—that had just been air-freighted in that day.

Cathy Whims (l) and Jeff Bergman.

What Jeff said that countered everything I'd heard was that this newly pressed oil, while it's freshest in its first three months, won't go bad.

"These oils don't go bad," he said as my jaw dropped. "They just settle and soften." Indeed, he said, up to about a year old or so, they will gradually lose that signature peppery quality of new oil and become what he called "a common oil" after the initial three-month period of peak freshness. That is, they remain usable as long as they're kept away from olive oil's three enemies: light, heat and air.

Jeff Bergman of Manicaretti.

My shock was apparent, and he laughed as we proceeded to the tasting portion, where the traditional blue cup of oil—which conceals the color to avoid prejudicing your judgment of the flavor—is held cupped in one hand while the other hand covers the top in order to warm the oil and trap the polyphenols that give the fresh oil its distinct flavor and aroma. After a few seconds you lift the hand covering the top and take a strong whiff. Then you take a sip and inhale it with some air, similar to the way wine tasters do, to aerate the wine and spray it all around the inside of your mouth. If you're not coughing from the pepperiness hitting the back of your throat, something Jeff said even experts sometimes do, swallow and breath out so you can get more of the aroma coming back through your nose.

The three oils we tasted, and here's where the gift part comes in, are all very limited in production, and Cathy Whims is not only using them to flavor dishes on her menu, she's offering them to the public until the supply runs out. They were all flown in under controlled conditions and are as fresh as you would get them in Italy itself, so they're well worth giving to your favorite Ital-ophile or food fan. You can pick them up at the front desk at Nostrana during business hours or, better yet, have a meal and try them from the menu!

Jeff's notes are as follows:
  • Capezzana Olio Nuovo 2015 Toscana This year's Capezzana is unlike any we have previously tasted. The aroma is of fresh-cut grass and almonds. It offers a buttery, mild, fruity beginning—grassy and green—that fills the mouth with a delicate flavor of herbs and green olive. On the finish, there is a spicy note in the back of the mouth that is ticklish, fun, and pleasing. Truly amazing. Suggested Use: Drizzle it all over hearty soups, fresh cheeses, or winter squash. 500ml $51
  • Gianfranco Becchina Olio Verde Novello 2015 Sicilia This extraordinary oil has a fresh, grassy nose with a hint of bay leaf, green apples, green bananas, green almonds (note the trend?) and fresh hay. The taste is buttery and dances in the mouth, and the finish is a spicy thrill—a clean, bright chili pepper without any bitterness or pungency. Suggested Use: Use in green salads with hearty, bitter greens such as kale and collard greens, as well as over steamed romanesco and brussels sprouts. Drizzle over fish and vegetables hot off the grill or over a traditional Sicilian caponata. 500 ml $47
  • Frescobaldi "Laudemio" First Pressing 2015 Toscana What a Tuscan olive oil! This is a sophisticated oil for the connoisseur, with a complex aroma of soft and loud notes held in equal balance. On the nose, there is a hint of cinnamon and eucalyptus. The taste is bitter, green, and spicy—like taking a healthy bite of a raw artichoke heart—and as tannic as a big structured wine. The color is unreal, like an emerald; the cut of the bottle emphasizes this jewel-like quality. Their best in many years. Suggested use: Drizzle on fettunta (toasted bread rubbed with garlic), over warm beans and chickpeas, broccoli and romanesco, or any bitter green salad. Pour generously over grilled meats such as a bistecca alla Fiorentina (grilled sliced T-bone steak). 250ml $35
Read this year's other Great Gifting posts: The Gift of DeliciousnessThe Gift of Class(es) and A Gift that Keeps on Giving.

Great Gifting: The Gift of Deliciousness

Oregon is a place full of growers, artisans and makers, especially when it comes to food. For those who aren’t lucky enough to live here, nothing can top a care package of Northwest-made goodies.

To follow on this year's theme of giving self-liquidating gifts, i.e. those that don't need displaying or dusting, this list of some of my favorite producers is just a start—and don’t forget locally roasted coffees, cheeses, cookies and more.

If you prefer to head out to the shops and hunt down your own gifts instead of shopping online, you can't do better than to make a beeline to a farmers' market near you and buy any of the myriads of delicious, homemade treats direct from the folks who made them.
  • Ayers Creek Farm Organic Preserves The best preserves I've ever had, period. Get some for yourself while you're at it. Also available at Vino Wine Shop, Pastaworks, City Market, Food Front Co-op and People's Co-op.
  • Meat Tubes from Old Salt Marketplace If you have someone on your list who loves meat products, or if you need a handy gift to take to a holiday party, call or e-mail these guys and order one of their gift "tubes" (above right) of responsibly sourced, handmade meats and accompaniments. I'm thinking of a couple of people I know who'd love one!
  • Willamette Valley Confectionery Old-fashioned peppermint bark and pate de fruit (made from fruit from local farms).
  • Quin Candy Handmade, small-batch candies with a modern twist.
  • Alma Chocolate Sarah Hart's chocolates, caramels and bon bons are unique, beautiful, delicious and handmade with care. 'Nuff said.
  • Cardamom Hills Trading Co. chutneys Sourcing from local farmers' markets make Sophie Rahman's chutneys so vividly flavorful that any of the commercial brands you may have tried pale by comparison.
  • Jacobsen Salt Co. Salt Harvested from Netarts Bay, I can't think of a cook on your list who wouldn't love some of this salt in their pantry.
  • Bee Local Honey Local bees making hyperlocal honeys.
  • Urban Cheesecraft DIY cheesemaking kits These little kits are perfect for any cheese lover on your list, and simple enough for the youngest!
Read part two of this post about getting some exclusive, small-batch fresh-pressed olive oils from Italy! And read the other posts in this year's Great Gifting series: The Gift of Class(es) and A Gift that Keeps on Giving.

Friday, December 11, 2015

One Simple Roast Chicken = At Least Three Dinners

It's the dinner that keeps on giving. Not just a single feast-like meal, roast chicken fits in the category of those magical dinners that, if you can whisk away the platter before there are just scraps left, you've got the makings for at least two more meals, not to mention a decent lunch. And even with just a few scraps left over you can have a big pot of soup and enough stock for risotto.

You can see where I'm going here.

Say you make a roast chicken for your Sunday dinner (left). (Shopping hint: I always buy the biggest one in the case because there's a better chance for leftovers, and it only takes a few minutes longer to cook.) After it's been ripped apart by your ravenous family/fellow diners and they've gone off to their postprandial pursuits, take the plates into the kitchen. Scrape the bones into a pot along with any innards that came with the chicken. Then pull off the meat from any pieces left on the platter, scraping the bones into the aforementioned pot.

Now it's time to attack the carcass with your hands, pulling off even smaller shreds and adding it to your growing pile of meaty bits. Break the carcass in half—this is super easy once all the meat is gone—and put it in the pot. Add water to cover the carcass and put it on the stove to simmer for about an hour (this can be done anytime, really—just put the pot in the fridge until you've got an hour to make the stock). Notice I don't add any other vegetables to make the stock…I like to add those when I'm making whatever the final dish calls for. Put the leftover meat in the fridge.

So what do you have? Well, you'll probably come away with two to three quarts of stock once the bones have been strained off, which you can freeze for soups, risottos or whatever other quickie dinner you choose to make later in the week. Depending on how much meat I've yanked from the mouths of my family and scavenged from the carcass, I usually get upwards of a couple of cups of meat or maybe more. It's enough to throw in a pot of chicken soup, a chicken pot pie or a risotto, with perhaps enough left for a chicken curry sandwich for lunch.

As for that first, lovely roast chicken dinner, if you make the recipe below, in 90 minutes you'll have a one-pot meal, if you count the carrots as your vegetable. Which, of course, I do.

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, halved and cut in 1/4" slices
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 tsp. dried thyme
3-4 c. root vegetables like sweet potatoes, yams, squash, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, etc.
1 roasting chicken or large fryer
1/2 c. white wine or dry vermouth
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°. Pull the chicken out the fridge, removing any wrapping, and let it sit on the counter on a couple of paper towels to come to room temperature.

Pour 2 Tbsp. oil into a large frying pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add carrots and sauté till tender, then add garlic and sauté briefly. Turn off heat and stir in the thyme and root vegetables. Put mixture in 9" by 12" Pyrex casserole dish. Pour wine over vegetables.

Rub chicken with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and throw 1 tsp. or so salt into the cavity and place the chicken on its side on top of the vegetables. Place in oven and roast for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, turn chicken on its other side and roast for another 25 minutes. Remove from oven, turn chicken so it is breast-side up, baste with pan juices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast another 15 minutes, remove and baste, then roast a final 20 minutes or, for our tastes, until an instant-read thermometer reads 150° on the inside of the lower thigh and the inner side of the breast next to the rib cage. Remove from oven, allow to rest for 10 minutes. Cut it into pieces, removing the breasts whole and slicing them crosswise.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Food News: Lead Contamination; EPA Tweaks Data on Herbicide; Lax USDA Regulators

The brouhaha over rampant development in the Portland metro area has been intensifying, with residents banding together to fight what they see as a Wild West-style climate for developers who feel they can knock down houses with impunity and throw up shoddily constructed McMansions in their place while city regulators take a hands-off approach.

But it's not just the Northwest's densely populated cities that are finding it tough to get a handle on the impacts of people flocking to our mild climate and livable communities. A shocking investigative report by Oregon Public Broadcasting's EarthFix environmental reporting team revealed that in more rural parts of the region, schools, homes and daycare centers have been built over old orchard sites where the soil is contaminated with lead and arsenic.

Worse, Washington "state’s Department of Ecology knows about this, and has for decades. But many parents and caregivers still do not, despite the risks these chemicals pose specifically to children."

The report said that "until the 1950s, Northwest apple growers spent decades spraying lead arsenate pesticides in a never-ceasing battle against the codling moth, which once threatened the country’s most productive tree fruit region. That spraying contaminated an estimated 187,000 acres of former orchard lands throughout Washington—an area that exceeds the size of Seattle and Portland combined."

It quotes Frank Peryea, professor emeritus at Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, who studied lead and arsenic for decades, as saying, "Anything spilled or sprayed that reached the ground 100 years ago is still within the top foot of soil."

* * *

These are good days to be a corporate giant, especially if you're dealing a government agency.

A recent investigative story in the Chicago Tribune revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has blithely "tossed aside" data on the dangers of the World War II-era weed killer 2,4-D, which for decades that same agency had labeled as a dangerous, potentially cancer-causing chemical. By tweaking some numbers, the article said, "the agency’s scientists changed their analysis of a pivotal rat study by Dow [Chemical Co.], tossing aside signs of kidney trouble that Dow researchers said were caused by 2,4-D."

Dow is seeking to revive the herbicide for use in combatting so-called "superweeds" that have become resistant to Roundup, a weed killer developed by Monsanto in the 70s. In the early 2000s, in order to combat these resistant weeds, "Monsanto genetically engineered corn and soybeans to make them immune to its best-selling weed killer, [which] the company pitched …as a way to reduce overall use of herbicides and usher in an environmentally friendly era of farming." Instead, in an "old lady who swallowed the fly" move, the use of herbicides in American agriculture skyrocketed and now "chemical giants are giving the next wave of genetically modified crops immunity to the weed killers of generations past."

Dow has combined its 2,4-D with glyphosate, the active ingredient found in Monsanto's Roundup. This is despite "studies [that] found increased odds of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, hypothyroidism and Parkinson's disease among people who used the chemical [2,4-D] as part of their jobs. In June, the WHO's cancer research agency ruled that 2,4-D is a possible carcinogen."

The result of the EPA tweaking the research data? "The Obama administration’s EPA now says it is safe to allow 41 times more 2,4-D into the American diet than before he took office" and that "U.S. children ages 1 to 12 could consume levels of 2,4-D that the World Health Organization, Russia, Australia, South Korea, Canada, Brazil and China consider unsafe." I wonder if Michelle Obama, with her focus on children and nutrition, is aware of this?

* * *

An article in the Capital Press in Salem, Oregon, reports that a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) internal agency audit uncovered that its own biotechnology regulators "don’t take past non-compliance problems into account when approving new field trials for regulated genetically engineered crops."

What that means is that when these biotech crops are planted out in the field and something goes wrong, like pollen from the biotech crops contaminate a neighboring field, which may render the contaminated crops unusable, the violation of USDA protocols is not taken into account when approving future trials by the same applicant.

The article states that "auditors found one instance where an organization was repeatedly allowed to conduct field trials even though it was cited for 122 incidents, including failing to 'devitalize' the crops, having the crops persist in the environment and moving them without authorization."

Most concerning is that the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) "doesn’t have a handle on what is being planted out there," according to Bill Freese, the non-profit Center for Food Safety’s science policy analyst.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

My Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

It’s been awhile since I’ve written, I know, so I hope you and Mrs. Claus are still at your old address at the North Pole. It’d be weird to think of you handling the business electronically from some offshore villa in the Grand Caymans, outsourcing the toymaking to elves in China or India—they do have elves there, too, right?

Anyway, enough with the small talk.

Stalking the wild wapato.

I’ve been pretty good this year…it may have been my best year yet since starting this writing gig. (Please don’t hold my old life in advertising against me, OK?) It’s been incredibly fun and rewarding to write about farmers, producers and organizations doing what back in the olden days they might have euphemistically called “the Lord’s work” trying to change our food system to one that is more just, more fair and healthier for consumers, workers, animals and the planet. A pretty big order, and one that’s too little discussed or even known about compared to, oh, say, who’s on Top Chef or who the latest Beard award winner is (or isn’t).

Organic farming students at Greenbank Farm.

Like, say, this last month. I’ve started a series of aggregated news stories about food called—get this for creative branding—“Food News.” Stuff like programs running farm schools to train the next generation of farmers who will be growing our food. Or how one state is rejuvenating native grasslands by promoting something called rotational grazing. Unfortunately it’s not all good news, like carcinogenic pesticides getting sprayed on lettuce in the field and…well…I’m sure you get a lot of this stuff in your in-box, too.

The Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

There was also the series of reports called Your Food, Your Legislature—again, creativity just oozes from every pore of my being—letting folks know what was going on in Salem’s back rooms that would affect the food they’re putting on their tables. And of course there were the contributions of Anthony Boutard and Jim Dixon, among others, who make this whole enterprise look much more respectable than it would otherwise.

Thinking deep thoughts over a Hopworks IPA.

And if you had even the slightest thing to do with sending over the terrific advertisers who’ve joined this effort, the incredible organic-beermaking and BCorp-certified folks at Hopworks Urban Brewery, the passionate-about-good-and-affordable-food people of Old Salt Marketplace and Grain & Gristle and, of course, my wonderful and crazy-about-wine brother Bruce at Vino, please put an extra candy cane in all their stockings. It’s the least they deserve for the great work they do!

As for me, actually, I haven’t done anything like Kartik Chadran, who designed a way to transform wastewater from a pollutant to a valuable resource and who really deserved his MacArthur genius grant. Or Svetlana Alexievich, who got this year’s Nobel Prize "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”

Oh, and btw, I really kind of got over that wanting-a-horse phase when I was in my teens.

But maybe you could send me some great people with good stories, and some cool places to explore so I can keep having fun and telling those stories. That would be super.

Thanks, Santa, and don’t forget the sunscreen!



Saturday, December 05, 2015

Farm Bulletin: The American Agriculturist

In this second of two essays, contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm makes the case for reviving a curiosity about the natural world as exemplified by 19th century publisher Orange Judd of The American Agriculturist, who advocated treating nature as a partner rather than an adversary, and who welcomed immigrants, whom he referred to as America's future farmers. (We can only hope that those fanning the current anti-immigrant fervor take note.)

In 1843, the widening of the Erie Canal was finishing up, allowing increased trade from the west. That year, the Allen Brothers started a monthly called The American Agriculturist. That first year, the paper included a table of new British tariffs on agricultural goods, an article on growing hemp and an account of the pork business in the west which, at that time, meant Ohio. The original paper was sparsely illustrated and confined to agriculture. Well written but dry.

Orange Judd, publisher.

The Allens hired Orange Judd as its editor in 1853, and three years later he purchased the monthly from them. Under Judd's leadership The American Agriculturist expanded and incorporated an abundance of engraved illustrations. He also started publishing a German language edition for new immigrants containing the same articles and illustrations. Later, five separate regional editions emerged to reflect the expansion of the nation. Judd also shifted the focus toward the whole family, with sections specifically for children, including puzzles. He also expanded the content beyond the production side of the farm to include ornamentals and natural history.

"Towing salt hay."

The paper carried an ever-increasing bevy of advertisements. Cabinet organs, melodeons and other instruments, gelatin for jellies and blanc mange, horseradish graters, grist mills, all manner of seed and plants, steam engines, wire, watches and the Great American Tea Company announcing the latest ship to arrive and the various sorts of tea aboard.

Judd refused all advertisements for patent medicines and the like, and did not publish medical advice. He relaxed his rule during a scarlet fever epidemic, though, showing various ways to cool down a person with the fever. He noted that he was relaxing his rule in a dire moment and nonetheless a doctor should be consulted immediately, though in the rural America of the 1860s, "immediately" had a different measure in time.

"The poultry buyer."

He maintained a column titled "Sundry Humbugs" covering various frauds, quacks and swindlers. Then, as today, there were dubious educational opportunities termed "telegraph schools and colleges," cancer scares, rare and special seeds discovered in improbable places and available exclusively from so-and-so, &c. In October 1876, he even took on patent trolls. All were mercilessly dispatched with facts.

The covers and illustrations of the magazine capture agricultural history in the latter half of the 19th century. The cover in May 1876 shows the gothic Agricultural Hall at the Centennial Exhibition. The towing of a barge loaded with salt hay and a visit by a poultry buyer recount events in rural America. But the magazine was far from parochial: there were also illustrations of agricultural and natural history moments from around the world, presaging the National Geographic. The "Milkman in Malta" describes how the animal is brought from door to door and milked at the point of sale. The tone is inquisitive, yet always respectful. In January 1881 the cover was from the inside of Castle Garden, which preceded Ellis Island as the nation's new arrivals processing center, noting that these men and women are the future farmers of America.

"The milkman in Malta."

The spirit of The American Agriculturist was probably best expressed on the cover of February 1874 with the portrait of Louis Agassiz, the great naturalist. Agassiz was an engaging, towering figure in science at the time, though his reputation has tarnished over time due to his resistance to the Darwinian theory of evolution. Nonetheless, he educated and inspired a generation to pay closer attention to nature surrounding them. In remembrance, Judd observed:

"Although not an agriculturist, his portrait properly finds a place in an agricultural paper, as, many-sided man he was, he had a more profound knowledge of the principles upon which its successful following depends than many who devote themselves especially to agriculture. As a member of the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture he thoroughly identified himself with farmers, and at its meetings, from which he was never absent unless ill or upon some distant journey, he was ever ready to impart instruction, and by his enthusiasm in regard to all matters relating to agriculture awaken a like enthusiasm in his hearers."

"The agricultural hall at the centennial exhibition."

The American Agriculturist was as many-sided as Agassiz. It captured that love of nature that can disappear when farmers treat nature as an adversary, reminding farmers of the extraordinary world about them. At the time, there were no agricultural experiment stations, and the Morrill Act created a land grant system in 1862, so public research was most charitably described as nascent. In fact Orange Judd privately funded the first such station at his alma mater, Wesleyan. The paper's correspondents helped disseminate research by gathering together information and conveying their observations into clear and practical advice. The publishing house he established also issued many of the books on our shelf at Ayers Creek Farm.

We subscribe to many modern farming publications, and what is striking is the lack of curiosity, appreciation and care for natural landscape. Several years ago, Growing for Market, a publication for small farms, published an article by us on how to attract kestrels with nesting boxes and perches. The article elicited an angry response about how kestrels kill baby swallows and other birds, and should be discouraged. When we give young farmers tours of the farm, there is an endless stream of questions about how we ward off the evils such as pests and weeds, and strikingly little curiosity about the natural processes that make a farm whole. Seems the conversation devolves to how to get rid of something, rather than how live with it. Opening The American Agriculturist and reading a long article on the ichneumon wasp or the pitcher plant provides an appreciation of the curiosity that farmers of the 19th century had about the world around them.

Farm Bulletin: 3. Lento assai, cantate e tranquillo—Stately (very slow), singing and peaceful

In this first of of two essays, contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm gives us an idea of what it takes to selectively breed a new type of corn. As you read it, note that when he says "sixth iteration," it's a farmer's shorthand for six years, since each crop takes a full year to reveal its characteristics. It starts with a "Hm, that's interesting" oddball variation on an ear of corn, kernels of which are planted out in the field the next year, more selections are made and planted the year after that, etc., etc. And that's not accounting for failures or other problems encountered on the way. Stately, slow (and at times frustrating) for sure.

We will approach this market* with a measured, restrained pace, tent assembled to provide shelter from the rain. Consistent with the notation in the title, the market's 10 a.m. opening will be ushered in with the Robert Gray Panache choir singing peaceful songs of the season.

We will bring our gift packs of preserves to this market and the next. This year, the $25 gift box includes raspberry, purple raspberry, loganberry and green gage. Always a good idea to hold a few boxes in reserve for those moments when a gracious reciprocation is needed.

Anthony evaluating an ear of corn.

This week we will have corn from the sixth iteration of the "Peace, No War" art project. Descended from a chance ear with purple kernels, we have been reselecting the corn for ever darker kernels, and some ears are so densely pigmented they approach a matt black. In the Spanish area of Meiro (Galicia), they grow a similar corn and it is called millo corvo. The key to a flavorful grain corn in Oregon is to move ripening time into September when we have the sun and heat to produce a quality kernel. The original ripened in late October, and did not have the quality we wanted. It is a matter of nudging the corn earlier, and now a substantial proportion is ripe just past mid September.

The beautiful purple-red stalks of Peace Not War.

The purple/black corn results from the layering of a deep blue aleurone under a red skin (pericarp). The dominant pigments are water soluble anthocyanins, and like the related pigments in red wine, they confer a slight astringency to the grain. Peace, No War is a flour corn, so it is much lower in protein than our other sorts, with a lighter texture as a result. Cornmeal cookies are a holiday favorite, and you can now have three different types. The purple flour corn produces the lightest version of the cookies. The anthocyanins in many plants, including our peaceful corn and the purple sweet potatoes, are pH indicators. With the acid in the lime juice and zest, as well as the use of baking powder, the color of these cookies is a lovely lavender-pink.

Ears are saved for further evaluation.

If the cornmeal is used with alkaline ingredients such as baking soda, the pigments turn a dark blue-black. You see it happen if you put a bit of purple cornmeal, moistened with water, in a bowl with some baking soda. Add some vinegar and the dark mix turns pink. A few years ago, our friend Vonda came to us quite perplexed. She made a sweet potato pancake recipe and they turned green. As it turned out, she used a mix of purple and yellow fleshed sweet potatoes, and the recipe used baking soda. At the proportions she used, the mix turned bright green. The yellow pigments are carotenoids and are unaffected by pH. With the right recipe, you could probably turn out a green cornmeal cookie or cornbread for St. Patrick's day using a mix of the Peace, No War and Roy's Calais Flint meal.

Hillsdale Farmers' Market, Dec. 6, 2015

Friday, December 04, 2015

Great Gifting: The Gift of Class(es)

Making lists, checking them twice…and don't get me started on the whole naughty or nice thing. It’s all too much to keep track of!

So I say opt out, walk away, leave it at the door. No one I know needs more stuff, and the idea of the holidays—and, come to think of it, life in general—is to share joy, spread peace and love and generally try to make the planet a better place, right?

Jessica Hansen's couples date night classes at Middleground Farms.

I've sworn off the kinds of gifts that require displaying or dusting, preferring instead to give items that are 1) consumable or 2) useful in some way. That means no tchotchkes or gewgaws allowed. And though I could never convince my mother of this, gift certificates, especially for learning experiences, are the gift that keeps on giving.

Ben Meyers' sausage-making is perfect for a budding charcutiere.

One that's been particularly well-received, and that I've found personally rewarding even if it's given to someone else, is a gift certificate for a cooking class. Learn basic kitchen skills like how to use a knife more effectively. Create an ethnic feast of the classic flavors of Asia, Europe or India. Has someone in your family decided to become a vegan? Or developed an intolerance or (heaven forfend) an allergy? You can find classes for all of these, from your youngest giftee to great-grandma. Contact any of those at the links listed below for gift certificates.

  • Portland's Culinary Workshop (top photo) offers classes for all ages (plus camps for kids) and an astonishing and wide-ranging roster of learning experiences too long to list here, but all are excellent and taught by professional culinary instructors. Seriously, you can't go wrong.
  • Old Salt Marketplace offers butchery, sausage-making and seasonal cooking classes to adults of all skill levels. I've given these classes as gifts and have heard nothing but raves about owner Ben Meyer's ability to make these skills accessible (and fun) for the home cook.
  • The Kitchen at Middleground Farms in Wilsonville has a wide range of cooking classes for individuals and couples (think date night), all taught in a state-of-the-art kitchen by self-described "accidental farmer" and terrific teacher and chef Jessica Hansen. I've experienced her in action and she's awesome.
  • Cook With What You Have offers individualized instruction with chef and local foods maven Katherine Deumling who makes it a joy to cook with fresh and seasonal ingredients. She also has an online recipe collection available for simple, quick and family-oriented meals that would make an awesome (and ongoing) gift.
  • Turnip the Heat Cooking School has kids classes that can't be beat and that are perfect for the aspiring chef in the household. Owner Joanna Sooper also teaches classes for teens and adults, and makes it tasty, too, since most classes include a shared meal. I would have loved taking one of these when I was young!

Others offering cooking classes include Proletariat ButcheryElder Hall, the Portland Meat Collective and, occasionally, Zenger Farm. If you've taken great cooking classes at other places, please feel free to share them in the comments at the link below!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Discovering the Salish Sea: San Juan Island, Pt. 1

Salish Sea: The intricate network of coastal waterways that includes includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia, Puget Sound and all their connecting channels and adjoining waters, such as Haro Strait, Rosario Strait, Bellingham Bay, Hood Canal and the waters around and between the San Juan Islands in the U.S. state of Washington and the Gulf Islands in British Columbia, Canada.

When I got an e-mail offering a three-day insider's tour of San Juan Island, Whidbey Island and Port Townsend, all part of the region connected by the waters known as the Salish Sea, I couldn't say yes fast enough. First, the deep-green forested islands dotting the waterways are drop-dead gorgeous—Dave and I have explored some of the San Juan Islands in Washington and their counterparts to the north known as the Gulf Islands of British Columbia—and second, this tour, with its marathon itinerary, promised an exhaustive, in-depth look at several aspects of the region, including agriculture, tourism and industry.

The Majestic Inn and Spa in Anacortes.

In order to get an early start in the morning, I made the just-under-five-hour drive to Anacortes, Washington, for a quick overnight stay at the Majestic Inn and Spa (left), a historic structure from the late 1800s that has risen phoenix-like from several near-death experiences. Overlooking both Guemes Channel and Fidalgo Bay and with a 180-degree view of Anacortes's historic district from the rooftop patio, it's also within strolling distance of many of the town's best restaurants and shops.

I love ferries. There. I said it.

Another reason I love this part of our region is not only that it's driving-distance close (yet feels like a world away) and has the aforementioned spectacular setting, but you get to ride ferries to travel from place to place. Big and small, some carrying cars and others only walk-on passengers, ferries are, for me, the exemplar of the romance of slow travel. Chugging at water level among the green hummocks of the small islands and the expansive farmlands of their larger brethren, you get a close-up view of the life of the people who live here. Your fellow passengers carry overstuffed bags of their city purchases back to their island homes. Fishing boats head out to find the day's catch and bring it back to restaurants and processors. Small towns dot the banks along the water's edge, serving tourists and townspeople alike with gift shops and marinas, small manufacturing plants and businesses.

In the belly of the whale museum.

The ferry ride from Anacortes took just over an hour to arrive at the ferry dock in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, and we were whisked off by tourism maven Barbara Marrett for a whirlwind tour of the town's whale museum—where you can learn about the lives of the two types of Orcas, southern resident whales and transients, that inhabit these waters, as well as the humpbacks and grey whales—and its Museum of Art featuring the work of international artists as well as that of the island's well-known local artists.

Historic (and possibly haunted) James King farmhouse.

The San Juan Historical Museum is a large hillside property dotted with historic structures like the white clapboard James King farmhouse—rumored to be haunted—plus the island's original jailhouse and a log cabin, all open for touring. But it's becoming much more than that, with the barn being converted to an interactive Museum of History and Industry detailing the stories of the island’s fishing, farming, logging and lime industries.

San Juan Island potter Paula West.

We stopped for a quick lunch of deli sandwiches, salads and cookies on the outdoor deck at Market Chef—all its menu offerings star locally grown ingredients—and it was off to visit the pottery studio of Paula West. On the way Barbara told us about the work of the San Juan Preservation Trust, a non-profit land trust dedicated to helping people and communities conserve land in San Juan County. Primary funding for the land bank is from a one percent real estate excise tax paid by purchasers of property in the county, with other revenue coming from private donations, grants and interest income. An interesting factoid is that any county in Washington can establish a land bank like the one in their county, but to date none has.

Potter West, along with her husband, Joe Cooper, who does mixed media sculpture, offers tours of her home studio and gallery, and is happy to demonstrate her technique to visitors. They both participate in a yearly Studio Tour over one weekend at the end of spring, which gives a representative sampling of the island's dozens of working artisans in sculpture, jewelry, pottery, printmaking, glass, fiber and fine art.

Pelindaba Lavender Farm gift shop.

While I decamped to do a couple of interviews, the rest of the group toured Pelindaba Lavender Farm—I can personally vouch for the farm's lavender teas—which was established by Stephen Robins, a native South African who settled on the island in the mid-90s. The name, which in Zulu translates as "place of great gatherings," was originally a simple plan to protect a quiet valley property. It has grown into a publicly accessible parkland that grows lavender and sells lavender products, generating income that supports the property.

Innkeeper Farhad Ghatan playing Chopin while Roxie, his beloved mini-Aussie, sleeps.

Our accomodations for the night were at the Friday Harbor Grand, a sprawling home overlooking the town and the harbor in the distance. Now owned and meticulously (yet comfortably) renovated by the ebullient innkeeper,  master gardener and airplane pilot Farhad Ghatan, it was originally named after Judge Bowman, San Juan County’s first judge and one of Friday Harbor’s founders. After our dinner at the Bluff restaurant on the waterfront, we returned to the Grand to find Farhad at his grand piano playing selections from the classical canon, a nightly tradition at the inn.

Exhausted from a full day of touring, I fell into bed with cookies baked by our host and a sip of wine, looking forward to a kayaking trip early the next morning.

Read the other posts in this series: San Juan Island, Pt. 2 and Port Townsend and Fort Worden.