Saturday, October 31, 2015

When Life Gives You Quince, Make Cake!

They're lumpy and hard as a rock, yellow as a golden delicious apple and with a floral fragrance that'll perfume your whole house. In fact, bowls of them were arrayed in homes in ancient Greece and Rome for just that purpose, and were given as gifts at Greek weddings in homage to Aphrodite, the goddess of love.


I'd been obsessing over quince for a couple of weeks when my friend Myrna mentioned they had a bumper crop on their trees and asked if I'd like to pick some.

Oh joy!

You see, I'd made a batch of quince-infused vodka a couple of years ago based on her husband Karl's recipe. It turned out terrifically, the only problem being that first attempt had taken a year to fully mature and I hadn't documented the process well.

Quince infusing in vodka.

So after peeling and chopping up a few pounds and stuffing the pieces into a gallon jar with a couple of bottles of Monopolowa vodka—our preferred brand for infusing since it's good quality and cheap—it went immediately into the basement for a couple of months' rest. The problem was, there were still about four pounds of fruit left.

I'd made quince sauce before, which is delicious, but in the spirit of exploration wanted to try something new. That's when I remembered my mother's recipe for applesauce cake, a moist little single-layer cake that she'd whip up when an after-school snack was called for. Since quince sauce is almost exactly the same texture, if a little denser, than applesauce, I figured it would make a good substitute.

The quince sauce added a complexity of flavor and aroma that belied the simplicity of the cake, especially with a little scoop of ice cream served alongside. You can easily substitute applesauce back into the recipe, and I heartily recommend topping each piece of cake with a spoonful of whichever sauce you choose to make it with.

Simple Quince Sauce Cake

For the quince sauce:
4 lbs. quince, the more fragrant the better
Sugar or mild honey, to taste
Juice of 2 lemons

For the cake:
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 c. butter or margarine (1 stick)
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. quince sauce (or applesauce)
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped fine (optional)

To make the quince sauce, coarsely chop the quince into large pieces, removing core and any bruises or brown spots. Place in large pot over medium heat and pour in a cup of water and lemon juice. Stir to combine. When water in bottom of pot begins to boil, reduce heat to low simmer and, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, cook until quince pieces are tender. Add sugar to taste (I like mine slightly tart, but it still takes a fair amount of sugar to get it to that stage). Allow to cool. If you want, you can mash it by hand or run it through a food mill to remove skins and make a smooth sauce.

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In a large mixing bowl or mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla together until soft and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add quince sauce and beat in thoroughly. Mix in dry ingredients a small amount at a time until just combined, but don't over mix. Add walnuts and stir them in by hand.

Grease (using butter or margarine) and lightly flour an 8" or 9" square cake pan. Pour cake batter into pan and bake for 40 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick or sharp skewer into the center. It is done when the pick comes out clean. Serve with a spoonful of quince sauce on top and a scoop of ice cream alongside.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Being a B Corp Brewery

In mid-October of this year, Portland was host to a gathering of certified B Corporations. The metro area currently boasts more than 40 businesses that have gone through the tough vetting process required for certification, out of a total of 55 in the entire state. To get an idea of how certification impacts businesses in one industry, I attended a panel featuring four craft breweries that have been certified by the organization. The breweries featured on the panel were employee-owned New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado; Beau's All Natural Brewing Company of Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Canada; Brewery Vivant of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Hopworks Brewing Company of Portland (our fair city), Oregon. This post was developed in collaboration with advertiser Hopworks Urban Brewery, one of the B Corp-certified breweries featured on the panel.

First of all, what the heck is a B Corporation?

According to the website, B Corporations are "for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency."

In practice what it means is that each of these breweries chose to look critically at not just their business practices, but their use of resources, the way they treat their employees and their commitment to their communities. Perhaps because the founders of B Corporation were business guys, the focus on merging doing good while growing a business has helped these breweries commit to taking a long-term approach to recouping the costs of becoming more sustainable.

For Katie Wallace, the Assistant Director of Sustainability at New Belgium, that means the values-based ethics of her employee-owned business benefited from "putting into words what we've been doing since the company was founded." Steve Beauchesne of Beau's, a certified organic brewery, echoed Wallace's statement, saying that his family decided to go through the process because it was "better to be at the leading edge rather than trailing behind," baking sustainability into the DNA of the company rather than trying to retrofit. Plus, on a practical if not completely serious note, "the beer tastes better."

The process of certification, based on a scorecard and point scale, is flexible enough to accomodate different approaches depending on the focus of the business. For instance, initially Christian Ettinger of Hopworks said that his brewery focused on the resource side, like water use, electricity, sourcing of ingredients and the built environment of the brewery itself. A further step involved establishing a board of directors for the company, a move that B Corporation encourages as the best way to ensure that the values of the company are maintained over time, one that Ettinger feels has far-reaching benefits for the stability of the business going forward.

Two key areas for all of the breweries involved their employees and the public.

Kris Spaulding, co-owner of Brewery Vivant, said that they've worked to cultivate an ownership mentality in the culture of the brewery, like giving employees permission to put their passions to work through paid time off to do voluteer work in the community. Beauchesne said that even though, in his words, "beer is a big motivator," since getting certified he's seen Beau's employees make more of a personal connection to their work.

Ettinger said that Hopworks has even inserted sustainability into job descriptions, with every applicant being asked how they see sustainability fitting into their work. Panelists echoed the importance of having every worker become a champion of the sustainability goals, making the goals not just words on a piece of paper, but also another way of holding the company accountable to those goals.

As if dispensing terrific beer wasn't enough to make customers happy, B Corporation certification helps the breweries differentiate themselves from others in their respective areas, and the good will it generates "makes it an easy way to engage with their customers," according to Spaulding. Accountability also plays a part with the public, with an informed customer base encouraged to get involved and hold the business to its stated goals.

The bottom line is that certification is not a one-time achievement but an ongoing effort. Beauchesne said that for Beau's, "the most important part was going through the process," having goals for improvement via the evaluation the brewery received, with the scorecard helping them to focus on where to invest their energy and money in the future.

As Ettinger joked, "When we get to 200 points [on the scale], I can retire."

Watch a video of the entire panel discussion.

Top photo, l to r, Kris Spaulding of Brewery Vivant, Steve Beauchesne of Beau's All Natural Brewing Company, Katie Wallace of New Belgium Brewing and Christian Ettinger of Hopworks Brewing Company.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Marie Equi: Hero of Oregon's Radical Past

I first heard of Marie Equi, one of the first woman physicians in Oregon and a radical activist, from my friend Bette Sinclair, who lives in Equi's former home in the Goose Hollow neighborhood. Chagrined that I'd never heard of this incredibly accomplished and important figure in our state's history, and eager to find out more, I was glad to hear that a biography was being published by OSU Press. My friend, writer and editor Angie Jabine, recently wrote a review of the book for Oregon Arts Watch.

Born in 1872 to an East Coast, working-class immigrant family, Marie Diana Equi seemed destined to become just another New Bedford millworker. But by 1891 she was homesteading with her Wellesley-educated girlfriend near The Dalles, where she made national headlines after publicly horsewhipping a corrupt school superintendent.

A new biography of this remarkable Oregonian.

As one of Oregon’s first female physicians, Equi led an acclaimed relief mission to San Francisco in the wake of the 1906 earthquake and fire. She also performed then-illegal abortions, and she was arrested with Margaret Sanger in 1916 for distributing birth control pamphlets. She led workers’ protests and strikes and called herself a Radical Socialist and anarchist. She was convicted of sedition for opposing U.S. involvement in World War I and served nearly 10 months in San Quentin. On returning to Portland, she cohabited with the labor activist—and future Communist Party USA chairwoman—Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

Dr. Marie Equi.

You’d think a figure as memorable as Marie Equi would be at least as familiar to Oregon history lovers as, say, Sacajawea, John Reed, or Abigail Scott Duniway. One of Equi’s contemporaries called her “the most interesting woman that ever lived in this state, certainly the most fascinating, colorful, and flamboyant.” But up until now, she seems to have been erased from the record, her story primarily scattered among old newspaper clippings and unpublished oral histories by those who befriended her in her later years.

A vivid new biography from Oregon State University Press [titled Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions] ought to change all that. In a thoughtful yet page-turning account of Equi’s life and times, social historian Michael Helquist has portrayed not just a remarkably gutsy woman but also an era of street-level activism that makes today’s Occupy protests look like a barn dance.

Read the rest of this terrific review and find out how the U.S. Justice Department's surveillance of Equi's "seditious" activities became a main source for biographic information about her.

Photo at top is from the Oregon Historical Society that is captioned, in part, "Dr. Marie Equi and her adopted daughter Mary outside of the Federal Courthouse on the day of Dr. Equi's unsuccessful appeal, October, 1920."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hot! Hot! Harissa! (aka The Perfect Condiment)

I've been wanting to take another stab at making this anywhere-from-one-to-five-alarm sauce after making Jim Dixon's version using red bell peppers. Balanced, with a sweetness and depth of flavor from a combination of caraway and cumin, harissa also can have a searing heat depending on the type of peppers you use. I love using it to spike the sauce for my macaroni and cheese, to spice up a mild curry or to dot on top of deviled eggs.

Spanish espelette peppers.

Plus it's great on its own, served alongside eggs or stirred into dishes that could use a little kick, and is great for any family members who absolutely must have their favorite bottle of hot sauce at every meal (you know who you are…). Without the vinegary twang of hot sauces like tabasco or sriracha, it blends flavors, pulling their notes together like the background-singing heroes of the movie Twenty Feet From Stardom.

The perfect opportunity to try, try again came when I stopped in at Conserva, Manuel Recio and Leslie Lukas-Recio's outpost of the tastes of Spain. I was ogling some of the last of the fresh ezpeleta peppers from their Viridian Farms—the ones they dry and grind for their piment basquaise—when Leslie mentioned that they're terrific in harissa, more accurately representing the  flavor of the Spanish peppers that were brought to North Africa, where harissa originated.

More or less copying what I did before, I took a hint from a recipe by hot-in-his-own-right Yotam Ottolenghi and added just a touch of lemon (he used preserved lemon but, not having any in the pantry, I substituted lemon zest). Per Leslie's suggestion I lightly charred the peppers, which made peeling their very thick skins much easier, though if you use even mildly spicy peppers I'd highly recommend using rubber gloves when you're peeling and seeding them. It didn't occur to me until I'd nearly finished, and my hands were feeling hot for a couple of days afterwards even with repeated washings.

And I can't encourage you enough to talk with the farmer at the market or your retailer when you see a new ingredient that catches your attention. These peppers made a good hot sauce into a stellar one, and I'll be looking for more of them—and maybe even seeds for my garden—in the future.


8-10 ezpeleta peppers (or Spanish espelette peppers or red bell peppers)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Turn on the broiler in your oven. Lay the peppers on a sheet pan and put it under the broiler, a few inches below the flame. Watch carefully, turning the peppers with a pair of tongs when they start to blister. When skin is thoroughly blistered but not charred, remove the peppers to a small paper bag. Close it and leave the peppers to steam for at least ten minutes. Wearing rubber gloves, especially if the peppers are spicy, peel or rub them to remove most of the skin and remove the seeds and stems. (You can also use a paring knife to pull off stubborn sections of skin.)

Place peppers and remaining ingredients except for oil in the bowl of your blender or food processor. Turn on and drizzle in the oil, processing until it forms a smooth paste. Taste (careful, it's hot!) and adjust salt. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator. It should last at least two weeks.

Photo of espelette peppers from Wikimedia.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Matter of Balance

A meditative moment from the Zigzag River on Mt. Hood, brought to you by my brother, who built these rock cairns. Pretty cool!

Digging Our Roots: The Great Wapato Hunt

Indigenous people didn't have any problem finding sources of protein here in the moderate climate of the Northwest. After all, there were plenty of deer and fish, rabbits and crabs to be caught or hunted. And foraging for edible greens like fiddlehead ferns, sorrel and nettles, particularly in the moist river valleys and rainforests of the Coast Range, contributed to the diet of the region's earliest residents.


Starches, though, were a real problem, which my friend Hank Shaw pointed out as we were standing knee-deep in the mucky verges of the shallow lake at Ayers Creek Farm. Luckily there were starchy tubers to be found, like the ones we were looking for in the clay and mud beneath our feet. Lewis and Clark wrote that they stopped "to examine a root of which the natives had been digging great quantities in the bottoms" along the Deschutes River, and likened their appearance "to a small Irish potato."

Hank in his element.

A couple of years ago Hank had mentioned that he was pining to forage for wapato, also known as arrowhead or the duck potato (the Latin is Sagittaria latifolia), which is best found in October here in the Northwest. I remembered that Anthony Boutard had mentioned he'd seen arrowhead plants in the lake on the farm, and tucked the factoid away for future reference. When Hank announced he was coming up from Sacramento for a weekend event earlier this month, I immediately e-mailed Anthony and arranged a trip out to the farm. I also borrowing two pairs of waders, being as we didn't have the fortitude of those earlier foragers who would dig the tubers in their bare feet, wrangling them from the muck with their toes and collecting the rounded bulbs when they floated to the surface.

The harvest.

Anthony had flagged what he felt were promising spots, and though he didn't follow through with the threat of erecting a reviewing stand, the better to watch the impending man-vs.-muck competition, we waded out into the marshy shallows. Hank said that on previous expeditions he'd found the wapato with its green, arrow-shaped leaves standing alone, but here it was woven into a thick mat with other marsh grasses. The green leaves had turned brown and shriveled, leaving only the celery-like stalks standing. Fortunately they were easy to distinguish from the browned grasses around them, and it was fairly easy to reach down under the stalks and find the round, potato-y bulbs anchored in the mud.

Peeled wapato.

Ranging from the size of olives to that of tennis balls—it was thrilling to pull out one of those, let me tell you—the two of us managed to harvest almost five pounds in just 90 minutes of work, and that was in one patch about 12 feet in diameter. Which left plenty of bulbs to mature into future plants, not only in that spot but all around the perimeter of the lake.

Crispy, fried in duck fat.

Taking them back to the Boutards' house, we washed off the mud and peeled the bulbs with a paring knife, then Hank sliced them and fried them in duck fat from some breasts that we were having for lunch. The first bite? A crunchy, light French fry was my first thought, much less dense than a potato but with the same sweet, starchy flavor as its fellow tuber.

Most of them would be going home with Hank to be used in developing recipes for his blog, and he did offer to leave some of them for us, but I know where to find more—not just out in Gaston, but maybe someplace a little closer to home. After all, our own Sauvie Island was originally named by the Lewis and Clark expedition, which christened it "Wappetoe Island."

Photos of foraging in the field by Linda Colwell.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Food News: Bees Win One, Spanish Hotline, Factory Manager Appointed to Board of Ag

In a groundbreaking ruling, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the federal Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) approval of a pesticide, sulfoxaflor, because the approval was "based on flawed and limited information." In an article in the Los Angeles Times, it said that "initial studies showed the insecticide was highly toxic to honey bees" and quotes one of the three-judge panel as writing that "bees are essential to pollinate important crops and in recent years have been dying at alarming rates."

The lawsuit challenging its approval was brought by a consortium of beekeepers and beekeeping organizations, which were represented by Earthjustice, an environmental group. The pesticide, a neonicotinoid made by Dow Agrosciences and sold under the brand names Closer and Transform, was registered for use on lettuce in California in 2014, but because the approval by the EPA was national, the ruling revokes its use nationwide.

The article quotes the ruling as concluding "given the precariousness of bee populations, leaving the EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor in place risks more potential environmental harm than vacating it."

* * *

A toll-free hotline has been established in Oregon to help Spanish-speaking workers report mistreatment in the workplace, according to an article in The Oregonian by work life reporter George Rede. Part of the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Education and Outreach alliance, EMPLEO (Spanish for employment) is "a program designed to help workers cut through red tape with a single phone call."

The article says that "in Oregon, workers are especially vulnerable in construction, restaurants and forestry jobs involving tree-planting and thinning" and quotes Juan Coria, deputy regional administrator of the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division office in San Francisco, as saying "we're seeing a lot of workers being exploited because they are unaware of their rights and resources."

The number? 1-877-552-AYUDA, Spanish for "help."

* * *

In a move that feels to Oregon's family farmers like a kick in the teeth, Governor Kate Brown has deliberately overlooked them in favor of appointing the manager of a powerful out-of-state factory farm to the State Board of Agriculture. The board, which advises the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) on policy issues, also develops recommendations on key agricultural issues, and provides advocacy of the state's agriculture industry in general.

Marty Myers, the governor's appointee, is general manager of Threemile Canyon Farms LLC (photo above), which opened a plant in Boardman on the Columbia River in 2001 and has been "at the center of several controversies, including labor violations and allegations of animal abuse," according to an article in the Capitol Press by Kendra Kimbirauskas.

Kimbirauskas said the plant in Boardman, which supplies milk to Tillamook Cheese, is licensed to expand to 90,000 cows in a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), and that in 2005 it revealed it released 5.6 million pounds of ammonia into the air each year, a byproduct of decomposing liquefied manure. As a result, Threemile Canyon has been accused by the U.S. Forest Service as being "one of [the] two major sources of acid rain and haze in the Columbia Gorge."

So why did Governor Brown choose Myers to the 10-member Board of Agriculture rather than Jon Bansen, a 4th-generation dairyman in Monmouth, who also applied for the appointment? We may never know, because, as Kimbirauskas points out, the appointment process "allows the Department of Agriculture and the governor’s office to work in secrecy to secure the appointment of their preference without any public scrutiny. Further, the Board of Agriculture is exempt from Oregon Government Ethics requirements that public officials provide statements of economic interest to ensure financial conflicts of interest are disclosed and addressed."

With small to mid-size family farmers comprising close to 85% of Oregon's farm ownership, it seems Gov. Brown could have made a different choice.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Chefs & Farmers Team Up for More Flavor

It's incredible that no one had thought of it before: bringing chefs together with farmers and seed breeders to collaborate on growing more flavorful ingredients. Fortunately we have a visionary in Lane Selman, an agricultural researcher at Oregon State University, who had the idea to do just that. This is the second year she has organized the Culinary Breeding Network's Variety Showcase, a tasting and evaluation of new vegetables bred as a result of these collaborative efforts. Here is Slow Hand Farm owner and consultant Josh Volk's report on the evening. Photos courtesy of the incomparable Shawn Linehan.

Monday night was the Culinary Breeding Network's 2nd Annual Variety Showcase in Portland, Oregon. The event brings together seed breeders working on varieties for organic production, farmers and chefs to highlight the work that they are all doing to promote new and special vegetable varieties. Lane Selman, the organizer and force behind the Culinary Breeding Network, does an incredible job of bringing seed breeders from all over the country and pairing them with chefs who can prepare their vegetables and give a sense of their potential.

Farmer Josh Volk (r) with chef Andrew Mace, Le Pigeon.

The format for the event is pretty simple: seed breeders and/or farmers are paired with chefs who will work with the farmers' vegetables to prepare a tasting. On the night of the event, tables are set up with displays of the vegetables alongside raw samples, as well as samples that the chefs have prepared. Then the room fills with journalists, chefs, farmers and seed breeders. The big crowd of about 200 sampled the goods and talked with the chefs, breeders, farmers and each other about what they were tasting.

Samples of a sweet paprika and Hungarian Black pepper cross.

As a farmer, I’ve been working with Lane on vegetable projects for about ten years now and she’s always included tastings in the work that she’s involved with, not forgetting the importance of flavor when choosing varieties. We’ve worked together on countless crops, mostly doing trials under organic production methods to look at their potential for yields, disease resistance, storage, cold tolerance, etc., but always also looking at flavor. In all of these trials we’ve been comparing new plant material from seed breeders alongside commercially available seeds.

Andrew Still of Adaptive Seeds (l) and Henry Storch of Old Blue Raw Honey.

About seven years ago she started inviting chefs to be a part of the conversation, and the synergy is incredible. Now, at the Variety Showcase, we have all three groups in the same room at the same time. As a farmer I’m able to talk to the breeders about what characteristics I’m looking for, and to the chefs about what they’re looking for. They also give me ideas about new crops, new techniques and new marketing avenues, and I get to see, touch, smell and taste the products right there. I had a great time catching up with friends from the food world and getting inspired by new crops and incredible preparations of old crops that give me new ideas.

Non-sweet vegetable corn from Bill Tracey, UW-Madison.

I was tabling with Andrew Mace from Le Pigeon and Shaina Bronstein from Vitalis Organic Seeds. With Our Table Cooperative I’ve been growing fennel trials so we had six to sample at the table, and Andrew had made a take on chips and dip with the fennel that was delicious. I didn’t have a chance to make it around to all of the other tables; every time I’d go out to try to see what was out there I’d run into someone I wanted to talk to and then spend all of my time on just one or two items, but I did get to see most of it. Plus I got to talk to a lot of people about fennel and what I’ve noticed while growing a dozen different varieties side by side this year. In the mix of crops being highlighted were carrot breeding lines, sweet corns—or perhaps more accurately vegetal corns which are sweet but also have amazing corn flavor and are meant for fresh harvest—really exciting work on American groundnut (Apios), winter squash, many different peppers and beans, winter melon, barley, wheat, shiso, parsley and probably a handful of others I either missed or didn’t get a chance to see.

This event in some ways is showing food at an exclusive craft level, but in typical Oregon style, it is anything but elitist. The emphasis is on featuring the vegetables and moving our food system forward using organic techniques, while celebrating the breeders who are making this possible and raising everyone’s level of understanding and creating positive connections.

To see more of the fun, check out Shawn's gallery of photos.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Tomatoes Ending…But Don't Toss 'Em!

If you're like me and your visits to the garden to check on your tomatoes are getting more infrequent, before you just give up and plow them under, grab a bowl or basket and pick those tired old bushes clean. I just went out to our back forty and picked enough ripe green Aunt Ruby tomatoes to roast and make two quarts that'll get bagged and frozen to use for something delicious later this winter.

You could also just toss the chopped up unripe tomatoes into a pot, cook them down and run them through a food mill for sauce. Freeze them as is, or put them in the oven at 200° for a few hours to make a paste to flavor all kinds of dishes.

And if I don't get too lazy and remember to do it, I'll make one more trip out before the rains come this weekend. Maybe I can even get Dave to make a green tomato sorbet with some…

Monday, October 05, 2015

Hank Shaw's Guide to Cooking "Antlered Things"

On a weekend at the beach I started reading Hank Shaw's first book, Hunt, Gather, Cook, and was moved to write this:

"After reading the first couple of chapters, my usual single-minded march to the beach turned into a completely different experience. I slowed down and started scanning those patches of green with different eyes, wondering what that blooming shrub might be, whether its bell-shaped blossoms would turn into berries in the next few weeks and if they might be edible. What would I make with them?"

Yes, I'd foraged mushrooms and knew the names of a few edible plants, but Hank's way of writing about the landscape made it come alive in a way that I hadn't experienced before. And that's what makes his new book on hunting and cooking "deer, elk antelope, moose and other antlered things" so intriguing. You see, I'm not a hunter. But I have been gifted with a few care packages of venison in my day, and I know that Hank's advice on pulling the maximum amount of flavor from the meat, while not burying it under a mound of cheffy acrobatics, is going to make that next gift package—hint, hint, all you hunters—a meal to remember.

And even if those care packages are few and far between (sniff!) I know I'll gain a unique perspective I'd never get any other way, from a humane, thoughtful and, to my mind, incomparable writer on the natural world. So watch the video above if you care to, but please consider a donation to make this book a reality. You'll be supporting a great cook and writer in his effort to teach people more about their food and where it comes from, a mission I can totally get behind.

* * *

Update from Hank:

Floored. Astonished. Gobsmacked. In less than 13 hours, we made our initial goal - the one that determines whether Buck, Buck, Moose will live or die. Not sure if we set a Kickstarter speed record, but it must be close. I am not an emotional man, but I gotta say I am genuinely choked up at the outpouring of support for Hunter Angler Gardener Cook and this venison cookbook.

Your efforts are a loud and forceful message to anyone who cares to listen about where the real priorities of North American hunters lie: Our trophies are at the table. Food is why we hunt, and your support of this book can be no louder affirmation of that fact. I salute you.

Now what?

The initial $30,000 goal makes Buck, Buck, Moose a reality. Every dollar spent beyond that goal helps us print more books, pay our subcontractors, save money for a second print run and to market the book when it comes out - without a big-name publisher to do that, we're on our own. And PR ain't cheap.

Finally, if we do really well, I'll squirrel away some cash to fund my book tour, which will start around Labor Day 2016. Every dollar chipped in now allows me to come to your town when the book is released next year. Visiting you was the highlight of my tour for Duck, Duck, Goose. Let me do it one more time!

So keep spreading the word. There are more than 14 million deer hunters in the US and Canada. We have a long road ahead of us to reach them. But it all starts with you telling your deer-hunting friends about Buck, Buck, Moose.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

~ Hank

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Salmon Sings with Roasted Local Grapes

Working the sorting line during the grape harvest one year, one of the great pleasures was picking up a beautiful cluster off the belt as it glided by and chomping into it. The mouthful of grapes exploded with juice, some of it invariably running down my chin, and the full flavor of the wine-to-be filled my head. If you haven't eaten grapes this way, you owe it to yourself to do it at least once, with a cluster of wine grapes or some from a neighbor's vines. (Ask first!)

Canadice grapes.

My friend and neighbor Ann is one of those avid grape-growers, with vines trailing along the arbor her husband built next to their driveway. The variety she grows is Canadice, a pinkish seedless grape named for Canadice Lake in the Finger Lakes of New York State. (Read what contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm has to say about this grape and how to pronounce its name.)

The grape harvest this year in Oregon came at least a month ahead of schedule, and coincided nicely with the run of coho salmon that were gleaming in fishmonger's cases around town. With her grape vines bearing scads of clusters—it's been a very good harvest this year despite the lack of rain—Ann looked up a simple recipe she'd seen in Sunset magazine that called for roasting grapes and fillets of salmon, then serving them on a bed of dressed arugula.

Lucky for us she also thought to invite Dave and I for dinner, so now I can share her brilliant inspiration with you. And, note to cooks, please try to use local grapes from the farmers' market or a store that carries local produce with this recipe. The giant red or green grapes in bags at the supermarket just don't have the intensity of flavor that'll make this dish sing. And if it's okay with the farmer, don't forget to do the chomp test (or, barring that, just taste one or two)!

Salmon with Roasted Grapes and Arugula Salad
Adapted from Sunset Magazine, Oct. 2015

1/4 c. pine nuts
4 salmon fillets (each 6 oz. and about 1/2 in. thick), pin bones removed
2 c. seedless grapes
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme leaves, divided
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt, divided
1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
6 c. loosely packed baby arugula
Lemon wedges (optional)

Preheat broiler with a rack set about 3" from heat.

Toast pine nuts in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat until golden, stirring often, 4 to 7 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let cool.

Set salmon and grapes on a rimmed baking sheet, leaving some space around fish. Drizzle everything with 1 tbsp. oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp. thyme and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Turn fish and grapes to coat, setting salmon skin side down if fillets have skin.

Broil until fish is still a bit rare in center (cut to test), 4 to 6 minutes; fillets will continue to cook as they sit. Grapes should be a bit wrinkled; if not, transfer fish to a plate and broil grapes a few minutes longer. Sprinkle fish and grapes with remaining 1/2 tsp. thyme.

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 5 Tbsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper with the vinegar, mustard and garlic until emulsified. In a large bowl, toss arugula with half of pine nuts and a third of balsamic dressing.

Arrange salad on a platter. Set salmon on top, overlapping pieces a bit. Gently combine remaining pine nuts with grapes; spoon grape mixture over fish. Serve with remaining dressing on the side and lemon wedges if you like.