Sunday, December 30, 2018

Rave-Worthy Party Dip in Ten Minutes? Yes, It's Hummus

In my view, hummus is one of those intensely flavorful, iconic cultural touchstones that has been bastardized beyond recognition. Just think of the little plastic containers you see in the grocery store of roasted pepper hummus, artichoke hummus and—I swear I'm not making this up—Thai coconut curry hummus.

Linda Dalal Sawaya, local Portland artist, writer and author of Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking, a collection of recipes handed down from her Lebanese mother and grandmother, describes her family's "Hommus" this way:

"Our family loves hommus bi tahini best when it is tangy, the way Mama and Sitto made it. We garnish it with a liitle olive oil. In Lebanon, pomegranate seeds, whole garbanzo beans, and a drizzle of olive oil might be the garnish. Chopped fresh mint and olive oil also make a lovely garnish."

Sublime made from scratch with quality ingredients.

With her recipe, she describes her mother—fans of the pesto scene in the recent documentary Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat with Samin Nosrat, take note—mashing garbanzo beans by hand the traditional way.

Back when I was in college, hummus was the barely edible, dry stuff you brought to parties in college because it was widely available and a cheap way to feed your friends. I'd give my own efforts an "okay" rating back then and, even at that, it was way better than most of the stuff sold at even the most effete grocery stores, which ranged from chemical-tasting to having that certain je-ne-sais-quoi cardboard flavor. Even here in Portland, there are still very few who make a decent version, outside of Middle-Eastern restaurants like Ya Hala or Hoda's, both of which also make their own pita bread.

Soak overnight, drain, cook. Easy!

Later, my yearnings for truly good homemade hummus were granted with a recipe that my parents brought back from their pre-retirement sojourn in Liberia (yes, in Africa) where they met several Lebanese couples who were teachers at the college my parents worked for. My mother, being a discerning sort and knowing a good thing when she tasted it, begged a couple of recipes from them that she shared on their return home.

Ever since, our lives and the success of many a gathering have been aided and abetted by her ingenuity. I hope you agree her efforts weren't in vain.


This is best made from dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) that have been soaked overnight, drained and then cooked in fresh water for an hour or so until tender. For the best flavor, I highly recommend Ayers Creek Farm's organic Tualatin Chick Peas, available at Rubinette Produce. The following recipe makes approximately three cups of hummus.

Taratoor sauce:
2 small garlic cloves
1/2 c. tahini paste (sesame butter)
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt

1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans or 2 c. cooked chickpeas
2 tsp. salt
3 garlic cloves
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. water

You can make this in one step by placing all the ingredients in the food processor and processing till it all turns to a smooth consistency. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika (or better yet, Spanish pimenton) or the traditional sumac.

The taratoor by itself makes a terrific sauce for pork or meats, or drizzle it over rice or vegetables, or as a dipping sauce with appetizers like stuffed grape leaves.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Drinking In the Holiday Cheer: Four Faves!

During the holiday season my parents would invariably designate one evening before Christmas to invite friends over for an open house. My mom, a dedicated holiday baker, used the occasion to haul out all the fruitcakes she'd made—one packed with whole nuts and citron barely held together with batter, an applesauce bread studded with nuts and raisins, another cakey version that had been wrapped in brandy-soaked cloth—plus cookies filled with jam, pinwheels stuffed with dates, and her signature Nanaimo bars that I'd eat by the dozen, all displayed on holiday-themed platters.

Classic set for a classic holiday cocktail.

My dad made sure the bar was well-stocked, but his main task was to dig out the Tom & Jerry set from the basement and pull out the recipe card from the file, dog-eared, faded and stained from literally decades of Christmas parties past. On the day of the party, as Mom ran around the house in a frenzy, inspecting (and often redoing) my lackadaisical dusting and vacuuming, fussing over the table decorations of carefully arranged boughs studded with shiny glass Christmas ornaments, and my dad would start making the batter for his Tom & Jerrys.

A hot toddy hits the spot on a winter night.

I don't remember any of their friends making this classic holiday drink, but it was a staple at our house growing up. Dad, who in my memory almost never spent time in the kitchen, would carefully separate the egg whites from the yolks, beat the whites into glossy peaks, then gradually fold in the yolks that had been beaten with powdered sugar and whipping cream. I was particularly fascinated with the teensy brown glass bottles of cinnamon and clove oil that had no doubt been around for years, since the batter only required a drop of each to flavor it. He'd dip a toothpick into the little bottle and pull it out, a shimmering drop of oil clinging to it, and ever so carefully let it drip into the batter.

The Bloody Monkey makes the most of winter citrus.

By this point Mom would have vanished upstairs to get dressed and put on lipstick—bright red—to match her holly-trimmed holiday apron, and Dad would be mixing the rum and brandy and putting the kettle on for topping off the cups. It's memories like these that, whenever the holidays roll around and the cold starts to creep in through the cracks around our doors and windows, you'll find me heading down to the basement to dig out our own Tom & Jerry set, start whipping egg whites and inviting the neighbors over.

Cola de Mono is a Chilean holiday fave.

Over the years I've collected a few recipes for holiday cocktails, and now seemed like a good opportunity to share them with you. Enjoy, and start making memories for you and yours!

My Dad’s Tom & Jerrys

For the batter:
6 eggs
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 drop oil of cinnamon*
1 drop oil of clove*
1/2 c. whipping cream

For each drink:
1 jigger (1.5 oz.) brandy
1/2 jigger (.75 oz.) rum
2 Tbsp. batter
Boiling water
Dash of fresh-ground nutmeg

Separate eggs, putting yolks into large mixing bowl and whites into another bowl large enough to whip them in. Add cream of tartar to whites and whip into stiff peaks.

Beat egg yolks to combine and add cinnamon oil, clove oil and whipping cream. Beat, gradually adding powdered sugar till the mixture is thick and smooth. Add whipped egg white and slowly fold them into each other till you have a smooth, light batter.

To make drinks, put brandy, rum and batter into each cup (ours are 6-oz. cups), fill with boiling water and stir. Top with a sprinkle of ground nutmeg. For the kids, make Clyde & Harrys—simply leave out the alcohol and combine the batter and hot water and stir, topping with the nutmeg.

* Oils available at many natural foods stores. Just make sure they're food grade.

* * *

Ann and Chad's Hot Toddies

1 slice lemon, 1/8" thick
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
Pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
1 1/2 oz. whiskey (your choice)
2 oz. boiling water
1 tsp. honey

Place lemon in bottom of a mug or heat-resistant cup. With a muddler or the back of a spoon, crush the lemon gently to release its juices. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

* * *

Rodrigo's Cola de Mono (Tail of a Monkey)

This is a traditional Chilean Christmas drink, usually served cold. Best made a couple of days ahead.

3 qts. whole milk
4 c. of sugar
Peel of an orange (about 1" wide by 2" long)
4 cloves
A pinch of nutmeg
1 stick of cinnamon
2 Tbsp. freshly ground coffee
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 qt. Aguardiente*, grappa** or pisco

Boil milk with sugar, orange skin, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Once the milk has come to a boil, remove from stove and add the coffee and vanilla extract and stir constantly for about 5 to ten minutes or until the coffee dissolves as much as possible.

Once the mixture is cold, filter it (paper filters work best) or use a really fine colander with a paper towel. Add the spirit and pour into bottles with tight lids. Place in refrigerator and let it sit for a couple of days before serving. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Shake well before opening. Serve cold, over ice if desired (though not traditional). Can be garnished with a cinnamon stick or a sprinkle of cinnamon if desired.

* Aguardiente is a denomination of spirits that can range from vodka to sugar cane based, so the name is given not because of the source, but the alcohol content, which can be upwards of 120 proof alcohol. In Chile, Aguardiente is made from grapes and the alcohol content is usually somewhere between 45-55% (above 55% is illegal). Because aguardiente is a very generic term and the actual product and alcohol content varies from region to region, I suggest using a grape spirit such as grappa or pisco, preferably between 45-50% alcohol.

** Grappa, like champagne, is a spirit produced from grapes and can only be called grappa if it complies with certain requirements, such as being produced in a certain region of Italy. That’s why substituting it with a grape-based spirit like pisco can lower the cost considerably.

* * *

Keith's Bloody Monkey

This variation on a Monkey Gland, but uses fresh winter citrus. Makes one cocktail.

1.5 oz. gin
1.5 oz. blood orange juice, strained of pulp
1 tsp. grenadine
1/2 tsp Pernod

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker. Add ice till shaker is 3/4 full. Shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with slice of blood orange.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Mega-Dairy Moratorium Demanded by Farm & Consumer Groups

A coalition of more than a dozen local, state and national organizations, including Friends of Family Farmers (FoFF), the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) have called on state legislators in Salem to stop any further expansion of new or existing mega-dairies in Oregon until the state can guarantee protections for its people, animals, and the environment from the industrial-scale impacts of factory farm mega-dairies.

Waste from a mega-dairy can equal that of a small city.

According to the coalition's press release, "Oregon’s inadequate oversight of mega-dairies has become clear over the past two years, since the state ignored red flags and widespread public opposition to authorize operation of Lost Valley Farm, which was permitted to confine 30,000 cows. Lost Valley has since racked up nearly 200 permit violations and has had problems ranging from overflowing mortality and waste management facilities to a lack of clean water and restrooms for workers. As a result, the state is now fighting to shut the mega-dairy down. However, Oregon’s insufficient laws do not protect the state’s air and water, setting a standard so low that thousands of animals are raised in extreme confinement and family-scale dairies are forced out of business."

Cow laying in waste at Lost Valley Farm.

As documented extensively on Good Stuff NW, Lost Valley Farm has ignored or flagrantly violated permit regulations from the start, beginning construction on the massive facility without the required permits from the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). Instead of shutting down the industrial facility until it went through proper permitting channels, the ODA gave Lost Valley the go-ahead to develop the facility. This is despite the facility—which is sited on a federally designated Groundwater Management Area (GWMA)—never completing construction of the required manure lagoons to protect the area's groundwater.

Cow standing in waste at Threemile Canyon Farms.

The legislature's track record on setting limits for these facilities has been lax at best, negligent at worst. Last year the legislature's Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources killed a bill, SB 197, that would have begun the process of setting up basic regulations on air contaminant emissions (like ammonia) from these  mega-dairies. Contaminants are not monitored or regulated due to a loophole in Oregon law that exempts these factory farms from any requirement to monitor, report or reduce air pollution associated with the manure from the tens of thousands of animals they keep.

Waste at mega-dairies is often kept in large open-air lagoons.

On its Facebook page, the Center for Animal Law Studies posted that, speaking on behalf of Humane Voters Oregon, Lewis & Clark Law School Professor Rajesh Reddy joined the growing chorus calling for a moratorium on new and expanded mega-dairies in the state. As quoted in the Statesman Journal newspaper, Professor Reddy addressed the documented cruelty at such farms: “The cows are more often subject to extreme confinement, without access to pasture, and are more likely to be treated like machines instead of living things. The pictures from Lost Valley Farm, of highly confined cows standing knee-deep in manure, show us where that can lead.”

Ivan Maluski, Policy Director of FoFF, is quoted in the coalition release as saying: “The state’s inadequate handling of the Lost Valley debacle, along with the catastrophic decline in Oregon’s small and mid-sized dairy farms, make clear that we need a time-out from new or expanded mega-dairies until it we have stronger environmental, animal welfare, public health, and family farm protections in place.”

For more information on mega-dairies in Oregon, read my article for Civil Eats, "Big Milk Brings Big Issues for Local Communities" as well as my post on Tillamook Cheese's connection to these factory farms, "Why I'm Quitting Tillamook Cheese." Read my full reporting on Threemile Canyon and Lost Valley mega-dairies.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Farm Bulletin: A Sense of the Organism

In the introduction of contributor Anthony Boutard's book on corn (link below), he remembers that "since childhood, I have enjoyed sweet corn from the garden. Eating fresh corn on the cob is a sensual pleasure that takes the sad edge off of the dwindling days of summer and, when I was a boy, the bittersweet start of school." Later, he and his wife, Carol, journeyed to Italy's Piedmont where they discovered what looked like Indian corn to their Western eyes, yet the Italians ground it into their famous polenta. It started them on their corn odyssey.

In 2009, we planted some corn seed given to us by someone who brought them back from Cuzco, Peru. As part of my research in writing Beautiful Corn, we planted a great many sorts that year with little regard to cross-pollination as they would not be used for seed production. The geneticist Barbara McClintock stressed the importance of developing the "sense of the organism” in her work with corn. It was sage advice. Sometimes we read a book on a crop and can’t help feeling the person lacks that sense—perhaps the information is delivered second-hand or third-hand. The Peruvian was planted in a block that included the first generation of what has become the Peace, No War flour corn; a single, chance ear of purple-colored corn in a block of blue corn that piqued our curiosity. We still have that ear with its missing kernels (top photo). We kept the chance ear planting upwind to avoid cross-pollination.

A massive branched ear.

The Peruvian plants were massive, some with a distinct purple zig-zagging stem. Multiple ears were born on long branches. Some we had to support them with fenceposts. The nodes above the ground produced aerial roots covered with a thick exudate. This August, a paper was published explaining how these exudates attract microbial communities that fix atmospheric nitrogen. They studied a variety from Oaxaca, but the gummy roots looked just like those we saw. This relationship may account for the corn's extravagance. Though for all of its vegetative drama, the Peruvian corn produced just a few ears with kernels. It was the only time we grew the Peruvian sort.

The "Esmé ear."

During that time, a friend brought Esmé Hennessy to the farm. Esmé is a botanical illustrator specializing in orchids who moved from South Africa to Portland where her son lived. She agreed to produce some illustrations for the book, so we delivered a box of ears to her house. Captivated by the odd Peruvian ear, she drew it first.

October 2018, nine years later in the Peace, No War planting, staff found a small ear strikingly similar to the ear Esmé drew. Some pollen from the Peruvian plants must have been caught in a contrarian zephyr or an eddy as the morning sun warmed the earth. Not the most elegant ear, nor as mature, but it shows how traits, such as the oddly colored kernels, can linger unexpressed in the genome. Bear in mind, we have been relentless in our quest for the darkest ear possible. We look for purple in the stem, foliage, cob, silk and kernel. At its extreme, the heavy pigmentation is a deleterious trait as the plant cannot photosynthesize adequately. As we have repeatedly said, Peace, No War is more art than agronomics. Despite the rigorous selection, the Peruvian kernel traits remained somewhere in the breeding population.

The "Esmé ear" returns.

Early on in our work with the chance ear population, just a couple dozen ears met our standards, now hundreds do. Nonetheless, off-types continue to appear because we emphasize two traits—early ripening and a high anthocyanin content. The reappearance of the traits in the peculiar ear that grabbed Esmé’s eye reminded us of other traits the Peruvian may have brought to the corn. As it happens, some other traits such as prop roots, zigzagging stalks, long ear stalks and other odds and ends may have come with those grains of pollen. Staff also brought in another variant we saw in the 2009 collection, flinty kernels with a bird’s egg mottling. That one had mature kernels so it may prompt the “Eggshell" art project, if we have space to tuck it in somewhere.

Aerial roots with exudates.

In all three lines of corn we currently maintain at the farm there is a genetic effervescence that makes them interesting. Sometimes the tassels have scattered kernels on them, sometimes the ears terminate with a small tassel. Some are so beautiful they would make a great ornamental. Geneticists apply the terms "dominant" and “recessive" to traits, though working with various crops we are happier thinking in terms of “loud” and “quiet.”

Reno Sweeney’s serenade to Billy Crocker, Public Enemy Number 13 starts “At words poetic, I’m so pathetic, that I have always found it best, instead of getting ' m off my chest, to let 'em rest unexpressed." Just as because a trait is unexpressed or quiet, as with Reno's sentiments, it does not mean it is absent; it is just silent at the moment. The intensely dark purple pigments of Peace, No War were unexpressed in the chance ear. Somewhere in next year's seed crop, some of the Peruvian traits may linger once more unexpressed. We will keep our eyes open. We see a similar quiet/loud expression in the other crops we grow for seed. Some a bit wilder, some a bit more demure.

All photos courtesy Anthony Boutard.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

An Unexpected Accolade

My friends and family know better than to go to a farmers' market or food event with me, because I'll end up seeing people I know and chatting about "the latest this or did you hear that" until they want to pull their hair out and run screaming from the scene. Just the other day a friend and I were wandering through the Eat Oregon Now event, a pre-Christmas show of local producers and makers showcasing their food and food-related wares.

I got in a conversation with Lyf Gildersleeve about his essay on seafood trade wars and we got talking about the farm bill that was about to be voted on—my friend had wisely wandered off by this point—when he pulled out a little booklet from Earl Blumenauer. Titled "The Fight for Food: Why You Deserve a Better Farm Bill," it distills the complexities of this massive piece of legislation down into bite-sized pieces easily digestible for we normal folk.

It begins: "The Farm Bill is a law that helps determine: what we eat; how and where it's grown; and how we take care of the land it's grown in" with the purpose "to provide adequate food for the country, ensure fair prices for farmers and consumers, and protect the land." It then segues into a description of how it got from this original simple premise to "become distorted and distracted…giving too much to the wrong people to grow the wrong food in the wrong places." (You can get your own copy for a donation of $3.)

My point? In the back of the booklet is a collection of publications where you can learn more, listing books by acclaimed authors Dan Barber, Michael Pollan, Anna Lappé and Mark Bittman, along with websites like Civil Eats, Slow Food, the Food & Environment Reporting Network and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition blog.

The last item on the list? Good Stuff NW, the very blog you are reading right now. To say I was blown away to have it included on this list of some of the most important food folks in the country is the understatement of the decade. Holy moly!

What can I say but thanks, Earl, I'm honored. And here's to carrying on the fight for good food!

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Party Favor: Quick White Bean Spread

Part of the reason for starting this effort twelve years ago was to have a place I could use to remember recipes I've made over the years. It's obviously grown beyond simply being a personal reference library, but it's still super useful when I need to quickly access my mom's grilled shrimp appetizer or that hot crab dip that never quite got copied into my card file.

One recipe that I keep going to the search bar to look for—that's what that little window on the left above the masthead is for—is an incredibly simple white bean spread that I came across eons ago from a source that's been lost to the mists of time. The problem is, I've never written it up here, but I keep thinking I have, so round and round I go in the little gerbil wheel of my brain. (Sorry, is that TMI…?)

It's handy for impromptu moments when the neighbors drop by for a glass of wine or friends ask you to bring an appetizer and you're running behind, since it whizzes up in the food processor in about five minutes. All you need to have on hand is a can of cannelini beans, capers and a clove of garlic and you're set—the raves that ensue will be crazily out of proportion to the work involved, but no one needs to know that besides you.

Herewith is the official, posted recipe so I never have to dash around the kitchen rummaging through files to find that recipe card ever again:

Tuscan-style White Bean Spread with Capers

1 15-oz. can cannelini beans, drained (or use 2 c. cooked white beans)
1 medium clove garlic
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. capers
1-2 Tbsp. parsley, minced (optional)

Put beans, garlic, salt, thyme, lemon juice and olive oil in food processor and process until smooth. Using a spatula, scoop bean purée into medium-sized bowl and add capers and parsley. Stir to combine and adjust salt. Serve with bread or crackers.

Makes about two cups. (Can be doubled.)

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Guest Essay: Seafood Trade Wars

Lyf Gildersleeve, owner of Flying Fish Company, a sustainable seafood retailer in Providore Fine Foods, is a second-generation fishmonger and a vocal advocate for national fisheries policy. This is a guest post he wrote for the Marine Fish Conservation Network, a coalition of fishermen, conservationists, scientists and citizens around a mission to conserve and revitalize wild ocean fisheries.

In a time when government deregulation is rampant and environmental protections are getting tossed out the window, the U.S. has a seafood trade deficit that could be improving—that is, if American consumers are willing learn about where their food is coming from, and if consumers are willing to pay a fair price for seafood harvested and produced in the U.S.

Most of Oregon's fish are exported rather than consumed domestically.

Currently we import over 90 percent of the seafood we consume in America. More than 50 percent of those imports are farm-raised in unsustainable environmental conditions. Only two percent of these imports get tested for toxic residuals. That means that in 2015, 5.4 billion pounds of seafood entered our distribution channels without being tested for toxic chemicals. Most of the imported produce and seafood rejected in these random border inspections was cited for the appearance of potentially dangerous adulteration, including the presence of pathogens, illegal pesticides, chemicals and other sanitary violations. In addition, foreign seafood was more likely to be mislabeled and/or have slave labor involved at some point in the process of catching, harvesting, and growing it.

Along our own coastlines, fishermen are coming back to port hauling boatloads of seafood. Much of this seafood is getting purchased by foreign buyers and shipped overseas to consumers in Asia, while Americans are happy to import and consume cheap foreign seafood. This equation isn’t helping our coastal communities or the national economy.

Oregon albacore is exported for processing then shipped back to U.S.

Some of the seafood being landed by domestic fishermen is frozen after harvest, then shipped to China to be defrosted, filleted, packaged, frozen again, then shipped back to the U.S. to be sold to domestic consumers. This processing in China is cheaper than processing in the U.S. because of lower labor costs, with no import taxes on the products coming back in to the U.S.—until now. And, of course, the real cost of these products doesn’t include the carbon footprint of shipping products halfway around the world and back.

There are mixed opinions about the effects of the Trump administration’s trade wars with China. Recently there was a 25 percent tax slapped on seafood exports and a 10 percent tax on imported seafood products from China. Some seafood industries, including those in Alaska and Maine, have been negatively affected by import taxes. The export taxes have increased the cost to foreign buyers, which has decreased sales significantly due to higher costs with the new taxes.

Oregon anchovies are mostly exported but may be under threat from overfishing.

Some organizations state that the trade wars will lower seafood consumption in the United States because it will ultimately make those cheap sources of seafood more expensive. In my opinion, the price of cheap, imported seafood does need to increase. If the price of imported seafood and domestic seafood was more comparable, then consumers would take a harder look at their purchasing decisions. I believe that we all want to make good choices for the ocean, though sometimes we simply can’t afford expensive seafood.

In the seafood sector, cheap, imported products coming from overseas without import taxes are competing with our domestically caught seafood, which is far superior in quality and nutrition. Domestic seafood products also help financially support our domestic coastal communities and working waterfronts. Due to low wages nationally, some people have little choice but to purchase cheap food, which is why there's so much artificially low-priced imported seafood.

Oregon Dungeness, pink shrimp and albacore are MSC certified as sustainable.

In order to lower their costs and keep profits high, producers cut corners: slave labor, illegal ingredients, antibiotics, hormones, etc., are all consequences of these cost-cutting efforts. All these have negative effects on the environment, our health and that of our communities. It’s similar to U.S. agricultural policy, where our government has subsidies to help farmers who grow genetically modified corn, soy and wheat. These subsidies keep prices low for the consumer, creating an artificial price tag that makes certified organic food seem expensive. [Organic crops are not subsidized like conventional agriculture. - KB] This is the same equation in domestic versus foreign seafood—one is artificially priced lower.

It follows that subsidies make the price tag lower on the face of it, but we are still paying for them on the back end through our taxes. This artificial pricing doesn’t accurately reflect the actual cost of those goods when consumers buy them. When consumers see the price tag on local, organic, or farmers’ market items, they think it’s expensive; however, the real costs of commodity food would be more if the subsidies were not in place and the environmental impacts were included in the cost of the goods.

We have a choice every day to either make this world a better or a worse place in which to live. Some products are produced in sustainable ways for the environment and for our bodies, and some products are produced in ways that harm our bodies and the environment, the people, and the communities in which we live. I encourage you to be mindful of the food choices you make at the grocery store, restaurant and throughout your daily actions.

As a collective community I believe these choices will lead to consumers recognizing the value and nutrition of domestically produced fish. The new demand will absorb the excess production that once went to foreign buyers.

Eat domestic, support your local fishermen, and feed your body good food!

Read more about Oregon's sustainable fisheries and their importance to the state's economy.

Praising the Braise: Grass-fed Short Ribs Long on Flavor

I was in my usual zoned-out state at the grocery store the other day picking up a few necessities—coffee, pasta, milk—and trying to decide what to make for dinner. Walking past the butcher case, I saw chuck roast for $6.99 per pound from Oregon Country Beef, a co-op of ranchers that, despite the name, sources its beef from well beyond Oregon's borders, including ranches in Washington, Idaho, Nevada and California.

Oregon Country Beef cattle finished in a feedlot.

According to the company, the co-op's cattle start their lives on pasture and are raised on rangeland for most of their first 14 to 18 months,* then are shipped to a feedlot for "finishing" on a diet of non-GMO wheat, barley and potatoes (photo, left), a four-month process that fattens cattle to increase their weight before slaughter.

Carman Ranch cattle live their lives on pasture.

Then I saw there was a special on—be still my heart—short ribs for just a buck more per pound. Even better, they were from Carman Ranch, a grass-based ranch in Oregon's Wallowa County where Cory Carman raises cattle on the land that's been in her family for more than 100 years. Her cattle spend their entire lives right up to the point of slaughter on its broad pastures at the base of the Wallowa Mountains (photo, right), and the regenerative practices she champions sequesters carbon in the soil and produces more nutrient-dense, leaner meat.

While I commend the fact that the chuck roast came from cattle raised on non-GMO feed, those short ribs were singing their green-green-grass-of-home song. I brought four pounds home, sautéed a base of vegetables—call it mirepoix (French), sofrito (Spanish), soffritto (Italian) or even włoszczyzna (Polish)—then added roasted tomatoes and red wine along with the short ribs. Ninety minutes later this ultimate comfort food dinner was meltingly tender, and looked (and tasted) stunning served alongside my friend Kathryn's saffron rice.

Red Wine and Tomato-Braised Short Ribs

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped in 1/2" dice
3 stalks celery, cut diagonally into 1/4" slices
3 medium carrots, halved and cut in 1/2" slices
3 large cloves garlic, minced
4 c. roasted tomatoes
2 c. robust red wine
4 lbs. short ribs
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, stemmed and minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Salt to taste

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large braising pot or Dutch oven. When it shimmers, add onions and sauté until translucent, then add celery, carrots and garlic and sauté until tender. Add tomatoes and red wine and bring to a simmer. Add short ribs and herbs, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 90 minutes to two hours until meat is very tender and almost falling off the bones. Add salt to taste and serve over saffron rice or with boiled or mashed potatoes.

* Conventionally raised cattle—those that are born and live on pasture for their first few months and are then moved to feedlots where they're typically fed a diet of GMO corn and soy laced with antibiotics and sometimes growth hormones—are generally slaughtered at one year to 18 months old, depending on their weight.

Photo of Oregon Country Beef cattle at a feedlot from Newport Avenue Market in Bend. Photo of Carman Ranch cattle from its website.