Chef Marta

M2040004BBC is proud to be in a working relationship with Chef Marta. She came to us through a member of our group. Although we started late in the season working with her, she has already came up with a few outstanding recipes from the produce that we grow. It is our intent to come up with creative ways for our customers to cook with the items that we produceM2030007 and sell. I asked Chef Marta for a brief bio and was so impressed by the love and dedication to local healthy food. How lucky can we get!!!

“I have always enjoyed cooking and experimenting with new foods and cuisines and have cooked for my family since I was old enough to reach the stove.  I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and have been called upon to prepare food for many Church events, and found that I enjoy the challenge of feeding large numbers of people. As my children have gotten older and I have more time to pursue a career, I decided to combine my medical background with my love of good food and a desire to serve. I have taught basic cooking classes for children and adults, but I wanted to offer classes for folks who need to change their diets for medical reasons and don’t know how. I attended Northwest Culinary Institute in M2030009Vancouver and graduated in September of 2013, and now I run ChefMarta from my basement kitchen, offering catering services as well as group and individual cooking classes.
 
My basic food and health philosophy is that if we eat the foods our bodies were made to eat–animals and things that grow from the earth–in as close to their original form as possible, we will be M2040003healthy.  When we adulterate those foods by over-processing and trying to change them, we are not healthy. My menus focus on fresh, natural ingredients, and I believe in butter and chocolate. I refuse to use artificial color or flavor in any of my dishes, and I try to avoid preservatives as much as possible.”

 

“Southern” Style Collards
Serves four as a smallish side dish or two collard-lovers
In the South, Collards are cooked with bacon or ham until they are very well done. This recipe has the traditional flavors, but the greens are cooked until just barely done, preserving more of the nutrients.
Ingredients:
¼ lb Bacon—Uncured Applewood smoked, if you can find it, but you can really use any bacon except a very peppery bacon
1 bunch (about 1 lb) Collards
1 medium yellow onion
Dusting of white pepper
1 ½ t of good balsamic vinegar (optional)

Instructions:
1) Chop your bacon into ½ inch pieces or smaller.
2) Peel and dice the onion to a medium dice.
3) Prepare collards:
Wash the collards under cold running water. Do not dry. If they are very dirty or have aphids (which is a good thing—it means they are not laden with pesticides) then soak them in a large bowl of cold water with a handful of salt for ten minutes and then rinse.
Fold the leaf in half lengthwise so that the spine is sticking out, and cut off the spine. You could just cut off the stem and leave the spine in. It is edible, but much tougher than the rest of the leaf and will require more cooking.
Make a pile of leaves, then roll tightly into a log.
Cut across the log every ¼ inch until you have a bunch of long pieces, then make one cut along the length of your pile, cutting them all in half.

 

 

4) Cook the bacon until the fat is rendered out and the pieces are crisp.
5) Add the onion, and sauté in the bacon fat with the bacon until it is soft and translucent, but not brown.
5) Pour off half of the fat, leaving about 2 T in the pan with the bacon and onion.
6) Add the collards to the pan. There will still be enough water clinging to them to provide enough steam to cook them. If you prepared them earlier and they are dry, add 2-3 T of water to the pan. Cover the pan and turn the burner to low.
7) Cook about 5 minutes, then stir them with the onions and bacon. Add a light dusting of white pepper and taste. They are done and edible at this point, but if you want them more tender add a little more water and cook them until you like them, checking every five minutes.
8) This is optional, and not done in the South: add 1 ½ t of good, aged balsamic vinegar and toss the greens together and serve
If you were in Alabama or Arkansas, you would skip the vinegar add some chicken stock and a ham hock at this point and cook for an hour or two. If in Louisiana, you could add some sweet and perhaps hot peppers, and maybe some hot sausages. Here in the West, we tend to like things a bit fresher.

“Northwest” style Collards
If you are vegan or prefer to avoid bacon, you can still enjoy Collards. Try them with sweet Walla Walla onions and some Marsala wine
Ingredients:
2 medium Sweet Walla Walla onions
1 bunch (about 1 lb) Collard greens
2 T mild olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic
½ t salt
¾ cup Marsala wine*
Directions:
1) Slice the onions into ¼ inch strips.
2) Prepare the Collards as above

3) Finely chop the garlic or put it through a garlic press.
4) Sauté the onions until well caramelized.
5) Add the garlic, salt, and marsala. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes.
6) Add the Collards, cover and cook on low for 5 minutes.
7) Remove the lid and cook another three minutes to evaporate some of the liquid.
8) Taste and add a little more salt of you think it needs it. Serve and anjoy
*You could use a white wine instead of the Marsala, and that’s good, too, but different and much less sweet than the Marsala.

Cucumbers

it’s so interesting to see what’s coming into the market now from our different growers. We have Deloris who lives out in Hockinson and has been harvesting her many varieties of cucumbers. As a matter of fact she brought a very interesting one to our market meeting called Snake cucumber. Very light in color and very long. A little over a foot. She sliced it up then handed out samples for the gang. What a lovely treet. .

After that, Laurie brought out her tiny Mexican sour cucumbers. No bigger then your thumb nail but oh so chunchy. Then when at SC market, Deloris brought in her Perisan , Lemon, Boothly cumcbers. I think Itailia brought the English kind. This is what I love about our Co-Op. Many different varieties coming in that you had no idea what’s out there.

Saving my Peas

 Here is a tip for saving pea seeds. If you have several varieties going at once make sure you plant  about 50 feet away from one another to make sure of seed purity. Bag the flowers before they open. Remove the bags once fruit sets and mark the stems that have been bagged. Let the peas mature on the vine, until the pods dry up, open them and gather the seeds. Do not let pods open on their own. Store them in a paper envelope.

Beans…some people say you need 150 feet between varieties to prevent cross pollination but hard to say. Like peas you simply let them dry on the vine then gather the dry beans.

 

 

 

 

A Very Busy Week

Now that we finished the month of June in Camas, we are turning our sights on the Legacy, Salmon Creek markets. Oh ya, we’re still doing Camas this week also. We have two new members who are going to supply us with rhubarb.  This is great because no one in the co-op has rhubarb.  They are definitely going to corner the market. Bad news is that they only want to sell in Camas. Maybe with a little urging from our followers, let’s get them on the West side as well!!!!!  

Coming this Tuesday to Legacy Market, Jarren will be providing his specialty of Collard greens. I’m trying to get his to open up and give me some of his Southern recipes. When he does, it will be on the web site. Rob and Laurie will also be providing greens and maybe blueberries. Let’s cross our fingers. Deloris is hitting it out of the park this week with her purple peacock broccoli, Ursa and Red Russian kale, golden snow peas, Italian parsley, mini Napa cabbages, Boothby’s  cucumbers. I haven’t heard from the rest of the group, but it’s starting to smell like a stir fry in someone’s future.  When the gang starts reporting in with their harvest for this week, more information will be coming your way.

collard greens stir fry

 

 

 

Morel Mushroom Hunting

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Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to go mushroom hunting in the Portland area.  I was able to sign up with a group, through www.meetup.com and lead by an expert in mushrooming.  This is not my first trip with this group.  In the fall we meet at a Fred Meyers and proceeded to caravan our way over to the Washugal area for chantrelles.  This time we were after morels, whose season lasts till early June.
Our group was limited to 15, but more than 60 people were on the waiting list. If you plan to go out on your own, make sure that you are picking a morel mushroom and not a false morel.  If you are still queasy about going alone, then you might want to join a mycological society (mushroom group).  There is a small fee, and they have outings with experts.
What a great way to spend a weekend. There were many types of mushrooms on our hunt, but it was difficult to know which ones were edible and which ones were poisonous. How would you know a true morel from a false morel when hunting? When you find a morel, cut the morel in half and see if it’s full or hollow. If it’s full then you know it’s a false morel. It is said that species of the morel family hold toxic chemicals in them, called Gyromitrin. Some mushroom hunters say that you can digest a properly cooked false morel, but research says that if you eat false morels that are not treated carefully, that you can have serious side effects. These side effects are diarrhea, severe headaches, vomiting, nausea, extreme dizziness, and even possible death. With that said here is a great recipe for you.

Fried Morel Mushrooms

fried mushroom

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Morel Mushrooms
  • 2 c. Self-Rising Cornmeal
  • 1 c. Self-Rising Flour
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 c. Water

Instructions

  1. Brush and remove dirt etc. from Morel mushrooms.
  2. Cut Morel Mushrooms in half, lengthwise.
  3. Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, and black pepper in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  4. Pour oil into frying pan, heat on medium high temp until oil begins to bubble.
  5. Dip Morel mushrooms in water, and toss in cornmeal mixture.
  6. Drop Morel Mushrooms in hot oil and fry until they’re golden brown in color. ( When frying, flip only once or twice, too much flipping can cause breading to fall off mushrooms.)

 

 

Bees

  What does it feel like to think like a bee?  “They are very much more respectful and busy with the environment then humans. They don’t spend a lot of time thinking about thinking like people do” say scientist Marla Spivak.   Bees are the most important pollinators of our vegetables, fruits, flowers and crops like alfalfa hay that feed our farm animals.  More than 1/3 of world production is dependent on bee pollination’s.  In parts of the world where there are no bees, or plant varieties that are not attracted to bees, people are hired to pollinate plants by hand. Tomato growers often pollinate by hand with a device called a tomato tickler.  The pollen within a tomato flower is held securely within the male part of the flower called the anther. To release this pollen is to vibrate it, bumble bees are the few in the world who can hold onto a flower and vibrate it. They vibrate the flower the pollen gathers all over the bee’s body and she takes it home for food. Tomato growers now put colonies inside their greenhouses to get more efficient pollination and better production of tomatoes.  Cucumbers, squash, melons and any vine vegetables all need bees. Even coffee you drink is dependent upon bees. Unfortunately they are in trouble. Seven years ago colonies began to collapse in the United State.  Bees actually have been in decline since WWII because of our farming practices. We stopped planting cover crops of clover and alfalfa. Clover and alfalfa are highly nutritious food plants for bees.  Also, we started using pesticides and herbicides to kill of weeds in our farming practices. Some of these weeds are flowering plants that bees needed for survival. We started planting larger mono culture crops of corn and soy beans. These farms that used to have bees are now food deserts. Researchers have discovered pollen that is brought home from the bees have pesticides in it.  It’s a big struggle keeping bee colony numbers up. Bee keepers all over the United States lose about 30% of their colonies. What can we do?  Plant flowers and keep them free of pesticides. When bees have accesses to good nutrition, we have accesses to good nutrition.

  What does it feel like to think like a bee?  “They are very much more respectful and busy with the environment then humans. They don’t spend a lot of time thinking about thinking like people do” say scientist Marla Spivak.   Bees are the most important pollinators of our vegetables, fruits, flowers and crops like alfalfa hay that feed our farm animals.  More than 1/3 of world production is dependent on bee pollination’sBumbleBee2.  In parts of the world where there are no bees, or plant varieties that are not attracted to bees, people are hired to pollinate plants by hand. Tomato growers often pollinate by hand with a device called a tomato tickler.  The pollen within a tomato flower is held securely within the male part of the flower called the anther. To release this pollen is to vibrate it, bumble bees are the few in the world who can hold onto a flower and vibrate it. They vibrate the flower the pollen gathers all over the bee’s body and she takes it home for food. Tomato growers now put colonies inside their greenhouses to get more efficient pollination and better production of tomatoes.  Cucumbers, squash, melons and any vine vegetables all need bees. Even coffee you drink is dependent upon bees. Unfortunately they are in trouble. Seven years ago colonies began to collapse in the United State.  Bees actually have been in decline since WWII because of our farming practices. We stopped planting cover crops of clover and alfalfa. Clover and alfalfa are highly nutritious food plants for bees.  Also, we started using pesticides and herbicides to kill of weeds in our farming practices. Some of these weeds are flowering plants that bees needed for survival. We started planting larger mono culture crops of corn and soy beans. These farms that used to have bees are now food deserts. Researchers have discovered pollen that is brought home from the bees have pesticides in it.  It’s a big struggle keeping bee colony numbers up. Bee keepers all over the United States lose about 30% of their colonies. What can we do?  Plant flowers and keep them free of pesticides. When bees have accesses to good nutrition, we have accesses to good nutrition.

Finding the Elsuvie Chanterelle Mushroom

  It began in 1902 and lasted for the next 50 years.  Flames shot up 300 feet high with wind gust whipping at 40 mph, sparks leaping over 1/2 mile wide, fire spreading 20 miles in 12 hours. This was Washington’s largest wildfire that covered over 238.00 acres of forested land that laid between Stevenson and Vancouver.  It was called the Yacolt Burn of 1902, named after the community that lay at the Western edge.  Between the years of 1902 and 1952, there were 25 conflagrations that occurred inside the boundaries of the first burn. They are known as re-burns and added continued devastation to the forest. 38 people died and 148 families lost their homes.  During the 30’s and 40’s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were the major work force that built lookouts, planted 16 millions seedlings. In the 50’s Washington used inmates from the Larch Correction center, where they helped with building telephones lines and felling snags within the old burn.    

  If your curious about edible mushrooms that grow in the wild, then this adventure is for you.  We met up in the parking lot of Fred Meyer off of Mill Plain in Vancouver to meet the group from Portland called Portland Mushroom Hunters. From there after several missed turns and roads to nowhere, we made it to our final destination high up on Livingston Mtn. road in the Gifford Pinchot NF.  We then turned off onto a rather wide gravel forest service road for another 1/2 mile. 

 Our first search area proved to be the best despite the late season hunt. We found only one Chanterelle; however this location appeared to provide the best environment for mushrooms.  It is lush and overgrown with varied vegetation  of a dense thick forest.

  IMG_0478[1]What to bring; basket, knife or scissors, small brush to flick off dirt, rain pants and coat, boots, whistle, compass, light snacks, water, possibly first aide kit and flashlight. Word of caution, if you bring home some mushrooms and are unsure if they are safe, research them as much as possible. If you are going to try them, eat a little bit and save the rest in the fridge, in case you need to see a doctor.    

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Did you know?

53039_Prunes_2_t18053039_Prunes_3_t640Did you know that two men were mostly credited with establishing plum tress in Clark County? Arther W. Hidden and S.W. Brown. Brown, who worked for the U.S. Land Office, planted the first trees in a small nursery that he maintained near the intersection of East 19th and D streets starting in 1861 or 1862. Hidden started getting interested in commercial production of dried fruit in 1876. Before planting his orchard at what was then West 26th and Main streets, he asked his friend Brown for advice on what trees to plant.

According to a 1928 story in The Columbian, Brown told him to plant apples.

“But Arthur Hidden could think of nothing but prunes,” the story said.

Prunes are basically plums that are capable of being dried. They also have seeds that don’t attach to the surrounding meat of the fruit, unlike plums.

In order to commercially market fruit, Hidden needed a product that could be easily dried and preserved for the shipping process, and prunes seemed ideal for that purpose.

He ended up planting a 3.5-acre orchard in 1876 and soon after launched what became a very successful drying and shipping operation.

In 1883, Hidden built Washington’s first regular prune dryer, which produced 5,000 pounds of prunes that year.

And after that, Clark County’s prune fate was sealed.

“From the time that Hidden harvested his first crop of Clark County prunes, neighbors began following his example. By 1888, Vancouver prune orchards were marketing 200,000 pounds of dried prunes a year in the county’s eight commercial dryers — and more than 300 acres of land was covered with prune trees.

In the early 1890s, prune growers had organized themselves into the Fruit Growers Union as a means to help further market the product.

By the early 1900s, especially before World War I, Clark County prunes were being shipped to Russia, Belgium, London and several other European ports.

In the early 1890s, prune growers had organized themselves into the Fruit Growers Union as a means to help further market the product. Prune production continued to rule Clark County through the 1920s, with production in some years spiking at 14 million and 17 million pounds.

As the economy began to tank and the Great Depression set in, the market price for prunes began to drop.

That, coupled with several years of unfavorable growing conditions and an attack by an insect called a thrip that destroyed buds and fruit, caused prune production in the county to drop from 9 million pounds in 1929 to 1.2 million pounds by 1937-1938.

Production continued to decline through World War II and beyond, and by the time Kunze and Beaudoin arrived in the area, the industry was heading toward full collapse, they said.

“There’s really not much of a market left for them today,” Beaudoin said. “A lot of people associate it with a laxative effect, and they think of it as a kind of old people food.”

Still, a few aficionados of the humble prune remain, and the two local farmers continue to cater to them, in part because of a sense of and dedication to the region’s history, Kunze said.

“When I came here, Fruit Valley was filled with prunes, but at that time industry was also coming in, and new houses were being built, and after that the prune industry shrank to almost nothing,” Kunze said.

Rferences: The Columbian

BBC Grower Terri Gillingham on the importance of community gardens

Just over a week ago, American Building Community (ABC) hosted a garden party and open house to celebrate the completion of the Village Plaza Garden, a brand-new (and absolutely beautiful!) community garden in the Rose Village Neighborhood.

ABC received a grant from the Walmart Foundation to construct the Village Plaza Garden and several other community gardens in the area known as the Fourth Plain Corridor. Although this seed money was essential, the message from all of the speakers at the Garden’s grand opening was clear: the Village Plaza garden was a true community effort. An army of enthusiastic volunteers provided the true power behind the project and helped create something truly special.

BBC grower Terri Gillingham has been deeply involved in the project. At the grand opening, she shared her thoughts on the importance of community gardens. We wanted to share them with all of you as well. Here’s the text from Terri’s speech:

I have been gardening since I was a little girl. I can’t imagine not being able to garden, to get my hands in the dirt and grow something, especially my own food. When I learned about American Building Community’s garden projects I knew that I just had to join their efforts in creating this garden.

My involvement with the creation of this garden has been so much fun. I loved the whole experience…the meetings, the planning, the work parties, and soon the planting of seeds and plants, and mentoring of new vegetable gardeners. But the most wonderful thing is the sense of community that this little garden has created in this neighborhood. It has brought neighbors together all working toward improving their food security and creating a greener landscape while cultivating neighborhood pride and a safer place to live.

Studies have been conducted that prove that gardens and landscaped sidewalks deter crime and vandalism. Greenscapes create more foot traffic for businesses. One study I read stated that people will stop and look in a window that has flower boxes outside or plants visible from the windows and will go in to shop.  Plants talk to our hearts and our sense of security and comfort.

Growing food is our heritage. Thomas Jefferson’s vision for the new country was an agrarian society, a society based on farming. It is sad how far the country has strayed from that idea. We have children and parents who think vegetables come from the grocery store on Styrofoam trays encased in plastic wrap and who are afraid of earthworms. During World War I, the government stated that it was the patriotic duty of every American to grow a War Garden to feed their families so that American farmers could send their vegetables to the troops overseas. When World War II came the government asked Americans again to grow a Victory garden to feed their families.

During these trying economic times, again people have returned to that idea of growing their own food. I believe that every person should have access to healthy, nutritious, fresh food. But vegetables are more expensive, so many families have to choose cheap processed meals filled with preservatives, additives, fat, sugars, salt, and flavor enhancers instead of vegetables and fruits. This is why community gardens are so important. They give people the ability to take control of the food they eat. For just a few dollars, a family can plant a variety of vegetables that will feed their family for months. Plus they get exercise, fresh air, and sunshine, which is good for a healthy body and mind. This community garden will also grow friendships. Gardeners love to visit and help new gardeners by sharing their knowledge and secrets of how to grow the very best.

My grandmother had a huge vegetable garden. I remember sitting on the back porch in the morning shelling peas for the noon dinner on the ranch. She said nothing beats the taste or the nutrition of a vegetable right out of the garden. That garden of my grandmother’s cultivated my love of gardening, respect for nature, and created a close bond with my grandmother who is now 104. She grew her last vegetable garden at age 96. Gardens do strengthen family bonds. Working in the garden gives families a time out of their busy scattered lives to work together as a family unit towards a goal that benefits each member. There is time to talk, play, and learn in the garden.

 These are just a few reasons why little neighborhood community gardens are so important.  This garden will have an impact by changing lives and making this little portion of Vancouver a greener and healthier place to work, play, and live.