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A new home for our blog

Dear wonderful readers-

We have decided to move our blog to our own website.  Please come visit us there for past and future blog posts.

Your blog authors at Our Home Works,

Amy & Matt

The Country Cat in Portland

Our weekend trip to Portland was successful on all accounts.  In addition to picking up our beans at the Hillsdale Farmer’s Market, we also spent time with some of our closest friends, picked up a Harsch crock at the Mirador Community Store, and ate dinner at The Country Cat.  The Country Cat was a recommendation from Eugene friends (thanks Brian and Caroline!) and it did not disappoint.  We thought that it was a bit like Belly in atmosphere, menu, and price.  And in case you don’t know how we feel about Belly, read about it here.  Matt ordered their special which was a flat iron steak sliced thin with chanterelles, andouille sausage, and potatoes.  I ordered two starters – a citrus salad with avocado and chesnut and potato dumplings.  We also placed two orders of their braised greens for the table.  They cooked the heck out of them, which is not my style, but they were good, good, good.  Another standout dish at the table was the fried chicken.  The only complaint was not getting any dark meat.

In summary…  I was more blown away by Belly, but our meals were delicious.  If there weren’t so many great restaurants in Portland, we would probably return soon.  And like many Portland restaurants, it is kid friendly.

Overall, I am really liking this trend (can we call it a trend?) of restaurants serving good local food at reasonable prices.  Do you know of other places in the Northwest doing the same?  Please tell us about it in the comments!

PS – If you are wondering about the Harsch crock, we already have a batch of sauerkraut brewing in it.  I am sure you will be hearing more about that later.  I learned about Harsch crocks from Culinaria Eugenius, another Eugene local food blog.  I have to say these crocks are really cool.

Winter squash soup

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We made our first winter squash soup of the year with the Sibley Squash that I picked up at the Hillsdale Farmer’s Market this morning .  Our main purpose of going to the Hillsdale Farmer’s Market was to procure some Ayers Creek Farm heirloom beans but I couldn’t resist when I saw this beautiful squash at their stand while waiting in line to pay for my many bags of beans.  Several people even commented on my arms full of beans.  I overheard someone say “now there’s a bean lover”.  Guilty as charged, but I do have a good excuse in that we don’t live in Portland, right?

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I couldn’t wait to make this when I first saw the photo of borlotti beans in tomato sauce over polenta in the Heirloom Beans cookbook by Steven Sando of Rancho Gordo.  You are probably wondering when we will get sick of beans.  We have made pot beans, and ham and bean soup over the last couple of weeks, and now cranberry beans in tomato sauce over polenta.  And we haven’t even told you about all of our bean meals….

Would you think I was crazy if I told you that beans have become one of my comfort foods?  Our cold, dreary Northwest winter weather has a way of making me want comfort food like soup and vegetable braises, and beans seem to make their way into these dishes quite often.  It’s hard to think of a better comfort food – they’re healthy, relatively low in calories, and they go in just about anything.

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Crustless quiche is one of my favorite go to breakfast dishes for company – it looks beautiful, tastes delicious, and it’s all done at once.  What’s not to love?  I developed this crustless quiche recipe a few years ago by experimenting with ingredients that go well together.  Quiche is really forgiving that way, which makes it really adaptable to eating seasonally and locally.  Our local or regional ingredients include eggs from Laughingstock Farms, delicata squash from our CSA, and cream from Organic Valley.

Besides fresh, free range eggs, and seasonal produce, the key to a crustless quiche or savory tart is Herbes de Provence.  We use the Herbes de Provence from Dean and Deluca, although it would be simple enough to make your own.  The herbs included in their mixture are savory, fennel, thyme, rosemary and lavender, with the fennel playing a leading role.

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Bolognese sauce

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We were looking for an easy meal afterreturning from a long weekend in Bandon.  And I didn’t want to go to the grocery store, so pasta with bolognese sauce it was.  Typically bolognese sauce simmers for several hours, but I found a recipe in Cooks Illustrated last year that cuts the time way back (to about 30 minutes) and achieves similar results.  It makes a pretty big batch, so we freeze the leftovers for lasagna.  We used some of our home canned tomatoes and ground beef from Deck Family Farm to make it a local meal.

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The holidays are over, but I still wanted some local cranberries.  Every time I am in the produce section at the grocery store, I look at the box in hopes to see Oregon cranberries.  Instead I walk away disgusted that a grocery store in Eugene buys cranberries from Wisconsin.  What the heck?

We did manage to pick up a pound of local cranberries through Eugene Local Foods right before Thanksgiving, but I didn’t feel like I got my cranberry fix for the year.  After reading the Culinaria Eugenius post about most Oregon cranberries being shipped away, I did not have high hopes on our trip to Bandon.

We paid a visit to Misty Meadows, an Oregon coast producer and retailer specializing in cranberry jams.  While completing our purchase of cranberry jam, gooseberry jam, tayberry jam, and some local frozen huckleberries , I asked whether they sold frozen cranberries.  They suggested that we look in Coffee Break, a weekly publication of classified ads published by the local newspaper, Bandon Western World.  Sure enough there was an ad for organic cranberries from Brush Prairie Farm.  I was giddy and could hardly wait for them to call me back.  Eventually, we arranged a rendezvous and we are coming home with 10 lbs of organic cranberries.  I will probably make cranberry ketchup and cranberry salsa.  If you have other ideas, please put them in the comments.

I am encouraged to find a farm that is willing to sell smaller quantities directly.  We are hoping that some of their cranberries can find their way to Eugene next year.

They still have a small quantity available this year.  If you plan to be around Bandon in the next couple of weeks and are in need of a cranberry fix, contact Brush Prairie to see if they have any available.  If you are interested in how cranberries are grown, harvested, and packaged, they also have a beautiful set of slides on their website that chronicle the process.

Read about other local food and food related sources here.

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