Make the Most of Citrus Season with Citrus Marmalade

While the occurrence of scurvy, a severe deficiency of vitamin C, has been relatively rare in the U.S. population during my lifetime, that never stopped my mother from bringing it up as she poured us our glass of orange juice made from frozen concentrate every morning alongside our cold cereal—Grape Nuts or Wheaties for me, Frosted Flakes or Cap'n Crunch for my brothers.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, most of our fresh citrus comes from California these days, aside from the rare hardy Meyer lemons that some regional growers are beginning to experiment with. And what a plethora, a symphony, a cacophony of citrus it is, from oranges—not just navels but cara cara, blood oranges, valencias and more—tangerines, tangelos and mandarins to lemons, limes, grapefruit, key limes and kumquats. Then there are the more rare but becoming-more-available bumpy-skinned makrut limes, kaffir limes and finger limes (a cheffy favorite with their tiny jewel-like beads inside), plus crazy yellow-fingered buddha's hands, yuzu, limequats and giant pomelos, to name just a few.

For me, the dark days in the depths of winter are brightened by their brilliant colors and sparkling flavor. I make a point of throwing together a batch of preserved Meyer lemons that will punch up everything from roasted vegetables to stews, salads and grain dishes. The last couple of years Dave has concocted a masterful citrus marmalade, combining a couple of recipes from the New York Times along with his own brushstrokes of genius.

I think we're going to be safe from scurvy's scourge this year—Mom would be relieved.

Citrus Marmalade

2 blood oranges
1 navel orange
3 lemons
4 c. granulated sugar
1⁄4 c. fresh lemon juice

Wash the citrus well under warm running water. Using a sharp knife, slice off the top and bottom of the citrus so it sits sturdily on the cutting board. Halve the fruit top to bottom and remove any visible seeds. Lay the half on the cutting board and cut each half crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices (white membrane and all), removing any seeds you might have missed.

Measure the volume of sliced fruit and place in a bowl. Cover with the same volume of water, keeping track of the amount of water you add. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let this sit for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. (This will help extract the pectin slowly as well as soften the peels.)

Place a small plate in the freezer to chill. (You’ll use this later.)

Place the peels, fruit and water in a large pot. Add enough water to bring the total amount of water added to 6 cups and bring to a strong simmer over medium–high heat. Cook the citrus until the peels have begun to soften and turn translucent, and the liquid has reduced by about three-fourths, 40-50 minutes.

Add sugar and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. As the marmalade cooks and thickens, stir more frequently. Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated, another 40-50 minutes.

As it cooks, the liquid will go from a rapid boil with smaller bubbles to a slower boil with larger bubbles. At this point it's important to stir constantly along the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching. (Be sure to watch out for splattering.) Add lemon juice and continue to cook.

To test the jam's thickness, take out the plate you put in the freezer and spoon some onto the chilled plate and let it sit on the counter for 1-2 minutes. Drag your finger through it—if the jam is done it will hold its shape and not be watery or runny. If not, cook a few more minutes.

Divide among jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top, and seal immediately. You can preserve the jars in a water bath canner (follow directions on the canner), or allow to cool on the counter, then store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Top photo: Marmalade on Dave's homemade organic rye sourdough, a match made in heaven!

Sheet Pan Supper: Gochujang Root Vegetables with Chicken Thighs


synchronicity Noun; pron: syn·​chro·​nic·​i·​ty, siŋ-krə-ˈni-sə-tē; plural: synchronicities
1: the quality or fact of being synchronous.
2: the coincidental occurrence of events.


I love it when I'm walking with a friend—in this instance with my neighbor Ann, a professor of Asian art history, a professional soprano and an expert plantswoman—and we're talking, as we often do, about a favorite recipe. In this case, it was a sheet pan supper she'd made recently and, as we rambled behind our dogs through the neighborhood, I realized I had all the main ingredients in my fridge to make it that night.

Synchronicity, indeed!

When I arrived home I looked up the recipe online and found it was by New York Times writer Yewande Komolafe, who wrote "this recipe calls for a wintry mix of squash and turnips, but equal amounts of root vegetables like carrots, potatoes and beets, or lighter vegetables like cauliflower, brussels sprouts or broccoli will work well, too."

I treasure this homemade gochujang recipe.

I had two very large garnet yams and two medium-sized rutabagas on hand, so I had roots aplenty, plus some carrots I'd just pulled from my neighbor Bill's garden earlier that day. The rutabagas still had their hefty leaves attached, so I chopped those up into bite-sized pieces, too, and threw them in with the rest of the vegetables.

Of course I had the exceptional gochujang I'd made from my friend Denise's family recipe, and I tweaked the NYT recipe by adding several cloves of garlic, a spoonful of locally made Jorinji miso and a couple of glugs of fish sauce to the sauce, plus a splash of fish sauce in the salad dressing.

The real genius of this recipe—thank you, Ms. Komolafe, I'll now be doing this with other dishes—is topping the roasted vegetables with a salad of lightly pickled radishes and scallion greens just before serving. I lucked out there, too, by pulling from my veg bin a gorgeous black radish from that selfsame CSA share.

If you have all the ingredients on hand, so much the better, but this is worth shopping for, too, and comes together in about an hour, most of which is roasting time

Gochujang Roasted Root Vegetables and Chicken Thighs

For the roasted vegetables and chicken:
3 Tbsp. gochujang*
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 1 tablespoon)
1 Tbsp. white miso
4 large cloves garlic, pressed in a garlic press
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 lbs. garnet yams and rutabaga chopped into 1-inch pieces, about 5 loose cups (see above to substitute other vegetables)
10 scallions, roots trimmed, green and white/light green parts separated, sliced into 3" lengths
Kosher salt
3-4 good-sized, bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

For the salad:
1 bunch radishes, about 10 oz., or 1 med. large black radish, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. fish sauce

Heat the oven to 425°.

Combine the gochujang, soy sauce, fish sauce, miso, ginger, pressed garlic and vegetable oil in a zip-lock bag. Add the yams, rutabagas and scallion whites (reserving the darker greens for the salad), and shake to coat with sauce. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Season the chicken with salt and toss to coat in whatever is left of the glaze in the bag. Arrange the chicken pieces skin-side up between the vegetables on the sheet. Roast until vegetables are tender, chicken is cooked through and the skin crispy and browned in spots, about 40 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, thinly chiffonade the scallion greens crosswise. Cut the radishes into thin rounds. If using a black radish, cut into approx. 1" sticks and slice thinly crosswise (do not peel—that black skin is very dramatic). In a small bowl, toss the sliced scallion greens and radishes with the rice vinegar, sesame oil and fish sauce. Season to taste with salt and set aside to lightly pickle, stirring occasionally to distribute dressing evenly.

When chicken and vegetables are done, remove the chicken to a plate and transfer vegetables to a platter. Quickly top vegetables with the drained quick-pickled salad, then place chicken thighs on top.

The recipe suggests serving this with steamed rice, but to me, root vegetables are generally fairly starchy, so I didn't feel it needed the rice.

* If you don't want to make your own gochujang, I've found Mother-in-Law's is a decent brand, but won't have nearly the depth of flavor you'll get from homemade.

Crustacean Celebration: Dungeness Crab Mac'n'Cheese, Anyone?

Most cookbooks are divided into categories. Some go with the "meat, vegetables, seafood" format where recipes are slotted by main ingredient. Others divvy them up by course: appetizers, entrées, desserts, etc. I even have one that has separated the recipes into occasions, like picnics, parties, casual dinners and, of course, formal dinners. The pages of that last section, by the way, are as pristine as the day it was bought at a garage sale, giving you an idea of how useful its various owners have found it.

But I propose a different way to categorize a cookbook, and that's by how you feel. Happy? Make some small plates of your favorite foods, including simple salads and desserts. Depressed? You could indulge in a big ol' chocolate cake by yourself, or treat your mood with lots of fish and kale for their Omega 3s and anti-oxidants.

Then there's sinful, which I'm sure someone has done already and titled "Food for Lovers" or some such, full of unctuous (good word for that category, right?), creamy, rich or sweet flavors that beg to be licked off the plate or some other surface—but we'll stop there.

A perfect food for that category, though one I doubt would normally be thought of, is crab. It's certainly rich and has a delicate sweetness on its own…think whole pieces of leg or joint eaten right out of the shell. But it takes on a whole different personality when folded into a creamy sauce or warmed in a bisque, its sweet character enhancing the lushness of the dish and the warm meat melting when it hits your tongue.

Which is why, when I saw that cooked whole crabs had hit a ridiculously low price per pound, and knowing that early season crab is the sweetest, I bought two and fantasized about using it in macaroni and cheese. While I was only planning on using the meat from one of them for the casserole, the price and my lack of inhibitions made me throw the meat from both into the noodles and sauce just before I slid it into the oven, and it was so worth it.

This recipe would be terrific for a special dinner, served in individual ramekins which, depending on your mood and the setting—say, in front of the fire on a lambskin rug?—could make for a memorable evening. Champagne, anyone?

Dungeness Crab Macaroni and Cheese

1 lb. dried pasta (penne or cavatappi are my faves)
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. flour
2 c. whole milk (or 1 c. cream or half-and-half plus 1 c. milk)
1/2 lb. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz. cream cheese or sour cream
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce (I use my homemade chile sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste
Meat from 1-2 crabs

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. While water is heating, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from burner and add flour, stirring to combine until there are no lumps remaining. Return to burner and cook on low heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Increase heat to medium and add milk (or milk and cream) and stir until it thickened. Then add cheese in handfuls, stirring each in until they're melted. Add cream cheese and stir until sauce is thick and creamy, then add hot sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to keep sauce warm until pasta is done, stirring occasionally.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook till al dente or a little less. Drain and put back in pasta pot, pour cheese sauce and crab meat over tthe top and fold in briefly to combine, keeping crab from breaking up too much. Pour into baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes.

The Gift of Friendship in the Shape of a Cake

As I do every year in the days leading up to Christmas, I’ve been craving this Triple Ginger Cake from the inimitable Mary Fishback of Hawthorne’s venerable Bread & Ink Cafe. She was also the creator of the Waffle Window and the pastry genius behind the quirky Rimsky-Korsakoffee House. Like her, it’s deeply flavorful, brilliantly intriguing and stunningly gorgeous. She shared the recipe some twenty-plus years ago and I’ve treasured it ever since.

Bread and Ink Cafe, a landmark on Souttheast Hawthorne Boulevard for 40 years.

A delightfully funny story she told me about this cake was that when it was originally featured on the menu at the café, it was described as Prune Gingerbread and sat forlornly in the kitchen waiting for someone, anyone to order it. Alas, almost no one did.

Realizing that perhaps the inclusion of prunes as an ingredient in the name might be off-putting to customers, Mary astutely changed it to Triple Ginger Cake for the combination of fresh, ground and crystallized forms of the root that went into it.

From then on, whenever it appeared on the menu, this richly warming dessert flew out of the kitchen, remaining a classic for years afterward.

Triple Ginger Cake

Adapted from Chez Panisse and Gourmet magazine by Mary Fishback

1 c. pitted, dried prunes
1/2 c. cognac, armagnac or brandy
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger root, grated finely
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. cayenne
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 c. unsulfured molasses
1/2 c. espresso or strong coffee
4 whole eggs, beaten lightly
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. crystallized ginger, chopped finely

Preheat oven to 350°.

Butter a 10-inch springform pan or bundt cake pan, then dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess.

In a small saucepan cook prunes, liquor and grated gingerroot over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until almost all liquid is evaporated. Remove pan from heat.

In a mixing bowl sift flour, baking soda, spices and salt; whisk to combine. In a stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar on high speed until fluffy. Reduce speed and add molasses; combine well. Add espresso, flour mixture, eggs and vanilla until batter is just combined. Reserve 3 tablespoons of chopped ginger, then turn batter into large mixing bowl and stir in remainder of chopped ginger and prune mixture.

Turn batter into prepared pan and, if using springform pan, sprinkle top with reserved ginger. If using bundt pan, sprinkle bottom of bundt pan with reserved ginger, then pour in batter or sprinkle the cake with chopped ginger after baking (as in top photo). Bake 1 hour and 10-20 minutes, or until skewer tests clean.

Mary recommends serving it with creme fraiche and sliced kumquats; or baked lemon creams; or ice cream and caramelized pears or apples. I find it perfectly satisfying all by itself, perhaps with a steaming cup of coffee or ice-cold glass of milk.

Crab for Christmas and Three Recipes to Help You Celebrate!

For the first time in several years, Dungeness crab season will open for Oregon's coastal crabbers on December 16th, in time for what could be a banner year for the state's fleet of 424 mostly individual family-owned boats. Delayed twice already due to insufficient amounts of meat in the crabs tested—crabbers were hoping for a December 1 opener—the go-ahead from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) was given for the coast from the border with California to Cape Foulweather (midway between Lincoln City and Newport).


A crab opening before Christmas can make a huge difference
to Oregon's Dungeness fleet.


Asked what it will mean to the fleet to have Dungeness season open this early, Rick Goché of Sacred Sea Tuna and captain of the fishing vessel Peso II, didn't mince words.

"After a summer when there was no salmon fishing, a poor tuna seaon and a shrimp season that saw the lowest prices in more than a decade, a crab opening before Christmas can make a huge difference," he said. "For many in the fleet, savings are gone, bills are late, and finances are dire. It's a hard thing to try explaining to young children why Christmas presents are few."

"A start before Christmas can change all that," Goché said. "Additionally, a pre-Christmas start tends to support a higher starting price, since consumers are more likely to inlude crab in their seasonal celebrations."

Good news for the Oregon fleet is, at least temporarily, bad news for California and Washington's crabbing industry. California's Dungeness season will be delayed until at least December 21 due to the large number of migrating humpback whales that regulators worry could get entangled in fishing gear. The delay for the North Oregon coast and Washington state is to allow crabs to develop better "fill" or meat yield, which should be resolved by the end of December, hopefully in time for New Year's celebrations.

Assuming the catch is plentiful, there should be a good supply of Dungeness crab available for holiday gatherings. I know I'll be thinking of those Oregon fishing families Rick talked about as I buy my crab this year, hoping their holidays are bountiful.

Hot artichoke and Dungeness crab dipHot Artichoke and Crab Dip

Adapted from New Seasons Market

1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts
1/4 c. capers
6 oz. crab meat (fresh is better and cheaper if you buy a whole crab and crack it yourself)
1 c. parmesan, finely grated
1 c. mayonnaise
6 crackers, crushed, or Panko (optional)

Drain and chop artichokes. If using canned crab, drain well. Crush crackers to fine crumbs with a rolling pin. Combine crab with artichokes, capers, cheese and mayonnaise. Sprinkle with crushed crackers or Panko. Put in baking dish and bake for at least 20 minutes at 350°. When slightly browned and bubbly, serve with your favorite crackers, baguette slices or tortilla chips. (Also makes a great stuffing for salmon fillet or chicken breast.)


Dungeness crab crostiniCrab Crostini

1 baguette, sliced into 1/4" slices
Olive oil
1 crab, cooked and the meat removed (or 1 lb. crab meat)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. capers (optional)

Spread baguette slices on cookie sheet, brush one side with olive oil and toast under broiler. Turn over and toast other side. (Don't get distracted! I've burned many a sheet pan of bread by turning away.)

Put crab meat in a medium sized mixing bowl and add olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and capers (if desired). Mix lightly and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon onto toasted bread slices, arrange on platter and serve.


Dungeness crab cakesMichel's Thai-ish Crab Cakes

Yield: 15-18 small crab cakes

For the crab cakes:
Meat of two Dungeness crabs
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
1/4 c. minced red or green onion
1 serrano pepper, finely minced
2-4 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated parmesan
Zest of 1 lime
1/2-1 tsp. fish sauce, to taste
Juice of 1 lime
1 egg
Optional: Grated coconut, fresh mint or basil

Crumb coating:
1 c. bread crumbs, preferably Panko style
1/4 c. grated parmesan

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.

Combine crab meat, chopped pepper, onions, cilantro, bread crumbs, parmesan, lime zest and fish sauce. Whisk together lime juice and egg and stir into crab mixture.

Combine bread crumbs and parmesan and spread out on a plate or pie tin.

Scoop up about 1/4 cup of crab mixture and form into a plump cake about 2-inches in diameter (approx. 1” high). With your hands, compress the cake so it holds together. Gently place cake in the crumb mixture to coat bottom and sprinkle crumbs over top to coat (don’t flip the cake or it will fall apart). Gently compress cake between your hands to meld crumbs to the crab cake. (Keep cake plump; don’t flatten.)

Set each formed cake on lined baking sheet. When all cakes are formed, place sheet in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

Heat large sauté pan or griddle to medium-high heat and add olive oil, butter or mixture of both to generously coat pan. Gently place cakes in pan or on griddle, leaving plenty of room to turn them. Cook until golden brown and turn gently to brown other side, adding more oil or butter if needed. If cooking cakes in stages, keep cakes warm in oven until ready to serve.

Top photo from the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission website.

Anytime Meal-in-a-Dish: Baked Eggs

It was on a trip to Ashland decades ago that I first enjoyed these baked eggs. We'd booked a room at the Chanticleer Inn, a charming Craftsman bungalow near downtown and the Shakespeare Festival grounds (yes, it's still there). The night before was a performance of one of the Bard's plays—not the one where some inventive but misguided director thought it would be totally cool if a lunar module descended from the rafters in the middle of the performance—and we'd walked back to the inn in the moonlight, the next morning rising to have coffee and breakfast in the quaint dining room.

Now, a dish can burrow its way into your brain for lots of reasons—a romantic setting, great company, a few too many mimosas—but this one was alluring because of its simplicity. Just butter, eggs, cream and cheese baked to a golden finish, crispy yet creamy, the yolks still oozing.

I'd begged the recipe from the innkeepers and we'd made them often in the years since, but it had been a long time since we'd pulled the stained, yellowed card out of the recipe box. Fortunately Dave was in the mood for making something besides his (perfect) version of Julia Child's cheese omelet, and I was so glad he was. This is one memory that's stood the test of time, and one we'll be enjoying for another umpteen years.

Chanticleer Baked Eggs

Great for brunch for a crowd (baked in individual ramekins) or just for one, the recipe below is an adaptation of the original from the inn. You can also add green onions,  fresh chopped herbs, sautéed greens or potatoes, or chopped, cooked bacon before putting in the eggs…or just keep it simple. Come to think of it, this would be great with a breakfast salad, or for lunch or dinner!

1 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. cream or milk
2 eggs
Cheddar or other cheese(s), grated
Salt and pepper, to taste

Butter a 3 1/2-oz. ramekin or custard dish. Add cream or milk. Gently crack two large, farm-fresh eggs into the ramekin. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake in pre-heated 425° oven for 8-10 minutes or until white is firm and center still wiggles.

Winter Breakfast Warm-Up: Applesauce Bran Muffins from The Bread Lab

Back in my college days in the 1970s, bran muffins were lumped into the category of "hippie food" along with granola, hummus, brown rice and pretty much all whole foods.

Stewed prunes from Joy of Cooking, 1955 edition.

In my grandmother's time, bran and other foods, like prunes, were used as "digestive aids," a euphemism for their laxative properties. I remember my grandmother, a ranch wife in Eastern Oregon, putting up a dozen jars of stewed prunes every winter, the little black fruits doled out in moderation lest they prove too effective at their task.

I, of course, would sneak them out of their hiding place in her fridge whenever I thought she wasn't looking, enjoying their savory sweetness and even sipping the syrup they were preserved in—with no discernible ill effect as far as my grade-school self could tell.

(I was kind of a weird kid, foodwise, preferring having a slice of pie to a frosting-slathered cake, chewing on raw rhubarb to sucking on candy and generally favoring savory to sweet. But I digress.)

Because "it'll help you poop"
isn't all that appetizing.

After my grandmother's day, bran's laxative superpower slid easily into the "health food" arena, synchronizing nicely with the booming weight loss industry of the 1950s and 60s. One television commercial from the era advised that if you consumed bran cereal it would promote "youthful regularity," and an article on the contemporary history of bran stated that "multiple diets emerged on the scene promoting bran as either the foundation of a healthy nutrition plan, or the secret weapon for preserving a rapid weight-loss strategy."

Here at home these days, bran is a fortuitous byproduct of Dave's home-milling, a result of grinding whole wheat for his sourdough bread and then sifting it to remove some (but not all) of the bran to get the result he wants. The recipe below probably uses bran from the same sifting process—the Washington State University (WSU) Breadlab, a group of WSU researchers, are dedicated to developing better tasting, healthier, affordable grains to support small-scale organic farmers while not pricing people out of staple foods. (Read more about The Breadlab's origins.)

As for the dead-simple recipe below, apples of all stripes are available this time of year, so find a nice tart variety—we are currently in love with Ashmead's Kernel from Kiyokawa Family Orchards in Parkdale and Liberty apples from Queener Farm—and make your own applesauce, or simply core and dice one up, sauté it in a knob of butter until it's slightly tender, then mix into your muffin batter.

Applesauce Bran Muffins

From the WSU Breadlab: These apple sauce bran muffins are made with 100% unsifted Climate Blend, with a ton of extra bran added. We say it every few months, but we do not understand bran muffins that call for white flour. Our lab, along with soil scientists, plant breeders, food scientists and medical professionals, is participating in a USDA-funded Soil to Society grant to create more nutritious, affordable and accessible whole grain-based foods. From the soil to your table, we think a muffin is a good start.

1 1/2 c. any whole wheat flour
2 c. bran and germ (if you sift use that) or a good all-bran cereal
3/4 c. tart apple sauce [or sauté 1 medium-sized chopped apple in 1 Tbsp. butter until tender]
Scant 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1/4 c. oil

Soak bran in milk for a few minutes. Add all other ingredients. Mix by hand. Adjust moisture as needed. [We didn't need to add any more milk.] Line a muffin tin with parchment baking cups and fill with batter. Bake for 20 minutes at 400°. If needed, you can broil for last 30 seconds or so to brown the tops. [We've never needed to broil them.]

Autumn Sweetness: Plum Upside-Down Cake

Some seasonal treats are worth waiting all year to make. Think of a tart rhubarb crisp or maybe a berry jam from the first berries of summer when the pectins are at their peak. Or nocino, a walnut liqueur made from green walnuts in the embryonic stage before they form a hard outer shell.

Italian prunes.

While plums are delightful, their cousins the Italian prunes are some of my personal favorites for preserves or desserts, and this time of year I'm bound to literally run across them on the sidewalks of my neighborhood.

A fascinating piece of local history I came across is that Oregon owes the introduction of the Italian prune to one Dr. Orlando Pleasant Shields Plummer (below right).* Other sources credit nurseryman Henderson Luelling with the introduction of the Italian prune to the state around the same time.

Dr. Orlando P. S. Plummer.

Plummer was a medical doctor, professor and the first dean of the medical school at Willamette University, in addition to being a telegraph operator and a fruit farmer. He was also elected to both the Portland City Council (1865-66) and the Oregon Legislative Assembly (in 1880 and 1882).

An avid horticulturist, he owned a 20-acre fruit farm in Southwest Portland, planting his first prune trees, a variety called Fellenberg, in the late 1850s. By 1927 the variety had grown in popularity to the point where there were 55,000 acres of Italian prunes growing on farms in Oregon and Clark County, Washington.

Obviously some were also planted in parking strips in my neighborhood, and their fruit makes a mighty fine cake.

Plum Upside-down Cake

For baking pan/dish:
3/4 c.butter, softened, divided
1/2 c. packed brown sugar (for buttered pan)

For cake:
2 c. fresh prunes or plums, pitted and halved
3/4 c. sugar
1 lg. egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt 1/4 cup butter; pour into an ungreased 9-in. round baking pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Arrange plum halves in single layer over sugar.

In a large bowl, cream sugar and remaining butter until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Spoon over plums.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm.

* From Corning, Howard M. (1989) "Dictionary of Oregon History," Binfords & Mort Publishing, p. 199.

In Season: Eggplant is More Than Just Eggplant Parmesan

In the most recent Beaverton Farmers Market newsletter, Market Master Ginger Rapport waxed eloquent about the eggplants grown by one of the market vendors and included some recipes I definitely want to make.

Farmer Eric Hvidsten of Black Dirt Farm was not always in love with eggplant and explained how his opinion changed since he started growing them: 

Eric Hvidsten, Black Dirt Farm.

“Over the past few years, I've come to really enjoy growing eggplant," Hvidsten said. "They are absolutely gorgeous, and it's been fun exploring and experimenting with different varieties.  'Annina' is the variety that first got me hooked. Its flavor is similar to the typical Italian eggplant, but it has beautiful purple and white speckled skin that looks like marble. It looks unreal. I'm growing a long slender Japanese variety for the first time this year. It might be my favorite to cook with. Its tender skin and smaller diameter make it easy to slice into long strips or small coins. A lot of customers have recommended round Thai eggplant this year. I'm looking forward to trying these out next season.

Eggplant bites (recipe below).

"Growing up, I was not a fan of eggplant.  Eggplant Parmesan was the main eggplant dish in our house. I found it mushy and sometimes bitter. As I've experimented with new dishes I've come to really enjoy them. (See recipes linked at bottom.)

"I think its flavor really shines when paired with Greek or Middle Eastern spices like za'atar. I've also found slicing it thin and frying it briefly before adding it to the rest of the dish keeps the eggplant from getting mushy. This discovery was a game-changer for me."

"Annina" got Hvidsten hooked on growing eggplants.

As for what it's like as to grow them, Hvidsten said, "Eggplant has grown well on my farm, but it can be a challenge. They are relatively heavy feeders—home gardeners will want to amend the soil well before planting. The big challenge growing eggplant in the PNW is that they like heat. I always grow eggplant in my hoop house. For home gardeners I recommend planting eggplant in the warmest spot available.”

About how he started Black Dirt Farm, Eric said, “I started Black Dirt Farm six years ago with the goal of growing good food for my neighbors in a way that would benefit my local community, economy, and environment.  I strive to work with nature to improve the soil, control pests and diseases, and grow healthy plants.  Despite the challenges, it has been a joy to grow the farm and build relationships with my customers and other growers in the area.  Growing with the seasons, and working with nature gives me a wonderful sense of connection to the world around me.  I am so thankful for all my customers who support the farm and help me live this dream.“

Simple Eggplant Bites

4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 medium-sized eggplants
4 Tbsp. flour
2 cloves garlic
Dill sprigs, chopped finely, plus more for garnish
2 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt or mayo

Cut eggplants into ½ inch slices. Pat dry and dip into flour. 

Oil has to be very hot before frying the eggplants. Fry both sides for about 2 minutes each. In the meantime, crush garlic, mix with yogurt or mayo, and add dill. Once the eggplant is golden-brown, set on a paper towel to drain excess oil, sprinkle it with sea salt, and drizzle sauce on top. This makes a perfect quick appetizer!


Check out Ginger's recommended recipes for making Roasted Eggplant Salad, Eggplant Rolls, and Baba Ganoush. And here's my recipe for an out-of-this-world Eggplant Parmesan.

The Beaverton Farmers Market is a stalwart supporter of Good Stuff NW. Photo of "Annina" eggplants from High Mowing Seeds.

Herb It Up: Bulgur Tabouli Makes the Most of Summer's Fresh Herbs

This tabouli recipe, from this week's Beaverton Farmers Market newsletter, is intriguing because it calls for literally bunches of several herbs—always irresistable in my book—and also because the grain is not presoaked or cooked but simply absorbs the liquid from fresh lemon juice and oil. Try it yourself!

We are at the peak of summer which means our farms and gardens are in high gear providing us with an abundance of all the foods we love to eat. For those of us who planted herbs in the spring, this is the time of year when we need to be looking for ways to use the armfuls of fragrant leaves our plants are producing. One of our favorite ways to showcase our herbal bounty comes from none other than our own Bruce Lindner from Pony Espresso.

An accomplished cook and cookbook author, Bruce’s riff on tabouli salad is exciting because it is packed with flavor from all of the herbs he uses. Give it a try and we promise you will never make a different tabouli recipe again.

Bruce Lindner's Tabouli Recipe 

Yet another recipe that I’ve taken credit for by cobbling together several others. This one is a combination of the classic Lebanese version, an Israeli version and an Iranian version, with a few extra tweaks of my own thrown in—so now I claim it as mine! This is one of those recipes that you have to sort of eyeball the measurements, but in time it’s like riding a bike.

3 c. bulgur wheat (dry; do not presoak)
1 large bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 large bunch cilantro (if you don’t like cilantro, you can leave it out and add additional parsley)
1 large bunch fresh mint
10-12 scallions
1/2 c. chopped fresh dill
1 small bunch fresh tarragon
2 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and finely ground
10 lemons
1-2 c. olive oil
2-3 Tbsp. coarse salt
Pepper to taste
1 head Romaine lettuce

Wash and dry all the herbs and the scallions, then chop them finely with a food processor, being careful not to liquify them. Scrape into a large bowl. Take two of the lemons and zest them, then add the zest to the herb mixture. Toast the cumin seeds until fragrant, and allow to cool. Then pulverize in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and add to the bowl of chopped herbs.

Juice 8 of the lemons and add to the bowl, being careful strain out any seeds.

Bruce Lindner of Pony Espresso.

Notice the level in the bowl where the mixture is, then slowly dribble in the olive oil until the volume has almost doubled (this may seem like a lot, but it isn’t; the dry grains will absorb most of it). Stir it all in, and then again take note of where the level of the mixture is within the bowl—you’re now going to add the dry grains of bulgur to double that.

(NOTE: Virtually every recipe for tabouli I’ve ever seen requires that you first soak the bulgur in water before using it. Don't do that! This recipe is unique because the lemon juice and olive oil soaks into the dry grains, and isn’t displaced by water in previously soaked grains. Besides, when you soak it first, it usually turns pasty after the first day—I like to live off my tabouli leftovers for a few days.)

At this point, stir the mixture together and taste for seasoning. It’s going to need a lot of salt, so stir it in now. I use around two or three tablespoons for a batch this size, but you can adjust it to your liking. Add pepper too.

Remember, as the grains absorb the liquids, they also absorb the saltiness. You might need more later. If the tabouli seems too dry, stir in the juice of another lemon or two, and add another splash of olive oil.

Put the tabouli into a covered container and refrigerate for at least two hours while the grains absorb the liquid. Once you’re ready to serve, taste again for seasoning, and adjust with more lemon juice and olive oil if necessary.

Spoon a serving into a Romaine lettuce leaf for each guest. For a little added color, sprinkle on a little paprika or sumac.

Warning: This recipe serves a small army!


NOTE: [From Kathleen] I made this recently and the flavor was stunning, though with the bulgur from the bulk aisle at the supermarket it was definitely a make-it-the-day-before type of grain salad—the bulgur was much too chewy after two hours and needed an extra few hours to absorb the olive oil and lemon juice. I ended up adding about 3/4 cup of water about an hour before serving for dinner the next day because it seemed like the grain needed some additional softening and the amounts of olive oil and lemon were already sufficient. And it really does make a lot—I'd say around two quarts, so halve it if you're not serving a crowd!

The Beaverton Farmers Market is a generous sponsor of Good Stuff NW. E-mail through the newsletter link (on the upper right of this page) if you'd like to join them in bringing more information about our food system to our community.