Tag Archives: Veggies

[Local Lore] A Cacophony of Color at the Corvallis Farmer’s Market

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Moving to Corvallis after living in California for the last thirty odd years, there’s a lot of change to wrap my head around, ranging from the menial and small to mind boggling large.  I know that I shouldn’t compare Apples to Oranges, but when all you’ve known are apples – when you find an orange, it’s like OH MY GOD, THAT’S ORANGE?! Corvallis is like continually discovering that there were other fruits in the world when all I wanted to look for where Apples.

There are more farms and less people, more seasons and less oppressive heat all the time, more clouds and rain and less sun, more rural roads and less highways, a heightened sense of calm versus a continual sense of anxiety, the list could go on and on,

If you think the colors of Autumn are astounding, have you even seen the colors at the local farmer’s market?? Sure, there are Farmer’s Markets everywhere, and I don’t mean to diminish your personal experience, but the variety and vivacity of the fruits, vegetables, dairy and locally grown meat you can find here are simply out of this world.

Feasting on seasonal change, I’ve loved taking in the cacophony of colors at the Corvallis Farmer’s Market. Running both mid-week on Wednesday mornings, as well as Saturday morning on the weekends, the local Farmer’s Market has become my church.  I revel at the productions, and am not so secretly plotting to enter my crafts into their Saturday fair.  Here’s just a taste of my favorite scenes from the local Farmer’s Market; enjoy!

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For more on the Farmer’s Market here in Corvallis, take a trip downtown on Wednesday or Saturday between 9 and 1pm to see for yourself; or simply head to their socials!

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[Kitchen Kitten] D.I.Y. Pickled Veggies

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madewithOver (25)I’m officially a week and a half into my ’30 Before 30′ challenge and happy as a clam. After a few days of plodding through bullet points, I separated my list into two partitions; the first, “one time” or “jumping off” points if you will (like camping at Joshua Tree or making my own candles), and the later ended up as a culmination of ideas that I want to spend the year progressively getting better at (reading sheet music, relearning French and my weekly yoga practice).  What seemed like a series of mountains instead of molehills magically transformed into a full fledged plan of attack. First up, something I’ve been itching to try since I started infusing olive oils – making my own pickled vegetables!

One of the most satisfying feelings in the world is combining my love of amazing foods – in this case, all things pickled (cucumbers, olives, mushrooms, quail eggs – you name it, I love chowing down on it) – with my addiction to easy and affordable DIY projects. I sifted through cookbooks and did a fair share of online searching, and there are a gaggle of pickling recipes out!  Take your time and bounce though a few different websites to get your bearings on the matter.  The way I see it, cooking is a lot like art – you can color between the lines and follow the instructions perfectly, or you can think outside the box and create something new. Don’t be afraid to combine bits and pieces of recipes from multiple sources, because that’s exactly what I did and it turned out phenomenally.

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There’s a few different things to take into account as you begin: What type of vegetables are you planning on pickling?  Some veggies – like cucumber and onions – can be tossed into your jars from the get-go; but for veggies that land on the sturdier side (potatoes, mushrooms, carrots), you’ll want to blanch them first so they don’t lose any coloring or flavor. Don’t worry, I’ll explain below! Would you prefer them to be savory and full of dill? Want to kick up the spice and add some chilis? Or, would you rather they land on the sweeter side?  If you plan on using multiple containers, you don’t have to make that decision – which is perfect for someone like me who simply wants it all. Now, you have the luxury of switching things up at the leisure of your taste buds, so get down with your bad self and spice each one as desired.

Vegetables: if you like bar snacks or a heavily garnished Bloody Mary, you might want to get a little wild with this.

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What I Used

  • 1 Cucumber
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 cup Pearl Onions
  • Israeli Pickles
  • 1 Cup Small, Whole Mushrooms
  • Tunes – this week’s soundtrack comes from Jody Wisternoff of the  Progressive House duo Way Out West.  I’ve been a fan of the group for a few years now but it wasn’t until recently that I was turned onto the solo ventures of Jody or the other half of WoW, Nick Warren.  Whether together or on their own, they provide a beautifully calm soundtrack to your endeavors.

Brine:  You can make as little or as much brine as you’d like, just remember this – it’s a 2:1 ratio of water to vinegar. 

  • madewithOver (23)4 Cups Water (If you local tap water is a little cloudy, use bottled)
  • 2 Cups White Vinegar or Cider Vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Salt (non-iodized; if you want to get fancy – pickling salt exists)
  • Fresh Dill
  • Mint Springs
  • Peppercorns
  • 1/2 Cup of Garlic Cloves

Tools:

  • 1 large Sauce Pan
  • cutting board
  • sharp knife
  • cucumber peeler 
  • Canning or Mason Jars (old Spaghetti Sauce Jars work, too!) + Lids
  • salad tongs (optional)

After a few trial rounds, I’m proud to say that I’ve mastered the pickle rhetoric and I can fly solo without instructions in front of me. I can’t wait to share, so let’s get this pickle party started!

Instructions

  • Put your basic brine (vinegar, water and salt) into a large sauce pan; bring it to a boil for two to thee minutes as the salt dissolves.  Take brine off of heat and let it cool to room temperature.  As you’re waiting…
  • Wash, slice and dice your veggies to fit your jars
  • Take the sturdier veggies and blanch them for two minutes: heat up some water with a teaspoon of salt, throw ’em in then toss them into an ice bath when you’re done.
  • Add your spices to the containers, then layer your vegetables on top; you can make each jar unique, or you can make them splash with color and mix them all together. Make sure to leave about 1/2 an inch so the brine can cover them completely!
  • Once the brine has cooled, pour it into your jars and shove them to the back of your fridge.  Depending on how impatient you are (or how much of a flavor fiend you fancy yourself), you can let them sit for anywhere between 10 hours and 2 weeks, depending on how long they fermented you can keep them for a month (quick brine) or four.

[Kitchen Kitten] D.I.Y. Infused Olive Oils

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Over the course of the past few years I’ve gone from a complete klutz in the kitchen to a meal maven. Looking back,  it must have been a combination of a few things clicking in my head. First,  there’s this little thing I like to call  ‘ballin’ on a budget‘: as much as I love to live large, I almost desperately needed a way to keep my spending in check. Sushi, Dim Sum, Whole Paycheck Foods; you name it, I ate it on the regular so I had to put a stop to my delivery and dining out habits. Secondly, I was getting pretty sick of people ruining foods that I love. Third, I’m a firm believer that everyone should be adept at crafting their favorite comfort foods so I wanted to make a point of learning how to cook flavored, moist chicken and sear the perfect salmon. And last, but definitely not least: food, more specifically the gastrointestinal system, is the key to everyone’s heart.  No, seriously! With the amount of serotonin receptors in your GI tract and stomach, it’s no wonder that food and mood go completely hand in hand.

My First Cookbook!

I started out slow and basic when I moved into my first apartment in 2008. Right after I graduated from UCSB, my step-mother gifted me with a book ironically titled ‘How to Boil Water‘ that gracefully takes you through simple cooking preparation and elementary dishes to make you cool as a cucumber in your kitchen.  That Christmas after demonstrating I figured out a thing or two about my culinary prowess, I got another gift – a year’s subscription to ‘Cooks Illustrated‘ and the famed ‘Good Housekeeping Cookbook‘.  In the matter of five years, I’ve gone from being an expert microwave user to an amazing (and modest) chef! I’ve learned how to make homemade chicken noodle soup, salad dressing from scratch, craftmy own pizzas and toss up a mean stir-fry.

Since I’m always up for a new challenge, I started scouring the interwebs for ways I could enhance my skill-set.  I’ve been itching to have a ‘make-your-own-sushi‘ party or a fun, date night where my boyfriend and I craft our own ice cream – but when I found recipes to infuse my own olive oils I knew I’d hit the jackpot!  I’m a sucker for a beautiful bottle of wine, beer or hard alcohol and this provides an adorable way to preserve and decorate the bottle for personal use or for your closest family and friends.

Olive Oils can be infused one of two ways – either through ‘Hot Infusion’ or through ‘Cold Infusion.’  The ultimate difference is time and taste – cold infusion should take approximately two weeks but a hot infusion can occur in one day; on the flip side, cold infusions preserve the flavors of your herbs and veggies while doing it ‘hot’ allows for their tastes to be altered. I’ve done this both ways now and can tell you from experience that I prefer doing it the cold route.  One reason some like it hot is to reduce the risk of botulism – but as long are you’re careful and follow these simple steps, you can avoid it with cold infusion as well:

  1.  mix the olive oil + herbs + spices and refrigerate for two weeks
  2.  preserve the added ingredients in a strong brine or vinegar
  3. dehydrate all herbs so all that remains are the essential oils
  4. self-press your olives with the spices in the press

Now, let’s get down to business

: DIY Infused Olive Oils :

Prep: 15-20 min

Equipment

  • a few old wine, beer or liquor bottles; preferably with awesome labels and clear glass (canning jars are an excellent substitute!)
  • rubber stoppers, spouts, or twist on tops for the bottles
  • (hot infusion) sauce pan

Ingredients

  • fresh + fried herbs like rosemary, tarragon, mint, basil
  • salts + spices: lemon pepper, ‘regular‘ pepper, sea salt, cumin, cayenne pepper
  • fruit like citrus, like lemons, limes or oranges; you can even grate or peel the rinds, and peppers, chilies, jalepenos, red + yellow peppers (for color)
  • veggies like garlic, red onion, shallots, etc etc
  • extra virgin olive oil, or whatever oils you typically cook with
  • if you choose to preserve your veggies + herbs first, brine or vinegar

Instructions

  1. wash all of your ingredients and dry them as much as you can; fun fact: botulism can’t grow in olive oil on its own, it’s actually caused by bacteria growing on the remaining water in your herbs!
  2. wash + dry your bottle; then make sure your bottle + stopped have an excellent seal (canning jars work, too!)
  3.  to prep your infusion: expose natural oils in your herbs by bruising them, toast + crush spices, slice fruits + veggies in thin pieces
  4.  (cold infusion) cram salts, spices, herbs, fruits + veggies into olive oil; seal the bottle for approximately 1.5-2 weeks in a dark, cold place (re: fridge)
  5.  (hot infusion) before putting them in the bottle, place all ingredients + oil in a saucepan and cook to 180°.  this is definitely the quickest way, how to-the ever this changes the taste and flavor of both your ingredients and your oil
  6. it’s a personal choice whether you want to strain your ingredients or leave them in; personally, i love the look + taste so i leave them in but if you choose to remove them: (cold) strain mixture after 2 weeks of rest + (hot) strain mixture after cooking
  7.  infused olive oils typically last for a month, give or take a few weeks (or, signs of spoiling). which is more of a reason to make it pretty, because if you don’t finish them they make beautiful table pieces.

Last but not leastremember to enjoy your creation! Infused olive oils are a great way to quickly add flavor to a simple meal like scrambled eggs and for dipping breads pre-meal or as a snack.  Also, if you’ve been gifted with a bottle of wine or liquor, this is the perfect way to return the favor – or, pay it forward.