The Back Story on Yeast

To the uninitiated, a sourdough starter sounds like a lousy co-pilot—it's a soupy mixture of flour and water, about the color and consistency of a melted milkshake. But to see it only for its parts is to miss the beauty of the whole....

A Moveable Feast

BY AMY PENNINGTON PHOTOS BY LARA FERRONI  Growing up as a kid on Long Island, I lived in the last house on a dead end street, adjacent to a large swath of woods. It was quiet down there and allowed us kids to play in the street with abandon. What it didn't allow for was regular trips from any ice cream trucks during the dog days of summer. At best, ice cream trucks would hover near our bus stop two blocks away. What was a daily visit for some became forbidden fruit for my sister, brother and I. Most kids grow up with the ice cream man. We grew up stalking him. This food sleuthing has carried over into my adult life. Recently,...

In the Kitchen: Herbfarm

Where the Kitchen Meets the Farmby Jill Lightnerphoto by Lara Ferroni "I want to add some quail this year," says Keith Luce, executive chef of the Herbfarm, to Bill Vingelen, the restaurant's head farmer. "The good eggs are tough to find without getting them from California." Bill is half-smiling, and making the calming sounds that a very nice man makes when he's not arguing, but not completely sold on the new idea, either. Keith, to one side, says quietly, "look, you can see his wheels turning…oh, man." After a slight pause, they both laugh, and Keith says, "Bill doesn't like to say 'no'….hey, what about peacocks? Yeah!" There is more laughter. It's a reasonable bet that future Herbfarm menus will feature quail...

Class Action: PCC Cooks

Cents and Sensibility Sustainable Meals on a Budget by Megan Hill photo by Alicia Guy I was pretty skeptical, but it's true: you can cook delicious, healthy meals on a tight budget. Or at least Leika Suzumura can, and she imparted her seemingly endless knowledge about nutrition and saving money to a small audience at Greenlake's PCC in February. "In school, I couldn't work and I had a child, so a low budget has always been my reality," said Suzumura, a PCC nutrition educator who taught the Meals within the Family Budget class. The Bastyr-educated mother of two began the class by multitasking the start of three different meals, cooking rice, black beans and chopping onions for a stir fry. Her first piece of advice...

Cooking Fresh

BY JESS THOMSOM Mom: It's a word most of us use every day. As in, Mom, can you send me that lamb recipe? Or Mom, can you read another bedtime story? Ask your mom. Or, maybe if you're really lucky: My mom is taking the kids again tonight. Here's a dinner menu that lets you give back in a big way, even if you're not the world's most experienced cook. It's seasonal, yet simple enough for a weeknight—you can make warm, tarragon-flecked asparagus salad and silky mashed cauliflower while the lamb roasts and rests, in less than an hour. If you have time, stir up the rich ricotta brownies the night before, and serve them for dessert with warm cherry compote. So try...

Greener Pastures

Evergreen students bring animals back into agriculture BY HEIDI BROADHEADPHOTOS BY HEIDI BROADHEAD AND ALEA HOFFMAN Alea Hoffman likes animals, and she wanted to learn more about them. "The relationship that we have with animals, it's a symbiotic relationship that's evolved over time," she says. "I feel a deep respect and connection with them." Hoffman grew up in Seattle but spent half of her time during high school—and one year afterward—on a ranch in Winthrop, in north central Washington, where she worked with horses. She came to The Evergreen State College in Olympia to learn about sustainable agriculture. Evergreen students have been practicing sustainable agriculture at their on-site organic farm since the early '70s. Students developed their own ag curriculum back then, inspired by a...

Five under $20: Washington Rosés

Rosé of Sangiovese, Maryhill Winery, $13Washington's 15th largest winery makes this dry, strawberry and rhubarb-inflected rosé. Serve it at a weekend brunch in place of sparkling wine or mimosas or as an aperitif with a plate of your favorite local cheeses. Syrah Rosé, Saint Laurent Winery, $14.99Winemaker Craig Mitrakul handcrafted this crisp rose from 80% Syrah, 15% Riesling and 5% Chardonnay grapes. The result is a rosé with a bone dry finish and flavors and aromas of cherry, raspberry, apricot, and watermelon. Serve it chilled on its own or as a companion for salads, seafood or barbecued chicken. Rosé, Waters Winery, $16Winemaker Jamie Brown calls this wine a red wine drinker's rosé, and makes it from 67% Syrah and 33% Viognier grapes from the winery's estate...

Fran’s Chocolates

When Dylan Bigelow was twelve years old, he got his first job working for his mom. She founded Fran's Chocolates in 1982 and he helped out, doing a variety of odd jobs: putting candies in the little paper cups, wrapping up packages, or doing the dishes. That last job was a good one, because it included licking out the bowls....

Sidebar: Find the Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads coincide with morel season: April or May, depending on the microclimate. All species of ferns produce fiddleheads, some more delicious and edible than others. Most people are familiar with the large green curls of ostrich fern, which are typically served lightly sautéed. These ferns are mild in flavor, like a combination of asparagus, cabbage and artichoke, and are locally scarce. Bracken fern is abundant along hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest; look for bracken fern along the edges of forests, in light shade, where the soil is rich, sloped, damp, and well-drained. Up to 15 gallons, per person, per day, are acceptable to gather in national forests without a permit. Check www.dnr.wa.gov for specific land restrictions in your area....

Of Ferns and Fathers

BY SUMI HAHNPHOTO BY ANNA KIKABefore I went hunting for fiddleheads with my father, who is a slight, 72-year-old Korean man with the stamina of a pack mule, I had harbored several pretty but misguided illusions about the process.To begin with, I thought that the experience would be a literal walk in the park. More specifically, Olympic National Park, where, he's told me—several times and quite emphatically—the most delicious fiddlehead ferns in the world are to be found. "Abba (Korean for dad, not the name of the Swedish pop group), we're headed east on 530. That's nowhere near Olympic National Park.""Who said we're going there? You can't pick gosari there—it's a National Park. It's illegal to pick plants in a...

Mussel Beach

BY JENNI PERTUSETPHOTOS BY LARA FERRONI Common enough on Northwest tables now, mussels used to be regarded with derision. When Penn Cove Shellfish first took the mollusks to market in the late 70s, mussels were unfamiliar as food, and their appearance was uninspiring. "People would think we were delivering pails of bait," says general manager Ian Jefferds. The effect of that history still places mussels among the last of the shellfish bargains, at about $4 per pound. In the guidebook Sustainable Sushi, author Cason Trenor writes that "farmed mussels are one of the best possible options." Mussel farming involves no bycatch, leaves the water cleaner, and does not impact wild stocks. And they taste at least as good as their pricier cousins—they're sweeter...

News Bites

FederalThere are plenty of small, positive signs of change at the USDA—and while they still qualify as baby steps, at some point perhaps they'll add up to walking, not toddling. Secretary Vilsack wants community garden space at every USDA site around the world, including embassies and field offices. The organization has approved the downer cow ban (first rejected in 2008). Funding has been restored to a country-of-origin labeling fruit program. There's even advance planning for summer's higher risk of E.coli contamination—there will be twice as much testing as last year. The community garden spaces emphasize conservation, and include school curriculum. www.usda.gov State2008 was a bumper crop for large-scale state agriculture. While the increase in total value is in part thanks to increased...

Books

In the first issue of Edible Seattle, I stated a goal: I want farmers to be as famous as rock stars. Not only are such devoted experts worthy of our public appreciation, they are almost always remarkable (and highly entertaining) individuals. Once in a while, a book comes along whose author feels the same way (think of Joel Salatin in The Omnivore's Dilemma). Deeply Rooted, by Lisa M. Hamilton, is such a book. Three farmers: Harry Leon (Texas), Virgil (New Mexico), and David (North Dakota) have put tremendous effort into farming in ways sometimes called old-fashioned, but, at least around Puget Sound, are more commonly called sustainable. Each farmer has a unique story, and each is informative, sad, practical, thought-provoking and...

Urban Foraging: Sunset Hill Greenmarket

by Jill LightnerFresh Macrina bread, Beecher's cheese, and a bar of Theo chocolate: What more does a girl need other than a spot to eat it all and a sunny afternoon? I first discovered this tiny shop while on the way to Golden Gardens, and thought "why just stroll on the beach, when instead I could stroll on the beach while having a snack?" This is the mellow sort of place that inspires such brilliance. The market is packed with local and organic food, including good beer and wine, canned goods, fresh pasta, an assortment of fresh produce and an even bigger assortment of excellent chocolate. The tables out front encourage lolling about and sipping something delicious—and before you ask:...

Urban Foraging: Sour Pie Cherries

by Jill Lightner Montmorency cherries—also known as sour cherries, pie cherries, and "hands off, those are mine" cherries—are worth hunting down in June or (depending on the weather) the first week of July. The season is short, and the pickings are slim; only recently have tart cherry prices been such that they're worthwhile for Washington orchards to grow. More commonly, an orchard that grows primarily other fruit will have a few Montmorency trees, so a few will show up at farmer's markets as a seemingly random event. The price per pound is steep, but the resulting fresh cherry pie or cobbler is truly exceptional. Even better: Cook up a few pints of jam, and dole them out over the coming year....

Urban Foraging: Farmer-Chef Connection 2009

by Heidi Broadhead It's hard to imagine a more positive place in the universe than the rustic main hall of SODO's Herban Feast on February 9, when area farmers and chefs came together for the 4th annual Seattle Farmer Chef Connection. The event brought 160 producers (farmers, fishers, distributors, and other people who make food) with 140 chefs and other buyers committed to serving local food. "Our mission was to bring more chefs into it," says Seth Caswell, chef/owner of the upcoming emmer&rye restaurant, and current president of Seattle Chefs Collaborative, which sponsored the event. "I'd still like to get more conventional Seattle restaurants, but we're on the right track." Celebuchef Tom Douglas and farmer Luke Woodward of Oxbow Farms set the tone...

Editor’s Letter

Michele Obama gave a tour of the White House kitchen in March, talking about sustainable eating and childhood nutrition to some culinary students. Among other things, she said, "If it tastes like a real carrot, and it's really sweet, they're going to think that it's a piece of candy." She's right. Good carrots are tasty little sugar sticks, and when I pick mine up at a farmer's market, I eat a handful in the first two minutes after purchase. Such vegetal sweetness is a Proustian belly-flop into one of my first food memories. In a last-ditch attempt to get her fussbudget kindergarteners to eat salad, my mom sprinkled sugar on our iceberg lettuce. It sounds horrific today. Separately, that variety...

Sourdough Pancakes

by Jill Lightner Serves 4 (about 12 pancakes) | Start to finish: 20 minutes, plus overnight rising from Edible Seattle May/June 2009 The original Sourdoughs would've used water, and weren't likely to have eggs or butter, either, but this version still has a delicious tanginess from the starter, and a special lightness from yeast rather than the more modern baking powder. Any sweet topping is the perfect complement. Recipe 1 cup sourdough starter 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup milk 1 large egg 2 tablespoons melted butter 2 tablespoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda Steps A day before you want pancakes, remove the starter from the refrigerator. Bring the starter to room temperature (about 8 hours). Mix one cup of the warmed starter with the flour and milk in a large...

Eggs with Eggs

Recipe courtesy Keith Luce, the Herbfarm Serves 4 | Start to finish: 30 minutes from Edible Seattle May/June 2009 This dish is simple and luxurious, making the most of absolutely fresh local eggs; it's savory richness makes it equally appropriate for brunch or dinner. Look for American-raised caviar choices like farmed White Sturgeon, Golden Paddlefish, or try smoked steelhead roe. Recipe 4 extra large eggs 1 tablespoon unsalted cultured butter 1 sprig English thyme 4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 8 slices black truffle 1 tablespoon whipped crème fraiche (optional) 1 ounce caviar of your choice Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Steps Butter inside of four four-ounce ramekins liberally. Gently crack one egg into each ramekin, taking care not to break yolks. Garnish each egg with two truffle slices....

Cents and Sensibility

Sustainable Meals on a Budget BY MEGAN HILL PHOTOS BY ALICIA GUY I was pretty skeptical, but it's true: you can cook delicious, healthy meals on a tight budget. Or at least Leika Suzumura can, and she imparted her seemingly endless knowledge about nutrition and saving money to a small audience at Greenlake's PCC in February. "In school, I couldn't work and I had a child, so a low budget has always been my reality," said Suzumura, a PCC nutrition educator who taught the Meals within the Family Budget class. The Bastyr-educated mother of two began the class by multitasking the start of three different meals, cooking rice, black beans and chopping onions for a stir fry. Her first piece of advice for saving money on those...