Visting the Harvest Farmers Market

I stopped by the Beaverton Farmers Market for its special pre-Thanksgiving opening. It was half the size it usually is, which still made it a large farmers market. There was an abundance of various types of squash and apples and a number of booths selling locally gathered mushrooms. I was focused on potatoes, and brought home a bag of Yukon Golds for mashed potatoes and some red potatoes and russet potatoes. I also stocked up at the homemade pasta booth.

I should be able to visit the Eastbank Thanksgiving Reunion Market: “On Tuesday, November 25, just two days before the big feast, Portland Farmers Market will host a Thanksgiving Reunion Market, at the Eastbank Farmers Market site, at the corner of SE 20th Ave & Salmon St., from 1pm to 5pm. The Reunion Market provides one more chance to source ingredients as locally as possible for a country-style Thanksgiving and the tastiest of leftovers!”

Rich and I browsed through Fred Meyer last night and looked at the turkey prices. It appears I can buy a locally grown organic turkey for around $45, twice the price of a standard robo-bird. Should I bite the bullet and try the local, organic bird? Or should I espouse the new thriftiness?

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Spaghetti Squash

I bought the late season additional weeks share from my CSA. I’ve been getting spaghetti squash each week. I like squash but my husband won’t eat it. I researched how to cook it and figured the easiest way was to pierce it and cook it in the microwave on high for 10 minutes. After three minutes, I heard a bang as the squash blew off its nether regions. I cleaned up the microwave and hacked the squash in half and then continued to cook it for 10 minutes. After the squash was cooked, I scooped out the seeds and stringy strands from the core. Then I scooped out the cooked squash.

For dinner, I added Parmesan cheese and microwaved it another minute. This was OK.

But my favorite way to eat spaghetti squash is to cook it, take it out of the rind, add a pat of butter and some maple syrup and heat it a bit in the microwave. Yummy yummy.

Wine Inflation

I had to move the wine out of our wine closet to give access to a home inspector. In the past year, our wine inventory has not varied from between 100-120 bottles. This is despite good-faith efforts to drink more wine and buy less.

Of the wine, at least 75% of it is from local wineries. We have our favorites, as well as exploring new wineries and buying a couple of bottles when we find something we like.

We attended the annual Harvest Soiree at De Ponte Cellars in Dundee, Oregon. I hesitate to ever mention this winery because I love their pinot noir so much. I don’t want others to know about it. It is a private event limited to those who have purchased at least a case of their wine in the past. We have been buying a case of their Dundee Hills Pinot Noir each year since the 2003 vintage. It usually has strong notes of cherry and red fruit with a vanilla note. Usually the Baldwin Family Reserve Pinot Noir is not to our taste. However, something flip flopped with the 2006 vintage. The less expensive Dundee Hills has a nice raspberry note, but no cherry notes and a Robert Parker rating of 91. The Baldwin Family Reserve, at twice the price, has the lovely cherry notes we enjoy and a Robert Parker rating of 92. In tough economic times, what to do? Don’t lay in a case at all? Buy the less expensive case knowing you won’t enjoy it as much? Buy only a half case of the more expensive swill? Bite the bullet so you won’t have any regrets in 2012? After trying both a second time, I decided I had enough in the checking account to get a full case of the spendy stuff I know I will enjoy.

The tasting room was packed with people (including a former Oregon Secretary of State) and cars were parked all the way down the long drive. But despite it looking like they had enough customers, I got a very sincere thank-you from the gal behind the wine counter, who then lugged the case to our car. I was impressed with the sincerity. I want to keep this winery in business, so that made me feel even better about the more expensive purchase.

I enjoy the Harvest Soiree free barbecue buffet. The food was very good, although Maysara has them beat. We’ll be visiting Maysara on Thanksgiving weekend.

De Ponte

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Harvest Farmers Markets Nov. 22-25

It looks like I may be able to stock up on potatoes and carrots after all. Here is the list of events from the LocalHarvest calendar for the next two weeks in the Portland area.

Farmers Markets Closed for the Season

It’s November and pretty much every farmers market is now closed until late spring. These are the challenging months for locavores. I signed up for the late season subscription to my CSA and so I’m still getting lettuce, greens, squash, and some root vegetables. But I am wondering what I will do until May. I froze a lot of roasted tomatoes, but other than tomatoes I had no surplus to put away. I really regret that my CSA didn’t seem to produce carrots or potatoes in any quantity. I still look at those as great winter staples.

Since May, I have changed my cooking and shopping habits tremendously. We have eaten out only rarely for dinner. I felt the pressure to use those vegetables I got from the CSA, which drove me to cook different dishes. I supplemented them with more produce from the farmers markets. In the end, I only stopped at the grocery store or Costco for meat, bread and milk products.

My aim was always to explore being more of a locavore, rather than a strict locavore, and in that these past six months have been extremely successful. But there were many other virtues:

  • Saved money on impulse buys at grocery stores
  • Saved money on eating out.
  • Saved space in the trash can as there were very few take-out containers.
  • Ate a far wider variety of vegetables
  • Found sources for grass-fed beef
  • Learned or created many new recipes.

With the recession, by spending a big chunk of money for a CSA subscription, I probably saved 5 to 10 times that amount in reduced expenses for eating out and buying prepared foods in the grocery store. While it can be more expensive to buy local products, it promotes a lifestyle that saves big bucks over a typical American “I’ll pick something up on the way home” lifestyle.

I have already signed up for the 2009 CSA subscription.


Rutabagas and turnips are more vegetables that mom never grew in the garden or put on our table. But my husband’s mother liked to cook both turnips and potatoes and chunk them up together. Looking into turnips online, this seems to be a common presentation. But my husband simply hated that.

So, what to do with the bundle of rutabagas from my CSA this week? I decided to put them into beef stew, both the roots and the greens, along with some broccoli raab, carrots, and potatoes. I kept the rutabagas in a distinctive shape so I could be sure I would eat them rather than springing them on my husband. The resulting stew was delicious as usual. Because I use a base of red wine, the rutabagas really tasted about the same as the potatoes. The greens added nutrition but no off-flavors. I used grass-fed beef from La Cense.

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