Category Archives: Local Produce

Penne Pasta with Braised Kale and Lemon Parmesan Sauce

I got my first weekly pickup at my CSA, Rosemattel’s. The first pickup included kale, chard, beet greens, french carrots, radishes, green onions, lettuce, broccoli — a treasure trove! I got a double dose of kale because I didn’t want the chives or fennel. What to do with kale? Meanwhile, my husband has been suggesting lemon pasta. I dug through my recipe pile and the internet for ideas and combined and modified a few of them to use what I already had in the kitchen and farm basket.

Pasta with Braised Kale and Lemon Parmesan Sauce

  • 1/2 pound dried pasta – mini penne is my preference
  • Salted water for boiling pasta
  • 1 large bunch of torn kale leaves, with stems and large veins removed
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock or chicken broth (1/2 can if you have canned)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  1. Fill large saucepan with water and add salt to boil pasta per package instructions.
  2. Wash kale, remove stem and large veins, tear into pieces approximately 1 inch long.
  3. Heat chicken broth in saute pan and add kale. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer kale while broth reduces.
  4. Zest one lemon into medium serving bowl.
  5. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into the medium serving bowl.
  6. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese to the serving bowl. Mix to allow the flavors to blend.
  7. When pasta is cooked, drain and add to the serving bowl.
  8. Drain any remaining liquid from the kale and add the braised kale to the serving bowl.
  9. Toss and serve.

This produces 4 or more servings of pasta when used as a side dish. We loved it, it was one of my biggest successes with pasta. The kale had no off earthy flavors, it was a pleasant green addition to the pasta.

Sprouts and an Empty Freezer

Two days after planting my seeds, I have beet sprouts and collard sprouts! I really love the Jiffy Greenhouses. They are reusable and have almost no mess. I did all of the planting in my kitchen and they are incubating in my bathroom. Once I’ve sprouted and transplanted my seedlings, I can buy more seed starting disks at any local garden center and start the next round. This will be especially useful for crops like lettuce where you need to replant every few weeks.

My freezer is almost devoid of last autumn’s bounty. Tonight I use my last batch of slow roasted tomatoes for a puree to top baked parmesan chicken breasts. I’ll have only a bag of whole frozen tomatoes I plan to use in soup and chili, a few cubes of pesto and some forgotten frozen garlic tips I should use in soup.

The Vancouver Farmers Market starts up again this weekend – and none too soon!

North Bank Magazine for SW Washington Locavores

I am very jazzed to discover North Bank Magazine, which covers locavore issues in Southwest Washington. As I reside in America’s Vancouver, I felt like they were writing this just for me. The glossy issue that came out February 20, 2009 was filled with the info I want. They had an interview with my own CSA farmer, and I was happy to hear that CSA farms are growing and thriving in our area. The Vancouver Farmers Market may also be changing some policies so they attract more of the local farms. I learned about the challenges of selling produce to local restaurants, from both sides.

Subscriptions are free for North Bank Magazine. You can sign up online. It is published by the Vancouver Business Journal. I’ve added their editor’s blog to my blog reader and blogroll.

The Benefits of a Delayed Christmas

I attempted to get to the post-Christmas sales on Dec. 26. I made it a half block to the corner and became stuck in the deeply rutted snow. It was melting, but there was still a foot-high ridge of ice and snow between the ruts. After much forward/reverse, I managed to get moving again and pulled out to a road that had been plowed. Whew. I continued on to Fred Meyer, only to discover their parking lot was in the same poor condition as the side streets. I didn’t stop and kept going. I made it back into the driveway on the second try, having had to circle the cul-de-sac on the first try.

Rich went to work, first taking a bus to downtown Vancouver, then another bus to Delta Park Max station, then Max to the Rose Quarter, then bus 8 up Marquam Hill, but the road to the hospital was blocked by three previous buses, so he had to walk the final 1/4 mile up the hill. Coming home was a similar odyssey. When you have to make 3 transfers to get to your destination, public transit is a poor option.

Walking was also a very poor option, as the sidewalks along major streets were still buried under a foot or more of rotten melting snow and ice. The only place to walk was in the car ruts on side streets, which now were growing slick as they melted.

I stayed holed up until Saturday and the meltdown was in full swing. I was finally able to buy the deeply discounted Christmas decorations I wanted for next year, but could actually use this year for our family celebration on Sunday. While a true locavore might cut her own swags each year, I’m just not crafty, and the branches on our Douglas fir are up over 50 feet, so I can’t harvest them in my own yard. I prefer to go the “re-use” route so I don’t have to buy them each year and recycle them each year. I didn’t buy any lights or lighted ornaments. I liked our “green” non-electric Christmas decor and I think we’ll continue that for next year.

Due to the weather delay, I was able to cook the Christmas dinner for my family today, on Sunday. I used the local organic potatoes I bought at the harvest farmers market before Thanksgiving. They were just starting to sprout eyes. I have enough gravy left that I’ll be cooking up the rest in the next few days.

Everyone in the family had their tales of weather adventures from the past two weeks. Since I ordered a snow shovel online, I doubt we’ll see any such snowfall again in my lifetime.

One Year Home

Happy Home-iversary! Last Dec. 20, we got the keys to our new house. We watched it grow from July onwards from vacant lot to foundation to sticks to shell to finished house. We were able to pick out all of the surfaces and colors and fret over whether we would still like them when we saw the finished product. I made a trip from work to the homesite each day and took photos, with the goal of animating them into a cool video. That has yet to be done!

Today I measured the snow at 1 pm and we had 1.5 inches. By 4 pm we had about 2.5 inches. It is dry cold snow, with freezing rain predicted tonight and tomorrow. I shoveled the driveway and porch last night and twice today. Our driveway faces north and therefore doesn’t melt off easily.

I baked cookies and lasagna, and we’ll be having a bottle of Maysara Delara Pinot Noir 2002. The only local ingredients in the cookies are organic brown eggs. For the lasagna, I used Nonna’s Noodles lasagna from the farmers market, grass fed La Cense hamburger, my homemade pesto, and some kale and chard still left from my CSA share. I also still had edible salad greens from the CSA. It’s amazing how much longer those last than commercially packed lettuce. Then settling in to watch DVDs and just be snug and happy.

Snow measurement

Photo &copy Wendy Bumgardner: 2.5 inches of snow at 4 pm, 12/20/08

Snow – Baking – and the Last of the Chard

Schwendi Manor doorIt started snowing yesterday just before sunrise. While this is being touted as a major storm, all we got was a dusting that first melted, then blew away and left the pavement pretty much dry. I headed out at first light to Winco to pick up final groceries in case an ice storm materialized. I got a new mini-muffin tin and baking sheet from Pampered Chef, so I stocked up on muffin and cookie ingredients.

Back home, I went into the the backyard and picked the final leaves from my Swiss chard plants, which are likely to freeze solid this week as the temperatures will remain below 30F.

Photo: My front door with the fresh wreath I decorated with my existing ornaments. The doormat celebrates the Swiss town of Schwendi (where we’ll buy a condo should we win the lottery – I’d be Wendy from Schwendi.)

The wind whipped all day long, and it was hard to tell whether snow was falling or it was just the same snow blowing around. The backyards between the houses here seem to be wind zone.

For dinner, I baked chicken thighs in Mr. Yoshida’s Original Gourmet Sauce (a local brand). I cooked up some udon noodles, added carrots from the farmers market, the backyard swiss chard, and organic bean sprouts from Winco. It was delicious. The CSA experience has taught me you can toss swiss chard, spinach, and many greens into almost any dish and they taste fine and add nutrition. I had never done that before.

Next, I set to work baking Lil’ Citrus Muffins from scratch from the recipe on the Pampered Chef pan. The muffin tin worked like a charm. They were glazed by dipping first in melted butter, then granulated sugar. But they just didn’t pack enough orange flavor for me. I had zested two oranges and added a teaspoon of commercial dried orange peel. I think they needed much more fresh zest. It’s a big step for me to make things from scratch rather than a mix! I tried to make baking powder biscuits from scratch a few months ago, only to discover my baking powder had expired sometime in the last century. But flour, sugar and baking powder are a lot cheaper than packaged mixes – with less packaging to toss or recycle. I used an organic brown egg and local Tillamook non-fat sour cream in the muffins as well.

We settled in for a long winter’s night of watching the Survivor finale. All is well at Schwendi Manor. Here you can see my minimalist but tasteful and non-electric decorating scheme, with a dusting of snow courtesy of Mother Nature.

House in snow
Photos © Wendy Bumgardner