Project Fruit Tree & Adventures in an Urban Garden of Eden

Sous Vide striploin, served on a bed of fresh tomatoes, plums and garnished with puffed wild rice.

Sous Vide striploin, served on a bed of fresh tomatoes, plums and garnished with puffed wild rice.

Last weekend marked the third year that my husband, my friend DB and I cooked for a party of 40 to help benefit the Portland Fruit Tree Project. The PFTP does a series of “Orchard Banquets” every summer to raise money and for the past three years they’ve asked my husband to donate his time by heading one of the dinners.

This year, like last year, we lucked out and had the honor of cooking our dinner at Tabor Tilth, a crazy, magical dream in urban gardening. (If you want your mind blown, click this link to watch a video about the garden, hosted by the woman who owns it.)

My husband, because he is constantly ambitious with his cooking, always dreams up amazing menus for this dinner, which has become the event that DB and I look forward to helping him with the most.

And clearly other people look forward to it too. Many people from last year’s dinner attended this one and we heard from staff that our series sold out a month in advance. I guess the word has gotten out that my husband throws down when it comes to food!

Here’s some pictures from last Sunday’s soiree…It should also be mentioned that many of the produce used came from Tabor Tilth, some of which we foraged for the day of the dinner. Nothing beats the taste of freshly picked fruits and veggies!

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Gratuitous Food Pics: Dinner at Restaurant Beck

Course 1 of 7: Salad of beets, tomatoes and cucumber

Restaurant Beck is quite unique — and one the most unusual things about it is its address. Sure, we have good restaurants all over the state of Oregon — from Eugene to Cannon Beach, even the best Japanese restaurant is in Beaverton, not Portland. But to have one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs cooking in Depoe Bay (population approximately 1,400) is really a strange thing to contemplate.

But, it’s true. Chef Justin Wills is turning out some amazing food in a tiny town (which is situated between Newport and Lincoln City) and people are willing to make the trek to see eat it for themselves. If you don’t believe me, check out the accolades he has received (most recently a James Beard nomination).

So, when my husband and I made our journey to the coast last weekend, he surprised me with reservations at this lovely little spot.

A destination restaurant in Depoe Bay? It’s true!

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Pressed Sandwiches and a Day of Disappointments

My husband decided to whisk me away to the beach this past Sunday, which in theory sounds like an amazing idea. I’m originally from a small island in Alaska so I love the beach, water and ocean air. However, being from Alaska, I know that the beach can be cold, and as we’ve established, I love to be hot — I wanted to go to the river where I knew I could bake in the sun.

But he promised me the coast would be perfect. Less people, the promise of salt water taffy and maybe a visit to the Rogue Brewery. And, he said tantalizingly, on Saturday the coast had hit record high temperatures, somewhere in the mid-80s.

“Fine,” I said, giving in. “I’ll make some sandwiches.”

* It was a perfect opportunity to make a sandwich that seems to be incredibly trendy right now — the pressed sandwich. I had seen it all over Pinterest and had seen recipes posted on Martha Stewart’s website as well as on numerous blogs. So, basically, I was just dying for a chance to make these:

But back to the story:

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Gratuitous Food Pic: Fry Bread with Pulled Pork

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Navajo Fry Bread with Pulled Pork, Radishes, Cilantro and Chive Creme Fraiche

My husband did a cooking demo at the Montavilla Farmer’s Market last month and I got the opportunity to help him. This is the dish we gave out as samples to the very eager crowd, alongside several dessert versions topped with fresh berries, nutella and/or whipped cream. Needless to say, it was a hit!

Swine & Wine: Happiness is a roasted pig

Pig Roast in the Red Hills

As I get closer to celebrating my 5th wedding anniversary with my husband, I think about how lucky we are that we found each other. While all the usual reasons come into play — yes, we make each other laugh, blah, blah, blah — the main reason is our obsession with food. By obsession, I mean that our conversations so often revolve around menu ideas, ingredients, cooking techniques and food in general, that any normal person would probably want to shoot themselves.

Beyond mere “foodies,” our love for all things culinary is a bit more intense because (as a chef and a meat sales rep, respectively) we are both firmly planted in the industry.

So, when he was personally asked to cater a pig roast for 120 people for Archery Summit Winery, I was thrilled to be involved. Their wines are fantastic and their tasting room has the best view I’ve ever seen in Oregon. And roasting up a couple of pigs in the summer sunshine and cooking with two of my favorite people (my friend DB also helped out) sounded like a great way to spend a Sunday.

The event actually took place in the Archery Summit vineyards at Red Hills. This is what we were surrounded by:

Soon all those seats will be filled with hungry people!

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A Girl and Her Lentil & Chickpea Salad

I’ve mentioned a few times that my husband is a chef. While this does mean that I eat very well, it also means that I am constantly pleading with him to stop buying cookbooks. We had to buy a huge IKEA bookshelf unit a month ago and it was immediately filled with all of the cookbooks that he had been storing hoarding at work. Since I keep trying to make him stop buying more, he has slyly found a way to work around that. He now buys them as “gifts” for me.

This is why I got a copy of the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook for Christmas  — which, yes, I admit, is fantastically fun. This is also why, when in passing I mentioned a blog post I had read regarding chef April Bloomfield, her cookbook A Girl and Her Pig showed up on our doorstep a week later.

I don’t even know why I was surprised.

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