Lamb tartare, foie gras and other tasty treats…

Lamb tartare with cornichons, capers and lemon

Lamb tartare with cornichons, capers and lemon

Every summer, I look forward to cooking with my husband and my good friend DB for a dinner benefiting the Portland Fruit Tree Project. This year marked our fourth year together, cooking for roughly 40 people, and I think we even manged to top last year’s dinner which was quite a feat.

My husband, being a chef, puts together the menu. DB and I just trade our time and culinary skills for beers and burgers afterwards. It’s a pretty good deal, considering all the sampling we do as we cook. I never turn down an opportunity to sneak bites of foie gras torchon!

The dinner takes place in an urban garden called Tabor Tilth. Connie, the owner, is extremely knowledgable and even has interns who live with her so they can learn the secrets of success urban gardening. She has everything from elderflowers to mulberries to tabacco growing in her yard. For a more in-depth look at Tabor Tilth, check out my post from 2 years ago.

While Connie is serious about what she does, the whimsical aspect of her house never fails to entertain me. These are some of the cool things I spotted in her kitchen this year. (The fact that she raises meat rabbits makes her rabbit art all the more fun to me.)

Bunnies of Tabor Tilth

Anyways, fun art aside, this post is dedicated to the snacks we served as our dinner guests started to arrive and began their guided tour of the garden. My husband tries to incorporate fruit into the dinner as much as possible, as well as making use of items that Connie grows, so this dinner is really an ode to fresh seasonal produce.

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Tales from the Garden: Can you dig it?

Sunchokes from my garden

Sunchokes from my garden

My single sunchoke plant from last year turned into 30 this year. The plants grew like crazy, each one boasting tons of pretty flowers:

Sunchoke blossoms

Sunchoke blossoms

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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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Tales from the Garden: The first berry blush

My friend DB recently gave me some of his amazing strawberry plants since the starters I bought three years ago never produced a single berry. I was hopeful that his would be more successful and they are definitely off to a great start!

Strawberry ripening

One strawberry is already starting to ripen!

First berry blush

I’m so excited!

Flowers for Mothers…



It’s pretty fun being able to pick flowers right from my garden…


It’s also very convenient that my mom loves irises!

And as a side note: I have finally recovered from my vacation withdrawal and will be back to posting regularly starting tomorrow.

Tales from the Garden: April Showers, Forgotten Flowers

I am sure I’m not the only one guilty of planting a bulb and then six month later, when it pokes out from the ground, having absolutely no recollection of what it was. Take this little guy for instance. I bought a bag of bulbs from Costco last fall — 30 were crocuses and 15 were daffodils. The other 5 were a species I couldn’t have remembered if my life depended on it.

Top view of a fritillaria

I kept looking at the leaves thinking…hm…a lily of some kind? A few friends thought hibiscus. My husband swore they were alliums. Finally once the first flower bloomed, I showed a picture to another friend who does wedding bouquets as a side business and she figured it out.

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