Follow Your Food: Spring Latkes

Memorial Day is the unofficial marker of our transition from Spring into Summer. Now the sun rises early and sets late, giving plants longer hours of solar radiation for photosynthesis and metabolism. The increased photon energy provided by longer days allows for greater glucose sugar production. Naturally, as the plant makes more sugar, it must be allocated for storage. So, to keep up with energy production, the roots of certain species develop to accommodate the glut of glucose and store it as a carbohydrate. Over time this storage unit becomes a viable food crop, which we all enjoy in the form of a carrot or a beet. This trait to store increased energy is not ubiquitous among all species. Normally, it is either something represented in perennial plants, who must survive for a number of years or has been cultivated in annual plants from years of farming. Most plants would prefer to allocate available resources directly towards reproduction and setting a flower head. Eventually the fertilized flower develops into a fruiting body to provide life to a new generation, or to a hungry table. This requires an immense amount of energy, and if the plant has not met a critical mass of photosynthetic capacity, reproduction can stress a plant. So, it is critical that the season is right and the days are long to plant a fruiting crop. As Spring is to green, summer is to color; that color is derived by new growth in root and fruit crops. This week we saw an example the shape and color of early summer food with fresh Zucchini and Carrots.

Fortunately, for most, the introduction to summer is met with an extended weekend. I know how I will spend these long days ahead; sharing food and late afternoon memories with friends to grow our roots deeper.

This is an amended recipe to one I found online for some vegetable latkes (or fritters, whatever you prefer). I must say, this is an easy and delicious way to use seasonal produce, and nothing but seasonal produce. If you go online, there are a lot of iterations of this meal. I went with what worked best for the materials I had on hand. Find what works best for you. But here is a little kick to get you on your way…

Ingredients to serve 4 Latkes:

  • 2 small Zucchini, shredded (Groundwork Organics)
  • 3-4 medium Carrots, peeled and shredded (Organic Redneck)
  • 1 medium Potato, boiled and mashed (Rainshadow Organics)
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, minced (Groundwork Organics)
  • 1 Green Onion, chopped (Cinco Estrellas)
  • 1/4 tsp thyme (Sagestruck Herbary)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (Rainshadow Organics)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika, or 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or both!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Half & Half

Cooking instructions:

  1. Begin by prepping your zucchini and carrots by shredding with a large-holed cheese grader. If you are like me and lack this piece of equipment, this can be done with some dextrous knife work. Transfer veggies to a collander, add the salt and mix. Allow to sit for 15 minutes or so.
  2. Add the potato to water and boil until soft all of the way through. This can be accomplished more quickly if the potato is quartered beforehand. Remove potato to a bowl, add the half & half and mash.
  3. Add the Flour and Baking powder to a separate bowl and mix.
  4. Squeeze the veggies dry, using either just your hands or a cheesecloth, and transfer to a bowl. Add the Garlic, Paprika, Cayenne and Thyme. Mix together. Now add the mashed up potato, mix. Lastly, add the flour/baking powder and mix.
  5. Once mixed, grab a medium sized handful and pack into a ball, repeat 3 times. Place the uncooked latkes on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes so that they hold form better while cooking.
  6. Heat up 2 Tbsp of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add the packed latkes. Cook for 3-5 minutes and turn. They should be slightly charred and crisp when flipped. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Fin!

I did not have the ingredients at my disposal to make an adequate sauce for serving, but these would be amazing served with a yogurt based side. Perhaps yogurt, cucumber and lemon.

This was so easy, so good, and almost 100% local, that it may just become a staple in my diet.


Follow Your Food: Thai Chicken Larb

In my last post I talked about how food is a vehicle to connect with culture outside of our own, and did a recipe on Thai Red Curry to bring some eastern flavor into our Kitchen, and the curry was just awesome. Also, this time of year there is a lot of fresh, brassicas growing, which means cooking dishes with sharp mustard flavors and Asian origin. So, naturally, this time around I wanted to continue the Thai trend. It is also the advent of regional spring lettuce season. Crisp, turgid lettuce leaves provide the perfect vessel for wrapping up a lot of flavor without soaking in juices. Now, I am not opposed to wiping my plate clean with a hearty piece chunk of baguette; but for the sake of the spring, the juicier, the better!

The lettuce I am using comes from this week’s produce box. These mixed varieties of romaine and red leaf come from James of Radicle Roots Farm, which is a sustainable market garden located just 12 miles outside of Bend. Their philosophy is simple, “healthy soil grows healthy food, which is the underlying principal for cultivating a reciprocally sustainable agrarian system. As first generation farmers, their goal is to bring vibrant energy and a passion for future generations to our local food system. I will write more about James and Radicle Roots at a later date, once I can get out to the farm with him and dig into his operation. But for now, let his lettuce speak as a testament to their quality care and fresh produce.

I was talking with James this Tuesday when he came by to drop off his produce for the week, and inspired me on the idea of using his lettuce as a wrap. So I set off to find a good recipe for lettuce wraps, and found one that incorporates Thai Larb (or Laap).  Larb is the national dish of Laos and has been incorporated into the culinary  tradition northern Thailand where there ay many people of Laotian descent. It combines raw or cooked minced meat, spices, mint, basil and is often served on lettuce leaves. It is traditionally a spicy dish, where spice adds complexity into the flavor of a dish. Southeast Asian meals derive their spice from capsicum chilis, cumin, garlic, and ginger. The watery lettuce leaves counterbalance the heat, and cool your palate at the end of a bite. This provides a rather refreshing physical experience to dining on a warm, sunny day. Since it is not quite pepper season in the high desert, I brought in spice with red chili flakes, garlic from Groundwork Organics and ginger from Bob at Tumalo Fish and Vegetable Farm. And because it is the aforementioned spring brassica season, I chopped up some of Windflower Farms asian greens to add some mustardy zest into the mix.

I pulled my recipe from one I found by Williams Sonoma. Due to what I had in the pantry, and what is available seasonally, I made some adjustments. No doubt it is good with or without amending the original format.


  • 6 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs rice vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, since that is what is in my pantry)
  • 2 Tbs Asian sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and light green portions
  • 1 1/2 Tbs peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (I would also recommend finding a red thai chili to cook in)
  • 1 1/4 lb ground chicken (I used chicken thighs, which I diced up myself)
  • Lettuce leaves for serving
  • Bean sprouts and fresh cilantro and basil leaves for serving
    • I did not have either the basil or the sprouts, but I did add in sliced hakurei turnips from Windflower Farm as a garnish, which was spot on

Cooking Directions:

  1. In a bowl, stir together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Set aside.
  2. In a wok or large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add half the soy sauce mixture and cook 1 minute more.
  3. In a wok or large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add half the soy sauce mixture and cook 1 minute more.
  4. To serve, spoon about 3 Tbs. of the chicken mixture into a lettuce leaf, top with bean sprouts, cilantro and basil, and wrap the lettuce around the filling. But that is just the recommended serving style. To do this family style, I put all of the add ons on a few plates and allowed for self serve. Put the the remaining soy sauce mixture alongside in a small bowl for dipping

This dish is just amazing, and I cant even imagine how much better it would be if I had some basil, bean sprouts and thai chilis on hand…


Follow Your Food: Asparagus


I have already written a few time about the effect of spring in our fields. Spring also offers us special ingredients to use for our meal. As this is the season of first life and growth, many of the crops farmers harvest are at their most tender stage in the plant life cycle. This past week’s produce box hosted the true taste of tender spring with Springbank Farm’s Asparagus.

Asparagus, or Asparagus officionalis, is the perfect spring crop. Due to the value of this crop and the short season in which it grown, agrarian European communities have long viewed asparagus season as the highlight of the foodie calendar. Right now the flavor of its young shoots are tender and delicate as the plant accumulates water. Despite being 93% water, the juvenile shoots are packed with concentrated  nutrient densities of Iron, Vitamin K, and B Vitamins (Folate, Riboflavin and Thiamine).  There is rich with the amino acid asparagine, from which the plant derives its name. As an amino acid, asparagine facilitates the synthesis of proteins in our body. Although non-essential, asparagine’s contribution to protein biosynthesis is shown to be valuable in quite a number of ways. Its most prominent role play out in our nervous system by contributing to neuron growth and signal transmission across nerve endings. This amino acid may also prove important for the avid outdoorsman by smoothing liver function, which, in turn, leads to improved athletic stamina and builds resistance to nagging fatigue. Finally, asparagine is a fine complement to a vegetarian diet to increase the bioavailability of plant based proteins. I would say that this is a power packed vegetable for the lifestyle many of us choose to pursue here in Central Oregon!

Unfortunately,  its only a short time. Since asparagus is an herbaceous perennial, its structure becomes more robust as the season progresses. In the later weeks of springtime, the apical buds begin to open up, or “fern out”. At this point, the once tender stalks begin to lignify as more resources are directed to photosynthetic and reproductive tissues. So, make the most out of this spring, and every spring by sharing this wonderful crop in meals while it is still around. So to help, we have a recipe that won over our stomach’s. This week we want to tackle breakfast. Since it is the first meal of the day, a hearty breakfast is critical to fueling an action packed day at work, in the mountains, on the river or a high grade climb. Often times the tight schedule that comes with such a lifestyle prevents us from really being able to invest time into creating a real morning meal. Well the weekend is a perfect time to get it going and create something special to share!

Last time I shared some good ol’ Red Beans and Rice. This time I pulled a recipe from Lucinda Quinn’s second cookbook, Mad Hungry Cravings, and found an Asparagus and Spinach Frittata. I will let the rest speak for itself:


Frittata, serves 6:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound of asparagus with the ends trimmed

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

1/2 lemon

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound of fresh spinach, chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

10 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk


1 tablespoon capers

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 scallions, finely chopped (I used shallots)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 375, with the rack in the middle position. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium- high hea. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When it shimmers, add the asparagus and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until the asparagus is lightly browned in spots. Transfer to a plate, squeeze the lemon juice over it, and let cool
  2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic, spinach, pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and cook for just about a minute.
  3. Whisk the eggs and milk in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Pour into the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until the eggs begin to scramble but are still very wet. Remove from heat.
  4. Distribute a layer of the asparagus over the eggs, pressing them gently into the mixture. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the frittata is set.
  5. Meanwhile, for the sauce, combine the salt, pepper, capers, scallions, parsley, oil and vinegar into a small bowl
  6. Slice frittata into wedges and serve with sauce.

Shiro Plum & White Corn Salsa

plumsalsa6-660We have Shiro plums this week! If you’ve never had them before, don’t be shy, we’re getting a little creative today and adding them to salsa! Have you had mango salsa before? This isn’t too far off. Shiro plums originated in China and were brought to American in the 1800s through Japan. They are most often yellow and are just as sweet and tart as purple plums. The recipe and photos are from Find the original post here.

Want to eat your plums for dessert? Check out the recipe for Honey-Roasted Plums with Thyme and Creme Fraiche from Bon Appetit here.plums2-460

Shiro Plum & White Corn Salsa
Yields about 3 cups.

one ear of corn, preferably white
zest + juice of 1 large lime
1 lb Shiro plums, rinsed, halved, pitted and diced
1/2 red onion, diced to 1/-4 inch
1 sweet green pepper, diced (I used Cubanelle)
1 jalapeno pepper, minced, without seeds (add seeds back in for extra heat)
1 tsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Husk the corn, wrap in a clean, wet tea towel, and microwave on high for 1 minute. Allow to steam in the towel while you prep the other ingredients. Alternatively, steam or boil the corn in water on the stove top, or if it’s fresh enough, use it raw.
Combine lime zest, juice and plums in a medium bowl, tossing to coat plums (and prevent browning). Add onion, peppers, salt, cumin and cayenne pepper. Cut corn kernels off the cob and add to the salsa. Taste and adjust seasonings (add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar if needed). For best taste, allow to blend and mellow at room temperature for an hour or so, or refrigerated overnight. Add fresh cilantro, toss and serve.


Roasted Shishito Peppers


Shishito Peppers are a great summertime snack! If you’ve never had shishitos (or padrones), they’re mild… but they say 1 out of every 10 is a spicy one. The recipe and photos in this post come from the lovely Love & Lemons. You can find the original post here.

Roasted Shishito Peppers
Serves 3-4 as an appetizer

2 heaping cups shishito peppers (or padrone peppers)
drizzle of olive oil
toasted sesame seeds

sesame peanut sauce:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce (to taste)
juice of 1 lime

lemon-basil yogurt:
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
big squeeze of lemon
small handful of basil
a few chopped chives
salt & pepper

Peanut Sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the ingredients for the peanut sauce. Taste and adjust. Depending on the thickness of your peanut butter, you may have to add a bit of warm water to thin it out.
Yogurt Sauce: In a food processor, blend together the ingredients for the yogurt sauce. (alternatively, you can very finely chop your herbs and stir everything together in a bowl).
For the Shishitos: Wrap the peppers in foil with a bit of olive oil and salt, and roast in a 450 degree oven for 5-7 minutes. Open the foil, turn the heat up to broil, and continue roasting for another 2 minutes, or until they begin to blacken and blister.
Serve hot. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with dipping sauce(s).


Chickpea Salad with Sesame and Garlic Dressing


This light salad will make use of your cherry tomatoes and cucumbers this week. Ever tried chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)? They are a great source of protein and fiber. The photos and recipe come from Jolly Vindaloo and you can find the original post here. Enjoy!

Chickpeas Salad with Sesame and Garlic Dressing
Serves 2

For Salad
1 15 oz Can of Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) or 1 and ½ Cups.
2/3 Cup Diced Cucumber
2/3 Cup Diced Tomatoes
½ Cup Diced Celery
½ Cup Bell Pepper (you can use red, orange or yellow)
2/3 Cup Chopped Water Cress
¼ Cup Chopped Fennel Bulb
1 -2 Tbsp Raw Sunflower Seeds

3 Tbsp Tahini
3 Cloves Garlic (minced or pressed)
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tsp Red Wine Vinegar
¼ Tsp Black Pepper
Salt to Taste

*Dice all salad veggies approximately same size as chickpeas.

In a mixing bowl, add Chickpeas, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Celery, Bell Pepper, Fennel, and Water Cress.
Toss everything together. In another bowl, add all ingredients for dressing and whisk everything together. This will be very thick so add water gradually to thin the dressing until it is pasty. Be careful to not add too much water; veggies in the salad will also release water. You don’t want to make it too runny. You can also use raw Sesame Oil to liquefy the dressing instead of water.
Pour dressing over the salad and again toss everything together until dressing is well distributed.
Lastly, sprinkle sunflower seed over the salad.


Caprese Salad


Here’s a recipe that will make use of your slicing tomatoes and your basil leaves this week. A Caprese Salad is refreshing on a warm day and so easy to throw together. It can be an afternoon snack or a potluck side dish. The photos and recipe in this post come from Spoonful. See the original post here.

Caprese Salad
Serves about 4 as a side

2-3 large tomatoes
Sea salt to taste
12 ounces fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh basil leaves

Slice the tomatoes and lay them out on a platter. Salt them generously. Slice the mozzarella similarly, and lay the slices on the tomatoes. Drizzle with the olive oil, then top each piece with a large, fresh leaf of basil and serve.