Travel, Catering, and Trying to Slow Down

3 Nov

I must apologize for my delay in writing, especially since I’ve recently gotten some new subscribers (yay!).  There has been a lot going on – many things that have left me feeling blessed and thankful, and many meals that I’ve wanted to share that have left me feeling, well, mmm.

Right now, Sig is lying at the foot of my bed (something he is not generally allowed to do, but since Rob is on duty, he’s keeping me company) and we’re both listening to the Oregon rain tap against the house.  It’s steady but not strong; just enough to know it’s wet outside.  Fall flew by faster than the leaves could change, and this is literally the initiation into our “rainy season” (known as “winter” in other parts of the country).

A few pounds heavier, and a bit out of my normal chi, I have spent the last few months doing my best to balance work, working out, cooking, and more work.  My job this year has given me opportunities to meet some amazing, brilliant, and inspirational people in the educational field (hi Mickey and Penny!), as well as continually fill me with new experiences and learning opportunities each day.  Even though I am in a coaching position, there have been days I where have felt like a student again, leaving me, conversely enough, with simultaneous humility and strength.  There’s been a lot of travel, and a lot of tired nights, but many rewarding experiences.

In taking a break from the work excitement, Rob and I had the opportunity to go visit our CSA farm, Wintergreen Farms in Noti, Oregon.  They were having a harvest potluck party and we drove out to get a hayride tour of the farm and rub elbows with the real pros (they’d probably laugh at my barely-living rosemary starter right now… better yet, if I were really lucky, they’d give me some compost to help grow the little bugger).  It was an amazing experience and completely took the farm-to-table mentality away from just a movement and brought it full-circle.  Woohoo for talented farmers!

Then, onto the catering gig.  Last weekend, I had the honor and privilege of catering a friend’s wedding.  There were just over 20 people and heavy hors’deouvres with finger foods were the main course.  The night was magnificent.  The menu consisted of everything from lavash and homemade cucumber ricotta, marinated olives, sun dried tomato palmiers, to turkey and goat cheese meatballs in a mustard and berry sauce.  Of course my 5-spice popcorn and sweet and salty nuts played a part (can’t have a party without those – no matter how fancy!), and a huge platter of seasonal roasted veg with 3 dipping sauces rounded out the table.  It was a lot of fun preparation and an even bigger payoff to see the bride, in her “wedding slacks” smiling ear to ear throughout the night.  Cathy and Dennis – I wish you all the happiness in the world!

Now, I have to admit, Rob and I have started to really become Oregon foodies.  If you had asked me two years ago if I could picture myself eating elk roast and day-fresh wild duck breasts, I probably would have laughed, scoffed, and then exclaimed, “I wish!” (probably while throwing my hands in the air, as I can be overly-emphatic like that sometimes.  What – you’re not surprised?). Well, over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been blessed enough to have wonderful hunting friends supplying us with those latter game meats, and it has been my joy preparing them.  I’ve learned a lot about game meat living here, and I believe the best preparation is to keep it simple with few ingredients, thus really bringing out the flavor of the lean proteins (wild duck has very little fat – just learned this when I wrongfully scolded the hunter for cutting off the cherished fat cap off the duck breast.  I also learned you should never scold a hunter).  I prepared the elk roast medium with a sear and a quick red wine-braise in a screaming hot oven.  The duck was seared to medium rare in cast iron with oil, butter, citrus, and a tossing of woody herbs.  Paired with my Nana’s Apple and Bacon Braised Cabbage (this is one recipe I will never give out!), the meal was beyond a hit.

With another travel day ahead, tonight was an easy dinner: Raw Tomatillo and Pink Pearl Tomato Salsa with Chicken Mango Sausage.  Trader Joes has a fantastic go-to chicken sausage selection, with many varieties from which to choose.  And the salsa, with the help of the food processor, literally took about 3 minutes.  The light, easy, and super flavorful meal was on the table in abra-cadabra-speediness (then was perfectly followed by leftover Halloween candy.  The bowl has to be emptied somehow. Any other suggestions?).

Life should **hopefully** be slowing down just a bit, leaving me with some time with my man, my dog, and to catch up on October’s Food and Wine, maybe start November’s Thanksgiving issue, and find out the details behind the big Kardashian divorce news (only the most important things for my free time).  Oh and the bathroom needs cleaning.  Sig needs a bath.  And there are about 5 leeks and a giant fennel bulb with my name on it in the fridge.  Maybe slowing down will have to wait!

Enjoy the salsa!

Raw Tomatillo and Pink Pearl Tomato Salsa (makes about 4 cups) 
Note: pink pearl tomatoes are a smaller, grape-sized tomatoes that are sweet and mild, and pink!  If you can’t find them, substituting cherry or grape tomatoes would work fine. 

  • 3 c Pink Pearl tomatoes
  • 3 c hulled heirloom tomatillos (heirlooms are smaller than conventional tomatillos, and have much more flavor)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • juice of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 clementine or mandarin orange
  • 1 1/2 tsp raw agave 
  • 1/2 tsp of Tabasco sauce (more or less depending on your taste) 
  • s&p 

Mix all ingredients in the food processor.  Pulse until pureed.  Taste for seasoning.  

Eat with sausage, on fish tacos, or just with plain old tortilla chips.  And don’t forget the beer. 

Enjoy! 

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