Our Table Members are Potluck Party People

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Have you ever looked up the definition of potluck?  I just did, and Google expectedly says “a meal or party to which each of the guests contributes a dish”, but it also says “used in reference to a situation in which one must take a chance that whatever is available will prove to be good or acceptable”, which I found hilariously spot-on!

You never really know what you’re in for with a potluck, you may end up stuffed silly, or you may find yourself stopping at Wendy’s on the way home for something slightly more edible, or you may contract the dreaded potato-salad-poisoning.  Mayo and sunshine are beautiful on their own, no so much when mixed together.

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According to Wikipedia, potluck was first used in the 16th century and referred to providing food for an unexpected guest, they would be served whatever was available, so it was the luck of the pot.  I wonder if people strategically timed their “unexpected” visits?  Like if they saw their neighbor walking home from the market with fresh bread, they knew it was a good time to drop by?  That’s what I’d do.  “Oh, fresh bread?  You don’t say… Well, if you insist!  Got any butter?”

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Thankfully my potluck experiences have been very lucky.  I work with a bunch of foodies and we can’t go more than a few month before someone is suggesting another potluck.  We keep a Traeger in the shop, that’s how serious we are about it.  With the bar set so high, I wasn’t getting my hopes up too much about the first annual member potluck at Our Table.  I thought the food would be good, of course, but I wasn’t convinced it would hold a candle crockpot to our work shindigs.

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I am happy to report that I was so very wrong!  These co-op members can COOK!  I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised, if you’re buying fresh produce from a co-op, you probably know your way around a kitchen.  Pretty sure I’m the only one who doesn’t, haha!

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(There’s the bag of chips from my last post, and the black bean and corn salsa/salad/relishy kind of thing I made.  Oh, and if you also fell in love with that vegan broccoli raisin salad, the very nice gentleman who made it shared the recipe he used!)

The beautiful farm setting only enhanced the food experience!  It was so fun to meet fellow members, watch the kids play, walk the flower garden during sunset, and stay warm by the fire pit.

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The only tiny thing I would suggest for next year is an epic s’mores bar!  Or maybe that just needs to be an event all it’s own – Our S’mores Table?  Oh goodness, could you imagine… some Betty Lou’s graham crackers (or homemade cookies!) with marshmallows, a little Alma Salted Caramel Sauce, and some Honey Mama’s Cocoa Nectar… a glass of local wine on the side for good measure.  Might have to bring sleeping bags and just stay the night!

Hey, I’m a member, I can bring that to the board for a vote or something like that, right?  Anybody want to second my s’motion?  I mean, marshmallows are an Oregon crop, right?

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Don’t worry, I’m admittedly clueless about farming but I do know marshmallows are not an Oregon crop.  They obviously only grow in the North Pole!

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What’s your go-to dish for potlucking?  Or s’moresing?

(The fun legal disclosure: This September is membership month at Our Table and I’m partnering with them for a blog series sharing my co-op story and how they help me eat local.  I  am receiving a small discount on purchases I make, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.  If I didn’t genuinely love this place I would not be telling you about it.  Check out all my Our Table coverage here!)

Another week, another CSA!

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This week’s haul:

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– Collard Greens –
– Beet Thinnings –
– Stocky Red Roasters –
– Amarosa potatoes –

And from the #OTCgrocery:

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– Focaccia Pizza –
– Lettuce, Tomatoes, Fennel, Sweet Potato, ORANGE Cauliflower –
– Pluots –
– Eggs –
– POP TART –
– Chips –
– Hand Lotion –
– Green Pepper Sauce –

That Focaccia and the pop tart are made by Roman Candle Baking Co. and both are so delicious.  Couldn’t even wait for the photo before I ate some of that pop tart!

The veggies are pretty standard and you know they’re going to get roasted, except for the cauliflower.  I’ve never seen orange cauliflower before, have you?  I’ve seen purple, but not orange.  I’m going to make some of this creamy cauliflower sauce for a healthy fettuccine alfredo – I think the orange color will make it so fun!

The Late July chips and Portland Pepper Sauce are part of a dish I’m taking to the Fall Open House & Member Potluck tomorrow – it’s a black bean and corn salsa type of thing!

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The lotion was an impulse buy, I love orange blossom and there was a tester and I really liked it.  Did you know Our Table has some body products too?  Soaps and lotions from Something Green:

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They also have these cute elixirs from Sweet Honey Farmacy!  I haven’t tried them yet but my friend swears by the Grounding Elixir for helping calm the mind.

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PLUOTS!!  It’s just fun to say.  Very excited that apple season is upon us – YAY FALL!!

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I’m always blown away by the new options in the prepared food and frozen sections, I mean, check this out… pulled pork, pork enchiladas, beet salad, hummus, CUBANO SANDWICH, farm salad, romesco sauce, stuffed shells, farm salad, borscht, minestrone, meat sauce, FRESH MOZZARELLA, apple galette, and focaccia pizza.  So many options and you don’t have to waste a moment wondering about the safety or quality of the ingredients.  I love it!!

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As for eating last week’s bounty… We thoroughly enjoyed the split pea soup!  Topped it with that Rogue Creamery smokey blue cheese and a side of Roman Candle bread of course.

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I also roasted up the veggies with some herbs and a couple of the apples and we ate that a few times over the week.  Cooked up the Deck Farms sausage to add to it, fried up some eggs and called it Harvest Hast.  Pretty sure we could eat some variation of this every day and be perfectly happy!

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Cooked up the bacon in the oven and used the smokey blue cheese for BLT salads which I topped with homemade ranch!  So good!!  I didn’t even sit down to eat that salad, I inhaled it standing in the kitchen while the dog stared me down for a piece of bacon.  Oh, and good news if you’re doing Whole30, this Deck Farms bacon appears to be compliant, and so is that ranch recipe, so add this BLT salad to your W30 meal plan!

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Other goodies around the store:

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Have I mentioned yet that they have Breakside Brewery IPA, Lion Heart Kombucha, Napa Valley Naturals olive oil, and Spectrum Naturals balsamic vinegar on tap?  They do.

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Can’t wait to head back over there tomorrow for the potluck, however, my mingling skills basically don’t exist.  I’m terrible at small talk and can be shy and reserved, especially in large gatherings which can come off as aloof or snobby when really I’m just way out of my comfort zone.  Anyone else feel like that?

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What are you excited to cook and eat this week?

(The fun legal disclosure: This September is membership month at Our Table and I’m partnering with them for a blog series sharing my co-op story and how they help me eat local.  I  am receiving a small discount on purchases I make, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.  If I didn’t genuinely love this place I would not be telling you about it.  Check out all my Our Table coverage here!)

Our Table in the Field + Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene’s

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Farm dinners.  You should definitely do them.

I’ve seen many a dreamy photo from farm dinners held in the field with twinkly lights and have always wanted to attend one.  The idea of eating a meal made with veggies grown from the very farm you’re sitting on is as close to farm-to-table as you can get.

Unless you actually live on a farm and eat what you grow, farm-to-table can be difficult to achieve.  It’s more like farm-to-truck-to-store-to-cart-to-car-to-fridge-to-table, haha!

Adding to the list of things I love about Our Table – they do farm field dinners in the Summer!

That in itself is fun, but add in the fact that their featured Chef is Joshua McFadden from Ava Gene’s and you know you’re in for a treat.  I’m not sure when or how their partnership with Ava Gene’s / Roman Candle Baking Co. started, but let’s just thank our lucky stars that it did!

Here are a “few” photos from the dinner I attended in July.  It featured wines from Pete’s Mountain Vineyard and included a farm tour, followed by a meal to remember!  And more wine!!

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Their last dinner of the season is coming up next Saturday, 9/26get tickets here – it will feature Chef Joshua McFadden from Ava Gene’s, and wine from Durant Vineyards.  Trust me, you won’t be sorry!!

Don’t believe me?  Check out last October’s USA Today article: “10 Best: Places to dine down on the farm”.

Who else is with me on the farm dinner love bandwagon wheelbarrow?!!

(The fun legal disclosure: This September is membership month at Our Table and I’m partnering with them for a blog series sharing my co-op story and how they help me eat local.  I  am receiving a small discount on purchases I make, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.  If I didn’t genuinely love this place I would not be telling you about it.  Check out all my Our Table coverage here!)

CSA(wesome)

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The latest CSA bounty!!

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Yukon Gold potatoes, Cipollini onions, Stocky Red roasting peppers, Red Leaf lettuce, and cilantro!  I see another giant salad in our near future, as well as a giant roasting pan full of potatoes, onions, and peppers.  I used to think I didn’t like onions, and then I had the roasted!!

Picked up some stuff at the grocery as well:

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How cute are those little baby peppers?!!  Thinking about using those to spice up some tuna salad for lunches this week.  I told Royce (the very nice guy that works at the store) about my tuna plans and he’d never done jalapeno with tuna before.  Have you?  I did it for the first time a few months ago and it worked really well, we were both wondering why we hadn’t actually thought of it before.

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Even though it’s 90 degrees this weekend, it’s supposed to be back to mid-60s during the week so I’m very excited to thaw that Split Pea Soup and eat it with the Roman Candle rye bread for a quick and easy dinner or two.  BRING ON FALL!! (aka soup season)

Grabbed some apples for snackin’, and smokey blue cheese from Rogue Creamery for saladin’.  Not really a word, I know, but let’s go with it.

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Deck Family Farm in Junction City is a Regional Producer Member of Our Table and I’m excited to try their country pork sausage and uncured natural BACON!!  I’m thinking the bacon and cheese will make a good BLT salad, right?  Mr. Won’t Run grabbed the cheese out of the fridge when he got home to put together a snack but I wouldn’t let him eat it – I was really just afraid he wouldn’t leave me any, haha!  We’re serious about cheese around here.

We’ll also be snacking on some Oregon Brineworks pickles!  We got a couple of jars a month or so ago and then they got pushed to the back of the fridge so it was like Christmas when I rediscovered them.  We’re also serious about all things pickled around here!

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Mr. Won’t Run had a busy week last week so not all my dinner ideas ended up happening but I did do a couple of simple tasty things.  I know it’s not very exciting, but we seriously love basic roasted veggies so we added some fried eggs to roasted potatoes and onions.  That is never a wrong meal choice!  Don’t judge my fried eggs too hard, I’m working on it.

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How do you like your eggs?  He likes them runny, but I think that tastes like liquid chicken.  When I thought his were done, I asked him to come check on them and he said “why, what’s wrong with them” and I said “um, ya know, I cooked them” haha!

The nights he wasn’t home for dinner and I wanted something quick, I pulled out the spiralizer and noodled the sweet potato, cooked it up with some OTC meat sauce, added some meatballs, and called it good.

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It probably doesn’t look like much, but I really do like that dish, and it’s a huge step up from all the fast food (taco bell) we’ve been eating lately.  Especially if Mr. Won’t Run is gone, I normally don’t want to bother cooking just for myself, but I’m working on realizing that I’m worth the effort!

What should I do with that country pork sausage?  We still have some eggs… maybe something like these on-the-go sausage egg cups to grab on our way out the door in the morning?  What would you make?

Oh, and how cute is this?!  Welcome to the co-op family Baby Kemp!!

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Are you part of a CSA in your area?  Tell me what you’re doing with your share this week!

(The fun legal disclosure: This September is membership month at Our Table and I’m partnering with them for a blog series sharing my co-op story and how they help me eat local.  I  am receiving a small discount on purchases I make, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.  If I didn’t genuinely love this place I would not be telling you about it.  Check out all my Our Table coverage here!)

What the Friday!

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Holy moly, my fantasy could come true!!  For only $150.00 and a 250 word essay, this Vermont country inn could be mine-all-mine!!  Or yours-all-yours!

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“Vermont should be beautiful this time of the year, all that snow.”
(if you don’t know what movie that’s from I may have to rethink our friendship)

Portland will be the opposite of snow this weekend, it’s supposed to be 90 melty degrees again.  Has Oregon forgotten how to September?!!  It’s been teasing us with glimpses of cooler temps and changing colors, and now a heat wave curve ball.  Not cool.

Despite the heat, I could not be more excited for the changing season so I was thrilled to see the new Fall collection just released at Lindsay Letters.  I honestly gasped when I saw this one, it’s my favorite Fall quote, Delicious Autumn!  There is a larger canvas version too with different color options.

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I also love this one.  And this one.  And this one.  Just go over and check out the whole line here, 15% off right now with code FEAST15.  No, I don’t work for her, I just crazy-stalker-love her stuff!

Speaking of Fall, TV premiere season has started!!  What shows are you excited for?  I’m embarrassed to list all the ones I’m looking forward to, there are sooooo many, haha, our DVR should be very scared!  How about Netflix, have you seen what’s new for September?

Any locals hitting up Feast events next weekend?  There are still tickets available!  I’m hoping we’ll make it to the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting on Saturday but it’ll depend on Mr. Won’t Run’s work schedule.  Such a fun event and it supports a great cause!

Here’s a list of stuff going on around town this weekend.  One of them is Brandi Carlile at McMenamin’s Edgefield.  I had never heard of her but they likened her style to Patsy Cline so I knew I had to check her out.  Entered her name into Pandora and wound up with a great station, mellow and soothing – not to be confused with boring and sleepy.  I feel like I should be out on the back porch chatting with a good friend over a nice bottle of wine.

In case you missed it, I’m partnering with Our Table this month for a blog series all about my co-op experience with them so far, you can read those posts here.  It’s been a while since I’ve really felt a desire to blog, but this series is bringing it back.  I look forward to sharing more and getting back to writing here in general.  I hope you’ll stick around!

Cheers to the weekend!  Any big plans?

A Girl and her Co-op

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A little over three months ago I attended Indulge, a food blogging conference here in Portland.  I don’t really consider myself a food blogger in the traditional sense since I don’t develop my own recipes, but I do enjoy eating and might blog about a recipe I tried, a food product we like, or a restaurant we ate at.  When I found out that local food blogger Lauren Brennan of Lauren’s Latest got together with local event manager Christie Blake of Blake & Co. to host a conference focusing on food – and especially the Portland food scene – I knew I wanted to go.

OXO and Travel Oregon were conference sponsors and they put together a couple of day-trip options for attendees to choose from.  One trip went East to explore the Hood River Fruit Loop, and the other went South to see Willamette Valley wine country.  Since I’ve done the Fruit Loop a couple of times I decided to do the Willamette Valley tour and discover some new places in my neck of the woods.

The first stop on that tour?  A 58-acre farm in Sherwood, OR called Our Table Cooperative!

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We started with a walking tour around the farm lead by the founder, Narendra Varma.  I was enthralled, I think I could listen to him talk all day long about farming!  The farm was purchased in 2011 and the vision is to create a “beautifully diverse Permaculture design that views the farm as a single, whole organism”.  How beautiful does that sound?  They grow a variety of vegetable crops, as well as blueberries, apples, and some livestock too.  There is a creek and pond that flow through the property which they use for irrigation, and the views aren’t too terrible.

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So, how exactly does their garden grow?  Organically, of course!  As of June 2014, all their plant-based crops are certified organic under the USDA’s National Organic Program.  They are very up front about their farming practices which I greatly appreciate as a consumer.

Here are the basic approaches we employ to meet the spirit and letter of the NOP standards:

  • For fertility, we use cover crops and compost them on site. We also add lime for Calcium and feather meal for Nitrogen based on soil fertility tests.
  • For weed control, we use a variety of hoes and occasionally our hands. Proper bed preparation and other cultural practices limit weed competitiveness.
  • For pests, our primary approach is exclusion by using floating row cover (spun polyester). Much of the pest control is more in the diversity of plantings and other cultural practices that encourage strong plant growth.
  • Crops and cover crops to feed the soil are rotated constantly, and these contribute to fertility, weed control and pest control.
  • We primarily use Organic seed, but also include a few varieties that we know to be excellent and are not available Organically (probably only a handful at most). We save some seed on the farm and hope to use more as time goes on.
  • We are diligent in our record keeping and always keep our doors open for visitors who want a firsthand look at what we do.

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If you look reeeeaaaalllllllllllly closely around the center of that picture you an see Mt. Hood.

I don’t know about you guys, but the closest I’ve come to farming is when my parents had a garden while I was in middle school.  Sadly, I could not have cared less!  To me, gardening meant dirt and worms and weeding.  Who in their right mind would choose to do something like that?

Since then, I married a guy who grew up working on the family’s farm in Salinas Valley, I’ve become more conscious of where our food comes from and how it’s grown, and I’ve met people who have insane backyard gardens and want to teach others how to grow as well. (Veggies, people! How to grow veggies!!)  As much as I’d love to have a yard to garden, I’m honestly not sure I’m the dirt / worms / weeding type, but what good is the Our Table farm to me if I’m not a farmer?

They run a CSA!!  What’s a CSA?  It stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it basically means they do the farming for me; I get the benefit of fresh, organic, in-season veggies with none of the work!!  Shoot, when I say it like that I feel kind of bad, but I do pay for the CSA share so I guess that’s my hard work… trading some paper greens for leafy greens.  Works for me, especially if it means I don’t have to pull weeds!

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I had heard of CSAs before, but as I’ve mentioned, my kitchen skills have become sub-par so the thought of getting a giant bin of veggies every week that I’d need to figure out what to do with before it all goes bad was basically my worst nightmare.  What I like about this CSA in particular is that it’s small, individual-sized shares and you can buy as many shares as you want.  We’ve only got one share which is perfect for us and gives me a manageable amount of veggies to play with in a way that doesn’t give me a panic attack.  CSA day is Thursdays and there are some neighborhood delivery locations or if you’re close enough you can pick it up at the farm.  I’m close enough, and Thursdays are becoming my favorite days because I love going out there, but what if I pick up my share and I wish there was more in it?

They have an on-farm Grocery!!  And it’s the prettiest thing ever!

All I ever really knew about co-ops is what you see portrayed and stereotyped on TV, so I fully expected the store to have a hippy/granola/patchouli vibe.  Not that “hippy” is a bad thing, but I was shocked to walk into a place that felt more like a boutique grocer on NW 23rd.  It’s a warm and beautiful space that invites you to come in and sit by the fireplace.  Seriously, there’s a seating area by a fireplace!

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You may think a farm store would only have farm veggies, but there is so much more!  Kombucha on tap, a bulk food section, a dairy case with fresh eggs and specialty meats & cheeses, BEER & WINE, honey from their own hives, a freezer section with local meat and fish and ice cream, and don’t even get me started on their prepared foods!!  They have a commercial kitchen that puts out some crazy delicious items!

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The grocery is 80% Oregon sourced and 90% Organic with both vegan and gluten-free selections.  You’ll find so many great local treats, and there is a delicious partnership with Roman Candle Baking Co. – fresh bread is delivered on Fridays and Saturdays!  Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t tell you that… leave some focaccia for me, okay?

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All the conference attendees were blown away and commenting that they wished they had a place like this in their hometowns.  It made me feel so lucky that Our Table is in my back yard and I can visit whenever I want to – well, Wed-Sun from 10-6 anyways.  The store pics above are from my first visit in May, they’ve rearranged since then, so next time you’re in Sherwood, or if you’re heading down I-5 just hop off at Wilsonville and check it out!

And here is the original chalk heart that sealed the deal… #loveatfirstsight

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Check back on Saturday, I’ll show you what was in this week’s CSA and what else I picked up at the store!

Are you part of a Co-op or CSA in your area?  Hit me with your favorite CSA veggie recipes for Fall!

(The fun legal disclosure: This September is membership month at Our Table and I’m partnering with them for a blog series sharing my co-op story and how they help me eat local.  I  am receiving a small discount on purchases I make, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.  If I didn’t genuinely love this place I would not be telling you about it.  Check out all my Our Table coverage here!)