Living the Co-op Life

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Finding a co-op is kind of like dating.  You meet, get to know each other, fall in love, and make a commitment.  It’s the classic love story.

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I’m kidding, but not totally.  I met Our Table thanks to that food blogger conference a few months ago, I returned once a week or so to get to know it better, and when I found myself talking to friends about it non-stop while sporting a cheesy grin I knew it was love!  My analogy falls apart at this point since I totally want to share my co-op with friends and family.  An open co-op relationship is a lot easier than an open dating relationship.

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After a few months in love, I wanted to show Our Table how much they meant to me so I decided to become an official consumer member.  You don’t have to be a member to shop there or attend events (like the Swell Granola tasting this Saturday!), but being a member does come with some benefits:

  • Participate in a local, cooperatively owned business, vote in Co-op elections, and run for the Board of Directors
  • Lower food prices – 10% off everything at our on-farm grocery on the 2nd Saturday of each month
  • Access to exclusive on-farm events and U-pick days, special small-batch produce and prepared foods
  • Discounts on educational classes
  • Share of the Co-op’s profits — earn a patronage dividend based on your total purchases in years when the Cooperative makes sufficient profits

I love that being a member means I own a part of it, I get a say and my voice matters.  I’m excited to see the whole co-op election process and get to know the people on the Board.  I doubt any of them needed to hire Olivia Pope to get elected, but I would imagine they all take their positions just as seriously and do it for a real love of the co-op.

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The thing that keeps bringing me back though, and is available to non-members as well, is just the fact that I know exactly where my food comes from, and if I want more info all I have to do is ask.  I don’t even know how to express the peace of mind that gives me.  With a  new article every day about toxic food additives, pesticides, GMOs, meat recalls, and foods being bad for you that were touted as healthy the day before, knowing what to buy can be stressful.

I will admit to being a bit paralyzed at times in the grocery store, trying to decipher ingredients and weed through all the advertising claims you’re never sure you can believe.  The easy answer there is to skip the packaged foods and focus on the produce and meat/seafood sections, but that has it’s own issues.  Which veggies should you purchase organic vs. conventional (and what do I do with them once I get them home?), was that chicken free-range (and what exactly does free-range mean?), was that cow slaughtered humanely (and how can I even verify that?).

So many questions but so few answers.  Most of the time I’d end up feeling like no decision was the right one and I’d just hit Taco Bell on the way home.  Obviously that makes no sense since we can all agree that Taco Bell is never the right decision.  Not even if they bring back the rolled chicken tacos!

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Knowing that I can walk into the On-Farm Grocery and shop without having to question everything is such a relief!  Grocery shopping is fun again, and coupling that with the CSA has been getting me back into the kitchen which my husband is certainly a fan of.  It doesn’t hurt that the Our Table staff is amazing as well!  Whether it’s Royce or Colleen in the store (or anyone else you deal with), they’re going to greet you with a genuine smile and they’ll help you find exactly what you need.  It feels how I imagine the old timey General Stores were (local people, local food), but thankfully it has modern conveniences like a commercial kitchen and indoor plumbing!

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What really struck me at the member potluck last weekend is that a co-op is a community, people coming together for a common goal.  To get the most out of it you need to get involved, and the best way to do that is become a member and truly own your food instead of just buying it.  If you’re local and interested, swipe right click here.

Already a member?  Comment below and introduce yourself, I’d love to meet you!

To learn more about Our Table and their co-op/csa/farming ways, check them out here:
Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter
13390 SW Morgan Rd
Sherwood, OR  97140
503-217-4304

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(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!)

FALLing for Veggies

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It’s finally Fall!  Temperatures are dropping, leaves are changing, gourds are ripening, and I couldn’t love it more!!

Part of the CSA fun is learning what’s in season in the area.  Sure, I can go to the grocery store and buy oranges every day of the year, but if you stop to think about it, oranges are only grown in certain areas and at certain times, so how are there always oranges available?  Eating locally has opened my eyes to eating seasonally as well.  So what do Fall veggies from Our Table look like?

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Pretty similar to Summer veggies at this point, but leeks are new!

Thank goodness the Our Table blog lists what’s coming each week with cooking ideas.  I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten leeks, and I know for a fact I’ve never cooked with them.  Apparently they’re part of the Allium family, like garlic and onions; might have to try one of these tasty sounding options:

What’s your favorite thing to do with leeks?

Sadly, I didn’t make it in to my favorite farm store this weekend.  Insert sad, crying, pouty face here.  I’m feeling under the weather thanks to fellow employees bringing their second hand germs to work – thanks a lot back-to-school-season.  If it weren’t for the dog, I probably wouldn’t have ever moved from bed this weekend.

How weird is it to be sad about missing grocery shopping?  Not so weird when it’s a place that knows you by name, treats you like a friend, and has fireplace seating!

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Maybe this is the Theraflu talking, but I’m counting down the days until we’re reunited!

 

(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 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!)