op ed Archive

On Meat: Urban Farmer, Sustainability, and Luce’s Pork Ragu.

Last week, I was invited to attend a special dinner at Urban Farmer, along with a few other bloggers. I gladly accepted the invitation, and was thrilled at the prospect of a really great steak dinner.

While the food was nothing short of amazing, it was the educational component of the evening that really stuck with me. I was floored by the purchasing philosophy, the butchery, and the dedication to quality and sustainability. Let me stop right there and rant for a moment: sustainability is a trendy and oft misused term in our society. The word sustainable actually means: “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” And yet, the word is so often used in marketing and and advertising for companies who are far from sustainable, which is why I find it so damn refreshing to come across people who are actually practicing true sustainability.

Which brings me back to Urban Farmer.

Take, for example, Urban Farmer’s whole animal butchery program: when they purchase a whole cow, they make sure to use every single part of the animal. They use the bones to make stock. They use all the trimmings off the steaks (and other cuts) to make ground beef and burgers. Oh, and Chef Matt Christianson uses the beef fat to make his own soap (!!!). (Fun fact: most of the candles on the tables at Urban Farmer are made from beef fat.) And, it should go without saying, that Urban Farmer sources their animals from the best purveyors who practice sustainable farming.

Urban Farmer

Really, the dinner at Urban Farmer just got me thinking about meat. I love meat, I really do, but I wrestle with consuming it. I am constantly shocked and disgusted by what I read about factory farming and its averse effects on humans and animals. Every day we are bombarded with news about our broken food system: e.coli outbreaks, antibiotics, Mad Cow disease, horse meat scandals, and the fact that Taco Bell’s “meat” isn’t really meat at all. It’s all very horrifying and unappetizing. But I truly believe that this is one issue where I can make a difference. By purchasing meat from farmers and producers who raise animals with care and respect, I am voting with my dollars. Sustainable farming isn’t just good for the animal, it is good for the environment and for public health.

As you may have noticed, I don’t cook a lot of meat. Most of my recipes are vegetarian, with the occasional meaty offering. Frankly, it’s because I can’t afford to cook a lot of meat. Good meat is expensive, because it costs a lot of money to raise animals on real food in real pastures. But good meat is worth the price.

That being said, it’s not all bad news. There are ways to purchase sustainable meat without breaking the bank. I highly recommend joining a food buying club (I am a proud member the Montavilla Food Buying Club) or buying a whole animal from a local farm or butcher. If you can’t afford a whole animal, see if you can split one with friends (or other interested buyers). I just bought 1/8 of a pig from Proletariat Meat and it was shockingly affordable. (The funny thing is, I now have a freezer full of pork and Orthodox Lent starts next week. The pork will have to wait until after Easter, I suppose!)

I’ll close out my meaty rant with a link to a recipe for Luce’s Pork and Beef Ragu. My husband made it for me for dinner this week, and it was phenomenal. I’m a lucky lady.

Luce's Pork Ragu

The People’s Co-Op Food Swap

I am very pleased to announce the very first People’s Co-op Food Swap! The swap will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 21st, from 6-8pm. There are only 35 spots available for this event, so RSVP promptly to reserve your spot. See below for info!

{What IS a food swap, you might ask?}

A Food Swap is part silent auction/part village marketplace/part fun-loving open house where your homemade creations (breads, preserves, special concoctions, canned goods, etc.) become your own personal currency for use in swapping with other participants. What better way to diversify your pantry and rub shoulders with friend and neighbors?

{The Details}

When: Wednesday, September 21st, 6pm.

Where: People’s Co-op, 3029 SE 21st Ave., Upstairs in the Community Co-op room

What: Bring an assortment of your homemade edible specialties to exchange for other handcrafted delights.The People’s Co-op will provide swapping cards, name tags, and organization for the event. You will be given the opportunity to offer trades in a silent-auction type format, and you will be free to choose which trades to accept for your products. Bring as much or as little as you like; there are no caps or minimums.

Who: Portlanders and anyone willing to make the journey from surrounding areas! Please note, we are unable to provide childcare for this event.

Cost: Swap participants will be given free entry; a donation jar will be available to help cover the cost of supplies.


a) Email your RSVP to Lindsay.Strannigan@gmail.com

Please provide your name, contact info, and a description of items you plan to trade.

Due to limited space, we are capping the number of swappers at 35 and will keep a waiting list after that, so register early.

b) On Wednesday, the 21st, please bring yourself and your hand crafted goods to swap. (*Please note: The People’s Co-op is a vegetarian organization, so we would ask that you please refrain from swapping anything containing meat. Thank you!)

c) It’s as simple as that! We’re so excited to meet one another and celebrate the bounty of the seasons and the fruits of our labor!

Thanks, everyone and we look forward to seeing you!

The People’s Co-Op, Rosemarried, and The PDX Food Swap

This Time Last Year: My Favorite Summer Recipes

It seems especially cruel to post a roundup of summer recipes on a muggy, cloudy day in Portland, Oregon. My heart knows that it’s summer, but my eyes tell me otherwise. It’s all doom and gloom today, folks.

But, whether or not it actually feels like summer in Portland, the truth is that it is summer. We’re coming upon the 4th of July weekend, and (fingers crossed!) the forecast looks downright delightful. I couldn’t be happier. I plan on spending a lot of time in the sunshine, eating bratwurst, grilling asparagus, drinking sangria, and having a darn good time. That’s what freedom is all about, right?

So, then, since I’m getting into the spirit of things I thought I’d post a few of my favorite summertime recipes. These are recipes that I keep going back to, again and again (and again). I discovered each of these recipes last summer, and I will admit that I’ve been thinking about them ever since. It was a long and dreary winter, and I am so excited that summer – and all of the seasonal produce that comes with – has arrived. It’s been a long wait, but it’s worth it.

So, happy summer everyone!

My Favorite Summertime Recipes
(Listed Clockwise from the Top Left)
1. Slow Cooker Carnitas
2. 24 Hour Dill Pickles
3. Cabbage Slaw with Fennel, Apple, and Jalapeno
4. Potato Salad with Yogurt, Arugula and Dill
5. Strawberry and Goat Cheese Hand Pies
6. Smashed Pea and Mint Pesto

Happy 4th of July!

Northern California: Snapshots

This past week, I went on vacation.

The purpose of my trip was to visit a few old friends in various parts of Northern California. Specifically, friends who have had babies recently. The babies needed to meet their aunt Lindsay!

My first stop was in Placerville, CA. I stayed with my best friend from high school, Abbie, and her darling family. We reminisced about the good old days, caught up on recent years, and I fell in love with her children. They are really quite cute.

Abbie and I managed to squeeze in a girl day, sans children, and ran about town and pampered ourselves.

We ate In-N-Out: Cheeseburger, Animal style.

We got pedicures.

We watched a really, really bad chick flick.

And, later, we met up with Abbie’s husband for dinner at a local cafe, where we drank delicious wine and ate fantastic food.

After my short (but sweet!) visit with Abbie, I set sail for San Fransisco. Except, I didn’t really set sail. Rather, I chose the more glamorous travel option, and took a Greyhound bus from Sacramento to San Fransisco. When I went to purchase the tickets, the husband expressed a little bit of concern for my welfare as I navigated the bus system on my own in Northern California. I told him that it was fine. I am a seasoned traveler, after all.

I found out the hard way that the husband was right. Thankfully, I wasn’t in any real danger, I just had a series of unfortunate (and stressful) events. So what exactly happened, you ask? I found out my bus was going to be an hour late, so I locked my bags in a locker in order to escape the stuffy, overcrowded bus station and get an iced coffee. When I arrived back at the station, I was pleased to find that my bus had just arrived and would be boarding shortly. I went to retrieve my bags from the locker…and the locker didn’t work. It just would not open. I asked a security guard for help, who referred me to the baggage counter. Conveniently, no one was working at the baggage counter (!). I proceeded to run around the overcrowded and understaffed bus station like a crazy person, trying desperately to find someone to help me. Several minutes (and several tears) later, I finally found someone to help me. My baggage was freed from the faulty locker and I made on the bus (just barely). I was the last person on board.

Nevertheless, I finally made it to San Francisco in one piece (and with all my bags!). I was in town with the purpose of spending time my college besty, Becca, who just had a baby girl last month.

Immediately after Becca picked me up from the bus station, we headed straight to Tartine Bakery. We ordered the (large) Strawberry Bread Pudding.

Oh, and we ordered something with bread and cheese and asparagus and spicy pickled carrots. It was amazing.

The next day, we ventured into the heart of the city to visit the legendary San Francisco Farmer’s Market at the Ferry building. Being the Oregonian that I am, I was in pure shock that they had cherries available (for only $7/pound!). Oh, the glories of California…

I tried raw oysters for the first time in my life, and I was not disappointed. They were incredible.

Overall, I had a lovely trip. I got to see old friends, visit a couple of beautiful cities, and ate a lot of good food. I apologize for the lack of blog posts, but as you can see, I’ve been running around Northern California (and thoroughly enjoying myself).

Happy Friday everyone!


(Pictured: Chicago skyline. Sunny day. So lovely.)

This past week, I had the pleasure of visiting the fine city of Chicago.

Sadly, I wasn’t there on vacation; rather, I was in town for work. But, I did manage to sneak in some sightseeing in my free time. And by sight seeing, I mean eating. I did a lot of eating in Chicago. (*Note: I do not adhere to my Lenten diet while traveling. Its just to complicated to try to stick to it while on the road. Plus, I travel on my own and its really nice to enjoy a lush meal and glass of wine after a 10 hour day. Just saying.)

During my 5 days and 4 nights in the windy city, I managed to dine at/partake of the following establishments:

Intelligentsia: The only coffee shop/roaster that gives Stumptown a run for its money. I made sure to get up early every morning to I could walk to Intelligentsia for a cup of delicious espresso goodness, and then go wander through Millennium Park.
Topolobampo: Rick Bayless’ praised high-end Mexican restaurant. I made reservations 3 months in advance and was stupidly giddy about eating here. Sadly, the food didn’t quite live up to the hype…It was good, but it wasn’t great. (Oh well, I still love him!)
Kramer’s Vegetarian Foods: Right next to my hotel, open only on weekdays. An amazing little health food store with a cafe. Fabulous and cheap vegetarian and vegan food. A real gem in the midst of chain establishments.
The Purple Pig: Recommended to me by the lovely CM at Burwell General Store, this was easily my favorite restaurant (and meal) of the whole trip. Their motto says it all: Cheese, Wine, and Swine. How can I argue with any of those things? Eating at The Purple Pig felt like coming home. Loved it.
Pizano’s: Pizzeria down the street from my hotel. I was feeling tired and crabby, so I ordered take out and enjoyed a single serving deep dish pizza in the quiet of my hotel room (with wine, of course). For it being takeout from a place I’d never heard of, it was shockingly good!
Blackbird: A Paul Kahan restaurant. High end, New American, with a focus on regional and seasonal cuisine. As far as I’m concerned, Chef Kahan can do no wrong. This is the second of his restaurants I’ve been lucky enough to dine in, and each experience was spectacular. I got the pork loin with black truffle creme, powdered leeks, baby turnips and braised kale. Unreal.
The Bongo Room: A number of Chicago residents told me that this is THE brunch spot. There was an hour wait to get in the place (and Chicago law prohibits bloody mary’s with brunch!), but once I got in the food was good (smoked duck benedict) and the service was fast. As good as it was…it doesn’t hold a candle to Portland brunch (Screen Door, Jam, Broder, etc)!

Here are a few random cell phone photos from the trip (as yours truly forgot to bring her camera. Oops!).

Scallop Ceviche from Topolobampo:

Individual Sized Deep Dish Chicago Pizza from Pizano’s (eaten in my hotel room!):

The obligatory self portrait taken in the giant reflective kidney bean in Millennium Park:

Overall, it was a lovely trip. I worked long days…and then rewarded myself with great meals. I made it a point to walk to all of my destinations, and this gave me a great feel for the city. I really love Chicago. But you know what? Chicago made me love Portland all that much more. We really have a good thing going here. I’ll gladly visit Chicago any day of the week (and eat at Purple Pig again and again and again…), but I’m glad I live where I do.

Happy Lent: Curried Apple Quinoa Salad

Happy Lent, everyone.

(*Yes, I know Lent started a week ago, I just hadn’t gotten around to writing about it until now!)

For those of you who know me (or those who were reading my blog during this time last year), you may remember that Nich and I participated in the Orthodox tradition of Great Lent.

Meaning: for Lent last year, we gave up meat, dairy and alcohol. At first, I was apprehensive. Really, I was terrified. I vowed to give up the things that I loved for a tradition that was not my own. I just wasn’t sure I could do it.

And yet, here I am, a year later…and I’m jumping headfirst into Great Lent.


I can’t really explain it. But I loved it. Mostly, I loved that Nich and I went on a journey together. It wasn’t necessarily an easy journey, but it was good one. We learned, we grew, and we did it together. It was a really fantastic experience. So much so, that I’ve been looking forward to Lent ever since.

I will say, I know that Lent isn’t for everyone. This is simply a choice my husband and I have made for ourselves. I’m not asking you to join us on this journey, but I am hoping that you can support us in ours.

Because, let’s be honest….we could all do with a little less meat and dairy in our lives. So, even if you’re not into the religious component of Lent, I think we can all agree that a little abstaining could do us some good. (On this same note, there’s a great Huffington Post article called “Ash Wednesday is For Everyone.” Very interesting read.)

So, I hope that you can bear with me for the next six weeks while I adhere to my Lenten fast. Don’t you worry, the blog isn’t going anywhere. Of course, I’ll still post new and exciting recipes, they just won’t incorporate meat or dairy! If I can get by without eating these things, you can get by without reading about them. I think that’s only fair. ;)

So, here’s to Lent and the wonderful journey that it is. I’m excited for the challenge! And, I hope that you are, too.

(And in case you’re wondering: I miss cheese the most!)


p.s. The following is a recipe I made up last week, using various ingredients I had around the house. This ‘salad ‘was a wonderful way to transition into my new diet – its bright, flavorful, and filling.

Curried Quinoa and Apple salad

1 Granny smith (or other tart apple), cored & diced
1 cup dry quinoa
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries (raisins would also work well)
4-5 green onions, diced

For the dressing:
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
The juice of 1 lime
1.5 tsps curry powder
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, smashed

Cook quinoa according to package instructions (1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water). Once quinoa is fully cooked, set aside to cool.

Toast slivered almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Be careful not to burn. Set almonds aside.

Once the quinoa is cooled, toss with dried cranberries, diced apple, green onions, and toasted almonds.

Whisk all dressing ingredients together (or shake in an airtight container); taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Pour over cooled quinoa mixture. Stir, and add an extra squeeze of lime juice over the top of the salad. Chill before serving (the longer the salad rests, the more the flavors meld together).

the latest and greatest.

Holy smokes! I’ve been a busy little bee.

Come to think of it, when am I not a busy little bee? Let’s be honest: for me, busy is normal. I thrive in the midst of the hustle and bustle. I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, when I say that I’m a “busy little bee” – I’m not complaining. Rather, I’m commenting on my own amazement at how full (and wonderful) my life is.

There’s just so much goodness happening, and so little time to share about it all! But I’ll do my best to tell you about some of it, especially as it pertains to this blog (i.e. the food related stuffs). As a person who loves to cook – and who cares about what type of food I eat, where my food is grown/raised, etc – I’m really excited to share about some of these things. So, then, here’s what I’ve been up to:

1. I joined the Food Buying Club through the Montavilla Food Co-Op. The club allows members to join in on bulk orders of local produce, grains, coconut oil, frozen berries, meat, butter, etc. For example, Chris from Lost Arts Kitchen did a bulk butter order from a local creamery earlier this month. She sent out an email to the food buying club: we then each ordered (& prepaid for) however much butter we wanted, and then picked up the butter at a specified drop point. Easy as cake. Since then I’ve also ordered local grassfed ground beef (for $3/lb) and free range corn-free eggs (for $3.50/doz). I absolutely love this system of buying food! It feels like so “old world”; like a long-forgotten way of doing business. I personally think it is a fantastic way to support local farms and businesses, while connecting with my community.

2. It’s finally garden time! Now that I live in a place with a quaint little yard, I can finally have a real garden. Nich and I have our own private side yard and share a big back yard with our next door neighbor, Rowan. Rowan is quite the gardener and has grandiose plans for our backyard (and I am going to soak up her knowledge!), and so this weekend we set about planting our spring garden. It is a bit early to plant warm weather crops (tomatoes, zucchini, etc) but in Oregon you can plant winter greens and peas around this time (“Peas in by President’s Day!”). I am just so excited about my garden, as I think that gardening is one of the most simple and cost effective ways to eat whole foods. I’ve not had the luxury of having much of a yard in the past, and so I am overjoyed at the prospect of having a real garden this year. This is a cook’s dream! (And here’s to hoping I don’t kill all my lovely plants!)

3. I am the proud godmother to 3 wonderful chickens: Jackie O., Amy Grant, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (SCJRB). Godmother, you ask? Let me explain. A while back, my friend Beyth mentioned that she was considering getting chickens. I was envious, as we can’t have chickens at our place. But how I wished I could have chickens! Alas, Beyth and I hatched a plan for communally raising chickens. I would help pay for chicken feed and take care of the chickens whenever Beyth was out of town. In exchange, I would get paid in eggs. Beyth got the chicks this past August, and we were told that we could expect them to start laying eggs in late spring (of 2011). But, to our surprise, the little chicks grew up fast and they started laying in January! Each chicken is consistently laying one egg per day. Even though I get just a share of the eggs (as Beyth and her husband Joe really do all the work caring for the chickens), the chickens are laying a lot and I’m really quite pleased with how many eggs I’m getting! Having access to fresh eggs from chickens I know (and love) is the best feeling. Seriously. If you’re like me and you don’t have the ability to raise chickens of your own, I strongly encourage you to try out a system of communal chicken raising. So far, things are going splendidly! I owe a huge thanks to Beyth and Joe for allowing me to be part of their chicken’s lives. :)

Pictured below: Jackie O. (Photo by Joe Greenetz)

4. And, lastly, I have started volunteering for my local farmer’s market: The Montavilla Farmer’s Market. I really love this little market and am so thrilled to be part of their marketing and outreach team. I haven’t done much for them yet (as this is the quiet season for the market) but I did just write a new blog post for the market blog (which is called Seasonal Abundance). After shopping at the last winter stock up market, I was inspired to cook a Root Vegetable Soup. See below for a photo and a link to the recipe!

Pictured below: Winter Market Root Vegetable Soup. For full recipe, see my blog at the Montavilla Farmer’s Market site!