(early november. number 62.)
Returning to Wealth Underground Farm to cook the Harvest Gathering for the 4th year in a row (1st time, 2nd time, 3rd time), we wanted to keep it casual, going all the way back to the serve-yoself style of the very first one we did. Inspired by the work of Tastebud at this year's Pickathon festival (they served up an "Oregon Salad Bar"), we used almost entirely W.U. grown produce to create autumnal salads, soups, and snacks.
Chex mix is my favorite fall snack, usually consumed on Halloween night (instead of candy), while waiting for the kids to show up trick or treating. The last couple of years we had really cozy times out at Sofie's mom's house in the suburbs having chex mix, but this year we were in Seattle for a book fair on Halloween. When Sofie mentioned it as something we could do for this, my eyes lit up like a child hearing about getting to eat unlimited candy.
Sofie researched how to create the authentic pretzel browning and sheen without using lye– Harold McGee, god bless him, had this technique where you bake most of a box of baking soda, and use that instead. It worked, and was less scary, and less expensive. Win, win, win.
Sofie and Holly really raged making these. They were perfect.
Beer cheese dip
I made my classic beer cheese dip. Somewhere between the sauce for Welsh Rarebit and the beer cheese soup made by my local hometown's fancy grocery store and the current "cheddar beer" flavor of Kettle Chips. But, y'know, my own. I used Pfriem's Winter Ale and some Vermont white cheddar.
Portland Ketchup Co. mustard
This stuff is near perfection, so we just served it. We started our own mustard, but didn't start early enough, so that had to wait for the Myrtlewood cookbook release party the next month. Sofie and I were having lunch in Hood River at Pfriem, for the first time, and were eating sandwiches which we'd slathered in this perfect mustard served in little snap-top crocks. We speculated as to where it came from. "I wonder if they make it?" and "I wonder if it's for sale?". When we asked, we simply learned that it was Portland Ketchup Co.'s mustard. We both think their ketchup is slightly watery, slightly too sweet, and not that good– but this mustard was phenomenal, and just happened to be on sale the first time we looked for it after the discovery.
Fall farro salad
Cooked local faro, tossed with every beautiful green from Wealth Underground, dressed with nothing but salt/olive oil/lemon, with pieces of roasted delicate squash, and candied tomatoes. Served with the suggested addition of a wild foraged (by me and Lucas) cauliflower mushroom pieces. Interruption here for a small gallery of mushroom hunting shots by me!
Apple, savoy cabbage, celery salad
The most enormous, beautiful, volunteer Savoy cabbage happened at WU this year. We shredded it and let it hang out in a salt/vinegar/lemon water bath for a long time, adding celery slices halfway through. We chopped tart apples, made them more tart (and less likely to brown) with lemon, then dressed the whole deal with a mild honey mustard.
Meyer lemon vinaigrette potato salad, with roasted and pickled peppers
I make this meyer lemon and shallot vinaigrette that we've used over and over through the years (it's not a secret! The recipe is in Myrtlewood), and we decided to make a big ass potato salad featuring it. The folks at Wealth Underground grew almost more peppers than they could handle this year. A month earlier, Sofie and I made a big ass batch of "Mama's Lil' Bar Tartine Peppers," essentially trying to recreate the style of our favorite widely available pickled peppers, using the recipe from Bar Tartine as a jump off. We used some of these peppers, along with many many more (all roasted/blistered/cut up/awesome) to finish the potato salad.
Leek soup, with kohlrabi
Lucas made a delicious chicken and leek stock, simmered for several hours, which was abundantly warming, and finished with spiralized kohlrabi.
Squash soup, with ginger and sneaky pepper
I made a squash-ginger soup with, as Holly put it, "sooooo many squashes." She did most of the peeling and seeding– thanks Holly! With the peppers Wealth Underground had grown, we also dried a bunch and made a small batch of paprika. A good deal of this went into the soup, as the "sneaky pepper."
Home-grown popcorn balls, with spicy caramel and smoked salt
Wealth Underground grew their OWN popcorn in 2014, which had cured the whole year and was ready to pop for this dinner! Sofie had the idea for fancy popcorn balls. I thought this was a perfect nod to the W.U. folks' midwestern roots, and fall harvest party snack traditions. I really love this children's author named Arthur Geisert, whose books often feature festivals in the fall and winter months, with popcorn balls as the main treat.
Lucas rather adorably declared the Alma Chocolate habanero chocolate sauce to be the best thing he has ever eaten. He spent a long time with the mostly empty jar, sticking his finger in and bringing it up to his lips, then absently tasting and staring out the window.
Every Thanksgiving, apparently, Lucas's mom makes this funny pumpkin bar cake. You just cook a pumpkin, stir in some brown sugar and butter, cover it with yellow cake batter, bake it, flip it over, and cut it into bars. I have not-so-secretly always loved shitty yellow cake, but was skeptical. The result is AWESOME. Later that fall, we made it in my preschool cooking class, and everyone (no surprises here) went nuts for it!
My boss at the preschool where I work, Garrett Riggs, brewed a batch of delicious, yeasty, and yet crisp Scottish style ale with the hops from S.G. and from the hops grown on the playground at our school! The Wealth Underground ladies picked up lots o wine, and folks brought more to share!
We also featured the Guatemala Santa Isabel from Water Avenue, done as pour-overs for 2 or 3 at a time on the windowsill (the only surface left to work!). It was delicious as always, and the perfect pick me up for the gone-rainy late afternoon.
A special shout-out to my roommate and dear friend Marta King, who helped out with last minute prep and serving (she was the one who manned the counter at the taco celebration last year!).
Nina and Sonya Montenegro, residents of Wealth Underground Farm, make beautiful, useful things and sell them at reasonable prices. They design and make together under the name The Far Woods. Go see their work and consider supporting their venture! They make lunar calendars, a 3-year garden journal, dolls for kiddos, beautifully designed and printed posters (like the namesake for this entry, pictured in the gallery, and one mapping all of the rivers in the U.S.!), tote bags, and banners!