Welcome to the penguin days of summer. It has been quite cool for the past week, as we were told by our visiting friends from the east coast! They have been baking in 90 degrees or hotter, while we have had cooler temps and even a little rain. Some forecasters have even predicted that we may not exceed 90 degrees at all for the rest of the summer. There is still a lot of summer left, so we’ll see!
Our cooler weather has been good for all the fruit that are ripening. In this week’s show we will feature a couple of stories on fresh fruits (grapes and berries) and their delicious end-products! I love tasty stories!
This week we featured,
Smith Skillet Cobbler
The berries are ripe for the picking and it is time to whip up some mid-summer treats! To see how the experts use their berries we stopped by Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) and popped in the kitchen with Joelle. Joelle was using both fresh blueberries and frozen blackberries for this one-pan skillet cobbler. She poured about 5 cups of blackberries and 2 cups of blueberries in a large bowl and she had William start by mixing about one cup of sugar with a little cornstarch and about a tablespoon of cinnamon together. Then he poured this into a bowl and they used it to coat the berries. Joelle also used the zest of one lemon and the juice from half that same lemon on the fruit mixture as well. While this mixture was going together Joelle had her skillet preheating in the oven with about 2 tablespoons of butter. This berry mixture goes into the skillet and into the oven at 350.
While the oven was cooking the berries it was time to mix up the biscuits. These will go on top of the berries to create the ‘cobbler’. Flour, Sugar, baking powder and salt were combined in a bowl. Then 4 tablespoons of butter that was cubed was added to the flour mixture. This was mixed together until it was a cottage cheese consistency. A half cup of heavy cream was then added and the mixture was hand tossed and formed into 7 biscuit shapes. These biscuits went on top of the berries in the skillet and were brushed with a little heavy cream and a light dusting of sugar. they were cooked at 400 for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits were a golden brown. This recipe is just one of many that you can get from the Smith Berry Barn website. Stop by the store and they will have all the ingredients for your favorite summer dishes!
Blooming Junction - Fall Vegetable Planting
If you love to have fresh vegetable past fall and into winter, now is the time to start planting! Yup, July may be hot and may seem to be the wrong time to get anything in the ground, but it is the best time to get some of your late season crops planted. Justin from Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) is an expert in vegetable gardens as the Farm Manager at the nursery and he joined Judy to talk about what the home gardener should be doing right now.
The crops that people should be focusing on getting in the ground right now are the root crops like beets, carrots, parsnips and even some leafy greens. Some cole crops like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower can go in the ground a little closer to fall since the cooler temps can make those crops a little sweeter and tastier. When planting seeds you should also be looking for varieties that will do better with fall plantings. Some packages will even tell you if they perform better in the fall. During the heat of summer we also have to remember to water consistently for good germination. We should also work on providing good drainage. Even though they need good watering now, when those fall rains return we will need that excess water to drain away quickly.
Protection from summer heat and pests is a good idea too. At the farm they use a shade cloth that they cover the veggies with on the really hot days, it also provides protection from flying pests and aphids while the plants are establishing. Speaking of pests, you will also need to watch out for slugs and snails. Justin uses Sluggo on their fields because it is safe for people and pets, but there are a lot of safe slug products out there to use. If you don’t want to try your luck with starting seeds, you can also buy plant starts at a lot of your local garden centers to get a head start.
Finally we headed up to the farm market where they sell a ton of fresh produce for those who want to do it the easy way! You can even sign up for their Fall CSA program, which will bring you an assortment of fresh produce every week throughout the fall. For more information, seed, starts, or even flowering plants, just stop by Blooming Junction and get everything you need!
Little Baja Chimineas
Even though we are in the ‘summer’ season, there are nights where we still get a chill. To take the chill off we stopped at Little Baja (503-236-8834) to look at the ‘Baja Chimney’, or chiminea, an outdoor fireplace for your deck or patio. Jared gave us a couple of tips for making your chimney last for years and years. Always start your fire small and let the chimney slowly warm up. Never use a metal poker, it can damage the clay and cause cracks. When burning a fire, use a hard wood or pressed log. This will minimize the ‘popping’ of softer woods, and never burn garbage in the chimney. Finally make sure you keep all combustibles away from the area around your fire. Little Baja will also help you in selecting a metal fire pit or instructions on how to create your own. They even have one that is made out of an old washing machine! Stop by for instructions and tips.
Summer Grapes – Stoller Wine
During one of our recent showery days we headed up to Stoller Family Estates (503-864-3404) to get some tips on caring for grapes in your garden. We started at the top of the vineyard with Jason, the VP of Vineyards. He is responsible for the grapes in the field and ensuring the best growing conditions for them. Right now with the rain, it isn’t the best conditions for the grapes. The excess moisture can create mold and mildew problems for the fruit and so they peel away leaves and prune off non-productive vines and shoots. This increases airflow and sunlight, which help control those problems. Grapes love full sun so if you can increase that, they perform better. As far as watering, grapes can do well with available water once they are well established (usually 5 years or older). Jason said there is no need for extra water for most varieties of grapes. One thing that the vintners do that the homeowner doesn’t have to do is cut off clusters. A winemaker wants to concentrate the sugars and flavors so they cut off some extra clusters of grapes in the late summer, the homeowner doesn’t have to do that.
To see where all these grapes end up, we went down the hill to the tasting room and talked with Melissa, the VP of Winemaking, to get some tips on picking out a great summer wine. We started by focusing on rosé’s , which become the go-to drink for summer wine lovers. Melissa had 3 different varieties to share, a rosé, a chardonnay and a pinot noir. She told us that Oregon wines are very versatile and you can drink them anytime during the summer. These wines are not just great for the backyard picnic, they are wonderful at the dinner table too. The rosé is great because of the fruit used, but it also has a nice balanced acidy which allows it to pair well with anything you serve during the summer. Because of that versatility, you can serve this with multiple courses and during different times of the year. The rosé and the chardonnay both like a little chill to them. Put them in the fridge and bring them out 15-20 minutes before you drink it. Too cold and the flavor characteristics are lost. Of course if you love Pinots, than stick with what you like. That is the key, drink what you like, but don’t be afraid to try something new! We’re sure you will find something from Stoller that will become one of your ‘new’ summer favorites!