Archive for April, 2010

Ground lamb continues to be one of my favorite ingredients.  It’s fatty, versatile, delicious, available from local farms, and a compliment to great spices or a comforting flavor on its own.

These breakfast patties are full of Persian-influenced flavors: cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, saffron, and parsley.  They’re great with yogurt or fresh sheep-milk cheese, with eggs, and with greens.  I made a refreshing green cabbage salad to go with them, tossed with yogurt, lemon juice and cumin.  Add a couple of fried eggs and you have a breakfast to sustain you for hours.

Play around a bit with this recipe — add other flavors you think would go well, add garlic if you like, try other herbs.  Ground walnuts or pistachios would be a delicious addition, as would a bit of finely-chopped dried fruit.  The egg is a nice binding agent and helps incorporate the spices, but the meat tastes good, and is firmer, without it.  Let me know if you find something else delicious; it’s hard to go wrong with ground lamb, at breakfast or any meal.

Persian-Spiced Lamb Breakfast Patties w/ Fried Eggs & Cabbage Salad


  • 1/2 pound ground lamb (PCC has Oregon grass-fed ground lamb.  Sea Breeze sometimes sells ground lamb.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 onion, grated
  • a few pinches to taste of the following spices: ground cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, pepper
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine
  • a few threads of saffron
  • 2 eggs per person, to fry
  • clarified butter, olive oil or beef tallow for frying
  • (see post above for other ingredients you might add)

(makes about eight small patties)

1. Beat one egg in a bowl.  Crush in threads of saffron, and add all spices, grated onion and chopped parsley.  Stir again until well mixed.

2. Mix in meet well, crushing with a fork to make sure it gets fully coated with egg mixture.

3. Ideally marinate at this point for a few hours or overnight, but you can skip this step if you want to make this at the last minute.

4. Heat butter or oil until hot but not smoking.  Make patties of the meat mixture a bit smaller than golf balls, and flat.  Fry on one side.  When brown, flip to the other side.

5. At this point, if there’s room in the pan, crack your eggs into the same pan and cover the whole thing with a lid.  The extra fat and liquid seeping out of the patties will cook and flavor the eggs nicely.  If there’s not room in the pan, don’t worry; just fry your eggs when you’re done.

6. Serve with cabbage salad or yogurt or tahini or sheep milk cheese.


Simple cabbage salad

  • 1/8 head green cabbage, finely chopped
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of plain yogurt
  • a few squirts of lemon juice to taste
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch or two of cumin
  • a bit of finely chopped parsley

1. Mix all ingredients other than cabbage.  Taste and adjust flavors.

2. Chop the cabbage finely and add to the dressing.  Can be eaten right away or allowed to sit for the flavors to mix.

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Looks like raw milk at Madison Market isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  And, the word is, Dungeness Valley Creamery is going to be the third dairy whose milk will be sold there.  Yay, Madison Market!

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Have you walked into PCC lately and noticed the absence of raw milk? I have, and was disappointed to learn PCC has followed the steps of Whole Foods and halted raw milk sales. Their media blurb about the change is here.

Nobody in Washington State has, to my knowledge, recently gotten sick from raw milk. But something’s going on. First, raw milk producers were suddenly getting a lot more attention from the health department, with subsequent media insinuations about raw milk and E. coli. This culminated in a Seattle Times article written in pretty menacing language, and trying to make raw milk drinkers sound like crazy people. Pressure is coming from somewhere, and it’s unclear where.

To my knowledge, Madison Market and the Pike Place Market Creamery are the only stores left in Seattle selling raw milk, although as two independent stores, one of which is a co-op, these are stores I like to support.. And, of course, you can still buy it at farmers’ markets from Sea Breeze and St John’s Creamery (for goat milk). Dungeness Valley Creamery also still does drop-point sales, as does St John’s. St John’s is looking for new drop points in Seattle and I imagine Dungeness would be as well. Please help keep these farms in business!

If you’d like to comment, call PCC between 9-5 at: 206-547-1222. Ask for Trudy Bialic, Diana Crane, or Goldie Caughlan. I strongly encourage readers to do this. Be polite, and be clear.

I called and spoke with Diana, who was open to listening. She said that this is the direction they’re planning to go at the moment, but if they hear from enough customers that the tide is really going a different direction, they will reconsider. Some points I made that you may want to include:

  • PCC is a large chain of co-ops and thus, a leader in issues like this. As a supporter of local foods, PCC must realize their actions affect the sustainability of small farms, the accessibility of local foods, and the opinions of consumers. By dropping raw milk, PCC is likely to hurt the operations of these farms, to reduce the store availability of raw milk in Seattle to two neighborhood stores, and to convince more people that raw milk is harmful.
  • PCC has decided raw milk, more than any other product, has been the subject of recalls, and so they just felt it was too high a risk to sell it. That’s understandable, but it’s also important to note that a high number of recalls doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an unsafe product, it means it’s subject to more scrutiny and, frankly, politics. Especially lately, when the state seems to be increasing pressure on raw milk producers.
  • PCC positions itself as a health food store. Raw whole milk, which is often produced by small farms raising cows on grass, is a source of animal-based fat-soluble vitamins in which we’re increasingly deficient as they disappear from modern diets. Unpasteurized, the milk also contains enzymes that help with digestion and absorption. PCC sells sugar and sugar-filled items, sells vegetable oil, sells processed food; these foods also kill people, and far, far more than raw milk — but a slow death from diabetes or cardiovascular disease is less dramatic and media-attention-grabbing than someone suddenly dying from E. coli.
  • Customers should be able to make decisions for themselves based on accurate information. If raw milk were truly sickening everyone who consumed it (like, say, high fructose corn syrup), I could understand leaving it off the shelves. But, in reality, it’s a nutritious, unique product from small farms, that some people choose not to consume because they believe it to be higher risk. Leave it there, leave the warning up, and sell it for the customers who want it.

We’ve been pretty lucky in Washington State, compared to other states which limit or ban raw milk sales, and we’d like to keep it this way. Having raw milk available in stores makes raw milk production more financially realistic for small producers, and I’m worried this latest push is meant to drive producers out of business. And, while it’s true that occasionally there is a case of illness linked with raw milk, there are also many cases of illness linked with industrially produced foods, or widely-distributed foods, and we don’t see any long-term regulation on, say, bagged spinach and raw tomatoes. Nor do we see banning of foods that are, in the longer term, more insidiously harmful, like high fructose corn syrup or sugar.

There are a lot of voices against raw milk out there, many of whom have gotten their opinions straight from alarmist news articles. If you read enough articles saying raw milk is dangerous, or see enough signs in PCC saying raw milk sales have been canceled in the “interest of our customer health and safety,” you’ll likely also believe raw milk is an unsafe food. Countering this is difficult, but that makes it all the more important to try.

By the way, this would also be a great time to support Madison Market and Pike Place Creamery for selling raw milk.  And, as always, to buy direct from farmers at the farmers’ market.

Thanks to Just Chaos for the flickr CC photo.

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Joel Salatin, creator of Polyface Farm (featured in the Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food, INC) and author of many books about innovative, sustainable agriculture, is speaking at a few events in Seattle on April 20th. Frustratingly, they’re all pretty expensive.

The following is a repost from the CAGJ (Community Alliance for Global Justice) email alerts.

Joel will be in town to help promote the film FRESH http://www.freshthemovie.com/ which examines some of the great efforts our country’s farmers are making to return to a smaller, more connected economy. Joel’s in town on April 20th and FRESH will be screening the following week.

For now, jump on these Joel Salatin events. I expect they’ll sell out early.


April 20th – Lunch with Joel Salatin
Noon – 2:00 PM

An intimate lunch with Joel at Seth Caswell’s new restaurant, Emmer & Rye (1825 Queen Anne Ave. N. Seattle, WA 98109). This is an opportunity to have a meal with this great leader and thinker of modern agricultural solutions. The lunch will cost $125 per guest and we’ll be donating 20% of the proceeds to Cascade Harvest Coalition, a non-profit organization that is a local food and farming resource center that promotes the Puget SoundFresh program, Eat Local for Thanksgiving, and many Farm-to-Table workshops for farmers (full disclosure – I am on the board of CHC). Lunch promises to bring together great food, great conversation and great energy that is driving this movement to smaller-scaled economies. A limited number of seats are available for this event. Tickets.

April 20th – Lecture “The Sheer Extacsy of Being a Lunatic Farmer”
6:00 – 7:30 PM
Kane Hall, University of Washington

In this mischievous lecture, Joel Salatin compares the industrial global food paradigm with the heritage local food paradigm. Using hilarious stories from his family’s Polyface Farm experience, Salatin examines the contrast on many different levels: fertility, carbon cycling, energy use, relationships, marketing, and spirit. If you ever wondered: “What’s really the difference between pastured poultry and Tyson’s”?–now you’ll know.

All proceeds go to support FRESH in their continuing efforts to educate and inspire communities about sustainable agriculture

Tickets: $25 At this event you will receive a movie voucher to see FRESH: Central Cinema April 30-May
NOTE: If you’re a student, add the code FRESHuwstudent and the price is $15.

April 20th – Lecture “Can you feed the world? — Answering elitism, production and choice.” 8:30 – 9:30 PM
Kane Hall, University of Washington

By far and away the two most common questions asked of Joel Salatin are: How can we afford local artisanal heritage-based food? And: Is it realistic to think we can really feed the world with a non-industrial food system? Because the local clean food movement, for all its allure, is still only some 2 percent of all food sales, envisioning it as a credible, viable alternative to industrial corporatized genetically modified food seems like pie-in-the-sky dreaming. Using his own Polyface Farm principles as a foundation, Joel builds this vision one piece at a time by blending theory and practice. You will never think about the food system the same way again.
All proceeds go to support FRESH in their continuing efforts to educate and inspire communities about sustainable agriculture.

Tickets: $25 At this event you will receive a movie voucher to see FRESH, Central Cinema, April 30-May
NOTE: If you’re a student, add the code FRESHuwstudent and the price is $15.

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A few weeks ago, I made an enormous batch of nettle pesto, using probably two and a half pounds of fresh nettles. My freezer is well stocked with containers of green deliciousness. I spread some of the pesto on some broiled salmon for Passover this year, and await many future uses.

But when I was done cooking the nettles to use in the pesto, running so many batches of leaves through the same pot of boiling water, I noticed the water was a deep green-yellow-brown color from the plants. I tasted it and immediately decided to put it in the freezer to save, it was so good. A concentrated version of the earthy, green springy flavor of nettles.

For Passover, to go along with my salmon, I hauled out a few quarts worth of the nettle broth to make a soup. I combined it with a simple vegetable stock — carrots, onions, leek greens, mushroom pieces, salt, pepper, and a parmesan rind. Together, the veggie stock and the nettle stock had a complex and well balanced flavor.

I added chopped carrots and lacinato kale to the soup, and made some Passover-friendly dumplings that, unlike matzah balls, were gluten free. Building off a delicious recipe for fennel dumplings in Deborah Madison’s great cookbook Local Flavors, I planned some parmesan/egg/saffron/quinoa-flour dumplings with chopped greens mixed in. They came out beautifully and balanced the soup. Here’s a general sense of what I did:

Nettle-Vegetable Broth with Saffron-Parmesan-Egg Dumplings (Passover-friendly)

  • 2 quarts nettle broth (blanch/quickly boil a lot of stinging nettles, then strain and save the water)
  • 2 quarts veggie stock or meat stock (include a parmesan rind if you’re making veggie stock)
  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 head lacinato kale or your favorite green
  • any other vegetables you’d like in your soup
  • 1/3 cup almond flour, quinoa flour (if during Passover – Bob’s Red Mill carries this), rice flour or other
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
  • 3 pinches saffron, crushed
  • 1/4 cup minced greens of any sort — Deborah Madison’s original fennel is too strong for this version, because it overpowers the nettles, although it is absolutely delicious otherwise. i used scallion tops, dandelion greens and kale, because that’s what I had around
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prep: Heat up your veggie/meat broth and nettle broth in the same pot.

1. Heat milk and butter in pan.  Crush and stir in saffron threads, and add the salt and pepper.

2. When milk is simmering and butter is melted, add the minced greens, stir.

3. Add the flour, turn of the heat, and stir in quickly.

4. Add the eggs one at a time and stir well.

5. Add the parmesan and stir gently.

6. You should have a sticky batter.  Now, time to make the dumplings.  You can cook them right into your boiling soup, or into a pot of boiling water and then transfer them.  Drop in the batter, about a tablespoon or two per dumpling.  When a dumpling floats to the surface, flip it.  Let it cook about another 30 seconds, and then take it out and reserve on a plate.  When all dumplings are cooked, pour them (back) into the soup, and let it sit with the heat off until ready to serve.

Optional: Grate a little parmesan on the bowl of soup, or stir in a little nettle pesto.

Photo (c) Jessica Levine

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Locavores in Seattle will soon be able to get yet another staple of the day produced 100% locally:

Their coffee.

A partnership originally between Starbucks, Tully’s, Vivace and Puget Sound Fresh gained support from surprise partners Microsoft and Monsanto, meaning coffee beans will soon be growing right here in King County, both on the Redmond campus and on a farm in Carnation.

The key is the development of a coffee bean that thrives in a temperate, damp climate.  Monsanto led the research on this project, using serotonin from coffee drinkers in the rainy Northwest to modify the gene of a coffee bean indigenous to Aliwkut, a remote region of Bolivia.

The coffee grown on the Microsoft campus will be used for that company’s corporate cafeteria, a move many see as countering the attention Google and Facebook’s workplaces have received for offering free lunches.  Additional grounds will be packaged and included in a limited edition bundle with shipments of Microsoft Office software.  The brew will be called Microsoft Poured.

The innovation is largely being hailed by espresso lovers and local foods supporters in the Puget Sound region.  Capitol Hill resident Solomon Douglas sipped his octuple latte and commented, “I’m all in favor of it, if it guarantees the availability of espresso for the foreseeable future.” University of Washington student Juan Valdez looked confused and said, “Wait, I thought it was already grown here. Isn’t that why Seattle has so many coffee shops? I’m so confused; I haven’t had my espresso yet today.”

The coffee will be available at local co-ops and farmers’ markets, the Microsoft website, and a new CSA (Caffeine-Sustained Agriculture) delivery system.  There are plans to open a few coffee shops in the beginning of April of 2012, using locally produced milk and foam from the Friendly Foam Shop in the U-District.

Yet, there were critiques.  A representative of the Community Alliance for Global Justice hesitated and then said, “I don’t know.  I’m all for local foods.  But Monsanto?  A Carnation plantation?  Will the workers be treated well?  Can I have another mocha?”

Whether locally-grown coffee is a passing trend or here to stay, the excitement of the announcement is enough — almost — to keep us awake for now.

Tomorrow’s post: How to render your own squirrel fat!

(For more information on the topics in this post, please go here.)

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