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  • Richard Yarnell Jan 21 3:25 PM - Comment
    commented on Duck out of water.

    Was I conned by people I’d worked with in Southern Palawan, PI almost 50 years ago when they fed me a balut (chicken, as I recall, not duck) that had not been boiled? I was the only American in the bunch who shared several of them. I’d vowed to at least try anything I was offered at least once. I was told that freshness was the key and these were still hen warm.

    The experience was akin to shooting an oyster - I prefer those lightly cooked so maybe I’d like balut better as a boiled (15 minutes?) egg.

  • Richard Yarnell May 17 4:20 PM - Comment
    commented on Julie's 'Spring Is Busting Out All Over' Soup.

    Why do I so often find the instruction “white part only” when instructing to include leeks? There are occasions when the leek is minimally cooked that it’s probably a good idea to avoid the older green parts. However, in a soup that’s going to be mascerated anyway, I find no reason to discard the leaves. In fact, we’ve done some tests around our house and find use of the darker parts of the leek actually improve the flavor of many dishes. Moreover, when cooked, those dark green parts soften well (avoid any part that’s begun to turn yellow or brown).

    Is the instruction a leftover, repeated without too much thought because it was once part of an historical recipe?


  • Richard Yarnell Apr 21 5:00 PM - Comment
    commented on Using the whole vegetable.

    Dead food?! Most food we eat is dead. I’ve rarely had a soup or stew that hasn’t improved over 24 hours.

    As for using whole vegetables: can’t remember the last time I peeled a potato, a carrot, a kiwi fruit, a persimmon, ginger, an apple (for sauce or pie), most other fruits. Just try to find a beet that still has the top on it. They sell them separately now. Unless you grow your own or frequent a farmers’ market, good luck finding carrot tops.

  • Richard Yarnell Jan 9 1:10 PM - Comment
    commented on Starting afresh.

    Having had the luxury of designing a kitchen for our new house, I’m going to anticipate the next installment of Ms Cummins’ article and make a couple of suggestions that most people overlook.

    We all get older and some of us end up having difficulty getting around. While you have the chance, make your new kitchen friendly to people with mobility problems. The space it takes to turn a wheelchair won’t be wasted. The extra width between cabinets and appliances will serve you well when you recruit family help.

    Don’t economize on ventilation. In modern houses, tight by code in an effort to reduce energy use, forced ventilation is more important than keeping surfaces grease free. Our home is exceptionally tight and we’ve found that having a fresh air source below the stove top and close to it, helps preserve comfortable temperatures in other parts of the building, but also keeps our high volume exhaust hood from sucking outside air through stove pipes and other unlikely places.

    And, for this comment, finally, make sure you have enough capacity and receptacles behind your counters. We put narrow beam spotlights above each work space and we put all our counter top power sources on timers. We learned that the most common cause of damaging kitchen fires was not stove top accident but rather fire started in unattended appliances. There’s an added benefit: by having a timer cut power to small appliances, many of those phantom loads, the seemingly small but continuous power use by some appliances, are turned off. Even our microwave is on a timed switch - do you really need another clock in the kitchen?

    It’s a fun process. Take your time. Get it right.


  • Richard Yarnell Jan 11 2:53 PM - Comment
    commented on Man with a Pan.

    I just spent a weekend with my emaciated ex-wife who has recently decided that neither vegan nor even vegetarian is particularly healthy for her. While she chooses the source of all her food, meat and vegetable, carefully, she’s begun to eat modest amounts of meat again and says she’s never felt better.

    I do eat meat. We have evolved eating meat and plants: we were hunter/gatherers long before we became pampered consumers. I also like things that grow rooted in the soil.

    I suggest that balance should be the rule. We all know people who eat either all meat or all vegetables, undoubtedly missing some much needed nutrient in the process.

    The fact that we eat meat is not the problem. How much meat we eat and how that meat is produced are problems. I’ve written about rabbit on this site. Rabbit is one of the most economical meat crops we can produce. Rabbits thrive on medium to low grade forage - mostly grass. They are naturally near the bottom of the food chain and reproduce, well, like rabbits. The meat is low fat, quick to cook, and plentiful: rabbits skeletons are light.

    We also stew our old hens when they quit laying; we eat mutton when our breeding ewes (we raise Jacob sheep for their wool) are too old to carry on.

    But, I do the cooking around here and push the beans, vegetables, and greens in ever changing combinations with fruits and meat. Since our house has a large attached greenhouse, we have lots of fresh plants to eat, year round. We’re comfortable eating many of them raw.

    I hope, Jesse, you’ll find your way back to a happy balance that will please both you and the kids. But I won’t every say it isn’t a personal choice.


  • Richard Yarnell Dec 28 2:52 PM - Comment
    commented on Tomato tips.

    A couple or three comments about growing tomatoes in Oregon. I’m making the assumption that most readers will be growing small gardens.

    1) Start your plants as early as you can in a protected place. I don’t mess around transplanting to successively larger pots. Start with gallons and leave the plants in them until you can safely set them out in your garden.

    2) Your intent is to have a leggy plant, just the main stem, up to 18” tall at the time of transplanting. When you do plant them in the garden, dig a trench and lay the tomato on its side, turning up the growing end just enough to have the top exposed. You should have trimmed all the foliage off the plant up to about the last six inches. You’ll end up with a trench that’s full of roots since the plant will spontaneously root along its entire length. You’ll have a vigorous plant supported by a large root structure. (If you put the plant into a patio pot, trim the foliage and then bury the plant to the very bottom of the pot.) Your soil should be well structured and light. I use rabbit manure which doesn’t have to be composted. We also keep chickens and a mule. Those droppings should be composted.

    3) I plant indeterminates almost exclusively. I grow them under a “trellis” formed on 12’ t-posts topped with pvc hoops. Those hoops spread a plastic sheet to form a shelter to keep our liquid sunshine from falling on the plants. Most tomato diseases are soil born. If you can keep the soil from splashing onto the plants, you’ll find they stay healthy much later. To support the plants, I tie them as the grow to heavy twine that’s suspended from the trellis. The pruning advice is good - necessary in the way I train the plants. I aim to have two leaders from each plant.

    I use “road fabric” as a ground cover. It’s durable and will last several seasons. I don’t put any organic material on top of the ground cover. Before I lay it out, I install a drip irrigation system along the entire length of the furrow in which I plant. Not only does it save water, is easily and inexpensively controlled by a timer, it completely eliminates irrigation water splashing up into the foliage, spreading disease.

    Until I had to tear out my trellis system to make room for a house we started building almost 4 years ago, I replanted in the same area for four years running and had no disease at all. I hadn’t intended to do that, but the second year I got caught short of time and replanted. When the plants were disease free and productive until the first hard freeze, I decided to see how far I could push it. Normally, one wouldn’t replant tomatoes, eggplant, or potatoes in the same place, year over year.

    Finally, when you find a variety that you like and that thrives where you live, save some seed. From a dead ripe fruit, take the seed, rinse it, and then “ferment” it in a small container of fresh water. The object is to remove the gelatinous coat that surrounds the seed. Rinse the seed and change the water every day until the seed is free. Lay it out on a paper towel and let it dry thoroughly. Once it’s dry, fold it into a pouch made from paper, label it, and put it in a small glass jar. I keep up to a hundred seeds of each variety, plant from the previous year’s seeds, but keep the surplus for a year or two against an emergency. I’ve had very high germination rates from seed that was four years old. The seed should be stored in a cool, dark, place. Some people freeze the seed so long as it is well dried. I have yet to try that trick.

    As to the root trimming trick, that certainly works. But since I’ve got long trenches filled with roots, I prefer simply cutting back on the water to induce ripening. With the drip system and the sheltered planting area, the plants get only the water I give them.

    Two other points: I don’t compost any solanaceous plants. If you do have a disease in your potatoes, tomatoes, or egg plant, the chances are, you’ll spread it throughout your garden. It’s not worth the risk.

    When you do end up at the end of the season with lots of green tomatoes, chutney, fried tomatoes and gravy, pickles all come to mind. But during the season when the fruit is still ripening, do your morning tomatoes, bacon and gravy with ripe fruit. You’ll like it a lot. Remember that using the green fruit is a compromise: the object is to not waste the still unripe fruit.

    Beavercreek at 1150 feet when the growing season starts a month later than it does in Portland.

  • Richard Yarnell Feb 23 1:10 PM - Comment
    commented on The difficult cardoon.

    For those who live in the Portland area, you’ll find Cardoons in the demonstration garden at old Fort Vancouver. The were a staple of the diet there. Whether one can equate Cardoon with Chestnuts, it appears that they may have served a similar purpose for the Hudson Bay Co.

    For those who contemplate having them in the garden, be aware that they naturally grow quite tall. Their blooms, similar to an artichoke but far more compact, open like a thistle to reveal their deep purple coloration.

    Also beware that, like thistles, to which they’re related, their seeds will readily migrate and root. The solution is to never allow the blossom to mature, but, believe me, even one produces travelling seed.

    Ms Madison implies that they come on the market as a winter vegetable. We’ve had success wrapping leaves as they emerge, depriving them of light, then using the ribs while they’re tender.

  • Richard Yarnell Aug 12 2:36 PM - Comment
    commented on Big-city buzz.

    We’ve kept bees for better than 20 years now, first to augment orchard and garden production on our small place in SE Portland (two or three hives), and then in rural Clackamas County where we’ve had 20-25 hives.

    Just as urban gardeners who misuse herbicides and pesticides, contributing to the environmental load of “non-point source” contamination of waterways and the landscape, so can the hobby beekeeper do more harm than good if they do not follow the best industry standards of parasite and disease control in their hives.

    Don’t get me wrong: we need more hives under management - hobbyists are a fine way to achieve that goal. But anyone and everyone who takes responsibility for a hive or more, must use the powerful tools available to them exactly as they are meant to be used. Bees are not under your control. Your sins of commission and omission will assuredly become someone else’s problem. And since the range of solutions we have at our disposal is small to begin with, every time a beekeeper contributes to the steady march of resistance in the pests we confront, it becomes more likely colony failures will continue to rise, our agricultural industries will be threatened, and people will lose their livelihoods.

    This is a project you should learn about in detail before you assemble your first hive. Know whether you’ve got the time, time on the bees’ schedule, not yours, the strength, the resources, and the persistence it takes to be a good, responsible beekeeper.


  • Richard Yarnell Dec 30 8:45 PM - Comment
    commented on Cookbook love.

    In response to #214: be careful what you wish for. I don’t know about the person you’d like back in your life, but you should wish for the old Joy you used to have. IMO, the newer versions just aren’t up to the comparison. Whole sections axed. The trend seems to be toward quick and easy instead of good and thorough. If you have to replace your Joy, start searching for a copy of an edition no later than the mid-70’s. (On that note I’ll retire to the kitchen where I can assume the warmth is from the stove and not the flames I’ll probably have to endure.


  • Richard Yarnell Dec 23 11:57 AM - Comment
    commented on Cookbook love.


    My early edition of Joy of Cooking simply because it was helpful when Mom wasn’t around to instruct. Of later gifts, “Simple Foods” by Waters.

    But then there’s....

  • Richard Yarnell Nov 11 3:10 PM - Split
    commented on Turkey triumph and Turkey triumph.

    One more: this is a plea for safety.

    Those turkey fryers, the ones filled with five gallons of hot-almost-to-the flash-point oil; the ones that make the news every year by incinerating at least the porch or back deck: don’t chuck them, but don’t use the oil either.

    I almost always, now, poach big birds. Your turkey or goose will cook almost as fast in water as in the fat and you can flavor the water with vegetables before you begin the bird. Plan on an hour (always use a thermometer to check the bird) in the water and another 10-15 minutes in a very hot oven to add some color. No stuffing in the bird, of course, but in these days of salmonella and e. coli, that’s not a good idea anyway.

    After you’ve carved the bird, throw the bones back in the cooking water, add more veggies if you like, and boil up a wonderful soup base, now redolent of the whole meal.

    Best of all, your house will survive the experience.


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