10 things I learned from my first year of organic gardening

Hello, it’s been a while! I’ve been busy with garden planning and starting up the early spring garden. Upon going over last year’s gardening notes, I thought I’d share a few things I realized in my first year of organic gardening in our backyard. I went into the year with a little experience, from my college work/study job of maintaining the greenhouse to small plot and container gardening while living in apartments. It definitely felt like my first real year of gardening in a real yard though; I had a sore back in the spring and may have shed a few tears once the tomato plants were done producing in late fall. By winter, I found myself really missing gardening and dreaming about next year’s garden. Here are a few tidbits that may help anyone else out there who’s new to gardening or interested in getting started in it altogether.


1. As a newbie, it helps to find a resource or guide specific to your gardening zone or seek out a gardening mentor if you’ve got any friends, family members, or neighbors who garden. I read through Seattle Tilth’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide, listened to Encyclopedia Botanica podcast, consulted with the Seattle Garden hotline, and chatted with coworkers who garden. It can get overwhelming sorting through all the information out there. I felt like I had to know everything about what I wanted to grow before even starting, but I learned to just take it month at a time, and look specifics up and ask when I needed some insight.

2. Soil quality is extremely important! Get your soil tested at a local lab, amend with a well-rounded organic fertilizer, and put down compost before starting anything. It’s completely worth it for healthy, nutrient-rich veggies.


3.When determining what to grow, think about the staples in your kitchen. Garlic? Onions? Peppers? Greens? Try and grow what you see yourself using the most of, and expand from there.

4. Sketch your garden layout and keep a garden journal. It makes a great visual guide and helps with succession planting, plant monitoring, and keeping track of ideas.


5. Planting starters rather than seeds can potentially make things smoother and easier for your first year. I used quite a few starters last year, and I felt like it helped me manage my different plots more easily, but I now feel ready to delve into mostly starting from seed this year. Personal preference – everyone finds their happy medium.

6. You will have successes. You will have failures. Every gardener encounters pests, critters, and plant diseases. Most of which have measures you can take to try and get your plant healthy and productive again. However, if something wipes out a crop, you’ll know it’s an “at risk” species in your garden, and next year you can leave it out of rotation or take precautionary measures to try and prevent it from happening again.


7. If you’re at all intimidated, don’t be. Gardening isn’t difficult, it just requires attention in the form of watering, babying young plants, pruning, and harvesting. Oh yes, don’t forget soil amending, weeding, pest and disease monitoring, plant removal at the end of it’s cycle, and any other general garden maintenance. Not difficult stuff, though, I promise!

8. Gardening will make you resourceful and inventive ways you’ve never realized. Tomato plant getting too heavy for it’s cage? No problem, I’ll just use some twine and secure it to the side of this retaining wall. Lettuce is beginning to bolt? It’s ok, I’ll strategically place this squash trellis over the lettuce to provide shade and slow the growth. Your brain is pushed to quickly think of solutions and it continues this way of thinking into everyday living, just wait and see!


9. Make your garden into a space you love to be in. Even little improvements to your garden space such as a rock border, bamboo fence, hanging chimes, or any personal touches draw you to want to hang out in the garden rather than it being a chore to be in the garden.

10. Organic gardening is a continual learning process. It’s fascinating and rewarding. Once you start, you will most likely want to continue gardening and learning about gardening. For me, it was an awesome first season and I can’t wait to see what next season brings.


Happy gardening!

Orange-Chili Tempeh Veggie Bowl

tempeh-5tempeh-1tempeh-2tempeh-4This dish was one I whipped up one night and really liked, but had no idea what amount of ingredients I used for the bowl or sauce; typical. I tried it a few more times and actually kept track of the measurements so I could share it with you.

Have you ever tried tempeh? It’s awesome. It originates in Indonesia and is made of fermented soybeans, or less commonly, chickpeas, beans, and/or grains. It has a subtle nutty taste, and is heartier than tofu. It’s really good at taking on the taste of what you marinade/cook it in since it’s porous.  Also, it’s great for you being that it’s fermented (shout out to probiotics), and contains whole, barely processed soybeans. Just go for organic tempeh to be sure it contains non-GMO soybeans. That would be ideal, since soybeans are one of the top genetically modified crops in the world.

Give this spicy, citrusy tempeh bowl a shot, and use whatever grains and veggies you have on hand. Recipe serves two with some leftover. Double it if you’re cooking for 4-5.



  • 1 cup short grain brown rice
  • 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth OR water
  • 1 tbsp evoo
  • 4 oz. block of tempeh, cut into 1/4 inch slices (I used Lightlife Organic 3 grain tempeh)
  • 5 stems of broccolini, cut into segments
  • 3-4 carrots, sliced
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 an onion, sliced

Orange Chili sauce

  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed juice from an orange
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil + 1 tbsp for skillet
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup or honey
  • sprinkling of chili pepper flakes


  1. Marinate the tempeh in ~1/4 cup of orange juice and a bit of garlic chili sauce.
  2. Cook the rice: combine rice, broth or water, and evoo in a pot and bring to boil. Cover pot with lid and let simmer on low for 45 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let steam for 10 minutes. If rice is crunchy at this point, add 1-2 tbsp more of liquid and cook longer.
  3. After veggies are prepped, make the orange chili sauce by whisking together remaining ingredients in a bowl. Taste test and add more orange or chili sauce to your preference.
  4. Heat a large skillet and drizzle with 1 tbsp of sesame oil. Cook onions, carrots, and broccolini for a few minutes on medium. Add mushrooms and tempeh. Drizzle in remaining orange juice used for marinating, along with all of sauce. Cook tempeh for a few minutes on each side.
  5. Assemble bowl with rice and veggie/tempeh mixture. Squeeze in any juice left in the orange juice and top with chili pepper flakes for even more spice.


broiled grapefruit with kale crisps


Continuing with my January grapefruit and kale dishes, this is a really nice breakfast side, lunch side, or evening snack. Sprinkle grapefruit halves with a bit of brown sugar and broil for about 5 minutes, or until browning starts. Cut the ends before broiling to help the halves sit flat. I also pre-sliced the segments. Serve up with kale crisps sprinkled on top, or you could experiment with other flavors: Rosemary? Pepper? Vanilla ice cream? Scoop away, and enjoy!

Also, I ran into an awesome article from Main & Vine about how to turn hollowed out citrus halves into oil lamps. I love that idea. Check it out for yourself!

kale crisps

kale-crisps-1kale-crisps-2kale-crisps-3I wanted to share this quick, very basic recipe on kale crisps since I’ll be using them in other recipes. They’re pretty much kale chips, but crumpled up into smaller bits. I like to sprinkle them on anything that could use a garnish of greens, like hearty soups, veggies, potatoes, breakfast scrambles, and rice & bean bowls. I make a batch and pretty much go crazy with sprinkling them on anything I can. Give them a try and you’ll see what I mean!

Directions: Rinse 3-4 leaves of your preferred type of kale. Air dry or spin dry. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Rip off pieces of dried kale and set on baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until you can tell they’re getting crispy with brown edges. Let cool and break up into small pieces. Voila!

grapefruit and kale salad


Hope your new year is going well! January always seems like the time of year I just want to “make it through” because of frigid temps, short days, dead garden, etc. However, citrus season definitely makes me excited about life. Grapefruit is one of my favorite citrus fruits. When I was a kid, I remember squeezing the remaining juice of finished grapefruit halves into a cup, adding some orange juice and a bit of sugar, and enjoying my heavenly little drink. I based this vinaigrette on that memory (sans the sugar) and it drizzled it on a bed of red kale, shallots, almonds, and of course grapefruit. It’s a delicious, fresh pick me up for this time of year.



  • 6-8 red kale leaves (or any kale variety)
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented
  • 1/4 cup of chopped almonds
  • 1/2  shallot, sliced


  • ~ 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ~ 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 tbsp grapefruit zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 8-10 mint leaves, minced (save a few for garnish)
  • dash of salt and pepper


  1. Prep kale leaves by removing spines and finely chopping leaves. Combine with grapefruit segments, almonds, and shallot slices.
  2. Prep dressing by whisking together all dressing ingredients. Taste & adjust (I sometimes add more grapefruit juice or salt & pepper), then drizzle onto salad. Add a few mint leaves for garnish.

baked eggs with kale, mushroom, asparagus, and bacon


Get in the mode. THE BREAKFAST MODE. Christmas long weekend is approaching and it’s time to come together, get cozy, slow down, and have a hearty breakfast that’s packed with good stuff. Try an egg bake. This recipe is versatile…I just used what I had on hand. It turned out excellent and I will be making it again soon.


  • 1 red potato
  • 3 asparagus
  • 5 crimini mushrooms
  • 2-3 kale leaves
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 few rosemary sprigs for garnish
  • salt & pepper
  • bread for serving


  1. Heat oven to 425°. Prep potato, mushroom, asparagus, onion and bacon by chopping them into small chunks. Roughly chop the kale into small pieces as well.
  2. In a cast iron skillet (or regular skillet), salt & pepper the potatoes and cook on med/low until just about crispy. Remove from cast iron.
  3. Next, sauté  bacon in cast iron on medium until cooked. Remove from cast iron, leaving a bit of bacon grease. Cut into smaller pieces once it’s cooled a bit. 
  4. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and sauté onions, asparagus, and garlic on medium for a few minutes, or until onions are transparent. Add mushrooms to cast iron, sprinkling with salt & pepper and stirring; letting sauté for several more minutes.
  5. Add the bacon and potatoes back to the mixture, along with the kale. Stir, allowing kale to break down and slightly wilt. Remove from heat and sprinkle in about 1/2 the feta.
  6. Create wells in the mixture to accommodate the eggs. Crack the eggs to fill the wells. Pour the cream in the mixture, and pop into the oven for 8-10 minutes.
  7. When you remove the egg bake from the oven, sprinkle the rest of the feta over the top as well as a few rosemary sprigs.
  8. Enjoy on bread or straight up on its own.

Happy Holidays!

pomegranate salsa


Pomegranates are one of my top favorite winter fruits. The arils are packed with flavor as well as flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that counteracts some types of cancer radials. I’ve been sprinkling them on different types of dishes, and found that they go well with avocado. Here’s a quick little recipe for a simple pomegranate salsa, an easy salsa or side with chips/crackers for the holidays!


  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped & seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • dash of salt & pepper

Directions: To remove arils from pomegranate,  I score the fruit into 4 sections, submerge each section under water, and gently pick out the arils. Once the avocado, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro are prepped, toss them along with the pomegranate arils into a bowl. Squeeze in lime juice, add salt & pepper, and give another toss. Add more jalapeño, lime, salt and/or pepper to taste.

persimmon crumble

persimmon-6persimmon-1persimmon-3persimmon-4Persimmons are really interesting and versatile wintertime fruits. They are the national fruit of Japan, but originate in China. The first one I’ve ever eaten actually made my mouth feel numb. I steered clear for a while, thinking I had some weird allergy or genetic thing, until I found a little more about them. There are 2 varieties: Hachiya (astringent) and Fuyu (non-astringent). Hachiya is acorn shaped and bitter/mouth-numbing before it’s ripe. That is definitely what I originally ate, and it was unpleasant. However, after you let it ripen in a paper bag for a week or two, it’ll actually taste rich and sweet. The Fuyu variety is more squat and rounded, and is pleasingly sweet when ripe, but still delicate and slightly sweet before fully ripe. It is characteristic of an apple or plum, and can be used in a variety of ways.

I’ve been trying things with fuyus and ended up really liking this crumble. It’s a spinoff of apple crumble, still utilizing cinnamon and nutmeg, but with added coconut flakes and coconut oil to compliment the persimmons. I tried leaving out butter and using only coconut oil, but found out NO. A good crumble or crisp needs that butter. Also, I used slightly (not fully) ripe fuyus. This would be great with ripe fuyus or hachiyas as well, just leave out the sugar in the fruit filling.

Ingredients – makes 4 ramekins or 1 small pan (8″x 8″)

Fruit filling

  • 2 fuyu persimmons, cored and sliced into thin chunks
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg


  • vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • dash of ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Toss all fruit filling ingredients together in a bowl to evenly coat persimmon chunks, and layer into ramekins or pan.
  2. Toss all crumble ingredients together in a bowl, working butter chunks into mixture until it looks like little pebbles. I find it easiest to do with my hands. Pour into each ramekin or into the pan, mixing it up with persimmons, then topping it off with a layer of the crumble mix.
  3. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes, until crumble is lightly browning. Once out of the oven, let cool for a few minutes and top with vanilla ice cream, a dash  of cinnamon, and pomegranate arils.

Enjoy, and let me know your favorite way to cook or bake with persimmons!

grilled radicchio salad

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Let’s get right to it. Fall is moving into winter, and this salad could definitely work well for the holidays as a nice precursor to the main dishes. It could also be easy for a weeknight dinner. Radicchio is excellent grilled; it takes on a nutty taste. I added some blue cheese yogurt drizzle, broccoli buds, pumpkin seeds, and pomegranate arils to make it a hearty, flavorful salad.

Ingredients  –  serves 2-4


  • 2 radicchio heads
  • 1 cup of finely cut broccoli buds
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate arils
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper

blue cheese yogurt drizzle

  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 oz crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • juice of 1/2 lemon


  1. Slice radicchio heads in half lengthwise, leaving the core intact. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Prepare blue cheese yogurt drizzle by whisking all ingredients together in a bowl. Add more blue cheese if a thicker consistency is desired.
  3. Grill radicchio on medium heat until each side begins to get tender and slightly brown. Turn back to flat side, and up the heat to med/high for the final few minutes to get some grill marks.
  4. When grilling is done, quickly serve up with blue cheese yogurt drizzle, broccoli buds, pumpkin seeds, and pomegranate arils.  Cut halves into quarters or even smaller chunks if desired.

Happy holiday planning!

O’o Farm

Time for a post about a happy place. The last few days have been emotionally taxing, and I’m still sort of in this confused, disgusted, depressed, weird state of mind. I’m scared about the future of our country and the earth, since the newly elected has expressed his disregard with climate change, amongst many other incredibly important issues. I have heard many kind words and positive thoughts though, and feel like we can peacefully stand up for what we believe in and stick with each other in this uncertain time.

This is a series from O’o Farm in the upcountry farming community of Maui. This beautiful 8 acre farm biodynamically cultivates and supplies the produce for 2 restaurants and a market in Maui. Our guide educated us on many of the principles they go by, from planting to composting. We explored the garden, picked ingredients, and got to enjoy a very memorable farm to table lunch. O’o Farm has a love for the land that runs deep. If only all humans, especially leaders, could share that mentality.

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grilled apple, kale, & gouda quesadilla with sage

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We all know those long days at work where you really want spend minimal to no time on dinner, but you’re hungry for something good. Quesadillas are lifesavers for those nights. Why not get creative and try different things that you usually wouldn’t on a ‘dilla. On this one, I loaded it with lemon-soaked local apples, garden kale and gouda cheese. I grilled it and topped it with garden sage and a drizzle of honey (yes, local honey). Super quick for a weeknight dinner, lunch, or midnight snack. No judgements here. Just try it.

Ingredients – makes 2 quesadillas

  • 1 apple
  • 10 baby kale leaves
  • 4 oz gouda
  • spoonful of honey
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 8-10 sage leaves
  • 4 small flour tortillas (or 2 large)


  1. Slice apple wedges fairly thin and soak the slices + kale leaves in a bowl with lemon juice. Slice gouda into thin pieces.
  2. When the grill is heated, place the tortillas on and spread gouda slices on 2 tortillas and the apple slices and kale on the other 2 tortillas. Grill on medium-low for around 5 -7 minutes.
  3. Once gouda begins to melt, flip cheese tortilla onto apple/kale tortilla. Cook for 1-2 minutes on med-low to melt the gouda more, then on med-high for about a minute or until quesadilla is crispy. Serve up with sage leaves and drizzled honey.

fig, blueberry & prosciutto salad

fig-2-1fig-2I fell in love with figs after trying my first one in Oregon a while back.  I’d previously eaten fig jam, dried figs, and fig newtons – but seriously – nothing compares to a fresh, ripe fig.  Its sweet, delicate flavor and contrasting textures have me looking forward to fig season every year.  Figs are versatile and there are so many ways to use them to whip up an excellent dish.  In this salad, I combined figs, blueberries, parmesan, prosciutto, walnuts, my favorite olive oil and passion fruit vinegar to make a vibrant plate that highlights the beauty of figs.


  • 6-8 figs (black mission, brown turkey are my favorites)
  • 1 cup of blueberries, rinsed
  • 3 oz. of parmesan reggiano
  • 3 slices of prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp Tuscan EVOO and 1 tbsp Apero passion fruit vinegar from Oregon Olive Mill
  • a dash of salt & pepper


  1. Slice ripe figs and prosciutto. Wedge off small chunks of parmesan and chop walnuts.
  2. Assemble salad by layering figs, prosciutto, parmesan, blueberries, and walnuts. Drizzle evenly with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with rustic bread slice.

Serves 2

enjoy! p.s. check out Red Ridge’s online store – they’ve got some great gift boxes.

peach & almond butter smoothie bowl

peach-1 peach-2 peach-3Peach and almond butter is a flavor match made in heaven. Here, end of season peaches and almond butter blend excellently in this smoothie bowl. Very quick and delicious!



  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 peach, sliced
  • 3/4 cup of almond milk
  • 1 tbsp greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp ground flax meal


  • 1 peach, sliced
  • 1 cup granola
  • drizzle of almond butter


  1. Blend the bowl ingredients until smooth. Add granola and peaches, drizzle almond butter on top. Enjoy!

thai zucchini salad

One of my favorite Thai dishes is papaya salad. For this dish, I decided to substitute zucchini for papaya, since we currently have more garden zucchini than we can handle. I also used garden tomatoes (sun golds and golden nuggets), garlic, onion, green beans, and a carrot. It’s a pleasing vegetarian dish. Throw in chili-lime shrimp or chicken for some added protein. Perfect for a hot summer day and a great way to use those zucchinis!



  • 1 large or 2 small zucchini
  • 1 carrot
  • 5 green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 small tomatoes (cherry, sun gold, etc) halved
  • 1 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro


  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • juice of 2 limes, zest of 2 limes
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp chili pepper flakes (less if mild spicy level is desired)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar


  1. Using a julienne peeler, cut the zucchini and carrot into long strands. Add it into a large bowl, along with the green beans and cherry tomatoes.
  2. Prepare the dressing by combining all dressing ingredients into a mortar and pestle and grind for about a minute to mix flavors and thicken dressing.
  3. Thoroughly stir dressing into salad, and top with cilantro, crushed peanuts, and another squeeze of lime juice. Enjoy!

Makes 2 servings

cherry & thyme salad



I’m back from my blogging break which was brought on by general life stuff. We’ve moved into our home in south Seattle and have been taking on a multitude projects. Most of which include eating areas; kitchen and patio. My little starter garden is blowing me away with it’s bounty and I’m very excited about it. I’ve been making quite a few salads with garden ingredients, and this particular salad turned out well. I discovered seasonal cherries go well with thyme, and I added a bit of goat brie, prosciutto, almond slivers, and a delicate, beautiful Tuscan extra virgin olive oil from Oregon Olive Mill at Red Ridge Farms in Dayton, Oregon. I also used their lovely Apero passion fruit vinegar. Check out their online store. This salad is bright, earthy, and perfect for cherry season. Make it up as close to meal time as possible.


  • Large bowl of a mix of dark greens
  • handful of a seasonal variety of cherries (I used Chelan)
  • 2 oz. goat brie cheese
  • 2 prosciutto slices
  • sprinkle of almond slivers
  • 4-5 roughly chopped thyme sprigs
  • 2 tbsp Tuscan EVOO and 1-2 tbsp Apero passion fruit vinegar from Oregon Olive Mill
  • salt & pepper


  1. Slice pits out of cherries and cut cherries in half. Crumble pieces of goat brie. Slice prosciutto pieces.
  2. Drizzle most of olive oil and vinegar onto greens. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, and mix greens.
  3. Add cherries, goat cheese crumbles, prosciutto, almonds, and thyme. Drizzle remaining olive oil & vinegar, and mix minimally at this point. Enjoy!

blueberry banana smoothie bowl


I’ve been trying several different smoothie bowls lately, and this one is a super quick go-to pick for me. The trick is to create a thick and consistent smoothie so you can layer the fruit and granola right on top. Simple and delicious blueberry, banana, and cinnamon goodness in a bowl.


  • 2 cups Flav-R-Pac frozen blueberries
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup granola
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Blend frozen blueberries (leaving a few for topping), 1 sliced banana, greek yogurt, and almond milk until smooth.
  2. Serve into bowl, and top with remaining blueberries, 1 sliced banana, and granola. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy.

Oregon Wine Country

Oregon wine country (aka Willamette Valley) will turn you into a wine snob. It’s not Napa. It’s not Sonoma. It’s a moderately under-the-radar yet slowly-blowing-up pacific northwest wine heaven which will turn you on to the complexities and interconnectedness of soil and mesoclimates with viticulture and viniculture. Err, maybe that’s just me. It’s also got distinct, complex, really good wine.

The Willamette Valley wine region is located between the coastal range to the west and the cascade range to the east. It includes 19,000 miles of vineyards and over 500 wineries. This region is fascinating and unique because it’s the site of an ancient ice age flood and contains layers of sediment originating from Montana, as well as volcanic soil and a variety of other minerals and organic particles. The geography along with the moderate, cool climate make it the prime location for growing pinot noir grapes. Within the valley there are several different subregions with their own distinct subclimates and soil types, which produce unique families of grapes. These subregions include Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinville, Ribbon Ridge, and Yamhill-Carlton. Within each subregion and at each winery, the winemakers are passionate about explaining the process and sharing their stories and experiences about the fickle pinot noir grape. Seeing the harvest and sampling several different varieties is a must. Pairing local wine with your meal in the region’s cafes and restaurants is a must as well. Don’t forget to take back a bottle of your favorite vintage of pinot noir that was made so complex due to its mesoclimate. 2012 was a good year Boom. Now you’re a wine snob.

These photos are from various places in Dundee Hills, including Wine Country Bed & Breakfast / Armonea wines, Domaine Drouhin, and Vista Hills.

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farmer’s market inspiration for fall

There’s nothing like a beautiful fall day at the farmer’s market to get you revved up for fall produce. Root vegetables, mushrooms, squash, eggplant, greens, and late summer tomatoes are a few that I found strolling around the Portland State University farmer’s market.  Also, check out the links at the end of the post for some excellent fall recipes from other blogs I love. Welcome to fall and happy cooking!

(Sidenote: House of Cards fans: check out the “House of Chards” sign. Clever Oregonians…)

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PSU-1 PSU-37Fall recipes:

Creamy Polenta with Roasted Root Vegetables – Naturally Ella

Moroccan Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Soup with Coconut Ginger Cream + Pistachios – Half Baked Harvest

Swiss Chard, Pear, and Gruyere Tart – Canelle et Vanille

Roasted Squash and Bitter Greens Salad – Not Without Salt

Apple-Pear Crisp – Baked by Rachel

More of my recipes to come!

fontina & blackberry basil grilled cheese

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It’s the tail end of the blackberry season here in Oregon, so I’m trying to enjoy blackberries every way possible. Also, basil. Fresh, bright, and one of the things I have growing on my balcony, so convenient. Combine these two lovely ingredients into a gooey grilled cheese utilizing mild and nutty fontina; and you have something that hits the spot…especially for late summer!

Ingredients (for 2 sandwiches)

  • 8 oz  blackberries
  • 6 basil leaves, chopped
  • 4 oz fontina cheese, sliced or shredded
  • 4 slices of rustic bread like como, multigrain, or campagnolo
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Mash blackberries a bit with fork or mortar & pestle.
  2. Brush a bit of olive oil on the bottom of each bread slice, then set onto heated griddle or skillet. Place fontina on each slice and allow to melt for a few minutes.
  3. Spread a few spoonfuls on blackberries onto one slice of each sandwich, sprinkle on basil, then set the top slice onto the blackberry slice and press.
  4. Allow to grill for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and bread is golden.

Peanut soba noodles

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This dish is perfect for those peanut sauce cravings. Add edamame, cucumber and green onions to bring out some fresh, crisp flavors. Delicious and very easy.


Peanut Sauce

  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • chili pepper flakes to taste
  • sriracha to taste (1-4 tsp)

Noodles, etc

  • 3/4 package soba noodles
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 cup of edamame beans
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • small amount of nori (for garnish)


  1. Cook soba noodles according to package instructions. While noodles are cooking, make peanut sauce by whisking together peanut butter, broth, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, honey, soy sauce, chili pepper flakes and sriracha until smooth and creamy. Whisk in water to thin it down if desired.
  2. Drain noodles and mix in peanut sauce until noodles are evenly coated. Let cool slightly, then serve in a bowl along with cucumber slices, edamame beans, green onions, and garnish with sesame seeds and nori.

Serves 2