Tag Archives: delicious

Oregon Blackberry Salad with Beets & Carrots

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOregon Blackberry Salad with Beets and Carrots

Oregon is widely known for both its cultivated and wild blackberries. Here in Southern Oregon, wild blackberries can be found along roadsides, on fences, and on the banks of creeks and rivers.  In some places, there are so many blackberry vines that some people consider them to be noxious weeds and try removing them completely from their property or backyards.  By mid to late summer the local Southern Oregon blackberries are ripe and ready to pick. Something to consider when using blackberries in any of your favorite recipes is knowing that the cultivated berries tend to be bigger in size, are slightly sweeter and can be a bit a juicier than their wild counterparts. Whether they are cultivated or wild, blackberries are wonderfully versatile little fruits that taste simply amazing.

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One of my favorite ways to use blackberries is to make a sweet and tangy blackberry vinaigrette and drizzle it on my Oregon Blackberry Salad with Beets and Carrots.  My Oregon Blackberry Salad is a colorful combination of some of the best local ingredients that I can find during the hot summer months.  The sweet juicy blackberries combined with the earthiness of red beets and crunchy carrots makes it a stunningly vibrant summer salad.  My Oregon Blackberry Salad with Beets and Carrots is easy to make, and tastes absolutely fantastic! Enjoy! Tessa

Blackberry Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh picked blackberries
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 1 Tbs shallots (minced)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper or to taste
  • 1 Tbs water if needed

In a blender, add the blackberries, red wine vinegar and pulse until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of water if the blackberry vinegar mixture is too thick. Remove from blender and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl in order to remove the seeds. Discard seed mixture. Add to olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard, minced shallots, salt and pepper into the blackberry mixture to the bowl and whisk until well incorporated.  Taste and correct your seasonings. Store the blackberry vinaigrette in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Makes 1 cup or 8 servings.

For one salad:

  • 2 cups fresh green lettuce or your favorite greens
  • 1/4 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup shredded beets
  • 1 – 2 Tbs Blackberry Vinaigrette (see recipe above)
  • fresh cracked pepper (optional)

Assemble the lettuce on a salad plate.  Arrange the shredded carrots and beets over the bed of lettuce and top with the blackberries.  Drizzle with blackberry vinaigrette.

Bean Salad and the Little Applegate River

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABean Salad

Yesterday morning Bruce and I took a drive to the Little Applegate River here in Southern Oregon. Bruce wanted to go on a 5 mile run along the Sterling Ditch Mine Trail.  As for me?  Oh heck to the no!  I had no interest in running. All I wanted to do was spend my morning in a leisurely fashion and exercising my camera…

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While Bruce was out running along the trails, I made my way down to the Little Applegate River.  The water was ice cold and crystal clear. The trees and plants growing along the banks were green and lush.

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What a lovely place to spend part of my morning. The sound of the water and the wind through the trees was so relaxing…

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Across the river from where I was standing was the remnants of a gold mining operation that took place over a hundred years ago.

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A branch of an Oregon Ash tree.

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Bruce on his way down the trail and towards the finish line.  Once he cooled down, we hopped back into the truck and headed back home.  I needed to get back in order to make my bean salad to share at a barbecue later on that day with family and friends.

My bean salad is a riff on a bean salad recipe that my mother had jotted down in the back of an old cookbook decades ago.  I made my salad a bit simpler and left out the green beans and Worcestershire sauce.  The reason for leaving out the green beans?  The recipe called for canned green beans…  Nope.  That was not happening.  I don’t buy canned green beans.  I won’t eat them.  I can’t stand them… And as for the Worcestershire sauce.  I was out.  No big deal.

My bean salad is a simple mixture of three kinds of beans, kidney, black and chick pea.  It’s tossed with red onion, red bell pepper, parsley and a sweet red wine vinaigrette.  It’s easy, delicious and a perfect side dish for a Memorial Day barbecue.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 ounce can kidney beans
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans
  • 1 15 ounce can chick peas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • seasoning salt and black pepper to taste

Begin by rinsing and draining the beans.  Add to a medium sized bowl.  Add red bell pepper, red onion and parsley.  In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients to make the sweet red wine vinaigrette.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Add vinaigrette mixture to bean mixture and toss to coat.  Refrigerate covered for at least 4 hours before serving.  Makes about 6 servings.

Spicy Bacon Lentil Soup

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Spicy Bacon Lentil Soup

It’s been a while since I have posted a recipe.  It’s not because I am lazy or that I have been burned out.  It’s just that when I have a ton of things that need to be done, unfortunately, my website takes a back seat.  My day job and chores around our home come first.  Feral Kitchen unfortunately finishes second.  And quite frankly, I don’t like it one bit…

Well, I’m happy to be back and the recipe that I want to share today is a simple Spicy Bacon Lentil Soup that I prepared for a few of my lunches during the work week.  I packed a bowl and a half sandwich today in my lunch box, and put the other 3 servings in the freezer for lunch at a later date.  My Spicy Bacon Lentil Soup is made with lentils, bacon, onion, carrots, celery, garlic and a healthy hit of cayenne pepper.  It’s simple, flavorful and delicious.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 15 ounce cans lentils
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 2 carrots (chopped)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • garnish with fresh green onion

Begin by rinsing and draining the lentils.  Set aside.  Chop the bacon and add to a large sauce pan.  Over medium heat crisp the bacon and drain.  Add onion and cook until opaque.  Add lentils, celery, carrots, garlic, chicken stock, cayenne pepper, bay leaf, cumin and coriander.  Cook until the carrots and celery until they are tender.  Add salt and black pepper to taste.  Remove bay leaf before serving.  Makes 4 servings.

A Winter Weekend in the Cascade Mountains and Chicken Lentil Soup

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Chicken Lentil Soup 

I love living in Southern Oregon.  One of my favorite things to do during the winter months is to visit the Cascade Mountains.  This year our family and friends stayed in some cabins up at Hyatt Lake over the weekend.  Hyatt Lake is about an hour drive from our home but in snowy weather, it may take twice as long.  There was at least 3 feet of fluffy snow on the ground and the temperature was a bone chilling 16 degrees.   The only way we could get up to our cabins was with four wheel drive pickup trucks for there was nearly 10 miles of narrow snow packed roads.

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A view up towards the summit.

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Along the edge of Hyatt Lake.  The lake was frozen over.  During the summer months, Hyatt Lake is known for its wonderful trout fishing and camping.

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A view across the lake.  The ice on the lake was only a few inches thick and covered with snow.  We would not dare walk out onto the lake for it was too risky and dangerous.

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Sunset in the forest.  It was eerily quiet.  The only noise that we heard was the snow dropping off the branches of the trees.  There were no birds, squirrels or any signs of wildlife. The birds either migrated south or are spending the winter in the valley below. Other animals such as black bear, skunks and squirrels are hibernating in their dens.  Deer, cougars and elk generally find their way down to the warmer lower elevations during the cold winter months.

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A view from the top of the mountain.  You can see the ski resort at Mount Ashland in the background.

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Snow covered Chinquapin Mountain. In late spring, when the snow has melted, Chinquapin Mountain is one of my favorite places to hunt for Morel mushrooms.  When I get some mushrooms this year, I’ll be sure to post some delicious Morel mushroom recipes.

After spending a cold day in the snow, my Chicken Lentil Soup is a perfect way to warm up. My Chicken Lentil Soup is made with locally grown organic green Laird Lentils, carrots, onions, celery, chunks of tender chicken and flavored with my homemade Garam Masala Spice Blend.  It’s easy to make, tastes delicious, and as an added bonus, it’s really good for you too!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Laird lentils (washed and picked over)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup carrots (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs Garam Masala spice blend
  • 1 12 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound cooked chicken (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan with a lid, saute onion, carrots, celery and red bell pepper in olive oil.  Cook until onions are translucent and tender.  Add lentils, Garam Masala, tomatoes, garlic and chicken stock.  Cook on low heat until lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes.  Add cooked chicken about 10 minutes before lentils are done.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Serve hot with crusty bread.  Makes about 4 servings.

*Note:  I used precooked chicken that I found in the deli section of my favorite store.  I added the chicken towards the end of the cooking process because I wanted the chicken to stay tender.

Wheat Berry Salad and a walk along Bear Creek

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Wheat Berry Salad with Kalamata Olives and Feta Cheese

I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions.  All my resolutions such as losing weight and exercising more, historically have been destined for defeat.  So, since I despise failure, I don’t do resolutions anymore.  Nope, none, nada…  I look at it this way.  I make New Year’s expectations. Expectations for me are doable and achievable.  This year I expect to take smaller steps to improving my life and health.  I’m certainly not a perfect person but when I expect something out of myself, I do it.

One of the first things that Bruce and I did for the New Year was to take a long walk along Bear Creek here in the Rogue Valley.  Bear Creek is home to many species of birds, aquatic mammals and fish.  During the spring and fall months you may see large salmon or steelhead swimming up the creek on their way to their spawning grounds.  In the winter, the water in the creek is too turbid from the rain and snow to see much at all.  However, it is a great time to go birding.  So, I grabbed my camera and out the door we went.

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A great egret hunting for fish in the marshy area near the creek.

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A pair of mallard ducks on a log.  This is my favorite picture of the day.  The brightly colored drake is on the left and the plain colored hen is on the right.  It won’t be long before they start nesting.

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A closeup of a drake Mallard duck.  Notice the beautiful blue wing bar and bright orange legs?

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When we got back home from our walk along the creek, I decided to make a bright and flavorful Wheat Berry Salad.  My Wheat Berry Salad is simple to make and tastes delicious! It’s made with tasty little wheat berries, red bell pepper, Kalamata olives, green onions, parsley, feta cheese and my favorite red wine vinaigrette.  In just a matter of hours, I’m already living up to my expectations.  A lovely walk and a healthful salad.  That was easy.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  •  3 cups cooked wheat berries (1 cup dried = 3 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 cup red bell (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette (click on link for recipe)
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives (pitted and chopped)
  • 1/4 cup green onions (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
  •  4-  6 cups lettuce, watercress or your favorite leafy greens

Mix all ingredients (except lettuce or watercress) in a medium sized bowl adding the feta cheese last…  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Chill and serve on a bed of lettuce, watercress or other leafy greens.  Garnish with additional feta crumbles and chopped parsley.  Makes 6 servings.