Throughout strawberry season – which lasts all summer in Oregon – our kitchen is rarely without a few tiny blue baskets of strawberries. I usually reserve one carton simply for snacking on, while saving the others for transforming into breakfast or dessert: jam, pancakes, a macerated topping, or my two perennial favorites, strawberry shortcake and strawberry rhubarb crisp.
We recently bought The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee. I've only just begun paging through the detailed content and need to carve out a block of time to read the actual sections about coffee. However, my main impetus for buying the book, along with my enjoyment of their coffee and respect for their business, was the recipes located at the back of the book. Photographer Clay McLachlan achieved the effect that all food photographers desire their work to have: I immediately wanted to go home and start baking. And the recipe I mentally thumbed down before even leaving the bookstore was their strawberry buckle. I was captivated by the photo of a lovely scalloped pink plate nestled in the palm of someone's hand; the first bite is speared on the fork, mere seconds away from being consumed.
I can never eat enough quinoa – which is not to say that I consume quinoa for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but rather that no amount of it seems to fill me. While I'm impressed with quinoa's nutritional capabilities (it's a mineral-rich complete protein, after all), I'm usually as hungry with my last bite as I was with my first. And it doesn't matter what food I pair with this chenopod (the seed of the goosefoot plant) to flavor it or bulk it up. Quinoa as an entree doesn't work. So, I've changed courses and decided to embrace quinoa as a side dish and nothing more. There's less pressure on the quinoa and less grumbling from me.
In a food cart built from scratch, I watched Picnic's John Dovydenas and Jen Cox form bread from giant containers of yeasted dough, roast carrots into softly blistered orange chunks, slice freshly roasted Kookoolan chickens to order, and hand customers hearty, creative cookie combinations like olive oil and pine nut. Picnic just opened their chalkboard shutters for their third season, moving locations to the food pod on SW 3rd and Stark in downtown Portland. From 10:45 to 1:15, I watched them field orders, greet customers from previous years, and prep sandwiches. After dealing with an irregular customer base while parked at the Green Castle food pod last year, John and Jen were elated to sell out of their sandwiches within three hours.