Oregon Home Grown Chef

A roasted carrot soup with miso butter is carrot comfort food for fall.

A Carrot by Any Other Name

written by Thor Erickson | photography by Tambi Lane It was a bone dry 95 degrees as our 1975 family van rolled into downtown Ashland. I was hot and thirsty, and my three sisters had been asking for hours for dad to turn on the air conditioning. “It uses too much gas.” He hollered back from the driver’s seat as he pulled over to a bank of granite-clad drinking fountains at Lithia Park near the center of town. “Go drink some cool water.” Following his instructions, we piled out of the van and raced to the fountains. As I took my first gulp, I almost gagged at the foul smell and taste of the warm water. Over my shoulder, I heard a laugh. I turned to see a balding middle-aged man in a dress. “Never drink the Lithia water!” he exclaimed in a British accent. He was holding a carrot…

Not all rye bread has sprung from a landfill, but this one has and it’s delicious.

The Seven Seas of Rye

written by Thor Ericksonphotography by Tambi Lane “I found a field of rye growing next to the Knott landfill!” my friend Hubert yelled into his cell phone with excitement. He continued talking with his thick German accent. “I am harvesting it now and will be over shortly.” A retired geophysicist and university professor, Hubert looks more like a mash up between Brian May, the guitarist of the rock band Queen, and jolly old St. Nick. Hubert, who rides his bicycle everywhere arrived at my house and quickly unpacked the harvested rye berries along with a bag of dirt. We ground the grains into a small bag of flour to be used for a sourdough starter and, due the location of where he found the rye, we packaged the dirt to be analyzed by Oregon State University. Second to wheat, rye is my grain of choice when baking bread. Often referred…

A chance encounter in Italy led to this egg yolk and ricotta ravioli recipe.

Uovo the Top

written by Thor Erickson photography by Tambi Lane “What to cook for dinner?” I thought to myself as I arrived home after a long day. I knew my fridge was looking a bit sparse, and I was at a loss as to what to prepare. Walking into the house, I noticed a box on the front step. I opened it to find two dozen fresh eggs from our friend, Darren, who has twelve chickens that he refers to as “the girls.” The eggs were so fresh that they were still warm. I suddenly knew what was on the dinner menu. As I cracked the delicate brown shells on the edge of a cup, I noticed the intense orange of the yolks. Suddenly I was transported back in time to a meal I had at a small hilltop restaurant just outside the northern Italian town of Piacenza. Upon my arrival, I…

Oregon clam linguine is simple to make, gourmet in its presentation and delicious to the taste.

Keep Clam and Carry On

written by Thor Ericksonphotography by Tambi Lane The brightness and hum of the fluorescent lights inside Bi-Mart was an awkwardly refreshing break from the dark and rainy weather of Lincoln City. I stopped in to pick up a shellfish license and a “clam shovel” (called a trenching shovel anywhere else in the world). One of the cashiers pointed me in the right direction. Under his red Bi-Mart vest, he wore a t-shirt that said “I Dig Clams” across the front. I knew I was in the right place. The next morning at low tide, shovel and bucket in hand and boots on feet, I set out to Siletz Bay. After asking a few fellow clammers where to go, I ended up north of Schooner Creek where the purple varnish clams (named for the hue inside the shell) were said to be plentiful. I searched the wet sand for the telltale…

Smoked Trout Pâte is always great to have at the ready for hors d’oeuvres or a luxurious snack.

Fisherman’s Blues

written by Thor Ericksonphotography by Tambi Lane “I’ve got one!” my friend Thomas yelled from his fishing float tube. “Stop paddling!” he yelled, while frantically reeling in the rainbow trout that he had been waiting for all weekend. Thomas’ flippers had fallen off and were now most likely at the bottom of Paulina Lake. I had hooked up a rope to his float and was paddling furiously, towing him back to shore with my kayak in the sudden rain and ferocious headwind. On cue, my eight-year-old son, also paddling against the wind, threw up his paddle. “I can’t do it anymore,” he said, joining the increasingly impossible tow rope. As I paddled on, feeling as if I was training for “The World’s Strongest Man” competition, I reflected on my friendship with Thomas. Despite the day’s mishaps, Thomas is one of the best fishermen I know. In fact, he’s exceptional at…

Tacos with fresh rockfish, plentiful year-round, offer a winter getaway for the palate.

A Rockfish by Any Other Name

written by Thor Ericksonphotography by Tambi Lane Order rockfish at a restaurant in New York, and you’ll likely get a striped bass. Place the same order in California, and you could end up with a vermilion rockfish. Here in Oregon, rockfish can be anything from quillback, pygmy, shortbelly, longspine, yellow-eye, to widow, canary, chilipepper, thornyhead and the old standby—red snapper. Oregon sport and commercial fishermen regularly catch more than twenty-five species of rockfish. Many of these rockfish have similar characteristics and are difficult to tell apart. According to the Food and Drug Administration, a single fish species can go by multiple names from the time it’s caught until the time it ends up on your plate, and many kinds of fish can legally be sold under a single name. The good news is that all these species of Oregon rockfish taste relatively the same. The flesh is versatile and can…

Honey-Brined Roasted Turkey Recipe

A recipe for honey-brined roasted turkey from our home grown chef written by Thor Erickson  | photography by Charlotte Dupont Ah, honey—the sweet, viscous gold crafted by winged artisans. roughout history, this culinary treasure has been revered—used to anoint kings at birth, nurture them through life, and preserve their bodies when they died. Many civilizations have relied on honey not only for its sweetness, but also for its healing properties. As a child, I suffered from severe hayfever. After a few years of useless antihistamine shots, my mother heard from a local macramé maker (it was the ’70s, after all) that raw honey was a great natural cure for hay fever. After some searching, she found some local honey. My mom paid the hefty price of $15 a gallon and made me swear not to tell anyone about it. (Unlike the kings anointed with the stuff, it didn’t fit my family’s modest budget.) The…

Herb foccacia

Homegrown Chef: Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs are easy to grow here in Oregon. Most of the hardy varieties and some tender varieties will survive the cold winters. Growing herbs yourself makes it easy to pick what you need, and the freshness is unmatched.
Fresh herb blends are especially key to getting the herbal flavor you want without overshadowing other ingredients in a dish.