Free Tour, Talk & Taste Classes

Free Food Education for the Community

 These monthly 30 minute class and store tours lead you through our store aisles to learn about the many options in organic, farm direct, bulk foods, sustainably-raised products, and more.  The classes are led by store managers, staff, board members, and other community wellness educators.  Taste food you haven’t tried before and learn about how it was produced, nutritional benefits, and cooking ideas including recipes.  This is a great way to increase knowledge about the food you eat, sample new products, and have fun!   Each class participant will receive a $5 off coupon to use at the Co-op.

Who: Open to everyone in the community (you do not need to be a Co-op owner)

Cost: $0

To register: call 503-325-0027 or email zetty@astoria.coop

Upcoming Classes Calendar:

June 27, 5-5:30 p.m. Fresh Meat & Seafood with Co-op General Manager Matt Stanley

Learn about the nutritional advantages of grass fed beef, differences between organic versus conventional chicken, and local sourcing of wild seafood products.  There will be samples to taste and recipes to take home.

July 15, 5-5:30 p.m. Gluten Free Lifestyle with Naturopathic Physician Allie Evans (Co-op Board President)

Reducing or eliminating gluten from your food for health reasons, can open up a whole new set of food options.  Learn what choices you have at the grocery store for your diet plus get inspired with cooking ideas, recipes, plus samples.

August 6, 12-12:30 p.m. Local Farm Bounty with Co-op Produce Manager Kelly Huckestein

This is the month when local tomatoes are ripe and local farms are producing the most food they do all year.  Learn about what’s in season, get recipes, and learn how to source farm-fresh food including CSA’s.  Meet Farmer Rob Stockhouse of Stockhouse’s Farm (Puget Island, WA) who will have samples for you to taste.

The Regal Thistle

Heirloom Artichokes

By Co-op Owner Pamela Mattson McDonald

Pamela (right) is a lifelong gardener and former professional chef.

Pamela (right) is a lifelong gardener and former professional chef.

At twilight, the silver, ethereal glow from an artichoke plant draws the eye to its fountain of regal, deeply, cut leaves.  The plant, which can get to four feet in height and span five feet or more, is a dominant focus of the garden.  The harvested buds yield meaty, bottomed petals perfect for dipping.  The hearts, with a natural, savory sweetness, lend themselves to pickling, pasta dishes, salads, and sauces for seafood and chicken.  When left to bloom the buds become dramatic show-stopping purple blossoms atop the grand spread of its gray-green, frosted leaves and stalwart stem.

Artichokes, cardoons and thistles are all related. The cardoon and artichoke have been cultivated for culinary uses since Roman times.  They can be grown successfully in a wide variety of climates, taking care to select the proper type of plant and attend to its cultural needs.

NUTRITION

Artichokes are excellent sources of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants; folate, vitamin K, potassium, and magnesium are present in generous amounts. They’re also very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and a good source of niacin, B6, iron, phosphorus and copper.

Their qualities have proven remedial effects on the liver and are used to stimulate and aid digestion.  Cynar is an Italian artichoke-based aperitif drunk before meals to spark the appetite. Artichoke rusks are given to teething babies.  A number of digestive tonics, in over-the-counter medicines, contain artichokes as an ingredient.

RECIPES

To steam artichokes in a way that enhances their innate flavor:
In a pan, place in the water beneath the steamer, 1 Bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves quartered, 3 clove buds. Place in steamer basket 4 chokes with the top of the flower down and the stem end up.  Steam for 20 – 30 minutes.  When knife is poked into the stem and it is soft, chokes are done.

LOW-FAT DIP FOR ARTICHOKES
½  cup non-fat yogurt
½  cup low fat mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves crushed through press
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Blend all to smooth consistency. Makes 1 cup.

TUNA, ARTICHOKE HEART PANINI
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 (6-ounce) cans tuna in olive oil, drained
1 (12-ounce) jar marinated artichokes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices artisanal bread
1 tomato, seeded, diced

Puree the olives, oil, garlic, and zest in a food processor until smooth and spreadable. Blend in the mayonnaise. Toss the tuna, artichokes, lemon juice, and pepper in a medium bowl, keeping the tuna in small chunks.  Spread the olive puree over two slices of the bread. Spoon the tuna and artichoke mixture onto the bottom piece of bread. Sprinkle the tomatoes over. Cover with the bread top and put in Panini press.  Cut in half. Serves four.

ARTICHOKE HEART PASTA SAUCE
2 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts
6 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans
1 lemon, juiced
½  cup chopped parsley
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
1 teaspoon chili flakes
Cooked pasta of choice

Place the artichoke hearts, olive oil and garlic in blender. Blend until smooth. Heat in a saucepan until bubbling.  Drain kidney beans. Pour sauce over pasta, sprinkle kidney beans liberally over sauce. Sprinkle lemon juice over all.  Top with chopped parsley and Asiago to taste. Lastly, sprinkle chili flakes.  Makes 4 servings.

HEIRLOOM ARTICHOKES

Green Globe:
A favorite of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, needing a fairly long, mild growing season.

Iolette de Provence:
Rare outside of Europe, this French heirloom has tasty pretty, purple buds.

Violetta Precoce:
Deep, purple artichokes are tenderer than green artichokes. This one has prickly, purple buds, is popular in Italy and needs a warmer season.

Purple of Romagna:
Bountiful producer of smaller chokes in rich purple violet shades.

HEIRLOOM CARDOONS

Rouge d’Alger Cardoon:
An Algerian heirloom with big and ornamental edible stalks blushed red, which contrasts with the blue-green leaves.  The buds of this historic variety can be cooked and eaten like artichokes.  Or allow them to bloom for beautiful, ornamental, lavender flowers.

Gobbo Di Nizzia Cardoon:
A rare cardoon from Italy, its broad white stalks are eaten fried, sautéed, pickled, in soups, or eaten raw, dipped in olive oil with balsamic vinegar. The root is also edible, tasty, and can be used like parsnips.

NUTRITION

Artichokes are excellent sources of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. Folate, vitamin K, potassium, and magnesium are present in generous amounts. They’re also very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, a good source of niacin, B6, iron, phosphorus and copper.

Their qualities have proven remedial effects on the liver and are used to stimulate and aid digestion.  Cynar, is an Italian artichoke based aperitif drunk before meals to spark the appetite. Artichoke rusks are given to teething babies.  A number of digestive tonics, in over the counter medicines, contain artichokes as an ingredient.

GROWING TIPS

Relatives of the artichoke, Cynara scolymus, grow wild in the Mediterranean areas of Southern France and Italy, Greece, and Spain.  The Romans developed early culinary uses for this descendant of the thistle.  Although their ancestors were weeds, artichokes now require richer soils, so it’s important to amend the planting area with 2 – 3 inches of compost and a gallon of composted manure. Work the amendments into the top ten inches of soil before planting and include a generous portion of dolomite lime for calcium.

Calcium is important for developing sweetness in plants. Strawberries and fruit trees benefit from this mineral as well. Artichokes can handle alkaline soil conditions more than most vegetables.  The best pH is 6.5 – 7.0.  Give the plants lots of room, 3 feet on average, if you want a good yield. Keep them constantly moist and mulched.

Seeds have a long germination period, 10 – 20 days.  But vernalization can get you flower heads the first year, otherwise, it takes two years to develop generously budded plants.  Vernalization is a technique where the artichoke seed is held below freezing for 10 to 15 days, then planted.  Established transplants can also be set out for a few weeks when the frost date is just past, in 45 to 50 degree weather, and permanently planted when the weather gets warmer. It fools this biannual plant into thinking it just experienced it’s first winter, so the flower buds need to come out. Start them in January or February.

In zones 7 and higher the plants can be cut in August to one foot off the ground.  Fall can produce more stems with buds.  In October cut down to the ground and mulch the root with straw or leaf mulch to insure the root from potential freezes.  Some varieties will over winter and bear up to six years, from the offshoots of the root.

Remembering to keep them watered, mulched and composted will yield many large buds with smaller side buds.  Similar to the way broccoli has one central large head and smaller off shoots, which are even more tender than the central head.  A delight of the smaller artichoke bud is the softer choke, which can be eaten with as much pleasure as the heart.

Grow this giant fountain of the garden for it’s dramatic contribution of beauty and nutrition.  Join the generations of gardeners through the centuries enjoying this lush plant with its buds of bliss.

SOURCES

Baker Creek Rare Seeds
Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy
Four Season Harvest by Elliot Coleman
Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism by Malcolm Stuart
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2006) study data
USDA Nutrition Data Center

 Pamela Mattson McDonald © 3/5/14

Cousin Jack’s Pasty Co. Tasting at the Co-op

Here’s a small Oregon company we work with, made up of genuinely nice people and equally genuine products. We love to be able to connect you with our food manufacturers and growers and this will happen with Cousin Jack’s Pasty Company (Tasting on Thursday June 12th approx. 11 a.m. -5:30 p.m.).

David Clark is the owner of Cousin Jack's Pasty Company.  He's not only passionate about making good food, but he's also revolutionizing the food system!

David Clark is the owner of Cousin Jack’s Pasty Company.

The company is located in Eugene and makes these food pockets that come frozen. You just heat them up in your oven and voila, a great dinner you can feel good about. Cousin Jack’s sources organically and locally, using real food ingredients, the kind you’d find in your own kitchen. In fact, the company uses the same beef farmer we source from at the Co-op, Knee Deep Cattle Company.

Pasties are flaky crusts surrounding veggies or meat and cheese. Learn more about Cousin Jack’s Pasty Company by clicking here.  They will be on sale during the tasting so it will be a great time to stock up.