My cousin Cari and I have started a tradition of driving up from the Bay Area, where she lives, to Ashland, Oregon, where we see extraordinary plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. A visit to the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market in Medford, Oregon is always another highlight of our trip. I would say that I am pretty much a farmer’s market “addict” and make an effort to check out local markets wherever I go. This visit provided some amazing finds. My first stop was at the Mushrooms All Year booth, where I grabbed a bag of mixed dried mushrooms (chanterelle, porcini, morel, and lobster mushrooms), and, for good measure, I bought another bag of dried lobster mushrooms. Then, we sampled their fresh picked huckleberries a “wild blueberry”. The Coastal huckleberries (a bit bitter) and Cascade (deliciously sweet), warranted another purchase. I recently made a delicious morning shake with blueberries using an idea from my friend Sapna, a wonderful chef!
Wild Huckleberry (or Blueberry) Hemp Milk: Soak 1/2 cup of shelled hemp seeds in one cup of water in a (preferably high-speed) blender for 45 minutes. Crack 5 cardamom pods and crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle. Add to the blender after the hemp seeds have soaked for 45 minutes, along with 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, another 1/2 cup of water, and 2 tsp. of organic or raw agave nectar (or to taste). Blend thoroughly until seeds are creamy and incorporated. Toss is 1/2 cup of huckleberries (or blueberries) and 6 ice cubes. Blend again until ice is crushed. Consume immediately!
For those of you unfamiliar with the nutritional benefits of hemp seeds, they are a protein and essential fatty acid “powerhouse.”
An hour and a half later, our bags were filled with an amazing cache of great local eats, including mouth-watering goat cheese from Oak Leaf Creamery (more about them in a future post), Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Rogue Valley Brambles, jars of Cascade Berry (a marionberry “relative”) Jam, Tayberry (a cross between a blackberry and raspberry) Jam, and Marionberry Jam from Pennington Farms, fresh figs, and other assorted fruit and vegetable munchies that we consumed in our hotel room over the next few days. Needless to say, we weren’t through purchasing Oregon’s bounty. After some “thoughtful” wine tasting, we brought back some local Rogue Valley Wines.