08 July 2013

The Berries that Bond

A message from our Season Sponsor COUNTRY Financial:

It’s a widely-known fact that food constitutes the universal language. No surprise then that food forms the tie that binds Portland Farmers Market visitors.

Paige and her winning design. Pick up your free bag at the Chef Challenge on July 15th!

Paige and her winning design. Pick up your free bag at the Chef Challenge on July 15th!

Strawberries, specifically, serve as a bond between Paige Kracke and Sarah Schafer. Paige, a Wilson High School senior, won this year’s reusable bag design contest sponsored by PFM and COUNTRY Financial. Sarah, renowned Irving Street Kitchen chef, is the reigning Master of the Market. She cooked her way to the title nearly a year ago at the 2012 COUNTRY Chef Challenge.

Paige loves fresh strawberries, especially when they’re Oregon-grown and perched on top of a buttery shortcake. Top the creation with a generous dollop of whipped cream and life is complete for the young artist.

As for Sarah, she wowed three foodie judges last summer to win the COUNTRY Chef Challenge. She prepared a feast of gazpacho, Oregonzola grilled cheese, kale salad and Peach Brown Betty.

It turns out Sarah is willing to share an extra treat with us in the form of succulent strawberries teamed with cherries and lavender in a thirst-quenching soda. Thank you, Sarah!  Make her simple recipe, kick back and enjoy the summer.

Last year Chef Sarah Schafer snagged the title.  Who will be Master of the Market this year?

Last year Chef Sarah Schafer snagged the title. Who will be Master of the Market this year?

Remember to add July 15 to your summer bucket list! That’s when Sarah’s successor will be crowned the 2013 Master of the Market at the COUNTRY Chef Challenge held at Pioneer Courthouse Square from 11:30 to 1:00.  This is the third annual Chef Challenge presented by COUNTRY Financial and the line-up of chefs and judges promises to make for a fun and exciting event.  Stay tuned for an announcement about who will be vying for the title this year!

COUNTRY is extremely proud to partner with Portland Farmers Market for the season and to host special events. It’s a perfect fit with COUNTRY – the insurance and financial services provider was founded by farmers in 1925. The company’s rich history in agriculture continues today as they’re part of an amazing partnership between the vendors who provide fresh, locally-grown products and loyal shoppers who shop every week for their favorite items.

4440952193_3067498cc8_bStrawberry Cherry Lavender Soda

Recipe by Sarah Schafer, Irving Street Kitchen

Strawberry Soda Base
Yield:  2 quarts

3 lbs. strawberries, halved

2 lbs. cherries, pitted, halved

2 ¼ cups lavender syrup*

½ cup sugar

½ bottle DRY soda

Divide between two 6 quart pots and simmer until almost jam-like, stirring frequently.  The mixture should yield 2 ¼ quarts if it has been reduced enough.  Remove from heat, cool and puree smooth in a blender.  Strain through a chinois or fine mesh sieve.  Add DRY soda.  (Optional: Fill canister half full and load one CO2 charger, holding the canister upside down while injecting.  Shake vigorously to make a pink foam and refrigerate until ready to serve.)

*Lavender Simple Syrup
Yield:  2 ¼ cups

2 cups granulated sugar

1 ½ cups water

2 Tbsp. dried lavender

Combine in 2 quart saucepan. Simmer and cook until the sugar has dissolved.  Cover and infuse for 30 minutes.  Strain out lavender and cool.  Store in refrigerator.

To make the soda:  Use a 1 pint Mason jar.  If using, CO2 canister, hold the canister upside down and foam the strawberry base to fill the jar half full.  Alternately, fill jar a quarter full of berry puree.  Add 2 scoops of strawberry ice cream into the jar.  Top off the jar with DRY lavender soda, about 1/3 of a bottle.  Fill, then wait a moment for bubbles to subside, then fill some more.  Garnish with paper straw and sprig of lavender.