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CSA Away: Dinner al Fresco in Vancouver, WA

CSA

The idea behind this road trip was to travel up the coast, visit farms that either supply CSAs or have their own CSA programs, buy stuff from their farms and then cook a meal for our friends and family in the respective cities.  Our first dinner party was at my friend and travel partner Chris’ parent’s house.  They live in a suburb of Portland,OR which happens to be in Washington state.  Still with me?  I’ve been to their house before and it’s almost like a little farm.  They have a huge backyard with apple and cherry trees, a prolific raspberry bush and a substantial veggie garden.  We decided to do the dinner outside since the weather was so amazing.  We also decided to do everything on the barbeque grill.

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Propane is for pussies. Charcoal all the way. Just kidding, Chris’ dad did this. I would have burnt the house down.

When I say we did everything on the grill, I mean everything.  We even did dessert on the grill.  The kitchen was a bit small for the amount of cooking I was doing and if we didn’t have to heat up the kitchen why would we.  The grill was pretty big too so that meant we’d be able to bang out a few of the dishes at the same time which helps with timing.  Timing a meal is one of the trickiest parts of hosting a dinner party for me so having one large cooking surface was super helpful.  There are also no bugs in this part of the country so we decided to set the table up under the cherry tree which was pretty magical.

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There were tons of ripe raspberries in the backyard too so we picked those for a salad.

The veggies we got from Tumbleweed Farms were complimented by fresh raspberries from the garden, elk meat that Chris’ dad, Phil, had killed earlier in the year and defrosted for us and a piece of salmon because Chris is pescatarian.  I grew up in Louisiana, which is “Sportsman’s Paradise”.  That means I grew up surrounded by kids whose families had hunting camps and always had venison and other game meats in a deep freeze in the garage.  To me, you can’t get more sustainable, grass fed, etc. than game meat.  It’s regulated and permitted so there’s a limit as to how much people can kill and it’s organic in the truest sense of the word.  It’s also very lean so it’s less fatty and healthier than conventionally farmed beef.  I’ve never had or cooked elk before so I was excited to try something new!

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Between the haul from Tumbleweed Farms, the elk steak from Chris’ dad and the berries from the garden, we had a pretty decent spread.

Dinner was amazing and everything turned out great.  The best part was the conversation.  We were joined by Chris’ high school friend and her husband and my friend Rachel.  We got to hear lots of fun stories from Chris’ childhood and reminisced about the good ole days.  It had been a while since I had spent time with Chris’ family and my friend so it was great to catch up with everyone and share a meal together.

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Eating amazing food in the beautiful backyard as the sun set, under a damn cherry tree… I am in heaven.

After a splendid dinner, we cleaned up, packed up and hit the road for Seattle.  As we got in the car Chris and I looked at each other and were like “What the hell were we thinking?!”  We had both been running around since 7am.  It was 11pm and we still had at least a two hours of driving ahead of us.  We were due to be at Oxbow Farm outside of Seattle the next morning so it really made the most sense to avoid any traffic and do the drive to Seattle that night.  As we hit the road we rehashed the highlights of the day and strategized for the next.  We made good time and face planted into our guest beds at Nick and Sarah’s house in Seattle, recharging for another day at the farm.

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