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Greenhouse Gardening in the Pacific Northwest

Here in the Pacific Northwest we are blessed with some extremely rich soil allowing us to grow a multitude of fruits, vegetables and herbs.  But before you get started on plating that new garden, you need to know what plants grow best and hold up to the weather here in the Pacific Northwest.  Our growing season is shorter here so you need to careful when selecting your plants and make sure to invest in the array of supplies you will need to help your garden be the best it can be.  One of those supplies that would be a worthwhile investment is a good greenhouse.

As most of us know our weather here can be quite drizzly which can make for some tremendously lush soil, which most plants love, but you will need to pay very close attention to make sure that the soil is not becoming oversaturated.  Too much water can lead to root rot and leave plants vulnerable to disease. It is important to keep some plants fairly dry was the fruit starts to form, cucumbers, strawberries and tomatoes are particular ones. Keeping these plants covered can also be helpful for keeping besky bugs off the plants as well.  Because of our wet weather here in the Pacific Northwest, bugs such as aphids, slugs and snails thrive here and these pesky little things can do a lot of damage to your plants so keeping plants protected is important.

Before you make the move to plant your edibles in the outdoors, starting them off in a greenhouse can be an excellent option to jump start your garden.  It’s best to wait until after the last frost before planting in the ground. Here in the Pacific Northwest late April or early May can be the ideal planting time for outdoors, plants such as strawberries, onions, garlic and beets can handle the cold, but starting them off in a greenhouse and then planting them outdoors once they are hearty enough, can help lead to their success in growing and producing healthy edibles. A greenhouse is also a good place to start if you are going to start with planting seeds.

With a little extra planning you can enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs year round.  Many cool season plants will produce well into the fall and can also produce into a mild-winter in some areas of the region.  These can be planted mid to late summer but using the greenhouse can allow you to start them early and have them ready to go once you have finished with your spring/summer plants in your garden.

Having your own greenhouse gives you a way to enjoy your garden the whole year round. It provides you with a controlled environment that you can manipulate to the exact conditions your plants need to thrive. There are a lot of choices when it comes to greenhouses, and it can be confusing if you don’t know what to look for.  Things to consider when selecting a greenhouse are the size and shape, what kind of materials do you want to be used and what design fits the overall esthetic of your garden environment.

Greenhouse come in all kinds of shapes and sizes but then can generally be separated into three categories: small/mini, medium, and large.  To figure out what size greenhouse is best for you, think about what it is you plan on growing. A mini greenhouse is ideal if you plan on potting a few plants because you don’t have a lot of space to spare.  They are usually very simple in style and don’t cost a lot. A typical size in this category would be about 6’x2’ or 6’x8’.

A medium-sized greenhouse is great if you have a little more space to spare, they can be a little more complex in style and accommodate more than a mini greenhouse due to their size of 8’x12’ or 10’x12’.  This is a size that can perfect if you have a fairly standard sized yard and want to mix the structure into the design of your garden.  

But if you plan on doing some serious bulk gardening, provided you have room for it, you might want to consider getting a large greenhouse.  At a size of 15’x7’, 10’x20’ or larger, this will allow you to grow pretty much anything you desire, well within reason of course.

Like they say it is all about Location, Location, Location!  Now that you have figured out what size of greenhouse will best for you, it’s time to figure out where you plan on placing it.  This step is very important since giving your plants the right amount of light is essential to maximize growth. Ideally you should select a location that will allow for a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight a day.  It can also be beneficial to place the greenhouse near an electrical point as well as having ready access to water. This can make things much easier when needing to use electricity and water for your plants.

Proper drainage is another vital element to your greenhouse.  A couple of options are either digging a trench or using gutters.  Both will give any excess water somewhere to to go and lessen the chance of the soil becoming oversaturated.  This will help to prevent the growth of any algae or disease and keep unwanted pests such as mosquitoes at bay.

Choosing the right foundation can also play into ensuring proper drainage as well.  While a concrete foundation is necessary, it something that should be considered if you live in an area that is prone to cold weather during the fall and winter months as it helps to contain heat.  Another option is gravel on top of sand and hardocre that will allow you to damp it down in the summer to ensure the air remains humid and also allows for easy drainage.

Keeping the proper temperature and atmosphere inside the greenhouse is an absolute must, so another element to consider is ventilation.  The best means of doing this is by having at least one roof vent that covers around 20% of the floor area on either side of the roof. Side vents can also be used as extra ventilation if needed or desired.

The final elements of your greenhouse to work out is what materials to use.  There are so many options to choose from, and we won’t go into detail with all those options here, let’s just say that you will want to do your research on framing materials from aluminum, wood, PVC, resin and steel, as well as glazing material from Thermal Insulation, tempered glass, multi-wall polycarbonate, corrugated polycarbonate and polyethylene film.  There are benefits and drawbacks to each of these materials so you will want to do your research and determine which options is best for you, that will provide you with the look that you want and also fits your budget.

So what is the best design for a greenhouse in the Pacific Northwest.  Well that is still up to personal taste so I’m going to offer up one option here for you to consider.  The design I am offering is one that I have come up with that will mix well with the design of my garden and landscaping, fits well with the look and feel of the Pacific Northwest, and utilizes some elements of upcycling and form of Aquaponics.  

For my design I have opted to use a wood frame that allows for the structure to blend with the woods and nature that surrounds my property.  The wood frame, while providing a natural and aesthetically pleasing look, also provides for a sturdy structure that if treated properly will also stand up to the variety of weather that we experience.  It also helps to maintain proper temperature control for the plants. To also provide some additional stability to the structure as well as keep the look and feel of our natural surroundings, I have used brick or stone along the bottom of the structure.  This can also provide an additional layer of insulation that can be helpful in keeping the proper climate control needed on the inside. To finish off the structure are the actual wall panels and if to use glass or some other material. While glass can be the optimum material to use, it also the most expensive, extremely heavy and the most difficult to install.  For this design I have used Polycarbonate Panels, they made from clear, rigid plastic that transmits light almost as well as glass. The panels are typically available as flat twin-wall panels, which contain two flat polycarbonate panes separated by an air space. This air space between the panes improves the insulative properties of the panels. Another benefit is that it approaches the durability of glass though it is about one twelfth the weight, making it much easier to handle and install.  If installed properly you can get usually 10-12 years out of the panels before they start to yellow and would need to be replaced.

On the interior certain elements would be standard that you would see in most greenhouses, there would be a variety of shelves and platforms to handle a variety of plants of many sizes.  These can be plants that would be transplanted into the exterior garden, and others that would stay in the green house. On the other side I have utilized recycled gutters hanging in rows along the wall.  These are perfect for growing a variety of herbs and strawberries as well as starter plants that can then be transplanted into pots as they grow larger. A watering system would be installed that would provide the adequate amount of water into the gutters and then also a drainage system but utilizing the runoff to water additional plants below.  The final unique element is a fish pond that would be built to be partly inside the greenhouse and partly outside. The pond would be set up to provide a form of Aquaponics. Aquaponics is a system where fish and plants grown in a symbiotic relationship. Plants are grown in trays filled with gravel. These trays are then placed over the top of the pond on the inside allowing for the fish to feed to off of the food sources provided by the root system of the plants and the plants gain nutrients from the water and the waste material from the fish acts as a natural fertilizer for the plants.  This process allows for both the plants and fish to be healthier than the traditional way, and with part of the pond on the outside it also becomes a beautiful addition to the garden.

The design of this greenhouse is versatile enough to be built as either a smaller, medium or larger size, for me I have designed it to be more medium at about 10’x12’ which fits well within the space that I have designed for it to be as part of my overall garden landscape.  My desire is to utilize my greenhouse to continue my path towards living a more organic and self sustaining life as well as extending the growing life cycle on into the autumn and winter months when growing certain edibles that i desire and use year round like herbs and tomatoes are not possible in exterior gardens.  

I hope what I have shared here with you will be of assistance to you in your path towards a more natural way of living.  So regardless of what direction you go, be it a mini, medium or large greenhouse, be sure to research what works best for your region and pick a design that fits your space and surroundings and that you will be happy with.  While the purpose of the greenhouse is for growing plants, it also can provide a sense of calm and zen for your life so be sure to make it something that you will be able to enjoy for years to come.

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Foraging in the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is rich with so many natural and edible herbs and plants to enjoy, but it is also a region that really does experience the four seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter, and these seasons have an impact on these various herbs, berries and plants allowing you to experience different elements depending on the season.  In order to truly be successful when out there foraging, not only do you need to be aware of what to forage for but also when best to harvest those edibles and what parts of them are better to focus on depending on the season. So let’s look at a few of these edibles that are best in each season and what parts of them are best to use.

Winter:

Since we are all in the middle of the winter season, some of us more so than others, the plants we would be looking at are going to be in their dormant stage so the focus would be on the roots and interior parts of the plant.  There would also be some greens and berries that are still available on these dormant plants. A popular root plant available during winter is the cattail and for berries it would be the evergreen huckleberry.

Cattail:

Cattail is commonly found throughout the Pacific Northwest along shorelines of lakes and ponds as well as in flooded area, marshlands and even ditches.  (Fun Fact: the Native Indians of the Pacific Northwest saw the importance of using things to their fullest and found the cattail to be a great source of food and medicine as well as a sturdy element to be used in constructing huts).  The cattail has a tender, white inner part of the shoots that is edible raw or can also be boiled into syrup or baked or dried and ground into flour. The bright yellow pollen, which can be harvested by shaking the spike into a bag, can yield about one tablespoon of powder and can be used to make foods such as pancakes.  The green flower spikes can be cooked and eaten like corn on the cob, and the fluff from the brown-cylinder can be burned to separate and parch the seeds, which are edible.

“Cat Tail” (Typha angustifolia)

Evergreen Huckleberry:

There is about 450 species of this plant worldwide with about 45 of them in North America and 15 of those in the Pacific Northwest known by various names.  The Evergreen Huckleberry is found in the western regions of the states of coastal states and mostly found in areas close to the pacific coast as well as coastlines of the Puget Sound.  The plant is generally found in second growth forests especially around the edges and openings, and while it is known to grow slowly it can reach heights of 3-6 feet in the sun and up to 12 feet in the shade.  While the Evergreen Huckleberry is very common in the wild, it has also become a popular plant to add to any natural revegetation project due to its versatility, and can form an attractive hedge given time. The plant itself has lance shaped foliage that is evergreen, leathery often with the a pinkish-brown or purplish tinge.  When flowering, the flowers are a pinkish-white bell shape and when once formed the berries are small purplish-black in color, and you may also find some plants that produce a berry that is larger and more blue similar to a blueberry. The flowers bloom during the spring season and the berries ripen late summer and early autumn, but often remain on the plant until December and are known to taste sweeter after the first frost.  The berries are a favorites of the local wildlife (songbirds, bears, chipmunks, deer, elk and rabbits) and was also a favorite of the local native tribes who ate the berries fresh or dried them into cakes. Today many use the berries to bake into muffins.

Spring:

Ah yes spring time, the season where everything springs back to life, to start anew.  It is a time of awakening when both animals and plants awake from their deep winter slumber to start a new life.  For the plants this is when sugar and nutrients are directed to their new leaves, flowers and stems and it is these parts of the plant that should be the main focus when foraging and harvesting during the season.  During this time of the year these parts of the plant will commonly be fresh, soft, sweet, pliable, and nutrient rich. In spring we have access to many early season berries along with edible shoots, new leafs and leaf buds, as well as bulbs and flowers.  A couple of great times to forage for during the spring season are wild rose that can be used for food and tea, as well as dandelion that is most commonly known to be used for tea and in salads.

Wild Rose:

The Wild Rose is a perennial plant that is part of the rose family that is native to western North America.  The plant can grow to as much as 10’ in height, has pale green paired leaves with toothed edges and prickles at the base.  The flowers grow to 2”-3”, are pink in color and usually grow singly but can be found in groups of 2 or 3, and appear blossom in the early summer months.  The Wild Rose can be found growing from sea level to mild elevations, growing along forest edges in both moderate sun and shade and in both moist soils as well as dry glacial till soils.

The Native Tribes of the region were known to use elements of the plant for medicinal purposes.  It was also used for ceremonial purposes as well as in handcrafts and as a food source. Almost all parts of the plant are edible.  While the young shoots and leaves are edible, as well as the rose petals, it is the fruit of the plant, the hip, that is most commonly used.  The outer shell of the hip is edible, it can be eaten fresh or dried for storage. The rose hip is high in Vitamin C and often used in beverages, preserves, jams, on cereals, and in breads, butter and soups.

Dandelion:

The dandelion is probably the most plentiful and easy to find edible plant, the key is to be assured that they are free from any and all pesticides.  Salsify and Sow Thistle, while also edible, are sometimes mistaken as dandelions. A little known fun fact is that the dandelion is not a native plant to North America, it was actually brought over by settlers on the Mayflower in 1620 as a food crop.  

The plant is a simple perennial that is propagated by seeds that are plumed and blow in the wind.  The dandelion germinates in the spring and summer, has sharply toothed leaves that bear a milky juice.  The plant flowers in early spring and often again in the fall. The young leaves, flowers and unopened flower buds are excellent for cooking.  The older leaves, especially after the plant has flowered, are too bitter to enjoy raw, but are satisfying after a brief boiling with a change of water once or twice.  The flower buds and flowers are less bitter than the leaves, and are well suited for stir frying.

Summer:

Ah summer, that time of the year when people, animals, and yes even plants, love to soak up that sunshine.  While the same process of developing and directing sugars to certain parts of the plants that occurs in spring continues during the summer, it is during the warm months of the summer season that the plants turn their attention more directly to matters of reproduction.  This is an excellent time to harvest berries, seeds, and nuts, as well as to continue to harvest leaves, flowers, and shoots that continue to appear and grown on many edible plants. The summer season is perfect time to forage and gather wild berries such as Thimbleberries and edible greens like Wild Mint.

Thimbleberries:

Thimbleberries are considered a compound berry meaning it is edible.  It is part of the same genus family as raspberries, blackberries and loganberries (Fun Fact: it is also part of the Rose family).  The plant is known to grow from 1.5’ to 6’ in height, has a thornless stock. The flowers are white, grow up to 1.5” in width and consist of 5 petals which resemble a wild rose.  The leaves can grow up to 10” across, resembles a fuzzy maple leaf (a little fun tip for follow foragers, if you find yourself out foraging and nature is calling and you didn’t pack any toilet paper, the soft fuzzy leaves of the Thimbleberry plant are a perfect replacement).  Mature berries will be red-opaque in color resembling a raspberry, will be juicy and seedy with a flavor from tangy to sweet punch. The Thimbleberry can usually be found growing in open sites such as forest edges, clear cuts, country roadsides and shorelines.

The Native Northwest Tribes were known to use the plant for many purposes.  The young shoots of the plant were eaten raw as a vegetable and the berries were dried smoked with clams.  Leaves and shoots were known to have medicinal benefits by being brewed into a tea in order to treat such ailments as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dysentery.  The berry itself is rich in Vitamin C and can help boost your immune system. The leaves when turned into a dried powder can be used to treat burns, and fresh leaves can be crushed and applied to treat acne.  The berry itself is a great substitute to any berry that you would use in your favorite dish. It is a great addition to any cakes, breads, muffins or pies as well as can be turned into amazing jams, wines or salad dressing.  The leaves and shoots are a great addition to a salad and great to use to wrap around fish for cooking.

Wild Mint:

The Wild Mint is a flowering perennial plant in the mint family that is native to temperate regions of Europe and western and central Asia, east to the Himalaya and eastern Siberia, and also North America.  The plant generally will grow 4” to 24” in height but on rare occasions can grow up to 39” high. The leaves are in opposite pairs and the flowers are pale purple, but can occasionally be white or pink, found at the bases of the leaves.  The Wild Mint can be found worldwide, it grows in low lying areas where soil is rich and moist but not directly in water. It will grow in either full sun or partial shade and spreads through creeping rootstocks, and can grow quickly and take over a garden if not maintained.

The Wild Mint was mostly used by Native Tribes for medicinal purposes by crating a lotion to be rubbed on the chest to help battle pneumonia.  Parts of the plant would also be used for stomach pains, colds and headaches. Today the plant can be used for many of the same medicinal uses that the Native Tribes used it for but also can find use for the oils extracted from the plant to be used to rub into the skin for aches and pains.  Adding it to your garden or in pots around your patio will create a natural repellent to insects as well as rats and mice. The leaves are edible raw or cooked. Because they have a rather strong minty flavor, they are great to enhance the flavor of other foods such as additions to salads. They can also be dried and turned into a powder that can then be sprinkled onto drying meats to repel insects.  But of course the most traditional use that we know of is as a tea. The leaves can be used fresh or dried to make a mint tea that is known to be calming and relaxing.

Autumn:

I have to be honest, while most people prefer the sun and warmth of summer, autumn is my favorite season of the year.  The amazing colors of the leaves as they change color while trees and shrubs begin the process of moving into their dormant state, and the crisp cool mornings that give way to sunny afternoons.  Just like many animals that prepare for the cold months of winter ahead, plants are also preparing themselves to enter their dormant state for winter by directing sugars to their roots and other interior storage elements.  Because of this, autumn is the perfect season for gathering edible roots, such as Springbank Clover, as this will be the time of the year that they are at their sweetest. It is also the best time to forage for late season berries in lower elevations such as Oregon Grape.

Springbank Clover:

Springbank Clover is native to Western North America from Canada to Mexico, and grows in many locations from beaches to mountain ridges below 10,500 ft. in elevation.  The plant is classified as a ground cover as it grows to only 4”-6” in height. It prefers a sandy well drained soil that is still moist to wet and prefers full sun but is tolerant of light shade.  The flowers will bloom late spring and summer and can be harvested anytime but it is at is best during autumn.

Native Tribes of the Pacific Northwest placed a high value on the Springbank Clover. They would tend vast wild patches and would sustainably harvest the roots to sell in local trade as well as cook for ceremonial feasts.  While many clovers are edible, this particular species is known for its nutritious and tender white roots or rhizomes, which resemble and taste much like Chinese bean sprouts. The leaves and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked.  The flower heads and seeds can be dried and ground up into a flour. While the plant has its nutritious elements, one should avoid eating in large quantities as it can cause bloating.

Oregon Grape:   

The Oregon Grape is not a true grape, it received its name due to the cluster of purplish-black colored berries that resemble grapes.  The plant is native to North American West from Southeast Alaska to Northern California. It is an evergreen shrub that grows up to 3’ across and 5’ high, with spiny leaves that combined with its width and height allows for the plant to be used as a great barrier or hedge.  The Oregon Grape will traditionally be found growing in understory of Douglas Fir forests, and in brushlands of the Cascades, Rockies and northern Sierra.

The small purplish-black berries are quite tart and have large seeds.  It was found in small quantities to be part of the traditional diet of the Native Tribes of the region, who would mix the berries with salad or other sweet fruits.  Today they can be found to still be mixed with salad, as well used to make jellies. The juice can be fermented to make wine, although it requires a high amount of sugar.  The root can be dried and chopped up to make a tea that can be helpful in the treatment of liver and kidney troubles, arthritis, hepatitis, jaundice, syphilis, constipation and uterine diseases.  The dried root when mixed with rubbing alcohol can be used externally to treat skin diseases such as eczema, acne, herpes and psoriasis.

So to wrap things up, if you are in the mood to go foraging for edible herbs and plants in your area make sure to educate yourself on what plants are in your area, where best to find them and when best to harvest them.  Make sure you are also aware of what elements of the plant are edible. While there are numerous edible plants that can offer up some intriguing additions to your next breakfast, lunch or dinner, many of these plants can also be harmful if you overindulge or eat the wrong part of the plant.  Don’t be afraid to be adventurous, the next time you are planning to go for a hike or just a nature walk, go in search of some of these amazing offerings that nature has and see what you can cook up in the kitchen or over the campfire. Also the next time you are thinking about redoing the landscape at your home, or looking for plants to add to your balcony garden, think about planting some of these amazing wild plant options, not only will they provide some natural beauty to your garden, you can also benefit from the bounty they provide.

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Know your soil

Washington State is a unique territory when it comes to climate and topography.  The state is technically divided into east and west halves by the Cascade Mountains with the western side being more wet and windward and the eastern side being more dry.  But it is also divided into a north and south, not necessarily by any physical barrier, but more from what happened centuries ago which created different soil types. The northern part of the state was covered by glaciers 10,000 years ago leaving behind what is considered “young soils”.  But the southern part of the state remained unglaciated thereby leaving the old soils in tact. However the Cascade Mountain Range also contains volcanoes which have deposited volcanic as in many of the areas over the centuries. (Fun Fact: there are technically 10 volcanoes in the Cascade Mountain Range of WA State, 5 of which are considered “active”). The western side of the state also contains a second mountain range, the Olympics located on the Olympic Peninsula.  While the Olympics are no as tall as the Cascades, their placement has another impact on the topography of the state. (Another Fun Fact: the western slopes of the Olympic Mountains are the wettest place in the 48 contiguous states).

The uniqueness of the way in which Washington State is split East & West and North & South, and the variety in climate, vegetation, geology and age, provides the state with soil types from 10 of the 12 different soil orders recognized by the USDA soil classification system.  The formation of these soils, from the surface to their lower depths, develops naturally due to five factors: 1) parent material, 2) topography, 3) organisms (including humans), 4) climate, and 5) time. If any one of the five factors is changed but the other four remain the same, a new soil is formed.  Because of how the various regions of the state have been impacted by elements over the centuries, we find different soils in the different regions of the state, each allowing for the harvesting of different fruits, vegetables as well as livestock.

The western side of the state has a cooler climate, the weather on this side of the state doesn’t traditionally get warmer until late in the summer, this makes the western side more suited for growing what would be “cool season” produce.  Produce that grows will in the western side of the state includes: (Fun Fact: over 41% of the crops exported by Washington State is produce)

Berries (Strawberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Blueberries

Cherries

Apples (Gala, Honey Crisp, Jonagold, McIntosh)

Plums

Pears

Apricots

Rhubarb

Lettuce

Potatoes

Beans (Snap/Green)

Broccoli

Corn

Grapes (mostly wine grapes)

(Fun Fact:  20,000 years ago, towards the end of the ice age, a large ice dam broke in what we know today to be Lake Missoula in Missoula Montana. The colossal 400 foot flood that followed caved out what we know to be the Columbia Valley and created deposits of nutrient rich soil all over Eastern Washington.  This young rich soil is what has allowed the state to produce some of the best award winning “fruit-forward” wines known on the market).

Livestock that you will also find on this side of the state include:

Horses

Cattle

Milk Cows

Mink

Goats

Sheep

And of course there is the enormous amount of seafood.

The eastern side of the state has a drier and more warm climate during what would be the traditional growing season.  It also has a shorter growing season that is faced with dry and windy conditions. The eastern side of the state will also allow for many of the same vegetables, fruits and livestock that the western side has, but on a much larger scale, but it also has many other crops that are more conducive to drier climate.  These include produce and/or crops such as:
Onions

Asparagus

Carrots

Dry Beans

Wheat

Oats

Hops

Grapes

And then livestock such as hogs, and fish such as trout.

You can even see the difference between the north and the south on both the west and east side of the state in that some items on each side of the state will grown better in the northern or southern parts of the state versus the central part.  

Because of the uniqueness of the soils and climate of the state, it is a farmers and gardeners paradise. So weather you are planning just your own home garden, community pea patch or getting started on a larger scale “farm to table” garden for your restaurant, be sure to do your research on the type of soil in your area, be aware of the pH levels and know what grows best in your region and when best to plan and harvest, not all vegetables, fruits and crops can be planted at the same time.  By educating yourself on these details, you will set yourself up to be successful in your agricultural venture.

As a little bonus, I want to share with you a recipe of mine that celebrates the bountiful harvest of Washington State.  I LOVE breakfast on the weekends, and two of my favorites are Eggs Benedict and Lox & Cream Cheese. So in order to not have to choose I’ve come up with a dish that puts a twist on them using ingredients all locally sourced here in Washington State, I call it Latkes & Lox Benedict, it’s a mash up between Eggs Benedict and Lox and Cream Cheese.

Latkes & Lox Benedict

For Latkes:

  • 1½ cups shredded (1/2 pound) russet potatoes, washed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon onion, minced
  • ½ clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup oil

For Poached Eggs:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

For Lox:

  • 6 oz. Lox style smoked salmon
  • 8 slices red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 Tbsp. capers
  • 1 bunch fresh basil

For Cream Cheese Sauce:

  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp fine salt
  • ½ c. milk, or as needed

Directions:

Latkes:

  1. Shred potatoes with a grater into a bowl of ice water.  Let sit for 10 min. Remove potatoes, squeezing out the moisture into the water.  Dry potatoes with a clean towel. Let water sit for 10 min for starch to accumulate on the bottom of the bowl.  Carefully drain water, reserving the white starch on the bottom.
  2. Place potatoes in a large bowl, dry again.  Add in onion, egg, garlic, flour, salt and reserved starch and combine.
  3. Heat canola oil in large saute pan.  Scoop 2 Tbsp of potato mixture and flatten slightly, fry until golden brown, about 3-5 min.  Flip and fry other side. Drain on a rack over paper towels.
  4. Continue process until potato latkes are complete

Poached Eggs:

  1. Bring a few inches of water to simmer (NOT a boil) in a large saucepan.  Add splash of vinegar to water (this helps to the egg to form together). Whisk water in a circular fashion (also helps egg form).  Crack egg into a ramekin and gently pour into the middle of the pot.
  2. You know it’s finished when the white is just set and the youlk is still runny.  Remove from water with a slotted spoon and gently pass dry with paper towel.
  3. Repeat with other eggs.

Cream Cheese Sauce:

  1. Mix cream cheese and egg yolks together in a bowl.
  2. Stil lemon juice and salt together in a separate small bowl.
  3. Transfer cheese mixture to a saucepan placed over medium low heat; whisk in lemon juice mixture.  Increase heat to medium-low; bring cream cheese mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, about 3 min.  Whisk milk in gradually until desired consistency is reached. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until a smooth sauce forms, about 1-2 min.

Platting:

Place lattke on plate, top with slice of lox, poached egg, basil, sliced onion and capers, then top with cream cheese sauce.  Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.