The Salem, Oregon Farmers Market

Colorful swiss chard for sale at a farmer's market Photo credit: Mara Lubans-Othic

Mara Lubans-Othic

Mara is a writer, veteran and self-taught cook, living on a farm in the western United States.

Quick-Scorched Padrón Peppers

Quick-Scorched Padrón Peppers Photo credit: Mara Lubans-Othic

Adapted from Renee Erickson’s A Boat, a Whale, and a Walrus: Menus and Stories (Sasquatch Books 2014)


1. Heat a large, heavy stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat for several minutes before adding the oil.

2. When the pan is hot enough that a drop of water beads and dances on the surface, add the oil and the peppers, letting the peppers lie where they fall, undisturbed for a full minute.

3. Set the timer for three minutes, turn the peppers over with a wood spatula and sprinkle liberally with salt. Let the peppers sit until they begin “breathing,” their little sides puffing in and out. This may take anywhere from 3-4 minutes but you want them to have a nice scorched appearance on at least two sides.

4. Transfer to a platter, season again with salt, and serve immediately. Feel free to add a little lemon juice if you like, but they really don’t need it.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup


Adapted from Rain Forest Mushroom Co.


1. In a large Dutch oven, melt half the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion, tossing to coat in the butter. Salt the onion lightly.

2. When the onion is translucent, add the mushrooms, dill, a quarter of the broth, the soy sauce and the paprika. Stir to combine, cover and let simmer for 25 minutes.

3. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining butter over low-to-medium heat. Whisk in the flour and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the milk and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil.

4. When it has thickened to your liking, slowly whisk in the remaining broth. When combined, add this mixture to the mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for another 12-15 minutes.

5. Just before serving, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and the sour cream. Serve hot with dill and parsley for garnish. This soup is particularly good over white or brown rice.