Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Yeah! My House Is My Own Again
It rained this morning in sheets, but by the time I got up, it was a mere drizzle--that famous drizzle I've been hearing about Portland rain. But the leaves are falling from the trees very fast now, and I fear that by Halloween, all the trees will be bare. I keep talking about the colors, but they are really beautiful. I was walking inside the park with Beau when I ran across this lovely large bush that had turned a stunning color of pink! I've photographed it from both sides.
My middle brother, Doug, left after a long nearly month-long visit. I was glad to retake my home again, and Beau and I are blessedly alone. No house guests are expected until Tricia comes for Thanksgiving. So far, we're five for dinner on Thanksgiving, but I'll be on the lookout for an orphan to make it six.
Cookbooks are pouring in for the cookbook review blog. I'm having a ball dipping into the new Lidia Bastianich Italian cookbook which is a companion to her new PBS series, which I'm having trouble finding locally here in Portland. I love Lidia, and I may call the station to figure out when she's airing. I miss it the dependability of watching all my cooking shows on PBS on Sunday afternoons in New York. There's a new Clay Pot Cookbook from the admirable Paula Wolfert. All these slowly braised dishes are perfect for the long fall and winter nights to come. Rose Levy Beranbaum has a new collection of cakes to thrill ambitious bakers with. I've been reading and re-reading GOURMET TODAY, which has many things I admire in it. But yesterday, Marcus Samuelsson's NEW AMERICAN TABLE arrived. It's a biggish book, with lots of photographs, but that's just mere window dressing. Mr. Samuelsson's newest work is a revelation. As I began to read these recipes, I got very excited. Ethnic, fusion, exciting, colorful, great combinations, wonderfully easy instructions, a charming intimate tone--all these impressions were hitting me in the eyeballs. I'll go back to reading it this evening. But thus far, this wonderful new cookbook is a bases-loaded home run of a book that should have very broad appeal.
My great Aunt Caroline's art deco buffet finally came home from the restorer yesterday, and I was anxious to have it take its place in my dining room. Things were looking a bit crowded in there, until I finally changed the position of my rug and took all the leaves out of my dining table. I like the smaller, more intimate round table and will use the leaves for company. The dining room is now finished for the foreseeable future. Now I have to finish the work I started in the guest room, including painting.
Finally, I had a wonderful weekend with Pat, my New York buddy. She arrived on Thursday. She's had her hands full with work and her ex-husband's health issues. We had plans to do a lot of things, but she arrived exhausted, and instead we just kept it low key with visits to my favorite local Gladstone Pizza for dinner on Thursday, and kept it kinda local all weekend. I was on fire food wise. Friday night I made a paella of shrimp with sauteed red and jalapeno peppers, onions, smoked paprika, garlic, oregano, cumin, and some roasted grape tomatoes that I had in the refrigerator. I made a stock from the shrimp shells, with bay leaf, carrot, celery, onion, salt and pepper. With a salad, and some crusty bread, we had quite a feast. Wish I had some photos of these gorgeous beet red and orange marbled carrots I found at the farmer's market and I roasted them on Saturday. They were almost too gorgeous to eat.
Doug took us to dinner at Lauro Mediterranean kitchen on Sunday night. This is a local favorite of mine. We decided to belly up to the bar where we could enjoy the show of cooks working their stoves, and the dessert and salad guys create their magic. This restaurant makes superb salads. They ate the house version of a Caesar salad--romaine lettuce with their own lemon, olive oil, and anchovy dressing with croutons. Doug always insists they omit the croutons, but for some reason he forgot and managed to plow through them and enjoy his salad. I had a beet, goat cheese and arugula salad with toasted hazelnuts and a light dressing of olive oil and vinegar. Pat and Doug ordered the big meaty lamb shanks over soft polenta, while I decided on a scrumptious chicken tagine with butternut squash, pistachios, and couscous. It was a enjoyable way to cap off a lazy, long weekend. Pat felt rested when she returned to New York on Monday.