Saturday, April 24, 2010


What a week this has been. Walden's settling in, a little poop machine who jumps all over the place, has atrocious eating habits, and doesn't care where he pees. Beau has been a bit cranky with the little guy, charging him whenever he gets too close. But I now understand that Beau's just trying to teach him some manners. "Stay away from my bowl," the big guy growls at the young upstart trying to steal his food. At first, I admonished Beau, but now I leave them alone to sort this stuff out. Beau won't hurt him, and in fact, is very protective of him in the back yard. But he needs to understand there are boundaries, and Beau is just the dog to teach him. He is cute. I leave him in his crate (with the door open) in the bathroom and close the door because there are only so many messes I can clean up in a day. At first he yelled his head off. Now he has quieted down and stays that way all night. Unlike Beau, Walden plays with his toys and loves fetching this "kosher" bone. He brings it back and chases it down when you toss it to him!

The International Association of Culinary Professionals held their annual convention, and the city was full of foodies from all over the country, including publishers, agents, cookbook authors, food equipment manufacturers, purveyors of cheese, walnuts, smoked meats, chocolates, and other foods, wine makers, etc.

Some of Portland's top restaurants provided some of their tastiest offerings for the opening cocktail reception downtown at the Nines hotel in downtown Portland. I got to meet David Machado, the chef/owner of Nel Centro and Lauro Mediterranean Kitchen--two favorite local restaurants. I also met Anthony Cafiero, chef of Tabla Meterranean Bistro--another new favorite dining spot. The owner of the popular Bunk, famous for its tasty sandwiches, offered substantial, but finger-sized samples of his famous pork sandwich. Many top wine purveyors were pouring and there was a cocktail bar serving to a large and enthusiastic crowd. I spotted Judith Jones, amazingly spry at 79, earlier at the cocktail reception. This famous editor of the works of Julia Child, John Updike, and now Lidia Bastianich, is still a working editor and now a cattle farmer in New England.

My Wiley buddies invited me to join them for dinner at Le Pigeon, a very fine French/American bistro, serving some of the best food I've eaten since I got to Portland. It was also a great night for some foodie rubbernecking, with Ruth Reichl, Gourmet's famous final editor, sitting at the counter. Ann Bramson, the outstanding creative energy behind her Artistan Books imprint at Workman publishing, who I had the privilege of working with at Wm. Morrow in the early 90s, was there with a gang from Martha Stewart Living that included editor Susan Spungen, the glamorously attractive Lucinda Scala-Quinn, who in addition to being a MSL editor, is one of the stars of the PBS series, Everyday Food.

The table shared two excellent appetizers, one a warm salad of local razor clams, bacon, celery root and frisee, the other spaghettini richly sauced with lamb belly, peas and parmesan. With our entrees I sampled a bite from everyone's plate, all first-rate, including a breast of duck with crepes, chestnuts and swiss chard; a long-simmered pork with trumpet mushrooms, broccolini on a polenta cakel; an elegant beef cheek bourgignon, and my own plate of breaded sweetbreads with prawns and roasted asparagus over grits. This was great winter food on this blustery early spring night, creative and warming. However for the second time recently, a top restaurants failed in dessert. The chocolate donut bread pudding was disappointing, bland and ordinary. I've heard raves about their cornbread cake with maple ice cream and candied bacon. It was pretentious brunch food slumming as dessert. What is with all this sweetening of bacon. Stop it!

A lunch at Pok Pok hosted by agent/PR whiz Lisa Ekus was a fun and somewhat rowdy affair with Chronicle Books cookbook editor, Bill LeBlond and cookbook writer, Diane Morgan and a host of other friends. We chowed down on their famous chicken wings (I know there's fish sauce, red pepper flakes and all manner of exotica in these addictive wings) which which we inhaled. There were fresh and spicy chicken salads, a dish of sliced pork and belly bacon, with greens, and Vietnamese iced coffee to finish the meal. Pok Pok makes such appealing Thai food.

I spent Friday at the convention going through the booths, which are fascinating. You could see new colors of Le Cruset , or paw the handsome Kitchen Aid mixer colors and admire their new glass workbowl, which I'm gonna have to get. Cuisinart makes so many appliances now it is dizzying. Always fun to admire the All-Clad pots, Rogue, a famous Oregon cheesemaker, had its fine blue cheese out for sampling and I was wild about their smoked blue cheese, which is actually subtle (smoked over Oregon hazelnut shells). Then there was the legendary Shirley Corriher, author of CookWise and BakeWise making biscuits to support her new biscuit flour, Tenda-Bake. I guess the south has not fully recovered from the loss of the Lily Flour company which is no longer located in the south, and this Southern expert is just the person to restore the luster of Southern biscuit-baking. But I was really there for the authors and publishing buddies. Nick Malgieri was there with his editor, Anja Schmidt, so we had a chance for some good gossip and shop talk.

I saw Deborah Madison and bought her new Fruit Desserts cookbook. I worked with her years ago on a small vegetarian cookbook for Chronicle Books. She's a fabulous lady with a huge gift and I've been buying her cookbooks for years. We had a lovely catch-up conversation. I bumped into Rose Levy Bernanbaum on my way out. Rose had won the cookbook of the year at the IACP's ceremony honoring the best and the brightest the evening before and was glowing. ROSE'S HEAVENLY CAKES is a beautiful book full of wonderful, creative cakes and a lovely bookend to her classic CAKE BIBLE published more than 20 years ago. We haven't seen much of each other in the ensuing years. I placed the book in my top picks of the best cookbooks of 2009 in my stovetopreadings blog and she wrote me a lovely note after reading it.

Then on the spur of the moment, bought Jim Lahey's brilliant MY BREAD: The Revolutionary No-Work, No Knead Method. Foodies may remember Lahey's no-knead bread caused a sensation with Mark Bittman published his version of making artisanal breads by employing a long rising period with an unusual amount of liquid to produce a dough that was wet and not easy to handle, but when allowed to rise unattended for 12 to 18 hours and then baked in a large Dutch oven, produced an exceptional artistanal loaf of bread, dark and full of holes and somewhat chewy, I've made Lahey's bread dozens and dozens of times, with great results. I was so taken with his recipe for a Roman-style pizza baked in a rectangular pan that reminded me of pizzas I ate at the famous Forno Campo Dei Fiori in the heart of Rome's historic district, that I prepared his
Pizza Patate on Sunday. This crusty, thin pizza with slices of potato, onions and rosemary, and slicked with olive oil was fabulous.

And just after completing my winter jam chores in February, along comes my buddy Kent with twelve more pink grapefruits. This time I double-batched 'em and now have 12 jars of the stuff. I don't want to look at any canning equipment before the end of the summer planting season.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Tonight Walden arrived just as Dancing with the Stars dumped Kate Gosselin. There was no time to gloat. This little guy is so adorable, that my happiness over Kate being finally jettisoned from the show had to take a back seat to this seriously cute little puppy. Walden's arrival is something of a crisis for Beau who had a really bad day. I went off for a business lunch and Beau, angry and spiteful, peed on the dining room rug. He's done this before, and when I got home and noticed the smell in the dining room, I went to investigate. I was very angry when I realized he had peed in that same spot again. It was spiteful and I really gave him hell about it. Beau is a very sensitive Frenchie and he pouted all this evening. Suddenly there was a little black creature in the house getting all the attention. Beau was very curious at the sight of Walden, and sniffed him. Walden began to follow him around immediately. Walden walked into the living room and Beau followed him, but quickly lost interest as he always does with other dogs. I put both of the dogs on my couch and here are the first photos. Both dogs are very calm. I can pick up Walden and he doesn't flinch at all. He's quiet and very quiet. He's lively and interested in all around him, but like Beau, he is in the words of Cesar Milan, "calm and assertive"--a lovely trait in a 12-week-old-puppy.

Oh...Walden left a wet deposit on my Indian rug in the living room. I guess it means I'm going to pay for avoiding Beau's early first year.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Well it was bound to happen sometime. I went to a local pet fair with the woman who gave me my new puppy Walden yesterday. It was held at the Portland Exhibition Center, and as I got to the window to pay my admission, my eyes scanned the various admission prices. They charged $8.00 for a single adult ticket and $5.00 to anyone over the age of 50. When it was my turn, I told the woman in the booth that I had no age ID on me, but I would turn 60 in June. She didn't bat an eyelash or look at me suspiciously (which admittedly was somewhat disappointing) and handed me the admission ticket. I told her I was a bit disappointed that she didn't try to argue with me. She laughed. I thought I was aging well. So I guess today's 60 isn't yesterdays 40 or 50 for me!

Beau went to the pet fair with me, where he was petted, and wondered over through much of the afternoon. Kimber, who is the young woman I adopted Walden from, is a bit of a free-spirit. She rescues dogs all the time, finding them on streets and sidewalks and moving them to the safety of her house while she networks on the Internet to find their owners on Craigslist or other sites. She's very good at helping people re-unite with their pets. Kimber works by day at a doggie day care and pet grooming shop. Her husband also works there as does her mother. This family is critter crazy. Kimber, her mother, Toni, Kimber's husband and daughter, live with their grandmother in a rambling five bedroom house around the corner from me. They are wonderfully eccentric. There are six dogs and an equal number of cats living in the house. To say things are chaotic in that household would be a gross understatement. Kimber's friend Stephanie picked us up with our two dogs in her wizened old Toyota and headed for the exhibition, but not before picking up her two large and clumsy but lovable dogs (one a pure pit bull; the other another mystery mutt mutation). Lots of dogs at pet fair, big and small. Beau walks well with other dogs, but the rest of the time, he would rather ignore dogs than be friendly or playful. I'm told Frenchies can be aloof and that is Beau's way of behaving around his fellow canines. We walked up and down aisles and aisles of doggie treats, pet food, leashes, dog coats, and other dog paraphernalia.

Portlanders are dog nuts and their dogs go everywhere with them. It's amazing after living in New York so long to see dogs are part of the social fabric of this city. You can bring a dog to a local pub/restaurant if it has a backyard or a sidewalk cafe. In New York the dog can sit outside the barrier of an outdoor cafe, but not in with other diners. It used to upset me because Beau is so spectacularly well-behaved, but viewing other owner's lack of instilling discipline in their animals, I am not surprised that in a city of millions, rules have to be applied for the few who break them. Dogs are barred from the big farmer's market in Beaverton, but all-in-all, Portland tolerates dogs with good humor and affection.

Walden moves in on Tuesday, so I'll be going to Pet Smart later today to buy a crate, doggie doors to confine him in the bathrooms during the day while he learns where and when he can do his business, and doggie pads, which I hope will effectively minimize accidents. I missed Beau's puppy years, and I'm dreading Walden's just a bit. I'm looking forward to being able to walk Beau and Walden together in the neighborhood. I hope they get on well and form a strong bond between them. I expect some jealousy, but they are both calm little guys, so we'll see.

Kyle is nearly finished building my raised planter just outside my kitchen. It's made of cedar wood and is gorgoeus. He's got finishing touches to put on it, and found some ads on Craigslist offering "free dirt," which is great, because this "coffin" of a planter is going to require a lot of dirt. I've got seeds for French breakfast radish, Cosmic Purple carrots, Golden and Chioggia beets, Italian parsley, basil and red peppers. I might try to grow some jalapena peppers, if there's room. It measures 12' x 3' feet. Looking forward to seeing how my summer garden will go. I've been pruning back the holly tree which was threatening to take over one side of the fence on one side of the garden. Gave myself a bruise cutting down all that holly to fit into the yard debris container provided by my garbage service. I'm going to put a rustic gazebo in front of that tree, so it will require some periodic pruning. And so will the Camellia, which needs to shaping after it's big flowering season. The white Camellias were gorgeous. Now it's a sodden mess of spent, rusted and rotting flowers that are all over the ground surrounding the tree.

Planted my first hostas, some Lily of the Valley, another Euphorbia, and some herbs that had already been started at the nursery. Purple sage is gorgeous. And variegated thyme, was bought because it's so pretty, but I wonder how to cook with it. I have lot of thyme that survived the winter, so I'll just let this new variety get bigger. My rosemary didn't fare well, and I had two different types bought last year as well as a pretty topiary that is nearly dead now. Since rosemary grows so well out here, I think it needs to go into the ground to survive and not be put in pots. So I'll get a bigger one and plant it and see if it survives.

Had my first mishap on the grill last night. The rubber gas line running from the propane tank to the gas jets that heat the grill caught on fire. I caught the flame, and thinking about it, wondered that it might have exploded. Scary. Must call Weber on Monday. The grill has been working well. I'm sure I did something wrong--just not sure. Will have to get to the bottom of that problem so it doesn't happen again.

Big week ahead. The International Association of Cooking Professionals (IACP) is in town for their annual meeting. I'll see lots of publishing friends this week with lunches and dinners planned. Should be fun. I should have bought new business cards with my cookbook review site on them. Will just have to write it out on a bunch of cards, until I get new ones.

I discovered a Fattoush Salad in this fabulous new cookbook called INSALATA MEDITERRANEAN TABLE by Heidi Insalata Krahling. You can buy it at Chef Krahling's well-known Marin County restaurant or on It's self-published so is probably lacking distribution in most bookstores. A Fattoush Salad is Arabic and one of its most distinctive features is toasted or fried pieces of pita bread. The rest of the salad is this gorgeous combination of romaine lettuce, English cucumber, thinly sliced red onion, feta cheese, black olives, halved cherry or grape tomatoes, freshly chopped mint and cilantro with a dressing of warmed minced garlic in oil, lemon juice, toasted and freshly ground cumin seeds, salt and pepper. It's addictive, easy-to-make, could be a complete meal by itself. I made it on Thursday, and made another one on Friday because it was that good. This salad could replace the Caesar--it's that good. I'm gonna review the book over on this week, and the recipe can be found over there--look for it on Wednesday.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Red Velvet Cupcakes

Scalloped Potatoes

Roasted Asparagus

Glazed Ham

Croquetas (with leftover Easter ham)

I love Easter Sunday supper. Or at leas the idea of it. I'm not religious. But every spring, I look forward to this harbinger of spring and it makes me want to get into the kitchen. Ham may be preserved, but asparagus means spring. There are unbelievable flowers in the markets that always delight me. Years ago I bought a terra cotta rabbit with three baby rabbits at Pier One across the street from my New York apartment. Like other holiday rituals, this spring tableau would emerge from storage and be placed on my dining table or on the sideboard. This spring, my first in Portland has been particularly special. As I walk the neighborhood with Beau, admiring the flowers, trees and shrubs with all the intensity of colors--so much different from fall colors--I can only marvel at what a special time of year this is. And that means a great Easter Sunday supper.

I only had four around the table for dinner but we had a big glazed ham, scalloped potatoes, roasted asparagus, a big green salad and Red Velvet Cupcakes. Good dinner. Of course it rained, and rained, this is Portland, after all. But all was good inside.

DANCING WITH THE STARS came back four weeks ago and tomorrow night is the start of the new season of GLEE. Don't nobody call me. DWTS has been fun except for Kate Gosselin who drives me nuts. The time she wastes whimpering about her ex-husband and their endless, boring custody battles, could be used to improve her dancing, which is just awful. She's a klutz and she has only gotten worse these past weeks. Meanwhile you can't get away from her. I was at the checkout of my local supermarket and she's on every celebrity and and tabloid magazine cover. Why? Because she has fans who support the unfairness of her marital woes? Her husband was a dick. She's a dick. These two losers got a TV show about their married lives and the overwhelming job of raising eight children. Too bad they were the wrong family turn into icons of domesticity. As usual, TV unfairly elevates the untalented, uninteresting, and the dull.

My Portland kitchen has made me a very ambitious cook. I made bread in fits and starts in New York. Now I'm making bread every week, both by hand and by machine. I never made gnocchi in New York and I've done so twice now with unbelievably good results. Saturday I had leftover ham from Easter I wanted to use and so settled on classic Spanish croquetas, which combine minced ham, turkey, onions, and a bechamel sauce, which was then refrigerated for at least three hours before tablespoonfuls were formed into ovals, rolled in flour, egg and panko crumbs before being fried. Fantastic! And for that same meal, I saw rhubarb in the market, brilliantly colored and on sale. I grabbed a pound's worth and baked it with vanilla bean, sugar and a small amount of corn syrup. I had only cooked rhubarb once before in frozen form for a rhubarb/strawberry pie. This rhubarb was tart, sweet and addictive.

Elephant Foot Palm

My friend Kent dumped twelve giant ruby red grapefruits on me, along with a huge knob of fresh ginger and a big bag of brown sugar. He wanted more grapefruit marmalade. So Sunday I made a double batch while watching the Master's tournament. Four hours later I had six full pints of Pink Grapefruit-Ginger Marmalade. And I have eight more grapefruits to transform!

Mailed off the tax payments from the sale of my New York co-op. Ouch. But it's done and quarterly taxes are paid. That's a huge load off my mind. Now I can concentrate on the back yard. Looked at pavers for the new patio. So many to choose from. Still refining the plan with a small gazebo-like structure to put the table under with a kind of barbecue barn for the grill. While looking at pavers, I found the ornamental cherry tree (it's a weeping cherry) I've been searching for and grabbed it. Right now it is in a pot at the front of the entryway to the house. Will need to dig a big hole for this in a few weeks.

Last week I did a third stint guest lecturing for Kent's publishing marketing class at Portland State University and I had a really great time. I've done a lot of these talks at NYU, CCNY and various professional groups, but Kent's class is smaller this semester--only seven in my class, and instead of hiding behind a lectern, I thought it would more comfortable to address the class at a desk facing the students. Now that's teaching. There was a level of directness with the class that was exhilarating.

What to do with leftover Easter Ham? This salad has ham, hard cooked eggs, cucumber, asparagus, avocado, roasted red peppers and a creamy vinaigrette with sherry wine vinegar.

Next week the food community will descend on Portland for the annual meeting the International Association of Cooking Professionals. I have meeting with clients, and will meet with friends and colleagues in the publishing field who have contributed to much to helping me with my blog. Will have some fun meals around town and will report on the experiences. I also have to shop for a small doggie crate, doggie gates and doggie pads in anticipation of Walden's arrival at the end of the month.

Gotta call for some promising new business this morning. It's been this way since January.
Does this man the recession is over?

Oh god, Kate Gosselin just survived a fourth week on DANCING WITH THE STARS. I gotta go back to literary fiction.

The Cherry Tree