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.

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