Sunday, August 1, 2010


Acanthus, another shade-loving plant. I'll put it on the side garden behind the patio dining table with other low-light plants

Wish I could remember this name of this perennial, which should grow well in a shady spot in my garden behind the patio dining table

Look at this gorgeous Coleus plant. It's now gracing the step up to the front door
of my house

I put these rock in-between the hostas, which I like, but I also think it looks
like a plant cemetary under my cedar tree

With less than two months to go for the summer's end and I'm as usual very busy with work with visitors, and my social life.

Carl, my buddy from New York arrived Monday night for a whirlwind of activity. Well maybe for me. Carl got to read four books, and the only work required was roasting a chicken for company on Tuesday. He didn't want to do a lot of socializing or sight-seeing. This is his second trip to Portland. He loved the house and the back yard with the patio where he could read and relax, which was his primary goal. After enduring a summer of steaming Eastern humidity, it was a revelation for him to sleep under blankets.

We didn't do much in the way of fancy eating. On Monday we headed out for burgers at Foster Burger, perhaps Portland's (and many other places) best burger. On Tuesday, we invited my friends Trish and David and their adorable and energetic French Bulldog puppy, Porter, to join us for Carl's amazing roast chicken. Beau and Porter doesn't always get along, but they seemed to bond finally on Tuesday night. I did the sides, which were gnocchi made from the pan juices of the chicken, a little stock and some fresh thyme. We had lemon green beans, a big salad with some of my garden greens, and for dessert, coffee jelly with vanilla cookies from Trader Joe's and bottles of summery rose. Wednesday we reserved for John Mitchell's fabulous pizza at Gladstone Pizza. Carl agreed that John makes an exceptional pie and between us (Kyle was there too), we knocked down two smaller pizzas, and a bowl of Caesar salad.

I took Carl over to Taste Unique, my friend's Stefania and Lawrence's superb Italian take-out restaurant on Division--about a mile from my house. Stefania is Italian. Larry's mom is Italian and he grew up in Rome when his parent's divorced when he was very young. So Larry is Italian with a disconcerting ability to speak English in a very American way. And then he switches to Italian, which Carl could brush up on his own command of the language. Lawrence grew up spending summers in Oregon with his father. Stefania and Lawrence moved to Portland from Rome about two years ago and opened this wonderful restaurant/take-out business. They serve lunch only. You can purchase frozen and refrigerated pasta sauces, desserts (I love her Tiramisu), lasagna (Italian, not Italo-American style), cannelloni, and other Italian dishes and serve them at home. Twice a month, Stefania cooks special themed dinners for about 12. I'm going to a diner she's is cooking at the restaurant at the end of the month with Garden Herbs as a theme. Stefania who is an amazing culinary talent, is from Umbria. She's gorgeous and her cooking is carefully considered and full of flavor. Carl had the lasagna, Bolognese-style with layers of lasagna noodles and bechamel sauce and Parmesan and tomato sauce. I had her very flavorful spaghetti carbonara, and we shared a salad of mixed greens and some of Stefania's addictive focaccia. A shared Tiramisu ended our memorable lunch.

It was Carl's last day (though he's booked a ticket for another visit in late October). I decided to grill lamb chops. I mashed fresh, chopped rosemary, garlic, kosher salt, lemon zest and olive oil together in my mortar and pestle and rubbed the chops with this paste and let them marinate for a few hours, while I went back to my office to get some work done. We had another big green salad along with roast potatoes with rosemary to celebrate.

After dropping Carl off at the airport before the crack of dawn on Friday, I could concentrate my day on professional matters. I worked all week, but this was the first time I could have seven uninterrupted hours of phone work, writing, and administrative duties and I felt good at the end of the day. My lunch hour was devoted to baking a mixed fruit cobbler (peaches, pluots, plums, and blueberries) for a dinner party at a friend's. The weather has begun all week with an ominous note of overcast skies, but by 11:00 AM, the skies clear, the sun emerges, and we're back to summer again. We enjoyed dinner on a friend's deck overlooking their beautiful backyard.

Saturday was equally busy. I had cookies to bake for my friend Rod's annual backyard barbecue. Eighty were expected at Rod's North Portland bungalow. But first, my buddy Sarah picked me up to go to City Liquidators to find some more chairs for the patio and a bigger table for larger numbers of guest that could be folded up and put away. We found both at very good prices. I gathered my cookies and headed north for a splendid party with good company and wonderful summer party fare. I got home by 7:00 PM and was grateful for the peace and quiet and slept the sleep of the dead. Big week.

Worked again all day on Sunday and puttered around a bit in my garden. So a quiet dinner and episode two of Mad Men should end what as one of the busiest weeks. But I can't slow down. The contractor is arriving tomorrow to begin work on installing an egress window in my basement. We're now ready to finish a large bedroom space with a bathroom in my basement.

I want to send a good vibe message to my friend Tom Masic, nearly 82 and in the hospital with pneumonia. He was at my house for dinner last Saturday, and in good humor. He's in robust health and I'm hoping he'll be home soon and working in his gorgeous garden (one of the most beautiful and creative private gardens I've ever seen) soon.

I bought a few more plants for my garden--an acanthus and this white flowering plant, which I can't remember the name of. Pretty. The spiders are out in gale force because of such a rainy spring season. Spider mites are determined to do in some of my plants. I'm equally determined to chase the little pests away!

My cucumbers have begun to show themselves, my atomic carrots are going to produce pretty specimens and one tomato plant has ten tomatoes thus far and the other one has four. I guess I have a green thumb after all!

No comments:

Post a Comment