Sunday, October 3, 2010
HARRY CONNICK, JR. and LEMON MERINGUE PIE
I can tell that fall is with us, not so much by the evidence of the turning leaves, that is taking its sweet old time this season. The lemon cucumbers in my raised bed are exhausted from all that procreating they have been doing since July. The leaves are spent and they looked ashen and woebegone. I decided to pull the last of them up while clearing out the old lettuce and dill. There are still plenty of herbs--oregano, basil, sage, parsley and tarragon. The chives, thyme and rosemary are in other parts of the garden and should thrive all winter long. I'm still getting jalapeno peppers and some red leaf lettuce, but that too will be gone soon. It's time to start making room in the house for those plants that will be spending the winter indoors. My coleus that sands guard outside the front door will occupy the window in the mudroom. Other coleus (have I mentioned how much I love this colorful plant?) now on my balcony will come inside where it can soak in the light pouring through the windows along with a jade plant that I bought early in the spring and is now bursting out its small pot.
I've only got a few short weeks to finish off the garden as it gets prepared for winter. I'm so happy I didn't get started on the front yard, though it's much improved over last year. I've got the whole winter to come up with a plan, which will probably include large pavers, and a regrouping of the grasses. I have to plant a heck of a lot of bulbs in the front yard for the spring, but that's on the docket for November.
There are the trees which have been in their pots all summer long, and the new rose tree, and a few others that haven't quite made it into the grand so far. I've got to check out what to do with the roses. I'm not sure when I need to prune them and I wonder if I should put something around their base to keep them warm for the winter.
My tomatoes stubbornly remain green and I found a recipe for chicken thighs with green tomatoes in Melissa Clark's new cookbook. I haven't made fried green tomatoes in years, but I do have a good recipe for them and there's enough green tomatoes for both recipes. Two weeks ago, I discovered the Easter Lily that I planted in the back yard was beginning to bloom. One bloom of four opened up a few days ago and yesterday, another big white bloom appeared. I never thought of an Easter Lily as a garden plant let alone a twice-yearly blooming garden plant. It's lovely.
Harry Connick, Jr. came to town in the last concert of his current tour. I got free tickets because his principal violinist came to my house for dinner. One of my guests is a buddy and he called at the last minute to say she was in town and would I make room for her. "Of course," I said. "Bring her with you." She had a great time, and to my surprise sent me an e-mail thanking me for dinner with an invitation of two tickets to attend Connick's final concert. I saw Harry Connick, Jr. in the first flush of his youthful success. He played concerts on Broadway in New York City with his big band--a handsome, likable musician with a gorgeous voice that reminded everyone of a young Sinatra with a commanding musical presence. Many years later, Connick has become a mature artist in command of his big talent. At 43, he's disarmingly funny, making a big, personal connection with his audience. He had injured one of his calf muscles and was under the influence of pain killers, which he readily admitted with exaggerated humor. He cut up with his fellow musicians, played the trumpet in addition to his piano work and sang his way through a big chunk of the classic American songbook (The Way You Look Tonight was a particularly fine highlight). Harry Connick, Jr. is an honored son of New Orleans and he brought plenty of Big Easy music to this concert. His players, many who have played with him for years turned the whole concert into a party. In fact his principal sax player was celebrating his birthday. A cake was delivered on stage, and the next thing you knew, Harry was passing around slices to members of the audience. It was a wonderful concert, and the packed hall gave him a monster standing ovation.
My middle brother and his wife and baby daughter arrived from Costa Rica on Saturday. Doug is now trying to figure out if he'll live in Portland or move back to Tucson where he lived before his divorce. My niece Cristina Marie, is adorable--I have to admit it. At one, she's a handful, always on the move. I hope he will decide to stay in Portland. I mean Tucson is okay, but it's got nothing on Portland. Doug is high-maintenance, and he's going to put a lot of demands on me and Kyle in the next few weeks, so I can expect to be out of sorts.
I had dinner on Friday at Maureen and Jim's house along with other former members of the Portland Opera Chorus when our friend, Carol Lucas, was chorus master. It's a gathering of a regular group of musicians. Everyone brings something to contribute. Jim is a fine cook, and he's often in charge of the protein. On Friday he grilled a large variety of sausages, including linguicia, chorizo, and a delicious curried bratwurst. Justin and Marilyn brought a big pot of clams with pancetta in wine sauce. Lynne brought roasted vegetables. Carol and Sarah bought Greek mezze with delicious pita. We capped off a fine dinner with my famous lemon meringue pie. It's fun. We talk about liberal Democratic politics and what scumbag has grabbed the nation's headlines, and the Oregon gubernatorial race, which is rather vital these days, especially with Oregon's finances in the toilet and unemployment in the state second from the bottom of all states. Jim and Maureen's son works for the Democratic candidate, John Kitzhaber, who like Jerry Brown in California, is the former governor of Oregon. He's running against a former basketball star, Chris Dudley, who is the Republican. Kitzhaber has the experience. Dudley doesn't, but Kitzhaber didn't help the state out of it's tax woes, or woo new industry to the state, in his term. And it's politics as usual in contemporary America. At least it's more polite a contest than other campaigns that are going on around the country right now. I mean Christine O'Donnell--puhleeze!