Sunday, April 29, 2012


Double daffodils from that pot of bulbs that were never planted in soil!


I went to Amazon and typed in THE OREGONIAN COOKBOOK, and it took me to the book!  I was so excited to see some tangible proof that the book is a reality, and I'll the first copy in my hands in a little more than four months. That time flies, as I've recently realized while watching my friend John Baker, race towards his retirement date of June 1. As we age, the time seems to accelerate rather than slow down.  But that's another issue entirely.

Coleus clippings in water to root. These and another variety will be filing my balcony 
planter boxes this summer.

The grass was so high in the backyard, I doubted I could mow it down to a manageable length. Fortunately, a guy showed up in my front yard with a bicycle and a lawn mower. He offered a great price and within 30 minutes, the grass was neatly a lawn again. I really don't like having any lawn in my backyard. I'd prefer a lot of containers surrounding three trees I've planted in the grass off the brick patio and the rest to be pebbles. Beau needs a place to do his business, but that could be under the big cedar tree or behind the garage.  I just started the process of rooting my coleus which have been growing and getting leggy inside. They will be my balcony planter box fillers this summer. Coleus love the hot summer days and under the sun, their colors intensify and bloom. I haven't started my vegetable garden, and I'm going to have to get top soil and mushroom compost this week now that the weather has stabilized and start buying small herb plants, cherry tomatoes, some peppers, whatever else strikes me as worth growing this season, and get going with my summer garden. Some more things are growing, blooming and definitely anticipating the summer season. 

My vibernum shrub in its second season.

A block away and across the street is a large house and lot hidden by a large and private fence. The woman who owns the property calls it an urban farm, and indeed it is. She sells pots of plants and flowers, some vegetables, and raises gorgeous chickens.  She also makes cement bird baths in the shape of leaves that she paints in beautiful metallic covers (I have one) and path stones for the garden.  Last summer I bought a vibernum shrub, with round pom-pom-shaped flowers that resemble miniature hydrangea, and it is planted in a large pot that lines the slate walkway to the front door of my house. Right now, my vinbernum is all in bloom, but the flowers are a pale green now.  In a week or so, they will be pure white.  My farmer neighbor has an enormous vibernum that towers over her fence, and I took this photo.  The property is set up high and when you enter the front gate, The cement wall is below the fence is waist high, and she has planted these flowering plants that hang along that wall and in the spring is an eye-catching white and yellow riot of blooms. It turns green after the spring season. But I always walk past to admire it in spring.  

My farmer neighbor's outside fence all dressed for spring. 

Another type of vibernum.

Trying to eat more fish and this week found some Alaska cod. I bought a nice fillet and then got home and instead of over-thinking and looking for a recipe, I simply dredged the fillet in some flour and sauteed it quickly on high heat with a little butter and a little extra-virgin olive oil. Some salt and pepper, a sprinkling of chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon. The fish was superb, mild and delicious with just the simplest of ingredients that let the fish shine. I had a small butternut squash and thought of a great Jamie Oliver recipe for it. You peel and cut the squash and toss the pieces in extra-virgin olive oil, crushed coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, fresh thyme leaves, and bake under a wet sheet of waxed paper for about 25 minutes. I had some left-over creme fraiche instead of whipping cream and mixed that with a quarter cup of a dry French rose, and tossed it over the squash with some parmesan and baked it another ten minutes. One of Jamie Oliver's very best recipes! The night before, I cooked a recipe from Mark Bittman's HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING: The Basics. It's a new how-to by the author of the current best all-purpose cookbook (HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING), only this new edition concentrate of a number of basic recipes profusely illustrated by excellent photos. I stumbled across a braise of cabbage with a Asian slant composed of shredded cabbage, garlic, scallions,  soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and I added some red pepper flakes.  Cabbage isn't high on my list of vegetables only because it's not very versatile. But this hot shredded braise was really delicious and reheated well.  Now that's a nice weeknight meal. Bittman's book is not for my library, though I will retain this dish. But if you're a beginner cook, I do think this book should be essential in your library. 

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