Sunday, October 14, 2012


It was determined that my little idea--a cookbook based on recipes from The Oregonian's Foodday section, published on October 1st--is going back to press. We are now completely sold out of the small hardcover edition and nearly through the trade paperback print run. So a second printing of 15,000 copies and I'm still concerned we'll be out of stock before Christmas. This is a good problem to have, sorta.  Still it is music to my ears to hear that Costco, Powell's,, and other big retail outlets are out of stock. Kitchen Kaboodle, a popular, local culinary equipment chain of five stores was sold out before Katherine Miller's autograph session in the NW 23rd Street location on Saturday. We brought sixty more copies with us, and they have reordered more copies. And the Lake Oswego New Seasons market asked us to confirm we could ship them a reorder because, "We CANNOT keep this book on the shelves!!"

Powell's lead our kick-off on President Obama's disastrous debate against Mitt Romney, who seemed resurgent at the expense of the truth. Still we managed to attract an audience of sixty five readers. I put six current and past Foodday editors and contributors through their paces talking about Portland's current emergence as a major culinary destination. And they delivered a lively hour and a half of talk about the excellence of our locally produced foods, our top chefs, and the general high quality of food here. Lots of my friends showed up and bought books. I've done a few interviews, one of KINK-FM that I'm very proud of. 

The Oregonian's Foodday Panel at Powell's City of Books for THE OREGONIAN COOKBOOK,
Portland, October 3, 2012

The book will be advertised every week on The Oregonian through the end of January. So I think once Thanksgiving arrives, we'll be inundated with sales for the holidays.  Foodday editor, Katherine Miller will be showing up at Costco, Fred Meyer, Safeway, and New Season's markets, the Beaverton Farmers Market, the Oregon Historical Society's annual book fair event, and Made in Oregon, signing copies through mid-December.

Both of these long-stem beauties came from a single stem. 

The garden is now winding up its long growing season. We had a bit more than three and a half months of dry, sunshine weather, highly unusual here these days. We had a very long and rainy winter/spring so when the sun finally arrived around July 4th weekend, it seemed as if every day offered Portlanders the opportunity to go to the beach, or hike in the mountains, or tend their gardens, or lay in a meadow in one of the city's many parks. I used my central air for about twelve days--a long time here. Most nights, I used a fan, and the door to my bedroom balcony was always opened. Archie got to the dog run park nearly every day, socializing with lots of dogs as they kicked up every bit of available dry dust which flew everywhere for lack of rain to keep it earthbound. While I had lots of roses, I didn't feed them much. The hydrangeas were very showy this summer, but sunlight burned them as well.  My hostas grew like weeds and my pear tree produced fruit for the first time in two years. I got lots of figs, but they refused to ripen. I suspect they will be finally producing fruit next summer. The lilies have matured and bloomed all summer long. But the big news in my garden were the grape and cherry tomatoes. The vines just grew like Jack-in-the-beanstalk, virtually taking over my entire vegetable garden and producing the sweetest tomatoes that got thrown into virtually everything. I just put up two batches of tomato sauce for pasta later on this weekend. We had radiatore pasta with cherry tomato sauce with onions, fresh oregano and bacon last night. I chopped them up for salsa, Deb (my housemate) stirred them into her morning eggs. Every place I could add tomatoes, I did. I gave away batches (they were like unwanted Zucchini at one point). Now they are fewer and once the rains arrive, will be done for the season. Time to think about cutting the vines down. I also have to dry sage, oregano, and rosemary; and harvest fresh bay leaves. We've got six new jars of fig jam and I'll make Seville orange marmalade in the next two weeks.

The back yard cedar tree with it's new haircut. You couldn't see my neighbor's garden shed 
because of the all cedar's lower branches blocked out sunlight, and the view. 

I have two cedar trees, one in the front yard, which is an eyesore. The backyard Cedar is quite beautiful, but both of them needed pruning badly and the front yard tree had a branch that was threatening my cable/phone/internet wire. So they got haircuts and the difference is astonishing,  particularly the backyard where there is about one third more sunshine.  Now I plan to rethink my plantings for next summer.  The dahlias were so showy and now that they have their own bed and even more sunlight, I may add more. And I've finally worked up the courage to have my holly tree removed. It has gotten over-grown, makes a mess my dumping holly leaves onto my backyard side garden and patio, requiring too frequent sweepings. And I bought new patio chairs to replace the old and ugly and uncomfortable Adirondak chairs. I shopped for them and the prices were sky high--as much as $1,200 for two chairs!!! But I found two really good-looking faux-wicker chairs in a second hand shop for $45--BOTH CHAIRS. I have this great fabric that I bought in New York. It's French and brilliantly stripped. It's used for outdoor umbrellas, espadrilles, and cloth tote bags. I'll have cushions for the new chairs made from this fabric.  I'm already planning next summer!

Archie and Bit are becoming closer. Most of the time, when they are not sleeping, they are chasing each other all throughout the house. They provide endless entertainment. Like Beau, Archie's cuteness makes him a magnet for people who wonder what his breed is, and when I tell them Dachshund and Sharpei, the laugh at the incongruity of his mix. Here they are on a lazy summer afternoon soaking up late summer rays in front of the kitchen door.

Another quiet moment with Archie and Bit--this time just before lights out!

Chrstine Goerke in the title role of Richard Strauss's Epic opera, ELEKTRA

My good friend, Christine Goerke made a remarkable debut last Saturday night at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the title role of Strauss' monumental ELEKTRA. On stage for the full amount of the 100-minute work, Christine (who first sang the demanding role in Madrid last October) rocked the house, singing with piercing dramatic acuity while pouring out an avalanche of dramatic soprano tone. She was rewarded with a standing ovation at her first curtain call, and a universally ecstatic critcal reception from the national, local and international critics in attendance. It was a long overdue acknowledgement of a great singer at the peak of her powers and she set the house afire.  Here's a promo prepared by the the CLO for YouTube:

I get to see the final performance on the run on October 30th. I've been waiting for years to hear her sing this part. I have separate audio and video performances of her Madrid stint and I think she's the most sensational Elektra that I've heard since Nilsson and the underrated Oliva Stapp sang the role in performances I saw in the 70s.  She's singing her first WALKURE Brunnhilde later this year in Berlin, and starts the new year with her first performance of the Dyer's wife in Strauss's DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN in Amsterdam. This is a prelude to her return to the Met in New York in 2014 for the same role. She's also due to sing her first complete Ring cycle over the next few years in Houston. But watch her profile rise in the next few months. With this Chicago success, Christine Goerke now joins the ranks of the best operas singers in the world.

Christine Goerke during one of many highly emotional moments in 
Strauss' ELEKTRA at the Chicago Lyric Opera

My good friend, Elizabeth and Erin Manwaring, closed their gorgeous boutique, Ste. Maine at the end of September after five years.  Theirs was an upscale shop carrying luxurious home decorative furniture, tabletop accessories, mirrors, bedding and towels, pillows and art. They were among my first friends in the city when I moved here three years ago.  I bought six porcelain shallow bowls, ideal for soup or pasta in a more formal setting. I also bought books, because both ladies loved those big and lavishly illustrated decorating and garden books that you find in upscale homes. They also did very well selling cookbooks and I was delighted when they asked for my opinion on the best of each season's most beautiful and well-written cookbooks to sell. Sellwood is a good neighborhood for antiques, but Ste. Maine was more appropriate for spender Pearl district.  I'm sorry they have closed. In the meantime, Elizabeth and Erin always sold the classiest holiday ornaments and this year's Halloween offerings were really beautiful. I found a stunning mirrored glass pumpkin and these two mirrored "skull" candle holders.  Happy Halloween!

If Cinderella can have a glass slipper, I think I can have a glass pumpkin!

A little ghoulish candlelight for those discerningly formal Halloween sit-down dinners!