Category Archives: Uncategorized

Going with the grain

Sadly, the tomatoes and cucumbers are gone.  The plants just quit producing when temperatures dipped into the 40s at night, so they had to go.

But the spinach and arugula plants are still pumping out plenty of leafy greens. Paired with bold Mediterranean flavors and chewy grains, they make a salad perfectly suited for fall.

The inspiration for this salad came from the wildly popular cookbook, “Jerusalem: A Cookbook,” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed Press, 2012).  This book is such a hit, it even has its own Facebook page and hashtag (#tastingjrslm). Continue reading Going with the grain

Pimento cheese for everyone

Football season is upon us. Some of us–that would be me–don’t really care about the sport.  But the snacks?  I’m a fan!

Give me some good nibbles, and I might even pay attention for a quarter or so while the football fiends yell at the big-screen TV.

This year, I’m offering pimento cheese dip.  It’s a variation on the spread that I’ve written about before, but tamed down to appeal to people who didn’t grow up on the bold flavors of the original Southern staple. Continue reading Pimento cheese for everyone

Cherry tomatoes make the sauce

The big slicing tomatoes and medium salad varieties are slowing down in our planter boxes by the curb, but the cherry tomatoes continue to run riot.

The Sungold vines have enveloped the other varieties in their box and the little orange orbs festoon the plants like Christmas lights.  The larger Isis are a little less vigorous but a dozen or so ripen every day in beautiful colors that blend from red to pink and yellow.

We eat them in salads, pop them into our mouths as snacks while we work in the garden, give them away to anyone who will take them and still we can’t keep up. Continue reading Cherry tomatoes make the sauce

BLT pizza on the grill


Late summer is my favorite time of the year in the garden. The flowers are fading, it’s true. But the tomatoes are coming on strong and nothing beats a fresh tomato plucked straight off the vine.

This year, the tomato plants are going crazy in the raised beds we built in the parking strip between the sidewalk and the curb.  Even though we’re in Portland, there have been plenty of hot, sunny days to turn our six plants into monsters threatening to reach out and grab passersby. Continue reading BLT pizza on the grill

Cool pops for hot days


I never thought much about hot weather before we moved to Portland.  We’d visited many times, but mostly in spring and fall, when the weather was mild.

What a shock it was when the temperature hit 102 degrees in my driveway a couple of weeks ago.  Since then the thermometer has hovered in the upper 80s most days with the occasional spike in the 90s.

These are the days when all I want for dessert is something light, cold and refreshing.  It could be a little fruity and maybe a little sweet, but not cloying.

I’m talking ice pops, adult-style, with sophisticated flavors like the Thai iced tea and agua fresca pops pictured here.  You can share them with the kids but you’ll be tempted to hoard them for yourself. Continue reading Cool pops for hot days

Asparagus before it’s gone


Theoretically, asparagus season should be over, but I still see some in the market.  Thankfully, there’s enough time for one last couscous salad with asparagus pesto before the last stalks disappear altogether from the produce aisles.

I’ve been fiddling with this idea for the last month and it just keeps getting better.  The concept started with samples of asparagus pesto handed out at New Seasons, a terrific local chain of natural food stores here in Portland.

From the first bite, I was enchanted by this sauce, which is a little sweeter and more delicate than pesto made primarily with basil.  It seemed a perfect match with the Israeli couscous that I had picked up on an excursion to Bob’s Red Mill in Oregon City.  Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous, is much larger than the more familiar, fine-grained couscous and has a delightfully chewy texture. Continue reading Asparagus before it’s gone

Raise a glass of vinegar


Brace yourself, dear reader.  I’m about to make the case for drinking vinegar.

Not for health – although there are many advocates of that, too – but for pleasure.  And not straight out of the bottle.

What I’m touting is a sweet and tart libation made with fruit and sugar to soften the sharp edge of the vinegar and served with a generous splash of sparkling water.  It’s light, refreshing and sophisticated, just the thing to sip in the shade on a summer afternoon.  Think of it as the cocktail’s non-alcoholic cousin. Continue reading Raise a glass of vinegar

Dressing up asparagus

When the first local asparagus of the season arrives in the market, I’m so eager for the fresh taste of spring that I prepare them as simply as possible.  A few minutes on the grill or steamer, a drizzle of good olive oil, and a little salt and pepper are all that’s required for a feast.

By now, though, I’m ready to experiment.  This year my focus is asparagus and eggs, a traditional French combination.

The classic poached egg over asparagus wouldn’t work, since I can’t bear even the sight of runny yolks.  (There go my foodie credentials!)  So I decided to substitute softly scrambled eggs as a suitably delicate complement to the grassy spears.

The inspiration for this dish is a flan in Jacques Pépin’s capstone cookbook, “Essential Pépin” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011).  If your idea of a flan is a sweet Spanish custard, you’re in for a surprise.  This version is more like an easy Gallic version of fritatta. Continue reading Dressing up asparagus