Brain Rumbles To Ponder-Summertime,Traveling,Reading,Griping, and A Garden’s Bounty

Aug 21


This summer has been especially slow and casual for me. Projects wanting to bring to fruition for many years have vanished or seem to have slipped into a spare room for a nap,others are in development and all are exciting to consider.

That leaves me an opening for considering My Summertime. Most people’s favorite season.It is my third favorite,after Fall and Winter. golden age of travel picSummertime travel….mine has been represented by reading:  The Golden Age of Travel 1880-1939 by Alexis Gregory .I imagine that will have to suffice . At least  I’ll get to make more stops along the way. Traveling during that era was a grand affair…… if one was well heeled or had the “cash” to make the the best choices. Those choices always included wonderful and elegant meals on a grand and opulent scale. I love to compare those most wonderful menus with the style of the meals that we have today. It is so foreign and completely changed.

I wonder what a person from those times would say coming back today about a drive thru order of” deep fried ‘gator nuggets, with a wheat grass and Mongolian yogurt half- caf, decaf, non fat soy milk shake with a double shot of Italian salted caramel sugar free syrup….super sized with a side of Vidalia black mustard seed puree and sesame oil fusion with a kimchi dipped egg substitute onion rings topped with house cured Sumatran coconut vinegar baby okra pickles”?

Whew! I just wrote that and it really isn’t that silly as it might seem. I would like these times to be simpler and calmer and more respectful when we share a meal with friend and families.. Good food…..meals,celebrations and dining- are now a science experiment or the fodder given to detailed “yelpified” chronicles and extensive photograph portfolios for immediate inclusion on the wide Twittering Pinterest-laden,  Facebooked overkill of info and Wikipedia’ed to death for all to comment, evaluate and revisit again and again as if it was of serious national security importance. Let’s just sit,talk,share,relax,drink some fine beverages,eat some good food and let the rest take care of itself. People being with people about people and without Star Trek hand devises occupying our very precious time spent together. Please help us if someone itunes us all into a half-naked Myley Cyrus” twerking” as if she was having a seizure, tongue lolling about like the worm tongue lure of an Alligator Snapping Turtle…. all the while we try to quickly wolf down the Amazon Giant Snail and Petrified Bee Pollen Granita before the next of our 43 course tasting menu arrives on matchbox-sized house kiln fired and natural earth dyed ceramic squares! If I ever see a table of 8 people in a fine and wonderful restaurant again and nobody is talking to anyone….. they are texting each other! What is that all about?Why don’t they just stay home and save the money?

Dinner Last Night: Heirloom golden tomatoes,peeled with an OXO serrated peeler (it is so simple),cut in large dice;drizzled with extra virgin olive oil,some seasoned rice wine vinegar,a bit of sea salt,freshly ground pepper,and chopped Italian parsley. Thick slice of whole wheat bread,lightly toasted;spread with unsalted butter,rubbed with a garlic clove, and topped with lots of shredded Tillamook Extra Sharp Reserve Cheddar Cheese-a quick trip under the broiler until hot and bubbly. WOW! Glass of pretty good German riesling (hey! I like them!) and shut up and leave me alone. Good times when you are ….”table for one,sir?” I did leave the phone on in case I got a very important text….don’t you know?

ALL THESE DAMN YEARS! Peel a head of garlic in ten seconds. Are you kidding me? I must have wasted 3,256,789 hours peeling those little stinky kernels of goodness. This is all it takes? Watch the “10 seconds”video from my favorite cooking magazine –SAVEUR– and weep joyfully with me….but mostly learn and change your ways,you kitchen slaves!

MORE READING : What a marvelous and enlightening article from Smithsonian Magazine-“The Food Issue”,June 2013, I have just enjoyed. (Actually the whole issue is great. Buy it or read it all.) The article by Jerry Adler, “The Mind on Fire” is outstanding and really makes so much sense. It is so very common sense and I do not believe I ever considered the role of the human brain development and the advent of fire together ever before. Please read and let me know your thoughts or comments.

A POINT of THE KNIFE OPINIONS :** I back my car into my parking space in front of my garage. Why? It is simpler to get the groceries unloaded….and, when pulling out later,I can see the kids playing in the street easier. Does that make sense?** I put 3-4 coarsely chopped shallots with a bit of canola oil in the food processor,pulse a few times and store in a covered 1/2 pint Mason jar in the fridge-lasts about a week or so. I have them for any kind of scramble,added to sauteed vegetables or a quick vinaigrette. The cooking shows say don’t do that…they aren’t that fresh when you use them. Hey! I’m cookin’ for one here.

…MORE SHARP BLADES:** It really seems like I have lost interest in most food TV shows. Too darn contrived and there are some sponsor-driven, ridiculous scenarios.Another network food star? How about getting the ones you have a little “seasoning” first? Make a meal in 20 minutes with smoked Nubian goats eye balls, cinnamon red hot candies,Japanese Bonito flakes, and black eye peas….PLEASE! I do enjoy (as I have mentioned before-I forget) anything Jacques Pepin does on PBS,:“The Mind of a Chef”-also on PBS,a woman whose style I really like,Laura Calder,“French Food at Home”, on The Cooking Channel –  America’s Test Kitchen, also on PBS.**Do you crave inventive,delicious and good honest cooking and you live in Portland? Please visit Vitaly Paley’s IMPERIAL in the Hotel Lucia.(OK-I’ve said that before too…but the food , the bar and the service is still fabulous) Have the rabbit or anything from the imported open hearth wood burning fire pit.** I do so hope all of the 12 -14 restaurants,bakeries,bars and food emporiums that are being built at present or are due to open in the next few months in our “Foodie Mecca-PDX” make it, have smooth sailing and all become profitable and successful . Too many are closing recently and it is a sad affair, not just for the owners, but for the lost jobs and the employees. Let’s make sure the clear and main focus is to succeed and stay open,for goodness sakes.

A SPORTS COMMENT & A RECIPE: I am not much of a soccer fan,but if you live in Portland, Oregon, you have to be proud of our first year National Women’s Soccer League team, Portland Thorns FC. They will be playing for the championship in their first year of competition. I have devised a recipe for them to all enjoy when they win the championship and maybe some of the PDX purveyors of libations(of which we have many good choices) will give it a try….who knows? “The Thorn of The Rose” – 1 1/2 oz. New Deal vodka,1/2 oz. Clear Creek Williams Pear Brandy, 1/2 oz. Oregon strawberry puree,juice of 1/2 fresh lime,1 oz. simple syrup. Shake with ice and strain into an elegant stemmed crystal glass. Sprinkle with 2-3 drops of rosewater and garnish with 5-6 red rose petals floating on top. Place a large fresh strawberry on the edge of the glass for a bit of great drama….which the Thorns FC are known for all season! Enjoy!(Ross Pullen-2013)

“But he who dares not grasp the thorn,should never crave the rose”, by  Anne Bronte from the poem, “The Narrow

Portland Rose Garden

Portland Rose Garden

Way”, 1850.





  1. Julia /

    “We are, of course, animals, but that doesn’t mean we have to eat like one.” My favorite quote from that article. I read that book a few years ago and loved it! Thanks for reminding me.

  2. Julia…..your kind and insightful comments are always appreciated,Dear Friend.

  3. This one made me chuckle with appreciation-alot.

  4. gypsy peppers are red and
    ready for roasting – although
    a dedicated urban gardener, summer,
    when HOT like this year, is not my cup of tea…
    a real conundrum, that….
    your “dinner last night” made my mouth water,
    no yolk

    onward into the season of butternut squash…


    • Two choices for the red peppers roasted….grilled long and slow with lots of onions and pile on a crusty roll and an Italian sausage (sweet or hot) with garlic,olive oil, and some greens of choice. No messy marinara sauce here. Then there is adding them to your favorite brine au natural or in combo with eggplant,Italian carrots,onions,and flat beans for a treat next January. Butternut squash….too many choices,all good.

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