Corn, zucchini, tomatoes have all been superb this summer. I guess that’s what happens when the sun to rain ratio is ten days to one day? Anyway, we’ve taken advantage of this by making some tasty things like squash and corn tacos. We’ve also eaten a lot of corn on the cob with herb dipping sauces.

We’ve also eaten a lot of tomatoes in a lot of forms. We tried gazpacho, salsa, pizza, various salads and sauces, stuffed tomatoes and a tomato-puff-pastry pie with tofu pesto

Another of our favorite summer experiments was making micheladas — a kind of Mexican beer cocktail with tomato juice, lime, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. It’s like a Bloody Mary with beer instead of vodka. One probably can’t drink a lot of these, but they are delicious, refreshing and so flavorful.

Recently, we also made dumplings. I can’t say how many we ate, but my stomach expanded to an extreme extent. Excellent!

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How our garden grows

August 15, 2010

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Just when we were starting to think that this was an off year for the garden, we were blessed with some pleasant surprises. We very much enjoyed out recent trip to Oregon, but our plants say that were very unhappy for those 10 days of 90 degree + weather with no rain. We came back to some very thirsty plants. A friend did step in to water a couple times while we were gone, and without her we probably would have come back to a wasteland. Here’s what’s going on:

The Hungarian and jalapeno peppers are doing pretty well.

The tomatoes are delicious and have mostly made their way through the bottom rot and early blight that we saw early in the season. Those sungolds are the best!

The kale and collards are finally starting to get a little bit large. They were really suffering at the hands of rabbits up until now. Is the scary garden owl finally doing his job? Who (hooo) knows?

The basil is being attacked by some kind of bug. Cayenne garlic spray seems to be helping, but this wont be a big pesto freezing year.

The potatoes somehow disappeared while we were away, and what’s left looks mostly like a field of unmowed grass. We’ll see what happens when we get the pitchfork out in September.

We have loads of garlic curing in the garage. I doubt we’ll have to buy any for quite some time.

The squash had powdery mildew and bugs. I used lime and some organic spray and think it’s helping some. We have squash blossoms and a few squash now.

Our pear tree looks beautiful and has loads of fruit on it. I wish we could say the same about our raspberry and blueberry bushes.

We’ve agreed to scale down the garden a bit next year and join a CSA. Some of the novelty vegetables we planted just don’t seem to be worth the effort.

Tastes of Oregon

August 10, 2010

We ate as well as we drank in Oregon. Portland is the vegan mecca we expected, and we fared well outside of Portland, too. Here are some of the highlights:

Bye and Bye – Really great bar (as mentioned below) with great staff and really satisfying food. On our first visit, we had some of the best nachos we’ve ever had. On our second visit, we ate full dinners. I had a BBQ Platter with BBQ tofu, collared green, black-eyed peas and potato salad. Nicole had a broccoli bowl with tofu and brown rice. Just based on the staff and drinks, we didn’t think this place could get better, but …

Blossoming Lotus – We didn’t fully plan to eat here until a lot of locals told us we should. This place has mostly raw food, and all of it is executed scrumptiously, freshly and attractively. We ordered raw nachos (with guacamole and cashew sour cream), a sampler plate (with beet salad, raw falafel, cilantro pate and more) and a brown rice bowl with soy curls, kale and avocado. We also couldn’t resist the raw cheesecake with raspberry sauce.

Portobello – This was the queen destination. We knew we had to go, had big expectations, and they were fulfilled. I can’t think of the beet tartar without thinking of how lovely the flavors were — earthy beets, creamy and salty cashew ricotta and fruity olive oil. So glad we ordered that. Nicole had bracciola and zucchini alfredo with mushrooms. I had an eggplant raviolo and gnocchi with a chili-tomato sauce. Everything was just expertly crafted. It’s like this place had been doing what they do for decades, like some Arthur Avenue Italian restaurant.

Kebaba (Bend) – Probably one of the finest Mid-East feasts I’ve had. Great falafel, hummus, tabbouleh, zatar pizza, curried tempeh and the carnabeet (cauliflower with tahini, sumac and lemon) was the true standout. Lovely preparation and flavor overall.

Vita – We had two marvelous breakfasts here. Separately, I had biscuits and gravy and huevos rancheros. Nicole had a pesto tempeh scramble and a breakfast burrito. Great food here. I don’t think there’s a better breakfast place in Portland.

Los Gorditos – This place started as a carnivore lunch cart. Now, it has a full vegan menu, and the breakfast burritoes here are killer. They’re huge, and the flavor is as good as any Mexican dish I’ve ever had. I wish I could get one overnighted.

We also had good meals at Junior’s (fennel potatoes), and in Eugene at Sam Bond’s Garage (tempeh Sloppy Joe’s) and Laughing Planet (gazpacho and chard rice bowl). I wish Massachusetts had so many options.

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