aphid massacres, bug control, container garden

More Carnage in the Garden

2 heads of lettuce–gone.

Upgraded to citrus/chili/garlic spray. Next Neem spray.
Harvested and washed what lettuce I could save.
So far, it’s not looking pretty. Also found white flies/aphids on lower branches of 2 tomato plants and those were treated today.
It’s going to be a long, frustrating summer.

crimes against dessert, el cheapo, el rayo

One Last Try of el Rayo

Late into my teen years, and early into my 20’s, I tried really hard to like drinking. No, to be more specific, I tried really hard to like beer. To this day I will always have a sip of what the Mrs. is drinking in hopes that I’ll come across something I actually like. But, thirty three years into my life and I still can’t bring myself to like it. There was one time, a Long Trail Ale Blackberry Wheat, that I managed to drink 3/4’s of, only to be turned off as it turned warm. I was so close to actually enjoying the damn thing, but only found myself disappointed when I reached the end of it.

That, my friends is the best way to describe my relationship with El Rayo. I try and try again and only come up disappointed. I want to see so badly what others see in their technicolor walls that I seem to be so blind to. And I thought I was so close this time to enjoying a complete meal that didn’t leave me disappointed in the food or the money spent on it. But, there it was, sitting at the bottom of a terra cotta colored bowl like a limp silver dollar pancake drowned in caramel: Flan.

The rest of our meal (strawberry refresco, negra modello, beans and rice bowl w/chicken, guac. w/chips, pescado and al pastor tacos) was easily the best I’ve had to date, though still only ‘ok’. The chips were nicely warm, the refresco was lived up to its name and the tacos were hearty and filling. We were enjoying ourselves for the better part of it, though the wait for the food and drinks was a bit long but all of that went to shit when the Mrs. made the mistake of ordering the flan for dessert.

I can’t even call it a flan, really. I know flan on a personal level, having had to make it dozens of times when I was a cook and was burned once, so badly by the caramel, that I could not move the pointer finger on my left hand for several weeks. Flans are suppose to be supple and creamy–they’re one of my favorite desserts to order– but what was served to us, honestly, was a joke and should have never have been put out.

My comparison above to a silver dollar pancake is the most accurate thing I can conjure and even that may be too generous on the portion size. This thing was less than 1/8th of an inch tall and lacked any texture aside from the gelatinous sauce that it sat in. It was not a flan, it was if someone had sheered the bottom off of a flan and served it to us. As we stared at it, before we consumed it in no more than four spoonfuls, we pondered out loud if it would fit inside 1 1/2 tablespoons or two. We’re talking an estimated one ounce dessert. Seriously, one ounce cost us $4.25. That means that if we were to have gotten a normal portion of flan, figure it to be made in a quarter cup ramekin (and most hold a half cup) it would have set us back $17. I’ve bitched about the portion sizes vs. price before but this was an insult and so much so that I was actually unable to say anything to the waitress when she brought it out(like, “Where’s the rest of it?”). Yet, somehow I think she knew because after it was set down on the table, the banter that we had during the rest of the meal was suddenly gone. And so is my patience and tolerance of el Rayo and their overpriced food.

el Rayo Taqueria on Urbanspoon

caramel anything, chocolate brownies, edible obsession

Edible Obsession: Simply Divine Brownies Caramel and Sea Salt

There are fewer things in life that I love more than Caramel. Christmas, Easter and Halloween favorites always contained the gooey substance and more than a fair number of baby teeth were lost to Sugar Daddy, Sugar Babies and Milk Duds (not to mention a stray Charleston Chew, but nougat is another story all together). So, it is no surprise that my crutch to lean on in recent stressful times (yea, I’m a stress eater) is a locally made Caramel and Sea Salt brownie.

My growing obsession for the line of Simply Divine Brownies came as a bit of a shock to me as, honestly, I’m not that much of a brownie fan. However, I have a hard time calling these brownies as everyone that I’ve had has more resembled a firmer fudge or truffle than a brownie. The texture is rich and buttery with only the slightest bit of crumble to them. Because they require refrigeration, I eat them cold in little slices basically unable to wait the time for it to come to room temperature. They are a treat, to say the least, and trying to consume a full one in a single sitting may require medical attention. However, with the month I’ve had, I’ve tempted fate on more than a few occasions.

Their newest, Caramel and Sea Salt, is like having a giant Sweet Marguerites truffle (if you haven’t had a Sweet Marguerites Sea Salt Caramel, stop what you’re doing and hunt them down–that’s yet another caramel based obsession). And, while I could always use a little more caramel, for the non-glutton the amount is perfect and the salt is just enough to remind you that it’s there. And, needless to say, these are best paired with an ice cold glass of local raw milk.

container garden, gardening, obsessing, things to do without internets

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Ahh…interwebs…how I’ve missed thee. We are now officially connected–no longer having to reposition myself with the laptop trying to piggy back someone strangers wireless.
But, what have I done this past week and a half in the new place? Gardening to a near obsessive level. I do believe I’ve spent more money on soil and plants over the past week than I have anything else. And, because I have the luck that I do, I’ve already taken to battle against Aphids and Red Spider Mites. I tried to enlist the help of several lady bugs, purchased at Skillins, but they jumped ship after one night. So, as I sit and type this, I’m seeping:

  • Peel of one lemon(or orange), chopped
  • 4 cps boiling water

to make a citrus spray, courtesy of ‘You Grow Girl’, for the lingering pests.

The lack of sunlight and constant damp conditions are not really helping anything along, though nothing has died on me, which I can be grateful for. The weather forecasters are calling for sunny and in the 80’s this coming weekend, so let’s hope it perks things up a bit.

Basil, Pineapple sage, oregano, thyme
and Acai on ice

Lemon Thyme, Carmen Pepper


Front: Rosemary, Catnip, lemon thyme
back: Carmen pepper, onion

Flowering African Blue Basil

Thai Basil, Mesclun mix, vietnamese coriander, lemon grass

Green Zebra, Brandywine, cukes

Back: Blackcherry Tomatoes, Opal basil
Front: Sungolds

Flowering Borage

My thanks to all of the local farmers at the Wednesday Farmer’s Market, whom all of the above was purchased from.

drunken noodles, thai, Thai-o-rama

Thai-O-Rama pt. 8–Veranda Thai

I’m completely cheating on this review as I kind of dropped the ball. Honestly, I ate there early in the month and completely forgot that I was suppose to review it. I give you a simple review of, what I feel is, the best take-out Thai in Portland.

When the Mrs. said she was going to grab lunch at Veranda, and did I want anything to take away, I stayed true to form and ordered the Drunken Noodle with Chicken. Their version of the dish is the standard by which I’ve been measuring every other one of the variations I’ve had so far. And, so far, no one has compared. Because that singular dish is the embodiment of my Thai comfort food, and because they do it so well, I can only say that Veranda is my sentimental favorite of the pack.

It’s saucy and spicy and they are more than generous with the chicken and Thai basil. One different twist in it, and by different I really mean puzzling, is the addition of pineapple chunks. While a welcomed compliment to the chili pepper in the dish, it’s honestly the only time, so far, I’ve seen it added in. I’m always on the fence about it, and know I could order without it, but sometimes I do enjoy it. I’m curious to see if any of the other bloggers mention it in their reviews.

Other than that, I’ve got nothing. So, to fill in the void of what should be a proper review, I’ve compiled a list of dishes that have become standard for us at Veranda. Their menu can be located over here.

Veranda Thai is located at 9 Veranda Street in Portland, just off exit 8 on 295–it’s worth the trip.

  1. Veranda Thai Dumpling(6) $5.95
    Grounded pork and shrimp specially prepared and wrap with wonton skin. Served with ginger sauce
  2. Crab Rangoon (6) $5.95
    Crab meat with cream cheese wrapped in crispy wonton skins. Served with sweet & sour sauce
  3. Crunchy Thai Veggie Roll (2) $3.95
    Deep-fried stuffed spring rolls with carrots, cabbage, black mushroom, scallion, and clear noodles served with sweet & sour sauce
  4. Chicken Tom Yum, $3.50 $6.95
  5. Thai Radnar
    Sauteed with veggie combo poured over flat noodle stir fry with egg
  6. Drunken Noodle
    Combination of vegetables pan fried with flat rice noodles in drunken sauce
  7. Masaman Curry,
    Pineapple, onion, potato, carrot, bamboo shoot, basil leave, chopped peanut in coconut milk with masaman curry
  8. B.B.Q. Pork Chop or Grilled Chicken $9.95
    Marinated Vietnamese style served over Jasmine steamed rice with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, diced cucumber and a special fish sauce set a side

Veranda Thai on Urbanspoon

not shanking your dining neighbor, overheard in restaurants, queers in the kitchen

"It’s a lesbian restaurant.."

Things that can be gay (in the not equated to ‘stupid’ way as has become the vernacular of the times..also ‘queer’ can be interchanged here) :

  1. People
  2. Penguins
  3. Bars
  4. Parades (like the one this coming week in Portland)
  5. Rainbows

But a restaurant? I ask this because of a conversation overheard the other night @ Yosaku as my partner and I sat next to a table of 4 (1 older male, 2 mid-40’s females and a 16yr old boy). As the older gentleman seemed to be trying to flex his foodie muscles, though miserably failing as a good bit of the information he was telling his companions about different places was complete and utter bullshit, they started naming places they really enjoyed. One of the women, who apparently had tried to be a local food writer at one time, brought up a west end restaurant as one of her choices. To which the gentleman replied:

“It’s more of a lesbian restaurant, really, isn’t it? That’s what I see it as.”

It was then that I was glad there was no cutlery at the table, though I did ponder how quickly I could whittle down one of the chopsticks into a weapon and cause bodily harm to him. So, in my minds eye, because I could not cause a scene in the restaurant and be so disrespectful of the chef and staff, I chastised him for basing his decision on the sexuality of the owners and a handful of the staff, rather than the food. In my mind I also went on to correct all of his misinformation and, for the fuck of it, verbally emasculate him for all of his ignorance…. again, in my mind I did this. In reality, I just pondered–through the boiling rage–how, to him, it wasn’t an Italian, Japanese, French or American restaurant… it was Lesbian. No mention of the chef’s years in the business or even his opinion on the food, just the overall sexuality of the restaurant.

Even a week later, I’m still dumbfounded by the conversation–not to mention the other hour of vapid conversation about grinding at the prom, the older man wanting to start his own dining group called ‘The A-Team’ and how the adults wanted the kid to ‘get them in’ at a popular local restaurant that is pretty damn easy to get a reservation at if you just call a few days ahead. Truthfully, the 16 year old was the most articulate one at the table but this could possibly be because he didn’t consume the martini’s that the adults did(I hope he got the keys from them after the meal).

Granted, the guy was a douche wagon, but I can’t help but admit that he has me wondering how other gay owned restaurants are perceived by others. Is it something that comes up in conversation when deciding what restaurant to make reservations at, “Honey, do you want to go to the Twice Married Heterosexual Males Restaurant or the Coupled Lesbian Bistro?”

Is Arrows seen as a gay restaurant?
Will Figa be?

Most importantly, does it honestly matter?

My apologies for an endless, simmering ramble.