fork me


I bought our set of flatware in the days preceding our wedding in 1998.  Those were the days in which *I* was gainfully employed and Retrogrouch was a graduate student, so I flung my money around, partying like it was 1999.  All right, I didn’t: I was a garage sale aficionado.  I found a practically new 12-place set of perfectly respectable but lower-end stainless Oneida flatware, plus all the relevant serving pieces, at a garage sale down the street from our house.  They were getting married, too, but had scored a better set in the gift frenzy.  It was $25, one of the best bargains of my garage sailing days.

So it was with a small twinge of regret that I realized, in the twilight of the next decade, that I had somehow lost half of my dinner forks and half of my salad forks, and quite a few spoons.  How does this happen?  My servants have background checks, or surely they’d nick such a valuable commodity.

But regardless of the cause, the six forks were a problem.  Could I combine the salad forks and dinner forks and have a dozen that way, assigning the small ones to my shorter friends?  Or women?  Would it be better to discriminate on appearance or retrench the patriarchy?  And let’s face it, thought I, we rarely have dinner parties for twelve.  If necessary, Retrogrouch and I could use the salad forks, martyrs for the cause of matching guests, and we could sneak one to one of the math people, since they don’t notice stuff like that.

(Concerns like these are precisely why I haven’t finished my dissertation.)

When I saw the sets of Dansk flatware, a much nicer grade than my old set, silvery and new, at our local reject home goods store, I knew I had to make my move.  Sure, I would have to pay $63 for 12 sets of five pieces (without the dessert spoons or serving pieces), and thereby acknowledge my bargain-hunting skills have softened in my old age, but it was time.  We all have to move on.

So now I have the shiny for Thanksgiving.  And I’m almost senselessly pleased.

in which summer may turn a blind eye to us, but we still bbq with abandon

We celebrated Retrogrouch’s birthday with an overcast, chilly BBQ yesterday. I lost track of how many glasses of local Riesling and Pinot Noir I drank, but it was ok, since it was local, so I knew I’d find my way home. I’m a little dazed this morning as a result, but I thought I’d present the menu. Yesterday was one of those golden cooking days, when you can’t make a mistake even if you try and deliciousness is shooting like lightning bolts from your fingers. Don’t tell me you don’t have these days, because I know you do.


Home-corned beef* with wholegrain mustard
Willamette Valley Cheese Company grape pomace gouda*
Ancient Heritage Dairy Adelle soft-washed cheese*
My dilly bean* pickles
Roasted scallops with home-preserved lemons
Country ribs marinated in citrus, cumin and oregano*
Long bean and new potato* salad with leeks*
Savoy cabbage blue cheese* hazelnut* coleslaw
Mesclun* salad with radishes*, radish sprouts*, snowpeas* and cucumbers
Sweet Cheeks Riesling*-macerated cantaloupe
Fruit tart from Eugene City Bakery
Metropol and Hideaway bakery bread
* local product

Perhaps the best dish was the Savoy cabbage coleslaw with blue cheese and hazelnuts. I don’t particularly like coleslaw, and mine always turns out badly. I have a great version that’s more carrots than cabbage, but this new variation is better — a coleslaw I’d gladly eat any day. The hazelnuts are crucial, and their freshness is paramount, so don’t substitute or skimp there.

Oregon Blue Cheese Hazelnut Coleslaw

(serves 8-10 as a side dish)

  • 1 small head savoy cabbage
  • 2 medium sized-shallots
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 3 green onions or 2 tender leek scapes
  • 1 cup roasted hazelnuts
  • 1 c. Hellman’s mayo
  • 1/4 cider vinegar
  • 1 T. spicy brown mustard (Ploughman’s)
  • 1/2 t. ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup high quality, not too crumbly, blue cheese, such as Oregonzola

Shred cabbage finely and add to large bowl. Chop

green onions, green pepper, and shallots rather finely. Add to cabbage.

Chop hazelnuts in a food processor by pulsing briefly 3-4 times. You want there to be large pieces, but not as big as halves. Add to cabbage.

In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, vinegar, mustard, pepper. Chop or crumble blue cheese as much as possible, then stir into dressing, trying to dissolve all lumps. Add to cabbage, mix well.

Let sit for several hours in refrigerator before serving.

dining with Porkchop and Meatball

My husband had two imaginary friends when he was little: Porkchop and Meatball. I decided to give them an honorary banquet yesterday. Or rather, eat them at an honorary banquet yesterday.* Inspiration is a treacherous thing. And yet, it all looks so normal, donnit? The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie.

dscf7022.jpgLe Menu

Moroccan carrot purée and pita

Harissa spiced meatballs with lemon sauce

Green herbed couscous (kale, dill, parsley, scallions)

Pan-seared brined porkchops over white Russian kale with Noris butter and garlic

Retrogrouch’s salad with lemon mustard dressing

Store-bought cookies, Dagoba chocolate, and Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream




(Not pictured: Meatball.)

We had over a colleague from his work, and the evening was full of wine. I’m now feeling too full and lazy to post recipes, so I won’t.

And I’m so full of CSA love right now…I had never prepared Russian kale before, just regular, and it’s much more tender and pretty, with ruffly, small leaves. I used CSA dill in my couscous, their carrots in my purée and in the meatballs, their garlic and their kale, and their lettuce for the salad. Yay for local vegetables! Yay for nutritiony goodness!

The Russian kale was fantastic. I seared the pork chops, then sauteed the kale in the same pan, so it picked up the drippings. If you’re not going to simmer greens in pot likker with ham hocks, this is a method I would absolutely suggest.

*Hey, my imaginary friends were cats. It could be worse.