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Potato Leek Soup

Wow, it’s been a a while since I posted a recipe! I actually made this soup almost four weeks ago– right after the Saturday Farmer’s Market reopened. Everything in this soup was from the farmers market, except for the bacon. Sad to say, that piggy was factory-raised. (I’m currently trying to cut down on my non-organic meat consumption, which has lead to an almost vegetarian state. It’s kind of interesting! Good for my karma and my carbon footprint.)

:Ingredients:

  • .25 lb bacon, cut into 1″ strips
  • 1 whole leek, sliced thinly (feel free to use the green leaves– they take more washing, but I think they’re tasty!)
  • 4 2-3″ diameter new potatoes, cut into .25″ slices
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground dried thyme, or 1 sprig stripped and minced
  • .5 tsp paprika
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • salt and white pepper to taste

In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the bacon until it starts looking crispy and it has given up most of its fat. Add the leeks and garlic, and allow them to start caramelizing– once they start to look golden around the edges, remove the bacon, leeks and garlic from the pan, retaining the grease. Lightly fry the potatoes in the grease. Once the potatoes start to soften, pour off excess grease and return the bacon and the allium (the leeks and garlic!) to the pan. Allow to cook together for another minute or so, then add the water, seasonings, and the yogurt. Stir to combine. Cover and drop heat to a low simmer. Allow to cook for another 20 minutes or so, until the potatoes are quite soft. Lightly mash potatoes with a fork until they are broken into small pieces throughout the soup. Taste test for salt and pepper.

Serve hot on a cold day, or cold on a hot day. A satisfying soup– the yogurt keeps it from becoming too heavy.

Clock Runs Slow

In a thousand years

people will stare at the sun

and wonder who made it.

Watercolor Blossoms

Cherry petals float

in a lake of piss and rain;

city nights come slow.

Last Sunday my aunt was in town visiting, so my second cousin and I showed her around the city. We went all sorts of places– there was an awesome 24-hour music festival going on at Weidan+Kennedy, a large advertising firm here in town. We also schmoozed around in Cargo, a totally awesome import store down on 13th Ave. But my favorite thing, by far, was visiting the Chinese Classical Garden, which is just starting it’s spring blooms.

I’ve been in love with the Chinese Classical since the first time I came to Portland– in fact, it was one of the first places my mom took me and I immediately fell and fell hard. It takes up a bare city block, and yet I could spend the entire day in it, wandering through each separate area, enjoying the blooms and beautiful ponds. Last sunday was breath-taking, with the plums, the camelias, and all of the trees starting to leaf out.

Graceful

The water bridge, through the branches of a tree whose name I can’t remember…

Trinity Pink

I’m passionately in love with fruit tree blossoms. They smell pretty, they look pretty, and they make tasty things appear like magic! Here are some of the ornamental plums from the “plum blossoms on cracked ice” side garden.

Wizened Ancient

In the same side garden are a lot of sweet penjing, Chinese bonsai trees. I love this old fellow with all of the plum petals around his roots.

Duck

DUCK! The only one there– he looked a bit lonely.

January Day

Walking home from picking up my groceries, I saw a golden retriever attempting to carry four or five large sticks in his mouth at once. He would meticulously stack them, manage to cram them in, walk a few steps, and drop one. Wash, rinse, repeat. (I know there’ s a metaphor in there, somewhere…)

Every Sunday, a group of East Indian 20-somethings get together on the college tennis courts to play pick-up games of cricket. They race around, score wickets, and generally have a good time. I don’t think I’ll ever understand cricket.

For the past week there has been a flattened and dehydrated pink condom lying in the gutter in front of my building. It was gone today.

(Image from One Big Kitchen)

That’s right. Three exclamation points. What is the reason for such exuberance, you may rightly ask?

Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: The Pacific Northwest episode.

I found it while poking around on YouTube, land of all things bizarre and viral, and it really epitomizes why I moved up here, and why you’ll have to pry my cold, dead fingers from the streetcar railings when I’m gone. It explores the amazing variety of fresh ingredients, the passion that chefs up here exhibit for their art, the crazy and friendly atmosphere, and the grungy, anything-goes attitude.

He visits Portland, Seattle, and the Puget Sound, and finds amazing food everywhere he goes. Unsurprising to those of us who live here; we know that good food is only a few doors down, a few blocks away. There’s really no need to go to Pizza Hut when you’ve got Apizza Scholls, or even Hot Lips, just a streetcar ride away. I’ve been to NYC twice, and I can honestly say that I’ve found more good food, more affordably here in Portland, than anywhere in the big Apple. (I’m sure there’re places I haven’t seen. Want to prove me wrong? I’ll gladly fly over there to be gastronomically escorted around the city.)

Check out the episode. It’s definitely worth the look!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

I feel so inspired! Maybe I’ll actually get around to submitting a recipe this week!

You want to know why everyone turned around and stared at you? You were talking REALLY LOUDLY about your psychiatrist appointment. And your anger management issues.

No, we couldn’t see your BlueTooth there. Sorry.

(And why were you carrying fourty pounds of meat in your bag? That is not a common practice in this country, unless you’re a mad meat-napper. Given the start of your conversation, I probably wouldn’t be surprised.)

(I have no photos currently! I’m sorry– I will try to take one and upload it tomorrow)

I’ve gone to a couple of pretty good restaurants in the week since I arrived here. The Green Onion, however, takes the cake. Or the falafel, as the case may be. Yummy Persian food!

SERVICE: The owners serve the tables ( I think this is the norm for most evenings). They are wonderful, open people, always willing to describe a dish to you or recommend a meal. The service is prompt and precise. A++!

ATMOSPHERE: The Green Onion is based inside a refurbished old house on the Portland State University campus. The dining room is small, but when you consider The Cave (the downstairs dining room and performance space), there really is quite a lot of room to eat. The decor is Persian, and the space is small and cozy.

PRESENTATION: I had the buffet, which I highly recommend. Other than that, plating is traditional and uncomplicated.

FOOD: I haven’t had much experience with any other Persian food before this restaurant, so I can’t really say how this adds up. What I can say is that the food is utterly delicious. I’d recommend it to anyone!

Gluten Free?: Yes! Just mention it to the server beforehand and he or she will point out everything on the menu you can eat.