From Portland, with Love

June 11, 2010

The box was sitting at the door when I got back from the farmer’s market today. I slit it open and a cornucopia spilled out: nuts and beans, jams and grains. The note says, “Miss Ruth’s Portland Care Package” – a selection of favorite products from two of my favorite people, Karen Brooks and Teri Gelber.

Half are from Ayer’s Creek farm in Gaston. They include two different kinds – on white, one yellow -of freshly ground polenta. I put them right in the freezer, but I’m itching to cook them.

The jam (black currant) is from Ayer’s Creek too, as are the Purgatorio beans. Karen’s note says that I won’t need to soak them – and that they’ll cook in about half an hour. If that’s true, it’s amazing; the last time I cooked white beans they took forever.

There are also fat hand-roasted hazelnuts from Freddy Guys, so irresistible that I ate half the package on the spot.

And granola from Tracy’s; the proceeds help fund Urban Gleaners, a food-to-homeless table program. Crisp, crunchy, delicately sweet.

Just looking at all this food sitting on my counter made me miss Portland. One great food city.

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More Tender Answers

June 10, 2010

I would ask you if your mom had a favorite meal, or something she really enjoyed eating that you enjoyed with her.

Mom’s greatest culinary triumph was corn on the cob. She had a secret source, and she’d put a big pot of water on to boil, call the farm, ask them to go out and pick her the smallest, whitest ears, and then rush home. She cooked the ears for just under two minutes, and they were superb. I’ve never had corn to rival hers, and I never eat an ear without thinking of her. (Mom called inferior ears, “horse corn,” which is what we mostly get these days. )

How many times did you get food poisoning growing up?

None. One of the great advantages of growing up on spoiled food is that you end up with an iron stomach. Last summer, when we were shooting in China for Adventures with Ruth, I was the only one in the crew who didn’t get food poisoning. And that includes our Chinese government minder, who actually went to the hospital.

Were your parents alive when the book hit the shelves? If they were, did you have to go into hiding?

I could not have written the book if my parents were still alive. And as anyone who’s read For You, Mom, Finally, knows, I felt guilty about the portrait I painted of my mother. It’s not that it wasn’t accurate; it’s just that I knew she would not have been thrilled to have the whole world know she was bipolar.

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