It’s 7:00 on a Saturday evening. I had plans – I was going to go contra dancing, twirling and stomping and grinning for three hours. But they have been thwarted by sunshine.
I was worried that this would happen when I decided that I would spend the afternoon lazing about on a grassy knoll. A few hours of soaking up the Vitamin D really takes it out of you. We walked back in the house, plopped down on the couch, and I asked myself, “Do I really, really feel like dancing?” And I’m still on the couch, two hours later, having not even gotten up to wash the sunscreen off my face. The dance is starting now. I think I might make it to the laundry room, but no farther.
This morning, Zeke came over and we walked over to the farmers’ market to stand in a 3-mile long line for biscuits. I understand that you’re not supposed to be able to find good biscuits north of the Mason-Dixon Line – or west of Tennessee, for that matter – but Pine State Biscuits knows what they’re doing. My friend Luke, who moved to Oregon from North Carolina a few months after I did, went behind the counter to hug all the cooks after ordering the Reggie last weekend. (Also, they have Cheerwine, which I miss, but not enough to pay $2 a bottle.)
So after some sweet biscuit love, Zeke headed to French class and I headed into the kitchen to make some picnic preparations. There was a feeding frenzy at the strawberry stand over at the market, so I grabbed a pint, and I also picked up the last bunch of basil from a neighboring vendor. This and a little drizzle of real balsamic gave me basil-wrapped strawberries. Three ingredients. Welcome to summer.
After that I threw some Puy lentils together with olive oil, the same real balsamic, salt and pepper, red scallions, plenty more basil, herbs de provence, a big pinch of lavender, and a couple of splashes of lemon juice.
Next was a simple, no-frills pasta salad: broccoli, parmesan, basil (what? It was a big bunch), olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and roasted garlic.
Finally, I melted a little Earth Balance in a pan and chopped up about 5 stalks of rhubarb. Cooked it down with more brown sugar than my teeth will forgive me for, a handful of raisins, some cinnamon, allspice, and cloves, and poured some Cointreau over it for good measure. When it got all mushy, I had rhubarb compote. Plus bread and goat cheese? You’ve got yourself a picnic.
We packed it all up, along with some Thai iced tea and blood orange soda, into sexy sexy Tupperware and went up to Washington Park, finding the perfect spot of grass in Hoyt Arboretum. We munched on our riches while watching sun-ecstatic Portlanders engage in such stimulating activities as playing hackey sack and rolling down a giant hill. Urban hikers walked past; children scuttled about, parents in tow; couples meandered by; amateur botanists pontificated within earshot. Zeke and I, meanwhile, raised forks to mouths and chewed in harmony with birdsong. Then we sat, in the sun, and did absolutely nothing. And it was wonderful.