Monday, February 24, 2014

Hate Sauerkraut? You'll Love Choucroute!

It's not often I get to write, "As we drove through the rolling hills from Frankfurt across the German-French border, the towns grew increasingly smaller and older, the buildings more charming and fairy tale-like with stone and moss the predominant textures."

Braising the vegetables.

It was an incredibly long time ago, and our last through the French countryside, a road trip that took us from the Alsace region across to the Loire, then down through the Dordogne with a swing back up to Frankfurt. Our first stop was in an auberge in the tiny town of Riquewihr, one with a traditional Alsatian restaurant on the main floor and rooms for guests on the second floor.

Adding the bacon.

Coming down for dinner that night, we found we'd walked into a special evening featuring that most Alsatian of dishes, choucroute garnie. A long table ran down one side of the room, the length of it piled with the most sweetly fragrant sauerkraut, braised for hours in stock, bay leaves and juniper berries. On top of the sauerkraut were all kinds of sausages from the area, along with slices of smoked ham, whole pork chops and other meats, all of which had been cooked in the braised sauerkraut.

In goes the meat…getting there!

That choucroute (pron. shoo-CROOT) completely changed my attitude toward sauerkraut, which up to that point had always been a tart, vinegary-tasting accompaniment to my grandmother's cabbage rolls, which she called "hoblich" (probably a variation on Ukrainian "holopchi"), or my mother's sauerkraut with hot dogs, her attempt to pay homage to my father's German heritage. In this version, rinsed of most of the salt and sourness, then simmered until meltingly tender, even the most adamant of the sauerkraut averse will rave.

Choucroute Garnie
Loosely adapted from Time-Life Foods of World: Provincial France

6 lbs. sauerkraut
1 lb. bacon
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 med. onions, chopped fine
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
2 c. carrots, cut in 1/4" rounds
1 tart apple, cored and chopped in 1/2" dice
6 c. chicken stock
2 c. dry white wine
1 Tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
8 sprigs parsley
3 bay leaves
17 juniper berries
2 lbs. uncooked sausages, like bratwurst
2 lbs. chicken thighs**
3 smoked pork chops or several slices smoked ham
Yukon gold potatoes

Preheat the oven to 325°.

Rinse the sauerkraut in several changes of water to get rid of excess salt and vinegar. (I've used both house-made sauerkraut from Old Salt and a good commercial brand like Bubbies, containing just cabbage, salt and water.) After rinsing, squeeze it vigorously to get out as much water as possible.

In a heavy 9-qt. casserole or Dutch oven (I used Big Blue), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and carrots and sauté for 10 min., stirring often to prevent sticking. Stir in the chopped apple and continue cooking for 2 or 3 min., then stir in the sauerkraut and combine thoroughly. Reduce the heat as low as possible, cover the pot and braise the vegetables for 15 min. Then add the chicken stock, wine, salt, pepper, parsley, bay leaves and juniper berries and stir to combine. Lay the bacon on top of the sauerkraut. Cover tightly, place on middle rack of the oven and braise for 3 hrs.

After the sauerkraut has braised for 3 hrs., prick the sausages 4 or 5 times and add to the casserole with the chicken thighs, burying them in the sauerkraut. Cover, return the pot to the oven and braise for 30 mins. Add the pork chops to the sauerkraut and continue braising for 45 minutes.

Toward the end of the cooking time, heat a large pot of water till boiling, halve the potatoes and cook till tender.

To serve, transfer the sauerkraut to a deep, heated platter or serving dish, removing the bay leaves and as many of the juniper berries as you can. Mound the meat over the top. Serve with potatoes on the side.

* Duck legs or rabbit would also be great in this.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Livin' in the Blurbs: Moving Our Food System Forward

Like the pairings of Astaire and Rogers; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; and Key and Peele, there's a beautiful affinity that happens when farmers and chefs get together. On Monday, March 3, the Farmer-Chef Connection will be holding an all-day conference to further the conversation between food buyers and growers in the Northwest. This year the day is organized around five-minute, TED-style talks called  "FED" talks (get it?), featuring some of the area's best known food movers and shakers:
  • Gabe Rosen and Kina Voelz, Biwa: “Health Insurance and Wages in a Small Restaurant”
  • Frank Morton, Wild Garden Seed: “Plant Patents on Common Vegetables”
  • Samantha Bakall, Oregonian Food & Dining Reporter: “Waste Not, Want Yes: Beyond Farm-to-Table in the City Where the Dream of the ‘90s is Still Alive”
  • Alice Busch, Emergency Management Coordinator at Multnomah County Department of Human Services: “Dining Through Disaster”
  • Cory Carman, Carman Ranch: “The Steakholders in Sustainable Beef”
  • Dayna McErlean, DOC, Yakuza, and Nonna: “Successfully Broke”
  • Lyf Gildersleeve, Flying Fish Company: “Traceable Trash Fish”
Details: Farmer-Chef Connection. Mon., Mar. 3, 8:30 am-5 pm; $39 with preregistration online. Event at Western Forestry Center, 4033 SW Canyon Rd.

* * *

Portland is a place where more and more people are starting to ask the question "Where does my food come from?" And, no, I'm not talking about that episode of Portlandia where the chicken being served in a restaurant is named Colin. It has more to do with a desire to eat healthy, local food and avoid pesticides, GMOs and big carbon footprints, to support accessibility, community and quality in our food choices. Perhaps no one exemplifies that ethos on the purveyor side than Ben Meyer of Grain and Gristle and Old Salt Marketplace. In a recent article in Forbes magazine on Portland's leading food entrepreneurs, Meyer discusses his strategies for selling the highest quality, sustainably produced meat and produce for an affordable price, plus providing all of his employees with a living wage and health care. His restaurants are places where not just his neighbors, but the farmers and ranchers he works with, can afford to eat in his restaurants. His new project is The Descendants Dinner Series, bringing together pioneering chefs of the Northwest's farm-to-table movement with outstanding area farmers and some lucky young chefs in what are sure to make delicious, as well as stimulating, evenings.

Details: The Descendants Dinner Series. Beginning Mon., Mar. 10, 6:30 pm; $100 includes beverage pairings. Reservations required. Old Salt Marketplace, 5027 NE 42nd Ave. 971-255-0167.

* * *

Like so many modern conveniences like the internet, e-mail and artisan cheeses, it's funny how you don't realize what you've been missing until one day it comes into your life and you're, like, "Wow, how did I ever get along without it?" Until Friends of Family Farmers (FoFF) was organized to foster family farmers whose approach agriculture respected the land, treated animals humanely and sustained local communities, small farmers had very little support in advancing issues that affected them or a way to network with other farmers who shared their concerns. In addition to promoting legislation that helped ease restrictions on farm-direct sales and marketing, FoFF has been involved in efforts to ban growing canola in the Willamette Valley, started public education evenings called "InFARMation (and Beer)" to bring the public into the discussion about the direction of the state's agriculture and been involved in a myriad of other efforts. They're currently in the middle of a series of 20 Listening Sessions around the state designed to bring together farmers and ranchers to talk about the great parts of, as well as the barriers to, farming successfully in Oregon, where they can brainstorm solutions and help define the future of agricultural policy in Oregon. Upcoming sessions in the metro area are:
  • Thurs., Mar. 6, Redland Grange, 18131 S Fischers Mill Road, Oregon City, 7-9pm. Please RSVP here.
  • Mon., Mar. 10, Kennedy School, 5736 NE 33rd Avenue, Portland, 7-9pm. Please RSVP here.
Details: Listening Sessions with Friend of Family Farmers. Full statewide schedule here.

Top photo from New Seasons Market. Bottom photo from Friends of Family Farmers.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Pig Named Roger: Celebrating a Life Given

Two years ago I met a pig named Roger. This is the last in a series of three videos that was filmed at that time. Here are the initial paragraphs of my post about the meal that celebrated his life.

The very first post in this series started with a question: Can I eat an animal I've played tag with?

At first it was merely an interesting notion. I'd buy half a pig from my friend Clare at Big Table Farm, something I'd been wanting to do for some time. But I didn't want to simply wait for the time, some months hence, when she'd call to say my half was butchered and ready to pick up from the packing house. I wanted to meet this pig named Roger, and trace his life from his pasture to my plate.

Roasted bones for stock.

I didn't have an agenda in mind. This wouldn't be an attempt to follow the already well-trodden path of other food writers like Michael Pollan or Barbara Kingsolver. I didn't want to hammer home points about whatever-vores, 100-mile diets or the evils of corporate agriculture. It was simply a documentation of my experience, with no expectations of a major life change ("I'll never be able to look a pork chop in the eye again…") or revelation ("Roger came to me in a dream one night…").

Read the rest of the post, Thinking of Eating: Pasture to Plate.

Watch the other videos in the series, Getting to Know My Food and Learning to Butcher.

Quick Hits: Cyril's, NobleONI, Davenport

My comfort zone isn't hard to find. Smart, friendly, low-maintenance people are definitely in that zone and qualify as nearly instant friends, the kind you meet and say, "I like you!" That pretty much fits the description of my kind of restaurant, too, where you walk in for the first time and a staff person smiles and greets you. Where you sit down and instantly feel taken care of, and when the food comes it isn't pretentious or priced beyond reason.

A place I've taken to lately is Cyril's at Clay Pigeon Winery, where Sasha Davies, renowned cheese maven and author of two books on the subject, opened a cheese shop-cum-café with her partner Michael Claypool, a winemaker. The big square-ish room has a scattering of beautiful wooden tables and chairs, the large windows on the street serve double duty spilling light into the space and providing bar seating, while the cheese counter and kitchen fill one corner.

Involtini di melanzane, a recent "Fixe" entrée.

The lunch menu is a well-curated selection of salads and sandwiches, with a killer macaroni and cheese (top photo) and a special called "The Fixe," a three-course lunch—salad, seasonal main and either dessert or wine—for $15. On the website, Sasha explains that Cyril's was named after her paternal grandfather, admitting that while she didn't know him well, "I simply remember that I liked how it felt to be around him…I am hopeful that [Cyril's] will have that magical quality that makes people simply enjoy being there." I do!

Details: Cyril's at Clay Pigeon Winery, 815 SE Oak St. 503-206-7862.

* * *

The Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) has been sitting on its hillside in southwest Portland as long as I can remember. Designed by famed local architect John Storrs, known for other Oregon landmark properties like Salishan and the World Forestry Center, and landscape architect Barbara Fealy, the campus has Storrs' signature Northwest Coast-meets-Asian style and is studded with sculptures and artwork on its forested campus.

Find the oni (above)? There he is (left)!

Tucked into the landscape is the college's café, serving students, faculty and the public since it opened in the early 1980s. It was a hidden gem, known for its deliciously simple salads, soups and homemade breads, frequented by a community of cognoscenti. In 2012 the couple who had operated the café for 30 years decided to retire and the college started a search for someone to rejuvenate it. They eventually decided on Leather Storrs, son of the campus architect and owner of his own restaurant in town, Noble Rot.

I visited the newly renamed NobleONI Café as a guest of the college the other day, and its freshened paint and rearranged space reflect the freshening that's happening on the menu. Right now it's open for lunch and brunch in the cozy dining room anchored by a classic Bruce West sculpted fireplace, but as soon as the weather cooperates the favored tables on the patio will open. Look for the signature rustic soups, salads and breads to be joined by housemade meats like porchetta. Rumored are an expansion of brunch, as well as dinner hours and a second patio to let more folks enjoy the warm breezes and the fabled Storrs family hospitality.

Details: NobleONI Café, 8245 SW Barnes Rd. 503-297-5544.

* * *

Long-time readers of Good Stuff NW know that I love Kevin Gibson's cooking, to the point of calling his former place of employment, Evoe at Pastaworks, the best restaurant in Portland. Absolutely market fresh, no one else in town made local and seasonal ingredients sing the way that Gibson could. His light touch, without the need for snazzy foams, whiz-bang gadgets or tricky executions, enhanced the intrinsic flavors locked in prosaic vegetables like delicata squash, artichokes and grapefruit. Not that he didn't debut some exotic, but still local, produce like padron peppers or glacier lettuce—which later took off with chefs around the country—because of his long-standing relationships with some of the areas best specialty farmers.

So I was more than excited when he was finally able to open his own place with a real, though still visually accessible, kitchen with more than a mandoline, a plug-in griddle and an electric oven. A recent early evening at Davenport—named after the town, not the furniture—proved that he's well on his way to repeating, and no doubt besting, the success and accompanying accolades he achieved at Evoe.

The scallops, delicately seared but still pink in the center, were as exquisite as before, this time arranged on a bed of fennel, cucumber and celery slaw with grapefruit sections and dots of pink peppercorns. Salt cod fritters were crispy-crunchy on the outside, creamy smooth on the inside with a Seville orange aioli that required restraint when it came to not licking up the remnant left on the plate. Radicchio salad, wedges of crisp chicory with a drizzle of anchovy dressing under a shower of hard-boiled egg and tiny croutons, was a variation on a Caesar that I would have eaten while Rome burned behind me.

Classic cocktails and the wine list, selected and poured by the unassailable talent of Kurt Heilemann (right), matched the menu selections perfectly. One caveat: the prices here are a bit more than you were used to paying at Evoe, and the tab can add up quickly. My recommendation? Order a couple of plates each with your wine and make plans to return for more soon. It's only gonna get better.

Details: Davenport, 2215 E Burnside St. 503-236-8747.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Farm Bulletin: Indicators of Spring

Here in the city we're seeing the green spears of daffodil leaves poking up from the dirt, and my red sorrel is unfurling in the raised bed. Out at Ayers Creek Farm, contributor Anthony Boutard sees other signs that the turning of the season is at hand.

The large predators are often described as indicator species by ecologists. On the 1st of February, around 2:30 pm, our great horned owl laid her first egg and settled in for a month of broodiness. Last weekend she was dusted with snow, and now her plumage will have to shed the rain. Don't feel badly for her. She would be out in the snow and rain anyway, and her mate is keeping her well fed as she sits on the eggs and later keeps their chicks warm.

The second egg was likely laid around Wednesday of this week, judging by the amorous sweet nothings we heard a bit earlier. Otherwise, they discuss more prosaic matters and keep track of one another sotto voce all night long; her voice is low and soft, his moves about the savannah and is higher and sharper with an urgent edge. In about four weeks, we will see the first downy face poke out from under its mother's wing.

For us, the owls are an indicator species with a different twist; the incubation of the eggs indicates it time for us to attend to matters close at home as well. Even though 2013 was, in the technical jargon of farmers, a real stinker at every turn, we always know the next season will be the best ever, our version of the Big Rock Candy Mountains, otherwise why would we bother. Machinery needs maintenance and repairs, perennial crops need pruning and fertilizing, buildings need sprucing up, and the early crops, chickpeas and favas, need planting as soon as the opportunity presents itself. The nesting boxes for the birds need cleaning and we are putting up a new development for the kestrels on the south side of the property. More on that interesting project later.

Consequently, tomorrow will be the last time until July that I load up the van for the Hillsdale Farmers' Market this season. I will have corn in its various forms, sweet and Virginian potatoes, soft red wheat kernels, adzukis, onions, squash, ash gourds, preserves, cayennes and plenty of horseradish.

We return to the market on the 6th of July. This year, our annual farm ramble will take place the Sunday, the 5th of October. It is about time for a harvest season ramble, and a good opportunity for you all to see our new harvest shed, as well as the many other changes that are afoot for 2014.

Photos by Anthony Boutard from 2012. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What's Cookin' at Good Keuken

"I remind them that cooking traces itself to the dirt. We telescope into a place, learn what sort of agriculture the soil supports, what evolves through the season, and who historically inhabited the place. Suddenly there is a different clarity at the moment the fire is under the skillet."
- Robert Reynolds

It's not easy to carry on the work of a legend, but that's just what Blake van Roekel (below left) is doing at Good Keuken (pron. COOK-in). Robert Reynolds, a chef and educator who'd cooked his way through some of the best kitchens on at least two continents, settled in Portland and opened The Chef Studio to work one-on-one with students, passing on his passion for local food. Van Roekel had been one of those students, eventually spending five years under Reynolds' tutelage, later becoming the heir to his mission when he died in 2012.

She opened Good Keuken in an intimate space behind Ben Meyers' Old Salt Marketplace, part of Meyers' vision to make the building a center for the surrounding community to gather, eat and learn. Opening with consumer-friendly cooking classes for the general public, van Roekel recently took the next step in achieving her vision with the addition of Chef David Padberg (below right) as Chef Instructor and Director of Curriculum.

With a resumé remarkably similar to Reynolds', Padberg began his career cooking his way through Europe, absorbing cuisines and techniques that helped refine his own approach. Moving to Portland, he was blown away by the region's vast bounty of fresh ingredients. An avid forager and gardener, he built relationships with a network of the area's best farmers and ranchers, rising to run kitchens at some of the city's best restaurants.

Also a dynamite writer and teacher, he's intent on sharing his passion for the seasonality of ingredients, teaching how to obtain and use the best of a region's ingredients in a hands-on culinary education. In rewriting Reynolds' curriculum, he said his goal is to make a more direct connection to the farm, focusing not so much on history as technique, teaching the art of cooking and the principles of taste by increasing the layers of students' experiences.

Other efforts taking shape at Good Keuken include yanking culinary education outside the confines of the kitchen with Get Dirty Farm Tours, a first-in-Oregon tour company where chefs and food lovers—the "farm-curious"—can connect with farmers who are using sustainable, ecologically sound practices. Plus there are the continuing classes in everything from modernist cuisine to butchery with some of the area's best chefs, and opportunities to meet-and-greet with cookbook authors and teachers.

Sounds like a solid next step in Portland's culinary evolution, one Robert Reynolds would have been proud to be part of.

Details: Good Keuken, 5031 NE 42nd Ave. 503-753-1655.

Photos: Collage at top and Blake van Roekel from Good Keuken; David Padberg by Jeremy Fenske.

A Pig Named Roger: Learning to Butcher

Two years ago I met a pig named Roger. This is the second in a series of three videos that was filmed at that time. Here are the initial paragraphs of my post about the butchering.

I arrived at Portland's Culinary Workshop (PCW), where I would be butchering my half of Roger, about thirty minutes before Clare was to arrive with him and her half of Don. I walked in to find the tables set up for the butchering along with the various knives and saws we'd be using to do the job. In the spirit of the day, there were also two tubs set up to hold the butchered meat, one labeled "Roger" and the other, "Don."

A hands-on cooking school started by my neighbor, Susana Holloway, and her friend, Melinda Casady (left), both former culinary school instructors, PCW seemed the perfect place for this part of the process. Especially because Melinda, nicknamed "The Mistress of Meat," loves to teach people how to cut up whole animals or, to use the term of art, "break down" carcasses.

The halves of Roger and Don had been hanging in Clare's shed at the farm to chill overnight, and when she drove up they were cool as cucumbers, wrapped in plastic sheeting in the back of her truck. She'd stopped at a friend's winery on the way in and weighed the halves, with my half of Roger coming in at 96 pounds, making his live weight close to 320 pounds. Quite the pig.

Read the rest of the post at: Thinking of Eating: The Meat of the Matter.

Watch the other video in the series, Getting to Know My Food and Celebrating a Life Given.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Farm Bulletin: The Owl Lays Her Egg

The female great horned owl that has made a nest and laid her eggs in the top of an old snag at Ayers Creek Farm has come back to raise another clutch of eggs. The nest is about 40 feet off the ground in a cluster of evergreens 100 yards from contributor Anthony Boutard's back door and, as before, he's set up his binoculars on a tripod near the house to monitor her progress.

Last Saturday, getting a jump on the groundhog, our great horned owl laid her first egg around 2:30 pm. It is two weeks earlier than in recent years, when she has shown a preference for Valentine's Day. She certainly picked a tough year to start early.

Here she is, stuck like glue on her egg, getting plastered with snow and freezing rain. The rain blurs her a bit, but she is tucked into the top of the snag and you can see her ear tufts keeping track of me and the camera. Sometime later this week, she will likely lay a second egg.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Beet Risotto and Beet Greens Make a Meal

With evening temperatures dipping down into the low 20s during a recent cold snap, it was even too cold for an intrepid griller like Dave to light up the Weber. I mean, he's out there every Christmas roasting a bird on the fire, but this cold was chilling even his New England roots. I'd just picked up some boneless pork chops on sale in the butcher's case, so it was time to give pan-roasting* a try. Plus turning on the oven would help heat the house and give our chugging, decrepit furnace a break.

Beet risotto in process.

I was walking by the produce bins on the way to the cash register thinking I'd pick up some potatoes and kale to complete the meal when I spied big bunches of beets for $2.99. The best part was that the leaves and stems weren't in the usual sad, tattered state, but were waving at me like a traffic flagger to slow down and look.

Sautéing the greens.

Beets and greens meant I could have dinner on the table for a total of $12, a great deal to feed three adults. With rice in the pantry and chicken stock in the freezer for a beet risotto, and the greens sautéed to make a bed for the chops, a little over an hour later we were sitting down to a dinner fit for company. The nearly iridescent color of the risotto nicely played off the greens and chops, but even without the pork this would make a great meal all by itself, and make it an even better deal!

Beet Risotto

2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. arborio or carnaroli rice
3 med. red beets, chopped in 1/2" dice
5 c. chicken stock
Salt to taste

Heat butter or margarine in large saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat. When it melts, add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and stir to heat, then add rice. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add beets and a ladle of stock. Stir until liquid is absorbed, then add another ladle of stock. Repeat, stirring frequently to keep it from sticking, until the rice is creamy but still has a slight crunch, about 20 minutes or so. Add salt to your taste and serve with parmesan in a bowl for sprinkling.

* * *

Beet Greens

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch beet greens and stems
Salt to taste

Separate stems from greens. Chop stems into 1/4" slices. Chop greens into 1/2" slices.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-low heat. When it shimmers, add garlic and sauté briefly to heat. Add stem pieces and sauté until tender. Add greens and sauté until wilted. Salt to taste and serve.

* Basic method here, though I'm still working on it.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

A Pig Named Roger: Getting to Know My Food

Two years ago I met a pig named Roger. This is the first in a series of three videos that was filmed at that time. Here are the initial paragraphs of my first post about the project.

 Can I eat an animal I've played tag with?

It's a question I've been struggling with since committing to buy half a pig from my friend Clare Carver at Big Table Farm. Twice a year for the last several years, Clare has bought two organically-certified weaner pigs from her friends Amy Benson and Chris Roehm at Square Peg Farm, and I'd promised myself that someday I'd get one.

This spring she got two Berkshire Cross pigs, a heritage breed known to thrive on pasture and whose meat is darker and far more flavorful than store-bought. Named Don and Roger after two of the main characters from the TV series Madmen, they're being raised inside an electrified tape corral on grass pasture. The corral is moved every few weeks in a process called rotational grazing, an especially good idea since young pigs like to root around, roll and generally tear up the ground. Their diet consists of grass, organic grain, occasional treats of the farm's organic eggs and scraps and vegetable trimmings from the kitchen.

Clare doesn't believe in moving her animals off the farm for slaughter because of the stress it puts on them and the effect that can have on the quality of the meat (see previous story here). So when Don and Roger reach 270 pounds or so they'll be killed in their pasture on the farm.

Read the rest of the post at: Thinking of Eating: Roger and Me.

Watch the other videos in the series, Learning to Butcher and Celebrating a Life Given.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Farm Bulletin: Groundhog Day and Cecil's Birthday

Meeting friends' parents is always delightful, not to mention revealing. And I would dearly love to have met Cecil Boutard, Horticultural Director of the Berkshire Botanical Garden, father of contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm.

"Once upon a time in Spain there was a little bull and his name was Ferdinand. All the other bulls he lived with would run and butt their heads together, but not Ferdinand. He liked to sit just quietly and smell the flowers."

At work.

Munro Leaf's story of Ferdinand was first read to me by Mrs. Angelini, the first grade teacher at the Plain School in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The story of a gentle pacifist who loved to sit among the flowers was neither odd nor unfamiliar; my father was a Ferdinand by every measure, and to his very soul.

Born to a family of engineers on Groundhog Day, Cecil Roy Boutard was the odd duck among them, the one who loved beauty without the need to disassemble or understand it. Saturday mornings as I was growing up, he would make bread in the company of Milton Cross and the Metropolitan Opera, serene in the Italian or German maelstrom unfolding on the radio. Most of all, he loved flowers. His three children were fortunate to live a life surrounded by such beauty. He was a fine teacher, as well.

On the first of July, 2010, he carefully planted his summer tubs, hanging baskets and window boxes and that evening sat down next to mother, just quietly, his job done. A graceful way to exit after 94 years.

"And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling flowers just quietly. He is very happy. The end."