Sunday, December 19, 2010

43.0 Leave the Dishes: The Series Finale

Starring Erin & Mike and the Usual Gang of ITSKiots
Filmed on Location in Beautiful Downtown Sellwood
Soundtrack: Full Moon Fever by Tom Petty

“Gonna leave this world for a while”

Frankly, I was hoping to sell out. But that call ne’er did arrive. Not from Gourmet, Bon Appetit – hell, not even Everyday by Rachel friggin’ Ray! I guess I made the column too personal, the appeal too acute, its access too remote. And despite what many writers assume, no one really wants to read your diary (Anais Nin and Laura Palmer to the contrary).

I would’ve turned down all offers anyway – I’m loyal to The BEE! (Like the Motorcycle Boy, loyalty is my only vice – that and betting on the winners of the original “Star Search”, a iniquity extinguished only by the show’s cancellation in 1995.)

Regardless, we’re closing the intangible doors of our fictional kitchen. “In the Sellwood Kitchen” is at its end.

Seinfeld went on too long. M*A*S*H, too. Even, forgive me, Finnegans Wake (I’m still trying to get through it). I wanted to end with a bang, not a whimper, but I’m not sure I even had enough interstellar gas in the first place.

So we leave you, our dear loyal perusers, at our semi-annual Friendsgiving, that post-Thanksgiving (non-mythical variety) celebration. All the holiday goodies, the old familiar faces. The bawdy banter, the full glasses of wine (it was like an episode of “Cougar Town” but with jokes). At some point, about halfway through the case, Erin started handing out “Indian names” to our guests: “Three Holes” and “Three Sheets” reposed on the couch with “Chubby Bunny” betwixt them (after the Oreos came out, he earned the name “Sextuple Stuf”). “Red Bump” was thus named after an amusing childhood incident involving a birth control device. To his right sat “Oaky Afterbirth,” to his left “Brown Balloon”.

Is light-heartedly handing out Native American-type nicknames more offensive than celebrating their massacre? Well, of course not.

But enough about Thanksgiving. This is the Christmas issue, after all (and the end of the noble experiment known as ITSK). So as a gift, we present you OUR MOST POPULAR RECIPE. Based on comments on our website and posts on our Facebook page (and other scientific formulae), the CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP garnered this prestigious honor! (Word on the web is superfan Jenny eats it for breakfast!) For the one or two of you who HAVEN’T been clipping and saving these articles over the last 3+ years, we will now reprint this ITSK HALL OF FAME recipe, replete with a BRAND NEW INTRO from Erin

And with that, Erin & I finish our meal, throw down our napkins, and, ceremoniously, leave the dishes.



Camera pulls back slowly revealing SIMBA curled up on the Vol de Reve. We hear ERIN enter LIVING ROOM, returning from her job as Creative Director of “World of Color” at Disneyland. MIKE, dressed in velour pajamas, emerges from KITCHEN. ERIN and MIKE meet at the very expensive SOFA. MIKE speaks:

 “I don't understand these kitties. Here's our cat. I talk to him. I don't even know if he can hear me, because he sits there, all day long, in his own world, staring at the ocean. What's he thinking about?”


We see a long shot from the landing of the extravagant main level of the home. We realize ERIN and MIKE do not live in Sellwood, but in a palatial home on the Pacific Coast of California. “In the Sellwood Kitchen” was nothing but a dream SIMBA had while napping. MIKE brushes SIMBA from the couch; he scampers to the lanai and flops on his side in a patch of sunlight, glowing the hue of butternut squash soup.

Erin’s Outro: Well,” In the Sellwood Kitchen” has been a fun project for over three years. We hope that after all this time you understand what we've been trying to do: Change the world. Okay, that's not true. Seriously, the whole point of ITSK was not to display culinary or literary masterpieces. We just enjoy company, food, writing, and wine. We really enjoy wine. We aren't going away entirely – we'll still have our blog. We'll be back. Sorry, I'm watching Terminator 2 as I write this. But we really will, we've got big things in the works. The next year is going to be a big adventure, and we'll write about it. We hope you've enjoyed our antics, but if not, well, we don't really care. We had fun anyway, even if you thought we were just plain awful. Well... Bye.

2 Chicken Breasts
Salt and Pepper
Chili Powder
Olive Oil
1 Cup Stock
 ½ Large White Onion, diced
1 Carrot, diced
2 Celery Stocks, diced
1 Red Pepper, diced
1 Clove Garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dash Cayenne
Dash Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Can diced tomatoes
1 Can whole corn kernels, drained and rinsed
1 Can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
3 Cups Stock
2 Cups Water
The Soup: Season the two chicken breasts with salt, pepper and chili powder to taste. Add oil to pan and heat to medium. Cook the chicken on one side for about 4-5 minutes until browned. Turn and cook a few more minutes until brown. Add about one cup of stock. The chicken should not be submerged in the liquid all the way so adjust the portion accordingly for your pan. Cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. When the chicken is cooked all the way through and pulls apart easily, remove it from the pan, shred it with two forks, and return it to the pan, uncovered. When the liquid is evaporated, remove from heat and set aside.
To a large soup pot on medium heat, add oil, garlic, onion, celery, and carrot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few minutes. Add the red pepper, cumin, cayenne and chili powder. Cook a few minutes more. Next, add the diced tomatoes, corn, black beans, stock and water, then mix in the shredded chicken. Cover the soup and bring it to a simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 The “In the Sellwood Kitchen” cast and crew can be contacted at:

Monday, November 22, 2010

42.0 The Subject is Bananas

Starring Erin & Mike
Filmed on Location in Beautiful Downtown Sellwood
Suggested Reading List: Everything by Richard Meltzer

“One banana, two banana, three banana, four”

There’s a war. Or two. Or three. Sometimes here, sometimes there. The election’s over. New folks in office. The leaves are down, gathering at the sewers like wet cereal. There’s a new “Law & Order” franchise. And Simon MacCorkindale is dead, while Mario Lopez has a new daughter.

Things change.

But one thing stays the same: There’s a banana rotting in a bowl on top of my microwave.

“Hey, BANANAS!” I exclaimed at the Safeway. “Are you going to eat them,” asked Erin, knowingly. “Yeah, definitely,” I asserted, “I need to maintain my potassium.”

Things weren’t always bananas with me. Historically, by which I mean pre-Erin, my relationship with bananas had been, oh, I don’t know, cordial (curiously, the same cannot be said for cherries). My first taste of banana I’ll assume was spooned from a Gerber Baby Food jar. (Was it even banana or merely essence of?) My first CONSCIOUS banana (Cavendish variety) was sliced (knife to thumb) into a bowl of cornflakes, a shuffle of sugar coating the slices.

And we progressed no further, banana & I. On rare (and dread) no-snacks-in-the-house occasions, I’d eat A WHOLE BANANA. Beyond that, we really never got to know each other. Banana split? No thank you. Banana-flavored gum? I’d rather not.

In a non-food, banana-as-icon way, I was a much bigger fan. Woody Allen’s “Bananas” is a favorite film. And I never missed “The Banana Splits” after school (I even met Bingo the monkey at Kings Dominion in the late 70s). And what about Andy Warhol’s cover for the Velvet Underground’s debut album! (Peel it & see!)

Things change. Thanks to Erin, I’m a banana convert.

You ever have a BAD banana? If you did, it’s your own fault. If a banana looks good, it’s good. If it looks lousy, it’s lousy. BUT…that just means don’t peel it & eat it cuz it’s mushy &dark. Don’t drop it in the trash, index and thumb delicately pinching the stem, hoping the fruit doesn’t slip from its peel. Almost there. Why are you so far from the kitchen anyway? Were you eating it in the garage? Anyway, MAKE A LEFT TURN TO THE FREEZER. Put it in there! Why? Cuz old bananas (I don’t mean really rotten & moldy ones, though) make the BEST breads &cakes! That’s banana bread! Which is kind of like a cake. Like a pound cake really. Let’s call it a loaf. Banana bread is the free spirit of baked goods. Is it a dessert? Yes. What about for breakfast? Yes, too! I’ll eat it anytime I want.

NOT NECESSARILY ACCURATE NUTRITIONAL INFO DEPT: I think, and you might want to look it up, banana bread contains a full daily serving of fruits & vegetables and grains. Throw in a handful of chocolate chips, and there’s yr dairy. Then, I don’t know, a hard-boiled egg or a corn dog to fulfill yr meat & protein needs.

All thanks to the banana you were too lazy to eat last week.

Erin’s intro: Mike here. So where’s the recipe? Erin doesn’t have one. She gets her banana bread recipe from good old Betty Crocker. You probably have the cookbook in your house. Even if you’re sure you don’t, take another peek. See! Look at that! You DO have it. So just follow that recipe. Then throw in a handful of chocolate chip for that ITSK touch!

The “In the Sellwood Kitchen” cast and crew can be contacted at:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

41.0 Squash & Mugs & Rock & Roll

Starring Erin & Mike and Adam & Josh
Filmed on Location in Beautiful Downtown Sellwood
Special Guests: The Sleeping Brothers

“These teeth are here to eat you”

“Half-pot” my brothers call me. When they started coming over for band practice, I’d only have a half pot of coffee on. Erin and I don’t drink enough to make a full pot each time we brew. And I’m not a fan of reheated coffee. But I get it now – full pot for Jim and Pete. Jeez. Then off to the Listening Room, the room in which we rock.

A small room, reminiscent of all the cramped home recording studios Jim and I have had over the last 25 years. Early on, Jim dubbed these rooms “Little Ease”, after the dungeon cell Camus made famous in The Fall: “not high enough to stand up in, nor wide enough to lie down in.” Yeah, that describes our current studio to a T. Speaking of tea, let’s get back to the coffee. Hot coffee in a warm, cramped room – that’s rock and roll! Jim’s on guitar, I’m on bass, and Pete (who pretty much just started playing a couple of months ago) plays drums. Good thing we’re close – it’s an unavoidably intimate setting.

The brothers and I don’t care much for sports, don’t play cards, and don’t go out drinking anymore. So it’s either Wii Bowling or rocking out for us. Jim and I draw from a catalog whose contents stretch back to the mid-80s when we started writing songs in high school. Yeah, with a few other friends, we’ve been dwelling in our own musical universe since the Reagan era.

Erin digs the rock and roll and encourages us three old men to make noise! So we do. And as we do, she makes her own music in the Sellwood Kitchen, the delicates notes of which fill the Listening Room just as we’re winding down our practice. As the last note rings out, I usher those two boys out, toot sweet, and dance to the kitchen for my personal after-party dinner!

 Squash roasts in the oven, sparkling like the wings of the brown sugar fairy. (Boy, I better drink some water – I’m starting to sound like Syd Barrett.) And Erin’s boiling water for something called “quinoa”. No, you’re pronouncing it wrong. It’s: keen-wah. There, now you won’t sound like an idiot asking for it at New Seasons. What’s quinoa? A species of goosefoot. But it does not come from a goose’s foot (another thing to avoid asking at a farmer’s market)! It’s a grain, or rather “grain-like.” Ok, that’s not helping. Let me give you a layman’s explanation: It’s kind of like a smaller couscous. And if you don’t know what couscous is by now, you’re in the wrong town, buddy. I like it, and I’m a fussy eater (what George Carlin would further define as a “big pain in the ass”). Erin’s made a stuffing of sorts with it. With that and the squash, I’m starting to drool for Thanksgiving!

Ah, Thanksgiving! It reminds me of Edmond’s “Drums Along the Mohawk” which makes me think of the drums along the Willamette: Pete pounding away on the bass drum and snare; Jim’s guitar solos piercing the sound barrier like electric arrows; my bass line rolling like the hills that race the river.

Ah, we write our own romances because we can. That’s the benefit of art. As for delicious & healthy dinners? Well, that’s the benefit of love.

Erin’s intro:

This dish is a double whammy! Actually it’s not a main dish, it’s a side dish. Two side dishes. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about? A ridiculous amount of side dishes? Alright, that’s probably not true, but think about it. I mean, right? SO many side dishes! What’s up with that, America? Well, at least the two we’ve brought you this month are somewhat healthy. And here’s a surprise, they’re both gluten-free!
Roasted Acorn Squash:

2 Acorn Squash, halved and seeds removed
4 Tbsp Butter
2 tsp Nutmeg
4 tsp Cinnamon
4 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Lay squash cut side up in a large baking dish. Fill the baking dish about ¼” full of water in the bottom. Sprinkle each squash half with ½ tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, and top with 1 Tbsp butter. Roast squash at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until cooked through.


2 small gala apples, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup quinoa
2 cups broth
Salt and pepper
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Allspice
2 Tbsp Olive Oil.

Heat a pan over medium, add about 2 tablespoons olive oil, and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon each of nutmeg and allspice. Stir and cook about 30 seconds. Add the diced celery and onion to the pan, cook about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the apples and zucchini to the mixture, stir and cook about 5 minutes more.
Meanwhile, in a medium stock pot, place the broth and quinoa, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer on medium-low for about 20 minutes, or until all of the broth is absorbed.
When quinoa and veggies are done, mix them together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

 The “In the Sellwood Kitchen” cast and crew can be contacted at: