Starring Erin & Mike
Guest Starring Jess & Trent
Filmed in Beautiful Downtown Sellwood
So what I’ll do is yammer on for the length of the article while Erin prepares dinner. Then we’ll eat it. And we’ll conclude with the recipe. Just to set the mood for you, I’m home alone at the moment, with the cat, listening to Duke Ellington & John Coltrane. It’s both my favorite dinner music and a preferred soundtrack for writing, though sometimes I’ll turn up Nikki Sudden or Guided by Voices real loud for inspiration. All right, I’ll stop writing for a moment; I’m just typing to abate my hunger anyway. We’ll be right back after a word from our sponsor.
OK, I’m back. I went to New Seasons for some sweet potatoes. But I just bought one because it was the size of a truck tire. I rolled it home. My potato is a sweet ride. It came with a free bumper sticker.
Erin’s home. She got a birthday package in the mail. Lots of candles. We’re smelling them.
The chicken is defrosting. Erin is unhappy with the shape of the tenderloins; there is an unearthly quality to their mass. I say its fine, cook them anyway. The chicken was not purchased in or near the Sellwood environs. Serves us right!
While the bird parts defrost, we visit some friends, Jess and Trent, down the road. They have painted their kitchen. It’s another Sellwood kitchen! They will be joining us for dinner.
Ye gods! A hailstorm! And to think I wanted to walk! Our car is pummeled on SE Linn! The stones grow bigger down each block and fall harder from driveway to driveway. We make a mad dash for Jess and Trent’s front door. The sky was crying BBs! Trent offers to brew a salad dressing and gathers the ingredients. We return to our apartment.
But then, back to New Seasons! More wine (an Australian batch called “The Little Penguin”) and a lemon is needed! The sky is black and blue. The air is cool, like a wet bicycle. We’ll be right back after a word from our sponsor.
At our apartment, the Art of Cuisine begins. Looking over the pub table into the kitchen, I’m reminded of Hans Namuth’s black and white images of Jackson Pollack dripping his paint like Erin breaking eggs into a bowl. My eyes draw in the colors of our kitchen. See! The reds and yellows of Roy Lichtenstein! The fruit basket dangles like a Calder diorama!
I see breadcrumbs, onions, egg, lemons! Erin has plucked a few sprigs of rosemary from our landing (I call it “square-inch gardening). And the chicken has thawed! What are we making? I don’t know yet. You’ll have to wait until the end. It’ll be a surprise. No, a mystery! It’s a recipe mystery! Jim Thompson meets Julia Child. No, too dire. How about Agatha Christie meets James Beard? Fine.
I’m in the living room, sipping the wine. I hear a fork tinking in a bowl, mixing and aerating. Olive oil bubbles in a pan. Talk turns to civil rights, as handled by students (our friends are both teachers). I decide that kids, like their parents, are stupid. I’m stupid, too. Stupid hungry, that is!
While the sweet potato oven fries bake, more injustices – social, economic – find purchase in our conversations. It’s more depressing than that movie we watched last night, Blood Diamonds. Help, more wine!
“Friend Dinners,” we call these get-togethers. Usually once or twice a week, we go to each other’s homes for a nice meal. Eat, drink, bullroar. Plus, “Lost” is on tonight! That show is bananas! What’s going on?
Ah, dinner’s ready! We take our places around the coffee table, sitting cross-legged on the floor. For one brief, blessed moment following our first bites, silence rules. The food – it is good, no? Yes! Of course, it is! In the Sellwood kitchen, the afterlives of flora and fauna are spent not in vain, their glory is the delivery of ambrosial splendor!
A green salad is offered with the meal. Various strains of lettuce. But what’s this, queries Jess? Stray cilantro or flat-leaf parsley? The leaf is proffered. A debate ensues (I sit out; it’s all lettuce to me). And the verdict is parsley. We drizzle Trent’s lemon-onion dressing on the greens.
Now we talk about writing a book. All of us! It’s about – wait, I can’t tell you, you’ll steal our idea! Jess and I will do the writing and editing; Trent and Erin, cooking and clicking (photography). I zone out for a moment (adrift in the landscape of a car commercial) and when I return to the conversation, I realized I’ve missed something of delightful importance. We’re all excited! I’m excited!
Mojo Magazine’s Southern Soul disk plays in the background. Mavis Staples singing “A House is Not a Home.”
Ok, shh. “Lost” is starting. “Shouldn’t we be having ice cream now?” A Yes! returns with a Gillespiean blat!
Dessert: vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge, and butterscotch caramel. How sweet it is to be stuffed from dinner, stuffing yourself with dessert, and wrapped up in a highly-addictive television drama! Roll credits!
The herb-encrusted chicken tenderloins are well complemented by sweet potato oven fries, and a green salad served with home-made lemon-onion dressing. Now for the improvised chicken recipe:
Herb-Encrusted Chicken Tenderloins
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
A cup and a half or so of bread crumbs.
2 sprigs of fresh diced rosemary
2 cloves diced garlic
A palmful of dried parsley
A palmful of dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Dip chicken in eggs and coat with breadcrumb and herb mixture. Cook tenderloins in pan on medium heat in a layer of EVOO (that’s extra virgin olive oil for you Food Channel-neophytes) on both sides until chicken is not pink and coating is golden brown. Serve. Eat. Wash dishes. Sleep.
The “In the Sellwood Kitchen” cast and crew can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org