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:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

40.0 The Rise of Fall

Starring Erin & Mike and Adam & Josh
Filmed on Location in Beautiful Downtown Sellwood
Suggested Reading List: Ultramarine by Raymond Carver

“Lord, it’s almost fall”

It’s the autumn nights I remember most. Dark evenings growing colder; amber living rooms flickering in the candle light. Low shadows dance out of time to the spinning disks. We sink into the couch, breathing in the late dinner. The orangey comfort of summer’s wiser child.

The summer ends tomorrow, though the leaves around town have heralded this days for weeks. I kicked through paper puddles on 13th, cowed beneath the threatening clouds, stalking the shrinking sun. I drink coffee later in the day. I glance at the spines of the Christmas albums, whispering “patience” while reaching for a country selection.

I don’t necessarily categorize or listen to music seasonally. I unsleeve country, pop, rock, jazz, etc. whenever that desire calls, but I do prefer certain music in certain weather. I grew up with the record player (and 8-track) on. Contemporary pop and country filled the house in my younger years: John Denver; the Carpenters; Peter, Paul & Mary; the Brothers Four; Barry Manilow; the Statler Brothers.

Those same sounds followed me over to the TV, with shows like “The Captain & Tennille” and “Donny & Marie” and other variety shows of that heyday. I watched them all. Perhaps that’s why, after hours of the Flaming Lips, Tom Waits, Circus Devils, I always return to the softer sounds of the youth, and why I still tune in every Sunday for the “Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 – The 70’s.” It’s the effortless comfort my soul needs while my mind wrestles with the 21st century.

I love a brisk fall walk (what else besides fall and iced tea are brisk?) through the streets of Sellwood in the dimming evening. The shop lights glowing; the silver sky sowing around the moon. My hunger growing from the walk.

And we warm up in the house, in our Sellwood kitchen, warmer with friends. Holiday pumpkin scented oil mingling with supper’s ingredients. Suddenly everything that was summer-centric turns autumnal. The bookshelves, the credenza, the mantle blush an amber hue through their skin.

Josh & Adam are scrolling through their phones and laughing with Erin in the kitchen. I’m in the living room putting on side two of Barbara Mandrell’s The Midnight Oil.

And I remember why! “Barbara Mandrell & the Mandrell Sisters!” It ran on NBC from 1980-82. That was my Saturday night 30 autumns ago.

Sweet and Sour Chicken:

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt and Pepper
Rice Flour (or regular flour)
Oil for frying
1 Green Pepper, diced
1 white onion, diced
Sesame Seeds

The Sauce:
¼ Cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbs Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbs Ketchup
2 Tbs cornstarch dissolved in 4 Tbs water

Bring oil to medium heat in non stick pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Dredge all chicken in flour so it is evenly coated. Place chicken in hot oil in a single layer. Do not crowd the pan. Cook chicken pieces on all sides until golden brown and cooked through. Set aside to drain on paper towel lined plate. In the same pan, sauté the red pepper and onion in oil, season with salt and pepper. While the veggies are sautéing, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except the cornstarch and water. Bring to a simmer and let cook for a few minutes to thicken, stirring constantly. At this point you can add the cornstarch mixture if it isn’t thickening enough. When the veggies are done, return the chicken to the pan and toss everything together with the sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice. (Serves 4.)


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