Timing is everything, and mine usually sucks, being closed when media hits.

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Kelly and I planned to go to Mexico and Close Columbia County Brewing while we were gone months ago, who knew I would land a spot on AM Northwest and be featured in an article in the Portland Mercury? These media bonuses both break while the restaurant is closed, looks like I can’t get out of my own way….again. So if you are new to our endeavor we will be back cooking June 29th at Columbia County Brewing, 170 South 15th, St Helens Oregon….503-896-7776…reservations only for large parties of six or more, these parties will be presented one check and 20% gratuity. Our philosophy is one of freshness and trying to produce dishes not available in our little geographic region of Columbia County. We typically only have four items on the menu and they change every week, a typical menu looks a bit like this

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We hope you come join us this summer when we get back! We post our hours, menus, and closure dates on our facebook page, if you don’t facebook you can still search the page from the internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy…yeah try saying that three times fast!

Well my esophagogastroduodenoscopy (the procedure where they put a camera down your pie hole) looked a little bleak today, couldn’t even get a scope down into my stomach or small intestine, Big Ol’ mass of tumor blocked the way. Here are a couple of pictures for your viewing pleasure….not so much.

I’m not sure where this leaves the prognosis for future treatments, the Doc mentioned zapping my esophagus with concentrated radiation to reduce the tumor, I’m not sure if that is still in the cards. I’m pretty sure I’m headed for a feeding tube or stent, I’m voting for the feeding tube because the stent means permanent soft foods for the rest of my life. I’d rather err on the side of hope and a feeding tube can be removed if my tumor some how shrinks and real food becomes a possibility. I’ll see my Doc again on the 26th, and I’m sure she’ll have the route forward plotted for me.

I’m down to 32″ waist pants, which I haven’t seen since seventh grade. I turned sideways in the mirror this morning and found I’m looking a little flat fish-ish. My ass has evaporated completely, and my arms and legs are looking like a fairly advanced geriatric Trent… If ever I was going to live to be a skinny 90 year old I now know what I’d look like.

I’m off to Mexico in the morning, we’ll be there a week, but it’s looking like blended tacos might be a new thing…lol. The side benefit of all this is I really don’t have to worry about skin cancer anymore lol, come on sunshine! I’m looking forward to becoming one with a poolside lounge chair. Sleeping, reading, and sipping will be the order of the day, this will be the first of many varied trips Kelly and I are planning. My goal is to go as long and as hard as I can with what time I have left. I would encourage all of you to do the same!

 

 

 

 

 

Wake Preparations

So I need to construct a Whole Hog Cooker, this is a photo of an example of a cooker I swiped from the internet. Mine will be 46″x144″ enough room for a Hog, a Lamb, various Beef Bits, and a 46″x40″ Plancha at one end.

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I was able to score some heavy duty window security  screens at The Rebuilding Center for only $60! They will be off to sand blasting soon and then cured by fire, they measure a total of 40″X101″ and will make a great landing pad for the Critters.

Hog Cooker ScreenIm figuring I need about 92 Cinder Blocks to make a three sided cooker and leave an open end to shovel in coals, with the Plancha on the open end. I’ve got 275 gallon old oil tank that will serve as my charcoal cooker. I’ve purchased a local Lamb in the field to be butchered for the event, the hog I’ll most likely get from Carlton… unless somebody has a Duroc they’re raising and they don’t know what to do with? I’ll add more photos as we get this thing built… I’m looking forward to it!

Andy Warhol may have been right… 15 minutes starts now

Thanks to Deborah Stano’s bootleg video….

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The Recipes of AM Northwest

The Mac Daddy

Pulled Pork, Boneless Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt placed in a covered roasting dish seasoned with your favorite dry rub, put in a 275 degree oven overnight, pull apart when just warm to the touch in the morning.

1# box of Ditalini Pasta Cooked and Drained

1# Package Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

8oz. Package shredded Italian Blend Cheeses

12oz. Processed Swiss Singles Chopped into cubes

1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream

1 Tbl. Dry Mustard

Cook pasta and pour over cheese, cream, and mustard mix while it is hot, mix thoroughly until cheese is just melted. Pour Mac into two Bread loaf pans lined with plastic wrap, then place in the refrigerator overnight. The Next day you can turn out the molded mac and cut slices for frying.

Lay one piece of seared mac down, pile on some pulled pork dressed with BBQ sauce, and lid with another piece of seared mac, and your ready to enjoy.

And you have a Mac Daddy from Columbia County Brewing (found at 170 south 15th, Saint Helens, Oregon)

Pineapple Slaw

1 half head green cabbage

1 small can crushed Pineapple

1/2 cup Chopped Green Onions

1/2 cup Chopped Italian Parsley

2 Tbl. vegetable oil

4 Tbl. Sugar

1/4 cup Cider Vinegar

salt to taste

 

 

Headed the right direction

Swallowing is getting easier, my endoscopy (a scope to look down my pie hole) is scheduled for next Friday, the day before we leave for a week in Mexico. I’m hoping I’ll get good news while in the sun….I’m up 3# so far this week to 158#, I’m really shooting for about 185-190, if swallowing improves I think that’s doable. I’ve been pushing it hard this week, Had chemo Monday-Wednesday and scheduled myself pretty aggressively this week. I push myself to avoid melancholy, if I have things that must be done I don’t have time to mope. Did AMNW this week which was fun airs June 19th, looks like I’ll be back once a month until December or I fail miserably which ever comes first. Brian Yeager interviewed me for the Portland Mercury… don’t know when that will come out. Then another fellow dropped by who is writing a book about conversations with Americans and chatted me up for a couple hours. So it appears if you become terminally ill you also become infinitely more interesting….lol.

The family would like me to write a cookbook, so I need to start framing that. I’m thinking something more along the lines of entertaining and cooking tips,  as opposed to recipe, recipe, recipe, yawn, recipe. Besides with the internet, does the world really need another cook book?

On the lighter side I’m still hoping to get a taco down while in Mexico, or at least a dirty Monkey poolside. I’m so ready to lay by a pool and do nothing, sunscreen be damned can’t say I’m afraid to get skin cancer currently.

Apropos of Nothing

Last night I went to a show with my buddy Steve, I picked the musician based on stuff he’d done 30 years ago….he has changed and I wasn’t aware. This was him as I remember….

 

Last night we saw a more soundscapes put me to sleep performance, like this

 

 

So the take away is, I’m terrible at keeping current. I’m going to stick to Jazz or Blues me thinks. It now makes sense why there were so many stoned people at this show lol. Don’t let my bad luck keep you from enjoying live performances, get out there and live people, you have no idea how much it will mean to you when it’s gone!

I was gifted service, and I am thankful

Community service is something I believe is taught. When I was a young grade school kid I remember my Mom was a regular room mother, then a Den Mother for Cub Scouts. Before that I can remember my Grandfather would volunteer to lead singing at the Portland Rescue Mission, I loved the evenings I got to sit on stage and watch him lead the men in song, most of the clients back in the early 70’s were men as I remember. When I got to grade school and the call went out for crossing guards, my hand shot up! When AV techs were called for to run the Movie Projectors, count me in. In Middle School and High School I ran for Student Council every year I attended, lost once I think…I took on a Hot Freshman Cheerleader as a 7th grader ….a mistake, a political lesson I wouldn’t repeat.

When Kelly and I got married, we lived in the Woodstock Neighborhood, I got involved with the neighborhood association, later becoming president of the association with  45,000 people in it. We planted the street trees you see along Woodstock now, changing the land use to store front commercial. Southeast Uplift provided training, and guidance. we met regularly with Portland Police to discuss neighborhood issues. Then in 1988 Mulugeta Seraw was murdered in Sellwood by White Power Skinheads affiliated with the White Aryan Resistance. Tom Metzger was quoted as saying these skinheads did a civic duty, Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a civil suit against Metzger. Other than this being a nasty bit of PDX history there’s not much more to tell other than my part in this story had some bearing on my future. On an evening when Morris Dees was in town and wanted to speak….the only public meeting in the city of Portland was our little Woodstock Neighborhood Assc. meeting, we were slated to talk about street trees. It was a circus, Everyone showed up Police, News, Skinheads, Anti Racist Skinheads (which btw were varied ethnically and use black shoelaces I was informed) plus my friends and neighbors who were planning work parties to remove graffiti with carburetor cleaner and rags and plant trees. I was overwhelmed, I was President of the Association at all of 24, I tried to keep to Roberts and conduct a civil meeting that was desperately trying to be coopted. After that Kelly and I began talking about moving out to the country. We decided sometimes it is better to flee than fight the changes we saw coming.

It took a little while, but we ended up in Columbia County, first order of business was to read the County Comprehensive Plan… I know what a dork. You all should know Everything in government starts with land use, it is the rule that guides how our communities are built. Being that I believe community service is an adult duty in any place you live, I got involved with the chamber, some city planning committees. Currently I’m on the Public Health Policy board.

I bring all this up not to try and impress anyone about my service, or how I was raised to see it as a civic duty, but rather to illustrate a problem I see… people aren’t serving their communities in the manor we used to. We have become issue driven instead of community driven. If we truly want diversity and harmony I believe we have to reach back to the past. We must serve each other, be diligent and interact with our public officials. We have to stop name calling and start discussing solutions. If we ever hope to return to a better discourse in our capitol, we have to set the bar on a local level. Things in DC won’t change until they realize we won’t tolerate the nonsense any longer. So my plea is to stop playing team politics whatever your issue is, and start serving your community, we will all be better for it.

Let’s Talk Chicken

IMG_4001.jpgMany of us will be grilling out this summer and Chicken will be a featured protein. Here are some tips to help you achieve greater success… 1. Pull the chicken out of the fridge for 30 minutes or so before you put in on the grill, hot coals will actually trap coldness in the chicken taking longer to get to well done…its called Thermal Lock, think of it as a reverse igloo phenomenon. 2. Buy Chicken with skin and bone on, grilled with skin and bone adds flavor and moisture… if you don’t want to eat skin then peel it off, but trust me your chicken will be so much better grilled this way. 3. Use lower heat than steaks, even push your coals to one side or turn the gas way down, this will allow heat to penetrate your chicken more slowly achieving a well done moistness we all want. 4. Season or marinate your birds prior to cooking, I use the the Cornell Chicken BBQ Sauce as a marinade for my birds sometimes as long as 48 hours, you’ll notice it has no sugar…9 out 10 times sugar in sauces is what is burning on your birds. I also make a separate batch to baste, I’ve copy and pasted from their website.

Cornell Chicken Barbecue Sauce and Safe Chicken Barbecues

Cornell Chicken Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 1 pint cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons salt*
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg

Beat the egg, then add the oil and beat again. Add other ingredients and stir. The recipe can be varied to suit individual tastes. Leftover sauce can be stored in a glass jar in a refrigerator for several weeks.
(Adapted from Cornell Cooperative Extension Information Bulletin 862.)

* Adjust the quantity or eliminate salt to meet individual health needs and taste. Barbecued chicken basted frequently during cooking will be saltier than chicken that has been lightly basted.

To Barbecue the Broilers:

Place the broiler halves over the fire after the flame is gone. Turn the halves every five to ten minutes, depending on the heat from the fire. Use turners or a long handled fork. The chicken should be basted with a fiber brush at each turning. The basting should be light at first and heavy near the end of the cooking period.

Test the chicken to see whether it is done by pulling the wing away from the body and using a meat thermometer. If the meat in this area splits easily and the meat thermometer reads at least 165°F in the breast and thigh, the chicken is done.

A Guide to Safe Chicken Barbecues

Raw chicken and other meat can harbor harmful bacteria. At temperatures between 41°F and 140°F, these microorganisms can multiply and cause illness. But if you take a few simple precautions during preparation and cook chicken thoroughly to kill bacteria, you don’t have to worry about foodborne illness.

Remember to take what you know about kitchen cleanliness and safe food handling out to the grill:

  • If you prepare the barbecue sauce ahead of time, refrigerate it. Take to the grill only the amount of sauce you will use to baste the chicken at the time.
  • If you are preparing large quantities of sauce for a community organization’s barbecue, you can use pasteurized eggs** for an extra margin of safety. Pasteurization kills any harmful bacteria that might be in the eggs.
  • Clean your hands just before working with food. If hot water and soap are not available nearby, use disposable wet hand wipes.
  • Keep bacteria on raw poultry or meat from spreading to other raw or cooked food, including cooked chicken or meat. Wash your hands again after working with raw poultry or meat and before handling other kinds of foods.
  • Save time: Buy broilers already split in half. Take them from the package and place them right on the grill. If you do cut up the chicken yourself, immediately wash your cutting board and the knife thoroughly with soap and hot water before using them to prepare other foods for your cookout.
  • Do not partially cook chicken in the kitchen ahead of time unless you are going to put it on the grill immediately. Dangerous bacteria can sometimes grow when food is partially cooked, held for a time, then later re-cooked.
  • Keep the chicken on the grill for several minutes after the last baste to be sure the sauce is well cooked. Test the doneness of the chicken using a thermometer: It should reach 165°F in the breast and thigh. If you are cooking large numbers of chicken halves, check the temperature of representative pieces in different locations on the grill.
  • Transfer the chicken to a clean plate, tray, or container using clean utensils. Do not use the plate used to carry the raw chicken to the grill or the utensils used to turn raw chicken.
  • Discard the portion of sauce used for basting the raw chicken. Dipping the basting brush into the sauce after brushing the raw chicken may dilute the acid (vinegar) in the sauce and contaminate it with harmful bacteria.
  • Refrigerate leftover barbecued chicken, barbecue sauce, and other foods as soon as possible after the meal. Use a cooler with ice or freezer packs if you are away from home. Keep the cooler in the shade. If you cannot refrigerate or properly cool leftovers, throw them out.

Make a habit of following these few simple rules and you, your family and friends, and your community can enjoy safe and tasty chicken barbecues all season long!

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* Cornell Information Bulletin 862, Barbecued Chicken and Other Meats by R.C. Baker, is no longer available from Cornell’s Resource Center.

** Pasteurized liquid eggs can be obtained from food service product distributors (check telephone yellow pages) or may be available in small packages in some supermarkets. Some supermarkets may stock pasteurized in-shell eggs also.

Fact Sheets are often shared between counties. Please contact your local Cooperative Extension for more information on this topic.

I love chicken, especially the dark quarters, if you find that sometimes your chicken is a little pink, it may be from the smoke and not lack of doneness. Gases from using natural fuels set the Myoglobin in the meat, and that’s how we get pinkness and smoke rings in Turkeys, and Chickens cooked over charcoal. I once served beautiful smoked ringed pork ribs at a catering and had a women chasing me around asking me If I was trying to kill people? Well as a dear Slavic friend used to say “Ignorance can be cured with education but stupidity is terminal” lol, regardless how you cook your chicken this summer, please remember the most important ingredient to any gathering is the company you keep!

Saw The Doc, sorry TMI to follow

 

My seventh of ten scheduled Chemo treatments happened yesterday, I also had a chance to chat with Doc Vaccaro (who is amazing btw). For three days prior to this last Sunday I couldn’t get a sip of water to stay down, for every half cup I swallowed 2/3rds of it came back up. Its nasty but I measure these things. I keep going because I figured some is better than none…right? I was not eating any solids during those three days but kept upchucking what looked like tiny bits of ham or spam, and with my vast medical knowledge I deduced that it must be flushed out undigested chunks of food that was lodged in the polyp bed along my esophagus. Gnarly I know, but given that the bulk of my medical knowledge and given that my self prescriptions for 53 years has been bourbon and Aleve, I felt pretty good about my assessment. When I did see the Doc she was concerned that I’ve dropped down to 155# (95# down since November for those counting). However she was intrigued by my last bought of upchuckery, she would like to see what’s going on down my esophagus… it is incredibly hard to tell whats going on with a tube through scans, so She’s ordered an Endoscopy to get a look see. Dr. Vaccaro said it may be that I was throwing up tumor bits…Mmmm yummy. If things are looking positive down the old pie hole and there’s an opportunity to widen the tumor area, we might suspend Chemo for a few weeks and schedule 3 weeks of directed radiation on the tumor in hopes of getting me back to real eating….which I’m all in favor of. Neuropathic Fingers Crossed! If the endoscopy shows no joy, and I can’t get my caloric intake up… I’m then faced with ether a feeding tube… Yuk, or a stent, a stent would be a permanent tube in my throat and would relegate me to soft foods for my forever, and I would have to sleep sitting up. So it is safe to say I’m pounding calorie shakes and hoping the endoscopy shows a way forward.

The lack of calories has taken its toll on my go power, I tried to climb in the back of my pick up and couldn’t pull myself in, so I did a roll on the tailgate to get in…. pretty sad, but if you’re willing to compromise pride anything is possible I swear. The support everyone has shown me, and the sacrifices made by friends and family have humbled me beyond words. No matter how much life I have left I will never be able to repay the kindness, Love, and Loyalty… If I’m to be judged by the company I keep, now would be a good time!

Summer is Vegetable Time!

Vegetable availability is really starting to hit it’s stride, the options out there are crazy exciting …especially if you look to farmer’s markets and specialty stores. I have a couple of tips for fruit and vegetable cooking that you may find helpful. First off the nothing is more refreshing than the fresh cut fruit salad, I keep mine to a minimal dressing…no whip cream, coconut, or marsh mellow please! Just fresh fruit and a sprinkle of some Grand Marnier, this is a French Orange & Cognac Liqueur that helps to take some of the acid bite off of fresh fruit, and when allowed to sit for a few hours or overnight really brings the salad together, almost like a rug. Grand Marnier can be expensive, so if you’re not making top shelf margaritas often (although you should), try purchasing an airplane mini bottle just to accommodate your salad.

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Secondly lets talk Pasta Salads, great for that item you need to take on the road to a Grill Out invitation or Pot Luck. My suggestion for a quick and easy Pasta Salad is pick your noodle shape, cook your noodles and drain them… then while they are warm add your favorite salad dressing wether it be Newman’s Own or your personal creation. Toss the warm noodles with the dressing and allow to cool to room temperature. The warm pasta will soak up a ton of dressing and really help to set the flavor of your salad. Next add vegetables, recently I’ve been trending a higher ratio of vegetable to pasta, back in the old days it seemed salads were mostly pasta, some kind of creamy mayo sauce, and a couple tid bits of celery or pepper. I prefer a pasta salad where the pasta is about 1/4-1/3 the total salad volume, I’m adding greens like Spinach, and Arugula, and all sorts of vegetables… some roasted and cooled, others raw. Don’t be afraid to mix in some fresh berries either, be BOLD! The point is to feel free to “Garden Up” your pasta salad and make it a stand out at the next event or meal you attend.

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Thirdly lets talk about roasting vegetables, I love a grilled or roasted Veg… this is a great place to experiment with flavors, marinades, and rubs. On the grill some softer vegetables like a milder heat so the don’t stick to the grill, others like Zukes or Cauliflower like a good hot grill for a short amount of time. Below are pictures of a whole head of cauliflower cut into sections with pesto pressed into each section, then reassembled to roast. Notice I used a string on the whole heads to keep them bundled up.

I hope you find this helpful, and remember the most important ingredient to any meal is the company you keep!

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A better day…. Sun is shinning

Foot MassageCertainly a better day today having chemo and getting a massage, life could be much worse. I was having trouble drinking and eating the last few days, but then Yesterday afternoon I could consume again! Holy smokes drank tons of fluid, had some Sangria, and was evens gifted a taste of incredibly rare A.H. Hirsch Bourbon… couldn’t of been a better day spent with friends and family.

The concerning news is I’m down to 155# almost 100# weight loss since last fall… not the weight loss program I would recommend. The Doc scheduled another endoscopy to see what’s going on, I suspect I’ve been throwing up chunks of tumor which has been blocking consumption (I know it sounds gross, but if I could throw up Cancer how cool would that be?!?!?). This is a guess on my part, but the doctor said it could be a possibility… and I’m a guy that loves possibilities! I’m still set on eating tacos in Mexico come June! even if I have to bullet the little suckers. Not eating enough leaves me a little fatigued, but sitting and doing nothing sucks worse than being exhausted, so I keep pushing. I’m reminded of the Bobby Riggs quote “I hate losing more than I like winning” which totally sums up my mindset in most things. I am determined to put more weight on, we may have to suspend chemo for a few weeks and try and zap my esophagus with radiation depending on what the endoscopy shows. All in all I’m feeling positive in my quest to eek out more lifespan, I still want to learn blacksmithing, work on some paintings, push my cooking further, and have more laughs with friends and families. My request of you all is, please follow your passion where ever it lies, throw yourself into it. Spend time with people you care about and disregard those that merely take up space in your life. we all have an expiration date, I’m just lucky enough to ave a better idea of what it is.