Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rocky Top

A great friend of mine told me once that I am not eclectic but only confused. He was referring to my tastes in music as it can be all over the board. If I had to blame someone, it would have to be my own love for music and my father's sun bleached eight tracks that lived on the dashboard of that green Pontiac.

And out of all the music that has reached me over the years, none of it gets to me as much as old bluegrass due to past winters spent in the mountains of Colorado as a boy. There was an old bar that sat within a small village called the Timbermill and the bands booked within it ranged from country to bluegrass to blues. And the theme song of this pub would be the all time classic, Rocky Top made popular by the Osborne Brothers and written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.

The Osborne Brothers, Sonny and Bobby, were born in Roark, Kentucky in the 1930s but grew up near Dayton, Ohio. Bobby was drafted in 1952 and during that time his brother Sonny went to work with Bill Monroe.

When Bobby returned in 1953 the brothers would team up with Jimmy Martin, performing at radio stations in both Knoxville, Tennessee and Detroit, Michigan. They would finally hit it big when they recorded a single for MGM titled "Ruby Are You Mad" which led to the brothers being signed as regular members of the WWVA Jamboree in October of 1956.

It wouldn't be until 1967 that the Osborne Brothers would record "Rocky Top" under the Decca Record label which would push them to legendary status creating a staple song within the bluegrass community. This would lead them all the way to the White House earning the star of being the first bluegrass group to be invited. They were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Honor in 1994 which is considered bluegrass music's highest honor.

I wasn't there at the White House but I have heard that song one million times as a youth. And I never get tired of it.

Pick it up boys.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Summer Time Meal

A couple of weeks ago, Andrew Clyde and myself fell into the perfect summer time meal. I usually rally around pretty heavy meats but it's just been so hot outside that I decided to jump into the water.

On to FRESH, I slowly evaluated all the fish and decided on some pretty large Steelhead Trout filets. Threw in a shaker of Leigh Oliver's Bistro Herb Blend and one very ripe lemon. Two boxes of wild rice and a four cheese loaf of bread would bring me back home to start on the meal. Texting the Clyde, I told him of my selections and he threw his cards on the table. The pot would now amount to grilled trout smoked on fresh cut apple wood served on wild rice, yellow squash casserole, home grown tomatoes marinated in olive oil with thin slices of onion and freshly chopped basil leaves complemented by a four cheese bread.

By definition, this would be the perfect summer time meal.

Grilled Steelhead Trout

Two filets
Leigh Oliver's Bistro Herb Rub
Stick of butter

Get your charcoal ready and red. Don't even go gas grill please unless you have wrens living in your pit. Then I'll let you slide. When your coals are hot, place one stick of applewood on the side next to the flames where it can start smoking. Melt the butter and pour over the fish. Sprinkle the Bistro Herb Rub generously over the fish and lay some fresh cut lemon slices on top. Place neatly scale side down on the grill and cook for 15 to 20 minutes with the top closed until fish will flake. Use two spatulas to take off each fish or they will split in half.

Serve over wild rice.

Yellow Squash Casserole
The Star of Texas Cookbook

4 to 5 lbs yellow squash, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of water
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
4 Tablespoons butter
Buttered bread crumbs for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine squash, onion, sugar, salt, pepper, and water in large covered saucepan, and cook until vegetables are tender. Drain vegetable, reserving liquid, Mash well and drain again. Cream cheese with a little reserved liquid until it is the consistency of whipped cream. Add butter to squash and stir until melted. Pour squash into buttered shallow 3-quart casserole and cover with cream cheese mixture. Mix lightly with fork. Cover with bread crumbs and bake for 30 minutes until bubbly.

Clyde's Home Grown Tomatoes

4 or 5 tomatoes
1 white onion
Basil Leaves
Olive Oil

Slice tomatoes and onions placing in a small casserole dish. Pour 1/4 cup of olive oil on the tomatoes. Finely chop basil leaves and sprinkle on top. Salt and pepper. Refrigerate for one hour.

Given the heat this summer, I would highly recommend closing this meal out with some homemade ice cream.

And this, my friends, makes for perfection in 100 degree heat. Eat it up!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Sky Is Falling

Man it's been a sea of crazy out there. This whole end of the world thing has really been something to watch and the funny thing is those people are still waiting for October to roll around. It must be sheer pride at this point as that's the only thing I can figure. You'll see. It's really going to happen this time.

Truth is the whole thing is just plain sad. It's sad to think that there are folks so miserable out there that the end of the world is a better situation than what they have down here on this rock. But hey, you won't catch me candy coating life on earth. It ain't no picnic and I don't care what you have or who you are, no one is immune to the blues.

It seems lately that life has gotten even harder. I was talking to a friend of mine this week on this very topic and I think when you reach middle age, things just get difficult. Life seems to challenge us in different ways but as hard as it's been, I'm glad I'm going through it. Having to go through difficult situations makes you wiser and stronger. I hope to be the better man for having to fight through life as that's what being human is all about. We ate the apple a long time ago so pick up a shovel and start digging.

As far as the crazies who think the world is coming to an end, I say thank you. To be honest, my life is so busy that I think it's been a good thing for someone to point out the end of times. It makes you think what if. What if today was your last day. Have you done enough down here? Have you helped enough down here? What will God think of me when I'm laid out on the cooling board?

I've thought about what it might be like if I were to pass on tomorrow. 

Here's how it might play out.

Mr. Peter: Mr. are you? Please, have a seat.

Me: Exactly what is this place?

Mr. Peter: Oh yes. I see you're just getting your introductory files. It's the large box on the table there. If you'll open that up and read the cover page where it says you're dead.

Me: I'm dead?

Mr. Peter: Yes. You are dead. As a door nail.

Me: So I'm dead...where exactly am I?

Mr. Peter: Ha! They always ask that question. You're not in Hell if that's what you mean. But you're not in Heaven either. This is a final judgement station and we're waiting on the prosecution to get here. You have quite a file box over there. Sorry about the coffee cup ring on the top as I spilled a little on it this morning. We make our own coffee up here and it's just terrible. They keep talking about putting in a Starbucks next to judgement station number three but I have yet to see any progress. Anyway, you may want to take a peek at your file before prosecution gets here. I was flipping through it this morning and it's quite colorful. Especially the college years.

Me: You say prosecution. Is this some sort of attorney? And if so, where is mine?

Mr. Peter: Your attorney will be here shortly. He's extremely busy as most of you folks coming in have pretty extensive files. He is now. Jesus, meet your client, Mr. Holt.

Jesus: Mr. Holt...It's great to finally meet you in person. Don't sweat the prosecution. I've already sent him a letter and he won't be showing up today. I've taken the burden of your file on myself so you won't need to worry with all that. All I ask is that you recognize this as you make your way past this judgement station. Remember who I am and remember what I did for you. Today as well as yesterday.

Go on now. I believe Sam Cooke is performing with the Soul Stirrers and they tell me Gabriel has been barbecuing all day. It's beef as I'm not much into the pork.