Category Archives: Food

Sour grapes: the Scatters in a pickle

By Bob Hicks

Keep Portland Pickled. Or maybe, in honor of a certain shape of preserved cucumber, Keep Portland Speared.

Imagine a city where something called the Portland Fermentation Festival is such a mind-boggling hit that you can’t get in the doors. It’s like reporting that the Iowa City Haggis Festival or the Twin Falls Ukelele and Bassoon Blowout are SRO.

Such is the city in which we live.

Grape-Shot: 1915 English magazine illustration of a lady riding a champagne cork From The Lordprice Collection This picture is the copyright of the Lordprice Collection and is reproduced on Wikipedia with their permissionMr. Scatter recalls being impressed as a child by the tale of Noah, who after steering his ark at long last into port dipped into the wine cellar and got so snozzled that he stumbled into his tent, stripped off all his clothes, and fell into a deep naked snooze. This caused considerable consternation once he woke up, and somehow Noah, who after all was “a just man and perfect,” pinned the blame on his son Canaan, who as winemaker had apparently amped up the alcohol content. (He might have been the same guy making all those head-thumping California zins in the 1970s.) It was a pioneering instance of better scapegoating through chemistry.

On Thursday evening Mr. and Mrs. Scatter parked the Scatter corporate ark on a side street near the Pearl District’s Ecotrust Building and headed in for what they assumed would be a quiet and congenial gathering of fellow fermentation geeks — lovers of the likes of pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, sourdough, and of course, wine and beer. Imagine their surprise to see a line of pickle fanatics snaking down the stairway from the second-story event, through the lobby and almost out the door.

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Piccalilli or pick a lot: The food of love

Behold. The finished Jars.

By Laura Grimes

The season’s pickle swaps are in full swing. These things sneak up and before you know it, you have hot peppers in the cupboard and elk meat in the freezer.

A few jars of piccalilli flew out the door the other night in return for promissory notes for bread-and-butter pickles and honey.

An email popped up the next day:

Your piccalilli is amazing. Can you send me the recipe? Thanks so much for sharing it.

So I typed up the recipe, mixing in all my adaptations, and then I kept typing. I was surprised to discover another story that attests to the Power of the Pickle.

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What wedding? — on Chekhov, string quartets, bridges, drums and locavores

  • The royal whatzis
  • The Cherry Orchard at Artists Repertory Theatre
  • Noble Viola on Opus at Portland Center Stage
  • Brian Libby on the failed Columbia River Crossing
  • Portland Taiko tells a tale
  • James E. McWilliams on eating locally and globally

Portland Taiko. Photo: Rich Iwasaki/2009Portland Taiko. Rich Iwasaki/2009

By Bob Hicks

We’re given to understand some sort of white-tie wedding is taking place in the wee hours of Friday morning, and much of the world is agog. Art Scatter does not plan to cover it. With any luck — if the cat doesn’t come slapping at our cheek with her paw, demanding to be let outside — we’ll be snoozing.

And now, on with the news.

Chekhov the composer: On Wednesday night the Scatters took in The Cherry Orchard, playwright Richard Kramer’s world-premiere adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s final dramatic masterpiece, at Artists Rep. It struck us again that, like so many leading playwrights, Chekhov thought like a musician.

Like a string quartet: Linda Alper, Tim Blough (background), Michael Mendelson and Tobias Andersen in "The Cherry Orchard." Photo: Owen CareyThere isn’t much story to The Cherry Orchard, but there are themes, counter-themes, motifs. It’s chamber music, and the way we hear it can be startlingly different from production to production, depending not just on our own life experiences (interpreting Chekhov relies to an extreme on what the audience brings to it) but also on the emphases of interpretation on the stage: Do we concentrate on the cello tonight, or the bassoon? In truth, I suspect that even more so than ordinarily, every member of the audience sees a different play when watching Chekhov.

Kramer’s intermissionless adaptation, which I like quite a lot, sets out to rough up the Chekhov-as-wistful-yearning school of thought, and it succeeds. To extend the musical metaphor, it’s a bit like Bach rearranged by Bartok: depths and balances and gorgeous tones, but syncopated and spiked up.

Continue reading What wedding? — on Chekhov, string quartets, bridges, drums and locavores

Balls, burritos and blasts from the past

I got balls.

By Laura Grimes

Dear Mr. Scatter,

I finished dusting my balls, recurating them, and I added an avocado pit to the collection. Can you guess which one it is?*

I know you think I just lobbed you a big fat softball (I have two in my collection) so you can make a smartass comeback, but then I would just have to emphasize softball, so let’s leave it at that.

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Pick a peck of pickles ‘n’ peppers

Box full of 80K hotness.

By Laura Grimes

The Great Pickles As Social Vehicle Experiment continues with swap …

No. 6: Peppers. As my apple crisp cooled on the stove and I messaged my fellow crisp baker, another message popped up.

Peppers were in the mail from another old chum I hadn’t seen in more than 30 years.

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Pickle swaps. Remember those?

Apple crisp, hot from the oven.

By Laura Grimes

Shhhh! Be vewy vewy qwiet! Maybe I can sneak in here when Mr. Scatter isn’t looking. Won’t he be surprised?

Won’t you?

I thought I could sneak in when Mr. Scatter was on the road, but dang if he didn’t crack the wi-fi code at the secret hangout. Then I thought I could sneak in when he was busy scraping together a paying gig, but dang if he wasn’t a prolific typerboy on the side.

So now I’m interrupting Mr. Scatter’s regularly scheduled blog fodder (what I call “the thoughty bits”) to bring you the scatter part (I’ll refrain from calling it “the ditzy bits”).

Continue reading Pickle swaps. Remember those?

Goose, elk, and Pepys’ Christmas dinner

By Bob Hicks

“How do you feel about elk meat for Christmas dinner?” Mr. Scatter casually asked the Older Educated Daughter over the phone.

The long hesitant pause, coupled with the complication that several of us no longer eat any sort of mammal or fowl, anyway, suggested that a nice fat slab of salmon should be added to the oven on the 25th. But we’ll also be cooking up those thick elk steaks, which wandered into our freezer via one of Mrs. Scatter’s fabled pickle swaps.

Randolph Caldecott, illustration of "The Christmas Dinner" from "The Sketch Book" by Washington Irving; 1876.Here at Chez Scatter, the arrival of Christmas always includes a good deal of flutter over food. How many people will we be this year? Who eats meat and who doesn’t? What recipes have we been longing to try? How traditional and how daring are we going to be?

A few things are non-negotiable: the good cheeses, the platters of pickles, the mounds of mashed potatoes, the cranberry-orange sauce with a dash of port. A dressing is essential: this year we’re leaning toward a mixed-mushroom and cornbread version.

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When Cromwell canceled Christmas

By Bob Hicks

It wasn’t just the theater that merry King Charles II restored when he reclaimed the British throne for royalty in 1661. He brought back Christmas, too.

Robert Walker, Portrait of Oliver Cromwell, ca. 1649. National Portrait Gallery, London/Wikimedia Commons.Many Scatterers undoubtedly know that when Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans took over power in England in 1645, not all that long after William Shakespeare’s heydey, they put a quick end to all that decadent theatrical nonsense (but apparently not, as the accompanying portrait of Cromwell reveals, to decadent ribbons and bows).

In 1644, Cromwell forced a bill through Parliament banning all Christmas celebrations, too: they were too popish, he proclaimed darkly, and besides, people shouldn’t be having that much fun. As Alan Rickman so brilliantly snarled as the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: “And call off Christmas!”

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Pickles: The old gray market rides high

Carlos Kalmar conducts the Oregon Symphony. We do our own bit of conducting sometimes in the form of serious scientific experiments.

By Laura Grimes

Here at Art Scatter World Headquarters, we concoct more than hot chocolate and dirty-little-secret martinis. We participate in genuine science. For weeks we’ve been conducting The Great Pickles As Social Vehicle Experiment.

Mr. Scatter made a bold declaration recently in the mainstream media about our little family enterprise.

We deal chiefly in the concoction of highly improbable stories and the manufacture and trade of gray-market pickles.

Just how is that gray matter coming along? (Not brain cells.) The experiment is kicking along in fine form with Pickle Swaps (everyone step together now) 5, 6, 7, 8.

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Pickles. They’re not just for breakfast anymore.

Salad kebobs made with dill pickled green cherry tomatoes, fresh red cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and water cress.

By Laura Grimes,
aided and abetted by Bob Hicks

Grand Unsealing of the Pickles day, known to the rest of America as Thanksgiving, went splendidly in the Scatter Household.

Mr. and Mrs. Scatter lined up a variety of preserves vintage 2010 for their first tasting to determine whether they’re naughty or nice. They carefully sniffed, twirled, nibbled, chewed and swallowed. They unanimously agreed that it is the crunchiest vintage yet for the spicy dills and sweet pickles. They suspect it’s because the cucumbers were fresh and firm, and the ones that weren’t sliced were stabbed, allowing the brine to fully penetrate (they can’t believe they typed that either).

The Scatters discussed the merits of each pickle varietal. Here are their tasting notes.

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