News for March 2009


Today Lydia and I bought a pink Schwinn Pixie.  Pretty much identical to this photo I found online, except Lydia’s has the front fender also.  An early 80’s model.  Lydia is crazy excited to have an ‘old school’ bike like Mom and Dad (a lot of our neighborhood jaunts are on our Schwinn Suburbans).  We got home and started cleaning it up.  I’m going to try and get the internal stuff up to par tonight and tomorrow we should be ready to start working on training wheel free living.  It’s going to be a good summer.

Posted: March 31st, 2009
Categories: bike
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Pizza Night

You should have pizza night.  I myself could have pizza night every night, provided I had plenty of bean burrito lunch options.  I think I could feasibly live on bean burritos and pizza for a very long time.  Until I was 80.  Than I’d probably want to start introducing more into my diet.

We at Operation Houge have adopted a Friday night pizza night policy for the last who knows how long and it’s been good.  Sometimes we pick up pizza from places like Papa Murphy’s or Papa John’s.  We used to order from KNX up the street but they kept switching hands and I’m not sure what the place is called anymore or how to get a hold of them.  We’ve got the Pizza Factory around the corner at Skinners which is pretty good, they don’t skimp on the cheese that’s for sure.  If I’m out of town Jodi will sneak a frozen pizza into our oven.  But generally 90 percent of the time we make our own pizza.  I think making your own crust is the most intimidating part so let’s talk about that.

Proper Nate’s Pizza Recipe.

1 1/2 cups warm water (put your finger in it, if your finger’s happy it’s probably about right)

1 tsp. yeast. 

1 1/2 Tbl. Olive Oil

1 1/2 Tbl. Honey

1 1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups wheat flour

2-3 cups white flour

Before I bore with details, allow me to sum everything up:

Combine.  Knead.  Rise.  Flatten.  Top.  Bake.  Eat.

Or in more rambling detail:  Dump everything except for the white flour into a bowl.  Mix it up.  Add white flour 1/2 cup at a time until you get a nice not to firm dough.  If your mixing it up with a wooden spoon and it’s all stuck to the spoon and no longer to the sides of the bowl you’re probably pretty close.  At this point toss some flour on your hands and on the counter, dump the dough out and knead it for 5-8 minutes.  If it’s getting crazy sticky try adding more flour to your hands before adding it to the dough, only because I think a wet dough makes a better pizza crust.  I could be wrong.  You could be the one to prove me as such.

All right.  Let it rise for about 45 minutes.  Generally I clean out the mixing bowl, put a little olive oil in it, put the dough in there, turn it over to coat it, cover it with a towel or plastic wrap and stick it in the unheated oven.  Then I put a bowl of hot, straight off the boil, water in the oven with it.  That usually works well in our drafty kitchen.

Okay.  Your dough rose.  Good job.  Take it out of the oven and preheat the oven to 425.

Now punch it down and divide it into four pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball.  Flatten the ball, toss it up in the air, use a rolling pin, work it out on a cookie sheet.  Any of those or combinations of those seem to work to make your crust.  It’ll be about 12″ round.  One tip I’ve appreciated:  When you get to the part where you’re working it out on the cookie sheet put a wet dishrag between the pan and the counter to keep your pan from wiggling all over the place.

I have two round pans so what I do is make the first pizza – usually just sauce and cheese to appease the youngins – and put it in the oven on the upper rack for 6 minutes.  While that gets going I get the second pizza ready.  When my 6 minutes is up I slide the top pizza off of the pan onto the lower rack to get a nice crispy crust and put the next pizza on the top rack.  From sliding that first pizza off of its pan I can get the next pizza going.  Watch the times on this because every oven is different and because all the opening and closing of the oven door does a number on the consistency of heat.  For the most part though this becomes a pretty fluid process.  I actually set my timer (which I recently discovered also works as a cellular phone) for 5 minutes to account for the transfer time and to make sure I don’t burn anything.  Too much.  Also if you’re pizza doesn’t want to slide off the pan onto the bottom rack don’t force it, it needs more time.  If you do force it you’ll end up with a big clump of pizza ingredients dripping through the rack onto the bottom of your oven.  At least that’s what I’m guessing would happen….

See how simple that was?  Tune in next time for tips on topping.

Posted: March 31st, 2009
Categories: bread
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victory, FL, bean factory

That’s me a couple weeks back at the Victory Muse show.  There are more and better pictures here:

Rachel Kurtz and I did the song ‘bootstraps’ for the first time in 8 years (it’s on the rare and hard but not hard enough to find boy.girl CD ‘cheaply painted barns.’)  Jonathan Rundman joined in on accordian and Lars Carlson played along for the closer – I’m Troubled and I Don’t Know Why.  The Victory Muse house concerts have been awesome and this Saturday Rachel Kurtz will be playing with her husband, the legendary guitarist, Michael May.  For those of you with the Mysterious Kung Fu…. CD, Michael is responsible for the rock and roll solo on Get In the Tub.  So check out the Victory Muse and check out the show.

This last weekend I got a chance to go to Florida by invitation of Justin Rimbo and the Director of Lutheran Outdoor Ministries of Florida, Chad Cambell.  We led music for a Jr./Sr. High event held at O’leno State Park.  It was warm and relaxing and musically fulfilling.  It’s the last of a long string of travels of mine and it was a great way to rap things up for awhile.  Here are three highlights:

1.  I got stopped at security at the airport on my way out.  They wanted to check my bag.  As the security personal started looking through it she said – “do you have a teapot in here?”  I correctly assumed she was referring to my ceramic coffee cup and said, “Yeah, it’s right under here…”  and reached over and began pulling my socks and underwear out of the way.  She quickly moved the bag away and said curtly.  “You can’t touch this.”  Keep in mind it was 4:30 in the morning so my judgement was a bit off as I immediately started humming the rest of the chorus to this MC Hammer classic.  She wasn’t ammused.  Or at least on the outside.  Inside I think she was cracking up.  Or deciding whether or not to turn me into the feds.  Of course in the end the lingering question remains, so what if it was a teapot?  Whatch out for that guy, he’s already had 3 mugs of chamomile this morning.  Dangerous.

2.  I led a songwriting workshop on saturday morning and the group came up with an awesome gathering song that we used for Sunday morning worship.  My favorite part was they used the simile of hot chocolate as the warmth and comfort we find in gathering together.  It fit the context of camp, but also of being filled, of being a vessel, not to mention comfort.  A lot of us are used to all the old church language in hymns.  It’s good to break out and use new imagery.  This group did it way better than someone like myself, stuck in my ruts, usually does.  Good work!

3. sheesh, what’s number three?  Could be running in warm weather, or the hanging out before and after the event, could be the group singing, or… Oh here’s a good one.  Sunday night walking out of target we heard a weird sound.  Looking up in the air at a distant trail of smoke Chad pointed out that we had just heard the space shuttle launch.  Sure enough there was a little light zooming out into space.  We saw the space shuttle.  Sweet.

 Finally, this Friday Micah and I will be at the bean factory here in St. Paul up on Randolph.  7-9.  if you want to sing a few songs bring an instrument.  we’d love to have you.

Posted: March 19th, 2009
Categories: music, travel
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busy, really busy, busy clippers

Who doesn’t love Morrissey?

And what’s up with Aunt Sam?

One of my favorite Morrissey songs is a little number called Hairdresser on Fire.  I’ve pretty much loved it since 1994 when I picked up viva hate on cassette at Vintage Vinyl.  I think it’s the chorus:  Really busy/busy clippers/Oh, hairdresser on fire/ all around sloane square. 

Maybe it goes back to my fear of haircuts.  Or maybe it’s just quirky and catchy.  Anyhow, it’s been in my head a lot because I have been kind of busy myself as of late.  But I can’t complain.  Sure I could use a bit more sleep, and yes I need to start getting our taxes in order but really I’m thankful that I get to make music as much as I do. 

I remember reading a session player’s blog describing his days in and out of studios lugging all his gear around.  Basically he was pointing out that the only working musicians out there are hard working musicians, the rest of ’em have to get behind a desk.  So I’m thankful that I have a supportive family and friends that allow me to play 8 shows a week like I did last week with everything from house concerts to preschool groups to the wonderful folks at Immanuel Lutheran School outside of Mankato that invited me to play for the school in celebration of National Lutheran Schools Week.  It’s been really great.  So what’s next?  Well I got a last minute gig to go to Florida with Justin Rimbo and play for an ELCA synod event down there.  Then I’ll get some rest and do dishes for about a month out of gratefulness to my wife and all her single parenting in the last 2 months.  Saint Jodi full of grace, have mercy on me a musician.

Posted: March 10th, 2009
Categories: Uncategorized
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