It all started when I got a subscription to Blue Apron. My cooking has changed and above you see in example of one of my meals. It’s meatballs over rice and asparagus. It is a Blue Apron meal however I’ve learned to do some adaptations so they are more my own these days.
The biggest change though has been my overall approach to food. When I started it was followed the recipe and get on the table which was how I had worked when I was working. Know that I am retired a different mindset began to take hold.
I have learned to approach food in a different way. For instance, when I was preparing this meal I have learned it to take pleasure in the small parts of preparing a meal. The smell of fresh cilantro is absolutely intoxicating. The crunch of the fresh asparagus well it is being prepared for cooking and how it smells is wonderful. Watching it turn greener as it cooks is an amazing transformation. Adding raisins to the ground meat mix adds just a little bit of sweetness to the meatball jus as the olives add a bit of salt. I tasted the rice mixed with the other ingredients and added the lime wedges for an amazing change in the taste of the dish.
Cooking has become for me almost a Zen experience.
It was the first full day of the jazz fest and I got so filled with music that the result was rather overwhelming. There is a point in me where I can’t listen to music anymore and appreciate it.
As I was walking to the stage on Hart Plaza, I saw Cassius Richmond playing the saxophone and doing a wonderful job as usual.
I was on my way to see the John Douglas Quartet at the Carhartt Amphitheater stage. They are one of the groups I see in Detroit at Bert’s warehouse on Friday night. So in this case, I knew what I was about to see. Somehow add a festival, the music just seems to be a little bit better. They did play one of my favorite songs which is “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise”. John Douglas is on the trumpet and the Alexis Lombre is on the keyboards. Ibrahim Jones is on the bass. I didn’t catch the name of the drummer. EditEditEditEdit
Next I went to another stage to see the Ken Cox reunion band. The musicians got up and told how much Ken Cox had meant to them because how much he mentored them all. All of that before I was out listening to jazz. A lot of well known local musicians played including Rayse Biggs(tpt), Djallo Djakte(drums), George Bohannan(tone), Shahidah Nurullah(vox) and Kamau Kenyatta(keys). There were others who also played . I really enjoyed the music and wish I had been around to hear Ken Cox when he was playing.
Then I went off to lunch before heading to a stage after lunch that was across the plaza. Although there are four major stages in a relatively small area the walking can be daunting especially through the crowds. I went to see the Stanley Cowell quintet featuring Billy Harper and Charles Tolliver. I had heard great things about this group and had never been to see them before. Actually the music was great and I really enjoyed it
Stanley Cowell quintet featuring Billy Harper and Charles Tolliver
I meant to stay for just a taste of the next act which was The Ron Carter Quartet. I didn’t especially like the performance they did on Friday night with before cellos it didn’t feel like jazz to me. I ended up staying for the entire act it was so good. In fact, I would say is this is my highlight of the day. In a quartet setting, the music was just entrancing. It was a place where I could move with music and really let it into me
The last act that I saw for the day was Roy Hargrove quintet with the Detroit Jazz Festival string orchestra. It looks like the artistic director wants to add strings to the jazz performances as something a little different. I have seen Roy Hargrove at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café just a few months ago. It was the kind of jazz I like. I stayed for two songs with the large string a compliment and decided I didn’t really like this approach for Roy Hargrove. Who knows it may be the way he’ll go in the future. It was just not my cup of tea. I have been at the jazz fest for about eight hours at that point and just had enough music.
Opening night of the jazz festival starts with a reception and a concert featuring the star headliners. This year was no different.
The weather for the weekend looks to be spectacular. The first evening was extremely windy though and most people were not quite dressed for the unexpected wind.In this picture, you can see the flags completely horizontal as the wind blows through the event. We were served appetizers and small bites. I had small bites of macaroni and cheese as well as chicken fried steak. There were also small desserts that were sort of bite-size and quite good including brownies and small cupcakes.Edit
I arrived late so when I went over to see the opening headliner of the Ron Carter Nonet, there were no VIP seats available. Yes, I buy the VIP tickets so I can get the close seats and catered meals. There was available fence space within the VIP seating and I could see rather well. I was not able to get a program so I only knew Ron Carter by name. There were also another bass, four cellos, keyboard percussionists. Chris Collins, the director of the jazz fest, did not introduce the musicians as is the usual practice. The mix of songs tended towards slow songs. Much of the music was bowed rather than plopped on the base which is in itself unusual. The music was different than I had expected but I did enjoy it.
The next band in the line up was the Soul Rebels, a group from New Orleans. And again, none of the members were introduced by name.
And the last act was George Benson who was introduced by name. Although, I enjoyed some of the music, I really think he falls more on the pop side of music rather than jazz. A lot of times, though, the jazz fest has performers to introduce a people to jazz and this may have been an example.
I didn’t go out to the after fest parties. I had about 3 solid hours fo music and more would have been overwhelming. I have learned my limits.
Today. Maybe I can find a program and have a great music day.
Warren Wolf on vibes.
I went to The Dirty Dog Jazz Café last Wednesday night. I have been working long hours and have been exhausted since January but I have seen Warren Wolf before and had to see him again. I saw him at the Detroit Jazz Fest in 2014. Before I saw him I didn’t like vibes. His performance that they turned me around. He played a great set and I’m glad I made it.
The evening was made better by the return of the Grand Marnier Chocolate soufflé with vanilla cream sauce. It had been off the menu for a bit and was my favorite dessert at the Dirty Dog.
It was a great evening with great music and unexpectedly wonderful food.
This one is a Blue Apron meal. I am finding with the Blue Apron meals that I am often tweaking the meals to reduce the fat. I up the aromatics to preserve the flavors. On this meal, there were enough new things that I cooked the meal as suggested by Blue Apron.
I had never had a salsa verde and it was really a great flavor addition to the salmon which really does not need any assistance. The salsa verde was made with garlic paste, almonds, capers and parsley. The garlic was surprisingly pungent and tasty. The almonds added a bit of crunch. The capers added a bit of sour and the parsley freshened the overall taste. Adding olive oil made the salsa a paste. It brightens the salmon considerably.
I have now had Farro a couple of times and it is a wonderful grain. It is remarkably filling with a lovely nutty flavor. The Farro was warm when I added the pickled shallots, spinach, orange zest and orange pieces. Even with seasoning, the flavor was not quite bright enough for me. The orange was too sweet for my taste so I added a bit of rice vinegar.
It was an extremely satisfying meal.
Spiced catfish, braised greens and cheesy grits with poblano pepper.
There are some foods in my life that I don’t eat because of past experience, poor expectations or dietary sensitivity. Cat fish falls I to the poor expectations category.
During World War II, my father was stationed in Ft. Leonardwood, MO and my mother was there. I remember during my childhood my mother talking about her experiences there. She talked about going to the farmers market and buying catfish. It was alive when she took it home in a bucket. She talked about how it was a bottom feeder and had the flavor of the muddy Mississippr river. We never had it when I was a child.
So, it was a shock when I liked it. Granted, I didn’t have to kill or filet the fish. I think it was farm raised and the muddy taste was not there. The grits had cheddar cheese and cooked poblano pepper added. The collard greens were braised. The meal was above average. I do thank Blue Apron for introducing me to another new food.
Curtis Taylor Quartet l to r: Nate Winn(drums), Curtis Taylor(tpt), Marion Heyden (bass) and Kamau Kenyatta (piano) photo by Mark Brown
I went to Cliff Bells that night with certain expectations. I had never heard Curtis Taylor. The other three musicians are well known in Detroit although Kamau Kenyatta does not live in Detroit.
My favorite of the evening was Freddie Freeloader, an old standard. Curtis Taylor played a wonderfully melodic version of this and all songs during the evening. Nate Winn is an articulate was, as usual, able to raise the performance level. I had expected to get “smooth” jazz from Kamau Kenyatta and instead got a fierce and passionate performance.
It was a good musical evening.
Cliff Bells 12/26/2015
The place was decked out for the holidays and for the first set it was standing room only.
Jazz Police in attendence…l to r Judy, Marsha, Mie and Pam
Noah Jackson is one of those many musicians who was raised in Detroit and now resides in New York. During the holiday season, many a of the Detroit born musicians return to Detroit for part of the holidays and play at he clubs in town while they were here.
The quartet was called Full Circle and three excellent local musicians filled it to make it a quartet.
And on keys:
And last and one of the best:
The music was fierce and passionate. With the professionalism of the musicians, they pushed each other to excel rather than stepping all over each other.
During the second set, we got to sit down so it was much easier for me to just sit back and enjoy the music. For me, my favorite number of the evening was Nica’s Dream composed by Horace Silver. When a group plays a standard, you get to hear how they treat the music. I found their version more dynamic than what I usually hear. It is so much fun to hear a song played a new way.
Spicy Chicken Soup
This was supposed to be chicken tortilla soup. Things started well and then just went awry. This was a Blue Apron offering and I ended up changing it quite a bit.
As you can see, there are no tortillas slices. I burnt them. They would have added a layer that would have cut down on the spicy flavor of the broth. When I tasted the broth, it was just too spicy for me. I didn’t like the flavor. The broth was not thickening probably because I rinsed the cannellini beans too much. The chicken was good. The rainbow chard and beans were good.
I ended up adding a tablespoon of tomato paste which made it less spicy. It did really change the soup. I also added a spoonful of crème fraîche to ease the spiciness as well.
So, I have no idea how this was supposed to taste but I liked the flavors after I made my unexpected alterations.
It was a rainy, windy evening and I decided I needed some music. The wind was so strong that the dog was huddled up to me as I looked over the possibilities available for the music I like on a Wednesday evening in Detroit. There were about four “regular” choices. I decided on The Mighty Funhouse who play every Wednesday evening in the Corktown area of Detroit.
The Mighty Funhouse, Left to Right: John Douglas, Phil Hale, Skeeto Valdez and Paul Randolph
I was surprised when I got to the parking lot to see how crowded it was on a Wednesday and then remembered that a lot of people are off work or in town for the holidays. I walked in to the sound of the music and virtually no place to sit so I got a lemon soda and stood at the rail looking I to the room where the music was being played. After just a bit a girlfriend tapped me on the shoulder and showed me an open spot next to her and her friend at the bar. I usually don’t sit at the bar and so this was a fresh perspective. As I saw people I knew, there were hugs all around and I felt at home again listening to the music.
The present composition of the Funhouse produces an unusual sound. Each of the musicians usually plays in a different genre.
Skeeto Valdez has the most experience in rock and funk. He also plays drums in a jazz group frequently. He is a master at several genres and the organizer behind the Mighty Funhouse.
Phil Hale usually plays either jazz or R’n’B. As with many Detroit musicians, he started playing at an early age in church.
Paul Randolph has most of his musical career out of work Detroit so what I see is that he does blues and vocals at this venue.
Finally, there is John Douglas who primarily plays jazz. Although I have heard him play swing and R n B.
Last night one of the other patrons and I were trying to figure out what genre we were hearing. We just could not find a good answer. This band is borrows from all the genres I have mentioned and you can hear all of them in the sound. A normally straight forward blues tune will have a little jazzy overtone provided by John Douglas.
They usually do “Ain’t It Funky Now ” which is a great number to showcase all their talent. I was able to leave with a happy brain.