Somebody to Love: Orange date muffins, Sesame chicken

 Queen, Somebody to Love

Last year when the lodge pool was closed for repairs, I rode the exercise bike at 9:00 am and listened to a local AM radio station broadcast its commercial-free “Nine at Nine” segment. Every day the disc jockey featured a year from the 1970s to the present day. One Tuesday I pedaled to 1976—David Bowie, Tom Petty, Tin Lizzie and Queen. My energy ebbed and surged according to the revolutions per minute—when they were up to 80 rpm, I rocked. Queen’s, “Somebody to Love” powered me through my morning doldrums.

The song reminded me, as only a song can, of a specific time and place: the post-dinner scrub and scrape at Sound Food. Patty, the pantry cook, and I cleaned the kitchen after the last dog had been served. By 10:00, we had been slammed by at least 200 customers, four hyper-active waitron units, and one surly dishwasher—we were ready for a beer and a bed. Music got us through.

Bob the baker listened to tapes during his 1:00 am-7:00 am shift, dancing with whomever came in the back door. Bob’s cassette player had seen better days: it was floured with flour, caked with cake and permanently turned to max with no volume control knob. If you wanted to reduce the sound from ear-splitting to loud, you had to bring in your own pair of pliers. Musical choices were limited: Bo Diddley, Fats Domino and Chuck Berry for early morning solo jitterbugging; swing music when the first breakfast waitress showed up; and head-banging music from the radio to finish off the day.

Facing kitchen cleanup after a long dinner shift, Patty and I needed head banging and found two Queen tapes. Bob didn’t much care for Queen, but it suited our late night routine perfectly. We listened to that tape each night for months. Before long, we knew every word and performed our way through the grill scrub, the stove scrape, and the floor mop.

Years later at a Eugene, Oregon yard sale, while searching through a Tupperware/T-shirt collection spread out on blankets, I heard the familiar sounds of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Over at the Books, Tapes, Records table, a ten-year old boy was belting out the song to his little sister, who was sitting on the grass, listening in rapt attention. The boy knew every word, every Freddie Mercury falsetto, every Scaramouche. Good things never disappear.

Here are a few good things from the golden era of Sound Food. 

Orange Date Muffins 

  • 1 orange 
  • 1⁄2 c. orange juice 
  • 1⁄2 c. chopped dates 
  • 1⁄4 c. softened butter 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 1⁄2 c. flour 
  • 3⁄4 c. sugar 
  • 1 t. baking soda 
  • 1 t. baking powder 
  • 1 t. salt 

Either remove rind from orange and chop finely or grate orange-only part of peel, then chop whole orange. Add coarsely chopped orange, orange rind, dates, soft butter and egg—combine well. Sift together dry ingredients and add to orange/butter/egg mix until it is just combined. Don’t over mix.

Bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Sesame Chicken (Perfect when cooked, cooled and picnicked. Also reheats well.)

One cut up frying chicken 

Marinade: 1⁄2 c. honey 1⁄2 c. lemon juice 1 c. sesame seeds, toasted 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine marinade ingredients. 

Brown cut up fryer in hot oil. Be sure to let the oil come up to a near smoke stage before browning the chicken and please, don’t bother the pieces until a nice crust forms on the bottom.

Pour off excess oil. Pour sesame marinade over chicken, bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Basting the pieces during the cooking time can only help.

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