Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cheap eats and entertainment

Esther and I went to The House Tuesday after I got home from class and whipped together a fantastic quick dinner of fried pork and vegetables over ramen noodles. Check out this easy recipe: On medium heat, in a tablespoon of sesame seed oil, add one diced pork chop, a cup of chopped broccoli, one onion diced to any size you like, and one green pepper. After about five minutes of heating with the lid on the pan, uncover, add many dashes of curry spice, lemon pepper, onion salt, hot sauce, a dollop of peanut butter, and one diced portobello mushroom. Stir it all together, replace lid and cook for another 5-10 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your veggies. Throw this bodacious concoction over a bed of ramen noodles and top with cashews. Time from prep to cook to eat: 25 minutes. Call this dish "Raru's porknut delight."

So, afterwards, we went The House and lucked in on a jam session with Fareed Haque on guitar, George Brooks on sax and piano, Alejandro Fernandez on bass, Shira Zette on drums and NIU instructor Robert Chappell on piano and percussion. This session was tight. They moved fast and fluently through the changes, improvising an Indian-inspired raga from the beat of Chappell's hand drum. This was the kind of jazz that transports you off to another state of consciousness. The kind of momentary magic which inspires my love of the form. And all this happened not a stone's throw from home, My House to The House. No cover. I feel fortunate to have such a cool, inexpensive venue to frequent. And apparently this goes on just about every Tuesday, under the guise of the NIU Jazz Jam. Though this is the fifth or sixth time I've come out and the first I've seen Haque perform. I remember Haque from Sting's "Nothing Like The Sun" album (1987). Haque was one of many guitarists, including Eric Clapton, on the track "They Dance Alone."

Check out George Brooks' site. Little did I know how big a player he is in jazz circuits. His signature way to end a tune is to breath a vibrato non-note through his sax. DeKalb is lucky to have Haque, who sometimes brings his A-list friends to his "home" stage for some memorable jams.