Archive for the ‘ Friends ’ Category

Squabbles and Wigwam try on some really creepy masks at the Halloween store.

Ghost Wings

Ghost wings ready for the grill

Bill liked the ghost pepper salsa

Jesse and Joey, who tried the ghost salsa and lived to tell the tale

A Hot Time


Seven types of chiles went into my chicken wing sauce

We’re having several friends over tonight to watch the Vikings-Packers game on the big screen and I decided to whip up a batch of spicy wings for @garciasn and anyone else who wanted to feel the burn. I wanted to make my own sauce, using the bhut jolokia (ghost peppers) I bought a while back.

I wandered over to Cub and made my way through the chili section, looking for flavors that would complement the smokiness and bite of the ghosts. I grabbed a handful of habaneros, a bunch of Thai chilies, and some fat jalapenos to cool down the sauce. I also bought a large shallot, a massive head of garlic, three big mangoes and some orange-mango juice concentrate to use as the base of the sauce. Once I got home, I went through the cupboards and came up with some dried Pequin chilies, some ground Chimayo chili (a gift from my friend Yvonne, a wonderful SW cooking expert) and a bottle of Datil pepper extract to toss in, bringing us to seven types of chilies in the sauce, including eight — count ’em — eight ghost peppers. I used a blender to grind everything up, except the garlic and shallots, which I sauteed in a stick of butter. After everything was mixed and simmering, I did a taste test and added some honey to bring up the sweetness a bit. OMG (oh my ghosts), it was a bit spicy.

The simmering chilies made the air in our home toxic (I thought the DEA might burst in at any moment to bust up what they were convinced was a meth lab). Laurie and I were still coughing this morning, even after opening windows and running fans. The cats were staggering around in the kitchen like drunken sailors on liberty. Good stuff.

I marinaded half of the wings in the sauce overnight and reserved a bunch for cooking and dipping. I will be smoking the wings over applewood chips this afternoon on the Grillinator, rain or shine, and enjoying a few Summit EPAs while I work. (I promise there will be no cell phone photos of me in my Crocs).

We will be enjoying these wings with my homemade bleu cheese dressing and celery (as God intended), as well as chips and my homemade ghost pepper salsa. Go Vikes.

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Ghost Peppers + Ribs = Mmmmmm

Pork ribs

Respect the pig

Ghostly ingredient

Thanks to a tip from my buddy Bill Roehl, I raced to Cub to buy fresh ghost peppers — at $3.99 a pint, they were a steal and really were as hot as promised by Bill’s taste test. You might recall, Bill and I traveled to the West Metro a few times last year to participate in ghost wing challenges at the Girvan Grille. Today, I decided to whip up some ghost barbecue sauce and slather it on some St. Louis style pork ribs that I had smoked slowly on the back deck. I think it goes without saying that this was a win all around. My stomach is now rebelling, but I had expected that. The price of admission and all that. We followed up the ribs with some dragon fruit I bought for Jesse. It was interesting, but fairly tasteless. Jesse pronounced it “cool and refreshing.”

Dragon fruit

Enter the dragon

Where I’ve Been All Week

About 150 native journalists, multimedia artists and entrepreneurs gathered in St. Paul for the annual Native American Journalists Association Conference. It was fun to see old friends and colleagues, but bittersweet to see how shrunken the organization has become over the past four or five years. I participated in a pilot program funded by the Ford Foundation through Unity: Journalists of Color to promote entrepreneurship among people of color. I was paired with native radio legend John Gregg, who is working to start a radio station in Sisseton, SD. Also met some other really smart, entrepreneurial native people who are starting businesses or nonprofits, including Rose High Bear, Deb Krol and Priscilla Wolfe. Joining me as mentors and faculty in the program were Rod Colon, Jodi Rave, Julie Sandidge, Doug Mitchell and Alli Joseph. Read more about the program and its participants here.

During the weeklong NAJA conference (hey, did I mention that we designed the conference logo?), we celebrated the life of our friend Minnie Two Shoes with her family, visited, laughed and told stories into the early morning hours.

Take a look at the videos below to see what the student journalists produced at the conference, as well as coverage of some of the speakers at the gathering from Paul DeMain’s Indian Country TV.

The final cut of the student project at the conference

Watch live streaming video from indiancountrytv at

Ojibwe writer and language teacher Jim Northrup speaks on the Power of Words

Watch live streaming video from indiancountrytv at

Michael Burgess, former executive director of NAJA and current chairman of the Comanche tribe, addresses the conference attendees

Watch live streaming video from indiancountrytv at

R.I.P. Minnie Two Shoes, 1950-2010

We lost another strong Indian woman this week, my good friend and colleague, Minnie Two Shoes. Minnie was a journalist and a strong presence in the Twin Cities American Indian community. She pressed me into service a few months ago to help her plan this summer’s Native American Journalists Association conference in St. Paul. She said those magic words she knew would work with me: “Come over to the Circle office. There’ll be food. Ehhhhhhh.” The first meeting I attended started with frybread from the Wolves Den (the best in town) and Minnie’s own buffalo stew and wojapi. I ate and laughed until I couldn’t see straight. She had me at frybread.

NAJA just won’t be the same without Minnie, her laugh, her energy, her wisdom, her presence. But we should all be comforted by the fact that a new generation of native reporters, writers, photographers and artists has been nurtured by her love, strength and passion for telling our stories in our own words.

I’m going to miss you like hell Minnie. Much love and safe journey to the Creator.

Many Roads to Success

We had Ojibwe class today at Dakota Ridge School in ISD196. We have culture and language classes every other Saturday. Today, we heard the Ojibwe flood story and learned vocabulary words related to the story beforehand (using the Smart Board and games). It was a blast — a multi-generational class made up of students from many different tribes and some non-native guests. We followed up class with traditional crafts — today we made necklaces, bracelets and chokers out of sinew, beads and shells. Our teacher, James Vukelich, is a real treasure and has melded technology and traditional teachings in a way that makes students want to learn. His teaching style makes what could be a tough language to master accessible to students of all ages. Chi-miigwetch, James.

May the lord strike me dead if I am lying...

Getting a lot of messages these days from something called Friend FAQ on Facebook. It asks people questions about me, tells me the answers then wants to charge me “50 coins” to find out who gave the answers. I had to laugh at some of the questions and responses. Here they are, with the purported answers and my corrections. So if any of you are curious and want the real scoop, read on:

Do you think that Art Coulson has ever mooned someone?
No (Heh. You obviously have never seen me after one too many beers)
Do you think that Art Coulson would secretly fart in public?
No  (Ehhhhhhh. Sorry, wrong answer. I ONLY do so secretly)
Would Art Coulson make a good spouse?
Yes (Thanks, hon)
Do you think that Art Coulson is a slacker?
Yes (Correct!)
Do you think that Art Coulson is cute?
Yes (Thanks, sis)
Do you think that Art Coulson is a liar?
Yes (Correct! But only to those I love when I think it will keep me out of trouble…)

Halloween 2009

Jesse (right) and her BFF Allie all dressed up for Halloween. I think they were supposed to be The Go Gos. Hah

Jesse (right) and her BFF Allie all dressed up for Halloween. I'm not sure, but I think they were supposed to be The Go Gos. Hah

Would you like fries with that?

Would you like fries with that?

Halloween 2009 was a blast. Both girls hung out with friends (Katie at work at Papa Murphys and then at the movies to see, believe it or not, Saw VI; Jesse trick-or-treating with a gang of suburban hoodlums then to a friend’s party in Burnsville).

I was left to man the front door with a bowl of candy — sort of like handing a plate of brains to a zombie. We had about 50 kids total, 3 or 4 big clumps, then the occasional group of 2 or 3. Kept me hopping for a couple of hours as I tried to watch Hostel II on the DVR.

Jesse and Allie did a great job making each other into goth girls. I dared them to wear their outfits to school on Monday, but so far, no takers on that dare. Jesse also helped her sister dress up as Wendy, from the hamburger joint, at the last minute before she headed off to work at the pizza shop. She did a great job whipping together a costume filled with irony for her sister in just 30 minutes. She has the Halloween touch all right.

We dropped by Papa Murphys for one of their over-advertised jack-o-lantern pizzas, which Katie made for us. Wish I had a picture. I defy you to make a jack-o-lantern out of the pizza we received. It was tasty, though.

Hope everyone had a fun holiday and didn’t get too sick on all that candy.

Ghost Wings Kick Our Butts

Bill Roehl, Danni, Josh and I represented the South Metro in the Ghost Wing Challenge Tournament of Champions at the Girvan Grille on Monday night. Once again, the whole gang at the Grille treated us like royalty (Note to FTC: The Girvan Grille provided me and the other 11 champions all the free ghost wings we could eat in 10 minutes, plus three free beers — Summit EPA in my case. Also got a nifty Vikings T-shirt and a bottle opener, courtesy of Anheuser-Busch).

After the challenge, we stayed to watch the Vikes dismantle the Packers and to drink a few more pints of cold, frosty beer. Check out Bill’s harrowing and hilarious write-up here. And watch the video of all the action below (courtesy of

Girvan Grille Ghost Wing Challenge Tournament of Champions! from Bill Roehl on Vimeo.

The wings were hotter and saucier than the two times we ate them before. I tried to just plow through them with a minimum of pausing and/or breathing. A couple of the competitors whipped through three or four plates by the time I finished my second. So as I began my third plate, thinking I was out of contention, I slowed way down and ate just two wings in the final 3 minutes, bringing me to a final tally of 22. When the head chef counted the bones of each contestant, however, he disqualified half-eaten wings, giving the winner just 28 wings and second place just 27. Had I known I was that close, I would have powered through a few more.Yes, I am that stupid.

Danni and Josh both made it to 10 wings and stopped and Bill bravely met his goal of 20 wings, earning him 5th place. A couple of other competitors dropped out really early (did I mention the wings seemed even hotter this time?) and one of our challengers, who shall remain nameless — mostly because I don’t know his name — ended the contest by losing his wings in the men’s room stall. He probably felt a heckuva lot better than the rest of us later that night and following day. I was still dancing with the devil all day today, probably because I had warmed-up ghosts for dinner last night. The folks at the Grille made Bill and me up to-go boxes with a couple of dozen wings each, as well as a to-go pint of the wing sauce. Satan, get thee behind me. Never mind, you’re already there…