Showing posts from February, 2010

Wintertime Fruit Salad over Steel Cut Oatmeal

I grew up eating fruit salad with every dinner, so now I crave it pretty consistently. Particularly in the winter, my body wants that extra vitamin C. However, at least in these parts, it can be hard to find a wide variety of good, fresh fruit in February. I came up with this fruit salad to address that issue. It was conceived with a firm belief that cinnamon makes just about anything taste even better.

The last time I got this salad together I had also cooked up a big batch of steel cut oatmeal. I served them separately, but my friends got the brilliant idea to put the fruit salad over the oatmeal. It made for a delicious, hearty, wintertime breakfast that kept us full during a long walk in the woods.

***Yields 6-8 servings***
Wintertime Fruit Salad
2 Large apples (I prefer Gala, but any apple with some firmness will work)
2 Large pears (I prefer D'Anjou, but any pear with some firmness will work)
3 Clementines or 2 small oranges
1c Chopped walnuts
1c Dried cranberries (I highly recomme…

The Weekly Roundup: 2.26.2010

The Clapping Playlist
If a song has handclaps in it, I am pretty much guaranteed to like it just a little bit more. It’s just such a gloriously human sound. As I romantically put it to myself recently, “I have handclaps for heartbeats.” So, you can image my excitement when I came across this playlist from Esoteric Mumblings. Penelope by Pinback is an especially sweet number. I also recommend Shuffle Your Feet by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Hurry Up Let’s Go by Shout Out Louds, and Proposition 61 by The Most Serene Republic.
Download The Clapping Playlist from Esoteric Mumblings
American Prospects
My friend introduced me to the American Prospects series by Joel Sternfeld when she sent me a link to the photo below. This piece is so striking. This blind man is surrounded by such beauty. He can't see it, yet he seems to understand that it is there. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a complete website or portfolio for Sternfeld online. He has several other series, but this one appeals t…

Rainy Day Playlist

The Mid-Atlantic is experiencing some pretty dreary weather right now. It hasn't been fun to go out in, but the gray skies over the white snow and black trees in my yard were picturesque enough to inspire this eclectic playlist. Presenting my rainy day playlist: 30 songs about wetness, rain, storms, clouds, fog, and mist. Also, featuring a bonus track with hopes for sunnier skies.
1. Wet Hair - Japandroids
2. Buckets of Rain - Bob Dylan
3. Fire and Rain - James Taylor
4. The Clock and The Storm - The Appleseed Cast
5. Raindrops - Basement Jaxx
6. Let It Rain - Tracy Chapman
7. Raining Blood - Slayer
8. Can You Stand The Rain - Boyz II Men
9. I Wish It Would Rain - The Temptations
10. Rain Dogs - Tom Waits
11. And It Rained All Night - Thom Yorke
12. Stormy Weather - Lena Horne
13. Stormy Weather - Echo and The Bunnymen
14. Rain Edit Interlude - Prefuse 73
15. There's A Storm Coming - The Standells
16. Tonight There'll Be Clouds - The Microphones
17. Wet Work - Q and Not U
18. Red Rain - The…

Tuesday Is For Tunes: Washed Out

I first heard Washed Out, this week's Tuesday Is For Tunes featured music-maker, a couple months ago the Pitchfork: Best New Music playlist. I clearly remember liking what I heard, clicking back to listen to it again. Unfortunately, I usually listen to that playlist rather passively, and did not investigate further. Thankfully, You'll See It by Washed Out was today's All Songs Considered: Song of The Day, and this time I had the good sense to listen more. After listening to that song on repeat for a few hours, I proceeded to play what other Washed Out songs I could find on the interwebs with equal vigor. It is some of the best minimal synth I’ve heard in awhile, and that’s saying a lot. I’ve been listening to what could be considered by some to be a gross amount of minimal synth music lately.

This is probably influenced by some hopeful or maybe just wishful thinking on my part, but to me Washed Out sounds like wintertime dreams of summertime love as John Hughes might have c…

Rosemary Baked Tofu

I developed this recipe a couple of years ago so my vegan brother and I could have something nice, fancy, and baked to eat for Christmas instead of turkey. I've traditionally only made it for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it's so tasty I'm vowing to make it more often. Actually, even meat-eaters have begun to salivatingly expect this baked tofu at my mom's annual Thanksgiving potluck.

***Yields 6-8 servings.***
***Yields 6-8 servings.***
Rosemary Baked Tofu
2 14oz packages of extra firm tofu
3/4c Extra virgin olive oil
3/4c Orange juice
3/4c Soy sauce
1tbsp Seasoning blend for chicken (I recommend Grill Mates Montreal Chicken)
1tbsp Dried rosemary leaves
1tsp Fresh ground black pepper

In a leak-proof container (I use an old Mason jar), combine the extra virgin olive oil, orange juice, soy sauce, and seasoning blend for chicken. Close tightly, and shake vigorously for several minutes to make the marinade. Pour some of the marinade into a tray you can cover (I use a 9"x13&q…

The Weekly Roundup: 2.19.2010

Art Czars
The Japandroids will be releasing a series of limited edition 7"s this year instead of one full-length. This is really a brilliant way to sustain interest in a band, and is sure to appeal to music nerds everywhere. I have thus far resisted starting a vinyl collection, because I move around a lot, and also because it would probably consume all of my disposable and not so disposable income. However, this series might break me. The A-side of the first 7" is titled Art Czars, and it is available for free download on Stereogum. While Art Czars certainly doesn't lack in the distortion or attitude we've come to expect from Japandroids, it's also easy to hear why it wasn't included on their Post-Nothing album. It sounds slightly more striped down and concise, clearly showing their punk rock influences.
Download Art Czars by Japandroids
A Valentine's Playlist For The Bitter and Alone
If you didn't get food poisoning, and if you had someone to hold you on…

Tuesday Is For Tunes: The Happiness Project

My friend introduced me to The Happiness Project when she included the song Anna on a mix she made me. The song instantly caught my attention. One of the philosophies I’ve been trying to incorporate into my life recently is to place more importance on just being happy. Anna samples the sound of a woman speaking about these young girls she works with, and says, “They’re happy all the time.” It made me happier to know that somewhere there is a bunch of girls that are just effortlessly happy, even if achieving that state of being is harder for me. This is just one of the many reasons I love this song. There is some really remarkable saxophone that kicks in over the sample of the woman’s voice and starts to mimic her cadences and tones. It reminds me of bebop, but the instrument is imitating the vocals instead of the other way around. As the woman finishes her comment on happiness the clip is looped several times to emphasize her final statement. Then, the rest of the song is developed fr…

Vegan Crazy Cake with Icing

I found this amazingly crazy cake recipe online, and adapted it to suit my tastes. Anyone who's ever made a cake from scratch before will probably find the directions and ingredients surprisingly unusual. However, I can vouch for it. I've made this cake twice now with popular results. Since the cake just happens to be vegan, I thought I'd develop a vegan icing to match. Non-vegans have agreed it tastes just like it was made with a stick of butter. YAY, BAKEGOODS!

*** Yields one 8"x8" cake. ***
Vegan Crazy Cake
1 1/2c Unbleached flour (I recommend King Arthur All-Purpose)
1c Sugar
1/2c Natural cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2tsp Baking powder
1tsp Powdered cinnamon
1/2tsp Salt
1tsp Apple cider vinegar
2tsp Pure vanilla extract
1/2c Canola oil
1c Warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift unbleached flour, sugar, natural cocoa powder, baking powder, powdered cinnamon, and salt into an ungreased 8x8 cake pan. Evenly smooth the dry mixture with the back of a spoon, and th…

The Weekly Roundup: 2.12.2010

Gorilla Manor In Its Entirety
Once again NPR is providing shear awesomeness free of charge with their Exclusive First Listen series. At least until its release date, February 16th, Gorilla Manor the new album by Local Natives is available to stream in its entirety thanks to NPR. I highly recommend taking a listen before they take it down next Tuesday. As I mentioned previously in the post Tuesday Is For Tunes: Local Natives, I expect Local Natives will be considered one of the breakout bands of 2010.
Exclusive First Listen: Local Natives by Bob Boilen
Prison Photography
This is a truly captivating blog I came across this week. Prison Photography features the writing and photos of photographers who have documented prisons, other sites of incarceration, and instances of state-sanctioned human rights violations. While the images and stories are compelling, one of the main objectives of the blog is to raise awareness about the need for prison reform, a social justice issue that has been of in…

Black & White Winter

I love black and white photography. Even when it's digital it reminds me of countless happy hours locked away in the darkroom at my high school, listening to my Discman, and developing prints. Here are some photos I've taken this winter with my FinePix J38. They've had minimal editing in Photoshop: a layer to desaturate, and a layer to adjust the levels.

Tuesday Is For Tunes: Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron is completely and totally this week’s Tuesday Is For Tunes artist. I can’t say that I know anyone else’s soul, but if it’s anything like mine, then it will be torn asunder and weep bitter tears all for I’m New Here, the new album from Gil Scott-Heron that released today. I am utterly moved and inspired by this album. At least for now, it’s available to stream in entirety on Gil Scott-Heron’s website, and I pretty sure I’d like to advise you to ignore all my mindless drivel, go listen to the whole album, and form your own opinion. However, if you enjoy my blathering, here we go.

I’m New Here blends spoken word with electronic and folk influences. Perhaps a surprising amalgamation for those not already familiar with his work, yet Gil Scott-Heron’s delivery of gravely, unfathomable vocals unites this album with heartrending poignancy. Every song has some element that takes my breath away, so much so that I find myself moved to do a song-by-song review (minus the interludes…

The Weekly Roundup: 2.5.2010

Blue Whales Are Singing Lower and Sexier
The LA Times reported this week that Mark McDonald, a whale acoustics researcher (best job title ever?), has discovered that blue whales sing at a lower pitch than they did several decades ago. Nature never ceases to impress and captivate me. For once a change in the natural order may actually be good news. While researchers and oceanographers still do not know what exactly has caused the key change, a leading theory is that whales can return to singing in "a lower, sexier frequency" now that a healthy growth in population density means that whales can communicate at shorter distances. Bonus, McDonald talks about whale acoustics the way I talk about band acoustics. I love people with passions for sounds.
"The tone is so deep that if played in a small room, it's hard to hear: The long-period sound waves extend beyond the walls. But play a recording very loudly, in a large auditorium, and 'you feel it in your chest as much as…

Tuesday Is For Tunes: Nneka

First let me offer my apologies for this belated and brief edition of Tuesday Is For Tunes. I’ve had several potentially life-changing events go down in the last couple of days, and not much free time.

This week I’m featuring Nneka, a soulful songstress from Nigeria by way of Germany. As I’ve been describing to anyone who will listen, Nneka’s vocal stylings sound like a rich blend of Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill tinged with afro-beat and reggae influences. While the blatant reggae sounds in songs like Suffri don’t really appeal to me, other songs fuse her influences so dynamically they transcend genres to a new, distinctive level of innovation. In an era of globalization, Nneka is a stellar example of how progressive and catchy music can be when it takes advantage of inspirations from around the world.

For example, take her song Heartbeat. You need to listen to this song. I cannot compel you enough to listen to this song. I’ve heard several songs about heartbeats that use the kick drum …