I have eagerly been awaiting March 28th ever since last March 28th. It is a foodie holiday that everyone needs to be aware of, National Food on a Stick Day. Every year I celebrate by eating everything I can find on a stick. This year I plan to look for the most ridiculous food I can find and put it on a stick (hit me up with suggestions). The first time I celebrated, I tried to manuever my way through various foods using a tiny stick (like a pencil with broken lead). I quickly learned that it is important to carry a large one in order to meet the needs of various foods. That is what this mix is all about. When skewering, celebrating or just plan poking, find the biggest stick around, turn on this mix and let the good times impale.
Much to J-Fur’s chagrin, our Dutch Oven and I have become very friendly recently. Dutch ovens are versatile cooking tools that have been part of the American culinary experience for hundreds of year. These ovens were so important (and valuable) that they were often included in wills back in the 18th and 19th century. J-Fur’s wasn’t inherited, she bought it on her own, and she is very protective of it. When I made yucca fries a few weeks ago, I didn’t clean the oven to spotlessness before making this Au Gratin. The formerly white inside was left with a brownish hue. She laid into me about it. During her diatribe she announced that her Dutch Oven will not be willed to me, but to someone who “knows how to clean it properly.” So I enjoy it now, while I have the chance.
The Dutch Oven is perfect for this au gratin because it goes from stove top to oven without dirtying (read discoloring) more than one pot.
-2 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
-1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
-1 Tbs. dried parsley
-1/2 onion, diced
-2 cups spinach
-1 can quartered artichokes, diced
-1 medium fennel bulb, diced, fronds reserved
-12 cloves garlic, minced
-2 cups baby carrots, diced
-1 tsp. red wine vinegar
-3/4 cup Parmesan
-3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in Dutch Oven. Add the carrots and fennel, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. You want the carrots to be beginning to brown.
3. Add the onion and cook until the onion is soft (6-8 minutes). Scrap any brown parts off the bottom of the oven before adding the garlic, spinach and artichokes. Cook for another six minutes.
4. Remove the Dutch Oven from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Add the beans, thyme, parsley, half of the breadcrumbs and half cup of Parmesan. Mix well.
5. Combine the fennel fronds, remaining Parmesan and breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Spread the crumbs evenly over top of the bean mixture. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Cool slightly, eat quickly.
Au Gratin’s are created in an environment rife with extreme temperatures and heavy equipment. The perfect soundtrack for a meal like that would incorporate songs that are edgy, energetic and chaotic.
Australia’s Chainsaw Hookers are the next in a long line of musicians who are enamored by horror images and blood. Combine this with their punk tendencies and you’ve got a band that most people will hate. There is nothing pretty about it. Their music makes me think of the scene in 127 Hours when James Franco finally goes all in and slices off his arm (sorry if I ruined the ending for anyone). As much as I didn’t want to watch, I couldn’t look away. I tried not to like “Ride the Venom” but I couldn’t stop. You can get their EP, First Blood, at the Chainsaw Hooker bandcamp page.
Speaking of chaotic (and of horror and blood) we have BITCHES, a band from the UK, who makes Vampires fun again (thanks Twilight for almost ruining it). This is courtesy of the Devil.
Stay Hungry is about to embark on their Euro Rage Tour. That should give you all you need to know about their music. It is fast, loud and hardcore as, um…Aron Ralston (God I’ve gotta get that movie out of my head). Stay Hungry was Sweden’s representative for February’s MAP.
Fleet Street are a gritty rock band from Annapolis, Maryland that are hard to classify. Are the a blues band with garage punk tendencies? An acoustic band with woebegone lyrics? Perhaps a stalwart of lo-fi whose slurring rawness is reminiscent of a drunken Bob Dylan frog hopping Jay Reatard? A jazz act that sings kids songs? One thing we can be certain of is that Fleet Street is a prolific act. Three albums last year, five in the past two, each one giving you a slightly different idea of who the band is. It should come as a surprise to no one that Fleet Street has another album coming out soon (so look for it). The new album will have some “solid dirty/distortion tracks.”
Fleet Street needs to eat and they need a restaurant that fits their style (you know, one that is tough to pigeon hole). That place is Comet Ping Pong in DC. Comet Ping Pong is a pizza place that provides a venue for local musicians to perform, artists to hang their work and ping pong aficionados to get their game on. One might expect, from a place that has so many interests, that the pizza is your typical run-of-the-mill fare. It isn’t. They offer unique choices like “the slam” (arugula and bresaola), “the drive” (broccoli rabe, egg, garlic and melted onion), the D.F (organic black beans, organic beef, crema and lime salsa) and Fleet Street’s favorite “the Yalie (fresh clams, garlic, melted onions, thyme and lemon). Vegan? Celiac? No problem. They also offer a make your own section where you can swap out the dairy for soy cheese or the crust for a gluten free version.
Comet Ping Pong’s menu also includes a full list of bottled and on tap beers, wines, salads and starters and desserts. The restaurant also focuses on sustainability as their menu states that almost all of the food served there is “farmed and harvested in a sustainable manner.”
Socially and dietary conscience pizza with ping pong and live music, what is not to like about that? As Fleet Street said “definitely a place of the future, we’d love to see more places like Comet with creative homemade style pizza.”
I know where I’m going on my next trip through DC.
It took a conversation with a co-worker, lots of bad music, two cut fingers and an awful rendition of Cornish Pasties for me to finally start a Failure to Launch segment of the blog. Named for the albatross of a movie starring Zooey Deschanel, Mathew McConaughey and ol’ whatshernamethis is to highlight some of the cooking endeavors I’ve embarked on that have not had pleasant outcomes. It is a necessary part of write.click.cook.listen because often times people read food blogs and think that everything the blogger does tastes great (it can be an intimidating thing). I’m here to tell you that in fact, there are quite a few failures before things work out.
Specimen number one is the Cornish Pasty that was based on a Vegetarian Times recipe. I rolled the dough (even went so far as to use a rolling pin for like the first time ever) and it still came out of the oven too doughy. The innards were too skimpy and the barbeque sauce (that I replaced the mustard with) was hardly recognizable. Even the extra barbeque sauce that I slathered on top couldn’t save this sinking ship.
Remember 311? Sure you do, they still tour and allow people to wax nostalgic on what used to be. They had always been one of those borderline fail bands for me (although I did own a t-shirt of theirs once). When they covered the Cure’s “Love Song” for the 50 First Dates soundtrack, that pushed them over the edge. The cover was the worst of the worse. It lacked any sort of defining moment and felt like a band running through the motions to cash a check. Yes the cover went to number one on the charts, but that is more of a testament to the original song than it is to 311’s input into it. You want someone who can cover the Cure, try Brother Inferior.
My motto about soup is simple: “Soup does it better in a bread bowl.”
To illustrate this statement I always use the story from a school lunch back when I was eight years old. A food fight had just broken out and I was trying to get involved by dipping my spoon into Campbells Chicken Noodle Soup (you know, the kind that has few substantial chunks of anything in it) and flinging it. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the spoon into firing position before losing everything off of it. Now imagine this same scenario with a bread bowl. Pauly never would’ve flung those mashed potatoes at me if I had a big soup grenade to send back his way. It would’ve been his new shirt that got…
Point is, soup is better in a bread bowl. I used to buy them. But then Jacklyn from Go Vegan Meow!posted a recipe for a bread bowl and my life hasn’t been the same since.
–1 bread bowl recipe
-2 bay leaves
-3 cloves of garlic
-5 cups vegetable broth
-1 cup quinoa
-2 pounds of purple potatoes, cut into chunks
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 Tbs lime juice
1. Place olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion and bay leaves and saute until the onions are translucent (five minutes). Add the garlic and saute for three more minutes.
2. Add the potatoes, vegetable broth and salt. Cover and the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the quinoa, turn the heat down and allow the stew to simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Use an immersion blender (I finally used my birthday gift!) or a food processor to puree the soup. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice. Allow the soup to sit for five minutes.
4. Scoop out the insides of the bread bowls and fill with the stew. Reserve the tops and insides for dipping. Devour.
*The soup was very thick, especially after sitting for a night. If you prefer a soupier soup add more vegetable broth or water or only blend half of the soup.
Since this soup is sort of Peruvian in nature (with the quinoa and purple potatoes) I figured a Peruvian indie band should go well with it. On the latest M.A.P installment Peru’s representative was Kanaku & El Tigre. Their song “Bicicleta” starts as an experience in folky minimalism and then transitions into a controlled jaunt through the realms of finger picking, drum bumps and harmonics. “Bicicleta” is from Kanaku & El Tigre’s Caricoles LP.
Bonjah are a Melbourne, Australia five piece that have already had quite a bit of exposure. They’ve opened the Australian leg of tours for bands such as the Who, Counting Crows and Arrested Development, played a number of Australian festivals, been nominated for various APRA and AIR awards and had a song on the soundtrack of the 20th Century Fox release Matching Jack. It is probably safe to say that a leap beyond Australia will be forthcoming soon. Bonjah lastest release “The White Line,” is an exercise in speed beats and quickly spat lyrics a la the Strokes.
Also soup worthy is the new Raveonettes song “Forget That Your So Young.” It is solemn, sonic and slightly fuzzy, like a bread bowl that has sat in the Florida heat too long. The track features Sharin Foo’s voice in a way that I’m not sure we’ve heard it before. The Raveonettes are preparing a new album, Raven in the Grave (due on April 5th via Vice) and a North American tour.
Yesterday Moby decided to give his fans an appetizer before his sometime in May main course (called Destroyed). This three song EP (called Be the One) is low on vocals and high on atmosphere, beats and beeps. It is best listened to at night, while baking a blueberry loaf cake with lime drizzle. If you want the real Moby experience, take the cake a step further and veganize it.
(I followed Jacqueline’s version pretty closely though I used 1 cup of plain white sugar for the cake and 1/3 a cup of confectioner’s sugar for the drizzle).
My family does not share the love of Breakfast at Tiffany’s like the main characters in Deep Blue Something’s 1994 one hit wonder. Our common ground is Olive Garden. It is here that red meat devouring carnivores can sit side-by-side with lettuce munchers in gormandizing merriment. Call me boring or a creature of habit but every time I eat at Olive Garden it is the same thing: salad; minestrone; bread sticks; and water. After our last visit, I decided that Minestrone was too good to only eat once a year. So, I made my own.
-1 onion, small dice
-2 celery stalks, small dice
-2 cups baby carrots, cut into rounds
-1 cup water
-1 cup vegetable broth
-1 can diced tomatoes (28 ounces)
-2 cups spinach
-1 can cannellini beans, rinsed
-1 can kidney beans, rinsed
-2 cups fresh green beans
-Parmesan Cheese rind
-4 ounces shell pasta
-3 Tbs. pesto
-salt and pepper (to taste)
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute for seven minutes (onions should be translucent).
2. Add the water, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, spinach, beans and Parmesan rind to the onion mixture. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat to a simmer and heat for forty-five minutes.
3. Turn the heat up to medium. Add the shell pasta and cook until pasta has the desired consistency. Remove from heat.
4. Stir in pesto, salt and pepper. Gut it.
Nothing says Genoese Minestrone as boldly and proudly as Moksha. The band should represent the things I hate. The lyrics leave a little something to be desired, I would love whispers that were about something much cooler than “do you try to get high,” and the rhymes sound like my third graders could write. But oddly enough it is the music and the female back up vocals that keeps me coming back to “Take This Smile.” Moksha is trying to get themselves a record deal. If you are interested, like their facebook petition page and see if it helps.
I heard “Komba” by If They Ask, Tell Them We’re Dead over at Swedesplease and it didn’t do much for me. But at the bottom of the post there was a link to the entire EP and I clicked on it. My feelings were somewhere in the middle until “Bow & Arrow” came on. I instantly liked this song which mixes speed and distortion with an intense wall of sound and muddy lyrics. It is like a trip through the swamp minus the disgusting heat and smell. It also makes me think of Primus minus the long winded art swag and consistent letdowns.
Also Minestrone friendly is the Twilight Singers. “On the Corner” is just as big as “Bow & Arrows” but it offers a much cleaner sound. You can see (and hear) right into Greg Dulli’s vocal chords. The track comes from the band’s new album, Dynamite Steps, which is set for release on Tuesday. A tour to support the album follows.
You don’t need me to tell you that “idiot food” (fast food, convenience store grub) is bad for you. Too much salt, sugar, fat, processing, leads to obesity…you probably don’t wind up on this blog without knowing these kind of details.
Superman Revenge Squad compares ones health after eating “idiot food” to what happens when one loses a lover. I can stick a fork in that one. I can also stick a fork in any song that name drops British artists at a furious spoken word pace. I can’t even keep up without the lyric sheet. Special thanks to the Devil for bringing these to my attention.
As the sole male teacher at my school I have the pleasure of teaching the boy portion of Human Growth and Development to a bunch of fourth and fifth graders. Not wanting us to go into this talk unprepared the district offers a mandatory training. There are three thing teachers should not touch in the classroom and these can be remembered by the acronym H.A.M. Basically our HG&D talk needs to be all vegetarian, no H.A.M. Just like these sliders, which came about because I was tired of seeing others eat cute little burgers without me.
-1 can black beans, drained
-1 can pinto beans, drained
-1 jalapeno, small dice
-1/2 onion, small dice
-1/4 cup nutritional yeast
-1/2 cup corn
-salt and black pepper (to taste)
-8 slider buns
-toppings (I used barbecued onions, pickles and jack cheese)
1. Mash the beans in a large metal bowl until relatively smooth. Add the jalapeno, onion, nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper and corn. Mix thoroughly.2. Shape the mixture into tiny burgers. Set aside.
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet. When oil is hot, drop the sliders in and cook for five minutes on each side. Pile on favorite burger toppings and H.A.M it down.
These burgers are pretty straightforward and easy to make. They remind me of the music that Derby makes. There are no gimmicks or gadgets, it is power pop at its most suspicious. The band drops an album (Madeline) next Tuesday, right after Valentine’s Day, so surprise the love of your Lutheran life with it.
If you are into bells and whistles with your sliders then try Hooded Fang on for size. This seven piece from Toronto released a self-titled album last fall that included the brilliant “Laughing.” The track includes some hot girl on guy action with money shots about about laughing and dancing and dependability.
Five Eight is an Athens, Georgia band that has gone through a ton of drama (imagine fifth graders hearing the word “penis” spoken by a teacher and times it by a hundred thousand) and yet remain relevant almost twenty years after their beginning. “Your God is Dead to Me Now” may have been circulating on the internet for close to a year now, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.