The second stage in chili pepper domination found me knee deep in a familiar place, Thailand. Now I’ve never officially been to Thailand but I’ve eaten enough “Thai food” to be an adopted son of the country. With that adoption comes legal papers that allow me to cook food and deem it “Thai” no matter how inauthentic it is. I guess that is a long winded way of saying I don’t know whether they would eat this in Thailand or not but in my visions of the country this is all anyone eats.
Thai Bird Chili Tofu and Noodles
-1 block of tofu, drained and cut into small squares
-1 cup baby carrots, small dice
-1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
-1 clove of garlic
-1/4 cup Thai Basil
-1 cup spinach
-5 Thai Bird Chilies
-2 Tbs. Tamari
-1 Tbs. Lime Juice
-1 tsp. ginger
-1 tsp. brown sugar
-1/2 box Vermicelli pasta
1. Heat the sesame oil in a saucepan. Drop the drained tofu into the oil and heat until beginning to brown slightly (about seven minutes).
2. In a different pan heat a little more sesame oil. Add the baby carrots and bell pepper to warm oil and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and saute for another minute. Combine the carrot mixture with the tofu and cook for 5 minutes. Add the Thai basil and spinach and cook an additional five minutes.
3. In a bowl combine the five chilies (seeds removed and diced small), tamari, lime juice, ginger and brown sugar. Pour the sauce over the tofu and cook for ten more minutes.
4. Meanwhile heat the pasta according to the directions on the box. When the pasta is down, drain it. Combine the noodles and tofu mixture in a large bowl and stir until uniform. Grab your chopsticks and go.
This dish isn’t ridiculously hot but it is about as high as I go on the hotness scale. I’m the guy who goes medium at the Thai restaurant and then sweats profusely. In that sense, Wise Blood’snew track “Penthouse Suites” is the right fit. After all, you can’t go much higher than the penthouse.
Now if you are looking to sweat profusely outside of the realm of food, you need to look no further than Capital Cities “Safe and Sound.” It’s a lot of bounce, a little J Geils Band and smatterings of new wave drenching boasts that would make Henny Pennyproud.
It was suggested one time in Cedar Key that, “A person hasn’t experienced Florida unless they’ve tried boiled peanuts.” It took me seven years but I finally “experienced” Florida. As I slurped one peanut down after another I was surprised to find the texture and taste oddly reminiscent of a bean. I thought nothing more of this similarity until a Facebook response suggested that if I made boiled peanut hummus there would be a willing taste tester.
Brilliant idea! So that’s exactly what I did on Sunday (between the potatoes and homemade Oreos).
Ms. Smith Comes to Tampa Boiled Peanut Hummus
-1 lb of peanuts
-pot of water
-1 Tbs. olive oil
-1/4 cup water
-2 garlic cloves
-Cajun seasoning (to taste)
-salt (to taste)
1. Place peanuts in a huge pot. Fill the pot almost to the top with water. Pour in some salt and Cajun seasoning. Place a lid upside down on the pot (if you filled the water high enough this will hold the peanuts under). Boil for six hours adding more water as necessary.2. Drain the peanuts in a colander. Allow to cool. Remove the nuts from the shell and place in a food processor. Once all peanuts have been removed, discard the shells.3. Pour olive oil, garlic, water, Cajun seasoning and salt in food processor. Pulse until peanuts are smooth (add more water if you would like the hummus smoother). Garnish with parsley.4. Serve on top of toasted pita. Open wide and experience Florida.What if Katy Perry had been an Englishman in an indie rock band? Then “Last Friday Night” would’ve sounded something like what the Vaccines did and boiled peanut hummus would probably be something mothers tell their kids to scare them straight.
With seven hours of boiling, a person has plenty of time to dance. They simply must find the right song. General Fiasco’s new one “The Age that You Start Losing Friends” fits the bill. It is guitar driven and fast but also features enough rhythm to make Andy Reid happy. Be on the look out for General Fiasco’s new album, Waves, set to be released in October.
I’d like to think I don’t have a lazy bone in my body, that I am always willing to give everything I have to whatever it is I’m doing. But the truth is that I load myself up on projects and activities that are rather time consuming and require a lot of effort. There are moments where I need (and take) a quick fix in order to maintain my sanity. These Bierocks are an example of that. I could’ve made the dough from scratch and figured out how to make homemade tempeh, gathered my own caraway seeds and plucked my own cabbage from a garden…but I didn’t. I took the easy way out. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.
-1 package of Pillsbury Crescent rolls (or vegan biscuit dough if you aren’t lazy)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Saute the tempeh, onion, garlic, salt and lemon pepper in a large skillet for five minutes.
2. Add the cabbage, Worcestershire sauce and caraway seeds. Cook until the cabbage is no longer stiff. Drain any excess liquid from the mixture.
3. Lay out the crescent rolls or biscuits. Roll until they are flattened. Place the tempeh mixture in the center of the dough. Pull one side of the dough to the other and press together (use a fork to ensure they don’t come apart during baking if you aren’t lazy, I was). Place filled dough pockets on a baking sheet.
4. Heat the bierocks in the oven for about fifteen minutes (or until the dough begins to brown). Shove it down.
Big Black Delta (aka Jonathan Bates) make music that is millions of times bigger and darker than I am. I would think that if Mika somehow wound up performing a concert on the backside of the moon that was attended by only robots and microscopic creepy crawlies, this is what it would sound like. I would hope that when Transformers 16 comes out next year, a Big Black Delta song would be on the soundtrack. It is the perfect fit. September will find Big Black Delta in residency at the Satellite in LA (every Monday) as well as releasing his debut LP BBDLP1 (on the 26th via Coming Home Records). “Capsize” will be somewhere on that LP:
Epitaph was a staple through my teenage years. Best known for their loud rambunctious punk rock releases, the label and I have taken on a more long distance relationship in recent years. I still check in, just not as often. During our last update I got wind of Dangerous! and their track “Movers N Shakers.” While this song is everything that Epitaph has come to be known by, it also features some techno sounding samples that help create a melodic undertone. Ultimately though it is the tracks aggressiveness that gets me fired up. “Movers N Shakers” is from the album Teenage Rampage which will hit stores on September 20th.
Seven years ago two words,”Alright, gaaaay,” changed everything I thought I knew about humor. Three years later the trio responsible were back cursing little green insects. What you may not know about Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are that they are part of a planned trilogy that revolves around Cornettoice cream and blood. The third installment, currently titled The World’s End, is scheduled for release sometime in 2014 (though at one point it was planned for 2011 and we see how that didn’t come to be). While the Cornetto flavor for The World’s End has already been revealed by director Edgar Wright (it will be mint chocolate chip) I would suggest the company get on creating something a little more exotic, something like Vanilla Bean and Thai Basil. I’ve done the hard work Cornetto, now you just put it together, mass produce and sell. Then it won’t be long before Simon Pegg licks it on the big screen.
1. In a heavy sauce pan, over medium heat, bring the milk, 1/4 cup of sugar, basil, salt and vanilla beans to a boil. Remove from heat and cover. Allow the milk mixture to steep for 30 minutes.
2. Put the milk mixture into a blender and process until basil and vanilla beans are smooth.
3. Beat the egg yolks and remaining sugar in an electric mixing bowl for about a minute. Add the milk mixture using a slow stream. Continue mixing until the milk and eggs are well combined. Pour the resulting custard back into the heavy sauce pan.
4. Over moderate heat, warm the mixture to 175 degrees stirring constantly. It should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.
5. Using two stainless steel bowls, one that fits inside the other, create an ice bath (ice and water in the big bowl with the other bowl resting in the water). Strain the custard through a strainer into the chilled metal bowl. Allow the custard to cool completely.
6. Once the custard has cooled, stir in the cream and place it into an ice cream maker. Churn for thirty minutes. Freeze in an air-tight container overnight. Cone it.
“Zimbabwe” by New Navy did not immediately stand out to me. I think I went to delete it from my hard drive five or six times. But the more that it accidentally played, the more the jungle beats and echoed lyrics began to percolate in my brain. I still can’t say it is great but it is hard to get rid of.
When I think of Cleveland I think of the song at the beginning of that one sitcom that announces “Cleveland Rocks.” In the case of Mild Mannered, a son of Cleveland, the song would require a slight alteration to “Cleveland Indie-Pops.” At one time the band was just a duo made up of Jennifer and Pat Casa. Realizing they needed to push their music further they recruited a guitarist (friend Tim Parnin) and bassist (Tony Bunce). The results are glowing. “Mild Mannered” comes from their debut album Believeland (due September 27th on Finished Basement Records).
“Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore and Lewis (featuring Ray Dalton) starts like most of their brilliant songs, with a piano intro. But it isn’t far past that intro where you start to see something different. This song spits, fast. Despite the speed, the power of Macklemore’s lyrics and Lewis’ production is not lost. In real life, that’s hard to do. In the world of Macklemore and Lewis, its just another piece of evidence offered up to the hip hop court. “What say you Macklemore and Lewis to the claim brought by the defendant that states you are amazing musicians?” “Guilty as charged.”
I was presented with a gift from my co-worker Renee today. It was a bag of these baby chili peppers from her garden. They stared at me throughout our morning meeting and about halfway through I decided to have me a sample. I wanted to check the Scoville Heat Unit on them. The heat was a little too much for my water bottle to handle so I grabbed the only other thing that was in my reach, a mini Hershey’s Dark Bar. That’s when it came to me. Hot peppers, chocolate and some….peanut butter? Why not?
Peanut Butter Stuffed Hot Peppers Covered in Chocolate
-natural peanut butter (it is moves easier)
1. Cut the top off the chili pepper. Remove the seeds and discard. Drip the peanut butter into the center until the pepper is filled. Place on wax paper.
2. In a sauce pan heat the chocolate over low heat. Add the sugar and milk or soy milk (I used a ratio of three chocolate squares to one teaspoon of milk and sugar). Stir constantly until chocolate is melted into a ganache like topping. Get a spoonful of chocolate and drip to cover the pepper. Continue until the entire pepper has been covered. Repeat until all the peppers and chocolate have been used.
3. Refrigerate the peppers until chocolate is hardened. Eat, squeal, love.
Imagine a piano player providing the music for a main card melee fought at half speed between the Arctic Monkeysand Frightened Rabbit and you are somewhere in the vicinity of Andy Gibbard. Gibbard is an English singer-songwriter who is preparing for his full length album, Focus, by offering a prologue, Prefocus. This five song EP can be yours by paying a visit to his bandcamp page. Especially fruitful is “The English Rose.”
I’ve been enjoying the Handcuffs’ garage glam hit “Baby I Love You” for a couple of months now. I should probably move on to their new single “Miss You on Tuesday” but this one is so hard to leave behind. Look for their new album on September 6th.
When that day comes that I’ve gone and killed myself I hope that it is half as cheery as Goodman Brown makes it sound. “Done and Killed Myself” is about exactly what it says. But instead of a depressive Xiu Xiu tear fest this one’s got cheery pianos, screaming guitars and a celebratory sounding chorus. East Coast dates are quickly approaching (NY, Philly, Delaware at the end of this month and Connecticut and Massachusetts in early September) as the band supports their Free-P (available here).
Thursday night I had the opportunity to attend a sold out event at Roosevelt 2.0. The event included a showing of the documentary Farmegeddon, a discussion with the director and sampling of local foods and products provided by restaurants, farmers and foodies. WMNF, the local community radio station, played a large role in putting this event together.
Farmegeddon, as with most documentaries, had some flaws but overall I enjoyed learning through human impact stories that were presented by the film. These were stories of farmers who were producing foods (mainly raw milk/dairy products) to support a niche market that was against USDA protocol. As a result, most of these people found themselves victims of ridiculous USDA antics that caused much hardship and monetary loss. The film, at its core, is simply asking why people don’t have the freedom to eat what they want even if there are risks? I mean there are just as many risks drinking soda, eating meat from corporate factory farms or smoking cigarettes as there are drinking raw milk or eating raw dairy products. Yet only three of those things (cigarettes, corporate meat, soda) are legal to be sold in all fifty states.
Taking part in the evening’s festivities was a Tampa Food Truck called Wicked Wiches. While I didn’t buy anything from them (there was too much free food being passed around) I was inspired by one of their sandwiches. As a result we have a Dr. Pepper Basted Seitan Brisket Topped with Caramelized Barbecue Onions and Cheddar Cheese (make it vegan or don’t, your choice). You can get the recipe, in printable form, here.
These sandwiches are urban and rural life rolled into one. This means that while they don’t go great with people who have a history of suffering from heartburn, they go great with The Breedings. The Breedings are a brother and sister duo from Kentucky. Willie spent some time in NYC and put out a few solo albums before his sister, Erin, joined him to do the vocal work. The result is a band that isn’t completely pop and isn’t completely country, but falls somewhere on the spectrum between the two. They have just recorded their debut album, Laughing at Luck, that Willie deems “what I would imagine the Strokes would sound like if they were a female fronted band from 1978.” Here’s my favorite track “Impatient Love.”
Also of Seitanic interest is Jens Lekman’s disagreement with himself. There’s a “Shut up” “No you shut up” which later becomes a “F**k You” “No F**K You” which are surrounded by, amongst other things, accordions. Classic. This is Lekman’s first release in a few years and if the rest of the EP sounds like this, I’m captured.
Somewhere amongst the fixed gear bike riders, spirited dog walkers and gym rats that rule Hyde Park Village there is a place where sugar and fat and cream and chocolate are king. That place would be Sophie’s French Bakery & Cafe. While the menu isn’t all crystalline carbohydrates, there are some great soups and sandwiches that will meet the dietary needs of anyone be it vegan, vegetarian or carnivores, it is the sweets that call to you. A huge glass case right by the door that is illuminated by white lights and full of any dessert you can imagine will do that to you. I would venture to say the case, on any given day, features at least twenty different desserts to choose from including: eclairs, croissants, tarts, brownies, tortes, cookies, bread pudding, turnovers, pies, muffins, cakes, Creme Brulee and French Macaroons.
Our first trip to Sophie’s happened on the way back from the beach. I had exhausted all the samples at Anthropologie and it was suggested that we visit the bakery at the other end of the village. Having never ventured to that side of the village, I had no idea a bakery existed but I shrugged and went along with it. We arrived right before closing but there was still a decent selection. I went with a Strawberry Shortcake Fruit Tart for myself and a Twice Baked Almond and Chocolate Croissant for J-Fur.
My Strawberry Shortcake Tart was pretty laid back. It wasn’t hit you in the face sugary but it also wasn’t super fruity either. I don’t mind the sugar being toned down but I want my fruit to have some taste. Texture wise the dessert was great but it lacked any sort of taste that really caught my attention. The big winner on this visit was the croissant (which is amazing since I much prefer fruit desserts to chocolate).
The croissant was slathered in almonds and then baked around a chocolate interior. According to Sophie’s website, they spend extra money to purchase European chocolate and butter (which is why their desserts are also a little pricier than other places). The fact that the chocolate was European was probably why I liked this dessert. The chocolate didn’t try to compete or overwhelm the taster with chocolate (like I fear American chocolate would) but instead enhanced the dough of the croissant and, more importantly, the almonds.
A few weeks later, after a trip to the Village Farmer’s Market, we decided to return to Sophie’s for another go round. This experience was completely different as we arrived early and sat in the cafe rather then downing our desserts while driving. J-Fur looked over the entire case and decided on the Flourless Chocolate Cake. I went with a Raisin Covered Sticky Bun (even though the Pecan Pie Tarts called my name many different times).
Despite the look of the Sticky Bun (sugar bomb waiting to explode) I was quite surprised to find that, ready for a common theme, the Bun wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet. The sweetest part was the raisins. Since raisins are overly sweet on their own, covering them with icing and layering on a sweet bun risks overkill. Realizing this, the baker’s at Sophie’s played to their ingredients and created a very enjoyable dessert. I had no regrets about my choice (sorry Pecan Pie).
J-Fur’s Flourless Chocolate Cake was another success. Flourless Chocolate Cakes are really easy…to mess up. She’s had some bad ones in the past. Even if they aren’t bad, they are usually so dense and heavy that they can’t be finished at one sitting. This is only problematic to people who put their leftovers in the refrigerator and forget about them until they don’t taste good anymore (like J-Fur does). Sophie’s version of the cake included a fresh raspberry on top. While the cake was heavy in comparison to other desserts it wasn’t to the point where it was hard to finish. The raspberry offered just enough change of pace to keep the taster from being bogged down. J-Fur thoroughly enjoyed it (too much chocolate for me).
Sophie’s is my type of bakery. Not overly sickening sweet, not creating desserts that taste unnatural or difficult to swallow. These creations are desserts in the sense of their ingredients but you wouldn’t know it by their taste. Subtlety is an artform that Sophie’s has down pat.
While we strolled through the Village towards Sophie’s I had the hip hop sounds of Skizzy Mars (here and here) and E-Dubble (here and here and here) running through my mind. There are very few artists who consistently put out songs that I like. This means I have a very tempered feeling towards most. But when I see that Skizzy Mars and E-Dubble have put out a new track I get a little more excited because the majority of their songs are ones that I can listen to over and over.
At first glance Skizzy’s track “Tara” has a major flaw. It is layered over No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” a song that only soccer mom’s enjoy these days. That being said Skizzy moves around “Don’t Speak” with his signature rhymes and sampling skills making it almost (almost!) unrecognizable. While not for the faint of heart (read uptight) Skizzy Mars and his “astronuts” know how to lay great tracks with the best of them.
E-Dubble’s new track “My Last Dream” meshes an appearance by Komplex (second verse) with samples of “Weighty Ghost” by Wintersleep and his unique lyrics. The result is a much more temperate, though not less incredible, song that will have you bobbing your head and pointing your fingers while shouting out you car window “That’s right. You hear that?”
Nishwasher is a band that I don’t know much about. I know they are from Florida, their new EP is three tracks long and it ended up in my inbox the other day. I also know that “25 Cent Liquor” is a helluva song. Its fast, messy and sprinkles your lawn even when the cops tell you there is a water advisory in effect and you need to cease. That takes some “astronuts.” You can download the band’s This Culture EP for free here.
This summer something fabulous is going on in the parking lot of Firestone Live in Orlando. Every Wednesday night from 6:00-12:00ish a collection of food trucks and musicians set up shop to serve local patrons. Dubbed the Tastes and Sounds of Downtown great food is flinging, craft beer is flowing and local bands are performing about thirty feet away on a stage. It is exactly like town fairs in Pennsylvania, only the food is good and the music isn’t okie bluegrass.
J-Fur and I, along with our friends Bob and Elizabeth, made the 1.5 hour drive mainly because of the food. The fact that Stockholm (here and here) was headlining was the proverbial icing on the cupcake.
Our first stop was the Batter Bowl Truck. This all dessert truck was one of the newer food vehicles in town, making its debut in July. Last nights menu including four different cupcakes, goat cheese brownies and Lemon Olive Oil Gelato (made from Lemon Olive Oil that they lugged back from California). J-Fur went with the Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Icing:
Her first comment when she saw it was “Holy no icing.” She smeared it with her finger to cover the remainder of the cupcake and took a bite before offering me one. My take was that it was great. I hate too much icing so I thought the amount was just right. The cream cheese icing was more cream cheese, less sweet and the cake wasn’t overly sugary either. J-Fur thought it could use a tad more sugar but she is an addict. I kindly disagreed. I picked the Goat Cheese Brownie knowing that I normally don’t like brownies:
The beauty of this brownie is that you can actually see the goat cheese swirled into the top. Taste wise the brownie echoed the cupcake in that it wasn’t overly rich or sweet. The goat cheese served to temper the overpowering fudge taste that most brownies suffer from. Overall the Batter Bowl is my kind of dessert truck. It is dessert that doesn’t hit you over the head with disgusting sweetness but let’s the subtlety of their ingredients linger on your palette. To use a teacher analogy: the Batter Bowl desserts are sort of like the kid who whispers an insult into a bully’s ear causing the bully to loudly announce “I’m gonna kick your a@@” right in front of the principal.
Our next stop was the Tastebuds Catering Truck. Bob and Elizabeth went with the Tostones (which were sold out by the time I snapped the picture of the sign) and Tequenos while J-Fur and I ordered two Tequenos. I was slightly worried at the sound of “cheese sticks” because I could only think of the mozzarella sticks that a lot of Italian restaurants serve. I am not a fan of these because they are too much cheese and not enough breading and they usually end with my gut hurting.
These Tequenos (sorry about the picture) were the perfect balance of dough and cheese. It helped that they weren’t covered with the fried breading of other cheese sticks but a dough that was much smoother. It is reminiscent of the dough that covers empanadas. The dipping sauce was a spicy cilantro sauce that thankfully wasn’t overpowering on the cilantro side of things. Otherwise I wouldn’t have eaten it. Another great experience.
Next up was the Pure Mobile Cafe truck. This truck offers all vegan choices. It is run by Jen Dostie who also sells loose leaf tea and organic skincare and makeup at her website Everything Organic. The Pure Mobile Cafe had falafel and homemade naan, spicy tempeh tacos, and a beat salad. It also offered sides of hummus and pita, sweet potato fries as well as three of Jen’s teas. There was a vegan brownie with vegan chocolate ganache for dessert. What I really wanted was the falafel and homemade naan but it was already sold out by the time we arrived. That meant tempeh tacos for me:
The tacos included tempeh that was baked in a slightly sweet sauce, avocados, radish, mixed greens and a side of vegan chipotle ranch sauce. There were a lot of different flavors and textures in the taco and I really liked that. I especially enjoyed the crunchy/soft combo provided by the radish and avocado. It is similar to the lentil/cabbage tacos I made the other day. I decided to end the night with their vegan brownie:
The Vegan Brownie was ok. I like how they gave me the option of an end or middle piece. I’m a middle fan because I like it soft all around. The brownie was moist, not overly dry like some vegan desserts can be. Really the only reason that it wasn’t great was that it was pretty sweet. After having the Batter Bowl’s brownie I think the added sweetness was drawn out even more. J-Fur also tasted it and she commented on the sweetness as well (if the sugar queen comments then…). In reality it comes down to your taste preference. Do you want sweetness with your desserts or do you want something a little more subtle? Oh yeah and do you want something dairy free or chock full of goat milk? I’d eat the vegan brownie again, I’d just be more prepared.
Finally, once all the food was out of the way, there was the matter of enjoying Stockholm. The crowd had thinned a lot by the time they were on so it felt like they were performing for just me (and the other twenty friends I had standing around me). I’ll just pretend it was like my sixteenth birthday party and my mom hired them to play for it. I had a pretty rad party (thanks mom!). The lack of a crowd didn’t temper their show at all and that is a good thing. If the band keeps at it, I don’t think they’ll have many more shows that size.