See Emily Play is the stage moniker for 18 year old Emily Ireland. She is an artist who values her voice and piano playing abilities above anything else. Throw in lyrics that are influenced by her love of poetry and prose and it is no wonder that she has garnered comparisons to the raw energy of Patti Smith and the lyrical dexterity of Kate Bush. All of these tantalizing characteristics are what make her debut EP on Tiny Teeth Records a successful one. The breathtaking title track, “Four Feet From the Door” stands head and shoulders above the rest. It begins with rolling drums, like a military preparing on the day of battle. When Emily’s voice kicks in it becomes evident that what’s at war here is beauty versus pain; two seeming enemies that find themselves in bed together all too often. The wall of sound is deep and bold and colorful, like a field of wildflowers. The lyrics are dark with specks of flashing brilliance, think of the stars in the night sky, and tell the tale of a trio of people. One does not need anything proved to her, one deserves an explanation and the third must decide how to rectify this messed up situation. In one word, breathtaking.
Emily compares her debut EP to a black forest gateau saying that “it is wholesome, classic and sweet but dark and secretly a bit deadly.” Check out a printable version of Emily Play’s Black Forest Gateau.
Everyone around me acts like a beer expert, yet I seem to know more than they do about what makes a truly fantastic beer. In the end a truly fantastic beer is one that is aged to perfection. This process takes at least two years. What you do is buy a six pack, put it in the back of your fridge and let it sit for two years. At that point crack it open and drink (or cook with it). It is that simple. If the beer tastes bad or the dish doesn’t turn out right then it wasn’t a truly fantastic beer. A lot of my friends are into these microbrewed beers that don’t stand this test of time. Do you want the latest IPA Microbrewed Hipster Mouthwash just to impress your friends or do you want a truly fantastic beer that you can actually use? You decide.
My latest batch of truly fantastic beer just reached the two year mark. That’s why there was this and now my latest, Beer Barbecued Chiken with Sprite Biscuits. The combination of these Chiken and Biscuits was like a wedding in that it joined something old (the beer) with something new (the twenty minute old Sprite). The result was a deliciousness that lingered much longer than the matrimony of Kris and Kim.
For the Chiken:
-your favorite vegetarian chiken
-1 bottle of hickory smoked barbeque sauce
-1 bottle of truly fantastic beer (or some new age crap if you have a simple palette)
-2 garlic cloves
For the biscuits:
-2 cups homemade baking mix (or Bisquick if you are in a rush)
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1/2 cup sprite
1. Pour the beer in a sauce pan over low heat. Add the bottle of barbeque sauce and garlic. Heat until the sauce begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce thickens (30 minutes or so).
2. Dump the Chiken in a gallon size ziplock bag. Add the barbeque sauce and seal the bag. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the sour cream into the baking mix. Add the sprite and mix until a sticky dough forms. Use additional baking mix to flour a surface and flatten out the dough (not too thin). Cut out circles of dough.
4. Melt butter and cover the bottom of a 9 inch square baking dish. Place the biscuits in the butter mixture. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes (or until golden).
5. Remove the chiken from the fridge and reheat in a small skillet. Slice the biscuits and place the chiken on top. Add any toppings you’d like (I went with fried potatoes and spinach). Eat and tell yourself, good things come to those who wait.
For 8 long years Sasha Raskin, a singer songwriter who lives in Israel, has been working on his debut EP. Everything finally came to fruition on December 13th and Only Music saw the light of day. The album is full of songs that are emotional and introspective both musically and lyrically. The songs work together create something beautiful and religious. The eery “Requiem for Beginnings” works best with this dish:
Also doing it the slow, deliberate way is the Jealous Sound. Nine years after their debut LP the band is back and preparing for their sophomore full-length, A Gentle Reminder. The album is full of alternative anthems that are covered in raining guitars, thundering rhythms and lyrics that range from a windy day to the peaceful calm before the storm. “Change You” is the second track off the album (which you can currently listen to here):
I’ve featured music by the La Chansons a few times already on here (like here and here) but I haven’t dove very deeply into them. As they keep putting out good music it is becoming harder and harder to ignore them. La Chansons is Greg and Carson, a husband and wife, who live triple lives. First they work their regular 9-5 jobs. Then they put on their parenting hat and are in the process of raising their five month old son. When that’s all done, they squeeze in time to craft some amazing electro-pop music. All three tracks are from the album At the Chateau which you can get here.
Those of you who have followed this blog since its inception (and let’s face it that’s no one) know that a few months ago it transitioned from a blogger cookie cutter dirt palace to a fat cow wind powered gravel track. I have my dear friend Michelle to thank for all of that. The other night I finally had a chance to thank her with what I do best, cook. I went with a completely vegan, sans dessert, meal of carrot soup, salad, bread and tropical collards. These are a remix of a recipe that Simon Spire sent my way last week as part of his manifesto.
I loved most of what Spire had to offer except that I am not a huge coconut fan unless it is paired with pineapple. So that’s what I did. Around the time that I was to dump in the unsweetened coconut milk I took a detour out to my backyard and grabbed a pineapple. I cut it open and drained a cool 6 ounces of juice from it (amazing that this is the exact same amount that you could probably get from a can you purchased at the grocery store). To keep with the tropical theme I also replaced the RealSalt with some Palm Island Black Lava Sea Salt that I had in my pantry. I cooked simmered the greens and sweet potatoes until the latter melted in your mouth (about a 40 minute simmer). The guests loved it. It would’ve been the highlight of the night had I not also presented them with dessert. That was game over.
Craig Finn (of The Hold Steady fame) finally saw his debut solo album Clear Heart Full Eyes hit stores this week. The album is pretty mellow on the music side of things. This allows the listeners to focus more on the lyrics which waiver somewhere around snotty punk, lonely drifter and Jesus pipe smoker. Imagine a bowling team of Slim Cessna, Jeff Ott, Billy Bragg and Patterson Hood and you are in the right neighborhood. While the album is pretty good, it is the cagey funk of “Honolulu Blues” that works best with this dish. Get the full album here.
I used to think of cheddar as the cheese equivalent of vanilla. Both are decent enough dudes, good listeners, but not much in the way of adventure. If I’m going to go tagging or breaking and entering I’m going to call up smoked provolone or jalapeno jack to join me. That all changed the first time I got cheddar drunk.
I remember it well, my birthday 2011. My friend Bob handed me three cheeses and some crackers. The first two cheeses seemed exciting and fresh, ready to bring the chaos, the third was a cheddar rogue stout. Despite the name rogue, I just sort of tossed it aside as another dull version of cheddar. When the other two cheeses were cashed I reluctantly went to the cheddar. I sliced some off, paired it with a pickle and took a bite. Damn was that good. J-Fur took a bite. She agreed. Since then we’ve returned a number of times to Whole Foods to get our hands on that rogue cheddar only to find they may never have it again. At least they can’t take our memories away!
On Sunday, I got cheddar drunk again. This time it was in a soup.
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1 celery rib, finely chopped
-1 small onion, finely chopped
-1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
-1 can black beans, drained
-1/4 cup flour
-salt and pepper
-1/2 cup skim milk
-4 Tbs. unsalted butter
-1 jalapeno, chopped
-12 ounces beer (a lager or pilsner)
-5 slices veggie bacon
-2 1/4 cups veggie broth
-8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
-6 ounces medium cheddar cheese
-baguette, sliced into small rounds
1. In a large saucepan, cook the veggie bacon until starting to brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Add the celery, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic to the saucepan and cook until they begin to soften.
2. Add six ounces of beer and the black beans. Cook for about five minutes. At this point the beer should’ve been reduced by half. Add the veggie stock and bring to a simmer.
3. In a small skillet make a roux by combining the melted butter with flour. Heat this until it is slightly browned (2 minutes). Whisk into the soup. Cook the soup until it is thickened (10 minutes). Add the skim milk, cheddar cheeses and the remaining beer. Stir continuously until the cheese has melted and the soup is creamy. Add salt and pepper and the veggie bacon (which you should slice before you dump it in).
4. For the Texas toast. Slather baguette pieces with garlic butter. Place in the oven at 375 for eight minutes (or until the butter has melted and the toasts become golden. Place the toasts in a bowl and cover with soup. Go rogue!
Tru Fam are a twin pop/hip hop duo who are no strangers to the effects of alcohol. One needs to go no further than their track “Intoxicating” to see what I mean. Tru Fam spent the summer playing Vans Warped Tour and have just released their EP Bowties & Applause. The highlights of the EP are “Intoxicating” featuring Heartless Moment which sounds like a more refined 3OH!3 and the summery and singalongy “Rebound” featuring Body Electric. You can get your hands on the EP, with certain songs being free, at their bandcamp page.
Yesterday marked the end of the Year of the Rabbit and the beginning of the Year of the Dragon according to Chinese Astrology. To celebrate we joined some friends for dim sum at one of the two Tampa Chinese restaurants we frequent, Yummy House China Bistro.
This was the first time I had visited Yummy House during dim sum. Normally my preference is China Yuan (here) when it comes to dim sum (those pineapple buns are amazing). I’m not sure if it was the norm but yesterday the bistro rolled their dim sum around in little carts. Here you could see everything in front of you, ask any questions or point if your mouth was to full to speak. I think this approach sells more, it is sort of like the bakery effect. When everything is laid out in front of you it is hard to resist. I know I bought more than I normally would have.
One of the emptier dim sum carts
Through the carts I was tempted into buying Pineapple buns, Chinese Brocoli in Soy Sauce and Egg Pastries. J-Fur and I also ordered fried rice and salt and pepper tofu from the menu. My first dish was the Yummy House version of pineapple buns (picture didn’t turn out). These are your traditional pineapple buns stuffed with a custard like substance. The buns were decent but lacked the pineapple insides that make the China Yuan version out of this world. These were also a little cooler than China Yuan’s (probably one of the downfalls of the dim sum cart, foods weren’t as piping hot as normal). Next up was the Chinese Broccoli in Soy Sauce. The dish was simple which is exactly how it should’ve been done. The greens weren’t loaded down with sauce like other Chinese restaurants I have visited. Yummy House has an almost salsa like hot sauce that they brought out to the table. Putting that on top of the broccoli made good, great.
Chinese Broccoli in Soy Sauce
J-Fur and I finally broke away from the carts and ordered our menu choices of Salt and Pepper Tofu and Fried Rice. Salt and Pepper Tofu is my favorite Chinese dish and Yummy House’s version was super spicy and had a lot of cilantro. I’m not a big fan of either of those approaches. After my first experience of eating Salt and Pepper Tofu at China Yuan I ran home and had to make my own. Yummy House’s didn’t make me feel that same way. I ate it, it wasn’t horrible, I’ve just had better. J-Fur’s Fried Rice was a different story. I really like that it was lightly seasoned (not overly salty like other places do it) and the vegetables were able to shine through better. Instead of tasteless squares of carrot and peas, these were full flavored veggies that tasted like they should.
To wrap up my meal I took one more plate from the dim sum cart, an egg custard pastry. I expected a little more than what the pastry gave me. Not being a fan of egg (or custard) I was drawn solely by how it looked; like a mini pecan pie with egg instead of pecans. Probably could’ve done without it as it tasted strongly of egg and custard (big surprise).
Egg Custard Tarts
Yummy House is like a date with the second hottest girl in your school. Sure she can bring the hot sauce, she doesn’t trap live animals in front of you and she won’t disappoint, especially with those vegetable dishes. But the whole time you are visiting you are thinking in the back of your mind that their is that one girl that can outdo her. Yummy House China Bistro remains my go-to Chinese restaurant when I’m okay settling (or when China Yuan is closed).
Back in 1939 the Year of the Rabbit began. It was a swell time, a time for partying, solidarity, cheering friends as they fought in backyard brawls and…uh the downers of Berlin and Madrid and hundreds of protesters being rendered voiceless. Tyred Eyes have tried to capture the downers of the rabbit (while comparing it to Stockholm today) in their song “Party Like it’s 1939.” The song reminds me of a dim sum cart in the musical sense, reach out and grab some three chord rock sounds or Lemmy style vocals. Perhaps a male/female chorus or a lukewarm off key scream. Take a handful of political lyrics, a steaming pot of calling to arms and wrap it all up with a bowl of crowd chants and clapping. Check these guys out as they tour with Impo and the Tents (here).
“I’m like let’s roll, let’s roll. She’s like let’s go, let’s go. Have sex, watch Parks and Rec and in the morning I’ll make you some Eggos.”
I really planned on just letting this song go. Sure I like it and all but I was beginning to become an all hip-hop all the time station posting everything that E-Dubble, Macklemore and Skizzy Mars does. So I backed slowly away. Moved it off the computer and put it onto my running playlist. But this morning, nine miles in, when this song came on and I heard Macklemore drop his line about making some Eggos after a night of sex I knew I was thoroughly defeated (that wasn’t the achy knees and sore toe talking). I was going to post it. Guess I need to change the blog title to Write.Click.Hip.Hop.Listen. “Blazin’ High” is actually by The World Famous Tony Williams and features the likes of Wale and Emilio Rojas along with Macklemore.
After my wedding, the first time I had pesto was the best day of my life. Well there was my college graduation when the crowd booed me, that was pretty great too. Oh and I forgot when I met some of my best friends, can’t forget those days either. And the Fucked Up show…Let’s say the first time I ate pesto is in the top fifty (hundred?) greatest days of my life.
The other night I roasted some potatoes in the oven and needed something to top them with. I contemplated spicy ketchup or barbeque but I wanted something different, slightly unique. I ran down a list of condiments in my head until I reached pesto. Hmm…it was different, but I needed something with just a little more attitude.
In comes the lemon, out goes your momma’s pesto. This is the stuff you can’t bring to the dinner table because it will tell grandma to go f*** herself and grandpa will get the kiss your a** treatment. It does like sister-in-laws though (not sure why).
-3 garlic cloves, peeled
-2 cups basil leaves
-3 Tbs. almonds
-1 pinch of sea salt (be generous)
-1/4 cup of olive oil
-1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
-juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
-small potatoes (I used red, purple and gold)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the potatoes lengthwise. Place in a bowl and coat in olive oil. Reserve the bowl. Put on a baking sheet and cook until golden (30 minutes).
2. In a food processor, place the garlic cloves and process until finely chopped. Add the basil, almonds and salt and coarsely chop them. Scrape the sides of the processor to get all the goods back into the bottom of the bowl.
3. Turn the processor on and pour the olive oil in slowly (you can stop when it gets to the consistency you desire). Transfer to a bowl and add the Parmesan. Stir until mixed. Squeeze in the lemon juice and zest. Mix again. Set aside.
4. When the potatoes are done, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Drop the potatoes back into the olive oil bowl and pour in the pesto. Stir until covered. Serve to those who can hack it.
This pesto needs some music that is loud and tough, like the bully who punches you at the school lunch table because of some lie your girlfriend told him. That pretty much sums up The Black Catapult’s “Get it Up” and Ceremony’s “Hysteria.” The Black Catapult are from Australia. They are a vegetarian butcher and an army dude who rock out to skate punk and write love songs without a happy ending.
When I was younger there were many Sunday afternoons that found me at Johnny’s Restaurant ordering a greasy hamburger and onion rings while in the company of my grandparents. Inevitably a group of Amish teens that were in the midst of rumspringa would come strolling in. These guys were usually “dressing English,” smoking cigarettes and chewing on some sort of stuffed pretzel. They’d head straight to the jukebox and request Guns N Roses, Def Leppard or AC/DC. Afterwards the teens headed out to the parking lot and practiced squealing the tires of their old school mustangs.
These were the images that flashed through my head as I worked on my own version of stuffed pretzels. My original intention was to go the route of a veggie cheesesteak but an abundance of Italian cheeses and tomato sauce quickly morphed the recipe into a pizza. To make this simply go with this pretzel recipe (leaving out the cheese and jalapenos). When you get to the point of forming the dough, roll it out and layer the onions, peppers, cheeses and sauce on top. Fold the dough over and wrap it tightly inside. Put it into an inch of water with baking soda for a minute then place it on a baking sheet and bake.
Re-Enactment’s “Too Much” is the story of two estranged lovers who run out of small talk. It is awkward, uncomfortable and ugly. It is Rumspringa. You can get “Too Much” and its b-side “The Rounds” from Re-Enactment’s bandcamp page.
Lizette Lizette is a 21 year old Swedish artists who has an affinity of Acid House, Eurodance and 90’s music. Throw in new age culture, Peru and India and you’ve got just a few of the things that have melted together to help create “Wheel of Fortune” her first single.
If I learned anything from Ted Kaczynski it is that people love manifestos. This just served to reinforce it. People also love extremes. So last time it was the meat eating, Swedish “shoegaze electronic” innovators Fort Fairfield who “invited” you to the table in their Lonneberga cabin. This time it is Simon Spire, a vegan macrobiotic foodie who writes catchy alternative rock music while discovering the best of New York’s vegan, organic and raw food scene.
Spire is kicking of 2012 with his first US EP release (on January 31st). No Solid Ground is a stunning piece of work that continues Spire’s tradition of meshing together feelgood anthems with “indelible hooks” and lyrics that are both “personal and confessional.” He has drawn comparisons to the likes of Sufjan Stevens, John Mayer and Ryan Adams. Nirvana, Leonard Cohen, Neil Diamond and Alanis Morrissette have all served as inspiration at one point or another during his life. It is all paying off as recently Spire won first prize in the Rock/Alternative category in the 2011 USA songwriting competition for his song “A Four Letter Word.” It was here, as Spire walked forward to grab his award, that I noticed the big bundle of paper stuffed into his bag. Making sure no one was looking I reached in and was elated to find this:
Simon Spire’s Food Manifesto
I’ve been called weird and I’ve been called boring. It’s sometimes hard for people to fathom that my culinary preferences really are that—my preferred fare. I have to admit that there was a time when I would have responded with similar bafflement. The truth is that, after a number of years of exploring the world of natural, unadorned, whole foods (the category of food, not the supermarket), any minor lapse in adherence to this approach only reminds me why I started eating like this in the first place.
I have no creed or membership to any particular movement, but at some point it just made sense to me to forgo the often lifeless yet over-flavored food I had become accustomed to in favor of “natural” food. Easier said than done. Paradoxically, truly natural food can be hard to come by; it’s much easier to find complicated, refined, and manipulated ingredients. Chalk it up to the momentum of collective habit and the premium placed on convenience. What should be so easy—finding ingredients in their natural state—is difficult when the vast majority of normal food is processed in some way. Once you get into the swing of it, however, it’s possible that you might find yourself appreciating the subtleties of nature’s unadorned ingredients. The vibrancy, wholesomeness, and freshness of simpler foods may become more appealing both as a culinary experience and as a pillar of an energized body and clear mind.
Whatever the case, try out some of the following simplifying ideas. If anything strikes you as “bland,” think “minimalist” instead; if an item is more expensive than its conventional counterpart, remind yourself that it’s more nutritious and probably sustainable too, whereas many conventional foods are not. Let’s make natural the new norm!
*Eat your veggies—local and organic if possible. Squashes, root vegetables, greens (kale, collard greens, spinach, bok choy, mizuna, mustard greens): they’re about as natural and life-giving as it gets—straight from the earth to your plate, the only processing being that which you do in your own kitchen. Kale is my staple. Robust and vibrant, it’s often available year-round without having to be transported too far and comes in a number of varieties, Red Russian being my favorite. Last week, while visiting New Zealand for the holidays, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the kale I was purchasing (nero/lacinato) had been picked the previous day from a local organic farm. Not always possible, of course, but not all that unheard of, either; farmers’ markets are my favorite location for produce when stateside. It’s usually organic or minimally-treated produce and, importantly, local which means that it hasn’t endured too many miles and days of transport and preservation.
*Whole grains and legumes are, again, going straight to the source. The only processing these babies have undergone is that they’ve been dried. Soak the legumes (especially beans) overnight and then drain them to aid in digestion and to remove toxins. What was previously known as “rice” now becomes a whole new world where one encounters short-grain brown rice, long-grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, brown jasmine, and brown basmati. Try barley, millet, and quinoa. Your lentils can be red, brown, or green; your beans black, red, or fava, or try my favorites, mung beans and adzuki beans. And yes, flavor matters just as much as color. Luckily, whole grains and beans have been a mainstay of international cuisine for so many generations, that the methods of preparation are endless (to get started, think Indian dahl, Cuban black bean soup, Jamaican rice and peas, or Greek gigantes).
*Ditch the table salt. I basically question all processed foods, and table salt undergoes a serious amount of treatment to transform it from its natural state into what we eat, rendering it unrecognizable to the body in some cases. Sea salt, however, is natural, health-supporting, and has a much milder flavor; table salt starts to taste harsh and bitter by comparison. I opt for Redmond RealSalt—the fine crystals make for easy use and a simple substitute for table salt. I also avoid the following: packaged convenience foods (including nuts and seeds, which are so much better when raw and unsalted), refined sugar (opt for agave, maple syrup or, if necessary, organic evaporated cane sugar in its place), and anything with artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. You could say that avoiding all of these processed foods doesn’t leave much to choose from. I say, it leaves everything that nature has to offer.
*When in New York, splash out at these tasty and natural restaurants:
Celebrate the availability of nature’s brilliance with this Coconut Collard Greens Recipe. Slice those greens to the rhythm of my new single, “Knocking on an Open Door”, a song about searching, and searching, and searching, only to find that what was searched for was waiting here all along. Naturally.
I sat back in amazement, it was like this bundle was meant for me.