Monday, October 4, 2010

What to Eat and Drink While You Listen to Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca

I don't really know what I expected to eat when I decided to be vegetarian. I didn't like vegetables. I didn't like beans. I had never even tried tofu. Was my self-loathing really so great that in my metabolism's glory days, I decided to take fried chicken out of my life in favor of a diet consisting mostly of foods I would describe, at that point, as "icky"? Wait, we're talking about junior high. Of course it was. Something beautiful happened, though. Repeated exposure is a magical thing and, eventually, I began to love things that grow from the ground.

It took me a few listens to get into Dirty Projectors, as well, but they managed to permeate my indie rock buzz band ennui thanks to their aggressive utilization of Tricia's Three Most Important Elements of Awesome Music on 2009's Bitte Orca: harmonies, a good beat, and unapologetic weirdness.

Inevitably, I will dance and sing around the apartment if I put this album on, so if I'm going to eat anything (and I really should as and man cannot live on boogie alone....yet - get on that, science!) it had better be a meal that will pump me up, or else I'll get bored and leave the table.

These days, my cooking philosophy relies on two questions:
  1. What do I already have in my pantry/fridge?
  2. Can I stuff it in a red pepper?
All this considered, I recommend listening to Dirty Projectors while you eat quinoa stuffed red peppers and drink pomegranate margaritas. It's got all the good stuff (veggies! heaps of protein!) and all the bad stuff (tequila!) that I learned to love and will put you in the mood to rock out until you pass out.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What To Eat While You Listen To Mumford & Sons

I was listening to Mumford and Sons (maybe just a smidge too loud) the other night when my husband came home. He'd never heard them before and was intrigued. He's working on a new album and was interested in why exactly I liked them so much, a question he asks me a lot but one I'm still so bad at answering. But this time I knew exactly what I love about Sigh No More: two part vocal harmonies, sweeping climaxes punctuated by a plucky, twangy banjo, and a cycle between quiet melodies and a wall of sound. I'm a sucker for a wall of sound. It's why I'll always love Phil Spector songs even though Phil Spector's murderous impulses terrify me, it's why I was totally obsessed with Sufjan Stevens until I just...wasn't anymore, and it's why punk music will always be part of my daily listening routine.

I'm the same way with food. I'll try new things when they're offered to me, of course, but I always tend to stray back to my old standards - simple foods but with a wall of flavor. You know what I mean. Freshly made pesto, sharp cheese, a thick slice of bacon, a big fat olive (preferably stuffed with prosciutto or feta cheese), dill, cinnamon, garlic, a steaming curry with coconut and peppers that'll burn the taste buds off your tongue, cranberries, white truffle oil, and any Texas-style barbecue sauce on pretty much any meat. Marshall teases me because I always use the same spices (I dare you to find a recipe I make on a regular basis that doesn't include at least one clove of garlic) but it's not my fault that they're so packed with flavor they make my mouth water just thinking about them.

So in honor of my currently overwhelming obsession with Mumford & Sons, I present to you a recipes also featuring a wall of flavor. You can assume that anything I post here is gluten free because that's how I roll, whether I like it or not. (I don't like it, in case you were wondering.)

Pan-seared bacon green beans
I KNOW, RIGHT? The name alone has your mouth watering.
- You all know how to prep green beans for cooking, so I won't bore you with all the "snap this" and "wash that" business but, you know, wash and snap however many you want first.
- Go ahead and slice up some bacon, or whatever hippie soy tofu sprouted fake bacon you found on sale for $10 last week at Whole Foods, into reasonably sized pieces to mix with the beans. Don't cook it first or it'll turned into charred blasts of flavor instead of just light, crispy blasts of flavor.
- Put both of those in a bowl and dump whatever sort of crazy spices you want, but I'd suggest sticking with those in the pepper family, like paprika and cayenne. If you're me, you'll also want to toss some minced garlic in the mix but my garlic evangelism doesn't go so far as to force it on you. Toss all this around until everything's nicely coated.
- Cook that delightful concoction in a cast iron skillet on medium high heat until they start to burn. Then toss them around and let the other side burn as well. Seriously, the only way you can fuck this up is if you don't let them burn.
- These are best if served pretty quickly otherwise they'll start losing their crispiness. I love dipping them in pesto or hummus, but you can do what you want man I ain't your mom.

Another way I love to eat these is to mix them in with potato gnocchi covered in pesto. Watch me bring this back around to music: I love the way the crispy green beans harmonize with the squishy gnocchi, MUCH LIKE those dudes in Mumford & Sons whose names I don't know. I use Conte's brand of gluten free potato gnocchi because I'm not an Italian grandmother with nothing else to do but make pasta for my family. Conte's has crazy awesome gluten free stuff like spinach ravioli, stuffed cheese shells, pre-made pizzas, and pierogies, and all of it is just as delicious as its gluten-filled counterpart.

So there. Turn on Sigh No More and belt your sweet little heart out to "Little Lion Man" while intentionally burning your vegetables, and not just to spite your grandmother who boiled them until they had no flavor left.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What to Eat While You Listen to The Tallest Man on Earth

(Click for the rest of my Tallest Man on Earth pictures.)

I might be musically promiscuous, but I'll always go home to American folk music. One of the things I love most about it is how little has to be done to the tried and true formula for a folk singer to be successful without the music feeling tired - a little charm and wit goes a long way with an acoustic guitar and a slightly gravely voice. I bow my head to anyone who can produce intricate arrangements, but the fact remains, sometimes, all you need from music is to feel connected to someone. Folk music does that for me.

The Tallest Man on Earth is a perfect example of this, his nationality notwithstanding. His live act is a simple set up: a man, an acoustic guitar, and a largely ignored chair. However, when I made my way out of his sold out show in Cambridge this past April, I overheard variations the same thing tripping over each other: "That was the best concert I've been to." Indeed, Kristian Matsson put on quite a show. Whether stomping and howling all over the stage or singing sentimental lyrics so softly that his own voice was overpowered by the crowd singing along, he oozed charisma. I dare anyone who listens to his music not to be cast under his Swedish spell.

The Tallest Man on Earth - King of Spain
The Tallest Man on Earth - The Gardener

To pair with the Tallest Man on Earth's fresh familiarity, I'd go with good old American comfort food with a twist: veggie mac n' cheese and BBQ tofu. Recipes under the jump!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

So drunk in the August sun.

I'm currently facing the last week of summer of my last year of undergrad. Normally in a situation like this that calls for celebration of youth, I would panic until my free time was gone completely and then feel relieved that I don't have to worry about how I'm going to accomplish a little leisure. I not knocking this M.O., but I'm going to try things a little differently this year and fill my final days as a drain on society the way God intended: with cold beer and rock n' roll.

Now, I'm the first to admit that I have limited beer horizons. Where I come from, it's Lone Star, PBR, or Shiner 90% of the time, with Shiner being the overwhelming preference of people whose company I enjoy and, conveniently, my taste buds.

In celebration of my comfort beer and relative freedom from responsibility, here's a mix inspired by Shiner, sweat-drenched cutoffs, and actions that would get you into trouble if anyone cared.

1) "Gold Soundz" - Pavement
2) "Bitch, I Love You" - Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
3) "The Ballad of El Goodo" - Big Star
4) "Big Wave" - Jenny & Johnny
5) "When I'm With You" - Best Coast
6) "I'm in Trouble" - the Replacements
7) "Burning Airlines Give You So Much More" - Brian Eno
8) "Highway 61 Revisited" - Bob Dylan
9) "Car Jamming" - the Clash
10) "Nothing's Going On" - Dinosaur Jr.
11) "Bright Lit Blue Skies" - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
12) "Born to Run" - Bruce Springsteen

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What to Eat While You Listen to Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin

The Beach Boys were my first favorite band. I listened to their Christmas album year-round and was fairly convinced that Brian Wilson and I would someday be husband and wife until the sobering day my parents gently explained to me that he had, in fact, aged quite a bit since the photographs covering the Beach Boys' album covers had been taken.

Was I disappointed? You bet. Eventually, however, I was able to put aside my personal resentment towards Mr. Wilson for having the gall to grow old with someone who wasn't me and enjoy some of the most finely crafted pop songs the world has ever known yet again. My taste in music has gone through some serious (and, occasionally, very necessary) overhauls throughout the years, but the Beach Boys were never far from my heart.

It makes perfect sense, then, that the first few chords of this album had me instantly craving my favorite sandwich in my hometown of Houston, Texas - the Brasil Club at Cafe Brasil. The sandwich is made up of spinach, carrots, beets, sprouts, tomato, onion, avocado, walnuts, Dijon, and provolone between your choice of foccacia or ciabatta.

The sandwich and the album both feel light while bringing in some of the big guns, musically and nutritionally speaking. They seamlessly string together disparate, familiar elements in a way that feels fresh rather than desperate. The sandwich is just as likely to remind you of tacos you've devoured or your favorite Italian restaurant, while the album may compel you to listen to Billie Holiday or the Beach Boys next, depending on where your nostalgia takes you. Any way, you can't go wrong.

Brian Wilson - 'S Wonderful
Brian Wilson - I've Got a Crush on You