Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Record a Week: Majority Rule - Emergency Numbers

SIDE 1.
A PRESCRIPTION
IT'S TOO LATE
AMERICAN FEATURE

SIDE 2.
ARE FOREVER (Instrumental)
49 WORDS
BOEING









Another Majority Rule record, another great entry into this series. This second (and final) record from this three-piece is an emotionally-charged piece. As the first record was the beginning of a sound, this one has a bit crisper production and a very heavy low end. The record is filled with vast, spacious sounds mixed in with punk-influenced hardcore. If you have had the benefit of listening to their earlier 7-inch records, this record shows just how far they had drifted from their ska/punk/hardcore days. In retrospect, it was clear that the individual members other musical pursuits were influencing this (Trial by Fire, Ghastly City Sleep, City of Caterpillar, Haram). However, on this record, those sounds blend perfectly together in a dark, heavy and spacious record. The song It's Too Late is the best of the bunch, showcasing all of the different sounds. It starts slow and heavy and then is bridged by reverberant guitar and an awesome drum part that builds up and the song kicks back in, but with more drive. It was awesome to revisit this one and brought back memories from a decade ago.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Record a Week: Majority Rule - Interviews With David Frost

SIDE 1.
THE SIN IN GREY
AT 3 AM
BURIAL SUIT

SIDE 2.
XOXO 
PROGRESS OF ELIMINATION (Written by Andy Overton)
ENDINGS
KILL THE CHEAT

This record was part of the beginning of the hardcore/screamo era for me and it also indirectly made me a great friend. I got into a bunch of bands from the VA/Baltimore/D.C. area all at the same time. Pg. 99, Darkest Hour, The Exploder and these guys. I noticed that they were touring up near the border and sent them an email to see if they wanted to play the bar I was booking at the time. As luck would have it, they were into the idea and came on through. Attending that show was a guy who was a friend of the band from Baltimore just happened to be visiting his friend up in London, ON and they came out to the show. We became online friends and I could never expect how hospitable he has been when I have gone to visit him in Baltimore. He even has appeared on here in this story. 

But I digress. This albums starts and ends hard and fast (it has one of my favourite endings of any style album). There is only a brief blast of feedback before the aural assault begins. It was the beginning of an era of a certain sound on recordings out of that area and with good reason. Recorded at Salad Days studio, the mix of everything was perfect for the sound and easily replicated in a live setting.The record blends punk, emo and hardcore together in an abrasive way that is less 'punk hardcore' and less Poison the Well-style hardcore/emo and more like the wonderful blend that a band like Converge creates. I can't really explain what it is that works for me about this band. While I never much got into the 'tough guy' type of hardcore and had long left behind the 'emotional' kind as well. Whatever it is that fueled the scene that these guys were in, I was into it. This record was a great nostalgic listen and a throwback to a whirlwind few years for me.



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Banana Swirl

INGREDIENTS:
3 1/2 Bananas, peeled and put into chunks in the freezer
Berries for topping

That's right, just bananas! How much healthier could a frozen treat get?


*Note: I got this idea from the show 'Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood', which my daughter watches incessantly.





Put the banana chunks in the freezer for minimum an hour. Once the bananas are frozen, let them thaw only enough to get them apart and out of the bowl. Put them in a strong blender or food processor and pulse at highest speed for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately in a cone, waffle bowl (pictured) or a regular bowl if you want to skip the sugar. Consistency should be that of ice cream or froyo. I should note that I had to keep a spatula in the drop tube of the food processor and hover it about a half inch above the blade to keep the mixture moving along. Top with your favourite berries and enjoy! A small amount of berries may also be added to blender for a dash of different flavour right in the mix (not sure how much it could tolerate before messing with the consistency).

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Record a Week: Madonna - Like a Virgin

SIDE 1.
MATERIAL GIRL
ANGEL
LIKE A VIRGIN
OVER AND OVER
LOVE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE

SIDE 2.
DRESS YOU UP
SHOO-BEE-DOO
PRETENDER
STAY






Like a Virgin is the second studio album from Madonna and the one that propelled her to icon status. In fact, this record not only propelled her career, but paved the way for many shock artists after her. The likes of Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and even Britney Spears would never have existed if it weren't for Madonna pushing the envelope (take that however you'd like). Kicking off the golden age of music videos, this album was among the early provocative ones that had people talking about it as much for that as they did about the music. Her own career became a succession of shocking things and that opened the door for other shock artists to have a mainstream platform.

Now this is no knock on the music at all, it's fun 80's pop music that makes you swing your hips. An upbeat, single-filled Side 1 is backed by a slightly slower B-side, all set to the all-familiar 80's drum machine (probably an 808 or one of it's siblings).

Her register is higher on this than in her later music. In fact, I think the average frequency of her voice slowly slid downward with each album. I'm fairly certain she can't reach those notes anymore. In fact, when I was 20, I bought ridiculously over-priced tickets to impress a girl I was interested in (as well as her friends, who paid for their tickets, though I did lie about how much paid to make sure they'd be interested in coming). As with all ideas that are this horribly misguided, it didn't end so well. However, the concert was quite a spectacle. She puts on a great performance, which has kept her career going for probably longer than it might have otherwise. Of note, though, is that I'm fairly certain she lip-synced to the earlier hits like the ones from this album, even then. She started with 3-4 old ones that clearly didn't sound live, then moved on to some others she was fine with singing. I think that's a pretty clear indication that that range is in the same field as Steven Tyler and Aerosmith's Dream On.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Cranberry-Strawberry-Tofu Dumplings




















INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1.5 cup Cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup Strawberries, diced
1/2 pkg Extra Firm Tofu, crumbled
6 Rice Paper wraps (or vegan wonton wraps)

In a medium pot, combine sugar, vanilla and water until dissolved, then boil. Stir in cranberries and strawberries, return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until all the cranberries pop. When the sauce thickens, add crumbled tofu and heat for another 5 minutes (if sauce doesn't thicken, add small amounts of corn starch until it does, then add tofu).

In a large bowl, dip rice papers in hot water until they soften, then spoon 2 tbsp of filling and twist the top. If you are using wontons, spoon in the filling and then steam in a bamboo steamer before enjoying.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Record a Week: Lonnie Mack - Whatever's Right

SIDE 1.
UNTOUCHED BY HUMAN LOVE
I FOUND A LOVE
SHARE YOUR LOVE WITH ME
TEARDROPS ON YOUR LETTER
BABY WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO

SIDE 2.
MT. HEALTHY BLUES
WHAT KIND OF WORLD IS THIS
MY BABE
THINGS HAVE GONE TO PIECES
GOTTA BE AN ANSWER





This is one of those artists that I feel I should've at least heard of, seeing his extensive discography. Apparently, his use of the tremolo bar in his song Wham! even led to the term 'whammy bar'. There's no denying that his playing is excellent and with the knowledge that he influenced others, I can see that in fact he doesn't sound like others like I originally thought, but they sound like him. He never gained the popularity of Stevie Ray Vaughan or Jeff Beck, but perhaps that's alright. There will always be artists that make a change to the sound of music without being massively famous.

This album was several years into his career, so his mark had already been made. This album is mostly cover songs, so his true solo ability isn't on here. Even without the virtuoso-type solos, though, this album still sounds excellent. However, I would definitely have to recommend his earlier stuff if you want to really hear the songs that changed the shape of blues rock and guitar 'virtuosos'.




Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Fruit and Honey Toast

INGREDIENTS:
2 pieces Toast (I prefer seedy, but used what I had)
1 cup Sliced Fruit (I used banana & strawberry, but mango would go nice too)
2 tbsp Honey












I'm sick this week, so I went super simple, but yummy.

Toast 2 pieces of bread, spread honey over them and top with sliced fruit, then drizzle a little more honey across the top. Vitamins, honey, nutrition, yum.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Red Flannel Hash

I had some beets that were on their last legs and no plans to make Borscht/no ingredients for beet slaw. When I typed 'beets for breakfast' into google and got several recipes from that. I took the basics that were in all of them and went from there.










INGREDIENTS:
2 medium Beets, peeled and diced*
4 small White Potatoes, diced
4 Veggie Sausage links, diced (use 1/2 pack crumbled tofu for gluten-free)
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 sprig Fresh Basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste

In two separate pots, parboil the potatoes and beets, set aside. Meanwhile, fry the veggie sausage with the onions and garlic until the sausage browns a bit and onions are tender. Add the potatoes and shake a bunch of salt (I remember corn beef hash vaguely, and it was the salt that made the dish) and pepper. Add a bit more oil and the potatoes and brown the potatoes. Add the beets, basil and a bit of the beet water. Shake in some more salt, pepper and red pepper flakes; stir to combine.

*To avoid red hands and counter tops, fill the sink 1/2 way with cold water and peel and slice your beets underwater.

A Record a Week: Sandy MacFarlane - The Weddin' O' Sandy Mackay

















SIDE 1.
THE WEDDIN' O' SANDY MACKAY
WHEN THE HEATHER BELLS ARE BLOOMING
MACNABS A JOLLY SAILOR
SERGEANT JOCK MCPHEE

SIDE 2.
HAME O' MINE
KATIE MCKAY
GRANNIE'S HIGHLAND HAME-PART 1
GRANNIE'S HIGHLAND HAME-PART 2

Right off the bat, this reminded me of The Log Roller's Waltz. I was tidying up the basement and not paying full attention, so I had to stop and move closer to the stereo to be sure it wasn't. After that song, it all sort of reminded me of the soundtrack to a remotely racist cartoon from the '60s or '50s. Have you checked out the original Casper show lately? Yeah, it's bad. Anyhow, if there was any notion of a leprechaun or faintly Irish character and this would be playing in the background for sure.

The light floaty sound of this style of Irish music is not something I'm going to pretend to know anything about. That's probably why it auto-jumped to such broad categories for me, so I'd have something to latch on to. However, I could tell that it was well performed and was enjoyable to listen to in a Dan Gibson kind of way.

Side note: did you know that googling 'Sandy MacKay' is as easy as googling a Mike Smith or Paul Lee.





Monday, September 9, 2013

A Record a Week: Lovin' Spoonful - The Best of Lovin' Spoonful Vol. 2

SIDE 1.
SIX O'CLOCK
DARLING BE HOME SOON
LOVIN' YOU
BOREDOM
FULL MEASURE
NASHVILLE CATS

SIDE 2.
SHE IS STILL A MYSTERY
RAIN ON THE ROOF
OLD FOLKS
DARLIN' COMPANION
MONEY
YOUNGER GENERATION




I think a lot of times the term 'Best Of' can be a misnomer. Did Lovin' Spoonful really warrant a second best of album? Only two of these songs cracked the top Ten (Rain on the Roof/Nashville Cats), neither of which cracked the top 5. The album has no Summer in the City or Do you Believe in Magic? I suppose there is some stuff I don't know about this band, not being alive in the late '60s, but it's my general opinion that artists that aren't The Beatles, The Stones or Michael Jackson probably don't need 2 best ofs.

With all that out of the way, this album is pretty decent. It sounds pretty much like everything you'd imagine if you've only heard those two songs I previously mentioned, which leaves you wanting for those two songs. To me, it was like listening to a new album by a band whose last album you knew very well. You want to feel the same way about it, but it just hasn't had the time to ingrain itself like the previous one.

Summer in the City is one of those songs that I always loved and tried to no avail to learn all the lyrics to. Well....tried in the sense that I try to memorize them as I hear them, not actually look them up and practice or anything. However, I always get tripped up after the first few lines, because I tend to focus on singing the ones I know, forgetting to ready my brain to try and intake new ones immediately after. By that point, I'm so far behind that there's no hope. Repeat Ad infinitum.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Apple-Cinnamon Blinis

Blinis are a European-style pancake. The other names are blin or blintchiki, which typically are more crepe-like. Typically served with a cheese-filling or caviar top, these go excellently with a dollop of 'sour supreme' or margarine.












INGREDIENTS:
1 Apple; peeled, cored and chopped
1 tbsp Sugar (cane or any granulated sugar)
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tbsp Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
1 cup Flour 
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 Egg Replacer (I use Ener-G)
1 cup Sour Supreme (or other faux sour cream), divided
1/2 cup Soy Milk (or Almond would work too)

Take the chunks of apple and toss them in the sugar and cinnamon. Heat the margarine over medium low and cook the apple mixture until it caramelizes and the apples are soft. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, mix the egg replacer with the milk and 1/2 cup of sour supreme. Fold together the liquid and dry mixes until just mixed. carefully fold in apple mixture *do not overmix.

Over medium-low heat, drop spoonfuls of batter into a lightly oiled pan or griddle. When the bubbles appear on the top and begin popping, flip over. On the second side, they only need about 10 seconds, or until when they aren't sticking. This keeps the middle light and fluffy. Top with a dollop the remaining sour supreme and some fresh fruit.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Record a Week: Loverboy - s/t



















SIDE 1.
THE KID IS HOT TONITE
TURN ME LOOSE
ALWAYS ON MY MIND
LADY OF THE 80'S

SIDE 2.
LITTLE GIRL
PRISSY PRISSY
TEENAGE OVERDOSE
DOA
IT DON'T MATTER

Two things popped into my mind when I first listened to this: 1. Is this a greatest hits album? and 2. The spelling 'tonite' dates back as far as 1980?

Well, 1. no and 2. apparently.  I also did not know they were Canadian and that they were able to predict what a 'Lady of the 80's' was right off the bat in 1980. I suppose that's possible though, since they seemed to have most of what the musical style of the 1980's was all trapped into this record. A little bit of new wave and a little bit of rock, the rest of the record (after the first two songs) sounds like songs that Elvis Costello made work for him or like anything else that power rock bands did around that time. These days, you can find them playing casinos and fairs and festivals that hold on to the past (with bands like Whitesnake, Poison, etc.)

Only somewhat related, but one time I was working sound at a festival with Alan Frew and it was really sad. His drum skin said both 'AF' and 'Glass Tiger' as he played songs from the distant past mixed in with newere, less successful works. I imagine a Loverboy to feel a lot like that as you see them up there in middle-aged clothing playing the same songs they have for 30 years (or worse, if they dressed the same as the back of this album).

All that aside, The Kid is Hot Tonite & Turn Me Loose are pretty great right? I mean for what they are? They remind me of Footloose and Top Gun, even though my research says that neither appeared in either of those films (though apparently a later song Heaven in Your Eyes did appear in Top Gun, so bonus points for that?) A pretty good career start for a band that managed to squeeze out a few more hits and still live off them a few decades later.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The One Time Life Was Actually Kind of Like 'Glee'

This was almost 10 years ago or so, but still sticks in my memory, especially now that Glee has risen to such popularity.

My friend and I were at a festival on Toronto island several years back, one of those ones that Sloan put on. To put in perspective how long ago it was, Death From Above (1979, now) was the opener and Arcade Fire played second. The thing about Toronto Island, if you've never been, is that it's an island of course and as such, you have to take a ferry out there. On a normal day this isn't much of a problem, as the traffic is steady, but not jammed. On this day (and any other event day), the ferry dock is a bottleneck at both ends throughout the day. Only one ferry can load at a time, so each shore was busy for a portion of the day.

We got over relatively early, which meant not a lot of waiting. When the night was closing up and Sloan went on, we thought we'd be the savvy concert-goers and take off after 4-5 songs. It became immediately clear that we weren't the only ones who had thought of that. The wide path leading to the port was jammed ten-wide and several deep, chugging along very slowly. We got about 40 people deep when the gate closed and the ferry took off, accompanied by a collective groan from all of us. Just then, two guys got up on the railing and said, 'Hey, it's no problem - we'll make waiting fun!' Before anyone had a chance to figure out what was going on, they broke into a full-volume version of Bohemian Rhapsody. Normally, this would be silly and cringe-worthy, but they were actually really good. They picked the perfect song to get everyone involved and that they did. Very quickly it became roughly 200 of us singing along, harmonizing and pumping our hands up. Then, just like Glee, it ended with very little fanfare. There was a bit of clapping and they announced that they were part of a performing group that would be playing the following week at some place, then everyone returned to normal. The ferry arrived and we all returned to our lives as if it were a normal thing to spontaneously burst into song.


Monday, August 26, 2013

A Record a Week: Living Strings Play the Music of Hawaii



















SIDE 1.
SWEET LEILANI
TO YOU SWEETHEART, ALOHA
SONG OF THE ISLANDS
PAGAN LOVE SONG
ON THE BEACH AT WAIKIKI

SIDE 2.
DRIFTING AND DREAMING
LOVELY HULA HANDS
THE HAWAIIAN WEDDING SONG
BLUE HAWAII
ALOHA OE (Farewell to Thee)

This record didn't kick off reminding me of the typical 'Hawaiian' music. Well, not the ukelele strumming, lei wearing, hip swaying type anyhow. In fact, the first thing I thought of is that is sort of sounded like a string arrangement for an episode of Family Guy. However, that slow, swaying style came out on the second half.

I am not sure, but I was sort of expecting to be transported to the swaying palm trees, the large waves or the volcano or something right off the bat. Maybe I should have sprayed some hibiscuspineapplecoconutoceanbreeze spray to make the feeling more authentic or something. Is that even authentic? The island does actually smell like all of those things in different parts, even though when I was there it often smelled like the sulfur that was spewing out of the mouth of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.

There were definitely luaus and musical appearances pretty much everywhere, but the place is fairly Americanized, so I don't know if it's any more authentic than say chicken balls are as Chinese food. Perhaps the sound I am looking for is just a piece of a larger puzzle and this record fills a more diverse section of it, or perhaps we'll never know because like everything else in North America, we've beaten the culture to a pulp until it fits nicely into our lives.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Fruit Pie w/ Macadamia Whipped Cream




















INGREDIENTS:
CRUST
1 1/2 cups Graham Crumbs
1/3 cup Cane Sugar
6 tbsp Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine), melted

FILLING
3 medium Peaches (or 2 large)
4-5 Strawberries (or enough to cover pie)
1 cup Blueberries
1/2 cup Raspberries
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Corn Starch

WHIPPED CREAM
3/4 cup Raw Macadamia Nuts
1/2 cup Water
2 tbsp Agave Nectar (or maple syrup works)

In a bowl, cover macadamia nuts with the 1/2 cup of water, set aside for 1/2 hour.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine graham crumbs, sugar and margarine, mix until well combined. Press into a pie dish/plate and bake at 375F for 7 minutes, then cool (for a raw pie, use 5 tbsp coconut oil and chill for min. 1 hour instead).

After it's cooked/chilled, peel and slice the peaches and layer across the crust bottom, then do the same with the strawberries. In a small saucepan, combine the berries, brown sugar, corn starch and lemon juice, and cook over medium-low, breaking up the berries and letting thicken. Pour sauce over top of the pie and chill.


In a food processor, combine soaked nuts, water and 2 tbsp agave nectar for 5 minutes, or until smooth. Remove and chill for at least an hour. At that point you can serve the cream in dollops on each slice of pie, or spread it across the top to create another layer and serve that way.




Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Record a Week: Lightning Bolt - Hypermagic Mountain




















SIDE 1.
2 MORRO MORRO LAND
CAPTAIN CAVEMAN
BIRDY
RIFFWRAITH
MEGA GHOST

SIDE 2.
MAGIC MOUNTAIN
DEAD COWBOY
BIZARRO ZARRO LAND

SIDE 3.
MOHAWK WINDMILL
BIZARROBIKE
INFINITY FARM
NO REST FOR THE OBSESSED

SIDE 4.
*ETCHING BY BRIAN CHIPPENDALE*

OH, THE TROUBLES! I swore I would never let a record in my collection be reviewed without listening to it, even if I've heard it a thousand times before. Well, this one came up and I had a bit of a dilemma. I also have a rule (in place previous to this blog) to not play records that I own that have high value. Well, lo and behold, this one came up and I had already placed it VERY firmly in that category. It's the blue copy instead of the black one and that's a record hoarder collector's dream. It's not that I think I will leave it on the player or accidentally scratch the needle across it or drop and shatter it, or any other thing to damage it, it's just that 'never played' seems to be the thing for 'rare' records. I only have 3 really rare ones and only 2 of them are 12". I don't know what I'm holding back for, since I'll likely never sell them. Perhaps I've created this dream world where some day, some Lightning Bolt fan will pony up the big cash for this quasi-rare record and I will finally be able to retire rich up north.

Anyhow, I decided to listen to this album digitally (as it does come with a digital download, so it seemed fair), even though I have heard it so many times.

The album starts off as their earlier albums always did - with a spark that ignites a long, pounding record. The file image for every LB song/ record is probably something like this:












This album is no exception. Their typical noisy rock is in full force after a short riff by Brian Gibson, after the marathon drumming of Brian Chippendale joins in. The first few songs play out in the usual pushing energy, before Riffwraith hints at the interactions that go on between the Brians. The anxiety-inducing Magic Mountain is a constant buildup that doesn't plateau until right near the end, always leaving my nerves frayed. A few more driving songs occur before the album tapers off into filler territory. This seems to be their pattern - front load the best songs and put what feels like 'jam sessions' at the end.

The one thing I can say with assurance about Lightning Bolt is that it's their live performance that really makes them. The albums best serve as a reminder of the show, a way to say 'remember how crazy this song was live?' I've had numerous friends hear the records and say 'I don't get it', which makes sense to me. The longer I go since seeing them, the less of an emotional pull the records have on me. 

In their live show, every amp is all the way up and the drumming looks like a blur as he has a constant drum-roll going intermingled with straight fast-rock beats. Due to fans pushing over/running into their equipment, they've broken from their old style of live show. They would set up their equipment in unconventional locations, shunning the venues PA system in favour of their own pieced together amps (in front of the stage, the middle of a gymnasium away from the stage & the alley behind the venue are a few places I've experienced their show.) However, they now use the stage and house PA, allowing the crowd to push and shove without possibly damaging their gear. I understand why they do that, but to me it takes away a bit of what made you feel like a part of the whole thing. Crowds would be watching the previous band and right when they finished BANG, this mysterious band that was setting up their gear in the corner would start playing seconds after.

Anyone who remembers my band, Two Bears, can probably determine that we took a good deal of inspiration from this band. However, as things tend to happen, we ended up sounding quite a bit different once we wrote songs and toned down the 'play as loud as possible' angle. As usually happens, this album made me want to play again and/or see these guys play again.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Record a Week: Liars - We no Longer Knew Who We Were

SIDE 1:
WE GOT COLD, COUGHED AND FORGOT THINGS
YOU KNOW I HATE STUPID PHONES
EVERY TWO HOURS WITH A DUCKS FAN

SIDE 2.
-BLANK-










Before their style experimentation took flight over the last few albums, Liars had a steady (although experimental in its own right) sound. Back in the days of front-man Angus Andrew's relationship with Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), this record was amongst the beginning of the cult-famous career of Liars. In those days, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Liars both had a similar underground popularity, but as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs progressively got more radio-friendly, Liars were influenced by witch documentaries and experimented with different sounds, only occasionally dipping their feet back into music that swims closer to radio-play.

This record, though, was before all of that. With one LP under their belt, the indie/dance-punk band created a short burst of energy that walks the line right up to hardcore music, but showing the calm collected restrained of indie music. The end result is a indie record that sounds like it was written by angry punks, but can still make you dance. It was not long after this that I first saw them perform and they don't hold back anything in their live performances. You never know exactly what to expect, with the possibility of Andrew in a dress or other interesting attire, the percussion being rigged up through any number of electronics/triggers, or an entirely stripped down performance. It was a nice quick listen and a throwback to a time when I was constantly playing and going to concerts of this nature.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Crunchy Tropical French Toast















INGREDIENTS:
3 Bananas, two VERY ripe, one fresh
1.5 cups Coconut Dream (or coconut almond milk)
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup Macadamia Nuts
1/3 cup Cornflake Crumbs
1/4 cup Shredded Coconut
4 Slices of bread (the liquid dip should last for 6-8 pieces, but the crusting will only last 4-5)
Margarine for topping/frying

In a mixing bowl, combine 2 very ripe bananas, coconut dream, vanilla and cinnamon and mix until smooth. In a hand grinder/magic bullet, make a meal out of the macadamia nuts then combine in a shallow dish with cornflake crumbs. Dip the bread into the liquid and saturate it, then dip each side of bread into the crumb mixture and fry up in a little margarine over medium heat. Fry for about 4-5 minutes each side, put on plate, top with sliced bananas, coconut and maple syrup.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Record a Week: Le Tigre - Feminist Sweepstakes



















SIDE 1.
LT TOUR THEME
SHRED A
FAKE FRENCH
FYR
ON GUARD
MUCH FINER
DYKE MARCH 2001

SIDE 2.
TRES BIEN
WELL WELL WELL
TGIF
MY ART
CRY FOR EVERYTHING BAD THAT'S EVER HAPPENED
KEEP ON LIVIN'


Another week of Le Tigre, but a slightly different sound. In between release of last weeks record and the release of this weeks, they underwent a slight lineup change, when JD Samson replaced Sadie Benning. This change seemed to bring on a more electronic-influenced sound. This sparked a change that made the lo-fi sound slightly fuller and quite enjoyable. I found the record was more listenable in whole as a result. No one song was better than any of the songs on the first record, but the style varied enough to keep me interested. Side A is excellent and side B has a few gems as well, including TGIF and Cry for everything bad that's ever happened.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Couldn't Care Less vs. Could Care Less

I am aware that my grammar is not perfect and I'm alright with that. I've noticed/fixed many mistakes on here and have surely made numerous others that I haven't caught. This one, however, gets to me every time someone says or writes it.

'I could care less about this' conveys that you must care at least a little bit, or that there is
an infinite possibility of how much less you could care. 'I couldn't care less about this' conveys just as it says. There may be other things you care equally as little about, but not less. I made this graphic as an aid.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Record a Week: Hannah Georgas - s/t

This record is out of order, I know, but I went to see her on Saturday and picked it up, so why not throw it in to the mix.














SIDE 1.
ELEPHANT
SOMEBODY
ROBOTIC
ENEMIES
SHORTIE

SIDE 2.
FANTASIZE
MILLIONS
WHAT YOU DO TO ME
ODE TO MOM
WAITING GAME

The self-titled album from Hannah Georgas marks her third album, but her second full length. It is a rebirth of sorts, as she has left behind a simpler pop sound and branching out in a new direction. Her older albums are great in their own respect, but I feel like this is a more mature sound and one that reflects her shifting into her mid-20s. That's not to say that there can't be deep pop music or that there's anything wrong with her earlier records. In fact, they are great records and digest easily.

This record, on the other hand, has a couple of songs that pop right away, but the more you listen, the better the record gets as a whole. The echo-y vocals and drum machine sounds have replaced the catchy innocent beats and tunes.

The record is a blend of Florence and the Machine and Metric. Spacious sounds layered masterfully and well produced by Holy F*ck producer/member Graham Walsh. The record starts with the beautifully slow building Elephant and that sets the tone for the whole record. The record is, like the show was, a mix of steady beats and ambient beauty.

Other favourites include Robotic, Enemies, Millions and What You Do To Me.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Tofu Scramble Deluxe

Concocted this at my sister's house with her leftover scramble and some other things.












INGREDIENTS:
1 pkg Extra Firm Tofu, drained
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp Chili Flakes
1/4 tsp Chili Powder
1/4 cup Corn, fresh or frozen
1/2 small Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Daiya Shreds (or other vegan cheese shreds)
3 tbsp Chili Sauce (this was her homemade, but any kind would work)
1/2 Avocado, diced

Heat a cast iron/aluminum pan to medium-high with a dash of oil. Crumble the tofu into the pan and add the onion. Add in the spices and the corn, if using frozen. Stir to combine and reduce heat to medium-low. Add corn if using fresh and cook for 4-5 minutes until warm through. Top with 'cheese' and put in the broiler. When the 'cheese' melts, transfer to a plate and top with chili sauce and avocado. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Well, at least I know I was there.

The summer I was 17 years old, I was with my dad and a friend at the cottage. I say 'a friend', because for some reason, this is the part of the story that seems to be lost in the details. We told the story so many times with my friend 'B' that it became incorporated into the story. Then, a couple of summers ago, another friend, 'C', repeated the story to us with him there and that threw us for a loop.

Anyhow, I was hanging around my cottage with B/C one day being bored or just generally kicking around the sand, when my dad suggested that we go into town and find some girls to hang out with. I drove us in to Port Sydney, or perhaps it was Huntsville as we set out on this 'journey'. My dad swears up and down that we were back within twenty minutes, but I seem to remember searching the streets of whichever area we ended up going for a while. We may have even encountered and talked to a few people, but my memories of that part are hazy. Upon our return, my dad went on a tirade about how easily we had given up. "What the heck are you doing back here? Did you expect girls to be the first place you looked? And what good does coming back here for you? Do you expect girls to just fly in out of the air?"

Now, I'm not sure of the exact proximity of that comment to what happened next, but for the sake of the story, let's say that it was immediate. A hydroplane flew down and landed probably 500 metres away and two girls got out, climbed on the wing and began sunbathing. My dad turned to us and said "Well? What more do you want??"

We were all stunned. Hydroplanes do land on our lake from time to time, but I certainly had never (and haven't since) seen any girls sunbathing on the wings of one. The fact that it would have happened on the very day my dad said that specific thing is ridiculous.

(In case you are interested, we inspected the situation to see and they seemed about our age, but by the time we figured that out and made a motion towards canoeing out there, they packed up and flew away)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Record a Week: Le Tigre - s/t


















SIDE 1.
DECEPTACON
HOT TOPIC
WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON CASSAVETTES
THE THE EMPTY
PHANTA
EAU D'BEDROOM DANCING

SIDE 2.
LET'S RUN
MY MY METROCARD
FRIENDSHIP STATION
SLIDESHOW AT FREE UNIVERSITY
DUDE, YR SO CRAZY!
LES AND RAY

I had forgotten both sides of Le Tigre and sort of lumped them into a different category altogether.What I didn't remember is how fun their lo-fi funky music is. It had me grooving and my daughter was loving it too (she will dance to commercial jingles, though). Then, as the second side of the record went on, I remembered the other half of Le Tigre I had forgotten; the half where I get bored of the same drum beat and basic chord structure layered with vocals that are a part of the mix. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy it, but it's more of a fun thing to have a few songs as part of a mix than as a straight through listen.

Deceptacon (recognizable from a Nivea commercial), Hot Topic and Let's Run are my favourite tracks.

One time when I was maybe 19, perhaps 20, I attended a Le Tigre concert at the Opera House in Toronto. I went by myself and stood near the bar for the first 10 or 20 minutes waiting to see one of my friends. After scouring the crowd and failing to see any of them, I saw a girl that i was instantly drawn to. I spent the following minutes (who knows how many) trying to build up the confidence to go speak to her. Just when I hit the moment when I thought I could do it, a friend that I had met a few weeks earlier came up to say hi. As it turned out, this girl was a friend of this friend of mine and came to hang out. This caught me completely off guard and I got completely flabbergasted. I'd like to think it was the change of situation that made be a blabbering fool and ruined my chances, and that if I had been in the situation I had planned on things would've gone differently. Instead I was left wondering.

Got a little off topic there. Anyhow, the show was good and the record was a good rewind to that era.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Mango Bread
















INGREDIENTS:
2 cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
3 Egg Replacers (I used 2 parts Ener-G and 1/2 of a mushed over-ripe banana)
3/4 cup Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
2 Mangoes, ripe; peeled and diced
1/2 cup 'Mixed' (chopped walnuts, chopped macadamia nuts, raisins or any one of those)

Sift together the flour and the baking soda and create a well in the middle. Add your egg replacer in the well and stir to mix. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for an hour at 350F.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Record a Week: Les Miserables


















SIDE 1.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
I DREAMED A DREAM
LOVELY LADIES
WHO AM I?
COME TO ME (FANTINE'S DEATH)
CONFRONTATION

SIDE 2.
CASTLE ON A CLOUD
MASTER OF THE HOUSE
THE THÉNARDIER WALTZ OF TREACHERY
LOOK DOWN
STARS
RED AND BLACK
DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING?

SIDE 3.
IN MY LIFE
A HEART FULL OF LOVE
PLUMET ATTACK
ONE DAY MORE
ON MY OWN
JAVERT AT THE BARRACADE/LITTLE PEOPLE
THE FIRST ATTACK
A LITTLE FALL OF RAIN

SIDE 4.
DRINK WITH ME
BRING HIM HOME
DOG EATS DOG
JAVERT'S SUICIDE
TURNING
EMPTY CHAIRS AT EMPTY TABLES
WEDDING CHORALE/BEGGARS AT THE FEAST
FINALE

I've been waiting for this record to come up, the soundtrack to my favourite musical. Ever since I was a little kid, when my mother listened to the soundtrack all the time, I was roped in by the powerful songs and performances. That was followed up by seeing it 3rd row orchestra centre while Michael Burgess was performing in it. I know, I know, Colm Wilkinson is the one to be seen, but he was doing it before I was born, so I have to settle for seeing him in anniversary performances online. Also, he was the Phantom the time I saw Phantom of the Opera.

But I digress. This album, as does any musical, contains a number of misses. When you have to tell a story through song, the boring parts of the story can show through in the musical retelling. However, the power in the songs Look Down, At The End of the Day and One Day More as well as the emotion in I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own and Bring Him Home paint a beautiful story of redemption and love in the time of the French Revolution. Those songs are broken up by the playful Lovely Ladies and Master of the House. Each song is important to the telling of the story in a musical and this one does an excellent job.

When the movie came out last year, there was so much public hype behind it, in addition to my own longstanding love of it, that there was almost no chance of it working out for me. Despite my hatred for Anne Hathaway, I actually thought she did a good job in the movie. However, her character dies SO EARLY in the movie, I can't see how it is Oscar-worthy. It is all for one song, a song that had way more sadness and less anger than any version I had heard before it. Alright, I get that things change and it's nice to get a fresh perspective on things, but this character was so entrenched in my (and many others, I'd imagine) memory a certain way that it just bothers me. The live singing thing just didn't work out for many of the characters and poor Russel Crowe just came out flat. The movie itself has enough character to not need big names to make it a must-see.

Anyhow, in my opinion, the play IS a must-see. See it on Broadway, see it off Broadway, see it in a good theatre town or your local high school. It's just a moving piece of theatre and it gets two thumbs up from this guy.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Record a Week: John Lennon - Rock 'n' Roll



















SIDE 1.
BE-BOP-A-LULA
STAND BY ME
MEDLEY:
-READY TEDDY
-RIP IT UP
YOU CAN'T CATCH ME
AIN'T THAT A SHAME
DO YOU WANT TO DANCE
 SWEET LITTLE SIXTEEN

SIDE 2.
SLIPPIN' AND SLIDIN'
PEGGY SUE
MEDLEY:
-BRING IT ON HOME TO ME
-SEND ME SOME LOVIN'
BONY MORONIE
YA YA
JUST BECAUSE

The more I find out about John Lennon, the less interested I am in reading about him. He wasn't a good person and I don't want him to ruin the Beatles for me. I can't take away the fact that he was a large part of the Beatles, but I'm not a super fan of his solo career (to be fair, not really of any of the Beatles' save for a few McCartney songs). His singing is not terrific and I get the feeling he took himself far too seriously. As for Yoko Ono, I'm not even getting into that. She's like the Andy Warhol of music. They had briefly split at the time this record came out, so I guess she wasn't making decisions for him or whatever it was she did.

But I digress. On this album, Lennon plays the Rock standards of the 50s and 60s, including three songs from a catalogue he had agreed to release songs from as part of a lawsuit with a producer.  He also does a few medleys, including the B-Side medley where he plays Bring it on Home to me, a song my family plays, and he does it no justice (nor do we, probably...although my Uncle Jim can really nail it on the piano). I guess I should say I am most familiar with the Animals version of the song and he could be more similar to the original Sam Cooke version. Either way, it didn't really interest me and that was a common theme throughout my listening. Maybe I don't 'get it' with the John Lennon obsession, but I'm pretty alright with that at this point.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

*This recipe altered from Yammie's Noshery













INGREDIENTS:
1/3 cup Almond Milk, room temperature (I used part unsweetened, part coconut...soy would also work)
1 scant tbsp Dry Active Yeast
1/4 cup Vegetable or Olive Oil
1/4 cup Vegan Margarine, melted
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Egg Replacers (I used Ener-G which as 3 tsp powder and 4 tbsp cold water)
8 oz can or 2/3 cup Canned Crushed Pineapple
4 cups Bread Flour (or all-purpose)
1 tsp Sea Salt

3 tbsp Coconut Almond Milk
1 Egg Replacer 
1/4 cup Water
1 tbsp Vegan Margarine, melted

In a large bowl, combine yeast and 1/3 cup almond milk. Let sit for 5 minutes to activate yeast (longer if milk is not room temp). Add oil, margarine, sugar, pineapple and egg replacers and stir until smooth (there will be some small pineapple chunks still). Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring in to mix each time. Dough should be sticky but not gooey at the end (may need a bit more flour). Cover with a damp paper towel or cloth to let rise to double in size (about an hour). Separate into 12 equal balls in a large glassware baking dish. Let double again until rolls fill up pan (another hour or so, see picture).


Whisk together the 3 tbsp coconut almond milk, egg replacer, 1/4 cup water and 1 tbsp melted margarine and brush on top as a glaze. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Tear out and enjoy!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Record a Week: Peggy Lee - Is That All There Is?

   
SIDE 1.
IS THAT ALL THERE IS?
LOVE STORY
ME AND MY SHADOW
MY OLD FLAME
I'M A WOMAN

SIDE 2.
BROTHER'S LOVE SALVATION SHOW
SOMETHING
WHISTLE FOR HAPPINESS
JOHNNY (LINDA)
DON'T SMOKE IN BED

You know something? This project has stirred up something of a taste in this style of music in me. It's a kind of music that stirs the hips even if you're not in the mood for dancing. It brings to mind girls with wonderful dresses and 60's hair, their hands sticking out at their hips and swaying side to side.

It's just good music. In the past, I think I've made the mistake of lumping it in with smooth Jazz or other type of easy listening. I mean it is easy listening, in that it's easy on the ears, but not in that K-Lite FM type of sound. Is that all there is was Lee's biggest success, song-wise and it features that wonderful chorus that pretty much everyone is familiar with. Her cover of The Beatles' Something is a wonderful gem on the B Side.

All in all, another wonderful diamond in my collection.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Fruit Salad Served in a Pineapple

When I was a teenager, this was my signature thing. Probably because it has inherent presentation and doesn't take much effort.






*Photo from thaifood.about.com, recipe is mine from many years ago.




INGREDIENTS:
1 large Pineapple, halved and diced (use a grapefruit knife to scoop middle into a bowl)
1 Starfruit, 1/2 sliced into 1/4 inch star slices and 1/2 diced
1 cup Strawberries, topped and sliced
1 Papaya, peeled and diced, seeds removed
1 large Mango, peeled and diced
6 Kiwis, peeled and chopped
1 Banana, sliced
1/2 cup Grated Coconut (optional)
1/4 cup Orange Juice (OR 1/4 cup Coconut Milk and 1 tbsp each Lime Juice +  Maple Syrup/Agave Nectar)

Halve the pineapple and scoop out the fruit using a grapefruit knife, creating two bowls (use more pineapples as needed per guest, adjust other fruit accordingly). Cover 1/2 pineapples with saran wrap and set aside in fridge, if preparing in advance. In a large bowl, combine all the fruits except starfruit slices and toss with the coconut, if using, and OJ or coconut milk mix. Store in fridge if making in advance. Right before serving, spoon fruit salad into pineapple shells and top with starfruit slices.
 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Random Movie Review: 12 Angry Men

12 Angry Men (1957)
Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley
















Every once in a while I come across a 'classic' (or at least highly regarded) movie that I don't know much about. This one is top ten in the 'Imdb top 250' and on several other must-see lists that I came across.

The movie starts off in a courtroom during the closing remarks of the trial of a young man on trial for murder. The jury then goes in to the deliberation room to make a decision on his fate, which it is pointed out will be execution if the decision is guilty. The 12 men of the jury sit at a table and hold a vote to see where they sit. After 11 guilty votes, one man (Henry Fonda) says he isn't sure and thinks they should at least talk it over before ending the man's life. He presents his doubts about the case to the other men and the numbers slowly begin to swing. The more they question about the evidence and testimony of the witnesses, the more votes begin to turn from guilty to not guilty, until eventually there are just a few stubborn men left. At that point, you start to see the various why the stubborn men feel the way they do.

The movie takes a great look at prejudice of different kinds. The men of the jury are so quick to believe the young man is guilty because of his race, the part of town he lives in and events from his past. They are unwilling to allow for the chance he might not have done it and some take a good deal of convincing. The term 'reasonable doubt' is well addressed, as Ford's character explains how some things might not be so certain when you take a closer look at it.

I thought this was an excellent film and I am glad I stumbled across it. I am making a concerted effort to visit more old films, especially ones of this ilk. I give this an 8.75/10.
















Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Record a Week: Led Zeppelin - II




















SIDE1.
A WHOLE LOTTA LOVE
WHAT IS AND WHAT SHOULD NEVER BE
THE LEMON SONG
THANK YOU

SIDE 2.
HEARTBREAKER
LIVING LOVING MAID (She's Just a Woman)
RAMBLE ON
MOBY DICK
BRING IT ON HOME

Well, here it is. My dirty little secret: I don't like Led Zeppelin. I always felt like I should like them, but I just caaaaaaan't with them. Maybe, I thought, I just haven't given them a fair chance. Well, this record sort of proved both sides of that. I should note that I do enjoy Stairway to Heaven for the first 5 or so minutes, but that is like saying you like the Stones because you enjoy Satisfaction if you don't enjoy anything else by them.

Zeppelin takes what could probably be 3-4 minute songs and just harps on some part of them until I feel uncomfortable. Whether it's a short guitar shot that they play 40 times instead of the 10 or 11 I expect, or a wailing vocal part (the ones with no instruments especially) that continues until my muscles begin to involuntarily twitch; I just can't do it. To be fair, this was greatly amplified from working at a place where the 'new rock' station was on all day and they would repeatedly play their songs throughout the day and rotate between only 2 or 3 of them.

This record contains a few of their radio play songs for sure, but I must admit there was one or two songs that were shorter and had none of the elements that I dislike. There was even one (Thank You, perhaps?) where the singing was in a lower register and it was a nice break. I also must admit that they do know how to rock. They have some good riffs and some parts of songs that are awesome, but then they run them into the ground by playing them over and over.

It was more tolerable than I had thought it would be and as mentioned, some killer riffs were in there. It also gets a bonus for having a locked groove at the end, something I love and have always wanted to do. Either that or an even bigger bonus for having the best-timed skip on a record ever.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Record a Week: Hubert Laws - Then There Was Light



















SIDE 1.
IN THE BEGINNING
RESTORATION

SIDE 2.
GYMNOPEDIE #1
COME YE DISCONSOLATE
AIREGIN

What are the chances I come upon to flute specialist records in the span of a couple weeks? I can't imagine there are even more than three in my whole collection, but I guess this proves that I don't know much about that.

This record had fairly run-of-the-mill Jazz sounds at first, but then the flute solo kicked in. Flute in jazz is so much different than the flute I remember from high school music class. I always thought of it as a pretty boring instrument until its inclusion in jazz. I should know better, because years ago I saw an oboist who used a looping pedal and played some pretty neat stuff, including Smells Like Teen Spirit and that blew my conventional knowledge of instruments right out of the water.

Besides the flute solos, there are two very surprising drum solos that occur. One on each side of the album. The first one was on Restoration and the second (I think) on Come Ye Disconsolate. The one is reminiscent of speed metal drumming and really caught me off guard, as it seemed like a real departure in terms of genre. Definitely found this one a very interesting listen a a few different ways.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Recipe: Spicy Mixed Vegetable Soup (Squash, Potato, Corn, Lentil, Purple Kale)

I had a bunch of things form the market this weekend and a little tickle in my throat, so I decided to make myself a soup.
















INGREDIENTS:
1 medium-large Butternut Squash; peeled, cored and chopped
1 large Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Red Pepper, cored and chopped
3 medium Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 can Lentils, divided
4 cobs Corn, de-cobbed
1 bunch Purple Kale, stemmed and chopped
12 cups Water, approximately 

 In a large stock pot, heat oil and add squash, onion, garlic and peppers. Heat until soft.
 Add spices and stir to coat. Add enough water to fill the pot up about half way (app. 12 cups) and bring to a boil.










 Add 1/2 can of lentils and reduce heat to a simmer until potatoes become soft. Put a hand blender at the bottom of the pot and blend until it becomes smooth and sort of creamy like this:

If it's too thick, add a little more water. If it seems thin, it will thicken as time goes on.

Add the rest of the lentils and the corn and cook on medium for 5-10 minutes. Add the kale and simmer until it softens up. After that, you can eat immediately or simmer to allow the flavours to mix a little better.







Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Record a Week: Andre Kostelanetz and his Orchestra - Carnival Tropicana


















SIDE 1.
MALAGUENA
NO TABOLEIRO DE BAHIANA
LA CUMPARSITA
ADIOS

SIDE 2.
CAMINITO
YOURS (Quiéreme Mucho)
SIBONEY
MEXICANA (Jarabe tapiato. Cielito Lindo, La Golandrina)

When I think of classical music, my mind usually goes European. However, this collection of Latin classical music is pretty great. Each side had at least one stretch that I instantly recognized, to the point where I was surprised I wasn't familiar with any of the titles when I looked at the cover. I couldn't tell anything that specifically set it apart from traditional classical music, but I suppose it's fairly universal in its roots and thus has similar themes wherever it originates.

The story of Andre Kostelanetz (at least according to Wikipedia) is an interesting one that had him escaping Russia during the revolution in the 20's and dying in Haiti in 1980, producing MANY records in between. His last listed one is Carmen, which I would love to hear. That's a beautiful piece and he did a great job with this one. Assuming he got himself someone wonderful to sing the aria, it would certainly be well worth a listen.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Lunch - Avocado Grilled 'Cheese'

This weeks entry is nothing innovative, particularly. However, I think if you have a vegan household with kids, this is a meal that might appeal to them. The avocado blends really well with the flavour, so it's not as much of a contrast as, say, a tomato (which I love stuffed in a grilled 'cheese').

INGREDIENTS:
2 slices Bread
1/2 Avocado, pitted and thinly sliced
3 slices Tofutti 'American-Style Cheddar' (or other vegan sliced 'cheese')
2 tbsp Vegan Margarine (or more as needed)
Salt + Pepper




This is a picture to help you find the cheese in your local store (I bought this at Metro, so not too exotic).

Heat up a small pan on medium. Spread margarine on the outside portions of the bread and put one piece margarine side down in the heated pan. Layer with 1 1/2 piece of 'cheese' and the sliced avocado like this:


Layer the other 1 1/2 slices on the top and then the other piece of bread, margarine side up. Fry for 2-3 minutes, until cheese starts melting and then carefully flip. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is all melted. Cut and serve with a dollop of ketchup or whatever you like for dipping.


*I had some leftover avocado from the 1/2 avocado, so I mashed it and put it on a piece of toast topped with salt and pepper (pictured at the back of the plate)



Monday, April 15, 2013

A Record a Week: Roland Kirk - Volunteered Slavery




















SIDE 1.
VOLUNTEERED SLAVERY
SPIRITS UP ABOVE
MY CHERIE AMOUR
SEARCH FOR THE REASON WHY
I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER

SIDE 2.
ROLAND'S OPENING REMARKS
ONE TON
OVATION & ROLAND'S REMARKS
TRIBUTE TO JOHN COLTRANE - LUSH LIFE/AFRO-BLUE/BESSIE'S BLUES
THREE FOR THE FESTIVAL

Well, this was an interesting listen. Definitely my first foray into any field titled 'free jazz' or 'free improvisation', though I suppose jam bands are under the free improv category. The album is a mix of studio recordings and a 1968 appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival. Kirk plays several instruments on the album, including a trio of saxophones he modified to be able to play simultaneously/in quick succession and a nose flute, which he could play at the same time as his regular flute.

In fact, the highlight of this record for me was a couple of crazy flute solos where he was humming as he played the flute, which made for a unique sound. The whole sound of the record reminds me of that big horn sound of the early 1970's, a sound I wish I knew where to start with. Perhaps I should consult Mr. Greg Proops, who always fawns over this era of music on his podcast. I could nab some Ohio Players and see where things go from there.

It was interesting to listen to music from an era where seemingly everyone died at a young age. The last young musician to die was, who, Cobain? Dimebag Daryl? The Deftones bass player died, but that was from an accident and not his style of living. These days all the celebrities get a chance to make poor decisions and fade away slowly in the public eye. What a time we live in.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday Brunch - English Muffins

*Altered from Alton Brown's Recipe














INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup Evaporated Soy Milk
1 tbsp Crystallized Sugar (Cane, Coconut Crystals, Whatever you have on hand)
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Vegetable Shortening (Earth Balance makes a good one)
1 cup Hot Water
1 pkg Dry Active Yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
Large Pinch of Sugar (1/8 tsp it calls for, but I don't have a measuring spoon for that)
1/3 cup Warm Water
2 cups Sifted Flour (All Purpose or Bread Flour)

In a large bowl, mix hot water with soy milk powder, shortening, tbsp sugar and salt until dissolved. In a separate bowl, combine yeast, 1/8 tsp sugar and warm water and set aside until it foams (nearly 10 minutes). Add yeast mixture to soy milk mixture and sift in the flour 1 cup at a time. Cover and let rise for 1/2 hour or so (until it doubles in size).

For cooking method, I tried two ways. One -  Take squash ball-sized pieces of dough and make a patty (don't overwork), fry on low in a oil-sprayed pan, covered for 7-8 minutes per side (until golden, but middle has to cook). Two - Take same sized balls and make a patty, dip each side in corn meal, bake at 250 for 20 minutes and then fry on medium in oil-sprayed pan for a few minutes per side to brown the sides. Both were good, just slightly different. Extras can be, split lengthwise and frozen in airtight container and toasted at a later date.


A Record a Week: The King's Singers - By Request




















SIDE 1.
GEORGIA ON MY MIND (Ray Charles)
THE WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND (Dusty Springfield/others)
BECAUSE (Beatles)
CAN'T BUY ME LOVE (Beatles)
THREE TIMES A LADY (Lionel Richie)
THE RHYTHM OF LIFE (From Sweet Charity)
YOUR FEET'S TO BIG (Ink Spots)

SIDE 2.
SHORT PEOPLE (Randy Newman)
LAZYBONES/(UP A) LAZY RIVER (Tin Pan Alley)
NINA (Noel Coward)
HUSH LITTLE BABY (John Blackwood Arrangement)
I LOVE YOU SAMANTHA (From High Society)
WHAT'S IN A TUNE (David Overton Arrangement)

Well, two questions: 1. Who is it that was requesting this? 2. How long can you listen to a (mostly) acapella album?

I can't answer the first one, but I will take a stab at the second. I listened to the whole thing, as I have promised myself I would during this review process. However, I would say I hit my a capella limit somewhere around Three Times a Lady. Despite the wonderful tones of all of the voices on this record, hearing nothing but that loses its novelty fairly quickly. A little digging tells me that this group has made MANY records, so perhaps I am in the minority as far as desire goes. I will say that I did enjoy the songs I recognized far more than those that I did not, so maybe one of their christmas albums or their all-Beatles album would be more appealing.

This is not to take away from their wonderful voices, I just can't do nearly 44 minutes of just that. Really, 44 minutes of any one thing would be too much. Isolating the guitar tracks on any given album and listening to that would not be a listening experience, it would be called engineering or producing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What Has Been Stored Away Is Found Again

I have this email account that I NEVER check. Every time I get around to sorting through it, there are 2000+ unchecked emails in there. Now, this sounds like more than it is; because every time I sign up for something online or pay for something that requires an active email, I use this account. It then sends all updates for that thing I don't care about to that address and if you don't open them enough, they'll eventually just send right to spam anyhow. Regardless, I do only check it once every 3-4 months and try and trim it back to a reasonable size. For some reason, though, every once in a while I go digging through the older emails to get a bit of the ol' nostalgia.

Today was one of those days. I dug through old emails about planning road trips, weekends at the cottage, bitchy downstairs neighbours and a whole host of other things from a previous portion of my life. The very first one I actually opened, however, was an email about a day I remember very clearly. The letter was the last of a string of emails and read like this:

OK...I'll call your cell phone - look forward to seeing you then. Have a good weekend in London town :o) 

xx Mom

My mom had been having back pains for a couple weeks and when I had seen her for lunch a few weeks before she had also had some trouble getting her food down. In the interim I had been doing a lot of background thinking worrying about what that meant and if it had any relation to the cancer she had battled several years before. I'm not claiming to be some sort of Seer here, it's just that I'm a hypochondriac and one that also projects it outward to those I care about as well.

However, this email had me in higher spirits and I went about said trip to 'London town' and headed back by train to be picked up for a lunch and some shopping with my mother (and perhaps Joe, my stepfather as well) at the station, as planned. When I got out of the station, I located their car and headed across the street. As I got closer, the door opened and out of the driver's seat came Joe and not my mom. My heart sank as Joe told me the pain was keeping her from getting out of bed and we'd have to postpone the shopping trip. That outing never happened and my mom never got up out of bed with any real meaning again.

So here I was, many years later, staring at an email I probably haven't looked at since that day. An email that marked a real turning point in my life and triggered the beginning of a long, turbulent ride. I wasn't even thinking of her before I checked my email - quite frankly I just did it out of sheer ennui, the whole family was either napping or in another room. Clicking on that one email led to opening a whole slew of emails and I quickly found myself re-living memories in a strange order, where one minute I was reading about fun things that involved my mom (or not) and the next minute I was reading condolences to do with her sickness or passing. It was very interesting and dug up several feelings and memories I hadn't thought about in a long time.

I can't decide if it's a good thing to keep these emails or not. I do find it comforting to have a hard copy of something I know she wrote herself, as long as I only visit them every so often.
I am thankful for this experience and mostly that it happened now, a time when I might not think about her as often as I once did and at the same time can view these things without it being overwhelmingly sad. Thank goodness I am some degree of an email hoarder (though not with newer emails - I do have a weird thing where I don't trust the address book and keep one email from everyone in my inbox in case I need to contact them at a later date. This add-on is way too long for brackets.)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Brunch: Raw Peanut Butter Cookies

I was going to a potluck this past weekend and I knew there were some raw foodies going and decided to make items for each group. It was Good Friday and I couldn't procure the items to make the thing I wanted, but found this recipe on The Rawtarian. It turned out amazing and I would certainly make it again when I am catering to GF and/or Raw Foodies. They went fast, so no picture this time.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup Raw Almonds
1 cup Pitted Dried Figs
1/2 cup Raw Peanut Butter
1 1/4 tsp Vanilla
Sea Salt

Run the almonds through a food processor to create an 'almond flour'. Add the other ingredients and blend until smooth and doughy (add more peanut butter if needed, probably will need to scrape side of the food processor every so often).

Roll dough into small balls about a teaspoon each, then press down with a fork on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Sprinkle with a half-pinch of sea salt each. Put the sheet in the fridge for a minimum of an our, but overnight would work too.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Record a Week: Freddie King - Getting Ready



















SIDE 1.
SAME OLD BLUES
DUST MY BROOM
WORRIED LIFE BLUES
FIVE LONG YEARS
KEY TO THE HIGHWAY

SIDE 2.
GOING DOWN
LIVING ON THE HIGHWAY
WALKING BY MYSELF
TORE DOWN
PALACE OF THE KING

It seems that many of the blues albums I listen to are compiled of a mix of covers and originals; Getting Ready is no exception. The opening side is a slower blues style with drawn out guitar riffs and slow, deliberate beats. The second side picks up the pace a bunch and has you nodding your head before you even realize you're doing it.

Despite most of his career being made up of covers, many of his originals became standards on their own; covered by the likes of Grateful Dead and Eric Clapton. Admittedly, I had never heard of King before listening to this record. He is from an era where he was most likely heavily overshadowed by (not related) B.B. King. That isn't to take anything away form his ability, because his talent is up front on this record. I would certainly listen more to the second side, it fits into the type of blues that I wish I knew more about.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Record a Week: Bert Kaempfert - ...Love That Bert Kaempfert



















SIDE 1.
CARAVAN
LONELY IS THE NAME
AGAIN
STEPPIN' PRETTY
I SHOULD CARE

SIDE 2.
JUST AS MUCH AS EVER
THE FIRST WALTZ
MY LOVE FOR YOU
THE GLORY OF LOVE
THE SHEIK OF ARABY
EVERY TIME I DREAM OF YOU

Since many (or all) of his covers are in this style, I always expected Kaempfert to be either a surfy-love song type or at least a crooner. I suppose if I saw the 'and his orchestra' I would've narrowed it down to crooner. I suppose none of that matters, since it's actually jazz. Easy listening jazz, at that; the farthest thing from what I thought it was.

Once I got past the mismatch of cover and content, I was able to focus solely on the music. While easy listening or 'smooth jazz' lacks the punch that I usually enjoy from music, I was able to set that aside and hear the quality of the music being played. He was obviously excellent at gathering and conducting musicians to execute both the classics and his own compositions, as this record shows.

Before his early (56) death in 1980, he was a renowned band leader and composer. I suppose the aging population mixed with the number of his records sold made this inevitable, but it's sad to know that someone of this caliber can be in the 'guaranteed find' pile at value village alongside Englebert Humperdinck.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Record a Week: Joy Division - She's Lost Control/Atmosphere Single


SIDE 1.
SHE'S LOST CONTROL

SIDE 2.
ATMOSPHERE












To try and catch up on last week's record that I missed, I decided I would listen to it while on the treadmill. This is before I pulled the record off the shelf and saw it was Joy Division. Nevertheless, I stuck with it (Jog Division). The downside, besides the obvious mismatch in tempo, is the fact that each song is under five minutes and that really halts any pace you get going.

I will say that the one side was definitely more upbeat than the other, though I think I may have switched the order. Neither side had the pace of the 'Sawtooth Indie' playlist on Songza, which is what I usually run to.

Anyhow, the record was beautiful and haunting with the same emotional singing and lyrics from Ian Curtis. The one side is the haunting atmospheric (Atmosphere), with vocals that made me think I had the speed set incorrectly. Once I got past that, it was a piece that was equally beautiful and depressing. The other side (She's Lost Control) is, as mentioned, more upbeat. The singing does not sound as much like he's pushing the floor of his vocal range and the drumming is almost hypnotic. I haven't had the most exposure to Joy Division, but this record made me understand the hype now. It's
not a thing I can immerse myself in, but the pieces are there for music that can pull you in deep.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Brunch: One Batter, Two Muffins

*Base recipe adapted from 'Best Ever Muffins' recipe.













INGREDIENTS:
2 cups Flour
3/4 cup Sugar
3 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Egg Replacer (Ener-G or Flax Eggs)
1 cup Soy Milk (or other milk alternative)
1/4 cup + 2 heaping tbsp Applesauce (or 1/4 cup oil)
1/4 cup Mixed Berries
1/2 Apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tbsp Vegan Margarine, melted
4 tbsp Flour
4 tbsp Brown Sugar
4 tbsp Oats (or crushed nuts)

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine egg replacer, soy milk and applesauce (or oil). Add wet to dry and stir just enough to combine all ingredients. Divide batter into two equal parts. Add the berries to one bowl and the apple to the other. Scoop batter into greased muffin tin/papers. Meanwhile, combine melted margarine with 4 tbsp each flour, sugar and oats/nuts and crumble that mixture on top of the apple muffins. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. (375F convection will also work or 400F convection for 15-20 minutes)