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)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Record a Week - Piano Rags by Scott Joplin, Volume III (Piano by Joshua Rifkin)

SIDE 1.
ORIGINAL RAGS)
WEEPING WILLOW - A Ragtime Two-Step
THE CASCADES - A Rag
CHRYSANTHEMUMS - An Afro-American Intermezzo

SIDE 2.
SUGAR CANE - A Ragtime Classic Two-Step
THE NONPAREIL - A Rag And Two-Step
COUNTRY CLUB - A Ragtime Two-Step
STOPTIME RAG 




I sense a theme here? Something about Rags and Two-Step, I think. Now I know the sensation of parents listening to their children's music and announcing 'it all sounds the same to me!' Not that I have any issue with this music, I actually think it's quite nice. It just takes some listening to hear what separates one rag or two-step from the next one. The style having mainly died out about a century ago, I decided to look up the definition.

*cited from Encyopedia Britannica Online, first page only.

ragtime,  propulsively syncopated musical style, one forerunner of jazz and the predominant style of American popular music from about 1899 to 1917. Ragtime evolved in the playing of honky-tonk pianists along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in the last decades of the 19th century. It was influenced by minstrel-show songs, blacks’ banjo styles, and syncopated (off-beat) dance rhythms of the cakewalk, and also elements of European music. Ragtime found its characteristic expression in formally structured piano compositions. The regularly accented left-hand beat, in 4/4 or 2/4 time, was opposed in the right hand by a fast, bouncingly syncopated melody that gave the music its powerful forward impetus.
 
Scott Joplin, called “King of Ragtime,” published the most successful of the early rags, “The Maple Leaf Rag,” in 1899. Joplin, who considered ragtime a permanent and serious branch of classical music, composed hundreds of short pieces, a set of ├ętudes, and operas in the style. Other important performers were, in St. Louis, Louis Chauvin and Thomas M. Turpin (father of St. Louis ragtime) and, in New Orleans, Tony Jackson.

two-step,  ballroom dance appearing in about 1890 in the United States. Its origins are unclear but may include the polka, galop, or waltz. The dance consists of sliding steps to the side in 2/4 time. It was one source of the fox-trot, which in about 1920 overtook it in popularity, and the term two-step often refers to the fox-trot.

Well, there you have it. A further delve into the interwebs tells me that it generally consisted of 3 or four parts that followed one of two or three different patterns. Add up those facts and it's easy to see why it might sound similar. It's almost formulaic, but the loose rhythm of the right-hand melody keeps it just off edge enough to keep it from being formal (rooted in march music, according to Wikipedia). This record does not include his most famous work, Maple Leaf Rag (presumably on Volume I of this series), but does solidify my theory that Joplin was an excellent composer and probably would have been held in the regard that he wished for (he was grateful but always felt he was not taken seriously despite his fame) in a time not too far from when he was popular. Of course, by that time he would have had to be playing jazz instead, but it's easy to see that his capabilities would have allowed that to happen.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Gluten-Free February - Sushi, Cold Rolls and Crispy Tofu

This is a late entry into the Gluten-Free February, but as it turns out, the meal I made for a dinner on Saturday night was mostly GF just by chance, so I have altered this recipe to make it 100% so. You can find the vegan shrimp in the freezer at Whole Foods or other health food/alternative diet stores.

Here are some things you will need:
INGREDIENTS:
1 Avocado 
1 box Sophie's Vegan Shrimp
1 1/2 cup Sushi Rice
2 1/3 cup Water
1 pkg Sushi Seaweed
1 English Cucumber, julienne
4 Carrots, julienne 
1/2 pkg Vermicelli
12 Rice Papers
2 Lettuce Leaves, finely chopped
1 brick Tofu, cut into rectangles
1/2 cup Rice Flour (or other GF flour)
2 tbsp Corn Starch (most are GF, but double-check)
Salt + Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Tamari (or GF Soy Sauce)
1 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
2 tbsp Peanut Butter
1 1/2 tsp Rice Vinegar
1/2 cup Thai Chili Sauce 
Wasabi


















To make Sushi: Boil rice and water together, simmer for 17 minutes, then let cool. Lay sushi seaweed out on bamboo roller (pictured above, may want to lay saran to protect bamboo from rice) shiny side down. Line thinly (1/4 inch) with rice. Place slices of avocado, cucumber, carrots and vegan shrimp along the close side (should take up no more than an inch deep). Roll tightly, starting with the end with the fillings. Slice into 1 inch rolls.

To make cold rolls: Put dry vermicelli in a bowl and pour in boiling water to cover. Use tongs to poke and stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Drain and pour cold water over top to cool, then drain again. Dip rice paper into warm water in a large dish, swirl for 1-2 minutes, until pliable. Remove to a plate, add vermicelli, carrots, lettuce and 1 vegan shrimp. Roll as you would a burrito (fold sides over the short ends of the 'rectangle' of filling, then tuck the bottom up and roll towards the top). set on a plate to firm up (about a minute or two should remove enough moisture).

To make crispy tofu: Put flour, corn starch and salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix. Toss squares of tofu in the flour and fry in oil until each side is golden.

To make peanut dip: Combine tamari, peanut butter, chili flakes and rice vinegar with a dash of sugar and stir until well mixed.

Serve sushi with tamari and wasabi. Cold rolls and tofu with peanut and Thai chili dips.

A Record a Week: Music From the Motion Picture 'Scott Joplin'


















SIDE 1.
MAPLE LEAF RAG
SOLACE
PLEASANT MOMENTS
HELIOTROPE BOUQUET (Stomp Version)
COURTSHIP
CUTTING CONTEST/MAPLE LEAF RAG

SIDE 2.
PEACHERINE RAG
THE ENTERTAINER
MAPLE LEAF RAG (Honky-Tonk Version)
WEEPING WILLOW
BREAKUP
HELIOTROPE BOUQUET (Complete Version)
WALL STREET RAG
FINALE: THE ENTERTAINER/MAPLE LEAF RAG/GLADIOLUS RAG

This music is written by Scott Joplin and performed by Dick Hyman (and others), taken from the 1977 film Scott Joplin.

The movie details his life story and his trying to make it as an African-American musician in an all-white business. He sells off a song for a low price and ultimately becomes rich, though his health declines before he can reach a level where he considers being taken seriously.

I never saw the movie, but I do know that things weren't right and it took a lot of people like Scott Joplin to start breaking down the walls. Ragtime music is one of many styles that caucasian people latched on to, but didn't give credit until years later.

This album is full of songs that were part of the array of non-classical music you (or at least I did) learn when you take piano lessons. I always find it amazing to hear or learn the roots of songs that have become standards. It's amazing to think that these songs ever did not exist; they just feel as if they were played into existence at some time before things were being kept track of or recorded. The maple leaf rag, especially, is one that is so familiar it feels like it is just written into the DNA of music itself. Always a pleasure to listen to well played music and when you learn something along the way, that's even better.