Monthly Archives: June 2013

Kitchen Sink Cooking

I love to cook. I mean, LOVE. Which is a big surprise to all of us. In fact, my hubby says its the biggest surprise of our relationship. When we met, I either ordered out or went out to eat or ate cereal for dinner. But after 10 years together, I must say I have gotten pretty good. My husband is a nice Midwestern boy, and he likes his meat n’ potatoes. I have eased up on the outwardly funky food and concentrated on perfecting and then tweaking “normal food.” I have had moderate to substantial success with this. And my two-year-olds are awesome eaters. They are not really picky, so far. And they like hummus, tofu, spicy things…and I think that’s great. They even eat some veggies with happiness. But as soon as I learned about how to purée vegetables and sneak them into food without your kids (or husband with high cholesterol) knowing it, that’s when I started Kitchen Sink Cooking. As in, “Everything but the…” Sometimes I follow a nice recipe. But sometimes I just throw a bunch of crap together and hope for the best.

Right now, at this very moment, I am making meatballs. Kitchen sink meatballs. This is what’s in them (oh, sorry, I don’t measure with kitchen sink cooking):

Ground turkey (2-3 lbs to make a great big batch)
Cilantro from my garden
1 packet of onion soup mix
1 little packet of Goya Sazon
Pepper
Sea Salt
Bread crumbs
Like half a bag of frozen cauliflower which I cooked and then puréed

I should have probably added an egg, but I want to save all my eggs to make deviled eggs for my Bible study tomorrow night (I like irony) and I figured the puréed cauliflower was moist enough. Other healthy things that you can purée and add to other things to sneak into your family’s food are sweet potatoes, broccoli, and carrots.

I put some fresh garlic and some olive oil in a cast iron skillet (actually one big one and one little one) and browned the meatballs a little. Then I baked them in the oven at 350 for…a while. Ovens are all different. I don’t know how your oven works. They are actually in there right now…I’m guessing at least a half hour of baking.

When they are cooked through I am going to serve them with some buffalo ranch dipping sauce and some pasta salad. YUM.

I will let you know how it goes. When you cook like this, it either turns out really amazing or looking like the below ugly recipe card from the 70’s. You astute observers will notice that this particular ugly recipe card from the 70’s is signed by Amy Sedaris. Yep. I love her. She is my spirit animal. I met her and she was awesome. Yay. And I bet she does her share of Kitchen Sink Cooking.

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(Please ignore my dirty oven)

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Edit: it’s done! And it’s delicious!!!

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Another edit: the kids love it!

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I want for nothing

Sometimes you wake up and you realize how beautiful life is. Sometimes you have one of those ridiculously special days that you feel you somehow don’t even deserve, or was even possible in your boring, go-nowhere little neck of the woods. Sometimes you just feel so loved. That sometime for me is right now, right this very second. I was in the company of so many amazing people in everything I did yesterday that, no lie, I woke up with a smile on my face this morning. The day was filled with delicious food and creative friends and beautiful family and awesome art and gorgeous film and moving music and lively discussion and good weather and bad weather and laughter and tears and I just felt SO MUCH OF EVERYTHING.

As women (and especially as moms and/or at the workplace) we tend to go on automatic pilot just so we can accomplish the myriad tasks swirling around in our heads. When we are taking care of everybody else all the time, those days when we are kinda in it for ourselves are all the more special. Right now I’m so filled up that I could cry. God is good.

Carol took me to a fabulous lunch filled with wonderful conversation, and she gave me the portrait she painted of me and that hung in two galleries this spring! Below is the original photo, the painting, and the artist herself. It was a wonderful time. She is so rad. Also 2 pics of me and Shari at the Levon movie screening last night (complete with producer Q&A, free wine and delicious food afterwards! I can’t even talk about the movie right now. I just can’t. There are no words for how beautiful that masterpiece was painted). And then I came outside to see that my daisies came up! And the moon and the sun are both in the sky right now. I’m watching a bumblebee get his breakfast on the magnolias next to me while drinking my coffee from my favorite owl mug I got in Woodstock. My kids are playing and happy. Right now, I want for nothing.

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I Kissed Levon Helm

I love a lot of things. Very high on the list of those things include Woodstock, NY, The Band, Levon Helm, and Rick Danko. Tonight we are going to see Ain’t In It For My Health, the movie about Levon. I am prepared to bawl my eyes out.

In August of 2000, literally immediately after my sweet Granny’s funeral, I booked it up to Woodstock (something I did quite often back then). I went to the now-defunct Joyous Lake bar (not nearly as good as the sadly long-defunct Tinker Street Cafe, former Cafe Espresso and downstairs neighbor to Bob Dylan. Now THAT was a bar). There I saw Levon drum with his band at the time, The Barn Burners. I went up to him during a break, giddy and nervous and probably a little drunk, and said hi and how much I dug the band and blah blah blah. He was SO nice. I asked if we could get a picture and I can still hear his voice to this day: “Why, SURE!” (But “sure” sounded like “shore.”) So we took the pic and he said, “Now, how ’bout a kiss for good luck?” He went in for a kiss on the lips and I was so nervous and dumbstruck that I moved my face away. He said, “Now, let’s try that again.” And I kissed Levon Helm. It was a sweet peck on the lips and he KNEW he just rocked my world. He made me feel like I was the only chick in the room. Oh, Levon. I love you. I just remembered that the next night I saw Garth Hudson playat the same bar. Epic weekend, man.

When he passed away, I wept. I truly did. I loved him. He was just an awesome, awesome guy and fantastic musician. I expect to do some weeping tonight as well.

I went up to Woodstock in October to see Levon again. I also said hello to the lovely and amazing Rick Danko, whom we also lost too soon.

I’ll let you all know how many boxes of tissues my Band friend Shari and I go through tonight. There is also a producer Q & A, so it should be really amazing.

On one of the pics of Levon’s resting place you will see a green little girl’s hair clippie. Hazel took that out of her hair and left it for Levon, unprompted. It was magical. Not that she knew what she was doing…I think she saw all the other trinkets on the ground and wanted to leave something, too. Hazel. Named not only after Chris’ great aunt Hazel, but also this Hazel.

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I bought this signed print by the photographer in 1998 at a gallery in Woodstock. It has proudly hung in every place I have lived ever since, along with the gem below.

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Language is a Virus

So. I wouldn’t say that what I’ve got is writers block per se…I think that should probably only be attributed to a serious writer working on a novel or short stories. But I have NO CLUE what to write about lately. So I guess all I can do is write about not knowing what to write about. And that sounds really exciting, doesn’t it?

If you like to write and this ever happens to you, there is a wonderful little site called Language is a Virus. This concept comes from William S. Burroughs. There are all kinds of fun exercises that you may like, regardless if you are a “writer” or not.
I like the creative writing games a lot. They have a electronic poetry thing that I really liked to do a few years back. You could pick a writer you liked and they would give you a bunch of words that the writer might have likely used and you could make a poem with them. I used to do this at work when I got bored. Which was a lot. They have added a whole bunch of new writers since then. Including Morrissey! What!!! I gotta do that one ASAP.

Speaking of being a “writer” or not, I have had this amazing (at least I think so) idea for a novel. Obviously I am not going to tell you what it is, but the first half of it needs to be handwritten, and the second half in print. I don’t even know if that is a plausible concept, mass-production-wise. (Don’t you love how I have already jumped ahead to the mass production of this novel that I haven’t written one single word of?) I think it’s a cool idea, though. I need to research how to pitch a book deal. Even though nobody reads real books anymore. So maybe my idea IS more plausible in this new e-reader world. Maybe THAT’S why I’ve never started it seriously before! It just wasn’t time? Hmmmm. Maybe now is the time to get off my bum and do this.

One thing I will say about this idea i have for a novel is that it is not really “fictiony.” Because I am one of those weirdos that doesn’t love fiction. I like biographies, autobiographies, factual accounts of whatever. I do like some fiction, but I don’t seek it out. I’m not usually drawn to it unless it’s really trippy and crazy and absurd. So this idea has a very real element, like you are privy to something that you shouldn’t be. But in a sweet way, not in an icky, Peeping Tom kind if way. But I have already said too much.

Below is some of the electronic poetry I did many moons ago. The first one is Kerouac, and the second one is Ginsberg. Man. I love those guys. Deeply. Kerouac is the King of Stream of Consciousness Writing and I love to read him. I want to go to Lowell, MA and visit his grave. Allen Ginsberg is also outstanding and he was just so important to so much about popular culture in the 50’s and 60’s. He stayed totally relevant until he passed away. Love him. It’s fun to take their “types of words” and mix them together and pretend I have an ounce of their vision and talent.

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Mondo Retro Art

Back in 2002, I was making some weird art. Here are a few pieces.

This first one kind of deserves a backstory…I made a bunch of art and had an art show. My husband- whom was not my husband at the time, nor was he my boyfriend…in fact, we were both with other people – came to the art show as a surprise. He looked at the pieces and saw a particular one and said that he really liked that one and he was happy that one was in the show (he had seen it at my apartment when he was dating my friend Sarah and I was dating a other guy. We all hung out a lot). So…he bought it. He was the first person ever to buy my art. And now it hangs in our home together. Awwwwww.

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“You Need Not Surrender The Dream (yet)”

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“Tell me, Randy, why were you mooning her?”

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“Make Me An Icon”

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“…remember how you loved his can opener?”

Mondo Retro Jewelry

It seems like everyone and their mother makes jewelry, and I am no exception. My friend Lisa taught me when I was working with her at the Lotus Boutique in West Reading about 10 years ago (RIP Lotus), and I fell in love with everything about the process. I ended up selling my stuff all over Penn Avenue and also online and at craft shows. It was a good thing. I guess it kind of goes without saying that I have been taking a jewelry-making hiatus ever since the kids were born. But now I am ready to get back into it. SO ready. Here are some pics of my work. I’m hoping to scrounge enough dough together to get some new and different materials, because I have a lot of ideas. You can see larger, more detailed images of these pieces here.. Please enjoy.

Fun fact: that piece of slate that I used for these photos was snagged from the road in front of Big Pink

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Gimme some of that rock n’ roll music

The top ten greatest concerts of my life, in order of epic-ness, Part One:

1. Pink Floyd, Veteran’s Stadium, Philadelphia, 1994. I was in the 9th row and it’s like that crazy concert swallowed me whole. It was insanity. Beautiful, epic insanity. I can’t even begin to describe it. The pigs, the airplane, the giant disco ball that spun so fast I thought that I was going to be flung out of the universe…it was perfectly crazy and beautiful and worth every penny. I was a 21-year old hippie chick at a huge summertime Pink Floyd show in the 9th row and I was happy as a clam. It literally blew my mind (as demonstrated when I passed out during the 3rd song. But I thankfully recovered quickly and had the time of my life). That concert is gonna be tough to beat.

2. Bob Dylan, Temple University, Philadelphia, 1999. This little show actually trumps that Pink Floyd show in a different way. It’s not only because the music was just fantastic and I was in the front row, but because during the first guitar solo of “Folsom Prison Blues” (a fact that in itself makes it a killer show. Dylan rarely does covers), he wiggled on over to me and crouched down a little and aimed his guitar neck at me and, while making a “POW!” face (a really sexy “POW!” face), he pretended to “shoot” me with his guitar and then sauntered away, his gaze ever so slightly lingering. I have a bootleg of that show and whenever that part comes up I still squee a little bit. Oh, Bob. Thank you for that.

3. The White Stripes, Grand Opera House, Wilmington, 2007. What stands out about this show is that not only did we have INSANE seats (front row on the side), and not only was it a gorgeous venue, and not only did they totally rock (obviously)…but their album (“Icky Thump,” which would end up being their last) had been out only a few days and the entire place sung along to the refrain of “I’m Slowly Turning Into You” like it was a beloved favorite. They stopped playing and we sang our hearts out. So, clearly everyone had been devouring the album for those few days and everyone loved that song. The whole show was magic like that.

4. The Strokes/White Stripes, Radio City Music Hall, NYC, 2002. This was one of the greatest rock n’ roll nights of my life. The show itself was fantastic (both bands were total media darlings at this moment in time, and played only 2 shows together. This one in the Strokes’ hometown, and the other in Detroit, which was the White Stripes hometown). We were a few rows behind Ellen Barken and her kid. Beck was there, too. But after the show was over is where the real story is. It was even given coverage in Rolling Stone, and I think I may have been the luckiest girl there. We walked around the building after the show, and Jack White and some Strokes were hanging out in the open 2nd-floor windows (probably smoking). I was one of the first people on the scene and I looked up and said hi to Jack. He took a champagne bottle and poured it out of the window, trying to get it in my mouth. He missed and I got drenched. Which was obviously totally fine. Then he threw down a bouquet of flowers, which I still have (dead but fairly intact). By this time the entire crowd was there, screaming like they were the Beatles. The cops came to redirect traffic because the crowd was blocking the street. They all threw stuff out the windows (I still have a carrot from their backstage veggie tray in my freezer) and they talked to us and you could tell they couldn’t believe this was happening to them. It was one of the greatest nights of my life. Until…

5. Beck, Zellerbach Theater, Philadelphia, 2002. Two days later, I saw Beck in a teeny intimate venue for a solo acoustic warm-up tour (he was about to hit the road with the Flaming Lips as his backup band. Man, 2002 was a just killer year for music). I was an active member of the Beck BBS (his message board) and the admin asked us what our dream set list would be for this tour. I mentioned that I thought the song “Beautiful Way” from “Midnite Vultures” would make a good acoustic song. Well. Not only did he play it, but it was the ONLY time he played it on that tour. WHAAAAAT??? I also met him after the show and he hugged me and I was the happiest girl in the world who just had the coolest weekend of her life.

Stay tuned for the bottom 5!

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Music makes the people come together

Music is essential and gorgeous and these are my favorite essential gorgeous albums that have come out in the past 20 years. I have to limit it to this time frame because if I even begin to try to include stuff from the 60’s, I will literally be doing this all day. These are the recent gems that I don’t like to live without. Please feel free to check them out.

Bob Dylan: Time Out Of Mind (spooky and haunting and gorgeous), “Love and Theft” (Americana, quirky, genius), Modern Times (old-timey yet timeless, just brilliant and beautiful)

Eddie Vedder: Into the Wild soundtrack (folksy and freedom-anthemy), Ukulele Songs (I am OBSESSED. This album is PERFECTION)

Beck: Odelay (life-changing fabulous-ness), Mutations (a trippy collection of “throwaway” songs. This guy’s throwaways are better than most artist’s best work), Midnite Vultures (pure parody, honest homage, and raucous fun), Sea Change (this album will break your heart)

The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, Jack White solo: everything. Everything this man does is worth a zillion listens. I know every White Stripes album (except Icky Thump, my least favorite) inside and out. Jack is a genius. A hard-working, innovative genius.

The Shins: Chutes Too Narrow. Purely perfect “indie” pop. “Gone for Good” is just so, so good.

The Tallest Man on Earth: everything. It’s all fantastic. He’s from Sweden, and there’s a lot of just him and his banjo and the sound of his heart breaking. I love this man.

Father John Misty, “Fear Fun.” You knew this was coming. My current fave-rave. He used to be the drummer for Fleet Foxes, also a band worth checking out. But FJM…man. I’ve been listening to it at least once a day for months and months and months. Can’t say enough about this guy. I am waiting with bated breath for his follow-up, “I Love You, Honeybear.”

Elliott Smith – everything. This guy was troubled, moody, sad, brilliant, and his life ended tragically. Perfect recipe for me to like someone’s music.

Tyler Ramsey, The Valley Wind. Another haunting, gorgeous collection. This guy’s day job is guitarist for Band of Horses, another band I enjoy. I was really into this album in the autumn of 2011. I did a lot of driving around with the babies, looking at the leaves. Perfect soundtrack for that.

The Strokes, Is This it. I was obsessed with this album when it came out. I’ve seen the Strokes many times over the years and they are fantastic live. But they never topped their debut, in my mind. This is total NYC-Trust-Fund-Gritty-Hipster garage rock from a band of cute boys. Can’t go wrong with that combo.

Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Ash Wednesday. Elvis is the son of Anthony Perkins (yes, THAT Anthony Perkins) and a model from the 60’s named Marisa Berenson. His father died of AIDS and his mom was on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. Then he made this album. So obviously you need to check him out. EP ID is also fab.

I’m kinda thinking I should have made my list go back longer so I can include Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys (Check Your Head also missed my cutoff by one year) and the mighty Appetite For Destruction by Guns N’ Roses. And of course, Nirvana’s Nevermind. Those albums stand the test of time for me.

I just realized I’ve seen almost all of these bands I mentioned live. Even Nirvana, which always seems to impress the youngins. But no need to be jealous; it was a terrible show. I highly recommend seeing Beck – his shows are fantastic. He is a true artist…he puts insane creativity into everything he touches. Anytime Jack White comes within a 100-mile radius of you – GO. I mean, just go. It’s so sad that The White Stripes are no more. I saw them 5 or 6 times and they are among the best shows I have ever seen by anyone. The last time was at the Grand Opera House is Wilmington, DE in 2007. Everyone who was there probably counts it as the best show they have ever been to by any band. It was really that special. The Shins were just ok the 2 times I saw them. FJM was pure magic.

Ok, I will stop because I want to make a Top Ten Best Concerts of my Life list. And the Ten Worst. Man, I love geeking out with my lists!!!!

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