The 2013 Grammy Awards

This time last year, I decided to start my blog up again by writing my thoughts on the 2012 Grammy Awards. You can find that post here. I did a pretty good job of keeping up with this blog after that for quite some time, but I’ve waned over the past few months. The 2013 Grammys are on tonight, and I aim to start this blog again the same way I did last year.

I’ve been enjoying the popular music of 2012 over the course of the year. I’ve been listening to the radio much more often that I have in the past, I’ll surf the radio and stop on anything catchy. I’ve found myself enjoying the occasional Katy Perry, or Carly Rae Jepsen, or sometimes Rhianna. I skip the diamond song and anything by Taylor Swift and the rap and R&B stations. Most else is fair game. There are plenty of nominations tonight that I wholeheartedly agree with. Mumford and Sons, Fun., The Lumineers, Maroon 5, The Black Keys, and Adele all hopefully have good things happening for them this evening. Without further ado, let the games begin!

And, we’re off with a bang, Taylor Swift is serenading us with those vocal chords that don’t deserve fame and recognition. I hope some day people might understand her un-talent.

“He looks like an old grandma.” -my brother on Elton John. 

To be completely honest, Ed Sheeran’s “A Team” is one of the songs I tend to skip on the radio. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it all the way through until tonight. He seems like a nice guy, at the least. I’m not sure it’s working too well as a duet.

And Adele wins, naturally, in the one category she’s nominated in this year. Well done, lady, for winning Best Pop Solo Performance for a live version of “Set Fire To The Rain.”  Completely deserved!

I’ve never seen Fun. play live. Nate Ruess is having a few pitch difficulties, poor guy. “Carry On” does seem to be the best song choice, however, for a live performance. “Some Nights” and “We Are Young” have so many tight harmonies that perhaps it would not have gone well, given how this one is going.

Miguel – who is this guy? I’m not so much into R&B, please don’t mind my ignorance. He has quite the wonderful voice.

So happy to see Carrie Underwood winning an award. Best Country Solo Performance is well deserved. I do wonder how many more years she’ll be able to call herself “country,” her songs are starting to feel like crossovers.

We Are Young! Fun.! Song of the Year! They beat Kelly Clarkson AND Call Me Maybe!

Mumford and Sons! I’ve seen these guys live three times and I can attest to their live performance talent. I love how their song lyrics are thoughtful and well-written. They have only gotten better as they’ve become more well-known. Read this past post for a long write up on my love of Mumford and Sons, from when I saw them perform in Monterey.

Kudos to Justin Timberlake for going from “Bye Bye Bye” to so much more. I don’t like him, but I don’t hate him. His music bores me though. However, if I were asked to be a part of that strings section, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I thoroughly miss performing and of those musicians look like they are having a GREAT time!

I think I’ve come across a Frank Ocean song once or twice. He seems like a decent guy. As long as Chris Brown goes home with zero awards, I’m happy. Behavior like his does not deserve awards.

Best Rock Performance- The Black Keys, “Lonely Boy.” Makes me a bit sad that Mumford lost out on it, but they’ve more to come I believe. The Black Keys are quality musicians who deserve any recognition they get.

I think I’ve finally been caught by Adam Levine’s spell (Jeremy, you’re the only one for me though, I know that for sure!) I’ve been a fan of Maroon 5 for many years, “Songs About Jane” was all I listened to the year it came out. Their new music has been consistently well done and catchy (a must for me these days); I may have to actually purchase his most recent CD. I did already tell Jeremy that “Moves Like Jagger” is a must for our wedding reception. Levine and Alicia Keys are putting on an amazing performance, the best one of the night so far, that’s for sure.

Best Pop Vocal Album is filled with some great nominees. I’m fairly surprised Kelly Clarkson won, particularly against Maroon 5 (given my obvious love for them). 

Rhianna’s starting off her performance extremely strong, she may convert me yet. That diamond song is SO annoying, but this ballad is out of this world beautiful. She has obvious talent. She looks beautiful, too. A slow, quiet song as an understated performance, not making a big spectacle- THIS is what I love about music. Showcasing REAL talent. She is BRINGING it!

Carly Rae Jepsen and my sister Emili look remarkably similar. That is all.

Kelly Clarkson is singing the Tennessee Waltz, this makes my heart so happy. I grew up playing this melody on my violin with Dad. I never actually heard the recorded version of the song until years later; this melody will forever be with me. What a beautiful voice Miss Clarkson has. Another spot on, incredibly beautiful performance.

Ah, the Zac Brown Band. What fun music they play! Well done, Best Country Album!

Bruno Mars! I have been looking forward to seeing him perform again since his performance at last year’s Grammys. I had no idea who he was last year, and now if I hear “Locked Out of Heaven” on my way to or from work, it’s definitely a good day. I love the Police-esque vibe, how fitting Sting is up on stage right next to him! This song sounds just as good live as it does mastered. As for the next song- who doesn’t love Bob Marley? This performance is definitely meeting my year-long expectations.

SO glad The Lumineers are being showcased tonight. They were nowhere to be found a year ago, and sure, I’ve known of “Ho Hey” for much longer than radio listeners have, but does it really matter? It’s clearly a great, catchy song, and it makes me so happy to see small folk bands get good recognition. (Perhaps it’s because I would love to someday be in one of those unknown folk bands that gain enough recognition to perform at something as large as the Grammys. I’ll just take it one step at a time …)

Jack White is putting on a nice performance, I was unaware that this folky sound is his current endeavor. I’ll have to look into his newer stuff to see if it’s as enjoyable as this. Anything with a violin is fair game in my book. Sure, there he goes with his more “interesting” stuff, but it’s still well done for the genre (whatever it is) and a good, solid performance. I enjoy music best when the music is showcased, rather than making such a spectacle of the performance that the quality of the music takes a backseat.

And Best New Artist goes to … (Katy Perry put on some clothes!) … Fun.!!! I just put two and two together and realized that Lena Dunham is the girl they keep showing with Jack Antonoff of Fun. To get this point across to my mom, all I had to do was mention “the girl at the Golden Globes with all the tattoos who couldn’t walk in her heels.” I’m happy for Fun. for getting this award, they’ve all been playing music for so long (Steel Train, The Format, Anathallo), it’s great that they’re getting some solid recognition for the years they’ve put in to the industry.

Carrie Underwood- how does one go about getting into the string sections of these epic performances? And those butterflies! That performance was a great example of putting on a show and still focusing on quality music.

Oh, Gotye! Record of the Year! Anyone who says they don’t like “Somebody That I Used To Know” is just being pretentious. How precious are Gotye and Kimbra up there on stage.  Truly thankful for being recognized, truly happy to be doing what they are doing. (And anyone who beats Taylor Swift is good with me.)

And the performance I really have been waiting for all night … “The Weight,” written by Robbie Robertson of The Band. What a great compilation of musicians on stage- Sir Elton John, Mumford and Sons, Mavis Staples, T Bone Burnett, Zac Brown, and others- what a great song, and a great tribute to Levon Helm (of The Band) and all the other music industry persons who have passed this year. I LOVE this song, my first introduction to it was actually through a cover done by John Denver. I’ve heard The Band’s songs live by Glen Hansard and Mumford and Sons. Mr. Helm has clearly left a mark on the music industry for many of the greats, and it will hopefully remain for years to come.

Mumford and Sons win album of the year! Bonnie Raitt approves … did anyone else see that head nod? These guys deserve it. See aforementioned blog posts about them if you need anymore convincing on why I love them so much.

I’m headed to bed in a minute, the Grammys are so much easier to watch when living on the west coast, next year I won’t have to stay up until 11:30 to see everything. It’s pretty amazing that I agree with mostly all of the awards that I saw given out tonight. Credit has been given where credit was due, and Taylor Swift won nothing. What a great night!

Let me know your thoughts on this year’s Grammys. Where did they go wrong? Where did they go right? Who do I need to find an appreciation for? Thanks for reading!

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40th Annual American Music Awards: Live Thoughts

Usher’s opening performance is entirely unappetizing. Awkward choreography, bad live singing. What is with all those green lasers? Usher, I know you have talent hidden away there somewhere … ?

12 minutes in and these AMA’s are already/still not impressing me. Justin Bieber’s acceptance speech for Pop/Rock Male Artist is ridiculously cocky. “I want to say this is for all the haters who thought I was here for one or two years. I feel like I’m going to be here for a very long time.” And only after that does he reference his mother? What a terrible attitude he has!

18 minutes in and Taylor Swift just won an award. I should turn this off now, shouldn’t I? It was obvious she’d win it, but I’d rather hear Carrie Underwood give a genuine acceptance speech for something she deserves based off of talent than watch Taylor Swift botch her way through a “thank you” speech that clearly displays she’s bored with all the (undeserved) awards she’s gotten over the past few years.

The Wanted. Can actually sing live. Please get those female dancers off the stage. Who are these guys, anyway?

“Call Me Maybe” live is worse than the produced version. I didn’t realize that is possible.

Kelly Clarkson … I was actually looking forward to her, but now she’s singing Miss Independent? Please stop. I’m so ready for this to be over, Kelly. My little brother- “It’s like someone threw a bottle at her – her make up is horrible!” Hahaha. Ah, a montage of her songs through the one that’s popular today? Of course. What’s with the straining in her voice? These songs were not made for live performance. That’s the problem with pop music today. These songs are all too over-produced in the studio to the point that the singers can’t  capture the same intensity when they’re attempted live.

***

A personal intermission while I switched TVs. Had to reprogram the universal remote. Had to figure out the digital stream box. (We’re so high tech here in our household.) What did I miss? I’m sure nothing much.

A performance by No Doubt is where I’m picking this up.

Aaaaand okay I’ve got to turn this off now. What is she wearing? The sound quality on this TV is terrible … though I almost feel like Gwen’s singing well.

Ah, the Black Keys are nominated for Alternative Rock. At least there’s someone good showcased tonight. But … of course Linkin Park takes it. One could only hope. Oh, and their fifth win? That explains it.

Taylor Swift’s live performance! I was SO waiting for this!!!!! Not.

I wish that someday she could learn that she doesn’t know how to sing. Why has no one told her yet? That eye make up makes her look like she has tears streaming down the sides of her face. Oooh tricky costume change. Not particularly enjoying the theatrical aspect of this performance either. At least she’s yet to over-sexualize herself, I’ll give her that. But please, Taylor, get some voice lessons to back up all those vocal awards you’ve won. (For more ranting on Taylor Swift, please see my post on the Grammys from earlier this year.)

Flashback to Sarah McLaughlin and Cyndi Lauper singing Time After Time. That was when pop music was good. When singers had to be talented to gain recognition. I’d pay to see that performance in its full.

Skipping ahead … I’m actually pleased to see Nicki Minaj is sticking to what she’s good at. After that ridiculous performance at the Grammys earlier this year, she’s back to rapping. I’ll ignore the costume and focus on how she’s properly displaying her talent instead of making a fool out of herself with some sort of spectacle of a performance. Again, see that Grammy post.

You know, I really can’t spend any more time on this. I’ve lasted an hour and a half. I’d love to see Fun. win Best New Artist. I’d love to see some good performances. I’ve a feeling the rest of the AMA’s are going to be full of what this first half was full of. Cocky attitudes, bad live performances, the wrong artists winning awards because people these days do not recognize talent. I’ll conclude this post prematurely and turn off the TV. I really was just hoping to be entertained. Someone please regale me later with what I (don’t care about) miss(ing)!

root veggies and then some

Check. It. Out. My friends …

| 1. Carrots | 2. Radishes | 3. Cabbage | 4. Onions | 5. Spinach | 6. Potatoes | 7. Beets | 8. Leeks | 9. Celery | 10. Sweet Potatoes | 11. Jalapeños | 12. Garlic | 13. Mizuna | 14. Parsley |

I call all of that cause for celebration!

Thank goodness I’m currently living with my very large family, rather than on my own. I’m not sure how I would get through all of this before it goes bad.

As the beautiful red and orange and yellow leaves have disappeared thanks to Hurricane Sandy, my thoughts are turning to winter. I haven’t had a substantial winter since 2010, as last year was primarily spent between Southern California and Southern Florida. Confession: I hate the cold. But here I am, back in the suburbs of Philadelphia, just in time for cold weather to hit (which, for me, is anything below 65 degrees).

The positives of this? Aside from the unlimited time with my family, being in Pennsylvania for the winter means being able to drink hot tea and eat soup without sitting in front of an air conditioner (a relatively common occurrence for me in LA). Now I can curl up next to the wood stove, wearing mukluks and a sweater, book in hand, enjoying the smells of the fire and the steam from a bowl of homemade soup. This is the next best thing to hibernating. Sometimes I wish I could be a bear.

So, what to do with all this food?

Carrots get eaten raw. They are too tasty. Puppy likes carrot tops.

Carson and his tops.

I still haven’t found anything to do with radishes. These got given away, along with a bunch of parsley. Next time that won’t happen. I WILL find a tasty recipe for them! As for the greens … boiled cabbage, anyone? It’s one of my mom’s favorites. Parsley works well in it.

Speaking of parsley, when I saw two huge bunches of it in my box, I was a bit overwhelmed. What are you really supposed to do with that green leaf that is typically seen as decoration? Answer: everything. Thanks to this post, I have a newfound love and respect for parsley. I regret giving one of my bunches away, I can assure it will not happen again. I used my remaining bunch to make a very simple pesto.

Parsley Pesto

1 large bunch of parsley
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Throw all of the ingredients into a food processor. Eat to your heart’s content. Seriously. I dare you to not eat it all with a spoon. Perhaps my mom and I did just that, while a pot of pasta boiled, waiting for the pesto that never made it as a topping …

I was excited for the leeks, after trying my employer’s homemade potato-leek soup the other day. I attempted my own (her recipe), and I am SO pleased with it.

Potato Leek Soup

5 leeks, washed and chopped (use white and light green parts)
1 liter bouillon/stock
4 potatoes peeled and diced
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
chopped chives for garnish

1. Cook leeks in oil for five minutes without browning (everything I’ve learned about leeks online says that you do not want to ever brown them, they’ll taste burnt). Add bouillon and potatoes, season with salt and pepper, simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Pour into food processor (or use immersion blender) and blend until smooth (it took a bit of time to blend it all, as I could only do a little bit at a time … an immersion blender would be like magic for this). Transfer back to pot, stir in milk and cream. Heat to preference. (The recipe actually calls for it to be cooled before eating. I disagree. Do what you want.)

I used only the three leeks and three potatoes pictured above. I did not peel the potatoes. I used a 32 ounce box of vegetable stock. I used over one cup of milk, and over 1/4 cup of half and half, and no cream. I had no chives, it didn’t matter. I used dried thyme and parsley along with the salt and pepper. It’s a hearty soup that takes a small bit of experimenting to get the consistency that you’re partial to.

My attempt tasted pretty good after immediately making it, and it tasted amazing a day later after reheating it on the stove (during reheating was when I added a bit of extra milk). My mom is also in love with this soup, and I’ve a feeling this is not the last time it will be made this winter. I imagine that adding chopped carrots and celery to the pot in step one with make this soup even more flavorful. I will be attempting variations at some point, stay tuned!

The other night I re-tried the recipe for a Chocolate-Beet Tea Loaf. This time I used the melted butter, as called for, instead of an avocado. I followed the directions almost exactly (didn’t measure the grated beets, just used a large one and a medium one), and it turned out DIVINE. Do try this recipe, if you’ve not yet experienced the wonderful pairing that is chocolate and beets. Also, be assured this is coming from someone who doesn’t even like beets.

I am happy for some good food and new recipes that will be mainstays. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you would use some of this food. What is your comfort food during the winter months? Is there any recipe you could share that could get me to enjoy sweet potatoes or radishes? Are there other tasty, hearty, homemade soups out there that I should be trying? Have you other east coasters stayed safe in the wrath of Sandy? Please leave some thoughts!

Glen Hansard- Breaker of my Heart

Okay, perhaps the title is a bit brash or over the top.

Also, okay, this is the third or fourth or hundredth (hyperbole) post about Glen Hansard on this blog. (It has been pointed out by a friend that this blog could perhaps be retitled “Vegetables and Glen.”)

But really, Mr. Hansard, I have some more things to say to you.

If you’ve read that first post about my love for Glen Hansard, you can hopefully realize that I am not a crazy person worshipping some celebrity-type. (At least I hope that’s not who I am!) I have a genuine respect for Mr. Hansard and his talent and art. His music awakes in me an emotional response with almost every listen. I am so pleased that his talent has been recognized in a world where over-processed music receives most of the awards.

And if you read my two-part post (part 1 and part 2) on seeing Mr. Hansard perform twice in one week and having a whirl-wind conversation with him that was quickly forgotten on his end (which is completely understandable, no harm done), perhaps you can find a way to relate to me- we all have favorite music, yes? And if we have the opportunity to hear our favorite musicians live, don’t we all wish to hear that song- that one song we have been listening to constantly in its engineered state, the one we can sing all the words to, or we play on our own instruments while hiding away in our bedrooms? And wouldn’t it be all the worse if the song was essentially promised to you two days before the show, by the musician himself, and then it was never played?

Yes we do! We all want to hear it (whatever “it” is to each of us)!

And after seeing Mr. Hansard perform in three different locations on four different occasions, promoting multiple CDs and accomplishments, over the course of four years, I really expected that by know I would have heard that song.

But alas, life is unfair. Or something like that.

So what? I’ve said that all before in the aforementioned posts on this blog. Why bring it up again?

This is why:

I recently relocated back to Pennsylvania, to a town just about an hour north of Philadelphia. This relocation officially happened on September 25th.

Glen Hansard’s Rhythm and Repose tour (which allowed me to see him twice in June of this year) took him to Philadelphia. On September 20th.

Oh, what? Glen Hansard was in Philadelphia five days before my return?

I allowed myself to get over that up until receiving a phone call on September 20th, at 8pm pacific standard time, from a friend who was attending the Philadelphia show.

Over the phone I heard lots of people cheering, lots of muffled noises, and- oh- what was that? The beginning sounds of that song?

I was five days away from being back in Philadelphia and there was Glen Hansard playing THAT SONG!

Oh, the travesty! Oh, the pain! (Hyperbole.)

But seriously, please feel my pain here!

It’s not like I have unlimited funds to see Mr. Hansard play at every venue he reaches worldwide. I’ve seen him in Philadelphia. I’ve seen him in New York City. I’ve seen him (twice) in Los Angeles. His current tour, through March 2013, is coming nowhere near me again. The only place feasible is Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, as I have a sister in college down there- but it’s at the beginning of December, when I should be conserving money for holiday travels. And who’s to say I’d actually hear that song if I were to attend?

Have I lost my chance to ever hear Fitzcarraldo live? Will I have to suffice with listening to it on Set List or The Roads Outgrown time and time again, just to try to get the live experience?

Can anyone relate to me on this (pithy, yes) matter? Mr. Hansard, if your eyes ever grace this page, can you give me any idea as to when I’ll be able to hear the song you promised to me in Los Angeles? My offer still stands for a jam session. Just name the time and place.

Riverdance in Dublin

Quite some time ago, at this point, I was thrilled to be in Dublin, Ireland, and I had the wonderful opportunity to see Riverdance live at the Gaiety Theatre. There was so much more to seeing this show than just simply seeing the show.

I grew up watching Riverdance and Lord of the Dance on VHS anytime I visited my Mom-Mom’s apartment. I was captivated from an early age with the perfectly choreographed step, stomp, and ballet-like dance.

I became even more captivated with the music as I matured. I started learning violin when I turned 9, and trips to Mom-Mom’s led me to those VHS tapes time and time again, fully listening to the Irish fiddle, rather than just hearing it.

Now, 16 years into learning the violin, Irish/Celtic music is my favorite to play. There is a spring to the music that makes it just as fun to play as it is to listen to. It feels more natural to play an Irish jig unaccompanied than it does to play something classical or jazzy without at least a second instrument.

The energy of any live performance always makes for an enjoyable experience. Seeing Riverdance live was particularly something to be reckoned with. The unadulterated joy on the performer’s faces says it all. They hold nothing back- they dance with all they have, they sing with all their passion, they play their instruments with every ounce of energy. And all the excitement they have permeates the air and makes the experience all the more enjoyable to the audience.

Also, I have a thing with symmetry. More often than not, it gives me a better feeling than its opposite. It’s not something I can actually describe, it just suits me better, it feels more comfortable- a random quirk of mine, if you will.

With that to say, Riverdance is a party for me! So much of Irish step dancing involves symmetry. I love the perfection of the dancers- each of their hands held the same way, their heads perfectly straight, often times there are mirror images on either side of the stage- my brain automatically splits the stage in half and then even more so enjoys what it is watching if it is exactly the same on either side. Sure, I have my quirks; it’s fun to enjoy something that caters to your quirks, I’d say.

So to be in Dublin, with most of my immediate family and my aunt and Mom-Mom, and spend an evening eating at Wagamama and then seeing Riverdance live- it was certainly an experience to remember.

And did I mention we surprised Mom-Mom with this show? What a night!

Happy surprises!

CSA in PA (vegetable stir fry with masala!)

I take back what I said about having no CSA haul while on the east coast. As my job (location) is on an organic farm, it has been decided that I will be given a box of fresh produce every Friday as I leave work. What a deal! Pictured below is what I brought home this past Friday … so much produce that I still am unsure as to how some of it will be used! I took advantage of Saturday afternoon to take my time (2 hours worth!) cooking up my version of an Indian-inspired dish, essentially vegetable masala. Details below, but first … the produce!

1. Eggplant
2. Radishes
3. Spinach
4. Swiss Chard
5. Garlic
6. Mizuna (or arugula?)
7. Fennel (had to look that one up)
8. Onion
9. Parsley
10. Lettuce
11. Leeks
12. Cabbage
13. Sweet Potatoes
14. Potatoes

Oh the glorious produce! On top of all that we still had swiss chard to cut from the garden before Sunday’s frost (it is TOO cold here).

I haven’t yet spent much time looking up / inventing recipes for the produce that I’m not used to using- the fennel, radishes, leeks, and eggplant. I imagine potato-leek soup should be pretty tasty, and the eggplant should be easy enough to adapt into something delicious. The fennel and radishes have me a bit stumped, as I’ve never sought them out before and they are not familiar tastes to me. I welcome any and all suggestions for recipes that cater to someone who is not particularly familiar with these flavors!

Cooking on Saturday was a blast. I cut the remaining swiss chard from the garden (10-15 large leaves) and washed that, along with the chard from my box and the mizuna as well (or is it arugula?) I put a generous portion of sunflower oil in a large wok and used my favorite cooking tool- the garlic press- to crush five large chunks of garlic into the oil. I also coarsely chopped up a large onion and added that to the wok as well. I put the burner on just over medium heat and within one minute, everyone in the kitchen was commenting on how nice it smelled. I think that one should always have a saucepan of fresh garlic being sauteed while they are cooking, if only for the wonderful smell it fills the kitchen with!

Once the onion was tender I added all of the greens to the wok and let them wilt while mixed in with the onion and garlic.

Mizuna, yes?

beautiful colors on the swiss chard

My mom chopped up a small bag of fingerling potatoes and all the raw carrots we could find in the house (which did not amount to many), and we boiled them together for a little over 10 minutes.


Once the roots were a sufficient consistency, I drained them and put them in the wok with the greens and added some peas, green beans, and broccoli that I had found in the freezer (I had them out to thaw for a bit first). I kept the wok on a burner at a little under medium heat and mixed everything together.


It was at this point that I remembered to make some rice, so dinner got postponed a bit while the rice took 20 minutes on the stovetop. Mom also cut up boneless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and stir-fried them in a bit of teriyaki sauce. I poured two jars of tikka masala sauce into a saucepan and heated that up in the meantime (I would have added the sauce directly to the stir fry in the wok, but I was cooking for a variety of palates, and not everyone wanted “Indian” food).

After two hours of standing, chopping, and cooking in the kitchen, I was very ready for my meal. I’ve no pictures of my plate, but suffice it to say I drowned my very large helping of stir fry and rice in the masala sauce and ate until my plate was clean. I did the same for seconds! (I also had leftovers for dinner tonight.)

This was a great meal to make for my family because of the variety of options- my Dad ate the stir fry with chicken mixed in and no masala, one brother just ate rice with soy sauce (he’s our carb boy), another picked the potatoes out of the stir fry and ate them with rice and chicken. A few people added some masala sauce to their plates. My Mom and I got to eat vegetarian with no hassle. It was a win-win for all!

*I’ve joined the link party at In Her Chucks … you should check it out!

fresh food

As I’ve switched locations (ie: coasts) for the time being, I’ll no longer be subscribing to a CSA. Here I can’t necessarily get all the wonderful fresh goodness I was used to in southern California (or the sunshine that goes with it).

Perhaps it was kismet, then, that my newly acquired job in a sense involves an organic farm. I was sent home last Thursday with fresh picked(or dug) heirloom tomatoes, basil, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, and fingerling potatoes. Also freshly jarred homemade tomato sauce made of ingredients straight from the farm. Doesn’t get any better.

My parent’s 26th anniversary was a few weeks ago and they never went out to celebrate it (it’s a bit difficult to do with all the kids running around the house). On Friday, a family friend came and took the four kids out for pizza and tennis and insisted my parents relax and enjoy each other’s company. I took the opportunity to utilize my fresh produce and make them dinner (which I did enjoy with them. It’s hard to get rid of all of us at the same time …)

I wanted to use the fresh basil as soon as possible, so I incorporated that and the tomatoes into a pasta dish (naturally). I like making pasta dishes because of the variety of ways you can prepare them. While there are the typical flavors in most dishes across the board, you can still personalize them to exactly what you want- and I love almost any vegetarian food/spice/flavor that goes with pasta.

I googled around to find a recipe that would be a variation on the inventive dish I made that one lazy day. Anything with fresh tomatoes and basil would do. And I was in the mood for mozzarella cheese, so I added that in to my searches as well. I came up with a few promising ones that were basically just the pasta with each of the ingredients chopped separately and tossed in. But then I found the winner. In preparation, it is essentially each of the ingredients chopped separately and tossed in. But in actuality, the way this dish is prepared makes the flavors pop and stand out better than they do on their own.

Heirloom Tomato-Basil Pasta:
This recipe calls for feta cheese and olives, I omitted each of them and included my own portion of fresh mozzarella cheese.

I used these beautiful heirloom tomatoes.

And this fresh basil.

I cut up the tomatoes inside the bowl I mixed everything in, in an effort to contain all the juice they lost. I added 1/4 cup of olive oil to the bowl and left the tomatoes to sit while I prepared everything else- I cooked the pasta (I only had whole wheat egg noodles to work with, so that’s what I used), cut up the basil and mozzarella, took the garlic to the garlic press, added it to the tomato mixture, and all was ready to serve, just like that! I had more tomatoes and mozzarella to use up, so I made a small caprese salad (sans vinegar, I just don’t like it). I served the tomato mixture separate from the pasta- apparently there should be enough sauce for the entire pound of pasta, but it didn’t appear so to me. And I wouldn’t know with the leftovers either, as my mom liked it so much she ate the rest of the tomatoes out of the bowl.

Caprese salad with an heirloom tomato.

My take on the heirloom tomato-basil pasta.

It was so good the dog even wanted some!

While on the subject of fresh food, there is still some swiss chard in the garden outside, so I cut it  up and sauteed it with some fresh onion and garlic. I toasted two slices of bread, added sharp cheddar cheese and roasted pepper bruschetta, topped it with the sauteed swiss chard, and voila- a take on a childhood favorite- pizza bread!

Pizza bread with fresh ingredients!

And off the subject- on non-fresh foods- I recently made Pioneer Woman’s recipe for blackberry cobbler. No dry ingredient changes, full-fat, and with frozen blueberries that were picked from our bushes this past summer. Delicious, delicious, delicious. I loved the texture/consistency. The flavor was amazing. This is not a recipe to mess with. Make it and indulge yourself!

Blueberry Cobbler!