Songs of the Week

Well I have been slacking on the songs of the week. Plus I have two concerts to review. So here is one big happy music post for you!

Guster
I discovered this band when they were the opening band at Barenaked Ladies concert I went to in 2000. I fell in love with Brian and the bongos. These guys and their music have gotten me through a lot and are always there for me. Seeing them live two weeks ago was like seeing old friends. Hearing those familiar songs, the ones I know all the words to by heart and in my sleep, felt like coming home. Does that sound silly or do you have a band like that? So the concert was great. And the past few days I’ve been glad to have Guster in my ways-to-feel-better arsenal. Particularly these two songs from their new album.

I woke up with this song in my head this morning.

Last weekend we saw Band of Horses in concert. I felt kinda like crap that evening and probably didn’t enjoy the show as much as I should have. But this song did touch me for some reason. It’s really kind of a sad, aching song, but gives me shivers anyway. The way their voices blend and weave in and out of each other, and the simple guitar. Beautiful.

Cheesy Enchiladas with Gravy

Oh I have been slacking again. But here’s the thing. I traveled a lot this past week. Well a lot for me. My job normally requires no travel, but when it comes to this time of year, I hop on lots of planes to deliver prizes for our art contest. Lucky for me this year I didn’t have to travel alone (which I think sucks balls). Jen and I traveled to L.A. and Alyssa and I went to New Jersey/Philly. Much fun. Though I could never do the work travel thing regularly. It’s seriously exhausting. And all the sitting on planes made me super dehydrated. Poor chapped lips.

There were also two more concerts the last two weekends: Guster and Band of Horses. I’m going to post some pictures and go on and on about how much I love Guster later this week. Just so you know and have something to look forward to.

Oh and, AND, big news – Mira and I got a new roommate! I adopted a sweet little kitty on Saturday.Her name is Lola. She’s quite the talker. I think she likes to sing to herself as she runs around the house or plays with her feathers on a stick toy. She and the Mira dog are getting along quite well all things considered. Lola isn’t scared of Mira at all. Mira does not want to eat Lola. On the contrary, she desperately wants to play with her, and cannot understand why Lola sprints away when she chases her down the hall. My only current problem is placement of kitty food. Adam says if we tell Mira no every time she tries to eat it, she’ll learn.

Now, I have a very, very good dinner for you. Cheesey Enchiladas with Gravy filled with whatever your heart desires. I added a variety of vegetables. I think some shredded chicken would be tasty as well. Add some jalapeños, maybe olives if you’re into that, zucchini may even be good! I think what I really like about these is the gravy. I’m not a huge fan of the red enchilada sauce. The gravy in this recipe packs some heat, so be warned and dial down the chile powder and hot sauce if you’d like! Overall, a good weeknight meal. Takes about 30 minutes total time to make. Continue reading

Fake Empires Apple Pie

First off, my friend/coworker Jen and I are taking a work trip out to L.A. on Thursday and Friday. We’ll be carrying four giant checks with us to present to a school as prizes for our art contest. Two of my close high school friends live in L.A., so we’re going to spend some time with them. Does anyone have any suggestions on must-sees, amazing restaurants, or anything else for us? This’ll be my first trip to L.A., and California, and Jen’s second I think.

I’ve kind of wanted to name baked goods after songs or bands. Saturday night, as the National rocked my world in concert (I may have had a religious transcendental experience or two … I swear, and I totally touched Matt when he came into the crowd and walked around as he sang the last song), I came up with my first baked good with a song name after The National’s “Fake Empires.”

Stay out super late tonight
Picking apples, making pies
Put a little something in our lemonade and take it    with us
We’re half awake in a fake empire

Hence, Fake Empires Apple Pie. Oh hey, and it doesn’t hurt that there’s an apple called the empire apple.

I don’t have a strong attachment to how apple pie should taste. It doesn’t evoke childhood memories for me. But I know it does for so many people. Apple pie is one of those dishes that people feel very strongly about. It’s a classic, an all-American standby. So, though I contemplated doing things like throwing in some rum or mixing in ribbons of caramel sauce, I didn’t. I figured best to get down the standard, delicious apple pie first because that’s what people love. You don’t mess with a classic until you know it well. So I figured I’d need at least two attempts at this pie before it was worthy of bringing to a Coffin or Goodman Thanksgiving. Lo and behold, I fricking hit the jackpot on my FIRST TRY. You guys, this pie, it’s sweet and tart, it’s gooey, it tastes like autumn, dare I say it? It’s a classic.

A quick note on the apples you may want to use. I highly suggest either finding a local orchard and picking your own or buying local apples at your farmers market or grocery. You usually want to use some tart apples and some sweet apples. You can’t go wrong with Golden Delicious/Granny Smith mix. If you want to get creative, here are some tips. For a nice mix of sweet and tart, use Jonathan, Stayman-Winesap, Cox’s Orange Pippin, or Jonagold. Straight up sweet choices are Golden Delicious Braeburn, Fuji, Mutsu, Pink Lady, Suncrisp, Rome Beauty, or Empire.Tart baking apples are Idared, Macoun, Newton Pippin, Granny Smith, and Northern Spy. Stay away from apples that become mushy when cooked like McIntosh and Cortland.

And a quick note on your filling not being soupy. (I’ve had this problem and it BLOWS.) Bake the pie until the filling is really bubbling. This will give your thickening agent (flour, tapioca, or cornstarch) time to activate and work. To prevent the crust and top from burning, make a little tent over the top of the pie with foil about 15 minutes in. Let the pie cool ALL THE WAY, like an hour at least, before you slice into it to let all the juices thicken up.

Continue reading

Songs of the Week

Where to start…? With a list!!

1. I am now the proud owner of the domain name piebelly.com. Ooooh, right? Now can someone design me a little Buddah rubbing his belly and holding a piece of pie for a logo?

2. I took a trip to North Carolina to the mountains last Thursday through Sunday. Coming back is hard. The mountains are my home. They’re full of wonderful people (and one terrible person). I cooked so much amazing food with my friend Renée that I could cry happy food tears. Just need to upload my pictures off of my camera and then I’ll post all about pies, pastas, porch swings, and gazpachos.

3. To make up for serious slacking in the Song of the Week area, I’m going to post three today.

Firstly, there’s Guster. Last week I got the most wonderful and much-anticipated e-mail in my inbox. Guster announcing their new album – title, release date, and first … single I suppose. Also TOUR DATES! October 10 at the Egyptian Room right here in Indianapolis. This will be Guster concert number 11 for me. So after much very restrained squealing (I was still at work when this e-mail arrived), I listened to the first song. Then I downloaded the song. Then I listened to the song 10 more times. Then I memorized all the words. It’s called “Bad Bad World.” The album is called Easy Wonderful and is due out October 5. Here’s the track listing

1. Architects & Engineersv 2. Do You Love Me
3. On the Ocean
4. This Could All Be Yours
5. Stay with Me Jesus
6. Bad Bad World
7. This Is How It Feels to Have a Broken Heart
8. What You Call Love
9. That’s No Way to Get to Heaven
10. Jesus and Mary
11. Hercules
12. Do What You Want

And here’s that first song.

Bad Bad World lyrics

I would like to dedicate this song to the amazing women who I hung out with this past weekend. Bette, Renée, and Jennifer, this song is for you girls. And maybe also Officer Jesse Durham, as a thank you? Heh.

Secondly, U.S. Royalty. I discovered this band last year at the Forecastle Festival in Louisville.

U.S. Royalty, Forecastle Festival 2009

I guess you could call them Americana, or folk-rocky. I like them either way. This song is called Raincoats.

Thirdly, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at Bele Chere

I heard of this band sometime over the summer, but now I’m not sure how it was. Either way, I saw that they were playing at Bele Chere, this big street festival in Asheville that we went to this past weekend, and I was determined to see them. And holy awesome they did not disappoint at all. In fact they were incredibly amazing and I left the show with two of their albums. One of my friends described them as a sort of throwback to the 70s and the lead singer as a Stevie Nicks. I like that description and I’m going with it. They’re a nice blend of blues-y goodness and rock.

This is Goodbye Kiss from their self-titled album that just came out this year.

And this one is called Paris (Oh La La) on the same album.

Music Catch Up

I’ve had The National’s new but not really new (it’s mostly covers, rereleases, and live tracks) album, The Virginia EP, for about a month now, but I just gave it a good listen for the first time today. Maybe it’s something about my mood; Matt Berninger’s melancholy voice makes me ache a little. Maybe the persistently rainy, gray weather fits the steady rhythm of the album. I don’t know why, but I’ve fallen in love with them again. Check out their MySpace page. Particularly listen to “Slow Show,” “Secret Meeting,” and “Daughters of the SoHo Riots.”

Mumford & Sons has also been making a steady appearance on my Recently Played playlist. They’re a delightful folky rock band that sounds a little like the Avett Brothers, and somehow a little like Iron & Wine. The album, Sigh No More, sounds familiar the whole way through. I love the way each song steadily builds and builds, vocals, sweet harmonies, and guitar becoming more powerful and frantic. My two favorites right now are “Winter Winds” and “Timshels.” You can find their album on their MySpace.

Sorry, I’m not feeling the YouTube videos directly on my posts today. Just do the extra work for these two bands. It’ll be worth it.

Aaaaand festival season is here! What’s on my schedule for this year? Well, Lollapalooza is looking somewhat unexciting this year. Their headliners make me a little sad. Lady Gaga? Really guys? I realize she’s popular and that she has this wow factor about her, but last year the Yeah Yeah Yeahs headlined. The Killers. Kings of Leon. I saw Death Cab there a few years ago. These bands make real music. Don’t get me wrong, I respect Lady Gaga for the fact that she can put on quite a show. She’s an entertainer. But not someone to headline Lolla. We also have Green Day, whose new music I don’t listen to. Nope. If I liked Soundgarden, I’d be excited for their reunion in Grant Park. Though, OK, now that I’m looking at the whole lineup again, I see lots of bands that I love, so maybe I’ll wait until the schedule comes out and buy a one or two day pass. I do love seeing live shows in the middle of downtown Chicago, especially after dark, with the bright skyline as a backdrop. Magical, really. I’d love to go to Forecastle in Louisville though. That one should happen.

Happy music Friday kiddos!

Something New

I’ve been telling myself for awhile that I need to start writing on my blog again, but the idea of just rambling about my life seemed fairly unappealing. So I’ve decided to dedicate my “new” blog to two of my loves: food and music. OK, no long-winded introductions to the food and songs in my life.

I’m going to start with a recipe Adam and I made for dinner a few days ago. I try not to eat too much meat. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my burgers, steak, and chicken. I just can’t handle a lot. In lieu of “real” meat, I decided to make some fish, specifically salmon. I found this recipe is from Gourmet, April 2005, Wild Salmon with Pearl Couscous, slow-roasted tomatoes, and lemon oregano oil. OK, I know, with a name as confusing as that, why on earth did I decide to make the friggin stuff? Well the ingredients aren’t that weird. I usually have most of them in my apartment. First of all, we halved the recipe. (there was still couscous left over which I inhaled cold the next day for lunch while watching Friends.) Second, you’re supposed to roast the tomatoes for 2ish hours. There’s no way that on a week night, I can wait for 2 hours to eat after I get home while tomatoes roast. I have very little self-control or patience. So we sauted the red bitches and then popped them in the oven with the salmon for five minutes. I really liked the sharp lemon and tomato flavors with the fish. Four stars.

Next, GUSTER. Guster has been my favorite band since freshman year of college, though I first saw them open for Barenaked Ladies in high school in 2000. I’ve traveled to quite a few of their concerts in college and after even. The music is good, solid, catchy, sometimes deep sometimes silly, and, for me, like a favorite old tshirt. So when I hear that they were touring in honor of 10 years since the release/tour of their first big label album Lost and Gone Forever, I almost peed my pants. They were going to play through the whole album, plus another set. I bought tickets to the show in Cincinnati, my tenth Guster show. Let me just tell you, it was great. GREAT. They walked on stage, started playing “Diane,” and I felt like I had suddenly been reunited with four of my old friends. I sang to every song (except for the two new ones they played). So, check out Guster if you haven’t already.

OK, I also just took a bite of my first potato chip cookie ever and I have to report. Because, seriously, POTATO CHIP cookies? WTF? Adam’s mom gave me the recipe and I was seriously doubtful. They’re actually pretty good though. Chewy because of the oatmeal, and a nice mix of sweet and salty. Kind of like the dough for chocolate chip cookies, but without the chips…well chocolate chips. I have been proved wrong. And so ridiculously easy to make. Here, why not, you try them too. I think that when I make them next time though, I might cut back on the sugar just a bit. They’re veeeerrry sweet cookies.

Potato Chip Cookies
recipe from Debbie Coffin

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups crushed potato chips (I suggest Lays classic, no ridges)

Preheat the oven to 350.
Mix the butter and sugars together in a large bowl.
Add the dry ingredients and mix.
Add the eggs and vanilla and mix yet again.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
BAM.

And now Mira is begging me to play with her jeans with her.