I’m excited to officially announce that, thanks to eMusic (disclaimer: I work there), you can stream a bunch of the music that’s been featured on this site. Check out my radio station, the Indie Rock Deli, here! (I’m also curating a station called Brooklyn’s Finest, and there are dozens of other great ones to check out, too.)
Pear spice bread (recipe here)
I listen to a lot of new music (considering my day job, I kinda have to), but it’s not so often that I stumble upon and fall utterly in love with a virtually unknown artist I’ve never heard of. When it happens, though, I get really excited and immediately tell everyone I know about it. These moments are some of my favorite reminders of why I love music and working in this industry. On Thursday I was browsing new releases on eMusic and the ’70s-looking cover of All Of It Was Mine, an album by The Weather Station, caught my eye, so I downloaded it and got sucked in for the rest of my workday. The Weather Station is the project of singer/songwriter Tamara Lindeman, who writes gorgeous acoustic folksongs that remind me of some of my favorite singer/songwriters, old and new; Joni Mitchell, Judee Sill, Laura Marling, Sharon Van Etten. Her music is warm and soothing, and it was the perfect soundtrack to the weekend I spent cooped up in my apartment, baking my Saturday morning away while I waited for Hurricane Irene to pass through Brooklyn.
I tried to use up produce and perishables like eggs, butter and milk that’d go bad in the fridge when we lost power, and make food that’d be OK to sit at room temperature. (Even though my neighborhood, Bushwick, wasn’t in an evacuation zone, I was still pretty positive there’d at least have a power outage — which, thankfully, there wasn’t). My roommate’s boss sent her home with his entire CSA share earlier this week, which included a bunch of pears, so I used those to make this amazing pear spice bread. I think this is the most delicious quick bread I’ve made, and it was as comforting as The Weather Station (not to be confused with the actual weather station — or, more accurately in my case, NYTimes.com hurricane updates — because none of that was really comforting). There’s also a reference to making homemade bread in opening track “Everything I Saw.” And to top it off, all of this paired (pear-ed? ha ha ha) together nicely with some other recent developments that have left me as warm and fuzzy as the warm richness of cinnamon, ginger and cloves in the pear bread. Hitting particularly close to home is a line from the song “Came So Easy”: “Your kind words came so easy, and I have winced at sugar sweetness/ You made me feel so wealthy, so I got tongue-tied, I got restless.” I love when the right music shows up at just the right time.
Homemade pizza dough + a fun dinner party (recipe + lots of photos and topping suggestions at the bottom)
Last year my boss introduced me to a New Jersey band called Personal and the Pizzas, whose album Raw Pie includes songs like “I Don’t Wanna Be No Personal Pizza,” “$7.99 For Love” and “Pizza Army.” Usually around 5 p.m. on Fridays, I’d hear a blast of “PEPPERONI, PEP-PEPPERONI! PEPPERONI PEP-PEPPERONI!” (from the track “Pepperoni Eyes”) coming from his computer, to signal the end of the work week. So, this band was obviously a no-brainer excuse to throw a pizza party! Whenever I hosted sleepover parties in elementary school, my mom would make a bunch of pizza dough and we’d each get to top our own personal pizzas. It’s a perfect hands-on activity to keep kids entertained, and, as I learned on last weekend, still just as much fun for the big kids, too.
This was my first time making pizza dough and it was surprisingly easy! I do recommend timing it so you use the dough right when it’s done rising, as I’m not quite sure to preserve it (I did a test run earlier in the day and wrapped it in plastic wrap in the fridge, but that dough was so set on continuing to rise that it broke through the plastic wrap, which reminded me of Buddy Love turning into Professor Klump in The Nutty Professor… That aside, I don’t think I’ll ever buy pizza dough again, even the $1 bags at Trader Joe’s, because this was so easy, probably even less expensive, and, honestly, it tasted better and had a better texture. Mom would be proud!
Orange cupcakes with orange buttercream frosting (recipe at the bottom)
On Saturday I went to a ’90s-themed birthday party, and with the RSVP I had to include a favorite ’90s song, which made up the playlist (perhaps it’s worth noting that the party was for two music writers?). I have many favorites, but for this my pick was No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” from their 1995 album Tragic Kingdom. Just to give you the context of my personal 1990s: It was more or less my entire childhood (I was born in the late ’80s). I started watching MTV in about 1997 when Tragic Kingdom was at the height of its popularity, and the video for “Don’t Speak” won an MTV Video Music Award (it was also the year of Fiona Apple’s famous “the world is bullshit” speech; my 10-year-old self was mad that she beat Hanson for Best New Artist). So, I made cupcakes vaguely inspired by No Doubt, as well as
the my ’90s in general.
“Just A Girl” is about Gwen Stefani being fed up with stereotypes of women — that we’re bad drivers, men are always gawking at us, we are all the same, and we’re supposed to be “pretty and petite.” I figured cupcakes — especially cupcakes that are, well, pretty and petite — were about the most stereotypically girly treat I could make. (And I have to say, these are probably the cutest cupcakes I’ve ever made.) I decided on orange for a couple of reasons: The cover of Tragic Kingdom has an orange tree on it, and there’s also one in the video for “Don’t Speak,” but also when I think of treats I consumed in the ’90s — particularly right after I got my tonsils removed at age 8 — I think of creamsicles. At the party, it was brought to my attention that, “Geez, Laura, creamsicles are so ’80s, too!” (and then I learned that they were actually invented long before that) — but the ’90s were when I ate them. So there! Anyway, these were a hit (enthusiastically named Best New Cupcake by an editor at Pitchfork), as was my T-shirt from my grandpa’s 75th birthday in 1995 and my Angela Chase bottlecap ring (photos below…).
…Also known as the kitchen I’ll be sharing with my two wonderful new roommates (for the record, my old roommates were wonderful too). I mentioned I had my final post in my old apartment; and while this week’s recipe was indeed created in the new space, you can only see tiny glimpses of it there…
Now, this is no Apartment Therapy-worthy cooking spot — after all, we are 20-somethings with limited budgets and mix-and-match furniture — but I’m still insanely excited about it, as it feels like home and fulfills some of my kitchen-related dreams. Three words: Hanging. Pot. Rack. Also, a huge table that will easily fit at least 10+ people around it (perfect for family dinners), as well as more cupboard and shelf space than we know what to do with (yet).
Peach-blackberry-ginger popsicles (recipe here)
It isn’t super often that I totally fall in love with a new band; mostly because I hear so much music every week that a lot of it starts to sound the same (my friend Amanda summed that feeling up rather perfectly on Pitchfork this week; I’m not quite at that point of jadedness or whatever you want to call it, but you get the idea). But for some reason when my boss recommended listening to Brooklyn band We Are Augustines (who essentially used to be the band Pela), something clicked and I’ve been listening to their album Rise Ye Sunken Ships more than anything else in the past couple weeks. I can’t even really explain why it gets to me more than a lot of other rock bands, but parts of the album remind me of the National and Against Me! (I know, kind of a weird combination).
The story behind Rise Ye Sunken Ships is pretty heartbreaking; you can read it all on the band’s website, but in short, much of the album is based around singer/guitarist Billy McCarthy’s brother James, who was diagnosed as schizophrenic and committed suicide while the band was recording what was originally going to be a new Pela record. Apparently (at least, according to Wikipedia), the band was named in part for the month of August; the month of two bandmembers’ birthdays, as well as McCarthy’s brother James.
Popsicles perhaps sound a bit too sunny to represent an album with so much pain behind it, but with the pain came a lot of healing. In the song “Augustine,” McCarthy sings, “Keep you head up kid, I know you can swim, but you gotta move your legs.” Ginger and honey are known for their healing powers, while peaches and blackberries are perfectly in season in August (and I got what I used for these at the Greenmarket in Union Square). Anyway, check out the album; it’s pretty great.
Confession: I made this dish a couple weeks ago, one of the last posts conceived in my old kitchen, because I moved last weekend! Apologies for the lack of posts in the last couple weeks — between traveling to Michigan for my cousin’s wedding, packing up my apartment and moving, and my 17-year-old brother coming to visit this weekend, blogging has sort of taken a backseat (but not for long, I promise!).
Simple tomato gazpacho (recipe at the bottom)
It has been hotter than hell in the city, which has made the thought of cooking quite unappealing. Standing over a stove or in front of an oven? In a sauna? No, thank you. (OK, so I’ve still had to do it a bit anyway; but it’s awful.) So I made gazpacho, cold soup that doesn’t require any cooking. To go with it, check out a few summery songs I’ve heard recently — maybe they’ll make you forget about the heat for a little while?