Fried Green Tomato-Topped Veggie Burgers (Inspired by Sallie Ford)

Hearty veggie burgers topped with fried green tomatoes (recipe here)

A couple weeks ago my lovely friend Jill took me to see Jolie Holland at Bowery Ballroom, and she said we needed to get there early to see Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside. Holy whoa was she awesome, and I listened to Ford’s music nonstop for the rest of the week. Of course, the song that really made my ears perk up was a new one called “Fried Green Tomatoes,” which isn’t on her album but was recorded for her Daytrotter session last month (download “Fried Green Tomatoes” and three other tracks there!).

Ford’s voice — a brassy, spastic alto wail — falls somewhere between Etta James and Amy Winehouse. Her LP is called Dirty Radio, and she sings about the fake music being made today. It’s no wonder that most of her record — folk, blues, jazz, rock — sounds like it could’ve been recorded decades ago. The dish I made is also inspired by one of my favorite Brooklyn restaurants, Lodge in Williamsburg, whose rustic interior of tree-stump stools and the adjacent “General Store” also looks like it came from another time. My favorite dish there is the egg sandwich, with a fried egg, pesto, tempeh bacon and a fried tomato. Sallie Ford’s music is hearty, and instead of an egg I made a high-protein veggie burger topped with a fried green tomato; instead of the pesto and bacon I just finished it with normal burger fixins, and it was perfect.

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Buy Nothing Day: Tips For Using What You’ve Got (Inspired by The Go! Team)

We don’t plan it all/ ‘Cause making it up is so natural”
— “Buy Nothing Day,” by the Go! Team, from 2011’s Rolling Blackouts

In the past couple weeks, I’ve been making more of an effort to use up what I already have around my apartment instead of picking up a few extra groceries: I begrudgingly opened a box of cereal instead of buying missing ingredients to make more granola, I dug out a can of black beans that had been hiding on my shelf; finished up a box of quinoa; and used up random chunks of cheese scattered in my fridge. It’s definitely saved me a few bucks this month, not to mention I’m not letting anything go to waste. Below is a quick guide to using up some common foods you probably have sitting on your shelves and in your fridges — veggies, beans, herbs, nuts, and grains.

Of course there’s the literalness of a song called “Buy Nothing Day” — the goal is to not have to purchase any extra ingredients for these dishes — but the lyric about not planning is relevant, too (even if that’s a little creative interpretation on my part…). When you’re left with just a few things in the pantry, making dinner is not a matter of following rigid instructions or recipes — it’s about making do with what you have. Also, the peppy, cheerleader-esque qualities of the Go! Team’s music is sorta how I feel when I pull together a full meal from what seemed like nothing on my shelf in the fridge.
The Go! Team on MySpace

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One-Pot Black Bean Dip + a few kitchen songs

One-pot black bean dip (recipe at the bottom)

I’ve mentioned this before but my last two years in college, I lived in a housing cooperative with about 13 other students. We had a massive kitchen — industrial-sized stove, a three-part sink, walk-in pantry, a huge island counter in the middle — and it was pretty common for five or six of us to be in there making food at the same time. This is a slight variation on a dish introduced to me by my old housemate Rachel, and I don’t even know how many times I cooked it when we lived together. It’s delicious and so easy to make, and it gets eaten SO quickly.

I’m lucky that my apartment in Brooklyn has a pretty huge kitchen (thank you, converted warehouse lofts!), but that’s definitely not the case for many of my friends in the city. Even though I’ve made this dish over and over in a kitchen big enough to fit the whole Duggar family, the beauty in it is that it’s all done in one pot and with very little equipment, so it’s perfect for even the least-experienced cooks and in the tiniest of kitchens.

This recipe is mostly inspired by a lyric in the song “Cook For You” by Clare & the Reasons, but I threw in a few other songs that have something to do with kitchens.

Clare & the Reasons, “Cook For You”
This is a super-sweet love song that starts off with a line that instantly makes me think of the quirks that come with living in a cozy city apartment with a tiny kitchen: “I like to cook for you in my underwear/ ‘Cause our kitchen points to a wall.”

Theresa Andersson, “Na Na Na”
“Na Na Na” itself actually has nothing to do with kitchens, but it’s here because it was recorded in one! I believe Andersson recorded most of her Hummingbird, Go! album in her modest-sized New Orleans kitchen, and the video of her playing this song there is awesome.

Those Darlins, “Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy”
The badass Tennessee gals Those Darlins didn’t write this song (I don’t think anyone knows who did?) but their take on it is awesome.

Allo Darlin’, “Heartbeat Chilli”
I’ve already used this in a post, but it’s super sweet and part of it is about falling in love in the kitchen while making chili. It’s adorable.

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Heartbeat Chili (Inspired by Allo Darlin’)

“I was in the kitchen on my own making chili/
You came in with an onion and got dicin’/
It seems silly that this chili has two heartbeats in the recipe/
So come over, give your heart to me.”
— “Heartbeat Chilli” by Allo Darlin’ (from last year’s Allo Darlin’

Heart-healthy veggie chili with heart-shaped tortilla crisps (recipe at bottom of post)

Allo Darlin”s self-titled debut was one of my favorite records of 2010 — it’s indie-pop that’s sweet and earnest enough to make me all warm and fuzzy every time I listen. Elizabeth Morris’s lyrics are unbelievably witty, and she occasionally mixes her own lines with snippits of songs like Weezer’s “El Scorcho” (“Kiss Your Lips”) and Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” (“Heartbeat Chilli”). This ukulele-based song is pretty perfect for Valentine’s Day, and this chili is a perfect dish to warm up with in the hell that is mid-February. I made sure the chili had plenty of heart-healthy ingredients like beans and spinach — beans are great for their omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and fiber; spinach for its potassium and fiber, among other things. The heart-shaped tortilla crisps are kinda self-explanatory.
Allo Darlin’ on MySpace

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