Vegetarian shepherd's pie

Veggie Shepherd’s Pie (Inspired by Strand of Oaks)

Vegetarian shepherd’s pie (recipe here)

I was introduced to Strand of Oaks (aka singer/songwriter Tim Showalter) through work, when we released his most recent album Pope Killdragon through our eMusic Selects program. I like that album plenty, but I admittedly have spent more time with his first release, 2008’s Leave Ruin, which was written after Showalter’s house burned down and his then-fiance broke up with him. A coworker recently referred to it as “cabin music,” and while the album wasn’t literally written in isolation in a cabin a la Bon Iver (it was on park benches and in the hotel he checked into after the fire), it evokes the same thing when Showalter sings, “This is what it feels like to see the world end in flames,” in his case quite literally. It’s a gorgeous album — hushed, sometimes-twangy vocals and a mix of clean electric and acoustic guitar — with lots of references to the cold and winter. In “Dogs of War” he sings, “I need you like I need the snow/ You feel much better than the cold,” and in another song he talks about a fur-lined coat. I recently learned that shepherd’s pie used to be called cottage pie; so the “cabin music” combined with the need for comfort while going through a bummer time like that makes this a perfect fit for Showalter’s music. It’s warm, filling and comforting — and if you are in need of some alone time, there’s certainly enough here to last you a few days.

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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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