It took until just a couple weeks ago, but it is finally (mostly) super cold in New York (though significantly worse in Michigan last weekend, yikes). Not that I’m saying this is a good thing; winter is easily my least favorite season, except for the fact that I can comfortably use my oven and also make and eat soup all. the. time. I adapted this recipe from David’s stepmom, and the original is an award winner (at the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival many years ago, and still talked about all the time!); this version is vegan, and it was served at last month’s Supper Studio dinner with Brooklyn psych-pop band TEEN.
Spicy pumpkin soup (recipe here)
Last Saturday after a super-short trip to Michigan, I was welcomed back to LaGuardia with snow. Snow! On October 29! Of course, it was the kind of snow that hit the ground and instantly turned to slush. And I couldn’t help but think of Mirah‘s song “Make It Hot” because of the lyric “The snow falls/ The snow’s all ugly/ When it hits the street,” and also “While We Have The Sun” (“Let’s take the time to walk together while we have the sun/ You never know when temperamental weather’s gonna come”). So, I made a spicy pumpkin soup to warm up from this grossness (thankfully, it’s mostly gone now); the peppers are to “make it hot” and the base is pumpkin because the snow came right in time for Halloween. There’s also some coconut milk in there for the sweetness in Mirah’s voice and her music in general.
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Pumpkin-coffee cupcakes with mocha frosting, “dirt” and bugs (recipe here)
One of my favorite records that came out this year was the self-titled debut from Brooklyn act Widowspeak, and Halloween was a perfect excuse to use it on here: Their music is full of eerie, smoky (and gorgeous) vocals, and there’s a song called “Nightcrawlers,” in which frontwoman Molly Hamilton sings, “Nightcrawlers stay up late, nightcrawlers take the blame.” I made the classic little-kid cupcakes with cookie “dirt” and bugs (specifically, gummy centipedes from Economy Candy and Willy Wonka Sluggles — possibly the cutest name I’ve ever heard for bugs), and for the lyric about staying up late I thought of caffeine (and, of course, the sugar highs kids get from their Halloween candy) and made the cupcakes pumpkin coffee-flavored with mocha frosting. Happy Halloween!
(Photo by Dominick Mastrangelo)
“As soon as you’re used to one season it moves/
And that’s all that you can count on.”
— “Cabin Fever” by Casey Dienel (from 2006’s Wind-Up Canary)
Pumpkin-apple-champagne cupcakes with champagne buttercream frosting (recipe at bottom of post)
You know the awkward time between between fall and winter, usually in November-ish, when you’ve had two weeks of scarves and winter coats, then all of a sudden there are a few days when it’s 50 degrees and sunny and you can get away with just a sweatshirt? Or between winter and spring, when you think the snow has finally disappeared for the year and then BAM! Another snowstorm hits and, despite the fact that it’s mid-March, you’re suddenly convinced that winter won’t end for another six weeks? Casey Dienel’s song “Cabin Fever” sums that up perfectly, as she personifies autumn as an old man with tattered clothes, and sings about Indian summers, wearing sweaters, and getting out of town.
“And we’ll toast this death of summer months, and summer warmth, and summer love.”
The cupcakes were inspired by changing seasons and new beginnings: The pumpkin and apple are obvious fall flavors, the champagne is a nod to Dienel’s lyric about toasting the end of a season, and I wanted the frosting to look at least a little bit like snow. Since I made these for a New Year’s Eve party, the champagne was even more fitting to represent new beginnings. And hey, it’s also the first post on here, so cheers to that, too!
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Before she started performing as White Hinterland, Casey Dienel released Wind-Up Canary, a quirky piano-pop record that I bought on a whim about four years ago. Her first album as White Hinterland, 2008’s Phylactery Factory, was still rooted in piano, but WH’s 2010 LP, Kairos, took more cues from R&B than Regina Spektor. It should also be noted that Casey has a really wonderful food blog, Hungry Oyster — maybe I can convince her to come over and cook with me next time she’s in town?
White Hinterland on MySpace