Granola bars

Chewy Granola Bars + 10 Bands to See at Coachella

Granola bars

THE DISH
Better-than-store-bought chewy granola bars (recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
Coachella weekend one (of two) starts Friday, and while I’m not going (totally can’t handle the camping-festival thing…plus that tiny detail that it’s on the other side of the country from me), I thought those of you who are might want an easy-to-make treat for the road, breakfast during the weekend, whatever. These granola bars are simple and filling — great for kickstarting a long day without regularly timed meals (if you’re anything like me at a festival). And you might even be able to make them with stuff you already have stocked in your pantry.

10 BANDS TO SEE AT COACHELLA

M83: M83’s epic Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was one of my favorite albums last year, and I have no doubts that its huge sound would have no problem reaching a massive crowd in the dessert. [Recipe: Funfetti frog cupcakes]

Jeff Mangum: Who could’ve expected that in 2012 Jeff Mangum would be playing Coachella? I’d be a little skeptical about how a performance from the former Netural Milk Hotel frontman would translate to a huge, outdoor festival, but after seeing his breathtaking show at New York’s Town Hall back in October, it actually makes sense. He sang out, encouraged the crowd to sing along, and genuinely looked like he was having a great time. [Recipe: Peanut noodles with edamame, carrots and flowers, inspired by Neutral Milk Hotel]

Bon Iver: The last (and only) time I saw Bon Iver was in July 2008 at Music Hall of Williamsburg, and to hear this band at festivals back then would have been really weird/probably wouldn’t have really worked. Obviously things have changed a bit since then, and I regret not seeing the louder, fuller version of this band last year. [Recipe: Butternut squash pancakes with maple goat cheese spread and candied walnuts]

First Aid Kit: Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg make folk songs with simple instrumentation and gorgeous harmonies. Their record that came out this year, The Lion’s Roar, is lovely. [Featured in beer + music pairings: Fall 2011]

Laura Marling: British singer/songwriter Laura Marling has been a favorite of mine for a few years now — since her first record Alas, I Cannot Swim, written when she was 16, she’s continuously developing her voice, both in terms of her maturing songwriting and the way she sings. The ’70s-leaning songs from last year’s A Creature I Don’t Know, will be refreshing. [Featured in beer + music pairings: Winter 2012]

St. Vincent: Annie Clark’s sound has taken quite a journey since her 2007 debut Marry Me, and her shows have too — though what’s remained constant has been her velvety alto and her status as one of the finest guitarists in recent memory. On stage she gets lost in her guitar, which I’m sure will be especially intense during some of the harder-edged songs from last year’s Strange Mercy.

Tune-Yards: What haven’t I already said about Tune-Yards? Merrill Garbus is powerful enough on last year’s w h o k i l l, but even if you’re not totally into her albums, her live show is a whole ‘nother animal, as Garbus uses looping pedals to build up ukulele riffs, drum beats and abrasive, abstract vocals. [Recipe: Berry-banana muffins + body issues]

Sleeper Agent: Sleeper Agent are a group of sugar-high pop-punk kids from Bowling Green, Kentucky, and their debut album Celabrasion is a total blast.

We Are Augustines: We Are Augustines’ 2011 debut Rise Ye Sunken Ships comes from a dark place (it was inspired by frontman Billy McCarthy’s younger brother James, who struggled with mental illness before taking his own life; which their mother had done years before), but like on the album, the Brooklyn band turns it into an empowering story about passion and strength. [Recipe: Blackberry/peach/ginger popsicles]

Wild Flag: Wild Flag is made up of former Sleater-Kinney bandmates Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, with Mary Timony (Helium) and Rebecca Cole (the Minders) and I wrote about why I love them so much here. They pretty much melted my face off when I saw them live last fall. [Recipe: Whiskey chocolate balls inspired by Sleater-Kinney]

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ETB’s Favorite Music of 2011

I have mixed feelings about end-of-the-year lists: I enjoy reading them, mostly because I’m curious about what records friends and other critics enjoyed throughout the year, and I love that they help me catch up on music I missed or didn’t spend enough time with (because I obviously have listened to every single record that was released in 2011…).

What I have a hard time with is the argument of who made the “best” record. That’s not to say I refuse to participate in the list-making at work — I certainly suggested certain albums should be higher or lower on our list — but it can get a little ridiculous. When I make my own year-end list, it’s just my personal favorites: I don’t mean it to say that one album is definitively better than another in terms of music, lyrics, whatever, or that my picks are better than everything else that came out during the year, but this was the music I connected with, what I listened to the most and what had the biggest effect on me.

Also, because I do use other people’s lists to catch up on what I’ve missed, that means there might be music that came out this year that I’m just now starting to fall in love with (see: Kurt Vile). And if we’re talking about my favorite musical discoveries of the year, there are quite a few artists whose music I heard for the first time in 2011, but they haven’t released anything recently (Patty Griffin, everything Mark Kozelek, Kathleen Edwards — the latter has already made one of my favorites of 2012). And if you ask me in a few months what my favorite 2011 records were, my response might be a little different than the following list. But for now, these were my favorites; my top 10 are in an order that could easy change over and over again, and then a bunch of others I loved listed alphabetically.

ALSO: Here is a mix of 27 songs I really liked this year — from many of these bands — for your downloading pleasure. Enjoy!

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Maple-Mustard Roasted Veggies + a post-Thanksgiving playlist

THE DISH
Maple roasted carrots, butternut squash and Brussels sprouts

THE INSPIRATION
I’ve said this before, but it certainly bears repeating: I am obsessed with the circle of friends I’ve found myself in in New York. And I was thrilled to learn that most of them — all of us transplants to the city, mostly from Michigan — would also be in town for Thanksgiving weekend, because obviously that meant it was yet another excuse to spend time together, making tons of food and eating (and drinking) ourselves silly. I’ll save my ramblings about how much I love them for a post I have coming up in a couple weeks, and instead I’ll share my contribution to our Thanksgiving feast: a simple mix of roasted veggies that, of course, I made way too much of. It has absolutely nothing to do with music, but I’m giving it to you anyway, along with a playlist of some songs I’m thankful for this year — not a best of 2011, as a few of them aren’t from the past 11 months, but songs that, for various reasons, have made my life just a little bit better this year.

THE PLAYLIST
Listen on Spotify here; tracklisting (and recipe) below!

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Berry-Banana Muffins (Inspired by tUnE-yArDs + my food issues)

http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf

THE DISH
Banana muffins with strawberries, raspberries and lemon (recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
I have a problem with sweets. It’s something that’s tormented me my whole life, and even though I now have more control over my health than I ever have, and I feel comfortable in my body and confident in who I am as a whole (yep, it took 23 years to make that happen), I don’t think my sweet tooth is going away anytime soon. I struggle the most when my lack of self-control gets the best of me and I eat, say, four cookies, and then I instantly feel totally disgusting — not just physically, like there’s a huge bomb hanging out in my stomach, but I’m also emotionally disgusted with myself for not having the control to just tell myself no, and then I feel gross and embarrassed.

tUnE-yArDs’ mind-blowing new record, w h o k i l l, brought some of this up for me: In the song “Es-so,” the band’s mastermind Merrill Garbus mentions a piece of cake and says in a sort-of Valley girl tone, “I gotta do right if my body is tight, right?” In the next verse she talks about sticking “a fucking fork in” and then speaks in total disgust, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” It reminds me of my relationship with food and the types of excuses I make to myself for why it’s OK to eat more than I really need to: I’m hungry when I’m really not; I was “good” earlier in the day; I’m stressed; I’m sad because my boyfriend broke up with me, etc. etc. I’m sure I’m not the only woman who relates to that song, which is why I’m so glad it’s there.

http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf

Other tracks on w h o k i l l have really been hitting home for me lately, too. The whole record is pure power: The music is confrontational, fearless, adventurous and loud, but it’s also melodic, influenced by African music (the percussion is especially great), and built up with layers of looping. Garbus’s lyrics are strong and she delivers them with intensity (watch the video below). On the album’s last track, “Killa,” she sing-raps, “I’m a new kind of woman, I’m a new kind of woman, I’m a ‘don’t take shit from you’ kind of woman” and then melodically sings, “So buckle up, ’cause we’re gonna move fast/ Drivin’ through things that you gotta get past.” (Seriously, ladies, if you need a post-breakup pick-me-up, however amicable the split, you should probably listen to this record.)

Yourstru.ly Presents: tUnE-yArDs “You Yes You” from Yours Truly on Vimeo.

But back to the food… Even though my self-control now is the best it’s ever been, I’m still in a constant battle with it. But the truth is that I ultimately can still be healthy (and even lose weight, which I’ve done thanks to changing my eating and exercise habits — not dieting) without completely cutting out sugar. Part of how I do that is that I very rarely buy sweets to keep in my apartment, because they definitely will not stay there for long. I’m much more likely to make them instead because that way I know exactly what’s in whatever I’m eating, which cuts down on the fake and processed foods, even if it doesn’t always cut down on the calories. But I often do try to make sweets that are at least a little bit on the healthy side, so even if I am indulging, it’s not always as bad as it could be. (As you can see from plenty of recipes on here, that is not always the case — and that’s OK too.)

As for this recipe: The texture of these muffins didn’t come out quite the way I hoped they would — they’re super, super moist and don’t puff up a whole lot. I think I got a little too creative when modifying the recipe — but they are still tasty. The fruit is because Tune-Yards’ music is colorful, and it has a tropical feel to it (she also mentions the jungle in “Es-so”).
tUnE-yArDs on MySpace
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Mom’s Apple Struedel + a Mother’s Day playlist

THE DISH
Apple struedel (recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
I mentioned in my Family Dinner/Mandel bread post in March that my mom was a really great cook and baker. I think that’s what I remember most about her: waking up in the morning to the smell of zucchini muffins or banana bread, eating a home-cooked meal every night, and seeing her cookbook out on the kitchen counter. I have always, always been a passionate eater, but it wasn’t until college that I developed an interest in making my own food; and because I was 12 when my mom died, it means I didn’t get to learn it by watching her in the kitchen or hearing her cooking secrets.

Before she died she started writing cookbooks for my sister and me, with a bunch of her and other family members’ recipes, along with blank pages so we could add our own. I got my mom’s cookbook just a couple days before moving to New York in fall 2009, so I’ve slowly been testing out recipes I remember growing up with (significantly tougher for me now as a pescatarian, considering how much I loved her meatloaf), as well as adding others that I’ve found on my own and use often. One treat I always loved was my mom’s struedel — apple or apricot — so I pulled out the cookbook and gave it a go. Not surprisingly, it’s not exactly like I remember it, but that’s probably my fault (her recipe was a little bit more vague than the one below, so I had to do some guessing).


My mom with my sister Joey (left) and me, 1989

THE PLAYLIST
Most of my memories of my mom in relation to music are of me telling her to stop singing (clearly I was a little snot), and of her playing piano — always by ear, usually Disney songs at my 5-year-old self’s request. She’s the reason I started playing music; piano lessons at age 8, which eventually led to getting my hands in every musical outlet I could through high school. My other musical Mom memories are of a cassette tape of Loggins & Messina’s album The Best of Friends, specifically the song “House at Pooh Corner,” and I only really listened to the side of the tape with that song on it. That’s to say I don’t really know what music my mom loved (and I’ll spare you the Loggins & Messina), so this playlist isn’t a reflection of that. Instead it’s music by powerful women (some of them mothers), including just a couple that remind me of her. [Edit: Since originally publishing this, some of the songs have been removed from my playlist here; sorry about that!]

http://listen.grooveshark.com/widget.swf

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Follow This Foodie: Carlye Wisel of Big Ugly Yellow Couch


(Photos by Donald Rasmussen)

When Carlye Wisel and Donald Rasmussen moved to New York from Chicago, they brought with them a seven-foot-long yellow couch, and it eventually became a place where bands came to play acoustic sets in their Brooklyn apartment, which are then filmed for their blog, Big Ugly Yellow Couch. Since then, the couch has gone through a horrendous building fire and a couple of apartments, but the site is still up and running, with videos of up-and-coming bands like Phantogram, Oh Land, and one of my faves, Yellow Ostrich.

It might not be obvious from looking at the site, but food actually plays a significant role in BUYC: When setting up the sessions, Carlye asks the bands for their favorite snacks, and does her best to have them ready when they get there. She’s also constantly blogging/Tweeting about food, and I’m constantly impressed by her eating abilities (and all of my friends’ eating abilities, for that matter!).

ON THE WEB
Big Ugly Yellow Couch
@biguglyyellow
Awkward City, Population 1
@drivemycarlye

Carlye chatted with me about cooking music, kitchen design, and gluten-free snacking.

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Spring Galettes + Songs for the Season

It’s the end of March and it’s 30-some degrees outside. This is not how I’d like New York to feel right now, and it’s not what I consider to be spring — so let’s call this week’s posts wishful thinking, since they are both meant to celebrate the new season that hasn’t arrived quite yet.

The dish — two kinds of galettes (a pie-like tart), one sweet and one savory — is very springy; the playlist is some recently released (and a couple soon-to-be-released) songs I’m into, that I’ll likely be listening to well into the season.

THE DISH
Galettes are pie-like tarts, and my friend Sarah and I made two different kinds: Half with asparagus, mushrooms and Fontina cheese, and the other half with blueberries, raspberries, fresh mint and mascarpone cheese. The asparagus and blueberries are the most spring-inspired ingredients, and both of these were super tasty. Recipes at the bottom.

THE PLAYLIST
http://listen.grooveshark.com/widget.swf

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