Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Andrew Bird: Break It Yourself

Oh happy day! Andrew Bird's new album Break It Yourself (due out on March 6th) is an NPR's First Listen feature. For a limited time, you can listen to the album in it's entirety. NPR, you are just lovely.

Sorry, don't have time to write. I have to go listen.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Grab Bag Friday: Support Your Local Farmer

I know, I know. It seems awfully early to be thinking about summer. But it's time! All over the country, local farms are signing folks up for summer farm shares. I'm practically salivating thinking of all the delicious cucumbers and tomatoes and greens. Yum.

So here is my yearly CSA re-post. I hope you'll sign up for a CSA near you (see the bottom of this post to learn how to find a local participating farm). I know you'll love it!

*  *  *

Originally posted March 2, 2007. Here I am, snowed in on March 2nd, with at least a full month of winter spread out in front of me, and I'm happily dreaming and scheming about Summer! That's because I just received an email from Hatchet Cove Farm, a local organic farm that we purchase a CSA share from. Lots of farmers will be gearing up for their summer CSA programs over the next few's what it means:

CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. It means what it says. I, as a community member, buy a "share" from a local farm. In return, I get a big bag of fresh, delicious, organic vegetables delivered every week for 18 weeks during the summer season. Here's why it's great:

I get to...
  • Eat healthy, nutritious food all summer long
  • Try new things (I'd never had bok choy's delicious in stir fry!)
  • Know the farmer that grew my food
  • Support local agriculture
  • Keep my money in the local economy
  • Eat fresh, unprocessed veggies
SIDE STORY: My husband, a Los Angeles native, had never had a cucumber that wasn't bought at the store. We got our first CSA with cucumbers and he crinkled his nose, "I hate cucumbers." Until...he tried a real, fresh cucumber. He was stunned that it tasted so good! He thought cucumbers just naturally grew with a bitter, waxy buildup on the skin, never realizing that that is actually added to the cucumber to make them look more appealing and last longer in the store. Thanks to Hatchet Cove Farm, we snacked on yummy cukes all summer long!

Here's an example of how it works. I'll use our CSA, Hatchet Cove Farm, as my example...the details of other CSAs will, of course, vary:
  • Share price: [2012 update: HCF is now charging $325 for the summer-- incredibly reasonable] for eighteen weeks of vegetable deliveries (mid-June to mid-Oct) is for a "two-person" share. If you love veggies or have a larger family, you may want to purchase two shares. I think $18 a week for fresh, homegrown veggies is a terrific deal!
  • The Vegetables: you receive a selection of in-season vegetables every week, including (but not limited to!) mesclun, spinach, and other early greens in the early summer. Peas, beans, broccoli, and early potatoes in the mid-summer. Zucchini, onions, peppers, and tomatoes in the late summer. Melons, corn, kale, and chard in the early fall.
  • Pickup/Delivery: [2012 note: new HCF delivery days & routes] There are a few options for getting your veggies. Hatchet Cove Farm makes deliveries to a number of pick-up points. If you do not want your share on any given week, the folks at Hatchet Cove will be happy to donate your share to the Area Interfaith Outreach Food Pantry in Rockland.
  • Newsletter/Recipes: Every week, along with your veggies, you receive a letter telling about activities and news from the farm, as well as recipes to help inspire you to use up every last vegetable.
  • [New: Hatchet Cove Farm Partners: CSA members can sign up for summer shares from HCFs partners for cheese, egg, bread, chicken, and more! Check for availability.]
  • Hatchet Cove Farm becomes your farm, too!: Members are welcomed at the farm to volunteer or just to visit, and a potluck/garlic planting day happens every fall.

Sounds great right? So, how can you join a CSA?

You can find out about CSAs from local farmers by keeping an eye out on bulletin boards at your local grocery store, library, church, or community center. You can also do a quick online search for farms in your area at the Eat Well Guide (Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals). If you live in the Waldoboro or Rockland area in Maine, you can contact Hatchet Cove Farm by email:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bob Marley: Redemption Song

Some mornings, I just need a little Bob Marley in my life. And thanks to the wonders of You Tube, I can watch a 1980 acoustic performance captured by an old-school camcorder.

Won't you help to sing another song of freedom?

Bob Marley: Redemption Song

Old pirates, yes, they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit

But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the almighty
We forward in this generation

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom
'cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
'cause none of them can stop the time

How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look
Oh! Some say it's just a part of it
We've got to fulfill the book

Won't you help to sing
these songs of freedom
'cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs
Redemption songs

Friday, February 17, 2012

Grab Bag Friday: Thank You Notes

Have you seen this awesome collection of famous thank you notes at Mental Floss? It makes me wish I had thought to send Roald Dahl a letter when I was a kid. Check out his response to a class letter asking questions about “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More” (not a thank you note, and not from the Mental Floss list, but excellent on so many levels):

(I found the above letter on BuzzFeed.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mazzy Star: Fade Into You Mashup

My sister sent me this video as a valentine. It's been a long time since I listened to Mazzy Star (one of my high school and college faves), and it's awfully sweet to see Hope Sandoval's dreamy voice set to ballroom dancing from the 40s.

Oddly, with all the old movies I watch, I haven't seen a lot of Fred Astaire movies. So I don't know the films these clips come from. Bonus points to anyone who can name them!

Mazzy Star: Fade Into You Fred Astaire Mashup

Monday, February 13, 2012

W. B. Yeats: When You Are Old

A love poem, since tomorrow is the 14th after all:

When You are Old
by W. B. Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Grab Bag Friday: Meet a Black Person

For their tenth anniversary, Improv Everywhere is remastering some of their original missions (hooray!) This week they posted their hilarious 2006 Meet a Black Person video.

Oh, Improv Everywhere, will you be my valentine?

Improv Everywhere: Meet a Black Person (you can also read the mission report and watch more Aspen videos)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sharon Van Etten: All I Can

Here's a song I'm smitten with this week.

For a while at least, you can listen to the full album for free at NPR.

Sharon Van Etten: All I Can

Monday, February 6, 2012

Neil Gaiman: Stardust

Since I have all these new renovation projects at our house (I hope to post pictures of the kitchen soon!), I've signed up for an Audible account. Painting and removing wallpaper is much more fun when you have an audiobook to listen to.
One of my favorites so far has been Stardust by Neil Gaiman.

Everything about this book was right up my alley. The full title is Stardust: Being a Romance Within The Realms of Faerie and that is exactly what you get. A charming, old-school fairy tale packed with adventure, magic, and romance. I admit I was skeptical with the billing "a fairy tale for adults," but I fell head over heels in the first ten minutes.

The story follows Tristan Thorne, who is determined to do whatever it takes to win the heart of the girl he loves. When she suggests (rather flippantly) that he catch her a fallen star, he crosses over into Faerie to do just that. Only the star is nothing like the cold stone he thought it would be, and Tristan's journey causes him to rethink everything he knows to be true in the world.

Intertwined with Tristan's story are the stories of other (more dangerous) travelers who are also searching for the star. As you can imagine, all the plot lines come together in an exciting, highly satisfying climax.

To top it all off, Neil Gaiman has to be the most charming audiobook reader around. I don't know that I'll ever be able to read another book of his in paper format, and believe me, I am a paper format kind of girl.

Highly recommended for anyone looking for a bit of love and magic.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Grab Bag Friday: Lemon Bars

Okay, so I'm a little picky about my desserts. For example, I've never found a lemon bar recipe I was fully satisfied with. Until now.

This week, I tried a concoction I found on Leite's Culinaria, and if you have been looking for the perfect lemon bar recipe, look no further. Sure, it's more time-intensive than the boxed version, but this lemon filling is melt-in-your-mouth perfect: super fresh and not too sweet. The shortbread bottom uses powdered sugar instead of granulated which makes it a little bit softer, and if you let the edges of the crust brown, you get a crisp, delicious, butter crunch. Yum!

I made a few modifications to make things easier (and I rarely bake with salt, so I took that out of the crust, but left the pinch in the filling). I also made a few notes in the text of the recipe. If you want the original version of the recipe, please head over to Leite's Culianaria.

Melt-in-your-mouth Lemon Bars

For the crust
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more to decorate the finished bars
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the lemon filling
  • 7 large egg yolks, plus 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice (from 4 or 5 medium lemons), plus 1/4 cup finely grated zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Confectioners sugar
1. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray (Note: I use butter for better flavor and texture).

2. Place the flour and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor and process briefly. Add the butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. (Note: I did this by hand.) Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Note: I refrigerated for 15.)

3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 20 minutes. (Note: I cooked it a bit longer until the edges were brown.)
4. In a mediumbowl, whisk together the yolks and whole eggs until combined, about 5 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and whisk until just combined, about 5 seconds. Add the lemon juice, zest, and salt; whisk until combined, about 5 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan, add the butter pieces, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency, about 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream; pour the curd into the warm crust immediately.

5. Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes.Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts as necessary. Sieve confectioners’ sugar over the bars, if desired.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lisa Hannigan: Little Bird

KCRW recently hosted Irish singer Lisa Hannigan live in the studio. I know her beautiful voice from Damien Rice's albums, but I had no idea that she recorded a brand new solo album in 2011. It looks like I need to come out from under my rock and go listen to it. What a voice!

Lisa Hannigan: Little Bird
(You can watch the full in-studio session on KCRW's website.)