It is no secret to anyone who knows me fairly well that Mos Def is far and away my favorite MC.  I even liked True Magic, which received mixed reviews at best.  I’m not sure if the Mighty Mos has signed off on this project, but as mash-ups go, this is pretty stellar.  His voice is pretty well suited to Reggae, and this Max Tannone fellow clearly knows his stuff.

Having planted my first seeds in the garden this weekend, this album will be perfect for sitting in the back yard as the weather warms–watching the plants grow, and drinking Schlitz.  Big ups to CVB for finding this one!

Click on the album cover for a link to a free streaming version of the album or to a free download.

Whole Foods for the Whole Family: notice the spiral binding. Classic.

Back in the day, my parents cooked from a certain cookbook quite a lot.  That book, Whole Foods for the Whole Family, was published by LaLeche League International, which, just as it sounds is a still-active breastfeeding advocacy group.

At any rate, many of these recipes have become old standards in our family, and this christmas, my parents got all three of us (that is, myself and my two brothers) copies of the original.

So, to celebrate this momentous occasion, here’s one of the best recipes in the book, for Kima–which appears to be a ground beef curry dish originating in either northern India or Pakistan.  Thanks go out to Rose Isdale of Christchurch, New Zeland for submitting this recipe to La Leche League in the first place!  Enjoy:

The Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef or cubed tofu*.

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced.

1 tbs. butter

1 1/2 tsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp. salt

dash of pepper

2-3 tsp. soy sauce

2 potatoes, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 cup peas

1 stalk celery, diced

2-3 tomatoes, quartered

*A note on the tofu: cubed tofu is fine, but if you’re looking to keep the ground beef texture, place a block of tofu in the freezer, allowing it enough time to freeze solid.  Then thaw it out, and crumble it.  It will mimic the look and feel of ground beef quite well.

The Method:

1). Saute onion and garlic butter.

2). Add beef (or tofu) and brown.

3). Add seasonings and vegetables.

4). Simmer 30 minutes.

According to the recipe, “this may be adapted to include any favorite foods.  Mushrooms make a delicious addition.  I’ve found that toddlers love this meal as well as adults because all the food is in tasty, bite-sized pieces.”

Driftwood (Groucho): All right, fine. Now here are the contracts. You just put his name at the top and you sign at the bottom. There’s no need of you reading that because these are duplicates.
Fiorello (Chico): Yeah, they’s a duplicates.
Driftwood: I say they’re duplicates.
Fiorello: Why sure they’s a duplicates…
Driftwood: Don’t you know what duplicates are?
Fiorello: Sure. There’s five kids up in Canada.

I spent a great deal of time when I was a kid watching black and white comedies–Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers.  With the exception of the Three Stooges (a lesser Marx Brothers) and Abbott and Costello (a much lesser Laurel and Hardy), I loved all of them.  What’s stuck with me most though, and what sprung into my head as I was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on my way to work this morning, was the dialogue of the Marx Brothers.

Perhaps its because we’re closing on a seriously confusing financing instrument this week at work, but this scene from “A Night at the Opera” won’t leave me alone.  Now this is how you negotiate a contract!  Watch and learn, people.  Watch; and learn.

Hi All!  Ever since I had the amaranth pancakes at the now-defunct Vella Cafe in Bucktown, Chicago, I’d been meaning to attempt a version of my own.  Here’s what I came up with this morning.  They’re fairly simple, but with a distinct nuttiness, and a depth of flavor that run-of-the-mill flapjacks usually lack.  Plus, amaranth not only sounds cool (I think its up there with coelacanth), it’s pretty good for you!

This recipe serves 2 people, so if you’re planning on feeding any more than that, I’d at least double it!

A note about the amaranth flour:  I made my own, running amaranth through a flour mill a few times, but you can also find it at just about any specialty grocer.

The Ingredients:

A varietal of amaranth in its native habitat. Native to the Americas, it is now cultivated in Europe and Asia as well.

Wet:

1 cup whole milk

1 large egg

1 Tablespoon buckwheat honey (any variety of honey is fine)

1/4 Teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon oil (canola, walnut, etc.)

Dry:

1/2 Cup all purpose white flour

1/2 Cup amaranth flour

2 Teaspoons baking powder

A pinch of salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon allspice (depending on taste)

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

A pinch of nutmeg

The Method:

Combine all of the wet ingredients together and whisk in a mixing bowl to fully combine.  Do likewise with the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix just enough to get all the clumps out.  If you over-mix pancake batter the pancakes will get tough!  Let sit for 5 minutes or so while you heat up your pan or griddle.

Oil the griddle (extremely lightly!) and when hot start frying the pancakes.  Adjust the heat as necessary and continue until all the pancakes are done.  I know I mentioned this before, but this recipe makes only 6 or so, so double it if you’re feeding more than two people!

In the spirit of the season, here’s a great preparation for spaghetti squash that I came up with last night.  We’re right in the thick of winter squash season, and spaghetti squash is one of the more under-appreciated in the clan.

My apologies if the proportions are inexact.  It’s just that I’d rather not commit to any particular measurements given the variations in size between particular squashes.  Just go a little light if you’ve got a smaller squash and vice versa if you’ve got a monster.

Vadouvan Spice is a sort of french take on a classic curry.  If you can’t find it anywhere, and if you’re not feeling ambitious enough to make some yourself, then any good quality curry powder (or equivalent blend of spices) will work just fine!

 

The Ingredients:

Sesame or Peanut Oil (your choice!)

Garlic (4 cloves or so; minced)

White Pearl Onions (between 6 and 10; peeled and quartered)

One Spaghetti Squash (roasted; see below)

Vadouvan Spice Powder (I got mine from The Spice House; it’s wonderful!)

Salt (to taste)

Coconut Milk (approx 1/2 cup, give or take)

Ground Cayenne Pepper (Optional: depending on taste and on the heat already present in your Vadouvan Spice)

For the Topping:

Toasted Sunflower Seeds (or cashews)

Finely Chopped Scallions


Roasting the Squash:

Roasting spaghetti squash is a similar process to any other winter squash.  Just cut it in half from end to end, scoop out the seeds and guts, rub the flesh with oil, and a decent amount of salt and pepper, and roast on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan face up in a 375 degree oven for around 45 minutes, or until done.

After the squash is fully cooked through, let cool before scooping out the flesh and mashing it gently.  This will separate the squash into its pasta-like strands.  This you can do ahead of time and refrigerate; I did it the afternoon before.

The Method:

Once the squash is roasted and mashed, this recipe moves fast: be ready!

Heat up a heavy cast-iron skillet or wok, and add a couple tablespoons of oil.  Once that’s hot, add the minced garlic and quartered pearl onions. (You can definitely use a small, normal-sized onion here, but I really like the sweetness and delicate texture of the little ones.)  Saute for a couple minutes and add the squash.

Mix well, and cover for a couple minutes to let the squash heat through.  Now, just add the Vadouvan (or curry) powder a little at a time and taste, until you’ve got the right amount of heat and depth of flavor.  This is when you’d add the cayenne as well, if you’re looking for a little boost. Cover for a couple more minutes to let the spices incorporate.

Finally, add around a 1/2 cup of coconut milk; more or less depending on how much squash you’ve got.  It should be just enough to thoroughly coat the squash, and deglaze whatever has stuck to your pan.  We’re not going for a soup or a stew here–the coconut milk is just added for some richness and depth of flavor.

Salt to taste, pull it off the heat and serve, topped with the toasted sunflower seeds and chopped scallions.  Enjoy!

In most cases, the internet is a pretty spiffy place to hang out.  But sometimes in the switch from print to digital, certain aspects of our quality of life – of our collective culture, I’d even say – are lost.  Newspaper corrections are some of the more entertaining aspects of print journalism to have fallen out of view as online readership has soared, and with that evolution a little bit of the fun disappeared…

Elena and I are on week three of “The Weekender”, which is a three times weekly subscription to the New York Times.  The paper arrives in our foyer on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, and–because we are the only people in the 10 unit building we live in to get the paper delivered–there’s never any confusion as to which one is ours.

Although I always grew up with the newspaper around, this has been my first experience as an actual paying newspaper subscriber, and I’m really enjoying it!  The ritual of grabbing it on the way to the subway on Friday mornings has been particularly joyful.  After reading what interests me on the front page, I quickly jump to page two and read one of my favorite sections: the “Corrections”.

There’s something really captivating about these short paragraphs. (There were 10 of them this morning: a really high number methinks!)  The writing is so calculated, and thorough, and the corrections themselves are usually fairly entertaining.  Aside from correcting errors from previous papers, they also serve as a sort of apology to the (hopefully) small handful of people likely offended by the indiscretion.  And it almost goes without saying that corrections provide good reading and the occasional laugh.

There were no grammatical errors to correct in this morning’s paper.  Nearly all of them were minor legal or statistical changes, or name misspellings.  And in a few cases, the Times had simply gotten people confused, an error that I’d hope a professional fact-checker or copy-editor would have caught before printing.

Take this gem of a correction, for example:

A picture caption on Wednesday with an article about the latest tradition at Yankee Stadium – throwing something resembling a cream pie in the face of the player responsible for a walk-off win – misidentified one of the Yankees shown getting creamed.  He is Juan Miranda, not Jonathan Albaladejo. (Mr. Albaladejo is the player laughing behind Mr. Miranda.)

A few takeaways from this example:

1) It’s hysterical! Just the phrase “misidentified one of the Yankees shown getting creamed” is worth repeating.

2) The description is truly meticulous.  The correction writer sets the scene, describes the reason for the creaming, briefly notes that it is a relatively new phenomenon among Yankee post-game celebrations, and even makes sure to point out that the projectile in question was not a genuine pie and was instead “something resembling a cream pie”.

3) The misstated name is, by itself, memorable: 18 letters in all and the last 10 of them spell Albaladejo.

Miranda, Albaladejo, and the "pie" in question. I can understand not being able to verify Miranda's face, as its covered in "pie" and as his jersey number is not visible, but Albaladejo is clearly standing right behind him. Come on now, factcheckers! Earn your keep!

In this other example, you wonder who actually called (or e-mailed) the Times to complain:

An article on Monday about Brandon Jennings’s season thus far as an N.B.A. Rookie with the Milwaukee Bucks referred incorrectly to a Ferrari driven by one of his teammates.  It belonged to Bucks guard Michael Redd; it was not center Andrew Bogut’s car.

1) I love the semi-colon usage; it was perfectly suited to describe the situation.

2) I do have to partially retract my previous statement about the meticulousness of the Times’ corrections writers.  The Bucks season starts this evening, four days after this piece appeared.  Therefore to refer to the article as being about his season thus far was incorrect, insofar as the season hadn’t started yet.

3) Most important was the next thought that jumped in my head.  Who called this in? The car itself was not pictured in the article, and it certainly wasn’t newsworthy on its own. Was Michael Redd making sure that people who read the New York Times were aware of his Ferrari ownership?  Was Andrew Bogut hoping he wouldn’t be seen as the type of player who would drive something so decadent to practice in St. Francis, Wisconsin?  Was it an incredibly nerdy Bucks fan who was actually aware of which cars in the practice facility parking lot belonged to certain players?  (By the way, it turns out it was a little of Column B and a little of Column C.)

See what I mean now?  These were just two of the ten corrections in today’s paper, and if I’d read it online, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure.  In their defense, when the New York Times makes corrections to articles on its website, a note is inserted at the end of the article containing the same correction text as in the print edition.  But, as a result, the corrections are hidden.  Scattered about the site, in random articles, and always at the bottom of the page, corrections can no longer be sought out and enjoyed as they are in the print edition…

…or can they?

Sweet Jesus, yes they can! (I litereally just discovered that now, hidden in a tiny little link all the way at the bottom of the main page.) There are even links to the actual articles.  Bring it on, internet! Rant rescinded.

In honor of C. C. Sabathia’s second post-season loss to the Phillies in the last two years, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on better times, both for the Brewers, and for the big fella himself…

Click on the picture! It's a time machine!

 

That is all.