Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adventures in Book-Related Cooking (aka I Have No Life)

I've been reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  They're super-addictive books.  I can't put them down.  It's been awhile since I've read a series and I forgot how enjoyable it was to follow characters through a couple of books.  I think I'm going to have to re-read Harry Potter next.

For those who don't know, Hunger Games takes place in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future.  What was once North America is now one large nation called Panem, divided into 12 districts and ruled over by a large, dominant city called The Capitol.  The Capitol puts on an annual event called the Hunger Games every year in which two "tributes" from each District, a boy and a girl, are randomly selected to compete to fight to the death.  The Games are televised and the whole country is forced to watch.  They're supposed to be some kind of horrible punishment for all of the Districts rebelling against The Capitol decades ago.  The plot is eerily similar to Battle Royale, but it's still a good read.

ANYHOO, a big point in the books is that The Capitol is wealthy and advanced and its citizens live in luxury, while nearly everyone else is starving.  Which is why I kind of scoffed when I saw a Hunger Games cookbook in the store a few weeks ago.  I thought, "What the hell are they going to have in there?  Tree bark and squirrel and gruel?"  Later, I went on Pinterest to see if there were any good HG-related pins and found some videos on Youtube of people making recipes based on food that's mentioned in the book.  And then I realized that they do talk about food all the time in the series.  So while the cookbook is clearly capitalizing on a trend, the idea isn't THAT far-fetched.  Or maybe I'm just trying to justify my foray into Hunger Games related-cooking.  I dunno.  I thought it would be fun and decided to try some of the recipes I found online.  Here are the results!

All of these are from a Youtube user named "Schemestresses", who did a series called "Hungry For The Hunger Games".  They're all foods that are specific to certain scenes in the book.  Here are the relevant links to the ones I've tried, if you wanna watch.  They might come in handy for your next book club meeting


First off, I tried making "Springtime Soup", which is described in the book as being a clear, green broth that tastes like springtime.

Basically, you need a bunch greens. Watercress, spinach, parsley, green onion, and celery, to be exact.

Also, some vegetable stock.

You cook the celery and green onion on the stove for a few minutes in some oil, then add your greens.  Once those are cooked, you can add your vegetable stock and let simmer for a bit.

Once that's done, blend it all together until it's a super green liquid that resembles something that you feel like you shouldn't be eating.

Add some salt to taste, and you're done!  Huzzah!

Despite the fact that it looks weird, it was quite delicious.  A nice, herb-y soup.  Good for vegetarians.  And perhaps people on a liquid diet.

I also made District 11 bread, which is given as a gift to the novel's protagonist, Katniss, during an important scene. 

I'd never made bread before, so this was a challenge.

Here are all the ingredients.

The most important thing to make bread, apparently, is knowing how to use yeast.  The tiniest mistake with the yeast, and you get crap bread.

You take your yeast.

And mix it with some warm water.  It's very important that the water be just slightly warm.  Not too hot or cold.  Otherwise, CRISIS.

I lucked out on my first try with yeast though.  Here it is all nice and foamy, which means it's activated and ready to go.

You mix the yeast stuff with all your other stuff.  In this case - warm milk, oats, flax seed, poppy seeds, honey, and brown sugar.  Oh yea, and flour.

Once it's all mixed and dandy, sprinkle some flour onto your counter top, take the dough out, and KNEAD KNEAD KNEAD.

Do this for 6-8 minutes.  Or until your wrists and hands wanna die.

Roll the dough into a ball, cover loosely, and put in a warm place.  After a long, long time, the ball of dough will rise and look twice as big.

Shape the dough however you want it to look, then let it sit and rise some more.

Cover in a glaze of egg and seeds. Pop in oven for 25 minutes.  And then you're done.  Voila!  Homemade bread!

This turned out very tasty.  And on my first bread try!  Hopefully one day I'll graduate to French baguettes.

So those were some of experiences in literary-themed cooking.  Any other famous book foods I should try?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Top 5: Albums of 2011

Soo....I totes lied about updating my blog while I was Maine.  Oops.  Sorry, got busy.

But now I'm back south in Virginia after a crazy experience doing documentary radio at the Salt Institute in Portland, Maine.  And I'm back to what's really important...making Top 5 lists!

Which maybe will help me in my life goal of being a relevant alt/indie blogger, surpassing the fame of Carles or Aquarium Drunkard

I realized while compiling this list that I've actually listened to a ridiculous amount of music this year.  Probably not as much as I feel I should have, but enough that narrowing this list down to five was actually quite difficult.

So, without further ado....my Top 5 of 2011.

5. tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l

I got irrationally pissed off at this band that I had to look on Wikipedia to make sure I typed out their name and album correctly with the correct lower-case and upper-case spacing and whatnot.  But this album is crazy and amazing, fusing together different musical genres and playing around with different arrangements.  Horns come in and out.  Sound cuts out sharply and comes back in.  In "Gangsta", vocalist Merrill Garbus layers her voice to sound like a police siren.  There's a sense of calculated randomness to the proceedings which turned me off at first, but then after 2-3 listens I was completely sucked in.

4. Wild Flag - Wild Flag

I was a big Sleater-Kinney fan and was super-stoked when I went to see Wild Flag in concert this year, curious to see a sort of girl band super-group, taking Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss from the aforementioned Sleater-Kinney, along with Mary Timony from Helium and Rebecca Cole who played with The Minders.  This band made me so happy and this album is pure, catchy, energetic rock.

3. Destroyer - Kaputt

Please forgive the video posted above, which starts out like an ad for American Apparel and then just gets weirder.  Kaputt combines elements of smooth jazz (a genre I normally find repellant) with 70s/80s-esque dream pop to create a rich collection of songs that wash over you.  I feel like it's something that shouldn't work but it totally does.

2.  Active Child - You Are All I See

Active Child is the moniker of Pat Grossi.  And I have a hard time describing this album, but the best sort of genre description I can come up with is "ethereal R&B".  There's beautiful orchestrations, and Grossi's vocals sound sort of church-like, if that makes any sense.  Everything here is lush and ghostly.  Also, Grossi plays the harp.  THE HARP.  You gotta love the harp.

1. Twilight Singers - Dynamite Steps

It's the Twilight Singers and motherfuckin' Greg Dulli.  There's no way this could NOT be my favorite album of 2011.  After most of the members of TS took time to do the Gutter Twins (the Dulli/Mark Lanegan collab of awesomeness), they came back this year with an album that was well worth waiting for.  Dynamite Steps is a dark, hypnotic brew of solid, cinematic rock songs, the perfect soundtrack for a bar fight with your ex-lover who did you wrong or a melancholic last call on your last day on Earth.

In related news, the freakin' AFGHAN WHIGS are reuniting for at least two shows this year - one in London and one in New Jersey.  I need to find a way to go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tally Ho!

So, it has been a very long time since I updated, so I felt like now was a fitting time.
I'm moving, folks!

To Maine!

Portland, Maine to be more specific.

I'm going to the radio program at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies.  Hopefully to learn how to be the next Ira Glass.  I'll be there for 15 weeks.  It feels like I'm moving to a foreign country.  I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not even leaving the east coast, so I need to stop being such a baby.

When I'm not too busy with that, I will try and update this blog a little more with awesome Maine stuff.  Hopefully my laziness with blog updating will not prevail. 

Anyhoo, I'm off to a land that I imagine is filled with lighthouses and lobsters, so wish me luck!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Anchorage In A Day

Today I will give you my own special Lindsey travel guide to Anchorage, Alaska.

Say you have a day to explore the (somewhat) lovely city of Anchorage.  Anchorage is not a particularly pretty city, but it is Alaska's largest.  So if you're in Alaska and, like me, your favorite kind of travel is exploring of urban areas, Anchorage is your best bet.

To start off, you can go to the Saturday market downtown.  I guess this only works if you're there on a Saturday.

You might see a man balancing a fake leg on his face.  While it may be weird, this is what I would consider a pretty impressive skill.

You might also see a dog wearing goggles.  Why is this dog wearing goggles?  The world may never know.

Do you wanna know where you can find some spices?  Head to "Caribou Corridor".

There you'll find a huge variety of spices.  Sadly, none of these are very Alaskan-y.  But I'm sure they'll help you improve your salmon bake.

After you're done perusing the many booths at the market, you've probably gotten pretty hungry.  Head down to Arctic Roadrunner for some huge, tasty burgers.

My father assures me this place is an Anchorage staple.  The burgers are very tasty.

What stands out the most, however, is the uber-kitschy Alaskan decor covering the walls... including this porpoise.

Anchorage Museum
After lunch, head over to the Anchorage Museum, a really cool building which has exhibits pertaining to pretty much everything about Alaska.  There's art, archaeological relics, science experiment, photography, history, etc.

Oh, and giant stuffed grizzly bears.

Also, this creepy ancient rock that looks like a face.

A large portion of the museum is used to showcase the language and culture of Alaska's many, many Native American tribes.

Many creepy masks were involved in the making of this exhibit.

Elsewhere in the museum was some pretty cool, but random sculpture art.

Also, what appeared to be a salmon-shaped suitcase.

After taking in some culture, take in some Alaskan (and non-Alaskan) wildlife at the Alaska Zoo.

The last time I was at the Alaska Zoo, which was about 10 years ago, this polar bear was kept in the same enclosure of a grizzly bear.  I think they had been raised together as cubs and were buddies.  This time the polar bear was solo.  I wonder what happened to his grizzly friend.

The zoo also has the traditional black bear...

Also, randomly, llamas.

By now it should be close to the end of your day.  It's time to go to Gwennie's Old Alaska Restaurant for some traditional Alaskan eating.  Meaning the portions are epicly large.

As mentioned in the previous post, this restaurant used to be a brothel.  It's also full of stuffed animals and other kitschy, Alaskan-y decor.  But the monstrously large pancakes and the reindeer sausage make it well worth a visit.

So, that's Anchorage in a day.  It's a pretty cool place.  In all honesty though, my favorite part of Anchorage is leaving, to go down the uber-scenic Seward Highway.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Few Random Hours in Seattle (and some in Alaska)

Be warned, there's no real reason for this post, except as an excuse to post older photos that I really like.

I've decided that I'm strangely enamored of the Pacific Northwest.  For the purposes of this post, I'll lump Alaska with the Pacific Northwest.  Hopefully that's not offensive.


I can't explain why.  It could have something to do with the fact that I've spend approximately 95% of my life on the east coast and thus heading West still holds some exoticism for me.  You know, exoticism in the form of tall pine trees and rainy weather and an over-dependence on coffee shops.

When I went to go visit my dad last summer, I had a 6.5 hour long layover in Seattle.  It was long enough that my Seattle friend kindly offered to pick me up from the airport and entertain me for a few hours.

These hours entailed going to see some earthworks...

Befriending some ducks...

Running up this hill...

And staring at this huge-ass navy ship.  Or at least I assume it was a navy ship.  There were men in uniform on a huge-ass ship at any rate.

After bopping around for a few hours and staring at the Puget Sound, I had to hop on another plane to Anchorage...

To Alaska...a land where even your local Wal-Mart looks like it could a part of some epic scenery for a Lord of the Rings movie...

... and where your typical trip to the market holds mystery and wonderment...

... and where former brothels become cherished family restaurants.

Maybe I do need to one day pack up and move out west.  At least for the option of having daily moose sightings.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Existential Kitty

I decided a few days ago that I wanted to start a blog about Jazz called "Existential Kitty".


I'll be too lazy to actually start this blog.  But the idea came to me because I often find Jazz laying on the carpet, looking as if she's discovered some horrible truth about the world.


A universal truth that weighs heavy upon her kitty soul.


What deep, existential thoughts is she thinking?  What mystical secrets of life and death is she pondering?


Or is she simply re-enacting her favorite Radiohead music video?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Person's History of a Dismemberment Plan Reunion Show


So, as hip as I sometimes claim to be, I was not entirely familiar with much of the Dismemberment Plan's music before I bought tickets to their reunion show at the 9:30 Club.  The D-Plan were a notable DC indie band who broke up in 2003.  The announcement of a reunion tour incited a lot of hype - their first two scheduled DC shows (one at the Black Cat and one at the 9:30 Club) sold out insanely quickly.  When I found out a third date was added, I snatched up tickets right away.  I only knew a few songs from the band, but figured that it's best to seize on hyped up DC band reunions.


I got very stoked for the show last Sunday.  DCist had been blogging about the impending concerts all week.  I'd been listening to their album Change on my iPod (where it had been sadly sitting, largely un-listened to, since college) to prepare and had gotten Emergency & I.

I think I had weird expectations for this show.  Since these DC reunion shows had been so hyped up on DCist and such places, I thought that this was going to be a Big Deal.  On par with inauguration.  Or the Prince William/Kate Middleton wedding.  I thought every famous DC musician ever would be in attendance.  Like Ted Leo.  Or Henry Rollins.  Or all of Fugazi.  

Sadly, none of the aforementioned people were in attendance, as far as I could tell.  That didn't take away from this being one of the more memorable live music experiences I've had in recent memory.

The crowd was awesome and sang along to every song in an enthusiastic, appreciative way.  Everyone was genuinely stoked to be there.  Especially the band.


Lead singer Travis Morrison danced and flailed around.  Guitarist Jason Caddell took a flying leap at one point.  It was so refreshing to see everyone so thoroughly enjoying themselves.


A fact I didn't know about Dismemberment Plan shows is that the crowd is supposed to rush the stage during "The Ice of Boston".


A gajillionty people joined the band on stage to rock out and dance around.  It was something to see.

Even though going to concerts is one of my favorite hobbies, it's been awhile since one has filled me with the same sort of giddiness and excitement I felt when I first started going to shows back in high school.

Thanks, Dismemberment Plan.  It truly was an awesome night.  You should reunite more often.