Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Soup Songs #10: Last and Final, First and Foremost

As I put together this epic playlist that I've been raving about, I find myself getting incredibly sentimental with every song. They're the sort of songs that hit your soul in that 'good crying' sort of way. When you remember that life is big and long and you actually have control over your own destiny. That you are physically able to hit the road tomorrow even though it might not be the best idea... you can still do it. You can make beautiful things and be courageous amongst strangers and learn a completely different skill that becomes your life's work. You can stay or go, be busy or be quiet, get inside your head or have friends, new and old, inside your kitchen.

I heard someone say recently that 'being in your 20's is about feeling like a failure'. I think this is very true but I also think that you could easily make the same thing true of your 30's through 80's. The thing they don't tell you is that you have a choice in the matter. I made the choice to try having a radio show even though I know nothing about music. I think it turned out pretty alright. Thanks for bearing with me on my road to self-evolution. What's your next project? What book, album, film, project, job, life lesson, conversation, country comes next?

I wanted to end Soups Songs with my favorite soup but in my nervousness of commencing the first show, I already used it. Below is my favorite pie. I've been told that it's the perfect mix of sweet, salty, sour, crunchy, soft.... As we move from whiskey season to rum season, soup season to pie season, all my little life lessons are no less relevant. Keep connecting with friends, creating a world you want to be a part of, maintaining the mix of free time and chaos that you need. I'll keep reminding myself as long as you keep reminding yourself. Your life is yours, so bake a pie and share it with good people as the sun moves us into a proper Spring cleaning. Thanks again for being a part of this experience.

Lattice-Topped Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

[discovered from somewhere on the Internet for my graduation party]

For crust
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter or margarine, cut into pieces
10 tablespoons (about) ice water

For filling
3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds untrimmed)
1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze) *if you are making it vegan, use a bit of soy milk or vegetable oil to glaze the crust, it's just to make it look pretty

Make crust:
Combine flour, sugar and salt in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in shortening and butter or margarine until coarse meal forms. Blend in enough ice water 2 tablespoons at a time to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; cut in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.)

Make filling:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently to blend.

Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter flass pie dish. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang.

Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut into fourteen 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spoon filling into crust. Arrange 7 dough strips atop filling, spacing evenly. Form lattice by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction atop filling. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold strip ends and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.

Brush glaze over crust. transfer pie to baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Soup Songs #9: Begin with Books

Today I went to the library. We have an extraordinary library in Downtown Phx and I don't make it there as often as I would like. I love the library for several reasons: there are a lot of books there, all of them are free and they let anyone read them. There are things about Phx that I find analogous to starting college, both of which are analogous to going to the library. It is the land of opportunity. You walk into the library and suddenly you realize that perhaps you do like black and white movies with patriotic undertones, you think steel work could be your next career move, it's high time to learn about Chinese astrology and yes, it is necessary to reread the Chronicles of Narnia.

The thing that we forget is that you don't need to start college or live in the virtuous blank slate which comprises my small town. You actually don't even need to go to the library, although I do think it's a good place to start. You can do whatever you want and you can do it today. You manifest your busyness so you can clearly manifest the free time to learn how to knit lace and do 100 push-ups in a row. I'm tired of feeling defeated by the hours in my day and I'm tired of hearing about defeated people around me. Make some better choices, learn how to say no and cook some soup with your friends.

I've recently made the choice not to have TV and internet at home. That may seem drastic to some of you but when I come home I do my laundry, watch great movies, write in my journal and cook a proper meal. The thing that's nice about soup is that you can make a lot very easily, thus inviting friends over, having lunch the next day, or freezing it for those times that you don't have the choice of manifesting free time. I like borscht. It's very good for you and I think you should have bright colors in your diet. You can also speak in a Russian accent the entire evening that you make it.

Beet and Cabbage Borscht
[from Bon Appétit Magazine, via www.epicurious.com]

Note: Save the beet greens for a quick side dish: just sauté them with garlic and olive oil, sprinkle with lemon, salt and pepper, and serve.

3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound russet potatoes, peeled, chopped
2 1/2 cups chopped green cabbage (about 1/4 of small head)
1 large onion, chopped
8 cups (or more) canned vegetable broth
6 2-inch-diameter beets, peeled, chopped
1 cup drained canned chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Sour cream [I use fat free plain yogurt to keep my arteries in tact]
Chopped fresh parsley
Lemon wedges

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, cabbage and onion and sauté until cabbage softens, about 5 minutes. Add 8 cups broth, beets and tomatoes. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Working in small batches, puree 4 cups of soup in blender; return to remaining soup in pot. If desired, add more broth by 1/2 cupfuls to thin soup. Add lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top with dollop of sour cream; sprinkle with parsley. Serve, passing lemon wedges separately.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Monday, February 23, 2009

Soup Songs #8: Making Moves

I've always felt that life moves in waves. There are slow moments and fast moments and high highs and low lows. You take ten steps forward, five steps back, 15 steps forward and life continues moving back and forth accordingly. I've decided I am currently riding a good but exhausting wave. I'm going to shed some bad ties, mend some good ones, join the gym and get 8 hours of my week back by ending Soup Songs after the 10th show.

I started this project for several reasons: 1. to face my fear of being on the radio, prove to myself that I could do it, 2. to get back into discovering new music and 3. to introduce myself to a new community in downtown PHX. It turns out that it has not only done these things but has also: 1. allowed me to reconnect with friends in PHX and around the world, 2. think about creating community from a new perspective and 3. discover a different way to engage in art and creativity. I hope it has done some of these things for you too.

Soup season is coming to an end but perhaps Pie and BBQ Songs are in our future. Here is a classic chili recipe that my friend Amy makes for our Bike Coop bake sale every month. I made this the other night for 40 hungry bike kids and although only 25 showed up, not a drop was left. I totally made up the proportions so if it seems like there's a hell of a lot of celery and not enough tomatoes, adjust accordingly.

Hearty Chili for Hungry Bike Kids
[by Miss Amy Stewart]

1 28oz can black beans
1 28oz can kidney beans
3 28oz cans diced tomatoes
2 large potatoes, diced
6 carrots, diced
1 small stalk celery, diced
2 small onions, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers
salt & pepper
chili powder

Sautee onions in oil until they begin to caramelize. Add garlic and cook for only 2-3 minutes until they begin to brown.

Stir in carrots, potatoes, and celery and add water until just above the vegetables. Cover and steam/boil until potatoes have softened.

Add canned tomatoes, beans, and jalapenos and mix thoroughly. Let simmer for 10-20 minutes until mushy chili texture begins to occur.

Add 2 tsp of cumin and chili powder. Continue spicing to taste with more cumin, salt & pepper.

Top with sour cream, cilantro, more jalapenos, hot sauce, and other delicious treats.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Monday, February 16, 2009

Soup Songs #7: Create Your Chaos

I wholeheartedly agree that people create their own busyness. Besides tapping into my new agey cosmic universe opinions, I just simply believe that you can choose what you do and how much you do. That being said, this week I have created my own personal heavenly hell. I'm overbooked. I most certainly do not have enough hours in the week to do all the things that I have agreed to do. I'm still thrilled to be doing these things and thus will not be backing out of any of them. Times like this remind me that I was once in college and if there weren't enough hours in the day, you just sort of stayed up and figured it out.

Even amongst a seemingly impossible schedule, we still managed to eat and hug friends (usually out of necessity) and brew an endless pot of coffee. If you're going to choose to be the busiest person around, don't complain about it, just do it and do it well. And don't forget to eat. If you don't eat you'll just get the jitters from all the coffee and your blood sugar will get low and you won't get anything done anyway. Soup is easy and perhaps you have a calmer friend that wants to make you some this week. I took the time to put on this fancy show for you, try and take the time to eat something.

I pulled this recipe off of one of my favorite websites, The Post Punk Kitchen. I didn't test it because I'm clearly very busy and important but it looks really good. You should make it and freeze some for the next time you don't have time to cook a proper meal.

Ancho Lentil Soup With Grilled Pineapple
[from the Post Punk Kitchen, www.theppk.com]

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 dried ancho chilies, seeds removed and ripped into bite sized pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Seranno pepper, seeded and chopped (add another if you like more heat)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt

2 cups green lentils, washed
7 to 8 cups vegetable broth or veg broth and water mixed

3 tablespoons of lime juice or to taste

Cooking spray
6 to 8 pineapple rings

slices of lime to serve
hot sauce to serve

We're going to make our own ancho chili powder. Preheat a small frying pan over low-medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and ancho chili pieces and toast, stirring often, until fragrant and toasted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer to a spice grinder (I use a clean coffee grinder) or small food processor and grind to a coarse powder. Some bigger pieces of chili are okay. Add the coriander seeds to the cumin and anchos and pulse a few times to crush them, you don't want them ground to a powder, just broken up pretty well.

Preheat a big stock pot over medium heat. Saute the onions in the olive oil until transparent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the serrano and garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spices and stir. Add the bay leaves, salt, lentils and 7 cups of water. Mix well. Bring up the heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling lower heat to low-medium and let simmer for 1/2 an hour, stirring every now and again.

Meanwhile, heat up your grill pan on high heat or preheat a broiler. Spray your grill pan with cooking spray and grill the pineapple slices for 4 minutes on each side, or until grill lines appear. If using a broiler, cook on one side for 3 minutes and the other for about 2, until pineapple begins to brown and slightly carmelize.

Once the lentils are tender, add an extra cup of water/stock if you think it needs thinning. Add the lime juice and stir.

Remove the bay leaf. Use an immersion blender to puree about half the soup. If you don't have an immersion blender, use a potato masher to mash it up a bit, until desired thickness is achieved. Taste for salt.

To serve: ladle into bowls and top with a pineapple ring, a slice of lime and dot with hot sauce.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Monday, February 9, 2009

Soup Songs #6: Knowing the New

One of my dearest friends came to visit me for 48 hours this past weekend on a whirlwind tour from Brooklyn. We hadn't seen each other in nearly two years and yet barely a moment had passed between us. I am fortunate to feel this way with many old friends but it made me realize how unfortunately rare it is to feel that way amongst new friends in my own city. Without forced interaction, with so many of us living alone, people pairing off, it's a bit too easy to hide when times get tough or forget to ask what goes on. People get busy, life moves, relationships are neglected.

I made a decision in 2009 to only invest in people who are willing to invest in me. The problem with that is sometimes people don't know how to engage in your life and perhaps you aren't doing a very good job of engaging in theirs. Maybe you are being too demanding of their time or aren't supporting them in the areas they need you to. New friends don't know you. They have no idea what you're thinking. For me, I just need my friends to want to eat my cookies and listen to my show to know that they care. Cookies may not express love in all areas of the world.

It's recently come to my attention that Valentines week really sucks for a lot of people. Let's be mindful of this and try a little harder to figure out how to tap into these peripheral relationships. Maybe you should invite them over for some soup and good music.

This is a rough estimate of my tomato soup. Add water if you want a thinner soup, add more milk if you want a creamier soup, add more sugar if you want it sweeter... you get the gist. It's red, like love or whatever. It's also just been raining here in Phoenix so Sunday was grilled cheese and tomato soup day at my house. Mmmmm....

Simple Tomato Soup
[learned at Tammie Coe, adapted by Leah]

3 28oz cans of whole tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 - 1 cup milk/soymilk
1 bay leaf
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
2 Tbsp sugar
salt & pepper
olive oil

Place a hearty amount of olive oil at the bottom of a large pot. Bring to a medium heat and proceed to caramelize chopped onion.

When onion is fully cooked, add minced garlic. Sautee garlic until it begins to brown.

Take tomatoes out can and smush between fingers. Break up as much as you can and add tomatoes to onion and garlic. Pour in remaining juice from can and stir thoroughly.

Heat for a few minutes to break down tomatoes. Blend mixture with either an immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender and return to pot.

Add milk/cream/etc and spice to taste. Cook down to desired consistency, adding water or more milk if needed. Remove bay leaf before serving. Best if served with grilled cheese and rain.

Thanks for listening everyone. I think we've finally made it outside my circle of best friends! 17 more or less streams tonight. Movin' on up!

Get a playlist!
Standalone player
Get Ringtones

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Soup Songs #5: Cooking for Community

Well folks, it looks as though I've finally figured out what this show is all about. It only took a month or so but sometimes project take some time to develop their actual purpose... sort of like how some soups are better the next day.

I've been encouraging everyone to create community through cooking together for a bit now. To make connections to the people around you and have an excuse to eat a proper meal. Particularly when it's cold out and no one leaves the house, it's even more important to put forth the extra effort to stay involved in the lives that surround yours.

I'd venture to say that it's easy here in downtown PHX. We invite new people into our circles all the time, show proper hospitality through good food and cheap wine. It's not strange to meet someone on the street, get their number, and invite them over later that day. Unfortunately, it's not like that most places, in fact, it's a lot of work. So here's your excuse to make new friends, get closer to old ones, and encourage them to do the same. This is how great ideas happen. How projects take place. How healing and rediscovery and energy is created, especially when it's easy to feel very alone amongst the chaos. You never know what ideas, adventures, projects, plans and all around goodness will come out of it. Just tell them that you have a friend with a radio show and you've been promising her forever that you would have folks over to cook and listen. I'm sure if you come to PHX we'd be fast friends soon enough.

The soup is a Roasted Eggplant Soup that I made for some friends earlier this week. We may have decided that this would be best as a summer soup but you can keep it thick and pair it with a hearty multigrain bread if you're of a snowier climate. Just like this show, eggplant soups are certainly more flavorful if you let them sit a bit, so make a big batch and send everyone home with leftovers.

Roasted Eggplant Soup

[adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine]

4 medium tomatoes, halved
1.5 large eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 medium red onion, halved
7 large garlic cloves, peeled
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup cream/milk/soy milk/soy creamer/other creamy substance
crumbled goat cheese*
thyme, fresh or dried
salt and pepper
vegetable oil

*sorry vegans, this really makes the soup!

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomatoes, eggplant, onion and garlic on large baking sheet. Brush vegetables with oil. Roast until vegetables are tender and brown in spots, about 45 minutes.

Remove veggies from oven. Scoop eggplant from skin into heavy large saucepan; discard skin. Add remaining roasted vegetables and thyme to same saucepan. Add 6 cups chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook until onion is very tender, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth (non-baby food consistency). Return soup to saucepan. Stir in cream of sorts. Bring to simmer, thinning with more stock and water to desired consistency. Season soup with salt, pepper and more thyme to desired taste.

Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with goat cheese and serve!

Get a playlist!
Standalone player
Get Ringtones

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Soup Songs #4: Right Life Wrong Life

It has finally come my friends, this week is an escape week. There is something in the air making me itch for an adventure. Perhaps it's talking to a friend in Ghana, another who is about to travel cross country, another in going to Panama in a month and realizing that I don't know where Bhutan is. Maybe it is just a reaction to the recent warm front creating much talk of the fearful onslaught of summer. Maybe I am simply bored far too easily.

A friend once told me that the hardest part about ending your travels is that in one very short instance, your life goes from being extraordinary to a bit below ordinary and there isn't anything you can do about it. You come home broke, jobless, dirty and fairly crazy. But what happens next? Is there a way to merge those two lives? How do you create extraordinary things within a comfortable and ordinary life? Sure, you can claim you're living the wrong life but slowly depleting your savings in Cambodia isn't real life. It's more fun, but it's entirely unsustainable. There is value in staying put but as I said, this is an escape week. Where do you want to go next?

The following soup was by request from my old roommate. He loves comfort food and this week I think a lot of us could use some comfort. Let's cook together and dance around and talk about the great adventures to be had.

Potato Leek Soup

[adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine]

3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces*
5 cups canned chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups water
3 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup whipping cream/half & half/soy milk/soy creamer
1/4 cup minced fresh chives or green onion tops
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried, crumbled
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dillweed
hot pepper sauce
salt & pepper

Potential Toppings:
chopped fresh chives
green onion tops
crushed red pepper
sour cream
shredded sharp white cheddar

*try sticking a couple of sweet potatoes in the mix

Bring first 8 ingredients to boil in heavy large pot or over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are very tender and soup thickens slightly, about 1 hour.

Transfer 2 cups of soup to blender and puree or use an immersion blender inside the pot. Return puree to pot if using regular blender.

Season with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce to taste.

Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with desired toppings. Enjoy!

Here's la musica from tonight. We had folks cooking up a storm in Santa Fe, Chicago, Brooklyn, Hanover, Tucson, Tempe, PHX, and likely some other fine locations around the globe...

Get a playlist!
Standalone player
Get Ringtones