Monday, 13 June 2011

Dismantling Hippy Stereotypes - This is GOLD

I am in love. That's right. Love. But not the kind you feel for your partner or other special folk in your life. This love is something else - it's my love for the Vegan Metal Chef.

Not that I love metal music per se. But I love that it is the extreme opposite of the mung bean eating, rainbow shrouded, dread-locked hippy cliche. And although I love a good pad thai, I rarely eat them on account of my allergy to eggs.

I discovered it just the other day, and every time I watch this clip, I cry laughing. Honestly, it's hilarious! This little doozy has already given me so much humour mileage.

SO - get out your Machine Head albums, get in the kitchen, and crank up the volume!


Friday, 10 June 2011

Idea for Excess Juice Pulp # 1 Carrot Hummus

I'm an avid juicer, and like me, those of you who juice everyday will almost always end up with more pulp than you do juice.  It’s just a part of the juicing package.  Juicing can be expensive, especially if you don’t grow your own produce, and so in light of the rising cost of food, and my very tight student budget, I’ve been trying to get creative with re-using my juice pulp.

I have a few ideas for re-working juice pulp into something fabulous other than compost, but this morning's recycled pulp was given a new lease of life in the form of a hummus - Carrot Hummus. Yum!

Suffice to say, if you are juicing mixed vegetable and fruit juices, you will need to plan ahead and separate your pulp if you intend on using the pulp of only one particular item.  It’s kind of annoying, but it’s worth it.

This is one of the easiest dips to make - in fact, most dips are easy.  It’s pretty much a variation of hummus, with carrot pulp thrown in.  Not only does it save your juice pulp going to waste, but it also gives the hummus a lovely orange colour, and a delicious sweet flavour. 

You could use whatever hummus recipe you like, but mine goes a little something like this….

1 Tin or 400gms Cooked Chickpeas
3 Garlic Cloves
1tsp Cumin
1tsp Cayenne Pepper
1Tbs Tahini
Juice of a Large Lemon
Filtered Water or Olive Oil (enough to make a creamy consistency)
Pulp of Two Carrots
Himalayan or Celtic Salt
Cracked Pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and enjoy!

*All of the measurements are approximate – tweak yours till you are happy with the flavour!

What do you do with your left over pulp?  Would love to hear!!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

What's The Deal With The 'Recently Played' Playlist On The iPod?

Something very interesting occurred to me just last week.  After claiming to be a music nazi to some relatively new friends over the weekend, I was charged with the task of assuming the DJ roll which ordinarily, I’d insist upon, or somehow wrangle my way in and take charge anyway, however this time, given the differences in our ages and backgrounds, and eager to impress, I asked the question; ‘what kind of a mood are you in?’. 

Expecting the standard reply of something along the lines of pop, twang, 80s, rock, et cetera, I have to admit that I was a little caught off guard when they took my iPod from me, and unanimously decided to adjust the settings to shuffle, and hit play on the Recently Played playlist. 

Not that that bothered me at all, as it could only affirm my cracking taste in tunes, however it was risky.  I was concerned that at any moment, The Carpenters, or one of the many guided meditations I had been listening to, would start playing, leaving me red faced and picking up the pieces of my broken street cred, whilst listening to some soporific articulation on being true to oneself, and my divine life purpose!  Oh, the irony!

Fortunately, this didn’t happen, however what did happen struck me as rather unusual.  I’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s on my high rotation list in any given month– mainly because I suffer from mild bouts of iPod fatigue from time to time, yet still make the same selections as the day before.  I can honestly say that from day to day, week to week and even month to month, I know exactly what’s been played on my iPod.  Or so I thought. 

I love my iPod.  I do.  Possibly a little too much.  I absolutely cannot be without it.  I currently live in a regional part of Australia, and outside of the major cities, it’s a case of mission impossible to hear decent tunes, or any sort of radio show on the local airwaves.  Suffice to say, my little black iPod has played a crucial, and very significant part in the preservation of my sanity during this time. 

Music brings me joy, and at some point of every day, on several occasions, I scroll through the various playlists, podcasts, artists or albums, make a selection and let the music fulfill it’s purpose.  However on this particular occasion, what followed was a succession of songs from the so-called Recently Played playlist, which I’m certain, I had never played, let alone realised were actually on there in the first place!  How could this be? 

On closer inspection, not only did the Recently Played playlist reveal a number of songs that I had not listened to in months, if at all, but it didn’t display most of the songs I had recently listened to, including the guided meditations!  In fact, if a stranger were to scroll through it, according to my iPod, not only would I appear to be Lee Hazlewood’s number one fan, but it would appear that I’d never listened to Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky or My Morning Jacket's Evil Urges, despite the fact that they, amongst many others, are on high rotation, and have been for years!  And where was Mazzy Star’s So Tonight That I Might See? – I revisited that album just last week.  Surely that’s recent enough?

And what about the Top 25 Most Recently Played playlist?  Imagine my surprise when the songs featured on this particular list were just as out of whack, and featured Blinking Lights (For Me), a song by the Eels, a band I’ve never really been able to get into, and a song that as far as I’m aware, I’ve never heard before in my life!  Of course I played the track to make sure I wasn’t going completely bonkers, and just as I’d suspected – no recognition.  None.  What are the Eels doing in my Top 25 Most Recently Played List?!?  And more to the point, how did it come to be on my iPod in the first place?!?

This got me thinking about an article I read in 2006 about the randomness of the shuffle function.  Suspicions were raised when according to the author of the article, despite the thousands of songs on his iPod, when the random function was selected, the iPod undeniably favoured Steely Dan over all of the other thousands of choices!  Could this mean that the programmers at Apple are big Steely Dan fans, and the shuffle function isn’t so random afterall? 

And what is going on with my Recently Played and Top 25 Most Recently Played playlist!?  It’s almost as if the iPod has a life of its own!  A strange one, too I might add, but hey, I’ve always maintained that you can’t argue taste – even if it is with a machine!  Sigh… I’m sure there must be a perfectly rational explanation for this, but until then, it just simply doesn’t make sense. 

I’ll be honest; I’m not at all techno-savvy whatsoever, so if anyone else has the answer, please can ya let me know?  It could spare us all from a potentially similar awkward moment at our next soiree!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Week That Was....

Birthday Coffee Love

What can I say?  It's been a great week!  It's study week. No lectures.  No tutorials. AND I had a birthday - perfect timing you might say!  

The week started with an 'appointment' with a good friend, who had scheduled me in as one of her patients, in order for us to meet at 9.30am for a coffee.  This was followed by an evening of hi-jinx and hilarity; dinner with friends, which ultimately.ended in my birthday cake being cut with a pair of scissors.  That's right. Scissors. Funny stuff.   

I also managed to squeeze in two films during the week, an Indian film, Peepli Live, which made me yearn for India, and was featured in the Sydney Travelling Film Festival, which had very conveniently travelled up to Byron Bay's Dendy cinema, and also Alejandro Gonzalez's Buitiful.  Two completely different, but fantastic films, each dealing with very real and disturbing subject matter. If you're planning to see the latter, I'd recommend having a copy of Austin Powers or Zoolander on hand for when the credits roll.  Trust me.

...but onto more pressing matters, I have exams next week, one of which I have to learn the entire unit because I failed to attend lectures beyond week four on account of the fact that it was possibly much more interesting for me to stay home and watch my wheatgrass grow - not a word of a lie... I even captured it on camera - see below.

And so, like any other normal person, rather than focus on the impending exams, I thought I would put together a list of the things that I have discovered, and things I couldn't be without this week.

Here goes...

10. Coconut Oil

I’m not sure if it’s due to the change in the weather, my diet or any other environmental factors, but my skin has been drier than usual recently, so I have been moisturizing with coconut oil – No chemicals, no fragrances, just 100% cold pressed coconut oil – the kind that I usually reserve for cooking.  It has a myriad of uses, and after living in India for 6 months, I discovered the reason why the women there have such thick, healthy, shiny hair. 

It's all about the Indian head massage and coconut oil.  Pure bliss.

9. KEXP live streaming

Ordinarily, living in a regional area can mean that you have limited access to many things that folk in the city may take for granted.  One of those things is quality, independent, public radio. 

Fortunately, we’re not completely deprived and off the radar; we do get ABC’s Radio National and Triple J, but sometimes ya just need something not so high brow, and not so high school, but something a little more urban, something with a bit more of an edge.  Suffice to say, I could not possibly have made it through this week without the internet, or specifically, without Seattle’s  I have championed this station for quite sometime now, and it continues to deliver. 

Other close contenders are Melbourne’s RRR and PBS, but it’s the Seattle sound that I always come back to.  And thank god, because I also discovered a great band called Slow Skate.  If you’re into low-fi musical noir, mellow guitars and vocals reminiscent of Mazzy Star crossed with the Cowboy Junkies, all with a vintage feel – you should definitely check them out!

8. My Ipod

Despite the fact that I have been living with ipod fatigue now for over 12 months, I still could never be without it.  As much as I love the radio, you can’t stream the internet in your car, and living in the country requires several playlists to make those long commutes to the ocean and back all the more bearable. 

I also received a new album this week which I have already added to my itunes library, and should also help alleviate some of the symptoms of fatigue.  Caro Emerald’s Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor.  She’s a Dutch jazz singer, and apparently this album beat Michael Jackson’s Thriller for the longest time spent at number one in the Dutch Top 100 – 29 Weeks!  Go Caro!

Just need to save some pennies and get Slow Skate on there too!

7. Trainers

Evidence of all those hearty, stodgy winter meals is beginning to show.  Need to jog further and faster than ever before at the moment! 


At least it is keeping me fit!

6. Notebook

Just like Hemmingway, I always carry my Moleskine around with me! 

With a memory like mine, I am constantly referring to things I have written down, and writing down ideas and things that I need to remember.

5. Ginko Biloba

With looming exams, and again, with a memory like mine, I am popping 3 of these babies a day in order to improve my memory. 

The literature in the packet assures me that my concentration will improve, which it has, and that my memory will sharpen – Not sure about that, but I guess the evidence will be in my exam results.

4. Big Love (Season Four)

I have been waiting with bated breath for the release of this DVD for over a year now.  The video store down the road, for some reason has on a 3 day loan – that’s some 9 episodes to be viewed within 3 days! 

So far, I’ve watched the first 3 episodes – I can’t bring myself to rush this one, as I know that when it’s over, I’m to have at least another year to wait for the fifth series.  Damn, it’s good though.

3. Chia Seeds

I have rediscovered my love for chia seeds this week. 

In my efforts to shed those extra kgs from hearty, stodgy food and my current inert lifestyle – sedentary at the laptop, I have started back on these babies for breakfast and in smoothies. 

My wheatgrass

2. Juicer

I could never be without my juicer.  Some people start their day with a coffee, I start mine with a juice, usually green from the garden produce and my lovely little trays of wheatgrass.

1. Swimming with the Fish

Beautiful Wategos
I love the fact that this week, I have started four days with a jog in the morning sun, along the sparkling sand, followed by a swim with the fish, in the crystal, clear, blue ocean.  It’s the end of May, the water’s chilly, but it is still so beautiful and clear and such a nice reminder that when you are in the ocean, and in nature generally – nothing else really seems to matter J 

What got you through this week?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

More Amusing Graffiti

I spied this little gem some time ago, on the back of a toilet door in the university library... as you would expect.  I think this one is absolutely hysterical, and pretty much sums up my position on being multi-dimensional infinity too - I don't really need to say anymore.   Oh, and I promise that's not my response, although I kinda wish it was! Too funny. Enough said.

How to Make a Record - Thanks KEXP!

I love KEXP.  I do.  It is my favourite radio station ever!  If I lived in Seattle, I would permanently have my radio on the dial... but alas, I don't. I live in Australia, but fortunately we have the internet which means I can stream it live into my life at any time of the day. 

It makes me happy. 

I found a great blog post yesterday, about making vinyl records- I know how I get into the groove, but how do you get the music into the grooves?

I loved this article.  It cleared up a lot of grey areas for me - Rock on!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Food and Music in a Paradise City

Forgetting that I was a poor, unemployed student earlier in the year, I found myself browsing late at night, only to come across a couple of books which inevitably saw me punching in the digits of my Visa card.  This time however, it wasn't to indulge my great love of music.  This time it was to indulge my other great loves - books, food and health.  What can I say?  Everyone loves music, reading about and eating food.

The first book was 'Crazy Sexy Diet' by Kris Carr, whose release I had been waiting with anticipation for sometime, and the second was 'Appetite for Reduction' by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a little gem that I'd not yet heard of, and now can't stop raving about! 

I'm not ashamed to say, I completely judged this book by its cover.  My love for music and food, together at last, even though the title and cover is a Guns n Roses parody.  I realise that vegan food may not be perceived to be very rock n roll, and you're quite right, I can't actually visualise Axl Rose chowing down on a quinoa pilaf, however as they say, you should always trust your gut, and my gut was telling me that not only was I hungry, but that this book had great potential. 

Turns out I was right.  This rock n roll sounding recipe book is my favorite, and FULL of delicious vegan recipes, one of which I loosely based a delicious cannelloni on a couple of nights ago.  The cannelloni tubes are filled with a roasted cauliflower and tofu 'ricotta', as well pumpkin mash with a dash of nutmeg.  

It's delicious, and perfect for these wintery nights!

I can't remember the exact proportions I used but it went along the lines of the following:

1 box wholemeal lasagna sheets or cannelloni tubes
1 half cauliflower head, chopped into small florets
250gm firm tofu
2 hefty tablespoons of nutritional yeast
juice of a lemon
small bowl mashed pumpkin
himalayan salt  
tin chopped tomatoes

To make the 'ricotta', you need to spread the cauliflower florets out on a baking tray, drizzle a bit of oil on them and season with salt.  Bake for about 20 minutes on 220C.  

Meanwhile, juice the lemon and break the tofu up into crumbly pieces. When the cauliflower is ready - lightly browned, soft but firm - process together with the tofu, lemon juice, nutritional yeast in a food processor, to a ricotta like consistency.  Season with salt to taste. 

If you are using lasagna sheets instead of shells, boil till they are soft enough to stuff with filling and roll into tubes. Season the bowl of mashed pumpkin with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg, and commence stuffing your cannelloni tubes, or rolling your pasta sheets.

Lay the tubes out in an oven proof dish, and top with your favorite tomato sauce.  Mine consisted of a tin of tomatoes, simmered with a couple of cloves of garlic, a chopped brown onion and a handful each of basil and parsley from the garden.  

Bake the cannelloni at 220C for around a half hour or forty minutes - or until they feel soft enough, and hot enough to eat.  

Locate and dust off your copy, or your brother's copy of 'Appetite for Destruction', because we all know that there's one lying around somewhere in the house, set the needle to 'Paradise City' and chow down baby.