Writing + The Salad Lady + Music to Cook By + Amy LaVere + Foodimentary

I might have writer’s block.  Can’t be totally sure yet, but the last few days have produced little.  I’ve stared, almost accusingly, at my keyboard and a partially blank page inviting words to come out and play.  The harder I tried the more things went like this:  I wonder how long that ketchup packet from Burger King has been on my coffee table and, more importantly, where the hell did it come from?  Is that the mailman, ’cause I’m expecting some really good junk mail today with it being the holidays and all.  Wow, the sun hits that prism just right around 3:15 in the afternoon.  How is it that I, a flip-flops and flats girl, can identify Christian Louboutin shoes by their red soles?  Brilliant stuff, right?  Well, maybe the prism reflections are. Right now I’m playing a reward game with myself … eat two pieces of popcorn, type two words.  So far the popcorn is winning … or losing, depending on your perspective … the bowl is dwindling.
While we wait for divine intervention (or the mailman), go listen to my SideDish interview with Suzanne Nelson of Cozi Farm!

I am the salad lady. Not exactly my parent’s career dream for me, but there you have it.  Everyone always asks me to make or bring the salad. Why?  A few years back I stumbled upon THE formula for creating perfect salad every time. At first I was determined to keep the secret to myself so I’d be assured of ongoing dinner party invitations, but in a weak moment I caved in and whispered it conspiratorily to my brother and my sister. So now I’m whispering it to you. Consider it my holiday gift.

Salad Greens – lettuces, arugula, romaine, spring mix, spinach, etc. Pretty much anything except for iceberg, though if that’s all you have then you really should get a subscription to a food magazine.

Fruit or roasted veg – tart apple, pear, orange sections, cranberries, craisins, seedless grapes, mango, cherries, raspberries, beets, Brussels sprouts, etc. 

Nuts or crunchies – almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, sesame sticks

Cheese – bleu cheese, goat, brie, camembert, mozzerella, feta, etc.

Optional:   green onion tips or thinly sliced sweet onion

Dressing:  1 tb mustard (preferably Dijon), 1/2 cup vinegar (white, cider, champagne, white balsamic, fig), salt & pepper.  Whisk together.  Taste. If you like your dressing a little sweeter, sprinkle in a little sugar or add a little honey or maple syrup.  Whisk again.  Add any herbs BEFORE you add the oil.  Drizzle in the oil (olive oil, canola, any mild oil) and whisk until incorporated and the mixture emulsifies (binds and thickens).  KITCHEN TIP:  if you put a damp paper towel under your cutting board and under your mixing bowl neither will dance across your countertop.

Assembly:  Pick one from each category.  Slice the fruit, crumble the nuts/crunchies and cheese and toss with your dressing. Take the bows.

MUSIC TO COOK (or toss a salad) BY:
Brain Salad Surgery (Emerson, Lake & Palmer),  Poke Salad Annie (Tony Joe White),  Ghost of Stephen Foster (The Squirrel Nut Zippers), The Voice of Cheese (Frank Zappa & The Mother’s of Invention), Big Cheese (Nirvana), Blueberry Hill (Fats Domino)___________________________________________

Amy LaVere at The Casbah

Bless Larry’s little music lovin’ heart. Hell, yeah, I want to go hear Amy LaVere at The Casbah in Durham on Tuesday night!  Amy’s been on my wish list for what seems like forever. This is one of those connect-the-dots stories so pay attention … Amy is from Memphis and is on Archer Records which is owned by my old friend Ward Archer who was going to do/be something else in life until he and I tried our hand at recording a jingle or two many long years ago. It was an embarassing attempt that we can laugh about now, but it pointed Ward in a new direction.  Thank God!  

Amy’s ex-boyfriend and drummer is the son of some other old friends from Memphis, Pat Taylor and Susanne Jerome of the 70’s-80’s band, The Breaks. Pat and Susanne were, and still are, two of the most drop-dead gorgeous people to ever draw breath.  They found each other (with a little help from yours truly) and the rest is history.  Still with me here?  

Amy’s new album, Stranger Me, includes a cover of an old Captain Beefheart song Candle Mambo.  Random and obscure, to be sure. But, way back when I worked for the Warner Bros. Artist Development Director, he sent me out to do a few shows around the Southeast with the Captain. We quickly discovered a shared love of art stores, so every town we hit, Don and I would high-tail it to the local art supply store and spend hours admiring and buying rapidographs, colored pencils, brushes, ink, and paper.  Then we’d sit on the bus and sketch.

But I digress …  this is about Amy LaVere, right?

Luminous and enchanting before she even begins to sing, Amy speaks with a lyrical girlish voice that grabs you from the get-go.  And once on stage, you can’t take your eyes off her … how can such a slight little thing manage that huge stand-up bass? Well, she just does.  Bangs on it. Caresses it.  Stares longingly at it. What you are watching is an intimate encounter with a lover … Amy and that bass.  The heartbreaking love songs make you remember every broken heart you ever had when all  you really wanted to do was spend the rest of your life in a corner somewhere curled in a ball weeping.

Simmer2Sizzle rating:  10 stars out of 5 which is why this image is on here twice.   

Check out this NPR interview with Laura Sullivan/All Things Considered.  Then go buy Stranger Me by Amy LaVere. 

FOODIMENTARY:  Today is National Pastry Day!  What to have? What to have?

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