Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm Listening To: The Commonwealth

Two music posts in a row? I hope you don't mind!

image from:

I went to high school with a very talented musician/artist, Andy Kuhar. His band, The Commonwealth, recently released a new album, Emerald City Blues, and I've been listening to it over the past week. They have been getting some radio-play in the Cleveland area and have been playing gigs there as well for some time now. Their sound has been compared to rock acts such as The National, Radiohead, the Black Keys, and Iron and Wine, but I think they also possess a very original sound. Their sound is reverb-heavy, including the vocals, which provides a sort of flowing, haunting, earthy aura. They also sound very gritty and raw, much like the Black Keys, which is refreshing as so much music these days comes across as over-processed and over-perfected. I have yet to see them live, as I live in Kentucky, but I hope to match up a Cleveland visit with a live show of theirs in the future. In the meantime, I'll keep listening! Here is a link to their music, which is the featured streaming album on right now. Here is their facebook page, and here is their bandcamp page (you can buy their music from bandcamp). I hope you check them out, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I'm Listening To: Emeli Sandé

Many people thought that NBC's coverage of the Thirtieth Olympiad was not the greatest. In fact, many people were unhappy enough to tweet about it. It all started during the opening ceremonies when NBC aired a taped interview of Michael Phelps in the middle of the program. The problem was not the interview itself, but the fact that NBC aired this interview in place of a particularly moving artistic number that paid tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks that occurred in 2005 in London. One can debate why they did this, however it does not change the fact that NBC's audience missed out on a truly moving international moment. It is very hard to find a video of the performance, as the Olympics are strictly copyright protected, but here is a story about what happened.

Aside from the US audience missing this tribute, they also missed out on the international debut of Emeli Sandé. She is the Scottish vocalist that performed "Abide With Me" as part of that tribute. She has been an active artist in the UK for several years now, but I think that her performance at the Olympics has really introduced her to listeners around the globe. Her soulful, strong, and moving voice is truly not one to miss. I thought that I would share her with you, as I just discovered her myself.

Emeli Sandé performing "My Kind of Love"

Emeli Sandé performing"Next to Me"

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Hello again! Twice in as many weeks? I know, you probably didn't believe me when I said I was going to write weekly, but I am!


I've been trying to convince myself to get into a regular exercise routine for about four years now, and today I started my most serious attempt to date. Today was day one for me using the Couch-to-5K running plan! The way that the program works is that it focuses on gradually increasing the amount you are running each day that you run so that by the end of the eight week program, you can run for five kilometers! You have to run three days a week with a rest day between each run day. Each run is approximately 30 minutes in length with a warm up and a cool down.

My first run today was mostly walking. It mainly alternated 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking over a half hour. In this way, your heart rate stays elevated for the entire half hour work out, which is the goal of cardiovascular exercise. By the end of the program, there will be no walking at all. I am excited to get back in shape, but also terrified: I have never been good at sticking with an exercise routine and I absolutely HATE running. I am doing this, however, because I want to be in good enough shape so that I can ride my bike to work a couple of times a week without collapsing from exhaustion. So, wish me luck and periodically ask me how I am doing with my running (to guilt me in to sticking with the program). 

iPod motivational random surprise song of the run:
Sonique - World of Change

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I'm BACK... with a new recipe for summer garden Tostadas!

I'm going to try to turn over a new leaf... I plan to write a bit more frequently now, at least once a week! More than four months since my last post is a bit too long... *gulp

My first new post in a million years is a new recipe for you to try at home. It's fairly simple to put together and is also quite nutritious (and delicious) as it utilizes many fresh ingredients that happen to be in season in my neck of the woods right now. I cook a lot of Mexican/Tex-Mex this time of the year for these reasons. I came up with this recipe using two sources:
(three if you count my creative brain)
1) this recipe from (my new favorite website)
2) the August 2012 issue of Cooking Light magazine (p.74)

NOTE: I decided to toast the tostadas instead of fry them so as to save my cardiovascular system a little stress and also to save time in cleaning up the kitchen.

Summer Garden Tostadas with Cilantro Dressing!

First off, the ingredients list:

For the Cilantro Dressing:
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup Greek yogurt
a pinch of salt to taste (just a tiny bit)
juice of 1/2 lime
zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

For the Tostadas:
1 can of black beans (can use 2 cups prepared dry black beans instead)
2 ears of shucked corn (can substitute 2 cups frozen or canned, but it just won't be the same)   :(
1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes halved (quartered if larger)
1/2 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons of butter/bacon grease
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup of water
extra fresh cilantro
~6 tortillas (6 inch size)

Secondly, the instructions:

First, prepare the shucked corn by slicing off the kernels with a sharp knife and setting them aside. The kernels tend to fly all over the kitchen when you are slicing, so I recommend doing this over a bowl. I learned this the hard way, and ended up spending ten minutes hunting down the escapees across the kitchen floor. Second, prepare the dressing by combining all of the ingredients except the oil and salt in a food processor until mixed (the cilantro shouldn't be liquified, just chopped). Add the oil a little at a time while processing and then finish by adding the salt to taste. The consistency should be similar to tzatziki: kind of lumpy (even though it is not a very 'yummy' word). Preheat the oven to a low heat (~250 degrees F/ ~120 degrees C).

Next, melt the butter/bacon grease in a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat. When it has fully melted, add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the cumin, chili powder, and lime juice and stir to combine. After a minute, you have to decide whether you want to have the corn warm mixed with the beans or to have them raw sprinkled on top of the tostadas: YOU GET TO CHOOSE! Either way is fine, but they will be more crisp raw. If you choose to add them to the beans, add them to the onions now. Then, stir the beans and water into the onions and cook uncovered until the water is gone, mashing them a little with the back of a spoon or spatula (5-10 minutes). Remove from the heat.

Warm the tortillas in the oven on a baking sheet for 2-3 minutes per side, flipping halfway through (longer if you would prefer them more toasted). Finally, triumphantly top the twice-toasted tortillas with the bean mixture, corn, tomatoes, cilantro and the cilantro dressing. You can also add crumbled queso fresco or shredded monterey jack cheese if you'd like, and if you are feeling AWESOME you can add a fried egg on top to seal the deal. Now you can EAT THE FOOD!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! It is something that is easy to whip up on a weeknight and lends itself to innumerable variations. If you don't like cilantro, substitute any type of salsa for the dressing. If you are not a bean-and-corn person, try guacamole with fire-roasted peppers instead! There are so many possibilities: that is why I really enjoy cooking!