27 January 2017

A healthy dose of arts advocacy for your travel

Reader alert: what follows is a self-serving post you may or may not like.  You'll live.

this is a skeleton puking a rainbow, and it is awesome

Rumors abound that funding for the arts in our great-again country will be summarily cut, and soon. This may or may not come to pass (it has certainly be threatened before, but reality has also never felt so incomprehensible before), but if it does, the arts may never recover.  It takes so little work to remove something from collective expectations and so much to completely recreate that element of our society, along with the assumption that it deserves to exist.  So if you care at all about music, visual art, dance, writing, theater, and the intersection of any of the above, or if you just appreciate that these things feed other people's souls, and in many cases their families, might I suggest "voting with your feet" and consuming some good old fashioned American culture on your next trip to...anywhere? Don't worry if you haven't attended a play, visited a museum, or seen a band concert since you were a kid; there's more to love now in grown-up world with no follow-up homework assignments, and I'm already proud of you for trying something new. Here are some simple directories to get you started:

Catch a symphony concert in an amazing number of cities and medium-sized towns throughout the US!

come on, doesn't this shit look fun?

Get to know a new town through their artists by visiting an art gallery (psst...you can start your inspiring personal collection on your visit, too!). And good old Wikipedia's got your covered if you're looking for a museum of contemporary art.

You are going to flip out when you see how many professional dance companies exist in America! Like, even in Wheatland, Wyoming!?

Movies are cool and all, but when was the last time you went to a real, live play? Don't think you're into that sort of thing?  Just give it a try in any one of these 40 cities and see how wrong you are.

Directories for arts organizations are not all comprehensive (something we really should be better about), but I encourage you to search for live entertainment and opportunities to view art in every town you visit. And while you're spending all those $20 bills here and there on sassy "protest" shirts to benefit your favorite groups, you can also consider giving (or volunteering, or donating) to some of these hard-working groups struggling to keep the arts and arts education alive in the most positive ways:

Americans for the Arts supports research and programs connecting the arts (art, dance, theater, literature, music, and more) to educational programs designed to help students learn, grow, and develop a positive sense of self. The National Art Education Organization is focused on visual art.

The League of American Orchestras. If this sounds like a group of superheroes, they practically are.  Not only do they fight for what's right to get (and keep) musicians paid, but they sponsor programs to encourage women composers, young conductors, and experimental composers whose works don't fit the Hollywood soundtrack profile.

LitLine has created a list of organizations dedicated to keeping the independent literary community alive.

this is what a poetry reading looks like

Do you appreciate a certain dance company, theater troupe, community music school, etc. in your area? Don't be shy about calling them and asking how you can help them continue to function. Private support may be the only way we stay alive in the coming years.

It's going to be a long 2-4 years of defending what you love in this country, so why not get some good travel out of it?

20 January 2017

Bonus cocktails for your winter cold

I've spent the past few weeks fighting an on-again, off-again cold and bargaining with myself to only drink "healthy" cocktails, because abstaining completely is not bringing me any joy (so, no Drynuary for me, thank you). These current political times call for comfort of any kind, so eat your Jalapeno flavored Kettle Chips, watch your terrible Netflix cue, and make one of these drinks, which each have some healthy components when separated from the alcoholic content.

Salty Bulldog

makes 1 drink

2 oz. gin
1 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. grapefruit juice
dash Angostura bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a glass. Salted rim, extra.

Most Perfect Hot Toddy

makes 1 drink

2 oz. rye whisky
4 oz hot water
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon

Stir all ingredients together in a mug until honey is fully incorporated. Drink.

13 January 2017

I made Thug Kitchen's Tahini Fudge, and it is insane

The Thug Kitchen...collective? family? corporation (ooooo, fightin' words)?...now has several cookbooks out, and I just finally got my hands on 101 (fast recipes). It has several comforting, easy and fast dishes to whip up they are perfectly pleasant, but the one recipe I couldn't stop thinking about was this crazy-sounding tahini fudge.  I mean, I like tahini, and I don't totally like fudge, so maybe I should try it?

It is weird as hell--salty and bitter as well as sweet--but I love it.  It's so complex, and it almost has a burnt sugar taste to it for a split second of each bite. You can read a reprint of the original recipe here, but I made a couple of alterations based on what I had lying around the house. 

Thug Kitchen's Tahini Fudge

1 cup canned coconut milk
1 cup tahini
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons fig jam
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 roasted pepitas

Grease an 8-inch square baking dish.

Place all but the pepitas in the blender and process until smooth. Pour into the baking dish, sprinkle with the pepitas, and freeze for at least 1 hour before cutting and serving. (The original recipe says just to refrigerate, but I couldn't get it to set that way.)

06 January 2017

Oh-So-Satisfying Cauliflower and Olive Penne

What could be simpler than this luxurious, but very easy dish between Christmas and New Year's? Nothing.  Nothing, I say. And for anyone who doesn't love cauliflower, this is the dish for you. 

Cauliflower and Olive Penne

Serves 4

½ pound penne pasta
1 cup mixed olives, pitted and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ small yellow onion, diced
1 small head cauliflower broken into small florets (about 2 cups raw)
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more to taste)
Olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt to taste
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
¼ cup roasted almonds, chopped

Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425⁰F.  In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower and onion with the oregano, red pepper flakes, some salt, and about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until brown bits develop, stirring once, about 15 minutes.  Add the olives and garlic, stir and spread, and roast another 5 minutes until olives and garlic are fragrant.

When the pasta is cooked, drain all but a ½ cup of the cooking water.  Stir in an ounce of Parmesan cheese, the lime juice, and salt to taste. Add the cauliflower mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.  Serve in individual bowls topped with equal portions of the chopped almonds and more grated Parmesan on the side.