It’s no secret that I’m super into food and cooking, but not too many people know that I’ve got a very deep love for music as well. Cooking gets me thinking, but music… music gets me feeling. I’ve gotten in a rut recently. Not an emotional one, mind you, but a creative one. I’d been making a lot of my favorite dishes over and over again, and playing all my usual playlists ad nauseam. But, I gotta give a monster shout-out to the app Spotify for introducing me to all kinds of songs and artists I’ve never heard—or often even heard of—through its “Radio” and “Discover” features, not to mention the countless recommendations friends have sent to me via a collaborative playlist or through the in-app messaging system. And now, I’ve discovered another really cool tool within Spotify that’s not only gotten me even more excited about finding new music… it’s also gotten me excited about cooking new dishes.
It’s called Geotunes, and its purpose is to help people “locate and listen to songs written about cities, landmarks, events and more using a giant interactive map as your musical playground.” My buddy Tim Herscovitch is actually the one who introduced me to it; he’s been working as the Interactive Content Lead on it and suggested I could use it to put together themed playlists for when I’m cooking a dish from a particular region for friends. After Tim gave me a quick little tour of the Geotunes app within Spotify—all of which is free to use by the way—I felt inspired to start listening to music from some of the countries with my favorite foods. I clicked on India and set it on shuffle for a while and got to dreaming about what I wanted to make.
Sure, I could pop in some Ravi Shankar while whipping up some chana masala, but I like that Geotunes doesn’t just find music from your selected city/region/country, it finds songs that are about your chosen location. Sure, they aren’t all going to be to your liking since it spans all genres, but you’re able to isolate the songs you like on your own playlist and skip those you don’t enjoy. And every so often, you come across a little stylized “g” (the Geotunes icon: ) next to a track, which lets you know there’s some bonus information about it and how it ties into your place of interest.
Now then, about India. I’ve got my Spotify account and I’ve downloaded Geotunes on my desktop… so what food do I want to make now? Here are a few of my favorite Indian recipes that I think would be GREAT to cook alongside the Geotunes India playlist on shuffle:
This recipe is straight out of Anupy Singla’s celebrated cookbook, The Indian Slow Cooker. It uses quite a little list of different spices, but that tends to be the nature of the beast when you’re dealing with Indian cuisine. Seriously, this just screams comfort food to me. Bonus that it’s vegan and gluten-free! (Photo & recipe via The Perfect Pantry)
Sample track I liked from the “Geotunes: India” playlist — “India Pindia”, by Tøyen
My good friend Melissa, the mastermind behind one of my favorite blogs, has been on a roll lately with her delicious ayurvedic-inspired recipes and this latest one of hers looks no different. Chock full of mung dal (split mung beans), beets, beet greens, and basmati rice, I’m getting hungry all over again just looking at her beautiful picture.
This kitchari recipe is vegetarian, but can easily be made vegan by using coconut oil in place of the ghee (clarified butter) that’s called for. Bonus that it’s also gluten-free!
(Photo & recipe via Vegenista)
Sample track I liked from the “Geotunes: India” playlist — “Hunting Tigers Out In India”, by Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
I love Heidi Swanson’s original recipes and her wonderful cookbooks, but I really love when she tweaks other people’s dishes. Here, she transforms chef Suzanne Goin’s potato-tomato gratin simply—by using curry in place of thyme.
Vegans: Feel free to use coconut oil instead of butter and unsweetened coconut milk for the cream. (Photo & recipe via 101 Cookbooks)
Sample track I liked from the “Geotunes: India” playlist — “India Sleeping”, by Mars
I’ll be putting some more of these cooking and music posts up in the coming weeks, since I think it’s kind of a neat idea. Any cuisines in particular you’d like to see? Leave a note in the comments section or hit me on Twitter: @RandyClemensEsq. Hope you’ve gotten inspired too!
For months now, I’ve been talking about going to the farmers market to buy some local, seasonal, organic vegetables and coming up with a spontaneous recipe that utilized my haul. But I’ve been procrastinating big time, and one of my excuses was that the my nearest farmers market didn’t have ANY organic farmers present. So here I am walking to Whole Foods Market instead and I see a poster announcing that the Downtown Glendale Market had just moved to a new location with a whole bunch of organic growers! (Bonus points that Carole Gallegos is the new market manager; I used to love chatting with her and shopping at the Studio City Farmers Market when she was there.) (more…)
Hello and welcome to the softer side of Randy. If, like myself, you find yourself on the hunt for ways to keep your house smelling fresh, you may have purchased carpet refreshers or carpet deodorizers in the past. Simple enough, they’re powders that you sprinkle onto your carpet before vacuuming to absorb odors and leave a nice, pleasant scent behind.
But what exactly is in them? I don’t know. My guess is that it’s some scientist’s cocktail of somewhat natural and obviously artificial ingredients that I don’t want lingering around my abode and getting into my lungs. (If you’ve got pets or small children running around, I’d be doubly concerned.) The good news is that there’s a cheap, easy alternative that was so brilliant, I had to share.
What you need:
- Baking soda
- Organic essential oils
Yes, that’s seriously it. I took one box of baking soda, dumped it out into a mixing bowl, added 30 drops of organic bergamot essential oils, stirred it around to equally distribute it and break up any clumps, then returned it to the box. Now, I’ll sprinkle the mixture over my carpet, let it sit for 15 minutes to absorb any odors, and then run the vacuum to sweep it all up. Fresh scent, no foul chemicals… done and done!
And it’s far less expensive than buying the pre-made stuff! Yes, the essential oils will set you back anywhere from $9 to $12, but a little goes a long way and you’ll have plenty leftover for more boxes of baking soda, to add to your bath, or for a whole lot of other interesting uses. I chose bergamot, which is an excellent deodorizer and one of my favorite scents (bergamot is the added flavoring in Earl Grey tea and it’s used widely in the cologne industry) but you can certainly use whatever essential oil or blend of essential oils you like.
All the kudos for this brilliant idea go to OverthrowMartha.com. There’s also a tutorial there for how to make your own shaker using an old mason jar, some paper, and a hole cutter should you want to get a little fancier than my ghetto “toss it back in the baking soda box” method.
Now that I’ve gotten this domestic bliss and essential oil talk out of the way, I feel like I should go crack a beer or something. Maybe put a monster truck rally on TV…
I love a good salad, but sometimes I want something a little heartier. This is when salads boosted with beans, grains, or rice come to the rescue. They’re cool and refreshing, don’t take much time to put together, and they are indeed filling.
When my fancy friend Colleen mentioned that she was making dinner with white beans, something clicked. I had no idea what I was going to eat, but white beans sounded delicious, so I went straight to my nearby Whole Foods and picked some up along with a few other ingredients that inspired me. (All organic, of course.) Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
White Bean and Kale Salad with Lemon
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 bunch green kale
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 1/2 cups cooked white beans (I used cannellini), or 2 (15-ounce) cans, drained
- 8 plum or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 large shallot, or 1/2 medium red onion, peeled and minced
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh dill, or parsley
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)
Finely mince the zest of 1/2 of your lemon. Prepare the kale by removing and discarding the tough, thick ribs running down the center of each leaf. Coarsely chop the leaves into bite sized pieces. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the kale with the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and a healthy dose of black pepper. Massage and squeeze the kale firmly so that the leaves begin to soften as the fibers break down. Let sit for 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the white beans, tomatoes, shallot, dill, and chia seeds along with the juice of the remaining 1/2 lemon, the reserved lemon zest, and the remaining 2 1/2 tsp olive oil.
After the kale has rested, give it a few more firm squeezes to ensure that it’s nice and soft. Toss with the bean mixture, and season with salt and black pepper, to taste. You can eat this right away, but the flavors improve if allowed to sit for at least an hour. This recipe will keep for up to 5 days if stored in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Have you ever made your own almond milk? I hadn’t until about a year ago, and I knew instantly that I’d never go back to the store-bought stuff in the cartons.
This… this had flavor! It actually tasted like almonds, wasn’t cloyingly sweet, and was far more nutritive than anything you might find dead on a shelf.
For optimum flavor and nourishment, I always use raw almonds that I’ve sprouted myself. It’s a fun little science project in a way, and it really is easy to do.
And a word about those raw almonds before we proceed: make sure they’re truly raw. You see, the fine folks at the USDA (in partnership with the Almond Board of California) saw fit to pass a ridiculous law that required all almonds grown in the United States to undergo pasteurization, even those that are labeled as “raw.” And while “raw” organic almonds have to be steam pasteurized, conventionally grown almonds are often sterilized with propylene oxide, a compound that the USDA’s homies, the EPA, call a “mild [central nervous system] depressant” and a “probable human carcinogen.” There is a small loophole that does allow consumers to still buy truly raw almonds directly from a farmer at a farmers’ market, or by purchasing imported raw almonds. (Do try to find and support local growers, even if our government doesn’t extend the same courtesy with legislation like this.)
Anyway, on to how to make the almond milk.