January 11, 2012

Blast from the Past Wednesday

What was I doing on June 16th, 2009, you ask?

I was writing this blog post (revived from my old livejournal account). It's about John Cage and Politics!! and I wrote it when I was reading this book: For the Birds.

Anarchy

John Cage doesn't think it's so bad.

Actually, John Cage really likes anarchy. He tries to keep himself from governing his music, and he wants to keep government out of his life. When he first read Thoreau's famous line, "The best government is no government at all," he probably had an orgasm.

It seems like the only people I've met in Real Life that have anything close to anarchist views are Ayn Rand wannabies that think they would thrive in a survival-of-the-fittest environment. I always want to ask these people if they've ever read Lord of the Flies. I mean, sure, it was hilarious in the movie when the cool-but-mean kids dropped a boulder on the nerdy, fat kid with glasses. But that isn't the kind of environment I want to live in.

On the other hand...

Cage throws a new spin on anarchy that's at least interesting to consider, even if it's completely unrealistic in our current society. His whole idea is to develop technology to the point where no one has to work; every person's basic needs are met, and we can all be free to pursue our individual interests. This would obviously be an ideal environment for creative individuals, seeing how it's nearly impossible to make a decent living by doing nothing but performing, composing, or painting. And my dad could have fulfilled his dream of making pottery all day (which he was really quite good at) instead of making envelopes for thirty years. Cage's arguments are much more appealing to me, since it seems that he's almost in favor of a kind of socialist-anarchy (an oxymoron if there ever was one). Unfortunately, at this point it seems like no more than wishful thinking.

In other news, I have once again failed at origami crane-making.

EDIT: I do not fail at origami crane-making. I am a brilliant origami crane-maker.

September 4, 2011

Sunday Morning Limerick

There once was a beverage named Coffee.
Sometimes it's flavored with toffee!
I drink and I drink,
I shrink and I think:
Coffee is better than tea!

September 3, 2011

Farmers' Market Stir-fry

If you are anything like me, your fridge is overflowing with produce, and you are fighting a losing battle with your freezer every time you try to store more leftovers. The last time my carnivorous brother opened my fridge, he just looked at me and shook his head in utter disappointment.

I've always been interested in community-supported agriculture, so when I moved to Vinton I found a local organic farmer, bought a share of produce for the season in June, and have been enjoying a sack full of delicious vegetables every week.

The pros: VEGETABLES!!!!!!!
The cons: Vegetables, I cannot cook you fast enough.

I'm sure it doesn't help that, after I pick up my share, I wander around the farmers' market saying things like, "Ooh, tomatoes," or, "Have I really had enough zucchini to eat this summer?"

So, in an attempt to use up mass quantities of vegetables in one cooking session, I created a delicious stir-fry! I didn't invent it, folks: basically all you do is throw a bunch of veggies into a pan and saute them. This batch turned out to be particularly delicious, though, so I wrote it down, AND took a picture. 2 for 2!!





Farmers' Market Stir-fry
by Nicole Peter!

Servings: I ate it pretty much nonstop for about 4 days.

Ingredients:

  • Peanut oil, or oil of choice
  • 1.5 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 ears sweet corn, shucked and kernels removed from cob
  • 3 medium red tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 big ol' yellow tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 small head cabbage, chopped
  • soy sauce
  • rice vinegar
  • garlic (I think I used a big spoonful of minced garlic because I was tired of chopping at this point)
  • dried (or fresh?) ginger
  • curry powder

1. Heat a bit of oil in a large saucepan (or wok, if you have one and are fancy like that). Add onion, green pepper, and carrots, and saute until your onions are translucent. (If you chopped fresh garlic, add it at the end of this step.)

2. Add corn, tomatoes, and cucumber. Cook until almost done (you don't want to cook the cabbage very long.)

3. Add in a bit of soy sauce and rice vinegar (I didn't measure, but you don't want very much--add by the teaspoon until it tastes good!). Add garlic, ginger, and curry powder to taste. Add in cabbage and cook for another minute or two.

4. Eat!!!! :)

June 9, 2011

Homer: Keepin' it Real

Also known as: The Odyssey seriously gets graphic!

I've been steadily making my way through Homer's Odyssey. If, for some reason, anyone else feels like reading Homer ("You're reading that for fun?!?!?" mocked my librarian), here is a sneak preview that may keep you reading through the many, many pages in which Odysseus's son Telemachus complains about how 100 or so men are trying to woo his mother. Or, it may send you screaming in the opposite direction.

In this excerpt, Odysseus shares his delightful memories about the time he was almost a Cyclops's dinner:

"...[the Cyclops] leapt to his feet, lunged with his hands among my fellows, snatched up two of them like whelps and rapped their heads against the ground. The brains burst out from their skulls and were spattered over the cave's floor, while he broke them up, limb from limb, and supped off them to the last shred, eating ravenously like a mountain lion, everything--bowels and flesh and bones, even to the marrow in the bones. We wept and raised our hands to Zeus in horror at this crime committed before our eyes: yet there was nothing we could do. Wherefore the Cyclops, unhindered, filled his great gut with the human flesh, and washed it down with raw milk."

May 10, 2011

Tasty Things I have been eating lately, OR How I overcame my secret fear of the Avocado

I have been on an excellent cooking streak these past few days. To celebrate finding my camera battery and charger (which I haven't been able to find since I moved in December), I have taken pictures of things that will make you want to cook, too!

First up (actually most of this post) is a shout-out to Ohsheglows

Saturday lunch (and dinner): Cilantro lime spelt berry salad


I used EVERY LAST WHEAT BERRY I had to make this recipe, and I need to get more pronto. They are so chewy and fiber-licious. 

Sunday breakfast: Chocolate-banana green monster:


So addicting. For lunch on Sunday was (you guessed it) more wheatberries!!


Tonight I thought I would take a step out of my comfort zone. My few encounters with avocado have been pretty sketchy--I think my younger brother [attempted to] make homemade guacamole for Spanish class in high school once, and ever since that experience I've avoided avocado like the plague (No offense Joshy). It's just so GREEN and creepy looking.

Then I realized that I blend spinach into fruit smoothies, and I'll eat just about any other produce item out there. (Except beets. To beets: I will let you hide in smoothies and juices for now, but I better not see you in my kitchen otherwise. Our showdown is not happening soon, but if/when it does, I promise it will be epic.)

Enter the 15-minute Creamy Avocado Pasta. This actually turned out to be a bit of a flop--great flavors, but I really need a food processor that cost more than $5. On the upside, though, I didn't sense any of that "Nasty Green Stuff" flavor I was dreading from the avocado. Fear conquered! I'm going to try some more avocado recipes soon. As a reward, I made myself dessert!

Banana soft-serve:


She's not kidding when she says this will change your life. I added a handful of strawberries, and some dark chocolate almond milk to help out my blender (I had a feeling the $5 food processor wasn't going to cut it.) Dark chocolate strawberry banana softserve! It was so tasty. I made enough for two servings, and staring at this picture is making it very difficult not to run to the freezer right now and devour the other half.

Also, ramekins are super handy! You can bake little single-servings of things in them, and they are also the perfect size for many things, including dessert!

April 10, 2011

Hadyn

"...the neglect of Haydn's sonatas has something to do with the interpretive ethos of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As an indirect outcome of the intellectual advancement in the comprehension of music, as well as of the increased discipline of observing all details in a score--a training necessitated by the growing demands of orchestral and other ensemble music--pianists since Schumann's time have performed Haydn literally. But they have ignored the fact that more than any other composer of his time Haydn relied on the creative collaboration of performer and composer; that is the only way to achieve the emotional directness and variety of character through which Haydn's music comes to life." --from Konrad Wolff's Masters of the Keyboard

Konrad might say some pretty outlandish things, but this isn't one of them. I would say he's actually being pretty polite in his criticism of academia. Intellectual advancement in music has placed an inordinate amount of importance on musical theory and the minute analysis of scores. Such understanding is certainly helpful, but it fails to teach how to give a passionate performance, or how to compose a beautiful piece of music. The score is simply a translation of what a composer hears; a musician's job is to translate the translation back into music. Some things are bound to get lost in translation, because even with the increasing emphasis on carefully notating every aspect of the score, no two performances of the same piece are going to sound alike.

So why the heck are we still trying, people!! The relationship between composer and performer is a creative collaboration, and should be treated that way. That doesn't mean performers get to throw out the score completely, but composer that I know certainly appreciate it when musicians take the time and effort to learn more than just notes and dynamics. I'm sure the dead ones would just be psyched to know that people have still heard of their music. Music has all kinds of subtle nuances and emotions that don't make the cut when composers start notating.

And sure, I still get excited when I find some good old invertible counterpoint in a score, or a smartly placed augmented sixth chord. I just find those things to be less important than the sounds that are created, and the images and emotions evoked by a good performance.

Of course, Konrad shoots himself in the foot a couple of pages later when he rambles on in the same academic jargon that he claims played an integral part in the neglect of Haydn's music. Oh well.

Isn't having a piano cool?