February 24, 2010

I'll have a glass of Punch (Brothers), please

First go here.

Now here.

Finally, go here. (My personal favorite.)

I had the great pleasure of witnessing a quintet of awesomeness last night. To say I walked out of the theater inspired is an understatement. I saw Punch Brothers last night at the beautiful Rivercenter. Punch Brothers is a "newgrass" group made up of Chris Eldridge on the guitar, Paul Kowert on the bass, Noam Pikelny (who the band kept calling "Pickles") on the banjo, Chris Thile (former lead singer and mandolin player for Nickle Creek) on the mandolin, and Gabe Witcher on the fiddle.

It was the most simple and pure performance I have ever sat through. Nothing but 5 guys, standing on a stage, with their instruments, 5 microphones, producing what I would consider to be the most beautiful music I have ever heard. I had a great view from the middle of the third row; but honestly, I could've listened to them while sitting in a dumpster of hot garbage and been totally happy. Seriously, they're that good.

They had a great stage presence between songs and oh, the songs themselves - lyrics that were so, well, lyrical. Some songs sounded folkish and ballad-y; some even poppish; while some were steeped in some good ole' traditional bluegrass. They played a ton of new, unreleased songs for us that were just, just, just phenomenal! Their new album will come out in May. If you're ready to put something new on your ipod, this is what you're looking for.

I stuck around and got to meet the guys. Very down to earth. (Pickles and the bass player didn't get in the picture.) From top right: Gabe Witcher (fiddle), Chris Eldridge (guitar), Chris Thile (mandolin and singer), Jeannie the BFF, and yours truly.

Anyway, they're definitely worth a listen. Check out their homepage where you can listen to some of their music. The music player on their site will play The Blind Leaving the Blind - a movement in four parts that Chris Thile solely composed and rumored to be based on his divorce from his wife in 2004.

They're going to be at Bonnaroo this year...you bring the tent, I'll bring the rye whiskey. See you in Tennessee.
Oh, and for your viewing pleasure, here are a few more links that feature Punch Brothers - some with their instruments along with one literal punch in the face and a DANCE OFF! Enjoy.
Colleen Malone
Brakeman's Blues - Perfect, PERFECT! traditional bluegrass
Dance Off

(And yes, this is what I did today.)

February 23, 2010

PeyPey, the Chronicler

I know, I know. It's been awhile since I've written. For that I apologize my friends. I blame the following things:

1. The beiginess (sound it out; I know it's not a real word) of my cubicle (it's soooo uninspiring)
2. The weather. Because everything can be blamed on the weather.
3. The fact that I am actually doing REAL work now that it's tax season
4. My sarcasm has decided to take a break, as I've been trying to be extra sweet lately (only in order to get things that I want)
5. And finally and most importantly, my writing time and abilities have gone into paying gigs. That's right, I'm freelancing. Watch out world - PeyPey's words are going to print! My first freelance article will be in the March issue of Valley Parent magazine, a sister publication of Columbus & The Valley. Please pick up a copy and read my article! Please?!? Pretty please?!?

So that's that.

I'll leave you with this, though, to brighten your day...

Billy Bob was whistling "Ohhhh here she comes. Watch out boys, she'll chew you up. Ohhh here she comes. She's a maneater!"

I'm a bit worried.

February 15, 2010

Be My Valentine

Since I've been with Mark, I've had some pretty great Valentine's Days. I always get beautiful flowers and delicious dinner. Two years ago, he gave me diamond earrings; and he knows me well enough to know that the gift of a stuffed animal would make me vomit. So yeah, I'd say, since 2006, I've had great Valentine's Days.

This year, though, February 14 just kind of sneaked up on us. I wanted to do something but I didn't want him to have to blow a ton of money (because I want a ring) and I didn't want to have to get all dolled up, you know? So around 4:00 p.m., we still didn't have plans. I had gotten him a gift (a circular saw. Yeah, I'm pretty much the best girlfriend ever.) and I wanted to do something a little special to give it to him, so I suggested I make dinner at my house and we watch a movie.

So, at 4:30 p.m., I went to the grocery store, knowing not what I was going cook. I ended up with a pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, fennel, parsnips, a red onion, a garlic bulb, almonds, a lemon, an orange, and a bottle of wine. I got home at 5:30, cleaned up my house, whipped up a roasted vegetable souffle, a honey rubbed pork tenderloin and lemony green beans, set the table, made a cute heart-shaped sign for the front door (it read, "Welcome to the LOVE Cafe. Chef PeyPey on Duty Tonight), made myself pretty and had a mouth-watering dinner on the table when Mark walked in the door at 7:30. (I'm getting closer and closer to confirming my suspicions that I may indeed have super powers.) Mark showed up with a delightful bouquet of roses along with some chocolates, we ate dinner and watched Time Travelers Wife. It was a cozy Valentine's Day spent with Marquez and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I wanted to share my recipes with you all (more to impress you, not because I know you're dying to make a pork tenderloin, ok? Ok.) So here we go...

Roasted Vegetable Souffle For Two
*First off, let me say this: If you don't have a mandolin, go get one. I found mine at TJMaxx for $6. It will revolutionize the way you cut vegetables.
1 Sweet Potato
3 Parsnips (they look like carrots but are white)
1 Fennel Bulb (don't use the stalks, only the bulb. Save the stalks to lay on the plate under your tenderloin.)
1 Red Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
1/4 cup Catalina Dressing
1/4 cup Cranberry Juice
1/8 cup Pancake Syrup
Pinch of salt
(I know, I know. It sounds weird, but just go with it, ok? I promise it'll be a flavor explosion in your mouth.)

Preheat oven to 400. Using your mandolin (don't make this if you don't have one), thinly slice the first five ingredients into a mixing bowl, toss using tongs and put into a glass baking dish. Next, using a whisk, mix the last three ingredients and pour over the vegetables. Bake for about an hour.  (I used my tongs and mixed it up about halfway through so that the vegetables on top didn't burn.) Get ready for deliciousness.

Honey Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
1-1 1/2 lb. Pork Tenderloin
1/4 cup Catalina Dressing
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Dry Mustard Powder
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves (holding a sprig of Thyme at one end, pull the leaves downward. You don't want the stalks in there.)
Pinch of Salt
1 Tbsp honey

Heat the oven to 425. Spray a glass roasting pan with nonstick spray (I failed to do this and now have a two-day old, soaking, glass roasting pan sitting in my sink with black tar stuff stuck to it.) Poke a few holes in the meat. Brush 1/8 cup of the Catalina Dressing onto the meat. Mix your dry ingredients and rub the mixture onto the meat. Cook for 15-20 minutes. Mix the remaining 1/8 cup of the Catalina Dressing and the honey and brush onto the meat. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Tenderloin will be pretty firm when pressed and internal temperature should be around 160 degrees. Remove from oven and LET REST!!!! for 5-10 minutes. Slice an orange and lay the stalks of your fennel on a platter and put the tenderloin on there. (It's alllll about the presention, people.)

Lemony Green Beans with Almonds
Quite possibly the easiest side dish ever, take a bag of frozen, steam in the bag, long, uncut green beans and microwave them according to the bag directions. Melt 1 Tbsp of butter with the juice of half a lemon. Pour green beans into a pretty bowl and pour the melted lemon butter over them. Top with slivered almonds and toss.

Channeling my inner Sandra Lee, here are the Valentine cookies I made...

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Like Girl Scout Thin Mints, only without the awkward answer-my-front-door-in-a-towel-to-a-group-of-green-clad-little-girls-wearing-berets moment.

Oven goes on 350. Get a roll of refrigerated sugar cookie dough and add 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (like Nesquik) in a mixing bowl and, using an electric mixer, blend together until dough is mixed well with cocoa powder. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface, adding a bit of flour to the dough itself. You can use a heart shaped cookie cutter or just roll into round balls. Bake according to package directions. While these are in the oven take a container of chocolate icing and mix in 1/4 teaspoon Peppermint Extract. Take 8-10 peppermints and, using a food processor, crush the mints into tiny pieces. When cookies have cooled, ice them with the minty chocolate icing using an offset spatula and sprinkle tops with crushed mints. Oh my goodness, they're so good. Serve with vanilla ice cream (or scarf down half a dozen before you even get to the serving part).

So that was my Valentine's Day. How was yours?

February 8, 2010

Please tell me you have seen www.cakewrecks.blogspot.com!?!

A better title for this post might be, "River of Poo", but I didn't want to turn anyone off before they read it.

So I made a cake the other day for Mark's dad's birthday. He loves German Chocolate, so that's what I made. And, sparing you the details (because I'm pretty sure you can deduce them from the picture), I give you this:
(Click to maximize AT YOUR OWN RISK.)

So that's my version of a German Chocolate cake, river of poo and all.

FYI: It was freaking delicious.

From the mouths of babes...

Prelude: My, my how times have changed, right? People have these talking voices in their cars instructing them to take a left at the next intersection. There is an entire hour of television dedicated to toddlers in tiaras. Every snack food you can think of comes in nice, neat 100 calorie packs. And Paula is gone from American Idol.

Verse 1: We went to the hockey game Saturday night and enjoyed a quaint evening of brawls, beer, and Boom-Boom Bechard. We have been blessed (I use that word loosely) with the opportunity to attend any and every home hockey game, enjoying the view from our lofty suite, looking down at the civilians in their cramped and beer-drenched little bucket seats, while we enjoy comfy chairs and lots of room with a flat screen TV to boot.

Verse 2: Mark's little cousin, Micah (an exact replica of Mark. It's weird.) who has risen to Columbus Civic Center fame (and Youtube fame. Yeah, I'm not kidding.) with his Soulja Boy impressions performed during intermissions at hockey games atop the lofty suite tower, was there that night. An amazingly annoying little kid accompanied him. They were playing, wrestling, throwing a ball around (in the nice, spacious, comfy suite with the flat screen TV. Yeah, let me see you civilians try to do THAT in your bucket seats.), and as many little boys do, they were incessantly picking at each other. Micah told his buddy, "Boy, I'm about to take you to school." To which the little boy replied,

Chorus: "Yeah, well I'm gonna pack your lunch." And so, Micah replied, "Ok, well I just packed your lunch, unpacked it, and repacked it again, so booyah!" This dialogue went back and forth with several versions of one of them "packing the other one's lunch", until Micah, having had enough of his lunch being packed and repacked, decided to use his husky build and brute force to tackle his buddy, sit on top of him, and bury his face in the carpet, until his buddy could say,

Bridge: "Get off of me you overweighted monkey." Yes, overweightED. Monkey. You overweighted monkey. I almost wet my pants.

Postlude: Some things never change. Sure, Paula may be gone and idiot morons like Avril Lavigne may be taking her place, and I may have to eat 5 of those little 100 calorie packs of Oreos to satiate my dunking desires, but kid cutdowns, boys being boys, boys wrestling, and name-calling will ALWAYS be funny.