Your Every Playlist Song

This picture has nothing to do with anything.

Besides Ween’s “Your Party” (a song worthy of its own post, really) and the almighty “Sledgehammer,” another tune that merits its 4 minutes and 22 seconds on your playlist is Allen Toussaint’s version of “Blue Drag 07.”

Allen Toussaint – Blue Drag (Audio HQ) by STARDUST72

It’s equally superb over a summer thunderstorm, issuing static-flecked from those crummy portable speakers you use while painting the bedroom (mine plug into a 1999-era yellow “sporty” discman that has white specks from when I painted a barn and a bazillion feet of fence on the alpaca farm), as dinner prep company to chopping onions barefoot in a hot kitchen, or at the end of it all, harmonizing with the clink of fat wine glasses and cheese-plate chatter. At my parents’ house, it would probably elicit some twirlies and slow knee sways in the kitchen. This scene, basically.  We have a lot of neighbors.

You can put it on just about every playlist except “Sisters Work Out Mix 2011” (reserved for such classics as “Barbra Streisand” and the entire Daft Punk “Alive 2007” album) and “Mad & Hyper Mix” (Prodigy’s “Breathe” on repeat, obviously).


Monday’s Vitamin Incentive

Following on the heels of this post, I bring you Monday’s (Bit of a Reach!) Vitamin Incentive:

And now that Matt knows these are being publicized, we can all look forward to increasingly intricate imagery and puns. Please don’t be concerned that crafting these takes away from his 8 – 7 work productivity. I’m sure he makes/thinks of them all late at night after I’m asleep.

Rhubarb’s the Word

It took weeks of absorbing recipe after recipe for rhurbarb-centric dishes and a near surfeit of oozy, jammy pink photos of the cooked stuff before I realized that there was probably something to this pieplant.  My first foray was Smitten Kitchen’s rhubarb snacking cake, a wonderful recipe that I bungled with an overzealous application of yogurt, thinking the batter was too thick (really it had been just thick enough). The end product was a bottom layer of gummy cake topped with an addictive swath of rhubarb and crumble. A swath that was easily salvageable with a spoon and consumed warm straight from the pan.

So for the next attempt, I kept it simple. Food in Jars provided the recipe this time around, and with a few minor alterations, we’ve got jewel-like vessels of tart and sweet rhubarb and strawberry jam with rosemary.  The rosemary is an inspired idea (not mine, all kudos goes to Food in Jars). It offsets the sweetness in a really nice way, and gives the jam a hard-to-pin-down depth.  For any fellow novice rhubarb cookers out there, please give it a try, and may your first try be this jam.  The prep is a breeze, it all goes into one pot, and your kitchen will smell like a wholesome candy store. Plus, you’ll get to say you just made homemade jam. Respect.

The jam is ethereal on goat’s milk yogurt (take a second to admire the dollop of bright pink on creamy white before you dive in), or not-too-sweet ice cream, or toast, or slathered on an elevated and very adult PB&J.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam with Rosemary
(Slightly altered from Food in Jars)

Approx. 4 cups chopped rhubarb (slice into 1/2 inch chunks, at an angle)
Approx. 2 cups sliced strawberries
2 cups sugar
2 large sprigs of rosemary
Juice and zest from 2 lemons

Combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a large enamel or stainless steel pot (rhubarb’s acidity can react with certain types of metal).  Stir so that the sugar coats everything evenly and let it sit for 30-45 minutes, until juices have started to pool. Place pot on medium-high heat, add the rosemary sprigs, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb has broken down and separates easily when pressed with a spoon, about 10 minutes.  Raise the heat and boil for about two minutes while stirring, then remove from heat.

Add the lemon zest and stir to combine. Remove the rosemary fronds.

Once the jam is slightly cooled, pour into as many containers as needed and seal. Someday I’ll learn how to can, but for this small batch my intention is to eat and share what we can’t eat until the entirety is gone.  So I give it about a week in the fridge.

The Vitamin Incentive

Four out of five work days, Matt slips a little packet of vitamins hand-wrapped in foil in my bag. There they lie in neglect, woefully forgotten, until I discover the mushy wads caked to the bottom of the bag when I clean it out. (Mushy because I do a lot of walking in the rain without an umbrella. Can’t manage umbrellas: too much tension and metal sticks and little latches that pinch fingers. Also, having one’s umbrella turn inside out in the wind is embarrassing, but shouldn’t be, and that makes me mad. I’d rather save my occasions of personal embarrassment for things that I did in public on purpose but regret, or when I tell someone that I have Vanilla Ice’s cell phone number and they remain unimpressed).

Anyway! Occasionally I’ll remember to remove the vitamin packets from my bag and put them on my work desk, where they continue to remain un-swallowed, partially hiding under a fluttery sea of yellow post-its, weirding out my colleagues.

It took a little while, but Matt got wise to the vitamin graveyard in my bag a few weeks ago when he was rooting around for the car keys. First he got a little mad (and his “a little mad” is like seeing one teensy cloud during a sunny day), and then he got smart. Smart in this case means he sends e-mails with jokes and pictures as reminders to take the vitamins.  Unsurprising to both of us, it turns out I respond well to jokes and pictures. My omega-3 levels have never been higher.

Here for your viewing pleasure: select images from The Vitamin Incentive.


Holy moly Steve Winwood.  I’d say you’ve still got it, but it appears you never lost it in the first place. Saturday night’s concert had Matt getting his groove on in the aisle at the Bank of America Pavilion. The grooving isn’t unusual in and of itself, but taking it to an aisle only half-sheltered by a torrential downpour means something special was going on up on stage. The space at our assigned seats just didn’t have the circumference required for full range of extreme dance motions.

I could wax poetic about the musical prowess of the band, that 7-minute drum solo, the guy that played four instruments (sometimes two woodwinds at once) and sang backup vocals, how Winwood and Bill Nighy have got to be related, and the awesomeness of Winwood’s 1990s New Mexico button down shirt, but better to just urge you to go see him and his band yourself, if you can make it. If you’re really lucky, maybe he’ll even play “Valerie.”