Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eatenberg Beatenberg

Tune of the Moment: Apropos yesterday's post about being smitten with a song and playing it ad nauseum, today's tune is by my favorite SA band, Beatenberg. I mentioned them in a previous post but just today they posted a brand spanking new song on Facebook. Cue excited shrieking and jumping up and down. The verdict? I don't know how many times I've played this song today. I wish it was downloadable and, darn it, I've earned the right to download it due to my incessant playing of it. I'm completely whipped.

Here is the link-you've been warned. Click on this puppy and those around you will curse you for clicking "play" over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. "Echoes" is freaking addictive.

Food-wise, I just made a pretty delish lunch. Part of it comprised a cheese-less pesto experiment. I'm in love with coriander but can never use it up fast enough-I ultimately end up with wilting, brown ish coriander that begs to be thrown away. So, because I still want to purchase herbs and need to justify the acquisition of cilantro (coriander), basil, sorrel and more, I decided to make a big batch of green goodness. Patrick Holford has a similar idea/recipe in his "Liver Cleanse" book-basically take a variety of green herbs, blend them up and consume them with everything and anything. I also love kale and am trying to find new ways to prepare it. The solution? Coriander and kale pesto happiness.

Go Green Pesto Princess

Handful of coriander
Handful of kale, chopped up a bit
Good glug of olive oil
Handful of pine nuts (or other nuts-pecans or walnuts would be yummy too)
Sea salt
(Optional: sundried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, olives, hard cheese like parmesan or grand padano)

Blend the above in a blender and eat it with EVERYTHING.

Remember: there can never be too much green!

I enjoyed this greenness with baked cod and a salad of leaves, avo and beets. Oh, and the salad was dressed with this dressing (sans the jalapeños because I'm a wimp). Oh, and the cod was roasted with black olives and marinated artichokes. Here's lunch before I added the green pesto:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Aubergine Kinda Day

Tune of the Moment: Do you ever hear a song and wish you wrote it? This happens to me all the time. It's like song-envy but without the negative connotations. And I tend to listen to these lusted-after gems on repeat, until I can't stand them any longer and need a month's hiatus from hearing them. Then, after the month is up, they creep up on iTunes shuffle and I fall in love all over again. How delicious to rediscover the toe-curling, hair-raising amazingness of a song monthly! Almost as delicious as Levain's chocolate chip cookies...almost.

A couple of songs fit the bill-and they are varied and a half. Here they are in no particular order:

Spencer & Antfood, "Trek" 
(discovered because of the Emirates advertisement)

Carly Rae Jepson, "Call Me Maybe"
(a fellow jazz musician introduced me to this song and I. AM. IN. LUST.with this ditty)

Wunderkind Anthony Da Costa, "St Therese"
(He's 21. It's just good music. It's that simple. And it's scary that he's 21 and one of millions in the USA. Freeeak me out.)

Most people read the newspaper (in paper form or electronically) while drinking coffee in the mornings. I drink green tea (sometimes spiked with jasmine) while reading food blogs. A friend of mine asked me today if I'm a vegetarian or vegan. As of january I'm no longer a vegetarian-it lasted 6 months, pretty good innings for me. However, I still try to stick to a plant-based diet. It's just better. In every which way. It's considerably easier having multiple sources in the protein department and after going a tad overboard on my reunion with hamburgers and grilled chicken, I've found more of an equilibrium. I also spoke to my sister who, while against trends, let alone vegetarianism, confessed she and her husband live a largely veggie existence. So, after a wonderful trip to SA (where I maxed out on Nando's chicken and boerewors rolls-yuuuum) I've started finding renewed veg inspiration on the blogisphere.

The first bright (green) idea was from Recipe Rifle-a blog written by Londoner Esther Walker (who, incidentally is married to foodie Giles Coren). Her writing is very, very funny. Acerbic. Catty. Honest. Her food isn't always as entertaining-she reports the mishaps as well as the triumphs-but every now and then there's a good idea. I had a nearly-off bag of spinach that needed my attention so I tried out the spinach roulade and it made me very, very sad indeed :( Ok, so maybe roulades need to be made for the masses and not for one. But it still flopped beeeg time. I still ate it though. And it was still quite yummy. But my freezer is now overflowing with Garden Lite soufflés. They don't come with a side of Nicky-love though. Just saying.

Sad, sad soufflé.

The following blog-lead culinary adventure was from this  blog, written by holistic heroin Sarah Britton. A staunch vegetarian, oft vegan, I usually read, drool over and ogle her posts but seldom cook anything she's described. Her photos are gorgeous and the information she provides about nutrition and science is interesting. I'm not 100% what entice me to try a recipe, but I do tend to adopt concepts or ideas as opposed to full-length recipes. And thanks to my incredibly intuitive, creative and savvy mum (who always knows what flavors will match up and tantalize your tastebuds with surprise), I've got an ok idea of which items can be substituted or how a recipe can be tweaked to include more greenery (there can never be too much greenness on a plate). So, with that spirit I was itching to try Sarah's recipe for aubergine/eggplant/brinjal. I adore, completely LOVE eggplant but struggle to cook it to perfection without using a frying pan or oodles of oil (that it speedily laps up).

This recipe calls for roasting/baking said brinjal for 35-40 minutes, I think the scoring also helps, and you can go to town on topping it. I opted for sautéed garlic/lemon spinach and kale, home-roasted red peppers, and goats cheese feta. Her version includes a spicy tahini sauce, honey and more greens-I'll try this next time fo' sho'.

Aubergine n' Greens
(From "My New Roots")
Serves 4

4 large aubergines
plenty of fresh greens  (arugula, watercress, spinach, purse lane)
olive oil
good finishing salt, such as Maldon
fresh mint
goat’s feta (cow feta also works)
liquid honey 
3 Tbsp. sesame seeds
pinch crushed chili flakes
1 lemon
Spicy Tahini Sauce (see recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 400 °F/200°C.
2. Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant. Remove from pan to cool.
3. Cut each aubergine in half lengthwise. Score across the flesh on a 45° angle and then repeat in the other direction to achieve a diamond pattern (this allows the steam to escape). Drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the flesh is very soft and golden.
4. While the aubergines are roasting, make the Spicy Tahini Sauce.
5. Remove aubergines from the oven, crumble a bit of feta on each half and turn on the broiler. Broil just until the cheese softens and takes on some colour (watch the aubergines carefully so they don’t get too dark). Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
6. Serve aubergines on a bed of greens doused with lemon juice. Sprinkle with roasted sesame, crushed chili flakes, flaky salt, lots of mint, a generous drizzle of honey and the Spicy Tahini Sauce.

Not sure the pic does it justice but it was v delis. Fact.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One Big Toe Back Into Vegetarianism

Tune of the Moment: "Here and Heaven" by the Goat Rodeo Sessions featuring Aoife O'Donovan (from Crooked Still). I love this song courtesy of the new Yo-Yo Ma project The Goat Rodeo Sessions, which features Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile. It's made even better by the fact that it features Aoife O'Donovan from Crooked Still. J'adore. And I can't believe it hasn't been "Tune of the Moment" before this! So scandalous.

And, just for kicks, here's Crooked Still playing my fave tune of theirs at the moment, "It'll End Too Soon."

I have a friend who is quite brilliant. We'll call him PV&J (as opposed to "PB&J", and it stands for Podcaster, Videographer & Journalist). Anyway, PV&J is a vegan-an actual, living vegan. In New York too! How untrendy of him. We're having dinner tonight, after I scoured the net for vegan eateries within a couple blocks from where we're going to hear music afterwards, and it made me reflect on my vegan/vegetarian past. I went back to eating meat in January of this year, after returning from summer in SA. The decision was pretty easy to make and based on assessing how I physically felt being on a veg diet. My body seemed to be craving animal protein-definitely red meat since my iron count has always been very low. And I have to say it's made life considerably easier having more protein options. It's different for every person-based on one's beliefs, genetic make up, and taste. I am still very aware of the marriage between the treatment of farmed animals and the meat that ends up on our plates, but I'm trying to be a conscious carnivore.

I've gotten into the habit of doing vocal warm-up exercises while sitting in bed and reading food blogs. It's quite meditative, therapeutic and a good use of time. My food blog bookmark has grown from about 3 favourites to 12 of them. I've mentioned Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks before. Another new favourite-his writing is just delicious-is pastry/ice cream dervish David Lebovitz's blog that recounts his daily involvement with food-everything from sampling croissants at a new neighbourhood bakery to his food travels, to a lonesome failed recipe for granola bars. It's honest and humorous and delicious (did I already mention that?). I knooooow that this is a blog for children-focused food, but Catherine has such a nice energy to her and great recipes/ideas that Weelicious has become a firm favourite (note: you should DEFINITELY try her potato fans-I had these at a dinner party over the summer and my sister and I literally finished off the Le Creuset serving platter-my mother was not proud but aghast. It must take a freaking long time to prep, but if you're on the eating-end, there's little else that's yummier. OMGeee.)

I seldom cook from Sprouted Kitchen, but I love ogling her pictures-awash in white, bright, clean light-and reading the recipes. Delicious veggie ideas. The same goes for My New Roots-a little too "clean living" but still beautiful visuals. Despite having jumped ship from veg to cow, I still like to have one meal a day, and one day a week be meat-free. It's better for this world of ours and, I believe, better for me. So, due to the impending vegan dinner with PV&J at Zen Kitchen, today seemed like a good day to go green. I also stumbled upon a recipe so simple and delish that I had to make it. Smitten Kitchen is no secret to food-blog enthusiasts round the world. The recipes are both visually mouth-watering and doable. Deb's recipe for smashed chickpea salad also got me thinking about the popular American dish of "chicken salad" or "tuna salad". Those dishes are basically chicken mayonnaise, or tuna mayonnaise, or a lot of mayonnaise plus chicken or tuna, throw in some chopped celery, and devour. I've never been a big mayonnaise person-I just find it too rich and rather unappetizing. I'll always be the type of person who makes potato salad with a pesto/mustard dressing, or a tomato/tahini dressing instead of using mayo. I'm just not into it. So, the Smitten Kitchen recipe made me think how the chickpea salad is a great alternative for any vegetarians or vegans out there. Here it is:

Smashed Chickpea Salad
Inspired by ‘wichcraft

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons pitted, halved and very thinly sliced black olives
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Zest and juice from half a lemon (if you’ve got one of those sad, juiceless lemons, use both sides for juice)
Couple good pinches of salt
A few grinds of black pepper
A few glugs of olive oil (the original is quite oily, like bread-soaking oily, I went a little lighter. Both ways are delicious)

Mix everything but the olive oil in a small to midsize bowl. Very lightly smash the chickpea mixture with the back of a fork or a potato masher. You’re not looking for a hummus-like puree but something closer to a coarse chop with a few smaller bits to hold it together. Add the glugs of olive oil, mix it lightly and enjoy.
This is also awesome as a sandwich on toasted bread, and it needs nothing else on it. But, if you want to doll it up, here are some ideas: A slice of roasted red pepper (as they do at ‘wichcraft), watercress (ditto), a slice of pickled garlicky red pepper (our way). We schmeared the bread with a tahini dressing, which was just tahini, lemon juice and a minced garlic clove thinned with water, but if you’ve got some harissa, I bet that would also be delicious.

I'm not a big sandwich eater, so I gobbled up the chickpea salad on a bed of green leaves, with half an avocado and a hard-boiled egg. Super yum. AND the salad will store well in the fridge and work well with quinoa, rice, another green salad, etc.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Would You Like Some Chocolate with Your Almond Butter?

Tune of the Moment: "Mean" by Taylor Swift.

What can I say? I am a swifty, a groupie, a Taylor Swift fan. I'll admit I wasn't always on team Taylor. I had my doubts-stemming largely from one pitchy performance after the next. So they were valid concerns as to whether Tay-Tay could actually sing (nevermind the fact that her writing is great, catchy, solid).

However, for the first time in ages I sat down to actively watch this year's Grammy Awards ceremony. Taylor's live performance was simply brilliant. Beautifully staged, beautifully and sweetly sung, and so effective in silencing my inner critic. Of course I went out and bought her album. And of course I'm now bopping incessantly around my bedroom like a 16 year old, singing into a hairbrush, and channeling "Flashdance".

This is the live version...

This is the music vid-perfection I say.

Things on the food front have been pretty uneventful. Last week was pretty busy and saw me shoving a hardboiled egg into my mouth on the way out the door, or gulping down half an avocado, on more than one occasion. So, the only thing I can report on was this gift from a girlfriend of mine. It could be seen in two contrasting lights-either incredibly love of her, of incredibly devious since I now find myself glaring at the jar as it sits on the counter top. If only looks could kill....

Thanks for nothing Trader Shmoe's.
(P.S. It could be more almondy and less chocolatey, in my opinion.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Summer S'Cream And Such

Tune of the Moment: "Again & Again" by The Bird And The Bee.

Facebook gets a bad rap for being a massive time-wasting device, a vehicle for voyeurism and flaunting one's private life on the internet, and a cesspool of exhibitionists and gossip. With all its flaws, it also brings a lot of good things. It's a wikipedia of sorts but your sources are actual people that you can converse with to follow up on your queries. It's great for starting forums or debates and getting a little intellectual exercise. If you live in another country to that of your loved ones, it's a virtual bridge that allows you to stay connected. In short, it ain't all bad people.

Good 'ole FB also introduces one to new things-blogs, shops, eateries, music, artists, etc. I've known Inara George's music for a while-since it was used on "Grey's Anatomy". But I had no idea she formed one half of The Bird And The Bee. Thanks to FB, I stumbled upon the video for "Again & Again" and swiftly proceeded to buy the album. It's a very, very cool outfit and record.

I am back in South Africa for a holiday, a chance to fuel up on really wholesome food, an opportunity to get my fix of family, and perhaps I'll get a bit of a tan (darn you Jewish-genes-boasting-sallow-undertones). I haven't been back a full week yet and I've already plunged into ice cream mania thanks to my sister's amazing new business venture, The Creamery. I visited them at the Freeworld Design Center's Artisan Market (two days in a row y'all!), kept my sister company while she did some weekend catch-up churning, helped move shelves in the factory on sunday, and attended a private tasting session yesterday.

Top, L to R: Apricot, Blackberry, Lemon
Bottom, L to R: Chocolate, Peanut butter, Coffee

What makes The Creamery's ice cream special is that, most importantly, it's ridiculously delicious. Unbiasedly superb ice cream. It also promotes an awareness of the whole farm to food flow-i.e. knowing where your food comes from. If one thinks about how much children love ice cream, feeding them ice cream that doubles as a valuable educational tool is awesome. The Creamery's icy fare consists of cream and milk (from Langrietvlei on the West Coast, which boasts 200 cows), eggs (from Homegrown Eggs in Stellenbosch) and all-natural add-ins from locally sourced merchants (peanut butter from Komati Foods, apricots, plums and nectarines from Tierhoek Farm, etc.). It is such a rarity nowadays that you can identify the ingredients that you're eating and, even more rare, that you know who created said ingredients. Think about it . I do, very often, and my mind opens up and marvels at the logic of it all. Wow. Shazam. And other onomatopoeic expletives.

So, if you find yourself in Cape Town any time today, next month, or next year (basically, at all) do yourself, and your food baby, a favour and find out where The Creamery is selling their yummy frozen magic. You can get all their information (ingredients, partners, blog, where to find them at which markets, ice cream club, etc.) on their website.

The last food pics I took were pre-flight-it's a 16 hour flight, more or less, from NYC to Cape Town. Yes, I can be a slightly anxious person in general (have you ever attended a free-seating event with me? The anxiety that my seat will be sub par is all-consuming), but knowing that I'm going to be on a plane for a full 14 hours with limited entertainment, limited space and activity, sets off red warning signals that buzz around my brain like unfocused laser beams. I know myself. I know that when I get bored, I get hungry and will ingest anything (including an entire jar of raw honey) in a matter of minutes. I attempt to quench the boredom with food-stupid, but true story. So, in preparation for the long flight I try to pack healthy snacks to keep me going. On past flights I've either forgotten to pack anything or have attempted to be "normal" (i.e. to be like the other passengers on the plane who seem to survive eating two meals in the space of 14 hours) and the result is never good. If I'm hungry I get tetchy and can't sleep. And, I'm sorry, but you're not supposed to eat only two meals over a 14 hour stretch! Blood sugar droppage anyone??

So, I have become pretty good at stocking up on things to nibble. Because I get the vegetarian meal on the plane, which is usually pasta and devoid of nutrients or protein, I make sure I have a bag of sugar snap peas on hand for my "something green" craving. I also took baby carrots on the last trip but didn't really make a dent. Berries are also great-strawberries, raspberries, blackberries in a container.

I branched out a little and packed slices of apple which I ate with a sachet of "Justin's Almond/Honey Butter". This was such a good addition.

I also crave sugar when I'm tired and lacking sleep. So, to prevent eating the unappetizing dessert that comes with the airplane meal, I packed some of my favourite vegan chocolate-"Antidote" Chocolate in banana/cayenne flavour. Soooooooo faboosh-and some "Kind Bars" (I found most of them too sweet-who'da thunk? But the coconut/almond one was v nice. I just adore coconut).

My flight left in the morning so I packed breakfast to eat at the airport-I know, I know. I'm such a girl. But, again, trying to predict what I'd eat on the plane, what kind of shoddy mood I'd be in as I tried to curl up like a preztel, I wanted to eliminate reasons to be hungry and unhappy later on. Armed with oats I set off for the airport-they made me pretty happy as I sat at the Peet's Coffee counter and gobbled them down. Smugness is surely the most delicious thing ever.

Bircher muesli sans dairy, topped with chia seeds, flaked coconut, pecans, & apple/pear jam.

I'm really looking forward to the rest of this holiday. What's in store? Summer popsicles courtesy of my genius big sister:

More strawberry ice cream before the seasons finished (did I mention her ice cream flavours are seasonal?):

And a summer Christmas (many of my USA friends find it tricky to wrap their heads around this concept). Our turkey will be cooked on the braai (barbecue). We'll be swimming in the river and sitting outside on the grass turning various shades of tanned. We'll eat plums from the orchard. We'll celebrate additions to the family (a brand new baby cousin once removed) and dear friemily from way back when. Happy festive season wonderful readers (and Mum)!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Oats, Glorious Groats

Tune of the Moment: "Otono" by Vince Mendoza from his latest album "Nights on Earth."

I am so often late to join the so-called party, and this is a perfect example of that. A couple of nights ago I was reeling from a week of being sick, inactive, and eating too many of those Lake Champlain "5 star bars" (which, although mini, are dense logs of heaven).

All the flavours are ridiculously good but I have a particular hankering after the peanut, hazelnut and caramel ones almost daily...

Anyway, I digress. I was feeling pretty rotten-a mixture of too much echinacea and guilt from being lazy for an entire week-and couldn't sleep. At 4am I found myself watching clips of the NY Voices (since I'd been to see them the friday prior singing with the Manhattan Transfer) and being turned onto artists I'd never studied in depth. I saw a video of the Voices singing with the Metropole Orchestra and, five minutes later, was purchasing three albums of Vince Mendoza's music off iTunes. Vince is the music director and chief conductor of the orchestra and a phenomenal composer. I was aware of his compositional prowess (can you use that adjective for a man?) but had no idea how moved I would be by the albums featuring solely his music. His latest offering is gorgeous-and "Otono" in particular is just devastatingly beautiful. But I also urge you to get your hands on "Epiphany", which features the London Symphony Orchestra and the original version of "Esperanca" featuring Michael Brecker, John Taylor and Peter Erskine. It's (almost) as delectable as Lake Champlain's chocolate nuggets!

Another thing I didn't realise is that Vince is responsible for the breathtaking orchestrations on Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" album. I first heard this album in Cape Town, while sitting in my friend and mentor, Silly Lilley's, car. As a test, he played me "You're My Thrill" and asked me to guess the singer. I think I guessed someone of African descent. The voice I heard was so rich, the phrasing so beautifully jazzified and tasteful, and the song was a jazz standard. Nope. It was Joni-an older version, which explained the deeper voice, but the same singer who's light, soprano of a voice sang "All I Want". It was remarkable. And as remarkable as her singing, were the arrangements. Lush string orchestrations that made me think of Nelson Riddle's work with Ella Fitzgerald. I am crushing completely and utterly on Vince. Viva Vince.

This is Joni singing "Both Sides Now" with the Metropole Orchestra, conducted by Vince.

Jumping from tunes to oats-as one does. The instant oats flavor that always appeals to me the most is the "apples & cinnamon" flavour (did you see what I did there?? Hey? Hey? Yup. I REFUSE to choose a spelling side). Anyhow, I went on a bit of an instant oats bender in my first year at graduate school and, since then, I just can't do the instant thing anymore. That, and I conveniently don't own a microwave. So I've been a long-time oat-ingester. I've experimented with rolled oats, whole oats, quinoa flakes, rice porridge, mielie pap (made from corn), and more. I love whole oats but maintain they're more delicious when someone else has made them for you. They're in the same category as poached eggs, creme brulee and malt milkshakes. Oats need attention-so for someone with the attention span of a jazz musician, that's too high maintenance. They need to be watched. Stirred. Scraped off the bottom of the saucepan. Fed with water. Babysat. And even if you manage to be as stupidly attentive as they require you to be, they don't taste as nice because you're eating them, depleted of energy, smelling like an oat-bath, your arms aching from stirring and your belly throbbing from being denied food because oats ALWAYS take an extra 20 minutes than is stated on the box. Fact.

So what's a girl to do when she craves not just plain oatmeal, but apple and cinnamon oatmeal? Whole Foods' mixed grain oatmeal and my mothers' apple-poaching ways solved the problem. The mixed grain cereal has oats, barley groats, cracked wheat and flaxseeds in it and is no different to other oats-it takes just as long plus the extra 20 minutes. But because I had a week of lousy eating to make up for, and it was monday, I decided there was no time like the present and hid away my impatience. As for the apples, my mum used to make me a container of poached apples that would last me a week of before-school oat breakfasts, so I could remember bits and pieces of the process. I poached the apples in cinnamon-drenched water, then cooked the oats in the same apple-infused water once I'd removed said apples, topped with chia seeds (they're trending y'all), flaked coconut, pecans and maple syrup.

 I can't really give you a recipe for the yumminess pictured above but here are a list of toppings in case you're in an oat rut and need to break out:

Nuts-pecans, almonds, pistachios, macadamias, pine nuts, walnuts (they're not shaped like brains for nothing-eat them!!) [It's also worth noting you can and should dry roast your nuts-it makes them even more delish]
Seeds-sunflower, pumpkin (pepitas), flax (also known as linseeds), chia
Nut butters, microwaved to soften them, are a super cool addition.
Macerated berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries-all can be mixed with sweet balsamic for a kick)
Poached apples/pears with cinnamon/vanilla/sugar
Coconut flakes, pomegranate seeds, nut brittle
Yogurt, soy milk, almond milk rice milk, hemp milk, cows' milk
Crumbled muffins/strudel topping (anything with crunch makes a nice textural change)

The skies the limit really-or your stirring stamina is. I'll leave you with a video from the NY Voices. They're classy personified. And some of the nicest people ever. True lurve I tell ya'.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pity Party For One

Tune of the Moment: "The Beaufort Scale" by Cape Town-based band Beatenberg, off their debut album "Farm Photos".

I love this band. It's that simple really. I would even go as far to say that they are my favourite "pop" band in South Africa. I put "pop" in inverted commas because Mat Field, the lead guitarist and vocalist, is, by schooling, a jazz musician. That's kind of how I met Mat. He was a couple of years behind me at high school, but I only took notice of him when he was studying at the SA College of Music, University of Cape Town. Yes. I am that self-involved. Although, in my defense, the SACM is vastly smaller in population than our high school was. I digress (and perhaps this lady doth protest too much?).

"Beatenberg" comprises Matthew Field, Robin Brink (drums) and Ross Dorkin (bass).  Mat writes most of the music (if I'm not mistaken....) and it's a special breed of pop music that, in my experience, is born out of someone with the musicianship and skills of a jazz musician (or schooled musician)  deciding to make popular music. Other songwriters who fit this bill include Becca Stevens and Alan Hampton but, of course, there are many more. Some people may think my theory is rubbish, but I truly believe that songs crafted by someone who has a superior knowledge of harmony, song structure, rhythmic devices, etc. will write far more interesting and sophisticated music than someone who lacks these fundamentals. Of course, you could also say I'm an elitist snob who believes in exclusivity. And you'd be right. But the proof is in the pudding or, in this instant, the songs.

Becca Stevens, "Weightless"

Alan Hampton, "Oh My God"

"Still"-music by Alan Hampton, lyrics by Gretchen Parlato

So, to sum it all up, I love Beatenberg's music because of the beautifully crafted music, the fact that Mat's voice is dreamy, unaffected and captivating, and because there are glimpses of South African stylings in many of their songs that make me happily homesick.

Beatenberg, "In B Flat"
(shot in one of my favourite Cape Town areas-Kalkbay)

Foodwise, I have been trying to eat items that might pull be out of the depths of anxiety-induced cold/flu symptoms. As a result, I have inhaled several containers of blueberries and raspberries, cooked garlic, all things green (spinach, kale, broccoli) and at least eight packets of emergenC (not all at once). I must admit there have also been two bars of dark chocolate...and a couple of Whole Foods vegan/date scones...Hey! A girl needs her vices.

In an attempt to get back on the straight and narrow, I experimented with soaked oats this morning. I stumbled upon a new blog, which isn't really as foodie-oriented as other blogs that I frequent, but there's something about it that I really, really like. Maybe it's the simplicity of Elise's format-"Hey there! This is what I ate today" (cue nice visuals and some useful tips like microwaving peanut butter). Maybe it's because she skirts the edges of veganism and that is something I think we have in common (I use the term "skirting" loosely). Or maybe the allure is that Elise has a demanding, full-time job that requires she preplan and pack her lunches in a neat, orderly fashion, the sight of which makes my inner neurotic routine-freak all kinds of happy. One of her go-to breakfasts is soaked oats. 

I used to be a big fan of Bircher muesli. Traditional Bircher muesli requires that oats are soaked in water, overnight, and then topped with grated apple, cream, lemon juice and nuts before being eaten. I've experimented with different soaking liquids-milk, yogurt, half milk and half yogurt, orange juice, apple juice, water, and, of course, toppings are open to interpretation (berries, banana, seeds, nuts, honey, agave, etc.) Seeing pictures of soaked oats on "Hungry Hungry Hippie" awakened the dormant-oat-lover within and I, successfully, made a Bircher-type bowl this morning.

Bircher Muesli A La 2011

1. Soak 1/2 a cup (or more) rolled oats in warm water over night (feel free to use milk or another liquid)
2. Top the plumped up oats with toppings of your choice.
I opted for shredded coconut, chia seeds, banana, raw almond butter, chopped pecans, and agave nectar.

(Aside note-a fellow facebooker had the following to say about the above instagram:

"I can hardly work out what that is, but to be honest it doesn't look too tasty! Bananas with walnuts and rice??"

Needless to say I unfriended the sorry soul. For crying out loud-doesn't he know shredded coconut from grains of rice? Besides, the coconut MAY liken white, short grain rice but doesn't he know I would NEVER eat white, short grain rice?! Hmph.)