Sunday, December 26, 2010
For Christmas, I asked for Madeleine pans. I know, weird, right? But it turns out I like baking more and more with each new thing I make. I still wouldn't say I'm really getting the hang of it because I'm still a slave to the recipe, but I'm enjoying it, anyway.
Madeleines have been one of my favorite treats for a while now, but they're one of those things that I was afraid that if I could make them myself, it would take some of the magic out of it. But in the end, I couldn't resist the urge to at least try. If you don't know what they are, I think buttery tea cakes is the best way to describe them. They're somewhere between a cookie and a cake, and they're light and fluffy and buttery and a little citrusy and just delicious - delicate and cakey on the inside, but with just the slightest bit of a crunch to the edges. If you've never had one, I highly recommend that you seek them out. The cafe at Nordstrom has awfully good packaged ones, and if you can find them good in a package, it's a rare and delightful day. I followed the recipe that I found on 101 Cookbooks, at least in part because the blogger managed to make the recipe so personal and made it sound unbelievably good.
Oh. My. God. These cookies are SO delicious. And look how pretty they came out!
I managed to not even try the batter until I was filling the pans, and then I didn't want to stop eating it. The batter came together so light and fluffy - I've never made anything like this before. My only comments are that I sifted the flour over the egg batter, rather than just sprinkling it in; I put too much batter in each cookie mold, so they came out a little huge; and I thought they were just a bit too lemony. Next time I will use far less zest, and I may try orange zest instead of lemon. Overall though, I even impressed myself this time. Thank you, Mommy, for getting me these gorgeous Madeleine pans for Christmas. I will bring you a tin of delightful little tea cakes as soon as this silly snow storm clears up. Merry Christmas, everyone!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Check it out - the 2011 class of inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is as follows:
Alice Cooper Band
The last three on the list were not on the nominee list when I posted it a couple of weeks ago. Leon Russell is receiving the Musical Excellence Award. He's a piano sideman who has worked with the likes of The Byrds, Willie Nelson and Elton John. Art Rupe is the founder of Speciality Records, which was responsible for putting out all of Little Richard's early stuff in the 50s, and one of the first independent labels. Jac Holzman is the founder of Elektra Records.
Other than those three, I called Tom Waits, Neil Diamond and Dr. John, and Alice Cooper is no surprise. I'm glad to see it's his whole band, and not just him, too. I don't really know much about or by Darlene Love, but from what I do know, she's not really my style. Still, good for her. Congrats to all of the inductees.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
My mild obsession with the Rolling Stones, I mean.
Since I finished reading Keith Richards' autobiography, Life, my love for him and all things Rolling Stones has only grown. I'm still working on building my collection of Stones albums, and I'm trying to do that slowly so that I can spend some time with individual albums as I get them, and really feel them out and establish them in their proper place in my head, as if that makes sense to anyone but me. I think Exile on Main Street might be my favorite favorite album of all time, now that I've spent a good deal of time with it. I don't mean just that it's my favorite Stones album, but it's like, my favorite album ever. And I don't really believe in favorites, but there's something about that album that's just mind-blowing. I think part of it is the whole tax exile - living in a mansion in southern France - recording with a driveable studio, with wires snaking all over that shady basement - everyone's in a different room, suited to make their instrument or voice sound the best - it's hot as fuck - there's no air moving around - everyone's high, and most of them are also half naked - they're recording all night long - or whenever the mood suits - it sounds dirty and gritty and just fucking brilliant. This is a whole post to itself. I'm serious, it's already mostly written, I'm just working out the kinks and waiting for the right time to drop it. It'll be another thesis.
In addition to acquiring all of the albums though, J is harassing me endlessly right now about the DVDs. I admit that I'm obsessed, and I try not to push it on him or anyone else. That's what this blog is for, right? I asked for Shine a Light, the recent Scorsese concert film, for Christmas, sight unseen. But just after asking for it, one Friday or Saturday night that we were spending at home cooking recently, it was on VH1 and I caught it from the beginning. So good. If you like the Stones, this makes for amazing background while you're cooking or doing whatever it is you do at home. It's worth owning, for sure. In addition to that, I've recently watched Stones in Exile a couple of times, as well as Gimme Shelter and Sympathy for the Devil. Since Exile is probably my favorite album ever, I also can't get enough of watching the documentary about the making of it. Like I said, I think that whole story really adds to how much I love the album as a whole. Lucky for me it's currently available On Demand from Netflix, so I can watch it whenever I want. But again, this all goes with that other thesis of a post . . .
Gimme Shelter was excellent. The whole section about Altamont was really why I wanted to see it in the first place, and it lived up to the hype as far as all that is concerned. Yup, a Hell's Angels "security guard" totally just stabbed that dude. Wow. And it's all on film. Sure the dude had a gun, but there wasn't a better way than multiple stab wounds in the back? He was later let off by a jury, finding it to be self-defense because the victim had a gun. No doubt, he was probably planning to use that gun for no good purpose, but still. How society has changed, huh? Not that people don't still get stabbed, and they get stabbed or shot at concerts still, that hasn't changed, but I just mean that no one would ever even think about attempting to put on a show like that nowadays, I don't think. You'd be crazy to try, and it would be SO expensive to pull off. Free? With a couple of the biggest bands in the world? For 300,000 people? With the Hell's Angels working security and getting paid in beer? Sure! Why not, what could possibly go wrong? Zoinks. The Dead pulled out and decided not to play because it was all getting too violent for them. Good for them. Even aside from that, though, it was a good movie. Again, great background, like any music film is bound to be.
I just watched Sympathy for the Devil, though, and that was a whole different kind of movie. I picked it up because about half of it chronicles the recording sessions for the song of the same name, and follows it from its beginnings as a slow, folky tune through various incarnations and phases as it worked its way into the groovy, fun dance tune that we all know and love. For that, I was in awe. Being the way that I am and obsessing the way that I do about certain bands, songs, etc., it was very cool to me to be able to watch a song that I love so much grow and change and get written. It really captured the feeling in the studio, and in that way, at least for me, it's absolutely a film worth watching. However. However. The other half of the film (and it's not like the first half and second half, it cuts back and forth) is a big clusterfuck of a French "statement" of some sort. I'm still not sure what sort of statement it's meant to be, though. Frankly, I started fastforwarding through the French film stuff as the recording stuff started to feel like the song was really coming together. There's the beginnings of a few other songs on there too - just in the form of the band getting in the studio to jam and see what comes out. I don't know, there's just something about watching music being made that really impresses me.
This has been floating around YouTube for a while now, but it's worth sharing. I love the Hunger Games book series, and this is just a really well-made video. I think these two unknown actresses are excellent choices for Katniss and Prim, IMO. The blonde is cast as Rue here, but I think she'd be a perfect Prim. The fact that the guy that made this video used a few songs from the new Linkin Park album as the soundtrack doesn't hurt either. As far as I'm concerned, the whole new LP album, A Thousand Suns (read my thesis of a review here), could be the soundtrack to this movie, when they ever get around to making it. Seriously, it's perfect. Every song.