Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Can't Stand the Heat? Try My Gaspacho!

Retire your oven & get out that blender!

As the temperature soars it becomes harder and harder to drag myself into the kitchen to cook. It’s even less appealing to heat up the joint by turning on the oven or standing over a hot burner. The problem remains: one needs to eat something! Even better, something that’s visually appealing, nutritionally satisfying that can be made in large enough quantities to cover several meals or be a good side dish. I like to eat chilled soups like Gaspacho. This Spanish soup has a tomato base it features lots of fresh veggies and is a great source of vitamin C and fiber too!

Starting with the basic ingredients, tomatoes, onions, cucumber & parsley, I experimented until I came up with this recipe. It helps if you have a good grocery store that carries Mexican foods as fresh Tomatillos & Cilantro add a wonderful zest to the main ingredients. I also prefer Videlia onions for their sweetness and plum tomatoes for their meaty quality. You’ll find your shopping list in bold.

Lizzie's Great Gaspacho

In the blender puree:
1 large Videlia Onion,
6 ripe plum tomatoes,
6 peeled, washed, tomatillos.
Add 2T garlic powder,
1T coarse sea salt.
Transfer to large bowl or pitcher. Then mix in:
1 whole cucumber (about 12 inches long), diced small
1 each large red and green pepper de-seeded & diced
1 bunch cilantro, minced
Stir, cover & chill.

By leaving some ingredients chunky it gives the whole thing texture. If you like it spicy you could puree a can of chiplote peppers in with your onion, tomato and tomatillo mixture. Some people like to add a dash of hot sauce to their individual serving. I like a dash of Balsamic vinegar.
The great Spanish film-maker, Pedro Almodovar, made a wonderful movie called “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” (featuring a young Antonio Banderas). The heroine of the movie discovers her lover has been unfaithful & decides to commit suicide by drinking a bowl of Gaspacho to which she has added a lethal dose of Barbituates. The fun starts when, as she is distracted from her mission, her friends unexpectedly start showing up at her apartment & unwittingly helping themselves to mugs of her witches brew. The action intensifies as people start passing out all over the furniture. You’ll notice my recipe is sans sleeping pills…Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Feel GOOD!!! Thank you, James Brown.

Thinking about one of my favorite musicians of all time, James Brown, after seeing Tommy Castro who covered several of Mr Brown's tunes last weekend at Space. When I asked Tommy Castro what he did to prepare for a gig he told me that he ought to be meditating or focusing or playing warm up scales or what ever, but usually it was his band, all sitting around in the tour bus watching the same James Brown video that got them all up for the show. I could relate to that.

James Brown was a big influence on my music, his primal screams, his urgent beats, his seminal TV & movie performances, vinyl records with their photos of James in a conch and super thin pants, wailing from the stereo. I digested these things and came back hungry for more!

My first band, the Supernaturals, played heartfelt covers of his songs like Please Please Please, Try Me, & Think, but we never matched his ernest begging. His "30 Golden Hits" cassette was always in rotation in my van when we went on road trips. I bonded with drummer Janet Cramer when we were driving to Tennasee for a gig & she played me James Brown mp3's from her lap top all the way there.

James wrote songs that got right to the point. Not a lot of words, fancy phrases, just the facts and always a great groove. James wrote the following classic song lyrics: "I feel good! Like I knew I would. So good, I got you." Short, sweet and to the point. Then there's this classic "This is a mans' world, a MAN's world, but it wouldn't be nothing without a woman or a girl." Okay?
How about my favorite 'tell it like it is' lyrics, ladies? "Hot pants, make you sure of yourself, cause a womans' got to use what she's got to get what she wants." That is the truth since the beginning of time!

Young Michael Jackson stood back stage watching James Brown shimmy, split & slide back up, do the Good Foot dance on one foot across the stage while his band hit the back beat like a finely tuned engine. Then when you went to see the Jackson 5, you saw Michaels version of James, and it was great! Even in his later years, James could out dance, out sing, out bandlead, just out do most entertainers. There wouldn't be a Bad, or a Thriller, no Bootsy, no Parliment and half the Hip Hop wouldn't a been did if there hadn't first been The God Father of Soul.

There should be James Brown Day, a legal holiday, for the man who invented funk, who nurtured so many great musicians, who wrote so many hit records, who gave his talent for free on TV the night Dr King was assasinated in order to keep grieving people all over the country from rioting & starting fires. James Brown is one of my heros, thank you Godfather.