Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fresh! Local! Organic! Expensive.

My friend Twosquare made an inspiring post the other day about how all her local farmers markets are starting to open up, bursting with fresh produce, a veritable cornucopia of colors, flavors and GOOD produce. It made me reminiscent of our days in France, going to our Nantes market to get all we would need for a few days' tasty nourishment.

Well, there are a few farmer's markets in the Atlanta area, I haven't really researched it, but I know the Episcopal church in Buckhead has one. With this momentum, I was ecstatic when my friend Rachel told me about Moore Farms and Friends They take online orders for weekly produce, and have delivery points all around Atlanta. And you don't have to sign up for some long-term collective, or end up with 2 lbs of carrots or something. For a mere $20 you get a bushel-full (so I imagined) of fresh, seasonal goodies. For a few bucks extra you can pick your produce, or add things like eggs, sausage, herbs and other fun stuff.

We submitted our orders together last week, and have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of our box O yummy fresh things.

When she and I met to exchange produce we looked at our few little vegetables rolling around at the bottom of the box, and big bag of leafy greens, then looked at each other, and said "Hm, not sure if its worth it." Really, I wanted to be excited, but I had in mind what I could get for $20 at my local International farmer's market (where, I'm sure, the produce is chemical-laden, buggy, and not as farm-fresh). Instead, my box had just 2 (scrumptious-looking) large yellow squash, 2 (bright-red, firm) tomatoes, a big bag full of field-greens and 5 carrots.

Everything looked delicious, even if I didn't know what the heck the large stalks of green, leafy goodness were in the bag next to the fresh-picked red-leaf lettuce.

I can now say that everything TASTES delicious, too. (Well, we haven't tried the tomatoes yet). We chopped, oiled, roasted, sauteed and tossed the veggies with some pasta, parmesan and bacon and mmmmm, it was really tasty.

BUT, $20? I just don't know. I love veggies, and I love the earth and stuff, but I think if I get real serious about local, it may have to come from my backyard. Its a nice splurge when opportunity knocks, but I'm not sure I'll make this my weekly produce regimen.

Pictured: Odd leafy green things. Peppery, slightly leathery when raw, tasty when sauteed with garlic and bacon. (but really, what ISN'T).
Any guesses as to what this stuff is?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

People Get Ready...

Jeff and I were asked to come up with a prelude for today's services at church. Preludes are usually contemplative songs or periods of silence that happen before services at our church to help congregants focus on the experience of corporate worship.

Anyway, I've been writing a few things here and there, but nothing I was happy with for that purpose. So, after tinkering around on piano and guitar on Saturday for a bit, Jeff and I settled on People Get Ready, mostly because its easy, I like singing it, and its remotely spiritual. I learned a few more factoids from Wikipedia on the song (like, its a pop song, not an old spiritual). What I did know is that I just love Eva Cassidy wailing it (and really love Eva Cassidy wailing just about anything).

Speaking of cover songs, Ming Dynasty has been invited to participate in a fundraiser called Songs 4 Kids where hundreds of local bands line up and play a song each for like 4 straight days or something. Bands have their pick of hundreds of cover songs. As a band, we've had quite a hard time settling on a cover song to practice and hone as our own. There can just be so much baggage with covers. To date we've done Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street" live, and "Midnight Train to Georgia." I have also performed "Summertime" at a couple solo shows. As a band, we're currently in talks about doing a Rush or Led Zeppelin song, we'll see if we ever get around to that.

Here are a few covers that I've enjoyed other artists doing:
* Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley (Rufus Wainwright's version is a close 2nd)
* Summer of 69 by MxPx (nostalgia)
* Hit Me Baby One More Time (performed Live by Travis, the lovely irony of hearing Fran Healy sing this with the passion of Travis' other meloncholic tunes was quite engaging).
* Georgia by Coldplay (performed Live at the Tabernacle). Just seeing Coldplay in that venue, then the personal "georgia" touch was thrilling).

What are some of your favorite "cover" songs that bands have done?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Curious Incident Of the Dog in the Daytime

Well shucks, I'm up at 1am with nary a thought of sleep yet, so what better time to recount to you, my 4 readers, an odd mystery that hath occurred. You, oh brave ones will be my sleuth investigators and try to solve the crime that has, as yet, eluded us.

Tuesday, April 1st. 1:30pm.
I returned home from work, happy to once again be walking to and from my place of employment, as me and my hungry belly neared home, I glanced toward our neighbors house and their trusty chain-link fenced-in pen where I have so often left our pooch to stay and play during work mornings. Only this time, my dear fluffy Buckley's longing face did not greet me, but only the sight of the gate door eerily wide open: unlatched with not a dog in site.

I panicked, checking my house, my neighbors house, my yard..and nothing. I jumped into my car, not knowing how long Buckley had been wandering Chamblee's streets. After about 45 minutes of searching , calling, and entreating the help of our kindly neighbors, still no Buckley nor answer as to how the gate got opened. Meanwhile, Kelly, the neighbors dog was safe at home, and they had no idea what happened.

Finally, like a beacon, I saw a little white head, bobbing up and down under the restraint of a lead near the end of my street. A dear family who live a few doors down had corralled Buckley (not a tough job since he loves EVERYONE who will love him back) and were walking him back to our house with a makeshift leash (I believe it was an old USB cord). With great relief I thanked the neighbor and his son profusely and trapsed back home with an excited, dirty dog.

Wednesday, April 2nd, 9am.
I leave Buckley next door again with Kelly, having chalked up Tuesday's disappearing act to a meter-reader or landscaper's careless closing of the gate.

10am. Our neighbor calls to tell us that landscapers will be coming and that he will put both dogs instead into our penned-in backyard, with an even more secure latched gate.

1:30pm. I again stroll home, happy to be strolling home. A familiar-looking dog stands in the middle of our street ahead, wagging her long reddish tail. I drop my bags and keys and go to investigate. My worst fears are realized: Kelly, our neighbors dog is wandering the street, an escapee from the back yard. The less daring and adventurous of the two, I know what this means: Buckley is again on the prowl, and again, I have no idea when this great escape occurred or how far he may have gotten.

This time I am a little more right-minded, hopeful that Buckley will haunt the same haunts he did in yesterday's freedom run. I drop Kelly off at home, briefly question my stunned neighbor as to HOW this happened (she was befuzzled as I), then head for the yard at the end of the street where he'd last been recovered. I hadn't finished rounding the house when the same hero from yesterday, ear to his cellphone, came out and pointed emphatically at his garage. Leaning away from the phone he said quietly "your dog's in my garage...I gave 'im some water."

I sensed his kindness had ebbed a shade into impatience at my clear negligence. But who cares! My prodigal dog was ONCE AGAIN lost and now found (stupid idiot!). did 2 dogs escape from our well-secured backyard with no possible way to have mastered the lock themselves?

Monday April 7th, 9am. Now believing that either the dogs, or some venturesome child wanting to play with the dogs to be the culprit, I cautiously leave Buckley next door. I know that the neighbors will be around this morning and would hopefully hear any riff-raff. To ensure that dogs and kids are discouraged from tampering with the loosely hinged gate, I secure it with a chain, then hook a rusty padlock tightly through the links (though not locked).

12:15pm. I receive a call from my neighbor. Another kindly neighbor (not the one on the corner) has just showed up at her doorstep with my dog in hand. "Is this your dog?" he asks. She tells him no, and walking out with him notices that again, the gate to her backyard is swung wide open. Concerned, she directs him to put dear Buckley into our yard, over the picket-fence gate (which we had recently secured with a padlock).

Upon receiving her call, I get home as soon as I can, concerned that some prankster is truly on the loose. Fortunately, this time I find Buckley safe and sound in our backyard. The kindly neighbor comes by and tells me that Buckley had shown up at his doorstep, sniffing around. Upon returning him to our yard, this neighbor also did an inspection of the premises and found there to be a shimmy-size gap on the far size of the fence, probably big enough for Bucks to squeeze through. He puts a large rock in front of the gap, dear man, to prevent escape. I thank him, but don't have the heart to tell him that Buckley's getaway wasn't even from our yard this time, but from the yard next door with the chained gate.

What/ Who is doing this? How is this happening and HOW can I go to work tomorrow without fearing some shady prank will again put my dog on the streets?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Allez Les Bleus!!

Just thought you'd like to know that France just won the World Cup....of breadmaking.
Not surprising you may ask? They haven't won it in like 12 years. My favorite quote from this article:

Making [a baguette] is alchemy. There are four ingredients -- water, salt, flour and yeast. must appeal to five senses.

That is SO true. Its why I've rarely found one here in the US as good as those I got in the market in Nantes. It's not just bread....its sensory.

read the full report here