On the Media

On the Media is a recent addition to my podcast regime. It airs at inconvenient times – 7am Saturday or 7pm Sunday – meaning that I’ll sometimes catch a story en route to the market or while making dinner, but rarely the entire program. What did we do before podcasts, you guys?

Every week I look forward to OtM’s interesting and incisive coverage of the media landscape – recent episodes have discussed the newspaper and publishing industries, the McChrystal debacle (and an interesting discussion of freelance vs beat reporting), the digital divide, and a particularly hilarious Twitter hoax.  The podcast runs about 50 minutes, making it perfect for my walk into work and the first 10-15 minutes of getting settled in, drinking my coffee, and catching up on email – or for a long weekend run.

I mention OtM today, though, because there were two particularly interesting pieces in this week’s episode – one that will appeal to all my information access nerds in the crowd, and the other that will appeal to my NPR nerds.  I suspect there’s a lot of overlap in that group, come to think of it.

First, an interview with Carl Malamud about his efforts to make government information accessible to the people that pay for its production (i.e. the taxpayers). I’m not an information access nerd, but Malamud is fighting the good fight and is also an entertaining interviewee, so I recommend checking out this clip and also Yes We Scan!:
http://www.onthemedia.org/flashplayer/mp3player.swf?config=http://www.onthemedia.org/flashplayer/config_share.xml&file=http://www.onthemedia.org/stream/xspf/157429

Second, OtM’s tribute to the late Dan Schorr.  By now everyone who listens to NPR has heard the Dan Schorr stories and tributes, but this one features a particularly funny story in tribute:
http://www.onthemedia.org/flashplayer/mp3player.swf?config=http://www.onthemedia.org/flashplayer/config_share.xml&file=http://www.onthemedia.org/stream/xspf/157463

Advertisements

0723 Fast Food (sigh)

Let’s not talk about how terribly I ate today, OK?  Too many cocktails + painfully hot weather + a solo evening while Shane was braving frighteningly foul weather at the 13th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival equals a hungry and unmotivated E.  It was the kind of night that required ice cream, knitting and a lot of crime drama reruns.  All of those things happened, but healthy eating did not.

0721 Vegetarian this-and-that

Ann Arbor Art Fairs Photos 2010 by Michigan Municipal League
photo by Michigan Municipal League (MML)

Shane’s mom came up from Cleveland today to attend the chaos known as the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair. It’s actually more accurate to say ‘art fairs’, plural, as there are four fairs spread out over the downtown and Central Campus areas. Between vendors and visitors, the art fair conglomerate brings in upwards of 500,000 people over the course of four days. That’s 500,000 people buying and selling, wandering and eating, sweating and parking in very close proximity to where we live and work. That’s a lot of people, you guys.

After a trip to the garden (me) and some quiet post-fair downtime (Shane and his mom), we had a delicious vegetarian dinner of various things from the garden and the market. I came home with carrots, beets, rapini, chilies, and cucumbers – quite the exciting haul! Our entree resembled the sort-of ratatouille from a couple of weeks ago – onions, tomatoes, garlic, and a chili sauteed in a bit olive oil until everything went saucy, then served over warm polenta. The chili gave just a little bit of heat – a heat we’re going to have to learn to incorporate into more things, as our garden is overflowing with them. I also tossed sauteed rapini with raisins – Shane didn’t love it, but I ate it up.

It was a lovely, healthy, filling dinner improvised amidst long conversation, and then followed by a walk through the downtown masses to Ashley’s for a Bell’s event, where we hoped to try Black Note, but where we made do with a Founders Cerise (me), a lambic (Mom), and a Hell Hath No Fury (Shane). A long, relaxing evening, and a nice end to a very warm day.

0722 Happy Hour at Cliff Bell’s

cb52
photo by Cigarette Girl Colleen C for Yelp

At some point in 2009, I became Yelp Elite.  I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but who doesn’t like being told that they’re elite?  Well, it turns out that being Elite is all about community involvement, writing reviews, connecting with other users, and basically being a great spokesperson for your favorite local places and things.  Sign me up!  Oh wait, someone already did.

Anyway, one of the side benefits of being Elite – apart from the satisfaction of a job well done – is the occasional Elite event, usually hosted by a local business and featuring free food, drink, and swag.  We attended our first event back in the fall at Café Habana, where we enjoyed mojitos, tacos al pastor, and a whole lot of this ridiculously good goat cheese dip.  There have been several events since then, but between our schedule and the fact that events often happen in Detroit, tonight was the first event we’ve made it to this year.

Cliff Bell’s, recently named one of the best bars in the country by Playboy (link totally SFW), was our host for tonight’s Elite happy hour.  Opened in the 1930s and recently restored to its former glory, Cliff Bell’s is exactly what you’d imagine if you heard the words ‘swanky jazz club’.  My grandparents lived in Detroit in the 1940s, and I can imagine that in their day, Cliff Bell’s was a place to see and be seen.  The event was cosponsored by local distillery Valentine Vodka, so we enjoyed vodka cocktails along with an assortment of hors d’oeuvres, most notably shrimp cocktail.

Shrimp cocktail!  This is actually the second time in a week that we’ve found ourselves at an old-timey kind of establishment, eating shrimp cocktail and drinking strong drinks, and I really couldn’t be happier.  Tacky as it may be, shrimp cocktail is a tasty reminder of another generation’s idea of elegance, and one I’m happy to embrace.

So thanks, Yelp, for a literal and gustatory flashback to a more glamorous time.  We’re looking forward to the next event!

0720 Summer Corn Soup with Shrimp

I’m a little in love with Sprouted Kitchen.  Their food photography is consistently wonderful – to the point that when I showed Shane tonight’s recipe on the blog, he asked “do they cook outside?”.  Seriously, they must be blessed with the best lighting in all of Southern California.

This dish feels very Southern Californian to me  in that it embraces seasonal produce while also throwing in a bit of seafood and velvety avocado.  Of course, I live far from the origin of both the shrimp and the avocado, so it’s not terribly seasonal for me, but occasionally those splurges are worth it.  Like here:

Shrimp and Avocado

I didn’t love the corn soup, but I did love the contrast between the warmth and richness of the soup and the texture and freshness of the shrimp and avocado.

Summer Corn Soup with Shrimp

If you make this recipe, I suggest cutting way back on the oregano.  In fact, that’s the only thing I’d really recommend changing, though I look forward to trying this with my mom’s corn chowder recipe.  Maybe I can even talk my brother into bringing some avocados home from LA…

Recipe:
Summer Corn Soup with Shrimp from Sprouted Kitchen

0719 Albóndigas con Salsa de Tomate

Oh my gosh, you guys. Tonight’s dinner may have redeemed the Spanish cookbook experiment. Now why couldn’t I have just called this dish ‘meatballs in tomato sauce’? Because then I would miss out on a perfectly good excuse to pretend that I can speak, well, any Spanish at all. I mean, I can ask about the location of the bathroom, and I can say that I want more of something, but that’s about it.

Anyway, this was super easy and definitely worth heating up the kitchen on an already hot night. I could walk you through the process, but I actually have photos for once, and the whole recipe is at the bottom of this post. So, albóndigas from start to finish:

Making Albóndigas

Albóndigas in the frying pan

Making Salsa de Tomate

Albóndigas con Salsa de Tomate

These were excellent meatballs – sorry, albóndigas – and I loved the bright orange-yellow of the tomato sauce – sorry, the salsa de tomate – over the creamy polenta.  I have a feeling we’ll be making this one again soon.

Albóndigas con Salsa de Tomate
Adapted from Spanish

8 ounces minced ground pork
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil, more if necessary
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons red or dry white wine
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the pork, green onions, garlic, cheese, oregano, and plenty of salt and pepper.  Form into 12-14 small firm balls.  Heat the olive oil a large heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, then add the meatballs and cook for about 5 minutes, turning frequently, until evenly browned.  Add the wine and quickly deglaze the pan, then add the remaining ingredients and cover, lowering the heat to medium.  Cook gently for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes are saucy and the meatballs are cooked through.  Excellent served over polenta or with crusty bread.