Archive for June, 2011

Cook This: Strawberry Buttermilk Bread

It’s strawberry season (finally!) and I overbought in all my excitement and needed to bake something with the leftovers from just popping them into my mouth in all their fresh glory. Since these strawberries were already pretty sweet I was trying to find a recipe that didn’t have a ton of sugar in it–most of them had at least a cup!

And then I found this fabulous recipe on Five and Spice’s blog, which only called for a 1/3 cup of sugar. It turns out that may not have been enough, so I would probably suggest putting in 1/2 cup when all is said and done. But it had other wonderful ingredients, including buttermilk and lavender! I changed things around a little more and came up with this version below. Enjoy!

Strawberry Buttermilk Bread

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lavender leaves or flowers (dried or fresh)
2 cups sliced strawberries (tops removed  and berries cut into quarters)
1/4 cup canola oil (or another neutral flavored oil)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 cup of buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, you can add a teaspoon of white vinegar  to a cup of milk and let it stand for 10 minutes.  Then use this soured milk in place of buttermilk)

Preheat your oven to 375F, and grease a 9-inch loaf pan.

Feel free to add more or less lavender, depending on how much you like it.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and soda, salt, sugar, and lavender.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil and eggs until mixed well.  Then, whisk in the vanilla, lemon zest, and buttermilk and stir until smooth.

Stir the wet and dry mixtures together gently, being careful not to overmix.

Your batter should look something like this before you add the strawberries.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir gently together with a spatula or wooden spoon. Don’t blend together completely; leave some patches of dry ingredients.

In go the strawberries!

Mix in the strawberries and you're ready for the oven!

Pour the strawberries on top and stir until everything is just blended together–don’t overmix. Then pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until it is golden brown on top and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Mine puffed up a lot in the oven, so don’t be alarmed!

Look how high it got! Yum!

Let the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then dig in. I love Five and Spice’s suggestion to eat it with a dollop of creme fraiche, yogurt, or lemon curd! Obviously, whipped cream or mascarpone would also be delicious.


June 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm Leave a comment

Northside Festival 2011 Preview

For those who have followed the rise of The L Magazine’s Northside Fest, they’ll know that it has been a quick and impressive climb. With headliners like Beirut and Guided By Voices, Northside has come to rival some of the best festivals of the summer. Below are some of our picks for the non-headlining shows. This is a fun fest, the tickets are affordable, and it’s all pretty self-contained in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, so definitely check it out if you can!

Thursday, June 16th:

1. Atlas Sound at Saint Cecelia’s Church (Kranky showcase) with White Rainbow, doors at 7 pm

Photo via

Headed by the prolific Bradford Cox, also of Deerhunter, Atlas Sound has a reputation for being an amazing live show event. And how great is the above photo? So wholesome.

2. Reading Rainbow @ Bruar Falls with Eternal Summers, doors at 8 pm

Photo by Peter English via

This will most certainly be a girl pop love fest. Both of these bands have recently reached my music radar screen and are really perfect for summer.

Friday June 17th:

1. Lucky Dragons @ Shea Stadium for the Redefine Mag showcase with Wires Under Tension, Big Spider’s Back, RYAT, and Duyun, doors at 8 pm.

Photo by David Horvitz via

This will without a doubt be a fun, interesting, mind-melding show of the greatest proportions. Yes, I do have a personal investment in it (I’m helping out with the showcase) but I also truly believe that all of these bands, most of which have visual projections to go along with their music, will blow your mind.

2. Frankie Rose @ Glasslands with Brilliant Colors, doors at 8:30 pm

Photo via

Formerly of Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and Crystal Stilts, Frankie Rose plays a solo show without her new band, The Outs, this Friday night. More girl band fun times, from a local Brooklynite.

Saturday June 18th:

1. Twin Sister @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, doors at 8 pm

Photo by George Kalivas via

I fell deeply in love with Twin Sister with their Color Your Life EP of 2010. I was excited to learn that they will be finally releasing a full length album in the coming months. This is certain to be a quiet, chilled out show.

2. Javelin @ Glasslands with Delicate Steve, doors at 8:30 pm

Photo via

I’ve been excited about Javelin ever since I bought their quirky electro-indie album No Mas last year on a whim. I caught a glimpse of them at Brooklyn Bowl last year when we interviewed The Ruby Suns, and their set up, which included then about 20 boomboxes, was quite the sight to be seen.

Sunday June 19th:

1. Yacht @ Music Hall of Williamsburg with The Miracles Club, doors at 8 pm

Photo via

Yacht, helmed by Jona Bechtolt always brings out the passion in their fans; this is partly due to the fact that they have a creative, unique, and perhaps even magical take on the indie-electronica genre. I’ve heard amazing things about the live show, where I’m sure they will be playing favorites from I Believe in You, Your Magic is Real and new material.

2. Diamond Rings @ Europa with Porcelain Raft, doors at 8 pm

Photo via

This should definitely be a fun show if you can make it through to Sunday night. Diamond Rings plays retro-inspired indie dance music, influenced by the likes of David Bowie and The Cure.

June 16, 2011 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

Snapshots from Maine, Breakfast and Otherwise

Me and the ball-and-chain just got back from a week in Maine. If you’ve ever been, there’s a reason they call the state “Vacationland” as there is a lot to see and do and there is some beautiful scenery. While we were there, we of course had some excellent breakfasts, and other tasty treats. Here’s a photo tour:

Duckfat is an awesome restaurant in Portland. Their specialty is french fries fried in, you guessed it, duckfat. But, they also have amazing shakes and we started off our drive north with this blueberry and lemon curd number. Yes, it was as good as it sounds!

Fresh-baked pies at Fat Cat Bakery in Portland. A pie can be breakfast, right?

The view from the top of the Beehive Mountain, Acadia National Park

Beehive Mountain, Acadia National Park

Sunset on Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Giant blueberry pancakes at Jeannie's Great Maine Breakfast in Bar Harbor

Each table has a jar of their famous Strawberry Rhubarb Fruit Spread, which was delicious on the pancake.

These lobster bouys were on Isleford, one of the five islands of the Cranberry Isles.

We woke up to these gorgeous homemade blueberry muffins waiting for us at the Acacia House bed and breakfast in Bar Harbor.

These were some of the best blueberry muffins we've ever had!

After the muffin we had a choice of five entrees. The hubby had yummy, milky oatmeal with loads of fresh fruit.

I had what they called a fritatta but more resembled an open omelet, with herbed potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, and goat cheese, with some sourdough toast. If only all bed and breakfasts had breakfasts like this...

The Jordan Pond House is inside Acadia Park and is famous for its popovers.

And here is a lovely speciman. The popovers are made to order and they are huge! And served with jam and butter.

The inside of the popovers are soft and steamy--in other words, perfect. I don't usually get too excited about popvers, but these really were special.

The Jordan Pond House is located on Jordan Pond, which is a beautiful part of Acadia National Park.

Wondering where your morning milk comes from? In the town of Camden, it might be from one of these belted Galloway cows. Cute, huh?

This old school doughnut shop, the Willow Bake Shoppe, has been in the small town of Rockport for generations.

Isn't it adorable?? In Maine, a lot of shops are in old, cute houses like this.

We opted for the classics: a plain cake doughnut and a cinnamon and sugar covered cake doughnut. Both were delicious and devoured quickly!

The Willow Bake Shoppe seemed to be a favorite of the locals, like this group of old timers enjoying their morning.

The counter at Willow Bake Shoppe in Rockport.

Moody's Diner is another old school restaurant, you can find it in the town of Waldoboro.

The sign says it all, doesn't it?

Moody's Diner is a real institution in Maine.

Moody's Diner is famous for their pie. We opted for the strawberry rhubarb since it was in season. It did not disappoint!

The rocky Maine coast is on display at Pemaquid Point.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

The York Harbor Lighthouse is the most photographed lighthouse in New England. Quaint, eh?

Another giant pancake, this one is blueberry almond and was pretty fantastic. We got this right over the Maine border in Portsmouth, New Hampshire at Colby's.

June 11, 2011 at 8:20 pm 2 comments

NYC Summer 2011 Show Selections

New York in the summer can be quite unbearable: the humidity, the hot-as-hell subway commutes, the very confused tourists, ETC. One of the best things about our summers, though, is the incredible amount of great free music. From Celebrate Brooklyn to the River to River Fest to the Williamsburg Waterfront, you’ll never lack for choices. Here are a few of our top picks for summer shows, some free, some not. If you missed out on tickets, never fear: most of these are outdoors, so you can at least get to listen happily while taking in the local scenery.

1. Andrew Bird, in Prospect Park for Celebrate Brooklyn, 6/10, free

Photo of Andrew Bird via

Andrew Bird kicks off the season for Celebrate Brooklyn with a free show at Prospect Park! He will surely play songs from his latest, Useless Creatures, as well as his 2009 standout Noble Beast.

2. The BooksJunip, and Doveman, in Prospect Park for Celebrate Brooklyn, 6/17, free

Photo by Jon Bergmann via

We covered one of Junip’s first New York shows awhile back, and we’re looking forward to seeing what they have for us this time around. The Books put on an excellent live show as well. Don’t miss this one!

3.  Guided By Voices at McCarren Park on 6/18, $35 day of show (if still available)

Photo via

Guided by Voices put on an unforgettable live show; this fact is beyond question. This show is part of the Northside Festival, which takes place from June 15th to June 19th in venues across Williamsburg and Greenpoint. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll be hosting a showcase for another online music site. More details to come, as well as coverage of the entire fest.

4. Lower Dens and Dirty Beaches at the South Street Seaport, 7/1, free

Image via

Both of these bands are new on my radar but their debut albums (Twin Hand Movement 2010, Badlands 2011, respectively) have impressed me greatly. I saw Lower Dens last year when they opened for Future Islands, and since then I’ve been looking forward to checking them out on a bigger stage.

5. Tune-Yards at Pier 54 on July 14th/Patti Smith at Castle Clinton, both free

This is a tough choice! We’ve seen Tune-Yards before and she’s amazing live, but Patti Smith is a legend. Either way, it’s a win-win, but for Patti Smith, you need to get free tickets ahead of time, either online or at the entrance to Castle Clinton the day of the show.

6. The Radio Dept at South Street Seaport on July 15th (free)/The Wooden Birds at Rock Shop ($10)

Photo via

Another tough call. Both of these bands are fantastic live, but if you’re trying to be thrifty, The Radio Dept is free. Count on it being crowded, though! If you’re in Park Slope and in the mood for a more mellow vibe, The Wooden Birds are a guaranteed good time.

7. Wanda Jackson at Central Park Summerstage 7/27,  free

Photo via Third Man Records

Wanda Jackson is the unofficial “Queen of Rockabilly” and has had a resurgence in popularity due to her recent album The Party Ain’t Over, released this January and produced by Jack White. I caught most of her set at SXSW, and while I wasn’t able to get too close to the stage, I could tell she still has “it” after all of these years.

8. Ra Ra Riot and Buke & Gass, in Prospect Park for Celebrate Brooklyn 8/5, free

Photo of via

Having never seen either of these bands live, I can only judge by how much I like their albums and how positive the press about them has been. It’s free, so no harm, no foul.

9. Sonic Youth and Wild Flag, Williamsburg Waterfront, 8/12, $32.50

Photo via

Go to this show if you can! Sonic Youth are eventually going to stop playing amazing, outdoor NY shows with fantastic openers such as Wild Flag, and you’re going to be sorry if you miss out. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

10. Afro-Punk Festival in Fort Greene in Commodore Barry Park with headliners Cee Lo Green, Santigold, Fishbone, and including Janelle Monae, Toro Y Moi, Reggie Watts, among others 8/27-8/28, free

Photo via

This has to be one of the best line ups of a free festival of the summer that I have seen in a while. How could you pass up on Cee Lo Green playing with Janelle Monae? For FREE?? The schedule of performances is yet to be announced, but keep checking the Afro-Punk Fest website for updates.

There are only a few of the many live and many free shows. For a more complete list, check here and here. Enjoy your summer!

June 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

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