Sharing stuff I've learned, and things I've thought about...

Anchovies!!

Anchovies are one of those love-’em or hate-’em foods. My family is firmly in the former category. But however you feel about anchovies on your pizza or in your salad, no good cook should be without a jar of anchovies on the fridge.

I once read somewhere (it may have been in The Joy of Cooking) that a sauce or gravy that comes out a little bland could be punched up a bit by adding 2 or 3 mashed anchovies.

Let’s think about that a minute. If anchovies can enhance flavor, why use them only to correct a problem? I started to think about this when I encountered a couple of soup and stew recipes that called for a few mashed anchovies. Duh!!

So, now I routinely add anchovies to all of my soups, stews, gravies and many sauces. This does NOT add any “fishy” or other telltale flavor, but does make for a richer, more flavorful dish. This should not be too surprising, as other things that are distinctively flavorful (think Caesar Salad or Worcestershire sauce) use anchovies as a significant ingredient.

Given that anchovies are very inexpensive, and keep well stored in the olive oil in which they’re packed and refrigerated, they’re a great item to have on hand to give your cooking an extra edge.

 

My love affair with bicycles

I’ve been riding bikes off and on most of my adult life. As I’ve gotten older with fewer parental responsibilities, I’ve been able to get more involved in cycling as a sport rather than an occasional diversion.

There are three things that stand out for me with regard to bicycles – efficiency, simplicity and beauty.

As to efficiency, one thing has remained constant in my relation to bikes. It has always seemed just short of magical the ability of a bike to move me, under my own power at speeds and over distances that would be impossible otherwise. I’ve done my share of hiking, and covering 10 miles on foot is a significant undertaking. 10 miles by bike is something that almost anyone can do without any preparation, using most any kind of bike. I find it hard to roll out on a bike and not find a grin stuck on my face…

And such a simple machine! Anyone can look at any bike and instantly see how it works. Pedals, chain, sprockets, wheels. That’s all it takes. You can take the most exotic, high-end carbon-fiber and titanium bike, and it’s still the same basic elements, and almost anyone can ride a bike.

As to beauty, even the most mundane bicycle has a certain charm and grace, but there are those that can really see the bike as a functional piece of art. Our local design company Shinola has certainly done their part on this score.

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Passion Pit

When a piece of music catches my ear, I will usually pop over to AllMusic.com and look up the artist. If what I read is as interesting as the track, I will put one or more of the artists’ albums into my library on Rhapsody. Often I won’t get around to listening to the albums for months; there are some in my library that I don’t even remember where I heard their music or what they sounded like.

Recently I dropped most of the albums in the library (probably 30-40) into a playlist and started shuffling.

Very interesting mix…

One of the artists that has been a real surprise is Passion Pit. I heard their “Take A Walk” track first on John Mosier’s Modern Music on WDET, and noticed it popping up in a commercial and once in a video game.

Very hard to describe their sound (as is a lot of what I like) but the band puts out some really energetic and unique pop music.

Give a listen to this track. Undeniably quirky, but also undeniably catchy. The kinda stuff that just amazes me with it’s imagination and originality. One of the things that I look for in music artists is that while their tracks can vary significantly from one to another (this is the only Passion Pit track I can think of offhand that uses this highly-processed vocal track), everything they do has a sound that makes their work recognizable against the bland wall-to-wall noise that is the norm in popular music.