Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Look under your chairs for a gluten-free chocolate cupcake!

And you get a cupcake . . . and you get a cupcake. . . everybody gets a gluten-free chocolate cupcake!

So you're probably disappointed now that you likely don't have a surprise chocolate cupcake waiting for you. My apologies. Just putting on my "Director's" hat with a new show idea.

Recently, a friend of mine explained a personal dilemma she encountered when planning her son's Birthday party. Having been out of work for awhile, her budget for the Birthday party was lean. After having made a Birthday cake for the young guests, she learned that one child was gluten intolerant and would be unable to have any of the regular cake. Now, had I been in the situation, you can bet that little "Johnny" we'll call him, would probably have had to skip dessert, or I would have given him a handful of cocktail peanuts. But having the bigger heart that she does, my friend sets out to locate a recipe for gluten-free cake and then is taken aback by the price of gluten-free flour alternatives. She scours the kitchen for ingredients that she might concoct into a more cost-effective substitute, and armed with the wonderful powers of google, the garbanzo bean-based chocolate cupcakes are born.

And they are amazingly delicious. So I've decided my friend needs to host a cooking show entitled, "The Financial Crisis Gourmet" or something similar because for the past few months she has churned out dish after delicious dish on a dime. Pumpkin Risotto, Puerto Rican Beans and Rice—the seasonings and squash in the beans and rice are what make it extraordinary. So, without permission, I am posting the gluten-free cupcake recipe here. Because even if you're a fan of gluten, these cupcakes don't disappoint.

Until the show idea gets picked up, the humble Condiment Kitchen will stage a presentation of recipes.

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 (19 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
4 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.
Place the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds after the first minute, until chocolate is melted and smooth. If you have a powerful microwave, reduce the power to 50 percent.

Combine the beans and eggs in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add the sugar and the baking powder, and pulse to blend. Pour in the melted chocolate and blend until smooth, scraping down the corners to make sure chocolate is completely mixed. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan.

Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Working Late"

At it again with favorite friend and former co-worker, Renee, reviving our habits of staying up all night working—which previously included the feverish frenzy of completing court reports that over-worked 3rd shift CPS worker's are known for. Thankfully, we've left that chaos behind. But here we are, drinking cafe au laits, giggling, re-living our days in the trenches of child and family service warfare in between youtube sharing of favorites, Kyle Kinane, Margaret Cho, Angelah Johnson, and excerpts from Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler and author Ted Kooser, various publications.

It is that time of year that warrants reflection, but I don't indulge in too much dwelling; Someone once told me that you cannot live with regret because in a way that means you regret who you are. I cannot decide if that person is a moron or a genius; perhaps both.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Apple Is not from this Tree

Last week, I took a client and his daughter to McDonald's as part of a supervised visit. The agency I work for encourages workers to blend in with the family when out in public as to protect the privacy of the client who is receiving services. Apparently, I blended too well. A woman and her son were playing close to my client and his daughter. The woman said to me, "you know, she looks just like you." Stunned for a second, I quickly replied with, "Yeah, but she's a daddy's girl." So then I looked at couple of my childhood photos to see if there was a likeness. I suppose there was a little resemblance. But damn, I wish I had a pony. 

This was the same dad and daughter that I went to Sesame Street Live with a few weeks back. It was OK. I'd never been before. But if you're a big bird fan, it was a pretty big deal. 

The Good Life

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Paper boy (or girl)

Recently, I've been picking up overnight shifts (NOTE: I work for health and human services now, not a pimp)and discovered an online Nintendo classics game site. I've spent the week playing Paperboy, which was just as exciting as I remembered -- look out for the grim reaper, lady wielding a knife, jackhammer dude, small tornado and break dancer guy while trying to deliver the daily news. I was never able to make it through the week as a youngster. However, only moments ago I beat the game, which was rather anti-climatic. Only a headline reading, "Paperboy retires!"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Upon Googling Myself . . .

Karen Parks’ “Nobody Knows” – A Tribute to Harry T. Burleigh (transcript)
Friday, February 08th, 2008

By Craig Havighurst

Soprano Karen Parks has released a new CD whose title, Nobody Knows, is intended as a double entendre. Half of the album consists of vital and well-known Negro spirituals. But Parks is also calling attention to the unknown composer and singer who brought those spirituals into the American mainstream more than 100 years ago. WPLN’s Craig Havighurst reports.

Audio for this feature is available here.

It’s likely that only students of American classical music and African-American culture will have heard of Harry T. Burleigh, even though the songs that Burleigh first arranged for concert performance are woven into our national DNA.

(SOUND: Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen)

Karen Parks sings Burleigh’s songs and his praises on her new album Nobody Knows, released this month through Nashville’s Thirty Tigers. She says Burleigh has been important to her since the very first time she was tapped for serious vocal training. She was growing up in Greenville South Carolina, a precocious freshman in high school intent on a career in corporate law. Then a teacher heard her voice and arranged to enroll her in a regional fine arts academy. Parks was 13.

PARKS: “And I am so fortunate for that. I was the only African American female at the fine arts center. I wanted to sing spirituals. They knew that, and they wanted me to of course, and my first book was The Spirituals of Harry T. Burleigh”.

Burleigh, who was born the year after the end of the Civil War, wanted to be a recital singer, and his home community of Erie, Pennsylvania raised funds to send him to New York’s National Conservatory of Music. There, he became a protégé of the conservatory’s new director, the era-shaping composer Antonin Dvorak.

SNYDER: “And the unusual thing for an African American musician at that time was that he did not forsake his heritage in the spirituals.”

Jean Snyder, assistant professor of music at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is writing a biography of Burleigh.

SNYDER: “And it’s probable that Dvorak helped him fully understand that this repertoire was a repertoire that was universal. And in Dvorak’s own words, he said give those melodies to the world.”

(SOUND: My Lord What A Morning)

Burliegh did just that, embracing Dvorak’s radical view that folk songs were important art that should be integrated into classical music. Karen Parks says his arrangements brought subtle and uplifting instrumental accompaniment to what had been an entirely a capella form of singing.

PARKS: “The spiritual must be simple yet on the classical concert stage it must be interesting and intricate enough to have that title, and that shows the real genius of Burleigh.”

Burleigh’s race kept him from the recital career he longed for, but he did teach at the National Conservatory and became an editor at an important music publishing house. Parks recalls another long-term position that regularly put him on a stage in front of New York’s wealthiest elites.

PARKS: “I believe it was in 1894 that he applied to be the baritone soloist at St. George’s Episcopal Church. There were 60 applicants. And he was only African American, and there was only one position, and he was chosen. Of course there was some uproar but it didn’t matter. He had the talent and they could see beyond his color.”

Parks brings remarkable credentials of her own to the Burleigh recording project. After her post-graduate training at UC Santa Barbara, she earned a Fulbright scholarship which allowed her a year of private study at La Scala Opera House in Milan, perhaps the most prestigious such academy in the world. She trained to sing in 12 different languages, but on Nobody Knows, she sings a uniquely American strain of English, one that — like Dvorak’s work — is both vernacular and rarified.

(SOUND: Lovely Dark And Lonely One)

In “Lovely Dark and Lonely One,” Burleigh sets music to a poem by Langston Hughes.

PARKS: “There are some powerful words there, and you want to express that. The text determines they way that a song, any song, is sung in my opinion. The words must be expressed to their fullest extent.”

Karen Parks brings her interpretation of those words and Burleigh’s music to Vanderbilt’s Turner Hall this Saturday night at 8.

For Nashville Public Radio, I’m Craig Havighurst.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Neighborhood WATCH

"Yeah, look at 'Tripod' over there," I say to my boyfriend, who has just looked up from his paperwork and said to me, "Hey, those guys are naked". A couple of weeks ago on an early Sunday morning, I rode with him in his work truck to check a couple of job sites. He works for a building supply company, and the houses we looked at this morning were in an upscale, developing neighborhood. Earlier, I had noted an older Crown Vic with darkly tinted windows that pulled up in front of the house across the street. This car wouldn't have been out of place on say . . . 13th and "G", but it did seem out of place here on Heritage Place Drive. Another car had pulled up behind it, and the driver, "Tripod", had just gotten out of the car. The driver of the Crown Vic, wearing the same "outfit", got of his car and walked over to "Tripod". We were stunned at first, but soon we both broke into laughter as the guys drove off in the 2nd car with a broken out back windshield. I said "You can't just drive around naked!" What if I'd been a little old lady? Could've been startled to death!" We called the cops and described an abandoned vehicle, the Crown Vic, and the naked driver who left in another car with his younger, naked companion.

An investigating officer later contacted both of us and asked for a statement. Turns out they had gone to investigate the Crown Vic and had seen narcotics that were visible from looking in the window. They'd also had several calls of reckless driving for the broken out back windshield car. The officer asked if we would be able to identify the suspects if we participated in a line up. I told the officer that unfortunately I didn't get a good look at their faces. However, if the lower half was in a line-up, I was certain I could ID them. "He was not Jewish officer, and I can assure you of that."

The investigating officer had stopped by my office to show me the photographs for the line-up. I explained the situation to my coworkers. Upon mentioning the two naked guys getting in one car and leaving a car full of narcotics behind, Scott says, "That is why I do not do drugs." HETA says, "That poor boy's mother. She's going to be in the courtroom finding out that her son is not only doing drugs but is also riding around naked with an older naked boy. It's too much."

Friday, June 13, 2008