Changed station and heard Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” – something I only found out afterwards what it was. Much like my previous blog post about big blind spots in my knowledge, I don’t like or care about stuff like this revisionary “remix” of what is basically “Baby Got Back” with some annoying rapping from Minaj strung throughout. I had seen Minaj’s name all over the internet, but I had no clue about her, erm, work.
After that I heard the nonsensical shit also known as “I’m Gonna Show You Crazy” by Bebe Rexha. (Another one I had to look up after the fact.) The song sounded like a carbon copy of everything else I was hearing and the lyrics about showing you how psycho she is – or whatever – Jesus. It was not the worst thing but upon initial hearing, it was repellent in its relentless sameness. “Girl, you can’t be fixed.”
Then on another station I got the horror of “The Bad Touch” from the Bloodhound Gang (“let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel”) followed immediately by Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita”. Once again – what decade is it? Who is programming these stations?
As I pulled into the driveway it was Bonnie Raitt’s “Nick of Time” – check out that hair in the video! – what the hell? And the line “Life gets mighty precious when there’s less of it to waste” seemed apt – if only we could apply it to what plays on the radio.
We never really think about our blind spots until we are confronted by them. We believe we are thinking holistically but are blinded by our own limitations and experiences.
I think I know a lot about music but then there are blind spots – whole genres I don’t care about. Or just periods in time when I did not pay attention. S. mentioned a one-hit wonder “Would I Lie to You?” by Charles & Eddie. I had never heard of it, but it was apparently a big hit at the time.
My blind spot in that time period was my relentless race through university and almost academic focus on listening to Russian and Eastern European folk music, meaning that while I did listen to other things, I was not listening to the radio, was not listening to new things unless introduced to me by friends.
Not a big deal but these small details are a bit like doors opening onto whole blind spot areas. And one such blind spot is gluten-free fun.
I have never thought a lot about baking gluten-free goods, but then a gluten-free person became a part of my team at work. It created a whole new set of considerations. I have been experimenting ever since. So far I only have about two recipes that are foolproof.
One is coconut macaroon and dark chocolate bites, which is naturally gluten-free. Clearly there are better results when something that was always gluten-free without adaptations is made. It is not just for gluten-free lifestyles/diets but is just made this way. No flours of any time. Just coconut, egg, chocolate and cream.
coconut macaroon chocolate ganache tarts
The gluten-free brownies (and also paleo) are getting better each time I make them – or at least their consistency is. The latest was a little bit more moist than previous attempts. It uses coconut flour and maple syrup and a lot of eggs so should be similar to a normal brownie. It’s not quite the same but at least gluten-free folks can get some kind of sweet chocolaty treat to gobble up like everyone else can.
I have a gluten-free Kahlua cheesecake bite recipe I want to try – so next time around that will be on the menu.
How many times now have I made the so-called crack pie and NOT posted a recipe? How can that be?
It’s time I remedied this problem.
Gooey insides of crack pie
How much crack is in that crack pie?
Crack pie recipe
Preheat oven to 175C
1 cup graham cracker or digestive biscuit crumbs
4 tablespoons melted butter
4 teaspoons sugar
Mix all together and press into a pie tin and bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly while making the filling.
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
1/3 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 egg yolks
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup ground oats
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips (I use M&Ms or chocolate chunks if I don’t have chocolate chips)
1/2 cup pecan pieces
(3 tablespoons M&Ms to top)
Mix all ingredients. Spread into the baked crust. Bake 25 minutes. When nearly fully baked, press the M&Ms into the top.
Cool completely and chill in the fridge, preferably overnight, before cutting to ensure clean slices.
…Just so you know, crack pie is addictive. Eat with caution and in moderation.
The most recent time I made crack pie, I made two. This time I did not have any chocolate chips – the normal filling – so I used M&Ms. I used to have so many active “smugglers” bringing me all manner of chocolate chips from the US… but not so much any more. Who wants to assume the role of my new chocolate chip smuggler? Volunteers? Anyone?
I have written about lemon bars before – and have baked lemon bars since childhood. My mom had a recipe, and I just followed it. As I have written before, it was one of the easiest things one could bake and have it come out impressively. People loved them. But after I had a mishap baking them in Iceland (simply never was able to make them turn out right again), these fell off the list of popular baked goods. I have made them once or twice since living in Sweden but never really felt the happiness and ease about them that I once felt. That original mom-approved recipe had served me well but I recently decided that it had its day. I recognized that the recipe, though nice, just did not produce enough lemony gooey goodness. The lemon was not thick enough to be really … luscious. It sort of seeped into the shortbread crust, and while it still had a nice result, it was not like the lemon curd-ish/lemon meringue pie-like filling one might dream of when grabbing a slab of lemon bar.
ooey gooey lemon raspberry bars
I also wanted to incorporate a bit of fresh raspberry to please the palate of a raspberry-loving colleague. With the new recipe led to nothing but overflowing, glowing praise. “This tastes just like heaven”. New recipe, fresh start.
lemon raspberry bars – just like heaven
Lemon raspberry bar recipe Crust
Preheat oven to 175C
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Mix all ingredients and press evenly into a rectangular (approximately 9×13 glass pan). Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Cool about 30 minutes before adding the topping and baking again.
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup fresh raspberries
Mix sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a saucepan and whisk together. Add raspberries. Cook all over medium heat and whisk constantly until the puree becomes thicker and raspberries start to break down. Strain the mixture and let the strained mix cool. Set aside.
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup flour
Whisk eggs, sugar, zest and flour together. Gradually add in the lemon juice. Whisk until just combined. Pour over the warm crust. Once settled, add raspberry puree by the tablespoon around the top of the lemon. Swirl the raspberry by using a toothpick along the surface to create swirl. Move pan carefully to oven. Bake 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then cut into squares.
In recent weeks I have been dreaming of bears a lot. Actual bears. Like giant brown bears in the forest bears. I have dreamt multiple times that they appear on my lawn, that they are running around my yard while I am on the front porch locked out of the house and somehow are even climbing onto my rooftop.
The strange thing about this sudden proliferation of bears in my dreams is that bears are apparently showing up in the areas not far from my house. It is very strange for them to be so far south – and it’s certainly a worrisome thought.
Given how often my dreams are a close approximation of reality, I hope I don’t get home to find a bear waiting for me (other than Teddy of course).
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Random Gum, I have selected songs from the mixes of the last ten years to include on this year-end mix as well as a couple of discoveries to usher in 2015. Everything is as random and impossible to plan as ever.
1. The The – “Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)”
A driving, prescient song with a message truer now than when it originally came out in the late 80s. Valid during the hubbub after the Danish cartoon incident several years ago and valid anew after the Charlie Hebdo tragedy in Paris
2. Dolly Parton – “Love and Learn”…each new love I find/turns out to be the wrong kind…
Not sure when I will ever learn – this song has been lingering in my head since 2nd grade (Dolly obsession era)
3. Kishi Bashi – “Manchester” …My favorite part’s when I die, in your arms like a movie…
The beauty of recommending music to people that they fall in love with. Here’s to Dr Ross
4. The Dø – “Stay (Just a Little Bit More)”
Perfect anthem for all the wasted years dealing with the Married Idiot. “He was a bore, a true chore, and I still wonder why I ever wanted to see him more…”
21. Tatsuya Ogino and the Bunnies – “My Sweet and Bitter Days”
The Friday song – the good old days at Opera. Happened to hear on the Friday when I finally put this all together. Love to Janne, Lauren, Annette, Jennifer and everyone from the good old days
22. Sam Phillips – “Love Changes Everything” …I’m not sorry we loved, but I hope I didn’t keep you too long…
When things crashed before finally changing the trajectory of everything: “We can’t fix what’s broken, so let’s leave it here, and walk on – I’ll be right behind you”
23. John Grant – “Queen of Denmark” …I hope you know that all I want from you is sex, to be with someone who looks smashing in athletic wear, and if you’re haircut isn’t right you’ll be dismissed…
More reflection on wasted time with Married Idiot
24. Portishead – “The Rip” … and the tenderness I feel will send the dark underneath/will I follow?…
Feels like the painful but transformative spring of 2008
25. Crowded House – “Don’t Dream It’s Over” …there is freedom within, there is freedom without – try to catch the deluge in a paper cup…
This one never gets old.
26. Martha Wainwright – “Far Away”
Heartbreaking sentiment: “I have no children/I have no husband/I have no reason to be alive/oh, give me one”
27. Lia Ices – “Little Marriage” …I started minding not having it all/one little marriage or big love…
For Jane, for Lóa and everyone who has been enveloped by the lush, layered sounds of Lia Ices
28. Joan Armatrading – “Save Me” … immune or evasive – throw me a lifeline – save me…
29. Low – “Closer”
Being enveloped in something that makes you feel more remote and distant than ever and needing escape
30. The Magnetic Fields – “My Sentimental Melody” …cool and unfazed, you’re always amazed when someone gets hurt…
Used to love this song but now it seems whiny self-victimization now that there’s some backstory.
39. Cowboy Junkies – “200 More Miles”
The first feeling of real heartbreak, 1989
40. Blondie – “The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game”
2015 – Part Past Part Fiction
41. Charlotte Gainsbourg – “Trick Pony”
For Martina – more dog and pony shows, one trick ponies and all the rest.
42. Tomten – “You Won’t Be On My Mind”
Hometown Seattle music. Always lovely. How I wish I’d have my 40th birthday in Seattle this year featuring both Tomten and Tom Skerritt reading a poem! And here’s to all my beloved Seattle friends and acquaintances!
46. Poison – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”
For S and spontaneous, passionate renditions of this ridiculous song
47. Bryan Ferry – “This is Tomorrow” … Suddenly a voice I’m hearing/Sweet to my ear/This is tomorrow callin’/Wishin’ you were here…
For S, if only it could be yesterday or tomorrow and not a return to the darkest days
48. The Primitives – “Way Behind Me” …all those lies inside your head/took my hand and led me blindly…
For who I was in the 1980s – and all the people I knew then, and the continued need to know when to walk away. “I’m gonna try my best move/I’m gonna leave you way behind me”
49. Cameo – “Word Up”
For Tomislav; for S and his dancing career/codpiece uniform (ha!)
50. Teenage Fanclub – “Alcoholiday”… Went to bed but I’m not ready/Baby I’ve been fucked already/Falling into line but I’m doing nothing/We’ve got nothing worth discussing./Went to go but it’s all hazy/People say I’m going crazy…
S – the brief time between dark days turned out to be just an “alcoholiday” – never a more fitting song for almost anything. Never knowing what you’ve got til you’ve fucked it up for good. And now it remains to be seen whether the end is Leaving Las Vegas or Edgar Allan Poe
51. Mega Bog – “Aurora/99”
More Seattle gems. For Kyle, Naomi: “Goddammit, don’t take 99!”
52. Cate Le Bon – “I Think I Knew”
Thanks to Aurélien for the lovely recommendation, as always
53. St. Vincent – “Birth in Reverse”
Hard decisions that may close the door forever- a kind of birth in reverse. Love for Annette.
54. Sister Sledge – “Lost in Music” …responsibility to me is a tragedy/I’ll get a job some other time…
Get a job, you fucking disco cokeheads! For S
55. Laura Veirs – “Sun Song”
An Aurélien recommendation – thinking fondly of Malin (because of course I’m the sunshine of her work day!)
56. Jeff Beck – “Morning Dew”
Just has a cool sound
58. The Preatures – “It Gets Better” … And all the times I had you near, through my fingers disappear/I see all that it could be, and it’s better than it ever could be…
S: “Only lonely in your arms again/I know you’re see-through but can we just pretend”
62. St. Vincent – “Digital Witness” …digital witnesses/what’s the point of even sleeping?/if I can’t show it, you can’t see me/what’s the point of doing anything?…
For Martina and Jennie – the word “digital” is forever tainted for me.
63. Cyndi Lauper – “I Drove All Night”
Always stuck driving all night, through all kinds of treacherous conditions
64. The Dø – “Sparks”
“If someone comes & shows up at the door/No one will be there to answer anymore/We have it all on tape now”
69. Father John Misty – “Bored in the USA”
Jesus, this cynical song makes me ache. “Now I’ve got a lifetime to consider all the ways/I grow more disappointing to you as my beauty warps and fades/I suspect you feel the same/When I was young I dreamt of a passionate obligation to a roommate”
71. Al Green – “Tired of Being Alone”
Can’t just be with someone because you’re tired of being alone. For S
72. Tom Waits – “Ruby’s Arms”
“Jesus Christ this goddamn rain, will someone put me on a train/I’ll never kiss your lips again, or break your heart/as I say goodbye I’ll say goodbye, say goodbye to Ruby’s arms”
I have been writing about remote work possibilities and up- and downsides of virtual workforces for ages. I consider myself a bit of a remote-work activist (at least on my own behalf) and definitely an advocate. Having worked mostly in the tech world – and also owning my own communications shop, which is a 24/7 home office situation – it always seemed reasonable, normal and logical that remote work would become the norm rather than the exception by now.
But it really hasn’t. People cite a lot of arguments against virtual work, and in some jobs and industries it is not necessarily as easy to do as many tech-oriented jobs.
I recently read a blog post on the upsides (and handful of challenges) of remote work from a relatively new employee of the all-remote company 10up. The writer makes great points about flexibility and being able to count all those “working nights” hours as work time, and choosing to work when you are most productive and feeling your best. (He cites time zone differences as the biggest challenge; I agree and would add the “perception problem” to the equation. In an all-remote or tech-friendly company, this might not figure in, but in traditional companies that allow remote work in an ad hoc fashion, there are internal perceptions and personal opinions that come into play. The “remote” workers are actually remote. They are seen as less committed or engaged, not as readily promotable, etc.)
He also makes another extremely valid point that is also an essential policy issue that touches on economic competition and the mobility of workers. In the US in particular (although the US is not alone in its restrictive policies), immigration policies are keeping a lot of highly skilled workers from relocating to accept roles that would contribute to the success and growth of American companies. Remote work is one innovative way for companies to take advantage of a global pool of skills – in and of itself, this is not a surprise or new. But I had never really given this a great deal of thought from a policy-oriented perspective.
As much as we workers might like to migrate, with remote work, not only do we not have to be tied to a desk in one place, we don’t necessarily have to limit our job searches to places we are legally allowed to work. It’s a huge hindrance – both for employers and potential employees – and a bureaucratic nightmare for all involved. Happily, we are moving (slowly) toward a world in which remote work is less remote.