Saturday, February 27, 2010

Super Soup

This soup is a staple at our house in the winter. I made it the other day with Funari's Italian Sausage and was VERY impressed by how lean and meaty this sausage is. And flavorful -- and LOCAL.

Find these spicy treats at the Holiday Market or at Leatherby's in downtown Redding or online at their web site: Furnari Sausage

Toss these ingredients into your crock pot in the morning, enjoy a warm bowl of wonderful in the evening.

Here's the recipe:

Potato Sausage Soup

Brown 1 lb of Italian sausagein a large skillet (buy bulk sausage, or take it out of the casings)
add 2 cups of chopped onions
and 2 cups chopped celery

and saute til the veggies are soft.

Put the sausage and onions and celery into your crock pot. Add:

2 1/2 lbs of russet potatoes, peeled and chunked

Pour in enough chicken broth (or broth and water) to cover the whole mess. Turn it on low and let it cook for 5-6 hours. Mash the soup (with a potato masher) a bit, add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

If you want to make it fancy, you can add some heavy cream at the end. Or cheddar cheese. Or top with chopped chives. Or stir some sherry in at the end...You get the picture? It's yours to play with and make your own. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Not-So-Instant Mashed Potatoes

When I was growing up, "INSTANT" FOOD was all the rage: Instant mashed potatoes, Tang Instant Breakfast Drink.....It was the era of Space Food Sticks, for crying out loud. I don't know why everyone was in such a hurry - it's not like we had to micro-manage our Internet lives back then. For some reason, saving time was crucial. The quality of the food was not.

It wasn't until Craig and I moved in together that we discovered the Joy of Real Food. On Saturday mornings, we watched PBS cooking shows. Saturday afternoon, we'd shop for ingredients and then we'd spend the evening cooking.

Unfortunately, we're spending long hours working these days, which doesn't leave us much time for concocting goodies in the kitchen. I could never ::shudder::: return to Instant Food, but I have rediscovered my beloved crock pot.

Do you know you can make absolutely splendid mashed potatoes in the crock pot? It's true!

I took a couple of pounds of small Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut them in half and placed them in the crock pot. Topped them with several chunks of butter. Covered them and set the heat to "low."

I came home from work 5 hours later, poured in some heavy cream and salt and they mashed up beautifully, effortlessly. No steamy kitchen, no poking potatoes for done-ness, no wrestling with the colander, no pot to wash. Perfect, luscious mashed potatoes that required about 5 minutes of work.

Instant enough for me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine From the Heart

Thirty-three years ago, on Valentine's Day, Craig gave me a little promise ring and asked me to be his girlfriend. We were teenagers and madly in love. So far, it seems to have worked out pretty well.

We're spending Valentine's Day doing what we love to do: Hanging out at home, playing music, cooking, sipping a little bubbly and enjoying lazy Sunday.

"Your Tears on My Shoulder" is a love song I wrote a couple of years ago - it will be on our next CD.

Your Tears on my Shoulder
words and music © Erin Coombs Friedman

The shadow of a doubt clouds your face
Leaves a chill that’s growin’ colder
Lay your sorrow in my hands and place
Your Tears on my Shoulder

Your Tears on my Shoulder
Blessed burden – oh, my love
Your Tears on my Shoulder
My thirsty heart will drink them up
Drink them up

Like holy water anoints the sinner
I’m sanctified by holding you
Desert rose only blooms in winter
If December storms roll through

Your Tears on my Shoulder
Blessed burden – oh, my love
Your Tears on my Shoulder
My thirsty heart will drink them up
Drink them up

Like canyons of stone and crystal caves
Beauty is born where waters rage

Your Tears on my Shoulder
Blessed burden – oh, my love
Your Tears on my Shoulder
My thirsty heart will drink them up
Drink them up

Youtube link:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Air Time

Last month I read about a show being produced by talk radio host Ronn Owens, KGO AM 810(San Francisco). "The Best Music You've Never Heard" is a once-a-year show and they requested CDs from unsigned Northern California bands. They put all the CDs in a box and pulled out enough to play short clips for an hour and a half. The last hour of the show would be devoted to listeners calling in to vote on their favorites.

So I popped a CD in the mail and promptly forgot all about it.

Back in the early 90s, when I lived in San Jose, I listened to Ronn Owens daily. I had two tiny kids and very little in the way of adult interaction and I thoroughly enjoyed his smart, thoughtful take on news. And since I had little ones, and talking on the phone was not an option, I FAXed in responses and questions to his show.

Fast forward to this morning. I learned via Twitter that "The Best Music" show was airing today. I tuned in online halfheartedly - realizing that the chance of them playing our music was very slim. An hour and 15 minutes into the show, when I heard Redding rocker David Thompson's song "Any Questions," I immediately emailed him congratulations.

David was the ONLY artist from outside the Bay Area that they played. But a couple songs later, they announced that the next clip was from Still Married of Cottonwood. The song was "The Shadow of Shasta" -- WOW -- very cool. Owens said nice things - which is the kind of guy he is -- and my day was made.

You tube link: here

Help Me Make It Through the Night

Craig and I were singing last night -- going through some old cover songs. We tend to stick to originals when we play out, but our playlist here at home includes lots of great tunes by some brilliant songwriters.

Singing Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make it Through the Night" is a good exercise, because besides being a sweet tune, it's written in a wide vocal range, with some tricky intervals - things I shy away from in my own melody writing.

Kristofferson and his then-wife Rita Coolidge do a very sexy version in this video:

Youtube link is here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Free Advice for Musicians

Make money with music? Now there's a novel concept. It's never been our strong suit - much to my husband's chagrin. Desperate times, though, require desperate measures -- so I'm giving myself a crash course in this maddening-but-lovable music business.

CD Baby - a company that does their damnedest to help indie artists suceed - is offering free advice on the subject. They're giving away a download of a handy-dandy guide: "What You're Not Doing is Costing You."

Find it on the CD Baby Website: Here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Downtown Eatery: Local Brews, Local Tunes

Phil Paige hosts a singer-songwriter Open Mic at the Downtown Eatery the first Wednesday of every month - that's this Wednesday, February 3rd.

Sign up for open mic is 7-7:30 (or email organizer Phil Paige: ahead of time if you know you're going to be there). Open Mic is 7:30-9. At 9, the featured artists, Pine Dogz (Steve and Diana Wallis) will play a set of originals.

PineDogz shared some original tunes last Friday at the Cultural Cruise - their music is "little bit folk, a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll and a lot of heart and soul."

Diana and Steve do a great job - should be a fun evening.

** UPDATE** Craig and I will be at the Open Mic in the 7:30 slot, sharing a couple original tunes.