Archive for the ‘Entertaining’ Category

HEY JUDE with IVY SCHULTE from LUX

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

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My 6 year old Jude loves music, especially beat boxing. When I began sampling tracks from my college sweet mate’s debut album PAX, Jude and I couldn’t help but to dance. His little voice echoed the brilliant vocals of Ivy and Jake. The music was addictive. So we asked Ivy Schulte from the band LUX for an interview… “with a kid“. Thanks LUX for being such an example for a little music loving boy. Oh, did I mention that Ivy is an incredible GIRL drummer?


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What is the most rock star thing you have ever done? Definitely standing while playing the drums. The chair spins and I have to have super balance. I am sure I will crash and burn someday…

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Fly, then I wouldn’t have to pay to travel. It would be incredible to see everything from above. I am very adventurous and like a good rush. I would fly as high and fast as possible to the top of a building and jump off, only flying up when I almost hit the ground. Really, I am a sucker for a thrill.

What is your favorite junk food? I don’t really eat bad, I am super healthy but when I do, PIZZA and cookie dough.

How did you learn to play the drums? I taught myself. At the age of 12, I asked my parents for a drum set. They told me drums were for boys and instead they bought me a guitar. I would set out pots and pans and practice drumming to the Beatles and oldies. I saved up my money (with the help of my parents) bought my own drum set.

What is your favorite music (greatest musical influence)? John Mayer and Dashboard Confessionals.

Elvis or Michael Jackson? Michael. I feel Elvis was in it for the women, to make the ladies swoon. Michael Jackson has the dance moves. Michael’s heart was in the music, you could tell that he genuinely lived to perform.

If you could learn to play any other instrument what would it be? I would love to get better at the guitar, really shred, rip some sweet guitar solos. Oh, and the kazoo would be fun!

Any other thoughts for kids out there? Kids, when trying something new, don’t give up when it gets hard. Practice what you love; over, and over and over. When you mess up or make mistakes, work through the frustration. It is hard for everyone at first.


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With their age difference over a decade and their height difference over a foot, LUX is an uncanny duo of synths, drums, and explosive harmonies. Both from Springfield, MO, Ivy Schulte and Jake Rogers began playing together in 2012 and are set to release their debut album, PAX on October 7, 2016. PAX and the leading single, Abstract is a reflection of life, youth, and the aftermath of devastation. LUX plans to tour after the release of the album. 

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Over the years, Schulte and Rogers have discovered an elusive energy as a duo. The sound of LUX is influenced by the spirit of the ‘80s and the beat of the blues, carefully weaving acoustic drums and vocals with tracks of synth, organ, and piano layers. Together, Schulte and Rogers write all their lyrics and produce all their songs.  At any given show, the duo is clad in identical, vibrant outfits and an unequal person-to-instrument ratio, with Schulte on the  acoustic drums, electronic drums, and guitar and Rogers on three keyboards and a keytar. Over the years, LUX has had the opportunity to open for artists such as Andy Grammer, Ingrid Michaelson and Phillip Phillips. LUX has also played several festivals including the Center of the Universe Festival in Tulsa, OK.

FREE DOWNLOAD OF JUDE’S FAVORITE SONG!

Follow LUX

FB: https://www.facebook.com/luxtunes/

IG: @luxsucks

TWITTER: @luxsucks

Contact and booking: musicbylux@gmail.com

 

Places to Visit: Steadfast Coffee in Nashville Tennessee

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Interview with Jamie Cunningham of Steadfast Coffee

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[photography by Ethan Covey – @ecoveyphoto]

About Steadfast

Steadfast Coffee in Nashville, TN is known for hospitality and quality.

“While we do everything in our power to roast and serve the best coffee possible, coffee itself isn’t actually the core of our company. It’s our guest.”

Jamie started Steadfast with two other founders. The partners met while working for local coffee companies around the city of Nashville, helping these businesses grow and succeed. The trio had a dream of their own, to create a unique coffee culture, different from anything around the city of Nashville. Together they dreamed of creating a new kind of coffee experience and revised details until they had a plan for Steadfast. The team looked for investors because these passionate young adults didn’t have capital to establish a brick and mortar restaurant. Steadfast Coffee opened in April 2015, hiring a new staff and began building what is a now thriving business.

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[photography by Elana Staroselsky – @elanastar]

What is your favorite Steadfast drink? It depends on time of day, I may be reaching for something black and hot or iced. After lunch it may be a cappuccino or coffee soda. 

Steadfast is quickly becoming know for their proprietary coffee soda. Matchless coffee soda is brewed in large batches, 500 gallons of coffee at a time, flash chilled, sweetened with demerara sugar, carbonated and kegged. This innovative coffee soda is best served with a sliver of fresh orange peel. The Steadfast team is working towards canning and possibly shipping Matchless coffee soda around the country… I simply can not wait!

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[photography by Ethan Covey – @ecoveyphoto]

Jamie and I

Some of my fondest college memories involve Jamie, he really was the best of friends. Together we traveled across the country in a 15 passenger van performing with our theatre troupe, 26 weeks on the road. We attended so many concerts, ate great food and had adventures that will never be forgotten.

Each friend you meet in your life leaves a little mark on your heart. Jamie taught me that is was ok to be me, to be silly, to be different and to be passionate about what I love. He remains to be one of the most dedicated individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing and his passion shines through in his love for coffee and most of all people.

About Jamie

How did you start to cultivate your passion for coffee? I moved to Nashville in 2009. 7 years ago. I enjoyed coffee but didn’t know the difference between what was good or bad. I needed a job and found one working with my two friends, who were similarly excited about coffee. This fueled my passion. I allowed this passion to cultivate and grow as my friends and I brewed lots of coffee and studied coffee together outside of work. It really was about community. 

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[photography by Ethan Covey – @ecoveyphoto]

Brewing coffee at Steadfast: Overall, the Fetco company makes commercial brewers called the extractor series and this is what we use in our shop. These machines are highly programmable. In the hands of the right person, these brewers make perfectly extracted coffee EVERY TIME. Most people think it tastes better than coffee from other shops brewed using hand methods. Our machines are programed perfectly, they never mess up, they never get distracted, they never feeling tired or have a bad day. 

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[photography by Elana Staroselsky – @elanastar]

Quality coffee in every cup. Steadfast does not use any pour over methods in their shops. However, I wanted to know how Jamie brews coffee at home…

How do you  brew coffee at home? There are so many different types of brewers and types of brands on the market. The Kalita Wave is the pour over type which I believe results in the perfect pour over cup, other brands have flaws. The design of this particular pour over brand makes consistency and great extraction possible.

The only way to brew really good coffee at home is to invest in the right equiptment. If you are not grinding fresh whole bean coffee, you will struggle. The Capresso Infinity is a reasonably priced grinder and a great entry level burr grinder with conical burrs. The rpms of the Capresso are slow enough that it doesn’t heat up the coffee and the grind particle distribution is very consistent.  

Once you have a great grinder you need to look to your recipe. What is the water to coffee ratio? There are all kinds of recipes out there, the ones that work well measure ingredients in grams. I use the Escali kitchen scale to measure coffee and water. The best recipes use a specific ratio, anywhere between 1 to 16 – 1 to 18. For example, for every gram of coffee you need between 16-18 grams of water. At Steadfast we brew at 1 to 16.9 grams, at home rounding to an even 17 grams. These two things alone, grind and recipe, will make your coffee infinitely more better, you will taste the increase in coffee quality. 

Any other at home brewing tips? Yes, temperature control. Electric at home drip coffee brewers rarely heat water hot enough, 195-205 degrees, for proper coffee extraction. If you are brewing by hand and using a kettle, start with water directly off the boil, 212 degrees is boiling. In between pours place your kettle back on the heat to maintain the proper water temperature. 

Whole bean coffee purchasing? I tend to think through two things when purchasing whole bean coffee; first, what kind of values does the company have; where their money is going and two, what kind of quality am I pursuing. It is my goal to purchase the highest quality coffee. There are two major kinds of coffee sold in the world, commodity vs. specialty. Coffee is a commodity traded on the stock market, the second largest only to oil. As well, coffee prices fluctuate similar to oil based on future need, politics, ect. Only a very tiny part of the coffee market is composed of specialty coffee. The lower quality commodity coffees can be found on the shelves of big chain supermarkets. People who are buying specialty coffees are generally local or regional; for example, Counter Culture, Stumptown, and Intelegista. What makes them difference other than how they are farmed produced and bagged… is at the hand of the roaster. A badly roasted coffee can turn even the best quality coffee bad. Once purchased whole beans need specialized hands and plenty of care to provide the best possible products. These kinds of coffee are our best shot as consumers. Taste the subtle nuances of a specialty coffee, roasted to perfection. Check your local or regional grocer to some of these speciality blends. 

[ My suggestion is that you grab a pound of Steadfast coffee for yourself! Whole bean Steadfast coffee can be purchased at http://steadfast.coffee]

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[photography by Ethan Covey – @ecoveyphoto]

Tips on Flavoring your coffee at home?  Stay away from flavored creamers and syrups from the grocery stores because the people making them don’t care about you. Make your own simple syrups at home. Coffee is complex and tastes really great with anything you could imagine, take your blinders off and have fun! Even if a particular flavor sounds crazy, it could taste incredible. Home made syrups will be infinitely better than what you purchase at store. Most things tastes good with coffee, sometimes you have to tinker and get a bit creative. In the past we have held competitions in the shop to create new, innovative flavors. One flavor that most surprised me was a cucumber simple syrup, it was simple and delicious. Another time, inspired by Thanksgiving, I made ginger and sage simple syrup with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Believe it or not, I have even made a cheese syrup, throwing in the rind of a hard cheese like parmesan, into the mix… just the right amount in a cortado is magical. 

Even at Steadfast we steer clear of mass produced vanilla syrup. We us demerara, which is a single origin sugar that has lots of vanilla notes in it. Quality products make all the difference.

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[photography by Kenzie Maroney – @kenzie.maroney]

Friends, if you are in the Nashville area, stop by Steadfast Coffee for a one of a kind experience. Great coffee. Great food. Even better people!

Queso Fundido

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Queso Fundido or “Molten Cheese”… ooey gooey delicious. This dip is a cheese lovers dream, sort of a Mexican fondue. I love the contrast of the smooth, gooey cheese with the spicy (slightly greasy) chorizo. Every time I pull a dish of Queso Fundido out of the oven, friends and family gather around. Its fun! To eat, dip in crunchy tortilla chips or pile the cheese high on a tortilla, roll up and enjoy.

Queso Fundido

6 oz. of ground chorizo

2 cups of Mexican melting or quesadilla cheese (mozzarella is also a great substitute)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown chorizo in a skillet until cooked through. Drain off excess fat from chorizo. Load a well greased baking dish with grated cheese and sprinkle over the cooked chorizo. Bake for 15 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned. Simply delicioso!

Get creative with your Fundido toppings, try; ground beef, avocados, fresh pico de gallo, the sky’s the limit!

3 Tips for a Perfectly Roasted Turkey

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

I remember waking up Thanksgiving morning at the crack of dawn to help my grandmother prepare to roast our holiday turkey. It was imperative that the turkey make its way into the oven before the sun came up. Why? I am not quite sure considering it only takes about 4 hours to cook a 20 lb. turkey…

Every year I helped Gram cook our thanksgiving feast and every year I cut my knuckle open on the potato peeler. Here are a few tips learned over the years for making the best ever turkey for your family:

#1. The key to a juicy turkey is a compound butter

Soften a stick of unsalted butter and mix in your favorite herbs. For turkey, I use sage, rosemary, thyme and orange zest. Gently pull back the skin, away from the meat, and spread  1/2 of the butter underneath.  The butter will slowly baste the turkey as it cooks. The flavors of the herbs infuse the meat. Massage the remaining butter onto the outside of the turkey  to get that crispy crunchy skin that family and friends fight over.

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#2. Using a roasting bag = lots of gravy

My grandmother always, always used a roasting bag to prepare our Thanksgiving turkey. Roasting bags trap moisture inside resulting in a super juicy and flavorful bird! Using an oven bag shortens cooking time. No more waking up at 4am to get the turkey started, 3-4 hours for a perfectly cooked turkey and the skin, so crispy and golden brown. When the roasting is complete you will be left with several cups of rich tasty drippings, perfect for gravy. The best part… no scrubbing a roasting pan.

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#3. Use a meat thermometer to avoid an over-cooked turkey

It cannot be a guessing game, it is so important to ensure your turkey is completely cooked but never dry. The proper temperature for a fully cooked turkey is 165 degrees. Insert an instant read thermometer into the thigh of the turkey until the temperature reaches 165 degrees. Once removed from the oven, tent the turkey in foil and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.

So many of my friends are terrified of preparing the star of their family meal. There is nothing to be afraid of… IT IS ONLY A BIRD! You can do it.

Happy Thanksgiving Friends

Tips For Hosting Your Holiday Dinner Party

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Make a dinner menu and stick to it!

Write out a grocery list. Yes, with pen and paper. I like to plan my menu several days, even up to 2 weeks, in advance so that I am sure to remember all the little things I may need. When planning your dinner menu, consider any dietary restrictions your guests may have. Read your recipes prior to shopping to ensure you have everything you need to make each dish on your menu. Make a list, check it twice.

Get a head start

Don’t wait until of the day of your gathering to clean the house, prep the dinner and decorate. I always pre-chop all my vegetables, prepare my compound butter and set the dinner table at least a day in advance. I even set out serving platters, ready to be filled with warm comforting Thanksgiving dishes. Some things even taste better when prepared early, like my cranberry-orange relish. Mason jars or ziplock bags are great for storing pre-chopped ingredients. Dinner is so much easier to prepare when all your ingredients are recipe ready. These steps also helps to cut down on dinner day dirty dishes. Start your dinner party with an empty dishwasher.

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Create an inviting atmosphere

Make your guests feel comfortable. Great music and candles are musts! I usually put together a festive playlist using Spotify or Pandora. Keep in mind your guest preferences… It’s ok to ask them beforehand what kind of music they like. When choosing candles, pick a subtle (in season) aroma. I like pumpkin, apple or cinnamon in the fall. Often times I will add a few coffee beans to a 25 cent vanilla votive. It is nice to have a few comfy pillows or throw blankets folded and setup in the living room.

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Choose a theme

Even just a few small decorations can make any meal extra special; a vase of flowers, colorful leaves picked by your little ones or go BIG with a full out theme. Pull out real plates, not the paper throw away kind. What good is owning that fancy China if it lives only to collect dust? I am planning to decorate with gold accents for my Thanksgiving meal.

Seating

Avoid the awkward dance of musical chairs around the dinner table. Prepare a well thought out seating chart, one where everyone can be included in the meal conversations and make place (name) cards for each guest. My dining room table is too small for a large group. Michael and I drag our kitchen table into the dining to create a space where all our friends can sit and eat together. Get creative with your place tags, maybe a little welcome note, funny pictures or a take home favor. I love decorating kids tables! Set a special place for the kiddos and they will be happy and feel oh so grown up.

Simple appetizers

Prepare a light and simple appetizer; an elegant cheese board, fresh vegetable tray or a warm dip. On holidays, so much time is spent preparing the main course and very involved side dishes. Setting out a simple appetizer spread will allow the host to put those finishing touches on the meal while guest nibble and chat. This year, I plan on setting out homemade cheese straws,  slices of prosciutto, pear wedges and a few pieces of really good cheese.

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Make yourself at home
I want my guest to feel right at home. I usually provide guests with a tour of my home; where to put their coats and purses, the location of our guest restroom and where to relax comfortably during pre and post dinner entertainment. If I am busy cooking, I ask a friend who is familiar with my home to greet guests. Providing these details puts a person as ease. I always setup a self serve coffee and tea bar, directing guests to make themselves at home. Ensure each guest is greeted and introduced to one another for a warm start to your gathering.

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Guest Book

Our friend Margaret keeps a guest book for her home. All of her guests sign in and leave a note during their visits… what a great way to record memories, remember dates and special events that have taken place in your lovely home. Simply ask your guests to sign in when they arrive to your home. Our son Jude loves signing Mrs. Margarets book and flip the pages backwards to find his signatures from past visits. Wouldn’t it also be fun to snap a picture of your party guests to tape in your guest book?

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Party favor or gift

We want others to leave our homes feeling better about themselves, not better about US! I love preparing a small gift for my guest, a token of appreciation for being such wonderful guests; a thank you note, a small bag of good chocolates, or a jar of homemade jam. Let’s face it we are not the only ones who like to entertain but our friends choose our home to gather… Let them know how much you love them. This Thanksgiving each of my guest will be taking home a jar of homemade Bourbon Pecans.

Take help

I am often torn as to whether it is acceptable to take help from dinner guests. When a host stops entertaining to tend to dishes and/or cleaning, this signals guests that the party is over. However, during holiday gatherings I feel that it is perfectly acceptable to take help from close friend or family. Make it fun! Turn the music up, dance in the kitchen while you scrub those dishes and clear the dinner table. But ALWAYS REMEMBER… quality time with guests comes before the mess.

What are some of your best dinner party tips?

Practice Hospitality

Romans Twelve Thirteen

12 Days of Baking: Pizza & Movie Night

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

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Tonight, we are having a movie night. Our plan is to turn on the fireplace, jump into our most comfy PJs, make our own pizzas and watch my favorite Christmas movie, ELF.

We make pizza a lot – I am talking weekly. We love to try out all different kinds of toppings and having the options of making each of our pizzas our own.

Recently, I came across this fantastic pizza topped with potatoes, rosemary, garlic, prosciutto and arugula. Oh my!
So tonight this is what I am having as I enjoy my family, and make some fun holiday memories.

Potato & Prosciutto Pizza
1 ball of store bought pizza dough (check with your local baker or favorite pizza shop)
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 red potato, skin on and slice VERY thin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh rosemary
2-4 slices of prosciutto, sliced thin
1 handful of grated parmesan cheese
1 handful of arugula

Roll out pizza dough on a floured counter top or board. Move dough to a well oiled pizza pan and brush your dough with 1 tbs. olive oil. I like to add a little salt and fresh cracked pepper to the crust of my pizza for added flavor.

Next, combine potatoes, garlic, and rosemary with 2 tbs. olive oil, toss to combine. Place seasoned potatoes onto pizza dough in one single layer. Tear prosciutto and sprinkle it on top of your pizza, along with your cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Once pizza is pulled from the oven dress the top with a handful of arugula and a little drizzle of EVOO.
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Enjoy!

12 Days of Baking: Cheese Straws

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

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Our family loves cheese of all kinds. We could easily make a meal out of cheese, cured meats and a loaf of good crusty bread.

In fact, for Christmas Jude asked for just this:  “salami with the wrapper that peels off” (summer sausage) and cheese. He loves evenings watching movies and sharing fun snacks together as a family. I can pretty much bribe him to do just about anything with the promise of a movie night…. I know, I know, great parenting 101. I love that I have just about one of the only 4 year olds who enjoys goat cheese and brie.

To add to holiday treats this season I thought I would make a southern classic, Cheese Straws. These tasty little guys cost quite a pretty penny when purchased at the supermarket, yet only take a few minutes to whip up a big batch of your own. Before we start let’s talk our favorite cheeses-

Michael: loves Smoked Gouda
Candice: I am a sucker for any extra sharp aged cheddar or goat cheese
Jude: we keep our refrigerator stocked with string cheese & those little round cheeses in red wax wrappers for our little buddy.

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Cheese Straws

8 oz. of really good finely grated cheese (I recommend sharp cheddar, asiago, or parmesan)

1 1/2 stick of butter, softened

1 egg

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Start by allowing cheese, butter and eggs to come to room temperature. In a mixing bowl beat together the cheese and butter until smooth. Add flour, salt and pepper to form a slightly sticky dough.

Typically cheese straws are piped out using a cookie press. However, I don’t have a cookie press. I used a large pastry bag fitted with the largest piping tip I own. Evenly pipe out 3 inch long straws onto an ungreased baking sheet or silpat mat.

( If you don’t have a cookie press or pastry bag/tip, form dough into 1 inch balls and flatten with a fork, making crispy little cheese coins.)

Bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden and perfectly crisp.

Enjoy!

Affogato!

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

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Affogato, one of my favorite words… fun to say, even better to enjoy!  In Italian, the word means “drowned.” A traditional affogato starts a scoop sweet vanilla gelato (or ice cream) which is then drowned in a shot or two of strong, rich espresso.

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When friends stop by my home, they expect to get a great cup of coffee. Easy enough! As for me, I love dessert, just as much as my coffee! It is rare that my freezer is not stocked with a pint of my favorite coffee chocolate chip gelato, ready to be “drowned.” So when indulging unexpected guest or on the nights I just don’t have the time to bake with a busy busy 3 year old running around, this tasty treat is my go to. Affogato, coffee and dessert in one, my hero.

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If you do not have a way to prepare espresso, a cup of double strength iced coffee, poured over a scoop of ice cream is just as delicious.

Enjoy!

 

How to build the perfect cheese board

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

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There is nothing better than sharing life around the table.

I love gathering people, building community and eating together. I especially love a hands on meal where everyone can get involved, which makes a delicious bread and cheese board a favorite of mine for entertaining. Served as an appetizer or a family weeknight meal, a good cheese board really makes an evening special.

When building a bread and cheese board, choose 3-5 cheeses, a variety of hard and soft, several textures and appearances. Goat cheese, parmesan, aged sharp Irish cheddar, gouda, bleu or manchego.

Try exploring cheeses from a variety of regions; Spanish, French, or English or a particular variety of like cheeses; goat, sheep or cow’s milk. However, when serving guests, choose one familiar cheese for your guests, like a sharp aged cheddar. So many times Michael and I have taken the opportunity to buy a stinky or extremely exotic cheese, we have found favorites in these and others have made it straight to the trash. Choosing cheese can be overwhelming, so many choices, but it is all about exploring new things together and developing your own unique tastes.

Add fresh seasonal fruits like grapes, figs, berries, pears, or peaches.  I always keep dried apricots, cranberries, and a good home made preserves or fig fruit spread in the pantry as a back up. Honey crisp apples and a good sharp Irish cheddar are my favorite pair. Honey or walnuts add great texture to the meal and big, bright, green castelvetranto olives bring some additional uniqueness.

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Don’t forget a loaf of good crusty bread for dipping in olive oil and balsalmic vinegar or hummus.

You can easily transform a  cheese board into a warm, hearty meal by adding vegetables and dry meats. I prefer my vegetables roasted; butternut squash, broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots and cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place your vegetables on a small cookie sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season veggies with course salt and black pepper, bake for 15 minutes.My go to dry meat selections include; sopressata, serrano ham, chorizo, or proscuitto.  I especially enjoy a heavily peppered salami, so spicy.

And the best part… balsamic glaze! Balsamic vinegar reduced down to a rich creamy glossy glaze adds a unique , tangy sweetness to cheese, meat or plain crusty bread.

I would recommend 1 oz. per person of each cheese (about 4 oz. per guest). Cheese should be served at room temperature to best highlight it’s flavor and texture.

There is no one rule to arranging a beautiful cheese platter, just focus on levels and color. Make it easy for friends to grab their favorites from all sides of the board and don’t be afraid to grab a second or third tray so that options are not piled high, one on top of another. For evening meals I have often arranged 3 individual  bread and cheese plates for the boys and myself, which is especially great on movie nights.

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Enjoy making memories with your family and friends!

Flying Paper Airplanes