Thursday, November 6, 2008

Shuffle, Kick, Hummus a Tune

Hey, do you guys ever make your own hummus?

I don't really have a recipe for you, so you'll kind of have to go on intuition, but here are some guidelines to get you started if you're sick of paying five bucks a pop for little tubs of oily goop that almost never taste the way you expect them to.

The basic ingredients are chickpeas (garbanzos), tahini, olive oil, salt, lemon juice and garlic. You can make great hummus with either canned or dried chickpeas; the tradeoff is that although going canned is much more convenient, dried generally has a better flavor and sometimes a better texture.* If you really really dislike tahini, I've heard you can omit it without much trouble, and of course you can get rid of the garlic, but why would you?

Now the main goal here is to get all these things to emulsify so that the hummus ends up smooth, light, and creamy rather than grainy or heavy on the tongue. Food processors are best for this, but a blender will work too as long as you're okay with constantly stirring stuff around to get it all down toward the blades. So now we've got all our stuff together, let's get to work.

First in are the chickpeas, garlic, and a little bit of salt. I usually start with one good-sized clove of garlic for every can's worth of chickpeas. Use the pulse button on your machine to get things relatively finely ground and uniform. You'll still be grinding as you add everything, so don't worry too much about it. Next, you'll add some tahini, maybe 1-1 1/2 tablespoons per chickpea can, and mix it in by hand a little before you process it.

At this point, your hummus should be ALMOST smooth and closer to a paste than a nice spread. Now you add the olive oil, extra virgin if you've got it, just a little bit at a time or in a slow stream. Food processors usually have holes in the top specifically so that you can drizzle in oils for emulsification. Blenders are less conveniently designed, but sometimes you can leave the blades going, open up the top, and if you see a little tornado going down into the center of your hummus, you can just drip the oil in from there. Once the hummus reaches a consistency you like, stop and taste it. It will be a little bitter because you haven't added the lemon juice yet, but tasting will give you an idea as to how you want it flavored. Adding lemon juice will take the bitter edge off and make it lively in your mouth. If it seems a little bland, adding a little more salt will enhance all of the flavors. You can also add more garlic, but be careful because a little bit of raw garlic goes a long way.

After you've got the flavor where you want it, you can absolutely be creative with it. One of the things that makes hummus so much fun is that it's a great base for other flavors. Try adding some fresh herbs or spices (parsley and cumin are the most common), olives, tomatoes, capers, fruits or nuts. Go wild. It makes a cheap snack/meal with some tortillas or pita bread, and because there are so many possibilities it's pretty difficult to get sick of it.

Anyway, I've got some chickpeas waiting for me in the kitchen AS I TYPE. Remember it's only five days 'til Armistice Day. Invite your enemies over and get them fed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

30 Chairs 30 Days

Actually I meant to upload this to my other blog, but some shameless self promotion absolutely never hurt.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Must Love Dawgs

Hey do you like hot dogs? Do you like Sacramento? WHO DOESN'T!?

Even before you walk into Capitol Dawg on 20th and Capitol in midtown Sacramento, it's a little shocking to see how devotedly local it is. Everything from the hot-dog-themed portrait of the city displayed on the patio to a menu packed with local names and references screams Sacramento. There is even a "tube of fame" running across the ceiling with messages written from regional celebrities like the Deftones. Maybe all of this is sounds like more of a warning to you than a recommendation, but I personally like to see businesses that are clearly dedicated to their location and clientele.

The real question here, though, is what does Capitol Dawg mean to your mouth, or perhaps more importantly, your wallet? Well let's just say that Capitol Dawg serves hot dogs the way they should be served: hot, delicious, and pretty darn cheap. Menu items will run you anywhere from $1.89 for a corn dog (I just had one today and the total works out to $2.04, which is way better than the $3.00 you might pay at Hot Dog on a Stick for what I consider an inferior product) to $4.39 for the Solons Double Dawg, which is two hot dogs stuffed into a sesame seed roll. There is also, and this is an important point, no charge for a VEGAN dog substitution. I've had a lot of meatless hot dogs in my life and believe me, these ones are the good ones.

The variety of specialty dogs is impressive, two of my favorites being the (BB) Kings Dawg (barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, and onions) and the Prop. 51 (mustard relish, tomatoes, onions, peppers, a whole pickle spear, and celery salt). Mea combos go for around $6 or $7 and include a heap of crisp french fries and a fountain drink.

Not to be seen as simple a hot dog joint, Capitol Dawg also offers some other items that are pretty tempting. As summer comes to an end, you might want to grab a couple scoops of ice cream, a root beer float, or a fruit slushy, or if you're excited for fall, you can now get yourself a helping of vegetarian chili. It seems like every time I go in, there's a new item or option posted underneath the standard menu, which I'll admit is something I've seen backfire on other businesses, but it seems like these guys have it under control.

Their official website can be found HERE, and contains information about happy hours and specials such as $2 Tuesdays ($2 hot dogs, Pabst, and ice cream), as well as a full menu, hours, and contact information.

Happy dogging!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Support Your Local Cafe

As convenient as it is to just run into Starbucks to get your quick caffeine fix (because there is one on every corner downtown), it can be much more rewarding - and delicious - to try other places that are a little less famous.

My favorite cafe happens to only be 5 blocks from my house. It's called "N Street Cafe"... and it's on N St. between 20th and 21st. Not only do they have yummy lattes, they make a (vegan) falafel pita that's to die for. I get my pita with their cilantro jalapeno hummus, which they make there, and it's pretty much the best thing I've ever had.

They also have tea, smoothies, sandwiches, salads, and fruit, so even if you don't like coffee, you can find something tasty to eat/drink. And there's free WiFi!

Here's a link to a site with their address, hours, phone number, and some reviews.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cowabunga duuuuuuuudes! How to couchsurf with nomads!

We've all been stranded places. 

In fact, I'm sure many of us have had to rely on complete strangers for directions, information or maybe even a place to stay and/or a lift home. Hell, when I was in Europe, strangers opened their homes to me left and right when I was lost with no place to go. It was amazing!

However, I've always felt like we're less hospitable in the states. I mean, have you ever been the one doing the helping? Have you ever picked up a hitch-hiker? Have you ever let a complete stranger stay at your house?

Besides letting "friends of friends" crash at my place, the closest I ever came to helping out a stranded traveler was when I was working at a restaurant in Ventura a few years ago. I happened to find a sleeping person (dressed like a gypsy!) in the women's restroom near the end of my shift. When I woke her up to see what was going on with her, she began to tell me how she needed money, because some guys she came to Ventura with from San Luis Obispo (2 1/2 hours away!) had just ditched her. So, I told her to wait for me to finish my shift, and then I gave her a lift to the train station all the way across town. I also gave her $5. Not much, but I figured it was a start. It was pretty scary, but also pretty eye-opening. The woman was obviously fucked up on some kind of drug, but I felt bad for her and wanted to do something. Perhaps it's because I kept picturing some asshole guys laughing about totally using her, getting her all fucked up and then leaving her in a town far away. (I'm like tooootally a feminist.) So, she didn't try to kill me or rob me. Instead, she thanked me the whole way, said some spacy things, offered me some pot (which I refused), and stunk up my car with patchouli oil.

You've gotta love those transient hippies.

Anyhow, here are just a few resources for those who want to help poor travelers, and for those who need a little help from strangers. This way, you don't have to go to sleep in the bathroom of a Greek restaurant. 

The Couch Surfing Project:
The name gives it away, but here's their hippified mission statement -- 
As a community we strive to do our individual and collective parts to make the world a better place, and we believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal. CouchSurfing isn't about the furniture- it's not just about finding free accommodations around the world- it's about participating in creating a better world. We strive to make a better world by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. CouchSurfing wants to change not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!
(SN&R's write-up about the Web site)

A similar mission statement --
Our aim is to bring people together - hosts and guests, travelers and locals. Thousands of Hospitality Club members around the world help each other when they are traveling - be it with a roof for the night or a guided tour through town. Joining is free, takes just a minute and everyone is welcome. Members can look at each other's profiles, send messages and post comments about their experience on the website.
Craigslist Ride Share:
I'm a little scared of Craigslist stuff sometimes. Here's a sample post that kind of creeps me out, just because it's so nice... also, he uses the phrase "velvet-bellied"  --
Hi there! Tomorrow morning I am headed to the beautiful land of north and could use some company for the long drive. From Sacramento on out, there will be room to comfortably seat 4 adults (or children masquerading as adults), 5 if we put an extra in the front middle bench seat. I'd be willing to drop you off in whatever town you wish along the way, be it Yuba City, Chico, Redding, Mt Shasta, Ashland, Medford, Grant's Pass, Roseburg... The plush, spacious, velvet-bellied boat of a car I'll be driving is a purple air-ride Lincoln Town Car- very comfortable and cushy for such a long venture, but unfortunately not equipped with A/C. I also have a bike rack on the back with room for one more bike!! I will be coming from Berkeley and am shooting for about an 11 am departure from Sacramento. Let me know who you are and where you need to go. You can reach me on my cell phone, any time, at XXXXXXX. Thanks very much for reading and I hope you have an excellent day. Happy travels!

This online guidebook may or may not have been started by a certain awesome musician named Tom Thumb, but I'm not sure if it's the same one. Either way, here's what this gang is all about. They get extra points for their stellar use of a certain (commonly masculine) default pronoun --
Road Junky Travel Guides are by no means the authority on the world. They are instead written to make you think, laugh and get a rough feel for a country. We go the extra step and tell you things other guides don’t and won’t dare to discuss. We’re for the inspired, independent traveler. The person who can just get up and go. The person who is moved by what she sees. The dreamers.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

"...And underneath that, write 'We will miss you'. Got it?"

My current blog obsession is Cake Wrecks where disastrous and hilarious cakes are documented. In terms of sites you go to out of complete boredom, it's almost as good (and pointless) as ManBabies.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

another fabulous art/craft website - ETSY.COM

"Your place to buy and sell all things handmade"
...and you really should buy AND sell, because everything I've seen on ETSY is wonderful, beautiful, and surprising.
Felt barrettes, crocheted hats and jewelry, earrings, aprons, paintings, clothes, infant clothes, pet accessories... you can pretty much find anything your heart desires on this website (made from almost any material). And it's all with a handmade, artistic flair.

I am not poetic or graceful with words, so I won't ramble. Check it out! You won't be disappointed.

[ this post was inspired by the 'little paper airplanes' post by mel<3 ]

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Euro-vegan: Two cheap, yummy potato recipes from friends in Germany and Prague

Be warned: For those who aren't naturally adventurous with food, these two dishes may look/sound unpleasant. However, I can assure you that the results are the complete opposite! Never judge a book by it's cover, my friends.

Also, I received both recipes via e-mail in makeshift English, so just go with the flow and trust your own culinary instincts when preparing the two.

Frühlingstofu mit Kartoffeln (AKA "Spring Tofu with Potatoes")

This recipe is great for the summer. It's a cold "tofu salad" that you serve over warm, peeled baby potatoes. My friend Olli (dude in the heart picture) from Munster, Germany made this for us when he was visiting California with my German lover, Sarah (Olli's GF). I believe Olli's Oma (grandmother) made a similar dish for him when he was a boy. I think it tastes a lot like potato salad with tofu, but friends who say they don't normally like potato salad dig it too. Either way, guten appetit!


1 kg baby potatoes (I use baby dutch yellow potatoes. Choose your own amount.)
1 block extra firm tofu
1 bunch of chives
1 soy cream or creme fraiche (Olli uses Alpro Cuisine Cream, but I don't know if you can get that here, so I just used plain Silk Soy Creamer (yes, like for coffee)
1 little glass of Vegenaise
2 tablespoons of mustard
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
a pinch of pepper
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of (apple)vinegar

1. Chop the chives and the tofu in little blocks.
2. Blend the rest of the ingredients together (except the potatoes), put in in a bowl with the tofu and chives and put it in the fridge. You want this dressing to be slightly watery, but not too bad. Use your own judgment in regards to evening out the amount of Veganaise and creamer.
3. This is a funny term, but "boil the potatoes in their jackets" and then peel the skin off.
4. Serve the chilled "Frühlingstofu" over the hot potatoes.

Potato and Sauerkraut Soup

This soup is SO GOOD, and you can make it super spicy if you want. It's a hearty, delicious dish that converted my friend Ashley from a sauerkraut hater to a sauerkraut lover. My friend Josef (featured in the pic with Ash and me) made it for us when we stayed with him in Prague a few years ago. He also said something about his mom making it for him a lot when he was a kid. The main thing I remember about Josef is that he's very cynical (in an endearing way) and he really really loves Nick Cave and "Curb Your Enthusiasm." (This gives the dish "cool" points, no?)

Here is what Josef sent me:

here is recipe .first one onion on small pices fried on oil ,then red pepper
powder, and potatoes fried little bit ,be carefull with red... powder ,if
you fried too much its gor brown and it will be bitter,small flame, the
sauer kraut,let it boiled ,on end mixed some flavour with watter ,thats
makes some sort ofr doug and mixed in soup ,then is thicker .do this when
,potatoes are ready.fuck yeah dude.

And here is my translation. You mostly have to wing it, but you get the idea:


1 onion
Vegetable/Olive Oil
Red Pepper/Chili Powder (amount depends on how spicy you want it)
A jar of sauerkraut
Water (Might be good with some type of broth?)
2-3 russet potatoes or a bunch of baby potatoes

1. Chop up some onion and your peeled potatoes. Boil potatoes until they are soft-ish.
2. Fry onion under small flame with oil and desired amount of chili powder/red pepper.
3. When potatoes are soft-ish, add potatoes to frying pan and mix around. Meanwhile, start to boil sauerkraut with some water.
4. Add potatoes and onions to sauerkraut soup and continue to season. Also, mix flour and water to add to the soup to make it thicker, according to Josef.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

IMPORTANT BATTLE: Davis VS. Sacramento

I have been to Sacramento approximately half a dozen times: Mayyors show, Crocker Art Museum twice, Bike trip to the drawbridge, Greyhound, Sac Airport, and perhaps another visit during childhood.

I have not left the city-state of Davis in at least 30 days.

Someone once told me at a show, "Davis seems more cultured than Sacramento; the university breeds culture." I am not sure if this is true but the person had come from Sacramento so I will accept the compliment on behalf of Davis.

KDVS is based in Davis, not in Sacramento. To a small group of people this is unimportant.

Davis has some art galleries. Sacramento has some art galleries. Draw.

I am friends with more Davis visual artists, but more Sacramento musicians. Double-draw.

Davis is bourgeois. Sacramento wants to be and sometimes is.

Mexican food in Davis is not good. I have been told Sacramento Mexican food is superior. Which brings me to my next point: I have been told Sacramento is the most culturally diverse city in the United States. Davis has too many white people. Davis legend Robert Roy says, "If you dislike Sacramento, you are a racist."

Arnold Schwarzenegger frequents Sacramento. His face frequently appears in the New York Times, occasionally on the front page. Rob Roy lives in Davis. His face, bike, and words appeared today in the New York Times. Advantage: Davis, as Arnold does not actually live in Sacramento.

Traditionally Davis is viewed as an Agricultural town. Sacramento is stereotypically defined by its Governmental presence.

Davis suffers from too many complaints from residents about not being Berkeley. Sacramento has every desire to become Nu-San Francisco. Sad sad Central Valley Draw.

This Blog is called "The Starving Artist... Sacramento & Beyond" as opposed to "...Davis & Beyond". Larger city takes precedent.

Sacramento currently has two main house-show houses. Davis has two semi-consistent show spots, one of which has been doing shows for almost two decades. Slight edge to Davis for epic consistency of the Dam Haus. is a superior resource to

The UC Davis Art Department was famous in the 1970's. Sacramento State University Art Department, hmmm...

There are too many fixies for one city in Davis. I have heard many fixies linger on the grid of Sacramento also.

You fill in the rest...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Little Paper Airplanes" makes my heart soar!

This is what I love: Artists getting together, supporting one another and selling decently priced prints of their work. Go to Little Paper Airplanes to find cute pieces of art, clothing, adorable accessories/buttons and -- my personal favorite -- zines and papergoods. Most items are around $20, but prices range.

Here's a snippet of info about how the site got going:

Little Paper Planes was started in December of 2004 in Los Angeles. As of July of 2008, Little Paper Planes calls San Francisco its home. Everything is stored/shipped in San Francisco. I started it to have a place where my friends and I can could sell stuff we make to help us make some money while we focus on our painting careers, but now the store has grown so much and is a place for all sorts of artists and designers. I feel honored that all the people who sell on the site are a part of it. Everyone is very talented and I have made lots of new friends. Oh and I love all the customers too, and even some of you now sell on the site! Anyhow I am going on and on, just wanted to say thanks.

Thank you so much for visiting Little Paper Planes. xoxo-kelly

Oh, and they accept solicits from other artists too.

(Props to Hilary Weisert for pointing the site out to me!)

Friday, July 11, 2008


In Honor of 7/11, 7-Eleven is offering free slurpee's all day!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tacos make it all better?

If you really have to, you might want to get some gas for your car today rather than tomorrow. Maybe two free tacos from Jack in the Box will stop your sobbing? Just show them your reciept.

Here's Jack (who's voice I absolutely hate, by the way) to explain:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

This is what your ramen looks like on drugs?

Addicting and dirt-cheap, ramen is kinda like crack... but safe. When all else fails, break open a pack of that noodle block and you'll be a-okay, budget buddies. I usually crack (no pun intended) an egg into my boiling ramen and add frozen veggies, fresh sliced mushrooms and sometimes bean sprouts and chives (best with Oriental flavor). Add a little soy and maybe some hot sauce and you're good to go.

But today I discovered a Web site dedicated to giving the barren noodles crazy makeovers. Most ask you to ditch the flavor packet (good advice), and many are just frightening in general. Recipe ideas range from the safe Ramen Shrimp Salad and a yummy-looking Ramen Vegetable Soup to the questionable Beef Pie (with the also questionable tag-line "Now that's a real man meal!") and iffy desserts like Ramen Pudding.

Here's one of the weirdest recipes from that I plan on trying, because I bet it's delicious (and unhealthy). I'll let you know how it is after I make it:
Doritos Ramen Salad

  • 1 package of ramen noodles
  • 1 bag of Doritos
  • 1/2 lb. of ground beef
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Taco seasoning (optional)
  1. Cook ramen noodles (On the Web site, it actually had instructions on how to do this. Ha!)
  2. Cook the ground beef in a cooking pan and place in bowl.
  3. Add the ramen noodles and mix it with the beef.
  4. Place the Doritos chips around the beef like on the picture ("It looks like a flower!" - Recipe Creator)
  5. Break into small pieces the Doritos you have left and put them on top of the beef.
  6. Add the shredded cheese and taco seasoning (optional)
Oh, and here is a ramen recipe care of Strung Out guitarist Jake Kiley from one of my favorite cookbooks ever (shown below):

Rock 'n' Ramen

  • 1 package of Creamy Chicken Ramen
  • 1 package of Roast Chicken Ramen
  • Tabasco Sauce
  • Butter
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  1. Make the Ramen and drain.
  2. Add the two seasoning packs, 2 spashes Tobasco, some butter, pepper, garlic powder and Parmesan. (Kiley says "How much of these ingredients you add is at your own discretion, but I put in a lot!!")
  3. "Mix it up and you will notice it becomes a very dry, clingy clump of ramen. That's where I add in about a 1/4 cup of milk to give this ramen it's creamy, exotic texture."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bummin' around on

I just spent way too long creating psychedelic art online. With Safari and Firefox, you can "paint" and print your work here.

I can't really figure out how to control the paintbrushes that fly around, but isn't that the fun thing about it?

If you make something cool, post it as a comment.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

All I'm saying is give P.C. a chance.

If you've never been to Pancake Circus, the clown-themed breakfast house at 2101 Broadway in Sac, you've never lived.

Well, that may be a stretch. But, seriously, check it out. As most people feel about clowns, you'll either be scared to death or filled with joy and laughter upon entering the retro diner.

Really, besides the pancakes, the food is pretty average and the prices are decent -- $5 to $12 per person. Still, because I love to make lists, here are some reasons why Starving Artists should visit Pancake Circus.

1. The Ambiance. The place is decked out in orange, brown and yellow with "knock-off" Winnie-the-Pooh pictures, circus animals and lots and lots of clowns in both painting and doll form (the spookiest). They even have some type of glass case with bizarre flea market-esque clown toys as if they are all worth a fortune. This shelf is next to the huge lottery ticket dispenser. Yep. You can gamble at breakfast. There are bingo screens too. To sum, Pancake Circus feels like you've either been transported to the '70s or some dinky town in Arizona… today.

2. The Staff. Think “Napoleon Dynamite.” On Sunday, the host was some 14-year-old who looked like he might grow up to be Kip. All he needed was a ‘stache and an Internet girlfriend (which he may already have… I hope!) The busboys bring forth a necessary inmate-chic aesthetic and the cooks all wear those tall chef hats you'd expect to see at some high-end French fusion restaurant, which is both ironic and adorable considering this is a place that takes pride in its senior meal discounts. Oh, and the service is quick and perfect. We went in on an extremely busy Sunday and our waitress made it her mission to make sure we never saw the bottom of our coffee mugs.

3. The Menu. I've only ventured in for breakfast, obviously. Pancakes are important, which is why four plate-sized cakes come with nearly every meal here. Don't want something sweet? Substitute them for country potatoes and toast for no extra charge. For a basic combo, try the "Circus Special," for $7.75. It comes with a choice of ham, bacon, sausage or beef patty with two eggs and four pancakes. (You can also replace eggs with "egg beaters" for an extra 75 cents). Other items: French toast, waffles, omelets, crepes, eggs benedict and veggie benedict (with sliced avocado, tomato and onion), biscuits 'n' gravy, chicken-fried steak, hot links, pork chops and more.

They've also got the basic diner lunch food. You can replace the beef with chicken on any of their burgers. (The Teriyaki Mushroom sounded good to me.) Some of the more unique options include breaded veal served with mashed potatoes and gravy and the Denver Sandwich (ham, bell pepper, onion and egg on a French roll).

The clown on the menu exclaims via a word bubble that Pancake Circus recently converted to zero trans-fat frying oils. Wait, so does that lower my chances of a heart attack after eating here? Score!

Pancake Circus
(916) 452-3322

Open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
(Crummy hours, right? This would be fun on a silly drunken evening on the town.)

Craft Idea #1: Boxer Bird

While my buddy Craig tried to fashion a realistic-looking bird out of fabric and a soda bottle for an avian behavior experiment, I made this little guy out of a pair of boxers too tattered to even wear around the house.

It's stuffed with leftover Build-a-Bear stuffing, but you can also use rice, lentils, or chopped up fabric scraps. There's wire sewn into the feet so you can bend them around (and sometimes stand him up).

I'm not skilled enough to actually lay out diagrams or explain each step of making your own stuffed doodad, you just have to wing it. Har har.

The point is this: You can recycle any old fabric! Take old clothes that are too dirty or holey or out of style and give them new life!

(While I'm at it, I started an Etsy store.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Bananas are one of those cursed fruits that always seem to go bad before you can finish them all. Luckily, there is a delicious solution to this problem. Once a banana gets overripe, just throw it in the freezer, and you can use it to make banana bread or muffins even after it turns completely black (weeks! months!).

Bananas are pretty cheap as it is, but I just learned that the Davis Food Co-op keeps a basket of discounted overripe organic bananas, which you can buy by the banana instead of by the bunch. Yesterday I picked up a couple of those to make this these morning:

Elisa's Modified Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 stick butter
    • 1 or 2 bananas, mashed
    • 1 egg
    • 4 oz. chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  3. In another bowl, blend together butter, bananas and eggs, then pour over dry ingredients. You'll probably have to add a little water to get it all incorporated. Don't worry about it being lumpy.
  4. Grease the cups of a cupcake pan, and fill them up halfway with the batter.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
This will make about a dozen muffins. You can also add 2 tsp. cinnamon or a 1/2 cup of walnuts or pecans, chopped or ground or whole, however you like 'em.

Have one with vanilla yogurt for breakfast, one with vanilla ice cream for dessert, and one in a Ziploc bag for a snack. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I've got gas!

The strangest thing happened this weekend: I drove to Southern California on Friday night, drove back up on Memorial Day afternoon, and... get this... I hit NO TRAFFIC JAMS. Yep, the apocalypse is upon us, ladies and gents; expensive gas is leading to less travel on weekends when roads are typically most-packed. 'Twas weird.

To look on the brighter side, the prices have undoubtedly left some people finding creative ways to get around -- bikes, buses, straight-up staying home. But for those of us who need to fill 'er up, News10 has a pretty great Web site that posts where you can get the cheapest gas in the Sac area.

Maybe we should all get Costco cards, because it looks like that's the best deal around.

As a side-note, doesn't News10's Marcey Brightwell (first) look exactly like John McCain's creepy wife Cindy McCain (second)? AAHHH!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's not just for orphans anymore!

Walnuts, O most debated of all nuts! Are they better than almonds? Better than hazelnuts? Worse than cashews but better than peanuts? With a satisfyingly flavorful and full body of meat, but a sometimes off-putting astringency in the skin, walnuts are not very easily categorized or appreciated. Some people like them candied, others in cereals or trail mix, and still others prefer them used in savory dishes, encrusting fish, for example.

For these reasons, I tend to shy away from walnuts. It seems like there is usually a better nut to be found to suit any given purpose (pecans for desserts, maybe), but from time to time I also feel like I underestimate the walnut. That skin isn't SO bad, after all.

And so it was that in my constant search for a cheap, easy, and tasty breakfast (probably the most elusive meal of the day) I came across a certain dish not only containing walnuts, but defined by them. It turned out to be so simple, so wholesome, and so humble that I think now I'd feel a little insecure if I didn't have it around.

I mean, of course...

(recipe taken from California Walnuts)
    • 1 cup walnuts
    • 1 cup rice
    • 7 cups water
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt

    1. Soak rice in water at least three hours, then drain thoroughly.
    2. In blender, grind walnuts, drained rice and 2 cups of water.
    3. Pour blended mixture into a medium sauce pan and add remaining water.
    4. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Add salt and stir.
    5. Serve in bowls garnished with walnuts.

Obviously this will make a considerable amount of porridge, so the best thing to do is wait for it to cool, then divide it into individual servings in plastic bags and freeze. Later, just heat the whole bag up in a pot of boiling water or remove the frozen porridge from the bag and microwave in a bowl safe for such things, and you'll have a piping hot bowl of tasty porridge anytime you want.

The best thing about it, I think, is that even though the walnut flavor is pretty strong, it's very versatile. I like mine with brown sugar and cream, but it would also be good with a little more salt and some vegetable or dried/cured meat side-dishes (the Korean way).

Anyhow, I've got a bowl of it waiting for me in the kitchen right now, so I'd better be off. Happy porridging!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

$3 to $4 for an Album Box Set!

Not only do I love Matador Records' band roster (Cat Power, Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Brightblack Morning Light), but I also love the label's ways of getting people to continue to purchase tangible albums in such a digital world. I was stoked on the fact that they've included download codes with their vinyl, but I just learned about a newer trick (Well, new-ish... it started in '07) involving The New Pornographers' album "Challengers" as well as Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks' "Real Emotional Trash" (March 2008), and others.

Buy Early, Get Now means you can buy a CD or box-set, such as The New Pornographers case, in advance with a few stipulations. First, you can buy it at participating stores like Dimple Records for a mere $3 or on Amazon for $4. The crazy part: it's just a box of decorated CDRs for you to download the album online with a code (to have it immediately). This includes live footage, bonus tracks, etc. I think it's a cheap deal for only a little bit more work (especially with the NPs case. With Malkmus, it was the full album price... more than a few bucks.)

It's a bit confusing at first, but seems like a great idea, especially for iTunes kids who still want some type of tangible thing to go along with the record.

I just hope they do this with another new release, since I found out about it after The New P's and Malkmus albums were already released... (i.e. it would be neat to do it pre-street-date.)

Photos on the Cheap: Toy Photography

I've been told the Holga, a cheap, plastic toy camera, was the top hipster gift of last holiday season. But after you shake off the irreverent glam, this hollowed piece of plastic holds it's own, and is an incredibly good find for photography artists looking for an inexpensive, low-fidelity look.

The Lomography Society, a collective of toy camera enthusiasts, sells the camera for about $70, though you can find them on eBay and elsewhere for as low as $20. The camera itself takes 120 medium format film, not the usual 35mm film your old pre-digital cameras took, which is relatively inexpensive at about $0.20 an exposure. Developing the photos is the biggest expense, but many community centers and schools allow cheap or free access to their developing and scanning equipment. You can also buy the supplies online to develop film yourself. This guide describes the relative ease with which you can process your negatives, bringing your development costs as low as a penny or two per shot!

While a digital camera may seem like the cheapest way to explore the world behind a lens, a decent digital camera may run $250. With that kind of money, you can afford at least a few hundred Holga shots, and have much better looking results in the end. All it takes is time and effort.

Daily Culture Dosage - Free live music in Davis

After being involved with the UC Davis Music Department for over a year, I just learned that they keep a tidy schedule of events on their main page. Every week there are at least a couple of performances, which include the Thursday Noon Concerts and junior and senior recitals. The next few weeks are a prime time to check out the Music Building since these recitals are the culmination of the year's work.

If you have a break between classes or from work, check out a performance and feel ashamed that you never followed through with your second-grade recorder lessons.

This week:

Wednesday, May 21, 3:30-5 pm
Dan Eisenberg, percussion
(I've seen this dude play before; he's a wizard on the marimba.)

Thursday, May 22, 12:05-1 pm
Hindustani Vocal Ensemble
(This is a UCD class that performs classical Northern Indian music, accompanied by tabla and harmonium. Beware: If you go, the melodies will be in your head for the rest of the week. The director, Rita Sahai, is a pretty renowned singer, and she's even up for a Grammy nomination!)

Friday, May 23, 3:30-5 pm
Lisa Sueyres, sorpano vocal
(Can't personally vouch for her, but if she's got the guts to sing for an hour and a half accompanied only by one piano, I am humbled.)

All these performances are free and take place in 115 Music. The Music Building is next to the Main Theatre and the Art Building on the UC Davis campus. (map)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Teriyaki Takes Over the World

Do you eat meat? Do you like Safeway? Do you at least like big chrome horses?

If you answered yes, you may be interested to know that right now you can buy a whole Foster Farms chicken for like three bucks if you're part of the club. Also I've been told there's a good sale on ground beef right now, but I haven't checked it out for myself.

I wasn't so sure about buying a whole chicken because I didn't really know how to cut it up into usable pieces, but it turned out to be pretty simple. These instructions are pretty decent, and if you're able to follow them, you of course have a whole chicken breast (which is quite a lot of meat), two thighs, two wings, two drumsticks, and a few less-than-meaty pieces leftover that you could turn into stock if you wanted.

Personally, after going to the Pacific Rim Street Festival this last weekend, I was craving some teriyaki, so after cutting up the chicken, I filleted the breasts and threw them on the grill, then followed this recipe for sauce to pour over the top. The sauce was a little too salty at first, but nothing some simple dilution couldn't fix. You can just pour that stuff right over the chicken, add some rice and a simple vegetable, and it's a pretty awesome, practically dirt-cheap meal.

As for the ground beef...anyone for sloppy joes?

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Ultimate Showdown!

It's on!

$5 Battle of 2008: Subway vs. Quiznos!!!

From the looks of it on YouTube, Subway is winning: Apparently, it's catchier.

The $5 "large" subs at Quiznos:

Oven-Roasted Turkey & Cheddar
(Turkey, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, mayo)

Honey Ham & Swiss
(Ham, Swiss, lettuce, tomato, mayo)

Tuna Melt
(Tuna salad, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, mayo)

Roast Beef & Cheddar
(Roast beef, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, mayo)

The $5 FOOTLONGS at Subway:

-Meatball Marinara
-Oven Roasted Chicken
-Spicy Italian
-Black Forest Ham
-Cold Cut Combo
-Veggie Delite

You decide.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Classin' up pizza night

We all love cheap beer and fine malt liquor, but once in a while you want something with a little more flavor. Now the people at your local Raley's grocery bring you...

Poppy Cellars Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon!

Only $4 a bottle, every day.

The free publication Raley's distributes says they're good wines for sangria (I haven't yet tried their recipes), but I've found that at least the Zinfandel is good for everyday drinking. It's pretty dry, but there are good, strong, juicy red fruit flavors in there. The label recommends drinking it with pizza, and it goes well with a lot of spicy Mexican foods.

I found it very prominently displayed next to the produce at the Raley's in West Sacramento on West Capitol Blvd., but I imagine it's pretty easy to spot at other locations as well. So if you're looking for a good, casual bottle of wine that costs about as much as a burger or a fancy latte, try it out, maybe see if it's your thing. I'll sure be enjoying it this summer.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Eat Cheaply -- Rad Web site


Cheap Eats Web site

I'm pretty excited about this blog, which features tons of recipes (Make Your Own Gatorade?!), tips and more -- specifically for the poor. (I couldn't resist the rhyming there.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

May 8-14: Free Happenings!

(Ah, the bittersweet smell of patchouli oil! It's Whole Earth Festival at UC Davis this Friday-Sunday.)


Coexist Comedy Tour feat. Keither Lowell Jensen, John Ross, Chard Lehrman, Tapan Trivedi, and Tissa Hami. 7:30 p.m. CSUS University Union Ballroom.

Music on the Green with The Definite Articles, An Angle and Audrye Sessions. 6 p.m. Central Park in Davis.


Friday Night Concerts in the Park: Kepi The Band, Kevin Seconds & The Altruistics, Kepi & Friends, Ghetto Moments. 5-9 p.m. Cesar Chavez Plaza in Sacramento at 10th and J streets.

The Amazing Disgrace, Esoteric Sacrifice, Halfsies, Beneath the Iron Heel. 5 p.m. Inferno Pizza, 2424 16th St.

Mucky the Ducky, Many Many Blogs, '78 Beatles. 5 p.m. The Firehouse at UC Davis


Whole Earth Festival at UC Davis


(waning) , an extended ambient set. With art by Boyd Gavin and Matthias Geige. 6:30 p.m. Center for Contemporary Art in Sacramento, 1519 19th St.

Art Reception for Joshua Hunt "Hope & Doom" Music: Dj Damaged Goods. 8 p.m. Javalounge, 2416 16th St.

Art Lessing & the Flower Vato, Hamster. 6 p.m. Body Tribe. (21st between I and J streets)

Adonis, Evening Episode, Alex Trujillo, Heavenly States. 7 p.m. 21+. The Blue Lamp, 1400 Alhambra Blvd.


Sacto Area Pyrate Punx presentz: SOCIAL CIRKLE (old skool punk from Va.) 5 p.m. R5 Records, 2500 16th St.


Red Host. Noon. CSUS Serna Plaza.

DJ Crook One (of Decibel Devils/Team Sleep) playing Rare Groove/Electro/Funk/Rock/Hip Hop every Wednesday. 9:30 p.m. 21+. Monkey Bar (28th & Capitol)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Welcome to The Starving Artist!

"The Starving Artist... Sacramento and Beyond," will be a blog dedicated to those who sacrifice monetary gain for an enrichment of the soul.

Check back soon for updates on local arts and music happenings as well as information on how to get by on a budget with recipes and other practical DIY projects.

E-mail me if you are interested in contributing to this soon-to-be collaborative blog...

I'm looking for:

1. Curious writers/ creative individuals
2. Lovers of the arts in all forms
3. Lovers of food and booze
4. People who either really know the area, or have a lot of drive to discover Sacramento and its neighbors
5. People who are computer savvy