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