Five Podcasts to Pique Your Interest

Podcasts today are like blogs were ten to fifteen years ago. They began as media channels for the fringes and perhaps even the marginalized. They had a limited appeal, as they were difficult to get a hold or required some digging around for anything worthwhile. They existed more so as personal projects than widespread entertainment.

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Image via Slate

But soon enough, they gained traction as media consumers were drawn to their old-school appeal and functionality. Podcasts are the new radio, but- dare I say- better? They’re portable and streamable. They can be catered to your interests. They offer bite-sized chunks of information at a rate you can customize. Play half on your way to work. Don’t like it? Easy, just delete the cast and find another. Fast forward through drawn out dialogue or irrelevant rambling (if you want, although I think that’s part of the fun.) Podcasts- even more than blogs- are in the hands of the consumer.

For a little over a decade, podcasts have been working their way into the contemporary mainstream. In 2014, the popularity of Serial forced podcasts into the public eye, but they are still overlooked by many who think they are one-dimensional or favor audiovisual entertainment.

You can’t compare podcasts to television, really, nor radio for that matter. But you can appreciate them in their own right. For their often DIY ethos, their niche categorization, their relatively loose rules regarding censorship and their ability to connect with listeners in a way that not many other forms of media can.

If podcasts are akin to a chat with friends, then here are a few of my favorite conversations. No matter your interest, there is surely a cast you can connect with.

For the girl’s girl –Lady to Lady

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Image via Paste Magazine

This podcast follows three funny ladies (plus one weekly guest) as they discuss life, love, drugs, pop culture and whatever else happens to pop into their minds. If you enjoy listening to others’ stream of consciousness babble, then this one’s for you. Seriously though, you’ve gotta just go and listen to Lady to Lady because it’s a lot better than I’m making it out to be. In all honesty, I didn’t love it at first. I thought the hosts were vain and stupid (sorry). But truth be told, they’re actually really smart, strong, insightful women whose guests fall in that same category. Lady to Lady is like brunch with *certain* friends: it’s mindless and gossipy but may also challenge your perspective, and will definitely make you laugh.

For the struggling artist- Creative Pep Talk

Andy is the illustrator behind many well-known graphics for clients including Google, Converse and Nickelodeon, just to name a few. Don’t worry, he’s not here to spout off some self-help bullshit or sell you e-books. He genuinely has an interest in living and promoting an authentically creative lifestyle. (I’m judging myself for writing that in earnest, but w/e.) Andy’s the real deal. He’ll teach you how to set yourself apart, find time and energy for your underlying interests, reject anxious thoughts of not being good enough to try/succeed… And you’ll meet some pretty cool people in the field along the way. 

For the curious George –Baby Geniuses

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Image via babygeniusespodcast.tumblr.com

Another one from Max Fun, Baby Geniuses is hosted by comedian Emily Heller and cartoonist (of Bojack fucking Horseman) Lisa Hanawalt. The show is an interesting mix of fun facts, both educational and amusing. You can look forward to segments such as “Chunch Chat” (all about Martha Stewart’s pony, Ben Chunch) and “Wiki of the Week” (where random wiki pages are pulled from the dredges of the Internet and assessed by the hosts). They love any niche subculture or nugget of undisclosed information that you didn’t know was relevant until you hear it through your headphones, then can’t stop thinking about. (Say, for instance, the phenomenon of “anti-Barney humor”.) This cast never gets old, with a rotating roster of quirky guests and even quirkier stories.

For the spirituality-seeking skeptic- That’s So Retrograde

I’ve gotta start with a disclaimer that I actually… sort of… get bored with this podcast sometimes because I’m like “been there, done that ladies”. Like, “kombucha was so 2010, why are we still talking about it?” But then I instantly check myself and thank goddess for this podcast because, although topics at hand sometimes seem a bit outdated, they go into more depth than I would probably reach on my own. I’m talking everything you’ve ever wanted to know about flower essences, flotation tanks and planet alignment. Each segment has a different topic picked from the world of health and wellness and broadcast from LA (but of course). The hosts, Elizabeth Kott and Stephanie Simbari enjoy green juice and meditation but also whiskey and weed, fully embracing both yin and yang elements in their lives. They provide an insightful look at what you can do for a bit of a health boost without losing friends or fun in the process. 

For the chronic dieter- The Fuck It Diet

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Image via the Fuck It Diet

Yes, this one is also hosted by a comedian. (Really, what podcast isn’t?) But Caroline Dooner is more than that. She also acts, sings and teaches rigid food obsessives how to fuck rules and restriction around their eating behavior. Like what the hell, eat whatever you want in whatever amount you want and why do we have all these rules and where did they come from and how privileged are we to even question what’s in our food or whether we’re eating the perfect amount or whether anyone else gives a shit? Caroline explores all this plus more and is a serious influence in my battle against ED behavior. So give her and her wonderfully rebellious, anti-diet guests and her post-interview sing-alongs a listen.

I’m always on the metaphorical hunt for some captivating new casts, so don’t hesitate to throw me some suggestions. What are your current favorites?

Comment here or shout out on Twitter @QuincyLeuhh

quincy

 

 

Review: B&H Dairy, oldest vegetarian restaurant in US

A pendulum has swung in my world. While I once valued whole foods and a stringent (read: obsessive and restrictive) adherence to “clean” eating, I now wistfully cherish the comfort foods and cultural classics that I denied myself for so long.

I still believe in nourishing my body to feel and function my best, but I also feel that this can include items that feed the mind and soul just as much as those that simply sustain the physical self. Several months ago, on a trek through Asia, I decided to (more or less) abandon my existing food rules in favour of Taiwanese street snacks and sweet, steaming mugs of Hong Kong-style milk tea that allowed me to taste these country’s cultures.

Since then, I’ve grown less and less rigid with the way I eat- something that I actually never thought would happen. If you asked me a few years, or even months, ago, I would have said that my disordered eating would be a lifelong challenge. While this may still be true, I am seeing myself slowly regress back to a childlike state of curiosity and ease when it comes to food and eating.

When I was young, I was a fearless eater- willing to try just about anything and everything. Brussel sprouts, capers, escargot- things other kids wouldn’t go near.

I’m almost back to that same willingness (save meat, which I will never consume again if I can help it). I’m also learning to eat intuitively- not just in relation to my own body, but- perhaps more importantly- in tune with others according to the social dynamics of the group. (More on this coming soon).

That was a long lead-in to today’s post, which is a review of B&H Dairy in the East Village. The quaint diner-style restaurant is allegedly the county’s “oldest vegetarian joint” (although it is actually mostly vegetarian, as it serves some fish). The restaurant is also entirely kosher, serving up Jewish and Easter European cuisine like borscht, kasha and of course, fresh-baked challah bread.

B&H is the kind of place where you are transported in time, place and mind. For a split second, you become blissfully unaware of the horrors of white flour and sugar and fried foods… Instead you focus on the delightful sponginess of your challah, served up on a tiny Dixie plate. (You also notice the staff’s corresponding shirts, “Challah! Por favor”.)

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Coffee and complimentary challah to start the meal

The restaurant can get quite cramped when it fills up, but the stellar service (quick and friendly) and tasty food make up for it. The vibe is very hole-in-the-wall, but in a charming way, like you are back in old-school Manhattan grabbing a hearty breakfast before you commute to your office job.

At B&H, low-fat and sugar-free are non-existent. You will take your coffee with cream and  your bread with butter and you will like it, because it’s damn delicious that way (and just how God intended, no?) And we haven’t even gotten to the main meal yet.

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Cheese blintze with sweet cream

I had trouble deciding what to order off of the extensive menu, but was sure that I needed one of B&H’s infamous blintzes. I settled on cheese- not too sweet with the perfect balance of crispy (fried!) exterior and soft, cool filling. The thing was so rich, I probably would have been fine with it as my only order. But I had already requested two savoury dishes, which were also much larger than I anticipated.

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Mushroom knish with gravy

First up was a mushroom knish (which, in actuality, was more like a mound of mashed potatoes). The flavour was nice and the gravy was great, although this definitely wasn’t the dense pastry that I was expecting when I ordered.

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Stuffed cabbage

Next up was cabbage stuffed with rice and topped with red sauce. It was a pretty basic dish, but well seasoned and tightly wrapped (so that the cabbage didn’t fall apart when I cut into it). As I ate I drank; the coffee refills were abundant.

I happened to be dining on a particularly soggy day, making my hot food and beverage all the more satisfying. My jacket was completely drenched but I didn’t care. I left stuffed and happy to have experienced a little slice of mid-century New York.

I’m all about vintage diners at the moment, and this one makes it high on my list. If you are in the area, I recommend you pay B&H a visit. If the sound of this makes you want to die with anguish, just know that I get it. It’s taken me a long (long long) time to get to this place. There are some great podcasts that may help you in your journey towards food freedom. And take it from me that the control and confidence your seeking may actually increase as your restriction diminishes.

What’s more badass than not giving a fuck about what you “should” eat according to others’ skewed opinions or your own illogical rules? What’s cooler than being a diet rebel, eschewing commercialist and capitalistic beauty standards in favour of a flavourful, colourful, exciting life? What would happen if you decided to do and eat what you want? 

Try the matzo brei and the pierogies (and whatever else scares you) and reclaim that shit and the experiences that come along with it because what is life really if you’re living in fear about everything you put in your mouth? Feed your body, but don’t forget to also feed your soul.

You don’t just go to B&H for the food; you go for the whole package. The meal, the environment, and of course the nostalgia that comes along with it. 

B & H Dairy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

quincy

Vegan Monte Cristo

The classic Monte Cristo is not French, nor Italian, as the name suggests. In fact, the sandwiches were first served up in the good ol’ USA.

(Fuckin’ cultural appropriation, am I right?)

Sometime around the mid-1900’s, someone decided to revamp the Croque Monsieur for American consumption. The result was a diner-deli love child. Part eggy breakfast dish, part savory meatwich, all an artery-clogging taste bud party.

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The Monte Cristo is like a kid food for grownups. It’s disguising itself as a refined dish, but really it’s not much more than melted cheese on a mass of dough.

I mean that in the most flattering way possible. Some of the greatest dishes out there- pizza, quesadillas, pierogis, empanadas- are basically the same concept.

You can now add Monte Cristos to the list.

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#cheeseporn

That being said, this recipe doesn’t use “real” cheese nor “real” ham. Did you expect any less from me?

Use dairy cheese if you must (maybe from someplace like this?) but please, please, please- for the love of pigs– leave out the meat.

I’ll hop of the soapbox now and let you get to the recipe. Hope you enjoy!

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Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Build your sandwich (cheese, ham, mustard and mayo on bread- in whatever fun order you like!)
  • In small bowl, whisk together egg (or egg replacement) and black pepper
  • Dredge the sandwich in the egg mixture until fully coated (i.e. soggy)
  • Meanwhile, start to heat greased frying pan on medium-high
  • Place sandwich in pan and cook for about 5 minutes, until browned, crispy & sizzling
  • Flip and repeat on other side
  • Remove from heat, slice in half and serve with a side of jam and cornichons

Bon appétit,

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Midweek Mashup

It’s warming up here, which means I can finally eat ice cream again without aggravating my vataThis recipe brings me back to my recent travels to Singapore, where ice cream sandwiches are literally a slab of ice cream served between a thick piece of milk bread– or better yet, rainbow bread.

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Oh, and it just so happens to be dairy-free (if you nix the condensed milk topping, which you shouldn’t). Alternatively, try this.

And, on a similar note: the Hong Kong street food that’s taking over Instagram.

If you prefer reading about food to eating it, who are you, you monster? Might as well tell me you also sometimes “forget to eat“. Although I will never understand your kind, I do enjoy a good article on food culture. The Runcible Spoon, a D.C.-based “food & fantasy” zine, is full of ’em. Just discovered it, wondering how did I not know about this sooner?

Another one I wish I’d found sooner is Render– for those of us that like our sustenance served with a side of social justice (and lots of great cocktail recipes).

While we’re on the topic of food, check out one of my favorite music videos on the web right now- Swedish girl, Spanish name, Asian influence, chanting about belly buttons (in what she describes as a “beauty orgy“.

Here’s another one that- albeit slightly disturbing- is so aesthetically interesting, you can’t not watch the whole thing several times over.

Actually, I recommend anything that Lazy Mom makes. I also recommend anything that Pill makes. Combine the two and you have pure perfection.

And one more video, just for kicks, from London-based Kero Kero Bonito.

In other music news…

While all the lucky bums with no obligations are relishing in the last few days of South by, I’ll be living vicariously through Snapchat stories and Instagram feeds. Not that that’s a bad thing- you can have almost as much fun at home for practically free!

(At least that’s what I’m telling myself).              

No sweat, no lines, no overpriced booze, no tall people wandering over to block your view. If you’re dreaming of Austin but can’t be there to participate , join me (in spirit) for the next best thing with this DIY festival experience.

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Step 1: Dress the part with inspiration from this year’s attendees (both novice and veteran)

Bonus: Add some Texas dirt for authenticity- grime is the new glitter!

Step 2: Get drunk (on craft beer if you’re trying to stay true to that Austin culture, or 40’s if you’re cheap)

Step 3: Pop on some tunes (perhaps paying special attention to these 25?)

Step 4: Make tacos

Once the dust has (literally) settled from your remaining 5 days of festival fun, you’ll surely need another media outlet to suck your time away.

Shockingly, that outlet may be Facebook. We all know it as the platform that became overrun by wine-drunk middle-aged women and abandoned by its original users. However, Facebook is experiencing a resurgence which might just make it cool again (but only if you’re part of the burgeoning underground scene or using it to troll).

In more media news, Leslie Arfin is the best (despite my limited enthusiasm for Girls).  Her husband‘s pretty dope too. Catch this interview with him and Gillian Jacobs about their Netflix series on pre-relationship trials and discomforts. 

Once computer vision syndrome has begun to set in, turn off the screen and pop in your headphones for Lady to Lady podcast.

It’s basically a chance to listen in on three women (plus a weekly guest) provide commentary on their lives. Not only are they hilarious, but also refreshingly honest and relatable.

In stark contrast to many L.A. creatives, there’s no overly-censored, picture-perfect representations going on here.

Follow the girls on Twitter for more fun and, please let me know:

What are the best things you found on the web this week? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Spaetzle Kugel

If casseroles are a standard American desperation dish (see here, here or here), then kugels are their European counterpart. That’s not to say that they’re lacking whatsoever, but they do encourage that “use what you have” mentality.

Consider the fact that kugel originally contained bread as the primary starch, and it wasn’t typically a sweet dish until about 400 years ago. (That’s a relatively recent transition- People have been consuming kugel of some variety for over 800 years).

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Stacks on stacks of kugel, with a side of apple-cabbage slaw

When times are tough, adjustments must be made. Old trends are adapted; people learn to work with what they have. Many classic recipes have been invented this way: meatloaf, “wacky cake“, several types of chowder, and of course the kugels of late.

Some traditionalists still opt for savory kugel, others swap noodles for potatoes (or rice or veggie noodles).

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The beauty of kugel is that it’s customizable. Custom-shit is my shit.

Like those chunky home phones you could decorate with rhinestones and feather boas.*

Or jeans that are made to fit your body.

Or vegan leather journals filled with pages of your choosing. (Get your name emblazoned on there for extra oomph.)

You’re an individual. Why shouldn’t your phone/denim/journal/Euro casserole be too?

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In an attempt to cut down on food waste and save cold, hard cash, I resorted to the depths of my pantry for this recipe. On hand, I had spaetzle (stand-in for egg noodles), ricotta (a creamy binder to replace eggs), and spiced rum (for good measure).

I threw it all together and what did I get? An easy meal that my taste-testers raved about for weeks to come.

Ingredients

  • 1 package spaetzle (or vegan spaetzle)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup spiced rum
  • 3 cups ricotta (or vegan ricotta)
  • 1/4 cup Stevia baking blend or sweetener of choice (adjust amount accordingly)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF
  • Cook spaetzle according to package directions
  • Meanwhile, soak raisins in rum and set aside
  • Combine remaining ingredients in mixing bowl and beat until smooth
  • Drain spaetzle and fold into ricotta mixture
  • Spread evenly into greased baking dish
  • Bake for 45 minutes (or until dish is firm/passes the toothpick test)

Like I said, mix it up if you like. Don’t like Stevia? Use some other sweetener, or omit entirely. Don’t have raisins on hand? Maybe chopped nuts (or chocolate chips?? or crushed potato chips???) would add an interesting texture.

Let me know what you think of the recipe, or how you plan to make it your own.

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*P.S. does anyone remember these? I know I have mine laying around somewhere- will post crucial pics when found.

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“Couldn’t Be Easier” Vegan Peanut Butter & Jelly Fudge

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Despite my recent diagnosis of a mild peanut allergy, I have been eating my weight in peanut butter #badassalert. Sure it messes with my stomach a little lot, but it tantalizes my taste buds and cures my cravings like nothing else can. How can something so wrong feel so right?!?

If your love for peanut butter is as strong as mine, you have got to try this fudge.

On second thought, if your love is really as strong as mine, maybe you shouldn’t make it to save yourself from eating the entire batch in one sitting.

But on third thought, that really doesn’t sound that bad. ‘Cause YOLO.

YOLO

Drake would definitely approve of you treating yourself in such a loving way. Peanut butter is one of life’s greatest gifts, after all.

If PB is not yo thang, feel free to sub any other nut, seed or other butter that your little heart desires (although results may vary). Cashew, coconut or sunflower butter would probably work pretty well. Almond butter or -even better- chocolate hazelnut butter (aka vegan Nutella) would also be amazing.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups creamy peanut butter (or other “butter” of choice)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (like this one)
  • 2 tbs. granulated stevia (or 1.25 tsp. liquid extract)
  • Sprinkle of sea salt
  • 2 tbs. jelly of choice (I used this)

Directions:

  • Combine peanut butter and vegan butter in small saucepan (or double boiler)
  • Melt on medium-high heat while stirring constantly
  • Once full melted, reduce heat and stir in stevia and salt
  • Line baking pan with wax/parchment paper and pour PB mixture into pan
  • Shake it* a little to make sure it’s nice and even
  • Put in the freezer for at least 2 hours
  • Once frozen, spread with thin (or thick) layer of jelly
  • Refreeze until ready to devour

FYI- If you’re trying to convince omni friends/family to join the vegan club, serve them this fudge.

They’ll be asking for another piece before you can say Daiya. Maybe.. just maybe.. it’ll be enough to prove to them that they can go sans animal products without giving up great flavor/texture.

*A lil throwback for you, feat. Miley’s big bro