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Pickles: Jalapenos En Escabeche

It’s almost summer, and after a year-long sabbatical (due in large part to having to pickles 60 jars of beets for my wedding last year), the pickling has once again begun. This means the apartment once again smells like boiled vinegar. This means fresh produce is necessary. And this means pickles, and plenty of them. Pickling is possibly the easiest thing to do in the kitchen, aside from maybe drinking beer, so I’ll be posting my adaptations of recipes here. This one comes courtesy of Karen Hursh Graber, who is something of an expert on the cuisine of the Puebla region of Mexico. I adapted her recipe as follows:


  • 1 pound jalapeño chiles, washed and stems left intact
  • 6 tablespoons olive
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated, left unpeeled, and sliced lengthwise
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
I left out the onion and carrots here, but only because my kitchen was understocked. Yes, pure laziness. They should be in here. I also omitted marjoram and used cider vinegar – I just like cider vinegar for pickling. For this recipe, I think white vinegar is too bland, and the sweet tartness of cider vinegar should suit it just fine. These are refrigerator pickles, no need to hot water seal your jars, although you should sterilize them in your sink.

Cut an X into the tip of each jalapeño.

Heat the oil, add the garlic and jalapenos and sauté for about 5-10 minutes over medium high flame.

Add the vinegar and remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Ladle the mixture into sterilized glass jars, cover and refrigerate. Makes 3 pints.

20 Years Ago: Black Sheep – A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

This is the first of  a new series here on, where I’ll take a look back at classic and not-so-classic albums that came out 20 years ago. Feel free to comment and make suggestions, and enjoy the nostalgia.

On October 22, 1991, Black Sheep’s debut album, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, was released. The newest member of the Native Tongues posse (which also included De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and Jungle Brothers), Black Sheep brought wit, sex, and irreverence to a genre that took itself pretty seriously in the early ’90s. Dres’ silky smooth voice and ladies man persona matched perfectly with DJ Mista Lawnge’s eclectic beats, a melange of funk, disco, soul, and rock samples and concepts. The album was fairly successful at the time, and tracks like “Strobelight Honey” and “The Choice is Yours” have become classics, the latter even currently appearing in a Kia commercial in its popular “Revisited” form. That forever recognizable intro bassline can still get a party jumping.

Black Sheep are sometimes classified as “alternative” hip-hop, but that’s really a bullshit categorization. Sheep’s Clothing was real, slamming, vibrant, creative hip-hop that was way ahead of its time. Dres was a unique voice of his era, and did not seem to care about expectations of the genre. Although gangsta rap was in its nascency at the time, Dres clearly felt the pressure to be “hard.” He expresses as much on the album’s joke of an opening track, “U Mean I’m Not,” a gangster nightmare from which he fortunately awakes to commence spitting great song after great song.

Almost every track on this album delivers, and even the scattered skits, popular at the time, are relatively clever. One, “Go To Hail,” is a precursor to Danny Glover publicizing the trouble African Americans can have getting a cab in NYC. The first single was the jazzy, funky “Flavor of the Month,” the song that introduced me to the group. The track is still irresistible, its descending bassline and light-as-air trumpet solo providing the perfect background for Dres’ couplets and metaphors. “Similak Child” is lovely and bizarre, built around a pyschedelic guitar and barking dog sample. The posse cut, “Pass the 40,” was one of the greatest, a round robin of good-time rhymes and schoolyard humor. And let’s not forget that this was the album that introduced the world to Chi-Ali, who unfortunately ended up murdering his sister’s boyfriend in 2000 and is serving a 14-year sentence.

The group is sort of still in existence, although it’s really just Dres these days. He released an album last year, but Sheep’s Clothing remains the classic that stands the test of time.

MP3: James Yuill Remixes

London-based electronic producer James Yuill’s new album, Movement in Storm, came out recently on Moshi Moshi, and it’s a good one, full of his trademark slick and innovative production. Check out a couple of remixes of the track “Crying For Hollywood.” First is the Grown Men Remix (Alex Doyle of LCD Soundsystem + Hot Chip and Felix Martin of Hot Chip). Second is the Shir Khan Remix.

MP3: Shit Robot – “Losing My Patience”

I missed all the final LCD Soundsystem shows. Whatever. So I guess I also missed Shit Robot’sperformances which were supposed to be, well, the shit. Fortunately, I can download “Losing My Patience” here. I’ll be damned if this doesn’t sound a lot like Hot Chip, who happen to remix the track.

Books: Neil Young – Long May You Run (Voyageur Press, written by Daniel Durchholz & Gary Graff)

Neil Young: Long May You Run is subtitled The Illustrated History, an important part of the title of this new unofficial biography of the rock and roll legend. Released this past May, the book spansYoung’s entire career, from his childhood in Winnipeg, Canada to his prolific work with Buffalo Springfield, CSNY, Crazy Horse, and every band in between to his collaborations in the grunge era with Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam to his upcoming summer tour.

Many of the quotes and interviews found within the book’s well laid out and beautifully printed pages are things you may have read before – it appears that the writers did very few interviews of their own, instead relying on previously published material. That doesn’t necessarily take away from the impact or interest of the biography, but it does leave you wondering if their access was limited. There are some interesting accounts in the book that deal with the mythology and musical connections of Young: the Bob Dylan-Neil Young connection (apparently, Dylan thought “Heart of Gold” cut a bit too close to his own work), Young’s original touring car – a hearse he called Mortimer Hearseburg, a rumored feud with Lyrnyrd Skynyrd over Young’s Southern posturing, and, most interestingly, Young’s early connection with the man soon to be known as Rick James – the two played in a band together for a short time in the ’60s. There is also an interesting account of Young’s problems with seizures early in his life, which one can’t help but compare to Joy Division’s Ian Curtis’ battles with a similar malady. Fortunately, for Young, things turned out much better.

Ultimately, the real bread and butter of the book are its pictures – concert pics, childhood snapshots, concert and movie posters, postcards, you name it. Long May You Run is an interesting read, but it’s also a good coffee table book, filled with enough visual stimuli to interest even a casual Young fan like myself with its rich photographic history.

Neil Young – Long May You Run: The Illustrated History is available from Voyageur Press.