Reasons to take up SMOKING

Reason #1: Wardrobe.  You get a swell looking jacket and cravat, plus a jaunty hat!

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THE SMOKING JACKETS are (from left) Daniel Ward, Heidi Swedberg, Craig McClelland and John Bartlit. Craig is gigging in WI this summer, and will join us in November

The Smoking Jackets are hitting the road in trio formation- John Bartlit, Daniel Ward and I will presenting the first Rocky Mountain Ukulele Festival in Durango, Colorado.  We have a great day of workshops planned, starting Friday July 10th with our “song of the year”, Silly Love Songs.  The next day will be filled with classes: 3 sessions of 3 classes, offering a beginning, intermediate and advanced class each session. (I wish I could take John’s ukulele percussion class!)

Reason #2: Smoking is good for you.  When you are doing it on an instrument, that is.

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At the end of summer John will be coming out our way and we three will head up to the Wine Country Ukulele Festival together for four days of ukulele fun, September 10-13. We will be teaching, performing and doing all things ukulele, including a public show at Velo Vino on Sunday afternoon, September 13. The festival in Wine Country is everyone’s favorite because, well…wine.  Ukulele.  ‘Nuff said!

We are working out details for a show or two in Los Angeles before John flies back to New Mexico, and will update the schedule with that soon.

Reason #3: It makes you seem sophisticated.  That’s our motto- “Sophisticated, Educated, Medicated”.

All the beautiful photos in this post are by Allison Shallert, Allisonphoto.com

All the beautiful photos in this post are by Allison Shallert, Allisonphoto.com

In November all four of us will come together in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico for the New Uke-Culinary Fiesta. Highlights of this event include two public shows, one for the Smoking Jackets and a full-on flamenco show.  There will be great workshops in a beautiful setting, plus we will be teaching cooking classes focusing on combining New Mexican and classic European dishes.  Old world meets new- or as we like to call it, Nuevo Mundo.  And there will be big-time BBQ- our other favorite way to SMOKE!

(For the record, none of us are smokers, nor do we endorse the use of tobacco.  We’re just in it for the costumes.)

This Is Not A Test (Kitchen)

Preparing to teach a cooking class  at the end of January at the La Semana de Uke retreat on the shores of lake Chapala  in Jalisco, Mexico means testing out some recipe ideas at home.

There are still a few spaces available to join us on this adventure which includes hiking, photography, cooking and music.  Those of you locked in a cold wintery area: I especially recommend you consider packing a small bag and jumping on the first Aeromexico flight you can book.

Here is an enticing food-a-logue to get you thinking about it.

Last week Daniel wanted to work on a flautas/taquito idea.  Poor me,  I had to suffer the consequences.

Looks tasty already!

Looks tasty already!

While gigging in Baltimore(of all places), Daniel had eaten some really tasty appetizers in a fancy Mexican joint.  Flautas con pollo were on his mind: crunchy “Mexican egg rolls”, spiced with chili, oregano, zest and juice of orange, lime and lemon… mmmm.

First, a chicken was spatchcocked and roasted,  (OK, I just love to say “spatchcocked”.  But admit it- don’t you?) shredded and mixed with the citrus, plus onion, garlic, herbs, chillies and other seasonings.

There are always some secrets kept, even in the most intimate of relationships.  Even between blogger and reader.  It is what keeps our relationship fresh.  So, yes- there may have been salt and pepper added.  Perhaps even olive oil.  But I’ll never tell.

The tiny test kitchen gets a workout!

The tiny test kitchen gets a workout!

Flour tortillas were filled and rolled with the heavenly stuffing, but instead of frying…IMG_7415he baked them in the oven.  Red Chili from Chimayo, New Mexico makes the sauce… and it is never a party without a little guacamole!

 

he baked them in the oven.  Red Chili from Chimayo, New Mexico makes the sauce… and it is never a party without a little guacamole!

Daniel gets serious about plating

Daniel gets serious about plating and garnish

and….

Mmmmmm...   Nuf said.

Mmmmmm… Nuf said.

The next day he made the same thing,  but with corn tortillas, taquito style.  Even better.  Kid tested, kid approved!

However,  I think he needs to work on this idea some more, don’t you?   My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  If you can’t stop by for dinner this week you should definitely check your schedule for the last week of January…   Learn more about joining us at http://ukuleleadventures.com/

com com com nom nom nom.

 

 

 

A Treat

I do love to cook.  And bake.  And travel .  And make music….

And now that I have been granted my dream job combining my three favorite things- travel, cooking and music I have become a food pornographer.  Every time I cook (which is about 3 times a day) the phone camera comes out.  There have been a stream of shameless posts on the facebook page for the retreat in Mexico coming up in January.

This morning was the first day of school for some in my house.  Occasion enough-  Let’s bake!

Do you know the muffin, man?

Do you know the muffin, man?

I must be honest- I lost my taste for sweet things long ago:  I am nonplussed by pies,  I scoff at scones, cake and candy leaves me cold.  But these blueberry muffins are different.  Although the recipe card modestly bears another woman’s name, these are My Mother’s Muffins and these are my madelines.  When the smell wafts into my memory I am filled with a sense of well being.  All is right with the world.  They were made when we had sleepover guests, or church functions, or on special mornings.  There were never any leftovers.  The tops, sugar crusted and golden brown were glorious.  The bottoms of each muffin would be examined thru their festive paper cups to determine which had the most blueberries.  Steaming hot halves were smeared with margarine from the little yellow tub.  Greedy stacks of empty muffin papers grew along side our breakfast plates, three or four pastel circles high, stained with fragrant crumbs and purple juice, attested to the muffin’s  irresistible powers.

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There was a time when I would substitute whole grain flower for the white stuff and reduce the sugar.  Meh.  These days I go all the way.  This morning I was out of oil and used softened butter instead,  (Margarine never made the journey from my mother’s pantry to mine) and I think that change may be a keeper.

Try these for a brunch or a gift if you are looking to increase your popularity.  They are simple, fast and easy.  You may have to double- or triple – the recipe.

1/3 cup oil (or softened butter)

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup flour

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup blueberries

Beat oil, milk, egg, vanilla and sugar together.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, then stir into egg mixture.  Gently fold in blueberries.  Line cupcake tins with papers or grease tins.  Fill each with 1/4 cup batter.  Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon sugar over each muffin.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until golden topped.  Serve warm or cold, with or without butter.  Makes 10-12 muffins.

Obama, Ukulele and Time-Consciousness Altering- what a trip!

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Two weeks ago the President was in town.  My 15 year old girl and I got stuck in a blockade a few cars deep of an intersection where  police had halted traffic.  We sat in the car, unmoving, for about 40 minutes, giving thanks to the working AC as the car reported the temperature at 95 degrees.  At one point Oona got out, took pictures of the traffic to share on Snap Chat with her friends with the caption “Thanks, Obama!”. She took a photo of a helicopter.  Arbitrarily we decided was the one he was in.  “Look!  I see him!  HI OBAMA!” she shouted to the delicious irony speck of irony in the sky.

But then, finally, we watched the presidential motorcade pass: motorcycles,  police cars, official vehicles, and one thrilling Black Cadillac SUV with fancy flags right in the middle of the procession.  My smart, sassy girl whooped with excitement, and the stagnant pain was redeemed.

IMG_6944January may seem a long way out, but I know it will be here in the blink of an eye.  I am thrilled to invite you to a Ukulele and Cooking retreat in Mexico that I will be participating in, plus two other ukulele festivals.

 Minutes can last forever- especially when you are stranded on the road on a hot summer day, but the months and the years (especially the years) fly by….  I know this  adventure will be one of those that stops time, a week that lasts forever in memory.  That is what I love the most about travel, and ukulele retreats.  They have the same power as a presidential motorcade.  To slow time and create memories that last a lifetime.
WINE COUNTRY UKULELE FESTIVAL  Sept 4-7 Santa Helena, CA
ALBUQUERQUE UKULELE FESTIVAL  Sept 26-27th Albuquerque, NM
MEXICO! La Semana de UKE-CULINARIA Fiesta  January 24-31 2015  Ajijic, Mexico

 

 

Downtown Ukulele Events

Fun Ukulele happenings in the next two weeks!

Next weekend- bring your ukulele downtown and Break a World Record at the LA UKULELE EXPO.  All day events including the mass playing down at the Japanese American Cultural Center.  You gots to go if you are in town!

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a very jazzy A7. With butter creme icing, if you please!

Wish we were, but we have some special duties to attend to- We are flying to Santa Fe, NM for the weekend for Daniel’s nephew’s wedding.  My baking protege and I are making the cake.  My pantry is fresh out of chile, so I gotta stock up while I’m there.  Fortunately the rehearsal dinner will be at La Choza-  Red AND Green- Christmas in June!

The following weekend we will be back for  the UKE-along at the Music Center, also downtown Los Angeles.  Daniel and I are joining a cadre of great teachers at this event.  Open to beginner and intermediate players (check the guidelines on the website) you will have a great time in a social atmosphere and be given some high quality materials and first rate instruction!  This is an event like no other.  You have to sign up in advance- hope you do and I look forward to seeing you there!

Into the Eye of the Storm

Truckin

Truckin

We are on the road again!

Before we even left LA we had a VERY IMPORTANT errand to run- We picked up my new Dirndl from Cocoe Voci’s studio. I am thrilled to have a new uniform, so beautifully constructed and lovingly designed by my sweet friend.  THANK YOU, Cocoe!

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Our first stops in NM were fun and chili filled.  Great start in Gallup, NM with a school show and uke workshop at Nizhoi Music, the studio of our  lovely hostess, Antoinette Neff.

 Then on to Albuquerque where we had the BEST DAY EVER!  First, we finished mastering MY CUP OF TEA.  Celebration dinner at Cervantes (hotttest red chili in the Q) and then on to the new Star Trek movie!  Woo HOO!

We brought music to the ACSL family and then on to Santa Fe, where we enjoyed making music for a private party.  The night started with John and Daniel playing flamenco and ended with leading a campfire style sing along.  

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The next morning we took the OhanaMobile to Jeff at Lucky Saab, where we did a ghetto fix on the AC with bread ties and zip ties.

Master mechanic and apprentice

Master mechanic and apprentice

We were tipped off to the storms blowing in and delayed our departure.  We were driving straight towards Oklahoma City as the storms ripped through Moore. The skies were ominous and filled with fear and pain.  We sang the song “Little Birdie” as a prayer for the people in the path, and are going to share that song in our Kickstarter update this week.

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We arrived in Tulsa with heavy hearts at 2 am, but the children who greeted us the next morning at Connors Cove were as audatious and ebulent as children ever are.  We had two bopping shows and look forward to 4 more shows at 4 other libraries in the next two days before we ship off for Kansas City.

We are telling everyone we meet about the new CD and the Kickstarter campaign which has two more weeks to go.  We are getting close to our goal and hope to exceed it handsomly so we can both pay musicians and move forward with PR for the album.  If you have not had a chance please pledge now!  Click here (MY CUP OF TEA) to go to the page where you will be able to hear songs, see art, read about the process and become part of the fun! 

Green Chili: The Final Frontier

Frontieer green on an In-N-Out double-double.  That's livin'!

Frontieer green on an In-N-Out double-double. That’s livin’!

You know your friends love you when they bring you the XL tub of roasted frozen green chili from the Frontieer!  John flew in for the show at McCabes Sunday morning with 56 oz. of love packed in his suitcase. And a special treat for my girls- Cow Patties!

The final Frontier Rolls, aka "Cow Patties"!

The final Frontier Rolls, aka “Cow Patties”!

Our hero, Richard Fultineer had drums to loan John for the show!  Thank you Richard!!!  He needed to drop them off at 9 am, which is  before McCabes opens and right when John’s plane was arriving.  I dropped Daniel off with coffee, a cajon to sit on and his coronet, so he could practice his licks while awaiting hand-off .  Revilee for the neighborhood.

Alley Cat

Alley Cat

We had a great show, and are happy to report that the Kickstarter campaign is now in full swing!  You can pre-order the CD or book us for a kid’s party with your pledge… even download a single song!  Check it out HERE!  I am touched by the first donors who have jumped in.  So many folks from the Kindie world are showing support, and it means the world to me.  Every  pledge brings me a smile of gratitude and gets us that much closer to getting this baby pressed.

We had some crazy rehearsals for the tour (FYI- the canjo will be in heavy rotation this spring) and ate through the whole tub of chili in under 4 days.  We visited preschools, saw the ocean, walked the Venice canals, visited LACMA, drank beer and cooked amazing meals.  Now I can’t wait till the tour starts in 2 weeks!

But first I will be taking a detour up to Northern Cal for the West Coast Ukulele retreat, teaching and playing for a week at Asilomar State Beach.  Lots of work, but also kind of a vacation.

I’ll tell you all about it, stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

oh, and the FOOD in Shanghai!

stuffed lotus root. wow.

The food. Oh my god, the food!

We were taken out to so many beautiful meals we couldn’t believe it!  Stanley, our Ohana-rep man in China ordered at this great place right next to the convention center.  The hits kept coming.

lamb chops from heaven

Really, no way to do justice to the insane yumminess of the food!  One of our favorite things was a spice which made our tongue numb.  No idea what it was, but it was used in green beans and some other dishes with chili, including a fish poached in oil.  The fish came to the table in a large bowl filled to the rim with chilis floating on oil.  The waiter skimmed the chilis off the top, and left the floavorful, tender catfish submerged in  warm oil.  The fish was lifted by slotted spoon into serving bowls, and melted in our mouths.

More, please! Stephanie LOVED the soup!

There was an amazing pork dish, and Stanley taught us how to enjoy it best!  Thinly sliced pork  was served draped over a wooden dowel, clothesline style.  Thinly sliced scallions and a spicy chili paste accompanied the meat, to be rolled inside.  Finally, the bundles were to be dipped in  sauce and devoured.   Don’t take my word for it- see Stanley in action!

 

Ooooohhhh Yeahhhh!

Shanghai After Hours

Where all the hip kids go!

One night after the trade show we were taken to dinner by Jian and Kelly, Ohana’s distributors.  We had amazing food, including freshwater crabs, and delightful company including Kimo Hussey, David and Sissy Chen and 10 year old wonder Brian Fu.  We passed David’s uke around the table and everyone played a song.  Then we were all wisked across the river from Pudong to Shanghai to play a couple of songs to young uke crazy hipsters in a cafe.  Here is a link to hear Daniel play his Istanbul in Shanghai!

Friends in Shanghai- what is the name of this club?!

Music China in Shanghai

The next day we loaded ourselves into the trade show and got down to business

For four days we played all-killer-no-filler sets on our little corner stage, about 5 a day.  Short and sweet and often.  As soon as the really loud electric guitar soloist (whom we nicknamed “Snake Boy”) was finished we would fire up.  It was incredible to watch the crowd grow around us.  When Daniel soloed on a flamenco bit the ring of men with cameras grew thick.  Then we would do something with crazy voices or animal sounds to catapult the language barrier  and pull people in.  Sometimes if there were children we would get them involved, singing “Twinkle ,Twinkle” in Mandarin and letting them strum my uke for “Little Birdie”.

“I’ve a short time for to be here, and a long time to be gone..”

Guest artist joining us on stage

So many picuture and videos were taken- if ou have any to share PLEASE send them!

We kept ourselves well hydrated, had great lunches…

Bratwurst in China? Danke, Xie xie!

and enjoyed the wild atmosphere which is a trade show.

Yamaha’s booth babes getting their game on

At the end of the first day Stephanie, Daniel and I walked back to the hotel.  The city was alive with commuters and the sunset from the elevated pedestrian bridge where we stopped to buy a kite was irresistable.

and then we got lost.  After trying to get directions we hailed a cab.  We were only about 5 miles off! Famished we descended on an amazing meal at a small local place.  The menu was incredible, and we ate to bursting for about 12 bucks.

You know you want it!

More about food tomorrow! Mmmmmmm!!!!!