Friday, July 29, 2011

Stir Friday: Better-Than-Crack Brownies

This brownie recipe has been circulating the Internet and my friends’ kitchens, and for good reason. These brownies might be the best things I’ve ever eaten. They’re called “better-than-crack brownies,” and they include Reese’s cups, salted peanuts and a milk chocolate/peanut butter concoction with Rice Krispies cereal. It's everything I ever wanted. They’re better after being in the refrigerator for a while because the milk chocolate/peanut butter part can be messy when it starts to melt.

Here’s the link to the blog we found this recipe on. It has better pictures than I can take.

And here’s the recipe:

1 batch brownies (boxed mix is fine – just make sure it’s for a 13 x 9 pan)
1/2 cup salted peanuts (if don’t have salted, add sea salt)
1 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups (I found them easier to chop if they’re refrigerated first.)
1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal

1. Mix brownies according to directions, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Remove and top with peanuts and peanut butter cups, and bake for 4-6 minutes more.

2. While they are finishing baking, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. (You can do this in the microwave. I start with just the chocolate chips and butter, power at medium-high, one minute. Then mix in peanut butter and microwave another minute at medium-high heat.)

3. Stir cereal into the melted chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Remove brownies from oven and evenly pour chocolate mixture over top. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

I’ve now made four batches. Good luck.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Guess Who on the Hamden Green - For Free - This Friday!

The Hamden Arts Commission's 2011 Free Summer Concert Series is going out with a bang this Friday, bringing us both a “big” name classic rock band – and a local favorite. The Guess Who are headlining, and we recently heard that Mighty Purple will be playing at 7.

The Guess Who brought us “American Woman,” “No Time,” “No Sugar Tonight,” and “These Eyes,” which I’ve embedded above. As soon as I hear it, I can’t get the Michael Cera in Superbad version of “These Eyes” out of my head. And I don’t mind.

We haven’t been to any of these Hamden concerts this summer, but we went to two last summer, and they were a fun time. The concerts are Fridays in July at 7:30 at the Town Center Park at Meadowbrook, 2761 Dixwell Avenue. Food is available at the site, but a lot of people pack coolers and bring their own. I’m expecting to get there early with my lawn chairs and picnic blanket. It’s going to be a good time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Modest Mouse - Satellite Skin

I was playing some Modest Mouse today, first time in a long time, and I had completely forgotten how good their 2009 EP was, No One's First, And You're Next.  Culled from b-sides to 2004's Good News For People Who Love Bad News and 2007's We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, No One's First  serves as a perfect companion piece to those two LP's.  Check out the lead-off track "Satellite Skin" embedded below, and don't miss out on the rest of the EP, an eclectic musical trip through the band's recent history.

By the way, sorry it's been such a ghost town around here lately.  Been spending a lot of time watching Twin Peaks and getting outside, but we'll be back to it this week.  See you next time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Battlefield Band - Bonnie Barbry-O

There's an album I'd have you know of.  It's called "Pro's Folk Sampler".  It's been the soundtrack to my life, and it's found on four sides of two cassette tapes, ripped from the original vinyl by my father's old roommate "Pro" (aka Dick Lewis).  It's through these collegiate tapes I've gotten both my taste and my love for folk music, especially the classics from the British Isles.  I ripped those cassettes, plugging my boom box into my record player, finally managing to feed those venerable cassettes into my MacBook.  I'll be working through several songs, mayhap posting the entire mixtape if interest ensues, over the next few weeks.  I'll begin with a cut off Pro's first tape, brought to us by the Battlefield Band, a track entitled "Bonnie Barbry-O".  Come down the stairs and have a listen, and know that I can hardly wait for the next installment.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Iron & Wine - Summer in Savannah

Just a lazy summer Sunday, kicking back with some Beerlao and Iron & Wine. Give a listen to "Summer in Savannah" one of the b-sides off their Black Friday Walking Far From Home single, and don't miss the other b-side "Biting Your Tail" our featured track for Record Store Day 2011, found here,

Friday, July 15, 2011

Game of Thrones - A Dance With Dragons

Now that my copy of A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice & Fire - Book 5) came in from Amazon, it's going to be a few days before I get back to normal.  For those of you who lack the patience for the 4000+ page (currently) 5-part epic, don't miss HBO's adaptation of the first book in the series, Game of Thrones.  Check out the intro below, and good luck in finding the episodes pirated online! legally, of course.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Beets - Killer Tofu (A Look Back)

Holy crap do I wish I were writing about a real band right now.  A full-on reunion tour is just what the world needs right now.  The Beets were the biggest thing to hit Bluffington since sliced bread (Beets-lemania? Anyone? Moving on...), and they had the tunes and style to back it up.  Half Rolling Stones, half Beatles, and all the rock and roll success and excess you could cram into a kids' show, The Beets were a hallmark of the 90s series Doug.  Their 'hit' single "Killer Tofu" entered my playlist a few months back, and I was most amused to find I still knew every lyric.  Not to mention the song still absolutely kicks.  Enjoy it (with lyrics!) embedded below, along with their other classic "I Need More Allowance".  Yodel-ay-ee-oo.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Muppets - Sweet Vacation

Like I've been saying, blame it on the Muppets.  We're off to Punta Cana until Wednesday, but enjoy a couple tropical outings from the Muppets.  Both these tunes were on a sing-along VHS tape I wore through when I was little buddy, and I'm in no way ashamed to say that I still know every word.  We'll see you all back stateside soon, but until then we're gonna take it slow.  Sweet vacation indeed.

PS. Don't miss Kermit's mad skills on ukulele, a close second in hilarity to his bicycling scene from The Great Muppet Caper. Until next time.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Stir Friday: Back with a summer mixed berry pie!

We made two pies for the 4th of July weekend - a blueberry pie, and the following mixed berry pie. We originally went to the store hoping to make a cherry pie, but we couldn't find frozen tart cherries, so we bought a bag of mixed berries and made up the following recipe as we went along. We added the peaches and some fresh berries because we had them around the house, and we found that we liked this pie better than the blueberry. Try it for yourself - and if you have some extra time, enjoy it with some fresh whipped cream. I've included that recipe right underneath the pie recipe.

Summer Mixed Berry Pie:

1 9-inch pie crust (either from a recipe or store bought)
1 bag of frozen mixed berries
2 peaches
1 handful of any fresh berries you have around this summer (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc.)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar

1. Thaw and drain frozen berries. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Chop up peaches. Mix frozen berries with chopped peaches and fresh berries.
3. Mix fruit with cornstarch and sugar.
4. Line a 9-inch pie plate with half the pie crust dough (one layer of dough if store bought). Pour in berry-peach mixture. Top with the rest of the dough and slit holes in the middle, or top using a lattice design.
5. Bake at 425 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Whipped Cream:

1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip all three ingredients with an electric beater for a few minutes until it reaches whipped cream consistency. Don’t mix too long, or it’ll become too thick.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dirty Beaches - West Coast Bird

Dirty Beaches is the musical identity for Alex Zhang Hungtai, a Montreal musician of Taiwanese background has gained much attention for his evocative, noir-ish soundscapes.  Reminiscent of a David Lynch film score (more on Badalamenti to come), Dirty Beaches' oeuvre manages to be loungey, foreboding, calming, and churning, often all at once.  Check out his video for "West Coast Bird", the lead-off track off his Bird EP, where the video is absolutely perfect for this moody instrumental.

Also, don't miss our previous post on Dirty Beaches' Trans Pacific Radio Mixtape, letting you get a sonic tour of Pacific nations in under an hour.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Song of the Day: Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks Theme

I just started watching Twin Peaks after Garrett has been into the show for some time. As we started the pilot episode, I immediately recognized the theme song as something Garrett plays all the time. It’s a soothing, peaceful song all by itself to play in the background while doing some work or relaxing, but it’s much better as an introduction to Twin Peaks. This haunting theme is the perfect start to each episode in this series that chronicles the effect a murder has had on a small town. It’s heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. Now that I’ve started watching the show, I can’t really listen to the theme song without wanting to see the next episode right away.

Angelo Badalamenti composed a number of soundtracks for David Lynch, which is really perfect because he seems to understand exactly what Lynch is aiming for. His music captures the feeling on screen.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Vic Chesnutt - Little Man (Miracle Legion cover)

Disclaimer We at Merry Picnic have an irrational, near fanboyish love of Miracle Legion, Polaris, and Mark Mulcahy himself.  Ciao, My Shining Star (the covers album produced in honor of his late wife, Melissa) was one of 2009’s best releases and the record release party at Toad’s in New Haven was one of 2009’s better shows.  Any concert featuring the lead singer of Polaris on stage with both Big Pete and Little Pete (Mike Maronna & Danny Tamberelli) is a dream come true for anyone who grew up on 90s Nickelodeon.  In fact, we would like make a formal request that Mark tour soon, so we can get the live experience that we’ve been deprived of these last two years.  Expect features on further albums and upcoming shows as they (hopefully) come up.

I wrote that soon after Merry Picnic's inception, wholly planning on getting to more posts sooner than now.  Giving Ciao, My Shining Star a listen for the first time in some time reminded me of how many truly great tunes Mulcahy and his former bands have put out over the years.  We'll be featuring more tunes in the coming posts, but here's the late Vic Chesnutt's haunting take on the Miracle Legion original "Little Man".