Angels love chocolate chip cookies (even gluten-free ones!)

Posted in Uncategorized on May 28th, 2011 by Babs

I initially met Holcombe Waller in passing – he was hanging out at our mutual friend Alicia’s new office digs and I came by to see ’em. I believe there was some tasty rose wine consumed, and our acquaintanceship was forged.

Flash forward to late last year, when Alicia sent me a download link to Holcombe’s album. She has exquisite taste, so I know better than to ignore something with her stamp of approval on it.

HOLY HANDGRENADE.  I was expecting to be impressed, not to have my world rocked.  Gorgeous, smart, conflicted, messy beauty.  WHOA – and WOW.  Holcombes’s angelic voice and all-to-earthly confusion.  The kind of music that scores an emotional bulls-eye and haunts you for months with its exquisite pain and soaring triumph. My computer says I’ve been living with this album since last November, but I feel like I’ve known it my whole life. It’s going to be in my top two albums for this year — something I’ve known since the calendar kicked over to 2011. I will knife fight you if you don’t love this record.  Or maybe I don’t need to — if you don’t love it, you probably don’t have a heart, much less a soul.

I’ve been obsessed with “Into the Dark Unknown” since I first heard it.  I’ve written about it in the Oregonian, done a “Song of the Day” for NPR and a live show preview for the Stranger.  If I had the funds, I might pay for skywriting to tell the masses that they’re missing out.  Their loss.  But it doesn’t have to be yours.  You should buy it IMMEDIATELY — or risk my wrath!!

As I’ve gotten to know Holcombe through email exchanges, the inkling that he’s a kindred spirit has grown into known fact.  Wickedly smart, hilarious and a huge fan of butter, I look forward to our exchanges — not to mention the day when I can smugly glare at anyone who ignored my advocacy of his genius and roll my eyes while muttering “I told you so.”

Not only does the man create gorgeous music, he also loves chocolate chip cookies.  As someone who baked her way through stress (Academic Decathlon state finals on top of mid-term finals = my legendary/epic Christmas baking spree) I heartily recommend this life-affirming (and belt-loosening) recipe – and I demand that you buy Holcombe’s album!

For those of you in Seattle, you should come see him at Chop Suey on Monday, May 30.  He’s also performing at On The Boards on June and back here at the Sunset in August. He’s got plenty of tour dates for the rest of you posted here.

Here’s Holcombe:

I’ve baked a lot of chocolate chip cookies in my life, and I’ve often said that the quality of the results is inversely related to how happy I am.  In other words, if I’m feeling frumpy, I bake really delicious cookies.  The activity just promotes more frumpiness, but if it involves lots of raw butter, sugar and a warm oven, at least it becomes cozy frumpy, and if you’re going to feel fat, you may as well be eating cookies.

I started making cookies in high school.  The recipe began with the standard Toll House formula, and once it was committed to memory, measuring cups gave way to “fist fulls” and other such amounts, and I started throwing in other ingredients.   Walnuts, oatmeal, and a mix of carob, grain-sweetened and dark chocolate chips (go to the bulk section, yo!). I generally put in wayyyy more vanilla, in part because I actually believe that adding expensive elements makes things better.  I unfortunately feel this way about records, videos and everything else, which is why I’m broke, but let’s move on.

Just five weeks ago I discovered I’m gluten-intolerant.  OH MY GOD!!!  That’s why I’ve been feeling so frumpy.  So I’ve substituted gluten-free flour mix and coconut flour for the regular wheat kind.  Surprisingly, it tastes awesome.  Here we go.



Take out two sticks of butter and put them on the counter.  Go about your day.

Come home, and with a fork, mash up the two sticks with 1 cup of packed brown sugar and half a cup of Sucanat which, according to Wikipedia, is a brand name for a variety of whole cane sugar that retains its molasses content – it’s key to have both mol and asses in your cookies, lest they be G rated.

Now, find some really expensive vanilla.  Put, like, more than a tablespoon into the butter/sugar blend and swirl it in.  Throw in two organic eggs, and quietly tell yourself that the fact these chickens grazed without cages will somehow protect you from salmonella poisoning later on when you scarf down half the dough raw.  Did I mention you’re feeling frumpy?  Just wait ‘til later, girl!

OK, put a pinch of salt in.  Blend the egg/butter stuff up, but not too smooth – lumpiness is godliness.  Now add about 1 and a quarter cup gluten free flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and ½ cup coconut flour.  Mix it all up til the flour is all absorbed in the dough.  Add about 2 cups of various chocolate chips, and a few fistfuls of walnuts, blending until evenly distributed.

Oh yeah, now go back in time, and preheat the oven to 360, cuz I forgot to tell you that.  While you’re waiting, watch my video for “Hardliners” three times.  I need the view counts.

Squash big spoonfuls of dough flat on a cookie sheet – sprinkle some coarsely ground Hawaiian sea salt on those suckers, and press it in with your palm.  Salt granules will both slowly kill you and please your taste buds with surprising “mouth feel.”  I learned this in home ec.  Bake ‘em for, like, 9 to 11 minutes, or until they’re nicely browned and not burnt on the bottom.

That’s it!!!  There you go!!!  You’ve made my cookies!!!  It’s better than smoking or drinking. Maybe…



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Whiskey, New Music & Curing the Hangover

Posted in Uncategorized on May 12th, 2011 by Babs

You’ve gotta admire fate (or the universe, or whatever you choose to call it) – sometimes it causes you to cross paths with people you probably never would have met on your own.

My pal Ashley recommended that Kris Orlowski get in touch with me about doing press on his album. He needed help promoting his new album and that same blasted fate (or universe, or whatever) likes to let me think I’m getting out of the publicity business and then cackles and pulls me back in.

Since Kris cares more about crafting great songs than being hip, him making it into the Stranger would be as weird as Steel Pole Bath Tub getting into Rolling Stone — but I pulled off the latter and I’m determined to keep trying on the former because his songwriting is so damned good. No, he’s not The Head And The Heart, but I have a feeling he’ll be putting out stellar albums of smart, emotionally resonant pop-rock long after this choral folk-pop thing is as dated as my high school perm.

I asked Kris to contribute because he’s awesome, and also because he’s releasing a new EP, which you should check out. Record release show is Thursday, May 12 at the Columbia City Theater in Seattle

Heeeeeeere’s Kris (and a little preview for the show!)


Being from Bellingham originally, Seattle was a bit of a change when I first moved down.  As I started touring, I got to see quite a few places and a few years back I had the privilege of taking a trip to a killer studio in Asheville, NC to record at Echo Mountain Studio.  I was really excited to record at the Echo Mountain, partially because I was really into a Seattle group, Band of Horses, at the time and they had recently recorded their last album at Echo Mountain.

Needless to say I was salivating when got a tour of the place before our session began.  Our producer for the album was the likeable, talented Steven Heller, who had an awesome Carolina accent and accompanying personable, laidback demeanor.  With that laidback demeanor (or maybe because of it) came a love for whiskey — and not just any whiskey:  Basil Hayden.

I was just young buck, with big brown eyes and shaggy hair, when I walked into that studio, but after sipping Basil Hayden every night for a week after our studio sessions, I basically became a man – or at least hair started growing more consistently on my chest.

After that experience, I was on a quest for a good bourbon whiskey, but I haven’t found another like it since.  I don’t recommend mixing it with anything (no rocks, no coke, no lime).  All you need is the bottle and maybe a glass.

I still listen to Band of Horses, but my playlist is always changing and lately I haven’t been able to stop listening to a few bands; James Blake, Fleet Foxes, James Vincent McMorrow and an old favorite Sufjan Stevens.   James Blake will actually be in town on the 19th of May at the Tractor and James Vincent McMorrow will be here on the 22nd of June at the Triple Door.  I saw the Fleet Foxes at the Columbia City Theater in April, thanks to a friend, and was pretty blown away.  Too bad Robin is moving to Portland.

As I’m sure all musicians know, the good and not so good part about being a musician is you are surrounded by booze all of the time at shows and usually drink for free.  After a late night show with some festive “celebrating”, I often wake up the next morning liberated, but super hungover – and in need of a kick start.  There is one dish that is my go-to for hangover mornings; it is the quintessential breakfast of champions.


3 eggs

¼ can of black beans

1 small fistful of spinach

1/2 Avocado (you can do a whole if you’d like)

1 tbs. balsamic vinaigrette (this is just a guide)

(optional) – pico de gallo.

(optional) – some SHARP cheddar…do yourself a favor, don’t use medium.

Add three eggs to a heated skillet and scramble them.  As they gain substance add spinach and black beans.  Once the eggs are done, put them on a plate, adding avocado and balsamic (might need a sprinkle of salt and pepper).

Enjoy and hope to see you May 12th for our release at Columbia City Theater!

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