Vinyl Finds From The Big Dig

by groove on February 3, 2014

Mike Oldfield

Over a number of weeks, I have been visiting the pawn shop in downtown Kelowna, spending the better part of a small fortune stockpiling records of all ages and genres. To give a bit of background, the pawn shop in Kelowna had purchased approximately 40,000 records and literally dumped all of the records into a room not much larger than a normal home living room. The mayhem of looking through these piles of records has become “the Big Dig”. When I say dig, I really mean DIG. To get to a record, I might have to move 500 records that are in the way. It is labour-intensive, but thoroughly enjoyable at the same time. This is what it feels like to be a “kid in a candy store”.

Among the many groupings of artists in the piles, I was able to unearth several Mike Oldfield albums. I hadn’t gone to the room with the expectation of finding any particular artists discography and the best part of this type of digging is that one never knows what one will find and, in the case of this room….stumble upon. I will talk about other group finds in future posts.
Mike Oldfield
As for this post, Mike Oldfield is the focus. I had been curious about the catalogue of the artist whose work was made famous as the theme to “The Exorcist”. What I have found is he is a fascinating composer and multi-instrumentalist who is masterful at layering sound. He has an uncanny ability to build a composition in literal waves of sound and is famous for using the entire side of a record for a single song. Tubular Bells, for instance, contains 2 compositions; Part 1 on side 1 and Part 2 on side 2. Not exactly a formula for radio airplay. That didn’t matter to Mike Oldfield, his work is for the music appreciator (music snobs like me) and not for the casual listener. The funny thing is, his music actually caught on and became popular and actually charted. When Richard Branson took a chance and put Tubular Bells as the first release on his brand new Virgin label, he must have known there was something there that the mass consumer would eat up. He was right.

Most amazing about Mike Oldfield is his ability to play virtually every instrument for his albums. Tubular Bells lists 14 instruments played by Mike including bass, acoustic and electric guitars, farfisa organ, glockenspiel, guitars sounding like bagpipes, hammond organ, grand piano among others. Hergest Ridge has Mike playing things such as sleigh bells, spanish guitar and gong. For Ommadawn, he takes on mandolin, bazouki, 12 string guitar and banjo. In QE2, he throws in vibraphone, Northumbrian bagpipes and synthesizers. The man is a one-man orchestra!

Mike Oldfield

From Wiki: Tubular Bells became Oldfield’s most famous work. The instrumental composition was recorded in 1972 and launched on 25 May 1973 as the inaugural album of Richard Branson’s label Virgin Records. The album was groundbreaking, as Oldfield played more than twenty different instruments in the multi-layered recording made in Branson’s Manor Studio, and its style moved through many diverse musical genres. Its 2,630,000 UK sales put it at No. 34 on the list of the best-selling albums in the country. In the US, it received attention with the opening theme appearing on the soundtrack of The Exorcist film. The title track subsequently became a top 10 hit single in the US as well and is today considered to be a forerunner of the New Age movement.[7] In 1974, Oldfield played guitar on the critically acclaimed album Rock Bottom by Robert Wyatt. In the autumn of 1974, the follow-up LP, Hergest Ridge, was No. 1 in the UK for three weeks before being dethroned by Tubular Bells. Although Hergest Ridge was released over a year after Tubular Bells, it reached No. 1 first. Tubular Bells spent 11 weeks (10 of them consecutive) at No. 2 before its one week at the top.

Groove Garden Food

Tofu "fish" Cake

Lots of exciting things have been happening in the Groove Garden Kitchen. I feel I’ve finally gotten into the culinary school “groove” :). It’s now been six weeks since I started and I have to say the past two weeks felt much better than the first. Change is always hard and I’m now feeling much more comfortable.

A few days ago our class had a “chopped” challenge. We were given mystery ingredients and had a few h0urs to prepare a main dish and a dessert. I asked our chef instructor the day before the challenge if it would be all right for me to use tofu instead of either steak, chicken or shrimp and he said that would be okay. Such a nice guy 🙂

My mystery ingredients were carrots, egg, lemon, arborio rice, Chinese Five Spice and we had to use another vegetable – anything we wanted. I decided to do a tofu “fish” cake based on a recipe I had seen from  Tal Ronnen. He’s a well known vegan chef.

Obviously my dish wasn’t going to be vegan using the egg but I know during my time in culinary school cooking and eating strictly vegan is definitely not an option. My goal is to learn skill and technique and adopt what I can into a veg or vegan meal. So, to use the egg, I used it as a binder to keep my tofu cake together which worked perfectly. I sauteed the carrot with some onions and incorporated that into the tofu cake as well. My extra veg was a beet that I cooked and then cubed as a topping for my dish with diced apple. Using the lemon was a no brainer as I usually squeeze a bit of lemon juice into my dishes to add a fresh taste and flavour.

The arborio rice was a bit of a challenge. This type of rice is typically used to make risotto which I may have made once before but really had no memory of doing. All I knew was it’s a very starch rice that when cooking needs to be continuously stirred or it will clump up and become pasty. I decided to add Parmesan cheese to the rice along with white wine and butter. All the stock we had in the kitchen was chicken stock so that’s what I ended up using.

Apple Crisp

We also had to do a dessert. I needed to do something simple especially since desserts and baking are not something I do a lot of. I decided to do an apple crisp with butterscotch chips to amp up the flavour and thought the Chinese Five Spice which was one of the mystery ingredients would be a perfect match.

I think my biggest hurdle with this challenge was timing. This is something I need to learn. Being organized and prepared is definitely a key to timing but knowing when to start each dish and consider cooling and plating – this I know will become easier.

Once the challenge started all of us students were running around grabbing all our ingredients, getting the ovens and stoves lit and you could hear lots of chopping and the humming of food processors. You could feel the excitement and stress in the kitchen. It really was a lot of fun.

By 11:30 our main dish had to be plated and put into our numbered spot so the two chef judges could mark each plate. I got my plate in my number 2 spot with a couple minutes to spare. We then had until 12:15 to complete our desserts. I think most of the class got there dishes in on time. For those that didn’t they lost one point for each minute late.

Once the judging was completed we all sat nervously in our chairs waiting to hear the results. The instructor read out the top three dishes. The third position was a chicken dish and the dessert he did was a really pretty decorated cake. What came next was a huge shock. As our instructor read out the second place position, “number two”, I thought it was my friend beside me. And I immediately said to her congratulations, you got second and then my instructor looked at me and said, “no, that’s your dish”. I just about passed out. How could a tofu dish beat chicken, steak and fish? But, unbelievably it did. I was so thrilled!!! The first place dish went to a woman but I’m still unsure of what she made but I hear it was delicious – obviously 😉

So there’s my exciting week in culinary school. A very exciting second place win – my love for all things tofu just went up.

Next post I’ll be talking about my new love for caramelized onion biscuits made with coconut oil.

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