Ok, I know I haven’t posted in a while but, I have a good reason…. it’s summer! We have just been so busy with summer stuff I honestly just haven’t wanted to be inside writing. However, I’m here now and I know how excited you must be! That was total sarcasm by the way.
Anywho, in today’s post we are going to make a Vadouvan spice blend! If you haven’t heard of Vadouvan, don’t worry, I feel like most people haven’t. The good news is, now you have and you’re going to sound so gastronomically knowledgeable to all of your friends that you (in my most basic white girl voice), like literally can’t even!
More about food later, let’s talk about music festivals! One of the reasons I haven’t been posting lately is because I’ve been paying tons of money to live like a homeless person for days at a time and loving every second of it. We try to go to several music festivals a year, and one of my absolute favorites is ‘Electric Forest’ in Rothbury, Michigan. It’s a place that I am convinced is made of pure magic.
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of prancing around the woods of Rothbury, you definitely need to put this festival on your must attend list. I’ve been lucky enough to attend several festivals in the past couple years, but nothing comes close to the feel of the Forest. It ties together freedom of expression, community, art, and music that makes all types of ears happy. The excitement of the Forest is too much to contain, so the fun starts waiting in line to get your car checked in. As we slowly rolled through, we saw groups of people gathered together playing hacky sack, dancing on/in/out of cars, drinking beer, all waiting for their friends to join them to set up camp together. This year we had a really great group of people, Michael, Emily, Ivy, John, and Dean (the Forest virgin), and myself!
Setting up camp is where the true feel of the Forest comes to life. Neighbors introduce themselves to one another, offering to help put tents up, or to join their camp later on. A sense of community is well established from the start. Our neighbors this year were an outstanding group of people from Michigan (shout out to Zack and Ashley).
Walking through the Forest requires taking a moment to observe the people around you. Some festivals have become a little more homogeneous in the sense of what attendees wear. At times you feel like you are seeing the same person over and over again: fluffies, kandi, pasties, neon. It’s so refreshing to see the pure creativity and the variety of self-expression in the forest. Every person, totem, and even car was dressed to impress and express themselves freely. The single best thing you can do at the Forest is to just LET GO. Don’t go in with a strict schedule, planning to catch every artist playing. There are just too many places to explore and discoveries to be made for you to have your time ruined because you didn’t see “(insert random artist here).” As one of the Forest Stewardesses would say, “Leave your worries behind, pack up an open mind, and get ready for a magical flight through the Forest.”
On the path to daytime discovery, you can catch a variety of art displays and installations that are set up throughout Sherwood Forest. One of the crowd pleasers this year was the saloon-like shacks that held grassroots performances, coffee ground readings, trading posts, all created with serious attention to detail and authenticity. Along the wooden boards of the shacks you could find old newspapers, antique telephones, pillows, small wagons, all giving that genuine old-time feel. And if you look closely enough, you might find a secret passageway like we did. A circular doorway led into a room that was straight out of the prohibition era, secreting away scandalous gambling, unbridled dancing and good ol’ fashioned debauchery.
Then, the magic hour begins. The sun dips lower, sunlight slowly fading from the trees, replaced by lasers energetically dancing off the leaves. The art you saw during the day takes on new life in the evening glow. The random saloons are filled with actors and bands inviting you to come right back in. The energy of the Forest turns from a gentle calm to a frenetic pulse, its waves filling your body and giving you new inspiration to dance. It is truly amazing how much the venue changes with just the rise and fall of the sun.
After dancing your heart out, there really isn’t a better place to cool off and relax than in a hammock. Trust me, I tested this theory several times just to make sure (The sacrifices I make for you guys, I know). The communal culture of sharing your hammock is remarkable. A couple of friends were savvy enough to bring their own hammocks, my others friends not so much. Did that matter? Not really. If you weren’t in the know that a hammock was the single most important thing to bring to the Forest, you weren’t left standing on the sidelines watching others sway their cares away. Most people would leave their hammocks out for other people to use while they left in search of food, drinks, or other shenanigans. Once the owners returned to find their own version of a hippie Goldilocks sleeping in their hammock, they’d either let them stay there or just kindly inform them that they were back. It was a beautiful sight to see, and the generosity and communal attitude really added to the magical feel of the Forest.
Which brings me into the main reason people love the Forest so damn much… For many people, festivals are mostly about the music. I mean, why else would you go to the trouble and the cost, right? But after hopping from festival to festival, I’ve realized that music isn’t the only driving force that creates a truly amazing festival experience. It’s the people. During my five days of dancing through the Forest, I continuously saw random acts of kindness wherever I went. I saw a basshead dance/run so hard her phone flew out of her bag. As soon as it hit the floor a fellow Forester picked it up and ran after her to make sure she got it. Random exchanges of goods could be observed on the campsites, by the bathrooms, and by the great Giving Tree. Oh yes, the Giving Tree: a place where people leave items behind, and sometimes take something else in return…small things like gum, toilet paper, cigarette, charms, kandi, pins, and whatever else they think will help a person out or warm someone’s heart. Generosity extended beyond the Giving Tree, though. If someone didn’t look like they were “all there,” people would stop and make sure they were doing all right instead of stepping over them and carrying on. The random acts of kindness are what keep people coming back to Electric Forest. After you have been to the Electric Forest, you realize why people keep coming back to it year after year. It’s a judgment-free zone, filled with positive vibes, amazing natural and artistic visual experiences, and a great sense of community that is the perfect venue for great music. Hopefully I’ll see y’all there next year!
Ok, enough of that…. let’s talk food! Vadouvan… what the hell is it? Well, it’s a blend of Indian curry and French flavors….a French derivative of Masala (spice mixture used in Indian cooking).
In my opinion it’s a great gateway to Indian food. So let’s get to it!
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Gather all of your ingredients and a mortar and pestle or spice/coffee grinder. Take your Fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, and red-pepper flakes, add them to the mortar and pestle and grind them into a powder like consistency.
They should look like this when you’re done.
Now for the hard part…. get all the other spices together and add them to the party and mix them thoroughly!
Once those are mixed in well…. boom! You got yourself one hell of a spice mix!
This is such a fragrant and complex mix of spices. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container until you’re ready to make Vadouvan Chicken Curry (Maybe i should do a recipe for that, huh?). Feel free to try it on/in things….experiment with it!
Thanks for stopping by and keep an eye out on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/isbutteracarbblog or just search @isbutteracarbblog) for polls, contests, and randomness that doesn’t make its way here…. it’s a whole different party over there sometimes! Also, give this mix a try and let me know what you think of it in the comments! Let me hear about some of your festival tips and stories in the comments as well! I hope y’all come back soon and until next time, Avoir!