Blog News!

November 19, 2012

I’ve moved my blog over to my website! If it seems like I’ve been quiet, that’s why – I’m posting there now.

With this announcement, there’s one other item I’d like to share – 

I’ve been writing a lot of music for Big Band, and I’ve started a KickStarter campaign in conjunction with a concert January 8th at the Baha’i Center in NYC.

If we meet our funding target and can pay the band for the gig, we will donate 50% of our ticket sales from the concert to the Niederhoffer Foundation/MJE Relief.

Meanwhile – here is our KickStarter pitch video. We hope you find it to be a worthwhile cause!


What are you, a vegetarian? A vegan? WHAT?

March 9, 2012

I’m a Vegimaximizer.

Vegimaxitarian? Whatever. I like “vegimaximizer.” The more the better. I don’t rule anything out. I like bacon, although I don’t keep it in the house. I eat eggs for sure.
Here’s a question for you – what do “humanitarians” eat?

Pictured: RIce with shiitake, saffron, wasabi, kimchi, and bonito flakes, seasoned with tamari and ume vinegar. Steamed acorn squash and sweet potato with tamari, sesame oil and rice vinegar. Coconut-fried tofu, eggplant and garlic garnished with scallions and tamari.
This was TASTY!

Simple Salad

March 6, 2012


Romaine, cabbage, avocado, tomato, smoked salmon, cabbage kimchi, carrot-ginger dressing with toasted sesame oil, rice & ume plum vinegars, Serrano peppers, tamari squash seeds, black sesame seeds.

Crazy Tasty- better than a steak!

February 22, 2012


Eggplant dusted in rice flour, fried in coconut oil, finished with caramelized Tamari…this is so tasty I feel guilty! So, I’m sharing it instead.

It’s So Easy Steaming Green

February 20, 2012

Leeks, chard, fennel, kale and tofu in rice wine and tamari, braised in a frypan for ten minutes – comes out really tasty! Cook it until they wilt and have an al dente texture. Serve with rice or whatever!


Acorn Squash Seeds

February 14, 2012


Saved from organic Acorn Squash, left on a plate to dry, then pan-roasted in a little sesame oil, sprinkled with ancho chile powder, and finished with a drizzle of Tamari stirred in to the browning seeds. Makes a great addition to salads, soups or stews!

More new food ideas

February 14, 2012

Rice and Beans with a twist…
or – Kombu Chili with Dirty Rice, Japanese style

This dinner took an hour to cook, but was very easy, not requiring much attention after it started cooking. It was very tasty – savory and satisfying. It’s nutritionally balanced, containing micronutrients, complex carbs, legumes, with land and sea vegetables; and vegan/organic (turkey wing optional!), with complete proteins and a lot of fiber.

Pictured are dried shiitake, some of which are crumbled into the rice, along with some wasabi powder and saffron.

The chili came from a bean mix with white, red, & black beans, aduki beans, and lentils. Combined into a pot with water with cut-up kombu (sea vegetable), a little piece of smoked turkey wing, a few cherry tomatoes, celery root, onion and dried Japanese peppers, the pot was brought to a boil, then cooked over low flame and a stovetop diffuser for about an hour.

Once combined and brought to a boil, these were left to simmer for awhile. The rice finished earlier than the beans, but didn’t mind the wait! I unplug the rice cooker when it finishes, although some like the crunchy rice crust you get from leaving the heat on.

We served the rice with a sprinkling of dulse seasoning, Chipotle powder, soy, and Togarashi pepper.

The whole trick in making a meal like this is having the ingredients on hand already. Most of the components have excellent shelf life, and can be combined infinite ways. It’s inexpensive, too. The big trick is getting the ingredients. Luckily I live in a large metropolitan area and I can drive for miles without seeing an Olive Garden or McDonald’s, and can find an Oriental grocery and organic produce not too far away.

The Improvising Chef goes Japanese

February 11, 2012


Miso Soba with Ika and Wakame
Bean Sprout, shiitake and tomato salad, and tamari-braised eggplant

I’ll be back with recipes for these!

OK. I’m back.

This is a simple meal.

The miso soba begins with water, some kombu ( I cut up the dried kombu pieces inside a plastic bag so they don’t go flying all over), and red organic miso paste. Bring it to a boil, then simmer. Add some wakame, shiitake, and soba. Stir it up a little to distribute the miso paste evenly. Add the soba noodles, and a little while after they bend in, add squid pieces.

The salad has 3 main components, including mung bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. I’ve got some home-made carrot-ginger dressing, with sesame oil, rice and ume plum vinegars, water and raw honey, pureéd together in a food processer.

The eggplant was pan-braised in sesame oil; first browned and softened, sprinkled with chipotle powder, then finished with a splort of Tamari in the pan, cooked long enough to caramelize slightly.

On the side is some kimchi, adding a sour spicy element with probiotic benefits.

This is CRAZY tasty, yet good for you as all heck. And to think I used to like the Colonel… is up!

February 10, 2012

New website for the book and blog! Two URLs point to it:

Come visit, recommend on Facebook, tweet, share, read, buy the book!

Publish a gig list from iPhone to a website, Facebook or anywhere that takes html

November 21, 2011

It’s amazing that this is even possible, let alone relatively simple now, thanks to web applications like Google Calendar and FeedBurner. I’m an Apple iPhone/iCloud/iCal user, which adds another layer of needed coordination of the elements required for this all to work – but, having researched the necessary steps, here’s how to do it.

First, create a Google calendar to host the events you’d like to list.

I don’t want everything on my personal calendar showing up in my gig feed. Both Google Calendars and iCal (5.01, and Lion OS) support multiple calendars from different accounts and origins, and it’s easy to get confused as to which calendar is which, and which one hosts your events. It’s important to establish an intentional chain. I had a double-booking mistake recently after failing to instruct my iPhone to “default” to my main calendar; I took a date via iPhone that didn’t show up where I needed it to, because I had too many calendars and incorrect settings… lesson learned the hard way.

Establish a “home base” calendar on your PC, in your desktop/laptop iCal app. Give it a memorable name, and in the preferences on both your PC and phone, designate it as the “default” calendar. Routine entries will reside here. Make additional calendars for business, personal, family etc if you think you need to; but recognize that you’ll need to assign the event to whichever calendar you intend it to reside on… every time. This is particularly true of the Gig calendar we’re creating.

Why Google for the gig calendar?

Google will be the source for the published gig stream.

It’s easy to add a Google account to iCal 5. Dates entered in either place will show up on both. After adding your Google account in iCal preferences/accounts, it shows up on iCal calendar lists, its dates show up in your iCal calendar window (or not, if unchecked in the iCal list), with the entries that it contains color-coded.

It’s not so easy to subscribe to an iCal/iCloud calendar from Google, and having tried this first, I can tell you it didn’t work for me (maybe it’s possible, but I couldn’t figure it out).

With this setup, gigs (or events) entered on any iCloud-configured device and assigned to the Google gig calendar will show up on all devices and the Google calendar. In this configuration, iCal 5 is the front-end application interface for your Google calendar. As mentioned above, once this is set up, it works in both directions… that is, if you make entries in your Google calendar, they’ll show up everywhere using your iCal/iCloud account.

OK, so how do I publish?

Calendar widget?

Google’s overall advantage in this process is clear. From the settings in Google Calendar, it’s possible to get code for a Calendar widget that can be placed anywhere that hosts html. The disadvantage of this particular portal, from a gigging musician’s point of view, is that the end user would need to page through your entire calendar to find your gigs. It would be much more user-friendly to publish a widget containing only a list of the gigs on the calendar.

No! Use an RSS feed!

This is possible from Google via RSS – all Google Calendars have an RSS feed. (Apple’s iCloud offers no resizable embeds, widgets, or RSS – at least, not yet.)

This requires a number of simple steps using Feedburner as an intermediary to help configure your feed to get the dates in the right order, and a widget generator tool such as Widgetbox (flash only – won’t work on iOS devices like the iPhone or iPad), Google’s BuzzBoost (part of FeedBurner, requires some CSS coding to make it look nice) or Webrss (which ignores your Feedburner formatting, not good).

Step 1

In the left sidebar of Google Calendars, click the arrow next to your calendar’s name and select “settings.” On that page, look for Calendar Address in the left sidebar and the XML button to the right of it. Click it and a popup gives your RSS feed address – almost! You’ll need to modify this to use it in the next step, so copy and paste it somewhere you can find it – a text editor, Word, whatever.

It will look like this:

You might notice between /feeds/__________/public is something that looks like your Gmail address, with %40 instead of the “@”. So far so good.

Step 2

Remove the “s” from “https” (do this or it will fail in Feedburner, which Google also owns, but never mind – this was a couple hours of frustration before finding the answer! Take the “s” out.):

Step 3

Next – one more modification of the link is needed to get dates to display in chronological order (rather than the default: order of entry)

To the end of the link, paste:


This adds a “query” to the URL, leading to the correct display of records.

Note: the “=d” in the string means “descending order;” change it to “=a” if you need ascending order, that is, earliest date at the top. The number at the end allows you to specify how many entries will be displayed.

So now you have:

Step 4

Copy this link now, and paste it into the “Burn a feed right this instant” field in Feedburner.  Bang! You’ll have your feed, displaying in the order you specified, ready to import into the widgetmaker of your choice. Make your widget, grab the code, and put it on your website or wherever you can paste html. On that score, it’s useful to investigate the “static html for pages” app in Facebook; a Facebook tab in your band page becomes an editable html hosting interface where you can put your gig calendar, music players, videos, email grabber, or whatever.

Example (of both) Facebook/jonburrmusic

my calendar on my website

If you’d like help with any of this, or putting it on Facebook or wherever, shoot an email and we’ll see if we can set up a support session, for which I bill a modest rate.

Thanks for reading!

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