Staff Picks: Netflix and Chill, Benji's pasta fresca, Creedence Clearwater Revival and more

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Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival

Arkansas Times Recommends is a weekly series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week.

It may just be that I'm in the target demo — attuned enough to care, old enough not to know — but I really liked this Fusion article on the history of "Netflix and chill" as a viral sex catchphrase. My favorite part was this Urban Dictionary entry, complete with sample usage. If you find this compelling, I'd also recommend you check out the Black Twitter Wikipedia page and Buzzfeed's history of Weird Twitter. If in scanning this you're now saying WTF, but you want to know more, Reply All is great, especially its Yes Yes No segments on viral phenomena. — Lindsey Millar

This week I recommend 3D printers and whiskey for breakfast, but most of all I recommend this episode of the KCRW radio program The Organist focusing on one man's fascination with the drumming on the 1970 Creedence Clearwater Revival song "Long As I Can See The Light." Featuring an conversation with Creedence drummer Doug "Cosmo" Clifford himself, the episode is a beautiful example of music criticism as an act of obsessive curiosity. It's also a rare straight-faced appreciation of the musical sophistication of a band whose complexity can be elusive. — Will Stephenson

The podcast Design Matters, published by Design Observer, is celebrating its 10th year and they are revisiting some of their best episodes from the last decade. I just finished this week's replay of the interview with the Scottish born illustrator Marion Deuchars. At the end of the wonderful interview, her two young sons are invited into the studio near where they pitch in some of their own thoughts on art and, in particular, drawing in the art books their mother created for children and adults. If you have any interest in creativity, the vulnerability of the creative spirit in children, lettering, or illustration this is a great listen. In addition, I recommend subscribing to the podcast itself. — Bryan Moats

Yesterday evening I hiked Pinnacle Mountain for the first time with one of my good friends. My core is still burning and my legs are aching, but it was truly an amazing experience. We set out a little after 7 p.m. on the West Summit Trail and made it to the top as the sun was setting. The views were gorgeous, the air clear and refreshing — my body felt alive. The climb back down, however, was not such a great experience. We had gone up as the sun began to set, so we came down in the fading light, reached the final descent in the darkness and used our cellphone flashlights to guide us the rest of the way. I highly recommend the hike for anyone looking to get some fresh air; just go during the daylight! — Kaya Herron

Stock photo of pasta
  • Stock photo of pasta

Maybe you've wasted your summer. Maybe you wasted your summer like you wasted your twenties, and now your friends are all either married with kids or else moved away to perform in sexy experimental theater projects in major cities. You wish you had gone swimming a lot more these past three months, but now the nights are cooling off.

Don't worry. Even if now, before August is even done with, you can feel the long bitter tendrils of winter tugging at your ankles, just like you've been ghoulishly aware of the looming specter of aging your entire life from childhood onward, you can still enjoy one of summer's best recipes, pasta fresca.

You'll need three or four large, ripe tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are usually better for sauces since they're a bit less juicy and more pasty, but because this recipe maximizes the raw essence of tomato, I suggest instead using the ripest, juiciest, most flavorful slicer tomatoes you can find. I've used heirloom Cherokee Purples or Brandywines to good effect, but any decent local tomato will do.

Besides that: 8 or 10 basil leaves, 1-2 cloves garlic, 2 T extra virgin olive oil, an 8 oz. block of mozzarella, salt and pepper and a pound of bow-tie pasta (farfalle). Don't use any other kind of pasta. I've made it with penne before, and something just doesn't click. Don't worry about the quality of the pasta or olive oil or mozzarella. I use Kroger brand everything. I use the faceless rectangular white slabs of off-brand cheese. Nice mozzarella is wonderful, but it's also expensive. When cooking, I say use cheap ingredients when you can and use nice ones when they're needed. This is a dish that needs good tomatoes. Everything else can be bottom shelf. Income inequality is only increasing globally, and unless you're a member of the emergent gentry, you'll need to learn to live frugally as you age. For this recipe, you'll also need a food processor or blender.

Dice the tomatoes. Slice the basil leaves into thin strips. Set aside about a fourth of the tomatoes and basil in a separate bowl. Place this bowl in a hard to find spot in your kitchen outside of your line of sight, maybe down in one of those drawers with the cookie cutters and birthday candles for children you don't have.

Cube the cheese into 1/2 inch boxes, or thereabouts. Set it aside as well. Boil the pasta as one would normally boil pasta.

Mince the garlic and hurl it into the blender. Add the tomatoes and basil and oil and a decent amount of salt and pepper, reminding yourself that unless you have specific medical instructions otherwise, you probably need to add more salt. Blend everything up til it's smooth. It won't look pretty — a pale red soup flecked with bits of green and reeking of garlic — but that's OK. Everything is fine!

Drain the pasta. If you've been drinking too much and burn yourself, go to the hospital; if not, put the drained pasta back in the pot along with the cubed cheese and toss it around in a casual fashion. Then, add the unpleasant red liquid you've created and toss it around some more.

The heat of the pasta will partially melt the mozzarella cubes in a most appealing way, but the melting will be somewhat attenuated by the tomato mixture. It all gels together into a something that's somewhere between a casserole and a familiar marinara dish, but with salad-like qualities as well. Retrieve the bowl of reserved diced tomatoes and basil strips and sprinkle them on top. Where'd you put it? Do you remember? It probably still needs more salt and pepper. Parmesan cheese is nice to have on hand too, though not necessary. Enjoy! — Benji Hardy


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