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Neutral Milk Hotel - On Avery Island Music Album Reviews

Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. Today, we revisit the oft-overshadowed debut from indie rock icons, a smaller and more intimate look into the mercurial world of Jeff Mangum.
In the mid-’90s, Jeff Mangum moved into a haunted closet in Denver where he had dreams of women in fur coats drinking champagne, yelling at him to get out of their house. During a snowy Colorado winter, the Louisiana-born songwriter and his childhood friend Robert Schneider set about recording what would become Neutral Milk Hotel’s debut album. They worked feverishly, going out to smoke cigarettes when they hit a roadblock, until, in May of 1995, they had a finished record. The North Carolina indie label Merge scooped up the young band and quietly released On Avery Island the following March.





Vanilla Meringue Tarts

Crispy meringue shells, rich vanilla filling, and in-season fresh fruits combine to make a special dessert that your guests will love.

Nutrition Profile
  • Nut-Free
  • Diabetic Appropriate
  • Heart Healthy
  • Low Fat
  • Low Sodium
  • Vegetarian
Meringue Shells
  • 2 egg whites
365 Everyday Value® 
Large White Eggs
Everyday Savings: $2.99 per 12 ct
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (see Tip)

  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar (see Tip)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2¼ cups low-fat (1%) milk
365 Everyday Value® 
Organic Milk
Everyday Savings: $3.45 per .5 gal
  • ¼ cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon 60-70% tub-style vegetable oil spread
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh whole or sliced berries, sliced banana, sliced kiwi, sliced kumquats, and/or sliced oranges
Prep - 40 m
Ready In - 3 h 40 m
  1. For meringue shells, preheat oven to 250°F. Cover one or two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw ten 2½-inch circles on the paper. Set aside. 
  2. Combine egg whites, ½ teaspoon vanilla, the cream of tartar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add ½ cup sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). 
  3. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip. Pipe the mixture in a spiral pattern over the circles on the parchment paper, piping the side of each circle up to a height of 1¼ inches. Bake for about 1¼ hours or until the meringues appear dry and are firm when lightly touched. Cool the meringues on the parchment paper on a wire rack. Peel from the paper; transfer to a serving platter. 
  4. Meanwhile, for filling: combine ⅓ cup sugar and the cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly; reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. 
  5. Place egg product in a small bowl. Gradually stir about 1 cup of the hot filling into the egg. Add the egg mixture to the remaining milk mixture in saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil; reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in vegetable oil spread and vanilla. Place the saucepan in a very large bowl half-filled with ice water. Stir the filling constantly for 2 minutes to cool quickly. Transfer the filling to a medium bowl. Cover surface of the filling with plastic wrap. Chill for 2 to 24 hours. 
  6. Spoon the filling into the meringue shells. Serve at once or cover and chill for up to 30 minutes before serving. Top individual servings with fruit.
  • Tips: We do not recommend a sugar substitute for the meringue shells.
  • If using a sugar substitute for the filling, we recommend Splenda Granular or Sweet 'N Low bulk or packets to substitute for the granulated sugar in filling. Follow package directions to use product amount equivalent to ⅓ cup granulated sugar. Nutrition Per Serving with Substitute: same as below, except 95 cal., 17 g carb. Exchanges: 1 other carb. Carb choices: 1.
  • Equipment: Parchment paper
  • Variation: Chocolate Meringue Tarts: Prepare as above, except for filling increase sugar to ½ cup and add ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder with the sugar. Nutrition Per Serving: 139 cal. 2 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 3 mg chol., 85 mg sodium, 27 g carb., 1 g fiber, 4 g pro. Exchanges: 1.5 other carb., 0.5 fat. Carb. choices: 2. Nutrition Per Serving with Substitute: same as above, except 105 cal., 18 g carb. Exchanges: 1 other carb. Carb choices: 1.
Nutrition Information
  • Serving size: 1 tart
  • Per serving: 117 calories; 2 g fat(1 g sat); 1 g fiber; 23 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; 3 mg cholesterol; 20 g sugars; 85 mg sodium;
  • Carbohydrate Servings:
  • Exchanges: 1½ other carbohydrate, ½ fat

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