fancy plans and pants to match: hanging ditch, part two

Well hello there, and welcome to another installment of Fancy Plans and Pants to Match. This is an occasional segment of my blog where I break the fourth wall and turn to the camera with a rueful shrug to acknowledge that sometimes nice things happen to me as a result of me being the best food blogger in the world. Wanting to be informative without being irritating is the mother of self-deprecation, so if you're alright with this idiot dingus taking you on a journey: come with me. This segment is named for a quote from the stirling and spry Jimmy James, a character in the sadly underrated 90s sitcom NewsRadio.

So here's the thing: In October of last year I attended the opening of aggressively rad cocktail bar Hanging Ditch, run by old mate Benji Irvine and Andy Gray, and I wrote about their cocktail selection for you. It was a lovely night, and Hanging Ditch is now a fully-fledged addition to the snug collective occupying the Hannah's Laneway precinct: once a grubby old alleyway, and now home to Goldings Free Dive, Six Barrel Soda, Leeds Street Bakery, and much more. 

The pitch: Time has moved appallingly fast and it's suddenly late June, the upshot of which is the Hanging Ditch has an updated cocktail list for your winter imbibe times. I was invited to try some and to share my thoughts, feelings, and interpretive dance moves about them for you. 

talk about raising the bar (she says, apologetically)  

What happened:  The updated menu favours a more wintry vibe - cocktails best drank in our current icy-as climate. Having amassed some serious quantities of experience in some of the best places in town to drink; you know you are in safe hands with this team and that they are 100% not mucking around.
 

my review of A Year Abroad: "yeah!" - a broad


The drinks I tried included...

Hair of the John: Jamesons, tomato juice, cracked pepper, honey, garlic, Cholula hot sauce and Worcester sauce. A Bloody Mary made special with the robust flavour of Jameson's Irish whiskey and the mellow, floral sweetness of honey. My favourite is usually the Bloody Maria, which uses tequila in place of the usual vodka - there's something about tequila which makes it so friendly to salty, savoury flavours - but this variation was a revelation and a perfect start to the evening. A garnish of flamed rosemary added smokiness and herbal depth.

A Year Abroad: Papaya, Bourbon, Aperol, lemon, rhubarb bitters, albumen. As well as being incredibly pretty - a kind of rosy peach concoction topped with an airy cloud formed by the albumen (or egg white, in the common tongue) this tastes SO good. Aperol is like a gentler Campari - less sticky and bitter - and that plus the caramel sweetness of the bourbon is delicious against the lemon juice and zingy kiss of rhubarb bitters and the fruity papaya. I am a huge fan of classic sours featuring lemon juice and egg white - if you're not used to it, yeah it might sound weird but the egg white simply blends anonymously into the drink and creates the most lush, silky texture and thick froth. I know you've all eaten brownie batter or cookie dough while you're baking, so uncooked egg shouldn't freak you out so long as it's free-range and you're not like, allergic. Back to the drink though: OMG yes.

Quarter to Three: Beefeater 24, Picon, Yellow Chartreuse, Fernet Branca, Lactart. So much going on here to catch my interest - first of all I love Beefeater gin, secondly I was intrigued by the use of yellow Chartreuse since I only ever use the green stuff, thirdly I'm a Fernet magnet (not a magnate, alas), fourthly what even is Lactart? So! Lactart is this lactic acid extract stuff, a few mere droplets of which allows you a similar sourness to several spoonfuls of lemon or lime juice. This drink was fascinating - there's a lot of different alcohols jostling for position here but it was all incredibly balanced, with just the slightest nudge of mint from the Fernet. I liked how the bursts of orange from the elaborate garnish and the Picon were complemented by the acidity of the lactart - this is one hell of a drink, people.

The Muffin Man: Raisin Cognac, homemade gingerbread syrup, lemon, orange bitters. Just as the Hair of the John was the perfect kick-off, this was an excellently puddingy finish - cognac already has raisin vibes, so doubling down on that, plus the spice in the gingerbread syrup, made for a very wintry, richly flavoured cocktail. The gingernut biscuit astride the glass was rendered delicious once soaked in the alcohol. Basically this is the cocktail equivalent of sitting by a roaring fireplace while someone strokes your hair.

Also of note - the Resperation remains on the menu, which I described last time as tasting like that moment when the couple on a TV show that you love finally kiss after you've been waiting for them to do it for ages. I also tried some butter-infused 666 Vodka which was every bit as wonderful and up my alley as it sounds.
 

The Muffin Man? The Muffin Man

The best bit: great chats with Benji while watching him make all the cocktails; shout out to the bar stools for being stupidly comfortable with surprising lower back support. 

On a scale of 1 to Is This The Real Life, Is It Just Fantasy: Okay so as I said last time I wrote about this place, this gets a 1 out of 10, but that only means that while I had a fancy time this is definitely a place I hang out at of my own accord and drinks I'll buy for myself. That's a good thing! 

Would I Do This Again For Not-Free: have, and will. Can enthusiastically vouch for their negronis and daiquiris, by the way. 

Earnest Thanks For Making Me Feel Fancy To: Hanging Ditch, which you can find next to Goldings at 14 Leeds Street. They operate Tuesday through Sunday from 3pm till midnight and it's a damn charming place to hang out. 

PS: read all of the Fancy Plans and Pants to Match archive here! It's great. 

this town's a different town to what it was last night, you couldn't have done that on a sunday


I swear I ate and cooked best in my second and third year of university, weird though that seems - I mean, my first year was definitely full of lukewarm toast and trying to stay alive in a flat made of damp breakfast cereal held together with cobwebs (if it weren't for that vigilant spider army my flat probably would've fallen down. Thank you spider army, I respect and fear you still) - but by second year I'd hit my stride. Living in a marginally less cold and damp flat felt like occupying a palace and importantly, I had both the time and the means in winter to make a ton of stews and casseroles and soups and slow-cooked things. Going into the office-job life obliterated that, because there's no time during the day and when you get home you want feeding immediately, and going into hospo means I just eat when I can, and that might be 3am. But as a student: goddamn. All that free time during the day between lectures, searching out super cheap cuts of meat or soaking dried chickpeas because it cost less than canned, baking a cake so we'd be warmed by the oven's heat - I'm totally not nostalgic for that time, or anything, but I also don't want another winter to pass me by without somehow making the most of food that suits the icy weather.

(I went back to my very early days of writing this blog post just to make sure I wasn't making this all up and glorifying the past and if anything, I undersold it. I used to make pudding every night! In one of my blog posts from November 2007 I talk about how sick I am of blind-baking pastry for pies! That's how often I was making pastry by hand for homemade pies and tarts! Last year I literally did a blog post about cinnamon sugar on toast and a McDonalds burger. It was a difficult time, sure, but still.)

bread! stuffed! with three! different types! of! cheese! 

I believe it's without even the slightest bit of hyperbole that I say my life would be unmitigated and incomparable garbage without Kim and Kate, the two earth-angels whom I call my best friends. Remember that Because You Loved Me song by Celine Dion? "You were my strength when I was weak, you were my voice when I couldn't speak, you were my eyes when I couldn't see, you saw the best there was in me" etc? I never understood that song when it was first on the radio and/or everyone's mum by law had a copy of that cassette so it was perpetually in the background. I was like...is she singing to her boyfriend? Or is she a pet rock singing to their owner? Seriously, if you imagine a small rock with googly eyes stuck on it singing this song to someone it makes so much sense than a human singing it, so utterly codependent and clingy and bodily needy it is. It's definitely sung by a small rock.

At least that's what I thought, until my aggressively supportive and beautiful friendship with Kim and Kate. Then, at last, did I understand the lyrics to Because You Loved Me. ("You've been my inspiration! Through the lies you were the truth!") I'm like, ah, this song is chill and not at all hysterical. The lyrics are calm and normal.

So between all that and me wanting to get back into slow-ass cooking and, monumentally, Kate being very close to travelling through the UK and Europe for a month (excitingly for her, tear-stainedly fraught for the rest of us) I decided to make the three of us a lavishly rustic, simple lunch before my shift at work on Sunday. It all came together despite attempting a recipe I've never tried before, the upshot of which is, if I can manage to throw this together in the middle of three ten hour shifts then all you need is a passing interest in cooking and a small amount of motivation and you can definitely achieve some version of this yourself with massive ease.


Nigella Lawson's magical cookbook Feast inspired both the recipes I made - firstly, a red and gold root vegetable stew with turmeric and saffron from which I used a Tunisian meatball dish as a starting point. Kate is vegetarian and Kim can't do garlic or onions so my result ended up having about two ingredients in common with what was on the page, but that's how inspiration works, yeah? The second recipe, a Georgian cheese-stuffed bread called Nana's Hatchapuri, was more direct - I just fiddled with the quantities a little to make it more affordable. Speaking of affordable, feel free to leave the saffron out of the stew - I just have a ton of it around because I'm the kind of person who gets given food by people for my birthday etc (which I love) but in all honesty the turmeric completely does the trick as far as flavour and colour. I don't care about the tautological goldenness though, the doubling down was a pleasingly luxuriant note in an otherwise, let's face it, highly plain stew.

Anyway, both were SO GOOD. And somehow so do-able. The vegetable stew I made more or less effortlessly the day before and just left it on the hob, ready to reheat. The cheesebread - despite the lengthy looking recipe below - was made very quickly before Kim and Kate got to mine, and once I'd let them in - my hands covered in flour - I just shoved it in the oven while we joyfully mixed orange juice and Lindaeur that Kate had both bought and brought from the nearest dairy.

nana's hatchapuri (georgian cheesebread) 

my gently adapted version of Nigella's (who had already adapted it from a woman named Nana, so) from her book Feast

six cups plain flour
two cups thick, plain yoghurt
two eggs
50g very soft butter
one teaspoon baking soda
one teaspoon sea salt, or a pinch of regular table salt
one 250g tub of ricotta cheese
two large handfuls of grated mozzarella, like, the super cheap stuff 
150g feta cheese
one more egg

Set your oven to 220 C/450 F and place a baking tray in the oven to heat up. Put the flour in a large bowl, and mix in the yoghurt, eggs, and butter till a soft, sticky dough forms. I used a wooden spoon to stir in the yoghurt and eggs and then my hands to work in the butter; you end up looking like your hands belong to zombies, but it's very effective! Otherwise just keep on stirring. Add a little extra flour if it's toooo sticky and knead this in with the baking soda and salt, which should leave you with a springy, soft ball of dough. Cover and leave it for 20 minutes. 

Slice the dough in half and roll out both pieces into a rough oval shape around 1.5cm thick, although it's up to you, really. Circle, square, Mickey Mouse ears, whatever works. I recommend rolling them out on two large pieces of baking paper, that way it doesn't mess up your bench top and you can then slide it straight onto the baking tray when it's ready to cook. 

In the same bowl that you mixed the dough in - because, why not - roughly mash together the ricotta, the feta, and the mozzarella with the remaining egg. Spread this golden mixture thickly across one of the rolled out pieces of dough, leaving a few centimetres border around the edge. Carefully lay the second rolled out dough across the top of this - if a few holes appear, just patch them up, the dough is pretty forgiving - and roll over the edges or pinch them together securely with the prongs of a fork. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until it's puffy and golden and bready on top. Give it a few minutes before slicing into it. 



root vegetable stew with saffron, cinnamon, and turmeric

a recipe by myself, inspired loosely by Nigella's Tunisian stew in Feast. This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.  

olive oil
about four sticks of celery
three carrots
two parsnips
half a butternut squash, or one small crown pumpkin, or that quantity of similar
two tins of tomatoes
one cinnamon stick
two heaped teaspoons turmeric
a pinch of ground cumin
three tablespoons golden sultanas (or dried apricots, chopped roughly)
a handful of sundried tomatoes, chopped roughly
pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds, to garnish, plus any green herb you like - flat leaf parsley or coriander would be great here 

Using a large knife, finely chop the celery sticks and two of the carrots into small dice - it doesn't have to be neat, just keep chopping till you have a pile of formless orange and green. 

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and tip in the carrot and celery. Sprinkle over some salt and allow to cook gently over a medium heat until softened. Meanwhile, chop the remaining carrot into thick cubes or half-moons or whatever you like; slice the parsnip into short sticks, and peel and cube the pumpkin. Throw all these vegetables into the pan and stir them, then add the two tins of tomatoes, the cinnamon stick, the turmeric, cumin, sultanas and dried tomatoes.

Add some salt and pepper, and bring all of this to the boil. Reduce the heat back to low, and then let it simmer for about an hour, adding a little water or stock if it looks a bit too dry. You're basically done at this point, but you could carry on simmering it for several more hours if you like, or let it to sit and then reheat it the next day - essentially, nothing can hurt this dish. Add more spice or salt and pepper if you see fit. Once you're ready to serve it, simply scatter it with pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds, and bring it to the table. More olive oil to drizzle over would be nice. 


Obviously softly sweet pumpkin and parsnip with earthy turmeric and saffron and richly tomato-y sauce is going to be wonderful, all hearty and spiced and twinkling with jewel-like green pumpkin seeds and golden sultanas, but the main attraction was obviously the cheese bread. Three different kinds of cheese? In this economy?

The combination of salty feta, the barging-into-your-mouth melty nature of mozzarella, and mild, milky ricotta is superb, and when surrounded by soft, warm, scone-like bread, leavened only by eggs and baking soda, it's celestially - almost stressfully - good. Make this, I implore you. My only other proviso is to grind over plenty of black pepper once you've sliced into it - the cacio e pepe vibes make it spring to life.


The three of us sat on the floor around my flatmate's amazing coffee table, toasted to ourselves with the world's cheapest mimosas, ate heartily, and cackled with laughter at ourselves, half in the funny-haha way and in the oh-my-god-what-is-life-I'm-breaking-the-fourth-wall-to-ruefully-shrug-at-the-studio-audience-haha way. And then I staggered to work, full of cheese and good feelings (one and the same, really) and safe in the knowledge that when I got home there was a billion tons of leftovers.

Extra delightfully, I got to dance with my two best girls last night at Dirtbag Disco, the fundraiser dance party for Ballet is For Everyone. If you've ever considered supporting a cause, this is a super nice one. Please keep Kim and I in your prayers and candlelit vigils during Kate's absence, although having consumed a large quantity of this hatchapuri already this week I see it filling the void that her presence leaves more or less adequately.

PS: If slow-cooked vegetable food appeals, then maybe consider similar blog posts I've done, about Penang Tofu Curry and Slow Roasted Eggplant and Butternut with Fried Cauliflower.
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title from: Arctic Monkeys, From the Ritz to the Rubble from their amaaaazing first album
_____________________________________________________________
music lately: Dirtbag Disco edition

A$AP Rocky/Drake/2Chainz/Kendrick Lamar, F***in' Problems. This song remains so addictive and the best thing to dance to.

M.I.A, Bad Girls. This song remains so addictive and the best thing to dance to.

Rihanna, We Found Love. This song remaings so addictive and the best thing to dance to.
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next time: all I've been eating is leftovers from this! But I will make something happen. 

eleanor rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been

I started writing this blog while slightly hungover after the Visa Wellington on a Plate launch party, and I'll finish it slightly drunk. Or at least that's what I thought two nights ago when I got in after work (and after a couple of after-work drinks); when I woke up on Sunday morning I realised I'd been distinctly less productive than how it felt at the time, and had to delete a very rambling paragraph where I tried valiantly to really convince you of the specificity of the tanginess of buttermilk. This is what happens when I miss out on my window of opportunity to write solidly! On the upside "The Specificity of the Tanginess of Buttermilk" sounds 100% like a lesbian novel set in the 60s that would get adapted into an acclaimed and beautiful but ultimately award-snubbed feature film, doesn't it? 

It was now a whole week ago that I made this, but it resonates still: a risotto containing not much at all but somehow still incredibly full of flavour depths and things of interest to your tastebuds. Walnuts toasted in butter, sizzled capers, slightly crisp from the heat, miso paste and buttermilk. 

The miso paste acts like an instagram filter, boosting everything it touches while still leaving the original risotto below fairly unchanged. The buttermilk, even more than the miso, is the magic ingredient here - it gives the aforementioned specific tanginess that echoes thick Greek yoghurt or sour cream, but somehow still gives a creaminess to the texture as well. It makes the richness of the browned butter more sharpened without making the overall dish too heavy. It's just really good. You end up with this aggressively simple yet deeply-toned dish that's as intensely comforting to eat - all soft and warm and creamy - as it is to make. Or at least, I find risotto comforting to make, all that endless stirring of the rice as it slowly, slowly swells and cooks becomes meditative, like white noise in food form. In Nigella Lawson's book Kitchen she refers to it as "the solace of stirring", and the result is threefold, TBH - as well as the cooking and eating of risotto being calming, reading about Nigella describing the calming nature of risotto is honestly the most soothing thing ever. 

buttermilk risotto with miso, toasted walnuts and capers

a recipe by myself

  • around 25g butter
  • a handful of walnuts (70 - 100g) roughly chopped
  • two tablespoons of capers
  • one cup of risotto-friendly rice such as arborio or carnaroli
  • three tablespoons of dry vermouth such as Noilly Prat, or use dry white wine (sparkling is fine! Just nothing too sweet) 
  • one stock cube of your choosing (I used chicken because that's what I had) 
  • one tablespoon white miso paste
  • three tablespoons of good-quality buttermilk (I used Karikaas - it has the texture of thin yoghurt. Some commercial buttermilk is kind of lumpy and weird. But also: aren't we all.) 

Fill a kettle with water and bring to the boil. (You'll be using this in a bit to top up the risotto as it's cooking.) Melt the butter in a saucepan and then tip in the walnuts. Once they're lightly browned remove them from the pan and set aside (I just put them on the plate I was planning to eat my cooked risotto on) and then throw in the capers. Once the capers are thoroughly sizzled, remove them to the same plate as the walnuts, and pour in the rice. Stir the grains in the butter so they're all covered and get a chance to toast a little, then pour in the vermouth - it will hit the pan with a hiss and smell amazing. Once it's absorbed, crumble in the stock cube and stir in the miso paste. 

Pour in some hot water from the kettle and start your stirring process - just keep stirring over a medium heat till the rice grains have absorbed it all, then add more. This will take a good twenty minutes and there's no way around it, but it's nice to just stand there in a trance over a warm pan. 

Once the rice is thoroughly cooked, all soft and creamy but with a tiny bit of bite, remove from the heat and stir in the buttermilk - adding more if you like - and tip over the walnuts and capers, scraping in any browned butter that has pooled under them. Stir in more actual butter if you like (I always do) and serve immediately.  

I tried turning the leftovers into arancini but they fell apart pretty well immediately (to which I was like "I can relate to this") but having swiped a forkful of the cold risotto before adding eggs and breadcrumbs and then ruining everything, I can attest to the fact that it definitely keeps well. The walnuts can be changed out for whatever nut you like, but I did choose them on purpose - their autumnal butteriness and soft bite is the only interruption I want in this otherwise formless bowl of rice. 

Back to where I started on this post, I would like to reiterate that the Visa Wellington on a Plate launch was super cool! I ate lots of gin and elderflower jelly and drank many chardonnays (I once had a dream about chardonnay where it was described as "buttery and rowdy" and I swear that's how all chardonnays have presented themselves to me since) and hung out with cool people and hooned much fernet and champagne at the extremely great 

Noble Rot wine bar

 launch afterwards. Never mind moderation, I'm about spending three weeks in bed followed by sand-blasting myself with glamour and fanciness for 24 hours. Better than any fancy event this week however was the fact that I finally saw a capybara IRL after being fans of them for many years, and five years on from my tragic (tragic, I tell you!) and fruitless wait at the Berlin Zoo to try and see them. There are FOUR of them at the Wellington Zoo direct from Paris - how sophisticated - and seeing their beautifully regal, yet utterly dingus-y faces today made five-years-ago me feel finally at peace. 

So calm. Like a risotto.

PS: If you enjoyed reading about this risotto and want to immerse yourself in the damn stuff, please consider considering this

Oven-baked Risotto

and this

Pea Risotto

that I've also blogged about here. 

_____________________________________________________

title from: 

Eleanor Rigby

 by The Beatles, although for many years I genuinely believed my dad wrote this song because his band did a cover of it and so my first introduction to it was hearing them play it during their Sunday band practices. 

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music lately:

Johnny Cash, 

I Hung My Head

.

 It has the most phenomenally beautiful - and immediate - building of piano chords, which are typical of many of the songs in his later collections of covers. (Kudos to one of the user comments on the Youtube video:

 "how are like all his songs about playing with guns going wrong")

The Cribs, 

Mirror Kissers

. Whatchu know about 2006 nostalgia? 

Joan Osborne, 

Right Hand Man

. This song goes OFF and I don't know how that What if God Was One of Us song became her only real big hit when this one is so big and hitty. 

__________________________________________________________

next time: I made a big lunch for my two best friends and I'm gonna blog about it! 

garlic springs up where you walk, bells ring out baby when you talk

a pile of battered, fried garlic cloves

I started this blog nine years ago and - five thousand percent understatement - it was a very different landscape. No Pinterest, no Instagram, the barest hint of twitter and facebook, all that obvious stuff. However, comments were everything. Everything! I used to be all like "oh nooo this blog post only has thirty/fourteen/ten etc comments on it, what can I do?" And mate, you could absolutely tell when bloggers didn't care a wit about you and were just trying to get clicks through to their own page, because you'd write a long post about how your only goldfish, who had also raised you like a parent through childhood and worked so hard to put you through medical school, had just died, and they'd be all "great post! Looks delicious! Check out my chocolate malteaser cupcakes photographed sterilely against a baby blue background!" It was 2007, okay. We'd just discovered cupcakes and polka dots. Bacon was as yet a distant fever dream. We commented, it was what we had. 

These days, I don't need blog comments to know people are reading - I get most of my feedback on Twitter and Instagram and occasionally Facebook and sometimes by holding my palms towards the sunset and closing my eyes intently and whispering my URL backwards three times. The comments I do get are usually something nice from a dear friend or a generally lovely message from a reader. The lack of volume means I really pay attention to them whenever they happen. 

And last week I received a comment that really got to me. Before I go any further, I hear what you're saying - be the bigger person! Be a literal grown up! Ignore it and move on! Well you don't need to worry, I did that. For five days. And now having got that out of the way, I'm allowing myself a brief foray into being petty. 


Dear Anonymous: 

I do have life happenings that have distracted me from this blog. It's called a job. It's called duh. I work around a billion hours and have a hilariously big rent and bills to pay, as do many people. To my great disgust I have to sleep at some point of each day so that doesn't leave me a lot of time or energy to buy food and cook for myself and photograph it and then write thoughtfully about it. And yet still I manage to get a blog post out every week. Because this blog means so much to me. You think I'm better than scone dough pizza? Do you know how delicious that pizza was? Do you know how exhausted and unhappy I was when I made it because I'd slept through my entire day off and hadn't blogged yet and felt worthless because I tie my up my value in the work I do for some reason and how pleased I was that I managed to accomplish that one small thing? Do you know how much I think about this blog and worry about what I'm achieving with it? Did you read the bit where the recipe was adapted from one I wrote for my literal published cookbook? Which should thus validate it somewhat for you? Did you read the bit where my goldfish toiled day and night to put me through medical school? Did you appreciate me trying to lighten the mood a bit here? 

Anyway, my main question for you, Anonymous, is: when are you going to get your act together? By giving me money? If you give me money then I'll be able to have more time to cook and write for this blog and pitch writing to other sites and finally redesign the hilariously outdated yet hopefully loveable look of this thing. I don't know who you are and thanks for saying that I have a lovely way with words. But ya hurt my damn feelings, Anonymous. I try really, really, really hard here, okay. That's all. If you're that worried about my priorities then maybe you should prioritise funding my life so I can write the blog you want from me. This is all I've got right now. 


Wow, awkward! Now that I've done railing misguidedly against late capitalism, let me caveat that (a) I adore my job and have never been happier than I am now in a position of employment except I wish I had more money but so does everyone so that's not a controversial stance, (b) I'M SO SICK right now with some kind of queasy-making, energy-sapping coughing-fit head cold so while I'm totally accountable for my actions, I'm not like, that accountable. 

Which is why I ate two whole bulbs of garlic yesterday for lunch. That may sound like a lot, even by a garlic lover's standard! But once you've individually battered and deep fried each clove, it suddenly becomes the most insurmountable task and you're all, why didn't I do this with five bulbs of garlic. I guess it's the same as potato crisps: if you said "I just ate forty slices of potato" you might raise some eyebrows but if you said "I just hooned a can of Pringles, salt and vinegar flavour" you'll receive nothing but envious sighs and sage nods of understanding.



It's hard to explain exactly but I'm always trying to undo layers when when I think up recipes: with this one I didn't have the appetite for a big meal and simply wanted a ton of garlic, rather than having to eat something else that had been annointed with garlic, if that makes sense. What if I fried the garlic cloves themselves so they became crunchy little morsels, like fries? This proved to be surprisingly easy. And monumentally delicious. A quick simmer in water to soften the garlic and remove its harsh, burning edge, a very quickly made batter, and a quick fry in a little oil. That's it! And in a charming piece of serendipity, the leftover batter itself, when fried, makes delicious little garlic-tinted pancakes, so you don't have to waste anything if you don't want.

But the garlic is the star: bite through the hot, crisp exterior and the centre is pure, soft, sweet dissolving garlic. You could argue that they're kind of pointless (you could do a number of things) but you could increase the number of bulbs and make a bowlful as a Netflix-and-chill type snack or scatter them through a salad or pasta or combine them with some other small fried thing like halloumi, or indeed, just use them to ward off your own sickness. I'm not going to lie: I totally drank the water that the bulbs had simmered in, in the vain hope of gaining every last bit of garlicky goodness. It was honestly delicious in a broth-y type way and there's no reason you can't save it for a risotto or soup or similar. The turmeric isn't exactly crucial but it gives a gorgeous golden colour and is also full of cold-fighting skills so you might as well include it, yeah?

crunchy golden fried garlic cloves and crispy garlic pancakes

a recipe by myself. 

two garlic bulbs (or more! You won't regret it.)
three tablespoons of tapioca flour (or regular flour) 
three tablespoons of fine cornmeal
one heaped teaspoon of turmeric
three tablespoons or so of cold water
salt and pepper
plain oil, such as rice bran, for frying

Place the whole garlic bulbs in a good-sized saucepan and cover, just, with water. Bring to the boil, and place a lid on top slightly askew so you let out some steam. Let them briskly simmer away for about ten minutes or until a knife stabbed at them suggests they're pretty soft. Remove from the water and put them in a sieve under cold running water for a bit so they're cool enough to handle. Slice the base off - it should come off fairly easily. 

In a bowl, mix together the tapioca flour, cornmeal, turmeric, salt, pepper, and water, to form a thickish batter. Add a little more water or a little more cornmeal if it needs thinning or thickening. 

Heat about a centimetre of oil in a wide pan over a high heat. Gently coax the garlic cloves out of their casings - this shouldn't be too hard although allow for the occasional delicious casualty - and drop them in the batter. Once coated, drop them in the oil and allow them to fry for roughly a minute each side or until golden brown and crisp. Repeat with the remaining garlic. If some cloves bust into pieces while you're trying to extract them from their casings just throw them in the batter and fry them anyway, it's all good. Remove the fried cloves to a paper towel or similar till you've done all of them, then, if you wish, fry spoonfuls of the remaining batter until crisp and dark golden. EAT THE LOT. 


It's like fried chicken, but it's garlic. It's like those mozarella sticks you can sometimes get from BK, but it's garlic. I wish there was another word instead of garlic that I could use to describe these but, uh, it's garlic. Garlic is so good. 

serendipity-licious

I'm so sick that I had to actually have a lie down after walking twenty metres to the fruit and vege mart around the corner from my apartment to get this garlic, so hopefully that is some indicator of the relative ease of this recipe that I was able to make it at all.

Okay, I do feel a tiny bit weird about that rant that I went on - I usually respond to that sort of thing a lot more privately by complaining about it to friends in real life or something. And I'm really lucky that the amount of bother I encounter online is relatively small compared to the tremendous amount that many people, including several friends of mine, put up with. But if you're supposed to be the bigger person and ignore everything that hurts you, does that mean people get to just hurt your feelings forever and ever and that's it? Seriously? You can't sell me on that. And I'm very easily sold on stuff. So you know it's a bad concept. You know what's a great concept? Individually battering and frying every last clove in a bulb of garlic, twice, and then eating the lot, and then lying down and binge-watching Miss Fisher's Charming Murder Mysteries on Netflix. Period procedural dramas are the paracetamol of television, and television is the paracetamol of life, and garlic is nature's paracetamol. Then have some actual paracetamol, which is the real paracetamol of life, and you're momentarily set, until the next coughing fit at least.

PS Some other recipes that I've done that I feel convey this unpacking of layers of flavour and texture that I'm really into but not good at explaining are: Garnish Salad and Browned Butter Ice Cream. Basically I just lie there and I'm like "yes but what do I want?" until the idea simplifies down to its purest form. Being massively sick clouds that vision somewhat but I came through!
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title from: Thee Oh Sees and their charmingly scuzzy song Grease. 
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music lately: 

Laura Lee, Dreamers. The bae Laura Lee is back at it again with her moody, swoony style of music and I'm so happy about it.

Craig Mack, Flava In Ya Ear. One of the most perfect songs ever, indubitably.
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next time: More scone pizza? I'm kidding Anonymous, we're good? Either way, if I'm still sick I'll be so mad! 

turn the music up way too loud, charge the pizza to the house


I have kind of a weird relationship with time, in that I'm never particularly relaxed and I always feel like whatever time I have is running out on me and that's all I can focus on. I think a lot of this has to do with my writing and trying to make enough space to do that and freaking out when I fall asleep instead, but I was like this before I was writing and even if I abandoned this blog today I'd probably still end up feeling the same way. Does anyone else get that? Like if you wake up at 9am you're all like "well it's 9am, the day is practically over and I have achieved nothing" (don't even get me started on the horror of waking up at 11am.) I mean, I remember thinking this as a child. There wasn't even any internet then, what was I worried about not being on top of? Anyway, on Monday - one of my days off - I slept till 3pm because I physically could not stop going to sleep, and uh, this was kind of horrifying to me. It's like...it's not just writing I have to do. I can't remember when I last did laundry! My room has not been tidied in forever which is in itself a source of stress! Six weeks ago I was supposed to start doing twenty minutes of yoga per day! I need to cook myself something so I actually have something to blog about even though I'm too tired to write! And it's 3pm which means it's basically tomorrow! Compounding to all this horror is the fact that it's suddenly the following Monday and I'm in the exact same position. 

Last Monday, upon waking, I somehow managed to briefly get my act together in a "I suspect there are worse problems out there than this you dingus" kind of way to make myself this scone pizza as a calming snack. One week later I'm finally spatula-ing together the time to write about it. This recipe is so easy and has a pleasing mix of so many comforting foods - not just the obvious two, scone and pizza, it also gives off cheese toastie and pie vibes. It is all good things. It is scone pizza. 


I adapted it from a recipe in my OWN COOKBOOK (yes, I know, and no, you can't buy a copy because every last one was sold and Penguin never republished it which means it's a cult underground collectors item, not a failure) because why not be inspired by yourself? The recipe in my cookbook involves a simmered zucchini and tomato sauce to go on top, from a book of recipe clippings belonging to my paternal grandmother. But this time around I had a couple of tomatoes in the fridge and half a block of cheese and immediately knew I wanted both in my mouth together at an elevated temperature. Melted cheese is 100% my idea of a good time. 

What you end up with is a thick, slightly crunchy and soft base, with the scorched sweetness of the magma-hot tomatoes and a hefty layer of melted cheese made moderately more elegant in a cacio-e-pepe kind of way by a grind of fresh pepper. I have until extremely recently hated black pepper, as it tasted like mouth-burning dust and nothing more, but I've come to appreciate its subtle sweetness and what it adds to a dish. Either that or my tastebuds are dying as I'm aging and this is my attempt at trying to feel something real. Little from column A, little from column B? 

scone pizza

adapted from a recipe from my cookbook, Hungry and Frozen: The Cookbook. 

200g plain flour (this is roughly two hastily-scooped cups full, if you don't have scales) (which I don't currently)
one teaspoon baking powder

25g melted butter
125g (half a cup) thick, plain yoghurt 
pinch of salt
two tomatoes
as much grated cheese as you like
cracked pepper

Set your oven to 200C/400F and place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray. 

Briefly mix the flour, baking powder, butter, yoghurt and salt together in a bowl. Add a little bit more yoghurt if it's way too floury. Squish it together gently with your hands to form a soft ball. Tip it onto the baking tray and softly roll it out to form a rough circle of a couple of centimetres. Brush it with a little extra melted butter if you like - I didn't do this myself but it has just occurred to me now that it would be a good idea, probably.

Thickly slice the tomatoes and arrange them on top of the scone base. Grate over as much cheese as you like, and then some. Bake for around 20 minutes, till the cheese is bubbling and the tomatoes are a bit scorched and softened. Grind over some pepper. 

Allow it to cool for a minute and then slice into four and hoon the lot. 

Note: I, for some reason, had like two tablespoons of yoghurt left in the bottom of a container so just made up the remaining amount with milk and this worked perfectly. Consider yourself permitted to do something similar if you find yourself in this position. 


As with all food, it tastes excellent in bed. It's one thing to hang out in bed heaps and consume your main meal of the day in there, but sleep? In your bed? How troublingly self-indulgent.

By the way, I am trying to work on this strange thing I have with time, because it benefits absolutely no-one if I'm stressing constantly about it. I just don't know how to. So far my only technique is being frustrated at myself for being stressed, followed by frustration at myself for my frustration at myself. Also trying to actually let myself sleep if I need it without being too angry about it.


Without being too on the nose, I have, uh, bought myself some thyme. This was inspired by my Stargrazing horoscope for May in Lucky Peach magazine: 

"This season, for you, is about translating jittery emotions into healthy, productive action. Yer an original, Aries, so I’m into forking over an idea you can truly make your own: This is a completely excellent time to plant yourself a little herb garden with whatever you like in it (...) That dualism—embarking on a project that’s all yours and has tangible, visible rewards (LI’L PLANTS!), while also slow ride, taking it easy—is perfect for you, jitterbug. Pick up a few cheapo herb plants of your choosing. Care for them diligently, as a way of transmuting the care you’re unsure of giving yourself right now. See this attention and love as the same thing."

I mean, does that resonate or what. Thyme is one of my very favourite herbs and is also very pretty, with its gently tangled mass of tiny leaves, and I am so going to nurture this lil plant, and I guess myself as well. My first order of business: acknowledging that I'm actually asleep right now as I type this, and to let myself have a nap.
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title from: Blink 182, Reckless Abandonment
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music lately: 

I Will Never Leave You, from the very short-lived 1996 musical Side Show. This showcases the spectacular voices of Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner, and is one of those songs that's all like, ugh we have to get this stupid first verse out of the way so we can get to the AMAZING BELTING IN THE CODA and the payoff is thoroughly worth it.

Digital Versicolour, Glass Candy. This song is on the playlist at work and every time it comes on I'm like "woooooo!" I know, what fascinating provenance. It's just very mellow and hypnotic and good.

Sean Paul, Like Glue. I heard this song on loop five times in a row the other day and it was honestly the ideal way to consume this song. It's the sound of a warm evening in summer, without any of the hassle of having to be overheated.
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next time: my friend Rose gave me some old Seventeen magazines that used to belong to her mum and the recipes in them are so great and I seriously want to try one. 

you can start by having a chat and then a glass of brandy then I will start playing mind games


I'll often insist that I don't like change and that what I do like is, in fact, a good status quo to settle into, but I think what I really mean by that is that it's a bit sad when nice people go far away. I'm honestly always trying to change things, most of the time incredibly rapidly without considering any consequences. Or at least, I will have thoroughly overthought the consequences, and then I'll just be like "uhhhh what if I leap head-first into this and whatever happens after, that's ten-minutes-from-now-Laura's problem." This could be anything from spontaneously bleaching my hair to the entire state of my life at any given time. It's certainly not the most advisable way to live out your days, but it does kinda get stuff happening. 

Anyway I got to thinking about this (with some self-awareness but no real emotional growth or change) following two events: I recently bleached my hair in almost panicky haste, and also some super nice people who I work with went far away to travel the world for a bit. I have no idea what to do with a status quo except frantically push in the opposite direction of it, but when people are about to leave, I know exactly what to do: make delicious sweet things for them. That's how I ended up making this gorgeously dense fudge, bejewelled with brandy-soaked sultanas. I had, in a nice piece of symbiosis, nicked the sultanas themselves from work prior to this, where they had been lending their flavour to brandy for a cocktail we were doing over Easter. One of the people who was leaving - Brooke, a gem of a lady - suggested that I turn them into fudge at some point, and so it seemed like a nice way to sweeten up the last shift we all worked together. 


I don't expect you to have sultanas sitting around in brandy for the opportunistic thieving, but they can be very easily recreated by quickly making your own (leaving you, joyfully, with leftover infused alcohol.) You don't even have to use brandy, rum is an obvious contender here, or you could use some other dried-grape-friendly liqueur, or - honestly - leave the fruit aspect out altogether and simply make yourself a slab of creamy, gloriously plain fudge.

This fudge has the silkiest bite to it, like your teeth are sliding through cool water. It dissolves on the tongue with rolling caramel flavours punctured by bursts of eyewateringly boozy sultanas. The sweetness of all the sugar and the heat of the alcohol plus the generally deliciousness of the butter come together to make something astonishingly balanced considering it's, y'know, a rectangle of sugar.  And while it's not as comfortingly crumbly as super-traditional fudge but the incredible satin texture more than makes up for this.

brandy butter sultana fudge 

adapted from this recipe. It's really easy to make, I just do a lot of explaining in the method below, in case you're freaking out at how long it looks.  

one cup of sultanas 
brandy - something not horrifically cheap but don't use anything expensive either 
100g butter
one can of sweetened condensed milk (the kind that's roughly 395g in size) 
two firmly packed cups of brown sugar

Put the sultanas in a bowl and pour in juuuust enough brandy that they all get a go at being in it. You don't have to swamp them, but it's all up to you - after all, you can use the soaking brandy however you please later, so if you want more of it then cover them in more. If you're like "noooo my precious brandy" then use a smaller amount. Leave it to sit, covered, at least overnight, but to be honest you could probably get away with like, an hour, if you're incredibly impatient. There's probably some way you could speed up the process by gently microwaving it all, but I don't have one and have completely forgotten what to do with one so couldn't really advise there. 

Put the butter, condensed milk, and brown sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring pretty much constantly, and let it all bubble away like there's no tomorrow until it reaches the soft-ball stage. What is this? Get a bowl of cold water. If you drop a small spoonful of the fudge into the cold water and it forms a soft ball of like, fudgey stuff, then it's ready. If it simply dissolves into the water or collapses into nothing, it needs to keep boiling. 

Once it's ready, remove from the heat - I like to stick it in a sink that I've partially filled with cold water - and stir aggressively for honestly ages until it thickens and you can see it starting to crystalise and set around the edges. Halfway through, stir in the drained sultanas. Reserve the brandy for your own good times. Usually fudge will lose its gloss and become rather crumbly as you stir but this one was a little different - it just thickened up considerably. When you feel chill about it, spatula the lot into a baking paper-lined brownie tin (or similar regularly sized baking dish) and refrigerate till super firm. Cut into slices of whatever size you like, and eat. 


The fudge went down very well with the crew when I brought it in and achieved lavish praise (oh my god, do I only do this for attention and lavish praise, not just to be nice? Does it even matter if we all still get fudge as a result?) Literally all I've been doing otherwise is trying to stay awake long enough to write this post, and listening to Judy Garland (I was going to say "through tear-filled ears" but not only is that anatomically inaccurate it's also troubling to consider, but what I'm trying to say is that she makes me majorly emotional.) However! One exciting thing has occurred lately: I had another crush cake published on The Toast. This one is for glorious Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda, currently crushing it in the gasp-makingly successful musical Hamilton.  Go me! (Really, go me. Back to bed. Go back to bed, me.) 

small cake, big crush

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title from: Roll Deep, The Avenue - only one of the best songs to come out of the year 2005 ever.
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music lately:

My Shot, from the musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Leslie Odom Jr and Anthony Ramos performing live at the White House - I honestly get aggressive shivers the minute this starts and can't stop watching this. 

Judy Garland, The Man That Got Away. Is there a duststorm happening inches from my face in this room? Oh wait no I'm sobbing uncontrollably at this. 

Soulja Boy Tell'em, Crank That (Soulja Boy) I dunno, I just really felt like listening to this. 
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next time: I reallllllly feel like making bread, so maybe that will have happened by the time I next am here?  

philosophy is the talk on a cereal box


In testament either to how good this granola is, or to what a monumental grub I am - why not both? - the last time I ate this granola was yesterday, in a charming tableau: I was on my bed, face smeared with organic coconut oil (it felt like a vaguely beneficial thing to do) and about to take a nap. I was, however, ravenously hungry. The jar of granola was the only thing I had to eat and it also happened to be on the floor by the bed. I sighed - so dustily unsatisfying, why couldn't I have a jar of cheeseburgers by my bed instead - and listlessly opened the jar to paw myself out a handful.

One chewy, buckwheat-rich mouthful in and I was all, oh that's right, I make amazing granola like it's no big deal. Verily, I began chugging it straight from the jar, which obviously-in-hindsight ended up with granola dust tipping out heavily onto my face and sticking to the coconut oil that I was thickly daubed in. This...this did not stop me. I kept eating it, while it was also stuck to my face, and like, I did shower, but it was quite some time later. If this visual doesn't impel you to make and eat this granola then frankly I understand completely.

This first time I ate it, I was catsitting for a good friend, on their wooden floor in a sunbeam like I myself were also a cat, eating it with almond milk and coconut butter, and reverently watching Beyonce's new visual album and masterpiece, Lemonade.


My takes on Lemonade are absolutely not required, but I will just say that it's one of the more exciting and beautiful and heartstoppingly good things I have ever witnessed, and whatever your thoughts hitherto on Beyonce and whether the music she makes is your kind of thing, you should 100% watch this. (Seriously: if you can sit through The Wall, you can easily make some time for this.) I was utterly transfixed.

This granola is largely comprised of buckwheat, which is super good for you and majorly gluten-free, despite the use of wheat in its name. I find this hilariously cavalier. Like what if a dog was all "I'm a horse. I'm not actually a horse, it's just the name of my species. Call me a horse!" That was an appallingly ineffectual analogy but I'm very tired so that allows me to get away with such things.)

But anyway - buckwheat has a pleasing crunch to it and that same kind of non-committal I-am-your-breakfast flavour that oats have, making it an ideal background to whichever direction you'd like to take your granola in. I decided to have coconut be a major player, as if it were as important as the buckwheat itself rather than just a mixed-in secondary thing, if that makes sense. I'd been given some dried cranberries and so it seemed a reasonable idea to add them to it, and they work beautifully - little bursts of sour-sweet liveliness amongst all the mellow coconut. This is very, very easy to make and gives you a great big jarful. To make the coconut butter that I had sprinkled on top of it, just place two cups of toasted coconut chips in the food processor and blitz them for ages and ages until you're scared that your processor will blow up, at which point let it cool down, and continue on until you've got what looks like peanut butter, but tastes like white chocolate. I let it firm up and harden, which made it even more like chocolate. It was a very good time.

buckwheat, cranberry and cinnamon granola

a recipe by myself

two cups hulled buckwheat
half a cup LSA mix (or other similar ground up thing, like plain ground almonds) 
one cup coconut chips/shredded coconut
one cup dried cranberries
two teaspoons of cinnamon but feel free to add more 
one cup mixed nuts and seeds, eg walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds etc, all roughly chopped
two tablespoons chia seeds (optional

Put the buckwheat in a large bowl or measuring jug and cover with water. Leave to sit for about an hour, by which point the grains should have swollen up and absorbed a lot of the water (and feel free to top it up if need be.)

Set your oven to 130 C. Drain and rinse the buckwheat in a sieve, then spread fairly evenly in a thin layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Pop the tray in the oven and leave it for about half an hour. Put everything else except the cranberries and chia seeds onto the tray, turn the oven off and let it toast slightly in the remaining heat of the oven (or you can just leave it there cooking for another 20 mins, this is just my small attempt at being conscious of power usage and stuff.)

Stir in the cranberries and chia seeds if using, add more of anything that you feel like it needs more of, and then tip into a large jar. 


This is the cat I got to hang out with. He's the same one I was looking after over Christmas and he is a character. I was incredibly grateful however that this time he did not bring me any offerings of rat. 

look at this snug little piglet


Oh yeah, and I bleached my hair the other day and instead of becoming some kind of platinum goddess it turned peach, for the sake of my poor hair I've decided to roll with it for a while though. No less than three separate people have been all "Debbie Harry!" at me though so I am now delighted with it. 
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title from: What I Am, by Emma Bunton, aka Baby Spice. It's soooo nineeetieeeeees and so great. 
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music lately

Cream, Prince. Like many, I was massively saddened by his recent death. This song hasn't got any particular significance (I do remember dancing to it in a club in Greece one time I guess) but ugh it's brilliant. So brilliant.

LEMONADE. Find it. 
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next time: I made amazing fudge. AMAZING. You can make it too. 

pile on many more layers, and i'll be joining you there

three chocolate cakes sandwiched together with cream cheese icing and crushed up creme eggs and you can't see it but there's also an implied *painting nails emoji*

Well, Mars may be in retrograde and my April tarot card may be the tarot card equivalent of a heavy resigned sigh, but: ya girl is out here being thirty finally. (She says, quite thirty-ish-ly.) It seems only right that the first blog post I do after my birthday is for a birthday cake, yeah? Not my own, but instead one I made for my pal-and-colleague's girlfriend's 21st, because that's a thing I do sometimes. Such a momentous occasion and an honour of a task calls for something a little no-holds-barred, and with the simple brief of "Cadbury Creme Egg" I set to work on what turned out to be this three layer masterpiece. Being the dingus I am, I stupidly only took a few cursory snaps of it on my phone rather than sitting it down and lovingly photographing it with my proper camera, but I was so pleased with the results - like, look at that thing! It's beautiful! - that I decided to blog about it anyway, hasty photos and all. Who knows when you, yourself, might need to make a three layer creme egg cake!

champagne for my real friends

As for my birthday, I won't sugar-coat it for you: it was wonderful! It started when the clock ticked over to midnight the night before because I was still working; however all the hugs and frolics made it fun and I liked that I got to catch my birthday in the act, right as it started, without wasting a drop of it. As someone who wastes a lot of time fretting about wasting time, that was nice. The day proper had a professional hair wash and straighten like I am a fancy rich woman who just does that, real champagne, delicious brunch, the receiving of exciting gifts like tequila and a gilded bowl and Lana del Rey vinyl and a rather gobsmackingly beautiful record player; rewatching Once More With Feeling; a phone call home where tales of my birth and incredulity at the passage of time since then were recounted, and then lashings of wine and platters and selfies with beauties at the place where everybody knows your name (yeah, that's right, I went back to work to hang out on my birthday, that's how much I like the place.)

a bad but maybe useful photo of the three layers waiting to be iced

So, the cake! Oddly enough it was incredibly un-stressful to make - I made it in my mornings between doing wall-to-wall shifts at work and was still generally very serene the entire time. The mixture generously makes three moist, rich cakes with near-perfect tops for stacking and icing (I sliced a bit off one to make it super evenly flat, and this is how I know it tastes extremely good.) The icing of it is also very straightforward, and in fact the hardest thing about it is getting your hands on some creme eggs. I was going to ice the whole lot like a more traditional cake but decided to leave the sides nakedly exposed with the icing tightly spread into every gap a la momofuku - it's actually much easier, and that way you can see the cakes themselves in a "you're damn right this cake is three layers tall" kind of way and it's all rakishly messy yet neat at the same time. 



I could've gone for a more hardcore filling but decided that the tang of the cream cheese would gently counteract the bone-dissolving sweetness of the fondant inside the eggs while still showcasing them. Honestly, the more novelty involved the more serious and thoughtful you have to be. This cake is so majestic and tall and the creme eggs look so cute all halved and nestled in together that you really don't have to worry about any further decoration but there's also nothing stopping you - my one concession was to quickly melt a caramac bar and pour it onto the top layer to echo the look of the eggs' filling, but it's not that necessary.

These recipe instructions are long as hell, I grant you, but it's honestly more or less chill. I just like to reeeeally explain stuff. As I point out in the recipe, I only had two caketins so baked two layers at once followed by a third, and it all worked out. Also, this would be easier with a cake mixer probably but I used a mere wooden spoon and honestly didn't even do that great a job of creaming the butter and sugar and it STILL worked out fine so - let's all just breathe.

triple layer creme egg cake

I made the actual cake itself by following the recipe from this site pretty well to the letter; all the random measurements are a bit of a faff but the cake same out perfect so I'm happily and trustingly passing it on to you. I deviated and made my own icing, if you wanted to take this cake in a whole other direction you could use whatever filling and icing you like. It's a very good starting point.

cake:

one and a half cups good cocoa powder
one and a half cups boiling water 
one tablespoon instant espresso powder (or plain instant coffee if it's all you can find)
three quarters of a cup of sour cream
one tablespoon vanilla extract
375g soft butter
two and a half cups sugar
three large eggs
one and three-quarter cups plain flour
one and a quarter teaspoons baking soda
a pinch of salt

Take three 20cm springform caketins and line the bases with baking paper. Grease the sides with butter and sprinkle a little cocoa over them, shaking the tins about till they're fairly evenly covered with a cocoa dusting. Set your oven to 180 C/350 F. 

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cocoa, coffee powder, water, and sour cream till smooth. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together till creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time till thoroughly incorporated, then add about a third of the flour and baking soda (you're gonna want to sift them if you're going to all this trouble, the last thing you need is baking soda lumps) along with the cocoa mixture in alternating quantities, mixing till it's a suddenly-enormous dark, smooth chocolatey batter. 

Divide the batter evenly between the three cake tins, smoothing down the tops. Place them all in the oven and bake for thirty or so minutes, rotating their positions on the oven shelves halfway through to ensure even baking. If you only have two pans, then just bake two cakes using 2/3 of the cake mixture, then while they're cooling, put the remaining third of the batter in one of the used cake tins and bake that after. This is what I did and it was totally fine. 

Allow the cakes to cool completely. 

Icing: 

100g soft butter
500g cream cheese (this sounds like a lot but it's just two of those Philadelphia packets) at room temperature
two cups icing sugar, but have more just in case
five or so creme eggs (perhaps grab a few extra in case anything goes wrong.) 

Make sure both the butter and the cream cheese are soft, and your icing sugar isn't lumpy, and then just mix the hell out of all three ingredients till you have a ton of icing. 

Assembly

Slice the peaked tops off any of the cakes if they've risen too much, so that they're all more or less flat. Place one cake on your chosen serving plate, and place a good dollop of icing in the centre. Spread it out fairly evenly using the side of a knife. Unwrap one creme egg, roughly chop it, and sprinkle/drop the whole lot evenly on top of the icing. Then place another cake layer carefully on top. 

Don't worry if there are massive gaps between the layers, we'll take care of that later. Repeat this process with the next layer of cake and another egg. 

Finally, put the top layer of cake on and spoon most of the remaining icing on top. You want a decently thick, even layer on here. Now, using the side of the knife, smear remaining icing into any gaps along the sides, running the knife's side around the sides of the cake to press it all in and to create a messy yet smooth look. Does that make sense? You kind of want the cake to look like it has just fallen out of a cylinder. Halve three creme eggs and arrange them, cut side up, on top of the cake. I melted a caramac bar and drizzled it into the centre just to add to the creme egg look, but it's not essential. You now have a damn creme egg cake. 



So I ate a bit of cake off-cuttage and a lot of icing and loved it all, but in order to strike real faith in your hearts about this recipe, let me quote the actual recipient of the cake, the birthday lady herself: "Argh it was amazing! With all of the layers and all of the creaminess and chocolate and just the fact that a cream egg could be transformed into a cake. Super awesome and delicious". 

I had a lot of fun making this cake and it was such a nice opportunity; and should you ever be called upon to make a fancy big cake I definitely recommend this one. If creme eggs are emphatically not your jam, I think this would be amazing with roughly chopped caramel-filled chocolate covering it with the caramel dripping everywhere; or with smashed up oreos, or with milk chocolate melted and drizzled all over the top, you see what I mean? For an enormous time-consuming cake made to a very specific brief it's really quite versatile. 

what a cute 30 year old.

Finally: fun birthday fact! It turns out that if you say "Happy Birthday" to me I'll immediately say it back to you without thinking. I'm not sure if it's cute or weird or both (the Laura Vincent Story) but it's what my brain has decided is a fantastic reaction and I can't break it. Not that I  - or indeed, you - have to worry about it for another year. Happy birthday! 
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title from: Pink Floyd, Shine On You Crazy Diamond. I may not be inspired by Pink Floyd to write poetry anymore as I was in my teens - for which we can all be relieved - but this song still goes off. Very slowly. And what an imperative in that title! 
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music lately: 

Something To Sing About, from Once More With Feeling. As I said, on my birthday I rewatched this, the musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Joss Whedon can be ever so Joss Whedony but I'll never deny the incredible cleverness that went into writing this episode. All the songs are brilliant and Something To Sing About is 100% NOT the best place to start if you don't know the story because of the massive spoilers and lack of context but it's still my favourite and you should watch it anyway. Buffy's eyes! The discordant wobble when she sings "heaven!" Spike's half smile when he sings back at her! The time signature changes! I died. 

By My Side, Godspell. I busted out my copy of the original broadway cast recording of the musical Godspell on vinyl and while it hilariously does not hold up, the music is still endearing and By My Side is still one of the most beautiful songs ever written. 

Penguins and Polarbears, by Millencollen. Couldn't say why, but I truly adore pop-punk singers when they sound completely congested, which Millencollen delivers upon handsomely. If the lead singer makes you want to swallow an antihistamine for your own safety, then chances are I'm all over it. (There's a point during the Green Day Bullet in a Bible concert performance of Brain Stew where I'm pretty sure lead singer Billie Joe is literally just dribbling incomprehensively and I love it.)
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next time: I think I mentioned last time that I made homemade matcha mayonaise but I also made this awesome granola stuff. Either way: deliciousness awaits you. 

i'm free but i'm focused, i'm green but i'm wise


Ever since I was able to form cognitive thoughts I've been seriously into horoscopes and similar things. I can't decide whether to joke that this means I've been into them since last week or, to paraphrase the T-Rex song over the opening credits of Billy Elliot, to imply that I was analysing my star sign in the womb, but either way, yeah. It's a thing. It's my birthday on Sunday which means that my usual self-absorption and introspection is now off the scale. I can't stop thinking about myself! With all this in mind, my tarot card for this month was all, "don't focus on what you don't have and don't push people away if you're feeling down and don't be stupid you stupid idiot" and my horoscopes are all telling me about how Mars is going into retrograde on my birthday, which like, why doesn't the shunned fairy aunt in Sleeping Beauty just turn up and predict that I'm going to prick my finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a coma or something, and all in all I'm finding it a bit hard to just relax and be myself at the moment. It's not because of what the tarot card and horoscopes said, but it's more like I'm hyper aware of trying to not do stuff wrong because of their advice and I end up like a small bird flying into windows as a result. Classic Aries? Classic me, really. 

(Seriously though, if you ever read descriptions of the various star signs it'll be all, "Virgo - steadfast and thoughtful" and "Sagittarius people are ever so open-minded and motivated" and "Cancers are loyal and intensely nurturing" and then "Aries are big idiot babies who hit their head a lot and will not stop shouting to get your attention." I mean, I don't deny it...) 

I'm short but I'm healthy, yeah

However! I'm not all uselessness. A particular horoscope that I joyfully subscribe to is the wonderful Meredith Graves' Stargrazing column for Lucky Peach magazine. It's food-related horoscopes and they're very fun and interesting to read (truly - check yours out) and this month I was advised to get into soup, basically because I needed to be really kind and gentle to myself - funny that - and since I wasn't in the mood for actual soup I decided instead to go find the most aggressively, ludicrously healthy ingredients I could lay my hands up on and make a thing out of that in the name of self-care. Those ingredients were matcha powder and chia seeds.

And that's how I ended up with this matcha coconut raspberry chia pudding. Matcha powder is ground up green tea leaves and apparently one teaspoon of it has the power of 20 glasses of green tea, although it all depends on which Pinterest pin you're reading. I nevertheless feel very calm and trusting of it. Chia seeds are little microbeads of intense goodness, with a billion omega's and proteins and vitamins and antioxidants. Put them together and nothing will ever go wrong in your life, ever.

I'm lost but I'm hopeful, baby

Chia pudding is essentially a delivery mechanism for chia seeds to get into your stomach, but it is delicious. And easy. The seeds absorb liquid with the-thirst-is-real enthusiasm and end up like a cross between jelly and sago (which might sound horrifying, but go with it, please.) Pink and green are a rather ultimate colour combination in my opinion so scattering freeze-dried raspberries across the top helped both visually and flavour-wise, but honestly use whatever fruit you like - passionfruit would be cool here, as would defrosted frozen berries, canned pears, or juicy slices of ripe mango. Whatever fruit you put up on there will complement the delicate green flavour of the matcha-tinged coconut and look lovely.

And yeah, the flavour is what I would describe as very green. It's green tea! What did you expect? There's nothing wrong with this, but I add a little honey to gently sweeten it and mellow out any intense fresh-cut grass vibes. My tastebuds appreciated this - yours might too.

Wait, one more thing - okay so matcha powder and chia seeds are both expensive ingredients, but once you've got them you only need to use a teaspoon or two at a time and thus they last near-on forever. This is me here, I wouldn't just casually tell you to buy something pricey! (Without getting defensive about it first.)

matcha, coconut and raspberry chia pudding

a recipe by myself although let us be real, I am 100% not the the inventor of this or anything. This is just what I made for myself. 

one teaspoon matcha powder 
around 125ml/half a cup of coconut milk or your choice of milkstuff
one teaspoon of honey or similar - I feel like agave syrup would be perfect here
one tablespoon of chia seeds
a handful of shaved coconut or coconut threads
a couple of tablespoons of freeze-dried raspberries

Using the teaspoon you measured them with, mix the matcha powder, coconut milk and honey together in a glass or whatever receptacle you're making this in - I recommend a glass because that way you can see the pretty layers of colour, but that's just me. Also when I say teaspoon and tablespoon I don't, for once, mean the kind that you measure baking ingredients with. This stuff isn't an exact science, so just use the kind of spoon you find in the cutlery draw and don't worry about whether they're heaped spoonfuls or whatever. Likewise just add more coconut milk if your glass doesn't look full enough. 

Stir in the chia seeds, making sure there aren't any lumps, and then refrigerate the glass for about an hour, although you can leave it longer, and then when you're ready to eat it, pile it up with coconut shavings and freeze-dried raspberries and wade in with a spoon. 


and what it all comes down to is that I haven't got it all figured out just yet

It's so healthful that it seems like you're gonna actually levitate after eating it. I've made it almost every day since, and while I can't entirely tell if I feel more brilliant or not, it's got to be doing something, right? It's as easy to consume as it is to make- the swollen chia seeds give it this soft, barely-set texture and the zing of raspberries and quiet sweetness of the coconut milk work beautifully with the verdant-as matcha powder. It's also remarkably filling, so makes an ideal breakfast or mid-snack snack. 

And what with turning thirty and all, despite having done a deal with the devil so I look barely 22 it certainly doesn't hurt to think of one's health more, right? (I'm not being conceited here, it's actually bordering on super weird how young I look?) (it's also how I know I'm getting proper old: I used to be really indignant about being ID'd and now I'm like, "awwww yeah") And it seems this is how I prefer to do health: by slothing about all day and then engaging in hardcore consumption of actual green tea leaves ground into dust like I'm the bones-eating giant in Jack and the Beanstalk. Like health shift-work. A lack of moderation followed by a hardcore lack of moderation!

everything's gonna be fine fine fine 

But back to my birthday: if you're wondering to yourself, "what can I do to make more delightful the birthday of my favourite food blogger- nay, my favourite writer altogether" -  well! My paypal is always open (it's my email address - laura@hungryandfrozen.com) and any donations big, enormous or small would be majorly gratefully received by ya perpetually bank-account-challenged gal. For free you could spend the day in quiet, solemn reflection on how great I am on twitter, or...you could carry on with your day because I hear a horrifying rumour that I'm not the only person on earth to have a birthday and everything doesn't stop on Sunday just because I do. It's chill, I'll be over here serenely glowing with omegas and the power of a thousand glasses of green tea and being myself and seeing what comes of it.
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title from: Alanis Morrisette and her laconically powerful and kinda deeply meaningful song One Hand In My Pocket, from the iconic Jagged Little Pill album. I saw her in concert in 1996! What! Ladies be aging! 
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music lately: 

Boy Problems by Carly Rae Jepsen. Her E-mo-tion album is SO important and this video is so important and her haircut in it is frankly very important and it's all just very, very good.

The Kills, Sour Cherry. I've been watching a lot of Gossip Girl, and this song is on the soundtrack. I love how both this show and this band's main aesthetic is "bratty". I'm feeling very influenced by it, nearly ten years after the show actually screened.
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next time: I made a massive three layer creme egg cake for a friend's gf's 21st birthday and was thinking about blogging about it just because, otherwise I made this mayo from scratch with matcha in it and it was amazing, so on the very other end of the scale, there's also that. 

everyone is waiting, waiting on you and you've got thyme

A Season For Peaches, a novel by Henri Michel

In case you are all, "damn that Laura is the epitome of perfection I really love what she does I just wish she'd sometimes display some kind of minor flaw to humanise her more" - and I have zero reason to believe this isn't what people are thinking all the time - then have I got a relatable and relatively dull anecdote for you about how I made a terrible dinner.

On Monday I was exceptionally tired and not really thinking and as a result, I made the most aggressively bland, horrible pasta of my life, and the more I tried to fix it the worse it got. I started off wanting to make some kind of dairy-free cauliflower sauce, where you puree an entire head of cooked cauliflower and it turns out all creamy and delicious. Why? Honestly, I don't know, but I've been reading too much pinterest but also if I can effortlessly conjure up a dope vegan pasta bake then that's a pleasing outcome. However it turned into the equivalent of mashed potato and refused to puree and also tasted of absolutely nothing so in a panicked state I ... upended an entire bottle of cream into it. It still wouldn't liquefy, so with mounting panic I mixed this mashed potato-esque stuff into cooked rigatoni along with some eggplant I'd roasted, so it was like...this weird billowy mass studded with the occasional piece of eggplant. How did I think this was going to turn into an awesome pasta bake? I topped it with parsley. That made it even less good. I shoved it in the oven to grill, which, as there was nothing in it to melt, just made it more warm and didn't change it miraculously on the cellular level that I'd been hoping for. 


It might sound "insufferable" or like "not a real problem" or "good god shut up Laura" but like I said, I was super tired and making dinner is a thing I'm always good at when all else crumbles around me and honestly, just the waste of money and ingredients was incredibly disheartening. However, I did manage to avoid panic-eating the lot, and dealt with it by going for a nap and searching youtube for ASMR videos specifically featuring someone telling you repeatedly in a very gentle voice that you're actually a good cook. (A later cursory prod of the abandoned pasta bake revealed that it had not improved with time but I made myself eat some anyway, because I was both hungry and miserably stubborn about the aforementioned waste of money and ingredients.)

This is all completely unimportant and not terribly interesting, it's just every time I do something stupid I feel pathologically compelled to tell the entire internet about it. An incident of totally sucking shared is an incident of totally sucking halved, I say.

Having since made a few things that mercifully turned out deliciously, I am safely back in the mindset that I love cooking and it loves me. For example, these honey and thyme roasted peaches. I went to brunch at Flight Coffee Hangar with one of my dearest friends Charlotte for her birthday and had brioche covered in vanilla mascarpone and said peaches. (It's one of those places where the menu is so good that it's actually inconvenient, because I can never choose what to get.) I was so taken with my brunch that I bought peaches on the way home and immediately tried to recreate what they'd done.


I don't know how similar my method is to what the cafe does, but it worked incredibly well for me. Before you even get to taste them, the slowly roasting peaches fill your house with their heady perfume, so rich and intoxicating that you want to float through the air with hearts for eyes like some kind of amorous cartoon animal from a bygone era. 

There's something oddly lovely and lazily sensual about drizzling sticky, slow-moving honey over soft freshly cut peaches before scattering them with fragrant herbs, like you have no cares in the world apart from getting weirdly skittish over ripe stone fruit. 

Cooked, they have this floral depth of sweetness from the slick of honey and the caramelising heat of the oven, and the smoky herbal thyme cuts through this and makes it more than just merely sugary. With very little effort suddenly you have yourself this gorgeous quantity of fruit that you can tuck around scoops of ice cream, stir through muesli, arrange on top of a cake, or indeed, add to toasted brioche with mascarpone as they did at the cafe. 

honey thyme roasted peaches

a recipe by myself, but inspired directly by my brunch at Flight Coffee Hangar

four large ripe peaches
two teaspoons runny honey
one teaspoon olive oil - I guess you could leave it out but I feel it adds some fruity richness and will put a shine on your coat
several sprigs of fresh thyme

Set your oven to 180 C/350 F. Roughly slice the peaches into quarters or thirds or whatever and lay them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle over the honey and the olive oil, then scatter over most of the thyme leaves, and just throw the remaining sprigs on top. 

Roast for twenty minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the peaches in there while it cools, for about an hour.  Use how you please, and throw any remainders into a jar and keep in the fridge. 


That afternoon, 100% not sick of peaches yet, I ate them with Nigella's miso ice cream that I'd made a variation on (by adding shredded coconut and white chocolate) and it was an incredible combination, the kind of thing that makes you feel so incredibly grown up that you end up going full circle and feeling childish again because you feel so grown up; then this morning I added them to some intensely healthy chia seed muesli to which they brought depth and sweetness. I still have half a jar left, I may just eat them straight from it with a fork but I like the idea of deploying them savoury-ly, perhaps in some tagine-type dish or to accompany crispy, slow-cooked pork belly. What I'm saying is, you will not regret making these. If you avoid honey for whatever reason, I do believe maple syrup would be an excellent substitution; if you don't like thyme then that's a little harder as it's not as though you could successfully use, like, parsley instead - I'd just leave it out altogether. I adore thyme though and am pretty much forever trying to work it into everything I cook.



Because my friend Charlotte and I are practically twins (that is, we're very similar personality-wise and we were born only a handful of days apart, one can only dream of having a face as beautiful as hers) her birthday happening means that mine is getting super close. I'm feeling more chill about it than I was a few blog posts ago, I mean...it's going to happen. It just is. Also I remembered that you get presents and lots of attention, both things that I adore, and I'm frankly curious to see what thirty-year-old me is like. It will possibly involve singing Grown Woman by Beyonce with increasing desperation, but who knows!
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title from: You've Got Time, the stunning Orange is the New Black theme song by Regina Spektor. We have this cocktail at work that has thyme in it and whenever someone orders it I always get this song in my head, I figured I might as well pass on this gift and curse to you too. 
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music lately: 

Sevendust featuring Skin, Licking Cream. Some nu-metal is oddly timeless, okay? This song is so exhilarating and big and soaring and happy? And honestly it's impossible to tell who is hotter out of Skin or the Sevendust lead singer LaJon Witherspoon (when Skin sings "crawling down your spine" I'm pretty sure she wins but it's not actually a competition and I'm just incredibly glad they collaborated on this amazing song.)

Chelsea Jade, Low Brow. This stellar human who I am proud to call a pal has released this gloriously dreamy new tune with a video that's both beautiful and beautifully silly. "Just hold me closer than you know how to" - ugh it's so good.
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next time: I may well have to make some kind of elaborate pasta bake again to exorcise the demons of the last failed one. Will make sure I've slept enough this time. 

perfect hexagon of the honeycomb and you soothe yourself with the shapes you know

how much trouble can one ice cream be?

Prologue: Laura.

Confused yet? I decided to write this blog post somewhat in the style of a Baby-Sitters Club book, for no good reason other than it occurred to me and I ran with it.

Chapter 1

WHUMP! CLATTER! 

That's the sound of me jumping onto my bed while holding a bowl of ice cream and delicious homemade honeycomb sauce, immediately knocking over the worrying number of empty juice cans that I'm lazily keeping beside it instead of putting them in the bin. "Auughhhh!" I just manage to stop the rapidly-melting ice cream and warm sauce from spilling over onto my bed. What a day!

I guess you're wondering by now who I am, and what I'm wearing. Well there's me, Laura - I hope you're taking notes, I'm going to quiz you on this later! Psych! I'm kind of the humorous one here, or so I always say. I've got chin-length unruly red hair and glasses, but people do still hang out with me. I'm wearing these old cerulean blue shorts that I think used to be part of some boys' high school regulation gym uniform (I love vintage!) and a white crop top that has the word "CHALLENGE" written across the front in big black letters, because I like to wear clothing that doubles as a friendly warning for what kind of person I am. I don't have pierced ears, but people do still hang out with me. Most importantly, I'm eating ice cream, even though it's not even breakfast time yet. I know what you're thinking - how do I eat all this ice cream without getting in trouble? The thing is, I'm kind of an individual when it comes to doing what I want. I'm also the only person ever that has ever been into cooking. It's kind of my one personality trait. If anyone else likes it, I'm certainly not acknowledging it!


this ice cream is sensitive and a good listener

Chapter 2

My best friends work during the day and I work at night, but when we get together, we always have a good time! We're the best friends you'll ever have. Does that sound like a threat? I'm inclined to tell you the intimate details of their respective family history, but that would be really weird, so I'll just do a brief hagiography (that means documentation of the lives of saints, it's a word I learned recently). There's Kim, who has lo-oo-ong dark hair and the enormous macadamia-shaped eyes of a curious woodland deer. She's kind of the wise, yet wickedly fun one of the group. Kate has just dyed her hair blonde, which means she is now even more popular and sophisticated - she also has a crazy household with a cat AND a dog, and a real, live, husband! Confusingly, Kate is also wise yet wickedly fun. This week because of Easter and having days off I've been able to see them relatively heaps and it has been very good for the soul, as the saying goes. For example, on Monday night we sat on the floor of my bedroom (it's a great meeting space, I'm so lucky to have my own one!) and ate Pop-Tarts and drank Boulevardiers. That's a cocktail which is like a negroni but uses bourbon instead of gin, and it's one of my favourites. We clinked our glasses together in what we call "a toast", and in that moment we felt like real Big City women.

darn it! I said ruefully. I only described their hair, not their outfits. 

Chapter 3

"We're finally getting to the plot!" I thought ruefully, tucking a lock of unruly red hair behind my tragically unpierced ears. So, I'm kind of the "food blogger" around here. I'm also kind of an ideas person. I have Big Ideas and then Occasionally Make Them Happen Around Three Weeks Later If I'm Awake Enough, I know, it's a little exhausting trying to keep up with me! When my Ideas and food blogging combine - bam! Honeycomb Sauce. Okay, okay, I had honeycomb ice cream at a local restaurant and immediately decided that honeycomb was the new salted caramel, and wanted to make some version of it for myself to have again and again in the comfort of my own bed and/or more normal area in the house to eat. But after some time I learned a little bit about myself and a lot about the true meaning of friendship: it's not a competition. Salted Caramel may be heavily overexposed, but that doesn't make it any less delicious. Honeycomb is just a flavour I hadn't thought about in forever!

I know what you're thinking - just honey and sugar? Way too sweet. Booooring. About as fun as a pop quiz or getting Salisbury Steak for lunch, neither of which I've ever actually experienced.

In fact, the delicate floral sweetness of the honey and the richness of the butter come together to make something pretty magical, and very individual. It doesn't taste overly of honey, it's more reminiscent of (that means "reminiscent of", it's a word I learned recently) actual honeycomb, the kind of stuff that you find inside Crunchy Bars or other similar candies hidden around your room. This sauce isn't perfect - I admit! - half of it remained saucy and the other half solidified as soon as it hit the cold ice cream, but this was all so fun and delicious that I decided to share it with you anyway.



honeycomb sauce: a delicious prototype 

A recipe by myself. I'm thinking of adding a tablespoon or so of cream to it next time to see if that keeps it more liquid but I do love it just like this. 

100g butter
half a cup of sugar
one tablespoon brown sugar
one heaped tablespoon honey

Heat everything together in a saucepan, stirring gently as it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat once it starts bubbling and continue stirring for a bit. Allow it to cool somewhat (it'll be like actual lava initially) before pouring it all over your ice cream. 



Chapter 4

I decided to end the day with ice cream and honeycomb sauce - after all, I'm a grown up and kind of a bad girl who makes her own rules. The remaining sauce had turned rock solid in the fridge, so I had to carefully sit the bottle inside a cup of boiling water to soften it, but during this time, I learned five more lessons about friendship. Unfortunately I'm still wearing the same outfit that I was at the start of this story, but to pad things out a bit, I'll tell you about what I wore yesterday: a vintage white minidress with pink and orange diamond patterns across it and a high neck with a collar. I wore it with my yellow socks with pizzas on them and chunky black ankle boots - pretty wild, huh? I'm a pretty wild dresser!

feel free to judge how well the illustration matches the description

Prologue:

Ice cream twice in 24 hours - that day was a summer I'll never forget.
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title from: One Beat by Sleater-Kinney. Howl-y goodness. Oh yeah, and while I'm all "what would Kristy Thomas, President of the Babysitters Club, have to say about Sleater-Kinney?" I'm also dropping the conceit for the remainder of the blog post, okay?  
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music lately: 

I've finally given Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton a proper listen and I am predictably entranced and addicted. That man is a beautiful genius and I will ramble at extreme length if given the chance to talk about him. Also look, please just watch him and other members of the cast perform My Shot for the damn president at The White House and I dare you to not get shivers.

Listening to one modern musical about historic political American times got me thinking about another one: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, which in the opposite direction of the incredible success of Hamilton, ran for a mere hundred and twenty something performances on Broadway before closing. I saw a production of it in New Orleans a few years back but haven't listened to it since; its pop punk sound is like...perfect? I don't know what the best entry point would be, maybe Rockstar if you want something fast or Saddest Song if you want something amazing.

Kid Cudi with MGMT, Pursuit of Happiness. Whatever track this samples is intoxicating and then the rest of the song has the temerity to be excellent as well. This song is moderately ancient but sounds so fresh.
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next time: the novelty is over, kids, and I have some brussels sprouts to emphasise this (they're fried with pistachios and truffle butter though, so) 

is she trouble like i'm trouble make it a double


In the last couple of weeks I've been tired to the very insides of my insides. Like, my blood is tired, my veins are tired, my ribs are definitely phoning it in. My brain? Not dissimilar to a small, three day old bowl of cold rice noodles. In this middle of all this lethargy though, something really exciting happened: I managed to meet THREE of my idols, all within one week.



I also made this really good pasta today for my lunch. Actual IRL pasta is easily one of my favourite foods, but did you know, you can make extremely damn good fake pasta out of zucchini, which takes about three seconds and which also goes along with my general aim of eating a ton of vegetables in my daily life.

Back to the idols though: I met the incredible writer and The Toast co-founder Mallory Ortberg, whose Childrens Stories Made Horrific series is spine-clenchingly chilling and whose Western Art History series is joyfully hilarious and thoughtful and whose hair is shiny and beautiful and fulsome. I was super delighted to see her at two separate Writers Week events where she was interviewed, but I actually ended up running into her on the waterfront a couple of days before. I'd just had oysters and wine and blurted out about having consumed both, which felt weird, and then I also told her that I wrote Crush Cakes for The Toast and she hugged me, which was awesome. When I met her again after her talk on Friday, I was able to apologise for the, let's face it, inevitable awkwardness ("there's something so personal about oysters") and get a photo and thank her for being excellent and it was all just very, very cool.

me n mallory!!

Come Saturday morning, I was due to march in Wellington Pride with the group I volunteer for, Ballet is for Everyone. I was running late, I was looking for people in tutus carrying a banner, but like, this is Pride. Everyone is in tutus and carrying banners. Just when I was all "I might just run home because I feel social anxiety and I'll never find my group and I'm not done complaining about how tired I am" I clapped eyes on, OF ALL PEOPLE, Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen. These names may not mean an awful lot to you, but they were the co-writers and two of the four co-stars of one of my very, very, very favourite Broadway musicals, [title of show]. As in, New York City, which is about as far away from New Zealand as you can get before you start coming back around again. It was almost an outrage, like, how dare you be here in Wellington, New Zealand, in front of me, when your musical means so much to me and the lyrics of which have comforted me in times both dark and less dark, and you've been on The Literal Broadway and New Zealand is so isolated and I nearly didn't get out of bed and you're right in front of me and this is so strange.

part of it all

But they were also really nice and it was somehow low-key and charming yet ridiculous and surreal, which is exactly how it should be when you meet your idols, right?

Back to the zucchini pappardelle though: so as well as raw zucchini there's also oily, salty slices of crisply fried zucchini. Because the pasta ribbons are so wafer thin and fresh and clean they can really handle a lot of oil and salt being loaded up on them, and it all balances out beautifully. The raw pappardelle is coolly refreshing and a tiny bit creamy yet peppery, and the fried rounds are all luscious and soft and golden and crisp. Parmesan and a blanket of parsley add to the salty-peppery vibe, keeping it all very simple yet really, really gorgeous.



double zucchini pappardelle with parsley and parmesan

a recipe by myself. It looks long and complicated but it's not, promise. I just like to over-explain.

two large zucchinis
extra virgin olive oil
salt
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
some parmesan

Heat a decent quantity of olive oil in a large, wide pan, like a couple of millimetres deep. 
Finely slice one of the zucchini into rounds, and once the oil is good and hot, place the slices of zucchini in the pan in a single layer. You won't be able to fit the whole lot in at once, but this only requires a little patience and is totally worth it. Let the slices of zucchini fry in the sizzling oil till they're browned and a little curling at the edges, turning them over carefully partway through with a spoon or something. Remove the slices to a bowl and sprinkle with salt, and continue frying the rest of the zucchini slices.

Meanwhile, use a sturdy vegetable peeler to make the pappardelle out of the remaining zucchini. It's very simple - just rub the peeler back and forth along the length of the zucchini and it will rapidly turn into ribbons. Arrange them on a plate and then turn the zucchini over and repeat on the other side. Then just do your best with what's left - this is going to give you some shorter or skinnier ribbons of zucchini but like, it's all going in your mouth anyway.

Then, just arrange the fried zucchini on top of the raw zucchini, sprinkle with the parsley, and shave over as much parmesan as you like. Finally, spoon over some of the remaining oil from the saucepan and grind over some salt and pepper.

This serves one, generously.

look at all that vegetable
look at it

I honestly can't emphasise how fast I ate this. It's delicious. 

Having almost caught up on my sleep I've finally found an agreeable middle ground somewhere between the ferocious healthiness of an uncooked vegetable and the deadening effect of overtiredness, and as Easter is coming up I will have a few precious days off to practice some aggressive serenity. But even when you're the tiredest ever, sometimes it's worth getting yourself out of bed because you never know who you might run into. Oh sure, it'll probably be an ex that you run into while you're wearing an outfit you hate and you're stuck in a coughing fit, but it might be a Broadway star or an incredibly inspiring writer.  

PS: you should definitely check out Ballet is for Everyone, the people behind it and their kaupapa is wonderful and I'm really proud to be volunteering with them. Also, teaching ballet to children is kinda delightful. They are such tiny dinguses.  

PS PS: ya girl got sponsors: if you're in Wellington this Sunday I thoroughly recommend you get jammy and pickle-y with the Nairn Street Preservation Society.

PS PS PS: actually nah, that's all. 
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title from: Green Day's jaunty song She's A Rebel, from the so-dated-it's-timeless and always wonderful American Idiot album.  
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music lately: 

Icehouse, Electric Blue. This is the kind of 80s song that gets diluted over time through constant easy listening station rotation but you know when you hear a song really loud when you're in the middle of a coffee shop and it's almost like you've heard it for the first time and you feel like you're in a movie? I don't know, this had a cool chorus is all. 

Rihanna, Love On The Brain. I frankly refuse to get over this song.  
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next time: all this talk of "pasta" has me craving actual pasta. Lol. 

for the want of the price of tea and a slice


Things I've said at work lately: 

- here, have this salted chocolate cashew butter slice that I made. It's dairy free and gluten free!

- uhh I have to go to the bathroom because my satin jumpsuit is actually on backwards and I've only just noticed

- hey, I know we're kind of busy but I have a rather singular situation, the centre bit of my bra is hanging on by a fragile, tautly pulled thread and if I shake one more cocktail it will very likely break and bust open, and since I'm wearing a cropped top there is very little room for error here. Is it okay if I run home and change my bra? I can be back really soon- oh, you were just coming to tell me I could sign out? So there was actually no need for me to tell you any of this? 


As well as wearing clothing quite uselessly, I also like to occasionally bring in treats to work to boost both morale and blood sugar. In this case I'd been toying with an idea, batting it about like a cat with a small felt mouse on a string, about some kind of nut butter slice covered in chocolate. What I made was fine, with a soft, fudgy texture in the base followed by the snappish crunch of cold dark chocolate, but it wasn't quite there. As soon as I sprinkled some salt on top the flavours sprang to life and it all made sense and tasted properly delicious as opposed to giving the illusion of tasting delicious. So don't leave that bit out, even if it seems either excessively sodium-ish or small enough to forget about.

This is so easy to make - truly, the hardest bit is getting the various nut butters and coconut oil out of their jars without flinging them everywhere. Indeed: if you end up getting slightly more than half a cup of each ingredient it's completely fine. I know I probably did.

salted chocolate cashew butter slice

a recipe by myself

half a cup cashew butter 
half a cup peanut butter
half a cup coconut oil, melted
half a cup LSA mix, or ground almonds
quarter of a cup icing sugar
one tablespoon honey or maple syrup
150g dark chocolate
sea salt

Mix the nut butters and oil together till smooth, then tip in the sugar, honey, and LSA and stir again. Pour it into a brownie tin lined with baking paper, and freeze till firm. Gently melt the dark chocolate and remaining coconut oil together, and pour over the base. Freeze again. Once you're pretty confident that it's completely solid, sprinkle with plenty of sea salt and slice up however you like. 


(Regarding that bra situation: I juuuust made it home before I heard this muffled popping noise indicating the valiant thread had finally snapped. I was sad to see it go, I called it my "power bra" because I got it in New York and it basically positioned you in such a way so you could break a glass ceiling with your own buoyant cleavage. I was like...I've defeated my power bra. Am I too powerful? Do I have to eat the bra now, like that scene with the Khaleesi in Game of Thrones?)


As well as giving you an energy boost and being full of shiny-making ingredients, this has a gorgeously buttery, mellow flavour with a pleasingly dense bite to it. Texture is everything here but you can totally play with flavour too - you're welcome to use entirely cashew butter in the mix, but I decided to cut it with the much cheaper peanut butter so as to not make this ridiculously extravagant. You could, however, use almond butter or all peanut butter or add cinnamon to the base or whatever you like, really. If avoiding dairy isn't a daily task for you, then you could definitely use white or milk chocolate on this instead - and I do adore both - but the bitter plainness of the dark chocolate against the creamy, nutty base is genuinely pleasing.


We ended up being extremely busy on the night that I brought in my container of this in to work, so I left it in the freezer and when I opened up the bar the next day it was entirely gone: I am taking this as positive feedback. I myself couldn't stop eating the stuff that I'd left in the freezer at my apartment, so for what it's worth my own personal feedback is highly positive. 

All I've really been doing is working lately and I'm so tired that all I can talk about is how tired I am like it's my one personality trait (as opposed to in high summer, when my one personality trait is that I'm sweatily overheated.) But I managed to make this delicious stuff, and I somehow overthrew my own Power Bra, so I guess I'm doing alright. 
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title from: Us and Them by Pink Floyd - I used to be incredibly obsessed with them, then dropped off a bit, and now am back to gently sincere fondness.
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music lately: 

Billy Bragg and Wilco, Walt Whitman's Niece. I used to listen to this song all the time, it has this rollicking, shambling quality that I love and the call-and-answer bit is charming. 

Roots Manuva, Witness the Fitness. This song is on the work playlist and no matter how exhausted I am it brings me back up every single time. It is a TUNE. 
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next time: I've been mucking around with this roasted broccoli turmeric coconut thing recipe which may appear here. 

i don't think you're ready for this jelly


Much as I have respect for juice that is usually followed by the word "cleanse" and involves several pulverised green vegetables bringing joy to your liver, my preferred kind of juice is the sort that comes in rainbow colours, is preferably imported from somewhere exotic like America, and is found in the fridge in the dark back corner of the dairy down the road. Golden Pash is my absolute favourite, a passionfruit-tinged fizzy beverage in a purple can with hangover-healing properties in every carbonated bubble. I believe it's manufactured in New Zealand but there's something about its rather desperate insistence that it contains a whole 5% fruit juice that is kind of charming. Like, mate, my shampoo probably has five percent fruit juice in it. My shoes are probably five percent fruit juice (I'm a bartender, so this is actually possible, as opposed to hyperbole for hyperbole's sake alone.) I'm ride-or-die for Golden Pash...but I am also easily swayed by pretty packaging and the promise of exciting flavours.

example: the results of a very casual trip to the dairy 

Anyway, after a recipe misfire where I thought I was making gummy-type candy out of Peach Snapple but instead ended up simply making delicious jelly, I thought: jelly! Fun! And so set about to make jelly on purpose out of the next juicy beverage which took my fancy. And that happened to be Arizona Iced Tea, pomegranate flavour.

one of two ingredients

Some might ask, why make your own jelly? But like, why do anything, really? In its favour, this is cute and really easy and perfect if you need to take a dessert to some kind of potluck situation or provide something for your friends - either go childs-birthday-party-esque and make a big bowl of it to be scooped up and served with ice cream, or pour it into dinky glasses and ramekins for individual servings. Oh, and it's completely delicious - the surprisingly delicate flavour of the pomegranate, all fresh and gently astringent, tastes wonderful when suspended in gelatine. It's refreshing, it's barely sweet but just sweet enough, it's gloriously wobbly when you smack it with the back of your spoon for no good reason other than to bring about your own good cheer; and if you hold it up to the light it glows gloriously red and pink like some kind of magical crystal, the sort of thing that Captain Planet would have as a household knick-knack, like a sunset's reflection caught in water.



And there's only two ingredients! One is simple: some kind of juice; you obviously do not need to use Arizona iced tea or even pomegranate flavoured iced tea or EVEN iced tea, I mean if you want to be truly unkind to yourself you could literally use plain water, this would not be a good time at all, but the gelatine won't know the difference. However as I've outlined above, pomegranate flavour makes for a delightful jelly. The other ingredient is gelatine: mysterious, unfortunately-non-vegetarian, gelatine.

I used leaf gelatine which is pretty easy to get hold of in supermarkets and very easy to use - just let the sheets of gelatine soak in water, give them a squeeze, and then stir them into hot liquid and that's literally it. However, if all you can find is powdered gelatine, I mean, that will be a perfectly fine substitute, and google should be able to help you with converting quantities.

pomegranate iced tea jelly

a recipe by myself

one 500ml bottle of arizona pomegranate flavour iced green tea; or whatever you like
4 sheets of gold-level leaf gelatine (I use Equagold) 

Soak the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water till they soften, then pick them up and give them a squeeze - this bit is delightful, not gonna lie - and tip out the water. Put the softened gelatine leaves back in the bowl and pour over about a third of a cup of recently boiled water from the kettle - just enough to cover the gelatine leaves - and stir till they've dissolved, which should only take a few seconds. You don't need the entire bottle of tea, so you might as well have a sip or two first before pouring it slowly into the gelatine/hot water, stirring as you go. From here, simply pour it into cute serving bowls or one larger dish and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to set. 

pomegranate jelly or a still from the sinister film Picnic at Hanging Rock?


Bonus: apparently gelatine helps put a shine on your coat and make your nails strong, so I look forward to being intimidatingly sleek and glossy any day now.

Speaking of monitoring one's glossiness levels: somehow it's March already, which means I'm turning thirty actual years old next month: I fluctuate between being terrified at this and all like "what if I am suddenly no longer interesting to anyone and everything I do is the actions of an elderly crone who no-one wants to care for" and being all like "Beyonce arguably did the most important and amazing work of her life post-thirty and she is only becoming more powerful with the passing of each day also you are not the first person to turn thirty so this is really kind of patronising and it's probably the patriarchy's fault that you have a weird sense of fear about leaving your twenties and how that relates to your value as a woman, nay, as a person, and to the merit of your work." If there's anyone out there who turned thirty and didn't immediately turn into a small pile of ash, feeble and unwanted, then holla at ya girl!
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title via: Bootylicious by Destiny's Child (speaking of Beyonce). I don't think you're ready for how obvious this song choice is for this recipe. 
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music lately: 

The Pharcyde, Drop. Made even better by its hypnotic backwards-forwards music video.

EMF, Unbelievable. I don't really go in for youtube comments (full stop) where people are all nostalgic for the 90s when they were never even there, but there are a few songs where I'm like damn it why wasn't I out clubbing in England somewhere in 1993. This is one such song.
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Next time: I haven't had time to cook anything in a while so mate, I don't even know. 

i got my batches and cookies


As a kid I actually really wanted to be a fashion designer, and would fill up scrapbooks with drawings of clothes that I wished would exist. For example, one outfit that I invented when I was about 9, that I would totally wear now, is a hooded white velvet minidress with a long zip up the front and hot pink feathers around the edge of the hood. Honestly, like, someone please make me that immediately for a casual daytime look. Somehow fashion design morphed into recipe design, but I still love clothes so, so, so much, and approach them much the same way in which I do food - with my mind on texture and bringing together slightly strange elements with more recognisable and familiar things. Not much makes me happier than fossicking through op shops and vintage shops, allowing time to dissolve like a sachet of colourfree raspberry flavoured Raro juice in a jug of water as I try on garment after garment and imagine how I can incorporate them into my daily costumes.

However! I can talk myself out of buying clothes, no matter how much I need them, like, my shoes will be held together with superglue and have the holes in the soles buffered with beer coasters and I will still be all "uhhhh I probably shouldn't spend money on these new, excellent value, durable, good-looking replacement shoes, I will just hobble around in these travesties for another year." When it comes to food though, I go into a damn trance. Just two days ago I went in to the supermarket to get cocoa and buckwheat flour and walked out of the supermarket with a jar of raw organic probiotic sauerkraut (which is, thankfully, SO delicious.) I absentmindedly meandered into Commonsense Organics the other day and came out with seven whole turmeric roots.

they pair well with a rose wine from the local dairy and one's bed 

I'm kind of not really going anywhere with this - it's just that the reason I was going to buy cocoa and buckwheat flour was because I was going to make the cookies that you see here, and it got me thinking about myself because that's all I think about, apparently.



These cookies though! I was recently given a copy of Simply Nigella, the new cookbook by my idol Nigella Lawson. I want to make pretty much everything in it but this recipe caught my eye with the inarguable motivating factor of, if I make them then I will have cookies. It also seemed like a nice thing to be able to tell my newish roommate that there are cookies on the bench and they can help themselves to as many as they want - I just like being that person!

The buckwheat flour in these cookies makes them gluten-free, which might be pleasing news to some of you, and also gives it a rather fascinating smoky tone echoed in the rich cocoa and almost throat-burningly dark chocolate. They're all cakey and melting and punctuated with chunks of chocolate. They look like lumps of coal and are altogether highly compelling wee things; you could make them with regular flour which would make them taste more normal but I like the oddly addictive husky flavour the buckwheat gives. I am lacking in measuring scales and so had to estimate the quantities in cup measures; thus I have written out here the recipe I made since this is the one that worked for me. I accidentally got white sugar instead of the brown sugar requested in her recipe, because my reading comprehension is useless - I'm very sure they'd be even nicer with it though.



smoky triple chocolate buckwheat cookies

from Simply Nigella, altered slightly to accommodate for things like cup measures and the fact that a block of chocolate here is 250g and I couldn't be bothered buying an extra 20g chocolate to make up her specified quantities. 

125g melted dark chocolate
125g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (or the same amount of buttons/chips etc)
60g soft butter
half a cup sugar
two fridge-cold eggs
one cup buckwheat flour
quarter of a cup of cocoa
half a teaspoon baking soda
a good pinch of sea salt

set your oven to 180C/350F and line a baking tray with paper (or in my case, realise you have no baking paper so just hope for the best.) 

Beat the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon or whatever, until it's quite light and fluffy. Briskly beat in the melted chocolate - make sure you let it sit for a minute or two so it's not boiling hot before you tip it in - and then beat in the eggs quickly. It will look far too liquid at this point but stir in the flour, cocoa, baking soda and finally the remaining chocolate bits and it will suddenly turn into a thick cookie dough. 

Take heaped spoonfuls of the dough and drop them onto the baking tray - Nigella suggests leaving 6cm space between them but they don't spread that much - and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and leave them to sit on the tray for five minutes before carefully transferring them to a plate or rack, then repeat with the remaining dough, which you should put in the fridge while you're waiting for each batch to cook. 


These are so good! I've had one in my mouth pretty much the entire time that I've been typing this (that is, I've eaten several in quick succession, it wasn't just one cookie) and couldn't be happier about it. For once I got as many cookies out of the batch as the recipe promised, as the raw dough is honestly not thaaaaat nice - however the grainy density of the buckwheat becomes entirely delicious once it's all cooked. They're even better the next day, somehow even more melting and more chocolatey. 

All I've done lately is work so I have little to report but coincidentally I'm feeling moderately financially chill for the first time in living memory (I have the memory of a goldfish though, but also goldfish are incredibly intelligent and their three-second memory is a total myth so...ha! Okay, I got a bit lost here.) I don't know how I'm doing so okay as my rent is more expensive than it has ever been but I'm trying really hard at budgeting and freelance hustling and so on; I've always identified heavily with grubby uselessness-monger Nick Miller from the TV show New Girl, but as the latest season unfolds it's nice to see we are growing together. 

"they said avocado is extra and I said shh, I know it's extra. but I want it."  Nick is I and I are Nick.
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title from: the siiiiick Lizzo song Batches and Cookies featuring Sophia Eris. Such queens. 
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music lately:

DZ Deathrays, Blood on My Leather. I spontaneously went to see these guys at Bodega a couple of years ago and they were sooooo good. I love their bratty sound.

Rihanna feat Drake, Work. She released a double video for this and they're both so dreamy and gorgeous. This song just gets better with every listen: praise Rih.

Stereo Total, I Love You, Ono it starts off disguised as an irritating song but suddenly the more you listen the more it gets stupidly endearing.
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next time: maybe something more from Simply Nigella, this book is a stunnerrrrrr.

i fell asleep in tuscany and dreamed, the one thing missing was you


If I sound hysterical and shrill, like a man, at any point in this blog post it's because my old flatmate and always-friend Charlotte and I took our gay selves off to see the heavily acclaimed film Carol, starring Cate Blanchett's Aggressive Feline Charisma and Rooney Mara's Quiet Strength and Vulnerability. Basically it's an Important Lesbian Film and each frame of it is so beautiful that you could print the lot out and pin them sequentially to your bedroom walls and spin around forever and ever watching the story unfold as you get dizzier and dizzier from happiness and, well, spinning around. Honestly, go see it. Even if you're like, "sounds a bit gay to me, and I'd prefer that kind of thing kept behind closed doors thank you kindly," (in which case I really don't know why you're reading this blog anyway) just know that the performances are so entrancing and the costumes and sets and cinematography are so artful and the music is exquisite and it's nominated for a zillion Oscars, which means even a bunch of conservative dull old men thought it was worth watching.

Anyway: any money I used to get through tips at work (which is never much, as New Zealanders tend to be incredibly reluctant to tip hospo workers, but that's a story for another day - actually, that's the whole story) used to go towards bus money to get me in and out of Newtown. Now that I'm no longer beholden to those busses, all expensive and stuffily overheated and so slow they were definitely going backwards at several stages during the journey, I can spend my tip money on other things. Like vegetables at the market! I have not been to the vegetable market since, I can confidently estimate, around May 2014. Luckily that's not the last time I actually ate a vegetable, but it's certainly the last time I felt any sense of ecstasy from buying one. Two taut-skinned, richly purple eggplants for four stupid tiny dollars! A huge bunch of cavolo nero for one and a half dollars! A perfect avocado for eighty cents! (Ah yes, there's the hysteria.)



With great quantities of vegetables comes great quantities of searching through pinterest and marvelling at the superior lives being led by everyone in America with a blog. I found this incredible-looking recipe for cavolo nero cooked in a carbonara type sauce; and so that became my lunch yesterday within a matter of minutes.

I'm still 100% enamoured with my new house by the way, not least because of its proximity to the vege market making it easier for me to achieve non-scurvy.

putting up some artwork always makes a place feel like it's mine, all mine. 

My bedroom is feeling more and more like a haven every day, and I'm thoroughly enjoying getting to know the kitchen better, not least because my roommate has a ton of sexy-and-functional cookware that I can play with. And it was one such item - a rather gorgeous shiny saucepan - which I used to swiftly make this recipe. I love cavolo nero, or Tuscan Kale as it's also known - its leaves are so mutedly dark green and thick, holding their shape under heat while full of almost meaty, rich flavour. Obviously you could fry socks with bacon and cream and they'd be fairly palatable, but throw these heavy leaves into such a mixture and the result is incredible. The recipe I found online wasn't quite carbonara-y enough for me, so I shaved in slivers of fresh nutmeg, warm and delicate, and added plenty of sharp, crumbly parmesan. I really didn't measure any of the quantities, which is why the recipe is a tiny bit vague, but if you follow your instincts (essentially: as much cavolo nero as you can be bothered slicing and washing, as much bacon as you can be bothered slicing, and so on, will be as much as you need.)

tuscan kale carbonara

adapted a bit from this recipe at the stone soup. 

several large cavolo nero leaves - around half a bunch
two rashers streaky bacon
butter or olive oil for frying
four tablespoons of cream
fresh nutmeg
parmesan cheese
freshly ground salt and pepper

slice and discard the stems from the cavolo nero leaves (or brew into a nutritious tea or something if that makes you feel guilty), and either keep the leaves as they are or slice them into ribbons. Slice the bacon into small pieces and fry in butter or olive oil till sizzling and crisp. Remove from the pan - I just put them onto the serving plate I was planning to use - and throw the leaves into the pan. Sprinkle a little water over if you like, and just stir and lift them over a high heat till they soften and darken a little. Return the bacon to the pan, and pour over the cream, allowing it to bubble and thicken, which it should do rather quickly. Remove it from the heat, and use a vegetable peeler or small grater to scrape a little fresh nutmeg into the pan, followed by as much parmesan as you feel like. Finish with as much salt and pepper as would make you happy. 


Honestly, this is such a perfect lunch for one - I rakishly deglazed the pan with more cream just to make sure I was able to scrape up all the bacon juices, and recommend you do the same. If you want there to be more to it there's nothing stopping you serving it with thick slices of bread or stirred through a tangle of pasta, but untampered with, this is total excellence. The only thing I'd do if I owned some was to pour in a little dry white vermouth with the bacon (which is Nigella's influence: she says "I use this ingredient" and I say "how high".)


As well as tasting wondrous it's also very beautiful in its own way - those dark, wrinkly leaves flopping about artlessly with the pink of the bacon and the gold of the cream. This is absolutely going to winkle its way into my regular rotation of recipes - especially because you could always use regular kale, or indeed, silverbeet or spinach - just with the latter two, make sure you add the leaves right at the end because spinach, especially, will wilt into nothingness soon as look at you.

If you've got to this point in my blog post and are still totally endeared by me (in which case: well done on your accurate opinion) then I would like to direct you to my new recipe index that I've been working on. I'm super proud of it on account of it took a lot of html code copy-pasting and a TON of URL copy-pasting to make it happen, and it's still a mere work in progress, but it's already so gratifyingly pretty and useful! (Oh yeah, and as soon as I posted this I brazenly went to update the recipe index and made all the html disappear somehow and now it looks rubbish, so uh, bear with me please.)

PS: even if you never eat another vegetable in your life, just make sure you go watch Carol. And then come shriek with me.
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title from: the important Janet Jackson and her beautiful song Runaway
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music lately:

I cannot stop listening to Rihanna's new album Anti, especially the dreamydreamydreamy Work featuring Drake and the oh-no-now-I'm-sobbing-forever waltz that is Love on the Brain. (The waltz: a totally underrated time signature.)

I also cannot stop listening to Modern Lovers, something about Jonathan Richman's voice makes me feel in full teenage dirtbag mode. Obviously I have two ears and a heart and so am obsessed with the song Roadrunner, but maaaaan, Hospital and the early-Who-y I Wanna Sleep In Your Arms are so worth a re-tread.
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next time: I was given a copy of Nigella's new cookbook and it's very beautiful and exciting and I cannot wait to cook my way through it...