14 April 2015

now my life is sweet like cinnamon

muffins! (I say this every time I hear a doorbell and I don't know why but it's some weird Pavlovian response possibly from something I saw on TV many years ago?) (That got deep, huh)

I continue to be an utter slattern at being organised and a regular blogger, and the only thing stronger than my conviction that I'm not going to slide out of blogging regularly, is my overwhelming need to nap hard during the day when I'm not at work all night. I mean, I started this blog in 2007 and it's pretty much the only thing that has remained the same in my life since then, with only a tiny bit of exaggeration. But also being angry at myself for not being organised enough is not going to stop me being tired and making like, toast or something instead of having the time and energy to make real food. I'll get there though! This blog has been there throughout all manner of tumultuous and/or tired times, and just because I am not as good at burning the candle at both ends as I used to be, doesn't mean I can't relearn that (albeit rather terrible) behaviour once more. 

I house-sat and cat-sat for friends over the weekend when they went on a mini holiday, and it was so lovely and blissful, like escaping to a cabin in the woods somewhere (a nice one, not the horror-movie kind, way to ruin cabins in the woods, Joss Whedon.) I've been weighed down by such cat-longing feelings lately, I mean, I always am, but it has been stronger than usual, so I was excited about the thought of having a cat roomie for a few days. Unfortunately the cat in question was hellaciously skittish and I only saw her for a grand total of twenty seconds over the four days I was there, but she ate her food and didn't cause trouble so it could've been worse. In happier news, the house was just darling, and it was more than enough to gaze rapturously around at it all. I decided on Sunday to make some muffins, since I just felt like baking a damn thing, but also they seemed like the perfect house-sitting foodstuff to make - easily made and consumed, not too taxing on the house-owners' ingredients or infrastructure, able to be frozen and eaten later (not that it came to this since all but one were eaten by the time I left.) 

suspect was catless, repeat, catless 

When the weather turns extremity-stiffeningly cold my thoughts turn to cinnamon: how can I make everything around me scented of it? Baking is the obvious way (although if anyone knows of an amazing cinnamon-scented candle that won't cost as much as a pet pony please give me details) and so I made some cinnamon-orange muffins, inspired by the sight of an orange in the fruit bowl that I could nick for this purpose. I swing wildly between finding muffins dull and basic and finding them tears-makingly comforting and delightful, and I guess over the weekend was a time when I was swinging towards the latter, because I could not have been more content with myself: being in a tiny, adorable kitchen, shaking clouds of cinnamon into the batter, melting butter, flinging flour onto the ground (that bit was not fun), dropping heaped spoonfuls of orange-tinted batter into the muffin tin, waiting around while they briefly baked in the hot oven and the room filled with the smell of warm cake. Muffins! They're honestly so great.

cinnamon orange muffins

a recipe by myself - makes 12

75g butter, melted
one cup milk
two eggs
the juice of one orange
two and a half cups flour
two and a half teaspoons baking powder
half a cup brown sugar
a teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon

25g soft butter
quarter of a cup brown sugar
half a teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon
the grated zest of the orange
three tablespoons flour

Set your oven to 180 C/350 F and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tray. Or put little cupcake holders in them if you like, this will certainly save on a lot of washing later. 

In a large bowl, mix the butter, milk, eggs and orange juice till everything is well-dispersed and you can't see any one ingredient floating about being all individual, if that makes sense. I mean, just mix them all together, that's all, really. 

Tip in the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Very, very gently mix it all together - just turn it around and over a few times with your spoon, not worrying if everything's still all lumpy and the flour isn't 100% incorporated. Drop heaped spoonfuls of the batter into the muffin tin until all the batter is used up and the muffin tin is evenly filled. 

Quickly mix together the remaining ingredients - you can either bash it with a wooden spoon or use your fingertips to work in the butter, either way you want to end up with a dusty, crumbly, floury mix. Sprinkle a little of this evenly over each of the uncooked muffins. Bake for about 18 minutes, then allow to sit for about ten minutes before removing and eating, preferably sliced with more butter spread across. Because of the crumbly topping, you'll probably need to run a knife around the edge of each muffin, but they should slide out easily. 

Look, muffins are so excellent. They take hardly any effort to make - in fact, if you put too much effort into stirring the mixture together they'll toughen up like an old sponge. A mere gentle prod is all you need to bring the ingredients towards each other, then less than 20 minutes in the oven, and you have freshly baked goods. Isn't that wonderful though? These are as winningly cinnamon-y as I'd hoped they'd be, with the pinpricks of orange zest in the crumbly topping and the juice of the orange in the batter giving gentle citrussy sweetness. If I had to sum up these muffins in one word it would be: snug. They tasted snug.

by this point I was literally just carrying the muffin around the house being all "here are more pretty things that I can photograph, I'll just put the muffin on it and not care about whether you'd actually normally consume a muffin amongst a trolley of succulents") 

It's my birthday this Friday! Oh my gosh! How audacious of me! I've decided that my birthday treat to myself is going to be to break my general mood of grim austerity to buy myself a way cool outfit to wear to the joint birthday party that my flatmate and friend Charlotte are having the following day, and frankly I'm so excited about going clothes shopping. I saw this ridiculously amazing fluffy yellow oversized cardigan in a shop in town which in my daydreams looks incredible on me, so I guess that's what I'm going to make a beeline for (and may end up looking like a literal bumblebee, or perhaps a small Big Bird, but we'll see.) But what do I really want for my birthday, I conveniently imagine you asking? My needs and wants are simple, I simply want the following:

~ A pair of Victorian-ward-of-the-state-esque black boots for both work and frivolous times
~ more tattoos, or at least one more tattoo, singular
~ more hair dye in pastel blue, purple, peach, pink, whatever
~ Maldon sea salt and excellent coffee beans
~ a pet cat (c'mon universe, you know I deserve this)
~ the makings of a mighty liquor cabinet - perhaps a glamorous bottle of gin, some thoroughly decent peaty whisky, and a bottle of dry vermouth. Also some Disaronno and port and dark rum and I guess I've thought about this a lot.
~ a fake fur coat
~ a little record player so I could finally play all my records again
~ a cinnamon-scented candle, or something similarly glorious
~ some crystals for doing witchy deeds
~ Marc Jacobs Oh Lola perfume, I've run out and am utterly too broke to buy more, this is entirely my own fault for repeatedly using it instead of my Nivea roll-on and calling it "baller deodorant" but still
~ a facial but where someone pretty much just pats your hair and rubs the pressure points above your eyebrows and tells you that everything's going to be okay and makes your skin smell incredible
~ to be financially chill enough to go to brunch more often (slash: at all)

So simple, those needs and wants of mine! I will report back after my birthday as to how successful I was with this list. Fingers crossed! But also I like to think I make my own luck. But fingers crossed as a back-up, in case that's what the universe arbitrarily requires from me.
title from: Lana Del Rey, Radio. I just love her so much, quite frankly. 
music lately: 

Crucial Conflict, Hay. I found a "top 20 songs" list I made in 1996 and this song was on it, I am pretty sure I haven't listened to it since that very time? It still goes hard though and honestly should be having its own No Diggity type revival (No Diggity was on the list too, haha)

One Direction, I Would. Don't talk to me about Zayn leaving, okay? It's still too soon (but honestly, who could blame him, all that relentless touring must've wilted those boys down like a three-day-old bouquet of flowers) (I love this song so so much still though)
next time: I'm gonna try so hard to cook stuff more often and take photos of it more often! Y'know, like, be a blogger. 

5 April 2015

the earth will wave with corn, the gray-fly choir will mourn

cornbread cookie squares with maple buttercream: whoever named this was being paid by the word amiright?

It took me so stupidly long to write this post that I'm pretty sure I hit diminishing returns ages ago: two attempts to write were lost to persistent and heavy naps, a jolt of energy from seeing the Blood Moon last night after work had me writing enthusiastically at 1.30am, and then between daylight savings and my body's truculent inability to sleep when it ought, I was up at 7am today determined to finish this damn thing and not let it drag out any further. 

So! It's April! It's Easter weekend! I love Easter so much - chocolate is in season, it's a holiday but you're not obliged to get anyone presents, it's usually kinda cold and snuggly in the weather department, and the days off cut into not one but two short weeks. It's a bit weird that you can't buy alcohol on Good Friday or Easter Sunday, but it's nice that more people than usual get a day off or something close to it. Seriously though, the alcohol thing is so weird. Some American tourists at work asked me why we have this rule and I could not think of a decent reason.

April also means that my birthday is fast approaching, and I hope you're all preparing appropriately (harvesting feast ingredients, staying up late to make garlands of flowers, making offerings to the full moon, attempting augury "just because", praying to Lucy Liu.) I'm continuously baffled that I'm turning 29 entire years of age and it's not just an elaborate Truman Show-level prank where I've been lied to this whole time and I'm actually only turning 24. Like, as if I'm nearly 29. What a ridiculous and vulgar notion. Realistically though, it's...going to literally happen.  

I ate that missing piece, quite joyfully

While my imminent birthday only intensifies my usual "what is my life" and "what does it meeeean" and "what even am I doing" vibes, I am cautiously reckless with optimism on account of my tarot card for April. It is the deliciously full-of-promise Nine of Wands - nine is my lucky number, and it signifies lots of good things like overcoming fear and doubt; achieving things I'm working hard at; letting go of struggles from the past; and just generally thriving and living my best life. So far in April all I've managed to do is go to work and nap and berate myself for not blogging or tidying my room, which is not quite as thrivey as I'd like to be, but I did do some baking and deliver it hither and yon to good people (my girlfriend, my dear Kate, my friend Jen, my own face) so I can ride on the coattails of this small accomplishment for at least another week, I daresay. The thing I baked bears the faintly irritating name of Cornbread Cookie Squares with Maple Buttercream (like, could this name be trying any harder?) but it's so very good, so very easy, and, like all things I make, so very delicious.

I just realised that I kind of named this since I adapted the name to fit my adaptation of the recipe so way to backhandedly mock yourself, Laura

Despite the word cookie in the title it's basically just an iced slice, but tinged with sweet gritty cornmeal, which makes it a little different and unusual without distracting from its comfortingly recognisable cake-ness. I saw the recipe online while undoubtedly dicking about distracting myself from necessary tasks, and it was one of those serendipitous moments where I knew I had all the necessary ingredients on me and could spontaneously make it without having to buy anything. That's a good enough reason for me, plus I just haven't baked in a while, but I was also curious as to how it would incorporate cornbread vibes - cornbread being one of my favourite things to eat - into something sweet. I changed the recipe a bit to suit my needs (example: anything that calls for one egg plus one egg yolk, which the original recipe did, makes me feel very tired for some reason, so I left out the extra egg yolk and added in more sour cream) and threw it together with charming ease and speed on Tuesday afternoon, and insistently recommend that you try it too sometime.

cornbread cookie squares with maple buttercream

adapted from this recipe. Also I used maple-flavoured syrup because I am a monster or something.  

125g soft butter
one cup sugar
one egg
three tablespoons sour cream 
half a cup cornmeal
two cups flour
one teaspoon baking powder

75g soft butter
one and a half cups icing sugar (or so)
three tablespoons (or so) maple syrup 

Set your oven to 180 C/370 F and line a brownie/slice tin with baking paper.

Beat the butter and sugar together till light and creamy, then add the egg and sour cream and continue to beat energetically for a bit till it's well mixed in and everything is even lighter and fluffier. Gently stir in the cornmeal, flour, and baking powder, which should result in a damp, dense, slightly crumbly cookie-dough type mixture. Tip it into the baking tin and press down gently with the back of a spoon or your fingertips until it's evenly spread out. Bake for 15-20 minutes (check at around 18, I recommend) till it's golden and a little puffy. Allow to cool completely before icing thickly.

To make the icing, beat the butter and the maple syrup together, then carefully add the icing sugar (it's so light it tends to get flung out of the bowl easily in a cloud of dust, but maybe that's just me) till you have a thick, lush-looking icing. Spread it evenly over the cooled cake-thing, and then slice into squares. 

It's so cakey and dense and moist, yet firm and cookie-like, yet legit cornbread-ish, with the thickly spread icing jolting you with sweetness and lifting up all cornmeal's sweetness lurking in the base. The original recipe calls for honey in the icing, but I thought something with maple would give it a charmingly smoky intensity, and vigorous researching would suggest I am correct. It was so easy to make and so utterly rewarding and tastes so stupidly lovely, I can see this becoming ever so firm a fixture of my baking repertoire. 

to eat it or to lie down face first in it: that is the more interesting question Hamlet quite frankly

I guess I'd better wrap this up now before I end up taking the entirety of April to write this wretched post; especially when I could be much better put to use doing things like "thriving" and "oh my god do some laundry Laura" and so on. One properly productive thing I've been doing is continuing to put in work on a recipe list for a hypothetical Brilliant Second Cookbook, so I can be astonishingly ready should the opportunity arise. 

also being productive taking many selfies (the grubbier the mirror, the closer you are to...cleaning your mirror hopefully)

Also am being the most productive of all watching Buffy with my former roommate Ariel (and Kate.) Hanging out with a cat (and a Kate) is truly living your best life! Unless you're near a dog too: then you frankly could not be more blessed. April, you're giving me high hopes. 
title from: The Song of Purple Summer from the musical Spring Awakening. This song is so sad and beautiful and the harmonies ache, and if you can stand it/care at all you should definitely try watching the bootleg from Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff's last performance on Broadway, the harmonies go even harder and I for one SOBBED HEARTILY.  
music lately:

The Magnetic Fields, California Girls, I love a good scuzzy scuzzball of a song like this.

Allison Stone's gorgeous Landlocked EP. At first all I knew was that she was excellent on Twitter but it turns out she's also SUPER excellent on singing.

Kendrick Lamar, King Kunta. Indubitably a classic.
next time: my mum sent me some 85% dark chocolate in the mail (tis the season to chocolate!) and so I might try making something cool with that? Also going to attempt to not nap so much while I'm trying to write. 

23 March 2015

we should hash it out like a couple of grownups

hashtag hash

I come to you buried under three layers of exhaustion: firstly I ate a lot of macaroni cheese for dinner and with every passing second the carbs are lulling me into a dopey stupor (well the only pasta I had was risoni and then I was like is this macaroni risoni or macarisoni and then I was like Laura quit being insufferable and eat your pasta. Once you've instagrammed it.) Secondly I had a useless night's sleep last night. And reason the third, I am in the process of leaving my current job and starting another and there is some overlap of schedules and as a result of all these things I am less human and more a tired baby penguin, fluffy and confused and keen to get around by lying down and zooming on my stomach instead of having to stand up.  

(The changing of the jobs is all very jolly by the way, I'm grateful to the first job for teaching me a lot and delighted by the opportunity of the new job, which is also a bartender role. I realise I'm being cagey about what these places are called, but if you have an issue with that then that's kinda weird.)

So it's with all these floaty, veil-like layers of tiredness, that I can't promise that this post is going to be my best work. Just kidding, all my blog posts are amazing. But uh, this one might sound a little strained as my eyes increasingly struggle to remember what their one job is.

oh look, the same thing from a slightly different angle. 

It wasn't on my agenda to blog about this - I made it up on the spot and it seemed too simple and insubstantial. Then I told myself, that what is essentially a two-ingredient dish, which uses those specific ingredients because that's all I had in the house and couldn't afford to run out and buy more, could still be something that other people might want to have in their own lives on purpose.

And well you might, because it's decidedly delicious.

 spot the can of golden pash in the background: very on-brand. Speaking of brands the hot sauce that I have is called Secret Aardvark and it comes from Portland, Oregon, and I just want to say Secret Aardvark again. 

I made this for my girlfriend and myself the morning after a friend's beautiful engagement party, where there was wild dancing and cat-patting and wine-drinking and cake-eating and a general mood of lovely happiness. But yeah, let's not bury the lede: there was so much dancing and wine drinking. I was determined to use only ingredients I had in the house to make something brunchily cool yet bolstering and reviving. Miraculously I had some eggs, which I scrambled, y'know, satisfactorily. This potato and corn hash was a bit of a revelation though, and so I'm sharing the recipe with you here. Quantities can be upped easily, just make sure your pan is big enough and your heart is true. (I'm so tired, okay.)

smoky potato and corn hash

a recipe by me

two decent sized potatoes (kind of the size of a decent-sized tomato, or a small avocado? No smaller than that but feel free to go wayyyy bigger)
about three tablespoons of olive oil 
roughly 20g butter
one cup frozen corn kernels
salt, to taste
liquid smoke 

Finely dice the potatoes into roughly 1/2 cm cubes/rectangles/any four sided shape you can approach a likeness of. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan and once it's proper hot, tip in the potatoes and spread them out evenly. Allow them to fry for about ten or fifteen minutes, stirring and turning very occasionally - the longer you leave the potatoes in one place the more golden and crisp they get. At this point, add the butter and let it sizzle for a little longer, then tip in the corn and stir. Again, the less you stir the better, so that the corn gets a little bit scorched, but you don't want it to get burnt. Basically, use your eyes, see what needs moving around and what needs more time on the heat.

Finally, sprinkle over a few drops of liquid smoke - you don't need much - and stir it in, then add as much salt as your merrily brined wee heart desires, and divide between two plates. 

hot sauce hand model (also you can see in the foreground where we both spilled juice from a truculent and entirely uncooperative tetra-pak)

This would be so good with some chopped up herbs, or diced onion fried with the potato, or some parmesan grated over, or some turmeric and cumin, but on its own it was quite perfect. The potato is cut into minute pieces which cook quickly in the sputtering oil and become darkly golden and crisp in that way that makes you feel weepily grateful depending on what else is going on in your life. The corn is sweet and juicy and slightly browned in places and just wonderfully corn-like (I really like how corn-like corn is.) Liquid smoke has saved me from blandness many a time, but if you don't have it - and it's not necessarily that easy to get hold of - you'll lose some of that standing-near-a-barbecue vibe, but it will still be so good. Just add more butter and salt and keep on truckin'.

what are you trying to hide, parsley sprig?  

Look, I just love brunch so much, it's such a kind meal - you get to sleep in, you get to eat so many rich foods, you get to feel fancy, you get the rest of the day still to do things. Making it for yourself is charming in its own way that going out for it can't replicate (especially if you are cooking for someone else) and while you have to do the dishes at least you can eat while wearing severely ancient trackpants and an insouciantly draped blanket.

I sold my last cookbook today, which was a strange feeling. I'm so determined to write another one, and soon, but also looking at this cookbook, which was written, tested and photographed in its entirety in just three months, I'm very proud of myself. On a wearily capitalistic note, it's also a shame because I was making money from selling them and now I'm not, but I still have a good feeling that I'll be a zillionaire or even a mere billionaire pretty soon. I'd just be so good at being rich!

One last thing, before I leave you, and frankly I can't believe I made it this far, but of course I did because I am good at pushing myself to write when I'm 90% asleep, and anyway: I thought it would be kinda dinky and fun to put all the songs I've listed in the music lately section at the bottom of the blog onto a Spotify playlist. So far I have one for this year, one for the back end of last year, and one that I'm going to put Christmas songs in. My username is Laura Vincent if you want in - sometimes I couldn't find the specific song (damn you Taylor Swift, release your iron grip and let the people listen to you on Spotify) so I'd try to get the next best thing, but it's more or less everything I've been recommending. It's...not coherent, but it's cute! Like me.

title from: so hash is an interesting dish to find a title for...this one is from Drake and Jhene Aiko's dreamy dreamy song From Time. Oh Drake, trust you to come through for me. 
music lately: 

Fiona Apple, Every Single Night. This song is bewitching.

De La Soul with Redman, Oooh. I haven't heard this in so long and it makes me so happy, how compelling is that melody! (very compelling.)

Rilo Kiley, I Never. This song is so beautiful, and sounds like it's from another time, maybe the sixties? I don't know. But I love how it gets so swoony and bigger and bigger the further it goes along.
Next time: I'll have done the groceries and have more to play with, don't worry

16 March 2015

we'll drink coffee and you can spend the night, we'll do anything that makes you smile

I was supposed to blog about this earlier today but then I also had to make a cake and while doing so I ate so much cake batter and icing that I needed a nap, during which time if you did an x-ray scan of my skull you would see that the brain had dissolved into a nourishing yet ultimately useless sugary syrup. Which is so much the story of my life, that you could put that opening sentence on the front cover of my (inevitable, hopefully) autobiography.

On that supposed-to-be-doing-stuff vibe, I was talking to my dear friend Kate the other day about motivation and wanting to get stuff done and worrying about where I am going with my life, I seem to do little other than half-assedly start projects and then abandon them through sheer tiredness and I hate it but I also can't seem to keep up with myself or my expectations of myself, y'know? If I could get some kind of fairy godmother situation happening right now my request to them would be for me to write another cookbook and get a TV show. I so deeply miss that wacky montage time when I was nonstop writing my first cookbook and making food and there were photoshoots and plans and ridiculous recipe testing and just so much going on. Unfortunately, in what some might look at as being a bad sign, the word document in which I put lots of plans and recipe ideas in order to pitch a new cookbook to someone...disappeared. My computer ate it. I'm gonna try to start all over again, but gosh! Psychological and literal setbacks ahoy! And yeah, I did say pitch. I am always proud of how I was approached by Penguin to write my first cookbook, but this time around I can't sit and wait and hope for the best, I need to, oh, rediscover my inner Leslie Knope and hustle like whoa. With that in mind, if anyone knows of any highly good and cool publishers that I should be approaching, let me know. If you want to tell me that the publishing industry is going down the toilet and unless I'm writing Fifty Shades of Grey fanfic I'm screwed, I'd be less appreciative, but I guess tough love has its place sometimes. That place is not here (by here I mean anywhere near my general person.)

I love these pastel sprinkles so much 

But why have an existential meltdown when you could eat ice cream? While having an existential meltdown? (Tagline: save the meltdown for yourself, not your frozen dessert) I made this coffee ice cream, a recipe of my queen Nigella Lawson's, three times in about ten days - which speaks to both the excellence of said recipe and also my abilities at hoovering through ice cream like a vacuum cleaner with googly eyes stuck on it to give it a human-like quality.

This stuff is wondrous. The addition of sweetened condensed milk gives it a maddeningly pleasing chewiness, as well as making it spoonable and smooth straight from the freezer without any need for churning, stirring, or waiting for it to soften. The bulging caramel taste of the condensed milk also mellows out the harsh coffee dust, giving it a crema-soft coffee flavour with tiny specks of enlivening bitterness here and there. It's so lush and delicious and I frankly expected nothing less of Nigella but it's still good to have such relentlessly positive ideals reinforced.

Despite the recipe being monumentally easy, when I first made it I deviated slightly and used coconut cream instead of regular cream, simply because it's what I had in my cupboard and also I'd spent three of my last ten dollars on a can of sweetened condensed milk and felt like this frugal act counteracted some of that heathenish wretchedness. (In my, and indeed anyone's defense, sometimes having seven dollars and ice cream is better than having ten dollars and no ice cream, in terms of living your best life.)

It was so brilliant that it's all I've done ever since for fear of breaking the magic spell of deliciousness, but feel free to use actual cream if you like. The coconut flavour is completely subtle and totally overpowered by all that coffee, if that's something that concerns you.

very easy coffee ice cream

adapted from a recipe in Nigella Lawson's book Nigellissima. Makes around 600ml. 

one 400ml (or so) can coconut cream
one can sweetened condensed milk
about three tablespoons of instant coffee, ideally instant espresso powder

Empty the two cans into a bowl, and whisk together along with the coffee powder. If you like you can dissolve the coffee in a tablespoon or two of boiling water, otherwise your ice cream will be dotted with coffee granules - either way is fine though.

Pour into a freezer-proof receptacle - I use an old take-out plastic container with a lid - and freeze for about six hours or until solid.

Eat, rapturously.  Or morosely, I'm not here to police your facial expressions. 

Ice cream is easily one of my very favourite foods, which is possibly another factor towards my ploughing merrily through so much of this stuff recently, but don't just take my word for it - actually, do just take my word for it, this is a food blog, damn it. This is easy and delicious and wonderful and you deserve all those words in your life materialised in food form.

What have I been up to of late when not fretting luxuriantly about how much I'm not achieving? Swanning about and swooning about, I suppose, going to parties with my thoroughly and respectively wonderful friends and girlfriend; working at work; gasping and clutching at myself with great emotion while watching Pretty Little Liars; trying to not spend money; and oh look, dying my hair pinker than it has ever been:

je vois la vie en rose 

On a final, aggressively mercenary note, if my ability to buy cream is something you care about, may I remind you that you can still purchase copies of my amazing cookbook directly through me - I have a few left but stocks are dwindling so move with haste is my advice. Also if you're a rich weirdo who finds lighting your scented candles with hundred dollar bills gauche and passé and you're looking for a new way to get your kicks, my paypal is always open and any and everything is so very appreciated. 

Actually, let's end not with capitalism but with more ice cream. Which is probably still capitalism, my knowledge of the economy is hazy and based on my own hyperbolic notions at best.

affogato made with coffee ice cream, for when being merely sybaritic is not quite enough.
title from: Little Red, by Kate Nash. It's so strange and magical and melancholy and narrative, this song. I love it. 
music lately: 

Marina and the Diamonds, Shampain. This song still goes off and still gets me right in the heart, it's so rapturously dreamy and poppy, and I'm always like oh wow it's so meaningful no matter literally what is happening in my life at the time.

Pere Ubu, Modern Dance. I haven't heard this song in foreverrrr but it's so great, I love how hypnotic yet dinky the melody is.

Flo Rida/T-Pain, Low. I danced ever so happily to this on Friday night and have been singing it in my head ever since ("she hit the floorSHE HIT THE FLOOR") and I don't even mind because T-Pain is an actual delight of a human.
next time: your guess is as good as mine, so, uh, ooh, how mysterious. 

2 March 2015

soy un perdador

tofu is made of soy, and soy is Spanish for I AM, as in "I am being so deep right now."  

Right, well I intended for this blog post to be about the meal I cooked on Valentine's Day, but what transpired was this: I had an elaborate dinner planned, then my reason for the season came down with a brutal case of tonsilitis, and then I mysteriously also ended up with a sore throat myself, and so postponed said elaborate dinner to instead make us the world's most nourishing broth which I then took terrible photos of, so the whole thing was a flop, really. (That is, it was a very pleasant evening, mutual ailments aside, and the soup was also very pleasant, it was a flop only in terms of being bloggable. Let me be clear lest I sound more obnoxious than usual!)

With that option unavailable to write about, it took me a while to get my act together, but to paraphrase Beyonce the god, I woke up like this: craving tofu. And so I made myself this rather incredibly good tofu and cucumber salad for lunch today and now here we are!

those flowers were just sitting there on the table when I walked in but nevertheless I'm gonna assert that coordinating your flowers to your lunch is a clear sign of success in life

I know tofu gets regularly maligned for being flavourless or unfun or the epitome of dull vegetarian eating, but in the words of Harvey Danger, if you're bored then you're boring. Let the record state that I think tofu is amazing. Fresh, chilled tofu is an actual joy, all cashew-mild and milky of flavour with a softly firm (yes, both those things) protein-rich texture and the world's most absorbent surface for whatever flavour you should choose to throw at it. Also deep-fried tofu is a revelation, but so is everything - I mean, probably even deep-fried socks would be palatable, so that's not necessarily an impressive fact.

This recipe mostly came out of my head, although it's inspired by a bunch of different things I've had at restaurants over the years. It's so cold and crisp and refreshing and even though the dressing is all salty and oily and sour, somehow the cool juicy cucumber and dense cubes of tofu keep everything very mellow and calm. Both sesame and miso paste have this mysterious, magical savoury taste which help spruce up the ingredients that frankly do need some sprucing, and it's all just very satisfying and nourishing and good. You could leave out the spring onion (by the way I think they're called green onions in America, for my readers in that neck of the woods) but the flavour is so gentle and a million miles removed from actual raw onion.

tofu, cucumber and spring onion salad with sesame miso dressing

a recipe by myself. I know using olive oil in the dressing is a bit out of place with the rest of the ingredients but it's all I had and honestly it tasted amazing so...yeah. 

100g firm tofu
half a cucumber
one spring onion
one tablespoon rice vinegar
one tablespoon soy sauce
one or two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
two heaped teaspoons white miso paste
a pinch of caster sugar
one tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Make sure your tofu and cucumber are well-chilled. Dice them both into small squares, about 1.5cm but, y'know, this is not a time for measurement accuracy. Just something smallish and squareish. Finely slice the spring onion, reserving some of the green for garnish.

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy, olive oil, miso, and most of the sesame seeds until it comes together as a smooth dressing. Tip in the tofu, cucumber, and spring onion, stir to cover, then transfer to whatever bowl you're going to be eating it from (if it's a different bowl, that is) and garnish with the remaining sesame seeds and green spring onion slices. 

this serves one, but if you can't work out how to increase it to feed more then...actually I cannot judge, my maths is hopeless, but seriously, it's pretty easy to increase the properties to feed more people here.  

my new flat is a bit cute, yeah?

The other thing to note about tofu is that it's aggressively filling. So even though this salad may not look like much, it is indeed...much. We've just ticked over into March here so it's officially autumn, but Wellington is so whimsically changeable as far as weather goes and today I'm disgustingly overheated so this was a perfect meal for the temperature my body is currently burdened with, however I feel like this salad would be perfect any time alongside roast chicken and rice; to take to some kind of potluck thing, or with noodles that you've maybe also sprinkled with soy sauce and sesame oil. On its own though: a perfect little meal. 

I just realised this is pretty much my first blog post that include photos of my new flat, which is fitting, since I moved in just under a month ago and yet still am not entirely unpacked. I've decided to see the glass half full and congratulate myself on being amazing at progressing very slowly and being incredibly disorganised. My new room is so dreamy though, and will only get dreamier as I firmly take myself by the hand and make myself continue to tidy it up and unpack fully. 

fairy light grotto (they're solar powered so hopefully I get to actually enjoy them, oh Wellington weather you're easy to poke fun at! But really. I hope I get to enjoy them.)

make up n stuff nook! Also there's nothing like the haunted eyes of Judy Garland greeting you as you wake up, if that's wrong I don't want to be right.

But really, it's now March 2015, holy wow. From February last year to February last month it was basically nonstop turbulent difficult times, and even though I'm very much in this quagmire of "what the heck am I doing with my writing and am I making my own opportunities and why won't endless flailing about wanting to write another cookbook afford me the ability to do just that" I am also feeling rather cloyingly serene and delightful about many things in life right, so watch out. Ya girl is quite happy. I mean, look how rapturous I'm getting about tofu.
title from: Beck's shufflingly and charmingly dour song Loser. Check me out, making truly awful Spanish puns all over the place. Obvs Beyonce shoulda won that Grammy but this is a damn nice song and the opening guitar riffs are truly excellent. Nice work, Beck. 
music lately: 

Let Me Be Him, Hot Chip. The chorus (or whatever it is, this song just kind of drifts) is so uplifting and pretty and dreamy and full of "Oh-ohhh" bits and it's just a lovely, lovely thing to listen to. Definite mood upswing stuff.

Eternal Flame, Joan As Policewoman. I've loved this song for years and years but have been listening to it over and over lately, it flickers like a candle and swoons and sways and the lyrics are so, so excellent. I love how soft and whispery and then deep and rich her voice goes. Oh yeah and also this is not a cover of the Bangles song which was later covered by Atomic Kitten, they just share a title, ya know?

The Killing Moon, Echo and the Bunnymen. Love a bit of tremolo, I do. 
next time: I've made two batches of this Nigella coffee ice cream but I keep eating it all before I can take photos of it. If this trajectory is anything to go by though, there will probably be at least one more outing of the recipe in my near future so maybe that's what I'll blog about next! 

17 February 2015

fancy plans and pants to match: the library

Well hello there, and welcome to another installment of Fancy Plans and Pants to Match, where I'm all, "hey pals, sometimes nice things happen to me because I'm a cool food blogger but in my defense I'm going to be juuust self-deprecating enough about it to make you feel comfortable and relaxed".

I used to avoid talking about it in case I came across as an unrelatable prig who was excited by nothing and filled with ennui by everything, but it turns out that while I can never be that unexcited person I probably should worry about pushing people away by using the word "prig". Anyway! The name Fancy Plans and Pants to Match is a quote from the wondrous Jimmy James, a character in the woefully slept-on 90s sitcom NewsRadio. And in case all this wasn't quite enough of a thrilling ride for you, I have a giveaway, whaaaat (imagine me sounding an airhorn right now, if you would be so kind) for a $100 voucher for The Library. You could scroll right to the end for the instructions on how to enter and ignore this post, but just know that I'll know. Oh, I'll know. I always know. But also there's nothing I can do about it, so yeah, really, scroll by merrily if you wish!


so here's the thing: I was invited to eat and drink up large at The Library, a baller bar and live music venue in town. This kind of sybaritic activity is exactly how I'd like to live my life but so rarely get to, so it was some kind of wonderful to have this opportunity.

the pitch: The Library has long been known for their excellent cocktails and desserts, but they have very recently updated their food menu, and so there's no better time to do some investigating into these developments with one's mouth.  

what happened: In the interests of clutching at any brief opportunity to look cool and like a hell of a swell about town, being all rakish and debonaire and decadent, I brought my girlfriend along as my plus one. We were given a number of options for seating, and decided upon the secret dining room, a pleasingly sneaky nook hidden behind a curtain, with a window looking over Courtenay Place, The Library's signature ceiling-high shelves piled with books, and, the most important thing: perfect light for taking selfies. 

this is the prawn cocktail salad, not a selfie. But how cute would a prawn taking a selfie be! Anyway.

The new menu is positively rippling with flavours and playful, interesting takes on established combinations. For the indecisive amongst us (hi!) this could be fraught-making, but the size of the plates lends them well to ordering many and sharing amongst a few. We started with a cocktail each - the Mrs Peacock (blueberries, raspberry gin, sparkling wine) and Roses Are Red (rose wine, raspberries, cranberry juice, rosewater, rose petals), both the colour of velvety theatre curtains and both a glorious way to start the meal. I believe my words to the impressively mellow person serving us were "I would like to take a bath in this stuff". After much deliberation, we chose the following:

Prawn Cocktail Salad, with prawns, smoked salmon, bloody mary mayonnaise (verdict: punchy, crunchy, retro-fun...chy)
Honey Marinated Salmon, with cauliflower puree, avocado mousse, and pickled vegetables (verdict: how'd they get the salmon so utterly tender and pink, how, also the pickled vegetables were the perfect textural contrast to all that satiny puree)
Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella with basil gremolata, 12 hour tomatoes and olive oil caviar (verdict: milky soft cheese, basil and slowly-cooked tomatoes made sweet and intense will always be an ideal combination. The olive oil caviar was very cute, but maybe didn't add much other than cool visuals - this may be my heathenish self being unappreciative of subtlety, though.)
Beef Carpaccio, with wine barrel smoked mushrooms, shaved parmesan and micro greens (verdict: Wow. How dare you. This is frankly too, too good. I'm outraged.)
Tempura Tuna, with soba noodle salad and wasabi mayonnaise (verdict: the feather-light tempura, super-rich rare tuna, and cold, slippery, sesame-tinged noodles were wonderful together.)
Smoked Brioche Bruschetta, with wild mushrooms and sage butter (Verdict: okay, how did something so simple, which we almost overlooked, taste like wandering through the forest after the rain, like jumping into a pile of autumn leaves, like...sturdy boots - oh wait that last one is kind of insulting. This was just really, really excellent.)

honey marinated salmon: a veritable symphony of textures, if you ask me

tempura tuna with soba noodle salad: my hair is so shiny after all this omega action

We finished with two mighty fine Old Fashioned cocktails (that's one each, but I do like the thought of clutching one in each hand and not leaving till the Angostura bitter end) and we shared Organic Pineapple and Raspberry Sorbets which were so damn fresh and smooth and the only way they could've been bursting with more real fruit flavour would've been if they were one of those suspiciously fake-tasting fruit lollies which tend to insist in their advertising campaigns that they are, in fact, bursting with real fruit flavour. If that makes sense.

even in the face of unutterable fullness, there's always room for sorbet.

beef carpaccio, I shall now tell you how I feel about it through the medium of passionate interpretive dance

the best bit: Everything was straight up brilliant. Service, the place itself, the food, the drinks, everything. However, the standout dishes were the beef carpaccio and the smoked brioche. Carpaccio is one of those dishes I only want to pay for, because, like hair cuts, it's better done by other people. If I tried to do it myself there would just be roughly-hewn chunks of steak everywhere (same goes for trying to do haircuts to be honest.) This was silky layer upon silky layer of cool, rich beef, with thin slivers of parmesan and juicy mushrooms and every time I think about it I feel like I'm clenching my fists and standing in the rain in a dramatic music video, that's how good it was. Perfect ingredients, presented very simply. Perfect. The brioche arrived in a smoke filled dome, which I loved, and despite being something we picked offhand from the menu it was indubitably a favourite. Buttery bread, buttery actual butter, lushly savoury mushrooms tumbled over, everything kissed with smoke. You know a meal is good when you find yourself shouting metaphors and richly detailed imagery at it to illustrate how it makes you feel, rather than just eating it.


it's what's on the inside that counts

on a scale of one to is this the real life, is this just fantasy: While The Library is somewhere I'd happily wander into for a drink and a snack of an evening, this particular all-bets-are-off evening was like an actual don't-pinch-yourself-because-you-don't-want-to-wake-up lucid dream. I give it a nine.

would I do it for not-free: Okay, so I literally cannot afford to recreate the exact quantities that we ate and drank anytime soon, but I am so enamoured with the food that I will most definitely be back to revisit some of the brilliant things we had and to try some more. The coconut coated smoked halloumi, hand-cut potato skins with pecorino and proscuitto, and rare beef fillet with parsnip whip, beetroot tartar and kumara crisps could not be calling my name any harder right now.

more cocktails! The Fresh Prince (gin, elderflower, cucumber, apple juice, celery bitters, lemon, mint) and the Pin Up Fizz (gin, strawberry, lemon, lavender bitters, egg white, cream, sparkling water) one elegant and crisp and one cute and frothy, both way delicious. 

earnest thanks for making me feel fancy to: The Library, upstairs at 53 Courtenay Place, Wellington. 04 382 8593 / bookings@thelibrary.co.nz. Cheers the the wondrous team there for finding us such a fun table, for being so knowledgeable about everything, and for being entirely chill about catching us taking selfies pretty much every time they walked in.

so you want to win a $100 voucher: Well done, you made it to the end of this long post so I'm gonna finally tell you how. The extremely good people at The Library have given me a voucher for one hundred damn dollars to give away to one of you.

All you have to do is the following.

1) Be in New Zealand (better yet, Wellington, for obvious reasons, but as long as you can feasibly get to Wellington at some point I guess you're all good)
2) Leave a comment on this blog post recommending me a song you've been loving lately. It doesn't have to be anything brand new, just something that has been making you feel some things in your heart whenever you play it. Seriously, whatever song you like (there are three acts that I truly detest in this life: Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits and Phil Collins, but like, in the interest of "fairness" and "ethics" I won't discount you if you mention something by any of them.)
3) Around midday Sunday February 22 I will select a winner at random, and will announce it on my blog's Facebook Page. I'll attempt to get in touch with you via email or whatever if I can work out how, but otherwise you've got around 24 hours or so to get back to me, otherwise I'll have to pick someone else, okay?

PS: The Fancy Plans and Pants to Match archive is here, and feel free to get in touch with me anytime if you're a haver of fanciness out there who wants me to check out your goods.

3 February 2015

fallin' madly in love with the pop

pop, pop, pop that thing

Kinda considered opening with an apology for both (a) popcorn being barely a recipe and (b) not having blogged for a lil while now, but have you considered this: Popcorn? It's so great! Also I've been really busy and have only just had time to sit down and blog and even then I don't actually have time to sit down and blog which is why I'm propped up in bed at 6am trying to make this happen. If you're after an apology, I'm sorry, really truly sorry, but it's not going to happen. 

Mate, what a week though. I flew up to Auckland last Sunday to go to the Laneway music festival the following day, staying with my little brother in the spare room in his impressively central apartment (seriously, I was like, I cannot reciprocate this generosity. I have a patch of floor in the hallway for you, at best.) I caught up with some friends on Sunday night, filling an hour or so wait for a table at the Federal Deli with a drink at the casino across the road - I'd never been to one before and it was kinda weird, I couldn't tell whether I was going to be sucked into a new life sitting at a slot machine or if George Clooney was going to leap out from behind a croupier to impel me to commit a heist - in the end all that happened was I drank a house pinot gris. The company was rad though and it was fun being all Out And About In Auckland which I generally get to do about one and a half times per year. 

bright lights big city

Laneway though! As soon as I got there I was hit with feelings of wait, I don't like crowds unless they're in front of me and I have a microphone and carte blanche to ad-lib; I immediately fry in the sun like a kernel of popcorn over a skillet; I am cranky and short and what am I doing here...Fortunately the universe smiled benevolently and it was to be a singularly perfect day full of good fortune and friendly vibes and beautiful gal pals and incredible music. Let me just briefly say, FKA Twigs separating every molecule of her body while she danced and St Vincent snarling and yelping while dancing with brittle angularity and Angel Olsen and Courtney Barnett and Jungle and heck, even Belle and Sebastian, whose audience we were adjacent to while waiting for FKA Twigs. I'm only really a fan of one or two of their songs but they were so affable and we were so full of anticipation that it was all wonderful, in a very 'getting there is part of the journey' kind of way.

good current snacks in front of evidence of good previous snacks 

I'm not even there yet, there being the point where I ate this popcorn. Because the day following Laneway, I went and stayed with my parents for a few days, which, having not been home since September, it would've been way remiss of me not to do. I had a very good time hanging with Roger the cat, who had had an operation on his leg and needed constant head pats; seeing family that it had Been Too Long since I'd last seen; being with Dad on his birthday for the first time in ages and getting to make him a birthday cake; picking up some treasures from the Waiuku op shop; watching well made British period dramas with Mum, running into wonderful ex-teachers of mine, and all those other being-home type activities.

And then I came back to Wellington and Kate and Jason and I threw a truly excellent housewarming party (okay, they own the house and I just parasitically lodge there! But it was also something of a 'bye Laura' party since I'm moving around the corner soon.) There was dancing, there was glamorous rum punch, there was raucousness, there was gazing at the (truculently hidden by clouds, but still) stars on a blanket on the lawn; there were so many glorious friends there and amazing snacks and ugh, I just love having parties so much. The next day there was an abundance of $5 Pizza Hut pizza (I typed in Pizza Hug by mistake into Google and could've almost cried with how appropriate that was and also I was a bit hungover) and coffee and Broad City and sluggishly snuggling.

gonna talk about how amazing this popcorn is, any second now 

So finally, this brings me to this popcorn. Getting there is part of the journey! Instead of, you know, feeding myself on a regular basis with a variety of produce, I tend to go through brief flurries of obsession with a particular foodstuff, followed by a long period of completely forgetting about it. Popcorn is one such foodstuff. For a while I was eating it nonstop, and then suddenly I was a person who went eleven months in possession of three tupperware containers of popcorn kernels and also a half-filled plastic bag of kernels held closed with a twist-tie.

The other day out of nowhere, with absolutely no cool story or provenance, it just happened, I said unto Kate: "I bet fried sage popcorn would be really good". And then yesterday, I made myself some. And it was amazing. See, aren't you glad I did all this gallivanting around the country with activities, otherwise this tiny paragraph is all that the blog post would've been! I...can also see how that might be preferable to some. If it is, I'm not sure why you're persisting with my writing though, because this is fairly standard behaviour for me. I can be succinct when I'm dead! But also right now, because this recipe could not be more succinct. A small reward for you after all this rambling, I guess.


crispy fried sage popcorn

a recipe by myself. 

a handful - around half a cup - of freshly plucked sage leaves
20g butter
one tablespoon olive oil
a third of a cup of popcorn kernels

Melt the butter in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the sage leaves in a single layer and let them cook in the sizzling butter, till they darken and curl at the edges a little. Remove from the heat while you make the popcorn. Place the olive oil and popcorn kernels in a large saucepan, and put the lid on top. Let it sit over a low heat, till the corn starts to pop - keep an eye on it, shaking the pan occasionally, till as much as possible has popped. Remove from the heat (it might continue to pop for a little longer) and spatula the sage leaves and butter into said popcorn, stirring gently to disperse the crisp leaves throughout. This serves two as a snack. 

So this is magnificently delicious, people. Crisp, buttery sage leaves with their resinously herbal flavour and wafer-thin crunch work perfectly with the puffy, porous, pleasingly alliterative popcorn. The flavour of the sage works its way into the butter, and it's just a salty, textural, vaguely sophisticated yet childish-party-food-like joy to eat. I can't recommend fried sage leaves enough, frankly. Just fry a pile of them and eat them unadorned on their own, you're still in for a good time. 

PS my hair is now lavender and silver-grey! I feel like it's my favourite incarnation yet.

I look perturbed, but it's only because I'm trying to come to grips with how bowl-cut my hair has become. I'm talking large practical mixing bowl here. I can't afford a trim, okay! But will continue to distract myself and us all from this with strange colours. 

PS once more, I can't believe I forgot to mention this in the last blog post, since I love being interviewed so much - I'm in the February issue of Next magazine! I was interviewed as part of a story about teenage ambition and where you actually ended up and how you feel about your life (it's more positive than it might sound), and it was so fun to participate in. And Angelina Jolie is on the cover! Highly decent company to be keeping.

This is my last week in this adorable house with my adorable friends Kate and Jason and Ariel the cat - I'm not actually quite sure when I am moving as I won't get my roster for this week until today, but can rest unassured that it's gonna happen soon. My approach to packing could charitably be described as "limp", but I'm sure it'll alllll come together. I mean, considering it'll be my fifth address in less than a year, I should really know how to move house by now.
title from: Oh Land, Heavy Eyes. I am suuuuch an Oh Land fan. 
music lately:

Marina and the Diamonds' brand new track, I'm a Ruin. I love this woman, she just keeps on doing her.

Drake and Nicki Minaj, Make Me ProudOH, DRAKE. Of course I will. I love when these two work together, and also Nicki Minaj talking about how great her life is going is highly inspiring stuff.

Courtney Barnett, Pickles From The Jar. It's laconically exuberant and I love it. She was so great at Laneway.

Dawn Richard, Tide: The Paradox Effect. Juuuust listen. (If you have feelings about FKA Twigs you'll probably enjoy this, to employ some lazy shorthand to make you more likely to juuuust listen.)
next time: maybe something in my new kitchen? Wooooo!  

21 January 2015

if you're one of us then roll with us

adorable and slightly complicated, just like me

So if the brief you've given yourself is "food that will feed yourself and a significant babe and be impressive but not too over the top and look rad but not intimidating and be delicious but also interesting and be filling but not send you immediately to sleep and will go with beer or literally whatever alcohol you just bought from the corner dairy", I have you quite, quite covered here. I made these last week in response to said brief, but have taken forever to blog about them owing to tiredness, busy-ness, and uselessness. But the greatest of these is uselessness. (That was an attempt at a bible pun, I'm not that hard on myself - oh no wait, I actually am, now that I think about it.) Seriously though, they're so good and I want to make them all the time just for myself, let alone other deserving parties, while the weather is sunny or thereabouts and eggplants are not wince-makingly expensive: grilled eggplant rolls with feta, pomegranate, and mint. 

The fiddly bit comes from having to toil through frying up all the slices of eggplant first. The actual rolling up part is weirdly easy, perhaps because it's okay if these end up looking a tiny bit tumbledown and if some of the filling falls out (which the pomegranate seeds are wont to do), as they're made to be gracelessly eaten by hand in a very I'm-a-carefree-dreamboat-in-high-summer kind of manner. 

well hello there

I'm a bit all-a-flutter because I'm heading up to Auckland on Sunday for Laneway festival the following day, I have not been since the very first year it was here in NZ and it's so very exciting. Cool festival costume to decide upon! Cool festival costume to frantically change my mind about seven times! Amazing musicians to see! Fancy old Auckland to feel like a gawky provincial rube in! Friends! And then my dad and brother share a birthday a couple of days later (how considerate) and since I was working here over Christmas I'm totally looking forward to being able to at least be up home for that. And also to try embarrassingly hard to make my parents' cats like me. But like really the line-up for Laneway this year is completely dreamy and I can't wait to sway under the setting sun to FKA Twigs and St Vincent (good name, that) and Angel Olsen and to try to not dissolve from said dreaminess in the process.  

this makes enough filling to eat heaps of as you go AND fill the eggplant slices AND stir the leftovers into a bulghur wheat salad, praise Beyonce.  

Am also all-a-flutter over these eggplant rolls because they are just hellaciously delicious. It's loosely based on a recipe from Nigella Lawson's wonderful and underrated book Forever Summer, and the pomegranate seeds were my idea - their juicy fragrance and popping candy texture is amazing against the creamy feta and the oily, soft, scorched eggplant. It brightens it up no end and importantly, looks kinda gorgeous - I went on for a bit in my last blog post about how jewel-like and magical pomegranate seeds are, and that opinion is no less relevant here. As well as adding glorious flavour and texture, you sprinkle these damn beauteous seeds over the serving plate and it instantly makes it look like you've casually garnished your meal with actual twinkling rubies. I don't know, maybe I'm just very easily impressed. By garnish. But still.


grilled eggplant rolls with feta, pomegranate, and mint

adapted from a recipe in Nigella Lawson's book Forever Summer. Serves two. Way easy to increase proportions, obvs.

one eggplant
one pomegranate
120g (or so) feta
two tablespoons olive oil plus extra for frying
three tablespoons of mint leaves, finely chopped
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of sumac
salt, to taste 

Slice the eggplant as finely as you can manage lengthways. There's no easy way around this, but if you faff it up somewhat you can sort of stick two half-pieces together and roll them up so it's all good. 

Mix together everything else in a small bowl with a fork, roughly mashing the feta as you go. Reserve some pomegranate seeds and mint for scattering over the serving plate. 

Heat a heavy pan over a high heat, and brush each slice of eggplant on both sides with a little olive oil. Place a few slices next to each other in the pan, and allow to get browned and softened before turning over to cook on the other side. It doesn't matter if they're perfect, as long as they're not, like, raw. Once you've done all of them, lay a piece of eggplant on a board, place a small spoonful of the feta mixture at one end, and roll it up lengthways. Place it on a serving plate and move onto the next. It doesn't matter if they're a bit roughly done or if bits of the filling fall out, because...it's all so delicious. Carry on until all the eggplant slices are used up, sticking two together and carefully rolling them into one roll with any scrap slices if you need to. Scatter with the mint and pomegranate, drizzle over a little more olive oil if you like, and you're done.  


Also to hark back to something I mentioned in my last blog post, I'm still in a "moving house soon" state, which is going to come really rushing in on me when I get back from Auckland next week. I'm sensibly approaching this life-changing event by completely ignoring the concept of packing my possessions into boxes and instead drifting about on Pinterest finding articles with titles like "You'll Love These Forty Exciting Ways With Fairy Lights" and "29 Cosy Bedroom Concepts You Can Make With Just Paper Cups and A Prayer." Just being my usual inspirationally sensible and pragmatic self.

Speaking of sensible and pragmatic I think I'm literally addicted to dying my hair with semi-permanent colours, and since my hair is so pugnaciously healthy and strong it seems to be taking this colourful thrashing quite well.

Currently vibing with smudges of pinky blue amidst icy blonde, and next up I think I'm going to go for minty green, maybe with pink tips? It's so fun! (Despite what my blankly distressed face in this photo would suggest, that's just my Strongly On Brand Lack of Smile.) Everyone, go dye your hair! Or at least give a jaunty and affirmative "nice hair!" to someone having fun dying theirs! Making sure they catch your pleasant drift and it doesn't sound like you're cat-calling them lasciviously!
title from: Kesha, We R Who We R. I sodding love this gal. She's wonderful. 
music lately: 

Drake, Headlines. Here's what I have to say about Drake: Draaaaaaaaaake.

The Libertines, Can't Stand Me Now. This song is kinda sad and adorable at the same time, with its push-pull and "no you've got it the wrong way round" and it's both dated and ageless which is a completely lazy way of describing it but I care not.

Lorde, 400 Lux. "I'd like it if you stayed..."
Next time: I don't know! Maybe I'll make something cool while I'm up home! Maybe I'll be too busy being uncool in front of the cats.