21 August 2015

i should tell you: laura lee

Well hello there and welcome to volume eighteen of I Should Tell You, where I ask cool musicians questions about food, pretty much to see if they'll answer me, really, but also because the results are usually interesting as. The same three questions every time, with the likes of Anika Moa, Coco Solid and The Phoenix Foundation giving me their food thoughts - and this time I'm talking to the boo Laura Lee.


Laura Lee is one of those charming babes you might come across in life where you're all like, "hey babydoll, hey bae, hey honeybee" even though you barely know them, because you just end up falling into that kind of familiarity with them right away. We originally bonded over a bunch of stuff (including using the adjective "dreamburgers" to describe a young Leonardo DiCaprio) and I have been a huge fan of her music in all its iterations. She was part of O'Lovely, whose album Constellations had me swooning from the first moment I heard the single Bright Lights - but now she's on her own as Laura Lee.

Little Too Late is her first single which she recently released and it's gorgeous, with that dreamy, sad-yet-upbeat pop vibe that I love. Can't wait to see what she comes out with next...


Thanks Laura! The interview will start...now.

Where's somewhere you've eaten that you kinda like to brag about or drop into conversation?

I can't think of anywhere that I like to brag about but there is someone.. When I've got some spare time in the day I head down to my local cafe called Sam Barnes, there's a baker there who I've now become friends with (not just for her cakes.)

I went in there one day and asked about their birthday cake options, I explained to her that I don't have a sweet tooth and she made me a mixed berry cheese cake. It's one of the best things I've ever tasted. I don't usually get excited about cakes but she's changed me! She's truly an artist. Ever since she made me my birthday cake I brag about her to anyone that is needing cakes or catering because her cakes are like nothing I've ever tasted. 

What do you fix for yourself, or where do you go to eat, when it's just you on your own?

I'm obsessed with popcorn. I started making it everyday after school when I was about 13, at first I think my mum was hoping it was a fad as I'd get home and stink the house out every day, I also like to cook it to the point where it almost starts to burn, at first I didn't know what I was doing so I burnt a couple of pots.... 

These days I don't cook it daily but any excuse to make it and I'll do it. I like to experiment with different flavours. When I was in Melbourne I went through a faze of cooking it in coconut oil with Turmeric and Salt and Pepper. Tonight I made it with honey and salt... I also have to say I'm obsessed with dates, they're right up there with popcorn!! 

What's one of your favourite food-related memories from your childhood?

When ever I see hundreds and thousands it reminds me of being a child, I have flashbacks of going to birthday parties and eating fairy bread. Hundreds and Thousands biscuits have the same affect. They were my favourite  biscuits as a child and probably still are.


The smell of dill is my other strong food-related memories, mum used to put it in rice as it cooked and the whole house would smell amazing. I do it now and then, it's also tasty cooled with a squeeze of lemon juice mixed though. It makes the rice taste just lovely!
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18 August 2015

let's go dip it low then you bring it up slow

looky looky I got cookie 

Oh man, I started writing this blog post the other day and concluded that one of the good things about the past week or so is that I haven't been sick for once, and then I woke up this morning feeling all woolly-headed and tender-eyeballed and sniffly and grubby and generally like a pile of dirt with a sad face drawn on it. This has been the sickliest winter, and I'm so unimpressed - can someone with a better sense of authority than I please tell my immune system that it's grounded for the next month with no TV? Am crossing all fingers that it's a shortlived burst of grime-lung as opposed to the return of the flu.

Other than my frustratingly delicate health, things have been thoroughly quite good of late: some working, some cooking, some hanging with friends and their beautiful dog while watching Buffy, a ludicrously late night out dancing, a day spent dozing in bed without - miraculously - getting angry at myself for not achieving anything with my time, and some whisky and movies and pizza and the batty latest season of America's Next Top Model with my girlfriend. The only real thing making me frown (prior to feeling sick again) has been processing my feelings about the mid-season finale of Pretty Little Liars, (if you have feelings about that then friend: I am your girl to discuss it with), plus some unfairly painful cramps. Which were probably brought on by Pretty Little Liars, to be honest.

Importantly, there were also cookies! I made these about a week ago, simply because I felt this wiggly need to bake something. Overwhelmed by the internet when I went looking for inspiration (y'know, it's all either triple backflip oreo stuffed red velvet bla bla bla cookies or raw high-protein dust cookies) I attempted to narrow down what it was I had in mind, which was: just something nice, okay? After some ineffectual writhing I eventually came up with this non-threateningly simple yet wonderful recipe, where they're fairly plain but made with lots of brown sugar and dipped in milk chocolate. The where the end result is a little chewy, a little crunchy, and a little meltingly shortbread-like. And a lot smug-inducing.

zoomed in slightly: still good 

I took some to work to share because I am a literal earth-angel, and gave some to my girlfriend to say "yay it's our six month anniversary but here is a low-key token of my affection or whatever it's no biggie jk jk it's really amazing I am the sincerest"; and ate the rest in bed by myself, and by all accounts, especially my own, they were utterly delicious. It's always promising when the uncooked dough tastes so good that you consider retiring to your boudoir to eat the lot and pretend you can't hear when people ask you where the cookies are that you said you'd make.

chocolate dipped brown sugar cookies

a recipe by myself

250g soft butter
one cup brown sugar
one egg
two cups flour
half a teaspoon baking powder

Set your oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking paper. 

Okay so all you need to do is: mix stuff together, roll into balls, bake it until it's cookies, but I am a talky lass and like to hold your hand through the process. What I'm saying is, the long recipe below might make it look like this is hellaciously complicated but it's not, promise. 

Beat the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon (or whatever! a rudimentary stick you found in the garden! A 30cm ruler! Don't let me put you in a box) until it's all light and creamy and fluffy and tastes incredibly delicious. Crack in the egg and continue to beat the mixture till it's even lighter, then carefully fold in the flour and baking powder - at this point it's very easy to fling stuff everywhere if you stir too vigorously. My dough looked a little dry and crumbly and like there was far too much flour but if you keep working it and clump it together with your hands it should form a pliant, stiff dough.

Refrigerate for half an hour- which is boring, yes, but this step helps the cookies to not spread too far when they bake. 

Roll the cookies into small balls, maybe around the size of an unshelled walnut, and flatten them slightly using the back of a teaspoon. Bake them for around 12-16 minutes until they're lightly browned. I got a little distracted on the internet while they were baking and so some of mine are more browned than they oughta be, but they still tasted good. However, they will firm up and continue to cook a bit as they cool, so trust your instincts and remove them to a rack to cool when you feel they're ready. Repeat this with the remaining dough.

Melt 250g milk chocolate in the microwave, or however you do it, and dip half of each cooled cookie into it. Sit them on a sheet of baking paper till they're set, then they're finally ready to be eaten. 


bite me 

These would be just lovely on their own but dipping them in chocolate makes them spectacular spectacular - milk chocolate is gently sweet with a creamy, slightly caramel vibe which works so well with these cookies. I know dark chocolate is considered to be the best kind but it's honestly just not that fun to hoof into, all bitter and miserable and throat-coatingly cocoa-dark, and that kind of distraction is not what I want for these beauties. The way your teeth sink through the thin yet lightly crisp layer of chocolate into the crumbling, buttery cookie below generates a feeling that I can only explain by pointing you towards the hearts-for-eyes emoji.


So there you have it, these are easy to make, delicious at all stages, good to give away and perfect to eat in bed as your day's food intake in its entirety. While not eating cookies or galumphing about complaining about how sick I am, I'm working hard on trying to get a million deadline-esque things done - including another crush cake for The Toast, more stuff for The Spinoff, and an interview with the babe Laura Lee for the I Should Tell You segment of this very blog. I'm drinking an aperol spritz as I write though and I can feel it helping me.
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title from: Rihanna's still killer debut single Pon De Replay. Who could've known back in 2005 that Rihanna would become Rihanna? Well, we all should've, because this song is so good.  
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music lately:

Lana Del Rey, High By The BeachI love this woman so much and am loving the unimpressed vibe her lyrics have taken in this dreamy new song of hers.

Men Without HatsThe Safety Dance. What care I that this song is literally the most dorky thing on earth? I love it so much, it's so earnestly jaunty and happy and also strongly echoes my own feelings about dancing. It's on the work playlist and it's honestly quite dangerous: the first time I heard it I was so excited that I hurled a hot chocolate to the ground, making the title of the song a dark omen brought to fruition, really.
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Next time: Another I Should Tell You interview, wheeeeeeeee!

12 August 2015

fancy plans and pants to match: portlander's visa wellington on a plate menu

             

Well hello there, and welcome to another instalment of Fancy Plans and Pants to Match, where I acknowledge that sometimes nice things happen to me and then try to write about it in a way that's not tooooo teeth-grindingly irritating to read. No point being coy, but also I don't want to sound as though I'm totally used to this kind of thing, because it's super exciting every time. Anyway! Now that I have the requisite self-deprecation out of the way, I can actually get on with telling you what happened. Two things though: first, if you're wondering, this segment is named for a quote from Jimmy James, an abundantly excellent character from the highly slept-on 90s sitcom NewsRadio. And secondly, I've managed to lose both my stupid SD cards and so my camera is now little more than an expensive sculpture, meaning that I have to use my phone to take photos instead. As such these images aren't the highest quality they could be, but I've decided to lean into this by running them through some distractingly dreamy filters. 

I now have the theme song from the tv show Lamb Chop's Play-Along stuck in my head and I also have no regrets...except that this is happening 

so here's the thing: I was invited along to Portlander to preview their menu for Visa Wellington on a Plate Festival.

the pitch: Visa Wellington on a Plate is approaching super fast, and despite all the cool events promised I have to say for me the most interesting bit is seeing what set menus all the restaurants come up with for the Dine Wellington side of things. Portlander is the restaurant connected to the Rydges Hotel, both elegant and yet burger-ly chill and a rare example of a hotel restaurant that really excels in its own right as a stand-alone eatery. Last year Portlander's menu did incredibly well for them and they wanted to run this year's offerings past a few of us before the festival launches - and if there's one thing I love more than food, it's sneaky food. Once the festival starts you can get two courses or three courses plus a beverage for a set price at lunchtime and dinner respectively, but we got to try the whole damn lot.

what happened: myself and another foodwriter were given a special table to ourselves with the lovely Sales and Marketing Coordinator; where we were brought all the various courses that would be available on the set menu and given the chance to share them, wallow in the deliciousness, and then provide any feedback we had.

salmon! some mega deliciousness with your omega-3 

The food went as follows -

Starters: Palliser Bay lamb cutlets with Mediterranean Food Warehouse dried figs, toasted pistachio, cranberries and Prana Greens pea shoots (verdict: an excellent mix of meatily sweet lamb, deeply sweet figs and sour-sweet cranberries.)
Grilled scallops with Zany Zeus smoked yoghurt and Greytown Gold saffron essence with parmesan chips, Prana Greens micro herbs and avocado oil (verdict: scallops feel like such a rare treat for me, they're not something I would encounter more than like, once a year at best, and these were glorious - mellow and tender and bouncy and excellent with the playful pairing of smoked yoghurt.)

Mains: Char-grilled wild venison fillet with Farm Fresh wild mushroom polenta and light truffle jus (verdict: I am a right sucker for polenta in any form so was easily pleased by this gorgeously wintry combination of flavours. The venison was dense and rich and the mushrooms intensely savoury; it was wonderful)
Yellow Brick Road Ōra King Salmon cold smoked with Elaia Gourmet Olives leaf tea and manuka wood chips, crushed potato, housepreserved lemon and Koroneiki extra virgin Greytown Gold olive oil (verdict: the salmon was amazing, with an intriguing, gently smoky flavour that complemented the richness of the coral pink flesh stunningly. Sour salty stabs of lemon and olive flavour, while almost overwhelming, helped keep it balanced. And to literally top it all off the salmon skin, silver like a disco ball, was perfectly crunchy.)

Dessert:Apple Sourz sorbet and RJ’s liquorice individual baked cheesecakes (verdict: I was tickled by the inclusion of the Sourz, which made for a luscious, zingy sorbet. Liquorice is one of the few flavours I avoid in this life, it does absolutely nothing for me, but this cheesecake was spectacular - the flavour was more like the darkest molasses toffee giving way to the barest tickle of liquorice, and the texture was satiny-smooth.)
Housemade shortbread sandwich with Zelati Freezeria peanut butter ice cream and blonde Beer Belly Jellies (verdict: while a little difficult to get into with one's cutlery, the shortbread was buttery and properly homemade-tasting, while the ice cream shone with pure peanut butter flavour that worked well with the creamy texture, and, oddly, the blonde beer flavoured jelly that accompanied it. On its own the jelly was a bit evocative of a country pub's carpet, but as long as it wasn't the only thing on your spoon it was ultimately a daring choice that paid off.)

ice cream sandwich: yes. 

the best bit: our hosts were hugely charming and gregarious, and the Johner Estate wine was plentiful and glorious - admittedly my wine knowledge is like...mostly bluffing, guesswork, and fixed eye contact while confidently telling you adjectives, but this really is delicious wine. However that incredible liquorice cheesecake was the standout for me - such incredible, subtle, deep-toned flavour and swoony texture that got me enthusiastically eating something I professed to dislike. (Outside of this cheesecake though I'm still staunchly not a fan. There's these photos of me on my first birthday, one of me moving stealthily towards my birthday cake to steal a black jellybean, and then one of my horrified and perplexed face when I actually ate it. Not much has changed.)


on a scale of 'one' to 'is this the real life, is this just fantasy': I mean - the very point of these Dine Wellington menus is that they're highly accessible, and it's lovely to know I could have aspects of this meal all over again during the Visa Wellington on a Plate festival. It was thoroughly fun to be dining at our own special table though, and a delightfully fancy evening, so I give it a solid five. (To reiterate, this is rating it for how outlandish and unattainable it is, not how good it is.)

earnest thanks for helping me feel fancy to: Portlander at the Rydges Hotel, corner of Whitmore and Featherston Street, Wellington. For more information call 04 498 3762 or email info@portlander.co.nz.

Read the Fancy Plans and Pants to Match archives here, and giz a yell at laura@hungryandfrozen.com if you want to invite me to your own fancy times. 

5 August 2015

i'm not sick but i'm not well, and it's a sin to live so well


there is a Maori proverb: the kumara does not speak of its own sweetness. I love this proverb, but I do not resemble it, let's face it.

After all my deep-lunging insistence in my last blog post that I want to be quadruply productive, the final week of July was a monumental write-off, as I was dramatically burdened with the literal flu. All I could do was lie in bed all flushed of cheek and starry of eye like some breathily consumptive side character from an LM Montgomery novel who gets struck down with illness as a cosmic punishment for being too "high-spirited". Honestly it was absolute agony, I couldn't even fill the time by watching movies or TV on my darling laptop because looking at screens cruelly made me feel queasy, and aside from hallucinating my way through several shifts at work all I did was sleep or doze fretfully while cursing this good-for-nothing flesh vessel of a body that had failed me so spectacularly and turned me into actual garbage. (I couldn't even watch Pretty Little Liars. It was wretched, I can tell you.)

Needless to say I didn't do any cooking. It's 100% possible that I would've got better sooner if I hadn't expended thousands of watts of energy on being angry and frustrated at how much time I was wasting by being sick - there has never been a more petulant and frowny invalid than I! - but here I finally am, maybe not entirely perfectly better but so improved and ready to exist again.

the blogger never stops speaking of their own sweetness

After spending that week living like my brain had been unceremoniously thrown into a ravine with me left behind to flail helplessly, I also felt like I'd forgotten what it was like to just up and make myself food like it was no big deal. I was, as such, writhing around indecisively being all "what shall I cooooook" yesterday when my flatmate and dear friend Charlotte mentioned that she'd made kumara chips with major success the night before. This suggestion inspired me to make something similar, and my brain finally made itself useful and presented me with the idea of roasting kumara and then covering it with some kind of feta-studded crumble.

It was an absolute, rapturous success - roastily sweet kumara with the crunch of lightly toasted walnuts and breadcrumbs roughly torn from a bread roll, bulgingly soft, tangy feta, and rich fragrant thyme. And not just to eat, but to look at, with the bright-white feta against the sunset orange of the kumara and jaunty pinpoints of herbal green. A damn masterpiece all round, and to make it even more endearing, it's incredibly easy and fast to make.


roasted kumara with feta, walnuts, thyme and breadcrumbs

a recipe by myself

one good-sized orange kumara
olive oil
salt
about 100g soft feta
about half a cup fresh breadcrumbs (I just tore a bread roll into tiny/not so tiny pieces) 
a third of a cup of walnuts
about one tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
one tablespoon pumpkin seeds

Set your oven to 200 C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Slice the kumara fairly finely into slices of about half a centimetre - accuracy and uniformity is not particularly important here. Lay them on the baking tray and drizzle over some olive oil, using a pastry brush to spread it out evenly. Sprinkle over a little salt and roast them - I put the tray pretty close to the top of the oven - for fifteen to twenty minutes, turning over once halfway through, till they're tender. 

While the kumara is in the oven, combine the breadcrumbs, thyme leaves, walnuts and pumpkin seeds in a small bowl, then crumble in the feta and gently mix it all together. Sprinkle this evenly over the kumara and return to the oven for another five to ten minutes just to toast the bread and soften the feta a little. Eat. 


If you don't live within reach of a kumara, those gourd-shaped orange butternut squashes would be perfect instead, and you could always leave out the feta to make this completely vegan. 

I did do one other thing last week: I spatula'd myself out of bed long enough to go get a haircut, my first since I chopped my long hair off last year. It was nothing dramatic, just cleaning up the layers a bit so I didn't look quite so much like I'd brushed my hair with a cheese grater; and I do believe the results are very cute.


Everything else, all my plans I'd had for Doing Things and Being Productive and Aggressively Achieving had to be put off, but on the upside I did insist on learning absolutely nothing from the experience about letting things go and putting one's own wellbeing before one's own expectations of, uh, one. 


Included in my plans for the upcoming unspecified period of time is reading The Sex Myth by Rachel Hills. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of it, but unfortunate enough for that to coincide with me being all busy and sick, but it's nice to know it's there, at least. Look at that sprightly cover art! Oh man I want to write another book. 


But let us be irritatingly positive and upbeat: I did feed myself, and it was wonderful. Go me. And if you're feeling ill or been sick too in this bleak midwinter, my sincerest, like, so sincere it almost sounds like I'm making fun of you, sympathies. Get well soon! 
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title from: Harvey Danger, Flagpole Sitta. This song absolutely encapsulates for me that back-in-my-day thing of hearing a song on the radio and having to wait weeks to hear it again and having no idea what it was called or even what the lyrics were, in fact not even having heard it enough to satisfactorily hum it to yourself in your own head. It wasn't until late 2000 that I learned what its name was and who wrote it, on some kind of song lyrics forum: yes, I'm kinda elderly. Also this song remains completely brilliant, if you don't feel like springing about the room and singing lustily along with the chorus then I'm not sure we can be friends. (Also: I only just noticed how funny it is that they rhyme "well" with "well" in the chorus. How daring!) 
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music lately:

I remain on such a Faith No More kick and am playing the very heck out of their Live in London album on youtube; We Care A Lot is still so so so good. 

Demi Lovato, Cool For The Summer. I am so pro-Lovato, and love how we get all these summer bangers right in the middle of winter when they're most needed. 
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next time: I refuse to be sick again, okay? I just refuse. So hopefully you'll be hearing from me sooner rather than later. 

24 July 2015

you want it all but you can't have it, it's in your face but you can't grab it



My highly wonderful girlfriend recently linked me to a story online that she thought I'd relate to - an interview with Canadian writer Fariha Roisin - and while reading it I was nodding so emphatically in agreement that I probably kicked off some kind of like, Butterfly Effect. I mean, look at this:

"I really struggle with the idea of productivity. I hate the fact that I value myself on my own creative produce, and I enact so much frustration and hate onto myself when I can’t, or won’t (due to emotional blockages, etc) create. Recently I’ve felt a great big void in the center of my being. I want to let myself have days off, but I don’t necessarily think I deserve them."

It's oddly calming to read Roisin articulate that storminess just as I would. Like I said in my last blog post, I'm trying to manage my expectations of myself (which are, some might say, a little ludicrously high) in relation to the actual time available to achieve them all, and not getting a particularly satisfactory outcome.

All of this dark-eye-circled self-centredness has really only increased because I have a lot of projects happening where the time to do them seems just out of reach, but I'm not sure if it's the lack of time or if it's just me, you know? And as I blurted on twitter the other day, I really want to make a food show web series, the sort that you watch and think "oh yeah that will definitely end up on TV at some stage", and I want it to be hilarious and excellent and different and not simply pleasant and straightforward like 99% of the existing food-related content out there. The world does not need another pleasant cooking show, but I feel like one that's fun and stupid and properly funny and irreverent without being too laboured and studied is...well, just as unnecessary in the greater scheme of things, but still, I want it to happen and that's reason enough for me. And I don't know how to do this and whenever I've had time to think about it, I've had to sleep, because there's only so many hours in the day. Part of me wonders if I'm letting myself use my busy schedule as an excuse to not have to actually do anything, and part of me is literally asleep right now as I write this, so.

But! I did achieve potatoes! Take that, The Passage of Time! It also happens to be the one single thing I've cooked in the time since the caramel slice in my last blog post, so thank goodness it's monumentally incredibly delicious.


Say what you will about microwaves, but I realised recently if you briefly zap potatoes in one, you can then fry or roast them with extreme haste, and have yourself some kind of carbohydrate-rich dish in significantly less time than it would normally take! And that time always feels endless when you're waiting for potatoes. With this recipe you can have a lusciously wonderful dish of crisply fried potatoes in a not-overly unbearable time. It's not exactly instant, but it's instant-er than you're gonna get otherwise.

I made this up the other day as a pre-work snack, just based on ingredients I had to hand, and it's really as quite-fast as I claim. The time it took for the potato pieces to sizzle into golden crispness was just the right amount of time to go look for my camera's SD card, be entirely unable to find it in the nourishing vegetable soup of possessions that is my bedroom, also realise I couldn't find the bowl I wanted to photograph the potatoes in, declare everything to be literal garbage and I, the luckless raccoon atop it all, then pull myself together and decide to find a different bowl and to use my phone to take photos instead.

Importantly, it tastes incredible.

quite fast garlic and parmesan potatoes

a recipe by myself

three medium-sized floury potatoes, or potatoes that are labelled suitable for frying/roasting
30g butter, or more to taste (obviously I added more) 
a teaspoon or so of olive oil (it stops the butter from burning) 
four fat cloves of garlic, or thereabouts
parmesan cheese for grating over 

Stab the potatoes a couple of times with a fork, and then throw them in the microwave - no need to even put them on a plate or anything, but I guess you can - and cook on high for about three minutes. 

Meanwhile, peel the garlic cloves and very roughly chop them - you're looking for good-sized bits here, not crushed garlic - and put them into a wide saucepan along with the butter and oil. Place the pan on a medium heat, stirring occasionally while the butter melts and the garlic starts to gently sizzle.

Remove the potatoes from the microwave - you might want oven mitts or tongs for this - and very roughly chop them into smallish pieces. If the edges get roughed up and some bits get a little crushed, so much the better. Turn up the heat on the butter and tip in the potatoes, stirring around so they're all evenly sitting in the pan. Let them fry until wonderfully golden, stirring occasionally so all surface areas are against the heat of the pan. This will take about ten minutes. 

Once you're satisfied with the done-ness of the potatoes, tip them onto a plate or bowl and grate over as much parmesan as you see fit. 


Stickily rich garlic, golden crunchy potatoes which are fluffily tender inside, barely melting sharp parmesan, blanketed as thickly as you can be bothered grating it - this is both comforting and beautiful. The quantities of ingredients listed are a little vague, because you can make this as garlicky and buttery and parmesan-y as you please really, and because apparently I like to overexplain things. What I'm saying is, trust yourself and what you want, but what I've given you here is a good starting point.

I ate the entire bowlful and licked the plate (some might say that's an uncouth habit but I say the tongue is nature's spatula) and was utterly pleased with myself, which, given my aforementioned tendency towards sternly growling at myself all the time, was...nice. Of course you can have these as part of a table of brunch food or to accompany steak or a roasted thing or whatever you want, but eaten on their own they're pretty perfect.

Speaking of what is and isn't perfect, I leave you - and myself- with these wise words from Fariha Roisin:
I’m learning to not have conditions attached to myself. I’m unbuckling the belt and loosening the idea tied up to what it means to be a person, or what it means to be me. 
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title from: Epic, a song by Faith No More that I may have listened to roughly twelve thousand times in the last few days. This live version is amaaaazing. I just love this song so much. I am okay with this. I am not okay with how great the song is though. How dare it!
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music lately: 

Sick, an EP from Allison Stone. She is wonderful and it is wonderful, okay?

Shades, I'll Be Around. This is from...1996? And still goes off.
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next time: hopefully I will cook something in the next like, six months - whatever it is, it's all yours. 

20 July 2015

you could have my heart or we could share it like the last slice

so delicious that Pony by Ginuwine starts to play non-diegetically when you take a bite

There's a scene in the important film Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, where Dewey Cox is starting his rapid trajectory towards being a famous rock'n'roll star. He tells his wife Edith, "I'm gonna miss some things, okay? I'm gonna miss some birthdays and some christenings. I'm gonna miss some births, period. It's just unrealistic to expect that I'm gonna be here for every time you have a baby." I'm currently relating heavily to this, apart from, tragically, the bit with the ascension to fame, because I'm week three into working roughly five thousand times more hours than I normally do. Luckily, I adore my job and doing so many hours does make payday fun, but all I've been doing is sleeping and working which doesn't bode well for getting blog posts done, or indeed anything. In fact, I've been trying to write this very one here that you're reading for about seven days now, but every time I went to write I would instead just stare into space and then wake up three hours later, gently spooning my laptop like it was some kind of ergonomically disappointing teddy bear.

Yet finally here I am! With a really wilfully stupid peanut butter chocolate caramel slice! It was in a brief moment of lucidity that I concocted it, taking a base made largely of peanut butter and actual butter, a centre made of condensed milk and more butter and a handful of roasted salted nuts, and a top of melted milk chocolate. Seriously, that's really all there is to it. You pretty much know the recipe now.

hey baby, I think I wanna marry you 

It sounds like it would be stupidly, almost uncomfortably sweet and rich, and while admittedly I have literal syrup running through my veins instead of blood and therefore my bar for the overly sweet is set quite high, I assert to you that it's honestly very manageable to eat. In that you could easily manage to eat three quarters of it before you even realise the knife is in your hand and you're standing at the fridge slicing off thick squares of it.

Oddly enough it's the caramel centre that keeps it in check - you blast the hell out of the condensed milk and butter in the microwave before spreading it across the base, and all that heat reduces it down and brings out the ocean-deep dark toffee flavours present in the sugars. Then the roasted nuts, crunchy as popcorn and covered in salt, add to this. Just in case it starts to sound all too sensible I then cover it in the plainest sweetest mellowest milk chocolate, but with good reason, because dark chocolate would be too punishingly intense and make it a chore to eat.

it isn't too hard to see, we're in heaven

Speaking of important movies and delicious things that make people flustered, my one other accomplishment of recent time is, last night I went to the movies and watched Magic Mike XXL with my girlfriend and her flatmates. But Laura! I said to myself. Aren't you really like...gay? How could a movie about male strippers possibly hold your precious attention? My people, this movie is one of the best pieces of filmmaking I've ever encountered, one of the most joyful, kind-hearted, generous movies, and honestly, a rare film where women of all shapes and skin colours and faces have fun and are celebrated and support their friends and are in charge and are never, ever the joke, even though you keep thinking that's where the movie's gonna go. A film where men are emotional and express their love for each other without once adding "no homo", but also a bisexual character is not seen as a curiosity to be analysed and picked apart. A film where guys listen to women and help them, not in a "you frail stupid woman let me do this better than you" kind of way, but a "I'd like to make things better so you can be happy because that'd be nice" kind of way. Just when you think it's gonna zig, it zags. Honestly I'm getting emotional just trying to write about it.

Oh and if you're into the sight of men and stuff, there's...a lot of abdominal muscles being flung around. But truly, this movie is so very good, in the way that an old dog tied up on the street waiting patiently for their owner is good. Take your mother, take your 300 year old grandmother, take your husband, take your nine year old child, take everyone to see this movie! Put it this way: I came out of it saying that I'd actually love to read think-pieces on it, and normally my attitude towards think-pieces is that they should be thrown into the ocean. So. While I've been berating myself frowningly for not being outstanding in the field of achievement lately, getting this movie under my belt (hey-oh!) makes me feel like I've used my time very wisely.

just imagine another song from the Magic Mike XXL soundtrack here okay

Okay, one more thing about this movie before I get back to that other ridiculously sexy caramel confection: I love that there was more or less zero conflict. The characters were just happy and chill and overcame small hurdles and that was it! I have come to realise that I hate when movies, especially movies about an existing entity are like, what shall we do with these characters that the audience knows and loves - better make them fight and be isolated from each other until about ten minutes before the end. (For some reason A Goofy Movie is what sprang to mind here: hot take, A Goofy Movie was a bit disappointing.) Up with niceness! Okay that's quite the end of my breathless and shrieking thoughts on Magic Mike XXL. On here at least.

peanut butter chocolate caramel nut slice

a recipe that I made by smashing several Nigella recipes together and adding bits of my own thoughts so yeah

200g smooth peanut butter
50g soft butter
half a cup brown sugar
one and a half cups icing sugar

one tin sweetened condensed milk
200g butter
two tablespoons golden syrup
half a cup (or so) salted roasted mixed nuts 

200g milk chocolate

Line a brownie tin - either a 23cm square one or a regular sized rectangular one - with a large piece of baking paper. Use a wooden spoon to beat the peanut butter and butter together, then carefully stir in the sugars (I say carefully, because icing sugar tends to fly everywhere in dusty white clouds at the slightest provocation) until you have a sandy, crumbly mixture. Press it into the base of the baking tin, using the back of a spoon (it helps if you dust it with icing sugar first) to flatten it out fairly evenly. Refrigerate while you get on with the filling.

To make the filling, melt the butter in a decent-sized china bowl (or something else microwave-proof) and then stir in the condensed milk and golden syrup. Microwave for five to seven minutes, stirring every minute or so - it will bubble up angrily but shouldn't overflow, it's better to stir it too much than to let it burn or overflow though - by which stage it should be thickened, and darkened into a rich, but still fairly light, golden colour. Let it sit for a bit to cool slightly, and then stir in the nuts. Pour this over the peanut butter base, using a spatula to get every last bit out and to smooth it out on top, then refrigerate till set and firm. 

Finally, microwave the chocolate in short bursts till it's collapsing, and stir till it's totally melted and smooth. Gently spread across the caramel layer, and allow to set either in the fridge or a cool place. 



Wait, I've achieved two other things lately: I zoomed to a party after one of my shifts and danced my face off with friends and had my sister-from-another-species vibe with Percy the corgi reconfirmed. 


And, I dyed my hair purple. Well, more specifically, I stuck my hands in the pot of purple dye and kind of mussed up my hair (which was at the time a fading blue colour) in a haphazard manner just to see what would happen. It turned out pretty well, I think. In fact there's probably also a metaphor for my life in there (or at least I'm self-centred enough to think that pretty much everything could be a metaphor for my life and indeed, that my life is fascinating enough to warrant multiple metaphors to represent it.) (I'm not sure if that made any sense but in my defense: oh man I'm tired.) 
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title from: Drake, Best I Ever Had, which is just...so Drake. "Sweat pants, hair tied, chillin' with no make-up on/That's when you're the prettiest, I hope that you don't take it wrong."
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music lately:

Carly Rae Jepsen, Run Away With Me. It's like the best eighties song you don't remember. 

Janet Jackson, No Sleep. It's so dreamy. She's back and she never even left. 
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next time: I'm still working a ton more than usual but I'm gonna try so hard to cook for myself one time and blog about it before, I don't know, the next financial year end rolls around. 

9 July 2015

swallow it down, what a jagged little pill

that cactus is a visual metaphor for how my throat felt, also, juxtaposition! The word that saved me in Art History 101 

Next time you're just hanging about, you know, existing within your corporeal form or whatever, take note of how many times you unconsciously swallow. Turns out humans do it a ton which is super fun when out of nowhere you have a sore throat and it feels like a serrated knife has lodged itself horizontally within your larynx. Every time you swallow. Which, as we've established, is unfairly often! Anyway so I've had a miserable bunch of days (the sore throat came with the free gift of an earache!) to the point where I couldn't even eat soothing stuff like ice cream or soup because it was agony to swallow anything. Even cool, clear water might as well have been a nutritious bowl of sand, because they both would've felt the same to my poor tender throat.

In wonderful news I am now thoroughly improved, mostly due to ibuprofen, rest, and gargling so much salt water and apple cider vinegar that I'm surprised I haven't turned into a pickle. However, I choose to attribute my entire recovery to the incredible bowl of porridge that I fixed for myself yesterday. I'd taken enough painkillers that my throat was tentatively amenable to food, and I wanted to have something aggressively nutritious and filling, but also soft and warm as the underbelly of a rabbit. Oatmeal covers all these bases, as well as allowing me to be irritatingly cute by using the portmanteau of Sore Throatmeal, and I do love to be irritatingly cute.


 rock the oat

I mean, everyone has their own way of making porridge and you can feel free to ignore my method or write it off as garbage (but if so, honestly, why are you still reading this far?) but mine has much going for it - the oats are toasted first, a step that only adds a minute to the cooking time but turns what could be gluey flavourless glue into a richly flavoured, warmly nutty concoction. I also stir in ground almonds, which add a gentle sweetness and swollen softness and richness and also, y'know, almonds put a shine on your coat. You could use any dried fruit you like but cranberries are full of anti-inflammatory and hella-vitamin properties, they also look incredibly pretty, all ruby red against the white cream and pale oats. Similarly, you could use coconut milk or almond milk or ginger instead of cinnamon and so on and so forth; but this is the recipe I made and it is so damn good.

Also I know this recipe looks really long and complicated, it's because I'm talky and like to hold your hand throughout the process just in case there's any small detail that confounds you. Once you sift through all my added nonsense it's really, really straightforward, I promise.

the softest porridge, or, sore throatmeal

a recipe by myself

a handful of dried cranberries 
half a cup oatmeal or finely rolled oats
quarter of a cup of whole oats 
half a cup of water
half a cup of milk
a pinch of salt
quarter of a cup of ground almonds
cinnamon
brown sugar
cream, and lots of it

Place the cranberries in a small bowl and cover with water from a just-boiled kettle. 

Place a smallish saucepan over a medium and throw the oats in, stirring them frequently to allow them to toast - they'll start to smell incredibly, well, toasty, and when this happens remove them from the heat and allow them to sit for a minute just to cool slightly. 

Stir in the water, milk, and salt, and return to a low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking as it heats up and thickens. You want to get it to the stage where it's starting to have big bubbles rise to the surface and burst, like some kind of geothermic mudpool (I think, I mean I have very little knowledge of geothermic...stuff) and at this point stir in the ground almonds and decide whether or not you think it needs a splash more milk or water - I like my porridge a little on the softer, creamier side, but you might like yours thicker. So, either it's ready, or you need to stir it a bit longer with more liquid. 

Once you're done, remove it from the heat, drain the cranberries (I just used a spoon to hold them back while tipping the water into the sink) and stir them in along with a hearty pinch of cinnamon. Spatula all this into a deep bowl (a deep bowl helps it stay warm for longer!) and spoon over as much brown sugar and cream as your mouth desires. 


I took one bite and was literally cured 

On account of this peskily sore throat I've done more or less nothing lately, I've either been in bed or at work; when in bed I've been on a Nigella-watching spree - I mean this in the nicest way, but I don't have to think at all when I'm watching her show, and it doesn't matter if I fall asleep halfway through, and all the stirring and gentle clattering and plummy vocals are utterly soothing to someone like me who adores background noise while I sleep. So you can see how I'm so Hallelujah-chorus rapturous over this porridge, it's pretty much the most exciting thing to happen to me in the last few days. It was so delicious though, that I'm very sure it would still provide some kind of thrill even if you're in full health.
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title from: Alanis Morrisette, You Learn. Remember when this album was the hugest thing in the world? This song has such a strange, meandering, conversational vibe to it that you don't get a lot now, and I remember thinking how subversive and rad it was that her voice was kinda screechy and drawly (I was ten, okay.) 
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music lately:

Fiona Apple, Sleep to Dream. So dark and moody and intense, "this mind, this body and this voice cannot be stifled by your deviant ways,  so don't forget what I told you, don't come around, I got my own hell to raise" - ooof. 

Kendrick Lamar, Alright. I mean the song itself was already amazing but the video is just... *falls over sideways*
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next time: it is SO FREEZING in Wellington right now, so I'll probably be cooking something to try and warm myself up, which at this stage is going to be a bowlful of the earth's molten core. 

6 July 2015

you think it's easy, when you don't know better

*Kanye voice* what she order, fish filet? 

So it has come to this: ya girl has been a combination of too busy, overcommitted, otherwise engaged, and pretty much any synonym for busy that you can think of, to even think of cooking. I haven't blogged for over a week, which, considering my insistence on overachieving, means that I may as well just delete the whole blog and throw my laptop in a river because I have clearly failed and everything is pointless. However, instead of that mildly hyperbolic behaviour, I've decided to just accept the past week as a write-off, and write on the few things I did make myself this week, even though those things are: fish finger butties and marmite-and-chip sandwiches.

I'm not trying to pretend like I invented either of these concepts, or that you need a recipe for them, or that they're high art as far as food goes, but - both were really, really delicious and made me happy, and even if they're embarrassingly easy and simple, to be honest that's good enough for me to blog about. Especially since I have zero other options, but still. Also stupid as it may seem for me to be telling you how to put prepackaged stuff in bread; I feel like if nothing else this blog post can serve as a reminder that these concepts exist. I mean, it had been forever since I'd had a marmite-and-chip sandwich and having revived that combination for myself I am now wanting them at least daily.

I think in some countries fish fingers are called fish sticks, either way they honestly sound terrible

The inspiration for the fish finger butties (ps, buttie is another word for sandwich, and you could just call it that but the word buttie just sounds more celebratory) came when my amazing girlfriend and I needed some sustenance after striding around the zoo in the bracing cold and beholding cute animals. It went like this: we were in the supermarket, she pointed at fish fingers and was all, "we could make sandwiches out of these maybe" and I squawked "you genius!" in total wonderment, because I have a very low bar for being impressed and in awe, to be honest. (I was then like "better get this pack of forty fish fingers just to be on the safe side.")

Whether you prefer to use mayo or butter - and I actually prefer mayo here - the bread has to be the softest, whitest, and thickest you can find. The fewer minerals and vitamins and general health-giving content the better. Similarly, if you can find those fish fingers that are crumbed and have maybe 4% actual fish content in the ingredients, you're on to a winner.

With the marmite-and-chip sandwiches, the chips in question are the crisps that come in a packet, not fries (I don't know why we have such confusing language around potato products, it's very troubling!) and obviously you can use whatever sodium-delivery-spread you like - Vegemite, Promite, English Marmite. I grew up on Marmite and adore it, whereas Vegemite to me tastes like salty dirt and misery. Many of you probably feel the reverse. Whatever, as long as the chips are crinkle cut and the plain salted flavour, you're all good. I ate marmite sandwiches roughly a billion times when I was a kid, but a marmite and chip sandwich - and I have no idea who first came up with the idea - was such an exciting upgrade. And there's nothing like casually eating the food that was thrilling to you as a kid, when you're an adult who can do what they want when they want.


marmite and chips on white bread: you can clearly see how I got my book deal and I should definitely get another

So, the reason either of these sandwiches are worth your time is the magical, transcendently good textural contrast between soft, soft white bread and crunchy filling. It's as simple as that. Bursts of crispness, salty savouriness, and comfortingly pillowy blandness.

fish finger butty

four fish fingers (three for the sandwich, one for snacking on) 
mayonaise 
two slices of the thickest, softest white bread you can find

Bake or fry the fish fingers till crisp and golden. My cunning trick is to put them in the sandwich press, but do whatever is most convenient for you.

Generously spread mayo on both pieces of bread, lay the fish fingers across one slice and top with the other slice, eat the remaining fish finger so you don't fade away between now and eating your sandwich, and then eat your sandwich. 


marmite and chip sandwich

a packet of ready salted chips, ideally crinkle cut
plenty of soft butter
marmite
two slices of white bread, as soft and thick as you can find

Spread both pieces of bread thickly with butter and then thinly with marmite. Pile up potato chips evenly on top of one slice, then gently top with the other slice. Eat. 


                       *Peter in Jesus Christ Superstar voice* I think you've made your point now 

It's kind of hard to photograph these sandwiches in a way that makes them look majorly alluring, I feel like sticking one next to a vase of flowers was not my best work, I guess I'm also pointing this out so that you know that I know. Like I said, I haven't cooked a thing this week and so this is what I'm working with. But honestly, I'm so convinced of the excellence of both these combinations that I'm not even bashful about having blogged about them now, because if you didn't know about them, you've been missing out on a world of deliciousness. I'm not saying I'm a hero, I'm just saying...nope that actually is what I'm saying. 

befriending everyone's dogs and cats is time-consuming okay

So just what have I been doing with myself if not devoting myself to blogging? Working; partying; helping a friend choreograph a tap dance routine for a drag competition; going on cute outings with people from work; loitering with birthday pals; seeing a friend's band perform; recovering from watching Pretty Little Liars; taking up lots of time being amazed at how time has gone so fast and it's July already; dancing wildly; working; berating myself for having achieved nothing this month; that sort of thing. Ya girl is determined to get cooking again though, what with it being my favourite pastime and incredibly dear to my heart and all.
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title from: The White Stripes, Hardest Button To Button. I love these guys so much, that is all.
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music lately: 

Carly Rae Jepsen, Emotion. TUNE. Pop music that is really upbeat but sounds kinda sad is my kryptonite.

Chelsea Jade, Lowbrow. This honey just keeps making songs that are amazing. It's amazing.

Nicki Minaj, Anaconda. Every time I listen to this or watch the video it just gets more and more spectacular and excellent, tbh.
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next time: literal recipes, I promise

24 June 2015

stars in the night blazing their light can't hold a candle to your razzle dazzle



There's nothing like lovingly taking photos of a cake on your camera and then sticking the camera's SD card into your pocket and then losing it somewhere in the street to hinder the blog post writing process; luckily for me should anyone find it there is only cake photos on there and nothing incriminating (all my photos of me holding up signs saying "I just robbed this bank!" while pointing to a bank are on another SD card, phew!) but it was one hell of a pain to try and take photos of the cake again when I'd since demolished so much of it directly into my mouth. I managed to take a few hasty photos of what was left of it and found a couple of grainy-like-sugar snaps on my phone, but yeah, consider yourself warned that these photos aren't my best work, and my best work is in fact dissolving in a puddle somewhere between Newtown and Wellington central.

caught by the fuzz(y photography) 

But at least the cake itself was good, and what a name: Bobby Dazzler Cake. Bobby Dazzler Cake. I found the recipe carefully written in the back of a cookbook belonging to one of my great-grandmothers (a smartly bound Aunt Daisy book with my great grandmother's name embossed in gold on the cover, fancy!) I was utterly smitten with the name before I even saw what was in the cake itself. You know when you hear a word or a phrase for the first time and then suddenly you see it everywhere? That happened to me with didymo, although it only occurred to me recently that it was probably because there were suddenly all these "watch out for didymo" campaigns everywhere and previously there hadn't been (once more for the people in the back: didymo! A satisfying word to say, even if you have to Watch Out for it.) But uh, sometimes it feels like more of a coincidence than that, in this case my excellent girlfriend and I were watching the terrible/amazing miniseries Tipping The Velvet and one character exclaimed to the other, "you're a real bobby dazzler." I was thoroughly taken with this phrase and while I initially assumed it was some secret Victorian-era glasses-waggling code, like "she's civic-minded" or "she stands up on the night train" or "she's remarkable" it turns out it simply means something along the lines of "the cat's pyjamas" which makes it no less delightful. Anyway, mere days after seeing this show, I discovered this recipe, in this book I must have read dozens upon dozens of times, and I knew it was a sign that I should bake it with immediacy. 

the bee's knees

The recipe was written in that type of handwriting that was probably considered terribly neat and full of propriety sixty years ago, and is entirely unintelligible nowadays, not to mention all in imperial measurements - a pound of this and a pound of that - and finally, as was the style of the time, it trails off mysteriously halfway through and doesn't give you any detail about how to mix it, what temperature and how long to bake it for, or indeed what sort of tin to put it in. There was so much that you just had to know back then! In the spirit of trying to just know stuff, I made some presumptions and biffed it into a ring cake tin and baked it for an hour at 180 C, or what Aunt Daisy might've cryptically referred to as "a good oven".

And it turned out splendidly! The mixture contains a resolutely old-timey mixture of prunes, grated carrot, grated apple, and sultanas, as if it's trying to be five different cakes at once, but you get a kind of moist fruitiness that's very comforting, the sort of cake you want to have with a large pot of tea while the rain dashes at the windows (a very easy scenario to come by in Wellington these days as we approach the middle of a neverending winter.) Honestly, when (when! Not if!) I make this again I'll increase the apple and carrot quantity to two, and dice the prunes a lot finer - the former sort of dissolved into the cake while the latter were all like "here I am! Prune! In your face!" I'd also use brown sugar instead of white, just to hold all that fruit together with a slightly more darker caramelliness. But honestly, this cake was wonderful, especially when I spread it with a thick cream cheese icing.

bobby dazzler cake

adapted from a handwritten recipe from my great-grandmother

250g soft butter
one and a half cups sugar
three eggs
one cup milk
one cup sultanas
one cup prunes, roughly chopped
one large carrot, grated
one large green apple, grated
three cups plain flour
one teaspoon baking soda

Set your oven to 180C/350F and generously butter and flour a ring/tube cake tin. I say generously because ring tins always make me a bit nervous, since there's so much surface area for cake to stick to. 

Beat the butter, sugar, and eggs together till soft, light and fluffy. Meanwhile, heat the milk till just below a simmer - hot and starting to wobble but not bubbling - and carefully stir it into the butter. I added a little at first, and whisked that in, then a little more and a little more and then finally tipped the lot in - this makes it easier to mix it all together. 

Stir in everything else, and spatula it into the cake tin. Bake for around an hour, or until firm and brown on top. Allow to sit for about ten minutes before running a knife carefully around the cake and its inner ring, and tipping it onto a plate. Ice with a mixture of around 250g room temperature cream cheese mixed with around half a cup of icing sugar. 


Keeping it familial, and while you're here I may as well tell you, the grey rose-patterned plate that I photographed the cake on used to belong to a family friend's great-aunt (if I remember correctly) and it was given to me as a birthday present years ago. The blue gold-edged plate belonged to my late grandmother on my dad's side. I love new things and new cookbooks but there's something quietly lovely about looking at a cookbook and seeing someone's handwriting on it, someone who only knew you when you were a baby, and thinking about them at your own age; or how a plate that would've had a thousand different cakes on it throughout the years is still getting to have cake on it; or just, I don't know, knowing that these bits and pieces aren't stuck in a cupboard somewhere but are still getting used and loved. It's nice!

oh wow also this knife belonged to the great-grandparents too now I think on it; also this photo is an instagram which is why it's all clean and bright like an eidelweiss

I daresay you could do further things to spruce this up; soak the prunes and sultanas in dark rum before you mix them in, skewer the cooked cake and pour over dark rum; order take-out and forget the cake completely and drink a lot of dark rum; add sultanas or dried apricots or dark chocolate - whatever, really. And then you can look fondly at your cake and say, a la Tipping the Velvet, "you're a real bobby dazzler". 

Almost as exciting as thinking about cake, is the fact that I wrote about important television show Pretty Little Liars for The Spinoff; I am really so proud of this piece that I wrote since this show means so much to me and it took me so long to write and research but was also so fun, not since I wrote an essay about Idina Menzel for a media studies paper in university have I had such joy approaching a deadline. So even if you're all, "this show is about teenage girls and therefore I'm quite sure without really knowing why that it is TERRIBLE and MEANINGLESS" perhaps I can change your mind or at least outrage you by comparing it to The Wire?  
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title from: Old Devil Moon, a song as comfortingly old-timey yet sassy as this very cake that I'm writing about. Judy Garland could break my heart singing the happiest song and as I admire that quality greatly, that's the version I'm directing you to. 
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music lately: 

Idina Menzel covering Radiohead's Creep, live in Manila. Oh wow. I haven't listened to the original of this song (it's one of those ones that you utterly thrash and then it starts to lose all meaning) and I wasn't sure how this would work but Idina is gold here, like, old-timey late early 2000s Idina all sweary and dark and twisty and her voice sounds amazing. I love her.

Laura Lee, Little Too Late. My rad pal has just released a new single, it's gorgeous and dreamy and fun and I love it and am so proud of her! It's a good time to be a Laura. 
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next time: whatever it is I'm gonna take better care of my SD card, that's for sure! 

18 June 2015

i should tell you: spook the horses

Well hello there, and welcome to volume seventeen of I Should Tell You, where I ask cool musicians about food to see what they have to say, or indeed, to see if they'll even answer at all. I haven't done one of these in a damn while, but yay, it's back! 


This time around I'm talking with Callum, Zach and Donnie from Wellington band Spook The Horses, whose sound I would describe as "pleasingly grumbly" but is perhaps more helpfully to be described as the sound of "post-hardcore, atmospheric, doom". Wonderful! If you want to listen to them you could head to their bandcamp site, or you can hear their entire recent album Rainmaker on YouTube. If gruff, dark, moody music that kind of envelopes you and washes over you at the same time when you listen to it really loud tickles your fancy then your fancy will most definitely be tickled by these guys. Look out for them around Wellington as they're always doing gigs here and there, otherwise just immerse yourself in that blissful doom noise.    


Thanks Callum, Zach and Donnie! The interview begins...now. 

1. Where's somewhere you've eaten that you kinda like to brag about or drop into conversation?

Callum: I've been done the whole degustation and wine-pairing thing at Hippopotamus before which is always good for some bragging but my go-to place in Wellington is Olive. Olive up and down rules. Consistently good coffee, good brunch vibes and the most chill and peaceful outdoor courtyard ever. It's less of a name-drop and more of a love letter,

Zach: A place that Is always interesting and relaxing to eat at is Duke Carvells. Although I'm not sure if i've earned the bragging rights, as the only time I can afford to go there is when my parents are paying. I enjoy eating somewhere that makes as many of the components of the meal as possible on site. I know they do their own breads, and smoked/preserved meats and sausages. They're all delicious, and are presented in interesting ways.

Donnie: It’s not exactly something to brag about, but I’m a huge, huge fan of pho bò, which is this Vietnamese beef noodle dish, and the best pho I’ve ever had, anywhere, is in this little unassuming fish and chip shop on Bond Street here called the Fisherman’s Plate. It’s one of those places that has burgers, chips, spring rolls all up next to the Vietnamese cuisine, so you’d never guess, but it has some of the best Vietnamese food in the whole city.

2. What do you fix for yourself, or where do you go to eat, when it's just you on your own?

Callum: Nachos! Alex and I used to live together and made developed the Spook the Horses classic, Nachos de los Muertos, which is probably terrible Spanish and probably also very culturally insensitive (Sorry.) It's a chili delivery mechanism above all else. We all love spicy food so the more different kinds of chili the better. Chipotles and green jalapenos are mandatory. Black beans are mandatory. Watties beans are strictly forbidden. What's not to love about a cauldron of vicious as hell chili?

Zach: My go to solo home cooked meal is probably Putanesca, a pasta dish with a salty and warming tomato sauce. I usually make it because its really quick, and all of the ingredients last for ages - so I always have them lying around. Olives, capers, anchovies, canned tomatoes, etc. Also a lot of people get weirded out about anchovies, so my leftovers never get stolen!

Donnie: I will never, ever pass up the opportunity to make some dope as fuck grilled cheese sandwiches. Love those things. You can chuck anything in them, too. Olives, artichokes, tomatoes, ham, pineapple, corn, mushrooms etc. Two pieces of thick grain bread chucked in a frying pan, buttered sides out, with a ton of cheese in them, and whatever else you’ve got lying around. I think I have to go make one right now.

3. What's one of your favourite food-related memories from your childhood?"

Callum: My dad is an excellent cook and a total outdoorsman, so he grows as many of his own veges and herbs as he can. My fondest memories are of how proud he would be to serve something he grew himself, or seeing him duck out of the kitchen to the herb garden to season a dish on the fly. I have some weird memories too, like my mum telling me the chicken I was eating was actually "chicken flavoured dough" to silence my objections about eating animals. Maybe my occasional flirtations with vegetarianism would have stuck if not for that bizarre lie.

Zach: The most vivid memories of food from my childhood would have to be of Christmas and new year’s time with my family. There were a lot of dishes that were traditional to have for our family, but my favourite one is probably the trifle my parents made. I'm not talking supermarket sponge cake and Watties canned peaches. It was all beautifully homemade sponge, custard, syllabub and fresh berries. Also lots and lots of booze. It's one of those rare times you can get drunk off eating solid food. The other memories that stuck would just be learning about having a healthy diet from my mother. She taught me that you can cook healthily and still have awesome tasting food.

Donnie: My mum is a fucking INCREDIBLE cook. Like, she can walk into any kitchen and just work with what’s there and make a delicious feast for eight people. One dish I was always fiending for was her kedgeree, which is a kind of curried rice dish made with smoked fish. This time when we were camping with a bunch of family friends, she made so much of the stuff for everyone that it filled one of those enormous 50 litre washing tubs. I had like six bowls and still wanted more. I’m pretty sure they had to keep me away by swatting at me with a spatula.

Read previous i should tell you interviews here.