2 October 2014

and the ice cream's melted and it's dripping down my neck

grapefruit curd ripple ice cream 

What the actual what, it's suddenly October. Evenings are lighter, summer is closer, Halloween approaches, asparagus exists. This has been a tumultuous year and as each month reaches out its hand to the next month I always think this is the one, this is going to be my time. May is going to be chill. June will be good. July! July shall give me that nice mellow status quo. And each month, things stay ridiculous. So my new philosophy is to just go with the flow, let everything happen and wash over me, and just try to be happy. Or at least try to try. 


Something very happy-making: I was given a supermarket bag full of grapefruit from a friend's relative's tree recently, which is really exciting. Firstly, living in the concrete jungle that is Wellington (well, it's quite small, more of a concrete flower patch) you forget what it's like to just have people with trees overflowing with abundant fruit that needs getting rid of. Secondly: I adore grapefruit. They're all bitter and intense and relatively under-appreciated and those are qualities I can respect in both my fruit and my humans. All the recipes that I found online seemed a bit bleak (lots of dry-looking vague-coloured grapefruit cakes?) but the good people of Twitter shrewdly suggested grapefruit curd and ice cream. And then I remembered my own cranberry curd ripple ice cream from a few years ago and thought this could be a cool variation. (Cool, get it?) (Sorry) (not sorry.)

Queen Leslie Knope: I am big enough to admit that I am often inspired by myself

The grapefruit curd recipe makes enough for the ice cream and then some leftover to either spoon into your mouth (as I did) or spread onto your toast (I did not make it to that stage but I'm sure it's good.) Apart from some necessary fear and respect for the grapefruit curd mixture as you make it - it can so easily overcook and turn into scrambled eggs! - this is really, really easy. In fact the only trouble I really ran into was that I kept spilling curd over the side of the pan as I was stirring it. Constantly. Like, I really lost quite a significant quantity of the overall mixture. Being clumsy is not as charming as romantic comedies would have you think it is, I can tell you.


Grapefruit curd is this incredible meeting of silky texture, pure sweetness, and fizzingly citrussy fragrance. The bitterness of the fruit is softened first by all the butter and eggs and then further by being swirled through thick cream, but still hovers in the background like a friendly ghost. The dollops of not-entirely-mixed-in grapefruit curd that freeze amongst the cream give bursts of near-sour flavour and the whole thing is just pretty ravishing. And easy! But importantly, ravishing. I realise the recipe looks a bit lengthy but really all you have to do is stir stuff then stir stuff then stir those together, I just tend to overexplain so you feel completely at ease. (I tend to overexplain literally everything actually, and to be honest putting people at ease is not usually the outcome, but hopefully it works here.)

grapefruit curd ripple ice cream

a recipe by myself

two grapefruit
four eggs
one cup sugar
150g butter, diced very small
one and a half cups cream

Squeeze the juice from the grapefruit into a relatively large pot, and mix in the eggs, sugar, and diced butter. Now stir constantly over a low heat with a spatula - making sure to constantly drag it along the bottom of the pan so that the curd doesn't settle on the heat and cook too quickly - until the butter has gently melted into everything. Continue stirring over a low heat till it's thick, or turn up the heat a little as you stir which will speed things up a bit. Either way, keep stirring, keep it moving. 

Once it's thick, remove from the heat and spatula into a container/bowl and refrigerate it till it's cool, by which time it should have thickened up even more. 

Whip the cream until it's thick enough to hold its own shape when you lift the whisk/beater up out of the bowl, but not so much that it's like, entirely solid. Whisk in one cup of the cooled grapefruit curd, and then spatula this into a loaf tin. Take another half cup (or up to one cup) of the grapefruit curd and spoon it here and there over the cream in the loaf tin, dragging the handle of a spoon or something similar through it a little to ripple it. Freeze for several hours before eating. 


You want to eat this within a couple of days - it'll still be delicious after that, but will take on a sliiiightly grainy after-texture. This is just because it's only cream and curd and doesn't have anything else in it that makes regular ice cream last so long, but the pride you have in making your own damn ice cream will hopefully up the deliciousness.

I'm trying to make the most of eating on the cute little balcony pictured above, because...ya girl is moving house again. The reason this time is fairly straightforward and pragmatic - neither of which are qualities I'm used to embodying, but here we are - I can't afford to live where I am right now. My rent is too high for what I earn, and neither of those factors are going to change dramatically anytime soon, so I'm just going to find somewhere else. It'll be stressful, but also: whatever. It's practical. Delightfully, I'm going to be moving in to a friend's spare room for a bit while I find my feet (and hopefully find myself) while constantly singing the theme tune to New Girl (even though I maintain I am most definitely Nick, not Jess) (if that doesn't make sense, you should totally watch the TV show New Girl, starting halfway through season 1. It's pretty sublime.) So at least I'm already coolly prepared for life to Stay Ridiculous during October.

Stay Cute in the face of everything

PS, I say, in the hushed manner of someone shyly sliding you a note in class, don't forget you can now only order my cookbook directly through me. My pile of remaining cookbooks is starting to get smaller and smaller...
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title from: School's Out by Regina Spektor (were there ever two sweeter words?) it's rambling and conversational and sad and happy and I love her voice so much. 
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music lately: 

Chelsea Jade, Nightswimmer. Formerly dreamy dreamboat Watercolours, she's now Chelsea Jade and this song is as much of a swoony trip as ever.

Ella Eyre, Love Me Like You. Ouch.
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Next time: Well, I still have a lot of grapefruit. 

22 September 2014

i still love you, girl from mars


crunch time

Well. Gosh. I hung out with friends on Saturday night and as we watched the election results unfold we all started to feel increasingly bleak and baffled and like getting very drunk. As I said in my last post, pre-election, everyone's politics are personal and you're entitled to them, but it should come as no surprise whatsoever that I'm not so much "left-leaning" as "riding through your town on a sustainably farmed unicorn brandishing a rainbow flag and leaving a fearsome trail of blood from my liberal bleeding heart". And so, the results were not what I was hoping for and voting for. But here we are, and all that can be done is that we try to support the vulnerable and the needy and the children and so on and make the best of things, yeah? Which is what we should all be doing no matter who is in power, and ultimately what I'd hope anyone in power would be aiming for in some form. Also, said friends had adopted a cat that day and other friends brought their pet corgi along to the party so there was much comforting snuggling and patting to be had. 


I made this Mars Bar Cornflake Slice to bring along, thinking rightly that something sticky-sweet and deliciously immature would be ideal on such an intense night. It is adapted from a recipe in my queen Nigella Lawson's book Feast, and you're actually supposed to spoon the mixture into little cupcake papers. I thought I had tons of them but could only find like, seven, so panicked and threw it all into a flan dish and hoped for the best. And joyfully, it's so damn excellent in slice form. I was worried it might be a little plain - I considered putting caramelised peanuts on it, or drizzling over melted dark chocolate - but it was stupidly perfect as is. 


If you haven't had a Mars bar in a while (and why not, when their ad insists that a Mars a day helps you work, rest AND play, all things I could use some help with) they are a layer of soft squishy chocolate nougat, with a layer of caramel sauce, all covered in chocolate. The breakfasty-comforting taste of cornflakes - slightly malty, slightly nutty - along with all that caramel and sugar is wonderful. It's crunchy, it's chewy, it involves melting chocolate bars with butter, and it's so, so easy. I liked it so much that I made another trayful this morning just to have them around (and it allowed me to feel like a good flatmate and leave a note on the fridge telling everyone else to help themselves to it.)

mars bar cornflake slice

Adapted from a recipe from Nigella Lawson's important book Feast

three 75g Mars Bars (or similar weight made up of whatever size bars you can find)
70g butter 
four cups of cornflakes
a pinch of sea salt (optional)

Break the mars bars into pieces and melt together slowly over a low heat with the butter. The nougat filling will take the longest to break down and probably won't incorporate entirely, so don't worry if the mixture isn't completely smooth. Stir in the cornflakes and spatula the lot into a baking paper lined baking dish. Use the spatula to flatten it out evenly, sprinkle over a little salt if you like, then refrigerate till solid - around half an hour. Cut into thick slices with a large knife. 

You can use whatever kind of baking tray you like, but I used a round metal flan dish. I think I chose it subconsciously because I have this thing where if I'm cutting up a slice from a round dish it feels like all the rounded-edged pieces are mere offcuts and I get to eat them all. Even though I'm going to eat it all anyway? Gotta get your thrills somehow, I suppose.

a cat showed me the vaguest hint of non-indifference and so I was eternally joyful

I enjoyed being up home, trying to get the cats to bond with me, talking about knitting with nanna, making dinner for Dad and a birthday cake for Mum and generally having swell family times. Roger, pictured above, has been with the family since 2007 and my weekend at home was pretty much the first time he's ever shown an interest in me. I am a pushover who will gladly accept this. 

I have been selling heaps of my cookbooks which is exciting - let me remind you that if you want to buy a copy, going directly through me is your only chance while my stocks last. If reading my words isn't enough for you, and how could it possibly be, you can also listen to this super cool interview I did with Harry Evans for his radio show Common Ground. We discussed libraries and halloumi and the election and the writing process and social media and I got to pick two songs to play and it was just really, really fun and lovely. You can either listen on iTunes or on Harry's site. Yay interviews! 

At least no matter what happens in life you know you're never going to have a fight with a corgi over politics. 
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title from: 90s cuties Ash and their song Girl From Mars. 
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music lately: 

Underworld, Rez. Listening to this song honestly makes me feel like I'm a flower petal adrift on late summer evening breeze. Literally.

Street Chant, Salad Daze. It's so so dark and shadowy and hypnotic and good.

Charli XCX, How Can I. Sad pop sad pop, whatcha gonna do when it comes for you.

Buzzcocks, Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't). Oh, this song!
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Next time: I was given a ton of grapefruit from someone's tree which is pretty exciting, therefore maybe it will be something grapefruitly?

14 September 2014

like peaches 'n cream, she's gonna wish on stars and touch the sky, you know what I mean



Laura please don't knock this off the ledge onto the walkway below Laura please don't knock thi

It was a full moon in Pisces this week, so I don't need to tell you that this particular horoscope stirred up some intense emotions. Luckily for me I was coolly prepared by already maintaining a lifestyle of nonstop emotional intensity! Also luckily there were lots of nice things going on, like eating a giant pretzel Momofuku cake for my girl Kate's birthday, dressing up as Columbia for a special screening of Rocky Horror at work, more pats with Percy the corgi, and discovering and then watching the entirety of in one evening, the truly heart-wrenchingly delightful TV show Faking It. It was also the excellent Tim's birthday, and I made him this peach balsamic barbecue sauce as a present (what is our friendship if it cannot withstand my coming out and breaking our engagement?) I had a half tin of peaches in the fridge and many spices and condiments in the pantry and a budget that stretched to one small red onion. This recipe that I found appealed to me because of all these reasons, but also there's something oddly pleasing about making your own preserves and sauces and such, and I thought the peachiness might add a sweet, summery Americana vibe to something already so very American. (Also...I had half a can of peaches in the fridge.)


Apologies for including a fiddly specialty ingredient like liquid smoke, but it's not that hard to get hold of a bottle of it in fancy food shops or online, and if you like things to taste smokey then you can either find some or sigh perpetually about how nothing tastes smokey. (That's as much tough love as I can possibly muster: buy this thing if you like, but only maybe, and either way I'm sorry.) If you can't find it you'll still have a deliciously peachy sweet-sour sauce, but as soon as the liquid smoke is stirred in it suddenly becomes like sunshine on your shoulders and protein seared on magma-hot metal (said protein could be tofu, I'm easy) and your hair being scented like woodchips for days and being ravenous and everything taking so, so long to be cooked through so you have to drink a lot of beer while you wait. So like, you might want to get some.

peach balsamic barbecue sauce

adapted from this recipe on damndelicious.net, makes around 250ml

one tablespoon olive oil 
one red onion, diced
one tablespoon chilli sauce (or to taste, I used sriracha which is kinda mild, hence a tablespoon)
one teaspoon cumin seeds
two large ripe peaches, diced, or the equivalent of canned peaches
two tablespoons maple syrup (or golden syrup or honey - maple is smokier though) 
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
one tablespoon dijon mustard
one tablespoon tomato sauce/paste/similar
about half a teaspoon of liquid smoke
salt and brown sugar to taste - it definitely needs salt, sugar though? Depends on you.

Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the red onion till it's soft but not browned. Throw everything else in, except the liquid smoke, and allow to come to the boil while stirring constantly. Simmer for about ten minutes, then either blend it till smooth in a food processor or use one of those stick things that you use for pureeing soup (they're genius! So little washing up to do!) (my new flat has one, I've never used them before) (anyway) and pour it into a small jar/small jars or directly into a bowl to serve alongside/on top of your dinner. 

(red and white twine to evoke The White Stripes)

This sauce is so delicious. And I'm not entirely a heathen, I didn't go eating Tim's birthday present, there was in fact enough to fill a jar for him and a small ramekin leftover for me. I intended to pour it over rice or something but I just ended up eating the lot with a spoon. The aggressive throat-pinching sourness of the vinegar and heat of the chilli sauce is mellowed by the sweet, sweet peaches, and the spices give it depth and, well, spice. And as I've already iterated at feverish length, liquid smoke is also good. It doesn't make an awful lot but then at least you don't have to stress about desperately pressing bottles of it onto visitors forevermore, and if it's really not to your tastes then at least all you wasted was a couple of tablespoons of this and that. Conversely, if you really love it, the recipe is very easy to double or triple. Barbecue sauce for all! I always thought I hated barbecue sauce actually, but it just turns out that I dislike the particular overly sweet nothingness-paste that gets swirled onto certain takeaway pizzas, which tastes like neither barbecue nor sauce. And it certainly doesn't taste like going on for paragraph after paragraph about sunshine on one's shoulders, etc.

I'm flying up home this afternoon for the first time since Christmas, so that's something. Am looking forward to seeing my family and the cats (the cats are family but you might not pick up on my implications unless I spell it out for you) and spending time knitting and reading the next Harry Potter. I'm so obsessed with Harry Potter, a chill seventeen years after the first book was published.

Okay so now some time has passed and I actually am at my parents' place, which is testament to my disorganisation, but also the passing of time, I guess.
Poppy the cat and I both feel the same way about Harry Potter: nuzzly. 

Finally: It's election time in New Zealand! Can't wait for it to be over so that I don't have to see billboards everywhere, but am looking forward to voting. It's completely appalling that prisoners can't vote, but hopefully my own small vote and my right to do it can help be a snowflake in an ever-rolling snowball of good change. Your politics are your own business, but what you do with them can affect everyone, you know? 

But also: you can now buy my cookbook directly from me! Which is exciting because ya girl remains flat broke, and unlike when it was sold in stores, every dollar from books sold through me goes straight to me. Yay though, right? My cookbook isn't so easy to get hold of anymore so if you're wanting a copy you better get moving as my stocks are limited...
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title via: Britney Spears' important song Brave New Girl. It's easily one of my very favourite songs of hers, that kind of headrush-pop that fills my heart with glitter. 
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music lately: 

Dum Dum Girls, Coming Down. Six minutes and thirty-two seconds of dreamy sad perfection. 

Sarah Jaffe, Lover Girl. Was listening to my favourites Dark Dark Dark on Spotify and looked at related artists and was like, "Spotify, show me something new!" So I tried listening to this woman and I immediately loved every single song I listened to, starting with this. 

Rita Ora, I Will Never Let You Down. Adorable and hopeful and happy.
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Next time: seems like all I have in my pantry right now is pasta, which I'm happy about because I love pasta, so...yeah. We'll see?  

2 September 2014

when we walked through little italy i saw my reflection come right off your face


Ya girl is back. Or at least, ya girl is trying her best to be back. I'm still nowhere near being unpacked (my room somehow gets more embarrassingly messy the harder I try to clean? I dropped out of science early in high school but I'm pretty sure there's nothing in all academic teachings that could explain this phenomenon) but I'm cooking more and attempting to get back on the freelancing stallion and am generally determined to recapture my ambition. For something. I mean, I never lost my ambition of being outstanding in the field of excellence, I just lost my drive due to Extenuating Circumstances and if I'm being scrutinisingly harsh, which I don't enjoy, I probably got a bit exhaustedly complacent in that position of, well, not even trying to try. I'm not sure I'm quite approaching my old burn-all-candles-at-all-ends level, but I am rewatching a lot of Parks and Recreation to re-absorb all of Leslie Knope's power ("there's nothing we can't do if we work hard, never sleep, and shirk all other responsibilities") and I am trying to write more and I am going to start doing my chocolate cookie dough pretzel thing deliveries again!



Because ya girl is also somewhat broke. Moving house and being too busy/tired to maintain several sources of incoming cash is an expensive pastime. But also I miss scooting around town and dropping off parcels of deliciousness, like some kind of no-strings-attached moderately profitable fairy godmother. So if you're in the Wellington CBD region and want some of the good stuff for yourself or for your secret admiree, all the information you need is here.

As I said in my last post, I have started watching The Sopranos, and despite my immediate misgivings at the violence and boring wife-is-a-thankless-harpy outlawish-schlub-husband-is-horrible-and-also-the-beloved-hero tropes, it's so compelling. And it makes me crave Italian food something fierce. Initially I wanted to make meatballs but mine tend to fall apart and I didn't have it in me on this particular day to bounce back from that kind of failure, so instead I went for something very easy - pasta all'amatriciana. I was hoping that it would translate to something to do with matriarchy, but it gets its name from being a dish from the region of Amatrice. Which is nice in its own way - this is just pasta with bacon and tomatoes, but calling it by its proper name gives it a more official, elegant vibe, like, oh I'm just casually making myself this traditional recipe from a beautiful town in the Lazio region of Italy, how bout you?



It really is very simple though, and therein lies its charm - gloriously saucy enough to feel like you're doing yourself a favour, fast enough to not be stressful, familiar enough to serve up to fusspots. I feel like I've had several bad versions of this in my time at cafes that weren't trying very hard, but home made it's highly glorious. Thick tomato sauce, salty-sweet bacon, barely-melting parmesan - all twirled around ribbons of thick, comforting pasta. (Well, I for one find pasta comforting, it's probably my favourite food.)

I slightly adapted a recipe from the Scotto Family, whose book Italian Comfort Food I own and adore. Half a cup of olive oil may sound terrifying in these austere times, but it becomes part of the sauce, making it rich and deeply flavoured and delicious and more than otherwise just a can of tomatoes. However, I understand you using less. Olive oil is expensive. Their recipe called for bucatini pasta but I am a heathen and adore pappardelle, and it was on special at the supermarket - however if you can't find it, my sneaky and ingenious trick is to get sheets of fresh lasagne and slice them into wide lengths. Or use whatever pasta you fancy.

pasta all'amatriciana  

adapted slightly from a recipe by the Scotto family, serves two (or one with leftovers for lunch the next day, aw yeah) 

half a cup olive oil (or less, whatever)
100g pancetta or streaky bacon, diced (I used bacon but pancetta is superior if you can get it)
one onion, diced
one can chopped tomatoes
150g pappardelle pasta (or other pasta)
parmesan cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, or until preeetty tender. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan, and fry the bacon in it till crisp and sizzling. Remove the bacon and set aside - I just put it on the plate I served the pasta on - and tip the onions into the still-hot pan, stirring them and allowing to cook until softened, but not browned. Basically until that harsh onion taste has been cooked out. At this stage, tip in the tomatoes and stir over a high heat till the sauce is thickened somewhat - maybe ten minutes - then tip in the bacon and stir again for another five minutes or so. Drain the pasta and stir it into the sauce, still over a high heat, and then remove from the heat, add as much parmesan as your heart desires, and serve. 



I haven't bought parmesan in forever, because every time I pass it in the supermarket I passively-aggressively sigh at myself like some kind of lazily-written thankless shrew wife in nearly any TV show and say "oh...no, no I shouldn't, that's expensive" even though the price is never going to change and I could pay a lot more for something else and have a lot less fun. I really should've bought some sooner, a fresh grating of it makes so many pastas and risottos more wonderful, and a little bit goes a long way. As I said a lot when I learned the phrase false economy: that's not false economy!

and it feels like home

There are a lot of things I don't do that cause varying degrees of incredulity in people - can't drive, can't ride a bike, have never changed a lightbulb in my life - but what seems to cause the most gasps is the fact that Harry Potter completely passed me by. I never read any of the books and at most I have half-watched the first movie. But I know several people who are majorly passionate about this series, and I have been wanting to read something that is charming but which I can gallop through for some time now, and so I just...started reading Harry Potter. Three days later I am up to book three, and can say with some authority that I now understand the resilient hype. It's so good! Hermione is so relatable, that overachieving, keen-to-inform-you-of-her-overachieving hero! Minerva is so icily awesome! Dobby sucks! A lot more of things referenced frequently on the internet make sense to me now! Hurrah for reading. Between Hermione and Leslie Knope, I'm at least surrounded by good influences. Now to allow myself to be aggressively influenced...
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title from: PJ Harvey, My Good Fortune. I've loved this song since I first heard it in 2000, with its jangling chevron-like melody and satisfyingly ridiculous drawing out of words at the end of each refrain. And PJ Harvey is obviously a goddess. 
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music lately

Beyonce's performance of a medley of her entire self-titled album at the VMA awards. This is so important. I cried, I got the chills, I cried again. I'm getting chills just typing about it, thinking about her face when she sings Jealous or the sight of her standing in front of the word FEMINIST in enormous lit up letters or when Blue says "good job mommy", I mean, just watch it. 

Liane La Havas, Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye. This wistful, dreamy Leonard Cohen song is made even more dreamy by her voice. 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Maps. Wait. 
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next time: reading Harry Potter just makes me want to eat enormous feasts with hearty puddings and lashings of whipped cream, even though that's actually more of an Enid Blyton thing, there is a natural echo of her words in JK Rowlings' descriptions of food. Will see if I can make floating candles and a ceiling that looks like the night sky happen too. 

25 August 2014

you may come full circle and be new here again


So I've moved house! Last week was so weird. But it's Monday now, and every Monday is like a little January 1, where you can start all over again. I have the day off work today and decided it would finally be the day I get my act together and buy some food and then cook that food for myself, for the first time in ages. My two options thus far for the last week or so have been buy food from cafes or takeaways, or sit in bed and contemplatively eat expired Golden Grahams cereal by the handful or a bag of twisties, scattering orange twistie dust everywhere (and here I'd like to apologise to my teddy bear, Avery, who looks like he has purchased a very bad fake tan.) The first option is not financially stable and the second option will probably have some weird effect on me eventually like dissolving my bones or giving me scurvy.

So, after eating some twisties in bed, I propelled myself towards the supermarket with the hopes that I'd inspire myself by the time I got there into knowing what it was I actually wanted to buy and make. I wanted something that could be done in one pan, so I wouldn't make too much mess in the new kitchen. I also wanted something vaguely nutritious. I had grand intentions to buy a ton of fruit, but then remembered that winter is when fruit is all "nah, not in the mood to exist right now", but potato and fennel are both present and cheap, and halloumi is the best way of making something half-assed feel celebratory and highly lux. And so, this salad appeared.

halloumi, fried potato, and raw fennel salad

a recipe by myself. Serves one, but it takes little rocket science to work out how to make it serve more.

one medium sized potato - I used a red one
half a large fennel bulb, or all of a small one
four thick slices of halloumi
olive oil
butter
juice of half a lemon

Dice the potato very finely - the smaller it is, the quicker it will cook. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a decent sized pan and wait for it to look sizzling, then throw in the potato and allow to cook till crisp, stirring occasionally. It'll feel like it's taking forever but the whole process really only takes about ten minutes - just make sure you let them sit till they're plenty golden. Undercooked potato is no fun.

Finely slice the fennel and arrange half of it on a plate. Tip the potato on top of it, and then top with the rest of the fennel. Heat some butter (I used about 25g) in the same pan, and fry your halloumi slices till very golden brown on each side. Slide the halloumi onto the plate, scatter over some of those feathery green fennel fronds, because what else are you going to do with them, squeeze the lemon juice into the buttery pan and then spatula all that over the halloumi. 

I'd started watching The Sopranos last night - a show I hadn't made any effort to seek out despite its general acclaim, on account of I don't fool with violence and I also don't need another TV show about a lawless white man who treats the significant woman in his life horribly and yet is received as the hero while she is the shrew, going through season after season of ultimately self-inflicted tension. However. I was with a group of people and the opportunity presented itself and I do have a very soft spot for the sadly late James Gandolfini. And wow, yeah, it's a very well-made show, and I can see how it impressively influenced later HBO and HBO-style shows. But where I'm going with this is oh damn I wanted some meatballs or Bolognese or eggplant or pretty much anything aggressively Italian to eat after watching it. Alas, this salad is what happened instead. Luckily, this salad is hugely excellent in its own way.


Fried potatoes and buttery, melting halloumi are so good together it's almost stupid, their textures both echoing and diverting from each other in a crunchily sybaritic fashion. The fennel itself also brings crunch of a different kind, not only stopping the entire thing from being burdonsomely rich, but also lifting the golden flavours of the halloumi with its faintly aniseed flavour. But then of course I pour over the melted butter from the pan, in case it's not quite burdonsomely rich enough. The squeeze of lemon brings it all together, and with very little effort you have yourself a massively amazing lunch.


In lieu of a carefully staged photo of the dish sitting on a beautiful table, because there is none, here's a photo of it on my lap on the couch, where I ate it. Four slices of halloumi is ideal - any fewer and you'd start to feel sad halfway through that the good times were nearly over, any more and you'd probably end up uncomfortably full but still doggedly determined to finish it because halloumi is halloumi. A scattering of sumac or mint leaves wouldn't hurt this in the slightest, but for a hastily assembled meal it's pretty great as is.

So, am slowly getting unpacked and used to my new world. My new bedroom has kind of got no natural light whatsoever, which is...something...but the people are nice and there's unlimited internet and I love being so central, right in town, and I'm gonna eventually get there and have all my stuff where it should be.

Like this dress, back on the wall where she belongs (admittedly rather crumpled from the moving process, but like, same)

I feel like now that I'm no longer in this pre-move limbo zone I very much want to get my life together and cook heaps and write heaps and do heaps and really just be as super excellent as I can to continue propelling myself towards being lowkey ridiculously famous and adored by all.

If you ever do want to feel adored by all, by the way, my advice for you is: visit a dog. My darling friends Kim and Brendan spontaneously adopted a corgi who needed a home, and she is the most loving tiny dingus that ever lived. She's like the hearts-for-eyes emoji existing in a corporeal form. I visited her on Friday, because she needs company and I needed dog hugs. As soon as I walked in she ran up to me and gazed up at me with such joy in her eyes, I actually felt my bones melt. And not just from eating all those twisties. I visited her again today for the same reason, and she was just the snuggliest thing ever, greeting me with a face that said "hi, you're perfect and I love you indiscriminately and also everyone around you and everything around you!"
We get on well because we're both fluffy and needy and have great eyeliner. 

Percy still has a lot to learn about taking selfies, but luckily Aunty Laura is here, and uncharactaristically patient.

So yeah, new house, new blog post, new hund friend! A lot of things in life are still very hard to deal with but I'm greeting the future with one hand in my pocket, and the other one is giving a peace sign (oh wait I started singing Alanis Morrisette there.)
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title from: Gil Scott-Heron's contemplatively perfect song I'm New Here. The low rumble of the guitar and the low rumble of his voice, "told her I was hard to get to know and near impossible to forget"...so sad I'll never get to see him live. 
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music lately:

Janine and the Mixtape, Hold Me. The anthem. 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, So Good At Being In Trouble. The...other anthem. 

Nicki Minaj, Jessie J and Ariana Grande, Bang Bang. This song goes OFF. I intend to dance to it many, many times. Am also just generally pro anything Nicki Minaj lays her hands on or says or does. 
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next time: Maybe some bolognese or meatballs or something, yeah? 

15 August 2014

alone, listless, breakfast table in an otherwise empty room

The box in the background is where all my kitchen accoutrements will go, including this bowl and fork. Once I've washed them, don't worry.

This is the last blog post I'll be writing from my not-quite-my-home-anymore-home, before I move house next Wednesday. The new place is like...fine, but I'm going to miss where I am now so much: the celestial light, the concrete floors, the bathroom that looks like it's from a nice hotel, waking up in the night to see the moon hovering protectively outside my window, how stupidly instagrammable it all is, how enormous my room is, and so on and (self-indulgently wallowing) so forth. But, as I say to myself sternly, a change could be good for me, and whether or not it is, it's still happening, and I can do my best to turn my new room into a beautiful haven too. I have a recurring bad dream where it's suddenly Christmas Day and I have five minutes to get to my plane home and forgot to buy any presents and am generally very lost and confused as to how it all happened so fast, and that's a decent description of how I feel right now, but...yeah. It's happening. And I'm sure I'm gonna love this new place too.

All I've been doing with my spare time is looking for a flat, visiting flats, and packing my things up, so not much time to cook, but I wanted to minimise the amount of things I had to transfer between houses and so decided to make some kind of all-inclusive salad from the various nubbins of food in the pantry and fridge. Which means this is kind of ridiculous and bitsy and piecey and not really anything at all, but since it's the last thing I'm likely to cook here and I don't want to sacrifice writing this blog just because I am so busy making all signs of myself slowly reduce as the place becomes more and more empty...I thought I'd share it here anyway.

Also gosh, sorry for being so maudlin and overwrought, in my defence, I'm maudlin and overwrought. I am being relatively practical and calm in comparison to my own self, if that makes sense. As I said in my last blog post, a lot of things just kinda suck right now, but I'm working on what I can control (ha! very little) and getting through the rest somehow. Just like everyone else is.


brown rice, wheat berry, fried bean salad

a recipe by myself; makes quite a lot.

half a cup wheatberries 
half a cup brown rice
one cup frozen green beans (or fresh ones trimmed and sliced, you fancy thing you)
half a cauliflower, sliced into florets
two cloves garlic
a couple of tablespoons of capers
50g butter, at least
a handful of almonds, sliced 
olive oil
white wine vinegar
a tablespoon harissa
pinch salt

Soak the wheatberries and rice in boiling water for a couple of hours - this will speed up the cooking process, which will still take kind of ages. There is a reason that they've been sitting untouched in my cupboard for so long. 

Cook them together in boiling water in a good sized pot for around 25 minutes or until both the rice and the wheat are tender. Drain, and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan till it's sizzling, then throw in the beans, cauliflower, capers and garlic and allow to fry aggressively till everything is quite browned and cooked through. Add the almonds at this stage and allow them to brown a little too, then remove from the heat. Stir all this into the rice/wheat mixture, then in a small bowl, stir together about three tablespoons of olive oil, one and a half tablespoons of the vinegar, and the harissa and salt. Stir this through the salad then serve. 

The important thing here is lots of olive oil and lots of texture. There are a zillion ways you could change this to suit your own needs - use barley instead of wheat berries (infinitely easier to find/cook anyhow) use just one type of grain, fry different vegetables like broccoli or courgette, use different nuts, use something other than harissa to flavour the dressing, make so many changes that it's essentially an entirely different recipe, that kind of thing. The soft bite of the grains with the crisp, oily vegetables and crunchy nuts is excellent though, and adding plenty of salt and oil and chilli-rich harissa makes sure it's delicious and elegant, rather than the punishing and dour.


It keeps well - I ate about a third for lunch on the day that I made it, then ate another third in spoonfuls taken from the bowl while standing in front of the fridge at various hours of the day, and then had the remainder for dinner at work last night. The fridge and pantry are now significantly denuded of things, and I looked up wheatberries on wikipedia and damn they are a good-for-you foodstuff! Satisfaction all round. Except for the photos, it was high afternoon sun and I only decided at the last minute to actually snap this dish, so... Not the best final view of the place, but what can ya do? (Not a lot.)

Just a short blog post today because yeah, got to carry on packing my belongings into boxes until infinity - isn't it weird how physics is literally a thing and yet if I spend an hour piling books and trinkets into boxes I will have created no extra space and my pile of said books/trinkets will not appear to have diminished whatsoever? Pretty suspicious.

(FC = Fancy Clothes. Please be assured that this is but one bag of clothing that fits this description.)

Okay, lies: have also been rewatching Twin Peaks and knitting myself a blanket from my yarn scraps. Isn't it too dreamy? Yes it is, Audrey Horne. 

So, next time you see me here it'll be in my new place. Weird...but hopefully good. 
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title from: I do enjoy Ye Olde Pearl Jam (anything after about 1995 am not interested in whatsoever) and if you haven't tried ever had a go at singing along while studiously imitating Eddie Vedder's voice, you're missing out on some good clean fun, I can tell ya. I had Deep Feelings about the song Daughter in my teens but now just think it's pretty rad.  
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music lately:  

Joanna Newsom, Sawdust and Diamonds. Um. I have always enjoyed Newsom's music but am properly close-readingly appreciating it heaps right now. Her lyrics are so spectacular and literary and full of the elements and fragments of stories, I love it. Also her harp is like wo. 

Beyonce, XO. This song makes me feel rapturous. 

Patti Smith, Gloria. I like putting this one on when I'm closing the bar at work, it's all snarly and good to bounce along to while washing dishes and mopping and inevitably knocking over literally everything and so adding many, many minutes to your closing process. I will never ever tire of the bit where she's all "Ah, uh, make her mine".
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next time: I know not, but it'll be from my new place! So! New things for you all to look at! So there's that! 

6 August 2014

eating soft ice cream, coney island queen

photographed this ice cream with an antique ice cream scoop but then used a regular spoon to actually scoop ice cream into my bowl because the antique one is cute but a pain to use and also I now have zero morals when it comes to photographing things as props but not actually using them.

I'm not going to sugar coat it for you, there are a lot of things in my life right now that range from "this kinda sucks" to "oh wow this majorly sucks". But now that I've said that I'm going to hand you a snug coat made of pure cane sugar, because I'm keeping things on a rare need-to-know basis at the moment, and anyone who needs to know what's happening already knows. I might as well not burden you all with it too if I don't have to. Also: I have a recipe for apple cinnamon ice cream, so am kind of literally sugar-coating things here too.

So instead, some good things right now are:

I have amazing friends who are so very there for me // despite these last couple of weeks being very tiring, I still love my job. Although I do realise I'm not the first person in the world to ever do hospo so no it's not actually a revelation to a lot of people that there is some arduous work involved. I didn't realise I was so entitled! // I knitted a hot water bottle cosy for my nanna and it involved doing cabling for the first time and while it's a tiny bit wonky it turned out rather beautiful // I drank an entire pot of tea today from a teapot shaped like an elephant // I recently discovered that my queen Lucy Liu has an instagram // I started a fun project called bathroomselfiehunter.tumblr.com // my tarot card for August is amazing and promises creative vision and being powerful and great and so I am determined to make that all come true // I saw a beautiful film called Reaching For The Moon at the film festival // I have seen a LOT of cute cats and dogs recently // I have a lot of parties to go to this month // I discovered the truly good Ask Andrew WK column for the Village Voice // I have a lot of homemade ice cream in the freezer.


Ice cream and pasta are probably my two favourite foods, but while I eat pasta all the time it has been a shamefully forever-long time since I've made ice cream. I'm on a massive cinnamon kick at the moment and am determined to scent my life with it (can tell you for free that putting cinnamon sticks in your oil burner does absolutely nothing apart from make your oil burner look like a very small dumpster) and like the idea of the cosy, warm flavour of said cinnamon being trapped in such a chilly context. I know it's winter in New Zealand right now and ice cream is probably one of the last things you want to eat, but consider this: ice cream is really, really delicious. Also, apples are one of the few fruits that seem to be happily in season right now, as opposed to gasping for mere existence, and the method couldn't be simpler - some stirring, some whisking, some waiting, and then you have ice cream.

An excellent thing about ice cream is that the frozen-ness somehow mutes any overload of sweetness, so while it may seem like there's a lot of sugar in this, it's all necessary and good. Something about the sticky texture of the sweetened condensed milk and the light, airy cream comes together to make something amazingly creamy and dense yet soft and spoonable. The simmered apples provide chewy bursts of sweet-sharp fragrant juiciness, and it's altogether just pretty wonderful.

apple cinnamon ice cream

a recipe by myself

two apples, Granny Smith are good for this one
three tablespoons brown sugar
one can sweetened condensed milk
500ml cream
plenty of ground cinnamon

Finely dice the apples, but don't worry about peeling them. Simmer them in a pan over a low heat with the brown sugar, until the sugar is bubbling and sticky and the apple pieces are very soft. 

Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little, then stir in the condensed milk. In another bowl, whisk the cream till thickened to roughly the texture of a good thickshake - you want it solid, but not actually whipped. Fold in the apple and condensed milk, then shake in plenty of cinnamon and stir again. Spatula this mixture into a freezer-proof container (I like loaf tins for this, hence...why I did that) and freeze for a bunch of hours or overnight. 


I just went and ate some more now from the freezer to see if anything new to say about it sprang to mind, and all I can say is wow it's amazing, go me for making up such a great recipe. If you've ever felt like ice cream is something you want to tackle but it seems way too nervous-making, this simple, caramel-tinged winter wonderland of a thing is for you. 

One thing I will tell you is that for reasons bewilderingly out of my control, I am in the market for a new place to live. My dealbreakers are: it has to be right in the city, an apartment, a big bedroom, lots of good light for food photography, and have an elevator. As you can imagine, finding such a place has been a total breeze. Truth is, I've got nothing, so if you are a Wellingtonianite and know of such a place that fits my needs, please let me know!


In the meantime, there's not many things that ice cream can't make slightly-to-very-much better.

PS I lost my camera's SD card so took all this week's photos on my phone, apologies for any drop in quality, but also I take back those apologies, because isn't it amazing how my mere cellphone takes better photos than a lot of digital cameras did, say, four years ago? We're living in the future!
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title from: Lana Del Rey's song Carmen. I <3 her so much. 
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music lately:

Dark Dark Dark, Hear Me. I hadn't listened to this band in a while and now cannot stop, not sure how I forgot how dreamy and moody and perfect they are.

Drake feat Lil Wayne, Miss Me, his verse about Nicki Minaj is like...wonderful.

Speaking of: Nicki Minaj and Beyonce's Flawless remix is So Important. Shivers every time I hear it.
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next time: I don't knowwww as I may not have a kitchen to call my own by the time I get round to the next blog post. We'll see!  

25 July 2014

i've seen the world done it all had my cake now

I individually plucked and arranged each leaf, it signifies the passing of time
(you know I'm kidding, I just kind of plonked the cake down by these wilting flowers and liked the look)

Baking isn't necessarily what I turn to if I'm in a moody bad mood, despite the obvious benefits - you get to eat something very sweet and channel your energy into creating beauty out of raw ingredients - but there's also a lot of room for error and the amount of times I've magnified a bad mood by completely ruining a cake that I've made to cheer myself up would make you think twice about letting me call myself a food blogger. But anyway, I had a conversation with one of my best girls Kate over coffee yesterday which essentially went along the lines of "I'm so mooooody, today is not good" "bake a cake?" "oh yeah I like cake." "something with fruit in it maybe?" "yeah! Like, a plum cake. A cake with canned plums and peaches in it and...and cinnamon buttercream!" "alriiight!" 

(instagram made the icing way purple-er than it really is) (never stop doing your thing, instagram)

This heat-of-the-moment cake got downgraded to a more simple plum cake with a drizzle of icing sugar mixed with juice from the can of plums, but still. It did improve my mood. For what it's worth, I also freestyled an amazingly compelling potential subplot for Hanna Marin from Pretty Little Liars over that same coffee with Kate, which I then downgraded to "I am not a writer for the show so I guess I'll just like, carry on watching it." I do enjoy scheming, even if it's just a cake or a new life for a fictional character. 


One thing that's always a good idea no matter what mood I'm in is re-reading my Nigella cookbooks. I picked up her important book How To Be A Domestic Goddess from my cookbook stack and it actually fell open right upon the perfect recipe for what I was thinking of - a very simple brown sugar cake with canned plums and ground almonds in it. I fiddled with it a very small amount, mostly by adding some cinnamon and plum juice to the icing because I'm obsessed with making everything smell like cinnamon at the moment, and the cake worked perfectly.

I discovered some electric beaters at the back of a cupboard in my apartment and tried using them to make the batter, and holy wow do they make a difference. I mean, every single cake that you've seen on this blog or in my book has been made with a wooden spoon or a whisk (including the pavlovas) and I can't belieeeeve how much lighter and volumised the beaters make the batter. It's kind of embarrassing, this cake turned out one and a half as big as mine usually do. I really like making cakes by hand but yeah, the results are, if nothing else, making me want to do some push ups or something so I can try and beat the machine.

winter plum cake with cinnamon plum icing

adapted a bit from a recipe in Nigella Lawson's important book How To Be A Domestic Goddess

125g soft butter
one cup brown sugar
two eggs
one cup flour
one 70g packet of ground almonds
one and a half teaspoons baking powder
six plums from a tin of black doris plums, roughly chopped (and stones removed, obvs)

half a cup or so icing sugar
a tablespoon or so of the juice from the can of plums
ground cinnamon

Set your oven to 170 C and line the base of a 20cm springform tin with baking paper. Beat the butter and brown sugar together till it's all light and fluffy and delicious. Continue, beating in the eggs till they're completely incorporated. Fold in the almonds, flour, baking powder and plums. By the way, the canned plums are so soft that I just lift them out one at a time with a spoon, and use another spoon to carve off chunks into the cake batter. But by all means chop them on a chopping board. 

Spatula all this into the caketin and bake for an hour and a quarter, although check it out at after an hour has gone by, all ovens are unique and special snowflakes.  

Let the cake cool for a while in the tin, then run a knife around the inside of the tin and carefully transfer the cake to a plate to cool completely. Although, I could not be bothered and put the icing on the still-warm cake and it was totally fine, but general wisdom would suggest that you shouldn't do this. Either way, mix the icing sugar and a good dash of ground cinnamon with a little of the plum juice - a teaspoon at a time - until it forms something you can drizzle roughly over the cake with a teaspoon. You may get to a point where you've been so liberal with the drizzling that you actually have to give up and cover the whole thing, but whatever, it will be fine. 


The almonds make it all moist and springy and tender, the plums taste so rich and dark and liqueur-ious that it seems bizarre that they're not actually in season right now, and the cinnamon in the dusky pink icing gives it a blast of warmth, that feeling you get when you rush inside from the cold and turn on the heater and feel your bones relax. It's just a very delicious cake and a good reason to stock up on canned fruit, just in case. You could ice this with something more involved, you could add more fruit, you could leave it plain, but the brief kick of pure sweetness from the icing brings it all together and also makes it look prettier. As for the rest of the plums, either eat them from the can, stir them into yoghurt, serve them with porridge, leave them to fester in the fridge and then shame-facedly dispose of them when you're quite sure no-one's home...Seriously though, I cannot get over how the cake was so much lighter and fluffier from being mixed up with the beaters. I shouldn't be surprised I guess, but nevertheless: sigh!


So uh, I guess the plot and subtext of today's blog post is that I am whiny and inobservant, but if you were observant yourself this would not be a surprise. I still love my job but currently while this particular film festival is on I'm working a zillion hours and so with it goes my ability to articulate myself, like flour slowly disappearing through a sieve. It's just two and a bit weeks though, and then I'll be back to my whiny and inobservant self!

Till then, prescribing myself many cups of tea and about 90% of this cake.

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title from: this is a Lana Del Rey appreciation blog, apparently, and her song Young and Beautiful from the Great Gatsby soundtrack is typically haunting and exquisite.
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music lately:

Courtney Barnett, Avant Gardener. Another of my best girls Hannah introduced me to this song and I knew I'd love it from the title alone but it reeeeally is good.

Janine and the Mixtape, Hold Me. I've talked about this a bunch before but it always gets me.

Sugababes, Freak Like Me. Did you know this is one of the best songs in the world? Especially when it's very late at night and you're trying to close the bar at work and feel like you have zero upper body strength all of a sudden.
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next time: Probably more cinnamon, to be honest, I can't get enough. 

21 July 2014

late night, come home, work sucks, i know


I want to be happy, but I'm also always just a little suspicious of it. Just...it seems that so many times lately I've been all "I am confidently happy about this particular thing in my life and it is good and wonderful" and then it all immediately falls apart, as if I broke a spell simply by acknowledging it. This is also a suuuper immature way of looking at things because you have to enjoy life and there are always a ton of factors that could make something nice fall to pieces and if you look for patterns you'll find them and so on. In my defense, I am very immature. Also I guess what I'm describing here is the phrase "pride goes before a fall" but I hate that phrase, like, are we supposed to not take pride in good things? As the queen Cordelia Chase says in Buffy when told she has no shame, "...like shame is something to be proud of?"

So I'll say it carefully but definitely (am almost tempted to make the font three sizes smaller as if that would make the universe not notice it) thus far, I really love my new job. It's so fun. I love being charming with lots of people and meeting all the nice staff and making fancy cocktails with increasing competency and damn, there's even a weird satisfaction to be had from clearing a ton of dishes. Now that I've said something nice about washing dishes it's definitely going to fall apart (okay, admittedly closing up the bar is a bit of a nightmare but even that I'm getting the hang of), but till then: yeah, me!



Now that I'm doing so many late nights (got out at 2.30am on Saturday night, wheeeee) I need to make myself food that can be hoofed down in a hurry on my short break, that will give me energy but also be delicious enough that it makes me happy, stores easily, is filling but without making me immediately fall asleep afterwards...I have no idea if this pasta salad really fulfils any of those ideals because I just liked the thought of it and so decided to make it, but it is seriously delicious. Of course, most anything might seem seriously delicious at 10pm after being on your feet for ages. But trust me. As if I would put a less-than-dazzlingly-spectacular recipe on this blog for you.

pasta salad with broccoli-pumpkin seed pesto, feta, mint and olive oil

oh yeah so it's not even pesto, it's just munched up broccoli and pumpkin seeds, but what, you want to make a recipe called 'broccoli paste'? Nope, pesto it is. 

a recipe by myself

two heads of broccoli 
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
olive oil
salt

100g short pasta like penne, bow ties, rigatoni, that kinda thing
50g feta (or as much as you want) 
a handful of mint leaves
olive oil

Chop the broccoli into small florets. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and gently cook the broccoli in it - stirring a bit, you just want to soften it a little and lose that total rawness, you know? However if it gets a little browned in places that's great too. Tip the broccoli into a food processor, and then briefly toast the pumpkin seeds in the same pan till fragrant and browned slightly. Add them to the food processor too with a pinch of salt, and blitz the heck out of it, scraping down the sides with a spatula occasionally. Continue to process as you pour in olive oil - as much as you like, I probably used about three or four tablespoons. You'll end up with a kind of nubbly, rubbly green substance which you can then spatula into a container and put in the fridge till you need it next. 

To make the pasta salad - cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the packet instructions (although cooking it in boiling salted water is all there is to it, really) and then drain it under cold water for a little bit, just to take the immediate heat off. Mix together with two tablespoons - or much more - of the broccoli pumpkin seed pesto, the crumbled feta, and the mint leaves, and then drizzle over some more olive oil. 

Bursts of sharp, creamy feta and sweet, icy mint; life-giving carbs and rich pesto - it's brilliant stuff to inhale during a brief sit (who doesn't enjoy a good sit?) but also obviously you can eat this any day, any time, and on a proper plate instead of an old take-out container. The broccoli, pumpkin seeds and olive oil are brilliantly complementary, all the nutty, oily, grassy flavours being smashed together in the food processor. Now that I look at them, "grassy" and "oily" aren't necessarily the most appealing words but they are the most accurate ones I could find in my tired brain today. It is filling but light and keeps for a while in the fridge but honestly the most defining feature of this pasta salad is that it will get green stuff stuck in your teeth in a major way, so totally clean your teeth afterwards if you have to talk to people and sell them consumable items.

it worked! Here's me eating the pasta salad for dinner on my break. It literally saved my life. 

Use the leftover pesto in more pasta salad if you like, or...use it wherever else you might use pesto, I guess. It isn't as liquid as the pesto you buy from the supermarket but it would be terrific stirred through couscous or added to a salad dressing or, you know, whatever.

me before starting my shift, feeling like a ghost. There is no after photo because I was working too diligently to pause for selfies, ha! Actually this could be argued for taking selfies just before work, but...my point stands.

As well as remaining employed for a whole week, another cool thing that I've done recently is have another Crush Cake published on monstrously wonderful website The Toast. This crush cake is for the decidedly late but decidedly great Clara Bow and I'm very proud of it. In your face, pride-going-before-a-fall. 
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title from: Blink 182's still-rad song All The Small Things. Back in 1999 before I was all "nope, definitely a lesbian" I had such a crush on Tom DeLong and this was my favourite song of theirs. Also I really strongly hated boy bands and so loved the music video for this song where they send up lots of famous-at-the-time dudes. I don't think I could, like, listen to a whole Blink 182 album but damn if they didn't have some great singles. Oh also disclaimer, my use of this title is ironic. Or sarcastic. Or whatever I have to say to not get in trouble with anyone. 
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music lately:

Kate Nash, She Rules. This song is so sweet and simple and scrappy and I love it.

City Oh Sigh, My Love Has Gone. It's...just...too dreamy, I guess.

Pixies, Where Is My Mind. This song stays amazing.
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next time: freezing though it is, I've been craving ice cream...

11 July 2014

i'm taking the knife to the books that i own and i'm chopping and chopping and boiling soup from stone

mushroom and lentil soup with sage leaves fried in butter. Thank goodness for garnish huh, imagine how gross this would look without those sage leaves. 

So, I got a job! I am employed, so hard! I'm working at a massively swanky cinema in town at their massively swanky bar, shaky-handedly pretending I know how to make lattes, being sassy with customers, and recommending wines with minor self-confidence. It's rad. It's also pretty tiring, which doesn't necessarily explain why I woke up this morning an hour and a half before my alarm was due to go off, craving some kind of intense, hearty soup. 

But yeah, I got a job! I know it's a tough market out there but I was getting a bit downtrodden there for a while at my perpetual cycle of applying for jobs and getting rejected. Makes you feel like you're at your first school disco getting turned down by all the popular kids when you ask them to dance. Actually I take it back, that scenario is way worse than unemployment. 


While I was lying in bed, and in the time when I wasn't thinking about how I'd regret this careless awakeness later on when my next shift starts at work, I was thinking about soup. Which is unusual for me, soup doesn't hold a ton of interest and I don't eat it very often - I tend to like things that are crunchy, crispy, fried, just generally textural, and so a bowl of liquid has to work hard to appeal to me. Lentils are unlikely to be anyone's definition of "devastatingly sexy as far as food goes" let alone delightful texture-wise, but this recipe just appeared in my head, fully formed, as they often do, and I decided to trust myself and go with it. By the time I went out and got the mushrooms and then came home I wasn't actually hungry any more, but did have some, and can most definitely confirm that it is worth your reading this blog post further (well, it's always worth reading my blog posts, but y'know.)

mushroom and lentil soup with sage leaves fried in butter

a recipe by myself. You could fry the sage leaves in olive oil to make this vegan/dairy free if you wish. 

3/4 cup brown lentils
ten button mushrooms
one carrot
one large clove of garlic
olive oil
one teaspoon or so of vegetable stock powder
25g butter
four or five fresh sage leaves

If you can, pour boiling water over the lentils at least an hour before you start making the soup - it'll help them cook way faster. 

Slice the mushrooms and dice the carrot and garlic. Gently fry them in plenty of olive oil in a medium-sized pot. You want the mushrooms to brown and sizzle slightly, and the carrot to soften. Tip in the lentils and the stock powder and pour over four cups of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are completely tender. Add more water if it has absorbed/evaporated too much. Remove from the heat and carefully spoon/tip half the soup into a food processor, and blend till it's fairly smooth. Tip it back into the rest of the soup.

Heat the butter in a small pan and throw in the sage leaves, allowing it all to sizzle and bubble until the leaves are crisp. Divide the soup between two bowls (well, that's how much it makes, I had some from the bowl you see pictured here and then the rest will be for another time) (if you care about such semantics) and scatter over the sage leaves. Spoon over a little of the butter if you like, and I do, and then serve. 


I always do this when I talk about lentil recipes - go on and on about how unlikeable they are before trying to convince you that this one recipe I've made is actually good. Sorry, lentils. Sorry you're so unlikeable! Ha. But when I'm not being all Mean Girls up on it, this soup is delicious - simple, robust, the rough earthy flavours of the mushrooms and lentils shot through with nuttish browned butter and aromatic sage. Blending half the mixture gives it some body and textural contrast but you could just leave it as is, or pour cream in, or whatever, really. It's simple, it's very cheap, it's fast, and it tastes rather excellent. The crisp sage leaves cater to my love of crisp things, and as always with soup, I am reminded as I eat it that eating something hot and non-threateningly liquefied in the middle of winter is actually wonderful.

Even more important than my getting a job, my friends got a cat from the SPCA! Her name is Minerva and she is beautiful and I'm smitten with her, both vicariously and in person.

I love her so much that we started to morph into one half-human half-cat creature, it was quite awkward to explain it to my friends who own her. 

So yeah, things will be interesting from now on - well, they always are, sometimes too interesting - as I hold down my job and this blog and my side hustle cookies. Proud of myself though.
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title from: Regina Spektor's song The Flowers. Her voice is magic.
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music lately: 

One Direction, I Would. These loveable scruffs and their music just makes me so happy! And this is probably my favourite one of theirs. It's just, so...right.

Icona Pop/Charli XCX, I Love It. This song always makes me feel reckless and free, and never more so when it came on the other night when I was out dancing, just when I needed to hear it most. Seriously just turn off the lights and jump and thrash around to this and everything will be good.

Saycon Sengbloh, Young Gifted and Black. Those harmonies, oof.
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next time: ummmm...I know not. But it will be good.