I haven't blogged all year! (Sorry, bad joke is bad.) This is my sixth first-post-of-the-year since I started hungryandfrozen.com and it comes with no less thoughtful reflection than any blog post on any day of any month ever, since that's just the kind of self-absorbed person I am. I did, however, make some new years resolutions. I intend to stick to them, too - I mean, in 2011 I vowed I'd get a book deal somehow, and then 19 days later a publishing company emailed me to say they'd like me to write a cookbook. I'm not saying I'm a witch. But I'm pretty sure if you send out waves of furrow-browed determinism, something has to happen, even if that something is just the people around you inwardly sighing oh no, not this rant again. (Related: I'm not saying I'm a witch, but I did manage to roll the dice while playing Trivial Pursuits recently and have it land on the exact number my team were hoping for, several times in a row.)
New Years Resolutions for 2013:
1: Be intensely successful in everything to do with this blog and my foodwriting and most of all, my upcoming cookbook. I don't think this is particularly surprising, but still.
2: Get bufty arms. It came to my attention recently, when Tim and I moved house, that I am essentially useless in the upper arm region. I'd like to be able to lift stuff with dignity. I'd like to be able to lift stuff at all. So some gentle weight-lifting will ensue.
3: Eat more vegetables. Moving house, and therefore trying to get rid of all our perishables, plus not having a job, meant for a while there we were doing things like having scrambled eggs on buttered toast, or just plain buttered toast, (or buttered popcorn) for nearly every single meal. I love them, but I don't want scurvy. This year: some snipped chives on my scrambled eggs on buttered toast, at least.
4: Envy: deal with it. Try not to compare my success to that of others. Look, I've been a snappishly jealous person since the beginning - why, in the movie of the story of my life you could have a montage of scenes from little me to right now. Not just general success - relationships and experiences and any old thing, really. It's just not a particularly good item to have in my inventory of personality traits. I can't deny it, but I can work on reigning it in.
5: Add many, many new words to my vocabulary. I love words. Want to win my heart? Use fancy language (or flatter me, I guess - see points 1 and 4). I've got a bit lazy recently, relying on the same old adjectives. I want to know more. Why, I used to read the dictionary for fun as a kid! I want to do that again.
Will I achieve all of this? Hopefully a devastatingly successful, firm-of-bicep-region, robustly healthy, beatifically mellow Laura will be able to reply "indubitably!" in one year's time.
It's Sunday night, the new years break is well and truly over and I go back to work tomorrow. I am attempting to keep myself in check from being too petulant about this, since I spent so much time and effort finding a job in the first place. But holidays are just so lovely and they do go by so fast, no matter how hard I try to be aware of every moment as it happens, to cling on to the days with clenched fists and to stay up as late as possible. Especially when these holidays are spent with deliciously wonderful people in an old mansion out in the countryside.
But anyway, before we all forget that this is even a food blog, here's some food: I decided to meet the back-to-school blues head on by baking up delicious things to be eaten at 10:30am and 3:30pm - when your ebbs are usually at their lowest, right? Katrina Meynink's gorgeous book Kitchen Coquette offered up Pumpkin, Chili and Feta Loaf, which is just the sort of thing I want to look forward to during a working day. It's very fast and easy to make, and has just the kind of ingredients which feel like you're treating yourself to a good time (admittedly, my idea of a good time is relatively low-expectational) but without requiring you to spend lots of money or go hunting endlessly for obscure foodstuffs. And - start as you mean to go on - it has vegetables in it! Peachy!
Kumara, Chili, and Feta Loaf
Adapted ever-so-hardly-at-all from Katrina Meynink's book Kitchen Coquette. I only used kumara because that's what I could find - it's an unsurprisingly worthy substitute for the original. The recipe also called for a chopped onion and some basil, both of which I left out because I didn't have them.
400g chopped golden kumara (or butternut pumpkin)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 small red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
Salt and pepper
1 cup buttermilk (note - I just used milk, also I increased it slightly from what the book specified as it looked to need it)
2 teaspoons sugar
450g self raising flour (I used regular flour and 3 teaspoons baking powder)
200g feta cheese
Set your oven to 160 C/315 F and butter a loaf tin.
Place the chopped kumara on a baking tray, sprinkle with oil, the sliced chilli and salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes, till tender and a little darkened at the edges.
Mix together the buttermilk (or milk), eggs, sugar, and flour, to form a very thick dough. Crumble in the feta and tip in the kumara and gently mix. Inevitably, some of the kumara will kind of smush into the dough. But whatever. Scrape it into the loaf tin and bake for an hour. Turn out of the tin and allow to cool completely before slicing thickly.
As with the pear cake I blogged about last time, I had to have a slice of this before its intended eating time, in order to be able to describe it on this blog. That might sound a little like my life is being ruled by this blog or something, but hey, I got to eat some delicious baking. And I can tell you authoritatively that it really is delicious. The kumara is sweet and a little nutty, the creamy saltiness of the feta is pleasingly addictive against the occasional bursts of fiendishly hot chilli on the tongue. It has the comforting carb-slab nature of a scone, but is also a bit fancy. And I bet a few days down the track, zapped in the microwave in the office kitchen and buttered abundantly, it'll still be good.
This is where we stayed over new years. Swoon, right? It's the sort of place where your very existence makes it feel like you're in a gorgeous dreamy novel or movie or something (the point is: dreamy.) I read books, I painted my nails, I gossiped on a four-poster bed, I watched movies, I made a huge vat of mac and cheese and ate many feasts made by others (including woodfired pizza in the shape of a cat), I patted a wayward hund, I drank plenty of gin, and generally had a wonderful time with wonderful friends.
Tim and me! Me and Tim! Was there ever a dapper-er babe than he? My opinion says nay!
So engaged right now.
Speaking of dreamy and swoon, the two above photos were taken by the uncommonly talented Sarah-Rose, who, if you're interested in creeping on our holiday, took so many beautiful/hilarious photos during our time away.
Finally, apropos of nothing: Tim and I bought some furniture. Our new flat is feeling more and more like a home every day. I would like to point out that the Garfield picture was drawn by Tim when he was a kid, and he just put it there as a joke - it's not like, our most treasured, look-at-this piece of artwork. That said, I totally respect Garfield's attitude towards both pasta and Mondays. Also that faux-fur on the daybed (daybed! It's a bed you sit on during the day! Dreamy!) is leftover from when I made myself a lion costume for a party last year. Judge us for buying stuff with "would it look good on instagram?" as a dealbreaker, but not for that furry throw! (I was kind of joking about the instagram thing, by the way.)
Title via: the sadly late Etta James, Sunday Kind of Love. A song that makes Sunday feel like a day to look forward to, not shun.____________________________________________________________________________
Lana Del Rey, Summertime Sadness. Hey, it's still Sunday. Predictably dreamy.
Flat Duo Jets, You Belong To Me. A sexy, languid song, I might never have heard it had their album Go Go Harlem Baby not been rereleased by Third Man Records. Which we then took a chance on and bought when we were at Third Man Records in Nashville. This is a really good song, I'm not just using it as an opportunity to drop in that we went traveling recently or anything.
Next time: at least one vegetable.