Y’know, I will gently snark about the Baby-sitters Club series in a loving way till my dying breath, but sometimes, in hindsight, they really got it wrong: according to the BSC, wearing glasses = The Worst. They kept brightly exclaiming things like “Mallory’s got glasses and braces, but we still like her/she’ll look okay one day/she actually managed to get a sort-of boyfriend!” I guess Karen Brewer of the Little Sister spin-off was glasses-proud but I never did like those books – who wants to read about seven year olds when you could read about the (more or less literally) impossible, sophisticated exploits of that most worldly and cool age group, thirteen year olds? What I’m saying is – I found out recently that I need glasses. And, in your face Ann M Martin and inevitable ghostwriters: I’m really happy about it. I’d been getting headaches and tender, weary eyeballs in front of the computer (which, between this blog and work, I’m attached to at the face for 90% of my life.) It never occurred to me that I had anything other than brilliant eyesight. I may have even boasted, nay, crowed about it on occasion. But the bafflingly crisp, clear world around me when I tried on the right lenses and the utter relaxation of my face in the region from my under-eye rings to my eyebrows convinced me that I actually am pretty long-sighted. Also the optician told me so.
So, in ten working days, these will be my new face. Minus the price sticker. And I can’t wait! Glasses are cool! Speccy is sexy! Frames get the dames! Lenses get the menses! (oh wait god no I didn’t say that one.)
It doesn’t always come together: over the last couple of weeks I’ve been out of the house so much that I’ve hardly cooked dinner at all. Movies. (Jessica Chastain’s magnificent face starring in Zero Dark Thirty). Drinks. Other drinks. Burger rings and snacks and a marathon of the most important cinema franchise of our generation: The Fast and the Furious. Dinners out with friends. Sybaritic weekends. And…bank balance plummeting as a result. It all seemed fairly simple when I got my job – we’d pay off our post-America credit card so soon! We’d get tattoos! We’d put money away for our wedding! Even though we’re waiting for marriage equality laws to pass, weddings are expensive enough that we might as well start saving now.) But no. Things kept happening. Moving costs. Furniture. More furniture. Glasses. Spontaneous good times. Some self-enforced laying low is maybe in order. But I do love good times…
I cook pasta more than anything else already, but it’s what I turn to with vigour when we’re trying to just eat from what’s in the cupboard without spending any extraneous pennies. Pasta can handle being simple – just cook it, stir in a few things, and you have a plausible meal, a meal that looks like it took some care, and like someone cares.
That said, these two recipes are so uninvolved and small that they almost don’t exist. The sort of thing you can really only cook for yourself, or someone you know well enough that you could defame them with the secrets only you keep about them (as others might say, someone you trust.) It’s just, many might be perturbed by how utterly little there is happening on their plate. And so, I worry for your self-esteem. I’m pretty sure these are nay-sayer-deflectingly delicious, but still. I can’t guarantee someone won’t say “where’s the rest of dinner?” or something.
Pasta with Burnt Cream and Basil
A recipe by myself. I made this by cooking the cream in this adorably small, dinky red pot. It boiled over furiously, twice, and made an appalling mess on the stovetop. Use a slightly bigger pot, please. I guess I could just call it Pasta with Cream and Basil, as it’s more scalded and boiled than burnt. But I am fanciful, and I fancy that Burnt Cream sounds fancy.
200g dried spaghetti
250ml (1 cup) cream
A handful of fresh basil leaves
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Once it’s bubbling away, tip in the pasta and cook according to packet instructions. Probably 10-12 minutes. In another good-sized saucepan, bring the cream to the boil and allow it to simmer away for a good five to ten minutes. Keep an eye on it and stir often. Cream bubbles up fast. Drain the pasta once it’s cooked, pour over the cream and stir it through along with the basil leaves. The sauce will still be very liquid and creamy – as you can see in the photo – but should have reduced in quantity somewhat.
Pasta with Tomato, Wine and Butter Sauce
A recipe by myself. Yeah canned tomatoes!
200g dried spaghetti
125ml (1/2 cup) leftover white wine – or a little less if that’s all you have.
1 can cherry tomatoes (or chopped canned tomatoes)
A little olive oil
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions in a large pan of boiling salted water. In a medium sized pot, bring the butter and wine to the boil, then tip in the canned tomatoes and their juice. Allow to simmer for another five minutes – it will be pretty liquid – then pour over the cooked, drained pasta and stir carefully. Pour over some olive oil if you fancy the flavour.
I didn’t even intend to blog about the second recipe here, as you can probably tell from the last-minute, near-empty, Final Girl cherry tomato nature of the photos of it. But I was also well aware of the fact that I had nothing to blog about, and in fact that it might not be the worst thing in the world to write a post about my regular fallback of pasta-and-stuff. The burnt cream pasta might sound sinister, but all you’re doing is reducing down the cream so that everything incredible about its flavour – that buttery clean richness – is deepened and intensified and more wonderful than ever. I specify leftover white wine in the tomato pasta recipe because that’s what I used – should you find an inch of wine leftover after a party don’t throw it out! Wine seems to add insta-mystique to a meal, giving a elusive elegance and layering of flavour to whatever you add it to. In this case it cuts through the butter, points up the acidic nature of the tomatoes, and is just generally delicious.
Another drawn-on page in the ever-growing flip book that is our new flat: we finally hung up all our posters and prints. I love it.
Speaking of that which I love, I was interviewed recently by Fairfax Media, and it was published in several regional newspapers. If you like, you can read it here (right click on the image, open in new tab, zoom in). I just love being interviewed. More, if you please, world!
Title via: The White Stripes, White Moon from their album Get Behind Me Satan. This song is beauteous enough as is, but as the closing scene to their documentary Under Great White Northern Lights? Devastasting. So much so that I’m going to dramatically not even link to it because it makes me so stupidly emotional. (It’s really easy to find on YouTube though.)
Mary J Blige, Family Affair. Forgot how much I love this song. The beat and melody is kinda addictive to the ear, the lyrics are sternly positive, and the dance routine in the video is awesomely unhinged. And it has the word “hateration” in it.
Willemijn Verkaik is going to be the first person to play Wicked’s Elphaba in three different languages (German, Dutch, English) when she takes to Broadway this month. So very envious of people getting to see her, she’s unbelievable. I mean, you have to be fairly amazing to play the throat-challenging belt-fest that is Elphaba, but she’s one of my favourites. Here she is simply rehearsing No Good Deed (for the Stuttgart production, so in German) but being heart-stoppingly incredible.
Next time: Another installment of my I Should Tell You interviews, with Dear Time’s Waste. Lucky me! Lucky you!