I have been so damn verbose lately (verbose, fittingly, has so many delicious synonyms – pleonastic, circumlocutory, prolix) and more than a little negative (in fairness, there is much to be negative about out there. Maybe I’m just being myself) that I’m aiming for this post to be snappier and sunnier.
So, here are some succinct, happy things, before I get to the food (note: an insuccinctly massive list of succinct things)
Slowly but actually diminishing credit card debt // Getting home from work, forcing my slatternly self to immediately hang up my coat and put away my clothes, and chaging into one of my softest, oldest tshirts and underwear right away. The winter auxiliary mode includes options like adding thick fluffy socks, or not adding socks and sitting right by the heater, or rolling yourself in a blanket like you’re a cinnamon bun // a healed tattoo and oh so specific daydreams about more // Yoga // Dusky grey and pastel coloured nailpolish // A letter from dear Ange in London, the breathless opening and reading of which had distinct Pride-and-Prejudice-era thrills to it // Coffee, always coffee // Carefully planned spontaneous dance parties (also just spontaneous ones) // Looking after myself a bit, in various ways // Game of Thrones has had a lot of scenes featuring amazing butts lately // Buying a very cheap and probably utterly useless trenchcoat I bought online, in the hopes of looking like Bel Rowley from The Hour (I also want to look like Lix, with her high-waisted trousers and gorgeous blouses, all the better to drink whisky in. Marnie’s party dresses, less so, but I just wanted to mention Marnie. Um.) // Balancing imminent cookbook panic with flights of fancy about pretty much charming the world in interviews and being a cool person and stuff plus reminding myself that panicing about a cookbook means I’ve still written a cookbook // txts from friends that are mostly encouraging emoji // Watching episode after episode of Elementary with Tim, we’re pretty obsessed (also: Bob’s Burgers) // Parks and Rec renewed for a sixth season // The warm tofu at Tatsushi, it’s celestial // Google imaging lop-eared bunnies // Kissing // Laughing so hard with friends at Rose Matafeo’s brill comedy show, also saying hi to her afterwards and not screwing it up in my usual socially awkward manner // Going to a doctor who actually listened to me about my anxiety and other bits and pieces, unlike the last one who I paid $60 to be dismissive // Spontaneous and swoonful cherry pie at Six Barrel Soda.
Also: The Carb on Carb Agenda.
Remorse hit as soon as I started heaping this upon the large white dish. Like, it’s not even a plate, I think it’s more for putting cakes on. Who do I think I am. Some kind of…food blogger? Well, okay. But tiny grains and a flat surface are not practical for extracting spoonfuls of. It looked dramatic and pretty though, and what price that? Anyway, stepping back a little, what you are looking at here is golden, fried tiny cubes of potato, stirred into soft, spiced burghal wheat, jeweled with walnuts and nigella seeds and rocket. Carbohydrates, be they bread or pasta or rice or noodles or couscous, or, in this case, wheat and potatoes, have this “everything’s gonna be alright” filling warmth to them, and so it goes that carb-on-carb is doubly comforting. Potato pizza. Marmite and crisps sandwiches. Spaghetti on toast. Dipping hot chips into potato and gravy. And this. Which I thought up myself, although I’m sure I must have seen it somewhere before – I’m good, but not that good.
Really, you can just fry the potatoes and stir them into burghal wheat and you’ll still have a meal fit for a Khaleesi. But the extra bits and pieces make it superlative-worthy.
Fried Potato Burghal Wheat with Walnuts and Rocket
A recipe by myself. Serves two, with some left over for just one person for lunch the next day.
Two medium or three small potatoes. Or however many feels right. In your heart.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup burghal wheat (this is also known as bulghur wheat.)
1 teaspoon ras-el-hanout (or a mixture of ground cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 handful walnuts
1 handful rocket leaves
1 teaspoon nigella seeds, or sesame seeds, or anything small and garnishy, really.
Slice the potatoes into very, very small squares – a few millimeters to 1cm wide. Don’t actually bother to measure them or make them uniform, or even square. It’s the smallness that matters.
Heat the oil in your largest saucepan, and tip in the pieces of potato. Spread out so they’re roughly in one even layer, and cover with a lid for five minutes – the steam will help cook the potato through. Then remove the lid, turn up the heat to high, and simply let the potato fry for about ten – fifteen minutes, stirring only occasionally, till the cubes are largely golden and crisp. It really doesn’t take too long but at the same time, does require some patience.
Meanwhile, tip the burghal wheat into a bowl, and add the ras-el-hanout and coriander seeds. Bring a jug of water to the boil, and once it’s done, pour into the bowl so it’s about 1cm above the level of the burghal, and then sit a dinner plate on top of the bowl – a plate bigger than the bowl, obvs – for about five minutes.
Once the potatoes are good and crisp, lift the dinner plate off the bowl to reveal fluffy, enfluffened, fluffed up (yes) burghal. Remove the potatoes from the heat, tip in the burghal, stir it all around, tip that into a serving bowl, and sprinkle over the rocket leaves, the walnuts, and the nigella seeds.
I can see how this might sound a little nose-wrinklingly odd, but the crouton-crunch of the potatoes against the fluffy, nutty, spicily warm burghal is AMAZING. Predictably, I dug for more crispy potato bits with the spoon, but both elements work so beautifully together. Also, on a distinctly lazy note, it’s nice to eat something with potatoes in it, but to not have to wait at least forty-five minutes for them to cook. This is surprisingly fast. And monumentally delicious.
On Sunday afternoon I had this sudden, intense notion that we should cut loose and go somewhere and do something. I sort of hate Sunday evenings, with their muffled, melancholic anticipation of the Monday to come, and their post-Friday/Saturday comedown, but sometimes it’s oddly pleasing to sort of bask in it, drive as far as you can go and stare listlessly at the sinking light in the sky and the landscape skidding by. And so we did. (Okay for all my romantic talk, it was more like this. Tim: why are we going to the beach? What? Me: I ‘unno, we could instagram the skyline, try to take photos of me jumping in the air by the shore like I’m a happy carefree person. Tim: Well, okay.) So we drove, and drove, and drove, out to Wainuiomata Beach.
The beach was isolated, and empty of all other people. The sky was mauve and orange, the colours fading into each other like a beautiful eyeshadow compact that I would look at admiringly but probably never wear.