vegan scrambled eggs

P1190665

I’ve been editing the manuscript of my first novel – I wrote a novel! – rather brutally, and it’s honestly making it so hard to read anything outside of that context without applying the same scrutiny – is that passive voice I see? Wow. Did we need that “did” or “that?” Are you sure about that decision, Joan Didion? (I’m currently reading a Joan Didion novel.) I always call myself the least-edited writer in New Zealand but suddenly I have a taste of what it feels like to carefully peel layers off your words with a sharp knife. That’s why I’m being particularly rambling and self-indulgent in this very paragraph, because I can do that here, and the whoosh of unnecessary words falling from my brain is a relief after such austerity measures.

P1190672

With said bumbling words I’m here to talk about this recipe for vegan scrambled eggs using moong dal and kala namak, two specific ingredients without which you should merely read this but not proceed, because they’re both pretty crucial. Moong dal is split yellow mung beans, and when soaked, pureed and cooked they have a gentle fluffy texture and mellow flavour. Kala namak, black salt, is most often described as having an eggy flavour and it does, but not in a stressful way – it’s a distinct and compelling yolky richness. I followed a recipe pretty closely from the Minimalist Baker, making only the most, well, minimal of adaptions, since I’ve never used either key ingredient before. Moong dal is a classic ingredient of – very broadly speaking – Indian cooking, in recipes such as Moong Dal Chilla – but recently, the product Just Egg co-opted this ingredient to sell plastic bottles of it to Americans at a vastly marked up price. Which I guess makes this recipe a counter-co-opt.

P1190669

This recipe is absolutely delicious, but I would describe the texture as being more that of soft polenta than scrambled eggs. I adore polenta so this is no hardship but it’s good to know going in. The black salt really is the hero of the piece, giving a superb depth of flavour – it’s sulphuric, yet chill. I’ve made this twice now, the first time I missed the baking powder accidentally and it’s definitely better with – more confidently fluffy – but still delightful without.

P1190673

Also more of a pinky-mauve colour.

Scrambled eggs isn’t something I miss terribly since turning vegan, but I do love the novelty of dressing one foodstuff up as another existing foodstuff. This recipe is wonderful – filling, plentiful, brunchily luxurious – even the uncooked batter tastes good, as I found when I checked to see if it needed more black salt. Like, I’ve had worse smoothies. Which really speaks more to the smoothies I make than anything else.

If my earlier mention of writing a novel has you afroth at the mouth, the best way to forage insights is by supporting me directly on Patreon – for a few singular dollars you can enjoy untold (well, twice monthly) exclusive communiqué sweetmeats from me. If the pickled spring onions beside the scramble have your tastebuds narrowing their eyes thoughtfully, you can make them following my recipe on Tenderly. But I shall be patiently sitting with my fingers crossed that both, in fact, have caught your attention.

P1190667

Vegan Scrambled Eggs

Adapted pretty directly from The Minimalist Baker.

  • 3/4 cup moong dal (these may also be called mung dal or split mung beans and they’re yellow. Important to get the right ones!)
  • 1 1/2 cups rice milk
  • 1 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • a pinch turmeric
  • a pinch nutmeg
  • kala namak, also called black salt, to taste

1: Soak the moong dal in water at least six hours or overnight.

2: Drain the dal and process it in a high-speed blender with the rest of the ingredients till it’s a smooth batter. Taste to see if it needs more salt.

3: Heat a little oil in a saucepan and pour in enough batter to coat the surface. Once bubbles appear on the surface, you can use a spatula to shift and turn the batter. I found this cooks quickly, and the less you move it, the better. It’s hard to not stir it around though! Remove from the pan once it’s no longer liquid, and serve however you please.

According to the recipe I followed this makes six servings although it depends on how hungry you are – I’d call it enough for four people. The recipe also recommends using a nonstick pan to cook it in, the pan I had was very much not non-stick and it worked, but the sticking prevented it from staying in one piece like the original recipe. Still tasted great, so don’t worry too much.

Note: I got the moong dal – labelled as such – from Grabgrocery in Sandringham, and the Kala Namak – labelled Black Salt – from Manga The Foodstore in Newtown. If you use rice flour as per the original recipe instead of regular flour this will be gluten-free. 
music lately:

Independent Love Song by Scarlet. That 90s world-weary self-awareness! That Paula Cole-style howling! The violins! That wind tunnel chorus! My hair is blowing back behind dramatically just listening to it.

Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You from the 2002 off-Broadway musical The Last 5 Years. In the manner of a protective parent who tells their children that The Sound of Music ends after the wedding, I like to pretend that this song ends just before the dash in the title – only heartbreakingly happy, no heartbreak. It’s just so much, the way Sherie Rene Scott sings “I open myself one stitch at a time,” Norbert Leo Butz and his retroflex approximant! That Morse Code opening piano riff which causes me to hyperventilate every time! Like tithing, but more worthwhile, ten percent of my brain is dedicated to thinking about this song at any given time.

Sprung, from Australian legend Ces Hotbake’s EP Mush From The Wimp, it’s tremulous and uplifting and beautiful!

Next time: Kala namak on everything!

c’mon everybody and rock with me, I am the one on the Christmas tree

2aead-download28629

I love this time of year – no, not Christmas, I mean this precise moment, where I do my annual round up of recipes from this blog that I believe would make ideal potential edible gift ideas for the season ahead or indeed any time (which also coincides with my annual struggle to convey this concept in a concise manner.) It’s not just that it gives me a break from devising content, and it’s not just that it’s an opportunity to be self-congratulatory and self-serving in equal measure – actually, that’s more or less precisely it – but I also do love being useful, and I’d like to think this list is, in fact, of use to someone out there.

6e5b3-p1180017

Sake Pickled Radishes

Whether or not you subscribe to Christmas at any level there will still probably be an occasion throughout the year where a gift of some kind is required from you, and personally – second to flagrant quantities of money – there’s no better gift than something you can eat. By its very nature the space it takes up in the receiver’s home will be temporary and receding, it’s thoughtful, it’s fairly low-level as far as rampant consumerism goes, and you can completely personalise it. Giving food also lowers the fear of accidentally getting a person something they already have – as far as delicious food goes, more is more.

1_aAxMFU-NrngCRv-gUzg3tQ

chocolate-dipped pumpkin spice lemon pistachio cookies

This year I’m also going to be including some of the recipes I contributed to Tenderly, since the only thing I enjoy more than calling attention to myself is doubling down on calling attention to myself. They’re all separated out into helpful categories, and you should know that some of these recipes are from years ago, but while details and contexts and locations and motivations have changed, the deliciousness remains constant.

1_UUog_FjFsoNKmwB8raLpqA

salted vanilla brazil nut butter, coffee cinnamon hazelnut butter, cumin and paprika spiced pumpkin seed butter

The HungryandFrozen Inviolably Unimpeachable List of Edible Gift Ideas For Life, Not Just For Christmas, But Definitely Also For Christmas

Category One: Things In Jars

Seasons change, fickle trends come and go, but still jars abide. Put some stuff in a jar and you’ve instantly got a simple, elegantly rustic benefaction which no one can deny looks as though some considerable effort was made. It’s also what we in the business (that is, show business) call a twofer, because as well as getting something delightful to eat the receiver also gets a handy jar for their own future shoving of food into.

Savoury:

2f097-p1160137

Berry Chia Seed Jam

Sweet

p1180838

Vanilla Chocolate Macarons

Category Two: Baked Goods

Baked goods! It’s right there in the name! They’re good!

dea3f-p1110508

Peppermint Schnapps and Coffee-Orange Liqueur

Category Three: From the Unbaked to the Unhinged

This is everything else, the kind of thing that comes from such lines of thought as “what if I dissolved candy canes in vodka?” The results are remarkably almost potable! Some of these items have a fairly low melting point, so use your judgment when it comes to packaging and storing them.

Oh yeah, and all these recipes are vegan.

title from: Master-Dik by Sonic Youth, a sprawling and loquacious song where the less of a point it makes the better it sounds.

music lately:

Do You Love Me Now by The Breeders, I just love this song so much, there’s something about it that evokes running through an airport frantically but also trying to wade through syrup, like it’s on fast-forward and in slow motion simultaneously.

The Look, Roxette. RIP Marie Fredriksson. This is just literally one of the best songs in the world – that chord progression in the chorus that almost makes me feel carsick with its urgency, the fantastic devil-may-care bizarreness of the lyrics, the drama of the synths, the muffled 80s production making it sound like you’re running down a corridor trying desperately to find the locked, padded room that it’s being recorded in.

Paradise By The Dashboard Light, originally by Meat Loaf, as performed on Glee. I realise that is an extremely cursed sentence right there but hear me out. I genuinely hate all of Meat Loaf’s music and by all accounts the man himself is a Republican; I also realise Glee covers of songs do not necessarily represent the highest form of art. Nevertheless, this performance is incredible and it makes my heart ache to watch it, because it was really the last time things were good on Glee, on and offscreen. The cast looks like they’re having a ball, and there’s so many little moments – I love Santana resting her head in Brittany’s hand at 1:25 – but it’s Lea Michele’s entrance at 1:40 that kills me, I swear my achilles tendons nearly snapped when she growled “I gotta know right now.” I genuinely can’t stop watching this video. On that note you should definitely read this piece I wrote about Glee and Rachel Berry (Lea Michele’s Glee character) for Tenderly – it’s one of my favourite things that I’ve written this year.

Next time: Back to business as usual! Like I don’t know what it will be specifically, but it will be business as usual.

PS: if you enjoy my writing and would like to support me directly, you can do so by joining my Patreon. It’s like a cordoned-off VIP area where you can access content written just for you: recipes, updates, a short story, the opening sentences of the novel I wrote.

swing from high to deep, extremes of sweet and sour

P1190431

While food blogging is mostly just quietly writing recipes and then being largely ignored but feeling a modest sense of peace at your own unswerving constancy and excellence; now and then a recipe comes along that makes you quite sure everything is going to change as a result of it. You’ll one day tell your grandchildren, or someone else’s grandchildren, or your small dog, that this was your origin story, the recipe equivalent of being discovered loitering in a shopping mall by a roving talent scout. I had that feeling with the caramelised tomato spaghetti and the vegan carne adovada this year, I had that feeling in 2013 when I’m quite sure I personally invented halloumi fries, and I’ve got it now with this vegan lemon curd recipe. To be fair, my instincts have never served me particularly well – my mind tells me “all who shall eat this will surely fall in love with me” like I’m some kind of fairy godmother hovering with purposeful menace at Sleeping Beauty’s christening; in reality it’s more like, literally nothing happens and life goes on, and perhaps the feeling of certainty that a recipe is truly next-level amazing is its own reward. (But you know what’s even more of a reward? Actual rewards!)

All delusional entitlement aside, let’s talk about this recipe. Lemon curd is immensely scientific for something one artlessly spreads on toast – the precise meeting point of liquefying solids and solidifying liquids. So how do you achieve this without the usual eggs and butter? In this recipe I’ve employed cornflour and coconut oil for thickening and enriching, but that’s not the part that excited me most. The real key ingredient here, the maverick game-changer, is…

Pineapple juice.

P1190438

I’ve long thought pineapple evoked a buttery vibe, without knowing quite how or why – something in the way its flavour fills the mouth – and had planned to eventually do something with this idea. While researching a piece about cocktails with pineapple juice in them for Tenderly, I asked Facebook why the juice goes frothy when shaken up (short answer: it just does, that’s why!) and a bartender friend informed me that both butter and pineapple contain butyric acid, and like Homer Simpson with the ideas of “dental plan” and “Lisa needs braces” swirling around in his head waiting to connect to each other, I suddenly saw before me what might be possible, and this lemon curd recipe jumped into my brain, fully-formed. And I could not possibly be happier with it.

Vegan Lemon Curd

A recipe by myself

  • 1 cup/250ml pineapple juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Juice of one lemon (roughly 1/4 – 1/3 cup)
  • 4 teaspoons cornflour
  • 4 tablespoons refined coconut oil
  • 2 drops food grade lemon oil (optional, but good)

 

Note: the pineapple juice can come from a bottle, but make sure it’s more or less 100% pineapple juice, without any added sugar or like, cut with apple juice. You can of course add the zest of the lemon if you wish, it’s a very good idea, I was using frozen fresh lemon juice so didn’t have any zest to work with. Refined coconut oil means that it’s flavourless. If you can only get unrefined it will still work, but there will be a slight coconutty flavour to contend with. The lemon oil is optional but really boosts the fragrant lemon flavour, obviously. The finished product sets to a soft, spoonable lemon curd, if you want it thicker add another teaspoon or two of cornflour.

Bring the pineapple juice and sugar to the boil in a small saucepan, and let it bubble away for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.

Mix the cornflour and lemon juice together – this helps prevent the cornflour forming lumps – then tip this into the pineapple mixture. Return the saucepan to a low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens – it will still be liquidy but should have some gelatinous body to it. Remove from the heat and thoroughly stir in the coconut oil, and the lemon oil if you’re using it. I found a small whisk ideal for this part as it takes a minute to incorporate the solid coconut oil into the liquid.

Allow to cool slightly then pour into a hot, sterile jar. Refrigerate for at least four hours, or overnight – it will thicken as it cools and the texture will appear more creamy and opaque. Makes one jar, around 300ml.

P1190429

The pineapple juice gives you heft, as in, provides the bulk of the volume, and its acidic juiciness dovetails perfectly with the sourness of the lemon without distracting – the lemon is still absolutely the star. The coconut oil with the cornflour-thickened juice gives a rich, satiny texture, but somehow combined with the pineapple juice, and its intense sunshine lusciousness, the whole thing genuinely tastes like lemon curd, and I can’t stop eating it from the jar with a spoon in wonderment at just how tart and sweet and velvety and decadent and completely lemon-curd-like it is. Perhaps even better? Honestly, I think this is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made in my twelve years of food blogging, and I have nothing else to say about it because that’s all there is to it, really.

title from: Sit Down by James, this song is just so jangly and bittersweet and nice, isn’t it!

music lately:

Destroy The Heart by House of Love. I do enjoy an upbeat song paired with a gloomy vocal, it’s the real sound of the summer. There is this amazing guitar riff that sluices through the melody halfway through, never to reappear: I salute its mysteriousness.

I Wanna Sleep In Your Arms, by The Modern Lovers. I think if I could only listen to one band for eternity these guys would be the main contenders for the role. I love the grubby urgency of this song’s guitar riff and the sheer endearing-ness of the lyrics and Johnathan Richmond’s slightly congested singing voice, with its ad-libs and occasional charming slide into speak-singing.

As If We Never Said Goodbye, Diahann Carroll, from the musical Sunset Boulevard (based on the incredible film.) This is such a perfect musical theatre song, full of resolute controlled triumph, it’s simple, yet completely out of reach for most vocalists. The “I’ve come home at last” line at 3:20 absolutely kneecaps me, such a masterstroke of putting one note in front of the other – part of me wishes that the whole song was just that refrain. The late Diahann Carroll performs it beautifully with richness and vibrato, but I absolutely urge you to also watch Broadway legend Betty Buckley’s exquisite performance – if you jump to 8:04, I got full body chills at the effortless way she held the note on “home” so long that the audience spontaneously started applauding mid-song.

Next time: Now that I’ve tackled lemon curd I think I’d like to try making vegan fudge.

PS: if you enjoy my writing and would like to support me directly, you can do so by joining my Patreon. It’s like a cordoned-off VIP area where you can access content written just for you: recipes, updates, the opening sentences of the novel I wrote.

if you want a banana republic that much why don’t you go move to one

Before I get further into anything I extremely invite you to read Protect Ihumātao’s website to learn about the incredibly important occupation of the land happening right now; if you are feeling unfamiliar, this story by Leonie Hayden from 2017 for NZ Geographic is excellent for further background and context to this ongoing journey. There is also an ActionStation page where you can donate to the cause. Ngā mihi nui!

P1190108

Nigella Lawson often, when questioned, says that greed is her chief inspiration for recipe creation. I’m sure I must’ve been asked this at some point around the time my first cookbook came out, but these days I’m more at the daydreaming-potential-answers-to-future-interviews stage of renown, which is like, literally fine, although I wish I could apply my perpetual preparedness to be interviewed to being prepared in even one other aspect of my life. Anyway, if someone were to ask me, I completely agree with Nigella on the greed front, I just think of what I want to eat and then I make that a recipe. My secondary inspiration is probably that if someone on a TV show or movie that I’m watching mentions a food enough times I will get it in my head that I want to make it; but also significantly, I often derive inspiration from seeing people I am friendly with tweeting about food and being like “this is my BUSINESS,” such as the vegan carne adovada that I made earlier this year after seeing such a tweet.

P1190101

A few days ago my good friend Jen tweeted asking what the best vegan banana bread recipe was and I was like wow, I don’t know how to answer that, and I feel like I should, so I’m going to do something about it. (I’m only just realising now that I didn’t actually look at any of the recipes linked in other replies to her tweet, I instead just assumed I was the person to provide the definitive recipe and in turn response to her question. Upon reflection I guess I remain unchanged on that opinion?) The difference between a banana cake and banana bread is pretty much lost on me – aside from banana bread being made in a loaf tin – but if pressed for an answer – in an interview situation, perhaps – I would assert that it’s generally a little denser than the cake version and I wouldn’t expect it to be iced.

P1190104

This recipe has a fairly traditional-baked-good vibe to it, which is what I wanted – no dates masquerading as sugar content here, just actual sugar. No disrespect, but sometimes vegan baking recipes feel like they’re being blackmailed by a company that sells dates, you know what I mean? It’s light and moist but also firm with a springy crumb, and easily sliced into thick slabs – which are perfect alongside a cup of tea. You could consider folding in a couple of handfuls of walnuts or dark chocolate pieces, or the zest of a lemon, but I love it just as it is, with the sweetness of the bananas offset by the warmth of cinnamon.

P1190111

Banana Bread

A recipe by myself

  • 3 medium bananas (roughly 1 1/2 cups chopped banana)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil or similar plain oil
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup (or maple syrup, or similar)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

Set your oven to 180C/350F and line a loaf tin with baking paper. By which I mean just shove a large rectangle of baking paper in there as best you can.

Place the bananas in a large mixing bowl and mash them thoroughly with a fork or wooden spoon or whatever. Mix in the sugar, milk, vinegar, vanilla, oil, and golden syrup. Sieve the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl, and then gently fold it all together. Spatula all this into the loaf tin, and bake for around 50 minutes, or until a knife or skewer inserted in comes out clean.

Note: the first time I made this I only used 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon, the second time round I put in heaps more and I think it tasted better for it but obviously your own feelings around cinnamon are perfectly welcome to override mine if you make this yourself.

I guess only future history books will tell us if this is indeed a definitive banana bread recipe but till then I am definitively delighted with it, which is hopefully enough of a push for you to make it too. It’s very easy, just a one-bowl affair, and it keeps well. If you don’t like bananas I can’t help you there but you should know that this isn’t overwhelmingly banana-y, just comfortingly delicious.

P1190109

Speaking of comfortingly delicious, if you wish to support me and my writing directly it’s very easy and minimal-exertion-y to do so through my Patreon account, where your assiduousness will be rewarded with content written just for you.

title from: Stars and Stripes of Corruption by Dead Kennedys, this is an uncharacteristically long but nevertheless excellent song of theirs which ducks and dives through time signatures with lyrics which – sorry for being super obvious – are still timely.

music lately:

You Don’t Have to Cry by Emma Ruth Rundle, from her album On Dark Horses. I actually started listening to her music because Minka, who also inspired the vegan carne adovada, tweeted about it, and I am the highly suggestible type! I’m so happy I am though, this album is stunning, intense and metallic and hard and soft all at the same time, I love it. You Don’t Have to Cry is the final song on the album and it’s just lush, the sort of song you should hear while lying on the floor of a barn or in a car as the sun sets right in your eyes.

Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man, by Oscar-winning actress and singer Miyoshi Umeki. This is from her 1956 album Miyoshi Sings to Arthur Godfrey which features American standards and torch songs, sung in a mixture of Japanese and English in her gorgeous warm voice, including this truly beautiful interpretation of the Kern/Hammerstein classic.

Next time: I ordered myself Rachel Ama’s cookbook as a present to myself for reasons I will work out later – perhaps if asked during an interview context – and can’t wait to explore it. I imagine you’ll be seeing recipes from it on here before very long.

if I’m butter then he’s a hot knife

I normally put this bit at the end but thought I’d be creative and start with it this time: Patreon! Thank you to my patrons who have been supporting me from the ground up, you are amazing and important and powerfully astute. If you’d like to be included in such praise (and I could go on) then by all means sign up to my Patreon as well, and in doing so you will be able to receive all my content written for your eyes only.

P1180799

My relationship with butter is a well-trod path on this blog, from the ten-ish years I spent smothering my personality with it to suddenly pivoting without warning to veganism last year. In October I talked about buying non-dairy butter for the first time (I don’t know why I’m weird about the word margarine but there’s just something so defeatist about the way its spreadably soft consonants sag in the mouth) and to be honest with you, since then I’ve used it very, very little, because though it tasted fine, and was okay in recipes where its flavour could be heavily masked (like Champagne Passionfruit Buttercream or Nanaimo Bars) it did not become exciting or inspiring in and of itself like butter was to me.

And though I like to frame my choice to be vegan in terms of all that I have, and not about what I lack (I mean, I’ve never eaten so many cashews in my life, I couldn’t say that a year ago!) I do miss that capitulation-makingly perfect meeting of flavour and texture and possibility that is real butter. Everything else I’ve happily let go of, and no longer sense any petulant longing from my tastebuds for cheese or bacon or steak or whatever, but butter…butter I sometimes still think of wistfully, y’know, in the form of a montage of the good times we had with Happy Together by The Turtles playing overtop. (Okay I also miss white chocolate and I know it’s not cool but it’s my favourite and I do get sulky over that sometimes. The only vegan stuff I’ve found is inexplicably like $9 and tastes like coconut, change my mind.)

P1180802

I had accepted that this was something I was going to just live with as a result of my own choices, which is totally fine, but then I found, or rather, re-found, a recipe for homemade vegan butter that had been sitting on my internet browser since last year. (Yeah, I have 72 tabs open on my browser at all times, which, let’s blame on my ADHD, like when I was a kid and found it impossible to clean my room and theorised that the system worked because everything was on the floor where I could see it, a theory which held no water because with everything on the ground it was of course impossible to find anything, a standard I unfortunately still live by but at least no longer try to justify. Naturally, with this many tabs shoulder-to-shoulder I often forget for weeks, months on end, what I’ve actually got open.) So I re-discovered this tab just last week and decided that the recipe, on a site called The Virtual Vegan, looked as promising as it did upon first click: it claimed to be spreadable, meltable, useful in cooking, and most important, it said it would taste actually buttery.

The key things holding this together are a combination of olive oil and refined coconut oil, by which I mean – and the recipe stresses the importance of this – it’s been treated to taste neutral rather than coconutty, plus ground almonds which somehow dissolve into the liquid but also help give it body and texture. I made a couple of tiny changes: I didn’t have any nutritional yeast and decided to just push ahead anyway, I used red wine vinegar instead of the stipulated cider vinegar because I feel like the former has a certain layered richness to it, and I added a tiny pinch of sugar for balance. It’s easy enough to make – just give the ingredients a good hard blend and then pour it into a jar and wait for it to solidify in the fridge. So I did.

P1180787

And…it tastes really, really good. It’s not butter, but it’s a whole lot closer than anything I’ve hitherto tasted. It has that kind of fluttering, mouth-filling sweet richness, that full-bodied tangy creaminess, it just has something that I’ve been missing. Genuine deliciousness! I made toast for the first time all year and spread the butter across and topped it with some Marmite and I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed that simple, unimpeachable pairing.

P1180807

Homemade Vegan Butter

Adapted slightly from this recipe at A Virtual Vegan.

  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons almond milk or similar (not soymilk or coconut milk, the former is prone to curdling, the latter tastes like coconut)
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup refined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or 1/2 teaspoon regular salt, to taste
  • 1 small pinch caster sugar
  • a pinch of turmeric for colour
  • optional: two teaspoons nutritional yeast (this will add to the buttery flavour, but I didn’t have any both times I made it and it’s still extremely delicious so don’t you stress if you can’t find it!)

Place everything except the oils into a blender – ideally a high-speed one – and blend the hell out of it till it looks smooth and creamy. Add the coconut and olive oils and blitz till it’s very thoroughly combined. Pour into a large clean jar and refrigerate for a few hours till it’s solid.

I recommend going and reading the recipe at A Virtual Vegan first, as it has heaps of information and recommendations.

P1180786

I feel like I want to say sorry to the non-vegans for going on about being vegan and sorry to the vegans for complaining about wanting butter, (I also feel that so much of how I talk about myself is done with an apologetic inflection: I’m trying to be a writer (sorry!) I’m vegan (sorry!) What’s this I’m listening to? Uh, it’s a Broadway musical (sorry!) I’m an Aries (sorry! Both for talking about astrology and for being an Aries.) And let me stop you right there, I hear what you’re thinking: these apologies are both necessary and justified.) If you personally are okay with eating butter then honestly you should probably just keep doing that for as long as you can stand it, but if you don’t eat butter for whatever reason, well, I was highly impressed by this recipe and have gone through two jars of it already. It’s so straightforward to make, the ingredients are all recognisable, it makes a great white sauce, there’s something pleasingly Enid Blyton-ish about butter in a jar, and most importantly, it’s genuinely, properly delicious in its own right. The chorus of Happy Together is getting fainter (and I can now close one of those 72 open tabs.)

P1180805

Ghost can’t believe it’s not butter.

(One more thing about being vegan that is possibly not as universal as I initially thought: I am a dewy-eyed sucker for vitamins and supplements but it seems now ever more so and while dissociating at the supermarket I bought this stuff called pea protein which is made from fermented lentils and Kate was like “what’s that for” and I was like “I’ve got to get my fermented lentils somehow Kate!!!”)

title from: Hot Knife by Fiona Apple. This song is extraordinarily good, soft and sharp at the same time with ominous rumbling drums and assertive piano and sparse production and chattering, layered, syncopated harmonies, I love it so much.

music lately:

I recently watched Passing Strange, a film by Spike Lee of the final performance of the eponymous Broadway show in 2008. It comes across more like a rock concept album than a traditional musical, written and narrated by musician Stew about a young black man’s journey of self-discovery in the late 1970s. The plot is so tightly woven into the music that it’s hard to pick out songs that stand alone but the Act 1 climax Keys/It’s Alright is amazing – it has this big, classic sound and I love when it gives way from the conversational, circular preamble to the massive, long-tail Hey Jude-type finish, I’ve listened to it so many times. The penultimate song, Passing Phase, showcases lead actor Daniel Breaker’s incredible voice as it harmonises with Stew’s and the music just sounds so big and warm and fulsome. If you enjoy stuff like Pink Floyd’s The Wall or 2112 by Rush then you can absolutely handle this.

Quality Seconds, by Orbital. If you’ve ever been like “what does it sound like inside Laura’s brain?” this song pretty much covers it.

Orinocco Flow by Enya. Hear me out, this song is like being serenaded by a friendly cloud, it’s what raindrops put on their sexy playlists, it’s a whale leaping triumphantly into the air in music form, and I was smacked about the head yesterday with the need to dance passionately around the lounge to it like I was in the final scene of a masterfully bittersweet TV series about an unlikeable yet disconcertingly compelling female lead, and let me tell you, Ghost was not impressed, but then I cupped his face and looked into his eyes and sang “sail away sail away sail away” and I think he understood.

Next time: Oh yeah I tried making ice cream again and it was still terrible, and I’m starting to get a bit stressed out by this honestly! Does anyone out there have a really really good recipe for vegan vanilla ice cream?

breakfast on incandescent, built to chew, dream to find another world

P1180775

I often say (and prove) that it takes a village to raise me, as is the case with today’s recipe. I was gently prompted by my wise friend Charlotte to get snacks (that was actually essentially the entire advice but I was like my god, a fresh and bold perspective from a true maverick, which tells you what kind of baby the village is dealing with here. But also: having snacks on hand is useful! I mean, did you know that, without someone telling you?) And then, acting upon this advice and making myself a large batch of granola – cheap, filling, nutritious, snacky – I was suddenly panicking that I wasn’t going to get it photographed before darkness fell and my wise friend Kate was simply like “why don’t you take a little out of the oven and put it in a bowl and photograph that while you carry on cooking the rest” and I was like my stars, a genius walks amongst us, lo and behold her shrewdness meant I was able to take the photos you see here in the last fifteen minutes of workable light that the day held, and in doing so I realised I’d actually forgotten when I’d even put the granola in the oven in the first place, and it was in fact extremely ready to come out anyway. This all might sound really stupid but I’ve been experiencing higher than usual anxiety (I’m fine and my higher-than-usual anxiety is way lower than the everyday-anxiety of a few short years ago but it still comes around, you know?) and when it’s there it means my brain is less able to put one foot in front of the other than usual and my usual is honestly not that impressive anyway, and having things slowly spelled out to me still feels like I’m trying to sit an exam that I haven’t studied for, and what looks like a simple conclusion seems like the most staggering realisation.

P1180767

I have made a lot of granola in my time, and I confidently assert that this is one of my best. To expound the “get snacks” advice – now that I’m not working, I (a) have resumed a relatively normal body clock and so am actually eating breakfast, (b) am not getting fed at work and so need way more of those aforementioned snacks, and (c) I’m not earning any money so it behooves me to make something at home in large quantities rather than recklessly just buy food when I’m hungry. Granola is a tidy solution. It’s simple to make, it lasts for ages, it’s not too expensive to put together, it’s nutritious, and it tastes good at any time of the day.

Caramel Walnut Granola

A recipe by myself

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup desiccated or shredded coconut
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup linseeds
  • 1/2 cup rice bran oil or similar plain oil
  • 1/2 cup date syrup
  • 1 cup dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large pinch sea salt, to taste

Set your oven to 150C/300F, and get out your biggest roasting dish – the sort that’s the size of one of the entire oven shelves ideally – and line it with a large piece of baking paper.

Pour the oats, sunflower seeds, walnuts and linseeds directly into the paper-lined roasting dish, and stir to combine – or just use your hands to shuffle everything about. Drizzle over the oil, then the syrup – and I recommend it in this order so that the syrup slides easily out of the now-oiled measuring cup – and stir it in, or again, use your hands. Place on the lowest shelf of the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring once or twice partway through, till it’s golden and toasty and browned. Allow to cool, then stir in the dates, chia seeds, cinnamon, and salt, then taste some to see if it needs anything extra. Store in an airtight container. This makes a lot.

P1180771

This recipe is very comfortingly low-key – the caramel flavour comes from the date syrup, which helps give that requisite crunchy clumpiness to the oats as it crystallises under the oven’s gentle heat, plus actual dates, which taste like little chewy nuggets of toffee. Date syrup is relatively easy to get hold of these days but if you can’t, golden syrup or maple syrup would be fine instead. It’s worth hunting for though – date syrup has this almost liquorice intensity without being too overtly sweet, I really love it. The slowly toasted walnuts, buttery and soft, mesh so well with the date flavour but obviously granola is one of the easiest things to go off-course on to suit your own tastes, needs, and accessibility. You could consider adding almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, I’m just naming nuts and seeds now but you get the idea, dried apricots or dried apples or dried cranberries or figs, you could leave out the coconut or add heaps more, you could leave out the chia seeds or find an even more expensive superfood to add. I went with lots of 1/2 cup measures to make things easier but if you’ve got more or less of any ingredient that’s totally fine.

P1180769

By this point your finished product might end up being several times removed from mine, but like, I only came up with this particular recipe because I wanted to use up as many ingredients as possible that I already owned, so why shouldn’t you? And the point is: we’ll both have snacks.

P1180783Snacks!

If you’d like further granolae of mine to consider, I recommend my recipes for Lux Maple Granola, or this Buckwheat, Cranberry and Cinnamon Granola (both gluten-free for what it’s worth) or Strawberry Jam Granola which I blogged about the last time I was staying with Kate and Jason almost five years ago (as well as taking a village it also took a village, and Kate and Jason are such village people.)

PS: As always, thank you in particular to my Patreon patrons for supporting me and my writing, you’re literally so immensely important. A mere handful of dollars per month directly influences my ability to write and indeed, snack, and gets you exclusive content in return, like book and film reviews or what star sign I believe each character from Gavin and Stacey is or a recipe for the best vegan scones. Signing up is easy and my gratitude is real.

title from: Metropolis, by Janelle Monáe, one of her very, very early works, I’m talking literally a demo album from 2003 – although its spaciously lush r’n’b sound and conceptuality feels amazingly recent.

music lately:

Waiting Room, by Fugazi. I just love this lurching, shambling song with its oddly sanguine call-and-response. (Credit where it’s due: I was reminded of this song after listening to an excellent Spotify playlist from La’Shaunae, one of my favourite models, for Tunnel Vision, one of my favourite fashion companies.)

My Sweet Lord, by George Harrison, look, it’s just very twinkly and uplifting and I have a real thing for songs that appear to start in the middle of the chorus and then just stay there, simply keep giving you more and more chorus, bigger and bigger, it lends them a weirdly addictive urgency of sound.

Mein Herr, by Liza Minelli, from Cabaret. Such a fantastic number – there’s something so satisfying about the way the lyrics travel across the beat in Minelli’s rich voice – “it was a fine affair, but now it’s over, and though I used to care, I need the open air” – and that exquisite, deliberating Bob Fosse choreography, so much about the negative space, with the bodies almost frozen in place but for a wiggling finger or rotating ankle, until it explodes into the floor-slapping finale.

Next time: I made a spaghetti recipe that turned out surprisingly amazing for how simple it was, I intend to try it again and if it turns out that it wasn’t a total fluke, well, you’ll be hearing about it.

colour you peach and black, colour me taken aback

P1180377

I said on Twitter a while back about how Aunty Mena’s (this noodle place on my street that I eat at roughly once per day) is a liminal space, just like…the lighting there is slightly too bright and once you’ve ordered your food it could be that you’ve been there for twenty minutes but maybe it’s been three hours and no one will notice if you’re sitting there eating your noodles and silently crying, and are you even there at all? I find the idea of liminal spaces pretty fascinating – simply put they’re an area of transitioning, waiting, not knowing, airports being an obvious example, where the energy of the space feels different to how you normally move through life.

Having a day off sick from work, as I did on Monday, turns your bedroom into a liminal space of sorts. You’ve stolen back time that wasn’t going to be yours, but it’s still not: you’re weakened and unable to move convincingly, you want to be anywhere but your bed even though normally every moment not spent in bed your thoughts are devoted to how much you wish you were back there. You’ve got just enough energy to watch The Crown through weighted eyelids (the plummy accents and high production values are very soothing to me) but not enough energy to read the AV Club recaps thereof. It’s 9am for three hours and then suddenly it’s 7pm. I’m feverishly hot but if I take my duvet off my arms are too cold. I’m too sick to eat this healthy granola but I’m not too sick to eat a bowl of mee goreng. I don’t understand it at all!

P1180374

Making my own granola is something that I indulge in once every few months or so, I’ll make an enormous batch and smugly act like a person who has breakfast all the time before falling back into my bad old breakfast-less ways. Currently I’m not doing too badly, really, like I’ve got into making myself smoothies on a semi-regular basis and I seem to be sticking to it, and aside from yesterday when I was feeling grotty, I’ve had a bowl of this granola within an hour of waking since the day I made it. Honestly it doesn’t matter how delicious the breakfast, it’s really all in the mindset: and it’s not yet about telling yourself that you’re a person who deserves breakfast, it’s first about convincing yourself that you’re a person who even has breakfast.

And if you are going to have breakfast regularly, (you braggart), well you could do worse than this granola here. It’s so intensely full of protein-rich seeds that the smallest bowl of it not only fills you up, it also puts a shine on your coat and makes your eyeballs whiter, so rich in omegas does it be. I accept that putting a can of peaches in there may seem a little déclassé to some but: I love canned peaches and this is my recipe. I grew up consuming absolute vats of them so there’s something nostalgic going on there I suppose, but also they’re so easy and you get that summery bulgingly-ripe flavour for zero effort; when paired with warm cinnamon and rich vanilla and buttery almond butter it makes for a fulsome and pleasurable breakfast experience. The other good thing about this recipe is that it’s actually fairly inexpensive to knock together, if you want to level up and add some toasted almonds or pecans to the mix I think that would be a brilliant idea. As with most of my recipes it’s all up to you really, add more cinnamon if it needs it, pour in some golden syrup if you want it sweeter, use oats if buckwheat doesn’t appeal, add extra buckwheat if you’re like “this could be more punishing, frankly.”

P1180368

Peach Crumble Granola

A recipe by myself

  • 1 and a 1/2 cups buckwheat
  • 1 and a 1/2 cups sunflower seeds
  • 1 and a 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup linseeds
  • 1 cup coconut chips/shredded coconut
  • 1 400g (or thereabouts) can of peaches in juice
  • 4 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

Toast the buckwheat in a large saucepan over a high heat till it’s lightly browned. Tip it into a large mixing bowl. Toast the sunflower seeds in the same fashion, stirring so they get lightly browned but not burnt, and tip them in with the buckwheat. Follow with the pumpkin seeds and coconut chips, toasting and adding to the bowl. The linseeds don’t need toasting, and can simply be added to everything in the bowl.

Set your oven to 100C/210F and line a large baking dish with baking paper.

Tip the peaches, juice and all, into the same pan and using a fork or a potato masher, crush the peaches roughly. Bring to the boil and allow to bubble away for a couple of minutes, before stirring in the almond butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Bring back to the boil and stir for a minute, then remove this from the heat and tip it into the buckwheat/seed mixture, stirring to combine it thoroughly.

Finally, tip all of this into the baking dish and spread it out evenly. Bake for an hour, taking it out and stirring at least once. I find it easiest to use the side of a spoon to draw lines down the tray, creating deep ditches in the granola, as this ensures more surface area will see the oven’s low heat.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, then transfer to a sealed jar or container.

P1180375

At around 7pm on Monday I spatula-d myself out of bed and stumbled down to Aunty Mena’s, clad in a stained hoodie not to be unzipped because there was not an awful lot beneath it protecting any semblance of modesty, and these flowing pants that my Mum got me from the Waiuku $2 shop. At Aunty Mena’s, the state of being in that fluorescently lit, yellow-walled space was almost as calming as the noodles themselves; and then suddenly someone walked in who I knew and I was like wait I didn’t bank on this but luckily, before they’d even said hello they leaned over and assured me that they were quite drunk, and peace was restored to one and all but most importantly me. Yes, it’s horrifying to be recognised in such a state, but in my mind, someone drunkenly coming in only adds to the out-of-space-out-of-time vibe that Aunty Mena’s is undoubtedly unwittingly projecting. (I stopped short of telling this person “this is just a dreeeeeam, I’m not really heeeere” rationalising that being seen at one’s worst occasionally was a necessarily humanising activity.)

The next day I felt tentatively, comparatively healthy, and so was able to confidently face eating this granola and not only am I quite convinced that my hair grew at least another inch by the time I licked the bowl, I also suddenly felt like I knew exactly what time it was and my room no longer seemed a woozy lobby of confusion. (In sickness or in health though I really do recommend The Crown, everyone is called Toffee or Fruity or Binky and the way Claire Foy enunciates her “oh” as like, “eaughhh” is literally almost as delicious as this granola.)

P1180371

If you’re on a granola buzz, and why wouldn’t you be at this point, you might want to consider some of my other recipes such as Buckwheat, Cranberry and Cinnamon Granola; Strawberry Jam Granola; or Apple Cinnamon Granola.

title from: U Got The Look by Prince featuring Sheena Easton, a shiny and classic slice of Princedom. (Imagine being even a quarter as prolific as Prince. He released 39 studio albums, I was like, not even entirely sure if he was older than 39 when he died.)

music lately:

Conduit for a Sale!, Pavement. By turns insistent and reluctant, I love it.

Southpaw, Afghan Whigs. Southpaw!

Don’t Rain On My Parade, Linda Eder. There are so many renditions of this song that you can get almost numb to it (if you’re a certain kind of person, admittedly) but upon my own grave this version is astonishing, definitive. The way she’s so relaxed at 2.25 when she’s winding into the finale, the way her vowels sound so rich and oily, the way she toys rakishly with the syntax on “perfection”/”complexion”, the way her voice raises up to a note not yet found in nature on the very final word of the song, I LITERALLY clutched myself.

The Fire In Which You Burn, Indelible MCs, this was my favourite song in 99, still so good 20 years later.

Next time: I said last time I was going to be thinking about Christmas Dinner-friendly recipes and I’m still thinking! 

you gorgeous stack of pancakes you, you’re going nowhere till I’m through

I’m sure I’ve said it before but do you ever like, stop and think to yourself, “it’s as if life is a series of unrelated events that are by and large out of our control?” No sooner had I landed myself a plummy new job and started to enjoy the unsought but distinct pleasure of bartending as a non-General Manager with absolutely zero wider responsibility, no sooner did all that come to fruition than I bloody went and fainted while trying to procure a ticket to a film (Call Me By Your Name, and no, I still haven’t seen it), falling straight over backwards in some kind of misguided trust fall, landing on my head and achieving what I’m quite certain is a concussion that’s really keen to overstay its welcome. As a result I’m aggressively lethargic with bursts of low-key nausea and just a general inability to do much of anything, and it’s SO annoying. Like, I didn’t put in all that effort to come out the other side of depressionfest 2016/17 just to land in the middle of this faux-depression bedridden state. Like, why don’t I just contract mono while I’m at it, who would even know the difference! Might as well develop anemia! What’s the point in anything! I would drop kick something at the wall in contempt to prove my point right now but I don’t have the energy (does anything prove a point as much as drop kicking something contemptuously though? I think not.)

I mean I’m like, totally fine, I just require a lot more resting than usual and it is a hope devoutly to be wished that I bounce back to my usual self soon. Pretty much all I’ve been doing is resting and drinking a metric butt ton of water, neither of which can be doing me any harm, all things considered. But just as Whitney Houston was saving all her love for you, I save all my energy for work, and then have been up to absolutely SQUAT of consequence in between, hence why it’s taken me a while to get my act together to write another blog post already.

Luckily I made these coconut pancakes a while back and then forgot to write about them, so the photos have been sitting patiently and serenely waiting for me to remember they exist, allowing me to produce a blog post all of a sudden with very little prior effort.

This recipe comes from my own cookbook, which was published roughly three lifetimes ago by Penguin (when I say three lifetimes ago, like, my old flatmate looked at it and asked if my sister wrote it because she didn’t think the person in the photos was me.) The excellent thing about these pancakes is that you can make them when you’ve got barely any ingredients in the house, and even if you must dash down to the corner shop to pick something up there’s nothing of great expense involved. In turn, they are also vegan, if that’s of interest to you: I chose to smother them in butter because I really like the stuff, but obviously if you’re already not into dairy then you can put what you like on them.

It takes barely a minute to whisk together the ingredients and even less time for them to fry merrily in a pan, yielding you a fat stack of thick, fluffy pancakes, the sort that might appear on the breakfast table in a Disney cartoon or a TV show where they’re inexplicably constantly eating lavish brunches that they continuously and wastefully abandon (okay I’m talking about Gossip Girl and I’m still mad about it, why are they always sitting at these groaningly laden tables if they’re just going to eat like, one strawberry and then stride off in a huff about the cotillion ball?)

coconut pancakes

a recipe from my literal cookbook

  • one can coconut milk (the standard size kind, I think they’re like…330ml? 400?)
  • 250g plain flour (roughly one and a half cups)
  • half a teaspoon baking powder
  • 50g sugar
  • quarter of a teaspoon baking soda
  • two teaspoons vanilla extract

Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda together and stir in the sugar. Tip in the can of coconut milk and the vanilla and whisk to form a smooth, pale batter.

Heat up a large nonstick pan and cook heaped spoonfuls of the batter on it, flipping them over carefully when small holes form on the surface. Stack em up and eat them at your leisure.

I chose to make these more diminuitive, pikelet style, but big, small, Mickey Mouse ears, whatever you like works. They’re not actually particularly coconutty in flavour – it’s more a mellow sweetness, helped by the generous addition of vanilla. I don’t know how they’re so softly light and fluffy when there’s no eggs, I believe some magical alchemy occurs when baking soda interacts with pretty much anything, but they taste so good that I’m happy to not really question it too much and instead congratulate myself on my eyes-closed-head-first-can’t-lose instincts that helped me formulate this recipe in the first place. It’s also worth knowing, perhaps, that they reheat well in the microwave should you not be able to snarf them all in one sitting.

For all the dramatics (and I maintain that I’m never actually dramatic, I’m just responding at the precise level that a situation requires and that just often happens to require HIGH DRAMA) I have actually achieved 1 (one) thing recently: I started a Frasier food blog. I know, I struggle enough to keep this one updated! But! I also do what I want and I wanted to do this! It’s called La Cigar Volant and basically what I do is make a recipe inspired by every episode of Season 1 of the show, it’s very very low key because I didn’t want to make it into too much hard work but I’m also really quite pleased with it. It’s something that’s been in my head for a while now and I just watch SO much Frasier and hearing the immensely sad news that John Mahoney, who played Martin Crane on the show, had died, kinda spurred me on.  So if you’re even one finely-shaven sliver as obsessed with Frasier as I am, kindly give it a hoon.

And if you’re particularly on a pancake buzz right now, may I also draw attention to other blog posts of mine, such as Halloumi Pancakes with Fried Sage, Butter and Walnuts;  Lemonade Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce; or Cornbread Pancakes.

title from: PJ Harvey’s snarly and deliciously named song Primed and Ticking, a relative rarity from a John Peel session.  

music lately: 

Kate Nash’s new song Drink About You, like…shut up Kate Nash! I don’t need this right now!!!! (It’s perfect.)

Stabbing Westward, Save Yourself. I made a Spotify playlist called “songs to pierce ur eyebrow to” and you know this was the first thing I put on there. (There’s also like, Filter, Linkin Park, Hed PE, that song about the bodies and letting them hit the floor, you know the vibe I mean!!)

Scritti Politti, The Sweetest Girl. I love this odd, otherworldly, strange song so much.

next time: Mate! I went to the vege market today for the first time in forever and bought some perfect peaches, I’m thinking maybe peach crumble or some kind of rustic (read: messy as hell) tart. 

yes in a dream all my teeth fell out

I have this weird half-memory of a story on cassette tape that my teacher would sometimes play to the class when I was like, eight years old, about some kids who were cursed or something and they forgot how to sing Happy Birthday and when they tried to it came out as this disturbing, discordant mumble. (I tried googling the premise and can’t find anything about it but I swear I didn’t make this up.) Anyway, that’s kind of how I feel about blogging right now. I’ve apparently forgotten how. All I’ve been doing, and I mean all, is just working and sleeping and working and sleeping and obsessively binge-watching Frasier, and every time I’ve been like “right you idiot time to do some goddamn blogging, that thing that you love” I just sit there and stare at the screen and everything that comes out is all stilted and mumbly.  

AND THEN. On Monday night I hauled myself out of bed and forced myself to write, and managed about half of this very blog post, before a WISDOM TOOTH of all things decided to roundhouse kick its way through the left side of my mouth, causing indescribable pain (and like, my idea of fun is describing stuff) not to mention a deeply vanity-denting swelling of the left cheek and an enormous sense of helpless neediness. 

Seriously, I did not expect this at all. Firstly, my teeth are so well behaved, and secondly, wisdom teeth were supposed to be an issue like, a decade ago. All I can surmise is that my extreme young-at-heart nature also extends to being young-at-mouth, either way it’s monumentally inconvenient and painful and horrible. I ended up going to hospital at 4am on Tuesday night because I was deranged from the pain, followed by a dentist visit where the dentist was astounded at the speed with which my wisdom tooth barged in unannounced (and I was like “this is so Aries of me.) It’s very likely I’ll have to have the unwelcome guest to my mouth ripped out and I’m extremely nervous about it, but till then I’m hepped up on a grunty cocktail of antibiotics and Tramadol, and have been a charming mixture of intensely dozy and high as a kite all day. I decided that while I’m vaguely lucid I might as well try to finish this stupid blog post, since the stiltedness of my creativity has been a major cause of anxiety to me and if I can both distract my brain from the pain with writing and also tick something off my to-do list I might feel slightly better about how much time this vexatious tooth is wasting. 

So uh, last week I made this granola stuff, and it is really good and I’m going to attempt to talk about it here in the manner of, you know, a food blog. (Imagine several elaborate air quote gestures inserted at various points in that sentence.) 

By “granola” I really mean a collection of toasted grains and seeds and whatnot masquerading as breakfast cereal. It’s crunchy and nutty and puffy and really weirdly delicious and filling but also extremely light-textured, with not a single oat in sight: instead I round it out with toasted buckwheat which is super nutty and crunchy, and puffed amaranth, which is just devastatingly adorable – when you put the granules of it over a high heat it puffs up like the tiniest popcorn, like popcorn for bees, like, I don’t know why the sight of tiny miniature stuff doing its best makes me emotional, it’s not even the Tramadol that’s making me get worked up about this, but all we can do, collectively across humankind, is try to accept it. Maple syrup glues it together – an expensive ingredient, hence the “lux” of the granola’s name – and makes it pleasingly clumpy and sweet, and the almonds and sesame seeds give further nutty toasty flavour and crunch. Plus simply knowing about all the superfood-on-superfood action happening in the ingredients is extremely good for the soul, and presumably the bod also. 

Also please note that while the recipe looks complicated you’re honestly just toasting all the individual ingredients in a pan over a high heat, that’s like, it, I just for some reason cannot explain it in any kind of succinct manner. 

lux maple granola

a recipe by myself

  • one cup amaranth
  • one cup quinoa
  • one cup buckwheat
  • one cup sesame seeds
  • one cup almonds
  • four tablespoons maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt

Get yourself a large, ideally nonstick frying pan, and a large bowl. Put the pan on a high heat, and then pour in a few tablespoons of the amaranth. After a few seconds it should start popping and puffing up. Keep it moving so it doesn’t burn, and don’t worry if all of it doesn’t puff up – as long as most of it does, you’re all good. Tip it into the bowl and carry on with the rest of the amaranth. Then, tip in some of the quinoa – some of the grains might pop a bit but your aim here is just to gently toast the grains. Once they’re sufficiently browned, tip them into the bowl with the amaranth and continue to toast the rest. Then, toast the buckwheat grains until they smell nutty and are lightly browned, followed by the sesame seeds – which should brown really quickly – and finally the almonds. Roughly chop up the toasted almonds before tipping them into the bowl as well. Finally, add the salt and pour in the maple syrup, give it a good stir and then transfer into an airtight jar or container.  

I ate it, as you can see from the pictures, layered up with really thick natural yoghurt and freeze-dried raspberry powder, which was a spectacularly good way to enjoy it. I’m just someone who happens to have a lot of freeze-dried powdered fruits around for some reason, but it would be also wonderful in a bowl drenched in your preferred kind of milk, or just served alongside a heaping spoonful of yoghurt with whatever fruit and accoutrements you fancy. You could also layer it up all cute like I did but use IRL fruit or something – jarred passionfruit syrup or tinned peaches would also be delightful here. You’ve got options, is what I’m saying. 

 bed granola

bed granola

All I’ve done today, aside from thrashing about in pain and having extremely dribbly naps, is watch Nigella Lawson re-runs, possibly the most comforting TV I can imagine in these difficult-of-tooth times. At one point I literally dreamed that she put her cool hand on my hot forehead and it was honestly almost worth the entire ordeal just for that dream; but also watching her cooking reminds me that this is what I love to do and it’s something I can do and will do. I’m really hoping that once this useless fang heals up that I’ll be all It’s A Wonderful Life and be completely reinvigorated to write, like, vigorously, but even just feeling something other than nonstop pain would be a real kick right now. 

Anyway, I’m feeling the Tramadol pulling me downwards which means it’s time for me to snooze and dribble lavishly on my pillowcase again, but I’m glad I got this done and also I can’t wait for my stupid face to get better so that I can eat the rest of this delicious granola. Currently the simple act of chewing causes black-out levels of pain! Good times. 

title from: The Knife, Silent Shout. I love the hook in this song, it’s like the sensation of lemonade bubbles rising and falling in musical form. 

music lately:

Anthems for a Seventeen-Year Old Girl, Broken Social Scene. I CANNOT STOP LISTENING TO THIS SONG. The repetitiveness, especially about halfway through when it really kicks in, is so hypnotic and melancholy. I love it. 

Animal Nitrate, Suede. I really like this song. 

The Avalanche, Sufjan Stevens. This is the only song of this that I like and it’s not on Spotify and it’s ruining my life! I also have not listened to any other songs by him. 

next time: let us hope that I have my ability to write back and also my ability to have teeth in my mouth in a chill manner. 

bruises on the fruit, tender age in bloom

It has taken me what feels like forever to get this blog post done and it’s not because I’ve been doing anything exciting by any means, I’ve just been busy with work and overtired and rinsing and repeating. That’s a lie, I’m not even rinsing. Just grubbily unproductive. But here I am and I’m determined to make this happen because, if nothing else, the recipe I’m talking about involves quince which is in season for about the same length of time as the brief nap I wish I was currently having.

So quinces, yeah, they look like large pears and smell like if an apple was presenting you with a bunch of flowers and blushing nervously. They’re impossible to eat raw and rock hard when you try to cut through them and take forever to cook but once they do, you get blessed with soft, melting texture with just a little of that autumnal fruit grittiness, and intense, perfumed sweetness of flavour.

I bought two, knowing full well I’d probably get too busy to do anything other than occasionally appreciatively sniffing them before ruefully throwing them in the bin once they’d deteriorated beyond the point where I could ignore it; however I surprised myself by actually doing something. And that thing was delicious. I grated the quince – not the easiest task, since they’re so concrete-like, but I managed – and cooked it in plenty of butter with sliced pears, and then just added water slowly, almost risotto like, until everything was cooked and soft. A tiny bit of sugar was all that was needed, no spices or anything – I mean, you absolutely could, I just wanted the fruit to be the undistracted star. If I was going to add something here I’d personally go for cardamom – a tiny bit lemony and gingery and less obvious than cinnamon, or indeed, actual ginger. The butter with the fruit is so lush, and flavour enough, making everything all rich and sweet and juicy and, well, buttery.

buttered quince and pears

a recipe by myself

  • one large quince
  • two pears
  • 40g butter
  • one tablespoon sugar
  • water

Peel the quince (just use a vege peeler) and carefully grate the flesh, till you’re left with just the solid core. This is a bit of an undertaking because quinces are, as I said, extremely tough. Throw the butter into a large frying pan and over a medium to high heat, melt it and tip in the quince. Finely slice the pears and add them to the pan too. Continue to stir until the pears have softened a bit.

Sprinkle over the sugar, add some more butter if you feel like it, turn the heat up on high and add 125ml/half a cup of water. Continue stirring regularly until the water has evaporated, and then continue in this fashion, adding water and stirring till it’s gone, until the quince has almost dissolved into a nubbly paste coating the pears and everything is very, very tender and golden.

I ate it with extremely thick natural yoghurt, the type you can basically stand a spoon up in, and a mixture of toasted almonds and pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped and mixed with coconut sugar and sea salt. The textures and temperatures and sweet-salty-buttery-fruity thing going on was sensational, but also extremely, calmingly simple. You can do what you like with this nubbly fruity mixture though – put it under crumble, stir it into whipped cream, fold it into a cake batter, eat it with ice cream, and I suspect it would also work with some kind of pork or alongside sharp goat’s cheese.

If you’re up to your neck in quinces right now I also suggest some other recipes that I’ve blogged about – like quince sorbet, quince brandy, quince glaze and quince loaf cake  (that last post I linked to is from early 2008 which was literally 84 years ago).

And that’s like, it, really. In fact as soon as I hit publish I’m scooting to work again. I will do my very, very best to get into some wacky anecdote-worthy scrapes and capers for you so that the next blog post has more filler material. Au revoir till next time.

title from: Nirvana’s aggressively bucolic song In Bloom.

music lately: 

Gideonby My Morning Jacket. This song is from 2005 but sounds like it could’ve been written in like, 2015, it’s all soaring and dreamy and wonderful, but above all I’m thankful for this band because of the scene in Happy Endings where Alex is like “There’s my My Morning Jacket jacket!”

Santa Feby Beirut. God this song is uplifting from the second it kicks off, it’s just lovely and happy and simple and good.

next time: I made some extremely good polenta with olive oil and roast garlic, I’m also really, really wanting to do some kind of slow cooking with the weather being so freezing. I also promise anecdotes or something.