colour you peach and black, colour me taken aback

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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!

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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.”

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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.

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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.)

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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. 

i got my eggs i got my pancakes too, i got my maple syrup, everything but you

It’s been one heck of a time lately: there was a fire at the Burger King under my bar at 1am on a Friday night and we had to evacuate, the next day the bartender whom I saw more than anyone else in my life had their last shift at work, then I went up to Auckland to support them in a cocktail competition they were a finalist in before saying farewell for real when they moved to Melbourne, I then went home-home for the first time in forever, saw my parents, my nanna, my parents’ chickens and the less-disdainful of the two cats; flew home to Wellington in the middle of a cyclone on a flight so bumpy that they couldn’t serve us drinks; contracted a horrible cough, saw my brother who was down in Wellington from Auckland, fell down two flights of stairs on two separate days and made these halloumi pancakes. On top of that I’ve officially entered Existential Angst and Self-Evaluation mode as my birthday rapidly approaches. 

But back to these pancakes. A friend crashed at mine on Wednesday and when we woke up I was like, are you hungry? And they were like, nah. And I was like, me neither. But too bad, because I’ve had this really good idea and I’m going to make it for us. 

 eggs milk and flour, pancake power

eggs milk and flour, pancake power

My idea went thusly: thick slices of golden fried halloumi, encased in pancakes as pillowy as the pillows you wrenched your head from to cook yourself breakfast. Fluffy, soft pancakes giving way to chewy, buttery cheese. Fried sage and walnuts on top, for contrasty crunch and because fried sage is just really, really good. 

My idea worked perfectly.  We were also, coincidentally, suddenly really hungry. 

I went for an American-style pancake, the sort that’s squat and thick rather than delicate and crepe-like, and adapted a fairly standard Nigella recipe for the batter. It’s honestly really easy, for all that X stuffed with Y implies massive fiddly-ness. My only advice is don’t be lazy and try to put four pancakes into the pan at once because they’ll all squish together and look horrible (in the spirit of egalitarianism, my friend and I got one decent pancake and one extremely ugly pancake each) but once you’ve scattered them with crumbling fried sage leaves and crunchy walnuts and the leftover browned butter it really won’t matter how it looks. 

halloumi pancakes with fried sage, butter, and walnuts

a recipe by myself

  • four thick slices of good halloumi
  • one and a half cups flour
  • two teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • a teaspoon of sugar
  • two eggs
  • one cup buttermilk
  • 60g butter
  • a handful of fresh sage leaves
  • a handful of walnuts

Briskly mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, and buttermilk together in a mixing bowl (a fork will do for this.) In a large nonstick pan, melt half the butter, tip it into the pancake batter, and stir it in. Set the batter aside. Place two of the slices of halloumi into the pan over a high heat, and fry for about ten seconds before scooping a half-cupful of batter over each slice so they are snugly covered. Continue to fry till bubbles appear on the surface of each pancake, then carefully flip them over and fry on the other side until you’re confident that they’re cooked through. Transfer to a serving plate and repeat with the remaining halloumi. 

Melt the remaining butter till browned and sizzling – the pan will be pretty hot by this point so it won’t take long – and drop the sage leaves in. Quickly remove them once they’re crisped and curled up at the edges, and scatter them over the pancakes. Tip the walnuts into the pan and give a quick stir to toast them briefly before removing the pan from the heat and scattering the walnuts (along with any remaining browned butter) over the pancakes. 

Halloumi on its own is obviously an unimpeachably perfect foodstuff, melting and yet solid, bulgingly salty and buttery, and needs little adulteration. But! If you happen to be feeling adulteratey, and indeed, have someone to impress (simply wanting to impress yourself is an extremely valid option here by the way) then these pancakes are both easy yet spectacular, which is one of my favourite combinations in a recipe. Another case of Well Done, Brain! on presenting me with an idea that actually works.

Speaking of me, as I said it’s my birthday coming up and I am like, flustered to say the least. Every year I get all like, what am I doing? What twenty things have I achieved since lunch? Who am I? Where do you come from, where do you go? Where do you come from, dated pop culture reference? Both my best friends are extremely out of town on the day and a google search for “what to do on your birthday alone” is all like, “take a trip! discover a museum!” which is like, all well and good if you don’t live in a tiny city and have 40 cents in your savings account. I am, however, working on some kind of scheme to make the day amazing and am also trying to be nice to myself about all the existentialism stuff, I mean: the world is awful, American politicians are out of control, the bees are dying, so just existing day to day is an excellent achievement. And if that sounded convincing, maybe I can believe it too. (On the other hand: oh god my birthday is coming and I’m the only person who ever had a birthday ever.) 

Anyway! If delicious pancakes are very your thing, you may also want to consider my blog post about Nigella’s American Breakfast Pancakes, or Johnnycakes (like cornbread in pancake form), or my recipe for Lemonade Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

title from: tearjerker-era Jewel, You Were Meant For Me.

music lately: 

Rina Sawayama, Cyber Stockholm Syndrome. I got introduced to this song by the reliably reliable Martyn Pepperell and guys it’s amazing, like, euphoric. 

Jan Hellriegel, Pure Pleasure. This song still BANGS twenty-ish years later. 

next time: I plan on having a more mellow time of it. Also the weather is starting to get absolutely freezing so maybe something like…..broth-y? Slow-cooked? Vaguely warmed through?

you’ve got eggs in the same basket, writing the check

I’ve been trying to write this blog post for a week and a half now and every time I’ve laid my fingertips on the keyboard I’ve almost immediately fallen asleep. Including one point on Wednesday where I determinedly took my laptop to a cafe to write, and suddenly felt almost ill with tiredness and had to go home to body slam my bed for some aggressive napping. This afternoon, finally with some time to myself, I went to write in an “I’m tying this laptop to my head until I’ve finished a blog post” kind of way and then my laptop died and refused to charge for forty minutes. 

If it wasn’t for the fact that this sundried tomato scramble is so delicious, I’d be thoroughly tempted to throw both my laptop and myself into a bin, as it seems to be the most productive course of action right now. The issue is not that I’m working even later nights than I used to as a bartender, the issue is that my idiot body insists on waking up at 7.30am every day, even if I didn’t get home till 5.00am. 

 a candid photo of me blogging today

a candid photo of me blogging today

All of this has been just creating layers and layers of frustration, a lasagne, if you will, of inactivity: I have this weird guilt about sleeping in because I feel like I should be working during that time, but because I’m so underslept the hours pass this zombie by; and the more I don’t get this blog done the more irritated I am with myself but also the harder it is to make any progress because I’m just looking at the same thing over and over. 

But here we are finally! I’ve acquired some Valley of the Dolls brand sleeping pills, the kind I used to rely on during periods of intense insomnia, and I’ve also got, for the first time in forever, after two years sleeping on a couple of mattresses stacked on top of each other on the floor: a real, grown up, incredibly comfortable and supportive bed. Did you know that having a nice bed is nice? I’m as astounded as you are! My butt feels so calm just sitting on it, when I lie down it’s like being held aloft by a friendly cloud. So this is definitely something I’m working on. 

Back to this scramble though: it was in the middle of an up-ludicrously-early fugue state that I invented it, the recipe somehow building up before me as I went along, like the landscape in an old school racing computer game. It’s so simple that it can’t help but work though – roughly chopped sundried tomatoes become soft and fattened in a pan of butter and olive oil, before turning almost jammy with the addition of a little tomato paste and water. You then stir through eggs which become gently, softly scrambled. Put some feta and thyme on top mostly to make it look less unsightly, add some buttered bread and you have yourself a perfect little meal, be you hungover, in rudely good health, or 92% asleep. 

The sundried tomatoes have such intensity of flavour – almost bacon-like with their salty-sweet-savoury vibes – that the eggs provide the ideal backdrop, all creamy and mild in comparison. The sundried tomatoes I had were a particularly sandblastingly salty kind, so if you suspect yours are similar maybe reduce the quantity somewhat, the ones from the supermarket deli or sold in jars are generally a bit more mellow though. 

As I said, the feta and herbs and capers are mostly aesthetic, and I had a small handful of each in the fridge waiting patiently to be asked to dance so I figured I might as well use them up – you certainly don’t have to though. You could add parmesan, or toasted pine nuts or walnuts, or parsley, or oregano, whatever! Thyme is one of my favourites though and I will put it on top of anything (like, I would make a crown out of it for my own head if I could get it to hold its shape) and feta can do no wrong. At the other end of the scale, leave the cheese off and use olive oil only and this is easily dairy free. As per usual with my recipes, a sentiment of “whatever works” prevails. 

sundried tomato scramble

a recipe by myself

  • half a cup of sundried tomatoes, roughly diced
  • about a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter
  • one tablespoon tomato paste, or puree/pasta sauce if it’s all you’ve got
  • half a cup of water
  • two eggs
  • thyme and feta or similar and some capers to serve

Heat the olive oil and butter in a good sized frying pan. Add the sundried tomatoes and stir them till they’re softened and warmed through. Add the tomato paste and water, and more butter or olive oil if you like, and stir over a high heat till it has formed a thick sauce. Lower the heat significantly and add the two eggs, stirring slowly to incorporate them into the tomato sauce till they thicken and gently scramble. Gentle is the key word here – you don’t want to overheat or overmix this stuff, or the eggs will be all tough instead of creamy and soft. Remove from the heat altogether, scatter with feta, herbs and capers and serve with toast or fresh bread if ya like. 

The fact that we’ve suddenly catapulted into September has not exactly aided with my chillness; but I’m doing my best to be all like, mindful and peaceful and accepting that I need sleep sometimes and that sleeping is not a morally wrong activity to partake in now and then. Plus: exciting new bed. Plus, my horoscope this month was all “maybe kinda look after yourself and try to get into a good routine or something you dingus” so you know it’s meant to be. 

Oh, and if eggs are your thing, kindly also consider my recipes for miso scrambled eggs and Spanish potato omelette.  

title from: brat-pop artist Uffie and her really, really good 2010 song Difficult

music lately: 

Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj, Side to Side. It’s a great track and visually it’s like, everything, but as per Nicki completely makes it. 

The Internet, Girl. God this song is so dreamy and I shall never be sick of it. 

Alien Ant Farm, MoviesThere’s something so heartfelt about this song that makes me love it a billion years on.

next time: good grief, I’m going to try to not lose so much sleep over it but also sleep so much on it simultaneously, also I found this recipe for homemade matcha spaghetti which sounds amazing.  

philosophy is the talk on a cereal box

In testament either to how good this granola is, or to what a monumental grub I am – why not both? – the last time I ate this granola was yesterday, in a charming tableau: I was on my bed, face smeared with organic coconut oil (it felt like a vaguely beneficial thing to do) and about to take a nap. I was, however, ravenously hungry. The jar of granola was the only thing I had to eat and it also happened to be on the floor by the bed. I sighed – so dustily unsatisfying, why couldn’t I have a jar of cheeseburgers by my bed instead – and listlessly opened the jar to paw myself out a handful.

One chewy, buckwheat-rich mouthful in and I was all, oh that’s right, I make amazing granola like it’s no big deal. Verily, I began chugging it straight from the jar, which obviously-in-hindsight ended up with granola dust tipping out heavily onto my face and sticking to the coconut oil that I was thickly daubed in. This…this did not stop me. I kept eating it, while it was also stuck to my face, and like, I did shower, but it was quite some time later. If this visual doesn’t impel you to make and eat this granola then frankly I understand completely.

This first time I ate it, I was catsitting for a good friend, on their wooden floor in a sunbeam like I myself were also a cat, eating it with almond milk and coconut butter, and reverently watching Beyonce’s new visual album and masterpiece, Lemonade.

My takes on Lemonade are absolutely not required, but I will just say that it’s one of the more exciting and beautiful and heartstoppingly good things I have ever witnessed, and whatever your thoughts hitherto on Beyonce and whether the music she makes is your kind of thing, you should 100% watch this. (Seriously: if you can sit through The Wall, you can easily make some time for this.) I was utterly transfixed.

This granola is largely comprised of buckwheat, which is super good for you and majorly gluten-free, despite the use of wheat in its name. I find this hilariously cavalier. Like what if a dog was all “I’m a horse. I’m not actually a horse, it’s just the name of my species. Call me a horse!” That was an appallingly ineffectual analogy but I’m very tired so that allows me to get away with such things.)

But anyway – buckwheat has a pleasing crunch to it and that same kind of non-committal I-am-your-breakfast flavour that oats have, making it an ideal background to whichever direction you’d like to take your granola in. I decided to have coconut be a major player, as if it were as important as the buckwheat itself rather than just a mixed-in secondary thing, if that makes sense. I’d been given some dried cranberries and so it seemed a reasonable idea to add them to it, and they work beautifully – little bursts of sour-sweet liveliness amongst all the mellow coconut. This is very, very easy to make and gives you a great big jarful. To make the coconut butter that I had sprinkled on top of it, just place two cups of toasted coconut chips in the food processor and blitz them for ages and ages until you’re scared that your processor will blow up, at which point let it cool down, and continue on until you’ve got what looks like peanut butter, but tastes like white chocolate. I let it firm up and harden, which made it even more like chocolate. It was a very good time.

buckwheat, cranberry and cinnamon granola

a recipe by myself

two cups hulled buckwheat
half a cup LSA mix (or other similar ground up thing, like plain ground almonds) 
one cup coconut chips/shredded coconut
one cup dried cranberries
two teaspoons of cinnamon but feel free to add more 
one cup mixed nuts and seeds, eg walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds etc, all roughly chopped
two tablespoons chia seeds (optional

Put the buckwheat in a large bowl or measuring jug and cover with water. Leave to sit for about an hour, by which point the grains should have swollen up and absorbed a lot of the water (and feel free to top it up if need be.)

Set your oven to 130 C. Drain and rinse the buckwheat in a sieve, then spread fairly evenly in a thin layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Pop the tray in the oven and leave it for about half an hour. Put everything else except the cranberries and chia seeds onto the tray, turn the oven off and let it toast slightly in the remaining heat of the oven (or you can just leave it there cooking for another 20 mins, this is just my small attempt at being conscious of power usage and stuff.)

Stir in the cranberries and chia seeds if using, add more of anything that you feel like it needs more of, and then tip into a large jar. 

This is the cat I got to hang out with. He’s the same one I was looking after over Christmas and he is a character. I was incredibly grateful however that this time he did not bring me any offerings of rat.

look at this snug little piglet
Oh yeah, and I bleached my hair the other day and instead of becoming some kind of platinum goddess it turned peach, for the sake of my poor hair I’ve decided to roll with it for a while though. No less than three separate people have been all “Debbie Harry!” at me though so I am now delighted with it.
title from: What I Am, by Emma Bunton, aka Baby Spice. It’s soooo nineeetieeeeees and so great. 
music lately
 
Cream, Prince. Like many, I was massively saddened by his recent death. This song hasn’t got any particular significance (I do remember dancing to it in a club in Greece one time I guess) but ugh it’s brilliant. So brilliant.
 
LEMONADE. Find it. 
next time: I made amazing fudge. AMAZING. You can make it too. 

i’m free but i’m focused, i’m green but i’m wise

Ever since I was able to form cognitive thoughts I’ve been seriously into horoscopes and similar things. I can’t decide whether to joke that this means I’ve been into them since last week or, to paraphrase the T-Rex song over the opening credits of Billy Elliot, to imply that I was analysing my star sign in the womb, but either way, yeah. It’s a thing. It’s my birthday on Sunday which means that my usual self-absorption and introspection is now off the scale. I can’t stop thinking about myself! With all this in mind, my tarot card for this month was all, “don’t focus on what you don’t have and don’t push people away if you’re feeling down and don’t be stupid you stupid idiot” and my horoscopes are all telling me about how Mars is going into retrograde on my birthday, which like, why doesn’t the shunned fairy aunt in Sleeping Beauty just turn up and predict that I’m going to prick my finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a coma or something, and all in all I’m finding it a bit hard to just relax and be myself at the moment. It’s not because of what the tarot card and horoscopes said, but it’s more like I’m hyper aware of trying to not do stuff wrong because of their advice and I end up like a small bird flying into windows as a result. Classic Aries? Classic me, really.

(Seriously though, if you ever read descriptions of the various star signs it’ll be all, “Virgo – steadfast and thoughtful” and “Sagittarius people are ever so open-minded and motivated” and “Cancers are loyal and intensely nurturing” and then “Aries are big idiot babies who hit their head a lot and will not stop shouting to get your attention.” I mean, I don’t deny it…)

I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah

However! I’m not all uselessness. A particular horoscope that I joyfully subscribe to is the wonderful Meredith Graves’ Stargrazing column for Lucky Peach magazine. It’s food-related horoscopes and they’re very fun and interesting to read (truly – check yours out) and this month I was advised to get into soup, basically because I needed to be really kind and gentle to myself – funny that – and since I wasn’t in the mood for actual soup I decided instead to go find the most aggressively, ludicrously healthy ingredients I could lay my hands up on and make a thing out of that in the name of self-care. Those ingredients were matcha powder and chia seeds.

And that’s how I ended up with this matcha coconut raspberry chia pudding. Matcha powder is ground up green tea leaves and apparently one teaspoon of it has the power of 20 glasses of green tea, although it all depends on which Pinterest pin you’re reading. I nevertheless feel very calm and trusting of it. Chia seeds are little microbeads of intense goodness, with a billion omega’s and proteins and vitamins and antioxidants. Put them together and nothing will ever go wrong in your life, ever.

I’m lost but I’m hopeful, baby

Chia pudding is essentially a delivery mechanism for chia seeds to get into your stomach, but it is delicious. And easy. The seeds absorb liquid with the-thirst-is-real enthusiasm and end up like a cross between jelly and sago (which might sound horrifying, but go with it, please.) Pink and green are a rather ultimate colour combination in my opinion so scattering freeze-dried raspberries across the top helped both visually and flavour-wise, but honestly use whatever fruit you like – passionfruit would be cool here, as would defrosted frozen berries, canned pears, or juicy slices of ripe mango. Whatever fruit you put up on there will complement the delicate green flavour of the matcha-tinged coconut and look lovely.

And yeah, the flavour is what I would describe as very green. It’s green tea! What did you expect? There’s nothing wrong with this, but I add a little honey to gently sweeten it and mellow out any intense fresh-cut grass vibes. My tastebuds appreciated this – yours might too.

Wait, one more thing – okay so matcha powder and chia seeds are both expensive ingredients, but once you’ve got them you only need to use a teaspoon or two at a time and thus they last near-on forever. This is me here, I wouldn’t just casually tell you to buy something pricey! (Without getting defensive about it first.)

matcha, coconut and raspberry chia pudding

a recipe by myself although let us be real, I am 100% not the the inventor of this or anything. This is just what I made for myself.

one teaspoon matcha powder
around 125ml/half a cup of coconut milk or your choice of milkstuff
one teaspoon of honey or similar – I feel like agave syrup would be perfect here
one tablespoon of chia seeds
a handful of shaved coconut or coconut threads
a couple of tablespoons of freeze-dried raspberries

Using the teaspoon you measured them with, mix the matcha powder, coconut milk and honey together in a glass or whatever receptacle you’re making this in – I recommend a glass because that way you can see the pretty layers of colour, but that’s just me. Also when I say teaspoon and tablespoon I don’t, for once, mean the kind that you measure baking ingredients with. This stuff isn’t an exact science, so just use the kind of spoon you find in the cutlery draw and don’t worry about whether they’re heaped spoonfuls or whatever. Likewise just add more coconut milk if your glass doesn’t look full enough.

Stir in the chia seeds, making sure there aren’t any lumps, and then refrigerate the glass for about an hour, although you can leave it longer, and then when you’re ready to eat it, pile it up with coconut shavings and freeze-dried raspberries and wade in with a spoon.

and what it all comes down to is that I haven’t got it all figured out just yet

It’s so healthful that it seems like you’re gonna actually levitate after eating it. I’ve made it almost every day since, and while I can’t entirely tell if I feel more brilliant or not, it’s got to be doing something, right? It’s as easy to consume as it is to make- the swollen chia seeds give it this soft, barely-set texture and the zing of raspberries and quiet sweetness of the coconut milk work beautifully with the verdant-as matcha powder. It’s also remarkably filling, so makes an ideal breakfast or mid-snack snack.

And what with turning thirty and all, despite having done a deal with the devil so I stay looking young it certainly doesn’t hurt to think of one’s health more, right? (how I know I’m getting proper old: I used to be really indignant about being ID’d and now I’m like, “awwww yeah”) And it seems this is how I prefer to do health: by slothing about all day and then engaging in hardcore consumption of actual green tea leaves ground into dust like I’m the bones-eating giant in Jack and the Beanstalk. Like health shift-work. A lack of moderation followed by a hardcore lack of moderation!

everything’s gonna be fine fine fine

But back to my birthday: if you’re wondering to yourself, “what can I do to make more delightful the birthday of my favourite food blogger- nay, my favourite writer altogether” – well! My paypal is always open (it’s my email address – laura@hungryandfrozen.com) and any donations big, enormous or small would be majorly gratefully received by ya perpetually bank-account-challenged gal. For free you could spend the day in quiet, solemn reflection on how great I am on twitter, or…you could carry on with your day because I hear a horrifying rumour that I’m not the only person on earth to have a birthday and everything doesn’t stop on Sunday just because I do. It’s chill, I’ll be over here serenely glowing with omegas and the power of a thousand glasses of green tea and being myself and seeing what comes of it.

title from: Alanis Morrisette and her laconically powerful and kinda deeply meaningful song One Hand In My Pocket, from the iconic Jagged Little Pill album. I saw her in concert in 1996! What! Ladies be aging!

music lately:

Boy Problems by Carly Rae Jepsen. Her E-mo-tion album is SO important and this video is so important and her haircut in it is frankly very important and it’s all just very, very good.

The Kills, Sour Cherry. I’ve been watching a lot of Gossip Girl, and this song is on the soundtrack. I love how both this show and this band’s main aesthetic is “bratty”. I’m feeling very influenced by it, nearly ten years after the show actually screened.

next time: I made a massive three layer creme egg cake for a friend’s gf’s 21st birthday and was thinking about blogging about it just because, otherwise I made this mayo from scratch with matcha in it and it was amazing, so on the very other end of the scale, there’s also that.

 

we’re so much more than pointless fixtures, instagram pictures

*lou reed voice* shiny shiny 

I’ve always been one to self-absorbedly imagine that I’m in a scene in a movie while doing otherwise mundane things like staring inscrutably out the window while on a train or sitting inscrutably on a park bench or getting a coffee by myself, inscrutably – I know I’m not the only one that does this! It’s like, this is the quiet bit in the indie movie where the camera stays fixed on me for an almost uncomfortably long time while I do something very normal but in an utterly enigmatic way. Right?

Anyway after spending the longest time of only listening to podcasts when getting to and from places, I’ve started listening to music through my headphones on my phone again (having got the Spotify app and an ad-free premium account) and wow, nothing enhances the “I’m a mysterious and important character in an indie film that you’ll guiltily download because you can’t stomach spending $25 on a ticket during festival season or waiting forever for it to have a limited-at-best release” feeling like walking down the road utterly immersed in your own personal soundtrack. Sauntering in the dark to Lazy Line Painter Jane by Belle and Sebastian – the lyrics are stupid but the beat and the melody are heavenly and the coda makes the mere act of walking seem like art; striding through the rain to Shazam by Spiderbait feeling like a complete brat as you jaywalk (in my defence the roads in Wellington are ridiculous and there’s nothing to do but jaywalk); drifting dreamily, almost floating, through the industrial end of town to Julee Cruise’s Rockin Back Inside My Heart. I know this is the most pretentious thing I’ve written in a long time and I sound like a teenager who has just discovered Morrissey (you should’ve seen me when I was a teenager who had just discovered Morrissey) but like, it’s just so, so, so long since I’ve done this and it’s such a small thing but it’s so amazing. That’s it, that’s the story: listening to music through headphones is nice, did you know?

*freddy mercury voice* hash! Aaa-aah, saviour of the universe!

Speaking of all the small things; I still haven’t replaced my lost SD card for my fancy digital camera, partly out of not wanting to spend excess money and partly out of a self-flagellating sense of punishment. As such my phone has graduated from being merely my best friend and confidante to my main camera. Which also makes it slightly harder to get a decent bundle of blog-worthy photos happening for any one dish I’ve made at any one time. In lieu of that, I’ve decided to do a wee round-up of some food I’ve made and quickly instagrammed lately – united they are greater than the sum of their parts, or something. All three of these things – peanut butter cookies; sausage and potato hash; and tomato and feta tart – are stupidly delicious and the recipes can be imparted to you super quickly, so…yeah. No harm done.

peanut butter cookies

one cup smooth peanut butter
one cup sugar
one egg
one teaspoon baking powder
dark chocolate

set your oven to 180 c/350 F. Mix all the ingredients together, roll the mixture into rather small balls (the smaller they are, the less likely they are to crumble) and place on a paper-lined baking tray. Press down slightly with the back of a spoon to flatten them juuuust a little. Bake for about ten minutes, then let them sit for ten minutes (important so they don’t crumble…again) before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool. Melt the chocolate and spoon it over the top of the cooled cookies as you please. Makes many. 

If you’re a gluten-free person you will likely have encountered some version of this recipe already a million times but man it’s good – soft, chewy, salty-sweet cookies, the throat-coating peanut butter cut through with the crunch of bitter dark chocolate. I’d usually prefer milk chocolate here but using dark makes them dairy-free too – I made these to take into work one evening in a kind of a sustain-the-troops kind of move, and also because I thrive on presenting people with food that I’ve made whether they want it or not.

sausage and potato hash

four fresh pork sausages
two large floury potatoes
one onion, diced 
dried thyme
oil and butter
two eggs
HP sauce and/or ketchup/hot sauce/whatever other condiment your sodium-caked heart desires

It’s fairly uncool but if you microwave the sausages in a bowl of water for three minutes and then microwave the potatoes for three minutes (give both of them a stabbing with a fork first) then your life will be an awful lot easier. Otherwise consider simmering them in a pan of water for a bit first or just plough ahead and hope for the best. 

Heat plenty of olive oil or similar in a large pan. Gently fry the onion until softened and golden. Roughly chop the sausages and tip them into the pan, allow them to sizzle and brown. Then dice the potato fairly small, and add to the pan – try and get as much surface area touching the base of the pan as possible to encourage browning and crisping. Put a lid on the pan for about five minutes to allow the steam to cook the potato through, then remove the lid, turn up the heat, add a knob of butter and the thyme and allow everything to sizzle like whoa. Push everything to the side and crack the two eggs into the pan and allow them to fry till you’re quite satisfied. Remove from the heat; divide the sausage and potato mixture between two plates, top with the eggs, and apply as much sauce as you please. 

I made this for my wonderful girlfriend and myself on Sunday when we were both varying degrees of hungover and indecisive (okay, well she fried the eggs – I’m just not that great at eggs and she is) and it was the absolute perfect thing. Cheap, fast, fried, carb-loaded, slightly greasy, sustaining, nourishing, hot, covered in salt and sauce, and the ideal accompaniment to watching 21 Jump Street. From which we can learn two things: one, Dave Franco has ascended to being The Superior Franco, and two, Channing Tatum’s acting career is the greatest thing to happen to America this century.

tomato and feta tart 

one sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
half a tin of chopped tomatoes
one tablespoon cornmeal
about fifty or so grams of feta cheese
thyme leaves
a little oil, milk, melted butter or something for brushing the pastry with

Set your oven to 200 C/400 F and place some baking paper on a baking tray. Put the sheet of pastry on top and score a one-inch border around the edge – this is where you use the point of a knife to almost-but-not-quite cut through it, like you’re drawing a slightly smaller square inside of it. This is gonna make the edges puff up and make a fetching border once you bake it. Sprinkle the cornmeal over the middle of the pastry, drain the tomatoes well and spread them evenly across, then sprinkle/crumble the feta on top of the tomatoes. Brush the edges with melted butter or whatever if you like, and then bake for about 15-20 minutes until it’s golden, puffy and risen around the edges. Sprinkle with salt and strew with thyme leaves. Slice into bits and snarf the lot. 

Look, if you have some ready-rolled pastry in your fridge or freezer then you have the makings of a good time no matter how meagre the rest of your pantry supplies may be. You could literally just bake a piece of pastry and it would still be a charming snack. I mean, I wouldn’t be above such things. Tomatoes and feta are obvious pals so don’t even make me try to explain it to you, but there’s something fun about the tangy feta once it’s warmed through and how it contrasts with the relative sweetness of the tomatoes and the buttery, puffy pastry. This is another one that I threw together for my excellent gf and myself one Sunday and it’s the perfect lunch for two – cut it into four squares, have two each, put a little rocket or spinach on the side if you’re feeling outlandish, and deliciousness shall abound.

*no particular voice* this is a tomato and feta tart
As I alluded to before I’m trying so hard to spend as little money as possible right now, on account of how living paycheck to paycheck is no fun, but I also decided to ignore that rule and hoist myself off to a cafe to write this blog post over a coffee. Also it’s payday today! I doubt I’m gonna be able to afford to replace my SD card any time soon, so you’ll just have to get used to these phone-photos, but honestly instagram is so great that I’m not even too bothered (that said if you’re feeling like you’re too rich right now may I remind you that I have a paypal, pal) – somewhat unsurprisingly I love making my life look more dreamy and hazily lit than it really is. Just as I’m massively digging soundtracking my life like I’m the first person who discovered how to do this. Some might say it’s whimsical, some might say it’s insufferable and not even particularly interesting, but as long as they’re saying something I really don’t mind.
_______________________________________________________________
title from: Queen Beyonce, with her drown-in-the-sexy song Rocket from her incredibly important self-titled album. Don’t listen to it unless you’re ready to fall over sideways. 
_______________________________________________________________
music lately: 
Misterwives, Twisted Tongue. Uhhhh this is such a good pop song, I can’t even deal and I frankly refuse to deal. 
Beach House, A Walk In The Park. Another good one to make your way from A to B to. The perfect child of Billy Idol’s Eyes Without A Face and The Pixies’ Where Is My Mind (a perfect child that I never knew I needed, to be fair.) They’ve just been announced as coming to Laneway festival next year and I MUST GO. 
_______________________________________________________________
next time: I mean technically it’s Spring, despite the weather being more appalling than it has been all winter, and I am determined to hunt down some asparagus. 

swallow it down, what a jagged little pill

that cactus is a visual metaphor for how my throat felt, also, juxtaposition! The word that saved me in Art History 101 

Next time you’re just hanging about, you know, existing within your corporeal form or whatever, take note of how many times you unconsciously swallow. Turns out humans do it a ton which is super fun when out of nowhere you have a sore throat and it feels like a serrated knife has lodged itself horizontally within your larynx. Every time you swallow. Which, as we’ve established, is unfairly often! Anyway so I’ve had a miserable bunch of days (the sore throat came with the free gift of an earache!) to the point where I couldn’t even eat soothing stuff like ice cream or soup because it was agony to swallow anything. Even cool, clear water might as well have been a nutritious bowl of sand, because they both would’ve felt the same to my poor tender throat.

In wonderful news I am now thoroughly improved, mostly due to ibuprofen, rest, and gargling so much salt water and apple cider vinegar that I’m surprised I haven’t turned into a pickle. However, I choose to attribute my entire recovery to the incredible bowl of porridge that I fixed for myself yesterday. I’d taken enough painkillers that my throat was tentatively amenable to food, and I wanted to have something aggressively nutritious and filling, but also soft and warm as the underbelly of a rabbit. Oatmeal covers all these bases, as well as allowing me to be irritatingly cute by using the portmanteau of Sore Throatmeal, and I do love to be irritatingly cute.

 rock the oat

I mean, everyone has their own way of making porridge and you can feel free to ignore my method or write it off as garbage (but if so, honestly, why are you still reading this far?) but mine has much going for it – the oats are toasted first, a step that only adds a minute to the cooking time but turns what could be gluey flavourless glue into a richly flavoured, warmly nutty concoction. I also stir in ground almonds, which add a gentle sweetness and swollen softness and richness and also, y’know, almonds put a shine on your coat. You could use any dried fruit you like but cranberries are full of anti-inflammatory and hella-vitamin properties, they also look incredibly pretty, all ruby red against the white cream and pale oats. Similarly, you could use coconut milk or almond milk or ginger instead of cinnamon and so on and so forth; but this is the recipe I made and it is so damn good.

Also I know this recipe looks really long and complicated, it’s because I’m talky and like to hold your hand throughout the process just in case there’s any small detail that confounds you. Once you sift through all my added nonsense it’s really, really straightforward, I promise.

the softest porridge, or, sore throatmeal

a recipe by myself

a handful of dried cranberries 
half a cup oatmeal or finely rolled oats
quarter of a cup of whole oats 
half a cup of water
half a cup of milk
a pinch of salt
quarter of a cup of ground almonds
cinnamon
brown sugar
cream, and lots of it

Place the cranberries in a small bowl and cover with water from a just-boiled kettle. 

Place a smallish saucepan over a medium and throw the oats in, stirring them frequently to allow them to toast – they’ll start to smell incredibly, well, toasty, and when this happens remove them from the heat and allow them to sit for a minute just to cool slightly. 

Stir in the water, milk, and salt, and return to a low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking as it heats up and thickens. You want to get it to the stage where it’s starting to have big bubbles rise to the surface and burst, like some kind of geothermic mudpool (I think, I mean I have very little knowledge of geothermic…stuff) and at this point stir in the ground almonds and decide whether or not you think it needs a splash more milk or water – I like my porridge a little on the softer, creamier side, but you might like yours thicker. So, either it’s ready, or you need to stir it a bit longer with more liquid. 

Once you’re done, remove it from the heat, drain the cranberries (I just used a spoon to hold them back while tipping the water into the sink) and stir them in along with a hearty pinch of cinnamon. Spatula all this into a deep bowl (a deep bowl helps it stay warm for longer!) and spoon over as much brown sugar and cream as your mouth desires. 

I took one bite and was literally cured 

On account of this peskily sore throat I’ve done more or less nothing lately, I’ve either been in bed or at work; when in bed I’ve been on a Nigella-watching spree – I mean this in the nicest way, but I don’t have to think at all when I’m watching her show, and it doesn’t matter if I fall asleep halfway through, and all the stirring and gentle clattering and plummy vocals are utterly soothing to someone like me who adores background noise while I sleep. So you can see how I’m so Hallelujah-chorus rapturous over this porridge, it’s pretty much the most exciting thing to happen to me in the last few days. It was so delicious though, that I’m very sure it would still provide some kind of thrill even if you’re in full health.
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title from: Alanis Morrisette, You Learn. Remember when this album was the hugest thing in the world? This song has such a strange, meandering, conversational vibe to it that you don’t get a lot now, and I remember thinking how subversive and rad it was that her voice was kinda screechy and drawly (I was ten, okay.) 
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music lately:

Fiona Apple, Sleep to Dream. So dark and moody and intense, “this mind, this body and this voice cannot be stifled by your deviant ways,  so don’t forget what I told you, don’t come around, I got my own hell to raise” – ooof. 

Kendrick Lamar, Alright. I mean the song itself was already amazing but the video is just… *falls over sideways*
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next time: it is SO FREEZING in Wellington right now, so I’ll probably be cooking something to try and warm myself up, which at this stage is going to be a bowlful of the earth’s molten core.