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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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Berry Chia Seed Jam

Sweet

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Vanilla Chocolate Macarons

Category Two: Baked Goods

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

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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 NowDo 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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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! 

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.
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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. 
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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. 
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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.