and I can start a book, I can make some mac and cheese, I can sleep twelve hours


Last Saturday I had the good fortune to appear on Radio New Zealand to talk about recipes for a tight yet manifestly fruitful eleven minutes and three seconds; as a result I had a whole lot of new people sign up to get my blog posts emailed to them. And I was like maaaan I hope I impress those who signed up in all innocence who don’t know that I’m constantly talking about my mental health and even worse, how I use the word “like” as verbal filler even though I’m writing and not like, talking out loud and therefore in need of said fillers, like, how is it that my written words somehow manage to have vocal fry?

I was also hoping to get this blog post done sooner in order to impress said new kids and indeed, literally anyone, but I’ve been SO TIRED which you either know or shall come to learn is like 67% of what I talk about, but in my defence, this week feels next level, as though all I’ve done is work or try to sleep and infuriatingly be unable to do so; you know that particular tired where the skin under your eyes feels like hot scratchy lace and there’s an egg-shaped queasiness in the centre of your ribs?


(Speaking of eggs I last appeared on this same segment of the Radio NZ show a few years ago and at the time confessed to host Charlotte Graham-McLay that I did not know how to poach an egg, or more specifically: I knew how, but I was never successful at it. Before my appearance on the show again last Saturday, sitting outside the studio, she asked me if I was still unable to poach an egg and I was like “well yeah nah, yeah but I’m vegan now so I don’t have to worry about it.” And then I paused and was like “that’s not why I became a vegan.”)

Despite my frantic-making tiredness I’ve been productive in a gritted-teeth kind of way; I’ve somehow managed to read three books (and am halfway through another), I’ve watched twelve films (insomnia is good for something at least), I’m halfway through a knitting project and I made myself food. Specifically, this recipe for Roasted Carrot Mac n Cheese!


Roasted Carrot Mac n Cheese

a recipe by myself

  • 7 (or so) carrots from a bunch, the kind that are smallish and have lots of green on the end and look like something from a Beatrix Potter book; or about three regular big normal carrots
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup roasted salted cashews
  • 1/3 cup oat milk, almond milk, or similar
  • 2 heaped tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dijon or American mustard
  • a pinch of garlic powder or one clove of garlic
  • a pinch of ground cumin
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • a pinch of paprika, preferably the nice smoky kind
  • a very small pinch of turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste (I prefer sea salt and really dusty cheap ready-ground black pepper, personally.)

To serve

  • 100-200g small dried pasta for example, but not exclusively, macaroni (I used something called Cavatelli)


  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Set your oven to 220C/430F. Slice or pull the leafy tops off the carrots and place them (the carrots, that is, not the leafy tops) in a shallow roasting dish. If you’re using regular carrots, slice them in half across the middle and then slice each half lengthwise in half, if that makes sense. Drizzle liberally with olive oil (just regular stuff is fine) and sprinkle over a little salt. Put them in the oven for around twenty minutes, or until they’re thoroughly roasted, you know, all soft and caramelised and a little shrivelled (I can’t think of a better word for it, sorry.)

Allow them to cool, then place them in a high speed blender with the oat milk, olive oil (plus tip in any olive oil that is left in the baking dish), the cashews, the nutritional yeast, mustard, lemon juice, the spices, garlic, and a little salt and pepper. Blend it thoroughly until it’s thick and creamy and there’s no trace of actual carrot or carrot remaining, then taste to see if it needs anything more – perhaps some more salt (don’t be shy) or a little more milk, just trust your tastebuds, basically. At this point, you can either spatula it into an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to a week for further use, or set to with stirring it into some pasta. In which case…

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil (I always boil the kettle first and then tip that into the pan, which saves a ton of time) and cook your pasta for around ten to twelve minutes, or until it’s tender. Drain thoroughly, then mix through the sauce. If you want, you can at this point blitz up the slice of bread with the sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast in a food processor or blender, sprinkle it on top, drizzle it with olive oil and grill till the top is browned and crunchy, but serving it just with the sauce is completely fine too.

Serves 2, or 1 with leftovers.


I feel that a lot of vegan cooking is like playing that game where you have to describe a noun like “pencil” or “John McEnroe” or something without actually naming it, which is not a dig, I excel at such games. So here I use the words “mac n cheese” to evoke a mood rather than to convey anything literal (which to be fair you could like, reasonably expect from a recipe title, but) and everything that goes into it has its own specific purpose in the game to get you closer to imagining that which the title suggests. The spices – earthy cumin, nutmeg brings sweetness and also tricks you with its cheese-sauce familiarity; the mustard and lemon give tang and the turmeric and paprika give colour and a little back-of-throat smokiness and the high speed of the blender’s blades force salty, buttery cashews and rich, nutty, oily almost-sweet roast carrots to relinquish any commitment to their current cellular structure in order to become creamy and thickly, billowingly pureed. And of course nutritional yeast, which really does taste pretty similar to cheese and is therefore a completely obvious addition and there’s no need to get weirdly poetic about it.

The carrots are the real heroes of the piece here and I’m delighted that my idea for using them thusly worked so well. I urge you to find those cartoon-like bunches of smaller carrots bound together by their almost fluffy, leafy green tops: they simply have a ton more character and flavour than a regular-ass carrot, but if that’s all you can find then don’t let that stop you by any means. If I had my time again I’d honestly probably make double the quantity of sauce so that the pasta could get really truly submerged but as it was, modestly coated and with the crunchy sunflower-seed-breadcrumb topping (and you could just use breadcrumbs, I just decided to really lean into this whole, you know, thing), it was completely delicious.


Through appearing on the radio (which I adore doing by the way, not much makes me happier than having a microphone in my face especially if I’m talking about myself and I encourage anyone else who’s looking for such a person to consider me) there was another pleasing side-effect: my Frasier food blog got unprecedented (by which I mean like, seven) views and I received three separate notifications that literally essentially just said “wow someone is actually reading this, end of notification!” Even my blog platform, inanimate though it is, is excited! All of which – talking into a microphone, new readers, the whole thing – makes me feel optimistic and excited! I’m admittedly approaching a somewhat anxiety-inducing fork in the road as my apartment lease comes to an end in February and I don’t know what I’m going to do about it yet and I feel like I’m never going to stop reeling with exhaustion but, with such tangible achievements already achieved in this young year, I’m okay to rest briefly on my laurels. And hopefully even sleep on them at some point.

PS new readers, one final thing I’d like to have noted for posterity is that the photo of me on the Radio New Zealand page is really old.

title from: The Frug by Rilo Kiley. A quiet and slightly odd but sweet little song from way back in their back catalogue, it does feel very of its time, by which I mean a song written in 1998 that appears on the soundtrack of a Christina Ricci film, yes it’s a genre.

music lately:

It Takes a Muscle To Fall In Love, by Spectral Display, it’s so calm and yet so beautifully momentous at the same time. It bears some of that same hypnotic energy as Scritti Pollitti’s Sweetest Girl but is less sinister. I adore them both.

Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime, by The Field, it’s one of those songs that’s so bordering on ambient that it almost blends into the background but suddenly the minor key cracks open into a major key and it feels like the sun is rising in your face.

Legend of Pat Brown, by Vandals. There’s an appealing matter-of-factness to the singer’s voice, and it’s just a great song, okay.

Oh, and some time after I published my eleventh anniversary blog post I thought it would be funny or fun something to make annual Spotify playlists of every song (that I was able to find on Spotify, that is) that I mentioned in this bit of the blog. I started doing this bit two years in which is why the playlists for each year’s songs start from 2009; anyway it’s just kind of nice and occasionally horrifying, potentially for me and me alone, seeing what I was listening to in any given year, like a little time capsule. If you want to check them out, and indeed, any of my other playlists of varying quality (by which I mean, from good quality to really good quality), I’m here on Spotify.

Next time: I intend to be (a) less tired and (b) that’s it really that’s as far as I’ve got.

three, that’s the magic number

For the last week or so I’ve been sick with a really rough cold that I’m juuuust coming out the other side of, mostly due to a drinking game that I call “take lemon honey ginger every time you cough”, a game with a sub-rule of “strawpedo Robitussin at any and all opportunities” which is curiously followed by “the floor is now lava.” I’m well aware that my last blog post was essentially a bowl of nuts and the blog post prior to that was pasta and now, what is this blog post about but a bowl of PASTA AND NUTS but as I said – I was sick! An unfailingly watertight excuse! I’m sorry I bailed on you, I was sick! I’m sorry I stole your car in the middle of the conversation we were having and then drove it into your other car, I was sick!

My tastebuds have been woefully muffled from having a blocked nose, but I woke up this morning not only feeling a lot better, but also thinking, “what if pesto, but with three different kinds of nut instead of just one” and decided, as I do with most of my thoughts regardless of content or consequence, to act upon it immediately. I feel that pesto was to 2003 what halloumi was to like, 2013, I remember being absolutely obsessed with it and having it feel hugely unattainable, and so I’d try and incorporate it into as many of my cooking class modules in high school as I could get away with (I really didn’t do well in cooking in high school but I think that’s because being a freewheeling spoon-licking pre-ADHD diagnosed idiot didn’t mesh well with teachers trying to get to grips with the assessment regime and a minimal budget that didn’t allow for just like, snorting mounds of pesto.)

But wait, who am I to think I can improve upon pesto? Well I’m me, but this isn’t a one-up so much as a side-step; I’ve subtracted the cheese and instead added knotty, sinuous walnuts and buttery pistachios to the original pine nuts. Which means yes, this fairly plain dish of pasta will cost you roughly $90 dollars, on top of which, even though the quantities of the recipe look huge it really doesn’t make that much pesto because it all reduces down to nothing in the blender, but in spite of all of these red flags may I offer you this one counterpoint! Here it is: it’s really, really delicious.

Walnuts give the mixture body and a bitter smokiness, pistachios give creamy richness and added green, the pine nuts are all…you know, they’re pine-nutty? And when thrown through glassy olive oil and basil leaves at great speed it produces the most incredibly wonderful-tasting freshly-mown-grass-looking paste to stir through pasta or to be consumed however feels right.

pasta with three nut pesto  

a recipe by myself

  • one third of a cup of shelled pistachios
  • one heaped half cup of walnuts
  • one third of a cup of pine nuts
  • one garlic clove
  • a squeeze of lemon juice (roughly a tablespoon) 
  • sea salt
  • the leaves from one of those supermarket basil plants, roughly three loose handfuls of leaves I guess? But seriously, use all the leaves, you know that no matter how diligently you try to water the plant the it’s gonna die immediately and like, how is it that they can stay alive in the supermarket but die so fast once you take them home? What’s going on there?)
  • three quarters of a cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g dried spaghetti or similar

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add plenty of salt, then cook the pasta for about ten minutes or until it’s like, cooked, then drain the pasta and set aside. I always use the water from a freshly boiled kettle in the pan because it goes way faster than just boiling it on the stovetop. 

In a large frying pan, gently toast the nuts over a high heat, stirring often, until the pine nuts are lightly browned (they’re the easiest to see the color on.) Tip the nuts into a food processor or high speed blender along with the garlic clove, lemon juice, a large pinch of salt, the basil leaves and the oil, and process until it’s a thick, dark green paste. Stir a couple of spoonfuls through the drained pasta and put the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.

Honestly, this stuff is just spectacularly good and makes the simplest pile of pasta feel like a monumental treat. You can do millions of things with pesto though – stir it through roasted vegetables, spread it on toast, thin it with olive oil and drizzle it over fried halloumi for a real galaxy-brain type combination, add a spoonful as a garnish to brighten up almost any soup, whatever your tastebuds decide, follow them in the direction they’re heading.

And if you’re on a permanent pasta buzz as I seem to be, may I direct your attention gently but firmly from me, back to me, by way of these old blog posts if you want some further recipes, eg something I called Sexy Pasta; Nigella’s Pasta with Marmite; or turmeric pappardelle with brioche crumbs.

title via:  De La Soul’s The Magic Number, I love how shambling and lo fi and almost big beat the production is on this old school (I mean old school, not like “here’s one from back in the day in 2009”) track. 

music lately:

Mogwai, Take Me Somewhere Nice. Just shut your eyes and listen.

Gaslight Anthem, Here’s Looking At You, Kid. This band was recommended to me and I now in turn recommend them to you because I love them, and you will too if you like heart-on-your-sleeve, Bruce-Springsteen-influence-on-top-of-your-heart-on-your-sleeve vibes.

Bizet’s Pearl Fishers Duet, sung by Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill. It was probably the Robitussin in my system but as the sun streamed through my window this morning I swear this song was literally playing and I don’t know, it’s just kind of magical and soaring and you too should listen to it really loud while lying down in a dark room where the light is starting to creep in.

next time: my friend Jen gave me a bunch of limes from her tree so I’m gonna do something with them. I don’t know what yet though but having that many limes, in this economy, is very exciting! 

you turn my legs into spaghetti, you set my heart on fire

There are milestones, there are millstones, as they sing in the Broadway musical Gypsy, and sometimes it’s hard to tell the two apart, but I clocked two milestones this week that I’m not undelighted to have out of the way: firstly I competed in my first cocktail competition finals, and secondly it was my 32nd birthday, the latter in swift succession of the former. I didn’t win the competition but in all honesty I’m quite okay with it because the real prize for me was all the attention and getting to stand in front of an audience with a microphone. I appreciate that public speaking is many people’s idea of actual hell incarnate, but for me there’s nowhere I’d rather be than in front of a crowd of people that I have to quickly win over using little more than charm and yet more charm. However, it also is a bit of a sigh of relief that it’s finally done. I’m proud of myself and I’m suuuuper proud of my friends who won in their respective categories, and I learned a honk-ton of information (did you know that Suntory was established in 1923 initially to sell imported wine? Did you know that Canadian Club was the most smuggled liquor into the states during Prohibition? Did you know Kid Rock did the forward to the book about Jim Beam that I read?)

And then it was my birthday, and I find them a bit stressful because while it’s just another day ostensibly, there’s also all this pressure (almost entirely self-directed to be fair) to have the time of your life, but to my mild surprise, I had a genuinely fantastic birthday. I’m feeling exceptionally calm about turning 32, despite having a general one-step-forward-three-steps-backwards existence I feel like I am every day growing gradually more focussed and able to cope with life to the point where I very occasionally even feel like I could kick a hole in the sky.

And another small but nevertheless achieve-y achievement: I made myself some food! WooooOO! It was actually a staff meal at work that inspired me to make this vegan take on spaghetti bolognese, we were given pasta with sundried tomatoes and pine nuts and there was something in the richness and bite of It all that made me want to extrapolate it out further. I figured that walnuts would provide texture and a little smokiness and mushrooms would add further depth and that if you blended them with said sundried tomatoes, so you couldn’t tell where one element started and another finished, it could be an extremely good time. All three of these ingredients have a kind of meatiness, not that they actually taste like meat, but they’ve got body and heft and savoury intensity and presence.

Anyway once you’ve got your ingredients together this is all extremely easy – you just blitz the mushrooms, tomatoes and walnuts in a processor and fry it with some tomato passata (which is like tomato purée and pretty easy to find in the supermarket). It honestly looks and tastes a lot like bolognese, all richly comforting and tomato-y, but also is extremely delicious in its own right, like, not just as a meat substitute. I don’t know why I feel like I’m bending over backwards to not insult a mushroom by comparing it to meat but you know what I mean? This is really good because it just is, not because it is quite successfully mimicking something. On top of which it’s been so icy cold lately which I actually love, I really enjoy that wintery vibe of getting covered in blankets or wearing enormous coats and doing cosy things like drinking cups of tea and googling “how to spoon yourself”, and mate, there’s nothing like some spag bol eaten in bed on a cold day.

vegan spaghetti bolognese   

  • six or seven large button mushrooms (or better yet, about four big field mushrooms) 
  • 10 sundried tomatoes
  • half a cup of shelled walnuts  
  • four cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • a splash of red wine (optional)
  • 250ml/one cup tomato passata  (or use a can of chopped tomatoes) 
  • salt and pepper  
  • 200g dried spaghetti  
  • fresh basil leaves, to serve

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, eleven minutes usually does it, then drain and tip it onto two serving plates. I use water from a freshly boiled kettle just to make the process faster. 

Meanwhile, throw the mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, walnuts and garlic cloves into a food processor and blend it all together till it’s a roughly chopped paste mixture type thing.  

Heat some olive oil – a couple of tablespoons, I suppose – in a large saucepan, and spatula the mushroom mixture into the pan. Stir over a high heat for about ten minutes – mushrooms tend to give off a little liquid when they cook and you want to get it to the point where this has all evaporated. At this point I add a splash of red wine to the pan which adds some wonderful depth to it all but if you’re strictly vegan and not sure on the origins of your wine just leave it out. Add the tomato passata and let it simmer away till it’s looking all thick and saucy. If too much liquid has evaporated add more passata or some water, just trust your instincts. 

At this point give it a taste and add some salt and pepper if you think it needs it, and pile on top of your cooked spaghetti. Throw some basil leaves on top and eat. Serves two. 

You can, as with most of my recipes, just take this and run with it: add any number of herbs that you feel like, use a mixture of nuts (although I really feel like walnuts are the best here, a mixture of Brazil and almonds could probably hold their own), have the sauce on toast or use it in a lasagne-type layered up fashion.

My birthday actually started early when I (started anticipating it the minute my birthday last year ended, wait what) had wine and takeaways with my best friends Kim and Kate on Sunday (Kim has since gone overseas on holiday for like, EVER or maybe three weeks or six weeks or something so please keep me in your thoughts during this difficult time while she’s away.) On the day of I had brunch with Kate and we had prosecco like fancy functioning humans, and then I had an absolutely banging nap, and then I went and saw my friend Dom’s play, Your Heart Looks Like A Vagina, and it’s super fantastic and if you’re in Wellington I strongly recommend that you go see it this week. You maybe wouldn’t think seeing a one-man play about chronic disease would be like, the most joyful way to spend a birthday, but there’s gallows humour and regular-level humour running all the way through it, promise.

  I was not lying about eating it in bed, but also why would someone lie about that to be fair   I was not lying about eating it in bed, but also why would someone lie about that to be fair

If you’re on a vegan buzz then I recommend by way of further reading these other recipes I’ve blogged about: Vegan Apple Cake; almond feta; and this “fried chicken” recipe using jackfruit that I wrote about on my Frasier food blog.

title from: Dillon’s gently achey song Thirteen Thirty Five

music lately:  

Car Seat Headrest, My Boy. A good song for wallowing, I know at least one of you out there other than just me needs this information.

California Soul, the Diplo remix of Marlena Shaw’s already excellent 1967 track.

Washington On Your Side from the cast recording of Hamilton, the Broadway musical. This song is so jaunty and banger-y and I literally can’t stop listening to it over and over, Daveed Diggs is an absolute treasure.

next time: yeah nah your guess is as good as mine. 

no postcode envy

My patriotism has never manifested itself in any particularly outrageous fashion. I treated rugby, our national sport, with all the disdain that someone who had panic attacks on athletics day and got picked last for teams can muster; leaving aside two brief dalliances: my thumping great crush on Doug Howlett during the world cup final of 2003 (there wasn’t much else to do at boarding school) and the appreciation of the sensually clashing thighs and men raising other men towards the sun using only their bare forearms that was all flagrantly on display, without any kind of PG 13 warning, during the last world cup final.  I’m not much into like, getting out there in the nature and stuff so our beautiful landscapes kind of leave me cold. I mean I’m not a total psychopath, we have those good mountains that everyone bangs on about but much like sports, I’m happy to let other people do it and leave me alone. The Lord of the Rings movies are really, really boring and someone should tell Peter Jackson “no” for once. Our national anthem is emphatically not a banger. 

So what gets me going? Lorde’s entire existence makes me jazzed to be a kiwi. Maori culture is unique and precious and should be both protected and elevated, especially since the whole awkward colonialism trampling of it and then half-assedly making vague stabs at acknowledging it aren’t exactly a stellar reflection on, well, anyone, and not much makes me feel quite so heart-swellingly of this place than anything that celebrates this crucial part of us. I’m one of those dinguses who gets really excited when we’re mentioned in pop culture, like that episode of Full House when they accidentally board a flight to Auckland, New Zealand, instead of Oakland, California (a ludicrously impossible premise but how thrilling to hear the actors say our country by name!) I heard yesterday that some rugby player is dating Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley and was genuinely like, “how exciting for us all!” So there’s that.



And then there’s onion dip. And Marmite.

The former, a genius and oddly American-style combination of packaged onion soup powder, canned reduced cream, and vinegar, which produces the most face-punchingly compulsive thing you’ve ever dragged a crisp sheet of deep fried potato through. The latter, an oddly good and polarising inky-coloured salty paste that you spread thinly on your buttered toast to make sure the fine crust of sodium caked around your arteries isn’t in any danger of dissipating. 

I love them both. When I eat onion dip I come close to having the slightest understanding of why Americans are so obsessed with their flag. (I mean, I don’t really. It’s a bit of fabric. What’s the deal. Admittedly with a dope design, maybe if ours was less embarrassingly dull I’d care about it too.) If you were like “Laura you can have everlasting happiness but you have to sacrifice Marmite, what’s it going to be”, I’d be all “Marmite IS everlasting happiness, sicko” and drop-kick a piece of toasted Vogels at your head. 

Anyway. Over artisinal mimosas ($10 sauvignon blanc from the dairy and Just Juice bubbles) my friend Emily and I devised a mac and cheese so patriotic it would make Helen Clarke weep. I’m going to be honest, I think most of it actually was her idea, but no one else was there in the room where it happened so I’m taking at least partial credit. And I was the one that actually made it, so. Equally bringing stuff to the table. It started with the revelation that her grandmother used to crush up salt and vinegar chips on top of her mac and cheese. That alone nearly made me faint. Then somehow in a crescendo of overactive brains it all came out at once – what if we put onion dip in the sauce? WHAT IF WE ADD MARMITE? IT’S UMAMI! DARE WE? 

We dared. 

It might all sound kind of horrifying, and too much, and maybe even bordering on that clownish style of social-media friendly cooking where it’s all doughnuts stuffed with bacon wrapped in rainbow layer cake but guys. Guys. It tastes incredible. Upon eating it we were struck into sybaritic silence for a good twenty three minutes, which is astonishing for either of us given our tiny collective attention spans. 

Let me break it down for you: pasta and cheese sauce are both comfortingly gentle of texture and flavour. Soft, bland, creamy, blanket-y. Adding the packet of onion soup powder to the sauce gave it a depth of flavour without compromising these factors – onions themselves being one of those base-level ingredients that assist rather than steal thunder. Reduced cream gave it more richness and a pleasing note of almost-sourness. The marmite, slowly whisked in tentative spoonful by tentative spoonful with me frantically yelling “ANOTHER!” after every taste test, gives beefy, brothy saltiness and savouriness, in other words, old mate Umami. The salt and vinegar crisps crumbled up on top are charmingly crunchy and the hint of said vinegar, tingly on the mouth, stops it being all too throat-cloggingly rich.  

Upon tasting it, I finally understood why people care about rugby for reasons unrelated to thighs. I was like, my country did this and no other country could. 

So can you. 



chip and dip mac and cheese, aka mac and sleazy

  • 500g macaroni elbows, pasta shells, or other small friendly pasta
  • one tablespoon chilli oil
  • 50g butter
  • four tablespoons plain flour
  • milk (I guess two cups/500ml?) 
  • one to two tablespoons of marmite
  • one package onion soup powder
  • one can reduced cream
  • one and a half cups grated cheese
  • one bag of salt and vinegar chips

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and then tip in the pasta. Let it boil away for about ten minutes or until the pasta is tender,  then drain and toss with the chilli oil. Don’t be tempted to leave this out, it just gives the slightest hint of heat at the end of each mouthful. 

While this is happening, melt the butter in a large saucepan and stir in the flour, so that it forms a thick paste. Continue to stir this over a medium heat for a while, just to allow the flavours to develop, and then slowly, slowly add the milk, a splash at a time at first (it will absorb pretty instantly) and then continue adding more and stirring it into the butter and flour till it looks like thick pancake batter. If it looks lumpy, switch to a whisk. Tip in the onion soup powder and stir it in, then add the can of reduced cream. Continue to stir for another few minutes until you’re satistfied with the texture, then whisk in the marmite, small spoonful at a time, tasting it as you go, till you’re happy with the flavour. You’d be surprised at how much marmite it can take, and the pasta will soften the flavour, so don’t be shy. 

Stir in the drained pasta and half a cup of the grated cheese, and set your oven to 170C/330 F. Transfer the contents of the pan into a baking dish and pop it in the oven for about half an hour. Finally, crush up the salt and vinegar chips (just smash the bag around with your hands, should do the trick) and take the dish out of the oven. Sprinkle the pasta with a layer of cheese, then a thick, even layer of potato chip crumbs, and then top with one more layer of cheese. Return to the oven and change the setting to grill, turning up the temperature to 220C/450F. Let it sit there till the top is golden brown and scorched in places. And there you have it. 



Bonus Marmite content: If you melt butter and mix it with a spoonful of marmite and then liberally apply this to chicken and roast it, you have yourself a truly good and delicious time. 

Speaking of patriotism! Had a tender moment of feeling like the country doesn’t suck when Jacinda Adern of Labour suddenly became prime minister this week (I’m not explaining the process to you, look it up, it happened is all you need to know), after two weeks of us sitting around under the impression that National had won the election. The last time National wasn’t in power was 2008 which was actually a million years ago in so many ways, and while I have reservations about a ton of things, it’s low-key thrilling to be here in a time of change. I honestly didn’t have faith in New Zealand this time around that the left would be able to take the lead, so it’s not only pleasantly surprising, it’s like…for the first time in ever so long, I’m excited as opposed to filled with dread to see what policies are enacted.  

Eat the rich!….tasty macaroni and cheese. 

title from: our Lorde! Her debut Royals is still pretty jaw-dropping no matter how over-exposed to it you may be. 

music lately: 

Fiona Apple, Across The Universe. You wanna sob self-indulgently? Of course you do. Better than the original, in my correct opinion. 

Her Space Holiday, Something To Do With My Hands. You wanna sob self-indulgently? Of course you do. 

Limp Bizkit, Faith. You wanna sob self- okay lol. It’s uh, not better than the original but it is an indelible part of my life. 

next time: I actually totally missed my blog’s tenth birthday by an entire week due to my inability to remember, well, anything, but I’m still determined to mark the occasion somehow.

it’s only comfort, calling late

I wrote this entire blog post last night and then it disappeared somehow, which more or less didn’t bother me since a life of breaking and losing things constantly does nothing if not really prepare you for a life of breaking and losing things constantly. The only unfortunate thing is I can’t exactly recapture the magic since I was writing it in a certain location: on the floor of a friend’s house, by a merrily humming heater, in a dimly lit room, with a beautiful dog wandering around and occasionally booping me. In this deleted blog post I talked about the nature of things that bring comfort – because for me, sitting on the floor in the dark next to a heat source that’s emitting white noise is literal serene heaven – and now that I’m rewriting it, I’m in a completely different place. I don’t know if I can recreate that comfort, but in a way all attempts at comforting yourself is just trying to artificially recreate comfort, yeah? Long story short: back your stuff up and press save often, people.  

Included in the thoughts I put forward was the idea of comfort food, which I write about on here often: in this case, it takes the form of gnocchi, a pasta that’s made from potatoes and therefore gives you carb-on-carb comfort, like sleeping with a thick blanket on top AND an electric blanket underneath at the same time. It’s the middle of winter, we’ve all got sniffles and iron deficiencies and debt, the very least we can do for ourselves is cook something warm and moderately stodgy. Normally gnocchi involves peeling and boiling and draining and mashing potatoes like someone with seven years of spare time and a non-tendency to burst into tears at the slightest provocation, but here I shorten the path from A to Carb by using instant mashed potato flakes, and m8888, they are a revelation. Sacrilegious? Sacrelicious! 

When fried in hot oil you end up with these little pillowy puffs that are golden and gratifyingly crispy on the outside and marshmallow-soft within, like the love child of a roast potato and a bowl of fettuccini. Fried brussels sprouts give sprightly green crunch, rosemary adds sex appeal (possibly highly niche sex appeal: I can’t help that I find the scent of fried or flamed rosemary deeply attractive) and pine nuts are just nice as hell. On top of which I made this for myself after having had literally forty minutes of sleep the previous night, so like, you got this. 

fast fried gnocchi with brussels sprouts, rosemary and pine nuts

a recipe by myself

  • one cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • half a cup (125ml) recently boiled water
  • one cup flour
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • a handful of brussels sprouts (idk, six?), halved lengthwise
  • a sprig of rosemary
  • two tablespoons of pine nuts
  • olive oil

Mix the potato flakes, boiling water, and salt together in a bowl, then stir in the flour and knead it a few times (just push the dough away and then pull it towards you and then push it away again, basically emotionally abuse it) till it forms a smooth-ish ball. Add a splash more water if it’s really not coming together. Roll it out into a square about half an inch thick, then slice horizontally and vertically in parallel lines to form a bunch of small rectangles. Roll the back of a fork over them, to press some indentations in, (sort of rolling them lengthwise as you do it) and then set aside.

Heat a good amount of oil – at least three tablespoons – in a large saucepan, and fry the brussels sprouts, cut side down, till they’re browned. Turn them over for a bit just to heat the other side, then remove them to your serving dish. Add some more oil if need be and then tip in the gnocchi, frying them on both sides till they’re golden and crisped. Remove them to the serving plate, and then finally, strip the sprig of rosemary of its leaves and throw them in the hot oil till they’re sizzling, and then finally briefly toast the pine nuts. Tip all of this on top of the gnocchi and sprouts, and then eat it. 

As someone with hardcore, spine clenching anxiety I’m always trying to keep abreast (ha) of the stuff that (I take back that “ha”, so immature) gives me some semblance of calm and staunches that feeling that the veins in your arms have slithered up your shoulder blades and wrapped themselves around your neck. Obviously nothing in particular is going to cure it, but if rain noises or whatever make me feel 9% calmer then that’s still 9% calmer than I was before. (Also, I retract the retracted “ha”, abreast is a funny word and I stand by it. I stand abreast with it, even.) 

Look for comfort where you can. The world kind of sucks. These gnocchi look like they’re all giving you a supportive fist bump, or at least that’s how it looks to me in the photo at the top of this post. And that’s something. 

 Pavlov's Good Boys

Pavlov’s Good Boys

(Evidence that the tableau I described did happen.)

title from: Placebo, the name of one of my favourite bands and also one of my favourite effects, with their nasal goth hit Every You Every Me. 

music lately: 

Spook the Horses, Footfall. Deliciously heavy. 

Laura Lee Lovely, Hot Blood. I got to meet this absolutely beaut person for real recently after years of us exchanging heart emojis on each others instagram selfies, and she’s just released a dreamy banger of a tune. If you like music that makes you feel happy and sad at the same time, give it a hoon. 

next time: Whatever it is, I’m pressing save VIGOROUSLY the entire time I write it. 

on a steady diet of soda pop and ritalin

Before I get into this, let me tell you a small story. 

On Wednesday morning I got out of bed and thought- I should make my bed now, so it’ll be ready for me when I get back in later.

I’ve never had this thought in my life. I do not make my bed. I barely ever made my bed as a child. In fact the only beds I make are the kind you have to metaphorically lie in because you’ve done something more or less irrevocable. So I made my bed. And I was like, “wow this Ritalin is GOOD”. 

I told you it was a small story.

So to back up a bit, let me tell you my friends: ya girl has been given the joyous gift of an official ADHD diagnosis. Just like that! And all it took was six months, an unspeakably hellish prolonged period of depression and anxiety, several fruitless GP appointments that led me nowhere, literally five thousand phone calls and emails, a small quantity of self-gaslighting about how I was imagining all of this and I was just a stupid idiot for life, constantly being picked up and dusted off by my friends, a butt-tonne of crying, stacks on stacks on stacks of paperwork, one highly revealing and personal article on Medium, an astonishing amount of crowdfunding from kind friends and strangers, several sessions with a truly nice trainee psychologist, and dropping $1000 on roughly two and a half hours of time from a psychiatrist to get there!  

As I said during a conversation with a four year old yesterday, “it sounds like I’m exaggerating for comic effect! If only I were!” (I was at a wedding.) (There were lots of kids there.) 

  carbs for president

carbs for president

So now I’m a few days in on Ritalin and I can’t impress upon you enough how much it’s helping already. Without going into the minutiae of my life, it helps me get on with the minutiae of my life. That’s all. It’s made my internal monologue all able to put tasks in order and fix small things that would otherwise cause me mental paralysis. Like deciding what socks to wear. Again: being super literal here. You very don’t want to know how many sock-related meltdowns I’ve had.

Am I fixed? No! However, AS I HYPOTHESISED ALL ALONG, the ability to scoot around and get stuff done in a calm manner has already given me a lot more brainspace to deal with my anxiety and depression and is starting to alleviate some of the symptoms that were making everything more difficult than it already was. It’s like my mental health was all overheated and while the room it’s in is still really warm I’ve at least been able to kick the blankets off it and sit it next to an oscillating fan. IDK about that metaphor, I’m just kind of overheated right now so it’s the first thing that sprang to mind. 

Anyway, oh my god, let’s talk about food. I am trying to get back into that whole thing, since I apparently love it so much and all. 

One extremely shiny, silvery bright spot during the difficult start to this year was that my friend Hannah came over to visit New Zealand from Australia. We’ve known each other online since about 2010 where we became mutual admirers of each others food blogs, our travels coincided for one beautiful day in 2012 in New York where we got to meet each other, and we’ve been extremely in touch ever since throughout each other’s various Life Stuff. Her brain and my brain are like twins over so many things and her writing was always an entrancing mermaid in a sea of dull, copycat, forgettable food blogs. So yeah, you could say I kinda like this gal. We talked and talked and talked over Chow takeout on the floor, we went to see Swan Lake and got super emotional over it, I made her fancy chartreuse-based cocktails when she came to visit me at work, we had fancy brunch. And then we were like, man it seems kind of illegal for two food bloggers to come together and for there to not be cooking involved.

  i'll clink to that

i’ll clink to that

So I made her dinner. Now: I will self-deprecate until I’m nothing but a pile of dust that says “lol don’t fight over me all at once, handsome suitors” to no-one in particular. But I am really, really good at making dinner out of pasta and whatever the heck is in my pantry. Admittedly: I had some good stuff on me this time around. Half a bag of frozen prawns. Half a bag of frozen peas. Some small jars of preserved lemons which were party favours from a wedding in November. But still! I’m a pasta whisperer. And this was the result of such whisperings: 

one-pot prawn, pea and preserved lemon spaghetti

  • 200g spaghetti or dried pasta of your choice
  • 150g or so of frozen raw prawns
  • 100g or so frozen peas
  • two pieces of preserved lemon, rinsed with the flesh sliced off
  • 25g butter
  • lots of olive oil
  • lots of dried chilli flakes
  • lots of nice salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a handful of fresh thyme leaves

Get a large pan of salted water on to boil, and then once it’s like, boiling, drop in the spaghetti. Once it’s almost tender – about ten minutes in – add the prawns and peas, letting it return to the boil. Continue to cook until the grey frozen prawns have turned all pink. Drain the lot, and return to the pan (off the heat) and stir through the butter till it’s melted. 

Meanwhile! Finely slice the lemon peel and mix in a small bowl with about three tablespoons of olive oil, as many dried chilli flakes as you fancy, some salt and pepper and most of the thyme leaves. Stir this through the buttery cooked pasta, prawns, and peas, and upend the lot into a serving dish (or just serve straight from the pan.) Top with more thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper as you wish. 

Serves 2. 

  food prawn

food prawn

What’s great about this recipe is right there in the title – it’s all done in one pot, so you barely have to think or clean – two of my least favourite activities – and the ingredients are simple but bring plenty to the table. Prawns and peas are both mild and sweet, but then the fiercely salty lemon and hot chilli flakes do their thing and pull it all together. You can leave out the butter and just pour over more olive oil if you’re not feeling dairy, but it gives juuust a little richness and of course, the delicious flavour of butter. 

During a week when everything was so very hard, making food for a darling person and then sitting on the floor and hooning into it with them while talking about everything in our lives up until this very minute was honestly the nicest, nicest thing. 

  apropos of nothing but I like how triumphant I look here, and as I always say, look the part be the part

apropos of nothing but I like how triumphant I look here, and as I always say, look the part be the part

I know it has been a long time since I last wrote here, but near the top of the list of things I don’t want to give up on is this blog, and now that I have the friendly horse that is Ritalin to gallop about on (note to self: def give up on metaphors tho) I hope it will be easier to both cook and write and care about them again too. 

And seriously: I am so, so happy about this diagnosis. “Sarah”, I said, when the psychiatrist told me, “Sarah, I really feel like I should crack out some champagne with you right now.”  Once again, said with utmost sincerity. 

title from: speaking of sincerity, the super chill track Jesus of Suburbia by Green Day whom I will love unreservedly forever and ever.

music lately:

Your Best American Girl by Mitski, I am a sucker for emotion and walls of sound and HECK this song is like WHAT how my ears what’s happening

Life Upon The Wicked Stage, from the 1927 musical Showboat, as sung in a concert in 1998 by a 12 year old Anna Kendrick and, for some reason, the Kit Kat Girls from Cabaret, made oddly compelling by deadpan delivery (seriously, she is the deadest pan) and the alternating of the arrangement between sweet and jauntily bawdy. And yeah, I get that this is weird but I can’t stop listening to it.

next time: unsure, but next time will come around much, much sooner, promise. 

oh baby you’re young but that’s okay, what’s give or take nine years anyway

Apparently I’ve been in such a daze from life being, y’know, life, that I completely missed my blog’s ninth birthday. I realised it while sitting on the floor drinking wine, (thanks, floor-wine) and figured I ought to at least try to play catch up and make something nice for myself in honour of the occasion, even if now it’s several days after the fact. That something nice is Halloumi and Pancetta Mac and Cheese from my cookbook. Seems appropriately garish and celebratory and self-referential, no?

I’m honestly really proud of myself for maintaining this blog for basically a third of my entire time on this earth. My attention span is so short that I often can’t make it to the end of a 90 minute movie so to get to this point in my life and still have this blog with me is very heartening. And I haven’t just maintained the blog, I’ve believed in it and loved it fiercely. Do you believe in something right now? Something that you’re working on and constantly creating and pouring yourself into? Well I can’t express how hard I believe in this blog. I know it sounds like hyperbole when I describe it as “probably the best food blog in the world”, but trust me: I literally never use hyperbole. I LOVE Believing in something you’ve made is not a feeling that comes along every day. Let alone every day for nine whole years!

 don't you just want to dive in don’t you just want to dive in

I suspect – there’s always something with me, isn’t there – that the reason I’ve been so distracted is that I’m going through this charming patch of feeling panicky all the time, real awesome stuff like immediately overheating and feeling like I’m going to throw up and my heart’s pounding really hard and I forget my own name. Is it better to feel creeping dread over absolutely nothing, or to actually see something specific that causes you to panic? Let me tell you, my brain is super woke and does not discriminate. Why not both? it says, with arms wide open. Luckily I’m immensely good at telling myself sternly that the show must go on and also have some helpful resources at my shaky fingertips. I just thought I’d tell you this because why not, it happens, it’s no big deal. It’s soooo chill how not-chill I am. Unfortunately though it does seem somewhat tied up in my feelings about this mac and cheese that I made. Fortunately, this mac and cheese tastes amazing no matter what’s going on in my life. Or indeed, yours.

 this mac and cheese also has no chill this mac and cheese also has no chill

When I wrote this recipe for my cookbook – several years ago now, gosh – I wanted to make something wilfully ridiculous. So there’s not merely an entire block of halloumi fried up and stirred through it. There’s not just pancetta, that fancy-pants cousin of bacon. There’s also 500ml of cream in the white sauce, instead of the usual milk. Well, go big or go home, you know? I can’t deny that this is all very rich and intense for the sake of it, but it’s not overpowering – just soft and comforting and punctuated with mouth-fillingly buttery bursts of halloumi and salty pancetta bits. It’s honestly very non-threatening – splendidly enormous enough for a casual dinner party but still recognisably the classic comfort food that you can eat while horizontal on the couch watching, oh, the golden era of The Simpsons or something.

It’s also really easy to make. You can just serve it straight from the pan once you’ve stirred it all together, but it looks wonderful transferred into a big serving dish and browned a little in the oven, even if it does mean more dishes.

pancetta and halloumi mac and cheese

A recipe by ME from my COOKBOOK which you can’t BUY ANYMORE but it’s still NICE that it happened

  • 300g dried macaroni
  • 150g pancetta (or streaky bacon if it’s too expensive or you can’t find it)
  • 200g halloumi
  • 20g butter
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 500ml cream
  • Fresh nutmeg

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, and cook the macaroni in it according to packet instructions.

Dice the pancetta and fry in a large pan till crisp and dark pink. Lift it out of the pan with a slotted spoon, and arrange evenly in the base of a 20 x 30 (or thereabouts) oven dish. Slice the halloumi block in half lengthwise, then into slices crosswise. Fry these in the same pan, then evenly arrange the slices on top of the pancetta.

Still in the same pan, melt the butter and stir in the mustard powder and flour. Continue to stir till thick, then slowly stir in the cream. A whisk is particularly good here. Simmer till thickened. This won’t take long. 

Drain the macaroni, tip it into the roasting dish along with the cream sauce and mix carefully. Retain a little of the macaroni cooking water to stir into the sauce if it’s tooooo thick. Grate over a little fresh nutmeg, and bake for 20 minutes till golden on top. 

As I said, you could also just tip the drained macaroni, fried halloumi, and fried pancetta directly into the pan of white sauce and serve it from that. Whatever works! 

Serves 1. Or like, slightly more people. 

You can trust me about this mac and cheese. It’s truly, truly good.

It’s weird, having got some of the things I wanted so badly – a cookbook, specifically – and having them not turn out the way they did in my dreams, has made me a little unsure of where this blog is going next. If all I do is keep on writing about recipes and my sweatiness levels I guess that’s okay. I love the idea of having some kind of funny web series that gets turned into a cool TV show eventually; or to perhaps write a more low key, storybook cookbook that I have a lot more creative control over. On the other hand I truly believe there are far too many cookbooks in the world right now and the last thing anyone needs is another one from me.

In the last nine years I’ve been a million different people; done a zig-zag career path from finishing my BA at university to working in marketing and public health; to travelling; to government administration; to diving into hospo and suddenly running a bar. My hair has changed colour a zillion times, I’ve moved house too many times, I’ve skated wildly about on the Kinsey scale; I’ve hidden immensely hard stuff and probably talked way too much about other immensely hard stuff. I got a damn cookbook deal offered to me. I still continue to love writing with all my heart and I love inventing recipes and being excited and inspired by other peoples’. I love feeding the people I love. I really love the sound of my own voice, apparently. So without any real sense of direction from here, I’m going to settle for just being proud of myself for making it this far with by my side, just us two, still together after all these years.

If you’re not already sick of my boundless ability to talk about myself like I’m a topic that affects us all; may I suggest on this anniversary that you check out some classic cuts from HungryandFrozen: a few of my favourite posts. (I basically started scrolling backwards through my blog and picking some here and there and only made it as far as 2013 so this whole exercise is flawed. The simplest solution: set aside an entire day to read my whole blog from the top. I remain unconvinced that you have anything going on that would be more fun and worthwhile than this.) Nevertheless as a starting point: My blog post about honeycomb sauce that I wrote in the style of a Babysitters Club book; the recipes I made for Nautilus Estate Wines; my post-election Mars Bar slice; my portmanteau triumph, Sore Throatmeal; and tbh the last blog post I did about mint, pea and avocado salad was pretty good.

Here’s to a billion more years of *clink!*

title from: Liz Phair’s delicious I’m-an-older-woman track Rock Me. I love the line “you don’t even know who Liz Phair is.” Such scathing. 

music lately: 

my little brother sent me this track by a band called HEX suggesting I might like it. Considering they’re called HEX and this song is called The Moon, I was like yes, I love it sight unseen. (It’s a really good song though.) 

New music from the swoony Laura Lee is always a treat. She has a bubbly clubby new track out called I Feel and I love it!

Lana Del Rey, Born To Die. If you feel like you haven’t done enough lying down on the floor and wailing lately, let this song inspire you. Ugh I love her, in all her manipulatively emotional glory. 

next time: I mean at least I have a whole year now to remember my blog’s birthday. 

choking down her pasta that she always oversalts

Before I talk at length about myself let me briefly draw attention to myself: uh, I am not thoroughly enjoying this eternal pattern of not having the energy to blog for what seems like ages and then writing long apologetic blog posts about it (I mean like maybe it happened one time but a week of inactivity On Here feels like seventeen dog years in my mind.)  I’m going through a phase of Intense Career Busy-ness which is wild and fun and there’s also just a lot of noise in my already noisy brain right now and let’s not forget that the renowned jerk planet Mercury is in retrograde which at least means I can blame everything on it; also my tarot card was weird this month and the curve of the earth and the flapping of a butterfly’s wings and so on.

It’s just so boring and annoying though and it’s something I’m going to work on! I need to be all like, more disciplined and better with my time but also nicer to myself! That is all.

You know what’s very not boring and only moderately annoying though? Homemade pasta.

 like a bowl of lil snakes  like a bowl of lil snakes

As with many recipes on here that appear vaguely complicated, I’m like, guys: if I can do this, you most definitely can. When I’m cooking for myself the odds are enormous that I’m half asleep, wearing clothes from the bottom of the laundry pile, face streaked in my own lipstick that has migrated from my mouth to my cheeks during the night, and have my hair tied up with a gstring because I can’t find an elastic band despite buying packets and packets of them. If you’re even somewhat upright, you’re winning and you can do this. Not to glorify this whole “I’m so useless and can’t take care of myself and it’s hilarious” thing, it’s just like, literally sometimes we’re all kinda messy, and it’s no reason to not make ourselves pasta using our own two hands. (Also: if you want a lipstick that you can really sleep in, let’s just say there’s a reason why Rimmel Provocalips rhymes with “will survive a nuclear apocalypse.”)

I’ve got two recipes for ya: one is Matcha Spaghetti con Cacio e Pepe, which is pretty directly based on this recipe from the beautiful food blog Lady and Pups. From here I was inspired to make Turmeric Pappardelle and serve it with buttery, fried brioche crumbs; It’s essentially one recipe two ways.

The first time I made this, with the matcha recipe, I accidentally used high grade flour, the kind you’d use to make bread. It still tasted really good although it was a little bit tough, and the rolling out process pretty much gave me carpal tunnel syndrome after three minutes. When I used regular plain flour, the pasta practically made itself. So uh, pay attention to your ingredients. The delightful thing about this recipe though is that the ingredients are almost nothing – a bit of flour, one stupid egg, a half-hearted dribble of water, and it comes together to make satiny, dense, perfect ribbons of pasta. You don’t even need a pasta machine. Yes, you can use one, and my flatmate actually has one, but I decided to try using just a rolling pin so that as many people as possible could also try this recipe, and honestly it was easy and fine, and kind of fun – like playing with playdough.

And of course, you can make this just plain, without matcha or turmeric or any other flavourant! But if you happen to have these ingredients kicking about, you’re in for a good time: the matcha tints the pasta a soft, dusky sage green and offers a mild background note of grassy bitterness which works beautifully with the rich blandness of the cheese and the throat-kicking pepper.

The turmeric, on the other hand, stains the wide ribbons of pasta a glowing, sunshine gold colour, and gives a more pronounced earthy flavour. The golden buttery crumbs pleasingly echo the colour, and also taste wonderful as they get wrapped up in the thick pappardelle strands – nutty crunch against soft bite. I mean, you could put fried brioche (or any kind of bread) crumbs on like, a sock, and it would probably taste good, but I do believe it works particularly nicely here.

matcha spaghetti con cacio e pepe  

adapted from this recipe on Lady and Pups

  • one tablespoon (or more) matcha powder
  • one egg
  • two tablespoons water
  • one and a half cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • shaved parmesan cheese, other grated cheese if you like, butter, olive oil, freshly ground black pepper

Mix the matcha powder, water, and egg together in a large bowl with a fork or something, then throw in the flour. Knead it briefly till it forms an unpromising looking ball – it is entirely normal for it to be a little under-hydrated looking and crumbly, but it should come together easily enough still. Try to avoid adding extra water if you can help it – just keep pushing and kneading till it comes together. Nevertheless, the size of your egg and the curve of the earth and so on may affect things, so also don’t feel too scared to add more water, just go really slowly, y’know?

Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave to rest on the bench for an hour. Get a sheet of baking paper and divide the dough into four portions (or however many, four just seems to make things easy.) Roll each portion out as this as you can manage – a couple of millimetres is ideal. The thing with having four portions is that as you roll each one out it gives the previous ones times to rest, which means when you give them a second rolling out the dough will be more relaxed and be likely to roll further. Don’t be afraid to rest it for a good ten minutes if it seems to be not yielding much. Use a pizza cutter to slice rough, thin ribbons from the sheets of pasta (or roll them up and take thin slices out if you don’t have a pizza cutter) and cook in a large pan of boiling, salted water for about two minutes. Drain the pasta and stir in grated cheese, butter, olive oil and black pepper in quantities that suit you. Divide between two plates and eat immediately. 

turmeric pappardelle with brioche crumbs fried in butter

a recipe by myself

  • one tablespoon ground turmeric
  • one egg
  • two tablespoons of water
  • one and a half cups plain, all-purpose flour
  • a couple of slices of brioche, or one brioche bun, or any kind of bread at all, really
  • 50g butter
  • a little olive oil

In a large bowl, mix the turmeric, water and egg together using a fork or something. Add the flour and stir briefly with the same fork till it forms rough crumbs. Knead inside the bowl using your knuckles and the heel of your palm to fold and push it until it forms a roughly coherent ball of dough, a little dry and cracked maybe, but a ball nonetheless. 

Wrap it in clingfilm and allow it to sit at room temperature on the bench somewhere for an hour. 

Divide it into four and roll out each portion as thinly as you can on a sheet of baking paper.  Feel free to let the dough rest for a bit after rolling it out, as this will allow the gluten to relax and let you roll it further. Using a pizza cutter or a very sharp knife, slice thick ribbons from the sheets of dough, and cook them in a large pan of boiling salted water until done – this will take a few minutes, tops. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large frying pan and crumble in the bread (roughly chop it first if need be), stirring every now and then till the crumbs are golden and toasted. Drain the pasta, divide between two bowls and drizzle with a little olive oil, then evenly spoon the golden crumbs on top. Season with salt and pepper if you life and eat immediately. 

I say it a lot, but pasta is one of my very favourite foods – the texture and simple, calm flavour is so comforting, and it acts as a conduit between yourself and the most delicious ingredients quite easily. I also love that you can put something so simple on it – like, just black pepper and cheese, or an old bun that I found in the freezer along with some butter – and it both looks and tastes spectacular and entirely complete. Any food can be comfort food, but pasta is my comfort food, which is why making it from scratch two days in a row feels like no big deal and a good time – especially when homemade pasta just has this particularly magical taste that bought stuff can’t quite replicate.

If you, also, are on a pasta buzz, may I suggest checking out my recipes for Beetroot Baked with Cream, Balsamic Vinegar and Cumin with Spaghetti, Thyme and Pine Nuts; Pappardelle with Chili Butter, Chorizo and Feta; and from a week or two ago; Very Simple Tomato Spaghetti.

I also suggest checking out the most important thing that will ever happen to any of us: I dyed my hair again.

 dying is easy young man, living is harder

dying is easy young man, living is harder

It has been a truly busy week, with events at work and lots of big nights, and my mum and her best friend in town for the first time in ages (which was lovely!) and seeing my awesome brother for the first time in ages; and the birthday of one of my beautiful best friends Kate; and so much going on! But as I said, I am enormously determined to not let this blog slide down the scale in terms of Things I Can Do. Can’t wait.

title via: the deliciously overwrought song No More from the amazing and quite under-the-radar 2006 off-Broadway musical See What I Wanna See, sung by my hero Idina Menzel. It’s not on YouTube, tragically, but you can definitely find it on Spotify. The title track is on YouTube though, so maybe just listen to that instead? 

music lately: 

Red Sex, by Vessel. This track is so good, just such a persistent driving beat, it makes me want to run around the room.

Emily Edrosa, Corner of the Party. I am in love with this song, okay?

next time: no apologies for taking ages to blog, and also this amazing Crunchie Bar slice that I’ve been making a whole lot of. 

sometimes i can’t function, my heart’s spaghetti junction

I think a lot about comfort, and comfort food, and self care, and everything in that soft little bubble. It’s sort of stupid – yet predictable – that the more you might need self-care, the more inclined you are to curl up into a small spiral and hide under a blanket for hours; the more you are needing of comforting food the less you have any energy to cook it; and the more you want general comfort at all the less you remember how on earth to find it. If, however, you’re bouncing around like the little ball in that atari-type brick-busting game that was on all computers in the 90s and feeling aimlessly ready for comfort food but don’t know what exactly: mate, I heartily recommend this spaghetti recipe that I’ve got for you. On that note, I’ve been watching a whole lot of the Netflix series Chef’s Table and aside from wanting to marry Chef Dominique Crenn soooo badly; just watching a beautifully made show about people passionately making beautiful food is super calming without having to actually do anything about it myself.

Watching TV to chill out and finding pasta to be comfort food: how revolutionary, I know. For someone who is pretty convinced that they are a complicated mystery woman I’m actually a pretty simple human. I guess it’s about catching myself in the act of doing really obvious things and then congratulating myself disproportionately for them?

Pasta – along with ice cream – is just straight up my favourite food, so I generally want it always, without any further existential context around it. This particular recipe for Very Simple Tomato Spaghetti uses a different method to how we’re usually told to cook the stuff – in an ocean of boiling salted water – instead you add a scant cup or two of water and let the pasta slowly absorb it in its entirety. I know! I grew up eating pasta cooked by microwaving it in a pyrex jug of water for 12 minutes so you should definitely trust me. My logic being, someone who has lived through such bad pasta like me would definitely know really, really good pasta too.

With this recipe, everything happens in the one pan. The starch from the pasta releases into the remaining liquid, and when you stir in some tomato paste it all becomes near-on preposterously creamy and rich. I know all the butter I hoof into it has some kind of effect as well, but the starch is important, honest. I came by this recipe in a roundabout way – I was thinking about cooking spaghetti in the same way that I’d make a risoni risotto, and then I came across a recipe on Food52 that confirmed the process for me; I had a tin of tomato paste that I’d bought because it was out-of-date stock and going super cheap and stuff that’s on special because it’s past its use-by date is aggressive me-bait; finally I required both lunch and comfort: thus this recipe was born.

 i took a photography course one time last week and now i think I can get away with this  i took a photography course one time last week and now i think I can get away with this 

You add the butter at three stages: first to gently fry the uncooked sticks of spaghetti in, secondly to add flavour to the cooking liquid, and finally to rich up the tomato paste. As with all my recipes, I’m thoroughly desensitised to what constitutes “a lot” of butter, but this tastes like the exact right amount. The tomato sauce thickly coats each soft strand, and any fresh-from-the-tin acidity is softened completely. It’s rich, it’s luscious, it tastes like you spent hours reducing it down in a cast iron pan under the Tuscan sun using fresh tomatoes that a handsome, floppy haired man picked for you as a gift shortly before you ignore him for the rest of his life and he goes on to write bad poetry about it using the tomatoes misguidedly as a metaphor. It’s delicious.

very simple tomato spaghetti

a recipe by myself

  • 50g butter
  • 100g dried spaghetti
  • one and a half cups recently boiled water
  • one small tin of tomato paste; or around four tablespoons
  • herbs and cheese to serve, if desired

You add butter at three different stages, so begin by slicing the butter into fairly even thirds. In a wide saucepan – ideally wide enough to hold the spaghetti lying down, although you can break the strands up if need be – gently heat the butter over a medium heat and add the dried spaghetti, stirring to coat the sticks in butter as they spin around the pan. 

Add the water and the second measure of butter and turn the heat up high. Continue to stir occasionally as the water bubbles away, cooking the pasta as it reduces down. Taste a strand occasionally to test if it’s done. If need be, add a little more water. 

Once the pasta is cooked and the water has reduced down to a few tablespoons – it will happen! – stir in the tomato paste and the final measure of butter. Stir over a lower heat until the butter has melted and it’s all thick and saucy. Remove from the heat and serve. 

If you look up the word “comfort” in the dictionary, there is, by way of explanation, this picture of me sitting cross-legged on the floor of my best friend Kate’s house while she and my other best friend Kim are just out of frame, we are drinking wine and the fire is warming my back. The lights are low and there’s an extractor fan on making blissful white noise and a small seal pup of a dog is in front of me trying to kiss my nose. In lieu of being able to recreate this exact picture for yourself, pasta is a decent option. Especially when that pasta is so simple and takes hardly any time or ingredients and rewards you with a bowlful of creamily dense sauce coating each strand which you can strew with herbs and cheese such as thyme and feta if you like but it’s perfectly perfect on its own, looking like an upended can of spaghetti but tasting five zillion times superior. (Now, I used to bloody adore canned spaghetti but I am convinced that the recipe has been changed and it’s not what I used to be, I’m not just being snarky about it for the sake of it.)

And if you’re after more pasta-related comfort, maybe try my Garlic Miso Butter Risoni Risotto or Spaghetti with Chilli, Lemon, Capers and Olive Oil.

title via the immensely cool Elastica’s Car Song. If we all try really hard we might be as effortlessly cool as Justine Frischmann one day, but I doubt it. 

Flume ft Tove Lo, Say ItIt can’t be good for one to listen too much to Tove Lo’s song Habits too often so I’m glad this exists as well.

Look, I’ll tell you when I’m sick of listening to INXS’s song Disappear, okay? Till then just assume I’m listening to it on a constant loop.

next time: I have been craving cookies lately??? Perhaps something will come of this. 

i’m just a painter and i’m drawing a blank

lady whom lunch

My dear friends got a beautiful corgi last year, and when they were first doing that thing where you train a dog how to be a nice guy instead of a tiny furry hell-monkey, she would totally resist wearing her walking harness. Like, she’d be scooting around the room happily but as soon as she got the harness on she would stand very still, stiffly refuse to relax or sit down, and just kind of look right through youFor ages. With all due respect to Percy the corgi for me turning her into an analogy; this is what my brain has been doing this whole week. I am all “I have awoken! I’ve had coffee! I’m wearing soft, comfy fabrics! Time to write!” and then I’ll open my laptop and everything pauses in my brain and I just stare at the screen for hours, blankly (admittedly taking breaks to hoon through The OC because if I’m just sitting staring anyway I may as well drink in the sweet, potable waters of nostalgia while I’m at it.) I don’t know why! I’ve done heaps of cool things lately! I’ve made this incredibly delicious recipe! I love writing! So why is there nothing but the hum of white noise every time I open my laptop? Aside from the fact that I was probably listening to a youtube video of white noise at the time, because I am obsessed with it (in fact I have graduated from mere white noise to this thing called Brown Noise which was a frequency discovered by some guy named Robert Brown, it’s the best thing ever.) 
I woke up this morning at a time most would consider brutally early, especially as I’d been at a house party last night. Since I am not blessed with the powerful ability to sleep through anything for hours and hours like some people can (directing this jealously at my gf) I decided to fill up the time by just making myself write whatever came into my head and not stopping till I’d finished this damn blog post. And here I am! Halfway through already. And I haven’t even started talking about the recipe! 

See that’s why it was so frustrating that I couldn’t make myself write this week, because this recipe I made up was so spectacular and deserves more of a showcase than me having to threaten myself with throwing my laptop into a ravine if I don’t write about it soon. So, the recipe: I recently became wise to the fact that you can make risotto but with pasta instead of rice. Curious cat that I am, I wanted to try this, and happened to have some risoni in my pantry (by which I mean my designated food drawer in the flat kitchen) but didn’t really have much else. Luckily restriction can make the most delicious things happen, and I ended up improvising based on the few ingredients I had by gently frying the uncooked risoni in garlicky butter that I then stirred miso paste into. From then all I added was water and it ended up the most lush, creamy, intensely flavoured thing ever. Seriously. Just stupid old water.

Risotto is totally the white noise of food, because it’s almost hypnotically calming to make. You just keep adding water and stirring until it’s pleasingly absorbed into the grains, and then add more and stir again, just moving your wooden spoon around and around the pan repeatedly like you’re actually a gif instead of an IRL person. Like, if ever there was a recipe that encourages you to zone out and be mellow, it’s risotto.

garlic miso butter risoni risotto

a recipe by myself. serves one. 

25g butter
three cloves of garlic
one heaped teaspoon white miso paste
half a cup of risoni pasta

Melt the butter in a wide saucepan. Finely but roughly chop the garlic and throw it into the pan, stirring over a medium heat until the garlic is a little golden and it smells amazing. Stir in the miso paste – it won’t amalgamate completely but this will all sort itself out soon.

Tip in the uncooked pasta, and stir it for a minute or so to cover it in the garlicky butter. Add water half a cup at a time, continuing to stir the pasta until most of the water is absorbed before you add any more. Continue in this way until the pasta has absorbed enough water to become tender. Tip onto a plate, strew over some herbs if you like. Thyme is one of my favourite herbs and I happened to have a plant that I hadn’t yet managed to kill so I used some leaves from that, and it worked perfectly. 

I love pasta, I love risotto, so putting them together is like trapping myself in a pincer movement of happiness. So if that sounds like your idea of A Good Time, perhaps consider this recipe next time you need to feed yourself. I know I will. 
Thanks for bearing with me through all that, it’s like…the more time that passes since I last wrote a blog post the more panicky I get, because this blog is the most important thing to me and I don’t want it to have the slightest hint of abandonment or even just falling off the wagon, you know? All of which results in me putting more pressure on myself to write whenever I have the time to, which isn’t that often, which is probably why my brain rebelled on me by being all “nope”. 


the girl with a pearl face
PS last night’s party was themed “Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea” and it was a joint birthday party for my dear friends Kate and Tim. I dressed up as a pearl and covered my face in makeup. I wish it was chill to wear this kind of eye makeup all the time, it’s so fun. 

PS PS as a final attempt to convey how delicious and wonderful the risotto is, here is me licking the plate after eating it. As well as outlandish makeup, I wish it was more chill to lick the plate in social settings. The tongue is nature’s spatula! I can’t quite bring myself to finish this blog post with that line, but…at least I managed to bring myself to finish this blog post at all. 

title from: Fall Out Boy, Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am? Party like it’s 2006.
music lately:

Ummm, more Fall Out Boy, I’ve Got All This Ringing In My Ears And None On My Fingers is such a tune.

Haim, Don’t Save MeWe danced to this last night, I love it so much, I could listen to it endlessly.
next time: Well, I refuse to have as much trouble as I had with this one. I refuse!