suddenly colder, it bowled me right over

So it has come to this: ya girl made what is basically a salad and when writing the recipe, called it a bowl instead.

Compelling, no?

But yeah, while bowl food carries with it an oddly smug, insistent attitude, it would be equally insistent and smug of me to deny how good it is; I love that you can really just put anything on top of rice and call it A Bowl, how it contains so many different tastes and textures, and really makes you feel like someone who is a Pinterest star under the name of She Wears Striped Boatneck Tshirts or My Glowing Clean Natural Kitchen or Oh! Dream a Dream, You Wanderer rather than just being an achingly tired rat-human making fun of blog names on Pinterest.

Over the last few days my body has been doing this thing where my sinuses are suddenly made of concrete and I’m even dopier than usual which is honestly something to behold and I cannot, simply cannot, stop sneezing. I decided to put a whole lot of rudely healthy ingredients into a bowl in the hopes of it having some effect on me (the woman who served me at the supermarket: “you should put some ice on your sinuses, your face is all puffy.” me, internally: “I feel like there’s some kind of code you just violated.”) The crowning jewel of it all is the matcha mayonnaise, pairing matcha powder’s intense, oh-wow-I-accidentally-swallowed-grass flavour with equally green olive oil and a little apple cider vinegar, the effect of it all is surprisingly wonderful. If you don’t have matcha powder or feel weary at the thought of making your own mayonnaise, simply spoon over aioli or some other condimenty-paste thing.

Similarly, you can substitute any number of things for any number of things here, but this is the recipe I made and it is so, so very good – a ton of texture and crunch, with earthy turmeric and oily, charred broccoflower and sweet baby carrot and salty, creamy feta and magical walnuts.

I cannot lie, this actually takes a ton of effort to put together and uses so many dishes, especially if you haven’t made the mayonnaise ahead of time, but it is so delicious and has the decency to produce a fair amount of leftovers. And importantly, it’s full of health-making ingredients to make your immune system remember who the boss is here (I mean, I’m still massively sick the following day after eating it but I’m sure I’d be way worse without it, right?)

aggressively healthy bowl with matcha mayonnaise

a recipe by myself. 

  • half a cup of quinoa
  • one teaspoon ground turmeric
  • two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting the vegetables
  • half a head of broccoflower (or broccoli or cauliflower, obviously) 
  • four or so baby carrots
  • a few cloves of garlic, left whole and unpeeled
  • a handful each of walnut kernels and pumpkin seeds
  • half a bunch of cavolo nero leaves
  • 100g or so feta (optional, I suppose)

Cook the quinoa in a large pan of boiling water until it’s fluffy and expanded and, well, cooked. Drain and rinse in a sieve under cold water, then place in your serving bowl and stir in the olive oil and turmeric, plus sea salt to taste. 

Meanwhile, set your oven to 220C/450F and slice the broccoflower into halved and quartered florets. Leave the carrots whole but trim the frondy tops off. Place the florets and carrots plus the garlic cloves on a baking tray, drizzle generously with olive oil, and roast until a bit charred and browned on the edges – around fifteen minutes or so.

Arrange the roasted vegetables and garlic cloves (pop them out of their papery casings first) on top of the quinoa. Place the feta, cubed or crumbled with your own hands, in the bowl. Scatter over the walnuts and pumpkin seeds – I put them on the baking tray that the vegetables were on and used the remaining heat from the oven that I’d just turned off to toast them a bit first – and tuck cavolo nero leaves around the edges of everything. I tried to put everything in neat lines, but it doesn’t really matter! Spoon over the matcha mayonnaise and add more salt if you feel like you need it. 

matcha mayonnaise

  • one large, fresh, organic, free range, bla bla bla egg
  • one heaped teaspoon of matcha powder, or more if you like
  • one teaspoon dijon mustard
  • one tablespoon boiling water
  • around half a cup rice brain oil, or similarly plain oil
  • a third to one half of a cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • two tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • sea salt, to taste

Crack the egg into a bowl, and add the matcha powder and mustard. Whisk briskly just to get everything incorporated, then add the boiling water while continuing to whisk. Continue whisking for what will feel like forever, while slowly adding the oil in a slow drizzle, around a tablespoonful at a time, continually whisking between additions. Does this make sense? Whisk hard, add oil slowly, that’s all. Once you’ve added all the oil, whip in the apple cider vinegar and salt. 

Now, by this point, either it will have thickened significantly and look like mayonnaise, or it will have thickened a bit at resemble a kind of green milkshake. Not to worry: put it in the fridge for an hour and it should turn lusciously thick. Give it a stir before using. Keep for a week or two. 

I’m not going to go down the line and list all the good vitamins and minerals that you get from everything in here but suffice to say, turmeric is powerful stuff and it’s my understanding that a tablespoon of matcha powder is the equivalent of replacing your entire bloodstream with green tea, plus all that olive oil and the nuts and seeds will make you shiny, and garlic and cider vinegar are all germ-fighty and quinoa is, y’know, quinoa, and I haven’t even got started on the green vegetables.

The matcha mayonnaise recipe makes an awful lot but it’s a charming way to take in that green powder – the vinegar and the oil plus the silky, aerated texture sort of encases any harshness of flavour and lifts it up and glides it right to the parts of your tastebuds that enjoy that sort of bitter vibe without dropping it too hard. Uh, it tastes nice, is what I’m saying. Don’t be afraid of how much oil goes into it – you can use less extra virgin olive oil and more plain if you’re worried about the expense – but use some, even just a couple of tablespoons, please, because the green-on-green flavours are so perfect together. Use leftovers as a spread for sandwiches, to rakishly dip truffle fries in for some kind of intensely pastoral experience, to accompany pickled vegetables (it’s 2016, I know you have pickled vegetables on your agenda), however you please.

So yeah, I’m kinda sick, that’s my one personality trait at the moment (it looks like I’m constantly dabbing as I continually sneeze into my elbow which is, at least, a bit hilarious), but one thing I can tell you is that I took myself off to the movies on Monday night to see Ghostbusters and it’s really, really funny and you should see it too. If nothing else, because Kate McKinnon’s swagger has actual gravitational pull. There’s a ton of other reasons why I want to support this movie – to go some small, tiny way towards countering the hideously racist treatment of co-star Leslie Jones on Twitter by awful and awfully normal people; the fact that in this movie not one woman gets murdered, violated, has their size joked about, or is treated as a sex object by a man, Kate McKinnon’s swagger, the extreme preciousness over it being a remake making me bloody-mindedly not care at all that it’s a remake, but uh, basically it’s really funny and you deserve to see a funny movie right now.

If you read this and were all “hot dog, I need more vegetables in my life”, perhaps consider these other salads I’ve blogged about –  Baby Kale and Pomegranate Salad, Silverbeet, Parsley and Horseradish Slaw, or The Rainbow Room Peanut and Carrot Salad.

title from: local hero Bic Runga and her oh so stunning song Suddenly Strange, from, I wanna say, 1996? Maybe 1995? From a time when your opportunity to see music videos was limited to a two hour show on Sundays at 10am that played the top 20 hits in the country that week. I don’t wanna be all “kids these days” but guys, it sucked.

music lately: 

Honestly I don’t know when it’s a good time to watch The Last Five Years – a movie based directly on the Jason Robert Brown off-Broadway musical which follows the blooming and deterioration of a relationship, but with the two main characters’ stories traveling backwards and forwards in time simultaneously, meeting in the middle for one song. I KNOW. Anyway the last song, Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You is my absolute favourite and brings me to my knees and if you’re feeling fragile you probably definitely should listen to it because why not, the sheer optimism from her colliding with his resigned it’s-over self and then-her is unaware of now-him and now-her and it’s awful! But! Such a beautiful, beautiful song, listen to it, watch the whole thing, do it.

Hailee Steinfeld, Love Myself. This song is also good!

next time: white chocolate and burnt butter ice cream.

you got the peaches, i’ve got the cream, sweet to taste, saccharine

moving house = new background surfaces in photos on the blog
No matter how many times I dramatically fall over and hit every surface on the way down, one thing I can count on is how I almost always land on my feet one way or another. Alas, I’m only talking metaphorically here, because when it comes to literal fallings-over my kneecaps have a 100% hit rate with the ground.  
By which I mean: oh wow I finally, finally, found an apartment! I knew I would, and that the right place would appear at the 11th hour, but the lead-up to that was still such a stressful overwhelming time (and, as I noted in a previous blog post, it was also a heinously sweaty time schlepping about town to flat viewings.) My new place is everything I want though: It’s up high, it’s in the middle of the city, it has those exposed-brick-New-York-Loft vibes that I just can’t quit (seriously: if you were all, “Laura you can live in this perfectly lovely villa or you can hold this one singular brick in your right hand and sit in a ravine” there is a ludicrously high chance that I’d take the brick) it has an elevator out of a noir film about murder, there’s excellent light for food photography, and I’ve only got one other flatmate and they seem very cool and nice. I’m so happy! I really am! Like, so damn content! What is this feeling, so sudden and new
The actual moving process was hellishly exhausting (I acknowledge that I got movers in to do most of the legwork but there was definitely a point while packing where I was like what if I just lie down and shut my eyes eternally and let my possessions eat me alive) but now that I’m properly installed in the new place and have, at least, made my bed and hung up my clothes, it does feel like it’s all starting to work out. 

As a moving-in treat I bought myself the new Cuisine – a local food magazine which for years I would collect with religious ferocity. I haven’t picked it up in a while, but there’s nothing like living in a new space to get me all renewed-vigour-y for cooking (obviously not the most practical way to get one’s vigour renewed, however it is what it is.) At first I was slightly aghast that Ray McVinnie is no longer at the helm of the Quick Smart segment, an entertainingly rapidfire list of recipe ideas based around a theme, but I quickly got over that when I saw reliable replacement Ginny Grant’s suggestion for Peach and Mozzarella Panzanella.  I do love a salad where it’s essentially a process of buying five nice ingredients and putting them all on a plate together, and this is an excellent example – really rather removed from the original Tuscan recipe for panzanella, but whatever. It’s the combination of the peaches, all crisp and fragrant and summery, with fresh mozzarella, all aggressively mild like Ned Flanders, which makes this special – crunch and sweetness plus pillowy softness plus the oiled, toasty bread…you may not personally consider salad a thrilling time, but this one: it thrills.  

peach mozzarella panzanella

adapted slightly from a recipe from the January issue of Cuisine magazine. Serves two-ish, but I could eat all of this quite joyfully and only be mildly uncomfortable afterwards. The quantities are kind of vague, please deal with it. 

half a loaf of ciabatta
two crisp, firm peaches (I went for a variety called Elegant Lady literally because of the name)
one tub of bocconcini mozzarella (or one big ball of it, I just find the smaller stuff easier to slice up) 
one punnet of cherry tomatoes (around a cupful I guess? Or 300g? Just like, get some tomatoes.)
a few handfuls of salad leaves of some description
olive oil
red wine vinegar

Set your oven’s grill to high. Slice the bread and then tear the slices into rough cube-type things, and place in an oven dish. Drizzle with plenty of olive oil, and place under the grill till lightly browned. 

Slice the peaches, halve the tomatoes (a pain, I know! But it makes them go further and gets all the tomato juice out) and finally, slice the mozzarella and then tear it into smaller bits. 

Mix all of this together with your salad leaves in a large bowl, then drizzle over more olive oil and around a tablespoon of vinegar. Add plenty of salt and stir again, and leave to sit for about an hour if you can, but even if you just do all the clean up first before eating that should allow some time for all the flavours to start moving.  Feel free to pour over more olive oil and add more salt once you’ve served it – salads can never be too oily or too salty in my opinion. 

I love this table at my new apartment, prepare to see it plenty in the future

This salad really benefits from sitting around for a bit first before you eat it, as the tomato juice and the olive oil soaks in to everything, making the bread deliciously soggy (I know, two words that don’t seem like they should go together) but if you have to eat it all right away I understand.

setting up my wardrobe is my favourite part

things that also benefit from sitting: me, when I’m unpacking 
It has only been two days and already I’m blooming like a flower from living in the centre of town again (also wilting like a flower from the heat! That’s right: I pledge to you, on bended knee, that I will never ever stop complaining about the weather.) It’s just lovely to be able to walk out the door and be immediately in the middle of the city, then to go home again without having to take forever catching expensive busses, it makes everything feel easier and more fun. And I’m just moments from work! I am absolutely going to miss Newtown – my bedroom there was so sweet, and there were countless gregarious neighbourhood cats…but I’m happy to be back here. Less delighted about unpacking, but the promise of my bedroom becoming more and more of a haven is greatly motivating. (She says, immediately launching into another barely-justifiable nap.) 
PS: I can’t be the only one who thinks Peach Mozzarella Panzanella is totally a name you want to check into a hotel with when you’re a famous celebrity trying to travel incognito?
title from: I mean, it’s a Def Leppard song that has an unparalleled success rate for getting me on the dance floor, but for me Tom Cruise’s appallingly sexy Stacee Jaxx in the Rock of Ages movie does the definitive version
music lately: 
Is there anything worth talking about other than Beyonce’s brand new song Formation? It’s incredible and it’s powerful and she’s incredible and powerful. Watch it, I implore you. 
That said, I am super obsessed (obsessed anew, I should say, since I loved these guys when I was three) with You Got It (The Right Stuff) by New Kids On The Block. Till One Direction came along I fully believe there was no other boy band song that came even close to this one. Those oh-oh-ohhh’s! So good! 
next time: there’s this coconut-crusted fried eggplant recipe in the Cuisine magazine that has majorly caught my fancy. But also I am planning to make some ice cream! Either way: yay new kitchen! 

it is a new year I should be happy that I am still here

Yeah that’s right, I ended 2015 and started 2016 with a blog post about a salad. On that note, happy new year to you all, I would’ve got this blog post out sooner in this infant year, but instead I’ve been involved in such rich, vibrant activities as “staring into space silently berating myself for not blogging” and “working a lot” and “staring blankly some more while unhelpfully self-flagellating.”
But when I get it right I damn well get it right, as this salad shall attest. I worked New Year’s Eve and the following day, which was all good – I have very strong feelings about money and getting it, after all – but it did mean I didn’t get to see my two best friends Kim and Kate, who keep more traditional hours. We decided to solve this by having a get-together on my next day off, wherein we drank the literal champagne (Moet! And I know it!) that had charmingly fallen into my lap over Christmas, and toasted to ourselves and the year ahead. We also got to debrief about our 2016 tarot cards (sometime between closing at work on New Years Eve and opening at work on New Years Day I managed to fit in the world’s quickest reading with them both) which was heartening because several cards made me nervous…but my card that represents the entire year is all about not being so insistent on doing everything by myself and not being afraid to ask for help and seeking out mentors and such which certainly has a soothing vibe to it that helps counteract the other cards with their subtext like “You ruin everything!” and “must you continue to ruin?” 
Earlier that week on a whim – the only way to fly! – I purchased a block of paneer, a South Asian cheese that delightfully holds its shape after being fried and has a fresh, calm flavour and a distinct lack of saltiness. I decided I’d make us three a salad to accompany the champagne, and this confrontationally simple recipe is the result of that decision. Just fried cheese, firm fragrant mango, toasty nutty cashews, and some leaves, and that’s it. I’m not sure if this is really what you are supposed to do with paneer but it sure as hell lends itself well to these flavours; all that’s really needed is some olive oil and salt and you have yourself an excellent time. 

paneer, mango and cashew salad

a recipe by myself

250g, or thereabouts, paneer
one firm mango
70g cashews
half a packet of baby kale leaves, or a few handfuls of your nearest green stuff (I had kale left over from the last salad so…yeah!)
olive oil
sea salt

Slice the paneer into pieces and heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a wide frying pan. Tumble the paneer slices in and allow them to fry till golden on both sides, which will take a few minutes. Not gonna sugar-coat it, the oil will sputter a bit but just try to dodge it and stick it out. 

Remove the paneer from the pan and tip in the cashews, stirring them for a minute or two till they’re a little toasted and browned. 

Slice the mango into roughly even smallish pieces, and mix together with the cashews, the paneer, and the kale leaves. Drizzle over more olive oil and sprinkle over a decent amount of salt, stir gently and there you have it: a salad. 

This has that salty, oily, slightly sweet, sour, fresh, crunchy thing going on whereby it doesn’t look like much but when you start eating it you just want to shovel it into your mouth for eternity. If your mango is particularly ripe you might want to squeeze in a little lime juice but it really doesn’t require much.

Bringing me nonstop joy over the holiday season was the beautiful baby raptor of a cat that I was looking after for a friend: I mean.

 look at him


I’m currently in the painful throes of looking for an apartment in town to move into when my current lease ends but a large part of me is like, what if I run to the hills and live alone with five hundred cats? There is no way that can’t end well? Look at his stupid happy little intelligent lion face though, honestly. 
I am not entirely failing at the maelstrom of resolutions that I set out for myself: I am eating vegetables, I am staying hydrated 2K16, I did drink some actual champagne. And I am going to be late for work if I don’t publish this and since having a literal dollar to my name is another of my resolutions and I have been hitherto too sleepy to write this, I shouldn’t overthink this moment and will leave you with a good selfie to provide you with bracing good cheer (she says, presumptuously…and yet accurately? And yet so presumptuously. But not without reason!) 
I got a long overdue fringe trim and the hairdresser used straighteners so I was briefly the shiniest.
Title from: Say Anything, Try To Remember, Forget. Say it with angst! 
Music lately:

Coco Solid feat Disasteradio, Slow Torture. This queen! Everything Coco Solid does is gold and so unsurprisingly this song is lush and sexy and poppy and cool as hell. 
Idina Menzel, See What I Wanna See I haven’t listened to this LaChiusa musical in so, so long and it is electrifying. There’s not a lot of it online but if you have spotify you’re in luck. And Idina remains my idol for like, wow, the tenth or so year now. 
next time: no salad, for the sake of variety alone. 

but i tell ya, it’s gonna be a champagne year

the kale gaze
How do I know I’m getting old? I’m delighted that I get asked for ID when buying alcohol, instead of being righteously indignant, and you can barely make eye contact with me without me leaning in conspiratorially and saying “this year has gone so fast, hasn’t it!” Luckily I have immaturity of spirit and a confusingly youthful face on my side should things get all too ancient up in here (people tend to think I’m 21 or 22, I am in fact staring down the barrel of thirty entire years old.) And how do I know it’s nearly a new year? Because the talk of how fast the year has gone increases alarmingly, and one’s thoughts turn to things like self-improvement and goals and horrifically hi-def introspection. 
2015 has been a year of surprises and changes; of staying broke, of things not going how I wanted them and things going better than I ever thought possible in ways that I still have and in ways that are now gone to me. But I have managed to finish it sleeping well for pretty much the first time, in the best job I’ve ever had, and somehow closer than ever with my two best friends Kim and Kate.  
The next year though, is going to be the year of the following for me – just a few low-key easily achieved resolutions, because I love to make things easy for myself, don’t I: 
  • eat a vegetable but for real this year
  • drink a ton of water, stay hydrated 2K16
  • hustle more and blog harder and really do things with this blog because it’s so great and generally just shine really bright
  • go to more fancy dinners
  • save money so that living paycheck to paycheck isn’t the norm, and eventually so that I can actually save money to travel again
  • stay on top of the anxiety 
  • get buffer arms so that I am better at lifting the glass bins at work and also look powerful
  • give the illusion of being bordering-on-terrifyingly hot without making too much effort really 
  • move to a nice apartment in town that feels like a haven and then damn well make it a haven
  • try to not ruin good things or get stuck in bad things
  • know who I am and be peaceful about it
  • cook as much as possible since I know what kind of hours I work so can’t use that as an excuse really even thought I looooove using things as an excuse
  • get a good liquor collection finally, like, seriously 
  • drink more Real Champagne
  • read more books
  • dance heaps
  • pay off my credit card debt (loooooool! But y’know, go big or go home)
  • keeping some form of planner/diary so I remember things more often
  • probably more things that I’ve forgotten about 
So it should surprise no-one, with this in mind, that my head start on the goals comes in the form of eating some kale. Which itself comes in the form of this very pretty salad.
I read about massaging kale in the Little Bird Unbakery raw vegan cookbook, which is where you put sea salt and a olive oil on your leaves and give them a good rub to soften them somewhat, I’m guessing because they absorb the oil as the salt draws out the moisture. Kale is combatively healthy and does have a fantastic flavour but tends towards a kind of off-puttingly hostile toughness of leaf; doing this process – despite making me feel like I should’ve asked my salad “was that good for you?” – does in fact help make everything more delicious and approachable. And it’s not like you have to make eye contact with it, or indeed anyone, while you’re doing it. 
And then, in case you’re all, “just one noted superfood in this recipe? Why don’t I just go eat literal garbage?” I’ve also included pomegranate seeds. These beautiful red jewels look incredible against the green leaves, and they provide a sourness that both melds with and uplifts the potential heaviness of the oil and salt. They’re also crunchy! Which is fun!  
 not entirely convinced that pomegranate is real. What are thoooooose.

Quantities in the recipe are vague as, since this is summer (or at least, it is in New Zealand, where I am) and I don’t want your brain to overheat, and also because you can increase or decrease things depending on your needs. While this would be delightful with some avocado, fried halloumi or crumbled feta added, as a complete salad on its own it’s very excellent. I ate the lot for a late lunch yesterday (I know it’s just salad but it was soooo hot outside and I could only face food that was 90% water) and upon consuming it I could practically feel my red blood cells smiling beatifically as they scooted around my in my veins.

baby kale and pomegranate salad

a recipe by myself

two or three handfuls of baby kale leaves
seeds from half a pomegranate (or a whole one! live your truth) 
five or six cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
quarter of a cup sunflower seeds or small nuttish thing of your choice
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
mint leaves
basil leaves
a tiny pinch of cinnamon

Put the kale leaves into a good-sized bowl, sprinkle over a pinch of sea salt and drizzle over a generous quantity of olive oil (but okay, about a tablespoon or so) and massage the leaves, like, just do it, all you have to do is rub them between your fingers and thumbs till they soften a little and change to a darker green. When you can no longer deal with this, stir in the pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, cinnamon, and as many mint and basil leaves, roughly chopped, as you like. 

Give it a taste and if you think it needs more olive oil and more sea salt then go hard. I feel like there’s not a salad in the land that doesn’t benefit from being oilier and saltier. 

I had a distinctly wonderful Christmas, spent largely with rad work people eating lush barbecue food and brining myself in generous quantities of Real Champagne. The weather was searingly hot and yet I managed to not really get sunburned, and both Santa and family members charmingly got some parcels sent to me in time so I had presents to open on the day. I’m also looking after a friend’s adorable cat which means waking up to a curled up wee ball of fluff beside me every morning! It’s all I’ve ever wanted! He’s also fearsomely bloodlusty though, which made Christmas Eve a little interesting. The cat seemed to want to recreate the Gifts of the Magi story for me, presenting first an enormous dead rat, and then the world’s vastest cockroach. I was like, what’s next? Frankincense? Me? Is it me? But luckily a Christmas miracle occurred and the third gift was the gift of no more corpses.

I hope your Christmas and/or general holiday December times have been equally charming and way less rat-filled. I am going to be working New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and am quite chill with that, since there are worse ways to spend an evening than making drinks and earning money. I’m also going to try and eat more kale between now and the end of the year (tomorrow!) since I am the actual greatest hero this world has ever known.
title is from: St Vincent’s achingly slow and gorgeously gorgeous song Champagne Year. It feels appropriate and even if it didn’t it’s still (threefold!) gorgeous. 
music lately:

Say Anything, I Want To Know Your Plans. This band which has been around forever has been one of this year’s very very best discoveries for me.

Dark Dark Dark, Patsy Cline the lyrics to this are so sad that you should put a helmet on your heart before listening. Like, do yourself a favour and don’t listen to it. (But do! But don’t.)

Primal Scream, Movin’ On Up. In summary, it’s so summery!
next time: it’ll be 2016! Laura’s time to shine!  

eight years later you won me over

you say potato, I say potato, you say this is confusing without vocal cues for context

Historically speaking, more than a few auspicious things have happened on October 14: in 1964 Martin Luther King Jr received the Nobel Peace Prize; the first gay rights march was held in Washington DC in ’79; Katherine Mansfield, Usher, Ben Whishaw and the All Saints’ Shaznay all were born, and in 2007, I started this blog. I mean. Wow. I may not be on the Wikipedia page for “On This Day In History Yet”, but I stand by my Wow.

I went back and read through some blog posts from that time eight years ago and was struck by two things: firstly, I was vigorously earnest. In a way that I’m going to insist upon thinking of as endearing, for self-care purposes. Secondly, I’m kind of impressed at how hard I threw myself into this blog. In October 2007 alone I wrote 22 posts. That’s almost as many as I’ve written this entire damn year. And I was so adventurous – every single post is all like, “Well, I got home from uni so I thought I’d make three pavlovas for my flatmates” or “just marinating two kilos of pork” or “I made this steamed pudding and this loaf of bread and this tray of brownies for while we caught up on Outrageous Fortune which is basically like studying for uni since the title is a Shakespeare quote, zing!”

But here I am, many addresses, story arcs, jobs, sub-plots, identities, hair colours, recipes and one cookbook later. And this blog is still one of the most important things in my life, and it’s still going. I think that’s impressive, yeah? Much as I feel vaguely cringey occasionally looking back at my old blog posts, I mean, it’s not like I’m that amazing now at being not-cringey. If anything, it wouldn’t hurt to try and harness that fresh-faced 2007-level of energy.

But, today is not that day. Earlier this week I thought it would be cool to make myself an enormous birthday cake to be all “yay hungryandfrozen!” but instead I went to work and then went out dancing and then slept for most of the next day in an embarrassingly unproductive off-brand manner and suddenly it was several days later, so instead all you’re getting is my introspective introspection and this potato salad.

Fortunately, it’s an incredible potato salad.

For all that Nigella gets framed as someone who is wantonly extravagant (and frankly I would be too if I had her millions) if you dig around she has so many recipes that are extremely accessible to the average living-paycheck-to-paycheck human. Which is why I was able to throw myself into her cookbooks as a ludicrously broke student many years ago – although admittedly it’s because I would often buy, say, pomegranates or dried porcini while sticking bits of cardboard in the bottom of my shoes to block the holes in the soles and tying the broken shoelaces together instead of buying more – and in hindsight, I frankly don’t know why on earth buying new shoelaces seemed like such a personal sacrifice but I guess it explains something about who I am as a person.

Within her excellent and fairly underrated book Forever Summer, I found a recipe that perfectly straddled my particular needs on a particular day: cheap enough to make on Payday Eve, and fulfilling my bid to eat a vegetable occasionally.

baked potato salad 

this is how I made Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her book Forever Summer. 

three medium-to-large floury potatoes
extra virgin olive oil
flat-leaf parsley 
lemon juice

Set your oven to 200C/400F and give the potatoes a quick stab with a fork or other stabbing implement. Wrap them snugly in tinfoil and throw them in the oven for an hour or so until a sharp knife slides right into them without the slightest hint of resistance. 

Carefully unwrap the potatoes and half them lengthwise, and allow them to cool just enough that they’re not entirely resembling the surface of the sun. Use a spoon to scrape out the soft baked potato flesh from the skins, and pile it all onto a large flat plate. That is all the hard work done: now just drizzle over as much olive oil as you please, squeeze lemon juice over, scatter with salt and sumac and finally adorn it all with parsley leaves. This is nicest when it’s right at room temperature but eat it how and when you choose. 

Meanwhile, because the universe is occasionally bountiful, you can also turn the oven to grill, put grated cheese in the cavities of the remaining scraped-out potato skins, and grill them till it’s all bubblingly melted and the skins are crunchy and everything is good.  

Sumac is a spice that is similar to pomegranate and tamarind in that it imparts a fresh, punchy sourness along with gorgeous colour – so if you don’t have any on you and are unlikely to find some anytime soon, consider just blanketing this with tendrils of lemon zest. Sometimes recipes can seem almost too simple, as though you have to explain them contritely to whoever you’re serving them to in case they’re like “wait so is this just a potato on a plate or what” but simplicity of this salad is what makes it so perfect. The olive oil sinks into the crumbled, tender potato, the parsley gives a slight stab of peppery leafiness, the sumac and lemon juice subtly yet tartly liven everything up, and it really doesn’t matter how much of any particular ingredient you add. I guess this technically serves a few people but I ate the entire thing all at once; if you want more just add more ingredients, silly.

Aside from achieving eight years of being in a relationship with this blog, the only other real significant things that have happened recently are: I finally finished watching every last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Kate and became an emotional unfilled brandy snap as a result (that is; hollow and fragile and fairly outdated); and I dyed my hair bright red. My parents also visited Wellington for the first time in ages and I was able to show them around my stomping grounds (that is, work) and it was lovely to spend time with them. Unfortunately they didn’t bring the cats along on the visit, but I won’t hold it against them.

I’m a lot happier about the dye job than I let on

So I didn’t manage to get my act together to celebrate my blog’s birthday in a suitably jaunty manner, but I think it will be okay. I mean, look how far I’ve come since this photo I posted here eight years ago. I still have that plate, and for some reason that year our flat got sent a LOT of Scientology literature and pamphlets, which is what it’s sitting next to. Thanks to all of you who have been reading this though, whether for years and years or merely for regretful minutes – I appreciate every set of eyeballs, every kind email I’ve got, everyone who has lived through my life along with me. As I said in my very first blog post, “what I’ve been cooking and what I’ve been up to lately are often the same thing”. Bring on six seasons and a movie.
title from: The Veronicas’ mercilessly sad song In Another Life. There’s actually a bit where you hear an audible sniffle (followed by me audibly breaking down)
music lately: 

Millencolin, Penguins and Polar Bears. I heard this song for the first time in forever at Kim’s goth-themed birthday party recently and have been listening to it nonstop ever since. It contains many of my kryptonites: a gratuitously adorable song title, angst, and a lead singer who sounds like they’ve got a blocked nose. 

Roxette, She’s Got The Look. Oh my gosh, this SONG. It came on the other day when I was out dancing and I hadn’t heard it in actual years and it slays me, all that 80s-ness and minor keys and frantic-ness. 

Tom Cruise, Dead or Alive. I mean. I rewatched Rock of Ages with Kim recently and was so irritated at how hot he is in this. Also Bon Jovi is another of my many kryptonites, so. But seriously, just watch this and then deal with your feelings. 
next time: maybe a better-late-than-never cake? 

soy un perdador

tofu is made of soy, and soy is Spanish for I AM, as in “I am being so deep right now.”  

Right, well I intended for this blog post to be about the meal I cooked on Valentine’s Day, but what transpired was this: I had an elaborate dinner planned, then my reason for the season came down with a brutal case of tonsilitis, and then I mysteriously also ended up with a sore throat myself, and so postponed said elaborate dinner to instead make us the world’s most nourishing broth which I then took terrible photos of, so the whole thing was a flop, really. (That is, it was a very pleasant evening, mutual ailments aside, and the soup was also very pleasant, it was a flop only in terms of being bloggable. Let me be clear lest I sound more obnoxious than usual!)

With that option unavailable to write about, it took me a while to get my act together, but to paraphrase Beyonce the god, I woke up like this: craving tofu. And so I made myself this rather incredibly good tofu and cucumber salad for lunch today and now here we are!

those flowers were just sitting there on the table when I walked in but nevertheless I’m gonna assert that coordinating your flowers to your lunch is a clear sign of success in life

I know tofu gets regularly maligned for being flavourless or unfun or the epitome of dull vegetarian eating, but in the words of Harvey Danger, if you’re bored then you’re boring. Let the record state that I think tofu is amazing. Fresh, chilled tofu is an actual joy, all cashew-mild and milky of flavour with a softly firm (yes, both those things) protein-rich texture and the world’s most absorbent surface for whatever flavour you should choose to throw at it. Also deep-fried tofu is a revelation, but so is everything – I mean, probably even deep-fried socks would be palatable, so that’s not necessarily an impressive fact.

This recipe mostly came out of my head, although it’s inspired by a bunch of different things I’ve had at restaurants over the years. It’s so cold and crisp and refreshing and even though the dressing is all salty and oily and sour, somehow the cool juicy cucumber and dense cubes of tofu keep everything very mellow and calm. Both sesame and miso paste have this mysterious, magical savoury taste which help spruce up the ingredients that frankly do need some sprucing, and it’s all just very satisfying and nourishing and good. You could leave out the spring onion (by the way I think they’re called green onions in America, for my readers in that neck of the woods) but the flavour is so gentle and a million miles removed from actual raw onion.

tofu, cucumber and spring onion salad with sesame miso dressing

a recipe by myself. I know using olive oil in the dressing is a bit out of place with the rest of the ingredients but it’s all I had and honestly it tasted amazing so…yeah. 

100g firm tofu
half a cucumber
one spring onion
one tablespoon rice vinegar
one tablespoon soy sauce
one or two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
two heaped teaspoons white miso paste
a pinch of caster sugar
one tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Make sure your tofu and cucumber are well-chilled. Dice them both into small squares, about 1.5cm but, y’know, this is not a time for measurement accuracy. Just something smallish and squareish. Finely slice the spring onion, reserving some of the green for garnish.

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy, olive oil, miso, and most of the sesame seeds until it comes together as a smooth dressing. Tip in the tofu, cucumber, and spring onion, stir to cover, then transfer to whatever bowl you’re going to be eating it from (if it’s a different bowl, that is) and garnish with the remaining sesame seeds and green spring onion slices. 

this serves one, but if you can’t work out how to increase it to feed more then…actually I cannot judge, my maths is hopeless, but seriously, it’s pretty easy to increase the properties to feed more people here.  

my new flat is a bit cute, yeah?

The other thing to note about tofu is that it’s aggressively filling. So even though this salad may not look like much, it is indeed…much. We’ve just ticked over into March here so it’s officially autumn, but Wellington is so whimsically changeable as far as weather goes and today I’m disgustingly overheated so this was a perfect meal for the temperature my body is currently burdened with, however I feel like this salad would be perfect any time alongside roast chicken and rice; to take to some kind of potluck thing, or with noodles that you’ve maybe also sprinkled with soy sauce and sesame oil. On its own though: a perfect little meal. 
I just realised this is pretty much my first blog post that include photos of my new flat, which is fitting, since I moved in just under a month ago and yet still am not entirely unpacked. I’ve decided to see the glass half full and congratulate myself on being amazing at progressing very slowly and being incredibly disorganised. My new room is so dreamy though, and will only get dreamier as I firmly take myself by the hand and make myself continue to tidy it up and unpack fully. 
fairy light grotto (they’re solar powered so hopefully I get to actually enjoy them, oh Wellington weather you’re easy to poke fun at! But really. I hope I get to enjoy them.)

make up n stuff nook! Also there’s nothing like the haunted eyes of Judy Garland greeting you as you wake up, if that’s wrong I don’t want to be right.

But really, it’s now March 2015, holy wow. From February last year to February last month it was basically nonstop turbulent difficult times, and even though I’m very much in this quagmire of “what the heck am I doing with my writing and am I making my own opportunities and why won’t endless flailing about wanting to write another cookbook afford me the ability to do just that” I am also feeling rather cloyingly serene and delightful about many things in life right, so watch out. Ya girl is quite happy. I mean, look how rapturous I’m getting about tofu.
title from: Beck’s shufflingly and charmingly dour song Loser. Check me out, making truly awful Spanish puns all over the place. Obvs Beyonce shoulda won that Grammy but this is a damn nice song and the opening guitar riffs are truly excellent. Nice work, Beck. 
music lately: 
Let Me Be Him, Hot Chip. The chorus (or whatever it is, this song just kind of drifts) is so uplifting and pretty and dreamy and full of “Oh-ohhh” bits and it’s just a lovely, lovely thing to listen to. Definite mood upswing stuff.
Eternal Flame, Joan As Policewoman. I’ve loved this song for years and years but have been listening to it over and over lately, it flickers like a candle and swoons and sways and the lyrics are so, so excellent. I love how soft and whispery and then deep and rich her voice goes. Oh yeah and also this is not a cover of the Bangles song which was later covered by Atomic Kitten, they just share a title, ya know?
The Killing Moon, Echo and the Bunnymen. Love a bit of tremolo, I do. 
next time: I’ve made two batches of this Nigella coffee ice cream but I keep eating it all before I can take photos of it. If this trajectory is anything to go by though, there will probably be at least one more outing of the recipe in my near future so maybe that’s what I’ll blog about next! 

and my eyes more red than the devil is

 oh, just casually eating a bowl of rubies for lunch to absorb their power, you? 

Ya girl is moving house again! 2014 was a year of four different addresses, so I’m tentatively hoping this time things are even marginally more settled, but if not, at least I’m used to it? I’m really looking forward to properly unpacking all my stuff when I slide into my new address in early February, and and am going to try sooo embarrassingly hard to make my room all dreamy and tumblr-ish (meaning fairy lights and sheer, draping fabrics. It will very likely be a tacky mess. But it’ll be my tacky mess.) I am less looking forward to trying to spatula together a bond payment from behind the couch pillows of my bank account, but hopefully it all comes together. And in what is a coup for my co-dependency (I guess I also have coup-dependency, now that I think about it) the new digs will be just around the corner from where I’m currently lodging with one of my best friends, so I can still visit all the time. And continue my mission to become best friends with their cat Ariel. We’re currently on a first name basis kind of thing, although over Christmas we did have a nap together and it was without exception the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. 
I see red, I see red, I see red 

So, I am trying very hard to not spend any money that doesn’t urgently need to be spent in anticipation of all the costs involved in moving house. I immediately bought a pomegranate after deciding this, but at least I put it to good use in this amazing salad, rather than how I usually treat spontaneous luxurious food purchases: gaze at it reverently for days, not daring to actually eat it, until it is completely withered and decayed and implodes at the slightest touch. (I also bought myself a coffee today but I admitted it so you can’t scold me now.) Anyway, my dear flatmates had made this gorgeous tomato and pomegranate salad from Ottolenghi’s newish cookbook Plenty More, and generously shared it with me. It was the kind of perfect deliciousness where you know you’re going to try recreate it at the nearest possible opportunity, and so here we are.

This combination is glorious, so juicy and sweet and surprising and sunny, with the blissful crunch of pomegranate and the soft, juicy tomato and a tiny pinprick of smoky oregano and a dressing made with lip-smackingly sour pomegranate molasses and olive oil. And it looks like you’re eating a bowl of damn rubies, I swear – so glossy and red and glowing. It’s just the prettiest. While it causes me deep sighs to have to dice up all those tomatoes, keeping everything small means you can’t tell where one ingredient starts and another ends and makes the pomegranate just as much of a star as anything else, instead of a garnish. It’s just spectacular, okay. I love being surprised by food in the same way that I love being surprised by music – you know when you hear a new song and suddenly think yes, how did this song not exist in my life and I can’t believe someone brought it to life out of thin air just when I thought all the songs that could possibly exist had already been written. Food can be like that too.

tomato and pomegranate salad

a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi, from his book Plenty More

I’ve left his recipe pretty much as is here, but like, the tomato selection at the supermarket was no fun, so I made do with some cherry tomatoes, vine tomatoes, and regular tomatoes. The dressing is so full of life that it’ll embiggen some fairly pale produce, but try to make sure at least some of the tomatoes that you’re using taste like tomatoes. Oh also I left out the red onion but whatever. 

200g red cherry tomatoes, cut into ½cm dice
200g yellow cherry tomatoes, cut into ½cm dice (or, sigh, just more normal cherry tomatoes)
200g tiger (or plum) tomatoes, cut into ½cm dice
four medium vine tomatoes, cut into ½cm dice 
one red capsicum, cut into ½ cm dice 
one small red onion, finely diced 
two cloves garlic, crushed 
half a teaspoon ground allspice (or cinnamon)
two teaspoons white wine vinegar (you could use almost any other vinegar here instead – balsamic, red wine, etc)
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (this stuff is sublime, but replace with lime or lemon juice if you can’t find it)
60ml olive oil, plus a little extra to drizzle at the end
the seeds from one pomegranate
one tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

salt and pepper

Mix the diced tomatoes, capsicum, and onion together in a bowl. In another bowl mix the garlic, vinegar, pomegranate molasses, allspice and olive oil and stir this into everything. Either transfer everything to a big flat plate, which is Ottolenghi’s recommendation, or leave it in the bowl, which is what I did, and then sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and oregano. Drizzle over some more olive oil. This benefits from plenty of salt, so do some stirring and sprinkling and tasting till you’re satisfied. That’s it! 

red, the blood of angry men, tea, a drink with jam and bread (oh wait.)

This is almost ludicrously nourishing and vitamin-rich, which is a pretty cool side-effect of eating something so massively delicious and beautiful. It’s the full package. I ended up eating 90% of it just as is by the bowlful, but it’s obviously going to make anything else amazing if you serve them up together – halloumi springs to mind, but then, halloumi always does.

As well as being frugal, planning to move house, and smugly eating vegetables, ya girl is also dying her hair. This is of course something that people do all the time, since the beginning of time, but I’ve made it 28 years without a single drop of dye touching my hair and so it was kind of a big deal for me. While there were slight “what have I dooooone” vibes to start off with I’ve had a ton of fun bleaching and toning and tinting and generally wreaking havoc upon my poor mop of hair, and have ended up reaching more or less what I was aiming for, what I call Sunset Hair. (It also might look like a sunrise of the tequila kind, according to Kate, but I’m cool with that. Tequila is delicious. I do hate the Eagles song of that same name though.)

candy candy candy I can’t let you go

The colour is a little mellower than this in person. Oh, and I love it! It’s funny how as soon as you modify your appearance in some way it’s suddenly no big deal and just the appearance you have and it doesn’t seem like things have ever been any different, you know? And it’s just hair. It grows back. Mine grows at a suspiciously fast rate, so a total do-over is not implausible.

Less mellow were the weird and whiny “I’ve achieved nothingggggg” thoughts that occasionally haunt me, although I then looked at the date today and like, it’s only January 12. But still. Time to get moving on some ambitions and agendas and stuff. Not least because doing that will be an excellent way to procrastinate from packing for moving house!
title from: Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, and Jay Z, Monster. If you haven’t heard this, please love yourself and go straight to Nicki’s verse. She kills it effortlessly, as per. I looove dancing to this song. 
music lately: 

sometimes there is nothing you can do except curl up on your bed and listen to Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die and Taylor Swift’s All You Had To Do Was Stay a few hundred times over. (It’s really really hard to find a link to Swift’s song online, soz, however if this means you seek out the entire album then: you’re welcome)

The Ting Tings, That’s Not My Name. This song came on In The Club recently and it is just such a great song to jump up and down with friends and total strangers to.

Billie Piper, Honey To The Bee. This song is never not swoonily dreamily magnificent, okay?
next time: Feeling kind of obsessed with pomegranate molasses right now, but only time will tell if I make elegant, nuanced recipes from it or just sit on the kitchen floor drinking it straight from the bottle before passing out. 

she takes your voice and she leaves you howling at the moon

I started writing this trying to compare my approach to food with Alice in Wonderland’s love of pretending and supposing and imagining and the comparison didn’t quite fit and so I deleted it and started again and deleted it and started again, along the way learning a valuable lesson: I subconsciously just wanted to show that I could use the word “adumbrated” confidently in a sentence (as in, I was going to say that I had adumbrated Alice’s words since I couldn’t remember where I had actually packed my copies of the books in order to quote them directly.) Long story short, I am pretty annoying and I have lots of ideas about food. 
Long hair short: this also happened. I may be pretty annoying, but am also pretty, comma, annoying.

My hair has never been shorter than shoulder length, and even that was only once. Many years ago. So: the smaller the hair, the bigger the deal, really. And I like it! It was terrifying having it happen, especially when it was really only spurred on by a vague sense of needing a change and also one time I tied my hair into a low bun and thought I looked alright without much hair going on, but I remain all or nothing and so was not going to settle for a mere bob or even an aggressive trim. I’m very happy with the results. It’s a whole new Laura! I now have so many new looks! Like “meanest girl in the 1960s boarding school” and “girl in a 1990 edition of Dolly having the time of her life” and “trying very hard to look like Edie Sedgewick” and “Justin Bieber”. In case you’re wondering, yes, I did keep the ponytail. I plan to plant it under a tree which I imagine will quickly flourish and bloom and grant wishes to passers-by who are true of heart. 

So yes, this salad came about because of an Alice-esque flight of fancy of mine – supposing there was a salad that was mostly made up of the sort of things that normally garnish a salad? As opposed to stupid vegetables? Lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes were thus combined with the following good things: very buttery croutons, homemade basil almond pesto, fried sage leaves, toasted pumpkin seeds, crumbled feta, and pea shoots. I would’ve added avocado but none were ripe, but just know that it is supposed to be there also. I mean, this is essentially just “a salad”, really, but it’s fun to think of it as being comprised almost entirely of garnishes. So that’s how I’m going to pretend it is.

I know this is the same dish I used in the photographs for the last blog post, I understand if you never want to read this blog ever again now. 

garnish salad

a recipe by myself. Serves two with seconds, or four one time. 

one or two heads cos lettuce, roughly torn
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved (sorry to be a monster, but they do go further this way) 
a third of a cup of pumpkin seeds
three pieces of slightly old white bread
lots of butter
a cup of fresh basil leaves
half a cup of sliced almonds
about 25g parmesan cheese
olive oil
a handful of sage leaves
about 50g feta
a handful of pea shoots
Make the croutons first, and while they’re cooking, get onto the pesto. Tear the bread into chunks around an inch wide, although it really doesn’t matter. Throw them into a baking dish with about 25g butter (or more) diced and dotted over the top, and bake at 160 C till browned and crisp. 

Meanwhile, using a large knife, roughly chop the basil, almonds, and parmesan till it forms a herbaciously fragrant rubble. Transfer all this into a bowl and stir in enough olive oil to make it a kind of pesto-resembling paste. Set aside. Melt a knob of butter in a heavy frying pan, and once it’s sizzling, throw in the sage leaves, removing and setting aside once they’re darkened and crisp. Finally, in the same pan, toast the pumpkin seeds until lightly browned. 

Now: put your lettuce leaves, croutons, most of the pesto, the feta, oh my gosh literally everything okay just put it all in a salad bowl and stir carefully so that it’s mixed together but not flung out of the bowl. Add a little extra olive oil to what remains of the bowl of pesto and spoon it over the top, and then serve. 

 we’ve curated the finest artisinal garnishes, just for you

It’s easy to make fun of salad, especially since the Simpsons gave us the truism that you don’t win friends with it, but when it’s as aggressively loaded up with as many good things as this it would be silly to deny its complete and utter deliciousness. Crunchy seeds and nuts, marvelous cheese and other cheese, sweet bursts of cherry tomato and dissolvingly buttery sage leaves. The lettuce has its place too, much as I’d happily eat a bowl of croutons on their own the fresh crispness of it helps bolster everything else and bring it all together. This is one of those things where you could make changes depending on what you have to hand or can find – use sunflower seeds instead of pumpkin, use walnuts instead of almonds (or use actual pine nuts but they’re monstrously expensive), use parsley instead of basil, increase or ignore quantities that sort of thing. Salad! It’s SO good. Or at least, this one is. 
So, I made another episode of Bedtime with Hungryandfrozen! This time about my love of grapefruit popsicles. I also obviously but totally recommend the first two videos, about cornflakes with chocolate milk and steak, respectively. I do get a little stressed about like, good grief, what am I doing with my life, shouldn’t I be doing something super successful in the field of being seen to be talking about food in a media capacity and instead I’m in bed making grainy videos about cornflakes, but…they are pretty fun. 
title from: Linda Ronstadts’ sad, sweet cover of Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues. Leaves, lettuce leaves, yeah? My blog, my puns, okay!
music lately
Zara McFarlane, Police and Thieves. Dad emailed me a link to this saying it was very cool: his opinion was correct. A little jazzy and a lot gorgeous. 
Fiona Apple, Across the Universe. So, so dreamy. 
Taylor Swift, Blank Space. Far out I love this song. The way she says “they’ll tell you Iiii’m insane” is so great. 
Next time: I haven’t done any baking in a while and every time I have it has sort of screwed up in some way – fallen apart, overcooked, that kind of thing. So, I wanna counteract that by being brilliant. If that works, you’ll see it here first. 

you may come full circle and be new here again

So I’ve moved house! Last week was so weird. But it’s Monday now, and every Monday is like a little January 1, where you can start all over again. I have the day off work today and decided it would finally be the day I get my act together and buy some food and then cook that food for myself, for the first time in ages. My two options thus far for the last week or so have been buy food from cafes or takeaways, or sit in bed and contemplatively eat expired Golden Grahams cereal by the handful or a bag of twisties, scattering orange twistie dust everywhere (and here I’d like to apologise to my teddy bear, Avery, who looks like he has purchased a very bad fake tan.) The first option is not financially stable and the second option will probably have some weird effect on me eventually like dissolving my bones or giving me scurvy.

So, after eating some twisties in bed, I propelled myself towards the supermarket with the hopes that I’d inspire myself by the time I got there into knowing what it was I actually wanted to buy and make. I wanted something that could be done in one pan, so I wouldn’t make too much mess in the new kitchen. I also wanted something vaguely nutritious. I had grand intentions to buy a ton of fruit, but then remembered that winter is when fruit is all “nah, not in the mood to exist right now”, but potato and fennel are both present and cheap, and halloumi is the best way of making something half-assed feel celebratory and highly lux. And so, this salad appeared.

halloumi, fried potato, and raw fennel salad

a recipe by myself. Serves one, but it takes little rocket science to work out how to make it serve more.

one medium sized potato – I used a red one
half a large fennel bulb, or all of a small one
four thick slices of halloumi
olive oil
juice of half a lemon

Dice the potato very finely – the smaller it is, the quicker it will cook. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a decent sized pan and wait for it to look sizzling, then throw in the potato and allow to cook till crisp, stirring occasionally. It’ll feel like it’s taking forever but the whole process really only takes about ten minutes – just make sure you let them sit till they’re plenty golden. Undercooked potato is no fun.

Finely slice the fennel and arrange half of it on a plate. Tip the potato on top of it, and then top with the rest of the fennel. Heat some butter (I used about 25g) in the same pan, and fry your halloumi slices till very golden brown on each side. Slide the halloumi onto the plate, scatter over some of those feathery green fennel fronds, because what else are you going to do with them, squeeze the lemon juice into the buttery pan and then spatula all that over the halloumi. 

I’d started watching The Sopranos last night – a show I hadn’t made any effort to seek out despite its general acclaim, on account of I don’t fool with violence and I also don’t need another TV show about a lawless white man who treats the significant woman in his life horribly and yet is received as the hero while she is the shrew, going through season after season of ultimately self-inflicted tension. However. I was with a group of people and the opportunity presented itself and I do have a very soft spot for the sadly late James Gandolfini. And wow, yeah, it’s a very well-made show, and I can see how it impressively influenced later HBO and HBO-style shows. But where I’m going with this is oh damn I wanted some meatballs or Bolognese or eggplant or pretty much anything aggressively Italian to eat after watching it. Alas, this salad is what happened instead. Luckily, this salad is hugely excellent in its own way.

Fried potatoes and buttery, melting halloumi are so good together it’s almost stupid, their textures both echoing and diverting from each other in a crunchily sybaritic fashion. The fennel itself also brings crunch of a different kind, not only stopping the entire thing from being burdonsomely rich, but also lifting the golden flavours of the halloumi with its faintly aniseed flavour. But then of course I pour over the melted butter from the pan, in case it’s not quite burdonsomely rich enough. The squeeze of lemon brings it all together, and with very little effort you have yourself a massively amazing lunch.

In lieu of a carefully staged photo of the dish sitting on a beautiful table, because there is none, here’s a photo of it on my lap on the couch, where I ate it. Four slices of halloumi is ideal – any fewer and you’d start to feel sad halfway through that the good times were nearly over, any more and you’d probably end up uncomfortably full but still doggedly determined to finish it because halloumi is halloumi. A scattering of sumac or mint leaves wouldn’t hurt this in the slightest, but for a hastily assembled meal it’s pretty great as is.

So, am slowly getting unpacked and used to my new world. My new bedroom has kind of got no natural light whatsoever, which is…something…but the people are nice and there’s unlimited internet and I love being so central, right in town, and I’m gonna eventually get there and have all my stuff where it should be.

Like this dress, back on the wall where she belongs (admittedly rather crumpled from the moving process, but like, same)

I feel like now that I’m no longer in this pre-move limbo zone I very much want to get my life together and cook heaps and write heaps and do heaps and really just be as super excellent as I can to continue propelling myself towards being lowkey ridiculously famous and adored by all.

If you ever do want to feel adored by all, by the way, my advice for you is: visit a dog. My darling friends Kim and Brendan spontaneously adopted a corgi who needed a home, and she is the most loving tiny dingus that ever lived. She’s like the hearts-for-eyes emoji existing in a corporeal form. I visited her on Friday, because she needs company and I needed dog hugs. As soon as I walked in she ran up to me and gazed up at me with such joy in her eyes, I actually felt my bones melt. And not just from eating all those twisties. I visited her again today for the same reason, and she was just the snuggliest thing ever, greeting me with a face that said “hi, you’re perfect and I love you indiscriminately and also everyone around you and everything around you!”

We get on well because we’re both fluffy and needy and have great eyeliner. 

Percy still has a lot to learn about taking selfies, but luckily Aunty Laura is here, and uncharactaristically patient.

So yeah, new house, new blog post, new hund friend! A lot of things in life are still very hard to deal with but I’m greeting the future with one hand in my pocket, and the other one is giving a peace sign (oh wait I started singing Alanis Morrisette there.)
title from: Gil Scott-Heron’s contemplatively perfect song I’m New Here. The low rumble of the guitar and the low rumble of his voice, “told her I was hard to get to know and near impossible to forget”…so sad I’ll never get to see him live. 
music lately:

Janine and the Mixtape, Hold Me. The anthem. 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, So Good At Being In Trouble. The…other anthem. 

Nicki Minaj, Jessie J and Ariana Grande, Bang Bang. This song goes OFF. I intend to dance to it many, many times. Am also just generally pro anything Nicki Minaj lays her hands on or says or does. 
next time: Maybe some bolognese or meatballs or something, yeah? 

alone, listless, breakfast table in an otherwise empty room

The box in the background is where all my kitchen accoutrements will go, including this bowl and fork. Once I’ve washed them, don’t worry.

This is the last blog post I’ll be writing from my not-quite-my-home-anymore-home, before I move house next Wednesday. The new place is like…fine, but I’m going to miss where I am now so much: the celestial light, the concrete floors, the bathroom that looks like it’s from a nice hotel, waking up in the night to see the moon hovering protectively outside my window, how stupidly instagrammable it all is, how enormous my room is, and so on and (self-indulgently wallowing) so forth. But, as I say to myself sternly, a change could be good for me, and whether or not it is, it’s still happening, and I can do my best to turn my new room into a beautiful haven too. I have a recurring bad dream where it’s suddenly Christmas Day and I have five minutes to get to my plane home and forgot to buy any presents and am generally very lost and confused as to how it all happened so fast, and that’s a decent description of how I feel right now, but…yeah. It’s happening. And I’m sure I’m gonna love this new place too.

All I’ve been doing with my spare time is looking for a flat, visiting flats, and packing my things up, so not much time to cook, but I wanted to minimise the amount of things I had to transfer between houses and so decided to make some kind of all-inclusive salad from the various nubbins of food in the pantry and fridge. Which means this is kind of ridiculous and bitsy and piecey and not really anything at all, but since it’s the last thing I’m likely to cook here and I don’t want to sacrifice writing this blog just because I am so busy making all signs of myself slowly reduce as the place becomes more and more empty…I thought I’d share it here anyway.

Also gosh, sorry for being so maudlin and overwrought, in my defence, I’m maudlin and overwrought. I am being relatively practical and calm in comparison to my own self, if that makes sense. As I said in my last blog post, a lot of things just kinda suck right now, but I’m working on what I can control (ha! very little) and getting through the rest somehow. Just like everyone else is.

brown rice, wheat berry, fried bean salad

a recipe by myself; makes quite a lot.

half a cup wheatberries 
half a cup brown rice
one cup frozen green beans (or fresh ones trimmed and sliced, you fancy thing you)
half a cauliflower, sliced into florets
two cloves garlic
a couple of tablespoons of capers
50g butter, at least
a handful of almonds, sliced 
olive oil
white wine vinegar
a tablespoon harissa
pinch salt

Soak the wheatberries and rice in boiling water for a couple of hours – this will speed up the cooking process, which will still take kind of ages. There is a reason that they’ve been sitting untouched in my cupboard for so long. 

Cook them together in boiling water in a good sized pot for around 25 minutes or until both the rice and the wheat are tender. Drain, and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan till it’s sizzling, then throw in the beans, cauliflower, capers and garlic and allow to fry aggressively till everything is quite browned and cooked through. Add the almonds at this stage and allow them to brown a little too, then remove from the heat. Stir all this into the rice/wheat mixture, then in a small bowl, stir together about three tablespoons of olive oil, one and a half tablespoons of the vinegar, and the harissa and salt. Stir this through the salad then serve. 

The important thing here is lots of olive oil and lots of texture. There are a zillion ways you could change this to suit your own needs – use barley instead of wheat berries (infinitely easier to find/cook anyhow) use just one type of grain, fry different vegetables like broccoli or courgette, use different nuts, use something other than harissa to flavour the dressing, make so many changes that it’s essentially an entirely different recipe, that kind of thing. The soft bite of the grains with the crisp, oily vegetables and crunchy nuts is excellent though, and adding plenty of salt and oil and chilli-rich harissa makes sure it’s delicious and elegant, rather than the punishing and dour.

It keeps well – I ate about a third for lunch on the day that I made it, then ate another third in spoonfuls taken from the bowl while standing in front of the fridge at various hours of the day, and then had the remainder for dinner at work last night. The fridge and pantry are now significantly denuded of things, and I looked up wheatberries on wikipedia and damn they are a good-for-you foodstuff! Satisfaction all round. Except for the photos, it was high afternoon sun and I only decided at the last minute to actually snap this dish, so… Not the best final view of the place, but what can ya do? (Not a lot.)

Just a short blog post today because yeah, got to carry on packing my belongings into boxes until infinity – isn’t it weird how physics is literally a thing and yet if I spend an hour piling books and trinkets into boxes I will have created no extra space and my pile of said books/trinkets will not appear to have diminished whatsoever? Pretty suspicious.

(FC = Fancy Clothes. Please be assured that this is but one bag of clothing that fits this description.)

Okay, lies: have also been rewatching Twin Peaks and knitting myself a blanket from my yarn scraps. Isn’t it too dreamy? Yes it is, Audrey Horne. 

So, next time you see me here it’ll be in my new place. Weird…but hopefully good. 
title from: I do enjoy Ye Olde Pearl Jam (anything after about 1995 am not interested in whatsoever) and if you haven’t tried ever had a go at singing along while studiously imitating Eddie Vedder’s voice, you’re missing out on some good clean fun, I can tell ya. I had Deep Feelings about the song Daughter in my teens but now just think it’s pretty rad.  
music lately:  

Joanna Newsom, Sawdust and Diamonds. Um. I have always enjoyed Newsom’s music but am properly close-readingly appreciating it heaps right now. Her lyrics are so spectacular and literary and full of the elements and fragments of stories, I love it. Also her harp is like wo. 

Beyonce, XO. This song makes me feel rapturous. 

Patti Smith, Gloria. I like putting this one on when I’m closing the bar at work, it’s all snarly and good to bounce along to while washing dishes and mopping and inevitably knocking over literally everything and so adding many, many minutes to your closing process. I will never ever tire of the bit where she’s all “Ah, uh, make her mine”.
next time: I know not, but it’ll be from my new place! So! New things for you all to look at! So there’s that!