10 May 2008

"I've Said It Once Before But It Bears Repeating"

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To liberally paraphrase Elton John, Saturday night's alright for writing essays. It has to be. I shouldn't even be here, but I've allowed myself a break from wrangling Renaissance English. It's not a good sign when I can't even understand any of the essay questions...I can't be hating on this though, even when it means I'm stuck behind the computer typing feverishly all weekend. How could you possibly dislike a play (Jonson's The Alchemist) whose very second line is "I fart at thee?" A play which contains the phrase: "Thou look'st like Antichrist, in that lewd hat?" (which makes me long to find something fitting the description of a lewd hat.) Of course you couldn't. But still, 2500 pithy, succinct, brilliant words need to be produced asap.
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Don't even get me started (truly, I said plenty enough in the last post) on the interim photographs I'm supposed to present on Wednesday for my next photog assignment, which is, just for kicks, worth 20 percent of the final grade of said assignment. Who knows when I'll have time to do them, between classes, essays and work - perhaps if, Yorkshireman-style, I get up half an hour before I go to bed and work for 29 hours, I might just get it done.


As I mentioned ruefully in my last post, it seems that whenever I swear off pudding I always end up waist deep in the stuff. I wonder if I vowed solemnly only to eat pudding, would I be wearing a size zero by the end of the week? Sheer luxury indeed.



Above: Now, I know using the microwave to actually, y'know, cook, basically means you forfeit your right to consider yourself a decent human being in some circles. Oh, I won't lie, I don't think the microwave is that brilliant as a sole means of producing meals. It sure helps though.
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When I was younger - maybe ten? - there was a lengthy stretch of time where we didn't have an oven for some reason (seriously, Mum, why?) and we cooked all our meals with -brace yourself- an electric frypan and the microwave. I still remember this amazingly good "feather pudding" that Mum used to whip up occasionally, golden syrup on the bottom and sponge on top...anyway, snapping out of that radioactive haze of reminiscence, surely a microwave can't be that bad if it managed to produce something like the chocolate pudding pictured above. This pudding is just stupidly chocolatey and rich. And it cooks in 5 minutes...literally.




Above: The batter is magically delicious too. Don't lose a finger (or your tongue!) on the processor blades.


Microwave Chocolate Pudding (from Nigella's How To Eat)
  • 120g butter
  • 250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1t vanilla extract (if it's essence then don't bother)
  • 125ml cream (yes, cream)
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 3 eggs

Butter a 1 litre bowl generously. In the food processor, whizz up the chocolate till it is in rubbly, small chunks. I'm warning you, this will make the most unholy sound, so be ready. Don't make this beside a sleeping baby or in a monastery or something. Add the butter, whizzing again, and the sugar, and then the rest of the ingredients. Scrape into the bowl, cover tightly with microwave safe clingfilm. Cook on high for 5 minutes, or until set - it might take an extra minute or so as ovens vary, don't put it in for too long though or it could turn to delicious rubber. Remove from the oven, pierce the clingfilm and then cover the bowl with a plate and sit for ten minutes. I don't know why, this is just what Nigella says. Who am I to argue. Serve. Feel your thighs expanding with every mouthful.



Above: Once more, with feeling.

I was obviously seriously frazzled while writing my last post as I didn't even add a "Lentil Power" tag to it though we had demonstrably consumed lentils. We haven't had any since, but I did make another dish from Jill Dupleix' Lighten Up. This book has proven to be very useful, I mean, I wasn't that fussed when I first flicked through it at the bookshop but I have used it heaps so far. Can't judge a book by its cover...bwah! (sorry)



Above: Not a great photo sorry, but it was getting cold and I couldn't seem to get rid of my own shadow!


This is a very, very simple lamb tagine. On Thursday morning Tim and I went to the store to spend a grocery voucher I got given for my birthday (thanks Mum and Dad! We'd be eating dust otherwise..."zoom in on my empty wallet.") We took a calculator to make sure we didn't go over and were very discerning and frugal, but I found some stewing lamb for very cheap so bought a heap of it to make various slow-cooked things over winter. This recipe involved sauteeing an onion, carrot, and lamb with various spices - ginger, tumeric, paprika, saffron - before stirring in honey, dates and dried apricots. I didn't have the apricots, and I added some spinach at the very end, but I think it doesn't matter too much. I served it over an earnest pile of brown rice and it was delicious. Not terribly innovative - I daresay I could have come up with this on my own eventually - but a simple, unfussy combination of flavours that take care of themselves and taste reliably good together. Also it's nice to have ideas for healthier things to cook in winter to distract from my desire for something dripping in butter and cheese.




Above: While we are in vaguely North African mode, I give you Pasta with Sauce A-la-Marrakesh, from The Accidental Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer. I soaked the chickpeas on Thursday night (proactive lady is proactive) and simmered them as soon as I got home from work on Friday. The spaghetti sauce is made up of all sorts of good things - tomatoes, (tinned in my case), a shake of cumin, cinnamon and tumeric - I added a diced carrot but completely forgot the flipping flaked almonds even though I knew that I had some. Welcome to my brain.


So the production of Rent in Palmerston North (two hours from here by bus/train) got a positive if disappointingly vague review, and I gotta say that I feel honour-bound to see it, if only because it's there, you know? How it will pan out I don't know. I am a little concerned that from the promotional picture I saw, Collins looks rather old and white and Mark appears to be balding (Levin 1, PN 0) but...maybe it was badly lit or something. "We'll see, boys!"

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In other news, Paul managed to come within pit-spitting distance of my Tetris score (he got to level 41, I got level 45) proving once again that the Vincent genes are pure, distilled excellence. Tetris has become so entrenched in our routine that I composed WWF-style stage names for us: Paul "The Suth" Sutherland, Laura "Two Hands" Vincent, and Timothy "Tim" Herbert. Aw, I need to get out more. Can't though, because of all these essays and assignments...which brings me full circle. Have a good weekend!


PS: 10,000 hits! I'm a real blogger!

11 comments:

  1. Hallo! I really like your blog - I've been reading for a while and would have commented sooner except, well, I'm a lazy sod. The only thing is (and I hope I don't make myself incredibly unpopular here...) I feel honour-bound to tick you off for posting recipes! Loads of your meal descriptions (not to mention the increasingly impressive-looking photos) make me want to rush out and buy the relevant cookbooks, and I boringly maintain that that's what I should have to do if I want the recipes! (This stance obviously necessitates an advanced level of denial of my looming mountain of student debt, but luckily I've got that down pat...)

    Long live lentals!

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  2. That chocolate pud looks so good! I've been meaning to try it for ages now! :-)

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  3. Oops, I've just realised that I misspelt 'lentils'. For someone who gets through a packet a week, this is rather embarrassing. (Also, this is a fairly accurate indication of how obsessively I visit your blog - it's been what, three hours? Ahh, procrastination...)

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  4. That pudding looks good. I have not had much luck cooking with my microwave. It is great for reheating leftovers but every time I try to cook something... The last time I tried to melt some chocolate and it came out a hard bubbling mess. That pasta with the chickpeas sounds pretty interesting.

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  5. That pud looks so good I wish I had a microwave :)

    I love your writing Laura, you sure do have a talent.

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  6. Boffcat: Lentals rool. The fact that you used the words "your blog" and "obsessively" in the same sentance means you are clearly awesome. Thanks for stopping by :)

    Anna: It's definitely a good one, very very rich, a bit like the chocohotopots in flavour.

    Kevin: I mostly use it for leftovers or melting butter, funnily enough I always use it for chocolate though... :)

    George: Thanks and likewise :) which I why I keep reading yours!

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  7. Laura, my friend - if there is pudding to be had, and a button on a microwave to pushed - then push away, I say, purists be damned! Love that melting chocolate spoonful of deliciousness.

    I hope your photo project goes well for you and that troublesome essay (oh do I remember essays).

    And, I so adore that you used "fart" in your post, my fellow fartist! :)

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  8. Aah, our humble Panasonic microwave. A very loyal appliance if ever there was one.... the very same one that heated your baby food is still going strong - even though the light hasn't worked for years.

    In point of fact - we used the microwave (and frypan) for soooo long because we were in a very slow process of upgrading the kitchen. I'd cleaned the stove to within an inch of its life so that it was as good as new and could be resold - and couldn't bear to dirty it again by using it before it finally did sell.

    The "Feather Pudding" recipe was out of the Panasonic Microwave cookbook. It was very good as long as you had plenty of milk or cream which it soaked up like a sponge.

    MMMMMM chocolate floating pudding (said in Homer Simpson-type tones)Both of my favorite recipes for that came from "Compilation" cookbooks done as fundraisers. My first encounter with the above- mentioned food of the gods was in Form One Cooking classes. (They just don't teach that kinda stuff anymore !)

    Had wonderful dinner at the Lees last night - divine schnitzel courtesy of home-grown beastie; and, sticky date pudding. Wonderful! I am in complete awe of anyone who can throw something together requiring more than two actions to get to the finished product - without therapy or tears.

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  9. ohhh you can make chocolate pudding in the microwave?! sweet...

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  10. A quick, rich and decadent pudding made in the microwave? This could be very dangerous for me to know...instant dessert and chocolate gratification? I love this!

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  11. You are hilarious! I love reading your blog. Glad you took a break from your essay! The pudding looks fabulous. I wouldn't worry about the microwave being a lesser cooking device. As long as you never roast meat in it you will be fine!

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