7 June 2008

"I Am A Synonym Bun"


Intrigued? Mais oui, I pretend to hear you say.

I'm afraid I can't tell you about this peanut butter chocolate slice that I made (recipe care of Nigella, natch) because...it is appearing in a magazine this month and you should all go out and buy that instead! I am published! Okay, it's not quite Cuisine, or Gourmet Traveller, but Tearaway is one of the better teen magazine in New Zealand and is particularly brilliant because they genuinely welcome contribution from young writers. I grew up reading Tearaway back when it was a newsprint broadsheet (now it is A4 and distinctly shinier) and even though I'm really not sure if cooking is what the kids are into these days, I've managed to get in there with my humble food column. Whether it becomes a regular gig remains to be seen, but still, it's a foot in the door. As Burns would say, "Patience, Monty, climb the ladder..."

*Update 9/6/08 - Just got sent a copy of the magazine in the mail today with a cheque for $30! I didn't even realise they were going to pay me so as you can guess this was a more than pleasant surprise. I feel like Anne Shirley, or Jo March, or *implodes suddenly from geekiness* I can put the money into our savings account and as for the magazine..."That's going straight to the poolroom."

Here's something I can actually elaborate on:

Above: Long-time readers should know I am friend of the beetroot, particularly when roasted. I'd never heard of making chips out of them, until I found this post on Adaptations, wherein fine slices of beetroot are baked in a low oven till they sort of dehydrate and crisp up and become SO much more delicious than this description would suggest. Of course it does sound like the sort of too-worthy, unnecessary, overcompensatingly healthy recipe that would have you running for the sour cream and chive Pringles. But these are truly delicious in their own right - and beautiful too, like dried rose petals - with a delicate smoky crunch to them that is very moreish. I only made a small amount, because I wasn't sure if it would work out or not, but I'd definitely commit to making this with lots of beetroot again. They'd make quite a grown-up nibble with drinks...

To augment this I chopped up some carrot sticks and made a quick dip out of Greek yoghurt, the salvageable remains of a disappointing avocado (and a disappointing avocado really stings), sea salt, lemon juice and sumac. Simple enough, but the creamy tang of the yoghurt and the earthy, lemony sumac provided intriguing flavours as they were scooped up by the vegetables.

Above: To offset that very healthy starter, I did a culinary 180 degree turn and served buttery pasta for dinner...it was something I came up with on the spot but I was impressed with how elegant it all turned out to be. I didn't really measure anything but you hardly need a recipe for something like this. I put fettucine into a pan of boiling, salted water, and while it was cooking I melted a good amount of butter in another pot, letting a garlic clove brown in it which I binned afterwards (that's to say: I ate it) allowing the butter to really get dark and nutty. Into this I tumbled some chopped walnuts, then turned off the heat while they gently toasted in the residual warmth. Finally I drained the now-cooked pasta, biffed it in with the butter, and added a handful of shredded beetroot leaves (you could easily use spinach) which wilted instantly. Pa-dah. Very, very delicious.

Above: Speaking of very delicious, I give you Shnecken (gesundheit!) or more literally, cinnamon buns. Now Nigella is generally fairly enthusiastic about food, one of the things I adore in her writing. But when she says uncompromisingly, of these buttery, walnutty, caramelly yeasted buns: "God I love them" - then you know, before even commencing, that you are onto something quite promising.

She speaketh the truth. Schnecken = love. These buns are ridiculously wonderful, as delicious as Nigella says and then some, and come from that fabulous book How To Be A Domestic Goddess. I honestly can't be bothered typing out the recipe (well, methods involving yeast are just so lengthy) but I found a copy here, unfortunately it's in American, but if anyone outside the US wants to make it (do!!) you need one sachet of dried yeast, some form of brown sugar for the magical, magical syrup and half a cup of butter (how do you measure butter in a half-cup??) is about 125g. Maybe it would have been quicker to type out...

Above: You know that scene in Spiceworld? Where they are all superheroes with a special power? And then Posh Spice appears and she doesn't even have a power, she just stands there looking gorgeous? (I think she points and winks too, as was the style of the time) That's what these buns are like. They just sit there, looking fabulous, and you think it's almost enough just to look at them, until you take a bite...oh my gosh they are nice. The brioche-like dough, the brown sugar with the cinnamon and walnuts...the butter. These are something special. The title of this post came courtesy of Paul, by the way, and worryingly, I can't remember the context of our conversation but it made me laugh, and I feel that it's a succinct description of myself, so what better reason to elect it to head of the post?

Above: Mmmm, food pr0n.

Speaking of porn, I saw Sex and The City on Thursday, and I'm not talking about the titular sex here (as it were), I'm talking clothes - this film was a veritable orgy of fashion. I'm no Stacey McGill, but by my calculations they changed outfits roughly every 3.5 seconds. I was feeling a little cynical about it beforehand (although 2-for-1 cosmopolitans at the bar helped put me in the mood) but it really is a good movie, if you like the TV show. In spite of myself I was excited about what these women had done with their lives and yes - about what Carrie would be wearing. They looked noticeably older - which is nice, considering how they were actually supposed to have aged in the film - and gorgeous, seriously if I have Kim Cattrall's body when I'm her age I'm going to become a nudist. Mr Big's constant, childish "ooh I can't commit" attitude got wearisome, and it did feel as though some plotlines were skated over, but on the whole, very enjoyable, indulgent montages and all. I realise that I referenced the Spice Girls AND The Baby Sitters Club in this post, (what next, po-mo Power Rangers quotes?) A new low, or indeed, high, depending on your view of pop culture.
Tim and I are, as you might know, trying to save to get back over to England (where we met, three years ago, on our respective Gap years.) We've been saving since 2006, and have a fairly tidy sum considering we really had NO money till last year, but we need so much more and so, have started making some serious decisions in the last month or two. For me, it means having rolled oats for breakfast instead of buttered toast (truly, I have it every day: rolled oats, softened briefly in water, with or without the addition of bran, linseeds, wheatgerm- how am I not size 0?); having miso soup for lunch at work; not buying fun ingredients willy-nilly; less meat and more lentils, being strong around cookbook sales and not getting Anthony Rapp's autobiography and The Rent Book imported at great expense... For Tim it is not buying fizzy drinks and Instant Kiwi tickets; having porridge instead of eggs on toast for breakfast; putting up with the lentil onslaught; and for both of us it means not going out drinking much and not buying DVDs recklessly. Both our bank accounts have become genuinely plumper with all of these corners cut, and our savings account is impressive for two poor students, but really, the only way we'll get over to England next year is if we win the lottery (and then hopefully we can pay for Tim's root canal too...but don't get me started on that.) Any tips on how to save or make money without resorting to eating Pot Noodles 24/7?


  1. AnonymousJune 08, 2008

    Dear Laura, when you can get garden fresh beetroot, the tops are divine to eat, cooked liked silver beet. Cant remember if I have ever told you that. I could almost say I like them better than silver beet, but because they only seem to be available in summer, whereas Silver beet can be enjoyed all year around. If you need a good burst of iron, that does it for you. Just love your blogs, and congratulations on your being published. One has to start somewhere, who knows who may read it and say, "Laura, how would you like to come and cook and write for us????'""
    Watched Nigella on TV last night at 5.30pm. She is so delightful, natural, and makes no apologies about loving and eating food. She makes it look so easy, and it is really. Hope it is a better day in Wellington today, than it appeared to be last night, at the footy game. Gee, they must have been frozen.
    anyway, love and hugs,

  2. Hmmm love the look of the "synonym" buns.

    Have returned from our choir performance at the Auckland Town Hall. Was fantastic experience, enhanced (between rehearsal and performance) by a wonderful meal at a neat litttle cafe called "Mezze Bar" or similar, which has the most amazing Spanish inspired food and tapas.

    Congrats on your recipe publication. Who knows - you might be inspiring hordes of yoof to take up wholesome cooking.

    The weather in Welly sounds atrocious - at least you are finding comforting warmth in the kitchen.

  3. Hee, I love the way you get generations of your family commenting on your blog; it makes it feel very wholesome. (This wouldn't work for me, alas - my grandmother seems to think that the internet is some sort of large reference book. Then again, she also puts DVDs in her CD player.)

    But anyway, congratulations on your column! Unfortunately I have no saving words of wisdom to offer - indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if my bank manager has taken some form of legal action to prevent me ever from attempting to advise others on savings. Good luck, though!

    P.S. Slightly tenuous relationship to your Schnecken buns, but I thought I'd just share the delightful phrase "Schnecken checken" (lit: to check out snails), which means to check out girls. Ahh, those romantic Continentals...

  4. AnonymousJune 09, 2008

    Congratulations Laura, I wish I'd be able to get hold of a copy of the magazine.

  5. Looks great and congrats on the column!

  6. AnonymousJune 09, 2008

    Your buns look delicious! Congrats on the writing gig.

  7. Nice buns. You work out?

    Congrats on being published. I think that's very cool and it's always something you can save and show your friends years from now. I'm sure its a great recipe, I mean how can you go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter.

  8. Nana: I think you might have mentioned something about it before, but yeah, I really like them, and it's like getting two vegetables for the price of one! I love that they are showing so much Nigella on TV these days :) Sunny here today!

    Mum: The synonym buns were magical - I'll have to make them sometime up at home. Good to talk to you last night. Mezze bar sounds delish! :)

    Boffcat: Nana was the first to get the internet in our family! I LOVE that phrase Schnecken Checken, will have to try and force it into everyday conversation as much as possible!

    George: Thanks, but it's only an NZ publication :) I might have to scan the page and put it on the Pantry!

    Rachel: Cheers :)

    Marc: Thanks, and they were!

    Adam: Ha! And yeah, it is a classic combo of ingredients...

  9. Laura, I love reading your posts--there's always so much going on! Congrats on getting published and even more, getting PAID!

    And now I'm hungry. It's 11 pm and I could use a snack!

  10. Some of those photos do look like food porn! I almost had to turn away they looked so yummy!

  11. AnonymousJune 09, 2008

    All those 'bun' jokes, but better not!! Wow!! Now you can join your mum - being published in a mag!
    Just did oral Spanish exam today, 3 hour written coming up on Sat, will be pleased after the 21st since it will mean exams over, and ball dress finished, as the ball is on the 21st, it better be finished by then!
    I guess the only way to save is little by little!

  12. AnonymousJune 10, 2008

    congrats on being published! very excellent.

    anytime you wanted to ship me a batch of schnecken is fine with me.

  13. Elle: Thanks so much...and 11pm is a dangerous time of night for that sort of thing!

    MS&S: Thanks for stopping by, you have a very lovely blog, and yes, sometimes the buns are almost tooooo good to look at...

    Viv: Will be thinking Espanol-ish thoughts for you on Saturday :) I think we'll all be glad when the 21st is over - Tim, Dad and i all have exams that day (and it's a saturday!!)

    Michelle: Why thanks :) I'm not sure how they'd fare on the long-distance voyage though...

  14. AnonymousJune 11, 2008

    Wow Laura,
    You've got your own column. How culi-cool! And I love that idea of making beetrootcrisps. Might try that sometime.

  15. Laura, you are published!!!! How FABULOUS! All though I am not at all surprised. I'll keep my out for the magazine but seeing as how I'm all the way in Canada, I might have a hard time. If you have a link, can you send it my way?

    Oh, and I'm so glad you liked the beet chips and I loved your description of them being like rose petals, it's so true! Congrats again!

  16. ok - i think you covered EVERY SINGLE THING IN THE WORLD in that post.

    congrats on the article
    pasta sounds excellent
    muffins sound heavenly

    i loved LOVED sex in the city - saw it with my best girlfriend and we had a blast... yes, i was a junkie for the show...

  17. Congratulations on being published! Those cinnamon buns look so good!!

  18. Hey - I just checked "Tearaway" website and found your recipe posted. Very well done - almost makes me want to make the recipe myself so you KNOW how high that praise is. I like the reference to licking the bowl. Some of the photos didn't turn up and the page was a bit incomplete but that could be because it sems they are in the process of changing their web page. So - add a link to your blog.

    Oooh 15,000 hits- even taking family hits into account, that's a really great achievement. Congratulations.

  19. Congrats on the magazine, HOW COOL! And Jo March? Adore the book and the movie, own both. I think I watch the movie about 3x a year, bc I'm that much of a loser. Ah, Little Women.

    Those cinnamon deals look sinful - I just love your Nigella worship bc I adore her to no end as well.

  20. Congratulations Laura, that's great!

    You must post it for us - I'd love to see it too :)

  21. AnonymousJune 12, 2008

    Something to look forward to when you get to England - beetroot & parsnip chips are sold in every supermarket. Glad to hear you can make them at home though, I'll have to try!

  22. Wow! Well done, a published writer!

    The baby sitters club, such memories.
    I have never made those buns, why though, they look gorgeous. I think I'll be trying them soon.

  23. AnonymousJune 14, 2008

    Hi Laura, congrats on being published. It's very exciting and even better that it was a paid gig! Fantastic looking cinnamon buns.

  24. Congrats Laura!!! I am so jealous. Am loving the blog, and those choccies look so moreish.


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  26. A friend brought schnecken over for brunch yesterday. So I googled it and found you! Yours actually look more delicious than the ones we had so I will have to try making them myself.