I have a bad habit of telling Tim about things I was going to, but didn't. Like, "oh Tim, I was going to buy you No Country For Old Men on DVD for you but I didn't because it was too expensive," or, "I was going to photocopy that Raconteurs interview I found in a magazine at work but then I ran out of time," or, "I was going to hang out the washing but...I didn't." I sort of justify it by saying, hopefully, "it's the thought that counts?"
A bit like how I justify my complaining by saying to him "if I didn't complain, you wouldn't know how I feel!" (and then inevitably find out that he has had a mercilessly sore tooth for three days and not said a word.)
Today I found myself in the changing room at Portmans with some cardigan- I don't even like Portmans, I was in town to buy the book American Psycho - thinking "good grief are those my thighs?" (yes, them again) and wondering how I could justify doing all that baking when I really am trying to eat healthily and do excercise. One step forward, two steps backwards before falling on one's cushiony bottom. And no matter how often I tell myself "Marilyn Monroe was the most beautiful woman in the world/I'd turn gay for Nigella/Meg White has chubby arms but is adorable" it's hard to actually apply that knowledge to my personal self. As you may have noticed from my constant complaining about it. But if I didn't tell you, you wouldn't know how I feel...So I baked anyway. Although my legs are too short, life's even shorter.
Above: I've made these gluten-free brownies before, and had a hankering to make them again, brought on partly out of necessity - the bananas in the freezer were taking up too much room and needed to be dealt with. Oh, and although blackened, overripe bananas are often said to be the best for baking, no-one ever mentions how disgusting they are to handle. There's something unbelievably nasty about their softly slippery texture, and the creepy oozy liquid left behind from the skins. (Still feel like brownies?) Sorry, but someone had to say it. No matter, once incorporated into the mix, they are nothing but delicious.
I won't repeat the recipe because you can just click the link above, but I added a spoonful of golden syrup this time, and cooked it for slightly less - 25 minutes at 180, then 10 minutes at 150. Don't know why, it just instinctively felt right.
Above: And ohhh how delicious they tasted, emitting cries of "but they don't even taste gluten-free!" from those who tried them. I realise it's easy for me, a red-blooded gluten-muncher, to say, but for all that I'm thankful for advances in technology I love gluten-free baking where you don't have to go purchasing forty different bags of various flours and pastes to make the whole thing stick together. These brownies are tenderly bound with the magical alchemy of peanut butter, bananas, cocoa, and eggs, and somehow come together to taste squidgy and densely chocolatey, and not at all like some kind of sawdusty substitute.
That's not all I baked. At work yesterday, I was flipping through a magazine and no sooner had I snidely commented "You know, I'm never really inspired by the food section of the New Zealand Woman's Weekly, there's something so dull and prosaic about their recipes..." than I found myself contritely scribbling down TWO recipes onto post-it notes because I wanted to try them myself. To the NZWW: I apologise. The following recipe is brilliant...
Above: I was very taken with the idea of this chewy slice, containing some of my favourite things - caramelly dates, walnuts, dark chocolate (I threw in some pumpkin seeds)...and there's no butter in it which sort of keeps costs down (of course, once you've bought walnuts and chocolate it's hardly cheap, but c'est la vie). The recipe itself called for a 400g pack of dates which I thought would swamp the delicate mixture, so I used about 300g. Oh and it asked for vanilla essence, for shame! Use vanilla extract or vanilla sugar, but don't ruin your gorgeous ingredients with essence, please....*climbs off soapbox*
Chewy Date, Walnut and Chocolate Slice
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup self-raising flour
Dates, chopped, between 300 - 400g as you see fit
Chopped walnuts (they ask for a cup, I just threw in a handful willy-nilly)
Dark chocolate, chopped, I used about 100g
Turn your oven to 160 C. Beat eggs and sugar together like mad for about five minutes, till pale, thick and moussy. Use a whisk, it's good arm excercise and means you can eat more slice later. Oh and try not to do what I did, which was dribble batter onto the bench, then accidentally hit the whisk's handle so it flings batter all over the stove top and onto my face and clothes...gently, gently, fold in the flour, then the extra bits, and spread into a baking-paper lined medium sized brownie tin. I use a big piece of paper which overlaps at the edges so I can lift it out in one go afterwards for slicing. Bake for 35 minutes, and I recommend leaving it for a bit before you slice it. Nonetheless, this is easy and quick enough to whip up should company unexpectedly arrive demanding tea and cakes (without actually saying so, of course.)
Above: Paul and I were the only ones home when I made this so donned our tester hats, (I made him vow that if it turned out to be a disastrous mess we'd bin it and pretend I'd never baked anything in the first place). Luckily, t'was fabulous, the moussy eggs and sugar baked into a light casing for the delicious fillings, and as I bit in I never knew if my teeth were going to hit buttery walnuts, chewy dates, or soft, melting chocolate...It cracks a bit on top as you cut it, but this isn't really a problem unless you're making it for the sort of person for whom aesthetic issues like this are a problem, but as I try not to associate with people like that I think things will work out nicely. I can definitely see myself making this again and again in the future.
Finally, finally, finally we are starting to see promo ads for Outrageous Fortune season 4 on the telly. Can't wait. We also finally got round to watching some of our Season 3 DVD last night - it just felt right for some reason - and it's so emotionally draining, I get so invested in the lives of these characters that I have to tell myself firmly "they're just characters!" I mean, I know they aren't real, that's not what I'm saying, I guess it's just testament to the skill of the actors (Anthony Starr, who plays the twins Van and Jethro, actually manages to have sparkling chemistry with himself) and the writers, but yeah, it's full-on stuff.
I mentioned quite a while ago that Rent is closing on Broadway - juuuust too soon for me to consider actually going there to see it (well, we have to get to England first, let alone New York) but the original cast are going to appear at the 2008 Tony Awards sometime this month, so hopefully some bright spark puts it on Youtube asap. Speaking of Youtube and Rent, there was recently a benefit concert of Chess with Idina Menzel and Adam Pascal (I know!) Although I was lucky enough to see many musicals as a youth I never caught Chess, but after watching a couple of clips on Youtube, wow! "Nobody's Side" is one heck of a song, the sort you want to start again as soon as it finished. And I did. It made so much sense when I found out that the two B components of ABBA were behind the writing of the music...