4 June 2008

"Reasons/To Justify Each Move..."

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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

2 eggs
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.
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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.
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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...

14 comments:

  1. Your father and I saw "Chess" when you were little. It was our first post-Julian outing and we left you (both) with baby sitters for the evening. It was a great concert....

    Have sent you an email with links to various parts of "The Armed Man" (by Carl Jenkins) performance on You Tube - since you can't be at our performance on Saturday night. I was going to send you some links to You Tube of performances of Faure's Requiem which we are doing at the same performance .... but I accidentally deleted them - it's the thought that counts.

    I have many bananas left over from camp and am looking for some "add 10 mashed bananas" recipes. I think I may end up leaving to languish in the freezer.

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  2. Mum - you should make that banana-berry ice cream that I made a while ago (a few posts down somewhere if you want the method) it's v easy and healthy, you can use as many bananas as you like...Will check out your links too. Didn't realise you had another performance coming up so soon. XO

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  3. Ha, I do exactly that! "I almost bought you such and such, but, well, it would have cost money", or, "ooh, I saw thingumyjig and was going to get it for you. But didn't." Apparently this is one of my most annoying habits, up there with unfailingly directing drivers into dead ends when map-reading.

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  4. Hanging out for outrageous fortune...cant wait til it's back on!!!!

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  5. Those brownies look dang good. You know I'm sucker for a good lookin' brownie.

    Oh yes, and mushy bananas? Gag reflex warning! Isn't it appalling?

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  6. Everything you make always looks so GOOD! the brownies?? Hello! Gimme some, please! And the nutty datey bars? Gimme some of them, too! Um, please.

    I just used slimy brown bananas from the freezer the other day. Ugh. Great foe baking, but a bit like skinning a large cold worm. hahaha!!!

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  7. Laura, you're a rockstar! I spent half an hour trying to find that word (onomatapoeia) with no success:-) Someone needs to invent a dictionary you can enter a definition into and it gives you the word (or I guess I can just email you the next time that happens;-)

    If you're ever out in NYC, you guys are welcome to come over for dinner:-)

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  8. Boffcat: don't even get me started on my lack of ability to map-read!

    Linda: I know! So excited :)

    Ann: Nasty as they are, they really are the best for baking. At least it stops me eating all the batter...

    Elle: Thank you :)

    Marc: Maybe I spelled it wrong for you? LOL and thankyou for the offer I'll only take it up if you promise to make EVERYTHING from your blog.

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  9. Haha Laura, You're hilarious (re: telling stuff). I wouldn't worry about those brownies on your thighs because #1 If no-one sees you eat it then it has no calories and #2 it contained fruit, so it's healthy.

    :)

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  10. Those brownies look so good! I really like the sound of those date, walnut and chocolate bars!

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  11. okay... I think I just gained five pounds in my "cushiony" bottom just from looking at those pictures! I found you over at the random give-away for the measuring trinkets. If I don't get them, I hope a spirited person like you does. Thanks for making me giggle!

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  12. Hi, have just finished reading your entire blog. Brilliant, funny and inspiring. Keep up the good work. By the way the photos have improved enormously, well done.

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  13. Christie: Thanks for stopping by, your blog is gorgeous! And I thoroughly agree, if there's fruit in it it's healthy!

    Kevin: You should give them a go, they are very easy to make and very moreish...

    Sugar: So glad you find my prattling amusing instead of irritatingly self-indulgent :):):) thanks for stopping by!

    Cracker: You made my day :) Every now and then I stumble onto a blog where I want to read all the archives, so I'm highly flattered that you went digging further back in mine!

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  14. Those bars look cool. I like how short and sweet the ingredient list is. It's like a pseudo-emergency dessert idea.

    I'll make your day right here. Your blog is hilarious. I like your rationale between crazy mad tornado stirring and burning calories. I've been right there with ya on that.

    Oh and thanks for the comment. Mom always said you can't have too many friends :)

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