16 December 2009

here i go again on my own


According to Nigella Lawson, asparagus with a fried egg on top is "Asparagus Holstein." A hamburger with the top half of the bun removed and a fried egg laid on top is a "Hamburger Holstein." Riddle me this, Nigella. If I were to wear a fried egg as a protein-enriched hat, would that make me a Laura Holstein? Sorry everyone...Tim has gone to Palmerston North for the rest of the week and so this blog is basically the only outlet I have for my countless inanities. Countless.

I will not lie: yesterday at work was pretty stressful. It didn't even start off well, what with me getting a particle of something unidentifiable stuck in my eye for about an hour first thing in the morning. The shining respite in the middle of it all was a client lunch - specifically, bringing themselves and an enormous feast over to our office - which culminated in some really bloody good blue cheese and perky chocolate topped eclairs. Between eating three helpings of everything there, and then the unexpectedly hot weather, I wasn't all that hungry when I got home from work. Not that a lack of committed hunger would normally, unfortunately, stop me from eating large. I actually respected my appetite though, and made a serene meal of lightly steamed asparagus and soft boiled egg, as per a suggestion in Nigella's seminal text How To Eat. I'm pretty hopeless at boiling and poaching eggs, normally Tim's job, so it was lucky that Nigella had a recipe for boiled egg in Feast...otherwise it would have been asparagus Holstein for me.

It might sound a bit poncy and not like actual eating, but it's truly delicious and a perfect solo meal if you can get the boiled egg just perfectly soft and then dip the asparagus spears into it before eating them. Plenty of salt, naturally - I used sparkly and flavoursome pink Himalayan salt, a Christmas gift last year.

To recreate it for yourself, should you find yourself coming home after a hot and stressful day interrupted by overeating, completely alone and in need of something calming, light and not too taxing on the arteries:

Asparagus and Boiled Egg

Inspired by a suggestion in How To Eat

One or two good, free range eggs. Every time you eat a caged egg, a tiny kitten cries. This is an actual fact. Kittens...they care.
A handful of slim asparagus spears.
Salt, and while we're at it, might as well not be that bitter table salt but sea salt or rock salt in a grinder at least.

Steam or boil your asparagus till tender, but not floppy and losing its colour.

While this is happening, bring a small pan of water to the boil. If your eggs are fridge cold, put them in with the cold water and allow them to come to the boil with it. If they're at room temperature, simply lower them into the boiling water once it's started. Nigella recommend putting a match in with the water because her great-aunt always did, others recommend a splash of vinegar or sprinkling of salt in the water. Let it bubble for about four minutes, maybe a little less. Have another pan of cold water handy so that you can plunge the eggs into it once you think they're done, this will stop them cooking further. Lay your asparagus on a plate, sprinkle with salt, put the egg into an eggcup and whack the top off with a spoon.

And that's all you need for dinner, really. If you've got someone else around who hasn't taken off to Palmerston North just before Christmas to work on his parents' farm because the job situation in Wellington is so hopeless right now (ahoy cool media people!) then I would double the proportions, get someone who really knows how to boil eggs in charge, and add some bread and butter.

The first egg was successful - soft, golden and yolky within. For some reason the second one I did was a bit more solid, but not bad considering it's a job I always delegate out.

We watched the final of Glee the other day - it was intense, and intensely wonderful stuff. I was disappointed to see in the Dominion Post today that the music reviewers would like to see less of Glee in 2010, I was even more disappointed to see that they lumped it in with High School Musical. Yes, the HSM comparison is a quick and easy way to basically illustrate the tropes used in Glee to readers but it's also flawed and lazy, in the same way that it feels as though the "barbeque reggae" tag is a box certain albums are unable to break out of because reviewers keep putting them in that box before they've even listened to their review copy. (That said, if you ever want to do a spotlight on my blog, Dominion Post...call me!)

Now that Glee is riding the tidal wave of Twitter trending topics, glossy magazine spreads, and young-person love, it's highly likely there'll be some kind of anti-hype backlash. To which I say: eh. I know I go on about this show a lot, but I've been excited about it since July and it's so, I don't know, emotionally fulfilling to see Broadway stars, Broadway tunes, and in fact the idea of breaking out into any tune altogether being legitimised on mainstream TV and in such deliciously sharp fashion. I remember when the film Centre Stage was released (there was also Billy Elliot but obviously it's a bit of a different kettle) and hopelessly bad as the dialogue was - although Peter Gallagher's eyebrows speak eloquent volumes with one silent, bristly twitch - I was elated to see ballet and dance brought to the big screen in a way that would, I hoped, make people see what it was that I loved about it and how ridiculously wonderful it was. Not that I need any of this. Indeed there's always something nice about knowing that 99% of the world is missing out on this particular song or whatever that you love, but it's just...really nice to see it get out there on people's radars.

Speaking of things that you insist you liked long before the film adaptation of it ever came out: we also saw Where the Wild Things Are on Tuesday night. I really liked it, I liked how the Wild Things were slightly human but mostly monster and everything that happened in their own world seemed right. Max Records, the kid playing Max, was gorgeous, and it was notably, but not surprisingly, pretty dark. The only thing I was a little frowny over in hindsight was that - spoilers - Max runs away and sails off to an island of monsters, rather than having the forest grow up around him in his room. Maybe they had to spin it out more, I don't know. Apart from that I thought it was fantastic so if the line "please don't go, we'll eat you up we love you so" makes you a little tearily nostalgic for something you can't even quite remember and you've got a DVD compilation of cool music videos by cool directors then you're probably the right audience for this.

Eight more days till Christmas! Good grief! And six more days till my last day at work for the year. I'm flying home on the evening of the 23rd. This means, once more, my annual and highly dramatic attempt to pack my bags and get them weighing under the requisite amount you need to get from A to B in New Zealand. I'm looking forward to bonding with the cats again, and family members, and the kitchen. Still trying to finalise a Christmas Day menu in my head...


Title brought to you by: Yes, I quoted Whitesnake in the title. Did I do it ironically? I don't even know anymore. The musical Rock of Ages will do that to ya. I do know what it means to walk along that lonely street of dreams. Check out the original Broadway cast's exuberant take on it here, and just be thankful I didn't call this thing "here I go egg-ain."

On Shuffle these days:

The Reading of the Story of The Magi/Silent Night by The White Stripes. It's strange but I love it. To you it may be just...strange. But I love it.

Don't Rain On My Parade by Barbra Streisand from Funny Girl. After the final of Glee, and being gently reminded that this song has perhaps the jauntiest, most purposeful opening notes in the history of all song, Tim and I ended up comparing, unfairly but predictably, Idina Menzel's live'n'mesmerising take on the song with Lea Michele's also brilliant but super clean version. Which naturally, brought me back to the fantastic original again. And the notion that Glee is taking us to some strange places.

Watching The Planets by the Flaming Lips from their latest album Embryonic. It's all heavy and fuzzy and amaaaazing.

Next time: Hopefully by the time "next time" rolls around I'll be miraculously organised. Apparently a colleague and I are going halvesies in a wheel of goat's cheese from Moore Wilsons - so that may appear a lot. I'm pretty sure, organisation or not, that I can manage to wrangle one more blog post into existence before I leave for Christmas. It may mean completely alienating all people who aren't whisks or bags of sugar though.


  1. Yes, the final episode of Glee was awesome! And it's so much better than HSM, duh, it's so much edgier.

    And Jane Lynch ruuuules!

    After the final, I had to watch Barbara performing Don't Rain on my Parade on YouTube too! Haha. Gonna go watch the Idina one now!

    She's signed up for 9 episodes of Glee next year!!! They were thinking of making her play Rachel's birth mother cos they kinda look similar, but in the end she's gonna play Vocal Adrenalin's coach. I smell a showdown coming along!!!

    xox Sarah

  2. Hi there!

    I've been an avid follower of your blog for a very long time now, but mine's always been more of a silent love. It's only since starting my own that I've realised that people aren't just being polite when they say they'd like comments!

    Anyway, I'd like to say that I think you're amazing, and from the beginning felt comforted by the fact that there are other people out there who also love Broadway and food. I'm Australian, but two years ago, while on student exchange in Virginia, saw Rent and Avenue Q in New York and Wicked in Chicago, which were fantabulous. They are all three not only in my iPod, but in sheet music on my piano, so I can have them in multiple forms.

    I'm currently back in the states on holiday, and just saw Mary Poppins in New York, which was amazing. I also adore Glee, and Kristin Chenowith, and Pushing Daisies, and so every time something of that ilk pops up on your blog I squeal a little inside.

    Good luck with all your Christmas preparation, and while you may think Laura Holstein is a plausible name for you, I think you should also consider Laura the Legendary. Alliteration is always a winner, yes?

  3. Sarah: Bring on the showdown!! And yes, Barbra is generally the blueprint from which others may be measured from with that song.

    Hannah: Thank you for your lovely comment, Laura the Legendary definitely sounds good in my head at least (and also reminds me of the "Lisa Lionheart" episode of the Simpsons) not least because of the alliteration! Lucky you getting to see all those shows - glad to hear that someone else is getting a kick out of my, say, Kristin references on here :)

  4. Hello inspirational Laura!

    I'm loving the blogs - such an honest pleasure to read - you are one talented cookie. (Although for some reason the blogs are about 4 days delayed to my email inbox).
    Tonight I made my mum's Christmas ice cream that she's been making forever - it's ridiculously decadent. Whipped cream with loads of icing sugar, whipped egg whites...with loads of icing sugar, folded in together with brandy-soaked dried xmas fruit (cranberries, cherries etc), roasted almonds and macadamia nuts, and a swirl of cocoa paste. salivation. Just thought I'd share!

    :) Hope the 21st was great fun...see you Mon for 2 final days of work!

  5. You're making me jealous with your hot weather and asparagus. It's freezing cold and dark here and I won't be able to buy asparagus for months!

    I do love boiled egg and apasragus though, so simple but so good!

  6. Am thoroughly enjoying Glee after watching it on your recommendation.

    There's something eggs-tremely nostalgic about boiled eggs although having them with asparagus looks quite eggs-otic. Did you read Lynn's blog posting about cooking with emu eggs?

    Happy Palmerston North trip.p

  7. Ooh, asparagus + egg, yum. I usually do it with a poached egg but seeing as I'm marginally better at boiling eggs than poaching them (I'm not the expert in my house, either... I usually get help from my flatmate!) I'll have to give this a try. Plus the act of dunking things is so fun.

    "halvesies in a wheel of goat cheese" ... that may be the best phrase I've read all day. Drool.

  8. Laura the Legendary Lionheart of Luxurious Lunchables, maybe?

    Absolutely do love your mixings of munchies and music (okay, I didn't do that one on purpose, I promise). This may not be quite up your alley, but I'm seeing a production of Fiddler on the Roof in Savannah today - quite excited :)

  9. When I do this, I also put a little curl of butter in when I cut off the top of the egg. It melts through and the asparagus gets that as well as the eggyolk. Heaven!

  10. OK... I bought asparagus today from New World... came home and chomped on one stalk, finding to my amazement that it was good even raw.

    Can't wait to try it with some egg tomorrow!

    Happy last wk in Wellington!

  11. Rose: Hello equally inspirational Rose! Tell your mum her ice cream sounds AMAZING. Seriously :)

    Sam: If it's any consolation, Wellington weather is truly hopeless - very windy and often rainy...

    Mum: Lovely puns :) and glad you're enjoying Glee, it gets really, really good :D

    Millie: The dunking is definitely fun! And yes...I do have a lot of goat's cheese now :)

    Hannah: haha I do like it. Hope you enjoyed Fiddler - I've never actually seen it but I do like "Matchmaker" from it :)

    Foodycat: You genius!

    Mel: Thanks! And yes - raw asparagus is weirdly good. I like it dipped in tahini :)

  12. Love asparagus, so this is totally making me want to make some, even though I hate to cook. But your blog is that awesome.