I just ate a giant dinner largely composed of...roast potatoes. I feel so sleepy as a result that I can't even describe how sleepy I feel, only repeat ineffectually that I feel so sleepy. Apologies if the following bloggery isn't all that flash.
As I write there's only a handful of hours left till the All Whites will play Paraguay at the FIFA world cup, oh my. The game's at 2am and I'm hoping those potatoes will let me get some decent sleep beforehand. There's this swirling uprising of coverage in the media in New Zealand at the moment and I just hope that, in the likely situation of us losing, there's no "Black Friday" type headlines tomorrow. Because seriously. Let's keep sight of things. It's exciting that we're there at all, we managed to stop the reigning champions from winning, and we've never, ever got this far before in football. I don't even really like sports AT ALL and this is really exciting.
Speaking of really exciting...cake!
My aunty Lynn gave me Alyson Gofton's book Flavours as a birthday present a few years back. I'm not sure where I stand on Alyson Gofton but this book would swing anyone in her favour - it's packed full of innovative but not terrifying recipes, most of which sound incredibly delicious and are a good call to action to rifle through your spice rack and get to grips with how a particular flavouring agent can perk up a meal. The last time I made this recipe for Palm Sugar and Lime Banana Loaf was in 2004 (specifically, for Mum's high school reunion lunch, if I remember right...?) and I can't understand why it has taken me so long to return to it, since it's really, really good. If you think banana cakes are the most obvious thing in the history of obvious things that are cakes, well, think again.
You know how sometimes you make those "cleaning out the fridge" kind of dinners that can never really be replicated because they use up all the bits and half-eaten pieces sitting round on your shelves hoping to be asked to dance? This cake, strangely enough, ended up being a similar exercise. Browning, speckled bananas in the fruit bowl, palm sugar I overenthusiastically bought by the bucketload, that large boxful of limes.
Palm Sugar and Lime Banana Loaf
Bear in mind there is no harder substance on earth than palm sugar. I'm pretty sure palm sugar could penetrate diamonds. The only way I can deal with it is by using a serrated Victorinox knife and scraping/shaving away at it till it's a pile of gritty golden rubble.
150g soft butter
1/2 cup crushed palm sugar (roughly one circular lump)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup mashed, ripe banana
Grated rind of 2 limes
2 and 1/4 cups self-raising flour
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons lime juice
Set oven to 180 C and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Beat together the butter and sugars till light and creamy, add the eggs and lime rind. Fold in the bananas, flour, and liquids. It will be a very stiff dough, almost scone-like. Turn it into the loaf tin, and bake for 45 mins to an hour. When cool, drizzle over an icing made from about 1 cup icing sugar and the juice of a lime or two.
Don't be fooled by the nothing-muchness of the icing - it really pulls the loaf cake together, mobilising all the flavours with its sticky tanginess. This is a moist, dense and easily sliced loaf, and while the palm sugar doesn't exactly get all up in your face, its delicate fudge-like flavour along with the added lime make this a gently out of the ordinary delicious thing to bake. I photographed it this morning before work (grabbing one of the 'artistic' slices for a sneaky breakfast treat) and when I got home there was only a slender-ish chunk of loaf left sheepishly on the bench, as if it was trying to look bigger than it really was. I took it as a compliment.
Incidentally, it's kind of fun reading over Flavours which is only all of seven years old, and seeing hints that basil pesto can be bought at the supermarket and avocado oil now being "available in two scented varieties." Hee. How far we've come...well as far as pesto is concerned, anyway.
I guess I find out next week some time how the whole CLEO/Wonder Women thing went down. Voting closes tomorrow, Friday 25 June (which is, I guess, Thursday 24 June for all you international readers above the equator). I sort of feel like I've wrung dry everything I can from this, but if by chance you haven't voted for me yet and would like to, firstly read why here and then email firstname.lastname@example.org with WONDER WOMEN in the subject line and "Voting for blogger: Laura Vincent" in the body of the email. Whatever happens, a mega-enormous thank you to everyone that did vote for me - and you can most definitely call on me to vote for you for anything in return.
Title via: Look, it's a skit/interlude from M.I.A's mad awesome album Arular, and I'm really usually not into skits clogging things up but this is so weirdly catchy that I'll find "ba...na...naaaa" popping into my head when I least expect it.
Karen Elson's The Ghost Who Walks, from the album of the same name. I love this album! It seems to hark back vaguely to 'another time' and is rich and full of melodies and warm, pretty Gillian Welch-ish harmonies. (Mum and Dad - I bet you'd love this one.) How lucky is Karen Elson - incredibly beautiful, married to Jack White, and luckiest of all, she can sing.
Big Boi's new single Shutterbug, I just can't get enough of it right now. It's silkier than a silkworm, and the melody behind it reminds me of Grandmaster Flash's The Message, but in a good way. I've always enjoyed Outkast's take on hip hop and it's cool that they're just as capable of working as separate entities as they are together. This song is a diamond, and the man knows how to use the line "cut a rug" properly.
Next time: By the time "next time" shuffles along, we'll know what the outcome of the All Whites' game was, we'll probably know whether or not I caused my own out-of-nowhere result with the Cleo/Palmolive Wonder Women thing, and...I will have a giant pavlova to share with you (well, words about a giant pavlova, but these words will allow you to make one for yourself and then share it with absolutely no-one at all, if you like).