So: by the time today's over, Tim and I will be on our way to London. I realise people travel, or don't travel, every single day and we're not revolutionary or anything, but having saved and waited for ages, it's quite the test of our comprehension skills to deal with the fact that it's actually happening very soon. Not counting the time I got lost in the Christchurch airport last year, neither of us has been in an international airport since 2005. Our retinas are parched from being so wide-eyed, we're clench-toothed from smiling. We're ticking off so many to-do lists that...umm...anyway this is a big deal for us.
I'd like to say, massively sincerely but awkwardly, that I really hope all of you readers don't completely forget this place in the four weeks that we're away and then never read this blog ever again. I probably won't get to update this often or at all, baking not being so practical while travelling, but who knows. I'm absolutely going to pick it all up and start blogging hard as soon as I get back in four weeks. In the meantime, I guess there's the archives - my photography no-skills from 2007 are always good for a laugh.
For what it's worth, Tim and I started a little travel blog so that instead of sending out mass emails we can just update it when we get the chance. We're not going to be fervently overdocumenting every passing minute of our trip, but we'll aim to add to it fairly often. It's called Tim and Laura's Adventure and we made it late at night this week. Now that I look at it again the layout's pretty hideous but you know, feel free to read it, and I can tell you this: we won't use "London Calling" as the title of a post. I'll also be mildly active on Twitter, although all online stuff is at the mercy of wi-fi - luckily they're pretty on to it with that in the northern hemisphere.
I had a day off on Monday and did a little baking, partly to use up some bits and pieces, partly to take something to take to work to help them cope with my month-long absence (that's how I imagined it at least), and partly because I just love to bake so much and knew it'd be a while before it would happen again.
I tutu-d round with a recipe I found at grouprecipes.com and came up with the following. It's easier than biscuits, tastes wonderful and also used up the rest of this jam that I made a while back. You can mess around with the ingredients depending on what's in your cupboard - the type of nuts, coconut, oats and chocolate and the flavour of jam are all interchangeable with other types.
Chocolate Jam Bars
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
200g butter, softened slightly
1 cup thread coconut or 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup almonds or other nuts, chopped roughly
1 1/2 cups whole or rolled oats
1/2 jam (or more) (I used this stuff)
100g dark chocolate, chopped roughly into chunks (I used Whittaker's Dark Ghana)
Set your oven to 180 C/370 F, and line a large tin (the recipe recommends 13 x 9 inches, mine was bigger and it worked fine) with baking paper. In a bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar and baking powder. Using your fingers, rub in the butter, till their are no large chunks left and the whole lot has a sandy texture. Stir in the oats, coconut, and almonds. Tip 3/4 of this mixture into the tin, and press it down flat with your hands, then smooth it with the back of a wet spoon.
Dot teaspoonfuls of jam fairly evenly on top of the base and then scatter the choppped chocolate over the top of that. Finally, evenly distribute the remaining flour mixture over the top of the chocolate and jam and bake for around 30 minutes.
I loved this recipe - it's undemanding to put together, it makes a generous amount, and the texture is stunning. The crunch of the nuts, the roughness of the oats against the soft bite of the coconut, the sticky jam against the softly solid chocolate chunks. Total stunner.
Is it weird that I'm already thinking about things I'm going to bake/cook when I get back? Like recreating the banana panikeke that I had at Polyfest, like hummingbird cake, like the Bolognese Risotto from Nigella's Kitchen book... Even if it's weird I guess it's not surprising, considering how I think about tomorrow night's dinner while cooking tonight's one and anticipate which second piece of cake I'm going to choose while eating my first piece. However, there's so much to enjoy over the next four weeks, maybe this is my brain's way of coping with it all - ignore the onslaught of mental stimulation by thinking about soothing cakes. Fingers crossed I can get heaps of awesome food over the border on the way home. New Zealand doesn't have a reputation for merciless airport biosecurity does it? Oh wait...
PS: I might be typing all lacklustre-ly but it's just the tiredness talking. Trust me, I'm grinning hard. CAN'T WAIT.
Title via: The song Out Tonight from RENT, the musical that gave this blog its name. Please: Original Broadway Cast (Daphne Rubin Vega) and movie adaptation version (Rosario Dawson). (Chocolate Jam bars...let's find a bar...see?)
Shopping Cart from Parallel Dance Ensemble (who include our recent interview subject Coco Solid). Saw the new video for it today, too tired to harness the power of description right now, but love this track all over. Another new video bringing our ears and eyes much joy is Ladi6's gorgeous track Like Water. Truly: get her albums, they're amazing. (told you too tired for descriptions right now)
Next time: Hahahaha. I don't know but as soon as I do know, you'll be next in line to find out.