There are so many things that are not delightful about life in New Zealand in 2012 but I'll tell you one thing - and it doesn't just apply to me here in my homeland - the internet is really on form. I remember when I first heard about the internet - I guess in the mid-nineties - marveling at how much information was on it. I remember specifically saying to someone (possibly one of the cats) "so you could find a website about anything, if you want a website about bottle caps then you could probably find it". (Little did I know I predicted the zoomed-in nature of tumblr, where there probably is at least one dedicated to bottle caps.) Little did I know just how much ridiculously specific information this thing they call the internet could hold.
Where I'm going with this is, after a particularly wearying day of clumsy mishaps, I got into my usual grumble-rut of lamenting that women in comedy movies (TV sometimes too) often seem to be portrayed in a way that clumsiness is their only personality trait. You know. She fell over in a public place. And that's how you know she's nice and relatable and you want her to continue on this inevitably heteronormative path towards boy-meets-girlness, maybe falling over just once more in public just to remind you how 'zany' she is. Oh, I could ineffectually whinge further, but I suddenly thought, you know I just bet there's something on the internet that demonstrates what I'm talking about. And I was right. We're at the stage where information saturation means if you want a supercut of badly written female characters in rom-coms falling over, you can find it with the half-heartedest of Googlings. Sure there are the endless trolls, but still. For that I say 2012, you're okay.
(If you're wondering what it was that I did that got me thinking in such a vague manner about romcoms and clumsiness, it was the following:
Pulled on stockings in a hurry and in doing so dug a massive, red scratch with my thumbnail along...the side of my right buttock. Mmmhmm.
Took a drink of water, dribbled it all over myself, I can't even think why.
Brought it all home with my masterstroke of weirdness: I walked into my bedroom swiftly and nearly got whiplash from being yanked backwards again because the doorhandle had got stuck in a buttonhole on my coat.)
Luckily, for those of us inclined towards ungainliness, the pear-shaped butternut squash is a squillion times easier than the pumpkin to slice into. Its tender flesh accepts the knife blade swiftly, as opposed to pumpkins which scare the heck out of me - every time I approach them with a knife it seems the stupid tough pumpkin shoots off in the opposite direction. Good to know for anything you require pumpkin for - butternut squash rules. Especially in this extremely simple soup I thought up. If you're not blessed with a food processor there's nothing to stop you taking the pesto ingredients and just adding them to the soup at the end - and there's also nothing to stop you not calling this un-Italian paste 'pesto', I just can't think of a better name for it.
Butternut, Lentil and Coconut Soup with Peanut, Rocket and Lime Pesto
A recipe by myself.
1 medium butternut squash, roughly diced and skin removed. (About two heaped cups)
1/2 cup red lentils
3 cups water
1/2 cup coconut milk or coconut cream
1/2 cup peanuts
2 handfuls rocket leaves
Juice of a lime
3 tablespoons sesame oil
Place the diced butternut, red lentils and water in a saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer slowly with the lid on for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little more water if you feel it needs it. At this point use your spoon/spatula/etc to mash up the bits of butternut as you wish - this is a fairly chunky soup, although there's nothing stopping you from blending it all up, I suppose. Sprinkle in a little salt and stir in the coconut milk. Ladle into bowls and serve with as much of the pesto as you please and a swirl of coconut milk if you like.
Meanwhile, toast the peanuts lightly in a hot pan (I actually did this first, and then used that same pan to make the soup in. Minimising dishes for all!) and then throw them into a food processor with the rocket leaves and lime juice. Blend up, scraping down the sides as you need to, then add the salt and oil and blend again.
This makes about enough for two people with some leftovers.
You'd think the soup would be a little boring but the mild, creamy sweetness of the butternut and coconut and the earthiness of the lentils bring their own excitement. The lentils melt into the butternut and the small amount of coconut makes it surprisingly rich. But even so, there's the pesto - lentils and peanuts aren't a million miles removed flavourwise, with peppery rocket and sour lime to stop it being too oily, but then plenty of sesame oil...in case it's not oily enough.
I don't always get all that enthusiastic about soup, but this is worthy of my time, a nice mix of familiarly comforting and compellingly stimulating. Perfect for those nights when you can see your breath puffing cloudily in front of you. While you're sitting on the couch.
Tim and I had a ludicrously busy weekend but for now that's a story for another time, till then I still have news: I made a podcast! Called The HungryandFrozen #soimportant Podcast. I know, how can I possibly find ever yet more ways to foist my feelings about food upon the world? Don't feel forced to listen to it, I'm just doing it for the sheer fun of it - and it is fun - but should you be interested in what I have to say on top of everything else I have to say, you can listen to the first episode here! Oh, the internet. Couldn't have breezily undertaken this this back when I was a nipper! I think the closest I got was pretending to be all five of the Spice Girls and an interviewer and recording it on a cassette but I only got about thirty seconds in before realising all those different accents plus witty dialogue was a lot for an eleven-or-so year old to enact.
Title via: I was hoping to get Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner's sprightly version of Little Me from the Broadway musical of the same name, but do you think I could find it on youtube? I could nay. And just when I was talking about how great the internet is. Luckily there's Faith Prince singing it on the New Broadway Cast Recording.
I was saddened to hear of the death of Donna Summer. You know I love to obsess over a song and I Feel Love was one that stood up to two or three or seven repeat listens in a row. A huge talent lost.
Louie the ZU with Leroy Clampitt, I Want You To Know: dreamy goodness. I love it.
Next time: Apologies for being this cryptic on a Monday, but knowing what I know, hopefully I'll have some interesting news for you.