24 June 2012

and i will be alone again tonight my dear

I'm not all that good at just cooking stuff for myself to eat when Tim's not around - which is weird for so many reasons. Like, I love food. And cooking for two people involves only one more person than cooking for one. At best. And I'm not all codependent or anything, honest. But if Tim's not around, I tend to find myself spending the usual dinner-ing hours eating golden syrup or something. Maybe it's because I coincidentally feel like eating golden syrup at those times? I don't know. Sometimes things just happen and there's no reason for it. If I get famous off this cookbook I request that everyone overanalyses it for me in the comments section.

I'm saying this because I had lunch by myself today and I felt like eating something marginally more diverse to the palate than golden syrup. Having spent last night drinking whisky and sloe gin at Brendan's birthday party, I also didn't feel like expending any extraneous energy.

So I made this: Fried Onion Rice with Nuts, Cardamom and Cinnamon. It's literally just onion, rice, nuts, some water and some spices. And yet so much more vigorously flavoured than that restrained list would suggest. I adapted it from a recipe in Nigella Lawson's book Feast, a book I've read about a squillion times, and yet which can still jolt me from my indolence and make me want to cook something for myself immediately.

You do need to really crisp up the onions for this. You know how you're normally supposed to focus on the cooking? With this I encourage you to get distracted. I recommend checking twitter and perhaps peruse an aggregator of viral content like buzzfeed.com - whatever their latest list of animals doing cute stuff is, it should use up just the right amount of time to let the heat of the pan really char those onions. Don't go any further than that though - the onions are for flavour, not just texture - this isn't the time to go getting lost in a 'where are they now' quagmire of looking up 90s actors on Wikipedia or look at every single inexplicably happy photo on someone you used to go to school with's Facebook. We're not building a casserole here, people. 

Fried Onion Rice with Nuts, Cardamom and Cinnamon

Adapted from a recipe from Feast, by Nigella Lawson, moon of my life.

3 tablespoons/a handful/whatever of nuts - almonds, cashews or peanuts are good here
1 onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup basmati or other long grain white rice
Seeds from 3 cardamom pods (just slice the pods in half and shake out the seeds)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Peel, halve, and finely slice your onion. Heat a large pan and toast the nuts in it till lightly browned. Set them aside. Heat the oil in the same pan and fry the onions in it till good and browned - they should have reduced in size with most of them crisp and darkened. Set aside with the nuts. In your same pan, stir the rice and spices over a low heat for a minute - this just helps with the flavour of things - before tipping in 1 cup/250ml water and a pinch of salt and clamping on the lid. Turn the heat down low and let it simmer away without disturbing it for about ten minutes. At this stage the rice should be completely cooked, but if not let it go a little longer. Remove from the heat, stir in the nuts and onions, and shuffle everything onto your plate. Serves 1.

I have tons of cardamom pods - what, I'm a food blogger - but if you don't it's not the end of the world and this is fine with just cinnamon. But cardamom's particularly lemony-gingery, mildly eucalyptus-y flavour lends a particular elegance to the earthier, oilier flavours. But seriously, fried onions, nuts, rice? Some of the nicest things in the world, making this dish a worthy alternative to golden syrup. Less sticky and prone to getting in my hair, too.

Winter is good for so many things: cooking soup and stews and roasts and such; piling on as many soft cosy clothes as you can; weather complaining as a universal conversation topic; less potential for public sweatiness; whisky tastes better. It goes on. But above all of that, I love spending a lot of time watching TV, like really snuggling into a good TV series. I say that, because I really just wanted to say this:

Tim and I have been rewatching the short but incredible Freaks and Geeks and today I discovered I have the exact same sweater as the character Millie Kentner. I happened to be wearing it while we watched this episode. It's difficult to photograph one's self and a screen but trust me: these wooly jumpers are identical. Even in these exciting times, this stands out as a particular milestone.

The last week of June marks the last week of me being at my job - then my main focus in life is going to be bringing this cookbook into existence. It looks like it's going to be a little nightmarish, logistics-wise - but I'm telling myself that I've never been a slave to logic, so everything looks like a logistical nightmare to me. Right? Right. I'll totally get there though. Somehow.

But: if any fancy people out there are reading, but also staring out the window sighing wistfully because you can't find the right freelance foodwriter to pay some money to, may I suggest...myself? While the book is going to take a lot of time I'm hoping to pick up some extra opportunities to bolster my soon-to-be-flailing bank balance. I already do lots of freelancing for reassuringly real things like Sunday Star-Times and 3news.co.nz, and I'll tell you candidly: I think I'm a really good writer. And as another great writer made their awesome character say: thank you for your consideration.
Title via: Love's Alone Again Or. One of the most excellent songs I've ever heard. So there's that.
Music lately:

Azealia Banks, Liquorice. Not as immediately, life-changingly gripping as 212, but still super awesome with a catchy as heck chorus.

Nina Simone, Here Comes The Sun. Heard some Nina Simone on the radio today and reflected on how she can pretty much do no wrong, and how I wanted to hear more. So why not this video with its slideshow of unrelated artwork?
Next time: I got the new Cuisine magazine - maybe something from that? Time will tell, better than I am right now. 


  1. I think I'll have to make this when my partner is away for two weeks...sounds amazingly comforting!

  2. Looks yummy!!! Thake it easy, when I'm alone I just have milk and cereals for dinner LOL

  3. Yum! My partner has allergies to a lot of foods I like (indeed, many things with actual flavour), so when he goes away I always have great intentions of going mad on all the yummy things I don't normally get. Then I usually lazy out and have scrambled eggs on toast. Or an omelette. Or pasta. But that rice thing looks excellent and I must try it, post-haste.

  4. Love nuts with rice. Especcially cashews and almonds. Yum. I wonder how that would go as a centre for arancini?

  5. I felt the same after I signed my book contract. As in, sheer panic: 'how in the world am I going to get this all done by said date?' The panic wore off, and I got down to business. While it will be insanely busy and stressful at times, you can do it :)

    And solidarity, my fellow freelance-writing sister!

  6. Jesus is just alright with me! Jesus is just alright oh yeah!!


    Also, I swear on my life, I was eating snow gum honey with a spoon from the jar when I clicked on your post.


    Sometimes it scares me how destined to be friends we were/are.

  7. Whenever my fella is away, I seem to fall apart mealwise. I eat a lot of one ingredient meals. Bits of cheese. Peanut butter. Raisins. I don't even like raisins. I also eat a lot of horrible processed noodle packages, like mac n cheese. It makes being alone so comforting...

    What a neat-looking rice dish! I'll have to try this out. I've actually never seen cardamom in the pod for sale anywhere... but I love the flavor and keep plenty of ground cardamom laying about in the pantry.

  8. Delicious! Simple rice with random crisper-drawer additions is always a good plan. Of course, I like to take advantage of my time dining alone by cooking and eating all the things my person hates... :)

  9. I was so proud when the main character in my favorite show at the time (Everwood) happened to have the exact.same.bedding as me! ...but I wasn't lying in bed, or anything, when I watched the show, so...I think you win. Also Millie is awesome.

  10. You know, you could eat half that dish for dinner, then drizzle golden syrup over the rest and call it pudding. Looks gorgeous. Another great idea for a home cooked lunch.

  11. this fried rice makes me excited because I think it may be something maybe, just maybe even I could make? Also, LOVE freaks & geeks.

  12. Oh you are the cutest!!! And your photographs are stunning too!!
    -Britney of Lemonwood and Honey (In auckland!!)

  13. I actually laughed out loud when you said you eat golden syrup, like not 'loled' laughed and got looked at funny! so glad i found your blog! xx Elly @ jazzlipsandtulips

  14. What a great winter meal! And cheap, too - I bet!

  15. This rice dish definitely looks worth the extra effort of cooking for one! I mean, golden syrup is delicious. But it doesn't hold a candle to this!

  16. Your meal looks so filling... I am happy to come across your blog. Hope all is well!