26 May 2014

they go to a lake of fire and fry, won't see 'em again till the fourth of july

After all my harping on about being unemployed making it a lot easier for me to blog more often, it has definitely been a minute since my last post. I had my reasons, some of which were fun (Auckland mini-break with my friend Kate!) some of which were less fun (a vague sense of not being able to get my act together! Other personal stuff!) but here I am, ready to type, resplendent in my $10 floral leggings and $4 wooly jumper sitting in the north wing of my office (aka the couch. The south wing is my bed. There is no west wing because my apartment is kind of L-shaped. So to go hard west would defy the laws of physics and sensible-ness.)

it was an honour to briefly gallivant round Auckland with this stone cold fox

While in Auckland I finally got to go to Barilla, where you can eat incredible dumplings and drink green tea under fluorescent lighting. We got this side dish of fried beans with spicy salt, and they were honestly one of the best things I've ever eaten, crisp and piled high on this huge plate with dried chillis, cumin and coriander seeds, a slight crunch of sugar, and a ton of salty wondrousness. I got home and really wanted to recreate them, but had no idea how and also lacked most of the ingredients that I'd detected. Except, shamefully, dried chillis: I have a bag of them but they're right at the back of a tall cupboard and laziness overtook all things, including, quite shockingly for me, aesthetics. So I made up a sort of tribute to what Kate and I had, and while it didn't turn out like Barilla's elusively salty-hot dish, these beans are still super cool by their own damn selves. 

fried green beans with chilli and garlic

a recipe by myself, inspired by the beans at Barilla, but if you're in proximity of that place just ignore this entire blog post and run down there to order plateful after plateful of the real thing, seriously

many green beans (just...many, okay?)
two tablespoons olive oil
two tablespoon sesame oil
three cloves garlic, roughly diced
two teaspoons sugar
one tablespoon soy sauce
one tablespoon white vinegar
two tablespoons sriracha or other chilli sauce of your choosing
tiny pinch of ground cinnamon

Top and tail the beans and slice in half. If you've rinsed them in water before doing this, dry them thoroughly on a paper towel, because if even a droplet of moisture gets into the hot oil it will spit aggressively everywhere. 

In a saucepan heat the oils until you're quite sure they're stupidly hot. Throw in the beans and allow them to fry, stirring very occasionally, until they're uniformly blistered and browned and a little crisp.

While this is happening, mix the garlic, sugar, vinegar, sriracha and cinnamon in a small bowl. Remove the beans and sit them on a paper towel, and tip out most of the oil into your sink - carefully, it might spit a bit - and return the pan to the heat. Tip in the remaining ingredients and fry them for a couple of minutes before returning the beans to the pan, stirring them till everything's all sticky and wonderful-looking. Remove from the heat, spatula into a bowl, eat the lot. 

You weren't born yesterday, you haven't been living under a rock and this most definitely isn't your first rodeo, so I appreciate that it's a bit obvious when I say fried things generally taste better than when they're cooked any other way. But nevertheless, did you know that frying makes beans taste amazing? They go all wrinkly and crisp and a little smoky, with that grassy burst of flavour still present when you bite into them. The sauce goes all sticky and excellent, the sugars caramelising a little and the hint of cinnamon giving subtle depth, while the vinegar and chilli distract from, yet elevate, the oiliness. And it's really simple. The hardest thing is slicing the ends off the beans. Like, I can't stress enough what a burden this is. If you can lure someone else into doing it for you, perhaps with the promise of fried beans as a reward, then do so (bonus hilarity: they'll need to chop twice as many beans so that there's enough for them to be rewarded with.) 

Hey, so I know I talked a lot about Swonderful in my last blog post, but I would like to charmingly draw your attention to the rest of my amazing sponsors. Go check out their websites, do it for your own good, discover some delightfulness, or in fact ignore them completely, because it is a free country (despite many laws and discrepancies that conclusively suggest otherwise.) I love these guys, and you may well end up feeling the same way. 

Skinny Love: tiny, easy weddings, for if you don't want fuss and stress but still want maximum dreaminess and delight. I know I like, recently cancelled my own wedding, but that doesn't mean I can't celebrate cool people running the show and helping other people with their declarations of love. Dreamy weddings are not a zero sum game. Oh and even if you're not getting married they have a sweet blog with lots of lovely photos and inspiration and such. 

Holland Road Yarn Company: I have talked so much about how obsessed with knitting I am, and without this shop my life would be singularly bereft of all that woolly joy. If you're in Wellington there are often classes and events, or you can just walk into one of the two shops to politely nuzzle the yarn. If you're over yonder or overseas you can still purchase all the gorgeous stuff on offer, including the owner Tash's hand-dyed skeins of glorious Knitsch yarn. 

Six Barrel Soda Co: aside from the fact that I could and have spend entire hours at their eponymous cafe in Wellington, I gotta say, it is so wonderful having incredibly delicious non-alcoholic options for drinks now that they have started stocking their syrups more and more widely around town. With flavours like Vanilla Cream, Orange Dandy, Raspberry and Lemon, Cherry and Pomegranate, all hand-made and bottled in small batches, like, I can't even remember how I was planning to finish this sentence because I'm suddenly feeling really parched and in need of a fizzy drink. Anyway, you can order them online and they're soon going to be selling ready-made sodas too. Hurrah! 

Yay sponsors! Keeping the wolves from this unemployed blogger's door. Although I'd really like to befriend some wolves and have them as my loyal yet adorable companions, so...looks like someone needs a better metaphor. 

This chronic overheater and lover of burrowing into duvets also says: yay winter! 
title from: Lake of Fire, Nirvana's Meat Puppets cover from their majorly excellent MTV Unplugged album. Kurt Cobain's pretty face plus his raspy voice and the pleasingly old-timey stride of this song are a fairly amazing combination. 
music lately

Beyonce feat Drake, Mine. "Let's get carried away"...Kind of like when you look into a Viewmaster and click around the different scenes, songs from Beyonce's last album move forward and backward into significance for me. Currently it's this one on my mind. And while the music video is reliably stunning the album cut has the important line "been about you and I'm still about you" so I dunno, settle in and absorb both I guess.

Janine and the Mixtape, Little Bit. Love this woman and her new single is, as per usual, silky-smooth gorgeous R'n'B. 
Next time: I made a really cute chocolate cake. 


  1. AnonymousMay 26, 2014

    When I was in China fried beans was preeeetty much my favourite dish. How I loved those beans!! I ordered them ALL THE TIME. Sometimes they came with fermented black beans; you know the ones that taste like a cross between vegemite and miso but a million times better?? And then everything was even more delish. If you can get your hands on some fermented black beans, I highly recommend frying them up with the fresh beans. :) PS it's Anne Louise but I'm being a bit stealth and posing as ANONYMOUS because...easy.

  2. Hmmm - I think I have to fry some beans!

    And I will take Anonymous Anne Louise's tip about black beans, because I have some of them.

  3. Oooh, this reminds me that it's been an age since I last made roasted green beans. Now that we are starting to have produce in season that isn't winter squash, it is time. TIME.

    PS It is okay that you have no west wing because clearly the corollary to that is you are duty-bound to (re)watch The West Wing all the time. The laws of physics demand it.

    PPS I wish we were on a mini-break together.

  4. Heyyyy I just saw an article by you on the Toast (aka my favorite site ever which I read every day) - congrats!! Yours is one of the few blogs I still follow, and it makes me happy I'll get to see even more of your writing / luscious desserts over there. :)