29 April 2015

if green pears you like, if old chairs you like, if back stairs you like, if love affairs you like

Poire Belle Helene - pretty Helen pear - man, everything sounds so much better in French, but then do the French sit around being like man everything sounds so romantic in English? I, uh, I doubt it. 

Because I am heedlessly whimsical and waggishly adorable, when the notion strikes me to make a classic French dessert for my lunch in its entirety, I indulge that whim. Hard. Some might describe that as not providing one's body with enough necessary nutrients or a lot of work for a small result or even simply annoying, but I've said the magic word - whimsical - and as such am exonerated from all such opinions. For what it's worth though, later that day I was later horribly ill and had to go home from work but I refuse to blame this poached pear in chocolate sauce. I don't actually know what I'm blaming - it was all very mysterious and came out of nowhere, but I've eaten both pears and chocolate since and been utterly fine, so who knows. I hate going home sick from work - firstly when you're a bartender you have to try and find someone to cover you at the last minute, secondly you miss out on hours, thirdly there's this sense I have with hospo instilled from my ballet days where like, you can be coughing up blood and yet the show must go on - but maaaaan I was sick. Fortunately I have a marvelous girlfriend who was able to immediately administer panadol and cold flannels and such, but wow it was horrible. Um, anyway, this recipe is really delicious and you should definitely make it without fear of incapacitation. Definitely.

There's this scene in the musical Company where the lead character, Robert, is recounting a story to a woman that he's trying to sleep with, about another woman whom he tried to sleep with - in this story they had just met and were thoroughly into each other and rented a motel for the night, she then suggested that he go buy champagne, he drove to the nearest shop and bought all the champagne he could carry, sped back to the motel and - he says devastatingly - I could not find it. He then drove around for three hours looking for the motel before leaving. This was me, but with a block of Lindt dark chocolate that my mum had sent me. I was like, this would be perfect for the Poire Belle Helene whim that I've been taken with, and then I could not find it. I then ransacked my bedroom for twenty minutes. I don't know how a person loses a block of chocolate in their room but I'm sure I'll find it somewhere ridiculous when I least expect it, like in my sock drawer or on my head or melted and dripping down the mirror. I wanted some damn Poire Belle Helene though, so scooted to the corner dairy and bought some milk chocolate to use instead. A fascinating story, I know!

Honestly poached pears have never appealed to me that much as a dessert - if I wanted a damp fruit I could just open a can of them, thank you, don't insult me with this pretense of a pudding - but cover them in chocolate sauce and suddenly I get it. Poire Belle Helene was a dessert invented by that clever man Escoffier in the late 1800s in honour of an opera (that was what people did for fun back then, I guess, and I'm all for it) and it's a fetching combination - fragrant, sweet pear with creamy, rich chocolate sauce, the gritty yet yielding fruit against the silky, warm chocolate. It's blatantly a good idea for lunch. My recipe here is for one person (hence the flighty name) but the quantities are easy enough to increase.

poire belle helene seulement pour vous  (poire belle helene for you only) 

a recipe by myself. Serves one.

one firm pear
four tablespoons sugar
two cups of water
a tablespoon or so of riesling or sweet white wine, if you have it
one teaspoon vanilla extract 

75g milk chocolate
half a cup of cream
a tablespoon of butter
a pinch of salt

Peel the pear, leaving the stalk intact. If it's a bit wobbly and won't sit upright, cut a small slice out of the base so it's steady, otherwise leave as is. Put the sugar, water, riesling and vanilla in a small pot and lower the pear into it - it probably won't be submerged but this is okay. Bring the pan to the boil and then lower to a simmer, turning the pear over occasionally so that all sides spend time submerged by the hot syrup. Stick a skewer into the pear after about ten minutes, and if it's soft and yielding then you're good to go. Remove it from the syrup and place in the bowl that you're going to serve it in.

In a small pan, heat the cream till the surface is wobbly and it seems like it's just about to bubble. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, and allow it to sit for a minute - the heat of the cream will melt the chocolate instantly. Stir briskly till all the chocolate is melted and you have a smooth, shiny sauce. Stir in the butter and the salt and then pour lavishly over the pear. Drink the rest of the sauce or save it for something else, up to you. 

aggressively autumnal

Obviously this makes a fairly gorgeous pudding to be had at the usual time of after dinner, but honestly, in the middle of the day, eaten contemplatively and reverently at the kitchen table while wearing stretchy pants and a large, soft hoodie and wooly socks...it was sublime. Milk chocolate brings a different vibe than 80% cocoa dark chocolate but I'm such a fan of its friendly, vaguely caramelly flavour. Whatever chocolate you use, try to make sure it's good, that is, that it's actually going to impart some kind of chocolate flavour at all, you know? The pears can be any old trash but the quality of the chocolate is really going to make or break this thing. That said, I used the fakest, cheapest vanilla essence in the syrup because it's all I had, and I manage to sleep at night (that's not true, I'm a terrible sleeper, but it's not from synthetic vanilla guilt at least!)


So the most exciting news in my life right now is that my flat now has A CAT. It's actually so hard for me to type this because just the knowledge that there is a cat in my presence makes me want to do triumphant forward rolls around the room for a good solid forty minutes. Oh sure, you say, cats are nice, but do you have any idea how fervently my heart has been yearning for one? I mean, if you read this blog you should have a decent idea since I go on about it quite a lot, but if not, just imagine the ferocious intensity of a thousand perturbed alligators: that's me. And now, a cat! Just as I was at the pinnacle of my I-have-no-cat feelings, the universe threw me a bone in the form of my flatmate, who was a last-minute replacement cat sitter for a friend going overseas for work for several months. Isn't that wonderful? 

caaaaaaaaaaaat faaaaace

business cat has key performance indicators to think about and doesn't have time for you right now, Bob

Her name is Wednesday and she has a tiny crooked tail and a curious disposition and she's just the happiest little nubbin ever. And so am I. 

In the wider scheme of things there is a lot of terribleness out there right now (well, there always is, but right now it's bubbling closer to the surface) and while I have nothing to say that would change or help, I would just like to draw your attention to the following two things while I'm here: if you're able to contribute to the people of Nepal following the horrifying earthquake that hit them, this FB post has some very useful information. If you are able to contribute to the people of Baltimore in the wake of ongoing police brutality, a wonderful woman I follow on Twitter is doing great, highly transparent work gathering essential supplies for people and can be supported via her Indiegogo account here. That is all. 
title from: the gloriously sassy title song from the glorious musical Anything Goes. Okay so you should absolutely listen to the stridently excellent Patti LuPone sing it on the 1988 Broadway cast recording and then I urge you to watch Sutton Foster breezily belt it out and then tap dance effortlessly at the 2011 Tony Awards, and then speaking of things called Tony, I really truly adore Lady Gaga and Tony Bennet's take on it. Finally Melanie C's version is so gorgeous. Listen to them all or get outta here, quite frankly. It's just one of the best show tunes there is and Cole Porter, who wrote it, is an actual genius. 
music lately:

DVS's brand new mixtape DVTV is SO VERY good, as is he. 

Janelle Monae, Yoga. "Get off my areola" is honestly the best line of 2015.
next time: anything goes! (loooool)

22 April 2015

if you got beef, your problem, not mine

beef: got it

For a while there I was feeling some sizable angst about turning 29, partly because I was like, I've blatantly achieved nothing in my life and am an elderly loser (I know neither of these things are true but when you're already prone to hyperbole it's amazing the distance that your brain will take the existing hyperbole when you're being down on yourself) and I also was like, I'm blatantly too old to achieve anything ever, am no longer an ingenue, am a giant snore in a trenchcoat and hat with a fake mustache on pretending to be human. (Again: the hyperbole! It really goes places, doesn't it?) 

leftover birthday cake for breakfast

And then I reminded myself that Beyonce and Nicki Minaj are 33 and 32 respectively and have released the most fire music of their careers in the last couple of years, and that I have so much ahead of me and 29 is still really young and I should just drink some water and calm down a bit because the passage of time cannot be fought so you can either age yourself horribly by worrying about it or ignore it because it's ultimately meaningless. I mean, Beyonce's 2013 album is honestly life-changing, to put it casually. If she can do that at 32 with all her resources and brilliance, I can achieve something productive as a tired moderately broke but talented 29 year old.  

"Rosie, dear Rosie, there's a rose in my heart for you" 

So yes, I had a birthday recently, and it was honestly quite perfect. My boundlessly marvellous girlfriend cooked me a Full English Breakfast with about seventeen different kinds of protein (including black pudding - seems somewhat gothically appropriate to start one's birthday consuming literal blood) and we sybaritically clinked glasses of whisky to go with it. I dyed my hair purple, I had a beauteous dinner and follow-up drink with my very best friends Kim and Kate, and then said girlfriend and I went to the St James theatre (above) to see the musical Singin' In The Rain, which I swankily yet utterly serendipitously had scored free tickets to. It was just wonderful and I urge you to see it if you have even a passing interest in musicals, old movies, tap dancing, and singing in and/or rain. The costumes were spectacular, the dancing was brilliant, the singing was on point - Gene Kelly casts an unfairly long shadow but the guy playing his role was ideal - and it was just so joyful. The night finished with cocktails and fries at my work and some general reflection on how completely good my birthday had been (and on how funny it was that I had reflexively replied "Happy birthday!" several times that day when someone had said "Happy birthday" to me.) 

sausages/beans/tomatoes/egg/mushrooms/black pudding/bacon/fried bread/whisky/hashtag blessed

Winding back to a couple of days before my birthday though, I made myself this Mediterranean-ish eggplant and beef dish. Since it was so simple and good I thought I might as well try to blog about it, and five million days later I've finally got around to it, with my usual efficiency and haste. 

this bowl makes everything look rustic and nice, thank you bowl 

It's vaguely Mediterranean insofar as it includes some flavours of that (vast, varied, unable to be generalised and yet here I am) area, but since I just made it up based on what was in my pantry I hesitate to label it anything more specific than that. What I can confidently tell you is that it's rich yet sharp, with spiky sour sumac and lemon zest lifting up the crisply fried, melting cubes of eggplant and tomato-y beef, with thick, creamy spoonfuls of Greek Yoghurt dropped here and there adding to that rich-sharp contrast. I love thyme so much, so that's what I scattered over this, but oregano or mint would also be splendid in their own way. The only real change I'd make is using pine nuts instead of sesame seeds - they're just a bit more exciting and lush - but as long as you have something nut-like there it's all good really. If you can't find sumac - a beautiful sour, lemony powder from sumac berries - then just add more lemon zest or simply leave it out. I mean, I love its flavour but probably the main thing you'd lose is the way it somehow ties the dish together visually and stops it looking like "beef that yoghurt got tipped on".

fried eggplant and beef with sumac and greek yoghurt

a recipe by myself, serves two 

one large eggplant
one red onion
one garlic clove
300g beef mince
half a cup tomato passata/puree
one lemon
to serve: 
thick Greek yoghurt
sesame seeds
thyme leaves

Dice the eggplant, and fry in plenty of olive oil (around three tablespoons) in a large pan. Allow to get properly browned and crisp as much as possible before setting aside, and in the same pan, fry the onion, garlic and beef until everything is thoroughly browned and cooked through. 

Grate the zest from the lemon, then squeeze the lemon juice into the beef along with the tomato passata and allow to come to a brisk simmer. After about five minutes return the eggplant to the pan to heat through, then transfer it to a serving dish (or serve straight from the pan), finishing with spoonfuls of Greek yoghurt spooned over at random, a generous blanket of sumac (she says, not having intended to put that much on but got a shaky hand, so we're going with it) a scattering of dried thyme and toasted sesame seeds. I also add plenty of salt. Because I love salt.  

The yoghurt I use is Zany Zeus which is so thick, thicker than sour cream - if all you have is runny, slightly chalky stuff then I would not personally go putting it on this, but you do you. I do maintain though, that it's the intensely thick, satiny texture of the yoghurt which makes this. I really haven't cooked meat in forever but in the last two weeks I made ribs (for my girlfriend's birthday, which also fell in April) and now this. I can go weeks without eating meat, even though I do love it, but I'm glad I dazedly purchased this mince in an overtired haze and then even gladder that I worked out something so completely delightful to make with it. If you want to though, you could just double or triple the eggplant and leave out the beef, since the vegetable's buttery softness and golden brown crispness after being vigorously fried is entirely enough joy for your tastebuds on its own.

go big or go home

My birthday didn't stop when the clock struck midnight on the 17th though, as my flatmate and dear friend Charlotte and I had a joint birthday party the following night. (Her birthday is a week or so before mine.) There was dancing and punch and disco lights and a noise control notification (less fun! Unimpressed tbh! But uh, it happened) and cake and candy and a little tequila and so many good people and very importantly: I had an incredible yellow shaggy fluffy cardigan.

look the part be the part as I always say (the part here being someone with a super cool fluffy cardigan who is very happy with their birthday)

So now that I've had a wonderful birthday and spent some time in solemn pious meditation on the achievements of Nicki/Beyonce, I'm completely ready to enter my 29th year full of thrive and bliss. 
title from: Mary J Blige, Family Affair. This song is nearly 35 years old but still sounds fresher than toothpaste and is so upbeat and positive in a gloriously instructive way. Leave your situations at the door, so when you step inside jump on the floor...
music lately: 

Ben Folds Five, Army. Oh man has Ben Folds done some terrible music, but this song is incredible, one of those ones that I get stuck listening to on loop for hours. It's got that perfect late 90s horn section going (I used to get it mixed up with Flagpole Sitta back in the days where you might hear your favourite song on the radio once every six weeks, so if you like that song you may well enjoy this.) Am a particular fan of the rollicking piano on this. 

Sia, Elastic Heart. This song is brutal and gorgeous and the dancing and storytelling in the video is utterly compelling. Thick skin and elastic heart, such imagery in those words! Oof. Also as one who would likely livetweet brushing their teeth if the notion took me, I admire Sia's commitment to being mysterious and anonymous. 
next time: I bought some pears and kinda dig the idea of making Poires Belle Helene! (Vanilla poached pears with chocolate sauce. I mean.)

14 April 2015

now my life is sweet like cinnamon

muffins! (I say this every time I hear a doorbell and I don't know why but it's some weird Pavlovian response possibly from something I saw on TV many years ago?) (That got deep, huh)

I continue to be an utter slattern at being organised and a regular blogger, and the only thing stronger than my conviction that I'm not going to slide out of blogging regularly, is my overwhelming need to nap hard during the day when I'm not at work all night. I mean, I started this blog in 2007 and it's pretty much the only thing that has remained the same in my life since then, with only a tiny bit of exaggeration. But also being angry at myself for not being organised enough is not going to stop me being tired and making like, toast or something instead of having the time and energy to make real food. I'll get there though! This blog has been there throughout all manner of tumultuous and/or tired times, and just because I am not as good at burning the candle at both ends as I used to be, doesn't mean I can't relearn that (albeit rather terrible) behaviour once more. 

I house-sat and cat-sat for friends over the weekend when they went on a mini holiday, and it was so lovely and blissful, like escaping to a cabin in the woods somewhere (a nice one, not the horror-movie kind, way to ruin cabins in the woods, Joss Whedon.) I've been weighed down by such cat-longing feelings lately, I mean, I always am, but it has been stronger than usual, so I was excited about the thought of having a cat roomie for a few days. Unfortunately the cat in question was hellaciously skittish and I only saw her for a grand total of twenty seconds over the four days I was there, but she ate her food and didn't cause trouble so it could've been worse. In happier news, the house was just darling, and it was more than enough to gaze rapturously around at it all. I decided on Sunday to make some muffins, since I just felt like baking a damn thing, but also they seemed like the perfect house-sitting foodstuff to make - easily made and consumed, not too taxing on the house-owners' ingredients or infrastructure, able to be frozen and eaten later (not that it came to this since all but one were eaten by the time I left.) 

suspect was catless, repeat, catless 

When the weather turns extremity-stiffeningly cold my thoughts turn to cinnamon: how can I make everything around me scented of it? Baking is the obvious way (although if anyone knows of an amazing cinnamon-scented candle that won't cost as much as a pet pony please give me details) and so I made some cinnamon-orange muffins, inspired by the sight of an orange in the fruit bowl that I could nick for this purpose. I swing wildly between finding muffins dull and basic and finding them tears-makingly comforting and delightful, and I guess over the weekend was a time when I was swinging towards the latter, because I could not have been more content with myself: being in a tiny, adorable kitchen, shaking clouds of cinnamon into the batter, melting butter, flinging flour onto the ground (that bit was not fun), dropping heaped spoonfuls of orange-tinted batter into the muffin tin, waiting around while they briefly baked in the hot oven and the room filled with the smell of warm cake. Muffins! They're honestly so great.

cinnamon orange muffins

a recipe by myself - makes 12

75g butter, melted
one cup milk
two eggs
the juice of one orange
two and a half cups flour
two and a half teaspoons baking powder
half a cup brown sugar
a teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon

25g soft butter
quarter of a cup brown sugar
half a teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon
the grated zest of the orange
three tablespoons flour

Set your oven to 180 C/350 F and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tray. Or put little cupcake holders in them if you like, this will certainly save on a lot of washing later. 

In a large bowl, mix the butter, milk, eggs and orange juice till everything is well-dispersed and you can't see any one ingredient floating about being all individual, if that makes sense. I mean, just mix them all together, that's all, really. 

Tip in the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Very, very gently mix it all together - just turn it around and over a few times with your spoon, not worrying if everything's still all lumpy and the flour isn't 100% incorporated. Drop heaped spoonfuls of the batter into the muffin tin until all the batter is used up and the muffin tin is evenly filled. 

Quickly mix together the remaining ingredients - you can either bash it with a wooden spoon or use your fingertips to work in the butter, either way you want to end up with a dusty, crumbly, floury mix. Sprinkle a little of this evenly over each of the uncooked muffins. Bake for about 18 minutes, then allow to sit for about ten minutes before removing and eating, preferably sliced with more butter spread across. Because of the crumbly topping, you'll probably need to run a knife around the edge of each muffin, but they should slide out easily. 

Look, muffins are so excellent. They take hardly any effort to make - in fact, if you put too much effort into stirring the mixture together they'll toughen up like an old sponge. A mere gentle prod is all you need to bring the ingredients towards each other, then less than 20 minutes in the oven, and you have freshly baked goods. Isn't that wonderful though? These are as winningly cinnamon-y as I'd hoped they'd be, with the pinpricks of orange zest in the crumbly topping and the juice of the orange in the batter giving gentle citrussy sweetness. If I had to sum up these muffins in one word it would be: snug. They tasted snug.

by this point I was literally just carrying the muffin around the house being all "here are more pretty things that I can photograph, I'll just put the muffin on it and not care about whether you'd actually normally consume a muffin amongst a trolley of succulents") 

It's my birthday this Friday! Oh my gosh! How audacious of me! I've decided that my birthday treat to myself is going to be to break my general mood of grim austerity to buy myself a way cool outfit to wear to the joint birthday party that my flatmate and friend Charlotte are having the following day, and frankly I'm so excited about going clothes shopping. I saw this ridiculously amazing fluffy yellow oversized cardigan in a shop in town which in my daydreams looks incredible on me, so I guess that's what I'm going to make a beeline for (and may end up looking like a literal bumblebee, or perhaps a small Big Bird, but we'll see.) But what do I really want for my birthday, I conveniently imagine you asking? My needs and wants are simple, I simply want the following:

~ A pair of Victorian-ward-of-the-state-esque black boots for both work and frivolous times
~ more tattoos, or at least one more tattoo, singular
~ more hair dye in pastel blue, purple, peach, pink, whatever
~ Maldon sea salt and excellent coffee beans
~ a pet cat (c'mon universe, you know I deserve this)
~ the makings of a mighty liquor cabinet - perhaps a glamorous bottle of gin, some thoroughly decent peaty whisky, and a bottle of dry vermouth. Also some Disaronno and port and dark rum and I guess I've thought about this a lot.
~ a fake fur coat
~ a little record player so I could finally play all my records again
~ a cinnamon-scented candle, or something similarly glorious
~ some crystals for doing witchy deeds
~ Marc Jacobs Oh Lola perfume, I've run out and am utterly too broke to buy more, this is entirely my own fault for repeatedly using it instead of my Nivea roll-on and calling it "baller deodorant" but still
~ a facial but where someone pretty much just pats your hair and rubs the pressure points above your eyebrows and tells you that everything's going to be okay and makes your skin smell incredible
~ to be financially chill enough to go to brunch more often (slash: at all)

So simple, those needs and wants of mine! I will report back after my birthday as to how successful I was with this list. Fingers crossed! But also I like to think I make my own luck. But fingers crossed as a back-up, in case that's what the universe arbitrarily requires from me.
title from: Lana Del Rey, Radio. I just love her so much, quite frankly. 
music lately: 

Crucial Conflict, Hay. I found a "top 20 songs" list I made in 1996 and this song was on it, I am pretty sure I haven't listened to it since that very time? It still goes hard though and honestly should be having its own No Diggity type revival (No Diggity was on the list too, haha)

One Direction, I Would. Don't talk to me about Zayn leaving, okay? It's still too soon (but honestly, who could blame him, all that relentless touring must've wilted those boys down like a three-day-old bouquet of flowers) (I love this song so so much still though)
next time: I'm gonna try so hard to cook stuff more often and take photos of it more often! Y'know, like, be a blogger. 

5 April 2015

the earth will wave with corn, the gray-fly choir will mourn

cornbread cookie squares with maple buttercream: whoever named this was being paid by the word amiright?

It took me so stupidly long to write this post that I'm pretty sure I hit diminishing returns ages ago: two attempts to write were lost to persistent and heavy naps, a jolt of energy from seeing the Blood Moon last night after work had me writing enthusiastically at 1.30am, and then between daylight savings and my body's truculent inability to sleep when it ought, I was up at 7am today determined to finish this damn thing and not let it drag out any further. 

So! It's April! It's Easter weekend! I love Easter so much - chocolate is in season, it's a holiday but you're not obliged to get anyone presents, it's usually kinda cold and snuggly in the weather department, and the days off cut into not one but two short weeks. It's a bit weird that you can't buy alcohol on Good Friday or Easter Sunday, but it's nice that more people than usual get a day off or something close to it. Seriously though, the alcohol thing is so weird. Some American tourists at work asked me why we have this rule and I could not think of a decent reason.

April also means that my birthday is fast approaching, and I hope you're all preparing appropriately (harvesting feast ingredients, staying up late to make garlands of flowers, making offerings to the full moon, attempting augury "just because", praying to Lucy Liu.) I'm continuously baffled that I'm turning 29 entire years of age and it's not just an elaborate Truman Show-level prank where I've been lied to this whole time and I'm actually only turning 24. Like, as if I'm nearly 29. What a ridiculous and vulgar notion. Realistically though, it's...going to literally happen.  

I ate that missing piece, quite joyfully

While my imminent birthday only intensifies my usual "what is my life" and "what does it meeeean" and "what even am I doing" vibes, I am cautiously reckless with optimism on account of my tarot card for April. It is the deliciously full-of-promise Nine of Wands - nine is my lucky number, and it signifies lots of good things like overcoming fear and doubt; achieving things I'm working hard at; letting go of struggles from the past; and just generally thriving and living my best life. So far in April all I've managed to do is go to work and nap and berate myself for not blogging or tidying my room, which is not quite as thrivey as I'd like to be, but I did do some baking and deliver it hither and yon to good people (my girlfriend, my dear Kate, my friend Jen, my own face) so I can ride on the coattails of this small accomplishment for at least another week, I daresay. The thing I baked bears the faintly irritating name of Cornbread Cookie Squares with Maple Buttercream (like, could this name be trying any harder?) but it's so very good, so very easy, and, like all things I make, so very delicious.

I just realised that I kind of named this since I adapted the name to fit my adaptation of the recipe so way to backhandedly mock yourself, Laura

Despite the word cookie in the title it's basically just an iced slice, but tinged with sweet gritty cornmeal, which makes it a little different and unusual without distracting from its comfortingly recognisable cake-ness. I saw the recipe online while undoubtedly dicking about distracting myself from necessary tasks, and it was one of those serendipitous moments where I knew I had all the necessary ingredients on me and could spontaneously make it without having to buy anything. That's a good enough reason for me, plus I just haven't baked in a while, but I was also curious as to how it would incorporate cornbread vibes - cornbread being one of my favourite things to eat - into something sweet. I changed the recipe a bit to suit my needs (example: anything that calls for one egg plus one egg yolk, which the original recipe did, makes me feel very tired for some reason, so I left out the extra egg yolk and added in more sour cream) and threw it together with charming ease and speed on Tuesday afternoon, and insistently recommend that you try it too sometime.

cornbread cookie squares with maple buttercream

adapted from this recipe. Also I used maple-flavoured syrup because I am a monster or something.  

125g soft butter
one cup sugar
one egg
three tablespoons sour cream 
half a cup cornmeal
two cups flour
one teaspoon baking powder

75g soft butter
one and a half cups icing sugar (or so)
three tablespoons (or so) maple syrup 

Set your oven to 180 C/370 F and line a brownie/slice tin with baking paper.

Beat the butter and sugar together till light and creamy, then add the egg and sour cream and continue to beat energetically for a bit till it's well mixed in and everything is even lighter and fluffier. Gently stir in the cornmeal, flour, and baking powder, which should result in a damp, dense, slightly crumbly cookie-dough type mixture. Tip it into the baking tin and press down gently with the back of a spoon or your fingertips until it's evenly spread out. Bake for 15-20 minutes (check at around 18, I recommend) till it's golden and a little puffy. Allow to cool completely before icing thickly.

To make the icing, beat the butter and the maple syrup together, then carefully add the icing sugar (it's so light it tends to get flung out of the bowl easily in a cloud of dust, but maybe that's just me) till you have a thick, lush-looking icing. Spread it evenly over the cooled cake-thing, and then slice into squares. 

It's so cakey and dense and moist, yet firm and cookie-like, yet legit cornbread-ish, with the thickly spread icing jolting you with sweetness and lifting up all cornmeal's sweetness lurking in the base. The original recipe calls for honey in the icing, but I thought something with maple would give it a charmingly smoky intensity, and vigorous researching would suggest I am correct. It was so easy to make and so utterly rewarding and tastes so stupidly lovely, I can see this becoming ever so firm a fixture of my baking repertoire. 

to eat it or to lie down face first in it: that is the more interesting question Hamlet quite frankly

I guess I'd better wrap this up now before I end up taking the entirety of April to write this wretched post; especially when I could be much better put to use doing things like "thriving" and "oh my god do some laundry Laura" and so on. One properly productive thing I've been doing is continuing to put in work on a recipe list for a hypothetical Brilliant Second Cookbook, so I can be astonishingly ready should the opportunity arise. 

also being productive taking many selfies (the grubbier the mirror, the closer you are to...cleaning your mirror hopefully)

Also am being the most productive of all watching Buffy with my former roommate Ariel (and Kate.) Hanging out with a cat (and a Kate) is truly living your best life! Unless you're near a dog too: then you frankly could not be more blessed. April, you're giving me high hopes. 
title from: The Song of Purple Summer from the musical Spring Awakening. This song is so sad and beautiful and the harmonies ache, and if you can stand it/care at all you should definitely try watching the bootleg from Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff's last performance on Broadway, the harmonies go even harder and I for one SOBBED HEARTILY.  
music lately:

The Magnetic Fields, California Girls, I love a good scuzzy scuzzball of a song like this.

Allison Stone's gorgeous Landlocked EP. At first all I knew was that she was excellent on Twitter but it turns out she's also SUPER excellent on singing.

Kendrick Lamar, King Kunta. Indubitably a classic.
next time: my mum sent me some 85% dark chocolate in the mail (tis the season to chocolate!) and so I might try making something cool with that? Also going to attempt to not nap so much while I'm trying to write.