31 May 2008

12 Hour Party People


Now for the dinner-type stuff, admittedly not as alluring as Budino di Cioccolata, but then healthy can have its charms...

This rather beautiful noodle broth that I made for dinner the other night is starting to feel like a very distant memory. I'm struggling to think of anything I ate in the last 24 hours that had any discernable vitamin content. But oh what a good time we had. Tim and I decided that we owed it to ourselves to bunglingly attempt drunkenness last night, what with the stress of the semester finishing and all. Unfortunately we didn't get any photographic evidence (I spend 97% of my time in jeans or trackpants so when I do manage to get gussied up I like ocular proof) but we spanned the length and breadth of Cuba St and Courtney Place, dipping in and out of bars, (and stumbling into a house party) before settling in the Welsh Dragon. Mercifully it wasn't raining and we didn't run into any crackheads (although there was that wild-eyed lad at 2.30am in Burger King who cried "don't be sucked in! It's what the big corporations want!" before dashing off leaving a trail of saliva...) We'd had fish and chips for dinner and I finished the night with a bag of twisties (the best part, in my curmudgeonly opinion, of going out drinking, apart from coming home and going to bed) and then this morning we, along with Paul, Katie and Anna, shared two pizzas and some hot chips for brunch. It certainly seemed like a good idea at the time...

Above: But just looking at this broth makes me feel a little better about my inevitable, pending obesity. To be fair, Tim and I never go out so it's not like this is some kind of vicious cycle we are entering. But yeah, I seem to veer wildly between virtuous eating and ridiculous culinary hedonism, I can't seem to stick to a proper 'plan' if you know what I mean. I guess as long as I eat enough lentils and keep having my oats in the morning things will be okay...Tim thinks it's psychological. Who knows? All I know is that too often I wake up feeling like some kind of visual aid for Morrissey's song "You're The One For Me, Fatty..." Anyhow, for this broth I used a mixture of soba and udon noodles, which, did you know, are just ridiculously good for people with diabetes. In a 90g serving of noodles, there is something like 64g of carbohydrates, and ZERO grams of sugar. Sorry to be a bore, but as Tim is diabetic, and I cook for him, I have thrown myself rather zealously into the pursuit of foods with a good simple-to-complex-carb ratio.

This was kind of based on the "Noodle Soup for Needy People" from Nigella Express, except that I used almost none of the same ingredients as her. Nevertheless, the recipe itself kicked me into action to make it in the first place, and I certainly have been feeling needy this week, so credit where credit is due. I did something I've never tried before, and added (perhaps unorthodoxly) a Zen teabag (Green Tea with Peppermint) to the water in which the vegetables were simmering. I've heard of green tea being used as broth for noodles before and was intrigued, and thought the minty aspect could only but perk up the flavours. I also added a spoonful of miso paste, a star anise, soy sauce, and finished with the tiniest shake of sesame oil. So delicious, and so much more complex and exciting in flavour than you might first think. It is also genuinely quite soothing to eat if your nerves are feeling jangled. I will definitely be making this again, and soon...it is like lipbalm for your chapped soul.

I seem to be having something of a Nigella Express renaissance at the moment. It's always fun rediscovering things...especially now that I have the time to do it.

Above: This Lamb, Olive, and Caramelised Onion Tagine, also from NE, is just so delicious. I could have eaten the whole thing on my own. To be fair, I say that about a lot of things so I understand if you think I'm exaggerating. Trust me, I never exaggerate. I didn't have the necessary jar of caramelised onions to hand - can you even get them in New Zealand? - so I just browned a couple of sliced onions and added a spoonful of brown sugar, hardly arduous stuff. You barely even need a recipe for this, just adjust proportions according to how many you have to feed. Place diced lamb, (the sort you need to slow cook), black pitted olives, capers, garlic, caramelised onions (or use my method) cumin, ginger, and good stock into a pot and either simmer (like I did) or bake gently for 1 1/2 -2 hours. I added frozen peas, because that's how I roll, and served it on a nubbly bed of organic burghal wheat. Which I managed - just - not to add any butter to.

Above: This post starts and ends with noodles it would seem. In Palmerston North (when I was there for Rent two weeks ago...or was it last week? Time is so blurry these days!) I found this shop by the bus stop which sold heaps of interesting food, including those vacuum packs of egg noodles for 79c! So I bought a couple and used one in a vaguely Chinese stir-fry thing the other day. Mince, a fat red chilli, vegetables, noodles, some soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil - very simple stuff, but very delicious. To be honest I didn't actually use those chopsticks to eat dinner by the way, just put them in the photo to make it look a bit more interesting...

For dinner tonight I made the Baked Tomato Polenta again, but it didn't look that great so I didn't even try to photograph it. Good grief it tastes nice though. Tonight is quite the contrast to last night- watched the director commentary of Rent (again), which totally re-affirmed my love for that film, as well as making me wish they'd just left Goodbye Love uncut, (anyway!) made dinner, read a bit, perused youtube, sat in on some league game happening on TV in the lounge (slightly more interesting than rugby, but then so is paint drying) and here I am. I much prefer to go out on Friday night anyway - there is nothing nicer than waking up in the morning and thinking it's only Saturday...

28 May 2008

"I'm As Free As A Bird Now..."


"and this bird you cannot change...ohhhhhh....*twelve minute guitar solo*...." ahem. Don't mind me, I'm just practically floating due to the enormous weight lifted from my shoulders - to wit - my last photography class was today. Hence why I've been humming Freebird (a song that will forever remind me of my parents dancing at their 25th wedding anniversary party four years ago...and yes, there's much more to Lynyrd Skynyrd than Sweet Home Alabama for those of you who only have the Forest Gump soundtrack...)

Because I'm feeling so darn sweet I've decided to stick to pudding photos tonight...dinner can wait for another day. Last night I was in a sort of crazy limbo zone - I'd submitted my final assignment for photography but I still had today's class to get through. However after all the many hours of my life that had gone into it (let me tell you, it's not fun walking home through the red light district in torrential rain at 9.30pm and knowing you have to go back again tomorrow to wrangle photoshop) I decided that a small pudding would be appropriate. So; crumble for two.

Above: I didn't follow Nigella's recipe at all (I'm talking about the Jumbleberry Crumble from Nigella Express) apart from cooking times, but I definitely credit her with the inspiration. I mean, I didn't have anything resembling "jumbleberries" and I always just make up my own crumble toppings...but I wouldn't have thought to make it had I not been flicking through this book.

My version ended up having a base of canned peaches and a sliced apple. Low-rent, sure, but I love canned peaches, and I have a bit of a nostalgic view of them (well, as nostalgic as someone who only turned 22 last month can possibly be) since quite a few of the puddings I had as a child involved canned peaches...Peach crumble, for one thing, but also peach sponge-topped pudding, peaches and ice cream, peaches, cornflakes and evaporated milk...I tend to make a lot of crumble topping - even for two smallish ramekins - out of foresight, because there's no use pretending I won't eat half of it before it gets sprinkled on the fruit. Have you ever tried raw crumble topping? There's something incredible about that combo of butter, brown sugar, flour...I also craftily added a large spoonful of custard powder which gave a certain creaminess to the crumble mixture, and made the fruit somehow saucier. Anyway before your arteries start throbbing in sympathy I added rolled oats to this as well which means that the butter barely even counts. These were so delicious - I don't make crumble that much, but every time I do it feels like the perfect, unimprovable pudding and I wonder why the heck I ever make anything else.

Above: Buddino Di Cioccolata, half done. I knew I was going to want something rather ridiculous for pudding tonight to celebrate. What could be more ridiculous than this silky, silky chocolate pudding? (also from Nigella Express)

I used some of my Donovan's 80% dark chocolate purchased from the Wellington Food Show. I only tried the milk (which is 50%) at the show, so I couldn't resist having a nibble of this...I was very impressed, it was smooth and dark and slightly bitter but rounded (not sure if I'm describing this properly here) and perfect to counter the richness of this pudding. No recipe this time because I just can't be bothered but I found a copy of it here (sorry it's in American measurements though!)

Above: I took this photo on top of our washing machine. The cup was part of a Living Kitchen set that my flatmates got me for my 21st last year and as you can see, doesn't just have to be used for measuring...This chocolate pudding was just so silky, I realise that's the third time I've used the word but I just can't think of a more pertinent synonym right now. Seriously, the texture is amazing, and provided you have fairly decent cocoa and chocolate, so is the flavour. Tim, Paul and I ate this while watching Scrubs tonight (that show has managed not to jump the shark yet, am I right? Mind you, there was that musical episode...) and all agreed that yes, Nigella is high priestess of the universe. What better way to celebrate never having to stress about photog again than with chocolate?

Speaking of amazing women...I'm sorry to keep bothering you with Idina Menzel videos (*voice offstage* "you're not sorry at all!") but truly, I am continually astounded by Youtube. (and her, obvs.) Just when I think there can't be much left to find, a video will pop up that I've never seen before. Tim, bless him, keeps pretending to be interested when I relay this information to him. Tonight I discovered what is allegedly Idina's first performance of Over The Moon from when Rent moved to Broadway. Even if it's not, it's the only video of this song that I've seen from that era - 1996! - and it's an amazing piece of history...

Thank you deeply for the ongoing well-wishing during my photography class, I hope I didn't come across as too petulant (even though most of the time I probably was being petulant) because I did get a lot out of the class and also appreciate all your kind words! Here's hoping next term isn't quite so stressful. If I sound a little manic in this post, well, you already know why. I still have two exams to get through but it's amazing how much lighter my brain feels already. Oh, and funnily enough all this business with my photography assignment hasn't put me off Tetris. In the Guinness Book of Records Gamers Edition (yes, such things exist), I found that the record score was 9,999,999. I think I've got it in me to challenge that...

25 May 2008

Block Rockin' Beets


It is a fine time to be a Renthead (insofar as I am able to consider myself one) in the greater lower North Island region as of late. I don't have time to give a full blow-by-blow review of the production of Rent that I saw in Palmerston North on Friday ("oh no! whatever shall we do!" I hear you cry), well, not yet. Briefly though, it was very good, really quite slickly done with nice attention to detail (I'm 99% sure that the girl who played Mimi had been listening carefully to Daphne Rubin Vega in "Goodbye Love," it matched note for note.) Also I'm happy to report that the photo of the cast that I saw really must have been a bad one - the guy who played Collins was much nicer looking, and Collins-ier in person. The only thing that really annoyed me was that Mark was far too camp and the waiter at the Life Cafe wasn't nearly camp enough. Mark is awkward, not camp, and that's that. All told though, an excellent performance.

Above: Frankly, it's not a bad time to have me cook dinner for you either. I was at the Design campus from 10.30am till 6.15pm yesterday hunched feverishly behind a computer, moving things slowly from left to right on Photoshop. And I'll be back there before and after class today. I was somewhat tempted just to have the chippie cook dinner for me last night after all that but Tim, bless him, had endured the rain to get me free range eggs, spinach, and beetroot from the vege market, plus I thought a proper dinner might be good for the brain (not to mention the thighs). Unfortunately it just won't stop raining which means that it's impossible for me to get my final shots for the assignment due...tomorrow after work. It's raining right now in fact. If you don't hear from me for a while, it's probably because I've hightailed it to Tijuana.

I am such a fan of roasting beetroot, and they're very cheap at the moment. Paired with soft, crumbling, blindingly white feta cheese it enters the realms of "ridiculously delicious." Seriously, you know how a while ago (perhaps coinciding with the lamentable "cranberry and camembert" trend) it was wildly fashionable to pair spinach and feta together? Well beetroot is feta's newer, better accessory, as though it had discarded its floor length boho skirt (NB - I loved boho skirts. Flattering, comfy, thigh-concealing...) and picked up...you know I don't have any clue what is even fashionable these days. A shemagh? Passe already? My point being, beetroot and feta are meant to be together, and you'll see it everywhere soon, trust me. I'm not even sure if I invented this salad that I made for dinner last night- I mean, I didn't have a recipe for it but I'm sure I'm not the first to eat it- but here's what I did, if you're interested. Shrewdly, Tim bought a LOT of beetroot, so I'm sure they will appear regularly over the next couple of posts (as will carmine splotches over anything I'm wearing while making dinner...)

Above: Hey, why not look at it again. I'm tired, and it's not a great photo, (though I like how you can see the slice mark in the pistachio) so I guess you could consider this filler material.

Roasted Beetroot, Feta and Pistachio Salad with Sumac and Roasted Red Chilli Dressing.

(How cafe does that sound?!)
2 good-sized beetroot
1 large red chilli, halved and seeded (I used my lovely Orcona chillis)
Feta Cheese (only you know how much you want)
2 or so tablespoons pistachios (I used some from my precious stash that Mum sent me)

Heat oven to 200 C. I never bother to peel or wrap the beetroot, but if this is how you like it then be my guest. I just chop them into chunks, tip them into a roasting dish, (add the chilli here) and leave them in the oven for about 3/4 of an hour. Heating the chilli, funnily enough, seems to take out all the fire but leave behind that magical, smoky flavour. Since I can't handle much in the way of actual chilli, this suits me perfectly. Once the beetroot is tender, mix together 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon ground sumac, 2 tablespoons of water, and the red chilli, finely chopped. Tip the beetroot into a bowl and pour over the dressing, leave to cool. Finally, tumble over your chopped feta and pistachio nuts. I also biffed in the last of the organic sprouts from the Wellington Food Show. This serves two, although I could, without a doubt, eat the whole thing alone. It is a good recipe if you have bought some Sumac and are thinking "now what?!" There's also something about the red, green and white of the salad that makes me think it would be nice at Christmas...perhaps with some chopped mint sprinkled over.

Above: Because doing uni work all day makes me feel listless and needy, I decided to indulge in some form of pudding. I don't know who I thought I was kidding by combining a low fat option (Jill Dupleix' Banana Berry Ice Cream with brown-sugared yoghurt) and a blatantly not option (Vanilla Apples with Sweetheart Croutes from Nigella Express,) in the hopes that the former might cancel out the latter...

Above: The flavours actually went marvelously well together. The cold zing of the icecream lifted the buttery apples (literally - you chop them then stew them in butter) and the sweetheart croutes were, if kitchly named, a pleasantly crunchy contrast to everything else. But if you are going to make the ice cream - and I highly recommend you do - you should know it sets rock hard. I guess this is because there's no fat and barely any sugar to keep things mellow. So, take it out of the freezer a good 25 minutes before you want to serve it or you'll just have a bright pink slab that you can pick up with your hands and take a bite out of (how do I know this...?)

Above: I don't tend to go in for that whole "million photos of the same dish from different angles" approach on this blog but I couldn't help myself with this. It really is quite pretty.

My brain is so tired from all this uni stuff, and I really don't want to go back to the design campus (located handily in the throbbing heart of Wellington's red light district!) but I'm going to have to. It has been cold, windy and rainy here and I just want to lie in bed all day, watch DVDs, and bake (simultaneously, natch.) Soon, soon though. At any rate I'm sure I've learned some kind of important life lesson from this photog paper. More than I learned from that compulsory school trip in sixth form to the Outdoor Pursuits Centre, which I still bear the mental scars from. Why does everyone insist you have to go abseiling or climb an insurmountable hill in order to grow emotionally as a person?

One thing that has shaken me awake though was the discovery of some more videos of The Wild Party on Youtube, including - oh frabjous day - a clip of Idina Menzel singing The Life Of The Party. Seriously, I nearly fainted when I watched the video. She is incredible! For those of you who can't be bothered looking on Wikipedia, The Wild Party is - was - an off-Broadway show from 2000 based on the Joseph Moncure March poem, and is set in the 1920s. It bears the dubious distinction of being what got me into Rent (Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs originated roles in both musicals.) And for those of you who like it old-school, I also found an amazing clip of her singing Cornet Man from Funny Girl. Go on, indulge me. I'm feeling fragile. And it was my birthday recently...ish...or something.

22 May 2008

"To Days Of Inspiration..."


In one week Tim and I will, bar a couple of exams a-looming, have finished our penultimate semester at university. Scary stuff. Almost as scary as watching how much oil felafels absorb. Good grief. There I was thinking they were practically health food.

Above: I mean, what with the chickpeas and all. I even threw in a handful of organic sprouts (freebie from the Wellington Food Show!) I loosely followed a recipe from gorgeous blog The Puku, but had a bit of trouble making the chickpeas (whizzed into crumbs by the food processor) to form a manageable "paste" - refrigerating your felafel before frying helps though.

Above: Kindly ignore the carcinogenic bits. I'm truly terrible at shallow and deep frying, and it seemed that the small cakes blackened as soon as they hit the pan, sponging up an awful lot of oil without really cooking. They tasted fabulous despite all this, and don't take that long to warm through. Delightfully crunchy and nutty, warmly fragrant with cumin seeds...it's worth having the kitchen (inevitably) reek of oil and the house filled with smoke. And there's something about felafel that always reminds me of The Adventures of Hercules (used to be on Friday nights, before Xena), it used to be family viewing in my house and I'm sure there was some kind of humourous interlude regarding felafel. I realise I'm rambling here...

Speaking of those sprouts, I've had ZERO response from the people I handed out my business card to at the food show on Sunday. Still, nothing ventured...

Above: This soup was intensely annoying to photograph. I'd point the lens towards the bowl, the lens would steam up...repeatedly. So; sorry that it's not a great photo. The unfortunate thing about photographing one's dinner prior to consumption is that I'm usually very hungry and impatient.

Despite all my complainings about what a horrible time of year it is academically, it is a marvelous time to be in Wellington. One reason. The Wellington Library Book Sale. Ohhhhhh it's awesome. The library itself is amazing enough (They have the Wicked soundtrack and Cat Power and the John Peel compilations, and that's just their CD section) but their sale is, as Marjorie Dawes might say, "summin else!" I haven't had time this year for an extensive perusal but have managed to get my sticky paws on a couple of back issues of Cuisine, Gourmet Traveller, and Taste, and a most brilliant discovery - Claudia Roden's Food of Italy book. It's not a new book by any means (my copy was reprinted in 1999) and it's as fat as a chick-lit novel with no pictures. But I read the whole thing in two nights, and long to make everything from it. Nigella (of course) is the reason that Claudia Roden caught my eye in the first place, and I heartily suggest you look her up. Anyway, minestrone is one of the recipes in the book, and is what inspired last night's dinner.

Which ended up not resembling minestrone at all. But hey. It started off that way, with onion, carrots, celery and potato sweating it out in a pot. I added parsnips, which gave it an incredibly delicious sweetness, and a porcini stock cube from a parcel Mum sent me a while ago. A spoonful of tomato paste, and a handful or two of barley...and that was it. Very simple, but very, very good. I love being inspired in the kitchen.

Above: To go with, because I was so fired up with Italian-nicity by Roden's book, I decided to tinker with her baked polenta recipe to create something...not exactly original, (though I've certainly never seen it done before) but magically delicious at least. And face it, which is more important here?

I'm not quite sure if this recipe technically worked as such so I'm a little reluctant to hand out the recipe. It's kind of like eating a liquidised margherita pizza. And if you're wondering, the answer is yes. That is indeed my breakfast smoothie of choice.

Above: Tim and I ate ALL of this, even though it probably could serve four. And, uh, we could have ate more, had there been some to hand.

Baked Tomato Polenta

150g polenta
600mls water
400g can chopped tomatoes
Cheese and butter at your own discretion...

I'm not sure that it matters whether or not you use the coarse, gritty polenta or the finer, flourier stuff. I used a mix of both because I had a tail-end bag of each. Oh and if you can't find it at the shop, try looking for "cornmeal" (same diff...)

Put the polenta and water in a good sized pot, and stir vigorously to break down any lumps. Bring to the boil slowly, stirring in one direction only. This is very important. I couldn't even begin to imagine why. Now it's worth pointing out here that when I made this last night, it didn't really boil but thickened hugely, with the occasional slow-moving bubble breaking the surface. I can only presume I was doing the right thing as the end result tasted fab. As it gets very thick keep stirring, keep this up for a couple of minutes over a low heat. Add butter if you like (and I do!) and a handful of grated cheese too. Remove from heat, stir in the can of tomatoes, which will turn it a glorious orange colour. Spread this mixture into a small roasting dish - the sort you might bake brownies or slice in - sprinkle over grated cheese and cover with foil. Now, bake it for about 45 minutes, removing the foil and grilling it at the end if you like. Now, this won't quite be sliceable - unless yours turns out as Roden intended - but there is nothing wrong with a sludgy scoop of it in a bowl. It is ridiculously good; it belongs in the upper echelons of "ultimate comfort food."

Tim got up at 5am today to go to a pub with Paul to watch Man U (about whom Paul is fanatical) play Chealsea. For everyone's sakes, I'm so glad they won. I prefer a more leisurely start to my Thursday, (first sleep-in of the week!) so I rose at 8am, and, thinking I had the flat to myself, began singing VERY LOUDLY and expressively along to Rent. It was with a red face that I greeted Emma as she came out of her room some time later. My singing voice could charitably be described as "thin, but lustily enthusiastic"... I decided to do a repeat performance of Nigella's muesli muffins that I first made earlier this year (click *here* for the link to the recipe, which I can't be bothered posting twice) and loved. With their oaty interior and potential for fiddling with (and fiddle I did) they seemed like the ideal thing to make this morning for when Tim returned home, bleary eyed.

Above: As with last time, I didn't have any actual muesli to hand, so improvised with rolled oats, linseeds, currants, and chopped, dried apricots. Instead of buttermilk I used half milk and half Greek yoghurt (that I had incubated a few days previously). I reduced the sugar and squirted in a rippling spoonful of golden syrup, just for kicks.

Above: I love this recipe. Tim and I had one each and I put the rest in a Tupperware container, to try and shove into our crowded freezer. I've taken to making a batch of muffins and freezing them, either for Tim when he gets low blood sugar, or just for a snack to stop myself buying forty-five chocolate bars from the 4-Square down the road in a moment of desperation. Surprisingly useful on both counts.

This time tomorrow I will be in Palmerston North, for Rent, before zooming back to Wellington again on Saturday morning. I'm pretty excited although it has come around so fast that I haven't had much time to think about it (which is probably a good thing, as it squashes such deep-seated issues as Their Collins is white! and Will people moo? and such and such) I have my final photography assignment due on Tuesday, and it's going to mean a lot of time spent, mole-like and dry-eyedly blinking behind the computers at uni. I can't even be sarcastic about how "fun" that's going to be.

It's probably worth mentioning that we have something resembling a flat cat (emphatically not a pet, as they are forbidden on the lease, and anyhow I'm 99% positive that a cat this sleek must belong to someone.) It is a gorgeous little tabby - the sort that hasn't quite grown out of "large kitten" stature and never will - and he comes and visits us regularly. We have dubbed him Oscar (as in Wilde - well, we are a flat of BA students) and he is really flipping adorable. I'm sure many of you won't need me to prompt you, (and I apologise if this errs too far on the side of geeky for some of you) but if you feel like a dose of kitteh hilarity then you really should visit I Can Has Cheezburger? Lolcats galore!

19 May 2008

"So Ya Thought Ya Might Like To Go To The Show"


So; Tim and I went to the Wellington Food Show on Sunday afternoon. By the end companies are practically throwing food at you at drastically slashed prices or even - oh bliss - free. Initial thoughts: Oy with the pesto already! How many over-oily purveyors of this paste does New Zealand need? (and I say that as someone who could drink the stuff.) It was good to see a solid gluten-free presence, and kudos to the wine and beer people being generous pourers! Being the diligent blogger that I am, I brought along my camera and homespun, slightly low-rent business cards (it's business time!) And I received a lot of quizzical looks.

I thought there might be other local food bloggers there (am I the only one?) Most people either didn't know what I was talking about, thought I was doing a school project, or that I was some kind of produce research Lindsay Naegle-type person. I am but a meek harbinger of opinion and slowly-improving photographs, all in the name of love for food and cooking. If any of the people who I handed my business cards to are reading this; I simultaneously apologise if, and guarantee that, your product isn't photographed perfectly. Live a little.

Above: Barkers Apple and Pomegranite Juice. Free samples taste so much better when you ignore the voice in your head that says "$20 entrance fee!? Did they think we wouldn't notice the price hike?"

Above: Tim and I found this European Import stand which - wunderbar! - handed out samples of the Haribo bears that we had become so enamoured of in England.

Above: We sampled the Orchard Delight jam liberally; it is made the old-fangled way with no dodgy added ingredients and tastes wonderfully, genuinely fruity.

Above: See? Other people agreed. Just look at all that jam schmeered everywhere. The good people of Orchard Delights gave me their business card; they don't have a website but send enquiries to rimufoods@gmail.com or, you know, you could buy some in the supermarket.

Above: While we are in the realm of preserves, the man at the St Andrews Limes stand (I presume the rackish omission of apostrophe is on purpose?) was very patient as I knocked over his sample bowls while trying to take a photo. I do like to make my own curd but if you are one of those "gee, who has the time these days?" kind of people you could definitely do worse than to purchase a jar from these guys. The lime curd, which I tried, was pleasantly zingy but with that marvelously buttery-creamy aftertaste that only real curd affords. You can find them online at http://www.limes.co.nz/.

Above: The man at Rutherford and Meyer tried to convince me that there were quality high-res photos of their products online that I could use. And well he might. This photo is awful. I was in a hurry and didn't have my tripod and the lighting wasn't good so I couldn't capture the jewel-like shimmer of the various fruit pastes; nor obtain clarity of colour. Oops. They were delicious, anyway, and could be used in many different ways - although plonking one on your cheeseboard would be perfect... See much nicer pictures and recipes at the Rutherford and Meyer site.

Above: The people at Wallace Harmony foods were very enthusiastic - I hope they weren't under the illusion that I wield actual clout or something - and gave me lots of pamplets as well as marvelously delicious samples of sausages, bacon and ribs. I've said many a time that Tim and I don't eat a lot of pork. When we do, we try our best to find "happy pig" products, which are few and far between. And this is usually what we go for - genuine free range pork. I can't recommend them enough - put down that greying, pre-cooked sausage and listen - people like these are the way of the future. I may sound a little high and mighty but if I can be a mere student and support free range meat I'm sure you can. Trust me, bacon tastes extra-crispy with a side serving of righteousness. They don't have a website but email harmony@wallace.co.nz to find out if they are stocked near to you.

Above: The fantastic people at Orcona Chillis 'n Peppers gave me 6 plump, glossy red chillis for $2 when I only asked for three, and practically fell over themselves to rearrange the baskets of beautiful chillis so I could better photograph them. Unfortunately this was my best shot. They have an extensive range of products including an intriguingly knobbly variety of chilli and plenty of sauces/relishes of varying heat intensity. Visit their site at http://www.chilli.co.nz/ if you fancy yourself the "pope of chilli town." (As Chief Wiggum once said...)

Above: I bought a tub of organic brown rice miso paste from these people, and got a free bottle of shitake sesame salad dressing...and I'm beggared if I can remember what they are called. I must have neglected to nab a business card off them. The label on the bottle says natural organic foods, but have you tried googling that lately? Carnage. I sincerely apologise as the guy was really nice, and soy products have a special place in my heart. Speaking of soy, mad props to the folks at So Good who were verrrrry generous with their giveways of soymilk packs. I think they were just surprised that I was so enthused about the stuff...

Above: Okay, so "sprouts" aren't exactly the most come-hither of foods, but these were crunchy and delicious and organic and you should know, going by my stance on lentils, how into sprouts I would be. I was given a free pack by the lady at The Wright Sprouts stand, and I couldn't seem to get a good photo of their logo so by all means visit their website if this sort of thing floats your boat. They know what they are talking about.

Above: And now for something completely different - Hamilton-based Donovan Brothers Chocolate. I purchased three dark chocolate blocks (80%) for $10 which was rather thrilling as it means I have a solid supply to bake with. One thing I will say though is that their blocks are an awkward 210 grams each. Now, when most recipes call for round figures - 100g, 250g, 200g - what made them decide to make it this size? Anyway, I'll forgive the dubious looks I got from the guys at the stall for taking my photos, because the chocolate is very, very good.

Above: Doesn't this look incredible, like a jewel-studded pile of gold? (Just me?) The Original Smoke and Spice Co. were hugely friendly and good grief their gourmet salt was fabulous. Smoky, complex, flavoursome, I could imagine it being very useful in the kitchen. Check out their website at http://www.smokeandspice.co.nz/.

Above: I'm afraid I can't remember the name of this stall at all, but it was displaying a whole swag of compelling kitchen gadgetry. The guy who seemed to be in charge was in fact the only person who actually understood what I meant by food blogging, in fact he has his own blog (about sailing)...which makes me feel worse that I didn't commit the company name to memory.

Above: Lots of shiny, shiny gadgetry. I had to hold myself back. Last year I was overtired (Tim and I had been up since 5am doing essays) and bought lots of ridiculous things, including a (surprisingly useful) mini tartelette tray and a large bottle of Creme de Peche.

Above: Finally, we paused to "ooh" and "ah" over the display cakes. Beautiful...

Above: Our haul. Amongst the exciting bargains - three bags of bagels for $5, 2 packs of real stock (I got fish and beef) for $5 (normally $10 each!) a LOT of free soymilk...and Tim got a whole ton of beer. Everyone wins! As long as the price doesn't go up again, I can't wait till next year's show. Thanks to all the tireless workers (emphatically not the ones who packed up at 5.15 though!) and to everyone for being so obliging as I took photos of everything.
As I said in the last post, it was going to be a very busy weekend. I caught up with the Lees, (extended family of mine from home) and we had a fabulous meal at the Black Harp pub on Featherston St. I would normally give some kind of review but I need to rest my weary head; if you are ever in Wellington you should absolutely go there for lunch. It's much better than its not terribly promising exterior looks. Kieran (ex-flatmate) was also down for the weekend and I'm pretty sure we got very drunk at some stage. I also studied, read 2/3rds of Samson Agonistes, and...haven't managed to get started on my next photography assignment. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, but it's a dim one...

15 May 2008

"Some Things I Cannot Change..."


..."But till I try I'll never know..." Argh. I mean, I posted those Tetris photos last time breezily saying how I was prepared for them to be criticised. Heck, I even quoted Back To The Future. But secretly I thought they were cool. The teacher absolutely hated them and told me as much in our interim presentation on Wednesday (worth 20% of the assignment's grade!) I kid you not, I actually started to tear up right there in class. My throat got tight, my nose got prickly, and I could only but sullenly nod at her before racing out of the class to sob in the girls' loo for 20 minutes. Once again; she was well within her rights to say that, also, they probably were "technically awful," but how the heck am I supposed to pick up the camera and carry on with the assignment now? On top of that everything negative that she said about the last assignment in class applied directly to what I had done. I felt like I was twelve years old again. I felt like hugging my mother. I felt made of fail.

So yeah, I hit the butter pretty hard.

Above: After watching a performance on youtube of 'Popular' from the musical Wicked, featuring Kristen Chenoweth and the ever-ridiculously-astounding Idina Menzel, (yes, my fangirl-ness extends to youtubing musicals I've never even seen), I felt like creating some pink and green iced cupcakes. After all, as Glinda says, "Pink goes good with green." I don't know why I thought cupcakes would be a good way of expressing this, or indeed that it needed to be expressed at all, but it certainly filled my baking-as-catharsis brief for the time being...

Above: And looked rather cute to boot, no?
I've made these so many times and in so many forms that I don't need a recipe, but you might: Take 125g each of soft butter and caster sugar, beat till fluffy with a wooden spoon, add two eggs, (beat beat beat) a little vanilla extract (beat beat) and 125g flour (still beating with your wooden spoon). Finally, you scoop the mixture into a 12-bun muffin tin, (with paper liners in each indentation) or into 12 or so endearingly pretty silicon cupcake holders like mine. Bake at 180 for about 15 minutes. This recipe is courtesy of Nigella, and is actually in every single book she has done, in one guise or another. Double the recipe and add baking powder and it becomes a Victoria Sponge recipe, to be baked for about 30-ish minutes in two paper-lined 20cm springform tins, and sandwiched together with any number of combinations of things...cream, lemon curd, jam, mascarpone, stewed rhubarb, banana slices, dulce de leche...

Above: I've made these biscuits/cookies (choose as applicable depending on hemisphere) and seriously loved them. Just to show how versatile the recipe is, in the book they are called chocolate chip fruit and nut cookies. In the ones I made there were none of these components (apart from a certain necessary amount of cookie!) and instead I doubled the oats, loaded in pumkin seeds, and then threw caution to the wind by adding linseeds (some throw caution to the wind by, I don't know, skydiving. I add linseeds.)

I managed to refrain from eating all the mixture this time.

And yes, I did manage to get some study done yesterday, but I truly had hit a brick wall when it came to the photography assignment and couldn't bring myself to get started on it again. I'll need to harden up soon and get on with it, but yesterday I couldn't help but wallow, walrus-like, in the solace of the kitchen for a little longer...

Above: It just occured to me that if you zoomed in on this picture, maybe upped the saturation somewhat, it might look like an early Pink Floyd record sleeve. This technicolour mix is actually an uber-wholesome combo of ripe bananas and frozen berries, plus a spoonful of brown sugar, which I turned into ice cream. Well, is it ice cream if there is no cream in it? Jill Dupleix thinks so, and I salute her for coming up with such a splendidly delicious recipe, but the finished product has more of a sorbet-like granular, slushy texture. No matter, it tastes pretty incredible and can claim to be gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, almost sugar free (one tablespoon! and it was my idea, not the recipe), and even vegan. Who would have thought I'd ever make something vegan?

This came to be, not only because I had a whole lot of cheaply bought baking bananas that I couldn't get rid of fast enough, but because Tim and Paul (with a little help from the rest of us) valiantly cleaned out our fridge (well, one of them; we are a two-fridge family in this flat) which was so bung that the ice growth on the back wall had literally grown over some of our food and encased it. Anyway, they found a half-bag of frozen berries that I'd bought and were going to biff them (I know) but luckily thought I might want them. And so, to justify their existense, and to get rid of the scary bananas, I made Jill Dupleix' icecream from Lighten Up.

Above: I don't go in for bananas in a huge way, but good grief this is delicious. And not because of all that it lacks, or even because of all the vitamins and potassium it contains (though I believe they do add that extra zing) but because of what it has: a gorgeous, deeply pink hue; an amazing sorbet-like texture, and the intense flavour of fruit, unadulterated and allowed to taste of itself. (I know, I know, I've totally been drinking her Kool-Aid)

I think (lazily) that Dupleix' recipe is a little unnecessarily complicated, so here's what I did: Take six or so ripe bananas (cut away any brown bits) and chop them very roughly into a bowl. I mean, cutting them in two is fine. Tumble in 150g of frozen raspberries (I had a berry mix which gives a lovely purple tinge to the pink mixture) or more if you like, I didn't bother to measure what I had but I think it was actually more than that. I also added a tablespoon of brown sugar to add a little sweetness; Dupleix specifies fresh berries which are sweeter. Leave them for twenty or so minutes for the berries to soften. Throw the whole lot in the food processor, blend till thoroughly smooth. Tip back into the bowl, or an icecream container, and freeze, stirring to break up ice particles at some stage of the proceedings. You won't be sorry.

Whither the dinner in all this?

Above: On Wednesday night I put sausages, potatoes, onions (love roast onions) yellow peppers and beetroot into a couple of roasting dishes, shoved them in the oven, and came back maybe an hour later to find dinner ready. Although Tim likes his sausages fried, they are so much easier done in the oven and I admit I rather like the hard, crispy exoskeleton they acquire after roasting. You probably already know how I feel about roasted beetroot; if not: LOVE IT.

This weekend is going to be instensely busy, what with extended family driving down from home, old-but-not-forgotten flatmate Kieran showing up on our doorstep yesterday with several bottles of hard liquor, creative differences with my photography teacher to sort out, tests to study for, mini-essays to write, and The Food Show. You can guess which of these things I am excited about. I have been practising for the Food Show (Hello, I'm a food blogger in the Wellington region. May I take a photo? Hello, I'm a food blogger....)

Oh and I booked a ticket to see Rent in Palmerston North next Friday. Am very excited, even if I'm going alone. Tim wouldn't be tricked by reverse psychology ("didn't want you to come anyway!") and there was no pending birthday to use an excuse, in fairness to him he was a very good sport about it last time. As luck would have it our recent flatmate Stefan has moved to The Palm so I have a spare room to crash in. All's I am saying is, they'd better not kill off Mimi like Levin did...that's right, I'm still not over it.

13 May 2008

Jamon, Jamon (Ham, Ham!)


We had fish and chips for dinner tonight. Sometimes I'm too exhausted from you know, going to lectures at 11am or whatever it is that students do, to make dinner so I do something like Tomato Rice or pasta with whatever's in the freezer biffed in it. Tonight I couldn't even get that far. As I've mentioned before, I get unnattractively grouchy if I can't cook dinner; let this be an indication of how munted I am from schoolwork. I'm not going to outline the details, they're not that interesting, but let me tell you this: my brain feels crispy.

Above: This actually is pasta with everything, and is what we had for dinner a few nights ago. Kindly take a moment to really admire the photo, because it took me a squillion goes to get it right, holding the ladle in my right hand, resting the mini-tripod against my bosom, (not, by any means, the most level of surfaces) and using my left hand to adjust the aperture and press the button...the things I'll do to have a macro shot like the cool kids! I'll warn you now, my photos aren't that great this time, but (external validation! Swoon!) my honeycomb picture two posts down was one of the most-hit-upon links on tastespotting.com! People rate me up there with Peanut Butter Green Tea Cupcakes with a Creme Brulee Centre and Vegan Mocha Peppermint Chip Frosting! (Ohhh, I'm not being snarky, but really, those cupcakes! I can haz clarity?)

Back to the pasta, I started off emulating Nigella's Baked Veal and Ham pasta, (minus the veal of course - can't afford) from How To Eat. In the end the only thing that the two had in common was ham and a splash of Marsala, and instead I just loaded the dish up with vegetables - capsicum, frozen peas, spinach, carrot, onion...it would have been a fairly healthy dinner had I not stirred a heap of butter into the pasta after draining it. Like a moth to the flame...

Above: Hot dish coming! And he's carrying pork! Oh go on, force out a chuckle. I got Tim to be the bearer of Sunday night's dinner because the there were no clean surfaces in the kitchen at the time and I didn't like the idea of putting it on the floor to take the photo. We hardly ever have pork, because I want quality, happy pig stuff which is even more expensive than your normal variety. But Tim and I saw that per kilo pork was cheaper than mince at the supermarket the other day, which is how we ended up with it. I served it, Italian-style (by which I mean, I don't know if it bears any relation to Italy) with a bowlful of brown lentils, into which I stirred spinach and tinned tomatoes. This is so easy and makes a proper, big dirty old fashioned roast.

Care of Nigella, via How To Eat.

Loin of Pork with Bay Leaves

(I should point out here that I'm not sure if what we had on Sunday was a loin - I'd totally fail at Letterman's Know Your Cuts of Meat game - but it worked fine anyhow)

6 T extra virgin olive oil (this is 125mls or half a cup, I dare say you could use less, I did)
4 cloves garlic, crushed somewhat
6 peppercorns, also crushed, or "bruised" as Nigella poetically instructs...
6 dried or fresh bay leaves
2 1/2 kilos loin o' pork, boned derinded and rolled (which will give you 1.8kg oven-ready pork)
1 medium onion
More bay leaves
150mls white wine.

In a large bowl or snaplock plastic bag, marinate the pork in the oil, garlic, and peppercorns (I used mild and beautiful pink ones), for as long as you have, be it one hour or 24 hours. I'd veer towards the latter but my pork only sat around for three and was scrumptious so there you go. I also only used two bay leaves in the marinade. Did you know, we have a bay tree at home, which has been my home for 22 years now, and it was only in April - last month - that I realised that what I thought was the bay tree was actually nothing of the sort, and the innocent bay itself was about three trees over. Goodness knows what I've been putting in our corned beef...Heat the oven to 200 C. Make sure the pork is at room temperature before you cook it. Tumble the pork with its marinade into a roasting dish, slice up the onion and add it along with more bay leaves as you wish. Roast for 1 3/4 hours, basting at regular intervals. Once it is done, use the wine to deglaze the pan for delicious gravy. Mm, pork fat. Oh and the onion bits taste incredible. Cook's treat. I actually used some bacon fat, leftover from flatmate Emma's morning fryup, to shmeer over the pork, this made the pan juices, and indeed my arteries, marvelously hammy.
This should serve six, if you follow directions. Our bit of pork had a whacking great bone in the middle, with some judicious carving it might have served four people who are far too polite to pretend how hungry they are. Or two with plenty of leftovers.

Above: With the leftovers the next night - Monday - I made a sort of salady thing (much to Tim's quiet dismay, having been cheated out of roast potatoes the night before, and now there were more lentils) comprising of the leftover pork, steamed brocolli, and more brown lentils. The salad was actually delicious, with wonderfully contrasting textures and the earthiness of the lentils and the red wine vinegar I splashed in cutting through the fat pork. I gotta say I have a lot of time for humble brown lentils - cheaper and slightly nuttier than the Puy variety and pleasingly they hold their shape unlike red lentils.

Perhaps one day people will link me with lentils the way that they mention Proust every time they make madelines.

Above: Patatas Bravas, which is Spanish for love. And is the awesomest thing Spain has ever graced us with (apart from, perhaps, Javier Bardem, hence the title of this post) Oh sure, I love roast potatoes (Nigella style, with semolina and buckets of fat) but this stuff is truly transcendant, and is what I made to go with the salad above. I first found it in The Accidental Vegetarian but never consult the recipe; you needn't either. Simply take lots and lots of floury potatoes, cube them, and while you are doing this heat up some olive oil in a roasting dish in a 200 C oven. Tip your potatoes into the hot roasting dish and let them bake for about 20 minutes till crispy. If you have garlic cloves on you, throw some in. After they've baked for a bit, stir in a tin or two of chopped tomatoes (depending on the size of your dish) and some chopped red chilli if you like (I don't) and put it back in for another 20 minutes or so. Viola, a vat of Patatas Bravas! Not to be particular about it but if you don't love this you hardly deserve tastebuds.
It's even better the next day.

Congratulations to Tim's mother who is graduating on Wednesday (again!) from Massey. Now Tim's mother is nice and all but when we are getting B's and whatnot at uni and the powers that be are having to invent new letters for her because A+ isn't high enough...well, it certainly spurs you on.

In non-food news, and if you're interested - these aren't the photos that got ridiculed last week, but in fact a new batch for the next assignment, ready for whatever criticism comes their way in class. I decided to post them because they took forever to do, but are never going to actually get used (they're basically a draft.) Maybe also to showcase the fact that I got to level 61 Tetris with a score of 980,000. I am a Tetris Savant. Of all things... Please excuse the crudity of my photos, they aren't finished products. Oh, and the concept itself - the classic tale, boy plays tetris, boy awakes to find tetris pieces floating everywhere, boy nearly crushed by stacking tetris pieces, boy at the mercy of however I figure out the end of the concept, Laura trying to convince everyone she didn't come up with this on an acid trip. (Am far too meek for that sort of thing; My density brought me here.)

Above: On the one hand, yes, Tim needs a haircut. On the other hand: Fierce!

Above: The red thing there is the roof of our flat (I spake the truth when I said we were wedged into a hill.) I realise the tetris pieces might look a little rough, but once photographed ($2 shop mosaic pieces!) every shape had to be painstakingly resized, the saturation adjusted, rotated, and layered on individually, with the background brushed out. Yeah, I don't understand Photoshop either.

Above: Model through it. The background shot of Tim wasn't terribly well lit, but the battery flattened on me and I didn't have time to take more. However I'm rather fond of this. Am very nervous about how it will all go in class, mind you I'm so tense I'll probably just burst into sobs when the teacher says hello, let alone actually starts to critique my work.

Better than crying though, would be to boldly inquire "What? Why?Be more constructive with your feedback, please. Why?"

(Passe, I know, to be quoting FOTC now and not in 2002 before they got enormous or something, but still a salient question, I feel.)

10 May 2008

"I've Said It Once Before But It Bears Repeating"


To liberally paraphrase Elton John, Saturday night's alright for writing essays. It has to be. I shouldn't even be here, but I've allowed myself a break from wrangling Renaissance English. It's not a good sign when I can't even understand any of the essay questions...I can't be hating on this though, even when it means I'm stuck behind the computer typing feverishly all weekend. How could you possibly dislike a play (Jonson's The Alchemist) whose very second line is "I fart at thee?" A play which contains the phrase: "Thou look'st like Antichrist, in that lewd hat?" (which makes me long to find something fitting the description of a lewd hat.) Of course you couldn't. But still, 2500 pithy, succinct, brilliant words need to be produced asap.
Don't even get me started (truly, I said plenty enough in the last post) on the interim photographs I'm supposed to present on Wednesday for my next photog assignment, which is, just for kicks, worth 20 percent of the final grade of said assignment. Who knows when I'll have time to do them, between classes, essays and work - perhaps if, Yorkshireman-style, I get up half an hour before I go to bed and work for 29 hours, I might just get it done.

As I mentioned ruefully in my last post, it seems that whenever I swear off pudding I always end up waist deep in the stuff. I wonder if I vowed solemnly only to eat pudding, would I be wearing a size zero by the end of the week? Sheer luxury indeed.

Above: Now, I know using the microwave to actually, y'know, cook, basically means you forfeit your right to consider yourself a decent human being in some circles. Oh, I won't lie, I don't think the microwave is that brilliant as a sole means of producing meals. It sure helps though.
When I was younger - maybe ten? - there was a lengthy stretch of time where we didn't have an oven for some reason (seriously, Mum, why?) and we cooked all our meals with -brace yourself- an electric frypan and the microwave. I still remember this amazingly good "feather pudding" that Mum used to whip up occasionally, golden syrup on the bottom and sponge on top...anyway, snapping out of that radioactive haze of reminiscence, surely a microwave can't be that bad if it managed to produce something like the chocolate pudding pictured above. This pudding is just stupidly chocolatey and rich. And it cooks in 5 minutes...literally.

Above: The batter is magically delicious too. Don't lose a finger (or your tongue!) on the processor blades.

Microwave Chocolate Pudding (from Nigella's How To Eat)
  • 120g butter
  • 250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1t vanilla extract (if it's essence then don't bother)
  • 125ml cream (yes, cream)
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 3 eggs

Butter a 1 litre bowl generously. In the food processor, whizz up the chocolate till it is in rubbly, small chunks. I'm warning you, this will make the most unholy sound, so be ready. Don't make this beside a sleeping baby or in a monastery or something. Add the butter, whizzing again, and the sugar, and then the rest of the ingredients. Scrape into the bowl, cover tightly with microwave safe clingfilm. Cook on high for 5 minutes, or until set - it might take an extra minute or so as ovens vary, don't put it in for too long though or it could turn to delicious rubber. Remove from the oven, pierce the clingfilm and then cover the bowl with a plate and sit for ten minutes. I don't know why, this is just what Nigella says. Who am I to argue. Serve. Feel your thighs expanding with every mouthful.

Above: Once more, with feeling.

I was obviously seriously frazzled while writing my last post as I didn't even add a "Lentil Power" tag to it though we had demonstrably consumed lentils. We haven't had any since, but I did make another dish from Jill Dupleix' Lighten Up. This book has proven to be very useful, I mean, I wasn't that fussed when I first flicked through it at the bookshop but I have used it heaps so far. Can't judge a book by its cover...bwah! (sorry)

Above: Not a great photo sorry, but it was getting cold and I couldn't seem to get rid of my own shadow!

This is a very, very simple lamb tagine. On Thursday morning Tim and I went to the store to spend a grocery voucher I got given for my birthday (thanks Mum and Dad! We'd be eating dust otherwise..."zoom in on my empty wallet.") We took a calculator to make sure we didn't go over and were very discerning and frugal, but I found some stewing lamb for very cheap so bought a heap of it to make various slow-cooked things over winter. This recipe involved sauteeing an onion, carrot, and lamb with various spices - ginger, tumeric, paprika, saffron - before stirring in honey, dates and dried apricots. I didn't have the apricots, and I added some spinach at the very end, but I think it doesn't matter too much. I served it over an earnest pile of brown rice and it was delicious. Not terribly innovative - I daresay I could have come up with this on my own eventually - but a simple, unfussy combination of flavours that take care of themselves and taste reliably good together. Also it's nice to have ideas for healthier things to cook in winter to distract from my desire for something dripping in butter and cheese.

Above: While we are in vaguely North African mode, I give you Pasta with Sauce A-la-Marrakesh, from The Accidental Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer. I soaked the chickpeas on Thursday night (proactive lady is proactive) and simmered them as soon as I got home from work on Friday. The spaghetti sauce is made up of all sorts of good things - tomatoes, (tinned in my case), a shake of cumin, cinnamon and tumeric - I added a diced carrot but completely forgot the flipping flaked almonds even though I knew that I had some. Welcome to my brain.

So the production of Rent in Palmerston North (two hours from here by bus/train) got a positive if disappointingly vague review, and I gotta say that I feel honour-bound to see it, if only because it's there, you know? How it will pan out I don't know. I am a little concerned that from the promotional picture I saw, Collins looks rather old and white and Mark appears to be balding (Levin 1, PN 0) but...maybe it was badly lit or something. "We'll see, boys!"

In other news, Paul managed to come within pit-spitting distance of my Tetris score (he got to level 41, I got level 45) proving once again that the Vincent genes are pure, distilled excellence. Tetris has become so entrenched in our routine that I composed WWF-style stage names for us: Paul "The Suth" Sutherland, Laura "Two Hands" Vincent, and Timothy "Tim" Herbert. Aw, I need to get out more. Can't though, because of all these essays and assignments...which brings me full circle. Have a good weekend!

PS: 10,000 hits! I'm a real blogger!