26 September 2010

johnny all she does is lies

If there's one thing I've learned about cornbread (apart from the fact that I really really love it) it's this: the only way to take an oven-hot slab of cornbread with a two-by-four sized slice of butter melting quietly on top and make it more fun, is to transform it into pancakes.

The mighty Nigella Lawson has this recipe for Johnnycakes in How To Be A Domestic Goddess, and while Wikipedia reckons the name of this American creation was adapted from 'journey cakes' I'd like to think there was an original Johnny, who wanted to blaze trails by combining the golden grittiness of cornbread with the circular fun-ness of a pancake. I was away up in Rotorua over the weekend (plus chasing the hour lost in Daylight Saving) but I managed to cobble these together without any trouble for a late lunch when I landed back in Wellington on Sunday afternoon. This recipe is forgiving - only a few Johnnycakes turned out bung, either buckling or sticking to the pan - the rest obediently slid onto the spatula and flipped over easily.

This one's for you, generous, possibly non-existent Johnny.


From Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

150g fine cornmeal/polenta
100g plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder (gotta admit I was all "really? four?" about this, and put in only three teaspoons)
2 teaspoons sugar
pinch salt
2 eggs
300mls milk
30g butter

Stir together the dry ingredients in a bowl, then whisk in everything else till you have a thick, yellow batter (don't worry about any small lumps.) Heat an oiled griddle or pan and drop tablespoons-ful into it. Once they're thoroughly bubbled on top, carefully turn them over to cook on the other side. Transfer to a plate and cover with tinfoil till you're finished.

When I was a kid I always impressed by those Disney movies where a character would have a whole stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup on top, and then eat the stack all at once with a knife and fork. I'm sure it was Disney movies anyway, it must have happened a lot in order to stick in my brain like that... Johnnycakes are too stubby for this practice, so I unstacked them after these photos and ate them the best way - two sandwiched together with maple syrup.

While there's absolutely nothing stopping you from making actual cornbread or actual pancakes, both being more practical in their own special ways, Johnnycakes are so good that it's worth a bit of potentially dubious fusion (fusious?). The cornmeal gives a textural presence to the Johnnycakes which the average pancake sometimes lacks (like chewing through a foam rubber camping mattress if you're unlucky) and you get a hearty jolt of bright yellow cheeriness without the need for pesky e-numbers, useful if you're the sort of person who gets nervous around them. Their lightly perforated surface is an ideal conduit for ferrying lots of butter into the mouth. They're slightly sweet and very light, and work with both savoury and sweet stuff on the plate. How To Be A Domestic Goddess is amazing - the Johnnycake recipe being just one example of the gems to be found within its pages. If you're casually thinking about getting into baking intensely good food, you couldn't do much better than finding this book.

Funnily enough when I last blogged about cornbread-related issues I was thinking about what my favourite food was in case I got asked in an interview with a cool magazine. A girl can dream, but nothing wrong with dreaming in a hubristically prepared kinda manner, right? Anyway this morning I had the mighty good fortune to have my first ever radio interview over the phone with Charlotte Ryan on 95bFM's Morning Glory show. With the job I'm in I try to keep relatively non-partisan about NZ media but Morning Glory has most definitely been a favourite of mine for a while now. It was the first time I'd ever been on the radio (although I have this memory of requesting some Nirvana song from the late Channel Z years back) and I was nervous as, but Charlotte was so nice that I rambled away quite happily, sharing this recipe, my tooth-rattling nervousness while the endless intro song played through the phone forgotten. I'll post a link to the podcast when it's up so you can listen if you like. Just before I got the call I realised I might be asked what I love about cooking. I had this frenzied moment of panic where my mind blanked and the closest thing to a coherent sentence about why I loved cooking was "there's so much deliciousness in this world and I like making it happen in front of me". Luckily that specific question didn't come up. An enormous thanks to Charlotte and bFM for having me on the show, the excitingness of it all can't be underplayed, truly.


Title via: Salmonella Dub's cautionary tale Johnny from their 1998 album Killervision. I have a feeling this was the first song of theirs I ever heard.

Music Lately:

Late Sunday afternoon Tim and I went to Embassy theatre to see a special screening of Hair. Having seen the movie before, I knew it's pretty painful in places (and cuts out some of my favourite tracks - it's gratifying to know that the creators of the musical it's based on hated it) but I love the source music intensely, and I like having the opportunity to see a musical on the big screen. One flawless moment in all the awkwardness is Cheryl Barnes singing Easy To Be Hard. Heartfelt - not just belting for the sake of it (although if I could sing I'd be melisma-ing up a storm, daily) it's one of my favourite recordings of this track. Apparently she did it in one take.

While we're down the flawless lady/Hair road, and I've probably linked to this before, but here's Nina Simone singing Ain't Got No/I've Got Life, taking two songs from Hair and sieving them together to create something incredible. Her vibrato-y voice delivers the lyrics in her incomparable way (by incomparable, I mean I haven't come up with a word to describe how good it is) over a fantastic music arrangement while her dinner-plate sized earrings sway.

Also: while I was up in Rotorua Tim went to see Lil Band O' Gold at San Francisco Bath House. Apparently they played for two and a half hours and were seriously awesome. He took some photos for our 100s and 1000s blog - check 'em here!

Next time: I'm a Nigella lady to the core, but tried my first ever Delia Smith recipe last week, and that's probably what I'll put up next.

20 September 2010

my mother said i should eat an ice cream cone

I love ice cream so much. Maybe it's that extremely cold food is more exciting, maybe it's that the creamy chillyness is the ideal taxicab to drive a million different flavours to your tastebuds, maybe it's that particular melty smoothness.

Maybe it's that ice cream reminds me of good times growing up. So many of my 'birthday cakes' were a tub of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with Smarties or jellybeans and spiked with sparklers, which were then set alight for extra glamour. Mum would put a scoop of ice cream in a cup and top it up with Coke or Fanta to make ice cream sodas for everyone which I thought was very cool. (Some kids got lovingly baked cakes but not everyone's mum has the foresight to combine Tip Top and gunpowder.)

So... I love ice cream. And one of the best, best, and once more best recipes in the world is one that I'm sharing today. I can't remember where I absorbed it from, it just mysteriously became part of my frozen repertoire. I'd like to say "I absorbed it from my own brilliant mind" but that's just not true. What I did invent was this particular version - a completely vegan, two-ingredient, relatively instant and completely delicious-ful ice cream.

Confession: I don't usually serve my ice cream on a bowl-within-a-plate thing. And I never eat it with second-hand commemorative spoons. It was all done so the photos would look nice. Between that and the precisely situated forkful of risotto last week, this blog has become an offal pit of visual lies! To force some honesty into the situation, I made myself eat that bowl of icecream using only the decorative spoon which has a palm-tree embossed cavity of 2cm. It took roughly forty minutes.

Anyway! That's a lengthy bit of emotional baggage for such a quick recipe. I first made this last year using delicious cream but not only does coconut milk make it vegan-tastic, it also lends a fluttery flavour of its own. How this works is - I think - as the food processor blades reduce the frozen fruit to rubble, the liquid is forced through at great speed, turning it into a kind of instantly frozen puree thing which resembles actual ice cream. It's not perfect - you have to eat it on the spot as it loses its texture if refrozen - and it's not overly sweet, so pour in sugar if you like. I chose blackberries because they were cheapest at the time - the seeds to get in your teeth a bit but between friends it's no biggie, plus their tart berryishness and beautiful colour makes up for any of that.

Blackberry-Coconut Ice Cream

2 1/2 cups frozen blackberries (or other)
250ml/1 cup canned coconut milk (or cream, or yoghurt)

Put everything in a food processor. Add some sugar if you like. Blend. Be warned: it will make a racket. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and process again till it looks like magical ice cream. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle with coconut if you like (or any kind of sprinkly thing, really).

I'm not sure how many this serves - only you can look inside yourself and find the answer - by which I mean Tim and I finished this but it probably could have been divided between four people. It tastes sparklingly and singularly of the fruit that went into it, with a clean, softening hint of coconut. It comes together in seconds, so if you have a can or two of coconut milk in the cupboard and a bag of frozen fruit in the freezer you're only ever moments from ice cream. Which is a very good feeling. 

Spontaneous dinner party? Spontaneous children appear? Spontaneous vegan children appear? Spontaneous simple desire for ice cream? Sorted.

On Thursday night Tim and I went to the Whitireia Performing Arts School's first year performance of Godspell, a musical by Stephen "Defying Gravity" Schwartz, who wrote the bulk of the music when he was only in his early 20s. The cast themselves on Thursday night must have been around 19 and they were brilliant - there were some beautiful voices, sure, but the humour was sharp and the ability to grab props and change character out of nowhere was fairly mind-boggling. I ended up sitting next to this woman who knew my dance teachers from when I was growing up south of Auckland, miles and miles away from Wellington. Small world, isn't it...It was funny in the intermission, they played a karaoke version of Wicked. You could hear pockets of girls in the audience singing along quietly. In these post-Glee days it's more cute than anything else but a couple of years back I probably would have gone and introduced myself with a qualifying "Oh my gosh you know who Idina Menzel is".
Title via: The philosofly girl Coco Solid in another incarnation as Parallel Dance Ensemble with their song Weight Watchers, which won best video at Handle The Jandal awards last year. I was there - imagine those donuts and psychedelic licorice allsorts writ large across the Embassy cinema screen in psychedelic colours. Lip-smackingly delicious both to watch and listen to.
Music lately:

Michael Franti and Spearhead, Sometimes, from their 2001 album Stay Human. Nice as this song is, I love the acoustic version, although the fact that I learned a dance to it at a workshop a few years back may have cemented it in my mind - sometimes it's impossible not to love the music you learn dances to, no matter how bad. Not that this is bad. This is gorgeous.

By My Side from the aforementioned Godspell. We used to sing this in choir sometimes, it's satisfying for an alto like me. Such a beautiful, beautiful song, I can't believe it was the pretty but abrasively earnest Day By Day that instead made it onto the Billboard charts when Godspell came out in the 70s. The video I linked to is the film version featuring an astonishingly good-looking young Victor Garber as Jesus. (FYI, he's in the Superman tshirt). The harmonies aren't as clear as I'd like but it's one of the better versions available on Youtube. Plus, Victor Garber, hello!
Next time: I think this is the third time I've put off the Grumble Pie. With a name like that I can't keep denying it a blog post...

14 September 2010

give peas a chance

So long since my last update - sorry you were stuck with that badly-exposed brisket for ages. I was in Hamilton over the weekend for the Smokefreerockquest finals and arrived back in Wellington on Sunday afternoon feeling very tired and still a bit blah that I'd missed Tim's birthday on Saturday. Even though he claimed he didn't care about birthdays. I really wanted to stumble into bed, but dinner needed sorting and after a weekend of hastily grabbed dinner (specifically: pineapple lumps and a packet of ready salted chips) I didn't want to get take-out. Tired, uninspired, and with not much in the cupboard, I turned to Nigella's seminal text How To Eat, feeling instinctively (and maybe a little overdramatically) that it would provide the answer.

Sure 'nuff, after some aimless page-flipping her Pea Risotto stopped me. Rice. Frozen peas. Got them both. Not to mention, Nigella quite often bangs on about the soothingly zen properties of exhaustedly stirring a risotto into starchy submission, which significantly adds to the glamour of making dinner while half asleep.

I didn't have any of the required parmesan cheese, so instead I added a few strips of lemon zest and a handful of peppery rocket to provide a similar kick. I normally feed my risottos with butter, but with the lack of parmesan I decided instead to use extra virgin olive oil instead and make the whole thing vegan. I'm pretty sure the fact that I met an incredibly good looking vegan on the weekend has nothing to do with it - but who knows what decisions are secretly made by our subconscious.

My subconscious is reminding me that I can't lie: these photos was taken the next morning before I went to work. Once I'd finished snapping I scraped all the cold rice into an empty Tupperware container and took it to work for lunch. I even placed that pea deliberately on the fork. It's just that we were watching a documentary when I was making the risotto the night before and the lights were all off - not healthy photography settings. So the next day I recreated our dinner from the leftovers. If my photography can't be honest, at least I am, right?

This is a very simple dinner but devastatingly good - creamy rice, bright green peas bursting with their pea-flavour (can anyone effectively describe the flavour of a pea? At this stage: not I). Yes, there's a lot of stirring but think like Nigella and wallow in the romance of it all.

As well as removing the dairy aspect of this risotto, I also made a few other slight tweaks. I had no fresh nutmeg so left it out. Instead of heating up stock, I crumbled in half a porcini stock cube (my favourite, all-purpose flavour) and had a pan of hot water simmering next to the pan of rice. Rather than pureeing the peas I just divided them into two small bowls, mashing one half with a fork while leaving the other plain. I had no vermouth or white wine so went daringly cross-country and splashed in some Sake instead, which worked perfectly - its warm, ricey depth of flavour naturally complementing the rice it was absorbed into. I can't pretend like I don't think good carnaroli rice tastes a million times nicer than the bland gluggy Sun Rice arborio from the supermarket but I'm also lucky enough to be in a position to choose between rices (don't get me wrong - good rice isn't cheap, but there are other areas I don't spend my money...so.) You do what works for you.

Pea Risotto

From Nigella Lawson's How To Eat

60g butter (or more! Or olive oil)
150g frozen peas
Approximately 1 litre stock
Freshly grated parmesan
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 small onion or shallot
200g arborio or Carnaroli rice
80mls white wine or vermouth

Melt half the butter in a pan and add the peas, cooking for a couple of minutes. Remove half the peas, and to the pan add about half a cup of stock. Simmer till the peas are very soft, remove and puree along with a tablespoon each of parmesan and butter and a pinch of nutmeg, or if you don't have the energy, mash roughly with a fork. You should now have an empty pan and two small bowls of peas, one solid, one not.

Finely chop the onion and melt some more butter in the pan. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, till golden and soft. Add the rice and stir "till every grain glistens with the oniony fat" as Nigella says. Pour in your wine - or sake! - and allow it to absorb. Now here comes the commitment. Add a ladleful of hot stock (or hot water if you've crumbled in a good stock cube like me) and continue to stir till absorbed. Repeat. And again. And then some more. You can't rush it, you can't walk away. Just keep stirring, watching the rice slowly expand and absorb all the liquid. After about ten minutes, return the whole peas to the pan and continue to slowly add hot liquid. When you're satisfied that it's done (taste as you go) stir through the pea puree and as much butter or extra virgin olive oil as you want. Divide between two plates and sprinkle with more parmesan if you like, parsley would be good here too.

As I said, this is simple food, but very, very good - soft, dense granules of rice studded with Elphaba-green peas. Very easy to eat curled up in a chair, feeling better about the world with every mouthful. The scent of sake hitting a hot pan is something else - I can almost taste its savoury, buttery aroma just thinking about it. The porcini stock cubes add a subtly earthy flavour and the peas have their green sweetness. And it's all absorbed by the rice.

The documentary we were watching while I was making this, by the way, was the recent Trinity Roots story Music Is Choice by Sarah Hunter. Trinity Roots have always stirred in the background of my consciousness, but considering they got together, had a lifetime and pulled apart again all before Tim and I even got to Wellington, it's no wonder we are more familiar with its members' other more recent incarnations, like Little Bushman. It's a beautiful doco, and listening to the stories of Warren Maxwell, Riki Gooch and Rio Hemopo, woven together with clips of their music, why, the constant stirring of the risotto felt almost meditative.


Title via: John Lennon's Give Peace A Chance, I know it's a sorry pun but I've got the "I'm tired" card and I'm putting it on the table right here. Plus, you really should give peas a chance. They're awesome as far as vegetables go.
Music lately:

Spotted a tweet from the mighty DJ Sirvere on Sunday inviting people to share their favourite Jay Z guest spot. Not an expert on this but my mind immediately presented me with his appearance in Mariah Carey's Heartbreaker. Which then spiralled into hours of unproductive inactivity. Oh sure I blame the tiredness, but I haven't listened to Mariah in years and with one click of the mouse I was riding the Mariah Carey Love Train all the way through youtube. Highlights included the delicious Can't Let Go, Honey (Bad Boy Remix) this reminds me of when MTV Europe was briefly on our TVs, One Sweet Day with Boyz II Men (slathers you with emotion like I slather butter on toast) and Thank God I Found You with Nas and Joe. I don't often like power ballads, and endless impressing upon the listener about how in love they are isn't usually my thing either but what can I say. Mariah is flawless.

I Aint Mad At Cha by Tupac, from All Eyez On Me. Yesterday was 14 years since Tupac was shot. There's no right age to have someone take your life...but he was only 25.

So, The Good Fun were the winners of the Smokefreerockquest on Saturday night - check out footage of them performing their song Karaoke for the sell-out crowd. I liked all the finalists in their own way but The Good Fun definitely have an out-of-nowhere zany awesomeness - I hope they go far.

Next time: It'll be the Grumble Pie that I promised for this time round. Photographed at night right before it was eaten, even. Also, right now: Happy birthday, Mum! You rule.

6 September 2010

they served a real nice brisket and an 8 foot party sub

I don't know why it took so long to blog about this brisket. It's not like it wasn't delicious and it's not like it hasn't been the right weather for it lately. Maybe because it's not as good looking as baking, it always gets pushed to the back. Sorry, brisket.

A lesson: Not all second-hand cookbooks from the seventies and eighties are adorably quaint, some are just plain terrible. Like most aspects of pop culture, you get the 'so-bad-it's-good' cookbook, which, if you're into that sort of thing, and I am, is why I continue to hold on to the QEII Cookbook with its Souffle Bowes-Lyon and tales of 24/7 caviar. Some of those cookbooks are genuinely uninspiring and dull though, and there's a reason you see them at every single opshop. One pearl of a book that I picked up for $2 in Waiuku about three years ago is Supercook's Supersavers Cookbook. Its title is dubious, its 1980 photography is dubious and even some of its contents are dubious (carrot and oatmeal soup ahoy) but I've ended up using it almost as much as any Nigella volume.

A recipe that I've made many times from this book is the Greek Pot Roast, which is brisket slowly braised in a cinnamon-spiced, tomato-y liquid and then served over pasta. I'm not sure what makes it wildly Greek, and there's something about the word 'braised' that's always sounded unsexy to me, but the idea of stew and spaghetti together appeals heaps and you could even call it "ragout" or something if you wanted to serve it to fancy people. Or just be straight up and see who your true friends are (if your true friends are all vegetarian then this probably isn't the best litmus test.)

Brisket costs hardly anything, but if you have the option of sourcing good quality meat, where you have an idea that the cow whose life was taken for your dinner had been reared in relative comfort, then so much the better. Brisket can sometimes come to you with more fat than actual meat, so choose carefully.

By the way, I'm aware that today's photos are terrible. Baking is always easier in winter because I can 
wait till the next morning to snap it, but dinner has to be photographed on the spot, which means when it's pitch-black outside you're going to get weirdly exposed images like these. Still, at least it matches the book that the recipe came from. I look at some of those 70s and 80s cookbooks with their weird exposure and overdressed sets and wonder how a generation of designers actually stood back and thought "Dammit yes this harshly lit image of a pot roast sitting on a frilly tablecloth with carnations and apples strewn gently about makes me hungry."

Greek Pot Roast

From Supercook's Supersavers Cookbook, find it if you can.

1.4kg brisket, rolled and tied if possible (I always just leave it)
3 medium sized onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
150mls boiling stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste/passata

Note: I obviously don't use that much meat for just me and Tim. I reduce the meat to around 400-500g for us both and use just one or two onions, but keep everything else the same. Also I just crumble in half a good stock cube and 150mls hot water rather than heating up a tiny amount of stock in a pan - same diff.

Heat your oven to 150 C/300 F. Heat a little olive oil in a flameproof casserole and brown the meat on all sides. Set it aside while you gently fry the onions, garlic and spices. If you don't have a flameproof casserole, you could just do this in a frypan and then transfer it to an oven dish. Add the bay leaf, stock and tomato paste. Return the meat to the pan, cover and put it in the oven, leaving for at 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Serve over hot spaghetti with Parmesan cheese.

Or if you don't have Parmesan, you could use, um, frozen peas like I did. Not quite the same, but still a nice contrast. And cheaper. And adds small bursts of vitamin-rich greenness to the incessant meatiness of the brisket. This is delicious and so easy, hence why it has become a regular fixture. The slow, low cooking process breaks down the potentially tough brisket and turns it into something intensely tender and rich-flavoured, which falls apart at the mere sight of a fork looming menacingly towards it. The tomatoey braising liquid doesn't really reduce down or thicken up, but spooned carefully over the meat and pasta it's delicious - deeply flavoured with the cinnamon and bay, all of which absorbs into the tangle of spaghetti below.

I hope all (do I even have any?) Canterbury and South Island readers of this blog are doing okay after the huge earthquake on Friday night, and its follow-up aftershocks. It was a scary time here in Wellington - mind you I'm terrified of earthquakes and always have been - but over pretty quickly and with no damage. Meanwhile, many, many homes and buildings in Christchurch have been completely wrecked. It's incredibly good that not one person was killed, but there's still so much damage to deal with - and it doesn't help my nerves that the news media keep insisting that "the big one" is coming. Which means that every time I blink too hard I get nervous that it's the overture tremors of said "big one". Perspective though - I'm feeling very lucky to be sitting in my warm home with running water and electricity and to know that family and friends down in Christchurch are unharmed.
Title via: Errr...30 Rock's Werewolf Bar Mitzvah. "Boys becoming men, men becoming wolves!" To be fair, I couldn't find a youtube clip of Maury Levy telling Herc he's mishpocheh.

Music lately:

Elaine Stritch, Ladies Who Lunch, from Company. She's incredible, but sometimes when she looks at the camera it feels like I got lemon juice in my eye. Wish I could have that kind of effect on people when I say "does anyone still wear...a hat."

Mueve by Lido Pimienta. Read an interview with her in the new Real Groove magazine, looked her up on youtube and I'm entranced. It's dreamy and sunny and - bonus - all en Espanol! Cross-posted to 100s and 1000s because I like it that much.
Next time: Well the Supercooks book was so fruitful that I've made something else from it - the awesomely, awesomely named Grumble Pie. You don't know how hard it was not to push the poor brisket to the back of the queue AGAIN for this.

2 September 2010

swallow my pride, oh yeah


The nice thing about Mum's (circa 1971) copy of the "De Luxe Edition" of Edmonds Cookbook that she sent me as a birthday present back in April is...that while there are great recipes and all, just reading through it can be pretty fun in its own right. Beautiful and useful as many of the newer cookbooks celebrating old-time New Zealand cooking are, I like the unromantic straightforwardness of the original text itself.

I like how it informs you that Edmonds is manufacturer of such time-saving, of-the-era items as "Instant Chopped Onions", "Start" (what even is that?) and "Pronto Instant Beef Tea" (with that kind of title, I can hardly fathom its speed of assembly.) How it coolly gives a recipe for "Grated Nut Cakes" when neither the act of grating nor presence of nuts are involved in the method.

On page 37 is a recipe called Walnut Pride and even though reading through it didn't reveal anything fist-raisingly representative of being proud, I felt instantly and strongly drawn to making it. Probably so that if people came over and went to the cake tin to look inside (and they do) and asked what it was, I could say "Walnut Pride. Want some?"

Really, it's just your average cakey slice, with some nuts thrown in. As it was, I used Brazil nuts because they were cheaper than walnuts, as a bonus Brazil nuts have a prouder sound to them than walnuts...right? There's nothing outrageous about this recipe but it's tasty, and easy to make, and non-threateningly good-looking, and as far as baking goes, sometimes there's not much more you could ask for.

If anyone does actually know where the name came from, feel free to share. Without being overly simplistic, according to Wikipedia the first gay pride events in New Zealand were in the 1970s, so maybe this cake is what people ate to give them energy and to share amongst friends while marching..?

Brazil Nut Pride

Adapted from The Edmonds Cookbook.

120g butter
250g brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
250g plain flour
1 moderate teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup Brazil nuts (or, of course, the original walnuts)
1/2 cup sultanas

Set your oven to 180 C/370 F, and line a baking tin - not too big, not too small - with baking paper. Cream butter and sugar, then add the vanilla. Beat in the egg, then alternatively mix in the milk with the dry ingredients. Stir in the Brazil nuts and fruit. Bake for 40 minutes, then ice with lemon icing when cool and cut into squares. I mixed up some lemon juice with icing sugar till it was a thick enough to drizzle off a spoon onto the cake, but feel free to smear it with lemon butter icing as the recipe suggests.

It tastes just fine - not faint-makingly delicious, but good and cakey, a bit flutteringly caramelly from the brown sugar, with the occasional creamy nutty crunch from the Brazil nuts lodged throughout. And in case you're wondering what a "moderate teaspoon of baking powder" is, well so am I. My interpretation involved casually swiping a spoon into the box of baking powder while squinting with my head tilted to the side, then tapping the spoon slightly to remove any excess. You...you do what feels right.

I was home from work sick today with what I've called the proto-flu - my throat was all constricted and I felt shivery and very sensitive to the touch last night, but after a good sleep and lots of tea and water, I'm back to just having a sore throat again. So I'm basically fine. The fact that I felt like three bits of marmite and cheese on toast for lunch was a good indication. If I don't want to eat, it usually means I'm sick. Sometimes when I get really crook, I end up sadly telling Tim, usually from the foetal position, "I guess I'll just have to stop the food blog, I can't even imagine why I wanted to talk about food in the first place". As soon as it passes I start thinking about cheesecake and fried chicken and spaghetti that sort of thing again.


Title via: To those of you who thought I might quote U2's (Pride) In The Name Of Love...pshh. They're all very talented people. I just don't like their music enough to use a lyric as a post title. Now, the Ramones - I love their song Swallow My Pride, especially the way the chorus lurches surprisingly-but-pleasantly upwards. And it is they who bring us today's title.

Music lately:

Tim put on some Smiths this evening, haven't listened to them in aaaaages. A favourite of mine is Shoplifters of the World Unite from Louder Than Bombs. The beginning always catches me off-guard with its directness, and Morrissey sounds typically wonderful.

Today I watched the 1993 film of Gypsy, one of the greatest musicals ever written, starring the awesome Bette Midler as Madame Rose. Also awesome was Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss in a small role as Baby Louise, and Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole playing burlesque stripper Dressy Tessy Tura. This movie is criminally under-represented on youtube, but check out Midler's brassy and sassy Everything's Coming Up Roses. I can't even imagine how extremely amazing the recent Broadway production (with Patti LuPone, Laura Benanti, Boyd Gaines and Leigh-Ann Larkin) must have been.


Next time: The brisket!