28 February 2014

so..........now you know

Hmm. Hmmmmmm.

What to do when something enormous happens, and I'm so used to living my life as publicly as I can, tweeting every vapid-but-it-feels-kinda-deep thought and blogging about every up, down, and diagonal shunt of my life. But this one needs some time, some respect, some quiet. 

But also it would be really impossible to not address it, so in compromise, I'm just gonna talk about it pretty quickly. 

Two things happened recently: One, I realised I'm gay. (...gayer than I initially thought, if you will.) 
Two, well, Tim and I are as a direct result no longer getting married. Or together. A person's sexuality is entirely their own business, no explanations are owed to anyone, (how can you explain something that just is?) and a relationship is the business of the people in the relationship only. Seriously. But - I offer you the following bullet points.

- Tim and I were together for nearly nine years. Much as it would've been convenient if this had all fallen into place when I was, oh, seven years old, I would not trade Tim's and my time together for any trinket in the world. 
- We started off as best friends, and we're gonna end up as best friends, whether we're ninety years old and hanging out together on a porch somewhere drinking whisky or whether we finally work out how to become vampires and live forever and avoid aging and like, just meet up occasionally until infinity. There's obviously one hell of a journey ahead (not least, we've accumulated an intimidating quantity of possessions) but this will never, ever change.
- My brother summed it up the best when he txted me and said something very wonderful to the effect of "I'm sad you two had to end but I'm happy you found yourself." Those are pretty much the emotions flying round right now, but to the power of five hundred. 
- I'm gay. The gayest. Stone cold gay. Tony award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden. Things don't fall into place immediately. Sometimes things are hidden so deep because you don't want to notice them, sometimes things were there all along. It's not black and white, it's not a light switch, it's...it just is. Again: no-one's business, but I'd just like to gently point out that all of us are somewhere on a spectrum. Much as we might be taught otherwise, or indeed, have the subject studiously avoided altogether.  

Cool. Okay. Lots of change ahead. Lots of things will never change. 

I haven't really felt like cooking for a while - truth be told, I'd felt nauseous for days, maybe weeks - but on Monday night I made Tim and I (well, we're still living together) a roast chicken for dinner and on Tuesday morning I made us breakfast, Breakfast Apple Crumble that is. And it felt good. And then I was like "wow Laura you're a genius with this recipe from your incredible cookbook you should really make breakfast more often". Yep, it's so good that it stopped me being self-deprecating for a whole minute. That's probably the nicest thing I can say about a recipe, but to be more helpfully specific - the quickly fried, roughly chopped apples topped with toasted oats, chewy with butter and brown sugar, is an actual gift to yourself first thing in the morning. 

This recipe is indeed from my cookbook, Hungry and Frozen: the cookbook. Who among us can say that they don't like mentioning their cookbook whenever possible? (trick question, not many of us can. Because not many of us have cookbooks. I have one though! Oh man, this got obnoxious.)

Breakfast Apple Crumble

2 apples
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rolled oats
2 tablespoons whole oats
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Finely dice the apples. It can be roughly done, but the smaller the pieces the faster they'll cook. Heat a tablespoon of the butter in a frying pan, and tip in the apple. Fry gently, stirring, for five minutes till it is softened slightly. Tip it all into a bowl, then melt the remaining butter and the brown sugar together in the same pan. Once sizzling, tip in the remaining ingredients and stir to toast everything slightly and coat in syrup. Once it's looking browned and crisp, spatula it over the apples. 

I said it served one person in my book, but to be honest it was plenty for the two of us. Also I didn't have sunflower seeds so used some almonds instead and it was still grand of course.

Apples and cinnamon together are like eating a hug. A hug. With cream poured over, so much the better. Ideally it would've been evaporated milk, which I used to have as a child poured over canned peaches for dessert, but I'm not turning my nose up at actual cream before 8am.

So that's what's been going on lately. While this is one hell of a situation, Tim and I have been very lucky that so many people surrounding us have been kind, generous, caring, thoughtful, amazing, and accepting without question. We've been able to hang out together, but we've also had people surrounding us individually with love and basically being giant ears for whatever we've got to say. People are wonderful, Tim is wonderful, I'm really not too bad myself, and I hope I can give that same level of support to someone else if it's ever, ever needed.

Oh: I apologise if this is not the way you anticipated finding this news out. Tim and I know a lot of people. It's hard to keep track of who knows things and who doesn't, how far news has spread...I hate phone calls and scary one-on-ones anyway, and this blog is my home away from home, so this is probably the most personal and hey-you-yes-you way I could say this. So...now you know.
title from: Queenie Was a Blonde, from Andrew Lippa's 2000 off-Broadway musical The Wild Party, which was what introduced me to my idol Idina Menzel and another idol Julia Murney, many years ago. Probably worth a listen even if you don't like musicals, it just goes to so many places from the classic 20s wah-wah opening and is such a cool expositional song. "A fascinating couple, as they go...." (should point out here that Tim joked about how maybe the title should be "my love came crumbling down" because you know, break-up plus apple crumble and I was like HA! PUN! but also um, maybe a little on-the-nose if this is your first time hearing about this news. And I say that as someone who tends to turn to jokes when things get serious. Still: good pun, though, yeah?)

music lately:

Lana Del Rey, Once Upon a Dream. Del Rey's cover of the song from Sleeping Beauty is just...dreamy is far too pale a word to describe how dreamy it is. Listening to it is like that feeling where you can just sense yourself falling asleep and you're still the tiniest bit cognisant and it's all muted and muffled and a bit sinister but lovely. Or, uh, it's a nice song, is what I'm saying.

Guess who's been listening to lots of Green Day? Me, obviously, this is my blog. I just love 'em. Tim and I were actually at the Milton Keynes concert that got recorded for the Bullet in a Bible album/DVD (Truly. We just happened to be in the audience that night. Who would've known that the blandest city in England would've ended up having a concert recorded live there?) so I'll always have a thing for that. Brain Stew and Are We The Waiting/St Jimmy and p much the whole thing are really great.

Kate Nash, Mouthwash. I just get in a Kate Nash mood sometimes, like daily.
next time: yeah nah, who knows. But for your sake hopefully something more relaxed. Well, for my sake too.

19 February 2014

Hi friendly people, I have some massive personal life stuff going on right now, so I'm gonna be gone for a minute. While I normally find it excruciating to do anything without telling as many people as I can about it, this one requires some time and privacy and other responsible things like that. But, I will be back blogging before you know it. In the meantime, read all my old posts or hug your loved ones or something.

Laura xx

10 February 2014

no good deed goes unpunished, no act of charity goes unresented

There's this bit in the really wonderful Hyperbole and a Half book where the author, Ally Brosh, elaborates via her artwork, about how she's kind of a bad person. Because when she does good deeds, it's usually because then she'll in turn appear to be, and receive the acclaim of, a good person. As opposed to doing a good deed for the sheer bountiful joy of actually being a good person. I can't impress upon you enough just how aggressively this resonated with me. Well, the reason these cookie dough chocolate pretzel things came about is because someone - local artist Pinky Fang - did a very good deed just because she's an excellent person. And then someone else (*waggles glasses*) was like "I should make her some really cool cookies to say thanks and then I can blog about them and I need something to blog about so this is great and I'll look like such a nice person but also it really was nice what she did and this is my small way of sincerely saying hey, thanks."

The deed in question that merited rad Pinky these edible trinkets: she designed the logo from the kindness of her heart and the talent of her, uh, hands I guess, for the Wounded Gazelles team, who are doing the Round the Bays race later this month and raising money for the Casper organisation. I know a lot of dear-to-me people in this team, but also wouldn't run ever unless like, it was towards Lucy Liu in a kind of slow-motion-high-emotion scene at an airport to try to stop her leaving town. Otherwise, I do not run. Not for money, certainly not for love - a combination of remembering embarrassment and panic attacks in PE class and sports days at primary school, plus too many vexingly bouncy body parts, plus zero interest. What I can do though, is let you know that Casper is a really important organisation, and that the Wounded Gazelles have so many cool people on their team and if you want to pledge a little money, or buy a branded tshirt, tote, or singlet, why, it's not that difficult. They've raised a thousand dollars so far from so many kind people. 

Also, I am a literal hero, because I made these cookies and blogged about them. Um, but really, I adore Pinky's work (ocular proof: one of her insolent pink cat prints is on my wall) and it's so great that she donated her skills to make the super-endearing logo for the Wounded Gazelles. Check out her shop!

Admittedly I initially was going to make some kind of fall-back chocolate chip cookie type thing, but then I thought damn it, this deserves something special. I thought: I'm going to make some Internet Cookies. The type that appears on pinterest and is named something incoherently noun-heavy, as if someone just opened up their pantry and threw darts at things and then put all of those in a recipe together. Chocolate peanut butter brownie stuffed waffles with snickers cronut frosting. Cake batter donut cake donuts cake pops. Or something. 

These, though, these cookie dough chocolate pretzel things, are quite coherent. And coherently delicious, importantly. They're oddly not too sweet, being more about texture than merely exfoliating your lungs with three kinds of sugar. The crack of the chocolate coating, the crunch of the pretzels, the bulge of cookie dough, the roar of the crowd. 

They are also strangely easy - the dough comes together in minutes, they sandwich easily, and then all you have to do is chill them and then half-assedly dip them in chocolate. I know we don't quite have the same tradition of eating cookie dough here in New Zealand as America does - more's the pity - but like, it's the same ingredients that are in actual cookies, so no need to get nervous. And more objectively, there's no egg in the recipe. I guess putting pretzels in sweet things isn't quite as well-known here either but we should really get used to it because it's the best. Thanks, America!

pretzel cookie dough chocolate things 

Inspired by this recipe. However, maybe don't actually click through if you don't like words like "sinful" used to describe your completely non-sinful food that you're eating because you want to eat it. 

makes many.

125g butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups or so flour
a couple of tablespoons of milk
150g dark chocolate (I'm very partial to milk chocolate, but dark is what I had.)
1 packet of pretzels

soften the butter, and beat together with the brown sugar. Tip in the flour and mix into something that looks like cookie dough - since that's what it is - and add a little milk as you see fit to make it something that can be easily rolled into balls. Not too soft, not too not-soft, just feel your way. 

Roll a very small ball of the dough with your hands, and sandwich it between two pretzels, squashing it down a little so the dough bulges out through the pretzel holes. Continue with the rest of the dough until it's finished (or you run out of pretzels) and chill them thoroughly in the fridge for at least half an hour. 

Melt the chocolate and dip the pretzel sandwiches so they're halfway covered, and then chill them again till you're ready to eat them. 

I...haven't actually given these away yet. But I've only eaten one. They're stupidly delicious and I couldn't exactly blog about them without trying them. But your stash is intact, Pinky, I promise.

It has been a quietish time lately, I've either been knitting or...knitting. Or watching very sad movies, while knitting. But on Saturday night I danced my cares away in town and it was very wonderful. (Incidentally, Pinky was one of the DJs that night, sorry if I'm weirding you out by saying your name too many times in this one post, Pinky.)

While I may never ever run anywhere, I can dance for hours in the dark. (Also yeah my lipstick here is mint green, I'm not in the grips of scurvy or something.)
title from: um, I guess I'm not quite on-theme here but any chance to be like, "hey! look at my idol Idina Menzel! And can we talk about Wicked?" so here she is singing No Good Deed in her role of Elphaba, Wicked Witch of the West. 
music lately:

Lana del Rey, Born to Die. Sometimes I'm just in a Lana-del-Rey-singing-sad-songs-mood.

The Breeders, Saints. Ughhhhhh so cool.

Selena, Bidi Bidi Bom Bom. Jennifer Lopez was exquisite in the biopic about this tragically killed, amazing singer (I told you I'd been watching sad movies) but this song is nothing but joy.  
Next time: I discovered that you can buy candy love hearts in 2kg quantities online so upcoming will probably be recipes like "a bowl of candy love hearts" and also "candy lovehearts, served in clenched handfuls". 

2 February 2014

pretty as a peach, she's so out of reach

Sometimes, no matter how significant it feels like it ought to be, little changes and developments can tip-toe into your life and establish themselves quietly before you even realise they're there. By which I mean, it was after having a particularly miserable day recently, that I realised how great this was. My miserable day was caused by things that had happened that day. It had been quite a while since I'd felt really crushingly bleak for no apparent reason. Therefore, I think the medication I'm taking is helping. Since I wrote about it on here back when I started taking it, I thought I'd better, you know, clap my hands since I'm happy and I know it. Not that everything is solved or perfect, I am still reliably not-together, but bodies are such a work in progress at best, that I'm very pleased to have discovered this small but important thing about myself. So there's that.

There's also this. I have no idea really, how I come up with recipes so easily - perhaps it's similar to how I can do the splits easily without ever practicing. The making-recipes part of my brain is as flexible as my hamstrings. (C'mon, being able to do the splits is kind of impressive, allow me to drop it into conversation sometimes.) This morning I woke up and thought about seasonal fruit and the idea for this recipe, which I'm calling peaches and cream, appeared quickly and fully formed. And since today was a Sunday where I'd managed to get my act together and get out of bed and deal with the crowds at the vege market, I decided to just go ahead and try making it. 

Seasonal fruit! Did you know it's abundant and priced kindly? I really need to get to the vege market more often. 

As I said, it's Sunday today, so what better day to make yourself pudding on, to try fend off any back-to-school blues you may be feeling, and to greet the new week with a sticky, happy smile. (Your smile might not actually be sticky, I just tend to always end up with with food on my face when I eat.) This requires some attention but not a lot of effort. Just peaches, simmered till soft, thickly covered in lemony cream. Through some mysterious augury the combination of cream and sugar heated together with lemon juice added, creates this satiny, smooth, rich, incredibly delicious substance. The method is based on this recipe I used to make all the time in my teens, back when cooking was starting to become "my thing". So, you don't actually have to have the peaches underneath, you could just divide the cream between a couple of ramekins (or very adorable teacups) and still be guaranteed a good time. But! Peaches! So peachy!

now you don't see it...

now you see it. 

Heating the peaches turns up their perfumed, ray-of-sunshine sweetness, which the vanilla and lemon help bring out too, with their respective richness and tartness. I can't overhype the cream enough, eating it is honestly like the feeling you get when you're loitering in a fabric shop longer than your brief errand warranted, and nonchalantly but dedicatedly caressing all the rolls of satiny fabric. (Shout out to my people who do this, please be more than just me.)

peaches and cream

a recipe by myself

two large or three small ripe peaches, roughly diced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or the seeds from a vanilla pod if you're feeling baller

300ml bottle of cream 
1/3 cup sugar
juice from two lemons (the mean, supermarket kind, that is. If you have a generous, homegrown lemon, you'll probably only need one.)

Put the peaches, the tablespoon of sugar, and the water in a saucepan and stir over a decent heat, and continue till the water has evaporated and the peaches are very soft. You don't have to turn this into jam or puree or anything, just break them down a little. The latter would probably be more sophisticated. But here we are. Divide the peaches - a couple of dessertspoons each, I find  - between two or three 125 ml ramekins or similar. Refrigerate.

In the same pan - maybe give it a quick wipe with a paper towel - bring the 300ml cream and the 1/3 cup sugar to a gentle boil, slowly, stirring constantly. Once it's bubbling, stir for three minutes exactly, then remove from the heat. It's science, okay? Seriously, watch your phone (or, I guess, your watch, mine tend to have stopped working and become what I call "sculptural bracelets") and let that surprisingly long three minutes pass in full. Then, remove the cream from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice. With any luck, the cream should mysteriously yet delightfully thicken up as you do this. Divide this mixture between the two or three vessels of peach, bearing in mind that if there's three, you're gonna have less...and refrigerate. A couple of hours should thicken it up properly, but feel free to make it the night before.  

Make it for yourself and your significant other/s, eat it all by your significant self, or make someone pay to watch you eat the lot. If you want more, double the quantity. If you don't have peaches, use something else. Just, um, don't bother dusting it with icing sugar and sprinkling over lemon zest, because unless you have tons of it the zest just looks messy and the icing sugar absorbs into the surface but also looks dusty, and you'll be all "but my food blog!" Luckily it tastes brilliant and also my teacups are cute enough to distract somewhat.

Hark! A new knitting project! It's eventually going to be a very simple short-sleeved top. I've never knitted a garment or with two colours before, so it's all very thrilling. As thrilling as an activity that involves sitting silently and barely moving can be, that is (hint: super damn thrilling.)

One month down, 2014 has already proven to be strange and fascinating and full of promise. Hopefully February will be even better. I, for one, am prepared.

(this was a conversation I had with Kate. I credit her with coining womanifest before my use of it here, and I credit myself with ordering a triple cheeseburger shortly after sending this txt.)
title from: Jeff the Brotherhood, Leave Me Out. Their scuzzy, gloomy sound suits me.
music lately:

Tegan and Sara, Drove Me Wild. Well, it does.

Ja Rule and Ashanti, Always On Time. I can listen to early-2000s Ja Rule/Ashanti all day (also quite a lot of J to the L-O and Ja Rule) especially this, with its dreamy, rather timeless chorus.
next time: I don't know why I have this next time bit! I never really know! I just want to entice you into coming back again! There, I said it.