20 June 2014

fancy plans and pants to match: nautilus estate wines, part two

Bread and Butter Chicken

Well hello there, and welcome to another installment of Fancy Plans and Pants to Match, where I overexplain somewhat apologetically about how sometimes I get cool free stuff because I'm an amazing blogger and cookbook author, and try to write about said free stuff in a way that makes me seem charming and only minimally insufferable. The name of this segment comes from a quote by Jimmy James, a character in the brilliant 90s sitcom NewsRadio.

This is part two of a series of recipes I created for Nautilus Estate wines. Last time I wrote about lemonade pancakes with strawberry sauce and pasta with chorizo and feta and chilli butter, and this time I've got more deliciousness for you. I hate to repeat text I've already written verbatim but I'm gonna power through the pain anyway, because...everything I said last time is still relevant and I'm not going to try and think of a synonym for every single word I wrote when the original will do fine. But consider yourself warned that (just) the following two paragraphs appeared when I previously wrote about this stuff.

So here's the thing: Nautilus Estate got in touch with me and asked if I'd like to develop some recipes for them to go with their fancy fancy wines. Oh my gosh yes, said I. I love wine, I love thinking up recipes, I love receiving a butt-tonne of wine in the mail, and honestly it's just nice to be thought of as someone who could do this, right? And then a whole lot of stuff happened in my life. Finally though, I got around to actually completing my original task. So thanks Nautilus, not only for the wine itself, but for your infinite patience and your "hey it's cool we can wait the wine will probably be kind of useful right now anyway" attitude.

The pitch: Nautilus Vintage Rose 2011 and Cuvee Marlborough NV Brut. Both fizzy and fizzing with deliciousness. All I have to do is come up with some recipes to complement what they've already got going on. Important note: I cannot format a swishy little accent on the 'e' in rose/cuvee for some reason so when you read it please pronounce it "rose-ayyyyy" and "coo-vayyyy" in your head

fancy pudding with a fancy wine for a fancy lady who needs a synonym for fancy

What happened: somehow these recipes to match the wines came to me pretty immediately and fully-formed, perhaps because that's something I am very good at doing (in the interest of being a self-deprecating New Zealander I feel like I should match this boastfulness with one of my failings: I can't ride a bicycle. Self-deprecation, the wine matching of personal self-esteem!) The rose's delicate but definite berry sweetness could handle something rich and buttery, and I liked the idea of pairing such an elegant drink with something so hearty and cosy. Not that I wouldn't serve this bread and butter chicken to people I was trying to impress - it's still at that level, but also really very easy and plain and comforting. Chicken, butter, bread: all as wondrous as it sounds, and ideal with a sparklingly ripe-flavoured wine like the rose.

butter is really delicious: I'm highly qualified to tell you this

bread and butter chicken

a recipe by myself
recommended wine pairing: Nautilus Estate Vintage Rose 2011

four chicken thighs, skin on, organic and free range if possible because I don't like to be prescriptive but oh damn they taste so much better
100g butter
three thick slices stale white bread, eg white sourdough, those Vienna loaves, that kinda thing 
½ cup walnuts
fresh thyme leaves, around a tablespoon.

Set oven to 200 C, and place the chicken thighs snugly in a roasting dish. Cube the butter and scatter evenly on top of the chicken thighs. Put the dish in the oven and leave for around 40 minutes. 

Meanwhile, tear the bread into very small pieces, allowing some of it to crumble into breadcrumb dust and some of the pieces to be more crouton-esque. Basically just rip it up and whatever you do will be correct. Either roughly chop the walnuts and tip them in, or just break them up in your hands - they don't need to be too small. Stir in the thyme leaves. 

Remove the chicken from the oven - it should be very crisp and golden and the juice should run clear when you puncture the thicker end of the thigh with a skewer. Scatter the breadcrumb-walnut mixture evenly over the top, and spoon over plenty of the buttery pan juices (there will be plenty!) so they can absorb it all. Some of the breadcrumbs will stay on top of the chicken, some will fall down into the spaces between the thighs, but it will all taste incredible. Return to the oven for around ten minutes or until the breadcrumbs look crisp and golden. 

I'd serve it with lemon wedges and a salad that has lots of peppery rocket leaves and flat leaf parsley in it, but to be honest I just ate one of the thighs with my bare hands straight from the oven with a glass of wine and it was quite perfect. 

I thought the more crisp, full flavour of the cuvee could happily lift the bittersweet and majorly-sweet grapefruit and white chocolate curds. On that note, I thought making a lemon curd thing but with white chocolate instead would be super fun, and oh, how right I was. I use a particular technique that perhaps in time they'll call HungryandFrozen's Unclassic Method, where I just throw all the ingredients in at once and stir over a low heat till the butter melts and it somehow comes together. The white chocolate curd has a rich vanilla-custard flavour and the grapefruit curd has a gentle sharpness, which, with the thick, tart yoghurt, is all so good you'll want to say "OH SHUT UP" to no one in particular after having a mouthful because you don't know what to do with yourself. As well as tasting excellent, the texture of the cool, bubbly brut goes well with the thick, saucy sweetness of this pudding.

grapefruit curd, white chocolate curd, greek yoghurt

a recipe by myself. Serves two - four, depending on the size of your serving glasses, I recommend going on the smaller side all the same and eating the remaining ones yourself at another happy time if you've only got two people to feed.
recommended wine pairing: Nautilus Estate Cuvee Marlborough NV Brut

two grapefruit
four eggs
three quarters of a cup of sugar
150g butter
100g white chocolate chopped as fine as you can be bothered to
several tablespoons of thick, plain Greek yoghurt

In a smallish pan, mix two eggs and half a cup of the sugar. Squeeze in the grapefruit juice and stir again. Dice half the butter into small cubes and tip them into the pan. Over a very low heat, patiently, stir this mixture constantly till the butter melts and it all thickens. Once it has all come together and is looking thick and saucy, but not necessarily too thick - better safe than sorry - remove from the heat and stick the pan into a sink which has a couple of inches of cold water in it, stirring constantly to lower the heat of the pan's contents. Spatula this into a bowl and refrigerate while you get on with the white chocolate: whisk together the remaining two eggs and the remaining quarter cup of sugar, then add the cubed butter and chopped white chocolate. Again, over a very low heat, stir it constantly till the butter and chocolate have just melted and it becomes thick and smooth. Stick this pan in a sink of cold water too, just to make sure it doesn’t carry on cooking in the hot pan. Transfer this into a bowl and also refrigerate - ideally for at least an hour, but you can make the two curds a whole day ahead. 

Layer up generous spoonfuls of the grapefruit and white chocolate curd and Greek yoghurt in small serving bowls (125ml or so but larger is fine) and serve. Some mint leaves or chopped pistachios might be nice here, but there's plenty going on already. 

silkier than a silkworm in fetching silk stockings descending gently to the earth from a silk parachute

bread and butter chicken: still delicious, don't forget

from a scale of 1 to the entire verse of Once In A Lifetime by Talking Heads: As with last time, still a solid eight - this is so much nicer than the wine I usually drink, and it was sincerely thrilling having so much of it, with my only task ahead something I already adore: developing recipes.

would I do this for not-free? again, as with last time, I mean, I'm not just going to give people content for nothing - wait, I write a food blog - oh you know what I mean - but I would definitely buy this wine off the shelf now if it was on special or I was feeling, oh I don't know, employed. It tastes excellent and the people behind it are blatantly pretty cool, so go forth and seek it, I say.

earnest thanks for making me feel fancy to: ...Nautilus Estate! You rule.

finally, some slightly unrelated blog admin: my rent is not your problem, but I can so feel in my bones that there's at least one eccentric millionaire who reads this blog and is fond of me in a monetary way. What I'm saying is, hi, this is a periodic reminder that you can totally donate to hungryandfrozen.com to help me continue to exist and to remain on the fringes of that fancy life. But also I shall not be fussed if you don't. I'm kind of just trying to trick super rich people into Robin Hooding themselves to me. But also trying to pay rent and buy food and such. Anyway: consider it, if you like!

17 June 2014

this is jam hot, this is jam hot

It's gonna look so pretty: well established by now as a large part of my motivation for making food, ever

I think I've mentioned this before, but I was mightily spiritual as a kid. Obsessed with Linda Goodman, attempting to cast spells with limited resources (where is a twelve year old going to obtain tincture of nettle, honestly), loitering by the 100 bit of the nonfiction section of the library, seeing how many significant words I could make from the letters of my name (AURA, OMG) placing great faith in rose quartz, jasper, hematite and whatever other semi-precious stones I could buy with my pocket money, burning essential oils, lighting incense, moonlighting as a palm-reader during my primary school lunchtimes after reading a book and thinking I knew what I was doing (the teachers did not approve of that one), making tea from herbs, fervently interpreting my dreams. Huh, I even surprised myself just now as I wrote that. Examples kept springing to mind. Anyway, I've retained some of that - a kind of fondness for what I got up to in my witchy youth, and a still-fascinated respect for it all. Which is why I was totally chill with having my tarot cards read on the first day of 2014. Where I'm going with this is, my tarot card for May was essentially "lol everything will go wrong and you'll have no money" which, alas, was almost too on the nose. But June: this month the cards suggest I'm battle-weary but I'm gonna win. Exhausted but determined. Setback-y but resilient-y. Etc. And...I'm kinda feeling it. That's me right now. 

(I'd like to add here that I don't simply allow things to happen because a particular card says so, but consider it more of a snapshot of how things might be and where I can go from there. Humans are just generally always looking for meaning and direction, right? Whether it's religion or reading your horoscopes or txting a friend a picture of yourself and asking if they think this dress seems really "you.") 

So yeah. Despite setbacks and rejection emails and uh, still being unemployed, I'm feeling curiously better about my future as a human who does stuff. I'm actually not quite sure what I want to do specifically with my cooking and writing to become incredibly famous and celebrated for my cooking and writing, but I feel like an idea is just out of reach, just around the corner, on the tip of my dreams, that kind of thing. As per usual though, if you want to employ me to be wonderful and write freelance but in a paid capacity for you, I would oblige so hard. 

Possibly this uncharacteristically bullish outlook is nothing to do with the suggestions of the tarot cards and everything to do with the vitamins and minerals my system has been waterblasted with after eating heaps of this berry chia seed jam I made. It's just chia seeds and berries, you can't help but feel good after eating that. Chia seeds are a rather fashionable superfood, but don't hold that against them. They look unassuming at first but when mixed with liquid they swell up, soften, and thicken gelatinously in a way that admittedly sounds horrifying, but can be very applicable in the kitchen. Here, they absorb the juice of the berries, holding it all together in a rudimentarily jammy fashion. It's not spreadable like the usual jam, but hot damn it tastes wonderful. And involves very little effort. I used a mixture of frozen strawberries and raspberries, mostly because it's what I had in the freezer, but also because I liked the idea of the chia seeds echoing the texture of the raspberries, and of the balance between sweet and sharp that the two berries would give each other. I imagine this would be excellent with blackberries or boysenberries - anything with seeds, particularly - but try whatever you like. 

berry chia seed jam

with thanks to sans ceuticals for this recipe

two cups of berries, frozen or fresh. I used one cup frozen strawberries, one cup frozen raspberries, and I most definitely recommend it.
half a cup of water
juice of a lemon
three to five tablespoons of chia seeds
one tablespoon honey, maple syrup, sugar, whatever really

If your berries are frozen allow them to defrost, otherwise place the berries in two bowls, roughly half in each, although I went for more of a two thirds/third kinda thing. Add the water to whichever bowl looks more full, along with the lemon juice and honey/whatever sugar you're adding. Mash thoroughly with a fork till it's roughly pureed and liquidish. Stir in the whole berries and the chia seeds, and then spatula it all into a jar and refrigerate overnight. Try to make sure all the chia seeds are actually in amongst the berries, if they ride up onto the insides of the jar they will stick like glue. Other than that: now you've got jam, honey. 

It's delicious. It's beautiful. It's easy. And chia seeds are stuuuupidly good for you, so that's something to bask in. 

It's not proper jam but actually I like it better. For someone who eats so much sugar that I probably have pure syrup running through my veins instead of your regular human-blood, I've never been alllll that big on jam. I tend to find that any fruit flavour is overpowered by sickly sugariness. Whereas this stuff is pure, intense, sun-bursting-through-the-clouds berry flavour, barely altered and instantly accessible to your lucky, lucky mouth.

jam, yoghurt, movie stars 

Some things you could do with this jam (I mostly went for the first two options, so you know)

eat 90% of it from the jar while leaning on your kitchen bench // spoon it into thick delicious yoghurt for a dessert-like snack, or snack-like dessert // add it to your porridge // eat spoonfuls of it alternated with generous pumps of canned whipped cream (wish I'd done this, what am I doing with my life) // spoon it over ice cream // smear it on your face, go out and terrify the neighbourhood children, rinse it off and notice that your skin has benefited from the high vitamin content of the berries // irritate a strict jam traditionalist by talking loudly about how wonderful it is // give a jar of it to a cool person // fill tartlets with it and top with lemon curd // google "things to do with jam" // spread it on buttery toast // employ me as a glamorous and thrilling food writer for your excellent media outlet (would also consider: having own TV show; being paid to do nothing for some reason I haven't yet worked out.)
title from: Beats International, Dub Be Good To Me. I was just a nipper in the early nineties but this gives me nostalgia for it all the same. Which is the most impressive type of nostalgia: the kind for a place you ain't even been. And Lindi Layton's vocals are stunner. 
music lately:

Lana Del Rey, Brooklyn Baby. I'll always love Lana Del Rey, even though her music puts me through an emotional wringer. This new single is jam hot, but if you want to feel entranced yet chilled to your bones, you better listen to her covering Once Upon A Dream from Sleeping Beauty.

Gossling, Never Expire. My favourite genre: dreamy.
next time: probs some more fancy plans and pants to match with recipes to go with Nautilus Wine! That's right, I've still got some fancy left in me.  

11 June 2014

the burgers are two for one but i'm not having any fun

 Halloumi and hashbrown burgers. Pictured: one serving. At best. Maybe more like quarter of a serving. Okay, this fed two of us, but now that I've said it I would probably eat four of them to stubbornly prove a point. A delicious point.

Post-confessional blog post confession: While I am glad I was open about being dropped by my publishers and having my cookbook slowly fade towards being out of print, I'm not necessarily doing any better now that this blog post has rolled around. But that's understandable, right? You can have all the facts and logic and numbers and tough love (ugh, tough love, give me indulgence any day!) and still just stare blankly at them and feel downtrodden and sullen nonetheless. I mean this applies to anything. Relationships, jobs, talents, plans...pants...

But, I made halloumi and hash brown burgers, and for that simple, selfless act I think I deserve an internationally recognised award for Persistent Services To Deliciousness, or another book deal, or something. (That's right: I can be aggressively hard on myself and aggressively self-believing at the same time. It's...charming.) On the other hand, I hardly needed to write a blog post about these - it's mostly just assembly, if I say the words "halloumi and hash brown burgers" that is kind of the whole recipe and information that you need right there. But while this may be simple, it's still something you might not have thought of making before, and those are my favourite kind of recipes - the sort that make you say "oh damn!" in a low, appreciative voice, and make you watch the clock till you can next rush into the kitchen to lovingly cook for yourself.

Halloumi is essentially the flavour of butter suspended in the form of a captivating cheese that you can fry goldenly without melting entirely. Hash browns combine soft potato insides with magically crunchy exteriors. These two things just make sense together. The bulging cheese with the crisp hash brown, the salty, oily bliss of it all against the peppery rocket leaves and soft, chewy ciabatta - it's burger brilliance, and it can be yours within minutes.

halloumi and hash brown burgers

a recipe by myself, although inspired by meeting someone who works at a cafe describing what they like to make themselves on their breaks.

two ciabatta buns
one 200g or so block of halloumi
four triangular frozen hash browns or two rectangular ones
a handful of rocket leaves
mayonnaise, lots of mayonnaise (or aioli if you like) 

Heat up a large frying pan. Cut four thick slices from the block of halloumi, and split the ciabatta buns in half. Fry the hash browns for about five minutes on each side, till golden and crisp and y'know, blatantly not frozen. Set them aside on a plate and fry the halloumi slices. If you have space in the pan, add the ciabatta bun slices cut side down to warm/toast them slightly, but it's not essential. Once the halloumi slices are deep golden on both sides, turn the heat off and, if you like, return the hash browns to the pan to let them stay warm in the residual heat. 

Meanwhile, spoon mayonnaise generously onto both the top and bottom halves of the bun, then layer up your burger like so - bottom half bun, handful of rocket leaves, hash browns, two halloumi slices, top half bun. Eat immediately, pausing only to take instagrams because you suspect people will lose it over the sight of these on their dashboard. 

The cheese and potato together are almost...meaty? Cheeseburger-esque? I can't quite pinpoint it but the whole thing is breathtakingly good and you should make this for yourself and anyone else you care for. I guarantee it will make you unbelievably happy.

As I said at the start, I am not feeling terribly outstanding in the field of excellence lately - still deeply unemployed, although I have been applying for lots of things and pitching my writing to lots of great places and have had some flickers of interest, so there's that. I've come to realise that I am not necessarily looking for a steady office job. I'm a people person when I'm not being sullen and a night owl and am hoping to find something that uses that side of me. And as I said in my last blog post, I refuse to let it occur to me that I might not achieve massive success and fame from my writing and cooking. It's not so much that failure is not an option, it's more that triumph is the only option. Failure, well, it only gets you closer to winning, right? (And other things we tell ourselves.)

(Olive, where the brioche is caramelly and buttery and the coffee is excellent and swift and the wifi is in existence and exists)

Till then, I'll continue setting up camp at cafes around town with my laptop, drinking coffee and feeling like a Sophisticated Writer About Town (look the part, be the part, as Prop Joe said) sending hustle-atious emails and writing blog posts and making lists and looking thoughtfully into the middle distance in the kind of way that makes passers-by say, "how mysterious, what's her story." (And other things we tell ourselves.)
title from: OMYGOD! by Kate Nash, if you like your heart-stabbing poignance served via upbeat pop music, which I often do. 
music lately:

Right Beside You by Sophie B Hawkins. Just because this song is from 1994 I don't know why it isn't constantly top of the charts, it's so, so good.

Brave, Sara Bareilles. Wise words for me, still.

Always Starting Over by Idina Menzel at the recent Tony Awards. Still the queen.
next time: raw chia seed berry jam. I think I like it better than usual jam? 

5 June 2014

leave me with some kind of proof it's not a dream

I'm not a particularly good sleeper, but I am very, very good at dreaming. Sometimes too good - waking up and realising oh, Lea Seydoux definitely didn't txt me, oh, I don't actually get to go to a private dress rehearsal of Wicked, oh, I didn't find masses of two dollar coins in the grass and clawingly scoop them up into my handbag, oh, I wasn't in an episode of Bob's Burgers where we hung out with people who hadn't quiiiiite realised their 1960s heyday was over and drove a Kombi van to go shooting paint at trees in rapidly changing layers of colour. (Am not too fussed about that last one not being true: experiencing it in my mind once was quite enough.)

Anyway, dreams are generally only of interest to the person whose subconscious they materialise from, but in this case I woke up and was like, woohoo! I'm a sugary prophet! Because I dreamed I was making a cake without checking if I had all the necessary ingredients (so far, so realistic) and upon realising I was out of cocoa, I used chocolate milk instead. I didn't get so far as baking it, but the dream-mixture definitely tasted good.

Dreams can come true, ya know. But when I first tried making a cake like the one in my dream, it failed completely - brickishly solid, without having the good grace to turn into a giant cookie, dry and sandy, a miserable waste of ingredients, to be honest. (And then I was like: hey, could make cake pops with this in the future! Not wasteful after all! And then I neglectfully left it on the bench for a week before guiltily binning it.)

Not one to be deterred by my dreams not coming true immediately, I decided to try again and to be a bit more thoughtful - I had a look around at cake recipes that had a larger proportion of liquid in them, I added some baking soda, and so on. And it worked! As if a chocolate milk cake wasn't cute enough on its own I decided that adding a milk chocolate ganache on top would both amplify the flavour and more importantly, make the cake's name reeeeally adorable.

chocolate milk milk chocolate cake

recipe by myself

170g soft butter
one cup sugar
two eggs
one and a half cups flour
half a teaspoon baking soda
one teaspoon baking powder
three quarters of a cup of chocolate milk

150g milk chocolate
quarter of a cup of cream

Set your oven to 180 C/350 F. Line a 21cm springform caketin with baking paper and grease the sides. This is a simple cake -  beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl till all creamy and delicious, beat in the eggs, sift in the flour and baking soda/baking powder (if you're not going to be bothered sifting, which I totally get by the way, at least make sure there are no baking soda lumps. They will taste disgusting.) Mix altogether, stir in the chocolate milk, spatula it all into the caketin and bake for around 40 minutes, or until the top feels firm and springy. 

Allow the cake to cool. Break the chocolate into squares and gently melt it together with the cream, stirring plenty so it doesn't catch and burn. Tip the lot onto the cake, spread it around with the flat side of a knife, and festoon with sprinkles or in whichever manner you find pleasing-est. I used rainbow sugar that I bought in San Francisco. 

Dreamy as this cake undeniably is, I'd have to describe the actual chocolate flavour as...aggressively mild. It's like the slightest, barest hint of cocoa warmth against the comfortingly plain, buttery cake. It's really good though, and seriously, potential cuteness is a good reason to do something, okay? But if you don't have chocolate milk in your fridge or the energy to obtain some, regular milk is fine, especially with the soft sweet flavour of the cream-rich milk chocolate ganache tying it all together. It's delicious. Oh, I really did make a good cake. 

Is it worse to never have a particular dream come true, or to have it come true and then thoroughly un-materialise itself? As I've said before, I'm more of a do-it-then-worry-about-regretting-it type than a don't-do-it-and-wonder-forevermore type, but. Look. Okay. May was a difficult month for a ton of reasons, some within my control and some of them dizzyingly, confusingly, out of my control. This one thing though, I really can't tell whether or not I could've changed it: once the last copy of my cookbook is sold from the last bookstore...it will be out of print. And my publishers, Penguin, won't be publishing another one with me.

I'm not telling you this to garner sympathy (note, I love attention but hate pity, there is a difference - pity is mortifying, attention is wonderful) and I'm not telling you so I can vent unprofessionally about Penguin, because that would be really stupid of me, and I'm so grateful for the start they gave me. I'm just telling you because I really can't hide much and it's my nature to be all "hello there perfect stranger, let me tell you about my childhood triumphs, tragedies, and grass-related rashes" and because my cookbook sprang from this food blog, it would feel fake and strange to be carrying on writing to you as if nothing had happened. This is a big deal. This cookbook has been my life, years before Penguin even approached me to write it. I just knew it had to happen.

Whenever anything else was getting me down, I had this cookbook to comfort me: I'm a real published author, like Nigella Lawson and Ann M Martin and Virginia Woolf, my words can be bought, my recipes are on paper in peoples' homes, becoming part of their lives, my name is on a cover page, I'm real. And so when I received this news, I felt like an utter, embarrassed failure. Like the fabled Emperor upon having his lack of New Clothes pointed out. Like maybe if my book had sold better, if I'd done more, if I'd quit my job sooner, if I'd not been so honest on here, if I'd been in Auckland, if I'd been richer with more resources, if I'd been better...then things might be different.

So uh, luckily for you all I held off from writing this blog post while I was entrenched in that particular swamp of miserable self-pity (I'm the only one allowed to pity me, thank you very much.)

This is where I'm at now: still really very unhappy, which I think is quite understandable, yeah? But pragmatic. Dignified. I'm not actually a failure. A major publishing house approached me, I wrote a book, a team of wonderful talented friends helped give it life, it was published, I can still go into bookstores and find myself immortalised alongside authors who have had a massive impact on my life (okay, alongside Nigella) and it's still a really, really brilliant book. I mean, it has references to Homer Simpson and Ron Swanson and The Big Chill, but also to classic French sauce techniques and traditional hand-made ice cream and what I imagined to be Americana. It has a chapter of recipes you can make when you might be kinda tipsy. It has halloumi cheesecake and apple crumble for breakfast and a cake with sachet juice powder in it and a vegan chocolate cake that I've been making since I was about eight years old. It's so excellent and I'm still so proud of it and of myself. It was not an overnight success (okay, some might say it was not at all a success, but some can go stand on a piece of Lego) and I will not be an overnight success, but I'm gonna get there.

At times like this I like to think of one of my idols, Broadway star Idina Menzel. She got a record deal off the back of her being in the cult-hit/actual-hit Broadway show RENT. She made the most amazing, confessional stream-of-consciousness overproduced album, the record company didn't know what to do with her, and after a vaguely successful lead single, they dropped her. Now she's got a Tony award for being Elphaba in Wicked, she's the voice of a lead character in Frozen, one of the most successful Disney movies yet, and she's performing in Radio City Hall in New York this month. Original copies of her debut album now sell for hundreds of dollars on eBay. And look at another idol of mine, TV character Leslie Knope. In the face of adversity, budget cuts, uncooperative gatekeepers and incompetency, she Did A Lot Of Stuff (I'm getting tired here and don't want this blog post to go on forever, so just watch Parks and Recreation, okay? Start from season 2.)

Also - I mean - at least I had my dream come true at all, for a little bit. It's not like everyone who did buy my book has to throw it in the bin by law now. The recipes are still great. And to be fair, this is ultimately something that just affects me. It's not like I have a failed charity or...other failed good thing. It's just one person's cookbook. You don't even need to care that this has happened to me. It's one of those "You are Lisa Simpson" moments and there will be other publishers and other opportunities and other huge, spectacular things. I'm so unsure and yet so sure of that at the same time.

My ambition to be a Lorde-Kanye-One-Direction level famous cookbook author has not wavered in the slightest, in fact it still hasn't occurred to me that I might have any other path in life. (There's an upside to studiously ignoring logic! Strident self-belief!) But if nothing else, it's good to know I can still make small, chocolate cake-sized dreams come true, all by myself.

And I am now what you might call "professionally single". Which is my spin doctor way of saying "deeply unemployed and set adrift upon a cruel river of uncertainty". But yeah, I am still full of words and ideas and recipes and ice cold brilliance and if anyone important is reading this and wants to make something of it, you know who to call. (Call me. Just in case you're so important that you've forgotten how to pick up on subtle hints.)

And uh, speaking of framing things so they suit you, I guess I could call my book a cult hit now? An underground sensation? A huge, important point on my timeline, but not the last one. With that in mind, there's no better time to rush into shops or online to buy this book, if you haven't already. It's so good, and nothing will ever change that.

PS: a terrific radiant humble thing that happened to me lately is that I had writing published on The Toast! Which I correctly believe is one of the very best websites on the whole internet. 
title from: Paramore, The Only Exception. I love song, with its mix of learned doubt yet unwavering hope. 
music lately: 

Ida Maria, Oh My God. Her voice is all husky and aggressive and gorgeous and so is this song. 

Spice Girls, Too Much. Viva forever! 

Frank Ocean, Bad Religion. His Channel Orange album remains perfect and this song remains burningly, achingly, hurts-to-listen-to-it good. 
next time: hopefully some really cool news or even slightly cool news. Or just news that is neutral but not sad and involving a long drawn-out blog post about my many feelings regarding it. Also: I made halloumi and hash brown burgers AND jam so it will likely be a recipe for one of those cool things.