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Hipster clafoutis – by Karen

14 Sep

Since trying it for the first time last year, I have been dying to make clafoutis, and this week’s topic was all the nudging I needed. It really was a worthwhile process, so I’m going to share it in some detail. While making clafoutis, I had Shakira’s Waka Waka firmly stuck in my head, so you may want to use it as a soundtrack for reading this post.

Googling for a recipe, the Julia Child one was most prominent. I wanted to go classic anyhow, or so I thought. In reality, I went HIPSTER.

First of all, the eggs, basis of any custard dessert. Backyard heritage chicken eggs, that is. Slave to the zeitgeist.

Eggs from Araucana, Sussex, Welsummer and Australorp hens

You don’t actually need that many eggs. The recipe calls for three, but I threw in one extra, because hipster eggs can be smaller than those sell-out commercial eggs.

Next comes the hipster milk. I originally photographed this a2 milk as an in-joke for Beth, not realising that the whole production would become a joke.

Like porridge, this non-savoury recipe calls for salt. Anyone who attended Beth’s Party for your Thoughts knows that fancy salt epitomises the corruption of food by the hipster. In it goes.

Not actually Himalayan. Airmiles, dontcha know. It is in fact Australian fancy salt.

I also used a vanilla pod in addition to the vanilla extract specified.

At this point the recipe calls for a blender. “Julia Child wouldn’t have used a blender!” I scoffed. Then all our electronic mixing devices were broken. Then it turned out I am no Julia Child. I used a sieve to get the lumps out.

It’s cool that this recipe, although basically custard, requires no saucepan skills. It’s poured into the pan and bunged in the oven. There is only one ambiguous bit in the recipe:

Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter in dish. Place in the oven until a film of batter sets in the pan.

If you check it immediately, there is no film, and there’s clearly not going to be a film for ages. Then five minutes later, it is solid and looks like this:

Bubbly and firm. Not “a film”

If any man ever reads this blog, he will just want to know what that is in the background there. It is pork belly, man. Richard made it.

Crispy pork belly

Ok, so back to the clafoutis. The point of creating the film with one quarter of the batter, I believe, is so that the cherries can be raised up upon it.

So my firm batter served the purpose:

Cherries go on

Then the rest of the batter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was really a pretty easy recipe, with ingredients most people would have lying around (presuming you’re happy to substitute the cherries for other fruit). And look! It worked!

Ready when brown and puffy!

The Pope is Catholic, and the children liked the dessert. Finn said, “can I just give my food a little cuddle before it disappears into my tummy?”

mm

mmm

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Hair – by Karen

26 Aug

I guess the most spectacular hair in my life is Anika’s. She was born with  a fair amount of hair:

In fact this is more than some lovely babes have two years later. After this newborn hair, subsequent extrusions of hair were blonde, and as it’s never been cut, you can still see reddish tips in her hair that were once dark brown.

In Singapore, she had a devoted fan in our helper Jean, who loved doing her hair and was incredibly skilled at it. She developed a favourite style which became known as The Anika.

All part of the indulged tropical toddler lifestyle

 

As you can probably make out, this hairstyle formed a kind of golden circlet around her head that was secured by dozens of small elastics. These had the advantage of making it last a good five days.

The disadvantage of this hairstyle is that it was SO REMARKABLE and BELOVED that every single person Anika met would comment on it, in fact, most people she even passed would be compelled to compliment it. So there was a phase of Anika’s life during which pretty much all she ever heard was “I love your hair!”.

This probably isn’t healthy, so even though I have finally mastered The Anika (not to Jean’s impeccable standard, but passing), I use it sparingly. I mean, we can’t have her writing her school report on how she loves her jeans.

 

Rarity – by Karen

19 Aug

This week I’ve found myself embroiled in conflicts twice. One, a very mild conflict that I willingly went into because I needed to sort something out, and the other a completely bewildering and more serious conflict that has been thrust upon me. I don’t think of myself as particularly conflict-avoiding, but I very rarely find myself embroiled in conflicts over anything more serious than who should turn the light out. Usually there’s a way of just calmly sorting things out.

But sometimes there’s not. And my mind just tends to perseverate, every thought is hijacked, and there is absolutely no help in saying to myself, “there’s nothing you can do now”, or “all water under the bridge”, or other such sensible statements. I really hate conflict. Did I mention that I hate conflict? Hate it.

Saliva – by Karen

16 Aug

Saliva last week made me think of drool, of lusting after things I don’t have. I used to spend SO MUCH TIME doing that as a teenager. The era of saliva. CDs, clothes, boys, travel – all so entirely unattainable and desperately desired.

Fortunately I don’t spend so much time on it these days, but found myself in the ridiculous position the other day of coveting someone’s front garden. The snowdrops were nodding, the jonquils were beaming, I think there were even some poppies popping up amongst the lavender. And I felt that sense of distress at not having – it was an anxious thing to behold this beautiful sunny garden because mine doesn’t look like that yet. How ridiculous.

The other day the Goulds were watching Gardening Australia again, and there was a 93 year-old called Mavis who said so many awesome things, but among the less immediately inspiring was how gardens “looking nice” was an essential thing for the community. I thought of Mavis again after my anxious moment before my neighbour’s bulbs and thought – “for the community”. For me.

You see, I read a book a while back, can’t remember the name, it was one of those things where someone writes about style and fashion, but is obviously quite intelligent and thus feels the need to justify their interest in such vacuous topics. From memory, her reasoning was that dressing well enhanced the “jollity of the nation.” What a fantastic phrase. And indeed it can.

When I see a gorgeous outfit, or garden as the case may be, my mental exercise is to consider it there in service of my jollity. I don’t need to lust after it, because it’s already mine.

Secret – by Karen

5 Aug

I was one of those children that always wished (without much hope), that her family had some dark, hidden secret. Perhaps I was somehow adopted or was, in some other way, a much more interesting back story to the exciting person I would one day become. Yes, I was also one of those kids that thought boarding school sounded awesome.

I believe my sister shares my inclination. She once reported to me that mum had said “there’s more to it than you’d understand”, with regard to my classic “odd uncle” who lived with his parents until their recent passing. Of course, my mother was unwilling to augment this deficient understanding of my sister’s. My sister interpreted her comment, to my bewilderment, as meaning that perhaps my mother was in fact my uncle’s mother, as after all he is a lot younger than the other children. Now, I say I was bewildered by this hypothesis, but I was very willing indeed to believe it, so much more interesting it is than the probable reality. In reality, my uncle is just a bit odd, and my mother thinks we might not have noticed that yet, because she’s never explicitly said so.

I never realised how ignorant I was on my mother’s belief in her omnipotence until a discussion about the care of my grandparents. My mother was concerned that my uncle might interfere with decisions about the care of the grand parent, who really did need to be admitted to hospital. “Well, if there’s mental illness there,” I said, reassuringly, “I’m sure that will be taken into account when the social workers consider his input.”

“Mental illness?!” said my mother, aghast, who had just spent about 45 minutes bemoaning his unfitness to make adult decisions. “Who ever said anything about that?”

Oh.

It turns out, there was in fact a dark secret in my family, but it wasn’t about me. A relation on my mother’s side was, wait for it, secretly adopted. He was not told until well, well into adulthood, and was reportedly horrified to learn that all kinds of random relatives, such as my mother, had known all along. That is not the stuff of childhood fantasy. When my mother told me this, I was actually kind of angry at her (although it is never productive to express anger with my mother). The slight smugness with which she reported how disturbed he’d been that they’d all known – it really irritated me. That is not a juicy secret. That is a pretty horrible situation to be put in.

Of course, there’s more to it than I’d understand.

False – by Karen

29 Jul

I started my new boot camp class a couple of weeks ago, and found myself in the middle of a gym drama. The woman who had taken the previous weeks’ classes, which I had enjoyed, turns out to have been a fill-in for another trainer, who arrived this week. I met one of my co-exercisers on the stairs, who said, “Oh, Cherie’s back,” with a roll of her eyes. “Cherie?” I asked. “Yeah, she’s the normal trainer, but Daniela was way better.” This did turn out to be true, and the new trainer was fairly unengaged. She also filled the room with a cigarette smoke halo, which is kind of weird for a fitness trainer. Seemed like a very nice person though.

Anyhow, afterwards, all the gym girls congregated for coffee while Cherie got a talking to from the gym manager. Suddenly, all the women were excitedly speculating that she might be being fired.

Cherie joined us for coffee, a bit teary, to report that she’d been told to stop talking so much and to give me heavier weights.

Suddenly, all the women were shocked. How could he do that? Doesn’t he know they all love Cherie? In fact, they’d all stop coming if Cherie left. When they saw that hot young Daniela, they just wanted to give up. Clearly Gym Boss doesn’t understand women.

Well, by the end of that, I felt like I didn’t understand women either. To be more honest, I understood all too well, and the scenario was all too familiar. High school. Groups of girls. The bitching and the sucking up in rapid-fire succession. Wanting to get Girl A on side by supporting them, then wanting to bond with Girl B by tearing Girl A down behind their back.

It tastes sweet at the time, but leaves a nasty after-taste. Like a spoon full of aspartame.

Cake and other C words – by Karen

20 Jul

Now, I’m on my phone’s internet connection, so it’s just not practical for me, but I believe if you watch that video right through, you’ll see some of the most arresting choreography since Single Ladies (Put  a Ring on It). Most especially arresting, is the erm, crotch framing move which has since been christened the Pussy Pat, the Vag Vogue and the Cake Cutter (at least partially in reference to her unfortunate Chris Brown collaboration, Birthday Cake). The significance of this move in a feminist context boggles my mind in a way I find pleasing. Is it liberating for a woman to adapt and adopt the crotch-grabbing incorporated by most male hip-hop and r&b artists post-MJ? I think so. It’s also definitely a little bit gross.

I find myself liking Rihanna, originally with the placidity of a Singapore radio listener, and more recently, against my will. And one of the things that I like most about her is her willingness to be gross. I think this might be the only thing  I still like about her post her cynical Chris Brown endorsement (aka the Birthday Cake saga). Her hypocrisy in pretending she hadn’t used the relationship for publicity in that interview is very off-putting, and she acts similarly affronted when questioned about him in interviews, despite the deliberate and unnecessary collaboration on Birthday Cake. In the same way, she’s offended when the douche bag in this interview asks her to teach him the cake cutter because it’s “disrespectful” and inelegant (only because of the dress of course), but seriously, did she think she was in private when she performed it in her music videos? (Honestly though, that interviewer deserves worse treatment, what an embaarassing fool – http://youtu.be/wg3nxXFjBq8 – skip to 2:05).

But I really did think it was kind of funny that she wore her C**t necklace to a Catholic Church. And that when someone tweeted that her red hair made her look like a tampon, she publicly replied that at least she wasn’t a c**t. Hmm… Maybe I only think she’s funny because she uses the C word a lot. May need to reassess.