Tag Archives: happy

Caramelised onions, rapid ragù and a diary you should buy

Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.
~ Anne Lamott

Today has been one fantastic day.

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For a while now, I have felt a soul and body sensation somewhat akin to constant choking. There have been many moments where my mind kept saying “dooooon’t wooooorrryyy” or “sloooooow down!” while my body and heart fluttered with anxiety and insomnia.

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I really, really don’t want to see another night-to-day transition happen outside the window while the rest of New Zealand (except fellow insomniacs or night-shift workers) get to play in Dreamland.

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I guess the year’s been a little crazy. It’s been unspeakably wonderful in a thousand different ways, and it’s also driven me completely out of my comfort zone. I’ve been living out of a suitcase for seven months, and I’ve been in 12 cities in three countries this year. That’s not much for people on an OE or for people who love ongoing plan-less spontaneity, but I’m not either of those things.

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Right, first world problems.

Got it.

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They’re still a little tough :-o

(The First World Problem Lady Whines)

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Recently, in the midst of a dark passage of stress and insomnia, I came to a very important realisation. That now is the BEST time to learn contentment, resilience, calm and all those quality things.

Today, I woke up, peered into the mirror and said, “I like your life. I don’t want ANY OTHER.” After I said it, I was surprised to realise that I really meant it. I really wouldn’t want to be anyone else. I’m really happy being me, with my personality, strengths, flaws, relationships, circumstances and all.

And then a few really, really good things happened. I’m still smiling as I type this.

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One of those things is that I *finally* got my hands on a Kiwi Diary! My friend Cathy told me about them a few years ago, and for some reason they stayed elusive… until today! At Commonsense Organics they sat on the counter like they had been waiting for me all along (okay, slight exaggeration, but only a slight one)!

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It’s every bit as beautiful, compact and spacious as I wanted my 2013 diary to be. Don’t you want one too?

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Another good thing that happened today was that I felt in the mood to Cook Properly. Dinner was started and finished in an hour and turned out nicely, and my lovely flatmate Jono helped me to eat it AND booted me out of the kitchen afterwards to tackle the dishes :-)

Here’s the approximate recipe, if you’d like it. As always, I recommend cooking by sight, smell, taste and instinct.

    Pappardelle with rapid ragù and caramelised onions
    Ingredients:
    Caramelised onions:
    Olive oil
    2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
    pinch of cinnamon
    1 tbsp demerara sugar (or use normal)
    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    The rest of the dish:
    225g dried pappardelle (packet said 2 servings)
    1 tbsp butter
    3 cloves garlic
    450g mince
    1 sprig rosemary*
    1 sprig thyme*
    1 carrot, peeled and diced
    1 zucchini, diced
    400g canned diced tomatoes
    3 tbsp tomato paste or passata
    1/2 cup red wine
    Salt
    Black pepper
    3/4 tbsp demerara sugar (or use normal)
    Method:
    Over medium-high heat, glaze the bottom of a skillet with approximately 3 tbsp of olive oil. Once it’s warm, fling open the windows and throw in the onions. Cook for 15-20 minutes, adjusting the heat as required and stirring occasionally to avoid it burning. It should be smelling pretty great and turning slowly golden-brown. Add in a pinch of cinnamon, breathe in deeply. Stir well. After 5 minutes, add in the sugar and balsamic vinegar and cook for a further 5 minutes till it’s all rich, brown and soft. Pour them into a bowl.
    Turn the heat up again. Reusing the skillet, melt the butter, then add in the garlic and mince. Stir well, and add in the herbs. When the mince is partially cooked, add in the carrot and zucchini, and cook till the mince is just cooked. Then pour in the wine, tomatoes and tomato paste, lower the heat and let it all simmer for around 20-30 minutes. More time won’t kill it – just make sure it’s simmering and not splattering. At some point, stir in half of the caramelised onions (refrigerate the rest for another meal!), sugar and salt and pepper to taste.
    10 minutes before the sauce is due to be ready, bring water in a deep saucepan to a rolling boil. Throw in some salt, then add in the pappardelle and cook according to packet instructions or till al dente.
    Dish it up – pappardelle on plate. Ragù on top. Serve immediately.
    Yields 3 servings.

* I just used these because they were leftovers I had in the freezer – feel free to substitute with fresh / dried herbs you have on hand.

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Happy (for no reason)…

Today has been a lovely day. Oh-soooo-wet-and-windy, but I loved it. I could see poetry written in the raindrops, smiles painted on the lamp posts, slivers of cake etched on the ground. I don’t know what it was. From the moment I woke up, magic clung to me like a shadow…

Heck, I even got excited about Matt accidentally spilling muesli all over the stovetop… muesli rain!

I waltzed in to work, held myself back from singing… ran in the rain to meet my lovely friend Bibs for a fun (and yummy) lunch at Finc – haloumi cheese, eggplant, tomato, mushrooms, etc… :-)

Then off to the library, started off working diligently till I couldn’t keep myself away from the shelves after all and got myself four books to read. I’m now on page 52 of “Boy in Darkness” by Mervyn Peake – an enchanting writer I am very glad to have found (thanks Dave)!

Since Briscoes was having a sale, Matt and I bought things for the flat, including a mirror (yay, no more using the microwave door to check my hair in the morning!), picked up ‘Gusto’ beans at Caffe L’affare and some mille-feuille from Moore Wilson’s & came home for a quick unpack-and-eat break.

Oh, coffee and pastry – you are excellent things for a rainy day.

Down again to town in the now raging rain, jeans getting utterly wet despite our umbrellas staying proudly (and miraculously) intact, for drinks at Electric Avenue…

Then coffee with Haidee, which is one of my necessary and favourite things to do every week. :-) :-)

I’m still very happy, in a nearly scary way. I actually can’t explain it, but I guess it’s a good thing!

I’m going to end this post soon, or it’s going to become a scarily happy post… last things are:

Thank you Cindy, for including my blog in your list of 50 food and travel blogs – I am surprised and very honoured!

And… have a peek at The Village Hearth! Not just because I’m doing a tiny bit of writing there ;-) … it’s a new, creative website which puts the fun right back into domesticity (not for the boring/frumpy).

Alright, that’s enough from me, I think! Hope everyone is having a great weekend :-)

Finc – 122 Wakefield Street, Te Aro, Wellington – Phone: 04 499 2999

Electric Avenue – 132 Courtenay Place, Wellington – Phone: 04 803 3900

Caffe L’affare – 27 College Street, Wellington – Phone: 04 385 9748

In which we dined like kings

Laughter is brightest where food is best.
~ Irish Proverb

It took a few wrong turns in Martin’s car, and some squinting at the map with the light from my cell phone – but oh, our little effort was well rewarded indeed.

Martin, Sally, Nish and I found our way to Graeme & Daph’s charming place on Saturday night, stepping in gratefully to their warm lounge where we were met with two smiling faces. I met this lovely couple not too long ago at a cooking class, and in the lucky way you sometimes meet people whom you like immediately and have the pleasure of meeting again, here I was, in their house for dinner! They had a lot of ravioli to get through, I was told, and in an act of crazy generosity – more than they realise, probably! – I was invited to come… and bring friends!

So I grabbed Martin, Sally, Nish, a bottle of Bridge Pa syrah, and over the next few hours on a wintry night – we celebrated. In a big way. Celebrated food, life, humour; in a fantastic way, especially since I was with friends who don’t yet know each other well, and of course none of the others had met each other before. Yet, we exchanged stories, laughed and shared delicious food together. This is one of the best things that could ever happen to strangers, acquaintances, friends.

It was a beautiful scene, the cute cats by the fire, the labelled spice jars on the shelf, the coffee machine, the nicely set table with red napkins. It was wonderful to listen, talk, laugh, eat… Oh, did we eat! Graeme had baked spectacular bread – seriously, there is not a thing I would change about it – it was soft, comforting, flavourful – I think I exclaimed at my first bite. The wine – Yealands gewurztraminer, Bridge Pa syrah, something else I’ve forgotten now – we had a very delicious selection. The ravioli, of course – we had 2 types to indulge in: pumpkin & mustard fruit, spinach & ricotta – with a wonderful smoky tomato & bacon sauce and showers of parmesan to accompany them. Graeme spoilt us all with his very yummy creme brulee, perfectly torched – a deep caramel crust that we cracked with our teaspoons, then custard we all fell into, sighing. Dessert wine. Coffee. Chocolate. It felt like the feast would never end, except my body was certainly telling me that I should end it soon before I burst. All my winter sickness melted away…

Mmmmmmmmmmmm! It was a delicious night, which I won’t be forgetting in a hurry! Look forward to hosting them sometime in the near future too (hopefully with a decent menu too, though it sure is a high standard to try to match!)