Monthly Archives of: January 2014

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Eat these in January: Nectarines

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(Hello! I’m trying this out as a THING. Background here.)

I’m not a big fruit eater. Other than an annual cherry binge, I largely tap out at pineapple on pizza. Fruit comes into my house to dissolve slowly in the fruit bowl or the salad crisper. It’s pretty much a service I perform for fruit flies.

Like many fruits, I like nectarines but have no idea what to do with them. HAD. Now I do: this. Do this with them. Do it now and do it often.

This is so good I’ve made it twice in a week.

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What’s cookin’, good lookin’?

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This blog is apparently now just storage space for my twice-yearly bouts of FEELINGS. There’s nothing wrong with that — you guys know I love a good FEELING, even if I would prefer it to be felt by someone I made up, or who at least reported it to me over a post-work wine — but it’s also not that FUN.

I’ve been thinking about this, when not having feelings.

I’ve also been thinking about the amount I write. I write fiction before work, at lunch. I write for my job, 40 hours a week. I freelance after work and on the weekends. About the only thing I do that doesn’t involve piecing words together like beads on a string is cook.

I love to cook. I know most people, even many of the hobby chefs, find making dinner every day a grind. I don’t — it makes my day. It probably helps that I’m lucky if I get three nights at home a week (and by three I mean two) but, for me, cooking is my wind-down. It’s my release, my only real creative process that I don’t formulate in sentences, in stories. I follow a recipe or I make one up, I have a glass of wine, I put on some soothing One Direction…

It’s relaxing. It’s creative but not draining. It’s NOT WRITING.

Let’s change that!

While I was at my grandmother’s, I found my grandfather’s copy of the Yates Garden Guide. It’s dog-eared and tattered, annotated all over and stuffed with notes and newspaper clippings picked up over the 50 years he kept his garden. I flicked through it and thought about how much knowledge died with him. He knew how to graft fruit trees and build glasshouses and grow avocados in Canterbury.

I don’t even really know if it’s weird to grow avocados in Canterbury — I just don’t know anyone else who’s tried.

He had an acre of vegetables and fruit trees, and I spent a lot of my childhood watching him dig potatoes or shell peas. I remember him telling me how to get rid of aphids without chemicals, but I don’t remember what he said. He ruined supermarket fruit for me forever, and left me with this nagging sense that the way we eat isn’t the way we’re meant to.

I like to cook food and I like to eat food, but I also like to read about food. Y’all know I’m a sucker for the climate and gender issues, but what really gets me hot under the collar is food: the separation between us and it, the insanity around diets, the way it’s produced. A couple of years ago I read a bunch of Michael Pollan’s books, which kicked off a massive change in the way I eat and the way I think about what I eat.

I started trying to be more mindful of where I bought my food and how it had been treated before I got it. I annoyed my family and friends with tales of factory farming and nitrogen fertilisers. And I cooked. And I ate. And I listened to boy bands.

But, although I buy organic veges (sometimes) and free-range meat (always), I still feel like part of the problem. Not only do I have no idea how to grow any food, I don’t even know what season you’re supposed to eat it in. The supermarket gives me whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it. The disconnect bothers me.

Before Christmas, I pledged this. It seemed like a good start — there’s now something in my kitchen that tells me which fruit and vegetables are in season, so I can get better about cooking with local produce.

At some point while I was paging my way through that 35-year-old garden guide, an idea started cooking. (YEAH I DID.) A way to revive my blog, share the recipes I invent that are worth sharing (assuming any are), and turn my ONE FUCKING NON-WRITING HOBBY into yet another word-wrangling exercise.

*fingerguns*

It’s recipe time, folks. I’m not saying I’m outlawing FEELINGS — I just think they could come with something delicious to eat. And maybe, if it works out, eventually I’ll try and grow that garden, and together we can have comical misadventures here once more. (I seem to have far fewer comical misadventures as I get older. I feel like this probably means I’m basically succeeding at life now — I definitely fall over a lot less — but it does mean I don’t have as much to blog about.)

Or maybe I’ll just think about it twice a year and then write something maudlin and self-serving. WHO CAN TELL?

My questions for you, gentle reader(s):

  • should I do this here, or start a new blog specifically for kai-based musings?
  • does anyone know the etiquette of sharing adaptations of recipes, especially if the original isn’t available online?
  • …that really concludes my questions. Those of you who aren’t tiny google-robots, please leave your responses in the usual places. And thank you for being here even though I’m lazy as ALL GET OUT and you should have found something better to read by now. Or maybe you have and I’m talking to myself. In which case…

*fingerguns*

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Remember when I used to be funny?

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I missed my birthday blog this year. Because my birthday is so close to Christmas, I tend to think about birthday resolutions instead of New Year resolutions. I tuck myself away somewhere and think about where I’ve been and where I’m going. Some years I’m sad. Some years I’m frustrated. Some years I just want more.

I always want more. I think that’s the core of me, if you looked deep down inside. I’m built around this throbbing nub of want.

It takes me places, but it never makes it easy to get there. I’d joke to my now-ex a lot this year that I’m like a shark — if I stop moving, I die. It’s sink or swim around here. I don’t think he ever thought it was funny.

Everything changes, everything stays the same.  I said that last year, funnily enough.

I’ve pulled a deck chair into the middle of my grandparents’ overgrown garden. No one lives here since Nana was taken to the home, but the lawns are mowed and the apricots are picked. My uncles, I think. One of the windows is boarded up where the paramedics had to break it to get in, and everything looks tired and old now that it’s empty. There are birds everywhere. Rabbits and butterflies. Nests in trees bowed over with unpicked fruit.

Nature is taking over.

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My childhood self is still here: climbing the woodpile like it’s a pirate ship, daydreaming hidden in the crook of the massive olive tree, stuffing my t-shirt with socks in front of my grandmother’s vanity. I’ve always looked forward, but here I look back, too. There are trees growing in the shell of the pool now, but I look at it and see myself as a toddler, being swooped around in my father’s arms, my brother and I tucked under one arm each. Or, older, sinking under the water to watch the sunlight dapple above me, to find that particular watery silence.

That’s what I’m doing this weekend: finding silence.

I feel like a russian doll, like all the versions of myself going back 31 years are packed in here with me. We’re all layers of the same person, but any of the others weren’t the whole story. I’m still not the whole story. I’m sitting here, raw, waiting for my next layer.

I love all the younger versions of myself, but they were all so clueless and so hopeful. They hurt my heart to think about them. I like to think I’m protecting them, this outer layer I have now. But that one’s pretty fucking clueless too. And still so painfully hopeful.

I’m glad — I hope I’m never finished. But sometimes it’s hard to accept that my skin will always be this thin.

My ambitions outstrip me; they always have. But at the same time, this year I started a business that’s currently more successful than my nerves and my work ethic can handle. I got my dream job. I partook in an actual adult relationship for 8 whole months, and I learned some hard truths and got some hard answers about why I’ve never felt like that fit. I hope the answers mean more for me in the future, rather than less.

Every year is better than the last year, but every year means letting go a little more, too. Refining, I’d call it. Realising that what I want and what I can do aren’t always on the same page, and actually, there are some things I don’t want, too.

31. I have hopes. I always do. I’ve worked so hard to get here: to be confident with people, to have this wild, awesome life, to be wholly myself. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer every year.

Sometimes, when I’m lying in bed at night, I think of myself as the centre of a web. I picture where everyone I love is and what they’re doing, and I draw a little silken spider-line from them to me, until I’m radiating out across the country and the world. I’m so lucky to have and to know all these people.

And even if I’m difficult with intimate relationships, I understand why better now. Maybe I’ll talk about it someday. But for now it’s more than enough to know that I know the people I know. And that my heart is full of love for every silly, crazy, beautiful one of them.

These are good days.

I have a plan for what’s next, I think. For this blog and for me, creatively. It involves this house and my memories of it — a way to take the past and make it the future, I hope. I’ll keep you informed.