Sunday, November 29, 2015

This should be illegal

OMGYOUGUYS. Only one day left of MyBloWriMo. I can't believe it's nearly over. What on earth will I do with all the freed-up hours come December?? Take up knitting? Read the classics? Start cooking through Hawksmoor at Home? Napping? THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!

Speaking of endless possibilities, today I combined two of the best foods of America and Great Britain and made them EVEN BETTER. Biscuits and gravy and sausage rolls have officially gotten married and now we have sausage rolls and gravy to celebrate until the end of days. I wanted to complete their union with actual sausage gravy, courtesy of the suggestion of top chef Jimmy (a sausage roll! covered in sausage gravy!), but I ran out of sausage meat so I made bacon gravy instead. I like to think it's pretty much the same in the sense of delicious pork on top of more delicious pork, so still a win. And it was DELICIOUS. Sinful, and not to be done frequently unless diabeetus is on your to-do list, but DELICIOUS.

Don't judge me for this.

This indulgent breakfast was a requirement after yesterday's incredible Thanksgiving To End All Thanksgivings. There was too much goodness in that room and Wolf and I left there after eight hours absolutely high on life and duck and card games and pie and the joy of meeting new people, all of whom were so interesting that eight hours didn't feel like nearly enough time. Claire knows how to throw a FEAST, youguys. Waking up this morning felt like a call to arms (or at least to sausage and gravy).

After the joy of meat covered in meat, we went to meet the newest member of the Sporting Hackney Football Club. Meet Aurelia, firstborn child of Chris and Maria, a beautiful example of what happens when an Irishman and a Spaniard love each other and decide to make the world a better place: Aurelia is only three weeks old, and she's already propping her chin on her hand like some kind of Old World Philosopher, ready to hear about your problems:
Her eyes. They Know Things.

Between her being teeny and me having Giant Man Hands, this was a photo op begging to happen. I could palm HER ENTIRE HEAD. (Not that I did, Chris and Maria! At least not when you were in the room!)

Time to climb into the couch and call a night a night: the roaring wind outside has quickened our fire, causing the embers to rage and the flames to whip, and it must be appreciated. 

Big hugs and lots of love,

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Let's get this day STARTED!

GOOD MORNING, YOUGUYS! Saturday, 9 a.m. here, and absolutely nothing new has happened since I've last seen you so who knows WHAT blog-puke is going to come out today.

So we've got this high-up tiny window in our bathroom that is too small for a curtain but too poorly placed to prevent our back neighbors from being able to see in, and this has caused Wolf some consternation. (I forget it's there; also, I'm shameless.) As a result, I ordered some frosted window film that I will attempt to cut and stick on there today. I'm not handy but I am OCD, so this is both the best and worst task I could ever assign myself. It's got all the elements of the perfect storm: cleaning, measuring, cleaning again, straightening edges, lining things up, cleaning again, getting rid of bubbles/that one random hair that came out of nowhere/dust - then stepping back and seeing it's not perfect and tearing it all down and starting the process over again. There may well be a lot of cursing in our bathroom today, and I am excited about it.

Then of course it will be Casserole Prep Time, then Get on Train with Casserole time, then PARTY WITH CASSEROLE TIME! I'm super good at parties because I am really awkward initially and then as soon as I'm comfortable I lose my filter which makes everybody else awkward and then I try to recover the situation by changing the subject and I'm pretty sure it always works.

Time to win the day!

Big hugs and lots of love,

Friday, November 27, 2015

Nothing black about THIS Friday

HAPPY DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING, YOUGUYS! This day is almost as good as Turkey Day itself. Back in Merka, this was the day Christmas decorations made their way up (versus here, where I think there's a rule - or like a law or something - that Christmas decorations can't go up before the 1st of December), and there's leftover turkey (currently substituted by macaroni and cheese) and if you actually leave the house, it's to go see the release of whatever Christmas blockbuster is much-hyped-about (we've got Netflix so that's sorted).

You know what's even more exciting? Tomorrow we get REAL Thanksgiving, at the home of an expat friend who apparently throws the most NOTORIOUS of Thanksgiving meals. Like the tastiest, most innovative mains and sides EVER. I cannot be more excited. You couldn't cater in the likes of what I've heard she's prepping. I'm sure I will bore you with a million photos of it tomorrow. I'm personally in charge of the green bean casserole, mostly because it's my favourite Thanksgiving side but also because I grew up in a place where most food came out of combinations of cans so I don't shudder when I see the ingredients (for those of you who may not know, it's basically two cans of green beans stirred up with a can of cream of mushroom soup - all American casseroles must include a cream-of-something soup - stirred, then baked with a covering of cheddar and fried onions). I suspect making such a thing would hurt my friend's culinary soul and so I will protect her kitchen integrity and do all the stirring here. I will admit I am making a fresher version - fresh green beans, real mushrooms and cream - but French's fried onions will have to make an appearance and also All That Cheddar. Fresh doesn't have to mean healthy, after all. Where there's a will, there's a way.

I'm going to leave you now with this cosy picture taken from the kitchen window of our French house, back when it was still lush and green. We're going back there in December to see how it looks when it's all dead and brown. Can't wait!

Big hugs and lots of love!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

How to celebrate Thanksgiving on your own

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, YOUGUYS! I am loving this day so far. Thanksgiving may very well be my favourite holiday. It's so HEART-warming. And even though I am celebrating on my own today because everybody else is working, I am doing it in STYLE. I cleared my to-do list of all but the necessities (you don't even want to know what tomorrow's list looks like now) and I am determined to luxuriate and celebrate with glorious slothfulness. I'm going to light the fire, take a bubble bath, read my book, and as a special treat, I think I just may forgo the seventeen kilos of veg clamouring in my fridge and have some macaroni and cheese for lunch. USA! USA!

Ah, who am I kidding? I am buried in gourds, I have to eat one of them. The last thing my Thanksgiving needs is to be tainted by Gourd Guilt . . . Maybe I'll compromise and make a squash mac n cheese, like some combination between this one and this one . . .

Okay, it is HAPpening. Some sort of squash (why so many VARIETIES, England??) is roasting away in the oven while onions caramelise on the stove and soon it will all get put together in a creamy cheesey frenzy. . .YEAH, holiday!

GUYS. My squash mac is done. And it is AMAZING. Just LOOK at this gooey gourdy goodness!

I felt guilty at the lack of greens so I threw in some green chilis and parsley and now it's totally healthy.

Now for my day's gratitude before I leave you to stuff my face and then roll my engorged self into the bath tub:

I'm thankful for having the Wolf.

I'm thankful for good friends and a growing community.

I'm thankful for having enough food, and a sweet home, and a roaring fire, and lots of blankets, and all the cosy things that make winter seem like the warmest season of all.

Big hugs and I hope your day is full of love,

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Because Sundays are made for long, happy meals

OMGYOUGUYS. Have you heard of the terrific concept called a Cookbook Club? I first heard about it through my foodie friend Claire, who read about it here. The premise is this: you and your friends pick a cookbook, everyone cooks a dish from it, and then you bring all of it together for a potluck-style meal. Amazing, right??

We had to do it. We chose Ottolenghi's Jerusalem (because obviously) and came together last Sunday for a FEAST. And it was SOMUCHFUNYOUGUYS. Like, there are not words for how wonderful it was. It was good friends, it was being crammed around a folding table set up in our living room, it was gorgeous food, and warmth, and so much laughing and so much eating and then food comas and then the revival that comes with a cheese board and then more food comas and then everyone piling up in our den under blankets and binge-watching Master of None and the whole day was an expression of joy and sharing, a sort of rejoicing in Togetherness, and we had our fill.

So much sharing. So much caring.

And because one can't have a dinner party blog post without the obligatory looking-down-at-table food shot:
From left to right: roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za'atar, hummus kawarma (lamb) with lemon sauce, zhoug, and roasted sweet potatoes and fresh figs with goat's cheese.

I KNOW. Make them quit.

I'm off to the premier of a documentary tonight - so excited, made by friends, starring friends, what's not to like? - and look forward to seeing you tomorrow!

Big hugs and lots of love,