Inspirational Cake

Here is a statement.

Cake is inspirational.

I say this as I lick the last remnants of the strangest and perhaps the most delicious cake I have ever eaten from my lips.

It was small, and arrived in a box. It was coated in a soft, luxurious film of glossy chocolate, and on top lay five single curls of the same, arranged to deceive my eyes. When the sharp knife slid down right into its core, and a small slice was gently pulled out of the whole, a golden brown substance oozed from the middle.

Once on my place, a cup of cinnamon and apple tea steaming beside me, I examined it. It was very brown, and I realised the little moist smudges within the cakey texture were dates. A date cake, then, coated with chocolate and filled with…?

I let my fork sink into the cake, taking a sizeable chunk along with some of the golden cream, and closed my lips over it.

An explosion in my mouth. Sweetness, solid cake, my mouth enriched.

First the dates. Not bad at all. Then the chocolate. Finally, swirling its fingers over my tongue, caressing my tastebuds, a surge of.. salted caramel?!

What an odd combination of flavours, but how well they worked together.

Immediately the exhaustion evaporated, I settled back to really enjoy this slice. Immediately my brain fizzled into action. I no longer felt lethargic. I washed my cake down with the deep warm cinnamon tea, the perfect balance to the overwhelming sweetness of cake.

Cake.

The perfect high note to a day filled with lows.

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Levi Wells Prentice (1851-1935)

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Eating Sadness

I woke up ravenous today.

I wanted to eat,

everything in sight.

A mango was not enough for me.

I had to follow it up with a bowl of grapes.

Then I wolfed down an entire punnet of strawberries,

Craving the sugar,

but barely tasting it.

I was hungry, still.

So I went to the kitchen in search of more food.

There was nothing in the cupboards, and the fridge was empty

save for a wilted celery stick.

I scarfed that in a moment.

Then I sat down,

to think about

why the cave inside my stomach

could not be filled.

And as I thought, my throat constricted,

my lungs felt tight,

and I wanted to gasp for breath.

The knot in my chest loosened a little,

when some tears

rolled down my face.

And I realised,

that all this time,

I was not hungry,

I was just sad.

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Comfort

There is honestly nothing like a hot, buttery crumpet, with a scrape of jam on the very top, washed down with a mug of sweet, well brewed tea on a sunny day in spring.

In Morocco they have a similar sort of food, a pancake called ‘Baghrir’, fluffy and filled with holes just like a regular crumpet. They refry these pancakes in olive oil sometimes, but my favourite way to eat them is fried in butter and honey, sweet and succulent, with a small glass of sweet mint tea, steaming and oxidised from pouring from a height. My dad was a baker back in his student days, and when I was particularly small, he used to make them for breakfast every so often. A massive family breakfast. Usually when we breakfast together on a weekend we have a fry-up. Eggs and beans and toast and mushrooms and hash browns and sausages and whatever else you can add to a fry-up. My dad hates baked beans. He doesn’t really like much English food because he is not English, you see, and growing up his palette included much more savoury, aromatic Middle Eastern foods. So on his breakfast days we had moroccan pancakes, Spanish omelettes, cream cheese, honey, olive oil, plenty of olives and round, flat arabic bread. And lots of fruit!

Both kinds were comfort food to me. A plate of buttered crumpets with a moroccan teapot (ibreeq) and lots of small, gleaming little tea glasses, bits of mint floating on top. A nice contrast of cultures, in a way!

Moroccan mint tea is made in a special way. You don’t just pour boiling water on the mint, because you then have tasteless peppermint tea. You put in half a tablespoon of gunpowder tea, or Chinese green tea leaves into the pot and simmer with some hot water for a while. Then you pour it out and add more hot water until the metal teapot is filled to its workable capacity. You boil it until it bubbles, and then add your carefully cut and washed fresh mint. You close the lid and boil for about a minute, then you can sweeten to taste. Moroccans love their tea sweet. Too sweet, sometimes. But oh the taste of that fresh liquid, hot down your throat. I can have five or six glasses in a row. When I was in Morocco they would joke about how many glasses I would have, one after the another, greedy in anticipation.

When I was very small my father used to cool the tea before he gave it to me by pouring it from one small glass into another a few times until the heat dissipated enough for me to drink. When I went to Morocco last summer, I noticed that the Moroccans did that a lot for their little ones. I hadn’t known it was a thing they do.

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This is how to pour Moroccan tea. From as high above as you can manage!

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Ah, the fluffy, buttery hot English crumpet.

 

Daily Cooking

Daily cooking has become a chore now. I used to love cooking but now that my interests have expanded to include devouring Knowledge, I find that the time frame to cook a decent meal has narrowed horrendously.

Also there are financial constraints to adhere to, and also health constraints.

One must eat healthy, else one will develop all the manner of mysterious ailments. By one, of course, I mean myself. I have bad poops, acne, weight gain, hair loss, bloating – the list goes on. And all these things only occur to me when I eat instant noodles or microwave meals.

The minute I eat gluten free oats for breakfast and plenty of vegetables, my body goes back to normal and I feel fabulous.

SO, with these limitations, I have to make sure we have a healthy meal for dinner every day. Because if I left it to my husband, we would be eating – well – probably nothing served with a cup of tea.

Daily cooking for me has consisted of an oven dish filled with chopped up veggies, drizzled with olive oil or coconut oil, sprinkled with some salt, pepper, oregano and sometimes paprika. A crushed garlic or two nestled in there somewhere. And baked until just decent enough to eat.

Today it was half a sweet potato chopped up into thin ‘fries’, some green beans and some lamb mince spiced with salt, pepper, garlic, paprika and maple syrup and patted into burgers and shoved in the oven with the veggies. I had some leaves in the fridge too (don’t ask me what leaves they were, they were green and tasted like they were full of vitamin A) which we had on the side with some lemon squeezed on top sharpish. Two plates, serve the lamb burgers on the side, pile the veggies on another side, put the leaves on the third side, and there was a decent meal for two!

Prep time took ten minutes, cook time (left in the oven while my nose was in a book) was half an hour, and eating time was half an hour too.

Basically, I spent ten minutes in the kitchen preparing dinner. WHAT. Also, it wasn’t crap out of a box. WHAT?!?!?!

Tomorrow it will be gluten free oats with almond milk and blueberries for breakfast, lentil and coriander soup for lunch, boiled brown pasta, grilled chicken breast, chopped up tomatoes with some spices and all mixed up together for dinner. And hopefully that will take around 30 mins prep time all combined (ten minutes for each). And also include plenty of nutrients for my bodayyy.

Here is a photo of today’s leftovers which will go to work for tomorrow’s lunch, I will also add some steamed spinach and green beans tomorrow to add some colour!

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Peanut Butter Burger

Well, my exam went well. As well as it could, under the circumstances. What circumstances?

Oh, you know, the ones where I didn’t study Wordsworth.

Out of all the poets, his were the ones I had to dissect in my exam.

Out of all the authors/poets I have studied on this course, and begrudged slightly, he was the only one who could not redeem himself after extensive study. Well, Wordsworth, I am glad our journey  together is over. I would wish you well, but you’re dead. So rest in peace, and no, I can’t forgive you for being the cause of my literary misery.

I also drove that girl home. You know, the one I met the other day. We didn’t talk about her relatives this time. We talked about our course, our exam, and our summer plans. It was actually really enjoyable. I even got her to laugh, by lapsing into my regular self by accident and doing a silly impression. Then we sat in the car outside her house chatting for fifteen minutes. The socially awkward human inside me kept willing her to get out and go home, so I sort of zoned out a little. ANYWAY. Anyway.

Went with the husband to see X-Men, Apocalypse. Even though I haven’t seen any X-Mens before. He really wanted to go. Even though he was dead tired.

‘Why,’ he said, ‘don’t we celebrate your first day of freedom, eh?’

‘Why,’ he said, ‘are you so uptight and old?’

‘Because,’ I replied, ‘I am worried about you getting up early after this long night and having to drive two hours to work.’

We did it anyway. Then we went and had special burgers. Mine had crunchy peanut butter on a home-made beef patty with fried bananas on top. It was very tasty. The vegetarian in me died, of course. She did not last more than a week.

That was delicious. 10/10. Now I am worried my husband has to drive really early to work tomorrow after this long ass day.

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Kyle Fewell

 

 

What are you like?

Hi, I am shy.

I don’t smile at people.

People think I am ‘indifferent’ or ‘moody’.

I generally am, though.

But when I am not, I don’t smile at anybody anyway. I walk around with a perpetual frown on my face. That is my face when it is resting, and I am thinking about things. Mostly life, mostly what I am going to have for lunch, mostly whether or not my keys are in my pocket.

My ‘moody’ demeanour makes it hard for me to make friends, because its pretty off-putting. Most days I don’t want to make friends, because the general population make me very irritated.

The man who is parking on double yellow making it so I have to wait for the oncoming tide of traffic to wane so I can get past, for example. I gave him a right old glare as I went past. Was it necessary? No. Would it change his attitude toward parking on double yellow? Certainly not.

But it gave me pleasure and so I glared as hard as I could.

I am very good at glaring.

I am also good at being awkward. I say unnecessary things and make unnecessary faces.

Take the other day when I was waiting in the dentist waiting room. The assistant was a girl I knew from college and then uni. We were surprised to see each other.

She smiled so wide at me. That reminded me that I had to smile too.

She was blatantly in uniform, and when she said “Oh I work here now,” I said, without really thinking, because sometimes i faze out when I talk to people, I don’t know why,

“Oh really!?”

Then she tugged at her dark blue scrubs, “Yeah, look at my clothes!”

That was weird. Why did I say that?

I knew she worked there. She even had a name badge.

When the appointment was over, I went to leave.

“Well, thank you so much. See you Wednesday.” I said.

Then she said, “It was lovely to see you, Len.”

I would never have said that.

“It was lovely to see you too.” I told her. And it was.

“How’s married life?” she’d asked me, as I blew my nose loudly in the waiting room.

Ugh. Why do people insist on asking me that? It’s so annoying. I am not defined by my ‘married life’, just because I got married at nineteen.

Now I take to answering people like this;

“Yeah. It’s regular. We wake up and brush our teeth and go to work and school and do life, then go to bed at night. You know, the usual.”

It’s been two years. My life is more than just the ‘married’ aspect of it.

Ask me something interesting, like how is my ocean bream. Or what are my plans for the week. Or what do I think about the current situation. Any situation. I would say I think the bee situation is getting out of hand and they really ought to do something about those rats.

Ask me about my mental stability. I joke. That would be weird.

I will tell you, though, that I secretly think I am insane and might have some kind of disorder, because in my dreams people keep revealing to me that I am autistic.

I mean, that’s ridiculous, but it might have some truth? I am terrible with humans, absolutely terrible.

I never used to be, though. It is really since I left somebody who used to emotionally abuse me and manipulate me. Since I was influenced by him my social life juddered to a rusty old stop and I haven’t been the same since.

I really am such a fool in social situations, and I really don’t want to make any friends, and the friends I do have get on my nerves so badly that I rarely see them, and when I do, I have to force myself to be all nice and say ‘I love you hahaha’ when really I don’t love them. Not a whit.

Oh dear. Who knows. I’m happy, though, the way things are. I think I need to meet people more like me, though. I generally attract folk who aren’t like me at all, which is probably why I struggle to enjoy their company.

Anyway.

What are you like?

Something Precious

It’s not what you think.

It’s not family, love or hope.

It’s not vivid nature, nor personal exuberance.

It’s not the skies flying rapidly by, changing colour with each hour, month, season.

It’s not the sun, revolving around the earth.

It’s not the moon controlling the tides.

It’s not growth, not the blossoming of petals after stark, winter dormancy.

It’s not appreciation of the world in all its forms.

It’s not peace.

Not world connectivity, cultures drawn together, happiness spread.

It’s beans on toast when the skies are grey and the world is cold. It’s steaming beans trickling over warm toast with butter melted on top, and a fried egg, sunny side up, on the corner of the plate. Some mushrooms pile up in another corner. Maybe a little bit of feta too. It’s a mug of delicious hot earl grey with a teaspoon of sugar and a glug of milk, because it’s the weekend and I am indulging.It’s fluffy socks, crossed under the table, as the delicious breakfast is downed slowly, every bite savoured, all washed down with the sweet, flavourful tea. It’s a day stretched out, wonderfully  empty, with no assignments or chores looming ahead. A pile of exciting books by a freshly made bed, crisp sheets, a soft dressing gown. A pretty, glowing lamp in the corner of the living room after a relaxing walk in the cold evening, cheeks red, nose cold. It’s falling asleep to the gentle patter of rain on the window panes, all relaxed and ready for the hectic week ahead.

It’s the little things.

 

 

 

N.B. I can’t wait to move into my own place again so I can experience said precious thing. Living with so many people is starting to take a toll on my sanity.

Two Packets of Crisps

“Len, why did you have two packets of crisps?” my sister marched into the room. I could hear the kettle boiling gently in the kitchen when she opened the door.

“What? How did you know?” that was me, shocked. How did she know?

“You didn’t even say sorry!” she turned and walked out, determined and cross.

“Why should I say sorry. I’m not sorry.” I was still bemused about how she knew I’d eaten two.

“You should, you’re fat.” she called from the kitchen, the clink of a teaspoon hitting the ceramic of a mug a rattling tune to accompany her voice.

“That’s not true!” I cried, indignant. Secretly, though, I could feel the extra pooch around my middle settle comfortably, and place its hands on its tummy. It wasn’t going to budge for a very long time, and only after much sweating, effort, and wheedling. The backs of my arms jiggled a little as I quickly typed the conclusion to my essay. Gulp. I am fat. I ate two.

In less than two minutes.

I got up to put the heater on.

“Well it is,” my sister, ever the obstinate, stubborn creature, took her tea up the stairs. Her long, cricket legs bending sharply beneath her.

She glanced back at me, an evil glint in her eye.

Do you ever feel guilty after involuntarily shoving down two packets of crisps? Don’t you think some junk is sometimes warranted, especially under duress?

Or are you like my slender, tall sister, who, no matter how many she eats, always maintains her sculpted, streamlined body?

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By 1mad-moo-cow1 on Deviant Art (obtained from Google Images)

Nutelloissants

Here is something cheerful..

Chocolate croissants made with puff pastry and Nutella! I mean, what could be better? Well, I could think of a wild variety of things that are infinitely better (hugs on a cold morning, fluffy socks, summer fields, churros, cheese melts, surprise flowers, comfy house scents, parents who are happy… the list is endless). I tried to fold them nicely into croissant shapes and croissant twists. That didn’t work out too well for me, ha!

Anyway here are my Nutelloissants!

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They do look rather messy, I grant you, but they taste delicious.

In Which I Discuss Some Homey Things

So I have a bad disease called haemorrhoids. I know, TMA much? But anyways, it coincides with this month’s period, the first one after the miscarriage, so it’s pretty tough going. I only told you all this because you will get a sense of how disgustingly crappy I feel today. I am in so much pain, but have ploughed on through a 3000 word assignment on eighteenth century European literary attitudes towards colonialism and slavery presented by our very own Aphra Behn, about whom I am beginning to have very mixed feelings.

I am inclined to dislike her. She appears to be very pretentious and what really irks me is the fact that in order to make a black slave ‘appealing’ to her audience, she has to European-ise him by giving him a Roman nose and making sure he was well equipped with knowledge of European culture, as though it were so superior that not to know of it would render one completely barbarous.

Which in fact it did.

So don’t get your hopes up.

I was quite frankly appalled.

I suppose it isn’t really her fault, since she is catering to her readers, so really, I should have said the only way the English society at the time would sympathise with a black SLAVE is if he looked a bit like an Englishman and possibly shared his values.

I KNOW.

Also, did you know that the Liverpool port grew exponentially because of the slave trade? Appalling. I had no idea. All this time I was yelling at America but really it was us Brits just as much as them. I am so un-iformed.

ANYWAY. Back to today. So I ploughed on through thinking, aaaah, well I don’t gotta cook today since the old husband is going to a meal with some work friends. Only he then called to tell me he wasn’t.

“Aw man. Well I didn’t cook anything,” said I, chewing my ratty, unwashed hair as I spoke into my mobile.

“It’s ok. I’ll cook something.” he said.

I snorted into the phone.

Psh, yeah right. D cannot cook a meal to save his life. His idea of a tuna sandwich is dunking a tin of tuna onto some bread. Which quite frankly is disgusting, believe me, I’ve had it.

Anyway. We live and work in the middle of nowhere so the idea of a takeaway is ridiculous since the nearest place is a thirty minute drive away.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So I cooked spinach and rice and then sat back with a cup of tea and decided to have a hair wash and straighten my hair and maybe put some makeup on and frankly, after a painkiller, I feel much much better.

Nothing like a little spruce up and a dash of mascara to make you feel better about life in general.

A bitta maquillage, so to speak.

Also D is eating the rice and spinach and he said he was very grateful and didn’t expect me to do it and why did I, and then he admitted that he probably wouldn’t have cooked anything and just had some cereal instead.

Which isn’t the worst thing to do but well, it’s nice to come home after a long day to have a hot meal ready. God knows I love that feeling. Crashing in late after uni to find my mum had a hot plate of something homey on the table for me.

Anyway. Happy Thursday folks.