Sunday, 24 May 2009

The Best Band in my world

I think everyone has a band or an album that marks a turning point in what they listen to and how they 'view', hear and appreciate music. For me, the band is Wilco, and the album is Yankee Wilco Foxtrot. I remember vividly my first bitterly cold Easter in Wellington, when I trudged to the Paramount (I think) to see the doco based on the recording of that album. Filmed entirely in black and white, it made me fall in love with Chicago, Jeff Tweedy, and the album even more. The album itself is so richly layered that even now, after craploads of listens, I pick up little nuances, hidden sounds, and get the same somewhat-wistful-but-mildly-uplifting feeling I got when I first heard it. Actually, I think when I first heard it I was probably a little astounded. But now I get the aforementioned feeling.

I actually got to see them play live when I was in London, at the Shepards Bush Empire- a brilliant venue. They are just as good live, but with more wit.

One thing that the doco showed was the gradual fallout between Jay Bennett and the rest of the band. He did seem to have a definite personality to him, and from what I can gather the animosity continued between him and Jeff Tweedy- Jay sued him for breach of contract around the doco last year. And this weekend Jay Bennett died, age 45. He was involved with my other favourite Wilco album, Summerteeth too, so I just wanted to acknowledge him here... even though I am more of a Tweedy fan if truth be told.

So, in honour of his passing, a few Wilco links-slash-videos:

I am Trying to Break Your Heart

Jesus etc - probably not one of my top fives, but I found this lovely little cover by a Swedish band - in Swedish. Norah Jones also does a cover, but I decided a Swedish band was far more Exotic than an American.

And, finally, the Wilco website. You can listen to love recordings, and marvel at the Camel on the cover of their next album.

Happy listening! And RIP Jay Bennett.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Cooking with Steph - the grovel recipe

Let's not talk about how lame I am in my blogging. Just make this, eat it, and thank the heavens I started blogging again.

I don't know if it is because I am getting older, but I really am an advocate for top quality baking products. I don't give a rat's arse if you go for the cheapest tinned tomatoes, but my lord you can taste the difference between a great quality cocoa or chocolate, compared to a crap one. I recommend the Green & Blacks cocoa, which you can get in NZ from Homestead Health (not that it is healthy at all). Try it in the saucy bit of a simple Edmonds Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding - nom nom nom.

One other note on this recipe: the biscuits. The original recipe I found called for Shortbread, but I used the Farmbake Hokey Pokey Biscuits, which were pretty rad. I guess you could get all fancy and make your own biscuits to use, but if I make a nice batch of biscuits there is no way in hell I am smashing that up! It's worth experimenting with types of biscuit I reckon - let me know what you try...

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you

1/3 C cream
450g dark chocolate, chopped (the darker the better baby)
130g butter, chopped up
250g biscuit chunks
Top quality cocoa powder, for dusting

  • Line one of those narrow loaf tins with baking paper.
  • Melt and combine the cream, chocolate and butter on a low heat, stirring constantly. If you burn it, it will taste like pants.
  • Chuck your biscuits in to a mixing bowl and gently stir in 2/3 of the chocolate mix.
  • Put this in to the tin, then pour the remaining mix over the top. Tap the tin on the bottom and the sides after to remove any bubbles.
  • Pop in the fridge to set for around 3 hours, or overnight if you can handle it - basically until it is set.
  • To serve: invert the tin, remove the slice, dust with some good cocoa & cut in to slices. Pop your knife in to a cup of hot water before slicing for a nice smooth cut.
Don't think about what is in it, and savour every melting bite!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Back after a bit

I just spent the week at the boyfriend's apartment, which also ended up equating to an unbearable slow internet connection - it appears that Te Aro gets way better interwebs than Berhampore. So, I haven't blogged for a bit. Bad blogger. I also decided that my last entry was perhaps a bit too academic wank - I was hoping to be far more irreverent.

So next entry will be of best buys of the past month. All bargains, of course! A girl can't resist a bargain in these recessional times...

Sunday, 29 March 2009

A Wellington powerhouse in 2nd hand clothes.

The organisation I work for was nominated for a Wellington Gold Award. This is exciting, but not as exciting as the fact that the theme for the awards evening is India, and that the best dressed person there wins a trip for two to India - cue plotting to win. A friend of mine suggested that Savemart in Porirua had a whole heap of Saris, so Lotte, Bel and I were chauffeured by the Boyfriend for an afternoon at one of the 2nd Hand clothing meccas. The saris numbered one, and looked strictly Sari daywear, but I did three things for the princely sum of $30 and I like them so much I'd like to show you a couple of them... I was going to show you all of them, but I do have one question. How the hell do all these 'look what I wore today' blogs take photos of themselves? Do they have a maid that does it for them? It's not that I'm technically inept, but me and my camera struggle.

This is my rockabilly red dress. I like the little cherries where the straps meet the dress. It has a brilliant A line skirt on it... I just have to find a place to wear this to now!

This particular purchase was again because of the fabric. It is actually a dress, but it's a bit tight on the old Walker bum and thighs, so I'll be making it in to a top. It is just waiting for me to get to it in my sewing pile.
The neckline is pretty cool, huh?!

I have to admit that this post was partly inspired by Sea of Shoes. Except I don't get given Prada bags for my birthday. Normally just a Farmers bag (with something inside it). Thanks for leading me to her, Kate! And Bel and Louise - she didn't post on her blog for ages, either. So there. Not that I am looking for an excuse...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Lunchtime Conversation.

B: What's the difference between "inform" and "educate"?

Me: I think to inform is to say the what, the where and the who, and to educate is to cover the why and the how...

After dwelling a little while on the BBC mantra "To Inform, Educate, and Entertain", I've decided that the most satisfying Theatre I see does this too. And books. And films. But maybe not ALL films.

Agree? Disagree?

(we had lunch at the Kiwi Pub on Allen Street, formerly the Courtenay Arms. It is really good there! Go try the Kiwi Burger if you eat the cow)

Cooking with Steph, Week Two.

How do you improve on a Roast? Is it possible? It was a cold Sunday, and there were some sad looking vegetables that needed some love lingering on the Kitchen counter and in the back of the fridge. someone had to think of them, and that someone was me. So this Sunday meal was an Italian/Moroccan bastard vege stew, with home baked focaccia and Rice Pudding for dessert.

I love a good stew. It is hearty, healthy and goes with my favourite carbs incredibly well, that being freshly baked bread or mashed potato. My mum used to make a casserole just about every Wednesday night in my Primary School years, when she worked the afternoon shift at the hospital. So NEVER call a stew a casserole, or I might not eat it. It has taken me years to get over that, but I am getting there slowly. I don't think she ever makes it any more either.

It is only this year that I have started to bake bread, partly because of my new friend the Breville Bread maker. It is the most basic breadmaker you can get, but it is a real winner. The only reason I got one is because I was using a breadmaker the first time ever, and poured water right through the poor machine. Cue going to Moore Wilsons to pick up a new one to grovel to my boyfriend with, thinking he would hate me forever if I broke this machine of carb greatness. Then miraculously he put his (broken) one in the hot water cupboard for storage, and it arose from the dead (excuse the yeast like pun). I got to keep the old one, and use it just about every week, and I'd like to use it more. I totally recommend them!

Rather than list exhaustively the vegetables that were saved from a rotting death, I'll continue to share with you the dessert recipe. Much more exciting! Rice Pudding is one of those things that oozes comfort. The gluggy soft rice and the custardy gloop it sits in is yum. I'm quite besotted with spices at the moment (a spicy chai latte for me please!) so I poured a crap load of cinnamon, nutmeg and five spice in to this recipe, but you can always take that out and pop in chocolate chips that melt through, or something like that. There are also some recipes around for rice pudding you literally bake in the oven, but they take AGES - about the same time as a roast. So I guess this is probably a modernised version...

Cuddly Rice Pudding
(adapted from the photo is taken from there too - thank you!)

1 1/2 cup of Arborio rice - that's the stuff you use for risotto. Mmm. Risotto.
3 cups of water
4 cups of low fat milk
2/3 cup of sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence (or a whole bean if you are flash)
1 tsp cinnamon - or to taste
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 cup raisins, dates or other dried fruit (optional)

Bring water to the boil and add the rice, stir occasionally until the rice is almost entirely cooked.

Add the milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and pinch of salt. Return to a simmer until most of the milk is soaked up/evaporated.

In a small dish, beat the egg and add a 1/4 cup hot milk to it a tablespoon at at time. Stir the egg mixture into the pudding and cook on a low simmer until it coats the back of a spoon (about two minutes).

Cover with plastic wrap to avoid the pudding forming a skin if you are leaving it a while, or serve warm.

Leftovers are good for breakfast, little sweet treats in tubs for work or anything you like really. It is way better than the canned stuff!

Monday, 23 March 2009

A sternly worded letter.

Dear Busdrivers of Wellington,

I would appreciate it if you would refrain from givng me the death stares, or saying something derogatory towards me when I ask to travel three to four stops.

I am not a fat lazy cow as you seem to be suggesting, rather a young woman who happens to have a strictly limited amount of energy at the moment, in comparison to my peers.

I do not wish to hold up the bus by telling you the vaguaries of my condition, rather simply get to wherever I want to go without overtiring.

Best Wishes,
Miss S. Walker

P.S - Maybe you should just focus on arriving at Bus Stops on time, huh?