May 25, 2016
You know those recipes floating around the web for homemade store-bought things? Like oreo cookies or ice cream sandwiches or animal crackers? So good, right? I, for one, love to feel I’ve won over the food corporations by one-upping them at their own game. So let us visit a staple of childhood around here and then make it so, so much better. (And don’t feel bad for the poor store-bought cookie we’re going to leave in the dust; at some point store-bought cookies were imitations of something homemade, right? We’re just coming full circle.)
Who remembers—and/or still eats—Dad’s Cookies? Those sweet, crispy oatmeal cookies, sometimes with chocolate chips, sometimes without (but always best with) that came in rows wrapped in that yellow package. There’s that caramelly flavour and satisfying hint of salt. Tooth-aching sweetness, but a crunch that has you eating more than you probably should.
Well, these are not Dad’s Cookies. They’re Everyone’s Cookies, and you should make them for everyone you know. They have the same nostalgic, oaty goodness, but with chew (so if you prefer the crunch, get ye some Dad’s; on that point these deviate). The sweetness is dialed down a little and the coconut comes through more. Good quality chocolate chips also really shine here. So far, they’re the cookie I’ve had the most recipe requests for.
May 18, 2016
It’s true that on social media recently I compared some butter to a Swedish boy. A Swedish boy who was once living next door with his family as a house-swap with our neighbours and who was beautiful and earnest and wholesome-looking and really good at drawing and whom I quite wanted to kiss. Perhaps this comparison seems a bit crazy. Perhaps a lot crazy. But…..BUTTER.
I like to think that my love affair with dairy stems from the fact that one of my grandfathers was a milkman. But probably I am just like most other New Zealanders who adore it simply because we make such damn good dairy. Unfortunately for me that third child of mine seems to have a kind of colic that may be exacerbated by it. I refuse to believe it. I should say – I prefer to believe arguments that refute it. My doctor says it’s an unlikely cause (he’s such a good doctor) but my intuition tells me I should probably cut back. I’m not actually a small calf after all. So I currently (begrudgingly) try to avoid cream, milk and yoghurt. Those are my concessions. But…..BUTTER.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Lewis Road Creamery, the company that sent the entire nation into a chocolate milk frenzy. Their plain milks are just as delicious though Matt would probably sell a limb for the Heilala vanilla-flavoured milk if there was even the whiff of a sudden shortage. The partnerships Lewis Road have struck with Whittakers (Chocolate), Supreme (Coffee) and Heilala (Vanilla) are genius. [Thanks Vanilla Ice but if anyone can collaborate and listen it’s Lewis Road] The new Lewis Road ice-cream range is also so fabulous I walk swiftly past it in the supermarket, eyes averted. The rose, for example, is so delicate and divine it is as though someone gently brushed the dew from freshly bloomed buds in pale, new moon light to acquire the flavour. But for me…you know where this is going…BUTTER.
May 11, 2016
It’s time for another serving of Soul Cookies—those satisfying and nourishing treats that are also great at getting your creativity in gear and seeing what happens when you just try (one bite)… So if you’ve been wanting to try something a little different and like to have fun with language, give it a go! We promise a completely supportive and positive environment here at Fork & Fiction. Check our our first Soul Cookies installment (and awesome writing prompt responses) here.
This time it’s all about things—objects we use every day that are witness (if objects can be witnesses) to the highs and lows and in-betweens of our relationships. That old cliché “if these walls could talk”… well, now it’s time for them to spill it. The writing generated from this prompt could take the form of a poem, a piece of prose or just a few snatches of dialogue—whatever works for you.
As always, I’m going to give it a go here and now, and I’ll see you in the comments for more writing prompt fun. Try it! Post it here! You know you want to…
The Prompt: Write about an argument from the perspective of an inanimate object.
It is not easy to say this: I am in pieces. He swept me up in the dustpan with the hasty motions of someone who has seen their own downfall. As he swept I could hear him cursing, but I felt his fear. I am her favourite, her mother’s mother’s, no longer used at tea time, but admired whenever she walks through the dining room. Although he bumped my spout against the wall when they moved in, it didn’t crack. This morning, my gold plating was still pristine. But in an instant—crash—I am no longer whole. Now my shards are hidden in the cheap china bowl he bought her for Christmas that she pretended to like. The cupboard is dark and dusty and dank. There is divorce in the air.
Hope you find some inspiration this week, in whatever form it comes, and keep being relentlessly creative!
May 3, 2016
I don’t like public speaking. I know lots of people feel the same way, that my fears are as common as mud, but it still frustrates me. I think the problem is that I cannot quite understand it. I like to talk. Really like to talk. I like people and I enjoy socializing. I was even on a debating team at high-school. Not only that but I coached a junior debating team. That, my friends, is an entirely new depth of nerd. That’s deep, dark nerd. So… why do I feel ill when I have to make a speech?
Last week I launched my third book, A French Wedding, at Sydney’s Better Read Than Dead bookstore. It was lovely. Family were there – Matt and the girls, in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews. Four of my gorgeous-est friends flew over from Melbourne for it. Pan Macmillan crew – Matilda Imlah, Clare Keighery and Hayley Nash – all turned up to give their support. Sixty fat kouign amann, the sticky breton pastry that features in the book, stuffed with soft, creamy custard, languished on platters. The room was filled with chatter, good will and love. Still felt ill.
April 27, 2016
This is the story of what happens when plan-ahead-mum brain meets memory-gap-mum brain. Actually, it’s not really a story so much as a punchline: What do you get when you find the bag of last summer’s cherries in the freezer while rooting around for something to defrost for dinner? You get these.
Yes, you should have been writing when you baked them, and yes, it was probably bad planning to make them when there was no one else in the house to help you eat them, but dammit, there they are. And they are divine.
Cherry Vanilla Scones
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Very Blueberry Scones
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I use pastry flour)
3 tablespoons panela or light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
1 cup frozen (or fresh) pitted cherries, chopped roughly
2/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or one vanilla bean, scraped)
1 large egg, beaten, for glazing
2 tablespoons panela (or, my favourite: vanilla sugar) for finishing
Heat oven to 400°F (205°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour the vanilla and milk into a measuring jug. Add cold butter to flour mixture and work with a pastry blender until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in cherries, then milk, mixing only until large clumps form. Use your hands to carefully knead the mixture into one mass inside the bowl. The more you knead, the wetter the dough will get and therefore tougher the scones will be. Gently does it!
Transfer dough to a well-floured counter and pat into a roughly 1-inch tall disc. Cut into 8 wedges with a sharp knife. (Don’t worry if you slice cherries in the process.) Before separating the wedges, brush the tops with egg, then sprinkle with sugar. Transfer wedges to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them apart.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until scones are golden brown on top. Serve warm or room temp on the first day.