So You Think You Can ... Drink

We all have our dirty pop secrets. I had a frightening moment recently when I realised I was enjoying Britney...non ironically.

This year I've decided to embrace my inner pop bitch, and boy does she like So You Think You Can Dance. Tonight is both the final show and debut of the SYTYCD Drinking Game. In celebration, I thought I'd post the rules here. Admittedly, they are still under development. But the golden rule seems to be - when it doubt, drink all the time.

Because I am a weak, weak woman, I plan on participating with Pimms and lemonade, a ladies drink of choice. Feel free to substitute any liquor you like.

The Rules

Opening Gambit:

If Bassingthwaite is wearing a one-shouldered monstrosity: drink

For every button Jason unnecessarily wears open to reveal his chest: drink

Bonnie is wearing hot pink: drink

Matt is wearing a hat: drink

Matt isn't wearing a hat: drink heavily


Someone says the word 'journey': drink

A judge says the word 'genre': drink

Someone uses the word 'chorie': drink

*You* use the word 'chorie': drink

You can't help but sympathetically chair dance: distract yourself and hopefully others around you by drinking.

Jason is a patronising bastard: drink

Bonnie opens her mouth; you'll probably just want to drink to drown out the inanity.

There is an accidental grope during a routine: drink

There is a not so accidental grope, at any given time: drink

Bassingthwaite can't keep her hands of the shiny, oiled up male dancers: drink

There is awkward product placement: drink

Super Bonus Round (shots x 2)

If someone cries....drink!

A judge hits on a contestant...drink!

Bassingthwaites stacks it in her ridiculous shoes...drink!

So you think you can dance? Maybe stop drinking.

Herby Pasta Salad (or, what to eat when you want to feel healthy but haven't been...)

This Easter long weekend was not, for me at least, one of virtue. Rather, it was expensive, involved all together too many pink mojitos, and resulted in a five star hangover that had me feeling sorry for myself well into sunday afternoon. I have often found myself wolfing down a fast food hamburger after a big night out, usually in an attempt to fill my churning stomach and fight off that nasty, empty hangover feeling that sadly often punctuates my weekends. Something greasy and cheesy generally hits the spot, although once the hangover has cleared and I'm stashing my oily fast food wrappers in the bottom of the bin, I'm always left feeling guilty, unhealthy, and usually pretty darn gross.

Enter my new favourite recipe! It combines two of my all time favourite ingredients: pasta and cheese - and both in liberal quantities - making it suitable hangover food, yet it also contains enough roughage to look and taste nutritious too. I'll admit it wasn't what I was craving as my headache slowly lifted last sunday evening, but I made up a big bowl full for lunch on monday. The fresh herby goodness that this dish is built on restored in me a certain healthy feeling (a feeling that I speculate was lost somewhere between my first glass of white on thursday evening and my fourth mojito in the early hours of Good Friday.) A healthy feeling... exactly what's lacking after a big weekend on the town. So with your wellbeing in mind, may I present:

Healthy Herb Salad
(or more truthfully, a salad to prepare when you want to feel healthy, but secretly crave big piles of cheese and carbohydrates)

What you will need:
  • 1 1/2 cups of pasta, preferably something small like risoni, macaroni, or darling little pasta stars (as pictured)
  • 1 bunch each of fresh dill, mint and basil (this seems like a strange combination of herbs, particularly if you don't like dill. I don't like dill, but I love this salad.)
  • 200g brown lentils (tinned ones are fine if you can't be bothered with preparation of dried ones)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 200g feta cheese
  • A generous handful of pitted black olives
  • Two or three tablespoons of red wine vinegar (for a sort of dressing)
  • One clove of garlic
  • A little cracked pepper to taste
What you will need to do:

Preparing this meal is so simple that it almost doesn't require neatly dot-pointed steps, but I'll stick with clearly outlined instructions, just so my Inner Delia Smith (read: my inner obsessive-complusive) doesn't baulk at the sight of a disorganised recipe.
  • Cook pasta, drain and set aside
  • Boil lentils (unless you're using tinned ones) and set aside
  • Roughly chop all herbs and throw them into a big salad bowl, removing any stalky bits
  • Finely slice red onion, chop olives, crumble feta and add the lot to salad
  • Stir through pasta and lentils, add red wine vinegar and crushed garlic clove and mix through, Season with a little pepper
  • Serve warm or cold
This recipe was given to me by my sister, I think it was originally thought up by one of her clever friends. It's a delicious mix of heavy, filling comfort food and fresh, light salad. The dill isn't overpowering, but I think it adds a certain strength of flavour to the dish that the other herbs don't, and let's not forget: cheese and pasta. It's so darn easy, and it's definitely the sort of recipe that can be played around with. Try it with parsley if basil isn't your thing, or substitute the dill for something a little less powerful. Easy as pie, and it's a whole lot better for you than a cheeseburger.

Aside from a particular Simon and Garfunkel track, I can't come up with a herb themed musical tie in to end this post, so I'm going to finish up with these delightful new(ish) video releases from my two favourite New Pornographers. They're my musical food of choice, very good for your ears. I particularly love the new Neko clip, it's oh-so-pretty. Kinda like her.

The Palace at 4am (A.C. Newman)
People Got A Lotta Nerve (Neko Case)

I <3 Jamie, or, From Scratch Vegetable Curry

For years now I have been searching for the perfect recipe for a vegetable curry from scratch. This, my friends, is it. Thick, spicy (but not too spicy!), packed full of vegetables, and utterly satisfying. You will be eating this for breakfast, it’s that good. And I couldn’t have done it without Jamie Oliver. So instead of transcribing the first half of the recipe, I’m sending you to his website. Go, children, go!

I used hot paprika instead of mild, and ended up with a rather spicy version. If you don’t enjoy the burning, I’d recommend sticking to mild. I’d definitely not recommended testing how hot the so called ‘hot’ paprika is by eating some straight out of the packet. It’s hot.

Once you have your curry base, it’s time to add your vegetables. I decided on eggplant and zucchini (or aubergine and courgette, if you want to get french).*

Vegetable Curry

Make your curry base. Freeze half for later use, keep the other half in the saucepan over a low heat.

Cut up 3 small or 2 medium sized eggplants into pieces roughly 1 cm thick and 3cm square. Lay eggplant on tea towel and sprinkle over a generous amount of salt.

After about 20 minutes, flip the eggplant pieces and salt the other side. They should be sweating nicely. **

After another 20 minutes, rinse the eggplant thoroughly. Meanwhile, cut up two zucchini.

Fry zucchini in olive oil. After about ten minutes, add to the curry base where it will continue to cook.

Fry the eggplant in batches. You will need quite a lot of olive oil for this part.

Add eggplant to curry. Do not do what I did and adopt the ‘one for the curry, one for me’ approach to this part of the cooking process. Yes, fried eggplant is nearly the tastiest thing in the world, but this curry may just be better.

Cook for a further 10 - 20 minutes.

Serve with rice, or couscous, raita, or pappadums or any of the many other wonderful curry accompaniments. Personally I love couscous with a little butter stirred through it and raita.

This was a quite a time consuming process all up so I spent the time getting better acquainted with early nineties New Zealand band, The Chills. If you like eighties pop sensibilities with a health dose of existential angst, I would highly recommend them. They came to me via a friend of mine, and seeing as the theme of this post seems to be getting by with a little help, I thought I would post some more classic Aus and NZ bands I wouldn't have found on my own:

The Chills - Tied Up In Chain

The Verlaines – Death and the Maiden
The Triffids - The Seabirds

* It took me a long time to realise that you do not need to peel eggplant. In fact, with both eggplant and zucchini, pretty much all the goodness is in the skin! (The colour is where the vitamins live, that’s how I think about it.)

** Salting eggplant is a (mildly) contentious issue. Personally, I only do it if I’m frying it, as I think it gives it a much nicer texture.