Middle of the night breakfast burrito

It’s not often that I can’t sleep, but wow did I have a horrible night last night. I woke up in the small hours of the night feeling sick, anxious, and sorry for myself, and after reading every single comment on my friends’ Facebook statuses, I decided some hearty food was just what I needed to clear my head of the crazy. I got up and rummaged through the fridge and store cabinet. There was no bread (no bread!!) because Joe (my boyfriend) had burnt the one I made last night (I was passed out on the couch), but I found some tortillas that I thought would do the job. In an effort to use up cheeses, meats, wilting vegetables, and too many varieties of frozen foods, I hadn’t been food shopping in ages, so my filling choices were limited. I found 2 eggs, some bacon lardons, a chunk of smelly French cheese, a sad looking courgette, half a red chilli, and a leftover sachet of enchilada sauce that I knew I hadn’t used before for a very good reason. I fried the bacon on a low heat to melt some of the fat off, and threw a chopped onion in with it, then added all the other ingredients, all the while feeling very cheffy and thinking about the quirky piece I would write for the blog to go with this “recipe”. I couldn’t be bothered using a second pan for the egg so I pushed the fried stuff to one side and fried the egg in there too, keeping it classy as usual, then arranged it all on the tortilla. Big cuppa tea – sorted!

Looks ... delicious, right?

Looks … delicious, right?

Well it turns out I’m no Nigella Lawson. My burrito was verging on the gross thanks to the enchilada sauce, and the smoky bacon flavour was too strong for all the other ingredients. It was a bit like the breakfast you get at a friend’s house after a mad night, when everyone is either still drunk or too hungover to see straight, taste much, or even care what they eat. I rinsed the enchilada sauce off, gave the leftovers to the dog (he doesn’t usually get human food but he was around, and he was nice to me), and went back to bed feeling defeated.

 But today! Today is a new day, and I will cook and bake the bejaysus out of it, starting with a new loaf of bread, some cinnamon rolls for breakfast, followed by a Sunday roast, and some cake for late afternoon sugar cravings. We’re going to a Halloween party tonight – all hail the bank holiday! – so we’ll need all the soakage we can get.

Today’s cooking:

  • Bread – this is the basic bread recipe I already have up in the baking section but I’ve gotten my hands on some rye flour, so I’m going to experiment with that.
  • Stuffed lemon and garlic roast chicken with garden vegetables, loosely based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe.
  • Cinnamon rolls, from Joy of Baking.
  • Clodagh McKenna’s Moroccan spiced orange cake (the recipe has disappeared off her website but I found it elsewhere).
  • And last but not least I’m going to start my second batch of crab apple jelly, this time adding some Christmas spices.

I’ll write out the recipes in the recipe section once I’m done cooking, and let you know how I got on. And yes, I will eventually get around to adding some pictures, too.

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Bread.

People get awfully romantic about bread, don’t they? All this artisan this that or the other seems a bit inflated given that baking bread is a skill that our grannies mastered (seemingly!) in their sleep, and that really anyone can acquire provided they’re willing to put in the time. And it does take time; there is no way around that.

But before I get accused of dissing bread bakers all around the globe, I’d like to clarify: I believe that everyone who took the time and put themselves through the frustrations of learning to do something really well deserves all the recognition they can get. What I’m saying though is that through generations women simply “made bread”, not for the fun or the satisfaction of it, but purely to feed their families, and nobody thought there was anything particularly artisanal about it. Surely our grandmothers were every bit as skilled as the next artisan baker at a present day (oh so earthy) farmer’s market, but they got none of the fame. I wonder if the very word artisan isn’t, at its root, exclusive: Our grannies, making bread. The artisan baker, drawing from some divine inspiration: creating a piece of art that is only half human-made. This is obviously a hyperbole, no need to tell me I’m exaggerating. And yet the suspicion remains that “artisanal” somehow looks down on just “making”, and excludes those that weren’t fortunate enough to live in its catchment area. We don’t go back over old photographs where our granny sits in her kitchen and say, “Oh my, her bread was so artisanal”, do we? We say, “She made lovely bread”. It doesn’t work retrospectively, and it breaks the line of tradition of simply “making bread”, the line that honours the unseen work done by women for thousands of years.

(By the by, “artisanal” also carries a hilarious connotation for me: Artisan paninis of the Celtic Tiger. Remember them? Those sad, only half-baked, limp baguettes with goats cheese and pesto? Ha! Those were the days!)

So: I don’t make artisan bread. I just make bread.

(Head over to the Food section for an actual recipe.)

Why now?

So… this is my first entry then. It better be good.

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a long time but hadn’t reeeeally considered it until a friend in work suggested it a few days ago, and once the idea had entered my head, I got the bug immediately. That conversation my friend and I had over lunch was 2 (!) days ago, so you can tell I grew a little obsessed with it. The first thing I asked myself when I realised I wanted to do it was: why on earth NOW, so suddenly, and almost… urgently? What happened between those vague plans to do it someday – not really believing that it was ever going to happen – and two days ago when I thought, feck it, why not? Frankly the question was merely rhetorical, and I only asked myself to make sure I remembered the answer and gave myself a chance to learn from it: it was validation, and permission to do it. Somebody I like and admire (and has a content background, because obviously I can’t believe just any old randomer, and let’s face it lads, content people are a pretty judgmental crowd), said, “You should do it, what you have to say has value in the world.” As simple and clichéd as that.

“The WORLD, no less”, you say? Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Who is your assumed audience when you publicise aspects of your life on the internet? And how much sharing is over-sharing (I do ask myself that, because my Facebook activity seems to suggests that this might be dangerous territory for me)? A very good friend of mine – a psychologist – told me years ago that he wished I had finished my college degree with a lower mark because the mark I got would only validate my god-complex. So there you go, god-complex, narcissistic (I would like to insist you don’t misquote this to say “narcissistic personality disorder”, that’s a different kettle of fish altogether), and yet shy to start a blog; now what do you call this? Neurosis, I believe.

Having said all this, there’s one more point I want to mention, because I watched a really interesting piece on Upworthy recently and I’ve been thinking about it since: Most women are taught to make themselves shrink. Women diet to keep themselves small, and they inadvertently teach their daughters that being small is what they should strive for. They essentially starve themselves to take up less space (here’s the moral of this story girls, eating loads is a feminist tactic of subversion). I didn’t grow up like that. After a few initial hiccups (let’s call them men, in this particular case), ours was a female household – shout out to my brothers: correct me if I’m wrong! It surely couldn’t have been easy growing up with me and my mother, both of us dominant and stubborn. BUT: I also grew up in a western European society that liked to tell girls what to look like. For most of my puberty, I actually tried to put on weight, and once I’d hit 20-something, I tried to lose it again.

But to come back to my original point: the women in our family tend to grow out rather than shrink – me included. Once the men were gone, I wasn’t made to be quiet, or told to stay small, or not voice an opinion, and in fact I have no issues with it for the most part. And still, writing a blog… Why was I so shy about it, and why was it so hard to believe – before the encouragement I got – that the small everyday things I do to make our lives nice and interesting and cozy – are worth spamming the blogosphere with? There are a lot of crap blogs out there, and a few that I truly admire, but do people – women, men, everyone in between –, ask themselves the same questions? What do I have to say that wasn’t said before, and that my own words would make worth repeating?

Here’s where the author says: “I have no more profound insights than the next person…” and everyone nods and says: “Isn’t he just so smart in his irony, but he surely knows more than us”, the point being: He is a He, even in my mind. The author is male. If I were to translate “the author” into German, I would say “Der Autor”, “der” being the male pronoun. I have a degree in literature, and Konstanz University being what it is, there was a lot of feminist theory around. And yet, the default author is male, to my mind. Women are an exception.

I haven’t done my research on the genre yet, so I don’t know how long a blog post should be, but I have the feeling I’m starting to test your patience (I promise NOT to read Rousseau’s Confessions, or if I can’t help reading it, not quote from it), so to wrap it up: What is this blog about?

I don’t have a clue really. My contribution to the feminist cause is eating, we’ve established that much. I also like to grow and cook my own food and honour my two (three?) home countries’ influences: Romania, Germany, Ireland. I have a fiancé (although I call him my boyfriend as I don’t like to be defined by this particular role (yeah)), a (male, idiotic) dog and a (male, mean as hell) cat. I also have a garden and I like to make things. All these people (yes, animals are people too) are a huuuuuge part of my life and I could not live without them, but I like to think that there are parts of my being that are self-contained and live in literature, pop culture, my (shameful) love of Sting, teaching myself skills, generally educating myself, and trying not to be an ass. Which is to say, there’s going to be gardening tips, recipes, some “gallery opening and such” reviews (you can scoff here), and some pictures of Wicklow.