It’s February 3rd, it’s time to tidy up my photos. One subfolder’s called 2014-05-28. From the medium-sized icons presentation, it looks like I was planning to do a great food tutorial, like this one on vegan brownies, or this one on vegan Christmas dinner. Join me as we look through them together, and try to work out what I was cooking.
It starts with this, though. I’m pretty sure it’s the internally broken remains of the Surrey Campus of Brunel University. It’s not my house.
Here’s some aubergines, although I’ve shifted culture since this was taken, and now I call them eggplants. Except at night when I’m alone. Then I stand on the roof and whisper ‘aubergine’ to the Vancouver skyline. It looks like I’ve cut the ends off, which I’d always recommend doing, without really knowing why. And there’s two of them, so I was probably cooking for more than one person. Take notes, everyone.
Oh, right. Yeah, I remember this. The recipe said to cook onions in water. In fucking water. I went in to ask K if he’d ever heard of such a thing. He hadn’t, and nor have you. Are those eggplants getting blanched, or is a full-on boil? You should try both and see which works best.
This can only be a fucking load of cashews. And I know what’s going on now. This is a recipe for stuffed eggplants, and those cashews have an important task ahead of them. This is a totally inappropriate thing to suggest for a Vancouver-based audience, possibly even the entirety of Canada, as nuts round here cost more than all the money there is in the world. Soon after I moved here, I went to get all the stuff needed for a nut roast, which is a common meal-on-a-budget for unimaginative vegans in England. But I had to sell three of my kidneys out the back of the supermarket to afford it. It nearly even drove me to look for a job. But luckily, that didn’t happen. Phew.
Any natural born Vancouveran looking at this photo will be having some dribbly fantasy about rolling round in those nuts like Scrooge McDuck. This is because people in Vancouver are fucking creepy. But assuming you want to do this recipe, you should get a clean dishcloth, lay them over the nuts like it’s a magic trick, and then crush them under a rolling pin. You need great skills not to have them shoot out the sides and onto the work surface. Be aware there is no ‘three second rule’. Once it’s off the cutting board, it’s not food any more, and you will die.
Look, those poor, drowned onions are back, and they look really sad. But they’re making friends with the nuts now. There must be some oil in there too. You should probably do this until they go a different type of brown, because that’s what all recipes say.
Oh my god, what is this surgery? Those eggplants must have been proper boiled, as there’s no way that would happen with a mere blanching. So scoop out all their guts with a teaspoon, and put it in with the frying onions and cashews. Soon all that mixture’s going to be pushed back into them again. This is getting pretty graphic, so send the kids to bed.
So it looks like these are going in the oven. Turn up the heat to whatever it should be, and cook them until they’re done. Thank fuck I’m here, right?
Wait, what? What’s all this? Is this the same meal? If it isn’t, it should be, because who’s going to be happy with you serving up some beans and potatoes and nothing else? Boil these until they’re soft enough to eat. 15-20 minutes, probably. Those stringy green bean things take longer than you might think, and when they’re not cooked they make nasty squeaking noises when you try to eat them, so watch out for that.
I probably timed these to finish cooking whenever it was those eggplants are going to be done. My god, I’m brilliant.
Yeahyeahyeah, here we go. They’re back, and they’re all cooked. I’m glad of it. I’m going to totally guess and say it’s 25 minutes at 200 degrees, but don’t blame me if you end up with a stomach tumour that looks like a manatee’s face.
Hey, look! All friends together. And this is where a combination of boiled vegetables and non-professional lighting makes your showcase dinner completely unfit for purpose if you want to parade it around a cookery blog post. Those nuts look pretty tasty, but I’m only saying that because I’m currently reduced to giving strangers down alleyways crumpled up $50s just to put the end of my tongue on an almond.
Ok. Um. Here’s some garlic. But didn’t we eat already? I know garlic’s pretty fucking amazing, but I can’t have tried to pass this off as a special dessert.
Here it is again, though. Look at my fucking garlic. Just fucking look at it. Let your eyes eat it up.
Either I picked out all those onions from the stuffed eggplants so they could be reconstituted into another meal, or this is a totally different day, and we’re making something else. I’m excited. At this point, it could be pretty much anything. Is that some stock in there? Maybe.
Holy shit! More fucking eggplants! This is out of control! And is that some courgette going on as well? I mean zucchini. Jesus Christ, Canada. Are you another country or another planet?
Similar to how there’s several months gap between my two earliest memories – (1) wearing a nappy (diaper, or is that just America?) and walking out of my bedroom over to the top of the stairs, and instead of shouting out “I’m going to be sick” to the adults below, actually being sick right down the stairs to the delight and joy of all, and (2) hiding behind the sofa when some man came round the house to take my picture for… actually, what was that about? Let’s get back to this – some things do retain their clarity amid all the fog of life. Here, I’m making an educational point about the proper way to cut a tomato. You might think the nubbly bit should be facing upright, but that’s where you’re seriously being ridiculous, as cutting it like that means the gloop will fall out oh so much easily. Cut it like this, as shown. The tomato will retain its composure, and you’ll have real slices or chunks rather than slooshy tomato gack.
Yep, that’s a load of stuff cooking again. I think this is ratatouille. In fact, I’m sure of it. When making this, however much salt and garlic you think is way too much to put in, triple it, put that much in, then add some more. This meal is nothing more than a housing container for garlic and salt, like all the best food in the world.
This also means that wasn’t stock in the earlier photo. It was a dangerously horrific amount of oil. I love this recipe.
There’s some kidney beans in there too. And I can’t see it, but cayenne pepper must be playing its modest yet unsubtle role in making this meal a memory.
Frozen mixed veg is doing its thing in the background, and it must have been a busy week for those beans, because they’re back with us again. This is food for five or four people.
Eat it. Eat the oily food. And don’t leave the salt off those vegetables, they’re getting lonely.