the art of alone time

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being a raging ENFP, I’m not terribly good at being by myself, especially for long stretches of time. the uncomfortable feeling I’m told introverts get after being social for too long is what i get when i’m alone for too long – insufferable cabin fever. this used to manifest itself hugely around exam time, where hours spent being silent studying in the library would drive me cuckoo. frankly put, i want to be around (friendly) others most of the time.

however, as I get older, i’m learning to appreciate time spent alone. this was put to the test when my mum and sister went away for the easter weekend, and i had the house to myself for 4 days. Now, i was working for two of them, (hence why i didn’t join the trip to my favourite place), but two days and three evenings is quite sizeable for this extrovert.
but anna! I hear you ask. just because your mum and sister were away, don’t you know anyone else in christchurch? well yes, i do, but easter is a time of going away/spending quality time with your family that i feel like it would be weird to try and arrange social activities during it – not to mention that my two days off were good friday and easter sunday, on which nearly everything closes. popsicle date at the petrol station, anyone?

so – what have i been up to? relishing my time! while typically i greatly dislike cooking for one, we had lamb shanks in the freezer, which i just love. I used a great annabel langbein recipe to make them and also whipped up baked apples with custard. i hadn’t made the latter before, but we had cooking apples and i was intrigued – and they turned out great! the skin of the apple gets crunchy and flaky, kind of like a baked potato, and the inside turns to pure tangy fluff. and i guess the custard doesn’t hurt either ;)

my mum, feeling guilty at abandoning me, also left me lots of other treats, so come monday i may have trouble fitting into my work clothes!

to accompany this supreme comfort food, i read a dear katie fforde book, who i can always rely on for a sweet heart warming read, watched nz bachelor (i’d saved two episodes expressly for the purpose), and discovered a new web series (to make up for the hole in my life after finishing the lizzie bennet diaries and emma approved).

……i would also like to point out that i did laundry, went for a few runs, cleaned my room and vacuumed the house for when my mum reads this post ;)

my alone time also doubled as learning time. it’s very easy to get by without knowing how to do maintenance things around the house when you live with a. parents or b. boys, and as I have spent my entire life with one or the other, i duly know very little about all this.

BUT! the gods evidently decided this weekend i would learn real life adult skills, when the gas (that powers our stove) ran out on me one day, and a fuse tripped the next. to youtube i turned initially, before admitting defeat and phoning my mum. however, next time these things occur, i will be equipped and ready – i’ll even volunteer to be the one to sort it out! i’m still a little hazy on the whole tire changing thing (despite observing it being done twice), but, as I’m still on my learners, I have no doubt the time will come the very first time I’m driving alone (when i finally get my restricted licence).

i also took the opportunity to give the fridge a going over. with my food bag, we use up the majority of our groceries at the end of each week, unless we have leftovers from the recipes or bought extra stuff. I found beetroot, broccoli and radishes in the fridge and decided a salad was in order. riffing on a couple of ripe recipes, and stuff i’d seen online, i made this creation for my lunches this week.

i really like it – i prepared the beetroot in both raw slim juliennes and soft roasted cubes, plus blanched broccoli and edamame, sliced radishes, toasted sesame seeds and a tangy dressing (pomegranate molasses is amazing). i initially planned to make quinoa to go in it, but then i came to my senses.
However, if you like quinoa (i just don’t), feel free to toss it in – i’ve seen quite a few recipes which include it.

now, i’m off to enjoy what’s left of my alone time before my family gets back – i’ve enjoyed my weekend off so much that it may be a blow to have company!

enjoy what’s left of the easter weekend friends – my love to you all.

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beautiful beetroot salad

five beetroot, peeled
4 radishes, finely sliced
1 head of broccoli, chopped into 1cm bits
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
350g edamame beans, defrosted
optional extras that would also be nice: mint, kale, spinach, dried cranberries

dressing:
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp olive oil

preheat the oven to 180C. take two of the beetroot and dice them. roast in the oven with a little olive oil for 30 mins or until caramelised and tender.
julienne the three remaining beetroot. i used a mandoline – if you don’t have one, it may be easier just to coarsely grate them – it’s up to you. know that you will end up with red stained hands no matter what, and gracefully accept this. definitely make at least one bad joke about getting caught red handed (if you are alone while making this, there will be no one to groan despairingly at your lame humour).
boil the kettle. put the chopped broccoli in a large heat proof bowl and cover with boiling water. put a plate or lid on top and let cook for 3 mins or so. get a piece of broccoli out and taste to test the done-ness. if tender drain the broccoli, and try to get it as dry as possible.
to make the dressing, just mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

toss together beetroot, broccoli, radishes and edamame. pour over some of the dressing – you don’t want to drown it. you can always add more later on if the salad needs it. scatter over sesame seeds and toss again to combine.

enjoy! i think spinach or kale would be nice, if you feel you need more greenery in your life. i’d be happy either way.
good served for lunch by itself, or dinner accompanied by chicken, fish or tofu.

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7 QT: autumn and entertainment

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1. hi honey bees, how are you going? life is great and busy with me. I found out some stellar news which has tinged my world view rose pink for the next wee while and am still enjoying christchurch and home living. my job is going great, it is challenging me and very grateful being able to get it as my first ‘proper’ job out in the world.

2. i’m still going great with my reading! i read americanah which was brilliant – i thought the main character had such a strong sense of self and her critiques of race in america (“by a non american black”) were skin crawlingly dead on. i definitely felt a few twinges when the attitudes of ‘liberal whites’ were dissected as it made me realise just how easy privilege is to take for granted. a very thought provoking analysis plus a gripping love story. the scenes of nigeria also just drew me in – a country i had never thought much about visiting. i love how books can make you so wanderlusty.

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3. we are into the 4th week of my food bag and absolutely loving it. i see so many ads for blue apron around (especially the dreaded sponsor post, shudder) and they drive me up the wall, so i feel kind of awkward saying this, but we have found my food bag absolutely perfect for our needs! we have been getting the veggie bag and it is just the perfect amount for 3 ladies. our favourites included bang bang tofu salad with sesame rice, halloumi pappardelle with lemon mint and garlic crumb, and malai kofta with spiced vegetable pilau. so, so good, and i think fairly inexpensive too! the three pictures are of honey soy tofu with wasabi mash, lentil cakes with avocado and caramelised onion, and kale salad with pumpkin, dukkah and haloumi.

4. we are in autumn now but it really feels like we have jumped straight into winter! the weather has been so so cold and i’m realising just how spoiled we were with summer – it is a big shock to the system! i am not ready for winter coats but try telling pesky metservice that.

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5. the bachelor usa – thoughts? i was rooting for jojo buuut i also think lauren b and ben are sweet together so i wasn’t overly sad, especially since jojo is going to be the bachelorette!! exciting stuff!! Plus the bachelor nz is back too! haven’t decided who i like yet but the two drama queens naz and claudia are hilarious in their scheming – my favourite part is when they throw each other under the bus at any opportunity. good old homegrown tv.

6. we went to visit some 3 week old puppies the other day and they were just so cute – enjoy the photos!!

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7. my weekend starts on friday and i’ve got a few fun things planned with friends – i can’t wait! i love not having to carve out time for study/readings on the weekend – i feel like i have so much more free time than when i was a student! well, guilt-free free time maybe…

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I plan on doing having some great sleep ins like this little pup!

talk soon! happy friday xoxox

butterscotch walnut scrolls

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hi! let’s catch up on life shall we?

i just began a new job! i know what you’re thinking, you’ve been unemployed for nearly a month Anna? what are you doing girl! weeeeellll… long story there. I arrived back from wanaka on the 2nd of february, then raced up to wellington to visit my cute friends on the 7th. the day before i left, i placed two rather fateful job applications on trademe jobs. one a rather aspirational choice – a job that i loved the thought of, that would challenge and excite me – and the other a café job, so a pretty safe bet. the latter got in touch with me a couple of hours later, and i went in for an interview that afternoon. after two hours of straight interviews, i was offered a job on the spot, and was told to be in touch the next day to confirm i wanted the job, or the offer would disappear. i decided to take the job – it seemed frankly dumb to turn a guaranteed job down, and i knew that i really needed to get earning.

a couple of days later, while in wellington, i was contacted by the dreamy job for an interview. regrets!! the fact i was in wellington and so not able to come into the office wasn’t the worst of it – i started the other job the very day (friday) i was back in town and knowing hospo, would be required to work over the weekend as well. i just didn’t know when i would be available for an interview, and didn’t want to burn bridges with the job i’d just acquired – after all there was no guarantee i’d be offered this other (awesome) job. i sent back an apologetic reply and was so annoyed that i wasn’t in a good position to take advantage of the chance to interview. i soon fell out of touch with these people, and thought i’d lost my chance.

once i arrived back to christchurch, after a truly blissful time, i got straight into working at the café. it was… weird. fully anticipating to struggle heaps the first day (because, well: it’s the first day, it’s never going to be this hard or intimidating again!), it actually was not too bad, but in the days that followed, i could just not shake my unease about the environment, and the prospect of spending 40 hours a week at this place. my coworkers were weirdly forthcoming about how much they adored working there, and especially working for the boss – this machiavellian figure alternately up in the attic-like office, or prowling the floor, and the amount of rules down to the atom frankly irritated me. i’m all for a structured environment, but this felt clone-like. my doubts were confirmed when a throwaway remark about not enjoying being put on the feral dishes prompted a meeting (in the middle of my shift) up in the aerie, and when i confirmed that the job wasn’t really for me, things got nasty.

however! silver linings, y’all, because the very next day after my ungraceful exit, i made a visit to the workplace of the lovely job, and it turned out that things around the office had been busy and the job was still available! so, i went in for a couple of interviews, and at the end of the second one, was offered the place. i was absolutely over the moon, and texted all my friends, who had listened to my travails with kindness and sympathy. i am a working lady again, and frankly couldn’t feel better. the best part is, no matter how challenging or testing my new job becomes, it is always going to appear wonderful compared to the other one!

i also have a recipe for you! cinnamon scrolls are a favourite of mine – i find they’re the perfect amount of sweet without being sickly. and i have been eyeing up deb’s recipe for sticky pecan buns since she posted it! i have a favourite bread dough recipe which i used instead of her’s, which actually is a recipe for baps from the lovely (and kiwi) destitute gourmet. these were very forgiving, flexible delights and served very well for a sunday morning tea with one of my sweet friends. paired with strong coffee, they are a delight. and they even freeze well fully cooked too! i used our homegrown walnuts but either would be fine. enjoy! xx

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Butterscotch Walnut Scrolls

adapted from smitten kitchen and destitute gourmet
3 1/3 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
50 g cold butter, in small cubes
1 packet instant yeast
1 ½ tsp sugar
125 ml milk
125 ml warm water
Blitz the flour, salt and butter in the food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk in the yeast and sugar, then slowly stir in the liquids. Knead until a smooth soft dough (about 5-10 mins) and then put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size.
Butterscotch 
100g butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup cream
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and swirl occasionally for 3-5 mins. Pour into the baking dish and pop in the fridge to cool before assembling the scrolls.
Filling
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
30g butter, melted
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Stir together sugar, salt and spices. Put the dough on a floured bench and roll out to a large rectangle. Brush with melted butter and then sprinkle over sugar mix. Roll up and gently cut into 12 equal slices. Sprinkle the walnuts evenly into the butterscotch dish then arrange the rolls on top. Either let the rolls proof again immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight – then let proof in the morning.
Heat the oven to 180C. Place the scrolls in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Let cool on the bench for 5 – 10 mins before inverting the dish on a platter. Serve with pride!