Author: RedshoeArtist

Artist, Writer, self-confessed stationary addict

How to Banish Melancholy

melancholy:

a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause.

Autumn is that time of year when I come alive and begin to have some kind of structure to my days and nights. I don’t like the heat. Australian summers are HOT and they annoy me, I just can’t function properly. Today is an overcast, cool day with a high of 18 degrees.  Yes, I have the heater on, I’m cold. It’s not really ‘heater’ weather yet but I need socks and 3/4 sleeves and something hot and bubbling away on the stove.

The last few days have been a bit heavy for me mentally and yesterday my energy levels were at an all time low. I knew that I had to banish this today if I wanted to make the most of my day off work. This week I’ll be working 40+ hours and I need comfort food to see me through the late nights home, when all I want to do is relax.

Aloo Matar! Potato and Peas curry.

As part of our ‘Meatless Monday’ household, this vegan dish is comfort, flavour and bliss in a bowl. Socks all the way to the knees, curled up with a great book (currently reading Circe by Madeline Miller), can allow me to feel present while laundry is laundering and spices are spicing up my dinner. Adulting can be a bit rough for me so I adopt the art of Hygge and concentrate on the present.

For me, when I have to start coming out of my melancholic state it’s all about effort and taking things slow… appreciating the small things. The house is clean -ish, warm and smells amazing with spicy aromas wafting through the house. I’m pretty lucky actually. I have created this bliss. The fact that melancholy darkens my door every now and then is not even an issue really. Melancholy should be fleeting. Something that comes, tries to stay but will never be stronger than me and my need to take each day as the blessing that it is.

So, it’s time to get up, wash your hair, put some clothes on and head out the door to buy the freshest ingredients.

The recipe requires only a few things, most of which are staples in my house. It’s cheap and can feed many mouths, making it a winner in my recipe box.

You will need:

2 Tbls oil, (I use Rice Bran)

1 teas cumin seeds

1 teas black mustard seeds

1 teas turmeric powder

1/2 teas chilli powder

1 teas garam masala

1 Tbls coriander powder

2 onions, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 inch ginger, grated

4 tomatoes, roughly chopped

4 med-large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

300g fresh or frozen peas

approx 500 ml boiling water

salt to taste

chopped fresh coriander leaves to garnish

Down to the local food store to buy supplies (avoid busy, autonomous supermarkets when you’re trying to slide out of melancholy), then back home. I scrubbed and cleaned the potatoes, tomatoes and peas, dosed out the spices and pulled out my huge dutch oven so that I could make a big batch of this to not only feed the five adults tonight but to have some left over for the week, so I doubled the recipe. A bowl of this will certainly banish melancholy by a thousand feet. It is a simple, quick recipe that is perfect for mid-week dinner and it keeps well for leftovers. Curries taste amazing the next day.

On medium-high heat, begin by heating the oil and adding the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Let them sizzle to release their aroma and add your onion. Cook until golden brown.

Add garlic and ginger and tomatoes, stir thoroughly, place lid on the pot and cook gently on med-low heat for about 10-12 minutes, until tomatoes have softened and caramalised.

Add you spices, turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder and salt, stirring for a minute before adding the potato and peas. Add boiling water, simmer for about 30-35 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve over a bowl of fluffy rice.

Enjoy and happy cooking.

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Insight

I felt compelled to share with you all that I keep my recipe box (for my collected/made-up-myself recipes) categorised by moods. I think this says a lot about my weird relationship with food.

We do, however, tend to eat certain foods depending on what mood we are in. Comfort foods when we want a touch of Hygge and chicken soup to banish melancholy…. and so it goes….

How do you keep your recipe collection?

Food Challenge – Honey Buns

I was set a challenge after I made a successful batch of Cinnamon Rolls….  my friend, Ken who hails from the States asked for something called Honey Buns, of which I have never seen nor tasted. After scouring the Internet for different ways they’re made (with not much success) I discovered that they are not unlike a cinnamon bun but with some honey added in the dough as well as the glaze. The challenge was that Ken told me they were a softer dough than the Cinnamon Buns and a few recipe’s called for them to be deep fried while others were baked. I must confess that the amount of butter and sugar these things yield has me swaying more toward the ‘baking’ side as I have no patience standing at the stove frying batches of dough. I learnt that lesson when I made hot jam donuts years ago and I’m still scarred by the effect, plus I think baking them is a tad less indulgent (only just).

The thing that I absolutely adore about baking is the alchemy of it all. How these ingredients when mixed together can turn into something so fabulous and delicious. I made a dough mostly by sight, in that I took a few versions of bun recipe’s I saw on the Internet and devised my own plan of how to make something soft and almost donut-like in its texture. Sitting here right now, I have no idea if it’s going to work at all but this is an experiment batch and Ken is coming over to be the guinea pig. I’ve been off work this week and thinking about all the ‘holiday’ food I’ve consumed, I just can’t possible eat another bad thing. I only lasted 25 minutes on a 5 level incline on the treadmill last night. My body is broken!

WHO AM I KIDDING???? I’m so going to try at least one, but Ken is going to have to take the batch home and remove it from my house. Cinnamon is my weakness damn it!

So, back to the dough. I am so happy with how it turned out. It is the sexiest dough, it’s so supple and now it’s sitting in the corner of my kitchen, covered in cling film, thinking about what it’s about to become. The honey in the dough has given it a really beautiful sheen and a slight golden hue to it, I am hopefully on the right track.

The following recipe is what I came up with but please note, I can’t tell you the exact amount of water to flour ratio as I just added as I needed. You’re going to have to know something about making dough to work this out for yourself. I make no apologies, it is what it is.

Dough

7g pack of dried yeast

1 Tbls Sugar

60g Butter, melted

1/2 C warm milk (about 45 degrees)

1 egg, room temp

1 egg yolk, room temp

85g honey

1 Tbls Salt

3-4 C AP Flour

1 C warm water (less or more, I don’t know)

In a bowl, I put the warm milk, sugar and yeast together. Whisk it a bit and let it sit for about 5 minutes until it foams up.

Then add the melted butter, eggs, honey, salt and about 2 cups of the flour. Once combined, add about half the warm water, another cup of flour and mix with a dough hook. Here’s the tricky part, you’re going to need to add flour and water until you get a ‘shaggy’ dough that is slightly sticky, so you be the judge of texture. Once you’re happy, knead for about 4 minutes (if you’re making this by hand I feel sorry for you but you’ll need to knead this for about 10 minutes by hand). It’s a very soft, supple, sticky dough that just feels so amazing, so grease a bowl and throw it in there, oil the top of the ball to stop it drying out and don’t forget to oil the cling film because this baby is going to rise. Let it sit for 2 hours in a warm place where it won’t get disturbed.

THEN MAGIC HAPPENS

60 g butter, softened

1/4 C brown sugar

1 1/2 Tbls Cinnamon

Preheat oven 180-200 degrees (fan or normal)

After the dough has risen, punch it down and on a generously floured surface, roll out dough to a large rectangle, 15″ x 9″ approx., spread the soft butter in a thin film all over, leaving a 2cm lip on one of the long edges free. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the top of the butter in an even layer. Starting in one corner, start rolling along the long edge, to get a complete roll. Cut into 16 pieces (or at least, cut in half and half again and half again and keep going until you have nice even pieces that a couple of inches wide). Please don’t roll it too tight. This causes the scroll-like roll to peak in the middle and makes them burn easy. You want them to be flat so that they bake even. This isn’t always a bad thing, but I’m about aesthetics. Place the rolls on a lined sheet, space them out a little bit and cover them and let them sit and think for about 30-40 minutes. They will rise and spread and look like doughy swirls of genius. I am amazed at how beautiful they look at this stage and I don’t even want to bake them and shatter their beauty, but c’mon!

After the second rise, place in oven and bake until golden brown. My oven is shite so it takes about 30 minutes. Like baking a cake, keep checking the middle to make sure it’s all cooked through.

Glaze

1-1 1/2 C Icing sugar

3 Tbls water

2 Tbls honey

Whisk together and pour over the slightly cooled buns. Serve warm or store in an airtight container.

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I take the ‘Chef’s Piece’ which is the one smack-bam right in the middle. Mmmmmm…..

Not 100% successful. I think they need to be deep fried, but Ken liked them anyway. I have nothing to compare them to, as I’ve never had a Honey Bun. Australia don’t have much American stuff. These taste pretty good to me, but VERY sweet.

Stay tuned for the next experimental batch.

Happy baking

On Writing…

There is something comforting to me when I write. My pen comes in contact with the paper and something in my brain switches over. There is that sound of the pen making that scratching noise that I miss if I don’t write daily. Then there is the smell of the ink. I don’t think I have the words to describe to you the way that ink smells, but I bet you can smell it now that you are trying to recall it. The smell of ink reminds me of Grade 3 in Mrs. Cunningham’s class, where I was determined to have a good writing day so that I could get my pen licence. I was sick of the pencil. I still hate pencil today. As Mrs. Cunningham was making her rounds and looking at everyone’s work, I knew that it was the day – Sure enough, she said I could go to the cupboard and get myself a pen. I was grinning all the way I was so happy. I still remember, opening that huge floor to ceiling cupboard that contained all the stationery in perfect order. She had the box of blue pens on the shelf that we could reach and I pulled out a shiny new pen and I held it in my hand. If I knew anything about ‘The Lord of the Rings’ at that age, I would have whispered a ‘my precious’, because that’s how it felt. It was a Bic pen. One of those yellow body ones with the blue tip and cap. I felt so happy for the rest of the day. I felt grown up. The smell of the ink stayed in my nostrils even at bed time. It’s probably why I still have a love for blue ink… In any case, I haven’t stopped writing since and my handwriting got neater and neater. People always comment about my handwriting and how surprised they are at how neat it is considering I am left handed. 

Any opportunity to put pen to paper has always had a calming effect on me. My love for analogue journaling and writing will never fade. Some people bake or cook a roast to ground them – ME? It’s the smell of ink and the pen scratching against the paper. 

It’s funny the little things that you can recall. 

Have a happy Easter Bloggers

When I grow up…

Nothing happened today

And everything happened too

These days have become habitual

Feet falling to the ground

standing in a comatose-like zen posture,

I blink

People mistake it for winking

Hard to shake some habits

I live in the ‘why bother’ age

where living defines you

Anger – Anger – Anger

“God I wish I was more like you”

Maybe if I lay down and

rest my head on your lap

I can close my eyes and

hear you describe the world

Maybe might convince me

the world is a beautiful place

Dear Diary

So far in my life, there has been a lot of writing that goes nowhere and I have no idea if more exists. Is it new? Or is it just regurgitation? Words come out and all I can do is put them in the order I see them. All these words are stream of consciousness which is the only way I can write. Editing them is not an option as my thoughts are these words that you see here, straight out of my head. By editing them, they cease to be what I want them to be and instead they become words that are well thought out and I find that to be inauthentic.

So I leave these words here to remind me that I think. I offer you no explanation or apology in my presentation, as I am a woman of this world with independent thought, and like you, have the right to be here.

I am independent thought

I seek enlightenment and want nothing of your trinkets

or your stupidity

Speak to me of mind, body and soul

all of which hold the key

The key that opens something that everyone wants

What do you want?

Blog Entry (that needs no title & yet this is it)

I wear my red shoes when I paint or write. Right now, in my bare feet, I am wondering about this blog & my attachment to it even though my posts aren’t as regular as they once were. Then I remembered…. I’ve changed. As this is a personal blog, it will change as I change and for that, I offer no apology. The reluctance hasn’t been to blog or not to blog, but has been about ‘I can’t blog that because that’s not what my blog is about’.

Who made that rule?

Me.

Stupid.

So, beware of the change. I am losing the confidence to describe to you, my world and my feelings. The difficulty lies in reaching to the sky to find the words that match my experiences. This won’t last forever and you’ll forgive me as I slur my way through this change, because you’re of the beautiful people.

Happy Friday Bloggers

Fiji in May

Hi Bloggers,

I went to Fiji for a week. A last minute decision, I needed to get away and do something different from the daily crap I’ve been going through and to just get away. I went with my cousin Annette, who if it wasn’t for her, I would not have gone. She really saved me. I was going stir crazy at home. We stayed on a beautiful island called Sonaisali that I can only recommend if you’re interested in beauty and relaxation.

I can’t tell you what a wonderful place Fiji can be. The Fijian people are so beautiful and so welcoming and it’s so hard not to fall in their pace of ‘hey relax, take it slow’.

As a person living in a western country, I thought it would be hard to not care about time or that I ordered my Mai Tai 30 minutes ago, but I did it with ease (except when I didn’t, usually involving coffee).

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Above was the view from the lounge chairs just offside the main dining room and bar. I could sit there forever looking at this view and by day it looks like any kind of Island photo, but the absolute beauty of Sonaisali Island is dusk. As the sun goes down, it puts a perfect glow over everything before the dark blanket covers the wonderous hues that take your breath away.

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Okay, so my iPhone 4 is a bloody shit camera, but it’s all I had. I don’t own a point and shoot camera because frankly, I’d rather use a disposable camera that waste money on something that flattens every shot I take. If I can’t own a DSLR yet, my phone will have to do.

The view above was taken from the balcony of my room. If I timed it right, and often I did, I would see this every night and meditate on its beauty.

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This is MY daybed hut. I called it mine because I wanted to take it home with me, but it wouldn’t fit in my luggage. The sliding door you see behind it was where I slept. So if proximity says anything about ownership, it’s mine. I got very annoyed if anyone else used it, I became very possessive about it.

You’ll have to excuse the blur around the edges. Every time I lost concentration on what I was doing, I kept hitting this stupid editing button that’s on the iPhone. Instead of leaving well enough alone hitting it once, I kept hitting it hoping it would revert back to normal eventually, but all it kept doing was blurring it even more. Stupid technology. Maybe squint your eyes to make it unblur (I know, not a word), I don’t know, in any case I apologise.

 

 

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This is the beautiful Lily Pond outside the main entrance of the resort. Very beautiful no? All the plants and flowers were beautiful. A huge hibiscus tree outside my room was stunning and made me sad that I can’t grow anything at home. I definitely do not have a green thumb. I love beautiful gardens and appreciate the hard work that goes in them, but I can’t be trusted around anything that is green and living. There was a whole team of gardeners working every day making this island paradise. If I had that at home, I’d have a beautiful garden too.

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This is the same view from the lounge chairs near the dining room, but on a different night. See how the colours differ from the first photo? It really is an amazing place, that throws a myriad of hues all over the place, everyday different, everyday something to marvel at.

Fiji is a great idea if you want an Island holiday. Don’t expect any great food and fruit because resort food isn’t the best. I do have one suggestion and that is, if you’re on a budget, maybe stop on the way from the airport to the island at a supermarket and stock up on water, snacks and some fruit to keep in your bar fridge. I saw wonderful fruit there that looked a lot better than what was available at the resort.

The resorts are three times more expensive than the mainland. Food prices for dinning are okay, but it can be a bit hit and miss in it’s consistency. The fruit wasn’t that great. I guess I expected big mounds of fruit lying around, tasting delicious, but all we had was a bit of pineapple, a bit of watermelon, some orange segments and the rest looked like canned fruit swimming in bowls of syrup. I was a bit disappointed in that.

You won’t starve, but for a foodie like me, it can be a bit of a let down.

Moving on….

 

A great thing that happened to me was that I got the ‘sit and read’ vibe back again. It had been months since I could do that, with everything that was going on in my life and in my head, I couldn’t sit for more than 10 minutes without getting up and pacing. This is not good for a Literary Major currently enrolled in University. I needed to get back into reading and absorbing what I was reading.

I read:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Audible)

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson (paperback)

More than half way through Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter Thompson (Audible)

Half way through On the Road by Jack Kerouac (paperback)

…. only didn’t get through:

The Rum Diary by Hunter Thompson

Plato’s Symposium

The Maltese Falcon

The last two were going to be re-reads anyway, so who cares. Not bad for 6 days and a lot of time sleeping.

 

So, go to Fiji, if you must and make sure you take me along with you. If only because I’m a good person who would love to go again and again and well, now I’m such an old hand about the place.

Have a happy day Bloggers.

 

Blogging at Half Past Midnight

So I was going to write this whole spiel, actually I did but then I deleted it all, about what’s been going on with me and why I haven’t been around. Yeah well, nobody wants to hear it in depth, so I’ll keep it short.

My Mum died in March, which pretty much tore my life apart. She was an amazing force in my life, just like your Mum is to you….. and she was my best friend. I miss her like crazy.

In short, I’m not doing too well. I thought I was okay. The first month I just put one foot in front of the other, but the last 2 weeks have been hell. It seems the grief has hit me later than I thought. So I’ve been writing like crazy since she died, nothing I can publish here, but it has been helping.

Anyone got any tips on how to get through all this? I’ve now lost both my parents and seeing as I was Mums full time carer, I’m feeling rather redundant and having trouble remembering to shampoo my hair let alone pay the gas bill.

What am I going to do with my life now that I am no longer a full time carer?

They didn’t warn me about that.

I miss my Mum very much and my heart is really hurting over this.