Even You Can Cook This: Basil Spaghetti

So here’s the thing. My mother started teaching me how to cook when I was about ten years old. I could cook a roast chicken dinner from woah to go by the time I was about twelve or thirteen years old. I’m best at baking, but if you put a recipe in front of me I can make a pretty good go of it, all things considered.

Here’s the other thing. Cooking is a pain in the ass. I live in Australia, so in summer it is hot and the kitchen is the utter last place you feel like being. Even in winter….look, cooking is just a pain, alright? I have become the master of the salad wrap.

HOWEVER!

I also think that it is really important to be able to make a few more substantial meals, in minimal time, and preferably creating as few dishes as humanly possible while doing so. Nobody likes washing the dishes. Nobody. I don’t care what they say.

This series is to provide you with a few recipes that are easy to make, with few (and generally inexpensive) ingredients, using the smallest number of pots, pans and utensils possible. Because cooking is a pain, and nobody likes doing dishes. See above.

Basil spaghetti is one of my favourite “fast food” meals to make. It’s easy, it only takes a few minutes (as long as it takes to cook the pasta to your liking), and it tastes pretty bangin’, seriously. PLUS, it is really easy to jazz up, and I’ll let you know some options after the basic recipe, which is vegetarian as I don’t eat meat myself.

BASIL SGHETTI*

*I’ve called spaghetti “sghetti” since I was a kid. It’s been around for over twenty years, it’s not gonna go away now.

Essential Ingredients:
  • Thickened cream (I think they call it heavy cream in the States?)
  • Cheese, either grated or gratable. Parmesan would work well if you have it.
  • One jar of basil pesto, and for god’s sake make sure you get one without animal rennet! Check the label!
  • One packet fettuccine pasta (I prefer spinach fettuccine, but regular works just fine too
Optional ingredients:
  • Chicken bits, or bacon bits, whatever you prefer
  • Sliced and cooked carrots, for colour, flavour, and crunch if you like’em not-squishy like me

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to create basil sghetti deliciousness, do the following:
  1.  Put a pot of water on to boil. Make sure there is at LEAST a full teaspoon of salt in that water; it’ll taste better and help the pasta not to stick together so much.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add your pasta. Not the whole bag unless you’re cooking for multiple people! Just enough for however many you’re cooking for.
  3. Stir the past every once in a while; the more often you do this, the less the pasta will stick, but don’t slave over it either.
  4. Once the pasta is done to your liking, drain most of the water, leaving about a tablespoon worth in the pot with the pasta; the pasta will taste better and the sauce will stick, and it won’t be bone-dry when you eat it.
  5. Add the basil pesto until your pasta has a reasonable covering. I prefer my basil sghetti hella strong, so I use about half the jar per time I cook this! To taste 🙂
  6. Add your thickened cream, maybe a half or two thirds of a cup, and stir until the sauce is creamy and a pale green colour.
  7. Whack it into a bowl, and stick some grated cheese or Parmesan on top.
  8. Enjoy, with gusto.
Optional extras
  1. With meat bits: Obviously, cook them. And in a separate pan! Once they’re done, whack’em in the sauce after the cream step.
  2. With carrots: Slice them thinly, cook’em in a pan with a tiny bit of either butter or olive oil until they’re to your liking. I usually only leave them in the pan for five minutes because I like mine crunchy. When they’re done, whack’em in just after them basil step. Cream is optional for the carrot version, because the pasta is really nice with just the basil pesto and carrots.

If you don’t like basil pesto, I’m pretty sure you could sub sundried tomato pesto here, but it may take some experimenting. I personally think tomatoes are the devil’s fruit, and are suitable for consumption only in tomato-based sauces in Italian cuisine. And even then, you need Parmesan for disguising their presence. BUT, I guess it could be done. If you had to.

RESULTS:

  1. Basil sghetti deliciousness, and if you make enough there’ll be leftovers for lunch or dinner tomorrow, too.
  2. At most (with optional extras), 3 pots and/or pans, eating utensils and plate, spatula (for stirring sauce), knife (carrots) and grater.
  3. The feeling of accomplishment at the realization that you have successfully feed yourself, and also you can pxt your mother to show her you’re not subsisting on 2-minute noodles. Anymore.

See? Even you can cook this!

Stay weird xxx

Advertisements

It’s all about ME!

Speaking as a woman in her mid-twenties with a seemingly endless to-do list, all too often I forget to take care of myself. I’m not talking like forgetting to eat or shower or whatever; those functions are basically automatic, and happen when they should (at least twice every day, and one or twice a day depending on the summer temperature!). I’m talking about the little things. I’m talking about doing something for myself, that is just for me. Not to further progress in some arbitrary goal, or to tick something off a list that somebody else (like my thesis advisor) is going to see later, but just for me. For my sake. I’m talking about those things.

I decided, sometime in December when ruminating about what I wanted to achieve in 2018, that I was going to make 2018 all about me. And yes I am aware how selfish that sounds, and you know what? It is. It completely is, and you know what else? There is nothing wrong with that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with shifting yourself into the focus position of your own life. Because let’s get something straight here: nobody else is going to do this for you. They’ve all got their own problems. The best person to make sure you’re doing ok is you. And let me tell you something else: all those goals and ambitions you’re killing yourself to achieve won’t mean anything at all if, when you finally get over the finish line, you are too exhausted and broken to actually take advantage of your wins. Exhaustion is not fun. Burnout is not fun. Misery and fatigue and weight gain and stress and anxiety are not fun. And yet, these are among the consequences that so many people my age suffer just because we’re so convinced that we have to reach X goal first, in the fastest time, with the greatest result. And in some cases, to be fair, that is actually necessary. But millennials, those much-beleaguered souls, are acting that way about literally their entire lives, and of late I am no exception.

I have high expectations of myself, and I always have had. My mother taught me to have high expectations, because she knew that I could meet them. That instills both a confidence and a work ethic, but it can also instill anxiety and a constant sense of overhanging deadlines. What I never quite learned, until the last few months I think, is that I can have and meet those expectations and still actually live as a functioning human adult. And I can do this by making my life all about me.

I’m not saying to become the bitch-about-town. Nobody likes her. Don’t be that person. What I am saying is to make time, and make decisions, where you are the positive focus and where the consequences or results of those decisions either positively affects you, or at the very least do not negatively affect you. Neutral is sometimes the best result we can hope for. And those tiny day-to-day decisions, that time you take to yourself, that thirty minutes in the morning that you usually use to work unpaid overtime in the office that you decide to use for coffee and a book in the local cafe instead, those decisions and that time actually make it easier to then sit down at your desk and go to work.

It doesn’t always have to be specific actions, or deciding not to do something. Then again, it can be. For example: starting around 16, one of my favourite things to do was to learn, from various sources (shoutout to YouTube), how to apply my makeup properly. I wore makeup several days a week if not more, for years. I have a somewhat astounding makeup collection, for someone that doesn’t work in a remotely related industry. And I still love makeup! But in the year of 2017, the entire woebegone year, I can only recall actually putting a full face of makeup on perhaps three times, and the bare basics of eyeshadow, mascara, and lipstick a collective two or three weeks. Because I never had time. Because I was always tired. I was always working, always studying, always commuting, always writing, always travelling. Always always always. Something something something. And putting makeup on became a chore. It also kind of annoyed me, when I actually did manage to find the time to put makeup on, how many comments I would get to the tune of “Oh my god, you look so good with makeup on! I mean not that you’re not fine usually, but….” or “You know, you really suit ______ makeup. You really should make it an everyday thing” or “It’s incredible how different you look! Why don’t you wear makeup all the time?” Pretty much any woman in the workforce that has ever employed mascara will recognize these comments. And they’re not meant maliciously, but it really, really sucks to hear them. And then makeup really isn’t fun anymore. Plus, you gotta haul around a little bag of “basics” every day, and nobody has the time or the energy for that, especially as a grad student that also works. If you are and you do, holy shit and kudos to you. Please tell me your secrets.

So. This year. This year? All about me.

I want to start making it a habit to get out of bed at 5am. Not so I can get more work done, but so that I can make myself a proper coffee, and sit down at my kitchen table for breakfast. Not stumble out of the house 15 minutes after waking up and buy coffee and a blueberry muffin on the way to work.

I want to start putting a little makeup on every once in a while. Not a full face, and certainly not on hot days because I live in Oz and it will slide right off. Eyeshadow colours that I like, and lipstick shades that I prefer.

I want to go for a short work in the evenings, after the full heat of the afternoon but before it gets dark. Maybe listen to an audiobook or something. A podcast. Nothing to do with work, or with study.

I want to have an actual day off every few weeks. From all work, including academic-related. Everything.

I want to start telling people “no” when they ask me to do things. I can barely handle my own task list most days, I’m not about to keep shouldering that of others as well.

I want to eat healthier, because a healthy body helps to create a healthier mind, and considering my levels of anxiety and stress in 2017 I need all the help with that I can get.

I want to phase single-use plastics completely out of my use, because singly-use plastics are shitty and awful and kill millions of marine animals every year and there is literally no reason for single-use plastics to exist. 2018 is the year of the reusable tote.

I want to finish the draft of my novel. It might be awful, it might never get published or even see the light of day, but I want to finish it because it’s mine. I want to take off to a cafe or a library or something every once in a while and just write. Not answer my phone, be unavailable.

Be unavailable.

I think that is the secret, these days, to any sort of improvement you can make to your mental health, to your personal existence. We are constantly, and consistently, available. Even when we shouldn’t be. For people that shouldn’t have a claim on our time. Even, sometimes, to people that should have a claim to whom we give too much. So I think that is the most selfish thing that I am going to try and instate next year, for my own peace of mind. Not all the time, obviously. But sometimes.

What are your thoughts? What are you going to make 2018 about?

2018 Resolutions

And so we have arrived, my lovelies, finally and thank god, at a new year. 2017 was…well, it was. I think that is the most that can be said for it, particularly among those who view with despair the current political state of the world. But lo! Here we have 365 new opportunities not to screw things up and make everything worse! So let us leave 2017 behind us, and list the resolutions for the coming years that many of us will conveniently forget or stop striving toward before the death of the second month of the year.

Lol. Kidding. Not about the fact that most New Year’s resolutions vaporize within two months, but the generally dire manner of writing in which I conveyed those sentiments is not my usual. In terms of my 2017 resolutions, I’m gonna call it 50-50. I’ve updated the status of those over on the 2017 Resolutions page, so if you want to see what they were and how I did, meander on over in that direction. Here, I have listed the goals that I would like to achieve in the year 2018. This time around, I have actually separated them (somewhat) into four general categories: health, finances, academic, personal. What do you think?

2018 Resolutions (likely ill-conceived and definitely optimistic)

Health

1. Lose five kilograms

2. Complete C25K programme

3. No white bread for a year

Finances

4. Pay at least $5000 off student loan

5. Accumulate $5000 in general savings

Academic

6. Finish 60,000 words of thesis

7. Submit an academic article to a journal

Personal

8. Read 75 books for the Goodreads Challenge

9. Finish the first draft of my novel

10. Complete a CodeAcademy programme

Let me know if any of your resolutions are similar to mine, or just generally if there are any particular goals that you’re going to work toward this year. Or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants person? I used to be, but as I get older I find more comfort in goal-setting, as it gives me a concrete purpose and something to work towards!

 

Stay weird lovelies

xxx