South Park Self

up the anti

It's been a torrid week, and the coming one will be worse. I'm tired, grumpy and all peopled out, and inclined to be very, very short with stupid questions. Is it just me, or is it increasingly depressing to realise that things one takes for granted - grammar, politeness, a modicum of altruism, actually reading important texts or listening to important lectures - are not equally accepted as a baseline of behaviour by about 80% of the people you meet? I must be getting old, and set in my ways. There was a particularly egregiously horrible advertising poster in the supermarket this morning, threatening to "UP THE ANTI!" on value, or prices, or quality, or something. Instead of inciting me to righteous mockery it made me want to cry. It's not helping that the English department, bless its snakepit soul, doesn't want me to teach again this year. Am feeling rejected and non-academic.

This is all very low and blue, so I shall attempt to introduce a more cheery and colourful note with a rather delectable recipe I recently invented. Please excuse the smugness of tone in the ingredients list, I need all the happy I can find right now.


DECADENT BAKED BUTTERNUT

You need:
  • One medium butternut you grew in your garden, and practically had to run down and tackle owing to the speed with which the vines are streaking for the borders.
  • A double handful of the baby tomatoes your tomato vines are producing in insane quantities possibly reflecting a new religious cult of some sort.
  • Three or four spring onions which are growing in your garden with a ridiculous enthusiasm given that in some cases they have to grow out from under the butternuts.
  • A handful of sweet basil which manages to grow manfully in your garden despite being repeatedly sat on by the cats.
  • A couple of generous dollops of marscapone. (If I could find a way to grow this in my garden I would).
  • A couple of rashers of fatty bacon. (You could leave this out, I suppose, if you were adhering to strict vegetarian principles for inscrutable reasons of your own).
  • A generous slosh of olive oil.
  • Garlic to taste, i.e. lots. Five or six cloves at least.
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper, anything else that grabs your fancy and looks as though it might work with the above.
Wash the butternut to remove random cat hairs, and halve lengthways. Scoop out the seeds and a little bit of the pulp to leave a hollow down the middle. I usually shave off a small piece of the round, curved underneath part so it sits firmly and doesn't rock the boat and tip off all the stuffing at inopportune moments. Throw the seeds etc. into your compost with a brief benediction.

Chop up the tomatoes, spring onions, basil and garlic and mix together. Add the marscapone and mix. Cut the fat off the bacon and reserve; chop the bacon and add to the mix. Add salt and pepper in appropriate quantities.

Slash quite deeply into the cut side of the butternut in a cross-hatch pattern or angular mystic runes or whatever your preference is. Slosh olive oil generously onto the cut surfaces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. It sometimes pays to rub it in a bit so you season into the slashes.

Pile the tomato/marscapone mixture into the hollows and mound it generously above until you've used up all the stuffing. You should pretty much aim to cover the whole cut surface, but peaking along the middle of the length. If there's any stuffing left over you're not trying. For extra decadence, drape the bacon fat over the top. Aesthetics demand that you remove this before serving, and principles of non-waste demand that you eat it. It'll be melt-in-the-mouth crispy. Darn.

Bake uncovered at about 200o for about an hour, or until the butternut is soft. This always takes longer than you think it will. It helps to haul it out the oven every twenty minutes or so and baste it with its own evil, fatty pan juices. You are aiming for all the artery-hardening marscapone goodness to ooze down into the flesh. In more ways than one, see expanding hips.

Slice into fat 2cm-slices to serve as a side dish. Or eat an entire half yourself for a not particularly light supper. Remember to wipe your chin.

Documentary evidence of the Insane Tomato Explosion follows. This is the second time this week I've filled this blue plastic bowl, and there must be almost as many still ripening on the vines.



Also, more demented butternuts in preparation. Observe the spring onions scrabbling out from under.

  • Current Mood: grumpy grumpy, culinary
3 things
I am wildly, wildly jealous of your garden. Your basil, not the sweet one, but the Thai-type perennial, continues to flourish in Dbn from a second-generation cutting - i.e. a cutting I took from the flourishing bush in the JHB garden that grew from the first cutting.

Also, I have seen an "up the anti" poster outside Kuai. They are advertising a new tea (or something) that is particularly rich in antioxidants. Perhaps your poster was a similar pun?

Also, what the holy fuck is the English department thinking of? You are an internationally esteemed fairy-tale theorist in? of? metafiction, and by all accounts you make your students actually *think*, a fast-vanishing and underachieved goal of a university education. Bloody snakepit idiots.
Re: 3 things
Good lord, you mean there was actually a shadow of an excuse for the "anti"? Horrible pun or not, I am obscurely consoled by the possibility it may have been deliberate. I am also happy to think that that basil plant is still going. It turns out not to be genuine Thai basil, the aniseed flavour is not nearly strong enough, but they're rewardingly tough and flourishing things to have in one's garden.
(Anonymous)
Will you come live with me and grow my garden? (This is not a euphemism.)

For that matter, will you cook, too?!

Cheers, Dayle
Awww. I'd love to, but I suspect I may not achieve quite the same results without the assistance of the fierce African sun. I'm really quite a haphazard and unscientific gardener, I'm always surprised when things go mad like this.
(Anonymous)
We have fierce Californian sun. Surely you're brilliant enough to adapt to that! ;-)

Cheers, Dayle
I like the sourcing notes with the ingredients list. It makes me wistful for the snow to go away and the daffodils to start, which they won't for months yet, for me at any rate.
I will keep your envy firmly to the forefront as the temperatures plummet this week, and sleet and freezing rain coat us. And I will treasure the term February heatwave.
Nnnngh can't hit the "memories" button fast enough

Want

Now

Got no garden
Must go grocery shopping tomorrow
A long, sad story :>. I'm kinda unfashionable: I do genre theory and popular texts, I won't do African literature, and I'm technically an administrator before I'm an academic, which means I'm very low in the pecking order. I have a History with this department. They don't take me seriously. It's really unrealistic of me to be disappointed when they show it yet again. (Although, to be perfectly fair, they do also seem to have enough teachers for seminars this year, and their own postgrad students take precedence over me. It doesn't stop me from feeling unloved, though.)
It's not helping that the English department, bless its snakepit soul, doesn't want me to teach again this year.

There must be a more apt quote, but perhaps the words of Slartibartfast will do:
"Shocking cock up. The mice were furious."
English department. Boo!
Butternut. Yum!
Tomatoes. Have you seen "The Last Supper"?
Newly registering students. Lost, confused and a bit rude.
Parents of above. Lost, confused and a lot rude.
Just made the baked butternut for dinner, as well as a batch of tomato & rice soup to see me through the rest of the week. You are my recipe god.