Lockdown vanilla pudding pie

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I blame the lockdown for all the ingredients I have on hand that I only use half of before I need to use them up or lose them forever. This leads me to bake random things that I have to pawn off on unsuspecting people. I suspect this is one of those experiments that won’t be welcomed with open arms, minds or mouths.

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Vanilla pudding made with coconut milk

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups coconut milk (unsweetened) – feel free to use other kinds of milk to your taste
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, maybe a dash of vanilla bean powder

How to

Whisk the sugar and salt together in a small saucepan.

Separate four eggs; set the whites aside for use in something else.

Combine the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of coconut milk to dissolve the cornstarch.

Add the cornstarch mix, the rest of the coconut milk and four egg yolks to the saucepan and whisk well.
Cook the mixture on medium heat, stir constantly.
Once mix thickens (and it will – it seems to take a while but once it starts, it gets thick quickly), lower the heat and cook for one minute while constantly whisking.
Pour the mix through a fine sieve, stir in the vanilla. Pour into a bowl, if eating as pudding. Pour into a pre-baked pie crust if making a pudding pie.
Affix plastic wrap directly to the surface of the pudding/pie filling and chill 2+ hours.
Pictured: The bit of the pudding that didn’t fit in the pie.
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Lockdown baking

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I don’t bake much any more. And during a lockdown I can’t even give the baked goods to very many people. But I also have a bunch of ingredients that need to be used… so here’s the vanilla pound cake I made the other day.

Vanilla pound cake

1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup milk (you can use milk substitutes; I used coconut milk)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I also threw in a dash of vanilla bean powder)

How to

Heat oven to 170c/325F. Grease and flour your loaf pan.

Sift the flour and add the baking powder.

Cream the butter and sugar for several minutes.

Slowly add the beaten eggs on low speed. Add the vanilla extract once mixed.

Add half the milk, mix. Then mix in half of the flour, keeping the mixer on a slow speed. Add the remaining milk and fold in the rest of the flour until combined.

Put mixture in prepared loaf tin. Bake for about 1 hour. Use a toothpick in the middle to check its doneness; when it comes out clean, it’s ready to take out. Cool in the pan for ten minutes; remove from pan and let cool.

occidentalism

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Occidentalism
Sally Wen Mao

A man celebrates erstwhile conquests,
his book locked in a silo, still in print.
I scribble, make Sharpie lines, deface
its text like it defaces me. Outside, grain
fields whisper. Marble lions are silent
yet silver-tongued, with excellent teeth.
In this life I have worshipped so many lies.
Then I workshop them, make them better.
An East India Company, an opium trade,
a war, a treaty, a concession, an occupation,
a man parting the veil covering a woman’s
face, his nails prying her lips open. I love
the fragility of a porcelain bowl. How easy
it is, to shatter chinoiserie, like the Han
dynasty urn Ai Weiwei dropped in 1995.
If only recovering the silenced history
is as simple as smashing its container: book,
bowl, celadon spoon. Such objects cross
borders the way our bodies never could.
Instead, we’re left with history, its blonde
dust. That bowl is unbreakable. All its ghosts
still shudder through us like small breaths.
The tome of hegemony lives on, circulates
in our libraries, in our bloodstreams. One day,
a girl like me may come across it on a shelf,
pick it up, read about all the ways her body
is a thing. And I won’t be there to protect
her, to cross the text out and say: go ahead—
rewrite this.

Lunchtable TV talk: The reluctant hit – Mr Inbetween, Barry, Killing Eve & Mary Kills People

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My ambivalent relationship with televisual entertainment has led me into a patternof overdose, give up cold turkey, and then find some middle-ground, rationing my TV intake. In recent months, however, we’ve all mostly been stuck at home (not that this is anything new for me), I’ve fallen back into my multi-tasking, tv-viewing patterns of yesteryear.

These patterns aren’t terrible, but at some point I’m taking such an overload of information in, I don’t always absorb finer details of what I am watching. The constant stream makes me forget where I saw or heard something – which streaming platform, which character said what, what show was it? Unless I make notes while watching, which I don’t normally do because I am busily doing something else simultaneously, I can’t remember where anything came from and am already on to the next thing, diving into the endless flow of available content.

I preface my brief discussion on the unusual Australian dark comedy, Mr Inbetween, in this way because I want to explain that most things I watch do not affect me deeply. I don’t find myself reflecting on them a lot after watching them. But a couple of weeks after bingeing the two seasons of Mr Inbetween, I am still thinking about it.

When I stumbled on it, I didn’t know what it was – and didn’t know what to expect. Was it meant to be funny, serious? Turns out it was very much… both of these things. Other articles have pointed out the abundance of “hitman”-related shows currently in production – from the offbeat Barry to the histrionic and, frankly, annoying Killing Eve.

“There are two immediate touch points elsewhere on your dial in Barry and Killing Eve, but Mr Inbetween is neither of those. The ethical axis in HBO’s Barry finds its equilibrium too easily, and in Barry an anti-hero too much in need of redemption, while Killing Eve spirals into its own emotional cyclone too quickly, playing fast and hard notes in a way that is thrilling but also dizzying.”

Shows like Fargo also have their share of hit-for-hire ‘workers’. And just this week I discovered a Canadian show called Mary Kills People, which I knew was about a doctor illegally helping terminally ill patients to die with assisted suicide. On the surface, Mary isn’t about hitmen, but its content turned out to be cat-and-mouse attempts to outsmart the police, morally ambiguous “hitman” allusions and a main character who is completely neglectful of her children. The poignance and humanity of euthanasia is almost entirely missing here (you’d be better off watching Louis Theroux‘s Altered States… and its coverage of people who choose death).

This, though, is yet another reason why Mr Inbetween is so extraordinary. Presenting extended moments of subdued comedy mixed deftly with matter-of-fact but emotionally wrenching moments (in particular, a season two moment in which the lead, Ray, assists in a suicide – quite a contrast to Ray’s detached approach to killing people professionally). The “inbetween” is what happens all the rest of the time (“Save for the moments that most people would do anything to avoid, life is pretty slow and uninteresting and undramatic and uninspiring.” –Jonathan Safran Foer, Here I Am).