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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Post the Seventieth (in which our heroine goes to work sans foundation)

And no-one drops dead of shock.  Or asks if I'm sick.  Or even seems to notice at all.  See, I was standing in the bathroom on Monday morning about to put my foundation on and I really looked at my skin for a moment or two and went "Your skin is in great nick, why are you bothering?"  So I took a giant leap and forewent the foundation.  And have done so every day since.  I'm rocking a bit of bronzer, mascara, lip gloss, and, of course, my eyebrows.  I can't go out without my eyebrows or I look like Luann van Houten when Kirk hustled her out of the house before she was quite ready.  Years of over-zealous plucking in my teens and early twenties have left me with two tiny inverted commas over my eyes.  Which is ironic, really, considering I looked like Eugene Levy until I was about 13.

Anyway, the ditching of the foundation is not some kind of grand feminist gesture.  Nor is it borne out of some half-formed idea that my skin needs to "breathe".  I've always found it amusing the way some women (usually the ones who don't really wear make-up) think that foundation is some kind of impermeable mask that nothing can penetrate.  Nope, it's half laziness and half out of a desire to save money.  Obviously, not wearing foundation on a daily basis will make a bottle last that much longer.  It's a sad fact, dear readers, that more than two years after the inception of this blog, I'm still perpetually broke.  Obviously, this cavalier attitude to make-up will last only until I get my next whopper spot, but for the time being, I'm enjoying it.

In other news, Leinster made it out of the pool stages of the Heineken Cup, and have Toulon away in our quarter final on the weekend of April 5th.  The fixture is yet to be confirmed, but given that Toulon are the reigning champions, I'd be amazed if we didn't get the plum Saturday evening slot.  And even though they are the current cup-holders, I'm quietly confident that we can beat them.  They're a big, heavy-hitting team whose entire game plan rests on bludgeoning their opponents into the ground and getting as many penalties as possible for Johnny Wilkinson to convert.  If we can break their gainline and keep our discipline, particularly in the first half, I think our superior fitness will be the key difference in the second.  Unfortunately, I won't be there.  I'm going to Paris for the Six Nations in March, so unless an unexpected windfall comes my way, I won't have the money to do both.  The good news is, if we win in the Mayol, we have a home semi final, so at least there's no away trip to worry about there.  Cardiff I'll worry about if and when the time comes...

Jeez, make-up and rugby in the same post.  I wouldn't think there's too many blogs out there mixing the two.

Anyway, apologies for the extremely drawn out nature of the "Feed Your Family for Fifty Quid" series.  I've been in assignment hell since the 6th of Jan and, unfortunately, that tends to eat into my free time significantly, as I'm sure you can imagine.  Today's recipe is by far my favourite of the entire collection, and I've made it loads of times since I first discovered the booklet.  Just please, please, please don't be tempted to use chicken fillets instead of the thighs - they'll be dry and boring and just meh.  Irish people are remarkably weird about using "other" parts of the chicken, I'm not sure why.  Thighs are by far my favourite piece of chicken; they're about eleventy million times tastier than fillets, they never really dry out no matter how long you cook them for and they're cheap as chips.  I suspect a lot of peoples' aversion to them stems from the fact that many folk (my mother being a prime example) don't like meat that actually looks like it was once an animal, so anything with skin or bones is an automatic no-go.  Well, I have news for you people - if you can't hack the fact that your meat used to be a living, breathing, sentient animal, complete with a face and eyes and everything, then you've no business eating meat at all.  It's as simple as that.  If you're going to be a carnivore, the least you can do is accept and respect the fact that something died in order for you to eat it.

Okay, less rant, more recipe:

Chicken & Sweet Potato Traybake - serves 4

8 chicken thighs                                1 large sweet potato
3 red onions                                      1 red pepper
1 bulb garlic                                      2cm piece of ginger
1 tbsp curry powder                          Olive oil

1. Scrub your sweet spud, but leave the skin on.  Slice down the middle lengthways, then chop into 2cm chunks.  Peel & quarter your onions, deseed your pepper & cut into 8, and peel your ginger and cut into matchstick-sized pieces.  Separate the garlic cloves, but leave the paper on.  If there's a lot of excess skin on your chicken thighs, then trim them a bit.

2. Lob everything into a large metal baking tray, drizzle over about a tablespoon of oil, then sprinkle over your curry powder (you can use a bit more than a tablespoon if you want).  Season with salt & pepper, then get right into everything with your hands to make sure it's all really evenly coated, especially the chicken.  Don't be tempted to add too much oil, as the chicken skins will render quite a good bit more during cooking.  Make sure the chicken thighs are skin-side-down on the bottom of the tray, then pop into an oven pre-heated to 180C for 15 minutes.

3. After the 15 minutes, turn the chicken over and toss the veg around a bit, then return to the oven for another 25 minutes until everything is golden and sticky and gorgeous, and serve immediately.

This is fine served on its own, but as you can see, I love it with a massive pile of baby spinach and some crumbled feta.  Also fab to drizzle over is natural yoghurt loosened with a little water and seasoned with a pinch each of cumin and cayenne pepper, and a tiny grind of salt.  Just writing this post has made me very glad I'm having this for dinner again tonight!

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