We had a great chat with Stephen Ferris and Terry Serio for FBI Radio’s Stagefright on Wednesday. You can listen to the lot or skip head to 59:40 to hear our ranting and singing. If you like what you hear you can come to one of our shows.
I am an insomniac. At about 10pm each night, any careful planning I have done around “getting to bed early” flies out the window and I turn into some procrastinating, self-sabotaging hellbeast who needs to watch an episode from season 3 Masterchef that she found on TenPlay. THEY’RE PUTTING THEMSELVES ON A PLATE, YOU GUYS.
So, lately I’ve been trying to sabotage the self-sabotager by using a repeated pattern of thought to fall asleep. I’ve been imagining that Jane and I have won 6-12 million dollars (I vary the amount to keep it interesting) and then I set about imagining how we might spend / save / invest / donate it. The beauty of the “lotto meditation” as I’ve been calling it, is that it is so unrealistic that it doesn’t allow me to fret or get anxious about the real world (what I normally do, leading to insomnia). I’ve never bought a lotto ticket so it’s a fantasy divorced from my day to day life. It also involves doing maths in my head which, like counting sheep, I find calming.
Over the last week or so, though, I’ve started to really believe that we might win lotto (I repeat: I have not bought a ticket. InsomniacMaeve is ridiculous). And, with that belief, I’ve managed to allow my usual anxious late night self to filter into my imaginings. No longer do I drift off to sleep joyfully imagining that I am handing over a cheque to the Asylum Seeker Centre, paying off a parent’s mortgage or a friend’s debt, getting amazing clothes tailored in me-size or designing the house of my dreams (it has a slippery dip from the second floor, a massive kitchen and one of these for Jane’s cat).
No, no. Now, the following conundrums are keeping me up:
- What will I do if Jane and I want to invest the money really differently? Will she be troubled by how much I am choosing to invest in an all-expenses paid international tour for Lady Sings it Better? Will our good fortune spell the end of our relationship?
- Will my siblings resent me if I don’t give them enough money?
- What actually happens when you win lotto? Who do you call? Are you expected to do media? What if I don’t want to tell anyone I’ve won? Will people find out who I am, come to my house and rob me?
Despite being anxious and overthinking things, I still want to win lotto (I repeat: still haven’t bought a ticket). Last night, I climbed into bed and attempted to sleep. After much consideration of the above questions, at around 1am, I reached for my phone and googled “Australian lotto with best odds of winning.” After a further 15 minutes of reading a wikipedia entry on Australian lotteries (Powerball offers better odds of winning any prize, OzLotto offers better odds of winning the top prize), I put my phone down and admitted that my “lotto meditation” was no longer an effective means of falling sleep.
Anyone got a better suggestion?
To put it bluntly, this was bloody delicious. I couldn’t decide which mushroom dish from Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty‘ to make so I combined two and the result was perfect for a wintry Sunday evening. It should be noted that I made some mistakes and didn’t have some of the ingredients I was meant to have, so it’s possible – indeed probably – that an even more delicious version of this dish could be made, if you had, for example, more than two kinds of mushrooms or the patience to let the cheese fully brown on the polenta.
The two dishes I adapted were ‘Mushroom ragout with poached duck egg’ and ‘Mushroom and herb polenta’ from ‘Plenty’.
- Butter and olive oil
- 4 large portobello mushrooms
- A handful of dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 white onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- Half a teaspoon crushed dried chillis
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon of truffle oil
- A handful of rocket / baby spinach / other fresh leafy greens to serve, with a small squeeze of lemon on it
For the polenta
- 1 cup instant polenta
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 cup boiling water
- a few shavings of parmesan
- pinch salt and black pepper
- If your polenta isn’t instant, you made need to get it on first. Most polenta packets will have instructions on the back. Follow them!
- Soak the porcini mushrooms in enough boiling water to well cover them and stand aside (about a cup).
- Meanwhile, fry your mushrooms in batches in a hot pan – I’d use a heavy based deep fry pan. You only want to cook one layer of mushrooms at a time so they they get browned. For reasons unclear to us all (I think I was distracted by the tv), I did one batch in butter then the second in olive oil. Ottolenghi says to fry the mushrooms in oil, for what it’s worth. Put the mushrooms to the side while you…
- Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan and fry your onion, carrot and celery for 5 minutes on a medium heat – you don’t want them to brown. Add the chilli and chopped garlic at the last minute and give it a stir before you add the wine, but don’t let the garlic brown or burn.
- Add your white wine to the pan and heat it up. Take the soaking porcini mushrooms out of their liquid and squeeze out any excess. Pop the porcini in the waiting bowl with your other mushrooms and pour the soaking liquid into your pan with the wine and vegetables.
- Add another cup of water, all of the herbs except the parsley, the balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, pepper and salt (I used rosemary salt but any good sea salt will do).
- Boil your sauce / stock til the sauce reduces to about a cup. Taste it and make sure it’s tasty :-)
- Meanwhile make your polenta – if it’s instant. Follow the instructions on the packet, adding pepper and salt.
- Strain out your vegetables leaving only your sauce. It’s up to you how thorough you want to be with the straining. The recipe suggested fully straining the sauce, but I just scopped out the carrot, celery and the woody herbs (bay, rosemary) with a slotted spoon so there were still bits of garlic, onion, thyme etc.
- When your sauce has reduced down, re-add your mushrooms (both the fried portobello and the porcini) and cook away, letting the sauce reduce further.
- Add your parmesan shavings to the polenta and taste it to test the seasoning. It’s up to you how you want to incorporate the provolone. I put my polenta into the serving bowl, topped it with grated provolone, then grilled it. You could also stir it through.
- At the last minute (when most of your sauce is reduced and your cheesy polenta is good to go), stir through your truffle oil and chopped parsley. Pop the mushrooms on the plate with the polenta and a handful of leafy greens with a squeeze of lemon.
I can already think of loads of variations on this dish I could make in the future: add different mushroom varieties, turn the polenta into chips, add cream to the sauce (if I wanted a heart attack), add a few handfuls of puy lentils for a nuttier, heartier version, serve the ragout on mashed potatoes or use it as the base for a risotto… The options are endless. Enjoy!
Sydney Opera House announced its ‘Just for Laughs’ line up, but they didn’t bother announcing any women. I got mad and wrote a Daily Life opinion piece about it. Published 16 July 2014.
This morning I got an email from the Sydney Opera House informing me that I could buy tickets to “the world’s favourite comedy festival.” I love comedy, I thought. Indeed, I perform comedy. This is the festival for me!
Except it isn’t.
Like so many comedy festivals, events, open mic nights and variety shows, ‘Just for Laughs’ has just announced an exclusively male line up. Now, I’m not saying that Bill Bailey, Trevor Noah, Rhys Darby, Jim Gaffigan and Dave Thornton aren’t funny, I am just completely fed up with the exclusion of women in Australian comedy.
Making lists is, without a doubt, one of my favourite pastimes. So, when I was asked by Daily Review to list 5 songs that are important to me and why, I jumped at the chance. I’ve popped the first one below, but you can visit Playlist: Maeve Marsden on the Daily Review site for the rest.
The whole thing is in aid of promoting Lady Sings it Better’s upcoming shows at Hayes Theatre Co, so you should probably book tickets to that…
I’m Your Man – Leonard Cohen
This was my first solo with Lady Sings it Better, sung a cappella. We now sing my arrangement in four-part harmony. It’s a great summary of the show’s brief (singing songs written by men), and it’s also such a wonderful song, literate, sexy, strong, vulnerable, playful and clever. Leonard Cohen is my favourite lyricist and an outstanding storyteller.
I first made a version of this salad after visiting a little market stall near the apartment we were staying in, in Valparaiso, Chile. I wanted to buy a finite amount of food because we were leaving a day or so later, and I wanted to buy vegetables I could name in Spanish. We already had a small bag of colourful potatoes from the markets in Chiloé, birthplace of the potato – seriously, Chiloén potatoes are a massive thing. My partner is Irish so she was pretty stoked.
Anyway, I say a ‘version’ of the salad because the one I made tonight – and the recipe I am providing – is a variation on a theme, much like most of the things I cook. If you’re looking for precision, look elsewhere! I love the combination of lemon, garlic, basil and a little chilli kick from the tabasco (if you think I made chilli / Chile / chilly puns every day when traveling in South America, you would be correct!). The avocado smushes into the warm potatoes and thickens the dressing, serving the same purpose as mayo but with a fresher flavour. Enjoy!
- Potatoes – I used purple potatoes and they were both delicious and pretty. Kipfler are also great, new potatoes at a stretch. You want about 4-6 small, firm ones.
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Splash of tabasco
- Splash of good quality olive oil
- Big handful of basil leaves
- 1 small clove garlic, crushed or chopped – if you like a real raw garlic, punch, chuck it straight in; if not, fry or roast it first
- Thinly sliced red, yellow & green capsicum
- 1 avocado
- 1 small Spanish onion, finely sliced
- Cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
- Green beans or asparagus (optional)
- Toasted pine nuts (optional)
- I put bocconcini in tonight but in retrospect it wasn’t necessary
- If you are cooking the garlic, do so. If eating it raw crush it and sit it in the lemon juice while you prepare everything else. I crush my garlic on this excellent contraption I bought at the markets in Edinburgh in 2012. Alas, I don’t know what it’s called but it makes a gloriously pungent garlic paste. Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, tabasco, basil salt and pepper in a salad bowl.
- Steam the potatoes in a steamer. It’ll seem easier to boil them. Don’t. They are much nicer steamed.
- Slice all your veges.
- If using asparagus or green beans, chuck them into the steamer for the last 2-3 minutes.
- Strain the potatoes and greens then add them to your bowl with the lemon juice mix. Stir through.
- Add the other vegetables and the avocado, mix the lot and serve.
I wrote this article about the #AskThicke twitter storm and my experiences singing misogynist pop, for the Women’s Agenda, 4 July 2014.
I don’t know of many people who grow up dreaming of singing songs about aggressive sexual encounters to crowds of smiling people. It’s mainly just me… and Robin Thicke. As a cabaret singer who builds each performance around the most misogynist, offensive and downright ridiculous songs written by men, Thicke’s latest antics are a creative goldmine.
Margaret Attwood gave us the idea that men are afraid women will laugh at them, whereas women are afraid men will kill them. If this is the case, the #AskThicke PR catastrophe that’s been amusing the Internet this past week is a classic example of women and men using their best weapons…
For the rest of the piece, visit the Women’s Agenda.