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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

Finding Comfort in Layers

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Finding Comfort in Layers

Andrew Ryan

I’m still surfing couches, and sleeping in spare rooms and on other people’s mattresses, and will be doing so for about one more week until I move into a delightful room in a delightful house for one month. This delightful house has a dog, a pretty backyard, and really pretty kitchen. I haven’t been able to cook proper meals for myself during this transient period I’m going through, and since absence makes the heart grow fonder, I thought I would figure out exactly what I want to cook on the first or second night I move in to the delightful house.

I decided on lasagna. Lasagna has always been a comfort food of mine, and I’ve only ever tried to cook it once, in Home Economics class in high school. I also hit Andrea Thomas over the head with a metal plate in that same class (not the same day) because she and some other girl were teasing me (about what I can’t remember… maybe they weren’t teasing me and I was just stoned and paranoid, who knows?). I never liked that class, and I never attempted to cook my own lasagna again.

But I eat it regularly. Over the last few years it has been my go-to easy-to-heat-up pre packaged food from supermarkets. The quality was obviously never that great, but there is something about the layers of cheese, meat and pasta I can’t pass up. They taste so freaking good.

I order it at least once a fortnight from the Italian restaurant a few doors down from my bar. The guys who work there are so lovely, and they all enjoy cheap beer when they come into the bar after work, so we in turn enjoy cheap food, which is fucking awesome. When I’m craving, I’ll send a text to the beautiful dude who looks kind of like Ryan Gosling, and then he delivers the lasagna on a bright white plate straight to the bar, often with some garlic bread on the side, and he smiles and everybody else smiles because he’s beautiful and also extremely charming and more intelligent than most, and then I eat the lasagna and I am warmed because those guys are so nice and it’s my favourite food, but I always wish they put would put vegetables in it.

So this recipe of mine shall have vegetables. But no onions! I hate eating onion. It will be simple, and I won’t make my own cheese sauce because it’s too soon for that (still got issues, haven’t been interested in cooking long enough), and it will be delicious.

Mince a whole bunch of garlic, and sauté in olive oil. Add kangaroo mince (high in iron! More environmentally sustainable!) and stir until browned. Add sliced mushrooms, chopped up capsicum, grated carrot, diced celery, a couple of diced tomatoes, a few spoons of tomato paste, and stir. Put in a big handful of spinach. Add basil and oregano to taste, maybe a tiny, tiny little bit of salt.

While this is all simmering, I will pour myself a big glass of red wine, and add a splash of it into the food, stirring gently. I will roll a cigarette, smoke it, and then the simmering should be almost done. I’ll want another cigarette after that because preparing the next stuff will be daunting, so I’ll turn off the heat, roll another cigarette, smoke it, sip at my wine, then come back in and concentrate.

Let’s hope I remembered to pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In the big old baking tray I assume will be in the pretty kitchen, I’ll put a layer of the mince and vegetable concoction, a layer of store bought cheese sauce then a layer of lasagna sheets, maybe those green ones if I can find them because they look awesome and I’ve never tried them. Or maybe I’ll even get gluten free ones because I like eating gluten free sometimes. Repeat this until the tray is full, top the last lasagna sheet with some more cheese sauce, grate cheese all over that bitch and then put foil over the top.

Then I will want another cigarette because the wine keeps making me associate the tannin with nicotine and it’s fulfilling and I’m still young enough to do what I want gaddammit so I’ll roll another cigarette and smoke it out on the pretty balcony. The sun will be well and truly set by then, and maybe the weird little dog will be around. Then I’ll go back inside, put the tray in the oven. After 20 minutes of searching for new music on the internet, I’ll pull out the tray, take the foil off, put the foil-less tray back in the oven, youtube stupid things and film clips for 20 minutes then take out my creation and let it cooooooooooool on the stove top for a bit while I have another cigarette (thanks wine, I’ll be a little tipsy by then).

I can’t wait. I’m probably going take photos and put them on my photo blog, and talk about it on facebook too, so if you’re interested, you can keep an eye on things here: www.facebook.com/tahliaisabelpalmerphotography
Happy fucking comfort food!