I’m learning a lesson big time in how to look after myself. Sure, I’ve acquired all the basic skills. I brush my teeth, cook my food and do my washing (#thanksmum), but apparently there’s a lot more involved in keeping a human happy, healthy and sane. The first few months of my training – and, let’s face it, new life – have been nuts. Unfortunately the honeymoon period didn’t last long and the reality of the situation kicked in. My idea of the institution I had auditioned for was turned on its head and I realised that acting isn’t always fun. Getting up before the sun has fully risen to walk to physical warm-up has had me scrambling for a sense of motivation that, at times, never showed up. And don’t even get me started on how cold this city is becoming.
Hard work as it is, there are a bunch of positives. As my first semester progresses, the things I’m learning are drawing me in more and more. I’ve developed a real interest in screen work that I hadn’t explored before. I live in a superb apartment with superb flatmates. The Sunday produce market is only a couple of minutes away. Living in Wellington is dope. Like the Beach Boys song, this city hums and pulses with good vibrations. Some talk of cities that never sleep; I feel like this city is the type that knows how to party but also gets a good night’s rest and wakes up the next morning refreshed and ready to go.
I’ve found that looking after yourself is not a list of tasks, but a relationship. The best piece of advice I’ve been given since starting drama school is deceivingly simple: be gentle on yourself. Whether you develop a practice of checking in with yourself and not judging what you feel, or you take some time to walk to the waterfront and sit for a while; the scale of what you do isn’t important, it’s that you just do it. We’re often told by our tutors to “feed ourselves creatively,” though I think this applies to life as a whole. What do you actually need right now? Is it a nap, a hug, to sing, or to chill out with a cup of tea? There’s value in slowing down and making sure that you’re still staying afloat before you continue trying to swim.
If you think I’ve taken this metaphor too far and can’t redirect it back to the quiche recipe, you underestimate me. I remember reading Heidi Swanson talk about being kind to your future self. The idea struck a chord with me, and I feel this quiche does that very well. One session in the kitchen on the weekend, and you’ve got lunches on lock for at least half the week. Rather than throwing together a rushed peanut butter sandwich, I’d prefer to slip a slice of this into my bag and sit down with a hot drink. Wouldn’t you?
VEGAN BUTTERNUT AND KALE QUICHE
While roasted butternut squash is hard to beat, feel free to use carrots, zucchini, sweet potato/kumara or whatever is in season as long as the cooked quantity remains around the 2 cup mark.
4 cups cubed butternut squash, 500g (~ 1 medium squash) or 2 cups roasted squash
1 tablespoon coconut oil
a good pinch of coconut sugar, optional
salt + pepper
1 bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped
2 cups chickpea flour
3 cups of water
1 onion, finely diced
oil, for sauteeing
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons mixed herbs
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon miso (the darker the colour the more savoury the dish’ll be)
Preheat oven 200C/400F, with a rack in the top third. Grease a quiche tin or a springform pan (much easier to remove after cooking). Toss the cubed squash with the oil, sugar and salt + pepper and spread in a single layer on a naking sheet. Place in the over and bake for 20 minutes, turning once halfway, until cooked through and caramelised on the edges.
While the squash roasts, heat pan over medium heat. Throw in the kale plus a splash of water and pop the lid on, leaving the kale to steam. Toss every few minutes until wilted, then drain in a mest strainer and leave to cool.
Whisk the chickpea flour with two cups of the water in a bowl and set aside. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and sautee the onion in a splash of oil until it’s translucent and soft, about 3 to 5 minutes, then stir in the nutritional yeast, herbs and spices. Pour in the remaining cup of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, vigorously stir in the water/chickpea slurry and take off the heat immediately Place the miso in a small bowl and thin it with a spoonful of the chickpea slurry, then add it back to the pot and stir well.
To the wet mix, fold in the kale and baked squash pieces, then pour into your prepared tin or pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes until firm to the touch and golden on top. Because it’s too soft to slice cleanly when warm, it’s best allowed to cool down before serving.