Although I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the flat downstairs, I feel like I already know them to an extent. This is because they have been kind enough to give me a running dialogue of their daily lives at a volume easily audible through my double glazing windows two floors up. At 3 in the morning. 3 IN THE FUCKING MORNING. It’s now 4am. For the past hour, I’ve been lying rigidly in my bed staring at my ceiling as my neighbours chat, laugh and sing at a completely unnecessarily volume in their unidentifiable language (one of the Asian languages, I’ve heard it so much I reckon I’ll be fluent in it by May). And this doesn’t just happen once in a blue moon. This happens every night. Without fail. I lived on the bottom floor of my uni accommodation in first year, so I’m used to the noise of drunken students falling over and smashing bottles, the sound of the Dominoes delivery car arriving at 2:30, and occasionally the odd clump of mud being thrown at my window (which happened at least twice, weirdly enough. Thinking about it, I really hope it was mud…). All of this I could tolerate quite easily. But not this.
Despite the lack of sleep, I have noticed a few positives from this:
- 9am seminars don’t phase me anymore. I’ve been awake since 3:30, in my time zone it’s basically midday when I arrive at my seminar.
- The kitchen is spotless because I now have the time to give it a proper deep clean. Every day of the week.
- I can wash my clothes, wash my sheets, wash my towels, wash my clothes again AND dry everything before anyone has woken up. I am Queen of the washing machine.
- I have as much time as I want to try out recipes and write blog posts without hogging the kitchen space. Next week I might make fresh croissants for everyone for breakfast – I might as well do something impressive with the extra 4 hours I now have in my day.
- Napping during the day has always been something I’ve found hard to get into; no more. Napping is all too easy for me now. Be envious, wannabe nappers.
- I’m now more than prepared for a job in the fish market industry or the early tv/radio industry or any other industry that requires waking up at ridiculously stupid hours in the morning.
- I won’t be jet lagged anywhere
So maybe I should actually be thanking my foreign friends. I’m clearly getting more done with my time, I’m no longer phased by getting 4 hours sleep and to top it off, I’m learning a new language (even if I have no clue what that language might be).
But wait. I’m living off caffeine. I need like 3 breakfasts. I’m thus spending 3 times the amount of money purely on said breakfasts. When I go down to Truro to see boyfriend, we end up lying in until the pm because I suddenly realise just how deprived of sleep I am. This is not a life. This is a strange half-nocturnal existence that clearly doesn’t suit the third year humanities student. I should be lying in until 11 and reading in bed with tea and the sun illuminating my page through the window. Instead I’m tiptoeing around my kitchen armed with a bottle of Dettol in one hand and my second mug of coffee in the other – the sun nowhere to be seen.
So to my chatty neighbours downstairs, I’d like say: TAKE YOUR SHITTY SINGING AND LOUD TALKING INSIDE OR GO TO FUCKING SLEEP.
Rant over. Now for a recipe.
Since it’s suddenly got bitingly cold and pretty miserable, I wanted something comforting (cheesy) and homely (cheesy) and moorish (ft. cheese). After experimenting with what I had in the fridge the other day, I’ve come up with a masterpiece. This gratin is not only made slightly lighter and more flavoursome by the substitution of potato for a mix of celeriac and sweet potato, but the crunchy topping of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, chopped walnuts and roasted chestnuts makes the whole thing 10x more satisfying. Plus the three types of cheeses piled in there. Go, make now.
Celeriac and Sweet Potato Gratin for 2-3
1 medium sized sweet potato
1 white onion, sliced as thin as possible
About 150ml milk (I used unsweetened almond milk and found it was actually creamier than normal, so I’d recommend that)
1 tsp ground nutmeg (freshly grated tastes loads better, but if you’re feeling lazy then pre-ground is fine)
About 25g each of Comte, Cheddar and parmesan (complete guess on the quantity – just grated enough to cover the gratin with a nice layer)
A small handful of pumpkin seeds
A small handful of sunflower seeds
A sprinkle of poppy seeds
A small handful of chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan. Stab the chestnuts once or twice to prevent them from exploding, before placing them in the oven for about 45 minutes or until splitting open. Give them a moment to cool, before peeling them and chopping into quarters.
- Meanwhile, slice the sweet potato and celeriac, layering them alternately with the onion in a dish.
- Pour in most of the almond milk, reserving a bit for later (maybe 50ml?). Sprinkle the nutmeg all over the gratin, and season well.
- Grate the cheese and spread evenly over the gratin, followed by the seeds, walnuts and chopped chestnuts.
- Pour the remaining milk all over the topping, before seasoning again with salt, pepper and a sprinkle more nutmeg.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the gratin is bubbling at the sides and golden on top.
- Serve with a side of greens – I had mine with garlic sautéed kale and spinach.
Next time I try this I might add some crispy bacon lardons too, because why not. For now, I’m going back to bed.