Archive | May, 2012

broke or in a bunker? here’s dinner

29 May

It’s an apocalypse.

The riots have started up again and you can’t leave the house (happened to us!).

It’s the end of the month. You haven’t been paid yet and you have a fiver to last until Friday.

If any of the above apply, I have a recipe for you.

This is a very quick, cheap, foolproof and delicious way to make lentils.

Ingredients:

Method:

Put a cup of lentils, the contents of those cans (including the juice) and some spinach (frozen or fresh) into a pan. Add herbs and spices if you like.

Cook for about half an hour.

Et Voila!

This is more than enough for four people, and is fine to tupperware up and have the next day.

 

diamond jubilee strawberry “easecake”

28 May

 

We all do stupid things when we’re young, and for me one of the most idiotic (that I’ll divulge here anyway), was thinking it’d be a good idea to take a job picking strawberries for a month or two, so I could pay to go on a surf trip to France.

Irrespective of having to hunch over plants in ridiculously hot poly-tunnels (it was just my luck that we experienced one of those mythological “Indian Summers”), the worst impact of the job was the self imposed 50m barrier between strawberries and I for the next five years due to eating so many whilst working (and that I associated the taste of strawberries with searing back pain).

Having finally gotten over my ‘issues’, I now fully embrace the strawberry again, especially when they’re in season, taste great and are sold off at the end of the day down the market for 20p a punnet.

Here’s one of those ridiculously quick recipes I nicked from a magazine (I call it a four song recipe.. because fairly obviously that’s how many songs you listen to whilst prepping it) for a very summery dessert. I made this on the weekend and thought it’d be perfect to share prior to the impending Jubilee celebrations.

Strawberry & Lemon “Easecake”

As named by my good friend Laura.. who I think possibly ignored a calling to be a pun writer.

200g strawberries – this is just under a punnet full..
1 tsp caster sugar
4 digestive biscuits
100g cream cheese, easier to whisk if it’s at room temperature.. but unless you’re a wimp you’ll probably manage if it’s straight out the fridge.
2 tbsp icing sugar
125ml double cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
4 wine glasses

First chop the strawberries into small pieces. Put these into a cereal bowl, sprinkle the caster sugar over them, put a plate on top and give a couple of gentle shakes so they begin to macerate.

Then ideal if you’ve had a rubbish day and need to vent any frustration, put the the biscuits into a freezer bag and smack it with a rolling pin until you have a sandy bag of crumbs…then divide equally into your glasses.

Measure the cream cheese and icing sugar into a bowl and whisk – try and not get icing sugar everywhere as I invariably do.

Then add the cream, lemon juice and vanilla, and whisk gently to combine – it should be a nice smooth consistency – not too runny or stiff.

Now the hard part (and the bit that takes the most time..) divide the cream between each glass, and try not to get any on the sides of the glass.. it’s impossible I swear.

Then finally pop your chopped strawberries in the glasses, and sprinkle with a little chopped mint. Serve and impress friends… bending the truth at this point in regards to how long they took to prep always helps.

I’ve also found that out of a punnet of strawberries you have just enough fruit left over for your glass of the best summer drink going a Sipsmith Summer Cup.

 

hallelujah for the weekend…

25 May

It’s been a glorious week here in London town and thankfully it looks like it’s going to be an amazing weekend too.. the BBQs will be out, the parks will be packed and no doubt there’ll be a few beverages consumed too..

One of the vital elements for any weekend sunshine soiree (in my opinion anyway) is the musical accompaniment.. setting the right tempo, feel and tone to the gathering and time of day..

Here are a few of my personal choices for the weekend that may well complement a weekend outside..

First and foremost, if it’s sunny and you’re rocking one of London’s many green spaces this is a surefire hit..

This is a lovely laid back mix that’s perfect for playing at a BBQ – it’s an hour long so you don’t have to worry about changing tunes, plus the opening track by Bobby McFerrin is something really special.

Once the sun has gone down, this is a great segue from day to evening.. upping the tempo a little.. and will maybe even bring a little Balearic vibe to the city..

And finally for Sunday morning when it’s still sunny and you’re sitting back with a coffee and life is good, praise the lord with this euphoric soul gospel number!

Have a great weekend everyone..

happy clappers

23 May

As a self-confessed nerd  i’ll happily admit that I pretty much love the internet..

If you ignore the plethora of porn, the tonnes of trolls or the flocks of fraudsters (so basically I’m asking you to forget 99% of the ‘net), enabling billions of people to publish their thoughts, advice and ideas is amazing.. Pretty much on a weekly basis I’ll see something that friends have recommended or I’ve stumble upon that is brilliant and makes my life easier / funnier / less productive.

Two examples for you all.. As you may have noticed we’ve been doing a little theatre going recently (some good, some bad), and in the process of researching & booking I found these two sites.

Theatre monkey.

 

A friend recommended this nerdy gem to me – although it covers a huge amount of information, I love the venue seat opinions section to each of ALL of the theatre venues in london… I don’t know about you, but when I’m booking seats I spend way too long procrastinating whether a seat is worth the £5 premium.. So having this nerd sage’s advice on where to sit and which are the best seat is a god send..


Audience Club

Now this is something really special.. I’ll be upfront and say there is a waiting list to join, but its worth signing up because when you get on this gravy train there’ll be no looking back..


Have a read of the screen grab, but simply put, as there are always left over tickets at theatres, promoters want to get rid of them so the place is full and this site is where you can get your hands on them for dirt cheap (roughly £2.50 a ticket)… In your face ticket booths!

To join you pay a yearly membership fee (less than £20) and top up your kitty with a tenner.. i.e. Four tickets to a show… so the going to one performance is worth the joining / kitty fee alone!

Cynics might question the quality, but the brilliant thing is that these tickets aren’t for bad shows, crap seats or random pub theatres in Wood Green. We’re talking proper West End “must see” shows, as well as comedy, Opera, Ballet etc.

So happy clapping everyone (Because you can see perfectly and the show cost you less than a pint).

a diamond jubilee

21 May

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is coming up and London is looking pretty darn excited (i’m sure this has nothing to do with the double bank holiday we citizens have been bestowed – thank you Your Majesty!).

Harrods Windows

Harvey Nicks – Fifth Floor Food Hall

Regent Street

A Jubilee Lunch Box from Harvey Nicks

This lunch box is just one example of the many items of ‘Jubilee Tat’ for sale in London at the moment. We will post an edited selection of the highlights soon. But in the meantime, remember this?

his and hers paris… for a day

19 May

One of those cliche lines Londoners use on visitors when extolling the benefits of living in this beautifully flawed city is its close proximity to Europe and that “it’s so quick and easy to pop across to the continent for a weekend”… In reality we all know that we’re as likely to pop to Barcelona as we’re likely to travel from Brixton to Broadway market to meet a friend for brunch… i.e. not very.

Having cast a very cynical view on how far we spread our European wings, to celebrate the final leg of the His and Hers week of birthdays (Jane’s), we decided to take advantage of the proximity of Paris and take a day trip to visit our Gallic neighbours.

With the trip by Eurostar taking less time and money than it does for me to return home to North Devon (ridiculous I know), by catching a 7.15am train from St Pancras and returning from Paris at 9.15pm, you can pack a lot into a day.. Here’s a little photo journal of our day!

 

Some last minute itinerary planning (please note the homemade Paris “handbook” – one half of the His and Hers has organisational “issues”)

First stop of the day was the Musee Rodin – there were certain tell tale signs that helped us find our way there..

Seeing all of the roses starting to bloom in the garden (or should I say jardin), really made it a special way to start the day

We couldn’t have asked for better weather to appreciate such classic sculptures – Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’

 

And George coming face to face with the realism of Rodin’s work

After the joys of Musee Rodin, we were all in need of a caffeine pick me up, so we hit a cafe to sample a french cappuccino (way too frothy) and catch up on Paris’ view on the morning news..

 

After possibly a little too much caffeine, we got a little childish with our photo ops in Jardin des Tuileries…

A wander down Rue Saint-Honoré via Colette (parting with too much money) and into the Marais…

Taking in the magnificence of the Pl. de Vosges – impossible to do in one photo!

And after a full day of walking, a little respite to take in respective news from across the channel..

We were slightly disappointed in the meagre selection of brie in the supermarket….

But we made do and had quite a piquenique on the Eurostar home!

a bit of culture on the london underground

16 May

I normally cycle to work every day but yesterday I had a meeting in Canary Wharf and the Pashley and I just did not feel up to the crosstown schlep.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in tow (yes, I know I’m late to this party), I was looking forward to spending the journey finding out if Hermione’s Polyjuice Potion would really trick Draco when a member of London Underground staff handed me a copy of ‘World Poems on the Underground’. Poems have been displayed on the Tube since 1986, and this little collection brings together poems from all over the world. Many of the poets settled in London, drawn by its long tradition of welcoming the wider diaspora.

I was completely enchanted from Holland Park to Canary Wharf (except for that hellish rush hour interchange at Bank), and this poem from Barbados was one of my favourites.

Naima

for John Coltrane

 

Propped against the crowded bar

he pours into the curved and silver horn

his old unhappy longing for a home

the dancers twist and turn

he leans and wishes he could burn

his memories to ashes like some old

notorious emperor

of rome. but no stars blazed across the sky

when he was born

no wise men found his hovel. This crowded

bar

where dancers twist and turn

holds all the fame and recognition he will

ever earn

on earth or heaven. he leans against the bar

and pours his old unhappy longing in the

saxophone

 Kamau Brathwaite

 Sometimes catching the Tube isn’t so bad after all.