Tuesday, 8 June 2010

I return to the internet

The reason for my sudden departure was twofold. Firstly, and most importantly, I felt I didn't really have anything interesting to say - and I'm still not sure that I do.

I truly love other people's blogs, reading your stories and musings and peeping in to the day to day lives of people I admire and respect. But for a long time now, due to a mixture of circumstances, I have felt I really don't have much to contribute and therefore should remain silent.

The other reason is a little more exciting; nowadays I actually work, full time for a magazine. And not just a little tiny local magazine (which would be perfectly respectable) but a big, significant, weekly magazine which outsells most others and which is giving me the most amazing start in this industry and is keeping my very, very busy.

As much as this has stopped me writing (am I allowed to? what can I say without breaking confidentiality?) it has also given me back my passion for blogging. I have such a fierce interest this industry and I now have the perfect viewpoint from which to observe.

For now, I will leave you with a visual representation of what I have been enjoying over the last few months - this blog has always been on my mind...just waiting for me to get my voice back.

Emmanuelle Beart was the first woman I ever loved, and she will forever hold a place in my heart. I always think its ridiculous when celebs say they are channeling other people in the way they dress and style themselves - but I do envy (and make failed attempts to imitate) her graceful and extremely seductive mannerisms.

Lost, and its much anticipated final, kept me and my equally addicted flatmates on the edge of our seats. It was a disappointing end - but really they could never answer all the questions they posed. I did feel a bit cheated as a watcher, but I will always remain a lover of Lost.

Since watching American - The Bill Hicks Story, I cannot stop singing the praises of this most amazing man. Please do watch the film, it is so inspiring and (if you're anything like me) will drive you to seek out as much footage of his standup as you can find.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Re-visiting recipes

The chaotic nature of my new working life means I have had little time to cook of late, something that has been causing me much sadness. That being said I have tried a couple of the dishes from the new Ottolenghi book (the Guardian recently gave out a free booklet with several of the recipes in) and they were both utterly divine. I made the stuffed onions for my friend Deb, on an evening which culminated in us drinking 4 bottles of wine and spending an embarassing amount of time on chat roulette. This weekend I made the ratatouille for another friend which we devoured in minutes, something I always find a little tragic when a meal has been fussed over for hours. If only there were a way to moderate our greediness, but alas this dish was too good not to wolf down.

I have a list of about 30 new dishes to try, and I am also going to revisit some old favourites...a selection of which I've linked to below in case you too are feeling the need for some kitchen love!

Fusili pasta with lemon, cream and rocket
Sausages with chorzo and lentils
Chicken, cream and tarragon pie
Spaghetti with sweet onion, tomato and pancetta

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


The last four months have been really difficult. Everything around me has changed entirely, in part due to my own choices and in part due to those of other people.

Day to day life is far more interesting and exciting than it was; in the last 3 months I have worked as a childminder for several families, a courier service for a friend, a runner on a new food advert and a writer at Closer.

But it is very tough having no regular income and it means I have had to turn down countless invitations to weddings, nights out, hen do's and parties. Moreover I have no idea how I will be paying my rent for the next month and the months after that...maybe something will come up (in between the work experience I am currently doing) but may it won't. I can't deny I spend the majority of my time fretting about it.

If I am truly honest I have found adjusting to life without the boy very difficult. Our relationship ended in such a way that there is no going back and, just as sadly, there are several people who have fallen away from my life. I am lucky that I am still surrounded by amazing people yet with the loss of his companionship, the dissapearance of some of our mutual friends and my dearest L moving to Edinburgh last year I have been feeling lonely. It is hard to write that word, it feels very shameful especially when I consider what a busy social life I have...but the truth is it is a different kind of life now...one where I always have to go it alone. Sometimes that can feel very isolating.

Of course you can look at the situation from the other angle and realise how empowering it can be to go it alone, to have no one demanding your time and attention and to be able to do exactly as you choose all the time. I craved that feeling when I was in a relationship...and yet now I can't remember quite why.

The biggest sadness of all has come just recently as my parents have finally decided to sell the family home we have occupied since I was 6 years old. The home I grew up in and the home that the boy and I spent countless weeks in surrounded by my family and our friends. I can't ever explain how much this house means to me and the heartbreak I feel knowing that I won't be returning there for weekends filled with happiness over the summer as the house is no longer ours from the end of May. I always dreamed of marrying the love of my life in the lush, hilly garden of that house.

Soon the house will be gone and, I am painfully aware that dream has gone with it.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Leftovers for lunch

I am trying my best to be far more strict when it comes to using up the food in my fridge, rather than being lured into supermarkets to splash out on fresh goods.

Being a creature of habit, I always have the same sorry items left at the bottom of the fridge and hidden at the back of the cupboard so, on a rainy day last week, I found myself trying to do something imaginative with 5 tomatoes, an onion, 3 carrots and several tins of beans!

Unlikely as it sounds I did manage it, and knocked up what I am calling "3 bean stew" in just under an hour. This dish owes its success to good stock, lots of spices, red wine and some very fresh bay leaves. I froze the majority of it and it made a great accompaniment to meat and fish dishes on lazy days when I just wanted to heat something up rather than cook from scratch. This dish is also amazingly cheap, I imagine that if I had gone and bought the ingredients it would have cost under £4.

3 bean stew (to be eaten piping hot with lots of sour cream or to accompany a more substantial meal)

5 large tomatoes (although you could definitely use more, ideally 7)
1 onion
2 carrots
1 tin kidney beans
1 tin berlotti beans
1 tin white means
Vegetable stock (500 ml)
Tomato puree (if desired)
Splash of red wine
2 bay leaves
Mild chilli powder
Mixed herbs

Thinly slice the onion and crush the garlic
Fry in plenty of olive oil until onion is soft
Add tomatoes, quartered and carrots, peeled and sliced
Continue to fry over gentle heat until the tomatoes are softening
Pour over stock
Add bay leaves, chilli powder (1 tsp) and herbs
Place on lid and leave until tomatoes are soft and stock is reducing, about 25 minutes
Add tomato puree if required and splash of red wine
Drain beans and add them, try not to stir often as it will break the beans
Return lid to pot and leave for further ten minutes

The stew should be thick and dense with the beans, season and devour.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Surviving (and the kindness of others)

In the interest of full disclosure I wanted to share with you how I am surviving living in London on a salary of £0 and with rent of over 600 times that.

The simple answer is thanks to the insane generosity of my amazing friends, but not in the way you might think. I haven't, as yet, been given any cash money handouts although my best friend did pay for my recent trip to Edinburgh so her new born daughter could meet her skint, jobless, mainly drunk godmother for the first time - for which I am eternally grateful.

No, this generosity comes in the form of "eyes peeled, ears to the ground".

I have emails from people almost every day, some close friends and others not so much, offering to help me. They offer contacts at magazines or part time work they know of or suggestions of what to with myself (always useful). They also gush endlessly about how wonderful I am (all lies) when I randomly put them down as references for one of my many applications.

I receive all this help with such a feeling of gratitude that these people are my friends.

Add to this the kind act of my beloved Katy who has left me with the keys to her luxury pad in Central London so I can check the house is still standing, make sure the place looks alive and where I can also go to write every day, y'know like I have a real "job" to go to and ensuring I do actually leave the house every day.

As such I find myself with bits and pieces of part time work coming up which I think is just about going to see me through March-April AND I am writing a great deal more than I thought I would, because I have some structure to my day.

I do get very scared and spend a great deal of my time worrying about money, as evidenced by my horribly chewed at nails (one resolution that was not stuck to). But I cannot tell you how liberating it feels to plan your own day, to work only for yourself and to only have yourself to blame for your failures and, conversely, only yourself to thank for your success.

So far, so good.

Friday, 26 February 2010


A short post today as I am whizzing off to spend the next 6 hours listening to Lady Gaga albums, preparing customised t-shirts, crimping my hair and then hotfooting it to the 02 for what I can only imagine is going to be a truly amazing night of entertainment

Say what you will about Gaga, she knows how to put on a show. I CANNOT WAIT.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Drowned rat

The weather in London has been absolutely horrendous for the last two weeks. Icy cold, heavy downpours and occasional showers of snow have meant leaving the house, now that I don't have a job to go to, seems distinctly unappealing.

Tonight I had to jump through numerous puddles to reach my dinner location and still now, twenty minutes after getting home, my feet are like icicles.

In other news I have discovered chat roulette. I think this is possibly the most fascinating website, how did no one think of it before? If anyone hasn't heard of it, it is essentially a website where you are partnered up with another random stranger from the internet. You both see each other through your webcams and then can chat via messenger or your computers microphone. Obviously, being the WWW, there is a high risk you will be partnered with a man (or woman) keen to chat you up/show off their genitals - but then that's why it's called roulette...it's all part of the fun!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Back to reality

I took a short break from blogging over the last fortnight in some part due to my attendance of a short course at the London College of Journalism.

The 3 day "Introduction to Journalism" course was run by a charismatic and hugely experienced news and features writer called Tony Padman. He was a fantastic teacher, striking the all important balance between being positive and encouraging while not holding back on giving honest and constructive feedback on our work.

I met some fascinating people on the course from a young Nigerian journalist who works for This Day to a charming middle aged solicitor who is planning to write features in his free time.

Best of all Tony managed to introduce us to the basics of news and features journalism, help us sharpen our writing style and gave us a real sense of what life is like as a features journalist.

I spent last weekend in the Cotswolds, for those outside the UK this is a particularly beautiful expanse of the British countryside around Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire famed for its quaint villages and sweeping landscapes. Surrounded by three of my favourite children in the world I enjoyed horse riding (watching, NOT doing), a glorious massage at Daylesford and, best of all, more Roald Dahl stories than I knew existed.

Much more to come this week so watch this space...

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

French Connection: The Woman

This is, in my opinion, the best fashion campaign of recent months if not years.

Formerly known for slogan covered t-shirts and a (not especially) risque campaign which played on it's acronym FCUK, French Connection has recently launched their new advertising campaign in the UK.

You may have noticed the print adverts as well as out of home posters on billboards, buses and tubes with beautifully styled pictures of either a bearded man or a sultry woman declaring "This is the man" and "This is the woman".

The curious, myself included, flock to the website and can select from six 30 seconds films exploring the nature of the woman and that of the man. The films are simple, sexy, wry and at points hilarious sly amusing. Best of all they represent what is clearly a change in direction for French Connection, there is even a reference to how a man would never wear a slogan adorned item. Take a look at the film below and the rest here to see just how good they are.

Saturday, 13 February 2010


Sunday morning and I am carefully inspecting a number of bruises of varying size across my lower legs thanks to last nights stupidly drunken antics. How and why they came about is anybody's guess, all I know is it hurts a great deal to bend my left knee!

So on this hungover valentine Sunday I have gathered a few of my favourite images which I've picked up from various blogs and websites recently.

Also, as it would be sad not to give a little nod to those celebrating the day, the poetic words of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart (made famous by Chet Baker and Frank Sinatra)

My funny Valentine

Sweet comic Valentine

You make me smile with my heart

Your looks are laughable

Yet you're my favourite work of art

Is your figure less than Greek

Is your mouth a little weak

When you open it to speak

Are you smart?

But don't change a hair for me
Not if you care for me

Stay little Valentine stay

Each day is Valentine's day

By Little Doodles
By Ryan Jacob Smith

Found at Le Love
Image by Paul Michael Dellostritto (found via Ink on my Fingers)

Four legged friends

This week has been all the more joyful thanks to having the chance to spend time with two lovely dogs. One visited our London flat for a few brief but very happy hours, the other was the family pet of my good friend El whose country home we descended on for a couple of days this week.

Friday, 12 February 2010

The V&A

Last Sunday I spent the afternoon at the Victoria and Albert museum in South Kensington.

I love this place so much, not least because the building itself is utterly beautiful and you can't turn your head without stumbling on some charming detail. From the cafe which is housed in the most amazing room with stained glass windows and rich decor, to the entry hall which is lit with an enormous glass chandelier...every corner of this building is considered.

Dad and I went to the decode digital design exhibition which is hugely interactive, in fact you can see him second row down two in from the right of the screen in the bottom picture.

I also spent hours on the top floor taking in the exhibition of ceramics which is far more interesting than it sounds! Best of all is a film of the potter Lucy Rie who was interviewed by David Attenborough. She is the most amazing woman, Austrian born she worked from her studio in London to make her much sought after pottery. The V&A have reconstructed her studio and the short film shows David Attenborough hanging onto her feet as she lowers herself into her kiln to inspect her work.

I can't mention the V&A without talking about the shop which is filled with a mix of some of the most beautifully designed products I have ever seen. At Christmas my parents bought me a beautiful silk dressing gown which they'd originally seen at the V&A and it is the most beautiful item I own. it's such a great destination for buying gifts and cards - and sort of guilt free shopping as you're taking in some culture at the same time.

Thursday, 11 February 2010


My last weeks at work were filled with paperwork and flowers and lunch at my desk and amazing presents.

There were tears and boozing and sad farewells. Most amazing of all were the Liberty vouchers that, as you can see at the bottom, are real life coins - made by the royal mint. I just cannot wait to spend them.


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Love and that*

February is, apparently, the month of love. It is with a mixture of emotions that I find myself single for the first time in 5 years and when I read the poem below by Billy Collins I feel a wonderful contentment about my current state. Isn’t it a beautiful poem? (I can't sort the formatting for some reason, sorry!)

*The title of this post is dedicated to a particularly special reader of mine, I think they'll know who they are.

Aimless Love

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

Monday, 1 February 2010

A potted history

The photograph above is of my grandfather and his daughter, my mum, taken circa 1970 when my grandpa would have been 52. They are on holiday somewhere, maybe Elba or the South of France where they would go on family trips every year.

My grandpa is an endlessly fascinating man. An Oxford educated, Russian Jew whose parents fled Russia for London in the early 1900's and divorced soon after. As is traditional in Jewish families my grandpa and his brother Lenny stayed with his father, Seoul, and his sister Leia moved to France with his mother, Clara.

I sit for hours when I visit my grandpa, as I did yesterday, listening to his stories of the fascinating lives of my ancestors. The part they played in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the persecution they endured, stories of escapes and rescues that sound too much to be true.

Doubtless the powerful nature of my Jewish lineage has had an impact on who I am (despite the fact that my granny wasn't Jewish, so according to Orthodox Jews I am not Jewish at all - see here). Take, for example, the endless references to my mothers Jewish guilt and propensity to worry about everything, lullabies replaced by odd Yiddish rhymes, a lifelong need to fight for the underdog and my very real awareness that life will not always be easy that has been present since I could think.

I make endless notes tracing his family history, and that of my beloved granny, wanting to find out everything I can about these ancestors of mine and the vastly different world they inhabited. I have never been to Russia, or Pinsk in Belarus where my grandpa's family can be traced to. I have never been to Canada, where he studied, or most of America and particularly California where my great grandfather, Seoul, moved to after his divorce.

I would love to travel to these places, and find out more about these people, and in fact one promise to myself is that this year I will try and travel to Russia and do and take an in depth look at my family tree.

My granny and grandpa were married for around 70 years. He cries every time he talks about her now, and speaks with heartbreaking adoration of granny and her family. It was, like many other relationships, hard and testing and yet a happy and loving union which produced 3 children and 7 grandchildren. They travelled all over the world, enjoyed some of the most wonderful food and, for the most part, a very good life.

I am hugely proud of my family history on both my mother and fathers side. It makes me feel oddly exotic that I am 1/8th Russian with a pinch of French thrown in. It also makes me feel a need to live up to the interesting history that has gone before me, and have a life that fascinates my great grand children a century from now. I'm just not quite sure where to begin....

New Year's Eve

I never did tell you about my New Year celebrations, did I? So caught up in my pitiful bubble of sleepless nights, weeping and making complicated decisions that I forgot to mention that I did actually have a lovely time.
In January I only managed to post a few photographs of the entire Christmas break before I retired back to bed with a large blanket and an even larger gin.

Well today is 1st February folks, and it is my very own New Year's Day. Considering that the 1st of January was spent immersed in the sad chaos of a break up and the additional chaos of tidying my parents house after a massive party, I didn't really get to experience that sense of boundless optimism and enthusiastic resolve that the first day of a new year can bring.

After going on and on about the planning for the New Year party, at which I was tasked with feeding 22 people, I finally settled on a menu that was filled with amazing locally produced food (Ramsay would be proud!) and would cause me minimum stress.

That menu went as follows:
Fresh smoked salmon, produced at the Exe Valley Fishery
Sausages with chorizo and lentil served with mashed potato and roasted parsnips (recipe can be found here)
Ice cream sundae with Langage farm ice cream, amaretti biscuits and baileys .

The starter was simple and, although smoked salmon feels like quite a basic dish, when there are this many people to feed that is very appealing. I spent a lot on the salmon and on the bread and my dear friend Katy ,who stepped in as sous chef for the night, prepared several plates of beautifully arranged bread as well as the salmon so people could help themselves. This course received heaps of praise, I think it is a rare delight to enjoy really high quality salmon and I was lucky enough that our local fishery is so fantastic (and that the fishmongers had some in stock).

The best thing about the main course was that I was able to make the dish during the day and as such I spent a leisurely afternoon copping onions, chorizo and garlic while chatting to my friends as they arrived at the house. By 4pm all the preparation was done and I simply put two large pots into the aga and left them for 3 hours. The added cooking time (you can put this dish in the oven or ago for just 45 minutes) meant that flavour was even more rich and intense.
The difficulty with cooking for this many people is gauging how much food to make. I underestimated the potatoes meaning there was only just enough mash to go around. Of course I'd always rather have too much than not enough but it did mean we weren't all completely stuffed at the end of the meal and immediately felt sprightly enough to jump up at midnight and dance the night away.

The dessert was a bit of a cop out, I was just too exhausted to make something more elaborate. But we covered the sundaes in sparklers and edible stars. It felt like a children's party treat which perfectly set the mood for the behaviour that followed throughout the night.

Friday, 22 January 2010


To make this very slow Friday go faster I have been mainly considering which wins in the cuteness factor between in baby manatee and a baby elephant. This one I just cannot decide.

Also realising that I have been letting my responsibilities as a blogger go, this is meant to be a food blog FFS and really I need to get cooking again, and blogging about it. So this is my promise to you readers, I will be better. But in the meantime I hope you don't mind a bit of Friday afternoon animal loving.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Animals Illustrated

I am back from Edinburgh, refreshed although a little jaded today thanks to a car breakdown in the middle of the English countryside last night which resulted in three drunk girls (one of which was me) trying to jump start an estate car by pushing it up a hill.

I found these awesome animal prints through my friend Matt's blog and you can buy them at Etsy shop Berkley Illustration. Aren't they so charming? I want to buy 4 and get them put in a large frame. My mum would absolutely love them, eccentrically dressed animals are just her thing. Something else for the "I want" list which I hope to work my way through once I return to the world of gainful employment.

P.S My friend Matt also has a crush on Jason Schwartzman - just like me.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Of late

Before I depart I thought I'd share some photos of the last few days in snow covered London.

To begin some beautiful flowers my kind hearted flatmates decorated my room with for my arrival home, followed by the view from my kitchen, some decadent Christmas gifts, more snow as dusk falls and finally a little glass of bubbly I rewarded myself with at the end of a very boring Monday.

Have a great few days...

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