Guardian Girl

Just enough time for saffron gratin

Posted in Food by guardiangirl on February 18, 2010

Despite still being in the midst of unpacking boxes, and certainly far too distracted to curate the necessary fashion shoots this week, I managed to find time to cook Yotam Ottolenghi’s winter saffron gratin for the housemates plus Phoebe last night. The verdict was very positive, what with breadcrumbs, grilled cheese and double cream being involved. I thanked the stars with every mouthful that I now have at least two other people to share these dishes with.

So enthusiastic were we to break open the oven and eat the bubbling delight, I forgot to photograph the finished product until it was almost eaten up. So here is a diminished gratin snap for you.

I bet it’s not every day someone offers you a diminished gratin snap.

Winter saffron gratin

Winter saffron gratin

Once a saffron gratin

Once a saffron gratin

Conclusions:

  • I don’t have a mandolin so I used a veg peeler to slice the swede and parsnips thinly (it goes without saying I couldn’t find any kohlrabi to add). The peelings admittedly give the effect of a compost bin when the dish is raw, but when cooked it becomes a regular-lookin gratin – trust.
  • Probably don’t take food prep tips from me, though.
  • Going to make another attempt at directing a photoshoot tonight. I’m determined to get at least one fashion shot in for the week. I have, after all, been attempting a rough approximation of the outfits during the day as usual. It’s just that extra logistical effort of the double-model shots this week that’s beating me. Tricksy.
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You ain’t seen muffin yet

Posted in Fashion, Food, Recipes by guardiangirl on November 18, 2009

I undertook another another mission last night as I had to get a cab from work to A&E via Bezzer Liv’s house to collect my moral support and then have my crummy foot checked out again. An evil nurse made me feel so silly for even being there (“we’ve already told you clearly there’s nothing wrong, so why are you here again?”) that I secretly cried a little bit after she’d gone. Luckily Liv saved the day by finding the nicest lady in Homerton Hospital and asking her what we should do. Nice lady instantly got a doctor to have a quick, kind word with me, and he checked the x-ray and made me an appointment at the fracture clinic for this morning. Turns out the bone is in fact cracked and I’m now in a space-age fracture booty device for the next six weeks. That’s going to put a whole lotta spanner in the Guardian Girl works – unless they happen to base the next six weeks of fashion shoots around pseudo-ski style and/or neu-medical hip.

Such is my renewed dedication to the Guardian cause that, even though I didn’t get home from The A&E Experience (“watch your crutches on that puke on the floor. Actually, is it a turd?”) until past 11pm, I still made a batch of muffin mix, let it rise while I had my bath and then cooked them while I dried off. They were less satisfying to make than yesterday’s crumpets and I totally fonzed up the mixture by using self-raising flour instead of plain and putting too much water in so the dough resembled PVA glue. I also coated them in actual semolina rather than the suggested semolina flour, because it was what I had in the cupboard. I thought they’d be disastrous but in fact they came out looking more or less like muffins, albeit slightly fecal as ever, and they tasted pretty good but a bit bland. Actually, to be totally honest about it half of them tasted like washing up liquid. There’s a good reason for this. After crumpetgate I washed my frying pan by pouring water and washing up liquid into it and leaving it on a hot hob until it boiled away. Dunno why it did it but by the next day I’d forgotten I had. The frying pan looked lovely and clean so I started cooking the muffins without rinsing it. I suppose I might produce some extra oestrogen as a result but that’s unlikey to do me much harm. Three breasts are better than two.

I think the muffins are meant to be split and served with butter or the like (marge?) but I’m trying to be slightly calorie aware as I’m getting zero exercise with my injured paw, and we know what happens when you eat Guardian food every day. It tends to supersize a girl. I got away with it slightly more when I was walking or running 4-12 miles a day but arguably that’s what gave me the cracked foot, and one must pay attention to the body’s cries for help apparently.

I could sue the Guardian for making me chubby and further adding to my distress by suggesting I wear small fashions. Or I could thank them because the surgeon told me I have good strong bones, which I attribute to all those pies.

So the crutches made it into yesterday’s fashion and the booty is soon to become a regular sight. Dunno if I can wear it with a platform heel on the other foot. I suspect the answer to that is fairly obvious. So much for xmas party glam.

No muffin shots but here’s another underwhelming fashion shot of yours truly outside Horrorton Hospital.

Studs or sequins

Studs or sequins

Stubby deliquent

Stubby deliquent

Conclusions

  • I’m pretty sure my captions are going downhill.
  • Every time I try to type “conclusions” I type “cobclusions”, which is not only irritating but also reminds me of my dead house rabbit Cobbie, who I really loved even though he bit the crotch of every male who went anywhere near me, no matter whether their intention was to kiss me or or hand me my change. He had a pink lead and used to go everywhere with me, which I think might be why he was so irritated all the time. I feel a bit guilty now but I did give him lovely fresh veggies every day and he lived a mollycoddled, free-range life.
  • Don’t forget to clean the detergent from your pan before you heat food in it, will you.

Crumpets and Mickey Mouse ears

Posted in Fashion, Food, Recipes by guardiangirl on November 17, 2009

Yesterday was my first day back on the case and, of course, it turned into the inevitable rollercoaster that comes with taking a magazine’s lifestyle template and Pritt Sticking it directly on top of your own week in spite of its total ludicrousy given the fact that you can barely walk due to messing up yer foot, and have spent all your money on cabs around London, and cream cheese and salt beef bagels to make yourself feel better. Today’s post is going to be a string of extremely long, pompous sentences and you’re just going to have to deal with it. I’ll get back into the swing of being brief and personable soon enough.

The lowest trough last night was hobbling through Camden on a deformed bruise of a foot in the howling wind after a long day at work trying to get to Hackney in time to buy crumpet rings, have my photo taken, see my bezzer mate, phone the bailiff to tell them I don’t owe the council any money (I don’t) so can they please stop threatening to seize my valuable goods (not sure whether 20 threadbare Ikea rugs, a collection of owl portraits, a roasting tin, the Dallas Season 1 DVD boxset and a dribbling but well-meaning cat would add up to the value they say I owe anyway), have a bath, epilate my legs before I have to return to A&E and risk terrifying the doctors yet again with my hirsutism, and finally actually cook myself some food. The average busy evening is made far more stressful by having your maximum speed capped at 0.00005mph, I’ve discovered.

A higher peak arrived later though, steaming-skinned after a hot bath and standing over the stove watching bubbles rise through golden homemade crumpets. It’s a big grumble hauling myself back on to the Guardian wagon and whipping the old ‘orse back into action but it’s always been those moments when a recipe you’d never have thought of cooking yourself turns out to be beautifully simple and impressive that it really is worth the effort.

I used egg rings, whatever they are – I suppose they’re so greasy-spoon owners can make sure their fried eggs are worth £6.95, or people in really clean slippers on polished wood floors can give their kids a nice neat breakfast – but they were on sale in Sainsbury’s and did the trick perfectly for the recipe.

Globbing the batter into the rings and watching it turn into actual, professional-ish looking crumpets was very satisfying, although it got boring after a while and I cracked out the Ladyshave while I was waiting for each batch to cook. Here’s a lesson I’ve learned: plucking the toe hairs out of a swollen, purple foot is not the most pleasant way to spend time and in hindsight I don’t really know what I thought I was doing, even with these tasty teatime treats as light at the end of the tunnel:

 

Crumpets

Crumpets

 

 

 

Crummypets

Crummypets

As for yesterday’s outfit, I don’t have any Mickey Mouse ears and just putting myself in the position of my colleagues for a moment, if the new person at my work rocked up in Disney fancy dress on day six of their employment, I wouldn’t be thinking kind thoughts. If they also happened to look a bit self-conscious, crack weak jokes every two minutes and walk on crutches, I’d wonder why the hell they’d even bothered with the ears if that’s the way they approached life.

I went for a headscarf teamed with a brilliant sequined sweatshirt my friend Hamburg Emily bought me for my 30th and I felt just dandy. I think sequins in the office is fine, totally fine. Disney in the office is totally not fine, of course, and we must fight back.

Liv kindly took my photo later that evening. She got some good shots but in the end I prefer this accidentally long-exposed one because it fits with the supernatural theme of several earlier photos on this blog.

 

Hang Tough

Hang Tough

 

 

Dang rough

Dang rough

 

Conclusions:

  • You liderally can’t look chic on crutches, or cool, or anything other than injured.
  • Imagine if you were on crutches and wearing Mickey Mouse ears. It’d just make life miserable wouldn’t it.
  • Crumpets are something you can make at home cheaply, quite healthily and quite quickly, and they have the proper holes in and everything! It might just be me being a philistine but I’d never have guessed this.

 

 

 

 

 

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Task #3: A Chocolate Spread

Posted in Food by guardiangirl on October 29, 2009

I would’ve loved to be able to do today’s task properly, as it involved going to The Connaught for a special afternoon tea created with Valrhona. It isn’t mentioned on the hotel’s website as far as I can see but I’ll take The Independent‘s word for it.

However there were several obstacles to achieving this one.

First, I’ve run out of holiday at work so I’d only be able to go on a weekend day, which is a very tricky time to book afternoon tea at a posh London hotel at short notice. I know this from experience. Second, it would cost about £50 a person and, even if I was willing to save up that cash to spend on a eating chocolate at an exclusive location, I doubt (m)any of my friends would feel the same – particularly those with kids (apparently this is designed to be a family affair). All in all this item on the agenda didn’t seem to be aimed at me. It seemed to be aimed at wealthy parents with lots of spare time. Hmm, bells are ringing.

Not to be deterred from the challenge, though, I popped out for half a flapjack and a Chupa Chup to eat at my desk instead. It ain’t posh but it’s the best I could do under the circumstances.

Varhona

Valrhona

 

Chupa Chup

Chupa Chup

Marks out of 10: 3

I did make some sort of effort here but two of the classic obstacles to success are rearing their heads once more: time and money. We can’t all afford to spend half a ton and a day’s holiday on chocolate, despite what the left-wing press might think. Photographs brought to you by Nokia today as I left my camera at home. You can’t tell, can you.