Guardian Girl

Macsimum relief

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on February 10, 2010

Phew! Not only have I finished the last of the nude tones and suet puddings, but I get to make a terrible pun as well! A heavenly day so far, wearing relatively normal clothes, with my hair down and messy, just how I like it.

Last night I powered off to Sainsbury’s in search of 1kg of parsnips, my heart soaring not only at the prospect of eating vegetables but because I was listening to 1Faith FM’s uplifting tunes. I’m not Christian but I do like to conduct informal experiments on myself, as you may have gathered, and at the moment I’m finding out what happens to an agnostic upon listening repeatedly to Christian pop hits. I find this particularly interesting because few people seem to choose to listen to music they don’t like, so I imagine it to be relatively uncharted territory, which makes me feel like a true pioneer. Last year I spent one week listening to Placebo for 8 hours a day to see what would happen. What happened was I developed a crush on Brian Molko. Weird. I haven’t spared a thought for that dear little goblin since. Maybe I’m on my way to developing a crush on Jesus. Actually, have you seen Robert Powell in Jesus of Nazereth? Anyway, this is veering dangerously off course.

The parsnips. I followed the recipe pretty closely, boiling them in milk (interesting idea I thought), whisking up a dressing, roasting a load of veg, all that biz. It was very nice, very nice indeed. I’m getting a bit bored of saying how nice all this food is, but really – there hasn’t been a duffer for ages now. Oh, except that soapy, insipid steak pud. That was on Sunday actually.

ANYWAY, concentrate girl, what are you trying to say? Keep on track… Oh yes, Flavie was just taking my outfit snap for today and she pointed out that although I got in an almighty grump about suet week, it yielded two of my favourite meals so far, so yes. I am grateful to Hugh. Thanks Hugh.

Here are the pics.

Creamed parsnips with roasted winter veg and walnuts

Creamed parsnips with roasted winter veg and walnuts

I just wrote a really distasteful, uncouth caption for this and have deleted it

I just wrote a really distasteful, uncouth caption for this and have deleted it

Super

Super

Blooper

Blooper

Not a very pretty picture but we’ve seen worse. At least it’s something I’d choose to wear. Failed on the coat-colour front but, as Flavie pointed out, I can’t be expected to own five spring macs in varying shades.

Had a look at the jumpers recommended in The Measure this week and wasn’t angry, just disappointed. Couldn’t see any swan jumpers on the Topshop website, which is a shame as I thought that sounded quite good. I could do with a new jumper but can only afford one, so it was a toss up between Topshop’s Eiffel Tower one – sort of nice-ish I guess – or Oasis’ blue shoe design – absolutely hideous. I will not be purchasing this foul garment, particularly not at more than £50. Might stroll over to Toppers after work and treat myself to a new knit before baking rye bread. But I reserve the right to decide not to.

Conclusions:

  • The parsnip recipe is another one I would recommend people to actually try at home. The end result really is tasty and I don’t usually like parsnips much.
  • Favourite baby-Jesus-related lyric so far: “I love your baby blues / your golden curlicues”

Bye bye basin

Posted in Fashion, Recipes by guardiangirl on February 9, 2010

I boiled the last in the suet pudding series last night, and savoured every bite. Served as suggested with double cream, it was a) sublime and b) a step towards morbid obesity that I would prefer not to have taken. Tonight it’s roast veg (and more lemon pud out of the fridge), tomorrow a rye loaf, and then I get a couple of days off to eat spinach leaves and contemplate my retreating navel.

It’s so boring going on about stodge and calories all the time – I’m yawning as I type – but it’d be a pointless experiment if I didn’t honestly share my concerns. And I think most people would be vaguely concerned about their health on their fourth consecutive day of suet eating. I am sorry though. I’d love to be able to transcend such drossful subject matter and, once I’m back in my trainers next week (when the broken foot is officially allowed to get some proper exercise again), I hope to set aside my Supersize Me cholesterol fears and chill the hell out.

There’s no photo of the lemon pudding but it is etched forever into the window frames of my mind, for it was truly one of the best desserts I’ve ever made.

Moving on, here’s a photo of me hunched in a loo.

Life's a peach

Life's a peach

You can guess this one

You can guess this one

Conclusions:

  • American football player in drag
  • Tara Palmer-Tomkinson three weeks after being fished out of a canal
  • Office girl on opium
  • All of the above

Also, you probably didn’t even (care to) notice but instead of wearing a small, white watch I don’t have, I wrapped my headphones around my wrist instead, creating an attractive yet functional accessory for the modern woman. And also, I quite like the way my terrible magazine photography makes the model look like a Victorian ancestor (although certainly not one of mine).

Now, enough with the parentheses: I’m off to Sainsbury’s.

Game on, game off

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on February 8, 2010

Oh GOD, when will nude shades go out of fashion? They’ve been on trend for long enough now – it must be at least a month or two since I first had to clothe myself in unsightly pastels. It’s high time we went back to black, please.

I’m determined to pull myself out of my fit of ill humour today but it’s not easy. Last night’s pudding was far less successful than saturday’s leek and bacon delight because I underseasoned it, undercooked it and overwashed the saucepan with this horrid ‘pink petals’ washing up liquid that makes all my food taste of a scene out of Bambi. Yeuch. I think it’s actually got under the skin of the pan.

After a late dinner of suet with a dripping garnish and a side dish of cream, I went to bed early and lay awake until 4am worrying about beige clothes.

Today I feel tired, grouchy and corpulent, so backcombing my hair into a sort of sub-Sarah Ferguson up-do, covering my eyelids in purple shadow and pulling on a crumpled sack of a skirt from the bottom of my wardrobe wasn’t quite the morning routine I’d hoped for. Mind you just putting ‘morning’ and ‘routine’ into the same sentence is something of an achievement for me so I’ll cheer up a bit at this juncture. There.

I’ve got it pretty close with the t-shirt, which is an old favourite my ex screen-printed for his former band, but funnily enough I don’t wear it that often these days and I noticed on the train to work – sadly too late to change – that it smells of the Jorvik Viking Centre. I haven’t been to the Jorvik Viking Centre but I spent much of my childhood in the Oxford Story, and everyone is always banging on about how they smell the same. ‘Blah blah, Jorvik bloody blah blah Oxford Story’ every bloody day. So boring. We get the point!

Hue beauty

Hue beauty

Warren Beatty (?)

Warren Beatty (?)

Conclusions:

  • Not feeling it AT ALL this issue. Request black shift dresses and salads.
  • Measure: hoop earrings are deemed quite wonderful this week, which is fine by me as I have many pairs of right big’uns and wear them all the time. At least I used to, before I started doing this Guardian Girl jape. Have you noticed they rarely put earrings on the models in the Guardian? In fact there’s often no jewellery at all, aside from a few gold cuffs lately.
  • More pudding tonight. It’s painful the amount of suet I’ve ingested over a three-day period. Psychically painful. However that leek pudding was probably the tastiest thing I’ve cooked for the project so far, and it was pretty easy.
  • I really am going to stop complaining now.

Weekend

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on February 7, 2010

Sad to say a slightly morose wash has tinted this weekend, for no very good reason but that these things happen occasionally. Nothing has gone wrong, but I did feel a little lurch of the soul upon seeing the suet pudding recipes. It’s just the way it goes. On one page, a willowy blonde draped with finely woven pastel sports attire. On the next, 1001 great things to do with lard. It hardly seems fair.

Appropriately enough this week’s model’s expression happens to translate seamlessly into a sulk when I attempt it.

Last night Elin of the Crazy Mouse, her man Ed and Best Liv came over for roast beef with leek pudding. My gosh it were good. I forgave Hugh for the high stodge factor the moment that suet melted upon my petulant lips. A finer taste and texture I have rarely revelled in. NB have been reading Herodotus so excuse the narrative tone – it is Sunday, the day of self-indulgence. Also, don’t hate me – next to Herodotus on my shelves are the autobiographies of Jason Donovan and Kerry Katona.

I am at this very moment preparing beef pudding, although with a disappointing lack of kidneys due to a monumental Sainsburys oversight. I’m also drinking the red wine that hasn’t gone into the pudding filling, and listening to old Love records, so signing off quick before the wistful anecdotes come out to play. Please find below the photographic depiction of two outfits and a pudding, with no captions until I return to full desktop computer functionality tomorrow.

Have a grey day

Have a black mood

Leek pudding

Bleak pudding

In the pink

On the blink

Conclusions:

• This isn’t a conclusion but a footnote. I make the rules on this blog so pipe down. On Friday, instead of cooking Yotam’s fine recipes, I went to the first Department S gig in 20 years. It was well good. I beseech you to find a Youtube clip of them performing Is Vic There? on TOTP and marvel at their coolness. Byesie bye x
• Actually one more thing: The Measure. My hair needs growing, not cutting, in order to incorporate a Brett Anderson fringe. Also Natwest continues its ploy to make my life miserable and difficult by blocking my card without prior warning this week. For this reason I’m surviving off a stash of cash and find the idea of buying a sequined jacket from Whistles to be not very sensible. Over and out.

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Fondue

Posted in Fashion, Recipes by guardiangirl on February 4, 2010

I took the fondue ingredients to Liv’s last night and shamelessly capitalised on a photo opportunity with her 18-month old flatmate Delphi.

A young Fearnley-Whittingstall

A young Fearnley-Whittingstall

A young Delphi

A young Delphi

Classic fondue

Classic fondue

Classic fondon't

Classic fondon't

Tasted very good. Sainsbury’s doesn’t stock kirsch so I bought one of their ready-made fondue sachet things from the cheese chiller and added a load of wine, gruyere, emmental and some flour to the mix. Tasty and wonderful but, as other flatmate (and mother of Delphi) Holly pointed out, if you’re going to eat fondue it helps to precede it with a day of alpine activities. Otherwise you just sort of sit at your desk all day and then melt a kilo of cheese with some booze, dip handfuls of bread into it, cram them in until you can fit no more down the gullet and crawl away to collapse into a carb coma spectacular. That’s exactly what I did last night, which explains why I woke up in Liv’s room this morning with no Guardian-matching outfit to change into for the day.

I re-borrowed Harriet’s kipper-infused outfit from the other week and put yesterday’s white shirt on top of it for the photo only. It produces a pretty unsightly effect when worn in this way. The poses from today and tomorrow require the cooperation of other models, so in this post I would like to introduce the lovely Gabrielle, who happened to be wearing an appropriately hued pullover today. Tomorrow Photographe Flavie will be making an appearance on the other side of the lens. She has been briefed on her outfit for the day. Sometimes I do pity those on the periphery of this cursèd project.

Blazer trail

Blazer trail

Jacket in

Jacket in

Conclusions:

  • Fondue actually makes a quick weekday supper as you can just melt it up and eat it out of the saucepan.
  • Wouldn’t recommend having it every evening though.
  • Liv would like to point out that although I described yesterday’s mushroom recipe as ‘delicious’, she actually thought it was disgusting and spat it out while I wasn’t looking. When I think about it, I loved the fresh mushroom bit but did avoid the rehydrated porcini as I found them too strong. I was supposed to use ceps. Maybe that was the problem.
  • I’m not entirely certain that Hugh F-W is actually making fondue in the above photo, but I can’t work out what else it would be. I don’t suppose it matters too much.

Towelling it on

Posted in Fashion, Recipes by guardiangirl on February 3, 2010

Best Liv came over last night to help throw away some of my pathologically hoarded possessions (this sort of thing is why I call her Best Liv [I also call her Little Wrenny Bolokov, but that’s another story]). As some sort of recompense I force fed her a few mountain ranges of chorizo carbonara and many rivers of cold custard that were left over from Sunday’s cake-a-thon. I also made the mushroom part of Hugh’s polenta feast and we had a little taste of that (delicious) before I decided to palm the rest of all this food off on whichever pals come over for fondue tonight.

We then got to work sorting through my infinite boxes of tat, some representative examples of which included a collection of small shreds of plywood, a startling number of ribbons I have no recollection of ever receiving, a tiny bag containing a button and a 1p coin, an umbrella cover stuffed with a pedometer and a hairband, and a very disturbing veterinary receipt from last year when one of my beloved cats had kidney failure and I had to make the heartbreaking decision to have her put down:

“PRODUCT/SERVICE:       EUTHANASIA CAT ONLY

QUANTITY:                           ONE

PRICE:                                     £28.13 inc VAT”

It’s not exactly soothing, is it.

Also, what do they mean by “cat only”?

We were up so late sorting out my rubbish that Liv stayed over and was able to take my photo this morning. I was standing, perplexed, in front of her holding a grey double-breasted blazer in one hand and a brown leather jacket in the other, trying to work out which one was more similar to today’s required outfit, when she glanced over my shoulder and remarked that it was a shame I couldn’t wear the peach-coloured towel hanging on the back of my door, since it perfectly matched the model’s jacket. And hence, I bring you today’s pic. Looking outside I decided it was probably a bit chilly to go out in a towel so I plumped for both the jackets at once. What with the orange plimsolls being the closest non-heeled thing I own to the model’s gold shoes, I look a bit clownish today, but I’m well used to that by now.

The blazer

The blazer

The towel

The towel

Conclusions:

  • Happy tonight’s dinner is the last energy-rich recipe for 10 I have to cook, for obvious reasons related to waistbands.
  • I am now seeing my collection of c.1970s hand-me-down towels through new eyes.
  • William Eggleston exhibition looks well worth a visit but the opening hours tally not with my work duties.
  • A trip to NY to use the subway is not on the financial agenda.
  • Acne interiors: if you have bad skin, you don’t want to fill your house with Acne sofas any more than you want to walk around in Acne jeans, looking for all the world like you’re wearing your medical diagnosis proudly upon your denims. In fact, don’t tell anyone but it took me a year to get over moving to Hackney for the same reason.
  • What?!! It’s not my fault. Spots make you very self-conscious.

Blazers #1

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on February 2, 2010

Blazers I can do but the rest of the garments in this shoot are totally under-represented in my wardrobe. I’m going to be in the same pair of black jeans all week because my other trouser options keep falling apart.

I need the Measure to recommend me some decent strides, please. Preferably ones that won’t make me look too much like Sandi Toksvig.

What?

What?

Clot

Clot

Photographer Cari just emailed to congratulate me on my improved posing skills after seeing yesterday’s effort but I think she might retract her blandishments on seeing the above.

The old broken foot is still preventing me from wearing heels and I’m getting mighty fed up with it now. The growing-out fringe continues to produce curtains. When oh when will it be long enough to tuck behind me lug’oles?

Food update: last night I went home alone and cooked chorizo carbonara for 10. I don’t know what to say about it. A surreal evening spent hovering over a vast cauldron of calories feeling very much like I was doing the wrong thing, mostly because I have yet to work out what I’m going to do with it all. It’s so filling I could only eat one bowl, although I might possibly have revisited the vat on my way for a night-time wee.

I have a recently developed a pretty embarrassing habit of listening to new-age sound effects as I drift off to sleep. Last night’s was supposed to be a campfire crackling with a few crickets chirping nearby or something. But all I could hear was frying chorizo, haunting me with its oily fumes. I had to switch over to “medium cicadas with owl near creek”.

Measure update: yesterday I pulled my socks up and got going on the kitchen linens front. I am soon to be the proud owner of a Chanel-style John Lewis oven glove. I already have two very nice oven gloves and could really have done with the apron but the Labour and Wait website is out of stock. Blooming Guardian readers have sucked them dry it would seem. What a shame. The best thing about online shopping is that you often get to send yourself a free gift card with a personalised message. If you enjoy, as I do, fabricating long and convoluted jokes purely for your own amusement, I recommend this.

As for some of the other items on this week’s list, I’ve been a mild Yeasayer fan for several years now so no action was required on that front. Tanlines provided the soundtrack for Saturday night’s bollito misto feast and got the thumbs up from Phoebe and I. I didn’t buy any though – if I’m going to spend money on music I’m going to go and buy a record, and I feel a bit embarrassed about going up to the counter with an album that’s in the Guardian that week. Is that ridiculous? Coming from a girl who walks around with a stuffed toy pinned to her shoulder because it was in the Guardian that week, probably.

Vocab update: thanks to Abby for teaching me the word ‘blandishments’ when we were 15. I knew it’d come in useful one day.

Conclusions:

  • Nothing left to conclude.

Sunday: a nice cake, a grotesque photo

Posted in Fashion, Recipes by guardiangirl on February 1, 2010

Sunday involved making a large apple and prune cake. As I spooned a worryingly scant amount of cake mixture into a greased tin I thought I was about to create the first genuine culinary disaster of the project. It looked like a thin layer of gruel with a load of apple slices and prunes dumped indelicately on top. But 40 minutes later I opened the oven door to the most delicious smell of warm, cosy baking and a golden cake looking like a princess’s pillow (what on earth am I writing?). It tasted delicious. Even my actual genius friend Jesse who can’t have lactose ate a few slices and reassured me that she could understand why I’d scarfed down most of the damn thing before she even arrived.

Apple (and prune) pudding cake

Apple (and prune) pudding cake

Grapple (and swoon) for pudding cake

Grapple (and swoon) for pudding cake

Dumbass caption alert.

Jesse also accompanied me trough the rat-infested alley on to my elegant street to have my photo taken against a wired-up window.

This is pretty much the worst photo I’ve ever seen of myself, and that’s really saying something given that I’m famous for producing rank portraits. My friends and I often used to go on the Crazy Mouse ride on Brighton pier, just to blow the cobwebs away and kill some time being spontaneous near the seafront, which is what you do when you live in Brighton. This one time we had particularly great fun and got off the ride whooping and high-fiving before running over to the booth to have a look at the automatic photo they take of you. There was Liv, laughing away next to Elin, who was clinging on for dear life with a big smile on her face. And then, next to them, was what can only be described as a large, brown monster that appeared to be covered in thick fur and had its mouth open in a hideous, deformed roar. That monster was me. I honestly didn’t even look like a human. I just can’t explain it. To this day the three of us rue the fact that we didn’t buy that photo on a weekly basis, but it was £7 and when you’re young you imagine this sort of opportunity will arise every day.

Turns out we weren’t far wrong: if anyone wants to buy a print of the below photo of an inflated grub, send a postal order for £7 to PO Box 101, blah blah blah.

Go, figurehead

Go, figurehead

Go, quickly, you are scaring my young family

Go, quickly, you are scaring my young family

Conclusions:

  • In life, there are good times and there are bad times.
  • I think this post perfectly illustrates that point.

This week’s wrap-up

Posted in Fashion, Interiors, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on January 29, 2010

Today’s outfit isn’t way off the mark, and Flavie and I even ventured out of the toilet into the office reception area for the shoot. The result is that the photo looks less like army night footage this time, although given the theme of the fashion it might have been appropriate to keep things grainy.

Look sharp

Look sharp

Be blunt

Be blunt

I did get my ponytail on the wrong side and tilt my head in the opposite direction from the model’s, but I have to honour tradition.

On the subject of this week’s Measure, the less said the better. What with a best mate’s 30th, the end of the January pay period, lunch breaks filled with blog writing and outfit capturing, and evenings spent over the stove, I somehow didn’t find the time to put my name on the Anya Hindmarch for Barbour waiting list (much as I would love to), or spend hundreds of pounds on a designer bag. I’ve been rubbish. I now have a bit of cash in the bank, a shopping trip planned and several hours earmarked for a home restyle over the weekend, so I hope to make restitution for my indolence forthwith. Or, in other words, get up off my rump and try harder.

As regards This Column Will Change Your Life, I couldn’t let the week end without making reference to the fact that it might have been aimed directly at me this issue. Why don’t they teach you how to make simple decisions in primary school? If only they did, Britain wouldn’t keep producing chowderheaded buffoons who can’t decide what to have for dinner without the direction of a Saturday newspaper supplement.

I put Oliver Burkeman’s three models for decision making into practice this week and found them extremely useful in every situation, especially choosing which song to listen to next. These rules will stay with me, and might actually change my life for the better.  Get this man writing the national curriculum (caps?).

Conclusion:

  • First week over and I’m a scone-filled, noodle-loving, quiff-sporting picture of happiness. Not partaking in the Measure shopping list, or putting any pressure on myself to do so, has been good but a bit cheaty given the nature of the experiment.
  • But one serious complaint: my clothes still smell of kippers.

Ginger beer scones

Posted in Recipes by guardiangirl on January 27, 2010

Thanks to the miracle of technology i write this with a hot-from-the-oven ginger scone balanced upon my knee.

Although tonight’s ingredients looked somehow sad on the supermarket conveyor belt (small packet of flour, glacé ginger, two mini cans of Schweppes suggestive of imaginary friend), the texture of this hot scone on my knee is something to be seen. It’s a hybrid of a scone, fresh bread and a crumpet. It’s a wee bit sweet for my cheese-tooth (inadvisable word combination noted) but still, it’s a proper treat on a cold Wednesday evening like this one. And you know what? I reckons it might be quite nice with a slab of mature cheddar, I does. I’m having mine plain in an uncharacteristic show of temperance but don’t worry, I’ll probably eat the whole batch. Other things to note about the scones: cheap, easy-to-find ingredients, quick to make, slightly chalky after-texture possibly due to baking powder/shivering hand combo.

I’m off to visit the oven again – sod tomorrow’s midriff shot.


Ginger scone

Ginger scone

Ginger scoff

Conclusions:

  • Nice.
  • I don’t mean to sound arrogant but looking at the above photos I can barely believe I actually made that. It looks almost like the original, no?
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