Guardian Girl

Scale swapping

Posted in Recipes by guardiangirl on June 30, 2011

Thanks to my recent investment in a set of kitchen scales and a similarly novel inclination to actually do things properly, I have just baked my first properly successful Dan Lepard cake. I write this post accompanied by the gentle trill of my stomach happily digesting at least four slices of the thing – or is that the sound of a gall bladder’s swan song?


Almond layer cake with crushed raspberries

Almond layer cake with crushed raspberries


Almond layer cake with due diligence

Almond layer cake with due diligence


Notice of resumed, but reduced, service

Posted in Uncategorized by guardiangirl on June 14, 2010

You know it’s been nearly a year since I began this project. My latest adjournment (of many) has lasted a while and it’s done me the world of good.

Waving goodbye to Dan Lepard has meant saying hello to my old clothes again and I feel returned to balanced human form, rather than the grossly consumptive, Little Otik-ish marionette of capitalism I had become. My tendency to use melodramatic language might not have changed, but I have.

I have, much to my surprise and pleasure, been doing some growing up. Life in the shared house is happy and serene as I enjoy a lack of pressure to rearrange the furniture once a week. My bank balance is far healthier and this weekend I was able to treat myself to some new clothes in preparation for Sonar without feeling guilty – because they were what I actually liked and needed, not what the Guardian liked and thought I needed. My running regime and healthy diet have left me feeling energetic, much fitter and quite right in my body. It’s not about being skinny, I might add – it’s about being how you’re meant to be – neither starved into this season’s frock nor still bloated by last year’s pie recipes. I knew I needed to take myself in hand rather, and I have.

The increasingly heaving bandwagon of other good folks embarking on this style of blog project has contributed to my shrinking back slightly, probably for some distasteful reason related to delusions of inventiveness. But most of all, as has always been clear to everyone else, my original plan to follow everything in the Weekend magazine was just far too ambitious – financially, temporally and psychologically. You can’t sign over all responsibility for your daily life to a magazine, no matter how tempting that may be for all sorts of quite dark but no doubt common reasons. I’m 30 years old and, while it’s fun to experiment and push one’s boundaries, it’s also an important time to exercise some free will and enjoy becoming a proper woman. It’s impossible to do that when you have to consult Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall each time you feel a bit hungry.

So all things considered, it’s definitely time to accept that the Guardian Girl project as it was once conceived, is over.

Yet I have missed, as always, the ritual of trussing myself up in harem pant combos, taking photos with friends in office toilets, updating the blog with mindless anecdotes and tittering over captions. That’s why I’ve decided to carry on with a reduced service, copying the fashion stories and leaving it at that for a while. I’ve shed many tears of self-pity over shelling out for clothes the Measure recommends and preparing the pricey fare of the recipe pages, but I’ve never really minded getting dressed up in something a bit odd and prancing through the park in it, indulgently gauging people’s reactions. The fashion shoots, while often mortifying, have been far and away my least tainted pleasure. And they’ve actually contributed to my wellbeing: I take my appearance (if nothing else) far less seriously than I used to.

So here’s to the new phase, and long may it continue, in glorious simplicity and mild blushes.



PS sorry, that was all a bit ceremonious, but it felt nice.

PPS you might notice there isn’t actually a photo for today. Be realistic will you?

Hot date cake

Posted in Brain & heart, Fashion, Recipes by guardiangirl on April 30, 2010

My goodness me, Mr Lepard was underestimating this cake when he said it was in the running as one of the best date cakes around. I’d nominate it as one of the best cakes full stop.

My enchantingly intuitive and crurally balletic friend Emily came over to share it with me and, although she described it as “very nice, comforting, warm and old-fashioned tasting”, she did leave the crust on the plate. The fact that there was a crust to leave may, I concede, be part of the reason it was discarded. I didn’t particularly go out of my way to weigh any of the ingredients at all, but I did use my lovely measuring jug and my keen eye for a teaspoon to make the mixture. I used the right sized tin for once but the cake only took 30 mins to bake, not an hour. Maybe I put in too much sugary stuff and not enough flour.

To ring the changes and wrestle a bit of profit from the conglomerates I had done my shopping at Mother Earth this time, and I couldn’t find any tamarind paste in the shop. But no matter – I had foreseen this eventuality and thought of the sort of substances I might use to replace it. I don’t know if you’ve tried it but there’s this delicious pure fruit spread stuff called Sunwheel that’s a bit like molasses, but made of just apples and pears. In my experience of tamarind paste, this Sunwheel thing isn’t completely different, and it did add to a nice, moist cake. The walnuts didn’t even sink! The icing was a disaster, of course, but I don’t mind that much. To me it seems entirely natural that I would be able to bake a tasty cake but get the icing wrong, in much the same way that I can choose myself a lovely frock but my accessories will always let the whole thing down. Details or something. But who wants to be good at icing, anyway? That’s just a rubbish skill. Be good at cakes.

Here it is:

Tamarind date cake

Other kind of date cake

Other kind of date cake

I was intending to do a home styling shoot last night but, what with running, bathing, entertaining and putting the recycling out – which somehow seems to take me hours – I never got round to it. The dahlias also remained in their packet due to the heavy rains my neighbourhood was experiencing at the appointed planting time.

Other updates: the final outfit of the week has me replicating this young lad’s vibe. I’m sure you’ll agree my success is uncanny.




I think that pretty much rounds off the week, other than to say that I have carried in my heart and mind Oliver Burkeman’s words, as always, to test out their life-changing abilities. This week’s column had quite a positive impact on my daily life, as it happens. This Column WIll Change Your Life is often among the pages to capture my imagination the most when I open the magazine on a Saturday, but it barely gets mentioned in my blog. I think that’s because I’m so utterly rubbish at writing about it. I just had to delete a whole paragraph I’d written about this week’s because it made me feel nauseous. I seem to go extra pompous sounding as soon as feelings are involved. I think I’ll try to work on this. In the meantime, I trust you’ll find my writing lovably imperfect.