Guardian Girl

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.

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Saturday 15 August

Posted in Fashion, First impressions, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on August 17, 2009

First impressions:

Fashion

  • My lack of a large selection of gilets in differing fabrics is going to set me back a bit here – and finding grass long enough to stand in rather than on, let alone a wheatfield, is going to be quite a challenge in Hackney.
  • Plus another bunch of menswear that, when recreated with my own wardrobe, just means jeans and a shirt every day.

The Measure

  • I popped over to the home of my internet-connected friends to Google most of this stuff in order to gauge how attainable/affordable it was going to be. The French Connection blouse looks lovely and is even more affordable given that I get 50% discount there thanks to my wunder-0-chum Adam, but aside from that every single thing (trainers, jewellery, bag) costs way more than I could afford, even given my determination to follow this experiment faithfully. Disappointing. I wonder how much the average Guardian reader earns?

Recipes

Brain and heart

  • I’ve mostly been avoiding cataloging the more emotional side of the advice in the Weekend magazine because I intend this blog to be more of an experiment about the do-ability of cooking, dressing and shopping as the Guardian suggests than about my psychological welfare each week. After all, there’s narcissism and then there’s narcissism. There’s some very good advice in this bumper happiness issue, by the looks of things, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to use my blog as a gratitude diary. What happens on tour stays on tour (in this scenario the tour is my internal life, and be happy it’s staying that way, since my internal life would probably have at least one thing in common with Aerosmith’s Get a Grip tour of 1993-94).

Make-up

  • No Lauren Luke! I’m relieved to have a break from uploading four close-ups of my face shot in bad light, and it’ll be nice to wear make-up that goes with the clothes I’m in. Only it’s mostly menswear this week, so looks like I’ll be bare-faced this week.

So the outfit today was just shirt and jeans for me as I don’t have a wide range of trousers to get it right. The photo was a little tricky, but my friend Thomas managed to get a pretty good snap of me hanging backwards off a park bench in some undergrowth. You can’t really see the clothes but since they didn’t match very well anyway today, the photo is really just for keeping up appearances.

After summer

After summer

 

Dafter summer

Dafter summer

Dinner for the evening was a very nice chicken pie recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi standing in for Hugh FW. The logistics of shopping with friends on the way home from the pub meant we were limited to Tesco Metro’s selection of ingredients. I used curry paste instead of harissa, boned my own thighs (…), replaced the sour cream in the pastry with soured cream dip (which seemed to work well) and used lemon zest instead of preserved lemon. Because it was late and we were hungry, I skipped the stages that called for letting things cool down – never my strong point anyway. All in all it tasted good – although better cold for breakfast the next morning.
Chicken pie

Chicken pie

Don't judge a book by its cover

Don't judge a book by its cover

I can tell how successful a recipe was by how much I wish I still had a slice in my fridge when I upload the photo later. This one’s making me slaver.
Conclusions:
  • There’s not enough grass in London. Or wheatfields. Could Agnes Denes pay a visit? Perhaps I should’ve popped to Dalston Mill for a photoshoot.
  • There aren’t enough cooking ingredients in Tesco Metros. They’re for those times you just need beer and some filled pasta things aren’t they. Planning, planning, planning.

Tuesday 4 August

Posted in Fashion, Interiors, Recipes by guardiangirl on August 5, 2009

I’m delighted to be back out of swimwear and into boys’ jeans and a jumper my granny knitted me many years ago. Although I love these clothes I have to admit that my interpretation of the model’s outfit is fairly weak – except for the hairstyle, which I’m getting much better at after weeks of practice. I still find it hard to get all the partings straight but I don’t have to look at them so nevermind.

Shoulders

Shoulders

 

Toldyer

Toldyer

It’s getting disheartening to repeatedly look so much less glamorous than this woman. She’s becoming my arch-enemy.

For din-dins it was supposed to be another of Hugh’s summer marinades – the final one, in fact. Again I didn’t get home until half eight or so and I really couldn’t wait another few hours to eat, so again I used his marinade ingredients to cook the meat without leaving it to soak. First I fried a bit of salmon in lemon, olive oil and the herbs, then ate it as a starter while I grilled some chicken pieces in the same stuff. It was tasty and moist and good.

Before I was allowed to bathe and bed myself (?) I had to attempt making my flat look like an Australian factory conversion – no small feat. I used to live in an old toy factory, which would have yielded so much more joy, but now I live alone, sob, I can’t afford wooden flooring and white walls and all that jazz. These interior design photos are going to become very samey very quickly as there are only so many angles from which you can photograph a small, dishevelled studio flat/large, luxurious cat litter.

Nonetheless I’ll have you know I put a great deal of effort and back-work into rearranging my furniture to meet the requirements. The resulting configuration means you have to climb over the sofa if you want to sit on it. But then the sofa is actually two chairs pushed together anyway, and those chairs are of such poor quality they are more like cheap dollhouse furniture that’s been zapped by that machine in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids sequel (was there one? Probably). The point is that I wouldn’t recommend anyone risked sitting on them anyway, so the amount of effort required to reach them is of little importance.

My cat, at least, was entertained by all this moving about of his usual landmarks.

Here are the results. I’m sure you’ll agree my flat now looks like something straight out of Wallpaper*:

Light

Light

 

Dark

Dark

 

The cactus room posed problems, as predicted. I’m afraid I just couldn’t make space for one. So I took a photo of the closest thing I have to a let’s-eat-breakfast-in-the-cactus-room-this-morning-darling table, which is an old dining table piled with records and magazines. Chic.

 

Cactus room

Cactus room

 

Cacktus room

Cacktus room

 

And finally, the adorable lift. At my home I have to go up the stairs like a regular pleb so I took a picture of me door instead, because it looks a little similar.

Lifted

A-door-able

And that was that for the day.

Conclusions:

  • I don’t have enough shoulders in my wardrobe.
  • Marinades are for the weekends, I’m now certain of it.
  • There are limited ways of restyling the same small room. That sad truth of home styling should be enough to put anyone off committing a crime punishable by incarceration – then where would you put the cactus room?

Beetroot, yogurt and preserved lemon relish

Posted in Recipes by guardiangirl on July 15, 2009

I hobbled into Sainsbury’s last night. Why was I hobbling? a) I’d walked 11 miles that day b) I had my toes crossed. Why did I have my toes crossed? a) Because just crossing my fingers that there’d be no raw beetroot in Sainsbury’s and I’d have to buy ready cooked wasn’t enough. I was buying the ingredients for Yotam Ottolenghi’s beetroot, yogurt and preserved lemon relish. Luckily my crossing worked and I bought four packets of the shrink-wrapped, boiled stuff.

Arriving home I switched the radio on, famished after the usual long and Forrest Gump-inspired day, and had a proper look at the recipe. I’d thought it was a salad (relish executed with my minimal chopping style) and that it would take minutes to throw together but alas, the recipe called for blackening peppers and reducing tomatoes. I was sorely tempted to be properly lazy, just chop everything up, put it in a bowl, take a quick snap and get to work on the eating bit, but I felt this was excessive cheating – plus I’ve done the pepper-grilling trick before and it makes them so much nicer. I used more fresh herbs than the recipe called for because I didn’t want to freeze the remainder in little bits. This worked out nice. I can never find preserved lemons but I used the juice from the fruit I zested into pastry a few days ago – industrious huh.

As I began toiling over the hot grill, a show came on my favourite station Resonance FM in which two people blew up 99 balloons, intermittently reading balloon-related facts, over a background soundtrack of 99 Luftballons by Nena, slowed down to last an hour. The effect, when combined with a large dish of beetroot, was a bit round and red but the tie-in was pleasing.

Anyway, back to the salad. It tasted very pleasant. By now I’d completely dispensed with the idea of it being a relish, though.

As well as the main dish, YO suggested frying the beet tops with creme fraiche, oilve oil, caraway seeds and garlic. Obviously I didn’t have any beet tops so instead I simply fried the flavourings, including garlic sliced and crisped in the oil like onion bits from the Harvester, stirred in the creme fraiche and ate it like a heart attack soup while I waited for my peppers to char. I feel slightly embarrassed by this and mention it only because it was very tasty and would make a nice dip. Maybe for radishes, to keep with the theme.

I froze the salad I couldn’t eat (whether this will work is a concern for the day it comes out of, not goes into, the freezer), proudly putting it next to the previous day’s remaining raspberry tarts. One day I’ll be receiving guests and will be able to casually defrost beetroot relish (I’ll revert to its proper, more exotic title especially for the occasion) and fruit tart for dessert. They won’t even notice the ring around the bath.

Beetroot, yogurt and preserved lemon relish

Beetroot, yogurt and preserved lemon relish

 

Beetroot and yoghurt salad

Beetroot and yoghurt salad

 

Mine looks like a dish of kidneys.

Conclusions:

  • It would be really helpful if these recipes included one bunch of something rather than four heaped tablespoons of something, but that’s what freezers are for
  • Even in Yotam’s picture, ‘relish’ is pushing it a bit. It’s a salad isn’t it? You can have whole sweetcorn kernels in a relish but beetroot halves is borderline petulance