Guardian Girl

Dip/stick

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on September 29, 2009

Today’s photo is a self-portrait because I couldn’t leave the house in what I was wearing. Would you take me seriously if you bumped into me around the office wearing this?

If I’d only had a coral Margaret Howell blouse, some drawstring moleskin trousers and perhaps a tiny pair of hips, I’d be looking chic today. Oh, and a pair of clear-rimmed specs. But these garms are the closest I could get and, as you can see, tracksuit bottoms (Fat Face 1999 – not really Best Dressed material) an orange top, cropped Primark shirt and fancy-dress glasses do not a professional lady make. I changed into black h-h-h-harem pants and swapped the shirt for my beloved Farhi by Nicole Farhi covering-up mannish shirt thing so I looked less like I’d soiled myself, added a big scarf to make it look like I had some kind of intention for my appearance and headed off to the bus stop flowingly. I do look like a psychodrama workshop facilitator today but that’s probably better than looking like a plain old psychodrama. Today I’d like to add an extra dimension to my snap by providing the soundtrack that was going on in my head as I looked in the mirror. For those who have spotify: http://open.spotify.com/track/1Vchex0xowRj9k59RLvRfo.

Step out

Step out

 

Stay in

Stay in

Dinner last night, on the other hand, was a steaming success. It was Hugh’s Muhamarra recipe, a very tasty affair involving walnuts, bread, olive oil, baked red peppers, chilli flakes, lime juice and caramelised onion chutney because I couldn’t find any pomegranate molasses. Once I was on Guardian Soulmates – why not, since I outsource every other decision in my life to the Guardian, let it choose me a lover as well? I met this guy and Jesus Christ was he a bore. He was even more smug than me. He was sick with the nation because it promoted cultural low-browism by celebrating Harry Potter. I unfortunately hit upon the subject of his difficult relationship with his father within ten minutes of meeting him – purely accidental – and the tense diatribe that followed was a terrifying to behold, and highly awkward to react to over a conversational pint of Strongbow. Anyway I went home after a while and shortly afterwards decided to choose my own menfolk. But the point of this story is that he harped on at great length about how amazing pomegranate molasses is, and how you can use it to add depth to any flavour, and how you can get it any Turkish shop. But I was in Sainsbury’s in my tracksuit (because I’m now running everywhere in order to maintain this experiment without growing out of the last remaining giantsize harem pants) and I couldn’t find any, so I just bought some Taste the Difference chutney instead. It’s a bit soapy to be honest. ANYWAY, the dip is stunningly delicious. You must make it. If you can’t be bothered to do the bits involving the peppers, the paste made with all the other ingredients is delicious in itself. Walnutty oily rich wonder with bread dipped in. I ate plenty of it before I added the peppers. Hugh told me to add the rest of the ingredients after the peppers but I rebelliously ignored him. I was wating for the peppers to cook so I thought I may as well get the rest ready.

Also I used my hand blender! If you’ve been reading from the start you’ll know this is a great thing as it marks my triumph over the emotional scars I earned during an egg white incident.

Here are the photies:

Muhamarra

Muhamarra

 

Muhm-muhm-ahhh

Muhm-muhm-ahhh

 

I know it looks kind of like a feline production here but that’s just any ungarnished dip for you isn’t it? I added extra chilli flakes, chutney and cumin so it’s got quite a kick. It’s making me mildly perspire as I eat the remains for lunch while typing this.

Conclusions:

  • I’m taking a long moment to appreciate the fact that I changed out of that heinous outfit before coming to work.
  • I strongly recommend trying the dip.
  • Peeling red peppers is pretty tricky even after doing the oven/plastic bag trick but the dip doesn’t appear to have suffered by having skins in it.
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Wednesday 5 August

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on August 6, 2009

I left the suggested hat and necklace at home today and went to work in a toned-down version of the  below outfit, then got dressed up in the right stuff for my photo later. I just would have felt too stupid in a train driver’s cap decorated with a brooch and my neck draped with a golden snake (my closest bit of jewellery to the picture), walking around the office like some kind of beefed-up Bubble out of Absolutely Fabulous. Some stuff translates fairly well into workwear and people in the office are used to me looking very slightly odd so it’s usually no big deal. But there have been days when I’ve been nervous just getting up to go to the vending machine, and today could’ve been one of them. Plus I think it’s kind of rude to wear a hat indoors, unless it’s a baseball cap.

The problem with the toned-down version is that I ended up looking like a cross between a Bulgarian office worker and a ’70s psychology student. Not that I have anything against Bulgarian office workers. Some of my best friends are Bulgarian office workers. Not actually best, best friends, but I’ve been over to  stay with them, had a wonderful time and loved everyone I met more than I do on the average trip. But you know that thing of wearing slightly odd, staid outfits like a pair of slacks with a matching turtleneck and then tying a scarf over the top? That’s what I looked like. But again, my workmate Cari liked it, curiously, so each to their own I suppose.

Here’s a photo of the proper attempt at copying the look, complete with hat blending into background. Witness the sweat patches, which I decided not to hide in the interests of documenting the realities of life. I was very hot walking home in the muggy air and I didn’t want to take off the jacket and scarf because tight grey jeans, a tight grey top and grey walking trainers? Bleurgh. I do sometimes bump into people I know on the way home from work. And buses filled with people I might half know from my area go past at a rate of about 20 per journey. Sorry, I realise I’m really waffling here so I’ll cut the crap and paste the photo.

Shoulders

Sweat it out

 

My brother came round for dinner, which was lovely, and on the menu for the evening was Yotam Ottolenghi’s tabbouleh. This led to my most rebellious act thus far, which was actually doing something I’d been told directly not to do. Terrible. I went looking for bulghur wheat in Sainsbury’s and I couldn’t find it anywhere. Maybe it’s hiding with the seeds. My brother was about to arrive and I had no time for trekking up to Fresh n Wild to look for the perfect grain so I started thinking what I could replace it with. And since Yotam had baulked at the idea of using couscous, of all things, I had couscous on the brain. It was like when someone tells you to Not Look Now when a very tall person walks past – perhaps taller than 6′ 7″ even. So I hit the big – shockingly big – couscous section of the supermarket and bought loads of Ainsley Harriot ready mixes and some cheap Sainsbury’s versions – plus a load of ready-made couscous salads, too. I wasn’t taking any risks as I’m traditionally very bad at cooking couscous (it has measuring in it), and I thought I’d rely on someone else’s abilities to make sure the whole meal wasn’t a damp, soggy, tasteless mush. Then I ate two of the salads on the way home. These are my problems, really. I’m so impatient and I have such an infinite appetite. But at least I wasn’t crotchety by the time Mark arrived and we had two other salads to serve up, plus a couscoused-up tabbouleh.

The other misbehaviours I did were a) not chop the herbs properly – again very much against the warnings of Yotam – and b) not wash the herbs properly enough. I thought I was thorough but I should know by now that my benchmarks for thoroughness are set at about half the strength of most people’s. I nearly broke a tooth on a bit of grit. Ech, I don’t even like to think back on it.

Luckily this was right at the end of the meal during second helpings, so it didn’t put us off. I think it was an isolated grit particle. Maybe it came out of Ainsley’s couscous. Better not say that; I’m sure it didn’t.

Again, I’m rambling like ze Wordsworth here so I’d better quit it and show you the pictures, then sign off.

Tabbouleh

 

Couscous

Not bad, eh, but you can see the poorly chopped herbs there, looking like trees. In a moment of horror I realised I’d forgotten to photograph the dish but luckily there was enough left over to get this shot. I put the rest of it in the freezer to languish with all the other probably unfreezeable leftovers I reheat for unsuspecting guests these days. It is working out to be much more economical than expected, making the effort to cook each evening.

To be true to The Measure I checked out Proenza Schouler stuff online and discovered my suspicions were not only true but exceeded – the cheapest leather thing on Net-a-Porter was a ‘pochette’ (a small bag in which posh women keep their doubloons) for about fifty million (660) pounds. So I didn’t get it. I keep my doubloons in a mouse’s stomach I stretched and cured at the orphanage, which has lasted me all this time.

Conclusions:

  • Take your hat off indoors, young lady.
  • Chop proper.
  • About seven promotions lie between me and the pochette.