Friday 30 December 2011

Lost perfume treasure

It has not been good news on the buying things that have been on the wish list front of late.

I tried a great bay rum but with citrus, great on a guy, cool on a girl, scent in Anthropologie in the summer and now I can find it nowhere. It was really good, the cool label contained a cool scent- but I think it must not have found enough noses (despite seeming so... yes I'm going to say cool again because it just was). I have tried to contact the Grove company but they thought it was on sale on Anthropologie's US site and it isn't.

Oh the perfume treasure we see and should grab when we can. If you see some try it and let me know what you think- it may have become better than it was in my mind because I can't get it- but I think it was excellent!

So the loss of Grove is a shame but oh well. However I also have been wearing as my every day scent for some years L'Occitane Green tea and mint (as discussed here), just for work and play and to smell fresh- it's a good price, good quality and I like the way the mint makes it a bit quirky and everyone likes a tea and mint smell- so I've found. Well. Well. What should I find when I do some boxing day online browsing, my go to every day, smells of me scent is gone- gone! also not on ebay! Okay they still do the green tea and they still do the green tea with jasmine- but it's the mint that makes it worth getting- that makes it a bit unusual and a bargain for it's price that I can spray without feeling guilty. Gone. The prescious is lost. I should not have sprayed with wild abandon.

So the search is on for a new every day smell that is not expensive so I can spray lots. I don't want anything too feminine or that would overpower people but I don't want anything very insipid either, no bland citrus or floral smells please. I like laundry fragrances for this sort of thing- I used to wear Clean but you get through that in about a day it smells so good. A green tea might be the thing, or a mint- or the two halves as a whole- but then we stray into expense again. I would like Heeley mint but that's no really cheap enough to spray around the office if your colleague has a smelly lunch. It's good to have a project I suppose. Sniff.

Thursday 29 December 2011

Films I didn't see the first time: Heartburn

Frankly I didn't see Heartburn because I was five when it came out and not the target audience for a relationship drama about two journalists from New York and Washington respectively.

However I have read many times that Nigella loves it- and Meryl is always great (though I must say there is one sequence in this film where she looks just like Alan Cumming and it's so funny at a not funny point in the film- but I digress).

So Heartburn the book features food more heavily, Heartburn the film still has food, the main character is a food writer and food is her therapy at times and the thing she hides in, the method she tries to improve herself via, I think lots of women do this- I do, it's interesting- do men go and change a tyre to feel better about themselves or more calm, perhaps they do.

Anyway the film stars Meryl and Jack (Nicholson) and is written by Nora Ephron (it is apparently quite autobiographical). So that's a sort of dream team- plus there is food as we've covered. There is also bad fashion and some brief Alan Cumming impersonating but those things don't matter. This film is very good and, worryingly, felt very modern- so ladies we haven't come very far at all since 1986- good news. It's about what happens to women when they think they've found the one, how they either wish to or their men wish them too give up who they are- the trade off of a big house and not working and beautiful children for, well perhaps men thinking they can do what they want. Perhaps some men always would though, perhaps it's more about re finding yourself, perhaps men would say that was all unfair- I'm afraid I'm making it sound like indulgent rubbish and this isn't like that at all- it's good and it is funny mostly and the characters are very charismatic.

I'm not the writer Nora Ephron is so if you like Meryl and Jack and Nora and food then this is enjoyable and about £3 online. There is also a good (and quite brief) book if you prefer but that doesn't have Meryl and Jack and doesn't feature the Alan Cumming bit.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Pho takeaway

When you get take away noodle soup from Pho they pack you off with a beautifully prepared bag with a hot tub of spicy broth and all the trimmings for a delicious soup. I had tofu and mushroom so I first added my noddles and stirred them into the soup, then I added my tofu and mushrooms and finally my beansprouts and onions. and squirted in some lime- you can also add mint and other herbs they give you but I didn't because I wanted the spicy kick. Delicious for when you have had enough Christmas type food or to fight off a cold. If you have to be eating at a desk at this time of year, why not do it in style.

Thanks to Christmas

This year I really thought what would I do without Christmas. Yes December is exhausting, it's too commercial, the people who would rather go to the sales at 2am than see their families drive me mad and I know it can be a very difficult time.

But without Christmas how would you get through Winter? Without the enforced stopping, the enforced closure of shops, the enforced catching up with family and friends that makes you tighten what can be loosening connections because life is so big and requires so much of us now- without all these I think the world would really be colder and darker in all ways. I am so grateful for the chance of Christmas, for what it can bring, I feel so much better and more ready for the world again.

(The picture is of one of my window sills- I quite like the way my bad i phone photography makes it look like a star is shining brightly outside!).

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Christmas Rev

The final episode of season 2 of Rev- which was also a Christmas episode- was everything I wanted it to be. I don't think anyone sensible who has seen the programme needs to be told this- but because last night, full of virus and after a difficult day Adam and his friends and family made my face and my heart smile- I am talking about it anyway.

This programme is a tiny nugget of joy, a simple, sometimes gentle but always sharply accurate picture of life when you're trying your best in London- that it happens to be about a Rev is to some extent by the by. That said I think the portrayal of the Reverend Adam Smallbone as a very real human being is doing an enormous amount for certainly this person's view of the church.

I am biased because Rev is filmed all over where I live but I think it would make me chuckle if I lived in Alaska just as well- though perhaps not the bits about bike etiquette on London roads or the dirty cornershops that are more expensive than Fortnum's.

So anyway, my point is Rev is utter joy and Christmas Rev was everything I wanted it to be. Hooray. Happy Advent (and then Christmas) to everyone- must try not to use midnight mass as the religious equivalent of a kebab (I don't even like kebabs and I love carols).

Monday 19 December 2011

Christmas eton mess

For Christmas eton mess (to feed 12) you will need: 300g fresh cranberries, approx one bag of amaretti biscuits (I used some gingernuts too and therefore less amaretti but I'm sure both work), Marsala wine (just a glug- and I'm sure something else sweet and boozy would also work), 600ml double cream (I found one flavoured with brandy but again that isn't necessary), meringue nests or the ingredients to make meringues, the juice and zest of one large orange, 150g caster sugar, 500g mascarpone.

First take the fresh cranberries, the zest and juice of one orange and the caster sugar and put on a medium heat, bring to the boil then simmer for ten minutes, or a little longer if you'd prefer some of the cranberries to burst (say 12 minutes). Stir at regular intervals to ensure all the cranberries are getting sweetened. Take off the heat and allow to rest in the pan.

Then take the biscuits and break with your hands, then pour in the Masala, depending on how much you wish- I would say you need at least two tablespoons but a little more if you wish. If you don't want to use any alchochol I would suggest just skipping this stage but crushing the biscuits more finely so they are crumbs and possibly mixing them with the cramberries rather than layering.

Beat the biscuits and Marsala together so you have a softened but still textured mixture

Then take a bowel or glass (preferably something see through to make the most of the dish). First put in a layer of biscuit and then add a layer of cranberries on the top as shown. Keep back a small ammount of the cranberry mixture for later.

Put those to one side, If possible keep them at room tempreture but if you are making them in advance then just remove them from the fridge approx half an hour before serving (and keep them covered with cling film which I did after taking the picture but which didn't look so pretty! this is hygienic and also keeps the aroma in).

Then take the cream and marscapone, whisk them together. Then add your home made or bought meringues in small crumbled pieaces.

Then add the small ammount of fruit that is left and stir in.

Put the cream and meringue mixture in the fridge and only add that section when you are serving the mess otherwise it will seep into the laters of cranberry.

Wishing everyone a very happy, aromatic Christmas

Thursday 15 December 2011

On festive stamina

I love Christmas, truly I do, everyone says they do at this time of year but for me it's the top of the year mountain- when everything feels as it should be. I cannot describe properly how happy I was sitting by the lit, adorned tree watching Elf on Sunday after several lovely Christmas meals over the weekend.

December is exhausting though isn't it? It's the thing no one wants to say. It's the most wonderful time of the year but the hope of Boxing Day and salvation via a duvet and Christmas tv or books is the only thing that gets me through some of the darker hours of Christmas hangovers.

In fact I think Boxing day should be renamed boxset day. This makes me a little cross with myself too because really I love the idea of getting all wrapped up in thermals and chic winter hats and going to the races to top up on festive er cheer (alcohol) and have a gamble out in the open, bracing air on the 26th of December and then perhaps collapsing for boxset day, or what you will, on the 27th- but I'm back to work on the Wednesday and so for me boxing day will be about pots (and pots) of tea, Nancy Mitford, a murder mystery and rose and violet creams. Right now, hugging my venti latte and drinking the fifth resolve of the week it's all I long for.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Thursday 1 December 2011

Advent adventures

Happy advent- I'm just back from scandilicious Sweden which was filled with the warm magic of the countdown to Christmas. Of course advent has already started and everywhere in Gothenburg they had their first week's candles burning. I love the communal celebration in Sweden- every house has candles in the window and everyone seems to treasure the warmth and light of this time of year.