Thursday, September 18, 2014

If you find yourself in the wrong story...

I haven't been very attentive of late. I'm so in awe of my friend Tania Kindersley who posts lovely, elegant missives every day on her blog. Let me excuse myself by saying, it's been awfully hot in Los Angeles -- over one hundred degrees in Laurel Canyon and even hotter where Jelly lives in the San Fernando Valley -- and tonight is the first night the air conditioning is off and the doors are open and I can hear the crickets and the tree frogs (people tell me they aren't tree frogs but I'm a romantic) and the faint barking of dogs in the distance, a cool breeze blowing through. I'm at my desk with the dogs underneath, putting off packing because I fly to England tomorrow to see my Mamma, back Monday. La belle Monica and her burly husband will be at the house to look after the spotteds and Thistle. And I've been busy with work. In my other life I'm the co-chair of the Britannia Awards for BAFTA Los Angeles, and my business is ramping up because Awards season is already in full swing. I love my clients. I do what I love. I am not complaining. But I haven't been this busy in a very, very long time.

Of course (and you'd expect not less from me) the love life is in shambles. I think the "it's complicated" setting on Facebook is amusing. It's rather droll, don't you think? My relationship isn't just complicated, it's a full blown hot mess of a situation, up and down and on and off, and completely like something out of a Mexican soap opera. It seems that I am drawn to "complex" men.  My father will be smiling down at me from heaven, where he, too, will be surrounded by dogs, and winking. Yes, complex men are the death of me. And when I say death, I would say that my whole existence seems to be in the balance.  Is it too much to ask for an easy, quiet, happy life? I don't know. Apparently, I'm not making the right choices. So, bring out your castanets, your push-up bras, your arched brows, and support the teatro.

Today was of particular challenge because I think I hit a wall that I'm not sure I'm going beyond. I posted this on my Instagram (because posting words on Instagram gets me through the day)

Alert the media: I'm leaving.

Hollywood is a good lover, but it's not a permanent relationship. It can dance, it can sing, it can hold you in its embrace, it can gaze deep into your eyes and tell you of its yearning, but it's moving on to the next any moment.

I need Great Britain. I need big old oak and beech trees, and green grass and the feel of the soft chalk and clay underneath. I need my Mamma's face, and Sunday lunch, and powder-dusted damsons, and bracken that hasn't yet turned brown, and deer in the morning, and woodpeckers and the sound of cuckoos and pigeons, and the smell of the leaf-mold.  I like sleeping giants under green hills, and secret passageways, and rhubarb. Peardrops, lemon bon-bons, sausages sizzling in the pan on the Aga, my father's musty old books, ramblers in cagoules, Basildon Bond and The Valiant Trooper.

At least for the weekend.

I want to be soothed, and pulled into Britain's big, strong arms, and reminded of my lovely country, and of what's important, and that my bones will one day turn to chalk that other women will walk upon, listening to Ralph Vaughan Williams and Vera Lynn and Kate Bush, and thinking of Hardy and Housman and Woolf and the shipping forecast.

Pack my trunk, I'm coming home.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The elegance of the lentil

I'm sure somebody has done this already, but there should be a book solely filled with lentil recipes. A lentil bible*.  And every kitchen should have one.

Lens culinaris

The lentil is an edible pulse and part of the human diet since Neolithic times.

I inherited a bias towards lentils. Growing up in a conservative (Tory) household, the unspoken idea was that people who ate lentils didn't shave their armpits, wore hemp and hung out in muddy trenches at Greenham Common. I was so, so wrong. (I am also now a bleeding heart liberal who favors Birkenstocks, mu-mus, progressive education and sheep's milk yogurt). I would argue for the elegance of the lentil - a simple, beautiful, shiny little bead packed full of nutrition and deliciousness. They are cheap, adaptable, adept at picking up flavors.  Lentils are gloriously comforting and most cheering. For so long lentils have been the back-up singers. I'd like to make a case for them as the star of the show.

Amanda Hesser's single girl's salmon with lentils from the lovely "Cooking for Mr. Latte" is one of my favorites, a recipe I go back to again and again, with or without the salmon. My friend Marta's lentil soup gets a ringing endorsement -- warm, homely, soothing perfection. Last night I made this Ottolenghi recipe for my friend Dawn, who is a most forbearing vegetarian with an omnivorous husband (that is, he's a real cook who likes to cook meat). The mixture of puy lentils, tahini, cilantro, lemon, and tomatoes is pure heaven. And the hard boiled eggs on top? Wow.

Grateful thanks once again to Yotam Ottolenghi who has changed my life with his fresh, provocative, whimsical approach to Middle Eastern food.

Thank you, Yotam Ottolenghi!

Crushed Puy lentils with tahini & cumin

From Yotam Ottolenghi in The Guardian: This sustaining meal-on-a-plate is a little bit like hummus, though much easier and quicker to prepare. With warm flatbread, I could eat this every day. Serves two as a main, or four as a starter.
200g/7oz puy lentils
30g/2 1/2 oz unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
3 medium tomatoes, skinned and cut into 1cm dice
25g/1oz coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
4 tbsp tahini paste
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
½ small red onion, peeled and sliced very thin
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
Bring a medium pan of water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook for 15-20 minutes, until completely cooked, drain and set aside.
Put the butter and oil in a large sauté pan and place on a medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and cumin, and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, 20g of coriander and the cooked lentils. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, then add the tahini, lemon juice, 70ml of water, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Turn down the heat to medium and cook gently, stirring, for a few minutes more, until hot and thickened. Roughly mash the lentils with a potato masher, so that some are broken up and you get a thick, porridge consistency.
Spread out the lentils on a flat platter, run a fork through to make a wavy pattern on top, and scatter on the sliced onion, the remaining coriander and a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm with the hard-boiled eggs alongside.

*please send me your favorite lentil recipe. I will put them up here and we will start to build our bible!


I love all films that start with rain:
rain, braiding a windowpane
or darkening a hung-out dress
or streaming down her upturned face;
one long thundering downpour
right through the empty script and score
before the act, before the blame,
before the lens pulls through the frame
to where the woman sits alone
beside a silent telephone
or the dress lies ruined on the grass
or the girl walks off the overpass,
and all things flow out from that source
along their fatal watercourse.
However bad or overlong
such a film can do no wrong,
so when his native twang shows through
or when the boom dips into view
or when her speech starts to betray
its adaptation from the play,
I think to when we opened cold
on a rain-dark gutter, running gold
with the neon of a drugstore sign,
and I'd read into its blazing line:
forget the ink, the milk, the blood—
all was washed clean with the flood
we rose up from the falling waters
the fallen rain's own sons and daughters
and none of this, none of this matters.
-- Don Paterson via @newyorker h/t Jeff Gordinier

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cool Vietnamese minty cucumber noodles

I just read a post on Facebook that said "Cold brown rice noodles in Vietnamese dressing with cucumber, sugar snap peas, basil, mint & peanuts... is all I am eating in this heat." I salivated, quite lasciviously, actually. As it's going to be over 100 degrees F in Los Angeles this weekend we all need something to beat the heat. And this. Looks. Scrumdiddyumptious.

Full credit goes to Georgie at The Delish Life blog (please click through).

Here's the recipe:

Georgie says: " Soooo simple Luvvie... and soooo YUM!!"
Boil brown rice noodles (or brown rice spaghetti). Strain in cold water and let them sit in a tablespoon of grape seed oil. Make Vietnamese style cold dressing out of 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 2 tablespoons o
f fresh lime juice, finely sliced chili (to taste), finely diced 2 cloves of garlic, 2 teaspoons of coconut sugar, 2 teaspoons of tamarind sauce, 1 teaspoon of sugar free organic chunky peanut butter, and one teaspoon of finely diced ginger. Shake ingredients of dressing very well. Finely slice sugar snap peas and Persian cucumber and place in a bowl and pour half of the dressing over. Strain the noodles from the grape seed oil and place in bowl and pour other half of dressing over the noodles. Place noodles in a bowl to served and pour over cucumber & pea mix. Add finely sliced mint and basil to taste, as well as finely chopped peanuts. You can also add finely sliced Spanish onion.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Curly girls

Curly girls, is it wrong to want to have hair like St Vincent lead singer Annie Clark?

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Man With The Child In His Eyes

"Oh, I'm so worried about my love.
They say, "No, no, it won't last forever."
And here I am again, my girl,
Wondering what on Earth I'm doing here.
Maybe he doesn't love me.
I just took a trip on my love for him."

-- Kate Bush

Sunday, September 07, 2014

...and dream of sheep...

KATE BUSH And Dream Of Sheep from Sky Vibes on Vimeo.


"I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another… then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."

-- From Ulysses by James Joyce