Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Butternut soup

I know it’s been raining a lot but it’s quite mild out. Which means summer is coming which means bare legs and vest tops. We need to get our act together at Landcroft House. We have a family membership at Jags sports club, costs £65ish a month, gets used once a month. From now on we are going to exercise, watch our calorie and booze intake (although we’re going to the East Dulwich Forum wine tasting at Green & Blue tonight which is not a good start). I am going to walk everywhere. I am going use that giant butternut squash to make a very healthy soup for tonight’s tea.

Everyday butternut soup
Serves 2
Just 248 kcal per large serving!
Butternut squash is very high in Vitamin A (nice hair and skin) and C and is also a good source of fibre, Vitamin E and calcium.
800g butternut squash or small pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed
500g ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 garlic cloves, quartered
1 tsp olive oil
2 chillies, halved, seeded and roughly chopped
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp dark muscovado
1.2 litres hot chicken or vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Place the pumpkin, tomatoes and garlic in a large, deep roasting tin. Season well with salt and pepper, drizzle over the oil and roast for 30 minutes until the pumpkin feels tender when pierced with a knife.

Sprinkle over the chillies, ginger and sugar then pour over the hot stock. Return to the oven for 20 minutes. Puree roughly with a potato masher or blitz with a hand blender depending on how smooth you like your soup.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sounds Like Tuesday
Music: New And Revisited

Jack Hylton & His Orchestra: By A Waterfall (originally Decca, 1933, this version Lightning Tree Records, 2007) As you can see from the picture, Jack Hylton had his finest moments - of which there were quite a few, some long time ago. However, what was good 75 years ago, sometimes remains good 75 years later. This is just such a tune - as covered by The Bonzo Dog Band in August, 1969. More of this tremendous sort of thing here.

At Swim Two Birds: Wine Destroys The Memory (Green UFOs, 2007)
I feel like I've encountered this lot before somewhere down the line. Anyway, this is a great, great song, a softly rumbling, hungover-to-hell lament much recommended to fans of Richard Hawley and, oddly, Red House Painters. It's not out for a while yet, so don't tell anyone... OK?

Example: You Can't Rap (The Beats, 2007) Example is this chap from Fulham. On this forthcoming Beats single he bemoans the fact that people think, well, he can't rap. Which is a shame as he clearly can. He can also wallop the chemicals, as can be seen - repeatedly - here.

Cyann & Ben: Sunny Morning (Ever, 2006) This is a brilliant track from last year. C&B are artisanal French hippies, basically and this sounds (a little) like an arts & craft Spiritualized. So, not much to complain about there, eh?

I'm really, really hoping it is a sunny morning tomorrow - not for any other reason than it would make me spring into work feeling glad to be alive. Also, I pointed out the pink clouds of a sunrise to The Scrap the other day and he seemed genuinely excited by the prospect. I think he'd like this too...

BONUS POST: Maximo Park: Our Velocity (video).
I'd like to post Books From Boxes from their fantastic new album. But I'd get punched :(


State Of The Art: Critical

Hidden around here are some of what someone, somewhere has decided are The Worst Album Covers Ever. Except, of course, that most of them contain records you'd just love to hear.

Like Trevor's LP, as seen on the right. How much more entertaining is that going to be than, say, this piece of makeweight capery. Or this particularly aimless and hearltess effort?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Actually, We Did Like To Be Beside The Seaside

So, after a fairly torturous morning - I was in the boiler shop at 8:12am - we piled everything we own (well, that's what it looked like) into the car and thrashed it down to Winchelsea for the weekend. We ate lunch on route so we could all go straight to bed for a bit when we got to The New Inn. Two hours later, we were as good as new and made for Rye Harbour where The Scrap raced his Like-A-Bike up the long, long path to the wild and windy seafront. We chucked stones in the water and tried to stop our ears from freezing. Thick black clouds hung over half the sky with the rest of it blue or grey. Rain would appear from nowhere, then disappear into bright sunshine. The sky was endlessly fascinating. However, by the harbour the cloud cover made it look like night was falling, so we raced over to Camber to see some sand and make a few turtles just before sunset. The British seaside in the off season is brilliant.

By 6:15 our window table in the Inn had a pint of Guinness, a JD and Coke and a plate of Suffolk ham, free range egg and handcut (by Mr Beefeater of PotatoCorps Frozen Carb-Delivery Systems) chips. Scrap scoffed the lot, asked the barmaid for "a glass of wine, please" - he got apple juice - wolfed his chocolate ice cream and was ready for bed. With him tucked up we returned to the bar for more Guinness, more JD, some wine, an excellent steak and a great piece of plaice. We were full and happy and ready to pass out. It was 8:25pm.

At nine our old friends Jane and Bruce - who have a cottage nearby came over and we got a very welcome second wind. Jane brought us bags of presents and a parcel of delicious muffins she'd just baked. This morning breakfast wasn't served until 8:30 and Scrap wakes up at 6, so we were very grateful to have those muffins to keep him quiet. We were downstairs by 8:31 and the boiled eggs and soldiers soon followed.

We took the scenic route back to London stopping for fantastic scones, clotted cream and jam at the De La Warr Pavillion, chucked a few more stones in the sea, searched in vain for some cockles or winkles then piled back into the world's filthiest car and made for home.

Next week I'm going to buy The Good Pub Guide so we can do this more often. A lot more often, hopefully.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Burgers for tea tonight

Adrian is coming at 8am tomorrow to fit the special new condensing combination boiler so we are clearing off to the seaside for the weekend. Hurrah! When we get back the house will be warm and there'll be plenty of hot water and the shower will be more powerful than ever before...even the body jets (not holding my breath).
Robert is conveniently working a bit late tonight. Late enough to miss the bedtime shenanigans but he should be home just in time for his tea. So in between doing the books "Mummy read it!!!" and warming icy pyjamas with a mini hot-water bottle and packing an overnight bag for us all I will be using the pack of mince I have in the fridge to makes burgers purely because I can get them on the table in 15 minutes and a good Bolognese (what I really would like to eat) takes hours to cook down. Anyway, we all like a burger. I always make them this way, varying the flavourings depending on whatever herbs etc I have in the fridge and I like to add a bit of chopped bacon or pancetta if I have any. I'm sorry about the photo, I'm a bit pushed for time so I nicked it from my Family book

Makes 4
2 red chillies, seeded and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 dill pickles, roughly chopped
1 thick slice of white bread, crusts on
1 small egg
500 g organic minced beef
4 slices Port Salut, Jarlsberg or Cheddar cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 crusty buns

Place the chillies, garlic, parsley and gherkin in a food processor and tear in the white bread. Whizz until the bread breaks into crumbs then transfer to a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the egg, beef and plenty of salt and pepper – you may need to use your hands if you find the mixture difficult to blend.

Shape into four even-sized burgers with a thickness of no more than 1cm. Cook in a preheated griddle pan or under the grill for 3 – 4 minutes on each side until nicely browned but still just a touch pink in the centre.

Split open the buns and place a burger on the base of each. Top with a slice of cheese and maybe a smudge of mustard .

Records That Make Me Feel Good: 20 & 21

Ronnie Walker: Just Can't Say Hello (Once You've Said Goodbye) (Event, 1973)
So, I was rooting around in this pile of CDs on my desk this morning and I found this. As I said before, soul music is a bit of a closed book to me - especially the obsessive collector end of things - but there are two great tracks on it.

I know tap all about Ronnie Walker, but what I gather from the intranot is that he was one of those warhorses who spent much of his career banging out the hit(s) to worshipful Northern Soul fans. This is a brilliantly pitched ballad with great harp and strings. Oh, and a bassline that's pitched somewhere below sea level. Stylistically, Ronnie is like a slightly camp Al Green. I mean, he isn't, but you see what I mean...

Leroy Randolph: Good To The Last Drop (Spring, 1972)

There only seems to be this one picture of Leroy Randolph on the entire internet (unless this is also him, which is probably isn't - hello to the wonderfully named Geneva Shells, by the way). He only made one record for Spring and this is it. A proper hip-shaking dancer, it has elements of Motown shuffle, great backing vocals, and a lyric where he describes his lady-friend as being "like a small piece of leather" and points out that she's "very well put together". Good work, Leroy! Great little 4-bar breakdown in the middle too.


UPDATE: I've emailed Leroy Randolph to ask if he's "THE" Leroy Randolph. I'll keep you posted of all developments...

UPDATE II: If you look closely, you'll see that Geneva and Fred Shells share a "cell-phone". Sweet!

Thursday, February 22, 2007


We woke up to a very cold house this morning - especially in Scrap's tiny room as he's got a little fireplace with a drafty chimney. The boiler that’s been dripping for a month gave up its fight for life today. Nice timing considering the money we’ve just spent on radiators, ballcocks, a pump and a coldwater tank. Adrian the plumber is meeting me at Landcroft later to assess the situation but it’s inevitably going to mean a new boiler, at £2,000+. It wouldn’t be so hard to swallow if the existing boiler had been more than 18 months old - I thought they were meant to last 10 years! Anyway, we’ve got no heating or hot water so can we all come to yours tonight for a shower? And maybe a night in your cosy spareroom? Anyone?
I guess it’ll be the Comfort Inn, in Vauxhall then. But at least we’ll get a great breakfast in Estrella, the best cafe/ restaurant in the world. Yep, every cloud does have a silver lining doesn’t it!

Addicted to Chips

Did you see that programme Freaky Eaters - Addicted to Chips on BBC3 last night?
The brat of a 20 year old girl who would only eat beige carbohydrates – white bread, chips, crisps, oh and butter. The thought of eating any other food made her feel sick. Of course, it soon became clear that it was indeed all her parents fault. The psychologist and nutritionist did their best but in the end they couldn't fix her. I thought she was so lazy and unappreciative, they shouldn't have bothered. Next week – addicted to cheese – can’t wait!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Video Of The Day Year

This is the new video from Pepe Deluxe for their single, Pussycat Rock . I met them in Helsinki recently and came, fairly swiftly, to the conclusion that they were in The Mentals.

It looks like I was right.

Basement Crates: Discoveries 15 & 16

Willie Hutch: I Can Sho' Give You Love (originally Motown, 1977, this issue, Big Cheese, 1994)

I distinctly remember sticking this Big Cheese compilation in my bag at the record shop back in the spring of 1994. Soul was never really my thing - hip hop, jazz, dub, jungle, breakbeat, funk, afro-beat, even hi-life, yes, but soul no - so I was a little suspicious of this, but it only took me one listen to fall for it. I also had some friends who recorded for and did some work for the label, so that helped. Am I correct in remembering some sort of Big Cheese magazine too? It were all nights at t'Jazz Cafe and funny little beards in them days, I tells yer.

Anyway, 1977 is not a year I hold a lot of affection for as a rule, but this is fantastic, nicely samplable intro too. Not that anyone should take any notice of that, naturally.

The Lilac Time: The Darkness Of Her Eyes (Creation, 1991)

Ecstasy. One of the most sensible things Creation boss Alan McGee boss ever said was how he always used to enjoy taking ecstasy on his own and going to Richmond Park to listen to Nick Drake rather than losing "it" in some grotty basement club. Very prescient, Mr McGee. And an emotion that leads easily to Lilac Time, Stephen Duffy's folk-pop outfit that's been signed to every other label in Britain and never made anyone a penny.

This is, in classic Duffy style, a devastatingly beautiful song. Taken from an album - Astronauts - that was written while the early 90s whirl of pills and powders and booze washed around the smart west London flats he lived in (North Kensington is another great track from the record), lines like, "There may be less between us than we thought," are just thrown in, left floating for the rest of us to imagine what happened next.

I once saw Duffy - in about 1994 - swilling champagne with Alex James at the aftershow of some Blur gig in the basement bar of a posh central London venue. I remember thinking he had a very enviable life.

I hope he still has.



There's something fishy going on at Landcroft House. We have this little outhouse that stores the tumble dryer and a chest freezer. Lately it's developed an unmistakable odour. I think a fishfinger must have flipped out while Robert was rummaging for ice but we can't find it anywhere. It has now got pretty unbearable. Rob has taken to leaving the door open but that's not much of a help. I have started avoiding doing the laundry and if I have to do a wash, once the cycle has finished, I leave the door wide open in the middle of the kitchen with a leg or something poking out and wait for Robert to get irritated enough to give in and carry the clothes out to the tumble dryer. I don't have a solution but this afternoon I plan to start training Scrap to walk to the launderette on Lordship Lane with his Brio brick trolley, I think he should be able to manage a full load by the end of the week.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Records That Make Me Feel Good: 19

Mariee Sioux: Icarus Eye (Names, 2007)

I've known Billy since I was about 19 and, even then, in the very bloom of my youth, he was about 11 times cooler than I could ever hope to have been. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he now runs the very cool Names label while I am a penny a line hack who spends a proportion of his time writing about how great various Names Records are.

And here we go again. Mariee Sioux is just, well, magical. She also stares at me from my desktop every day looking a bit severe and I respond well to severity.

Anyway, if the prospect of someone quite odd singing quite odd songs in a very beautiful way sounds like it might polish your inner child then help yourselves.

Go on. Enjoy!


We live on a corner and everyone in both streets walks past our collection spot every Tuesday morning. This week is particularly bad, I'm sure we must have forgotten to have put it out last week. Please Southwark Council, can we have one of those big blue boxes with a lid on that everyone else has got?

Breton galettes

We celebrated pancake day this morning with some French-inspired pancakes. Galettes are the very thin lacy, savoury crepes made from buckwheat flour (usually have it in SMBS). Every recipe says to leave the batter for 2 hours but as we wanted ours for breakfast my batter only got 15 minutes of resting which may be why they weren’t quite as delicate as I’d hoped for. And is why I’m showing this nice picture instead of mine.

If you don’t have buckwheat flour, and want to make classic pancakes, use plain flour and switch half of the water for milk. Serve with a squeeze of orange juice and a sprinkling of sugar

Anyway, Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras is the day before Ash Wednesday which is when some people give up things for Lent. As Lent means that Easter is coming, it is now no longer too early to buy those little net bags of white chocolate chicks from M&S. Unless of course, you are a giving up chocolate for Lent. It is also traditional for women to have pancake races today. I’ve got my pan and pancake ready but have not yet been invited to any races :(

100g buckwheat flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
250ml cold water
knob of butter, melted
sunflower oil

Whisk together the flour, salt, egg and water to maker a smooth, thin batter.

Heat a tiny splash of oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. When the pan is hot ladle in a little batter. Swirl the pan to spread the batter thinly.

Cook for a moment then turn and top with your fillings (we had cheese and ham). Fold over the corners of the galette so it forms a square.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tate Expectations

We went to The Tate this afternoon - we're at the very coalface of London cultural life, you know - and, after a spot of noodling about looking at Gilbert & George stuff and making the correct fa(e)ces, we quit the prevaricating and made for what we really wanted. The slides.

Scrap went for the little one on Level 2, cued up, got excited, climbed in the bag, got lifted onto the top of the slide then bottled it when he was told he'd have to lie down. Cue hot tears.

The Wife made it up to level 4 and, while Scrap watched with growing alarm, chucked herself down. She squealed as she plummeted down the tube. Me and him clapped when she waved up at us.

I went to the level 5, took off my coat, put my phone in my pocket (which I discovered later was half full of old apple juice, thanks Scrap), climbed into the hessian sack and propelled myself down. It felt like I was dropping for ages, but it always smooth, it never felt like I was about to be flung to my certain death. Oh well.

Later, we went to Dragon Castle to celebrate Chinese New Year (trans: eat dim sum for tea). It was great, but then our mate Chris Martin says we're way too easily pleased, so maybe it was rubbish and we just didn't notice.

Anyway, I want to eat this soon.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Jam Session

Last month, when Seville oranges were in season, I made some marmalade to Robert's mum's recipe. It turned out very nicely and I handed it out to various neighbours, including my friend James. He called me to say thanks but also mentioned that his wife Sally was a bit put out because although she doesn't cook much she had that day made a batch of marmalade, to her own mother's recipe. Anyway, when I went into the office yesterday, there was a jar of Sally's marmalade sitting on my desk. She's a designer, and her jar was way more sophisticated-looking than mine, with it's black paper lid rather than Dulwich DIY sellophane cover. Anyway I tasted it this morning and was surprised at how different, and maybe better, it tasted than mine - it was delicious - dark, bitter and sort of dirty. I'll have to ask her for the recipe. Now James has left a message on my answer phone saying he wants all of us locals to have a big 'jam off' in the summer and has already got Roz from the Review bookshop on board and would I call back to discuss the plan and the rules.....and the venue for the judging! I don't know whether to cry or cheer but I'm thinking maybe strawberry with blackcurrants and a hint of star anise, as my wine-expert pal Mel would say, 'for the back palate'.
Who's up for the challenge then?

Friday, February 16, 2007

What Do You Think He's Driving At?

Paperboy's Ditty was a huge rap hit in 1993. In this alarming video, he's seen lying on the ground while a passing cow gets, well, milked by a load of bikini-clad "lovelies".

What's that all about then, eh?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I don’t want chips anymore

Me and Jenny are going out on Lordship Lane tonight. We plan to have a lovely time drinking large glasses of chilled white wine and eating chunky chips and garlic mayonnaise in The Bishop. I like the Bishop very much, they're always friendly in there and you get a good choice of home-made food at any time of day. None of the, "oh, the kitchen doesn't open until six" or "get that child out of here it is six o'clock!" that you get in the Rye Hotel. So, no, don't take your child in the Rye for an early weekend supper, they'll kick him out just as they start serving food.
Anyway, our other best friend, Angela, would usually be with us but unfortunately the magazine she works for, quite last minute, has gone and sent her to Italy to write a food and travel piece. They have also commissioned her photographer husband to go along and take the pictures. She has just texted me this picture of herself and this message “In Portofino and just had trofie al pesto Going to next town now to get big gelato will send pic. Love ya. A x”
Don't work too hard, Sweetheart, will you!!!

Unreleased Canadian Folk-Rock Corner: 2

Neil Young: Stringman (demo, 1976)

In 1993, when the whole world went mad for that whole MTV Unplugged caper, it went doubly mad for the idea of Neil Flaming Young doing it as he was precisely the sort of IMPORTANT HERITAGE ARTIST ACTUALLY that made TV people wet the bed. Of course, when it happened, some was a bit dull, a lot of it was very good, but Stringman was just brilliant.

I had never heard it before and in those pre-internet days it was very difficult to find out anything about it (because just asking someone would have been insanity, right?). Now, of course, I know it was, originally, an unreleased track from 1976. Well, let it be unreleased no longer!

And - hello! - here's the sleeve of the bootleg it's taken from...

And that, ladies and gents, concludes the UCF-RC series until I find away to pretend that Rush's Lakeside Park is, in any way imaginable, either folk-rock or unreleased. Love the shorts, dude.


Myriam's bread

My friend Myriam is the cookery expert and presenter for Swiss National Radio. She's recently started a blog and I have nicked this lovely recipe and even her picure from it to show you.

Pain de Mie
Makes 2 loaves
10g butter
20g fresh yeast
500g strong white flour
50g (or 50ml) milk
300g (or 300ml) lukewarm water
a little butter for greasing

grease 25cm loaf tins with a little butter.

put flour in a big bowl and rub fresh yeast and butter into flour. use your fingertips to do so until it disappears (or looks like very fine breadcrumbs). add the water & milk and mix until the dough starts to form. the dough will feel quite moist and probably stick to your fingers (or the hook of the kitchen aid machine) - but keep on kneading until you have a smooth, elastic but slightly sticky ball of dough. grease the mixing-bowl with some butter, put dough in and cover with clingfilm. let rest in a draught free place until it has doubled in size (about 1 hour).

turn the dough onto a floured surface and divide into two equal pieces. mould each piece tightly into a loaf shape. once in their tins, leave to prove in a warm place for another hour. cover the tins with a clean baking sheet (and put something heavy on top), so they wont rise too much.

preheat the oven to 250 C°, reduce to 220 C°, put tins (covered with baking sheet and something heavy like a le creuset pot on top) into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. remove baking sheet and bake for another 5 minutes until loaves are golden brown. remove from tins and let cool on a cooling rack.

this bread tastes wonderful with some fresh butter. a drop of honey or - i know i am terrible - a guacamole with loads of lime juice and some finely chopped red onion.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Unreleased Canadian Folk-Rock Corner: 1

Joni Mitchell: Shades Of Scarlett Conquering (demos, 1975)
A kind person sent me a link to this somewhat less than entirely legal site which had all the unreleased - largely acoustic - demos from Joni's (notice how I called her "Joni" there, like we're mates) 1975 smasheroo, The Hissing Of Summer Lawns.

Some of them just aren't as good as the finished versions. Edith And The Kingpin, for instance, has this really annoying phrasing. But this is just, um, lovely. The finest, mildest, most heart-warming speech impediments in pop, that's our Joni.

Check back tomorrow for more Unreleased Canadian Folk Rock, cos I've lined up a doozy!


Surely Valentine

Look, I know, it's starting to be a bit nauseating now, but, look what I got in the post! The nice ladies on reception were very jealous of the dozen Krispy Kreme donuts (I offered them one, but they wouldn't take me up on it).

We are all feeling fatter and happier this afternoon, I can assure you.

And yes, that is actual Fuzzy Felt on the card!

Say it with flowers

Or if you prefer, cabbages. I don't know what's going on this year but it's turning out to be better than Christmas today. First I got breakfast in bed then Scrap came into the room and threw a bunch of pretty cabbages at me and then I got a copy of the Silver Spoon cookery book. And now a woman's just knocked at the door and given me a little chocolate whisky bombe cake from Konditor and Cook with a pair of glittery lips on the top! Who said we're obsessed with food in this house? All I need to do now is go back to bed and wait for the day nanny to show up. Ok, ok, Christmas is over already.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What is that NOISE?

It's 10.50pm on a Tuesday night and yes, it is still raining. Tell you what Southwark Council, why don't you get a digger and loads of flashing lights and dig a big noisy hole in the street directly outside my little son's bedroom window. I'm sure it must be for something really, really important but we're trying to watch the telly!!


At the beginning of this year, I put a counter on Landcroft House, just to see if anyone other than my brother or sister ever checked in. I was shocked and delighted to see we average a good 200 visitors a week. The most interesting bit of blogpatrol is that it shows the last 10 Google searches that have led to our blog. On the whole, these tend to be half and half, food and music. Mostly people put in something simple like "gammon with parsley" or very often "Waterboys Book of Lightning" which Robert very naughtily posted a track from before the album has even been released. Today someone searched Google for "A recipe that includes both guinness and porridge". I have written about porridge and Rob has no doubt mentioned drinking Guinness which is why it must have led to us. I am fascinated by this. What do you think they were trying to make? With porridge and Guinness? Maybe something for Valentine's Day tomorrow? If it was you, tell me, what did you make? I'd like to get a new job with Google. I'm sure I'd learn far more about people than by watching reality tv shows.

Book In The Nick Of Time

I've stolen (and ruinouly tweaked) that tagline wholesale from the BBC as, frankly, it's so good there's little point me trying to better it. So, Life On Mars returns this evening and, it's safe to say, we're a bit over-excited. Excited enough to watch that actual 70s copper on BBC Breakfast this morning who prefaced his interview by revealing he's never actually seen the show. Oh good... Well done researchers!

Anyway. A very kind friend who works at the BBC sent me two copies of this promo handbook thing and I thought I should share it with, if not the world, then at least the 18 people who regularly come to Landcroft House. And they're all big scans so click away and "enjoy" yourselves.

Oooooh! Punching! That's naughty...

Hhhmmmm, paper work is so exhausting...

Lady police officers! Hilarious!

I'll see you later, sharing a vermouth with Yootha Joyce, smoking a Kim and having a rat's nest for a hair-"do".

Monday, February 12, 2007

Steak Milanese

I love Monday nights (double Corrie, early night) but the dinner is always a bit of a hotchpoch of whatever's still edible after the weekend. Robert was in charge of the last shop so all that's left in the fridge is one gigantic sirloin steak and lots of drinks. Scrap's got his pal Henry here and I'm in no mood to manage two 2 3/4 year old boys round the deli and SMBS in this wet weather. So I have decided on my mum's steak in breadrumbs. It is a version of the Italian classic Scaloppe Milanese- Milanese Veal Escalopes.
Elizabeth David says that after coating the meat in egg and breadcrumbs, they should be "fried in a plentiful amount of very good clarified butter so that the outside is crisp and golden and garnished with halves of lemon and parsely. Accompaniments are either a green salad or saute potatoes." So there we are then.
I am planning to cut my steak into six pieces and then bat them out as thinly as possible. I'll beat an egg with a crushed garlic clove and dip the steaks first in that and then into a mix of fresh white breadcrumbs and Parmesan. They need only a little olive oil for frying and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before eating. I suppose I probably could muster up some saute potatoes but then again, Robert could easily pop into M&S on the way home for a box of Gastropub Chunky Chips...

Country Strife

The Scrap, The Wife and me went to the countryside this weekend to see my mum and dad. We had a lovely time and thrashed up and down this hill with Scrap insisting on using my mum's special hill-walking stick, despite it being twice as big as him.

He also spent a lot of time shouting "Manners!" really loudly. Your guess is as good as mine as to where that little tit-bit came from.

Oh, and one other thing. Mother, if you're reading this, no more casseroles! We want roast meat, goddammit!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Records That Make Me Feel Good: 17

Davy Graham and Shirley Collins: Hares On The Mountain (Decca, 1965)
I was at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards the other night (with my great showbiz pals, The Pentangle, of whom more later) when I spotted my other great showbiz pal Shirley Collins over in the corner. I wanted to go and say hello and thank her again for the lovely sandwiches she made me when I travelled down to her house in East Sussex for an interview. But she was deep in conversation with someone a bit severe looking, so I grabbed another glass of the rather rough champagne on offer (Dear BBC, I was horrified by the poor quality hooch being given away at the etcetc) and spoke to Bill Oddie instead. It was that sort of evening.

Anyway, this is such an amazing track that I have to listen to it at least twice a week or I get the emotional bends. Davy plays incredible guitar and Shirley sings with a purity - despite the, frankly, lusty raunch of the lyrics - that is genuinely shocking. If you don't like it I can't be your friend. It's that simple. Having said that, if you don't like it and you've ploughed through all this crap to get there, you probably don't want to be my friend anyway.

So we're all happy.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Berry and Chocolate Muffins

I’ve been doing a series of children's cookery workshops for Waitrose and so far, it’s been very enjoyable. Today I made muffins with my group of 5 – 8 year olds and they were all really fantastic though some maybe stayed in the oven a little too long. The muffins I mean, not the kids.

Makes 12
250g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g dried berries and cherries
100g white chocolate, chopped
100g milk chocolate, chopped
100g golden caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
150g carton natural yogurt
100g butter, melted

1 Preheat the oven to 200C / gas 6. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

2 Tip the flour and bicarb into a large bowl then stir in the berries, chocolate and sugar. Add the beaten eggs, yogurt and butter and mix together – don’t worry if it’s a bit lumpy.

3 Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until risen and golden brown. Cool a little before eating.

Pop Stars Who Are Nice: 1

I interviewed Brett Anderson in St John's Wood this morning. He was funny and serious and charming and friendly. None of which was a surprise as he was precisely that two years ago when I interviewed him about The Tears (what ever happened to them, eh? Oh, hang on, I know what happened to them...)

Anyway. We had a cup of coffee and he swanned about a bit looking all slim. His phone rang and it was a slightly lady-like Samsung clamshell. Someone called Vanessa spoke. He told Vanessa he was doing an interview and would call her back. Then he apologised. Manners, you see?

Later I asked him if why he never married and why there were no "little Andersons" and he paused for a moment and said, "No comment. Next question." I think maybe there is one and he's keeping schtum.

Anway, I'm transcribing the interview now and the machine I'm working on pitches the recording down for easier typing, um, stuff. Consequently, we sound like the two most tediously self-absorbed basket-cases of aaaa-llll-tiiii-iiiiiime.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Getting Old

It's a sad thing to accept isn't it. I find that I'm reacting by fancying young men with long hair and eye liner. I do like nice Russell Brand and recently as I was going into Tiger Aspect for a sort of screen test (don't think I got it), the strange-looking-one out of Mighty Boosh was having a fag on the steps outside and gave me a nice smile. Anyway, he was on Nevermind the Buzzcocks tonight - Rob was in the pub so don't ask me why it was on - and he was very funny as well as good-looking. And I don't want to hear anything about him dating Courtney Love, okay. But surely she must be older than me?