Monday, 31 December 2012

Irregular Choice

It happens every year. In the summer, I become a hippie who only needs 3 sets of clothes and one set of flip flops. I denounce materialism and scoff at people who go shopping at the weekend. I declare I no longer need 'things' to make me happy and am going to throw away most of my possessions.

Then Autumn sets in, it gets colder, and I remember I wear at least 3 sets of clothes at once outside summertime. You can't do as much stuff outside and eating raw leaves doesn't sound that nice anymore. I start to feel a yearning for cinched wool dresses...

By Christmas I'm wishing I was a millionaire again, like everyone else. I've found so many lovely things I desperately want, as a by-product of shopping for presents and because internet browsing has long replaced slacklining in the garden. 6 months ago all I wanted to look like was healthy and beachy, now I want to look like one of the ladies from Mad Men, with their structured flattering dresses and painted lips.

Happily for me, I have been completely spoilt this Christmas (and birthday of course, got to love having them at the same materialistic time), and am now the proud owner of many yearned-for 'things', including a red leather retro Roberts radio to go with my Mad Men outfits, a posh new stereo for my little car and a whole sewing machine to make my Mad Men outfits with (more on that in another post...). However the finding 'things' exciting doesn't get cured so easily, that takes another couple of months, so please share with my the joy of admiring the shoes from Irregular Choice. If I was indeed a millionaire and my feet agreed with anything other than boots made of duvet I would buy lots of them.



Saturday, 15 December 2012

Puddles the Cat

My mum is amazing!!
Mum: "He looks like he's been the victim of an oil disaster."

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Vegetable of the Week - The Dudhi

This week's vegetable of the week is the dudhi, or bottle gourd, which is a very satisfying name to say. Bottle gourd. Try it.

I'm abandoning the 'eat it first, research it later' idea, as some things like potatoes you shouldn't eat raw, and I don't want to precipitate some sort of digestive disaster. Also, to give the candidates a fair shot at a good review, I should prepare them in a recommended way. Broccoli is excellent in a stir fry but terrible in risottos. It would be sad to review risottoed broccoli and disuade anyone from such a very enjoyable vegetable.

Therefore, I found the dudhi and discovered it is a member of the squash family, and all the recipes for it were curries. I chose Lauki Chana Daal Subzi, or 'Bottle gourd and lentil curry.' From here:

On chopping, it resembles a courgette inside. After chopping, the pieces oozed sappy watery stuff.


Ta da!! I really liked it. The dudhi is a bit firmer than courgette and takes up the spices nicely. This is apparently an ayurvedic recipe and is supposed to make lots of things better. It certainly feels very nourishing and healthy. Famie and I enjoyed it. I decided to get its goodness into Zappa so I took some over to his work. He said, 'I think we look for different things in a lunch, Em.'
I said, 'Really?'
He said, 'Yeah, I go more for 'yum yum'!'

Well, I'm just glad I got some good food into him instead of a chicken mayo and bacon baguette from the sandwich van. I'm definitely making this again.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Vegetable of the Week: Chayote

This week's exotic piece of produce is in fact a fruit: the chayote.

First impressions: It looks like a bramley that's tried to eat itself. Slightly less firm than an apple though, more like an old apple that you know is going to taste rubbish but you feel guilty for not eating sooner so you should probably at least try and slog through it.

Cut up, it looks appley too but with only a hint of an effort to produce pips. Ghost pips. Very nice and crispy firm flesh.

Taste - the smell of when someone's been strimming. Strong hint of grass and other stemminess. Not strong flavour. Refreshing.

Conclusions: It's alright. I like the way it reminds me of summer. It feels virtuous and healthy. A whole one's a bit much. It's not as moreish as other fruits as it's not very sweet.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Ava Sophia

We got treated to meeting Ava Sophia Ingram for the first time, Buriton Luke's little girl. She's so tiny!

She and her godfather ended up having a fight.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Morrison's Magical Fruit and Veg Section

I went to Morrison's the other day and was amazed. No, I am sadly not being sponsored. They'd done a refit and whilst 90% of it looked the same to me, the fruit and veg bit was ridiculous! New 'swamp coolers' breathed swirling marshy mists over central tables of immaculate produce, miniature lawns of herbs such as sage and mint were neatly but abundantly displayed. But the most striking thing was how much completely weird things they were stocking - prickly pears, spherical courgettes the size and shape of baseballs, dragon fruit, every kind of posh mushroom you could possibly hope to find in San Francisco....I was gobsmacked.

I can't be bothered to go and persuade a supermarket manager to let me take pictures of his territory, or have lots of shoppers stare at me while I do so, in fact, leaving the house is looking doubtful today. So instead I have searched the interweb for evidence and it turns out, it's not just Waterlooville where the aliens have landed. Here are some stolen pictures.

Love that there's a
I found this novelty interesting for several reasons. Firstly, I'd never heard of half the stuff, or at least seen it. Secondly, it's a recession, surely this is the worst time to breed dogs and/or open delicatessen vegetable sections? Thirdly, it's Morrisons.....not that I'm a snob but isn't Morrison's thing 'cheap and British'?
But as I wandered the brightly coloured aisles of exotic potential vitamins I started to get how it could work. I was actually quite excited by the new things. I wanted to buy one of everything and then google them when I got home to find out what virtuous exciting recipes I could make. I was getting inspired.
However, that would be excessive. Therefore, I am going to slowly work my way through the Morrison's Incredible Intergalactic Inglenook of Plant Produce, and post reviews.
So. Time for this week's
The Karela
Review: I chose this because it was up there with the weirdest-looking thing I could find. The helpful label on the veg table said 'Good in stir fries!'
I cut the end off and cut it up. The outside is firm and squeaky. The inside is soft and pithy. I fried it in butter along with some mushrooms.
It was AWFUL. It was SO BITTER! And chewy. Blergh. I've just googled it and it's called 'Bitter Melon.' It is sometimes used instead of hops in Chinese and Okinawan beers.
I quite like the surprise of eat first, google after. I think I will continue this format.
Stay tuned for the next VEGETABLE OF THE WEEK.

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Hobbit

This song gives me proper goosebumps. So excited! It's out on the 13th of December...

Sunday, 25 November 2012


Saw the Muppets movie last night. The chickens were my favourites.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Yay things

Oh my goodness, look, happiness in tiny bottles!


Hilarity as Pete tries on Mum's coat
Meanwhile, Zappa is enjoying himself in Greece with some of the climbers. He sent me this picture this morning whilst waiting for the others to get up (such a keeno):

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Good Life, Petersfield

We have a very lovely friend called Claire who has helped to set up The Good Life Education & Community Garden Project, who have taken the lease of a piece of land with the intention of creating a community garden. The idea is that local people can work together to grow lots of vegetables, create a little haven just to go and be in, and learn to care for the environment. There will be educational days, courses and workshops, and socials for the members. I think it is a spiffing idea.
Ahh, Britain, how I love you. You can almost hear the Archers theme tune.
This lady had made all these beautiful baskets out of hedgerow materials! She taught me to make a little wreath, which I was very chuffed with.
You can get the most beautiful colours using different species. Dogwood is my favourite, being a bright red colour. I have to say I'm very inspired and now have an ambition to make a basket like this little one, above. Apparently it takes a whole day on a workshop.
There was homegrown produce and yummy-looking things made out of them.....
Unfortunately they all had wheat in so I couldn't pig out. Which is a good thing I suppose because I probably would have obliterated the nice display.
Claire was being very brave and putting on a scarecrow-making workshop for some quite hyper kids, who were more keen on punching the scarecrows than drawing a nice face on them. She was actually really good with them! Some people just have the knack.
The ladies at the cake stand.
And lastly, the wreath I made! I decorated it when I got back with Autumnal things. Who says wreaths are just a Christmas thing?

I will be keeping you posted on the community project. I've put the website in the 'I love these' list on the right. 

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Zappa:  Lion had a heavy night. 'What happened to my suit?'

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Painting of MFC

This piece features a slice of vanilla cheesecake, a favourite dish shared by myself and MFC. I get the cheesecake bit and she gets the biscuit base. Neither of us like the other's bit so we are a cheesecake-sharing perfect match.

The only trouble with our glorious friendship is that MFC now feels entitled to jump up on outside tables and help herself to other people's lunch, and is now often found wandering into the house.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Chicken-Related Newsflash


Eye witness reports suggest that My Favourite Chicken, or MFC, ran at a high speed into the pond and became completely submerged, a highly unusual behaviour for non-aquatic poultry. 'It just ran and went straight under the water,' said Eco Luke, 84. 'At first, I thought it was a duck.' This would have been logical apart from the sinking. Co-witness Andy Gill later confirmed what were believed to be his wild claims. When questioned on the hen's reaction to the event, Luke said, 'It didn't like it very much.'
MFC, the alleged swimmer, declined to comment on the event.
Experts have, however, called into question the quality on the witnesses' reports. It has later come to light that MFC was not wet when identified from a line-up later that afternoon. A tip-off has been provided by someone known only as Lion, outlining the dubiousness of the witnesses' reliability. This includes a quote from Eco Luke saying 'Chickens all look the same to me,' and a theory that both Eco and Gill could be attempting to discredit MFC's reputation, to result in more cheesecake being shared with them and less with the hen.

Monday, 1 October 2012


Osama Bin Chicken (OSB) and My Favourite Chicken (MFC.      ...sounds disturbingly like a fast food chain)
MFC's offspring looking outraged that Sapphire stole her corn cob
Small Grey Hen, OBC, a white cockerel, MFC
Big Grey Hen and chick