Archive for June, 2014|Monthly archive page

Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this but…

In Music on June 30, 2014 at 8:02 pm


…I’m a HUGE fan of Metallica.

The American thrash metal band. I bloody LOVE them.

Metallica came into my life in the fairly early days of MTV in the UK, in 1991, when I used to have the thrilling new music channel on all the time in my flat in London. Their track Sandman was on all the time and I quickly became obsessed with its sinister, growly sound, and driving guitar lick.

Something about electric guitar has always had a visceral effect on me and you don’t get more throbbingly thrashy guitar than Metallica.

So I was thrilled to hear they were playing Glastonbury this year. I couldn’t go GODAMMIT, but watching the live TV broadcast on Saturday night was an out of body experience for me.

You may wonder what I love about them and it’s not just the music, it’s the utter rock and rollness of them. Singer James Hetfield looks exactly like a proper rocker should look. He’s all muscle, tattooes, tight pants, stupid facial hair and maaaacho attitude. Do please note the bullet belt. Le sigh.

When he starts growling, I start howling. It literally gets me, right in the crutch. Where rock music is meant to get you.

He’s like a Viking warrior with a (really stupidly shaped) electric guitar. And the ultimate rock stance. He stands with his legs so wide you could drive a truck between them. Clearly necessary to accommodate his simply enormous cahoonas. I just love all that.

Sure I like skipping about to Pharrell as much as the next middle-aged disco bopper, but Metallica reduce me to some kind of primitive state of being. Every cell in my body vibrating with thrill. I could ransack an Anglo Saxon village high on Metallica.

For those of you not familiar with the oeuvre, I would counsel an introduction via their live work. First that great classic Enter Sandman – please see the top of the post.

Having watched that you earn an introduction to what I consider the greatest love song ever written, Nothing Else Matters. For that I’m going to take you straight to the very apogee of the Metallica fan’s existence: the symphonic version (recorded live with the San Francisco Philharmonic Orchestra). I’m going to have this played at my funeral.

The way Mr Hetfield says ‘that’s right…’ causes me to swoon dead away. There is also one of his finest ever growls on one of the ‘Yeeeeaaahs’. (I can’t find a version of this that will work from here, but it’s worth going over to YouTube to watch it. Really. Just make sure you come back after…)


If by this stage you are at all converted, treat yourself finally to the live combo of the two tracks, for the golden moment of segue, which did cause me to howl like a mad dog on Saturday night. To skip straight to it and get the full glory start watching about 4.30 mins.

They went off at Glastonbury… What do you think?


In Uncategorized on June 23, 2014 at 7:42 am



We interrupt this programme to bring you breaking news… I’ve finished the bulghur.

Janine O’Neill’s recipe for a kind of cracked wheat risotto with chicken salad inspired me and I made my own version of it, using what I had.

You can see Janine’s recipe in the comments.

I proceeded as for a regular risotto, softening onion and garlic, adding the bulghur, coating it with oil and then stirring in about 400 mls of chicken stock (which I just happened to have made, so that was handy). I didn’t have any preserved lemons (Janine makes her own – blimey!) so I added the zest and juice of one lemon.

Copious salt and pepper, and when it was finished I added a bulb of fennel, that’s been lurking in the fridge for a while, chopped up, and some torn basil leaves.

I served it with a green salad, a tomato salad, leftover cold chicken (had to do the separate food thing to ensure child would chow down…), mayo on the side and the first broad beans of the season.

It was really good and everyone liked it. I mixed the leftovers together and put it in the fridge to meld into something tasty for my lunch today.

This has given me such a sense of achievement I think I’m going to have to use the polenta up too. Once I’ve started something I find it very hard not to take it to the very final conclusion, although this comment from The Cynical Farmer made me laugh out loud:

“…really Polenta is the kind of food one eats when fasting for Lent. I’m Italian and we don’t even make anything with it. If there was anything delicious to be made out of polenta, Italians would have figured it out.”

Vulgar bulgur

In Food on June 20, 2014 at 3:20 pm


I’m still working my way through the kitchen, in case you’ve been wondering. The freezer practically has tumble weed blowing through it now and last night I finished the last of the macaroni, which was a significant moment.

I’m still burdened, though, with copious amounts of polenta – disgusting stuff, really, isn’t it? Every time I pick that packet up and wonder if the family can stand any more corn bread I remember something Jonathan Ross said once: ‘You’ve got to feel sorry for the middle class – they have to eat polenta…’

The only thing harder to shift is the bloody cracked wheat. My former colleague at the Sydney Morning Herald, Paola Totaro came to stay with her family a few weeks ago (we have daughters the same age, which is brilliant luck, and they actually like each other, which is even better) and we cooked a Middle Eastern feast together, including Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for tabouleh, which I was hoping would make a cheeky dent in the bulgur. Ha ha ha.


It only uses about one tablespoonful and by the time dinner was ready Paola and I were nearly hysterical. You cannot believe the amount of work in that recipe. I was chopping parsley for what felt like several hours, while Paola gathered spices from a list as long as her arm – with just enough differences to be really maddening from the long list of spices required for the other Ottolenghi dish we were ‘rustling’ up.

Since then I’ve cooked the only other of his recipes I could find which uses bulgur, which was equally torturous and prompted my husband to say: ‘No more experiments. Please.’



I worship the food in Mr Ottolgenghi’s restaurants – particularly the tiny one in Notting Hill – and I adored reading his book Jerusalem, written with his Palestinian partner Sami Tamimi  (right), which is as much travel as cookery and confirmed that city’s position at the top of my list of places I most want to go to (closely followed by Berlin and Copenhagen), but I won’t be cooking from it again. Too hard.

Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

So – does anyone have any other suggestions for bulgur wheat? And if not, do you think I might be allowed to bin what’s left of it?

The first rule of Blog Club…

In Blogging, Men on June 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm


The First Rule of Blog Club: You do not talk about blogging.

Well, I wish it was. It drives me mad the way so many blogs seem to start ‘I meant to blog about this weeks ago…’ or ‘I feel really bad I haven’t posted for ages…’

I really don’t give a shiny shite. If you’ve got something interesting to tell me, get on with it. Never apologise, never explain.

The Second Rule of Blog Club: I’m about to break my own rule.

I sometimes angst that this blog isn’t ‘about something’. Starting from one of the earliest blogs ever to break out – Julie and Julia – having an angle has seemed to be the essential characteristic of a successful blog.

For a lot of them it seems to be nothing more taxing than Look How Fabulous I Am! I’ve got these shoes! I made this cake! Look! A flower!


If it’s done with conviction and at least a modicum of style, I find those me, me and – did I mention? – me blogs very entertaining and get a lot of good info from them.

The best take a lot of serious hard work by the authors. (And the bad ones can give you an evening of screaming laughs with your best gal pal… Why do they always stand with their bloody toes turned in? ‘ickle ickle me…’ SLAP.)


So I keep beating myself up for not having a theme. I jump about from style, to food, to hairdryers, cats, clutter clearing and random pictures of hot men with their shirts off.

I keep trying to come up with a brilliant concept for a theme, but whenever I have an idea I immediately feel trapped by it. I don’t like being tied down to one area. In my thirty plus years as a journalist, I’ve never been able to stick to one thing either.

I’ve been back and forth between food and fashion the whole time, with segues into travel, popular music (that was fun in the early 1980s, let me tell you…) and political op eds.

And my favourite kind of piece to write has always been reportage. 24 hours at City Gym in Sydney (inspired the character of James in my novel Mad About the Boy). Going to Las Vegas with Manpower (hilaaaaaaaaaaaaarious). Following Elle McPherson on a promotional undies tour of Australia (interesting). Going to Dublin with the rugby world cup winning Wallabies in (zooee, mama…)

So I’ve decided the Unique Selling Point of my blog is going to be not having one. It’s just stuff. What I would talk to you about if we met up by the water cooler in an office.

Which is the obvious cue for this picture:


PS I didn’t need a justification for the picture at the top of this blog, did I? And while we’re at it, plenty to enjoy in this clip too…

Dimly Lit Meals

In Food on June 1, 2014 at 3:34 pm



I’ve just finished a slice of the dee-lish-us flapjacks I made using some leftover muesli (hadn’t been eaten because it was much too sweet, so ideal for making into free form biscuits), now I can share some great websites and blogs which relate to my current Eat the Pantry project.

Aussie mum Sandra Reynolds quit her job when it got unbearable – and was then faced with the challenge of feeding her family of two teenagers on $120 a fortnight. The result was a brilliant blog, now more of a website, full of tips and ideas – including how to use up store cupboard hoards – which has now resulted in a cook book.

Jack Monroe is the UK equivalent of Sandra – a single mum on benefits she turned the struggle to feed herself and her son wholesome food on a pitiful income into a great blog, full of brilliant ideas.

She’s now something of a media star with a column in the Guardian newspaper and a great cook book.

Jack Monroe

Having a mooch about on my Twitter feed just now (when I should have been writing something else…) I saw that someone had favourited a tweet of mine with the link to yesterday’s post mentioning the need for Uglygram.

I’m happy I stumbled upon it as it led me to the heaven that is Dimly Lit Meals…

With all respect to Dimly Lit, skip the video at the top until later and scroll down to the pictures. It basically is Uglygram (the pic at the top is one of their’s).

Then we mustn’t forget the joy of Martha Stewart’s hilarious Instagram food shots. This is her tempting shot of a bowl of onion soup… yum!

martha stewart instagram

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