Monthly Archives: August 2013
My husband just doesn’t understand me… and now I’m about to cheat…
Don’t worry – it’s not what you think. I’m still as loved up as ever with my fabulous Mr. D. The problem is that now we have moved house, he cannot understand why I still insist on trekking to the other side of the city to visit my usual salon.
“What’s the matter with you?” he asked exasperated, “we have a salon just down the road from us and you still want to go to your old salon!”
“Yes,” I replied equally annoyed, “because they know me.”
“So what? The beauticians at the new salon will get to know you too. I don’t see why it matters…”
And on and on it raged. Most men might not care who cuts their hair just as long as it’s done well and for a good price. Us ladies are different. We are very particular who we allow near our face, hair, nails and body. If they prove to be good, we will continue to use them no matter what the cost or how far we have to travel.
And it’s not only that but over time, we start to build a rapport with our beautician/hair stylist. They know what treatments we like; what products work for our skin and which don’t; how we usually have our hair styled etc. And of course there’s the bonding that occurs over the luxury pedicure. We talk; we tell them things; they tell us things; we share advice about things that aren’t even remotely related to hair and beauty. That’s why we keep going back to the same people time and time again.
And as I know only too well, good salons are really hard to find. I have had my fair share – and probably everyone else’s fair share – of horror stories including the disgusting beautician who used window cleaner on my face (?) and the even more hideous salon owner who tried to cover up for her. So is it any wonder then, that when we find someone whose work we like and whom we bond with, that we make like Velcro and attach ourselves to them?
Over dinner with some of our friends the other night, Mr. D had a good moan to them about me traipsing for miles to get to my fave salon.
“Well,” one of my friends began, ” when you get used to a salon, you don’t really want to go anywhere else. That’s just the way it is.”
That told him! He even said that he overheard his female work colleagues talking about the same thing: that they would travel out of town to go to a salon that they really liked. I think he’s beginning to understand that it’s just what us girls do. However my friends did laugh their heads off when they heard that I was constantly emailing my hairdresser when I went on holiday – saying that I was taking the attachment thing too far!
So why is it that I’m now going to contradict everything that I’ve just said and visit a new salon that’s ten minutes from where we now live? Well it was Mr. D. who persuaded me to give it a go. “Just go and see how it is,” he said. Furthermore however, it’s the weekend; I’m frazzled after a hard week, and I don’t want too travel too far for a well deserved facial and massage. But I am by no means abandoning my regular haunt – but it helps to have somewhere local to go to when I need a super quick pick-me-up.
So why do I feel so guilty? I feel like a cheating spouse! Does anyone else have salon issues?
Who doesn’t like a large slice of Bakewell Tart? And if like me, you’re quite fond of apricots, then you’ll love this modern take on an old classic which uses apricot jam rather than the traditional raspberry. Easy to prepare and delicious – your family and friends will love this. If you don’t scoff the lot yourself, that is!
APRICOT BAKEWELL TART
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Cooling time: 1 hour
For the pastry
225g plain flour
110g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
For the filling
4 heaped tbsp. apricot jam
150g unsalted butter
150g castor sugar
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
150g ground almonds
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp. Almond extract
1 tbsp. flaked almonds
Icing sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit/Gas mark 4
- To make the pastry, put flour, butter, sugar, and salt into food processor.
- Whizz until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add one egg and pulse the processor until the dough comes together.
- Flatten into a disc; cover with cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to about 3mm thick.
- Grease a 20cm, 3.5 cm deep fluted tart tin and line with pastry.
- prick the base and chill for 20 minutes.
- Line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans.
- Cook for about 20 minutes.
- Remove the beans and paper.
- Beat the remaining egg and brush over the inside of the pastry case.
- Cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Leave to cool.
- Spread the jam evenly over the base of the pastry case.
- Cream the butter and castor sugar together.
- Gradually add the eggs and egg yolk.
- Fold in the ground almonds, orange zest and almond extract.
- Spoon the mixture over the jam.
- Scatter with the flaked almonds and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Serve with cream, ice-cream, custard or mascarpone.
I’ve adored trifle ever since I was a child: fruit; custard; jelly; cream; numerous layers of yumminess… what’s there not to like? What’s even more amazing is that with zillions of varieties of trifle you can have a different one for every day of your life and you’ll never get bored!
I don’t believe that trifles should be solely reserved for Christmas but to make one completely from scratch can be quite time consuming. However, I’ve managed to find a recipe for a super quick trifle which takes a fraction of the time to prepare but is still extremely delicious.
ZESTY AND BOOZY RASPBERRY TRIFLE
4 tbsp. sherry or raspberry liquor
1 Madeira cake, sliced 1″ thick
5 tbsp. raspberry jam
250g/9oz fresh/thawed raspberries
290ml/ 1/2 pint ready made custard
Zest and juice of one orange
290ml/ 1/2 pint double cream, whipped
Candied orange peel/slices/fresh orange segments
- Spread the jam over the cake slices and cut into bite sized cubes.
- Divide the sponge cubes between four individual dessert glasses.
- Pour the sherry or raspberry liquor over the sponge.
- Divide raspberries between the glasses, reserving a few for decoration.
- Mix the orange zest and juice with the custard and place over the cake and raspberries.
- Top with a layer of whipped cream and place remaining raspberries and oranges on top.
- Cool in fridge for 30 minutes before serving.
My thesis for my MA degree was based on the subject of my favourite type of film character – the femme fatale. So it was no surprise that Mr. D. and I enjoyed the movie we watched last night, Irresistible, starring Susan Sarandon, Sam Neil and Emily Blunt. It was actually released in 2006 but for some reason, I’ve only just got round to watching it! But it was definitely worth the wait.
Sarandon’s character, New York- born Sophie Hartley, is the archetypal woman who has everything: a fabulous life in Australia; two beautiful daughters; a loving and successful husband; a close relationship with her father; a gorgeous house (I asked Mr. D. when we were going to get a house like that) and a great career as an painter and illustrator. And is she happy? You’ve guessed it, NO! Sophie is haunted by a secret which she has carried with her since her teenage years – and it’s a secret that threatens to destroy her piece of mind and happy family life.
Step forward the beautiful Mara (played by Blunt) who works with Sophie’s husband, Craig (played by Neil.) Stunning, intelligent, with a home and family life that looks as though it came straight out of the pages of a magazine, Mara seems a little too good to be true. Always willing to help Craig both in and out of the office, Mara also quickly latches on to Sophie as soon as she meets her and is eager for the two of them to be good friends. Mara tries to bond with Sophie through their role as mothers and also confides in her about the tragic death of her best friend Kate. But is Kate’s death all it seems to be? And can Sophie trust Mara?
It would appear not, as over the course of the next few weeks, trivial items appear to be going missing from Sophie’s home. It’s all put down to forgetfulness; grief over her mother’s death; tiredness and scattiness in general before Sophie begins to question Mara’s motives and suspects that she may be the culprit behind the strange goings on. Her suspicions do nothing to endear her to Craig who is slowly beginning to lose patience with his wife and refuses to listen to her. Sophie realises that the real reason why Craig refuses to listen to her and fire Mara is because he’s secretly falling for his employee. So in order to get proof that she’s being stalked, Sophie turns to stalking her tormentor – and a chain of catastrophic events follow.
Irresistible is an Australian film, set in Melbourne and directed by Anne Turner. It’s enjoyable but it has a rather earthy, no-frills vibe to it rather than the glossy veneer of the nineties Hollywood movies of the same ‘crazy woman’ genre that I loved and still love e.g. – Single, White Female, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Disclosure etc. This film is packed full of twists, so it is very entertaining, although I did predict a couple of those twists. However, the final twist was a real shocker that I would never have guessed, but Mr. D. was left feeling confused by this so perhaps more clarity was needed so that the viewer could really feel the impact when Mara’s true identity is revealed. Plus a little more of the eerie factor wouldn’t have gone amiss, so that the final scene would have been as strong as that in Psycho. Furthermore, I feel that the title is a little misleading and a more appropriate one could have been chosen.
I know this film didn’t get spectacular reviews but then again it didn’t get terrible ones either. With a few tweaks here and there it could have been in the same league as other femme fatale films – this one was edging dangerously close to the border of soap opera territory. But it was still a good film with a strong cast and I would definitely watch it again (Blunt’s Aussie accent was very convincing.) It would be worth watching just to see Emily Blunt’s outfits again – that girl must have had a field day in wardrobe!
Of course films like this always make you think. A character like Mara can strike fear into the heart of the viewer. What would you do if you were Sophie and someone was threatening the stability of your home life? How would you feel if no one would listen when you tried to tell them that the likeable young miss was not who she claimed to be? And what would you do if your once devoted husband suddenly had his head turned by his new, pretty, young colleague? I was able to give Mr. D. an answer to the last question when he asked me – he soon wished he hadn’t!
I’m not a huge fan of yellow. I don’t think it does anything for me and I have very few yellow items of clothing in my wardrobe. Plus if I did have anything yellow, I’d have to combine it with something black which is the predominant colour in my wardrobe and risk looking like a bumble bee!
And I’m certainly not one to fawn over garments worn, designed or promoted by celebrities. However, I saw this gorgeous yellow, strapless, broderie dress by singer and presenter, Myleene Klass – and it was like falling in love for the first time! It is stunning. And I think the vibrant yellow shade actually adds something unique to the overall style of the dress. I couldn’t imagine it in any other colour. The cut, the look, the design… I would be thrilled to own something as beautiful as this.
Myleene wore this amazing dress to the Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Awards back in June of this year – and as expected, she looked fabulous in it. For those of you who aren’t into the strapless look, the dress also comes with detachable straps.
The dress is available to buy at isme.com
My husband and I pretty much gave up on television a while back. No matter how many channels there were, there still didn’t seem to be anything worth watching. But there are still some shows we make time to watch religiously. At a risk of sounding like a couple of oldies who have nothing better to do, Mr. D. and I are addicted to culinary competitions which seem to be all the rage on television these days: Come Dine With Me, The Great British Bake Off, Masterchef, Next Great Baker… you name it, we watch it! In fact it’s more than watching it’s become a full scale obsession. We must tune in to see what happens next: who stays… and who goes. Oops! That’s Big Brother which we don’t watch!
We have a lot of fun watching these shows. They’re entertaining and informative but they can also be quite depressing. Why? Because after years of thinking that I’m a pretty good cook (I’m no Heston but I’m not bad either) I’ve suddenly realised that compared to the contestants who take part in these shows, my cooking skills leave a lot to be desired. I’ve come to this conclusion after realizing that:
- My pastry making skills are far from perfect (as explained by Mr. Hollywood and Ms. Berry.)
- I have no idea how to make sushi – even though I love to eat it!
- There is a tendancy for me to overcook food (as pointed out by Mr. D!)
- I can really only bake cakes when I have a little help from my friend Betty Crocker.
- Rare, medium rare, medium, well done… it’s all the same to me!
- I’ve lost the ability to poach a decent egg.
- I’ve never heard of half of the ingredients mentioned in the show.
- There is no way I can chop onions, apples, carrots etc. so that all the pieces are virtually identical.
- I have no idea how to debone a duck.
- There’s very little chance of me being able to adequately filet a fish.
- I don’t have the kind of palette where I can successfully identify every ingredient in a dish.
- It’s really not a good idea for me to attempt to flambé anything…
- Me and sharp knives are a dangerous combination so it’s really not a good idea for me to go at the speed of the professional chefs or the other contestants.
- I like to take my time in the kitchen – that probably explains why we never eat before 10pm.
- I probably don’t add as much seasoning as I should.
- I love eating shellfish – but haven’t got a clue how to prepare it.
- This may be an Anglo-Italian household but there is no freshly made pasta in this house as neither of us know how to prepare it!
- If I cook fish so that the skin is super crispy, it’ll be burnt.
- We like to drench our food in sauce – none of this ‘little smidgeon’ business.
- We also like large portions in this house!
- I haven’t got a clue how to make ketchup or barbeque sauce from scratch.
- I’ve never used most of the gadgets and kitchen appliances I’ve seen.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. We’ve learnt a lot from watching these shows and have got lots of new ideas. We like to put what we’ve learnt into practice:
- I can make bruschetta better than I did before.
- I now know what goes into making honeycomb.
- I know how to remove bones from fish easily.
- I know the secret to a good pesto sauce.
- Seasoning is important!
- So is not overcooking food!
- Garnishes are important but there should also have a purpose other than just decoration.
- We come across lots of new flavour combinations.
- I know that you should never wash sea urchin (not that I’m likely to cook it!)
- we’re trying to put into practice that less is more!
- I know what’s meant by tunnel boning.
- I also know what a ballotine is.
- I know how to pronounce words such as ‘coulis’ and ‘melange’.
- I see the contestants mistakes and know what NOT to do.
I still have an awful lot to learn and I’m getting there slowly. There’s still hope for me. But I know that no matter how much I learn, I would never want a dressing down from Mr. Hollywood or Mr. Ramsay so there’s no chance of me ever entering one of these competitions. I know which side of the television screen is the safest for all concerned!