Saturday, 26 July 2014

GUEST POST: JEREMY ON CARROT AND PEANUT'S WONDERWEAR









Hi! It's Jeremy here with a SURPRISE GUEST BLOG ABOUT PANTS. There's a new purveyor of men's underwear called Carrot & Peanut's Wonderwear (you wouldn't believe how long it took me to get the joke in the name) and they very kindly sent me a few pairs of boxer shorts to review for Elizabeth's blog. Well, colour me chuffed: they're tremendously stylish and very funny - and comfortable to boot. Check out the attention to detail - each pair comes in its own bag, colour-coded to the pattern on the shorts, and I love the little coat of arms.

Best of all, C & P products are eco-friendly and are made by adult tailors under amenable working conditions. They also donate one Euro per sale to Nitya Seva , a charity that runs two children's homes in Bhopal. In these days of confusion it's nice to be able to choose a product that is ethically made.

Friday, 25 July 2014

RECIPE: SPINACH AND RICOTTA MALFATTI WITH ROSEMARY BUTTER








I first had malfatti (which roughly translates as "badly made" from the Italian) at one of my favourite restaurants in London, Bocca Di Lupo, where these little cheesy dumplings are served with brown sage butter.  Since they're seasonal at Bocca, I've had to start making them myself at home to get my creamy gnocchi-esque fix all year round, but while I also use spinach I replace the sage with rosemary for the butter.  As I love rosemary and it's easier to come by at my local shops.

These are pretty easy to make, the most time consuming element is squeezing the water from the spinach, and forming the mixture into small balls.  But it's totally worth it when they all bubble up to the top of the water, then you pour butter over them, grate some parmesan on top and cut into their melty yumminess.

Is "yumminess" a word?

INGREDIENTS
250g spinach
250g ricotta
50g grated parmesan, plus extra for serving
40g plain flour (I have also made them using gluten free flour and they work just as well)
salt and pepper
75g of butter (I used buffalo milk butter as we had some in the fridge, but any butter is fine)
A couple of stems of fresh rosemary, well, as much as you like really

Steam the spinach until it's completely wilted.  If you don't have a steamer you can also boil it in salted water although this means it takes longer to squeeze the water from it.  Once it has wilted keep the water you've been using for either method, it should look like green pond water - you can cook the malfatti in it later for extra flavour.  Squeeze the water out of the spinach.  I normally put it in a sieve and press down on it with spoons and dab it with paper towels for as long as I can stand.  Once you've had enough, or you think you've got it as dry as possible, roughly chop up the spinach.

In a bowl mix together the ricotta, grated parmesan and salt and pepper.  Add the spinach and sift in the flour then mix it until it forms a dough.  You might need to use extra flour as you form the malfatti as the dough is quite wet.  I tend to do a test dumpling - I make one and then drop it in boiling water.  If it stays together and rises to to the top of the pan after a couple of minutes then I know I've got my quantities right.  I usually make my malfatti so they're about the size of a walnut, so you feel like you're getting more of them!  But you could also make them larger.  Place them on a floured plate so they don't stick.

Heat up the butter in the pan over a low heat until it has melted, then add the rosemary and let it all heat up together.  It's ok if the butter bubbles a bit or even browns.  While that's cooking get the green pond water from earlier and boil it up, you might need to add extra water so there is lots of room for the malfatti to bounce around it.  When the water is boiling gently add the malfatti, you'll be tempted to stir them but don't, they're quite fragile until they're cooked, which they will be after about four minutes when they rise to the top of the pan.  Drain them and pour over the hot rosemary butter, spooning it over each dumpling as you go so they all get covered.  Grate parmesan cheese over the top and then eat them as fast as you can.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

DEANDRI YELLOW TARTAN






 


Yellow.  Tartan.  I am wearing yellow. Tartan.

Deandri are a great label based in LA, they're very small - I had to use all my US postal knowledge skills to get this delivered to me in the UK - and they specialise in tartan, mesh and dresses and co-ords with wide collars.  They also make pretty amazing shoes, seriously, their website has all the good stuff.

I was split between Cher Horowitz's yellow and Dionne's red tartan, but in the end I decided this colour was the most classic.  Deandri are pretty open about being inspired by Clueless but they like to put their own twist on things, and they are more than just bright-hued tartan.  Oh, and of course I'm also wearing this in honour of Iggy Azalea who I bloody love and a while ago made the best music video film homage ever.

Also special mention to my Vagabond boots, which I wear all the time and have for over a year now.  They're so comfortable and when my old ones cracked prematurely they sent me a new pair as replacement, which is amazing customer service.  Solid footwear.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

SCRATCH AND SNIFF STRAWBERRY NAILS




I really liked the idea of these, nails that smell like strawberries? What's not to like?  They do smell great, and they looked great...for about 5 hours.  Then they started chipping.  And that was after I'd covered them with clear varnish because they looked a bit chip-prone when I was applying them.  Obviously the varnish cancelled out their awesome sweet scent, and by two days they were pretty messy.  So in conclusion, such a good idea, but they haven't NAILED it yet.  Sorry.   

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

JENNY LEWIS - JUST ONE OF THE GUYS


I'm a massive Jenny Lewis fan and there is so much to love about her new song - the lyrics for example - and even more to love about its video.

1.  Jenny's amazing pastel-hued stars and clouds suit and matching acoustic.
2.  Anne Hathaway's rat tail and breakdancing.
3.  Kristen Stewart's moustache.
4.  Tennessee Thomas' drumming.
5.  The Adidas tracksuits, in particular Brie Larson's red one, very Royal Tenenbaums.


Monday, 14 July 2014

EMBROIDED DENIM AND WHITE CROCHET



 



 


When we played Glastonbury a couple of weekends ago I spied this Mr and Mrs Fox embroidered denim jacket by Hannah Beth Fincham in the flesh on Fearne Cotton.  (I don't know her or anything, she was just standing around). It's beautiful.  I definitely can't afford to buy one myself, since they retail for about £430 (gulp), but I did find this pretty lovely embroidered denim jacket on Missguided's site.  I really like the roses, and it kind of makes me want to investigate iron-on appliqu├ęs, and look into sewing on a corduroy collar myself.  Can you say "crafty"?  Anyway, watch this space.  I also like that it's a bit oversized, as I'm watching Seinfeld at the moment and Elaine is always in a big denim jacket with the sleeves rolled up.  Elaine is the best.

I'm wearing it with my crocheted dress from ASOS which is covered in moons and stars, I love crochet at the moment and I LOVE this dress.  It's kind of what I imagine a modern good witch would wear e.g. Sarah in The Craft, although she would never, ever, wear white.  It comes with a white slip to wear under the crotchet, but you could also put it over other coloured slips, or even tie dye, or just your swimsuit on the beach.  What I'm trying to say is that this baby is versatile.  The sandals are also from ASOS and they're comfy as hell.

Oh and I started messing around with nail appliques.  I don't think I've quite mastered the skill yet. 

Friday, 11 July 2014

BAD MACHINERY 'THE CASE OF THE TEAM SPIRIT'






John Allison, award winner and hilarious person, writer of the much-lauded online comic Bad Machinery, and well-known London Underground speech giver, wrote this book.  It was actually released in spring 2013 (there is now even a Volume 2!), so god knows why it's taken me till now to write about it, but after finding it in the new super-modern Foyles last week I re-read our copy and fell in love all over again.  I can't recommend Bad Machinery enough, John regularly makes me laugh out loud - he's so quippy! - while the narrative is mysterious and compelling.  And the amazing thing is that it's all online, you can start from the beginning and have years of story to go through, ugh I'm so jealous.  But who doesn't love a book?  I do, because it's hard to read webcomics in the bath.  And this, my friends, is prime bath-time literature.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

INSPIRED BY: 'CAN'T BUY ME LOVE'










I don't feel like I can make bold claims such as, "Jeremy looks like Patrick Dempsey's character, Ronald in Can't Buy Me Love", without taking it further (too far?) and dressing him like said character in said film.  So that's what I've done.  Personally, I think he looks pretty great, and I finally got to put "product" in his hair.  Not that he needs it, of course, but I've always wondered...

It's a testament to Jeremy's kindness that he allowed me to dress him up and make him stand in front of a brick wall so I could take photos, and you can see that towards the end of the very short shoot he got a bit bored/sleepy/creative with his poses.  But all in all, I think it was a great success.  Maybe he'll let me do it again.

He already had the vintage Wrangler shirt, the jeans and the desert boots, but the belt, jacket and sunglasses are from ASOS.  And the idea to recreate Ronald's unusal way of wearing his sunglasses on his neck was all Jeremy.  Although he claims Daniel Craig's character in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo wears his in the same way.  And he's right.

Monday, 7 July 2014

RECIPE FOR CHOCOLATE SANDWICH COOKIES






When Jeremy and I first started writing songs together back in September of good old 2009, we didn't really know what we were doing, or why, it was just fun.  We'd just been on holiday, he was really ill, and it was something to occupy his brain so he didn't think about the pain.  I was still doing a 9-5 writing job, but on the weekends we'd write together and gradually I started working from home more and more.  I remember that period of time very clearly: it was a bright, beautiful autumn, I remember a new pair of shoes I was wearing, and I remember baking.  Mainly cookies, including these ones.  This recipe is actually from my Food Technology classes at school (Miss Travers REPRESENT).  They're a re-working of the classic Viennese biscuit recipe, but sandwiched together with buttercream icing, and added cocoa powder to make them rich and chocolatey.  They're a lot like bourbons.  I'm not great at American style cookies, they always end up merging into one huge, flat, crispy mess, but these work every time.  

INGREDIENTS
For the biscuits:
110g butter
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
25g cocoa powder
110g plain flour
25g cornflour


For the buttercream:
50g butter
120g icing sugar
25g milk chocolate

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4.  Cream the butter and the icing sugar together until it's all, well, creamy.  Add the egg yolk and beat for another five minutes. Mix the cocoa, plain flour and the cornflour together in a bowl and sift it into the creamed butter and sugar, then stir it all together till it forms a dough.  Divide the dough into ten or twelve balls (depending on how big you want your biscuits), then cut each ball in half, roll each half into ANOTHER ball then press it with a fork so it flattens.  Or you can get bored like I did and start using shape cutters. Put the cookies onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and cook for about 15 minutes.  

Let the cookies cool for about ten minutes, then transfer them onto a wire tray or plate to do the rest of their cooling.  You want them to be the coolest cookies in town so they don't fall apart when you're plying them with buttercream.  Speaking of which...

Melt the butter and chocolate together, then add the icing sugar, mix it all together until it's a smooth pale brown cream.  Use this to sandwich the cookies together, I paired them all up before I started icing so I didn't end up with one huge heart cookie and one tiny butterfly cookie at the end which would have been a DISASTER.  Eat while trying to write songs about Jake Ryan.