Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Orange Wednesdays: Rise of The Planet of the Apes

I've been on my feet for SO many hours that the soles are literally burning. I'm surprised there's not a gaping hole at the bottom of my shoe :O A 5am start, as much as I'm warming to work, is not cool. Fortunately for me though I'm home now with a day off in one hand and a cuppa in the other. Sorted. Having blown my one chance of a lie-in last week by winding up Saturday night at 6am Sunday morning and having to be up again at 9am (oops!), I think it's time to get into PJs with some chocolate, hot chocolate and chocolate cake (yes, you heard me) and a movie and TOTALLY take advantage of not being woken in the morning by an alarm. It's almost sad that I'm this excited about a lie in - but really I am. I downloaded Planet of the Apes yesterday and though I usually go to the cinema on a wednesday (official date day with friend/mum/any random person I can find) to catch the latest movies, I figured I could review this one right here, sitting at home. Sci-fi's not really my style and I'm quite eager to find out if I'm gonna like it. So stay tuned - and if you've already seen it, let me know what you think.



Orange Wednesdays... Continued

Stars: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton & Andy Serkis


So, here it is, finally, in all it's glory - a review, for you, a whole… oooooh, four weeks late? I have to say for me, this film's a nay. It's not that it's a bad film, just that it's not up my alley. It entertained alright, I didn't have to switch it off midway (which has happened in the past!) but it just seemed a little… predictable. Human race suppresses, uses and enrages an "inferior" race. Inferior race seeks freedom and revenge and effectively starts ruling the planet. That's that. Sound cynical don't I? Trust me, I'm not. I can see why people might enjoy it, but it's just not my style. Sci-fi never really was. But some other real downers, for me were…

- The special effects. At points in this movie, I felt like I was watching somebody play a video game. Especially the scenes where the apes are entering the Gen-sys building and then again when they're destroying the Golden Gate Bridge. It looked far from realistic (I know, I know, it isn't real and they can't exactly get real apes running riots. But still.) and that spoilt half my fun. The film didn't make me believe.

- Miss Pinto. It's great seeing an Asian face in mainstream Hollywood but I think she's completely and utterly wasted on this film. I don't think she ever speaks more than one line?

-Tom Felton, the famed Malfoy of Harry Potter appears to have turned up in exactly the same character. Sly, slimy and downright spiteful. Does he have any more colours to show?

If sci-fi, apes and good-looking leads do it for you, don't let my review put you off. I'd say little baby Caesar made this film worthwhile for me. Nawwww look at him, isn't he a wonder.

Rating: 2.5/5


Sunday, 28 August 2011


If you're thinking yesterday's post was just a teeny tiny out of the blue…then yerrrrr, I suppose it was. So I thought I'd better get back to explaining my slightly incoherent, sometimes nondescript train of thought. Now that everyone's back from uni (those who have finished, permanently, those who haven't, just for the summer - but all back all the same), it's been a strange exercise in trying to catch up and carry on where we left off. And obviously after the better part of three years spent apart, studying hard (!), hatching multitudinous plans for the future and meeting millions if not gazillions of new people, there is indeed a lot of catching up to be done. After all, being "friends" with someone you see day in day out is only natural - but maintaining that once life, and people, have moved on, is a conscious effort. So I suppose I've been a little surprised to find that in some cases, it's as though five years of sharing every little secret and knowing somebody inside out have been "undone", effectively, by the subsequent five years we've spent apart. I'm not deranged, I understand that five years is no short amount of time - people do change and friends can drift. But equally, it's as though the first five years of friendship have been nullified. And I guess it's a relief to find that some of us are still in exactly the same place we were five years ago - very close friends.

I've had an epic weekend of sorts - lots of friends, family, food, films and fun. It's been hectic, but good. I will be back tomorrow, I think I need to catch a few winks now. Hope you're all enjoying the long weekend. xx

Friday, 26 August 2011

My Mirror Image


When my best friend told me that she thinks I have "hair like Jennifer Aniston's" (thank you Sunita - the words were music to my ears) I'm not going to lie, I danced a little triumphant jig on the spot. I went home, checked myself out in the mirror, swished my hair this way and that, jigged a little bit more, and generally sat feeling rather chuffed with myself. I'd probably have felt the same way if she were talking about the little toe of my left foot (such is my love for Aniston) but in truth, it was an honest compliment from a girl who's known me almost 15 years; and as well as music, the words were magic too. With my appearance being the least of my priorities in recent times, it's sometimes hard not to look in the mirror and feel a little unhappy about the slight weight I've gained. About the dark circles under my eyes and the thighs that never seem to slim. Those few words though, that were spoken so spontaneously, undid and unravelled, as if by magic, months if not years of pent-up insecurity I'd harboured about my appearance. The same as any other girl. Day in day out, I watch women buy de-frizzing serums or volumising shampoos, grease-free moisturisers for the oily t-zone or extra hydrating lotion for flakey skin patches. And with probably 80% of the Boots sales floor dedicated to women's beauty, airbrushed model upon airbrushed model posing on the front of every fashion magazine and celebs losing post pregnancy weight in less that one month, it's not hard to see why the pressure's always on.

Somehow, mirrors (and now fashion magazines, celebrities and the media alike) have a tendency to remind us of our "flaws" - what we lack, rather than what we have. And it's compliments like Sunita's that have me wondering why we're so hell bent on pin pointing our weaknesses rather than concentrating on everything that's downright fabulously, absolutely and utterly gob-smackingly brilliant about each of us. In truth, mirrors provide nothing more than a half truth; a fleeting snapshot of how we look at a particular moment in time. They're ruthlessly judgmental and will tell you that you're having a bad hair day, not that you have super-smooth flawless skin. They'll tell you that you have two inches too many around your hips, but not that you have the tiniest, sexiest little waist possibly imaginable to mankind. Most importantly though, a mirror will tell you how nice you look (or don't), but not how nice you are (or aren't). And as cliched as it sounds, I'm here to tell you all that you shouldn't listen to your mirror; you should listen to your friends.

When I reach one of my contemplative moods and reflect on all my life has and hasn't been, I have to confess I've lived a life of more luxury than a lot of people will ever see. Though I've faced some hard times in the past year, I've never had to face them alone. Like a fool I forgot the lifelong love of friends and family when my boyfriend of just one year left me. But with my slow, but sure, return to reality, I realised that moaning, mourning for what you lack is the coward's way out. It takes so much more courage to appreciate what you have. Then be it Jennifer Aniston hair, a wonderful loving family, or the best friend in the entire world. Sunita has seen me through thick and thin. We've shared all our teen years - the ups and the downs. When I first felt a flutter in my tummy at the sight of a boy, she's the one I told. When I kissed him in the school field for the first time, she's the one who knew. When I got my GCSE results, she's the one I hugged with joy. And when the man in my life walked away, she's the once that told me perhaps I deserved better. And if she can, 15 years later, after seeing me at my best and very worst, still tell me she thinks I'm pretty, frankly, I don't care for what the mirror says. She's the best mirror of all.


(P.S. Incase your wondering how on EARTH my hair might ressemble JA's. Well spotted, I'm not strawberry blonde. But apparently my hair frames my face - it goes "swish".)



Thursday, 25 August 2011

Orange Wednesdays: One Day

Stars: Jim Sturgess, Ann Hathaway and Patricia Clarkson


The thing about a book-made-into-a-film is that it SO rarely lives up to the expectations created by it’s literary counterpart, it's almost futile even drawing a comparison. If you discount the novel they originate from, some of them are actually pretty good. Harry Potter for example. But Harry Potter, the book, a pearl of brilliance that Rowling unleashed from the oceanic depths of her imagination, a complex tale of such terrific clarity as compared to the movie? Nah, I didn’t think so. Books allow for interpretation and improvisation that renders them a script for every individual reader; the set, the characters all left to the readers’ colourful imagination. So how possibly can a film then deliver to each creative mind that has already conjured expectations of how and where the story should take place? Simple. It can’t. And so the story goes with One Day. Dubbed a "social novel", the movie primarily lacks exactly that; there's no mention of student protest against tuition fees, neither heated conversation about the Iraq war. If you blink, you'll miss the feeble reference to that "era" when organic food went large and Dexter's courageous venture to regain financial by cashing in on it. David Nicholls’s very smart but subtle anchoring of this saga in 1990s England is a totally lost cause on the film. Unfortunately, this leaves nothing more that another common love story a la When Harry Met Sally.

If you haven't read the book, let me enlighten you. One Day, the title, refers to St Swithin’s Day. That's to say 15th July, the date in 1988 when Edinburgh university students Emma Morley (wears wire-rim glasses, has an anti-nuclear night shirt and listens to Tracy Chapman records) and Dexter Mayhew (Winchester-educated Casanova) spent their graduation night together. The story then maps the pair of them on the same day every year thereafter. There are years they get on, years they don't. Years they’re together and years they don’t talk. And while the book has the patience to describe the entire journey, unfortunately the film cuts out entire years, leaving you at loss for how and why the characters evolve. It’s episodic structure is both erratic and impersonal, giving little time or scope to get acquainted or attached to either of these characters that are so absolutely lovable in the novel.

Emma is played by Anne Hathaway, an actress who is, as many people have pointed out, an American. And her accent isn't the thick Yorkshire tyke that constitutes such a large part of Em's anti-tory, anti-nuclear weapon personality. Hathaway shifts somewhat erratically between soft-headed 'Northernisms' and posh 'Estuaryisms' (think Bridget Jones). And it gives her away. Unfortunately, more often that not it’s the settings that are more charismatic than the leads - the dingy Mexican restaurant in London at which Emma works, the airy escape Emma finds in Paris and the city of Edinburgh by dawn renders a cinematic feast for the eyes.

The films not completely unwatchable, but if like us, you’ve read the book, expect at the end to turn to whoever you are watching it with and say, “that wasn’t as good as the book”.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A Recipe, A Read and A Ramble...

A recipe...

One of the biggest joys of living at home is in the eating and cooking with family. How many of us honestly bother baking and fussing and slaving in the kitchen if we know we're going to be alone for dinner? Yerrr, thought so. It's pot noodle, take-away or, at worst, a ready meal isn't it? While an admittedly large part of the pleasure derived from a meal is the actual taste of it, company is probably an equal contributor to overall "enjoyment". I love trying out new recipes, acquainting my family with new ingredients and flavours and then waiting, for a thumbs up or down, to determine whether or not we're welcoming a new member onto the repertoire of family favourites. Though not particularly adventurous, here is my latest venture. If my brother's opinion counts for anything, it was "absolutely delicious".

...a read..

It's not often that you come across books that are so enthralling you can't put them down. Good books are common but absolutely smashing books are few and far between. I could probably count my pick off on my fingers. Happy Potter, Shantaram, To My Best Friends (being recently read) are the first few that spring to mind. The Great Gatsby is pretty good too. I'm not sure Harvesting the Heart will make it onto my list of all time favourites but I would definitely brand it "memorable". Although Jodi Picoult's second novel, written way before the very famous "My Sister's Keeper" (YES, the one made into a film that stars Cameron Diaz), is clearly not film-worthy, it's definitely a thought-provoking read. Paige is an 18 year old girl who never understood why her mother abandoned her when she was just 5 years old. And though she doesn't understand, she still finds herself doing exactly the same thing. Running away, time and time and time again. I don't know if this is your type of book but as somebody who's been brought up in a sheltered, structured environment, I guess books like this feel like a chance to live a different kind of childhood to my own - one of less security and less opportunity. Try it.

...and a ramble...

Surprisingly (for me anyway) I have nowt to ramble about. I think I'm just too tired. My university books have arrived, I'm starting to get the hang at work and I've somehow been spending a lot of time gardening too. In all, I think I have much keeping me occupied at the minute. Which probably explains why, when I have days off, I spend too much time browsing the web, lazily whiling away the hours, discovering everything from the downright weird to the outright wonderful. Check out this site - Levitating Girl Natsumi Hayash. I'm going to shush right here before I begin to bore you. For now it's over and out.






Recipe: A Cuppa and Some Cake


I’m an avid drinker of tea. Chocolate I can do without. Ice-cream, I’d struggle but I’ll live. Tea...nope. Not a hope in hell. I love tea. It’s hard to beat a good cuppa though isn’t it? Whether you need of a wake-up call first thing in the morning (try crisp Indian masala chai) or a relaxing warm drink before bed-time (chamomile tea), the versatility of tea means it can take on a range of flavours, colours and temperatures to serve purpose. Eat that, COFFEE. But my favourite time of day for a cuppa? That mid-afternoon lull at around 4pm. You know the one, half-way between lunch and dinner.. when you need a little something to stop you nodding off at your desk? That one. Even better than a lone cup of tea though? A cup of tea with some cake.

They say afternoon tea was first initiated by Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, in 1841 when the Duchess requested a selection of teas, finger sandwiches and cakes to tide her over until her evening meal. I say it’s lucky she was born before me, because if she hadn’t thought of it I sure would have. Try this, and let me know what you think.

What you need

125g glacé cherries

200g self raising flour

125g spreadable butter

125g caster sugar

4 medium eggs, lightly beaten

a splosh of milk

What to do


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius and grease a 21 x 10 x 6 cm loaf tin. Line the bottom with baking parchment. Cut the cherries in half. Put the flour in a bowl and add the cherries to it, mixing them gently until they are well coated.

2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until very pale and fluffy. Then add the eggs a little at a time, beating well in between. Add the flour and cherries, with a little milk if neccessary to reach a ‘dropping consistency’, and stir gently.

3. Spoon into the loaf tin, level the top and make a slight dip in the centre.

4. Bake for 20 - 25 minute, then reduce the oven temperature to 160 degrees and bake for a further 30 minutes odd, or until the cake has risen and is beautifully bronzed and springy, and a knife inserted through the centre comes out clean.

5. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool for a couple of minutes in the tin, then turn out and transfer to a rack to cool. Give it around half an hour and you can finish it off with a drizzle of icing (3 tbsp of icing sugar and 1 tbsp cold water) and some glacé cherry halves. I got as far as the icing, my family ate the rest of the cherries.




Monday, 22 August 2011



I often find that days off map out to be even busier and more tiring than working days. I mean, you feel almost compelled to pick up on that ever-growing to-do list you've so far been able to ignore by way of work as an excuse. Phone calls and bills and appointments, cleaning and sorting, washing and cooking, tidying and shopping and somewhere in amongst all that, some relaxing you want to 'get done' too. I remember my neighbour once saying that "a woman's work is never done" - although I didn't really understand what she was on about at the time (I think I was only 9 years old), in hindsight they're probably the truest words I've ever heard. I'm afraid it's another short one from me today as it's hitting 8pm and I'm yet to get fed and scrubbed up shiny clean, with hopefully a few hours of sleep in the bag, in time for another 5am start tomorrow. Ohh joy of joys. Catch y'all tomorrow.



Sunday, 21 August 2011

Facing Extinction

You know your social life is on the cusp of extinction when you start going home from a night out at 10pm; when you have to cut short long overdue girly gossip nights simply because you’re nodding off as your friend talks; or when you spend your day off hibernating despite a gloriously sunny 25 degrees outdoors. A full week of 5am starts have more than had their toll on me, but I am still in the process of convincing myself that this is just the start; I will gradually ease into it and get used to it. Right? I’ve had the laziest of lazy Sundays, effectively nursing myself out of fatigue and save a short walk to the shops (that too pick up macaroni cheese, whipped cream and glace cherries – how awful is that?!), I’ve not really ventured beyond the realms of my bedroom and kitchen.


I’m going to keep this one short as I’m feeling a little uninspired if anything. It’s been a long week of rows, realizations and reconciliations. To those still fasting for Ramadan, even in this heat, hats off to your conviction. For those queuing at the mandir today for a glimpse of Lord Krishna, well done for your courage and wishing you a happy Janmashtami. Condolences to the Arsenal fans out there and good luck to all the Murray fans. The house is smelling of freshly baked cherry cake as I type and my stomach is rumbling, so I’m off, for a very lazy evening to end my very lazy day. Here’s wishing you all a lovely end to the weekend. I do have a book to tell you about and some recipes to share, so I’ll be back tomorrow. Be good ‘til then ;)


Recipe: Creamy Mushroomy Yummy Tagliatelle


Pasta needs no explanation really. It’s familiar, speedy as, and very, very hearty. This little miracle, known as Tagliatelle al Funghi if you're being pretentious, is everything you could ever want from a bowl of pasta. The mushrooms and cream boil down to a sweet sludge that makes a fantastically, elegantly comforting and fragrant strand-coating sauce. The spinach and peas/green beans add to the verdigloriousness of the whole, making you feel slightly better about the carb-fat binge fest. Even if only very slightly.

What you need (serves 4 very, very comfortably)

500g dried tagliatelle
250-500g mushrooms of any variety, depending on taste
1 large tomato
100g frozen peas or green beans
15g butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chili flakes
200 ml double cream
lemon juice
fresh spinach

What to do

1. Boil a large pot of water and cook the pasta according to instructions on the packet.

2. In the meanwhile, clean the mushrooms (I prefer scrubbing the dirt off rather than washing them as they can get quite waterlogged) and chop them. When the pasta is 5 minutes from cooked, throw in the frozen greens.

3. In another large pot, on a medium heat pour in the olive oil and then add the butter. Once the butter has melted (but before it’s burnt), turn the heat right down and fry the chili flakes a little. Add in the mushrooms and let them cook down for 5 ish minutes. When they’ve shrunk considerably and are sizzling away busily, add in the chopped tomatoes, cream, salt to taste and some black pepper. Let it all boil again for 2-3 minutes, giving you enough time to...

3. ...drain the cooked pasta and greens and dowse in cold water. Throw into the bubbling pot of mushroom creaminess and mix it all together, ensuring strands are all coated. Chop up a good thick bunch of spinach (could be basil if you so prefer) and toss in, along with a spritz of lemon. Give it a final stir, cover the pot, turn off the heat and leave for two minutes.

4. Serve topped with a smattering of grated Parmesan.

5. Don’t weigh yourself for a long time afterwards. Trust me.


Thursday, 18 August 2011

"Everyday, I Have Skin"

So it's day three of 6am starts and I pretty much think, dear friends, followers and readers, that this is going to be the death of me. I am silently hoping with all my will power that I'll gradually ease into the routine and stop feeling so utterly miserable in the morning. I mean, habits of 21 years, and a person's nature can be rectified… no? Urgh, I know the answer to that one but hush. I need all the psyching up that I can get right now. I mope around the shop floor, eyes burning when I actually make the effort to prise them open, relishing the moments I can sit down on the floor under the pretence of changing a price label or restocking a product; even better though is pretending to familiarise myself with the product ranges - that buys me a few extra moments to close my eyes and nod off. Though I am sort of wondering how long it will be before management see through that one seeing as I know nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, about haircare, skincare, healthcare, nailcare and the rest of it. I'm one of those customer assistants with zilch product knowledge - useless basically. Don't get me wrong, I'll be really nice about it and all, dead helpful… just won't have anything useful to say. So perhaps one day soon I'm going to have to wake up and actually pay attention. Because trust you me, there's a helluva lotta work to be done.

Who'd have thought, really, that it's humanly possible to have so many products available for the maintenance and beautification of the relatively small female body. Shelf upon shelf, brand upon brand of lotions, potions and concoctions that come in all colours, every consistency and at every cost (St. Tropez "instant glow face" at £10.21 for 50 ml… really?!). There are creams and balms, liquids and serums, sprays and gels that claim to make old skin look young, young skin look older (read, 8 year olds tempted to buy s*** loads of make-up because of clever branding and too much exposure). Light skin can be made dark, dark skin can be made light, grease can be removed or moisture restored. A head of straight hair can be transformed into a pouf of bouncy curls. Night creams and day creams, nail varnishes in every colour and shower gels in every flavour under the sun. And that's not all. You can get each and every product, in a million different brands. Anyone want to enlighten me on the difference between Olay's Aqua-Physics Anti-Ageing Serum and L'Óreal's Age Perfect Intensive Reinforcing and Hydrating Serum? Aaaanyone? As somebody who generally shops with blinkers on, I guess I never really took notice of the choice, in terms of quantity, we're inundated with. I know what I want and I want only what I know (works) - how will you EVER know if these creams even effective?! I think these clips just about sum up my feelings.

And though I have seen a few products and thought "ooh, there's something I never knew existed. Maybe I should try it?", I'm a little weary that this could be start of something...More tomorrow.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Do You Have a Boots Card?

So when I was summoned into work with less than 24 hours notice (phone call received at 10.27 am Monday, work commenced at some unearthly hour on Tuesday) on the basis that I had to "get a bit of training done", I hung on with dear life to that little word "bit". I mean, how long can a "bit" of training take? Some admin and health and safety and then maybe some till training…so I gave it four hours, five hours tops? Isn't that a reasonable interpretation of the noun "bit"? Apparently not. I didn't finish until gone 6pm yesterday, only to start again this morning at 6am. Juuuuuust when I thought the days of 5am wake-ups and 6am starts were well behind me, BAM came Boots with militaristic operations that run from 6am-10pm. This is RETAIL, who'd have thought eh? To be honest though, I can't complain. Being back in retail is like slipping into a really old pair of jeans. One that have had their wear, lost their charm, passed their heyday - but there's still no denying how well they fit. I'm comfortable in retail because its the same customer service role-play, smiling until your jaw drops off and repeating "Hello, how are you today?","Do you have a Boots card?", "Thank you very much, have a nice day!" over and over and over and over again. Mind-numbingly dull? Yes. But keeps the bank account filled up whilst I get through university? Yes again. It's almost half the work load that I was lumped with at the hotel, and much, much more money. So I'm really glad for the job. I just can't bank on making any friends because, let's face it, I'm a miserable cow in the morning with "talk to me at your peril" stamped all over my face. It takes at least two cups of tea to wean me out of psycho-b**** mode - so it's just as well really that I have a couple of hours before customers start coming in. Gotta count my blessings ey?


And here I am, two shifts and three hours of sleep later, a steaming pot of tea on my left and a bowl of home-made cheesy chips (by which I mean I melted the cheese :p didn't expect I was going to wash, peel, cut, and fry potatoes in this fragile state?!) to my right. I'm excited about starting university, even more excited about ordering some books pertaining to my course in a short while. Is my appetite for life back? I think it's safe to say yes.


Monday, 15 August 2011

Made in St. Albans

You know you live in the right part of the country when they choose your end to film something. Even if it is just an ad for the new Hyundai car, one that's only going to air in Korea. I mean it still must mean that either where you live is sort of nice, or it's "ghetto". But then St. Albans isn't very ghetto really, is it. It's rather snooty if anything. Quaint would be the word actually. Quite sleepy at times. So not really the place you'd expect any sort of set. As I ambled along on my mission to buy a teapot (details to follow, calm down!), I actually managed to walk past all the make-up vans and various other vans (help me out here, I don't know an awful lot about filming?!), bypass a hoard of people crowded around a camera or two and totally ignore a warden asking me to walk the other side of the pavement as they were "trying to get a shot". The situation only struck me as slightly out of the ordinary when I crossed paths with two men wearing more make up than me. Now that sure made me stare.

I've had a manic few days but I am really feeling back to my smiley best. Things are finally going right. I'm starting work from tomorrow so there's a slight possibility I blog around a little less… but hopefully not. Besides, I can imagine you're going to be waiting with eyes peeled for those details on my teapot. No? Ahhh, don't lie.


Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Week in Pictures



1. As you know, many religions run according to calendars of their own, parallel to the bog-standard, universal calendar used worldwide. So you have lunar calendars, solar calendars, luni-solar calendars, calendars synchronised to the motion of Venus and so on and so forth. Hinduism’s no different, operating according to a luni-solar time mapping of it’s own. And according to that calendar, we're currently in what Hindus consider the holiest month of all - Shraavana. A little bit like Ramadan many followers fast during this month. I can’t say our family is particularly religious, but I s’pose purely out of habit since childhood, mum fasts and makes a special effort to visit the temple during this month. A special effort to take me along with her too of course. And whilst the Hare Rama Hare Krishna temple of Watford is usually crowded to the point of overflowing, it’s wrapped in a blanket of peace first thing on a Monday morning - my mum’s prescribed medicine for my so-called impatience and slightly unsettled mind of late. Can’t say she was far off because really, it’s a serene sanctuary of spirituality that just gives you time, and space, to reflect.

2. An absolute baking staple - sugar cookies. They’re quick to prepare and even quicker to cook, and if you’re a bit of a novice in the baking business, you can bet your money that you won’t mess these up. I spent a wonderful afternoon baking these (and a horrifyingly chocolatey chocolate cake - think choc sponge, choc filling, choc icing) with my best friend. Try them and let me know how you get on.

3. Spicy bean quesadillas for dinner.

4. I’ve had interview after interview this week. I’m yet to hear back from any of them, but this one, by far, has to be the best. It’s a country house hotel. I don’t want to jinx it by babbling on, but let’s see.

5. And I have been accepted to study at the LSE.

6. Soooooooo after what has been a very long, and eventful, week of hard work, I can easily say I am happier than I have been in a while. I’m finally making the changes to my life, and myself, that I think are essential for me to be able to move and really begin living again. Every time I feel low, I remember two very essential words my Latin teacher taught me. And it’s not so much about the words as it is about the way she said them, with utmost conviction. She was an incredible woman with a voracious appetite for life and love for her profession. What is the point in running from work to home, home to work, if it doesn’t give you any pleasure whatsoever? You have to do what you love, and love what you do. Carpe diem, she’d say. Carpe diem. It’s rakhi today, an Indian festival of sorts that celebrates the relationship between a brother and sister. A bit like mother's day, or father’s day but for brothers and sisters. It means presents for me, a nice meal out for my brother... who’s complainin’ ey?! See y’all later!


Recipe: Spicy Bean Quesadillas


A quesadilla is, effectively, a sandwich. A Spanish/Mexican take on the American cheese toastie, the French croque-monsieur(/provençal/señor/...), the Italian panini...I think you catch my drift. Yes I hear you - why am I giving you a recipe for a sandwich? Well, it’s more a recipe for the rather tasty, rather feisty bean filling because I’m pretty sure you don’t need instructions on how to toast a sandwich... I hope?!? This is quick-fix, no-fuss food at its absolute best that’s probably better for you than a ready meal or oven food. Plus, it’s mouth-wateringly tasty. This one, with the beans, makes for a substantial meal in itself, but if you’re really hungry you can always back it up with some fat chips (SO authentic I know) and guacamole, or stir-fry rice if you’re going down the low fat (but high-carb?!) route. And while I can’t exactly vouch for their authenticity (one glance down the list of spices will explain why), for their flavour... ohhh yes I can.

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 tins red kidney beans
2 large onions
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1tsp asafoetida
2tsp chili flakes
2tsp ground cumin&coriander powder
2tsp salt
lemon juice
fresh ginger

For the quesadilla

4 corn tortillas
lettuce strips
salsa and/or guacamole
shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese.

What to do

1. Drain the kidney beans of their horribly salty preservative water, and wash until the water runs clear. Tip into a food processor, top up with around half a glass of water and blitz. The consistency you’re after is half-mashed. So some whole beans, some completely pureed and some half-way in between.

2. Next, you need to “julienne” an onion (wow, that almost rhymes?) by which I mean slice into sort of long, slim strips. Meanwhile, put the oil to heat in a non-stick saute-pan.

3. Once you’re sure the oil is hot, put in the mustard seeds, asafoetida, chili flakes and finally the onions. You should be treated to that very satisfying sizzling sound (my favourite noise in the world I reckon). If you’re hearing it, you’re doing well (n.b. you might need to turn down the heat to stop the chili flakes from burning and killing you with the acrid fumes in turn).

4. When the onions have browned a little, throw in your semi-pureed beans and stir. Add the ground cumin&coriander and salt. Ensure it’s all mixed in, cover the pan and let it heat through for 8-10 minutes. You need to keep the heat low-ish or the beans tend to dehydrate.

5. When it’s looking all bubbling and beautiful, add in a spritz of lemon (very technical term I’ll have you know - means “as per taste”) and about 2 tsp of sugar to offset it. If you’re wondering “why bother with lemon and sugar when one just offsets the other”, then the answer is that is provides a great sweet-sour flavour. So don’t skip on this one.

6. Give it a taste, add more salt or chili if need be and garnish with some fresh mint or coriander. Leave to bubble for a few minutes more et voilà.

The rest of it’s just a bit of an assembly task - heat up a griddle pan of sorts, spread the beans thinly on one half of a corn tortilla and top with some salsa/guacamole and lettuce. Finish off with a blanket of cheese, fold the tortilla in half and place the uncooked quesadilla onto the heated pan. You may need to press on it lightly with a fish slice or something. Cook for around 1 minute each side before transferring to a chopping board. Then just slice each folded semi circle into half and serve straight away.



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