Friday 25 May 2012

The windows are open

I think I can say it now. It's summer.


It's summer because my toenails are blue.

All my socks are in the drawer.

Chotto-ma went to school in her pyjamas and bedroom slippers today (It's Pyjama Day)

Our clothes are drying on the clothesline instead of the radiators

Everyone's eating on pavements. And smiling at strangers.

Our room is all happysillysummery.

The evenings look like mornings.

We decided to move house. (Yeah, it's our summer thing)

D has a heat rash on his neck (A heat rash. Hear?)

We spent an hour at the V&A, and the cool felt good. (Cool? Good? In England?)

 We had ice-creams and beers by the Serpentine. That felt good too.

We're sleeping with the windows open at night.

There's jazz in the park, and hampers on the grass.

And the most that I have cooked lately, are things that cook by themselves.

Sujoc spiced chicken & summer vegetables

It's a one-dish, so all you do is put it in the oven and let it cook. You read a book. You watch the light outside go from four-o'clock-yellow to six-o'clock-white. And then you take it out. And you sit in the morning-like-evening, with a bottle of chilled Pinot. And you tuck in.

Summer makes me hungry for more. Of everything.

. . . . .

Ingredients ( I used vegetables I had in my kitchen. Feel free to add the ones you have in yours.)

4-6 chicken thighs
8-10 slices of chorizo
2 carrots, diced diagonally
2 potatoes, diced in circles
6-8 plum tomatoes, whole
6-8 shallots, whole
6 cloves garlic, crushed
A sprinkle of raisins
A drizzle of white wine (about 2 tbsp)
1 tsp sujoc (Or, soujok/soujoukh is available in most Middle Eastern shops. If not, the spice is a blend of fenugreek, cumin, garlic, black pepper, paprika, red chilli)
A few springs of basil (I used the fragrant, small-leafed Greek Basil)
Sea salt

Pre-heat your oven at 180 degrees C.
Put everything into an oven proof dish, and mix. Turn the chicken skin-side up. Tuck the chorizo under the vegetables.
Cover with foil, and put it into the oven for an hour-and-a-half.
Take off the foil, and put the dish back into the oven till the chicken is done, and the skin is crispy.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Paris at night

I'm a little bit in love with Jacques Prévert at the moment. His words are so simple, and complicated. Separate, and tangled. Ordinary, and magical. Like water in a river.

Here's the first of a series of his poems that I must share with you.

Paris at night

Three matchsticks lit one by one in the night
The first to see the whole of your face
The second to see your eyes
The third to see your mouth
And complete darkness to remember this all
With you locked in my arms.

 _ _ _ _ _ 

And the original...

Trois allumettes une à une allumées dans la nuit
La premiére pour voir ton visage tout entier
La seconde pour voir tes yeux
La dernière pour voir ta bouche
Et l'obscuritè tout entière pour me rappeler tout cela
En te serrant dans mes bras.

Jacques Prévert

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Under the floorboards

I went underground on Saturday.

Off the face of the earth. Into a room under the floorboards. Here, a few brave people stooped over a common cause. To tame a beast with sharp fangs and a fickle foot. A foot that changed shape. And fangs so extraordinary that it had a name of its own. Feed Dog. Like an order. Feed Dog, or else.

As we gathered in the room under the street, Cambridge walked over our heads, and carried on as usual.

It would've been the perfect setting for a dark, Poe-ish play if it were not for a scrumptious Victoria sponge cake. And colourful, stripey mugs of coffee. And swathes of fabric printed with strawberries and scottie dogs. And Jill - the very antethesis of Allan Poe.

Even the room was cheery! All lovely painted furniture, and polka dot oilcloths.

And to kick the last of my edgy atmosphere, the beast that needed taming was called Janome. Rhyming with salami. Origami. I love mummy.

Here, meet Janome.

And meet Jill. Who has the nicest smiles, and many words a minute. She lives on a narrowboat. And spent the day teaching us a bit of magic.

Of invisible hems and instant buttonholes. Of rick rack, and triple zig zag. Wing needles, and bias tapes. All in the course of a day's sewing. Thanks Jill. And thank you, ladies, for a Saturday very well spent.

And what do you know, by the end of the day, my beast had begun to purr. It even wrote my name. And made a little cushion for Chotto-ma.

So. Who's the mummy, Janome?

Wednesday 2 May 2012


According to a friend, a really good porridge, apart from that big pinch of salt, has a little secret added in the end. Butter - melted in a pan till a nice brown. Drizzled onto the warm porridge. And stirred gently in. It's the best porridge tip I've ever received.

And here's porridge according to Spike Milligan.


Why is there no monument
To Porridge in our land?
If it's good enough to eat,
It's good enough to stand!

On a plinth in London
A statue we should see
Of Porridge made in Scotland
Signed, "Oatmeal, O.B.E."
(By a young dog of three) 

Spike Milligan