May 8th, 2011


Doing pretty well all things considered

This week started with a rather rude jolt to my system as I returned to work after two weeks off. I hadn't taken that long of a vacation since I moved here; being at work felt positively unreal. Few people seemed to be in, either.

Oddly rather than plunging right back into the theater my goal this week has been to see my friends in as thick of layers as possible. And this has been great: I saw Jason on Tuesday (review of the Secret Cinema event we went to here, which was great as I'd been missing him a lot while I was away and the movie itself was great. Then Wednesday I went to booklectic, where I got the royal treatment from her and dr_d, both of whom appear to have grown quite fond of my cooking (whereas I am fond of them, their family, their hospitality, and the way I feel so comfy and at home every time I see them). The evening wrapped with watching the very freaky Footlight Parade. Thursday I had Pilates with Alison then went to a nearby pub for a meeting of the Degenerate Book Club (and hanging out with Bill and Mel), which meant lots of bullshitting and gossip and all of the wild talk that we get up to together. They're so awesome, I think a trip to Ephesus and the other Greek ruins on the Turkish coast is a must.

Friday then was drinks with lovelybug and then Rock Band with L & N, S & T, and W. All of the singing and drumming and what have you (read: wine) left me feeling jolly and happy with the world and my friends and everything else (the stars in the sky, you name it, I blame the fact the taxi driver was playing my happy times 70s disco channel on the way back home).

Today I was hoping to see Robin/Brrd (as she's moving back to the US soon) but her plans changed and I got a bonus trishpiglet instead to keep me company as I was trying to make up for about three weeks of neglecting my house (not successfully, though - it looks better but I could do it all again tomorrow before I got to something I was happy with, but I won't). Then it was up north to see dreamsewingmiko, who showed me a lot of the cool goodies she rescued from her storage unit in the US, fed me, and measured me for the dress we've been working on (it should be ready in time for Halloween). I stayed until late, drinking wine and talking shit and looking at the details of the Flamenco festival I'm hoping we can go to in Jerez in February next year. And believe it or not, though I'm fatter than I was six months ago (no surprise after all of that Sicilian food), my arms are slimmer and my shoulders are further apart - in short, my Pilates lessons are totally having an effect on my body.

Tomorrow should be similarly busy - I'm having tea with exedore at Eat Shop Drink at 12:30, then meeting Robin (above) for Il Pagliacci at the King's Head Theater, then going to the Islington Vue to see Thor with her and a few other friends. It's crazy but even though I'm not seeing shows (it's been almost three weeks) I'm actually busier than I normally am. Hell, I should slow down some night and walk back in a theater again - the rest would do me good. But all of this time with people, for me it's like sitting in a battery charger and watching my red change to orange and soon green. Love loooooove love it.

Book meme day 12

"Book borrowing – do you use the library? Do you prefer to try before you buy? What about lending your books to friends? Are you a good borrower, do you remember to return books?"

I don't use the library any more. I keep books for far too long - it usually takes me a month or so to read a good book - and I was being hit by a lot of fines for, in essence, not racing through books. Then for the books that I'm really eager to read, well, having to wait a year to get a book just isn't my choice. I buy it. It's good for authors and bookstores.

I've also become very enthused about giving my books away. Any paperback fiction novel that I finish will usually quickly make its way to a new person either in person or via Bookmooch. I just don't have the space anymore, and I am less in love with books as physical objects than I used to be before I moved over here. I also feel that paperbacks have a limited lifespan and are best "used up" rather than being allowed to fall to pieces over the course of the years. A paperback that gets four reads has done pretty well in my book. So I don't lend much anymore; I give. It makes doing the accounting a lot easier.

I am a very good borrower, I think; I segregate borrowed books and always return them. Well, unless we stop talking and I move across the world, in which case I may still have that book about Benjamin Franklin and farting even though it still gives me a twinge of guilt when I see it on the bookshelf

Sicilian recipes: onions gratin (probably meant for sweet onions), pistachio pesto, baked spaghetti

2 Giarratana onions
200 g breadcrumbs
100 g grated Paremsan
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Cut the onion into discs (abt 1 cm thick). For filing: toast breadcrumbs. Put into a bowl, mix with all of the rest of the ingredients. Lay the onion slices on an oven tray and spread the mixture on the. Pour some oil on top and cook for 10 minutes at 350.

Sure, it's vague, but doable, right?

Another: Spaghetti with green olive and caper sauce baked in foil (serves 4)
400g spaghetti
300 g pitted green olives
300g salted capers
300g tomato passata (plain sauce)
1 onion

Soak the capers in water to remove excess salt. Finely chop olives, capers and onion. Fry them lightly in some oil. After 5 minutes add passata and cook for half an hour. Cook and drain spaghetti, add to sauce. Mix then move the mixture onto tin foil and create little birds' nests on teh foil. Add the remaining sauce on top, wrap each next individually and cook them in the oven for a few minutes.

Spaghetti with salted ricotta (it's kind of like parmesan) and Bronte pistachio pesto
400 g spaghetti (enough for four people)
400 g pistachos
100 g butter
50 g grated salted ricotta
1 shallot
olive oil
1/2 "beaker" of brandy (maybe a shot?)

Crush the pistachios with a mortar and pestle. Mince the shallot and fry it lightly with a bit of oil. Add crushed pistachios and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in brandy and let alcohol evaporate. Cook pasta; mix with sauce; garnish with pistachios and serve with salted ricotta.

Spaghetti with courgettes/zucchini, lemon and walnuts

400 g spaghetti
50 g walnuts
4 zukes
1 shallot
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
"knob" of butter (no idea how much this is)
Extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop the shallot and saute it with oil. Wash zukes and cut into rounds abt 1 cm thick. When shallot is soft, add zukes. Halfway through the cooking process, add the lemon juice and rind and continue cooking for a further few minutes over a slow heat. Puree half of the sauce, and pour the puree onto the bottom of a serving dish. Boil the pasta and add a knob of butter to it in the pan together with the sauce. Place the pasta in the serving dish and sprinkle with lightly crumbled walnuts. (The picture shows the spaghetti sitting on top of the sauce with some walnuts on top and some decorative zukes on the side.)