Bill Murray Colouring Book

I’ve written before about how much i love Bill Murray so i have my friend Heidi (check her very cool blog here) to thank for alerting me to this. Its a Bill Murray Colouring Book. Heidi’s came in the post yesterday – i want one. You can order yours from Belly Kids where they also have some great posters and tshirts and stuff. and you can read about the Bill Murray exhibition they are having in London tonight (11 August).



Banana Tea Bread (or Banana and Walnut Loaf) – One New Recipe a Week

With only 2 out of the 3 members of our household eating bananas, we regularly end up some weeks with some pretty sorry-looking speckled black-skinned bananas. Hating the idea of chucking them in the bin, over the last year i’ve regularly made banana-related muffins and cakes (a favourite being Nigel Slater’s Black Banana Cake).

I know there are a million different versions of banana bread but i didn’t fancy making it with chocolate and i’ve never actually made one with walnuts so i turned to the Baking Bible – ie: the Be Ro Home Recipes book which has a recipe for Banana Tea Bread (or Banana and Walnut loaf). I picked up the 40th edition last year but the 41st edition is the most recent release and it’s available on Amazon too, which is chock-full of basic and traditional cakes and pastries but just can’t be beat. I’ve made a few things out of here which have all been excellent. This was my first attempt at baking with my new oven so had to adjust a bit (and covered the loaf for the last 15 mins or so baking time so as not to overcook the top) but am really pleased – it’s delicious (and made great use of a handful of manky bananas).

Banana Tea Bread

225g (8ox) Be-Ro Self Raising Flour
1/4 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
pinch Salt
75g (3oz) butter (i used Bertolli butter-like spread)
175g (6oz) caster sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten
450g (1lb) bananas, weighed with skin, peeled, mashed (i had just under this – about 4 large bananas)
100g (4oz) walnuts, chopped

1) Heat Oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line the base of a 1kg (2lb) loaf tin
2) Mix together flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt
3) Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add the eggs a little at a time alternately with the flour.
4) Stir in the bananas and walnuts and place in prepared tin. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours. (i checked after an hour and turned the heat down to 160C for the last 15mins- i have a fan oven – and covered the top of the loaf with parchment so it didn’t burn).
5) Cool on a wire rack


Channa aur simla mirch and Matar Paneer – One New Recipe A Week

Or Fried Chick Peas and Peppers and Peas and Cheese in Tomato Sauce…

Have to be honest – this is i suppose another guest post by my OH who made these dishes for dinner a couple of weeks after we moved into our new house (5 weeks ago now!) and have either been unpacking/knackered/watching the Olympics in recent weeks (Team GB has 22 Golds at time of writing this – Amazing!) so haven’t got round to adding it. Which is remiss of me because both dishes were absolutely gorgeous and were again from rediscovered favourite The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking. It took only half an hour or so to make both dishes and were served with plain white basmati rice.

So both recipes just taken from the book and any comments in italics:

Channa aur simla mirch (Fried Chick peas and peppers)
1 1/2 cups (250g) chick-peas (we used a tin of chick peas)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs ghee or vegetable oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 or 2 fresh chillies, minced (these were just chopped up)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (dried is fine)
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp asafetida
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch (1.5cm) pieces
1 medium-sized tomato, washed and chopped (optional)
2 medium-sized tomatoes, washed and cut into 8 wedges each

Soak the chick-peas overnight in water to double their volume (or just use tinned chick peas). Drain them and put them into a pot. Add enough water to cover them by about 3 inches (7.5cm) and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove any froth that has collected on top, cover and gently simmer over medium-low het for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until chick peas are tender. Then drain off the water (save 1/2 cup – 125ml – if you plan to make a sauce) (IGNORE all this if you’re using tinned chick peas instead).
Over medium heat, heath the ghee or vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the cumin seeds. Then add the minced chilli and ginger. Add the turmeric and asafetida and then follow immediately with the cut pepper. Turn the pieces of pepper with a spoon. When they appear soft and browned, add the drained chick-peas and stir for 3 minutes. Then add the remaining salt. If you would like a sauce, add the water you saved or 1 chopped tomato and cook 5 minutes more. (The 2 medium-szed tomatoes are to be served as garnish)

Matar Paneer (Peas and cheese in tomato sauce)

(You can adjust the thickness of the sauce to your taste by varying the amount of water. Thin, it goes well with rice, thick with chapatis).

8oz (225g) Paneer (Indian cheese now widely available in supermarkets- though you could use any decent hard cheese like cheddar)
ghee or vegetable oil for deep frying (sort-of optional)
4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbs ghee
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 or 2 fresh chillies, seeded and minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp asafetida
1lb (450g) fresh peas shelled (we used frozen peas)
2/3 cup (150ml) water
6 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp garam masala

Knead the paneer well until it is smooth and soft. Then, form it into grape sized balls and deep fry them in ghee or vegetable oil until they are crisp and golden-brown. (NB – if using supermarket bought paneer, you don’t need to do this – OH just cuts the block of paneer – see pic – and just frys in a little ghee rather than deep fry). Remove them from the ghee with a slotted spoon and drop them into a solution of 3 teaspoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of turmeric and 2 cups of warm water or whey. Let them soak while you go on to the next step (NB – you don’t really need to do this either…)
In a medium sized saucepan, heath the 2 tablespoons of ghee over medium heat. Then add the cumin seeds, followed by the minced chillies and grated giner. When the cumin seeds are browned (in about 30 to 45 seconds) toss in the asafetida, the remaining turmeric and a few seconds later the peas. Now add the water, cover the pan, and cook the peas until they are tender. Add the tomatoes and cheese balls (paneer chunks). Cook over the same medium heat for 5 more minutes. Just before serving, add a generous squeeze of lemon, and season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and the garam masala.

Fried chick-peas and peppers and Peas and cheese in tomato sauce

Mike D (Beastie Boys) Brooklyn Toile Wallpaper

Oh yes, thats Mike D of the Beastie Boys. Designing awesome Brooklyn-inspired Wallpaper:

“Designed by Mike D & Revolver NY

Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys decided he wanted a Brooklyn inspired toile wallpaper that would line the walls of his Brooklyn brownstone. The vision was to pay tribute to all things Brooklyn in a way that would appear to be a traditional French Country Toile, but when you step to it the pattern reveals elements and vignettes that make up the truth about Brooklyn. Mike approached Vincent J. Ficarra and Adela Qersaqi of Revolver New York to help execute his vision artistically and Flavor Paper to produce the design as wallpaper. Due to the level of detail and shading in Vincent’s design we decided to produce the Brooklyn Toile as a digital print, but stay tuned as it may be revised into a hand screened print soon!

Brooklyn Toile captures many angles of life in the King’s borough from Coney Island to Hasidic Jews to Notorious B.I.G., the design covers many of the aspects of daily life dealing with subways and pigeons in a poetic way. Go on and get some!!!”

See it here:

(ps: thanks to my OH for showing me this – WANT IT!)

Marks & Spencers Retro shopping bag

Whilst in Marks’ today I was at the checkout (purchasing cake for daughter to take to nursery for her birthday, cards, wrapping paper and some Sweet Chilli Noodles for my lunch…) And COULD NOT resist this St Michael (M&S’s old home brand name) Retro shopping bag.
Definitely worth the 75p I paid! Love it (and yes, did make me think Mnnn – haven’t eaten a fig roll for years….)

M&S Retro Shopping bag - fabulous!

M&S Retro Shopping bag – fabulous!

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Gorgeous vintage city ads at Fab UK

These are just ridiculously gorgeous city advert prints at Fab UK resulting from a collaboration between New York gallery Americanflat and Nashville-based Anderson Design Group, “this selection of digitally-produced vintage-style prints showcases the attractions of various world cities in a stylised, advertisement aesthetic”. Too right – add a touch of Mad Men glamour to your walls…

Vintage City Ads at Fab Uk

Madonna at Murrayfield, Edinburgh 21/7/12

So yes, been busy with moving house and unpacking a ridiculous amount of boxes but we’re fully in now and love the house but more of that another time (i have to show you some of the excellent accessories i’ve bought:-). Last week, i won tickets to go and see Madonna at Murrayfield on her MDNA tour. I enter a ton of competitions, have my name on all sorts of lists but this was by far the best thing i’ve won for ages. I love Madonna and after a schoolfriend ballsing up arranging to go see her Blonde Ambition tour at Wembley, London many moons ago, i’ve never seen her live. I’d debating buying tickets for this tour but balked at the £100+ tickets so was very happy indeed to win these, and even better, G’s parents could babysit for the night – result!

Later last week, half my office ended up winning tickets too as it seems there were quite a few unsold tickets (and you could definately see this at the show) so much excitement (and not quite as much work getting done…) in my office last Thursday/Friday.

So G and I dropped off The Young Lady with the grandparents, bought our ready-mixed Gin&Tonics from Marks and Spencers and got the train from Glasgow to Edinburgh to have a few drinks before heading to Murrayfield. So we mooched down to the stadium for 7ish; i bought a tshirt (and was slightly gobsmacked at the guy next to me spending £400 on ‘one of everything’); we had a couple of beers and a burger, found our seats; had a listen to DJ Alesso (the support act); had a last loo break (the womens were even more disgusting than festival portaloos – yes, that bad) and bought another beer for the show.

The sound at Murrayfield stadium (it’s day job is a Rugby football stadium) was the worst i think i have ever experienced – i could barely hear anything other than bass of the new stuff though i guess it was lucky that for some reason the sound evened out for the classics. There’s been some controversy about the routine for Bang Bang where she brandishes a gun about (particularly with this concert – some pious newspaper articles asking ‘how dare she’ just a couple of days after the horrendous outdoor cinema shooting in the US, but seriously, it’s just theatre though in the daylight, was lost on me a bit (especially as i could barely hear too…). Highlights for me were Crazy for You, Express Yourself (and a very deliberate insertion of a bit of Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’), Vogue and Like A Prayer (see a video somebody too off Youtube here) – which got me all choked up and teary with the sound of 60,000 people singing every word. She closed with Celebration which was excellent too. Had i been able to hear the new stuff they may have been favourites too.

There were plenty of vocal complaints from folk leaving the stadium but they were wrong – Madonna was not shite but the sound most certainly was. I’d have been sorely disappointed if we’d spent £200+ on tickets for a concert i could only half-hear. However, SHE was amazing – don’t forget she’s 53 dancing seriously intricate choreography with dancers more than half her age and whilst some of the more recent material may not be so memorable, i’m so glad she hasn’t turned into a femal version of The Rolling Stones, just churning out the classics for cash, and she’s still creating new music. Many people i think were also complaining because this is what they were expecting (but as far as i’m concerned, they’re just stupid). Luckily the train home included a ton of people happy to have a good singalong (good fun until they ran out of Madonna songs and started on ‘Kumbaya’….)

I wish my camera phone was better but here are some pics i took.

Alu phul gobhi ki bhaji – One New Recipe a Week

Wasn’t sure i’d get this posted this week but i have – Alu phul gobhi ki bhaji is Cauliflower and potatoes in yogurt sauce from The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking by Adiraja Dasa. Now, before you run away screaming, i am not part of the Hare Krishna religion (or any, come to that) but some years ago this was about the only decent vegetarian Indian cookbook you could get and my OtherHalf was browsing at the weekend trying to see how we could use up some frozen veg before moving house, specifically a load of frozen Cauliflower, and came across this recipe.

So, i absolutely can’t take any credit for making this at all but it was so delicious i couldn’t not share it. My OH also said it was ridiculously easy and took less than half an hour. He also made a quick red lentil dahl to go with it too. One thing to note about Hare Krishna Indian cooking is that they don’t use Onion (goes against Vedic principles). The book actually has some really intesting chapters on Vegetarianism (bear in mind i’m not vegetarian – still an interesting read though) aswell as useful information on the kinds of Utensils used in Indian cooking as well as some handy suggested menus and has sections on Spices and Herbs, Milk products, Rice, Dals and Soups, Breads and Pancakes, Vegetables, Savories, Chutneys and Raitas, Sweets and Beverages. Definately worth hunting down if you want to try some authentic Indian vegetarian dishes, and simply skip past the Hare Krishna stuff if it’s not your bag.

Recipe copied from the book:

This technique of frying vegetables first in a masala, then steaming them, can be applied to other types of vegetables as well. People sometimes refer to this method as “curried” vegetables.

1 medium-sized cauliflower (we used few handfuls of frozen veg which we defrosted first)
5 tbs ghee or vegetable oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 or 2 dried chillies, crushed
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp asafetida
4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 tbs water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (250ml) plain yogurt
3/4 tsp garam masala
2 firm ripe tomatoes, washed and sliced
1 lemon or lime (we used a bit of lemon juice)

Trim the cauliflower and cut it into flowerets 1 1/2 inches (4cm) long by 1 inch (2.5cm) thick. Rinse them in a colander and let drain.
Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Drop in the cumin seeds and crushed chillies and fry them for 30 to 45 seconds, until the cumin seeds turn golden brown. Add the powdered spices, fry for a few seconds longer, then immediately add the cubed potatoes. Turn the potatoes for 2 or 3 minutes, letting them brown in spots, Now stir in the cauliflower and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes. Then add the water and salt and put the lid on the pan to trap the steam. Cook over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but still firm.
Finally, stir in the yogurt and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce is thick. Sprinkle with garam masala and stir gently to mix. Garnish each serving with slices of tomato and a twist of lemon or lime.

Preparation and cooking time: 25 min
(above recipe for 4 people – we reduced amount of potato and cauliflower by roughly half for 2 people).

Moving house food

So no new cooking this week as we’ve been trying to eat what’s left in the freezer before we move out tomorrow (though I have a great Indian recipe my OH made last weekend which I’ll post once I have decent Wi-Fi again).

So meals this week have included frozen vegetables, veggie burgers and oven chips/fries. Alongside that, pasta, eggs, beans, cheese and bread. Whilst not necessarily what you want to eat every day, I think when you’re a bit tired, stressed and coming down with 3yo’s cold then it’s easy and comforting. And there’s nothing wrong with that, right?

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Scandi-style for your living room

If you’ve been glued to BBC4 on a Saturday night for several weeks at a time or your Sky+ box is near capacity with the likes of The Killing, Borgen and Sebastien Bergman, then its likely that you’re not just a fan of the twisty plots, well-rounded characters and strong (but crazy) women but you probably also wish that you could live in a house like Martin’s (The Bridge).

I’m a big fan of all things Scandinavian and yes, like most of us love a trip round Ikea but in Grazia magazine this week, there was a great article with plent of useful links on how to get some Scandi-Cool (their byline) and an interview with Danish ceramics designer Tine Freiesleben from Copenhagen (complete with pictures of her chic home with lots of white, wood, rugs and bits of vintage design). I’m just going to list some of the websites here but i particularly liked some of the wallpapers and soft furnishings at including these:

Also check out:

Conran Shop: if you have a few thousand for an Arne Jacobsen
Eva Solo: for gorgeous kitchen accessories
Ferm Living: for gorgeous kids stuff and soft furnishings (like the cushion above)
Gubi: for ridiculously cool design (lighting and seating particularly)
Manostiles: for a gorgeous blog and great storage ideas
Normann Copenhagen: for stunning lighting, kitchen accessories and furniture
Skandium: for more beautiful furniture, lighting and textiles
Strikaholic: for gorgeous knitted textiles, bedlinen, blankets and cushions

*yes, i know i’ve used the descriptor ‘gorgeous’ a lot above, but they are – other than scouring a thesaurus for alternatives, i might as well just tell you that they are…