Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Back To The Future Day, 21 October 2015

Back To The Future Day! 21 October 2015
Back To The Future Day! 21 October 2015

It's Back To The Future Day today. That is, the date Marty McFly travels to in Back To The Future II. Set your watch to 4.29pm folks!

I couldn't NOT post this ridiculously brilliant picture of my kids, could I? ^^

My god, how I love this film.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Recipe: A Greek salad (for an Indian summer)

Greek salad recipe from The Mount Athos Diet

Usually, with the arrival of autumn, my little heart is like a leaf withering on the tree then falling, pathetically, to the ground, only to be stomped on by a woolly'n'welly wearing passerby. Not this year. This year, autumn has triumphed. It's warm and it's blue and it's bright - well done, autumn, you've successfully held my hand through and out the other side, heart intact. Heart full, in fact.

Much as I love the hearty meals called for in colder months, this gentle transition of September and October has seen lighter (even summery) meals, still finding a place on my table.

One such treat is Greek salad. This is one of those classics that - done badly - can be truly, maddeningly sub-standard. Shop-bought Greek salads... well, prepare to be disappointed. And it's quite unnecessary as this is one of the easiest of speedy suppers to throw together with just a few fresh ingredients.
Greek salad recipe from The Mount Athos Diet

Greek Salad

A classic Greek salad, this version has a little less of the usual quantity of dressing. Serve with crusty bread. 

Serves 4

2 large tomatoes
1 medium cucumber, peeled
120g feta cheese
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into fine rings
10 Kalamata olives
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
pinch of dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice each tomato into eight wedges. Slice the cucumber lengthways before chopping each half into thin slices. Use a fork to break up the cheese into bite-sized chunks. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and cheese. In a small cup, combine the oil, vinegar, oregano and salt and pepper. Whisk the dressing before pouring over the salad. Serve immediately.

Greek salad recipe from The Mount Athos Diet

This recipe is taken from my book, The Mount Athos Diet. Get hold of a copy here.

And I was thrilled to receive some Cole + Mason products from John Lewis, which have been brilliant in this recipe. Firstly, the spice carousel with its 16 jars of herbs and spices is pretty much all anyone needs in the kitchen. I absolutely love the salt and pepper mills, which have a brilliant switch that alters the coarseness of each. And finally, an oil and vinegar mister is an ace way to add dressing and flavour to salads without coating too heavily.


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Five reads for October

Nigella Lawson by Mario Testino, Vogue

Whoops. The last time I wrote a Five reads post was back in June. Still, that's given me plenty of time to unearth new gems, hasn't it?

Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food

Not exactly breaking news, I know. She's been all over the press with this new book, but that's not a good enough reason not to feature Simply Nigella this month (I can think of very few reasons, if I'm honest). Instead, here is a list of all the things I bloody love about Nigella:

:: She used to write a beauty column for Vogue. One tip that I've never forgotten is that she would always prioritise groomed brows over any other make up. She's so right.
:: Her 'disgust' for clean eating (on the basis it suggests other kinds of eating are 'dirty'). Nige is all about balance.
:: The way she writes. She believes recipe writing is a form of autobiography in miniature. Never has a food writer inspired me so much.
:: Those brilliantly knowing TV shows. Just having her on in the background is as soothing as stirring risotto.
:: The books. For me, in particular, How to Eat and How To Be A Domestic Goddess (my copy is signed!).
:: The fact she is 55 and looks so damned peachy and hot, especially in those wiggle dresses.

I think I'd better stop now.

My Brilliant Friend

When recommendations pop up all over the place for the same book, you know you have to pay attention. Elena Ferrante is a mysterious Italian novelist - apparently no one knows who she really is - whose books have spread through word of mouth. Good job, really, as she refuses to do any promotion of her work, supposedly saying 'I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors. If they have something to say, they will sooner or later find readers; if not, they won’t.'

Brave stuff. But it seems to have worked...

F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way

Another recommendation, this book is said to have inspired a major life change in a friend-of-a-friend. The writing style is a little trendy new age but I'm enjoying the messages (only a third of the way through so far). Love the sound of the retreats the author and his wife run in Italy, and you can do a 'how F**k It are you?' quiz over on their website.

The Book of Human Emotions: An Encyclopaedia of Feeling from Anger to Wanderlust

Every so often a book comes along that could've been written just for you. This is one such tome. If you've seen the Word of the day posts extolling my love of unusual words, you'll get it right away. And these ones are *just* about human emotions? Phwoar. Sold.

A Modern Way to Cook

Book-ending October's Five reads are recipe books, I know, but they work together so well. Two brilliant, female cooks sharing their love of delicious but balanced food, two gloriously evocative writers laughing in the face of the fine line between healthy eating and taste. Anna Jones is a marvel - so many of her dishes have become such favourites (try the avocado spaghetti or dal with sweet potatoes in A Modern Way to Eat, and the white bean burritos or the quinoa or the buddha bowls or the green herb omelette in this book). My friend Lara and I went to see her do a demo in Bath a few months back. We concluded that Anna Jones must have some kind of dealing with the dark arts of cookery so explosive are her flavour combinations, so nourishing is her choice of ingredients.

What are you reading at the mo? Let me know...



Monday, 12 October 2015

Inspiration: Halloween ideas that won't make you faint with horror

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas

I can still remember the Halloween costume I wore aged about nine or ten. It was made from an old party frock, a plastic sword cut in two and tied around the inside of the dress, topped with a whole load of fake blood. I loved it.

Halloween is a very special time of year in this house. Two thirds of its inhabitants are properly into the dark side - T remains bat-obsessed and I have always harboured goth tendencies. A few weeks back, our local Aldi started advertising their Halloween stock in that flimsy weekly catalogue they do. The minute T spotted it, he talked of nothing else. A big batch of copies clutched in his hands, he brought them home, pored over them, and even took them to bed with him. We had to do a countdown every night until the stock came into the store, at which point I ended up spending far too much on costumes, cupcake sprinkles, a water bottle, a freaky talking doorbell, and a ghost bucket. We had one very happy boy on our hands.

But I much prefer decorating and baking myself rather than buying cheap tat. And there are some brilliant ideas out there, which tick all the boxes for me: they don't cost a lot, they're easy or quick to make, and they look ace - stylish at the same time as being spooky enough for my little T. He takes it very seriously.

Here are my top 20 Halloween ideas this year that won't make you die of hideousness.

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
It doesn't *have* to be orange. Love these pretty gold confetti pumpkins in bright colours

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
How cute? Not v scary are they?

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
These dudes are (as A would say) - RAD

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
Bet this BOO banner would end up staying on the wall well into November

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
These three look benignly scary. Okay, just benign

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
I'm so wearing this bat headband

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
The simple spookies are the best

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
Stay for a bite to eat?

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
My black heart is filled with joy

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
Drill holes into pumpkin, use as Chupa Chups stand

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
Anything can be improved with the addition of BATS! 
20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
Why are these little ghost meringues so teeny weeny?

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
Pop 'em for double the scare

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
Sharpies + satsumas = spooky mini pumpkins

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
Jampires on the loose

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
Wrap croissant dough around frankfurters for instant mummy hot dogs

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
Cute! Buy munchkin pumpkins, add fangs

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
A must chez nous

20 simple & stylish Halloween ideas
Kinda actually scary in their simplicity, aren't they?

All these ideas and more can be found over on my Halloween Pinterest board.

Got spooky plans this year? I'd love to hear what you're up to - leave me a comment.

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