Archive | January 2012

TAUPE TALK AND ZWIEBEL

Portrait in grey taupe with rapidly-growing guineafowl:

We were talking about our favourite colours. I said mine was rose taupe. Nobody had heard of it. I tried to clarify by saying it is the colour of Zwiebel. That didn’t help at all …

Katie, the youngest of the stylists at work, says she doesn’t know what I am talking about half the time. The other day I mentioned that it was extremely windy and I was worried that my dress would be blown up and my petticoat – which is transparent – would be exposed. At the word ‘petticoat’, Kate collapsed with laughter; she’d never heard the word before. The lass is only 20 years old, so, when I said I have not been married as many times as Zsa Zsa Gabor, I may as well have been speaking Hungarian.

From Wikipedia, references to taupe in popular culture:

Film:

In Little Black Book, Brittany Murphy says that when Diane Sawyer wears taupe, it is elegant.

In Ocean’s Eleven, on viewing a camera feed of a back hallway of the casino, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) asks: ‘Why do they always paint hallways that color?’. Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) replies: ‘They say taupe is very soothing.’

In Factory Girl, Diana Vreeland (played by Illeana Douglas) agrees to buy one of Andy Warhol‘s art pieces with a shade of taupe.

In the movie There’s Something About Mary, Ted Stroehmann indicates that the colors of his tuxedo are “tan and taupe”.

In Maid in Manhattan, it is referenced in the line, “You look like someone who knows the difference between taupe and caramel.” —Caroline Lane (Natasha Richardson) to Marisa Ventura (Jennifer Lopez)

Television

An episode from the second season of Mad About You, Instant Karma, revolves around the bad luck Helen attracts after accidentally obtaining a taupe blouse without paying.

In one episode of The Simpsons, “Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade“, a child on a bus shouts, “Punchbuggy taupe!”

In the November 7, 2007 episode of CBS‘s Criminal Minds, the color taupe is referred to as a “negative color” when picked as a color by a person.

In the fifth episode of season two of Dilbert the artist Rusty represents the color taupe as orange in an art class.

Impressionist Rory Bremner has in the past referred to a fictional board that monitors Gordon Brown called ‘OFBROWN’ or ‘Taupe’.

In The O.C. episode “The Chrismukkah That Almost Wasn’t“, Seth refers to Summer and Marissa as being taupe on his Chrismukkah color chart due to their lack of holiday spirit.

ZWIEBEL:

1/3 cup port or sherry
2 tablespoons gelatine
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2c diced red onion or shallot
1.5 cups duck liver cleaned and chopped
1.5 cups butter chilled and cut into small pieces

Soak the gelatine in the wine.
Saute the garlic, livers and onions in the butter with the nutmeg until medium rare.
Add the mustard and. remove from heat.
Puree with a stick-blender until smooth and season with salt and pepper.

AN ALTERNATE REALITY

Escapism is mental diversion by means of entertainment or recreation, as an “escape” from the perceived unpleasant or banal aspects of daily life. It can also be used as a term to define the actions people take to help relieve persisting feelings of depression or general sadness. – Wikipedia

A local cinema franchise once ran an ad campaign; people were pictured in frustrating situations that they ‘escape’ from by forming mental pictures of themselves at the movies whilst chanting ‘my happy place’.

I frequently have anxiety attacks, especially in the early hours of the morning, when things that are insignificant in the daylight hours appear to be insurmountable problems.  I learned years ago that to focus on my own ‘happy place’ would ease the anxiety within minutes. The last place I would choose is a movie house. With the help of a great therapist, I have learned that escapism is not only beneficial in coping with stress, it is essential. The idea is to visualise oneself in an environment where one has a sense of ‘oneness’ and is involved in pleasurable activity.

It could be taking a walk in a park; it is suggested by the Birkentock and oatmeal brigade that you chant the mantra ‘breathe in the green, breath out the red’, but I have never done this for fear of being thought a nutter by the passing Walk For Life housewives.

Another idea is to get a CD that has the sounds of wind and waves and woodchimes and stuff, and to visualise the heavens and the ocean. But I tried that once and it made me think of the spa I go to for massages. They have a CD like that and all I can think of is if there is a pimple on my bum or worry that I will relax to such an extent that I let off wind …

No, I come to my blog for my dose of an alternate reality. It is a place where goodness and wellbeing reign supreme; this is my happy place. A place where I am, quite literally, ‘in the pink’.

 

Where is yours?

LE PARADOXE ET LES CHAPEAUX TENDRES

French paradox
The term ‘French paradox’ refers to the observation that while both the French and Americans have a diet high in saturated fats, smoke cigarettes and exercise little – which are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease – the French have a significantly lower risk of cardio vascular disease than that of the Americans: 36% compared with 75%. The difference in risk has been attributed to the consumption of alcohol and, in particular, red wine. The French consume 60 L per capita of wine per year, while the Americans only consume 7.7 L per year. (Source: http://www.thewineschool.co.za )

Which explains why I am such an avid Francophile …

Sidey’s weekend theme (for which I am, once again, late) is The Hat.

I love hats and buy them indiscriminately. I wear them in the garden, when I go work, at weddings and even, sometimes, when I am home alone watching television.  You can, therefore, understand how upset I was when I discovered the adverse publicity my habit had been given by the acid-tongued Mr. P.J. O’ Rourke:

“A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life.  Nothing looks for stupid than a hat.  When you put on a hat you are surrendering to the same urge that makes children wear mouse ears at Disney World or drunks wear lampshades at parties.  Wearing a hat implies that you are bald if you are a man and that your hair is dirty if you are a woman.  Every style of hat is identified with some form of undesirable (derby = corrupt party worker; fedora = Italian gangster; top hat = rich bum’ pillbox = Kennedy wife. Et cetera).  Furthermore, the head is symbolically identified with the sexual organs, so that when you walk down the street wearing a hat, anyone who has the least knowledge of psychology will see you as having a beaver hanging off your penis or feathers protruding from your genitals.  A hat should only be worn if you are employed as a racehorse trainer or are hunting ducks in the rain.”

Very rude, Sir!  I shall wear this hat, feathers and all.

Of late, I am wearing my caterer’s hat. It happened slowly; first one then another of the stylists eyed my work lunch and asked if I would consider that they pay me and I bring them lunch too. And so it began, with a quiche or a salad …

And then the orders started streaming in … customers got wind of it and I was asked for a large lasagne for a dinner party. Someone wanted a special birthday cake …

As my good friend Charlie always says: “And so it goes … “

BIRDS AND STOLEN MEAT

Yes, I have been quiet. The truth of the matter is that I am pining for a fowl. I’ve quite lost my heart, and it’s to a girl named Licken. She is a baby Guineafowl and I love her so much that I don’t believe I can live without her. My days are consumed by making plans to carry out a midnight raid on the farm and kidnap her. I have fantasized about the two of us taking a Thelma and Louise-style road-trip together …


In the meantime, for those readers who asked about ‘kleftiko’ …
My kleftiko, made to pair with First Sighting Shiraz:


Greek cuisine (Greek: ελληνική κουζίνα) is a Mediterranean cuisine,[1] sharing characteristics with the cuisines of Italy, the Balkans, Turkey, and the Levant. Too much refinement is generally considered to be against the hearty spirit of the Greek cuisine, though recent trends among Greek culinary circles tend to favour a somewhat more refined approach.
Kleftiko: literally meaning “in the style of the Klephts”, this is lamb slow-baked on the bone, first marinated in garlic and lemon juice, originally cooked in a pit oven. It is said that the Klephts, bandits of the countryside who did not have flocks of their own, would steal lambs or goats and cook the meat in a sealed pit to avoid the smoke being seen. (Wikipedia)


My friend Browniegirl is far more erudite than I when it comes to writing recipes, I use lamb shanks for my kleftiko and she opted for lamb knuckles, but the cooking process is much the same, so go here if you want the recipe.

When I come to think about it, there really is little difference in the cooking styles for lamb across the globe. The French call it souris and the Moroccans use a tagine. Whatever the method, it always ends up being comfort food of the first order …

A DOUBLE DOSE OF HAPPY 48

I HAVE HAD PROBLEMS WITH MY INTERNET CONNECTION, HENCE MY ABSENCE FROM THE BLOGS. I AM BACK UP AND RUNNING AND WILL TRY TO CATCH UP WITH ALL MY FRIENDS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

My birthday party on Sunday was riotous. With a bunch of dear friends, all witty and clever women, I lunched at Weltevreden Farm and was royally spoilt with gorgeous gifts, great food and sweet treats fit for a princess.

My crown soon slipped, no small blame on the wine, I am sure…

Emboldened, I decided to ignore my fear of heights and clambered up onto an old wagon to feed the chickens.

Thanks to My Pal Sal, who lifted me down safely.

Monday’s affair was very tranquil by contrast. My MIL took me to lunch at a nearby Greek restaurant, Plaka.

 

It was perfect; the décor is serene, the staff attentive and the food is consistently good.

We both opted for the kleftiko and thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon.

My thanks go to all these women in my life, I am blessed.

JANUARY IN MY KITCHEN

The terms ‘cutlery’ (items with a cutting edge, such as knives) and ‘flatware’ (spoons, forks and other eating implements) are used rather indiscriminately today to include all the tools of the table. While the term ‘flatware’ can include table cutlery, the reverse is less appropriate. Table cutlery, unlike that used for dessert, was generally not acquired as part of a place setting in a flatware set as we know it – with knife handles, forks and spoons in a matching design and shape – until the late eighteenth century, a century or so after hosts were expected to provide flatware for their guests. – Feeding Desire / Design and the Tools of the Table. (Assouline Press)

Yes, I am reading a book about knives and forks. A tome really, 288 pages about the stuff we toss willy-nilly into the soapy water and grumble about having to wash. The family silver, if you will.

I’ve loved flatware since I fed my first dolly pretend-ice cream and have been known to slap a hand that reaches for my favourite spoon. But I don’t love it nearly as much as a woman I met many years ago. I was working a vacation job in a posh hotel owned by the woman’s family. It was the grand heyday of the five-course meal and this hotel was famous for its silver service. Turns out our lass was a kleptomaniac and was pinching these tools of appetite from the dining room every day. Quite odd, I still think, when she had the run of the place and could dash down to the kitchen anytime she wanted a bowl of custard or a midnight Welsh Rarebit.

As testament to my appreciation of silverware, I had a chandelier made for my kitchen by a customer at the salon. It is constructed from enamel bowls, from which dangle crystals and miniature knives, forks and spoons.

That’s about all the news from my kitchen this month; my family are away and I am reveling in slothful self-indulgence. The heatwave we’re having is unbelievable and it’s all I can do to muster up the energy to pop a champagne cork at the end of the day.

Happy New Year to all my friends, I wish you love, light and laughter throughout 2012.

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon,
The little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the fork ran away with the Spoon …

 For more contributions and peeks into kitchens around the world, visit Celia at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial.