31 January 2012

a spot of culture...typography - what's my type

words are all around us. how they look is as important as what they say. how they look affects not only how easy it is for us to read them, but also how we feel about them. how words look can give us subtle messages and dictates whether reading words is a soothing or scratchy experience. it's also deeply personal: what i like will give you a headache; what you like will make me shudder or tut.

i've never understood those people (including many i've worked with) who only focus on the content of a piece of text and totally ignore the design including typography. in writing we must have content and design, you can't have one without the other, so it is always worth spending time on how something looks.

typography takes us from calligraphy to graffiti; helvetica to comic sans.

one of the small highlights of my recent trip to new york was the eye-pleasing use of helvetica in the subway. now, helvetica (released in 1957), has its critics for being too corporate and too commonplace but for me it is a good, strong choice for a public space and a major transport system. it is easy to read, clean, practical yet beautiful, tasteful, and well-designed.

if you want to learn more about helvetica, i recommend the film helvetica made when the typeface was 50 years old in 2007.

i'm really grateful to @noelito for tweeting some beautiful examples of typography used in public spaces. in transcending tags: 16 typographic works of urban art, weburbanist takes us on a short tour of some great examples of street art using the beauty of lettering.

here is my favourite from anna garforth...

photo credit: crosshatchling

and what's the next book on my reading pile? just my type: a book about fonts by simon garfield. it was recently radio 4's book of the week.

29 January 2012

eating in...my january challenge: mushroom ragout with soft polenta

so, my january challenge is continuing. the main challenge is being in to cook things from my three books as i've been out gallivanting a lot recently. anyway, here's something i made the other day...it's river cottage veg everyday's mushroom ragout with soft polenta. you'll find it in the comfort food and feasts section, and very accurately named that section is as it was very comforting and felt like a bit of a feast. the polenta was delicious and very easy, a surprise as i've been putting off using it for reasons that are now beyond me. i'll be making it - this recipe and polenta - again.

and yes i am back to photographing food again...a bit weird but is pretty helpful when blogging about cooking and eating. i need to do a bit more work on lighting. i've read that it's best to photograph food in natural light. it's a bit tricky to do this on a winter's evening but i'll try my hardest in future.

22 January 2012

eating out...ssh! it's a secret

private pies, clandestine cakes? who knew there was such a furtive, secretive food making and eating going on in the coffee shops and spaces in newcastle?

clandestine cakes club was the movers and shakers on this trend. i'm clearly behind the times because there are clandestine cake clubs all over the country, taking great delight in baking and sharing cakes but strictly no muffins, pies (there's a separate club for that), tarts or cupcakes.

if you like pies and want to eat them in private then clearly private pie is for you - who doesn't like pie?

whatever next? covert curries? mysterious muffins? furtive flans?

20 January 2012

eating in...my january challenge: an early report

my cooking challenge seems to be going fairly well, as well as it can be when i seem to be out most nights of the week. i have cooked three recipes from january's cookery books this week, however i have totally failed to take photos of what i've made. but who wants to spend time photographing food rather than eating it?!

* roasted squash and shallots with merguez chickpeas from river cottage veg everyday - me and C had it last monday for tea and i had leftovers for lunch in the week, that's my kind of cooking

* spicy moroccan carrot salad from plenty - it certainly was spicy as i mistakenly used all of the spices for only have the carrots in the recipe...you'd think i was some kind of amateur...it was still lovely

* caponata from river cottage - this was perfect to use up the two bags of frozen roast aubergine in the freezer...or so i thought until the roasted aubergine defrosted only to find the aubergine had turned into sweet potato and courgette. fancy that. my kitchen isn't usually so calamitous, really it isn't

i've next got my eye on savoy cabbage and parmesan soup from plenty.

17 January 2012

out and about...up in the frozen north

it was a touch on the fresh side this morning...and it didn't change all day...brrrr

08 January 2012

eating in...what i'll be cooking in january

i love cooking and i love recipe books. i have a lot of them but i'm not very good at actually using them... i've also had a bit of a quiet patch on the cooking front lately... so, i've decided to introduce some parameters for january's cooking to make me use them and to get back into cooking. this month, i will only cook things from my christmas gifts...

* river cottage veg everyday!
* jamie's great britain
* plenty by yotam ottolenghi

as you can see there is likely to be a greater focus on vegetables, which is no bad thing. 

actually jamie's great britain isn't really mine, it was a gift from me to P but i really bought it for us and unfortunately it was too heavy for him to take back to america with him. oh dear. 

i feel a touch anxious about the yotam ottolenghi book (thank you for the gift my lovely friend E) because i've always been slightly intimidated by the number of ingredients in his recipes in guardian weekend. however, i've looked through it and i think everything will be ok. i just need to remember to breath deeply and not panic. i'm especially looking forward to savoy cabbage and parmesan soup.

i must confess that i'm also adding in january's delicious magazine and waitrose kitchen because i've only just got them and it would be daft to waste them.

i'll keep you posted on what i get up to.

02 January 2012

christmas...our lovely christmas at home

better late than never...our christmas...me and him...just the two of us...

mum made me and my brother listen to this album (on this same record player) every year as children so i don't see why p should escape this aural delight

the house around the corner...they REALLY like christmas

our tree...with our new great britain (i admit we did have to double check) rusty decoration from re

one of the gifts for my dad...

...with these homemade bird seed treats hidden inside

breakfast...smoked salmon and potato rosti...and yes, flat leaf parsley at breakfast...what's the world coming to?

starter...twice-baked stilton, walnut and watercress souffle

main...roast partridge, stuffing balls, potato and black pepper cakes, bread sauce and sprouts (it looked, and tasted, much better in real life)

pudding...chocolate and salted caramel 'brulee' (i burnt my finger making the salted caramel, ouch) but at least we managed to fit it in this year

all gone! but no room for cheese and biscuits (for cheese) for the second year running

i wonder when the expiry date is for posts about christmas...it's probably gone, out of date and all furry like the brie. i'd probably go far if i wasn't such a grand master at faffing and procrastination.

ps sorry about the terrible photos - the iphone camera used to be good before the ios5 update...