Monday, 24 February 2014

vegan broccoli bisque

It's hard to make broccoli soup look pretty, and am not sure I've succeeded here....
Anyway.... I don't go in for broccoli so much but got a bunch of it in my vegbox and thought soup would use it up nicely. It's really good, low fat, healthy and has a lovely subtle taste. If you wanted it to have more punch you could add garlic and chili but I wanted to keep it pretty plain first time round.

Two heads of broccoli
soaked cashews (just used what I had - probably a little less than a cup)
stock (I used a sachet of miso stock)
nutritional yeast flakes (about two tablespoons)*
a dash of olive oil
salt and pepper

How to make it:
Soak the cashews for an hour or so or overnight - the longer you soak them the smoother they will be.
Cook the broccoli until just soft - I boiled it, but you could steam it too.
Once the cashews have soaked blend them with the nutritional yeast flakes and stock and oil if you are adding it.
Add the cashew mix to the broccoli and blend with a little water. The soup should be quite thick.

That's it! This whole cooking with soaked cashews is a revelation, no?

*nutritional yeast flakes are not the same as marmite/yeast extract - they are dried flakes that are kind of cheesy and nutty.x

Sunday, 23 February 2014


2014 is read women year! this is fine for me as I mainly read women anyway because boy authors are stinky*.
so in honour of this wonderful year, here are some of my favourite lady writers...
(Looking at my list I realise that they are mainly American I need to be concerned about this?)


Michelle Tea
I first discovered Michelle Tea when I was in San Francisco. I'd go to the bookstores there and look in the gay section and her books just kept catching my eye. In the end I just had to buy one and went home with 'The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America' and I just loved it. Like REALLY LOVED it! I just felt totally connected to it in a kind of finally-someone-understands-me-way... which is a bit teenage, but that's what it was like.
My favourite Tea's are still Passionate Mistakes, but also 'Valencia' is wonderful too.


Joyce Carol Oates
Oh Joyce! what a lady. Joyce is 75 and writes at least two books a year, and many of those books are huge. I am reading one right now ('The Accursed') which is a crazy 669 pages. It's always a nice thought that I still have about a million Joyce books to read.
The first Oates book I read was 'Broke Heart Blues' when I was working in a bookstore in Aberystwyth. The manager there had read it and didn't know what to make of it and passed it on to me and I was really captivated by it. Thing is, I also understand the managers feelings, as there is something strange and unsettling about Oates' books... and I kind of understand when people don't like them too, as the language is often quite flowery and over the top, there are always lots of italics and words in inverted commas and there's a kind of underlying darkness to them. But if you like big juicy books with edge then Joyce is your writer ... my favourites are 'The Falls' and 'My Sister, My Love' but I have read about twelve of them and loved them all.


Alice Hoffman
I'd avoided Hoffman for the longest time (even though Practical Magic is one of my favourite films) as I thought she might be a bit trashy (because her books are sometimes sold in supermarkets and I am a snob), but Bert kept saying I should try them, and then one day in a supermarket in Kent I relented and bought 'The Story Sisters' and was absolutely hooked by it - oh gosh! it was a bit dark, a bit magical, a bit fairy tale like and all kinds of wonderful! after reading that one I read about ten of her books in two months. I couldn't get enough of them. My favourite is the 'The Ice Queen' , but they are all great. Am excited about her new book too - 'The Museum of Extraordinary Things' which is a novel about a Coney Island boardwalk freak show.


Shirley Jackson
So far I have only read 'The Haunting of Hill House' and 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' and a few short stories. I have another of her books on my bedside table ready to go... and some of her other novels have recently been reissued or are going to be reissued this year. Jackson is famous for her short story 'The Lottery' which inspired 'The Hunger Games' and 'The Haunting of Hill House' inspired Sarah Waters to write her own version with 'The Little Stranger'. I really liked her short story 'The Tooth', which is an odd little tale about a married woman getting on a bus to go to the dentist....
Jackson's books are really well written, eerie and a bit creepy.


Mary Gaitskill
You know how amazon recommends books to you, and sometimes they recommend a book so often that you just think, 'fine, I'll just buy it amazon to shut you up' ? well that's what happened here. They kept suggesting 'Veronica' and then I relented... and am not sure if it was before or after I bought it that I was watching the 'L Word' and Jenny says that Gaitskill is one of her favourite writers which definitely helped matters.
Veronica is great - it's an eighties new york novel, it's raw and wonderful.  Gaitskill writes lots of short stories, one of which became the movie 'Secretary' tho, of course, the story is better than the film... (love the film too especially as James Spader is in it).


Eileen Myles
I got to Eileen Myles through Michelle Tea as Tea often cites Myles as an inspiration. Eileen is a poet, but also writes novels (hello 'Cool for you') and really interesting non-fiction too... loved 'The Importance of being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art'  which is fascinating and gorgeously written.
+ Mapplethorpe took her portrait, she loves dogs and she's on the extras on one of my 'L word' dvds.


Rebecca Solnit
I get excited when there's a new Solnit out, the woman is a genius. She writes non-fiction and manages to make everything interesting by finding the little quirks in everyday life. She writes about her beloved San Francsico, walking, art, getting lost and so much more. I loved 'A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster' that looked at how people pull together during disasters, focusing on events such as the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.  Her most recent book 'The Faraway Nearby' is a little more personal than the others, and she writes about her mothers illness, storytelling, art and some great bits about Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein.


Francesca Lia Block
Maybe you read the Weetzie Bat books when you were a teenager? no? that's ok, you can binge read them all now. You have to know about Weetzie Bat, My Secret-Agent Lover Man, Duck and Slinkster Dog before you can continue in life. The books are kinda crazy, set in LA with a slightly magical  fairy tale feel to them. I really like some of Block's later books such as 'Necklace of Kisses' and 'Ruby'...


Janet Fitch
I wish Janet Fitch would write more books, but she's probably busy being awesome. She is most well known for her novel 'White Oleander' which was one of Oprah's reading group choices and was also turned into a film. It's a good book, but my favourite is definitely 'Paint it Black' which I like to read over and over again. It's set in 80s LA and is all about the aftermath of a suicide, mainly what sticks in my mind about this book is the feel of it as well as all the mint tea and vodka.

and a few other writers and books I love....
Miranda July
Leanne Shapton
Tove Jansson
Scarlett Thomas
Sarah Waters
Just Kids by Patti Smith
The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

Who are your favourite women writers? I'd love some recommendations!

*just joshing - I love Paul Auster, Dave Eggers, Willy Vlautin, John Green and lots more

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

at the movies

We love going to the movies... but somehow we have stopped going so regularly. It was time to work on some new rules.... I love rules.
So, every other Tuesday we have to go to the movies, whatever is showing.... usually we go to chapter because it's near our house and they show the best movies, also we can eat veggie burgers afterwards. Here's what we've seen recently.

august: osage county
I was really looking forward to this.... as it looked like it was a movie about women helping each other. and julia roberts is in it.
I feel I should mention that this film is a touch bleak... there's alcoholism, drug addiction and bad relationships... also Meryl Streep is overacting in it....
but Julia Roberts is wonderful, I completely adore Julia and she steals the show here. It also has other great people in it - Juliette Lewis, Ewen McGregor, Chris Cooper and the sublime Sam Shepard.  I found it flawed as a movie... but also interesting and it's stayed with me too. I'm giving it 7 out of 10... and Bert is giving it 6 out of 10 and says 'Streep needs a taking down'.

Kill Your Darlings
I forced Bert to come and watch this with me as Ginsberg is one of his most favourite people ever and Daniel Radcliffe the least.... (bert just said he doesn't hate the radcliffe he has no thoughts about him. also he's never seen harry potter, which is just redonk)
Really, I just can't resist a film about the beats.... this one is all pre anything beaty - before they started writing seriously and when ginsberg is friends with naughty lucien carr...
Actually Daniel Radcliffe was fine in this and we both enjoyed it whilst also thinking it was a bit lame. Jack Huston who played Jack Kerouac was handsome though - i'll tell you that for nothing.
we are both giving it 6 out of 10

Inside Llewyn Davis
We were both looking forward to this one, Bert loves a 60s Greenwich Village and I was keen to see what Justin Timberlake was going to do with that beard.
We both really enjoyed it and cats featured too... The main character (llewyn) is interesting and not wholly likeable... Garrett Hedlund was also in which I was pretty excited about.
Garrett is duh-reamy
I had issue with them saying that Llewyn was a welsh name... but Bert has told me to let that go.
Bert says that he was still thinking about the film the day after and he gives it an 8.5... or maybe a 9
I found the ending a teensy bit unsatisfactory but enjoyed it overall... it's an 8 from me.

and on dvd we have also watched Diary of a Wimpy Kid 1 and 2 which we stole from my nieces and are in love with, oh and I also snuck in Pitch Perfect which I enjoyed, but think it's probably best not to analyse that too much.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Eleanor and Park

I just finished reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell this morning.
It is very lovely.
If you like John Green or Maureen Johnson you will love this.
It's about two teenagers (eleanor and park) who fall in love over a school year in 1986, Eleanor is the new girl who gets bullied in school and also has a horrible home life, Park is the guy she sits next to on the bus who reads comics and loves music and doesn't feel like he fits in. 
It is very touching and sweet and sad.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


I've been mainly reading, making things, working and snuggling under blankets watching movies. It has been raining here FOREVER, so there isn't that much else to do.

today though there wasn't as much rain, but it was super windy... I braved the weather to go to look at some art in the museum and to buy some new books....

Was sad to see that Leonard Knight has died, I hope one day I can visit Salvation Mountain....

Saturday, 8 February 2014

recent readings....

Just some of the books I've read this year... 
these were the good ones... 
there were some other ones I read that I didn't love.
The Days of Anna Madrigal by Armistead Maupin was my favourite one out of these, it's the latest/last in the Tales of the City series and it's so wonderful and touching and sweet, but not cheesy and sentimental - it still feels like real life.
Nevada by Imogen Binnie was also great - it's a novel about a trans woman in New York City, relationships, books, drugs, travel and a bit of vegan food. 
For more about the other books I'm over on goodreads

Monday, 3 February 2014


hmmm. our weekend did not go to plan due to some dodgy chestnuts and a nasty bout of food poisoning. All was not well in the lile-pastore household. Bert even wondered if we had been spiked with vervain.... (too much Vampire Diaries).

During our feverish/hallucinatory phase I believed that I had four bodies and they had become separated due to the illness and I needed to get them back together again before I could begin to feel better - almost in an astral projection way.... but without the astral projection. Bert thought he was in 'Charmed' and woke me up saying 'Where's Piper?'. When we finally started to feel better and could stay awake for more than ten minutes we lay on the sofa bed and watched tv... there was nothing that was too dull for me to watch... I sat through two episodes of 'Hart to Hart' and wished that it was on all day. Bert took advantage of my weakened state by making me watch Columbo and a 70s disaster movie called Rollercoaster.... Buck Rogers, The Avengers and even McCloud (McCloud turned out to be the programme that was too dull) and topped it all of with a Charmed marathon....

Sadie was particularly kind to us..
now it's over all I want to eat is super plain food... tonight's dinner was mashed potatoes with baked beans... yesterday was beans on toast.... tomorrow is probably butter pasta.


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